I promise you this post will be more than just pictures of Saber on a motorcycle with flowery prose about female knights on 2 legged steeds ruling the kingdom of the highway. I’m not exactly sure WHY you would want more than that but you will get it anyway. I have hyped up this road warrior battle since the first season so it is fairly sweet to finally taste the payoff from those expectations. There are also some other politics and betrayals going on in the background but those are only of minor consequence. Hardly even worth mentioning. Oh. Due to personal matters you might notice that I got this post out FAR earlier than I usually do. My normal Saturday engagement fell through so I was actually able to watch the stream BEFORE the raw even came out. I don’t think there is any way else to prove how amazingly fast these simulcasts are.
Saber peruses a Rider doppelgänger who just kidnapped Irisviel through the busy streets of downtown Fuyuki City. Kirei and Kariya have made an alliance which leads to the actual Saber and Rider having deadly race on the mountain roads outside the city. But it is really a good idea to trust an evil priest in any sort of fantasy setting? Kariya learns this lesson the hard way when he gets exactly what the thought he wanted out of this deal with Kirei.
As a side note: Zouken still just being evil.
Saber starts off hot on the heals of the kidnapper but due to traffic she soon loses sight Rider and Irisviel. Conveniently enough reaches out with her mind and is easily able to locate Rider flying in his pimp chariot. While Saber is not as skilled as even a mediocre Servant of the Rider class she certainly has enough skill to keep up with someone from that class and she shows it here. Since Rider was hoping to settle things with Saber he is more than willing to play a game of tag with the King of Knights. So he decides to head to the mountains to engage in a downhill race. Sadly the “Ghost of Fuyuki City” does not appear to challenge them both. But wait just a second. Rider is now on his chariot and has Waver instead of Irisviel. Me thinks there is something wrong here. But Saber is not in the position to do a detailed analysis of the situation right just yet.
If Initial D wanted to do better in the US it should have had more magical powered face offs during its street racing. It would have done it a world of good. Since this is Fate/Zero we get all the lucrative construction contract generating combat alongside our race. A bit of Twisted Metal on the mountainside. Rider engages in a bit of Ben-Hur styled chariot racing by tearing up the surrounding scenery and having it fly towards Saber. But that is more just a friendly prelude to the actual battle than anything else. I have to say Saber uses Invisible Air more in Fate/Zero than she ever does in Fate/Stay Night. This time she uses it like magical nitro and a bit of vehicle upgrade as well. Her Yamaha V-Max becomes the magical Motored Cuirassier so she can keep up with Rider when he really puts the petal to the metal. But also kicks in the Knight Rider approved turbo boost to perform some multi-track drifting that even Takumi would be impressed by and catches up with the King of Conquerors so they can finally cross swords. But when Saber finally catches up to Rider she notices a distinct lack of sickly girls in the chariot. But it is too late to back out now.
We don’t see much of Kiritsugu this episode but he is still playing Lieutenant Horatio Caine as he investigates who took Irisviel. He very quickly deduces that it was not in fact Rider behind everything and begins to shake down the remaining suspects. This brings us to a character we always knew existed but have never really seen before: Shinji’s dad. He is dead before Fate/Stay Night starts and only mentioned in passing a few times elsewhere. We don’t get to see much of him here but he does seem the sort that would father a little Joffrey Baratheon like Shinji. Kiritsugu inflicts some Jack Bauer interrogation techniques on Byakuya and while he does not learn where Irisviel is he did learn that Kariya has an unexpected partner from the church. Clearly Kiritsugu knows that his rival is back in action and doing what he does best. And what that priest does in not pretty.
And we have confirmation of the alliance. Apparently one of Berserker’s hidden talents is not only the ability to hide his identity but also to assume the identity of others for the cost of a command seal. But the two command seals Kariya used to pull off this deception are quickly replaced by Kirei as a sign of their new-found partnership. Kirei also says he has set up a confrontation with Tokiomi at the church at midnight. Kriei has promised Tokiomi’s head on a platter. Like an evil genie Kriei gives you exactly what you asked for but not in the way you would ever want it. But Kariya is clearly wrapped up in his own little revenge fantasy and therefore is not really thinking anything through. If he was me might have noticed the uninvited visitor who was listening to their whole conversation.
