I told you there would be a new version of Sword of Promised Victory and I was correct. That can only mean one thing. It is time for Excalibur to get busted out in this episode. While we have had some great fights before this and even saw one Servant taken down this really feels like the first time things have gotten serious. We are solidly in the third act. When Assassin went out it was more to show that Rider was a serious threat. This riverside battle is where we really get to see the nitty gritty of the remaining Servants and Masters competing for the Grail. There is no turning back now.
The three way battle continues as the heroic trio continue to lose ground to Caster’s towering mass of corrupt calamari. At the same time a magical Top Gun plays out in the sky on one front while an experienced master goes up against a powered up neophyte on the other. As these battle intersect the first true and derisive battle (that is not utterly one-sided) in fought in the 4th Holy Grail War. Another servant will fall bringing the match closer to its bloody conclusion.
Try as they might Caster’s summoned creature cannot be killed with poke damage. They soon realize that then need some way to magically nuke all of Caster in one shot or else they will all lose. At that point two people step up to the plate. Rider calls everyone together. He can trap Caster in his Noble Phantasm for a short amount of time in hopes that everyone left outside can find an answer because it is clear that if they keep doing what they are doing they are going to be slaughtered and anyone who survives will have to deal with an even more powerful Caster. Soon after that the Leon Silverberg of Fate/Zero whips out a plan via cell phone to end this battle once and for all.
There is something to be said for experience. Kariya might have a righteous cause and sacrificed so much to gain to gain power in a short amount of time but in the end it is all for naught. Tokiomi’s experience just puts him of a level that is too high for Kariya to reach. He might have also done better if he played some Pokemon and knew that bug types are weak against fire types. Much like the Assassin beat down this fight is over almost as quickly as it began. After Tokiomi shields himself as he effortlessly sets his opponent on fire and watches him fall off the building in agony. Tokiomi swatted away Kariya as he would a troublesome mosquito. At first it seems that Kariya is done for but he still has a little life in him but clearly no more fight.
Kiritsugu relays his plan to his allies via an awesome brick like 80’s cell phone. In this plan everyone has a role to play. Kiritsugu himself will go out and position himself on the water to show Rider where to drop Caster in the bay. This will set the stage so Saber can unleash her trump card that will vaporize this menace once and for all. But that requires Lancer to break one of his Nobel Phantasms to lift the curse on Saber so she can use both hands again. Saber and Lancer have a bit of a tit for tat with their honor but the greater good of stopping Caster wins out over their pride. Goodness. Any pixiv search will show that people were already shipping Lancer and Saber like crazy. This little scene is surely on going to throw rocket fuel on those flames. There is the grand reveal of Excalibur as she drops Invisible Air but before she can get into position a certain interrupting cow decides to stop on in even though he is uninvited.
While all of this was going to Berserker and Gilgamesh were having a dogfight on the highway to the danger zone. Gilgamesh has quickly positioned himself on Berserker’s six and it seems that the mad knight has little to let him fight back as he cannot easily attack anything on his rear. But when Kariya is down for the count it seems that Berserker quickly stops working on the mission his Master gave him and immediately tuns his attention towards his favored target of Saber. When Gilgamesh pops up right behind his obsessed opponent he gets a face full of enchanted chaff. I suppose Berserker had a remaining trick up his sleeve. But that means the Black Knight is now free to interfere with Kiritsugu’s plan. Thankfully an unlikely duo step in to provide Saber cover. Lancer logically steps in and trashes the possessed F-15 but that is not enough to stop the determined Berserker. As he falls to the earth he grabs an intact Vulcan cannon and is about to open fire when the King of Heroes provides the more unexpected back up. I have to say as much of a bother as he is Berserker is always cool in what ever he does.
While the crazed servants runs roughshod by the water his Master is in mortal peril. At first it seems that Kirei is going to step in and finish the job his ally started. But then almost in-spite of himself the church assassin finds himself healing the helpless magi. It is clear that more and more Kirei is unsure of his motivations but is clearly on the road to his ultimate path of betrayal as the man we know from Fate/Stay Night. But for now his transformation is still in the larval stages. Still the amusing irony of Kirei’s infinity for healing magic is in clear view when we see his technique for patching up his patient. Kirei was clearly never taught that palm strikes to the chest are not a part of good beside manner.
With all obstacles cleared Saber can finally end this boss fight once and for all. She gathers up the energy for her anti-fortress attack as all the participants comment on this divine strike. It is a little cheesy but it put a good deal of weight on the power of Excalibur. I have to say I enjoy the new vocal component to the Sword of Promised Victory. I am very curious what the lyrics are to the remix. But chorus aside when Caster is hit by the light of the lake even his eldritch abomination cannot regenerate from the deviation. Just before Caster is vaporized he sees Joan of Arc welcoming him. Dedicated Type-Moon fans will notice that Joan’s character design is the same as when it first introduced in Fate/Apocrypha. While they unsuccessfully try to give Caster a bit more of a sympathetic light in his final moments I was glad he at least was struck by the immorality of what brought him to this place.
And so we shall see another visitor to the Einzbern Consultation Room soon enough as Caster joins the fallen. The episode ends with Rider and Archer exchanging words on the battle they have seen. Rider’s opinion of Saber has not changed. While he still thinks she is powerful and honorable he notes that she has still not moved off of her path of self-destruction. But to Gilgamesh that only makes her more attractive. After a bit of mutual poking both Servants decide to call it a day as they are both quite worn from their respective battles. And so Gilgamesh proves that he truly is the King of Creepy Non-Consensual Sex more than King of Heroes. Ick.
A nice conclusion to the promise made last season. Caster is finally down and out and the Church and the Mage’s Association will surely have their hands filled trying to cover this all up. While most of the participants in the battle parted on good terms that truce they had is surely over now that this is done. If nothing else Gilgamesh will show no mercy for anyone else who crosses his path. At the same time Irisviel is getting weaker as more servants die. If she was not feeling well after Assassin died she is surely going to start falling to pieces now that Caster has been dealt with as well. So while it seems that things are looking up for Saber it seems that she might be losing as much as she gains. Plus as much as it was Saber who dealt the finishing blow on Caster it truly was a group effort so I assume there will be a bit of conflict over who gets the additional command seal. Sometimes winning a battle means more than you have staved off losing the war than you have moved towards a final victory.