This is an episode with an inordinate number of dying women resting on floors. And Waver is also resting on the floor. Draw from that what you will. But since Kiritsugu‘s flashbacks are done it means that the normal opening and closing have returned. And so have the deadly battles of the Holy Grail War. You can feel the tension as each Master and Servant is eliminated as the remaining teams know that they are fighting the best of what remains will less and less resources. It is quickly becoming a question of who can survive the long game. As soon as you run out of aces up your sleeve you are done. And it is clear that some teams are running low on everything while others are just getting started.
There is no rest for the wicked and Kiritsugu is trying very hard to prove that. With Irisviel no longer being strong enough to act as Saber’s Master is seems that Kiritsugu is forced to try a two-pronged attacked simultaneous against Rider and Archer. But as Kiritsugu soon finds out the situation in Fuyuki City has changed more than he knew. Tokiomi is dead and the safe house is nowhere as secure as the thought it was. At the same time Rider and Berserker marshal their strength for the final four Servants.
Irisviel has finally deteriorated enough that she can no longer even pretend like she is able to function normally. She calls over Kiritsugu to say her goodbyes. Unlike with Kiritsugu and Natalia Kaminski no one here is pretending that Irisviel will be OK. They both know she is doomed to die to bring forth the grail so Irisviel merely gives her husband her last wishes for their daughter and returns Avalon so that me might make it through this dangerous end game. Like some people with a terminal diseases she has resigned herself to the inevitable. Irisviel is more concerned about tying up loose ends as that is all that she has left. With little he can say to comfort his wife Kiritsugu continues forward. He plans to have Saber attack Rider at home and he plans to kill Tokiomi directly so that the overpowered Archer no longer makes himself a nuisance. Before he goes we see a rare smile from Maiya. As someone who considers herself a part of Kiritsugu she detects a change in him. While it might seem to an outside observer that Kiritsugu is the same she clearly has detected a change in her companion.
As Saber looks for Rider she is just a bit too late. Apparently inspired by the final Harry Potter book Waver decides to go on a little camping trip as he waits for Rider to regain his strength. Waver is now apparently aware that Rider has been holding back in taking mana from him so he is much weaker than he should be. It does not help that Ionioi Hetairoi is an immensely draining technique and that he can only conceivable use one more time given that they cannot just rest out in the woods forever. Someone is eventually going to attack them even in the middle of nowhere. As they rest Rider and Waver have a good heart to heart here. Waver is showing his growth as the Holy Grail war has definitely toughened him up from the whinny prissy boy that he was at the start. At the same time we get the first signs that Rider is beginning to suspect that not all is right with the Holy Grail War. It seems he wonders if there is even a Grail in the first place. As someone who knows about chasing dreams he knows that there are some sacrifices you do not casually make no matter how wondrous the potential prize. At the same time it seems Rider’s first priority is to beat Saber. In a way it is almost a paternal interest in her. He does not want her to lose as much so he can win as that he wants her to see how is unfairly torturing herself with her current way of thinking. Sadly all the Waver/Rider fans do not get the mana transfer scene here they hoped for. I think just as many guys were disappointed as women. Oh well. That is what doujinshi is for.
While Kariya may be alive her is hardly doing all that well. For the first time we get to see Berserker speak in anything other than a guttural scream even if it is just in a dream. But even in a coherent conversation we see that Berserker is just filled with an all-consuming desire to snuff out the light. Kariya is just his path to his true goal of killing Saber. Everything else is just a side mission. But if being strangled by his Ghost Rider like Servant in his dreams were not terrible enough his waking life is actually worse. While Zoken’s magic is patching him up he is clearly at the end of his rope. But to prove that Zoken is still trying to win the worst human being in Fate universe competition he pulls a final putrescence filled rabbit from his hat. He implants a worm that has fed off Sakura to turbo charge Kariya for these final battles. It is doubly torturous because not only is the worm physically painful but Kariya also has to deal with the knowledge that said worm is the first monstrosity to defile Sakura. Zoken is just a monster.
Maiya you silly woman. You are the veteran of countless battlefields. You should know by now that the heart to heart reveal of motivations is the ultimate death flag. But a dying Irisviel is curious about the mysterious woman who is her husband’s shadow so she is able to pry out some secrets. Both of them are slightly perplexed by the other and their loyalty to Kiritsugu. Maiya was utterly dead inside when Kiritsugu found her. Kiritsugu gave her purpose so she hooked her dreams to him. It is not that they share they same dreams. In Maiya’s mind they are so one in the same that there is no way they cannot have the same goal. She is only as conflicted or divided as he is. No more and no less. At the same time we get the shocking revelation. Irisviel is really only pretending to be as devoted as she appears. It’s not that she does not want to believe in Kiritsugu ideals. It is just that she is so sheltered that the full ramifications of Kiritsugu’d ideals will always be beyond her. She was raised as a girl in a box who is doomed to die. Her real wish is just for her husband and daughter to live on in a world untainted by the Grail. If this continues she knows that Ilya’s life will be just as horrible as hers. And it then becomes clear why she so easily tolerates Maiya relationship with her husband. She wants someone to be by his side when she is gone. She knows that Maiya will unquestioningly support Kiritsugu and her daughter without question. But their soul-searching is cut off mid sentence by a deadly intruder.
At the same time Kiritsugu arrives to a Tohsaka mansion that is far too quiet. As soon as he notices the elaborate defenses are down he begins to suspect something is up. Rather than find that Tokiomi has changed his base of operations he discovers that the owner of the house was murdered here. Using some magical Holmesian deduction he learns the murder was clearly someone Tokiomi knew. It is fairly obvious that the only person who could get that close is everyone’s favorite psychopathic priest (who is not Alexander Anderson). But his investigation is cut short by the attack on his base of operations.
Maiya is able to call for help (with her massive 80s cellphone) but it is too little too late. Even Saber’s emergency teleport thanks to Kiritsugu using a command seal only get Saber in time to see the aftermath of Rider’s intrusion. Irisviel has been kidnapped and Maiya is gravely wounded. Saber heads off in pursuit as Maiya waits for Kiritsugu. Maiya hols on just long enough to say her last goodbyes. She knows that this war is tearing up Kiritsugu on a physical and spiritual level. She only wishes to give him the strength to finish the war with her passing. And so she dies happily know her role is done. I think they mention it more in the novel that Kiritsugu is surprised he ends up crying for Maiya. Only at the end does he realize she was nowhere as disposable as he though he has compartmentalized her.
In the end Maiya was just far to squishy to survive much more than this. But sadly her death was not even a speed bump in the course of a Servant’s rampage. But observant people will notice two things wrong with the kidnapping. The first is that Rider was still should resting while the kidnapping took place. The second is that killing the far too human Maiya and then taking Irisviel is not Rider’s style. So the question is who did attack the Emiya compound? We will just have to see as Saber takes off on her motorcycle in hot pursuit.