We get mother flippin Saber in a mother flippin suit on a mother flippin motorcycle in this episode. While we have not see the best of Saber on a motorcycle we have at least been given a taste of the wonders that are yet to come. That aside I guess there was that B plot of betrayal and corruption in this episode as well. I suppose I shall spend the bulk of my post going into the details of the events that are not Saber riding around on a sweet chopper. I will say that I was slightly amused that Kiritsugu’s rather Machiavellian dispatchment of Lancer and Kayneth almost universally won the Mage Killer a dedicated fan base. I was slightly surprised by the number of people who were sympathetic to Kayneth and conversely by the lack of people who condemned Kiritsugu. But the one character whose death did not seem to effect most people at all is oddly enough the one that triggers everything that happens in this episode.
Kirei discovers his father’s body in the Church. Risei’s death soon spawns a chain of reaction from the people allied with Tokiomi and Kiritsugu. Alliances are formed, partnerships are dissolved, and a Servant changes allegiances in the most brutal way possible. In the background the true nature of the Holy Grail War is revealed as we learn the shocking truth of the bloodthirsty ritual and the sacrifices needed to fuel its terrible engine.
The discovery of Risei’s causes an equal mixture of anger and panic in Tokiomi. His seemingly untouchable ally is dead. All his carefully laid plans are crushed as he was unable to get an extra command deal for killing Caster and his ability to manipulate the flow of the Grail War is severely impeded. Kirei on the other hand is as seemingly dispassionate as someone who found a dead stranger. His father’s death seems to have provoked no emotional reaction in him. But Gilgamesh knows better. He knows that not only did Risei’s death trigger a transformation in Kirei but it effected him in way that most people would not assume the death of a father would change his son. Also Gilgamesh clearly knows that there are parts of Kirei’s report that leave out important details. In fact the most important things in this conversation in the hallway is not what is said but what is implied and what is left hanging in the air.
Irisviel is still falling apart and it is only getting worse as the number of servants is decreasing. This time she had to be rushed home to her healing circle as opposed to give a little time to rest. But this gives all the yuri fans a little “Saber X Irisviel OTP” action which I am sure they appreciate. But Maiya arrives with an unexpected message. It seems that Tokiomi wishes to meet at the neutral ground that is the church to discuss an alliance. He wishes to call upon the old alliance of the Einzbern and Tohsaka families. This is obviously less because he wishes to put aside old grudges and more because he sees Team Saber as the weakest of the four remaining participants. Irisviel is less interested in dealing with Tokiomi as she is in removing Kirei from the battlefield. She realizes that he is the greatest threat despite the fact that he is seemingly neutered. Irisviel knows a nemesis when she see one.
If anyone played the Fate/Stay Night visual novel they will recognize this scene immediately. In the prologue for Fate/Stay Night this event is the first thing Rin describes. It is the final time she sees her father. In the game she recalls that while neither of them say it they both realize that this is probably the last time either of them will see each other. And so Tokiomi leaves his remaining daughter a few words of wisdom and heads off to face his destiny. This is clearly a moment that would stay with young Rin and shape much of her thinking in the 5th Holy Grail War. But it is also very clear that Tokiomi no longer has his same bravado and assurance that he will win this battle. He is closing up loose ends if he does not come back much like a man with a terminal illness would try to leave with a clean slate. Compare this to the attitude of a man just going on an extended business trip like he had before. Of course this means he has tripped the biggest death flag of them all: the heartfelt goodbye for now which is always the goodbye forever.
There are no permanent alliances in the Holy Grail war unless you are a crazy idealistic person named Shiro. What you have a ceasefires to deal with troublesome mutual enemies. Tokiomi proposes a temporary truce as they agree to not attack each other until Rider and Berserker are taken care of. Irisviel agrees under two conditions. The first is largely unimportant. It is sharing information about Rider. That hardly a concession. The faster either of them get rid of Rider the better. I’m sure that Tokiomi would love it if Kiritsugu could but a bullet in the back of the head of Waver Velvet as it would save him an immense amount of trouble. The other part of the agreement is the real concession. Irisviel wishes that Tokiomi break ties with his evil little church assassin. The hope is that it would make Kirei pack up his things and go home. Tokiomi agrees but it hardly has the desired effect for anyone involved. Also if you were not aware the three families they mentioned are the Einzbern, Tohsaka, Makiri families that created the Grail system in the first place. The Makiri family would go on to become know as the Matou family and all three family would participate in the war after that with a ever shifting series of alliance and betrayals. So this dysfunctional dance has been going on for decades.