Rider does not just want to win. He wants to break Saber of all of her illusions, all of her preconceptions, and crush her pride completly. That is a true victory for the King of Conquerors. He does not take an area or defeat armies per say. He crushes the spirit of his enemy so they know they are beat for all time. Sort of like Monkey D. Luffy that way. Plus he has an amazingly fast Nobel Phantasm unlike Saber’s slow Excalibur. What could go wrong with this. Unless … Excalibur has a powered up version and a fast cast variation.
It seems that the always reprehensible Zouken was the one watching this deal from the shadows. All that is left on the rooftop is two men who live for the suffering of others. Zouken already revels in the pain of those around him but Kirei has still not yet full realized who he is. But Zoken senses someone who is just as twisted as himself. It appears that for all plotting and manipulation Zouken would just be as happy to see his son fail as an utter heartbreaking travesty the he would see him win the Grail. Plus he knows that he has the much more promising Sakura waiting in the wings so he might as well just have fun with the 4th Holy Grail War. The only major obstacle would be if his pawn developed reasons not to fight. Then he might have to settle for a much less reliable pinch hitter.
Chariot! Or at least that is what gets vaporized by Excalibur’s holy light. Apparently you have to destroy the vehicle before you can start doing direct damage to the driver. Some one should have informed the other Rider of this fact. While Waver wants to break out the Army of the King his Servant knows that it is his only chance in a fight against Archer. But Saber has bigger fish to fry. She has to get back her hetero-lifemate from whoever actually made off with her. So Saber rides of on her bike and Rider and Waver are forced to hoof it back on foot. They might have been able to hitch a ride that they not run roughshod over the countryside.
Kariya gets a valuable lesson about how you should be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. He storms into the church filled with storm and fury to confront his nemesis only to find that he new-found ally has already taken care of it. Worse yet the one person he does not wish to be there comes upon him at the worst possible time. Aoi comes in and makes the logical assumption that Kariya has killed her husband. All of Kariya bravdo instantly drains from him. Clearly in his imagination he always assumed he would come back with Sakura and present her to Aoi after he won the Grail. But when confronted with nothing else but a corpse he realizes the utter stupidity of his dream. In a way he must have always assumed Aoi hated her husband as much as he did. That was clearly not the case. As she screams at him he snaps and inadvertently triggers one of his button. Before he knows it he starts to strangle her. Maybe all of his romantic ideals were nothing more than lust and bitterness. There is an unsettling sexuality top the whole scenes. A more generous fan of Kariya can assume that part of his quick to violence reaction might have been his Berserker’s affinity taking over. A harsh critic might assume that his goals were never pure in the first place. Not matter what the truth is Kariya walks out of the church a directionless mess. This two main goals are now gone in the worst way possible.
Like a demonic Statler and Waldorf it seems this little production has some hecklers in the balcony. Some people go to the opera to revel in schadenfreude, and other people watch Internet videos, but Gilgamesh and Kirei just stage tragedies in real life. While Gilgamesh always enjoyed these moments of suffering Kirei finally has his revelation. He truly knows what it is like to unashamedly bask in the pain of another. The birth of the Kirei we know from Fate/Stay Night is here. He has finally stopping running from himself and embraced the monster inside. It is not as if he was not already well on the way to this point before. But now he has taken the lowest path and has burned away any conscience he might have had before now.
Kariya is not completely out of the fight. While he may have lost two of his goals he can still save Sakura and that is still something worth dying for. The question is how effective can he be this broken? While Saber and Rider did not take each other out they both expended a good deal of energy and resources fighting each other. And Gilgamesh has mostly been sitting back and drinking wine. Things are not looking good for the three of the four remaining Servants unless they are from Babylon.
Random end note. I only just noticed that Irisviel is wearing Arcueid Brunestud’s outfit when she is in Archetype：Earth mode. No real point to anything on this episode. Just thought I would point that out.