Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 43-45

43 Bite of the Ant

Kimble realizes that the chances of beating Briggs Fortress is slim, so he convinces the northern armies of Drachman to launch a campaign that results in utter defeat and the spilling of much blood above the seal. Meanwhile, Envy falls into his own trap as May and Dr. Marcoh lead him into an alkahestry mine field. Marcoh also reveals he knows how to unmake philosophy stones and he breaks Envy’s stone, turning him into a tiny green worm. Back at Central Olivier is shown the army of human homunculi that has been made in secret.

Okay, so if Marcoh knows how to unmake philosophy stones, why wouldn’t he teach that to everyone? Seems like an invaluable skill to have given that every philosophy stone encountered so far has been in the hands of the enemy. I do like how they use alkahestry in this episode in a creative way and how they defeat Envy through deceit more than through surprise. And Kimble’s twisted solution to the problem of Brigg’s Fortress is an elegant strategy.

44 Revving at Full Throttle

Al and Winry go to Liore to discover Hohenheim working with the city on their recovery effort. Hohenheim tells Al about his history with Father. Ed and the two chimeras continue to evade Central’s search parties. Greed is confronted by one of the chimeras from his past life, which leads to a violent clash of past and present memories. Greed ends up attacking Wrath at his home, angry for what he did to his former friends.

It’s interesting that this episode looks at the aftermath of Liore in a positive light. While the riots and bloodshed left a lot of destruction, the recovery effort has brought the city together and made everyone feel more connected to the community. One of the themes of the show is that everything is not what it appears to be at first glance and what might look like a bad situation actually turns out some good in this case.

This episode builds off of a couple of early episodes. Greed’s motivation is built off of the first time we met Greed when Wrath ended up killing Greed’s followers and took him into see Father. Also, going back and seeing the reconstruction of Liore after what happened in the third episode of the show is a compelling throwback. I’m guessing the series origins as a Manga led to this depth of long-form storytelling.

45 The Promised Day

Olivier demands that her father establish household leadership of the Armstrong family. He says that whoever wins a fight between Olivier and Alex will be the head of the house. Olivier wins. May is given the shriveled, subdued Envy to return to her people for study, but Envy tricks May into heading back into Central. Ed and the chimera encounter Greed who is currently under Ling’s influence. Ling tells them that Father will try to open the portal on the Promised Day. When Greed takes back over, Ed and the chimera agree to “follow” Greed.

While I initially feel like writing off this episode as another necessary bridge episode, I think that discounts some of the careful storytelling involved. For one, the Olivier and Alex showdown also serves as a motivator to let their father retire and take their mother and sister out of the country. This reason is never spoken, but the implication is there.

Envy’s deception of May also preys into May’s own affections and emotions for the people she’s met. She’s blind to the evil she might cause by bringing Envy back, but it’s easy to see how her desire to return and help the people she’s grown attached to would overwhelm that. Little twists like that demonstrate how the show has a strong grasp on who these characters are and how they are often motivated by unspoken desires and allegiances.

© 2015 James Blake Ewing