After the meeting Irisviel collapses as she is strong enough to put on an unaffected front for short negotiations but she does not have much energy beyond that. And she proceeds to open up quite unexpectedly to Maiya. She reveals to her that she is the vessel of the Holy Grail, that the energy of each dead servant is tearing her apart, and that it is only Avalon that keeps her functional. We as the audience knew all these things but it is a bit surprising that Irisviel would be so open with her husband’s mistress. Irisviel knows her time is short so the keeping secrets no longer has much meaning. Irisviel merely wants confirmation that when she is gone that Maiya will do everything she can to support Kiritsugu. It is clear that both women are fanatically devoted to Kiritsugu and his ideals. If that means their deaths then so be it. And so both women reassure each other that they will die for this dream. And so they drive off into the night as devoted allies that otherwise might be enemies.
It seems at first that Kirei is ready to pack up his stuff and head back to the Executors for new orders. But Gilgamesh knows that these recent events have severed certain restrictions Kirei has placed on himself. He not only has his three new command seals but he also has all the extra seals his father left him after he died. So if can kill another Master he can easily take his Servant as his own and Gilgamesh is all too willing to be that Servant. But it seems the greatest change is that Kirei has thrown away whatever ties he had to his emulation of humanity. Kirei has always been a psychopath. But bonds with his wife and father made him keep up a facade of normalcy as he questioned why he would be born with such a soul that would only take pleasure in misery. But now three things have come together to destroy any reason he had to hide his true self. His ties to humanity are gone, he has the power to seek a new path, and now he has the opportunity to seize that new path. But before they seal their alliance Kirei reveals how the Grail War truly works.
The Grail is not activated by the death of six servants but seven. A master who understands the proper function of the grail will sacrifice his servant to completely fill the grail and hopefully open the door to the Root of all Being.While a servant might get his wish at the end he would soon find himself dead as his Master orders him to commit suicide. It is now clear that if Tokiomi were to win the war Gilgamesh would soon be a sacrificial lamb. It is no secret that Tokiomi’s goal has been to reach the Root so it is hardly surprising that he would sell out his servant to reach this goal. And so the innuendo of an alliance is finally make real. Amusingly enough the only time that Gilgamesh admires Tokiomi is right before he sets him up to be murdered.
Tokiomi gives his student two final parting gifts. His will and a dagger. Both of these are incredibly important to Fate/Stay Night. His will states that if he dies that Kirei will become Rin’s guardian and teacher. Kirei uses this apprenticeship to set up a great deal of his plans in Fate/Stay Night. The dagger Azoth on the other hand becomes an almost cursed dagger from this moment on. Originally a symbol that is passed from a master of the Tohsaka school to their graduating apprentice it becomes the weapon that Kirei uses to murder his teacher. While the irony of giving your student the weapon he uses to kill you is quite clear but it does not end there. When Kirei finishes teaching Rin he passes along Azoth to her. In turn Shiro uses the dagger to kill Kirei letting the irony go full circle. A poetic cycle to say the least.
But the betrayal that Fate/Stay Night fans knew was coming finally occurs. Kirei stabs his master in the back when Tokiomi assumes he was at his least vulnerable. Now Irisviel’s greatest fear has come to fruition. The most dangerous Master is back in the game and has one of the most powerful servants at his command and with a sickly amount of power to back that up. Everyone one else is now a target. But it seems next week will be a little break from this major game changer. It seems that the next episode will focus on Kiritsugu’s past. We get to learn how he became as cold-blooded killer he is now. You can call the next episode, “Kiritsugu is forced to murder everyone he ever loved in his childhood.” It sums it up quite nicely.