The fights have been escalating for a while. In the first season, all the class cards were very powerful but they only had a basic animal intelligence. Cards like Caster might have been a clever animal and Berserker simultaneously was insanely strong and neigh invincible but they were still only bestial. In the second season, the enemies gained intelligence. Chloe was as powerful as Illya but she was extremely strategic and a bit more skilled than the original. Bazett did not technically have the power of a Servant but she had the skills and abilities which made her a Heroic Spirit class threat. Gilgamesh was not only vastly more powerful than the Servants that Illya’s gang faced before but on top of that, he was often one step ahead of the gang and had a Batman styled kit of tools and weapons. Every enemy was not only more powerful than the last but required everyone to think on their feet even more.
Angelica and Beatrice are the next logical step. They have the full power of a Servant beyond that of even Gilgamesh. The Servants they install are either equal or greater than The King of Heroes. They also both have extra tools on top of their Servant cards. The home turf advantage is just the cherry on top.
It is going to take much more than usual to beat these two and their even more powerful Master but that is what magical girl shows are all about. And despite the odd twists and turns, this is still a magical girl show at its core.
The Giant Exclamation Point has appeared and the stealth mission has turned into the standard combat. Gilgamesh squares off with Angelica for control over the items within the Gate of Babylon. At the same time, Illya and Tanaka try to find Miyu but run into Beatrice in a room of ruined artifacts. While Tanaka can take a beating she cannot seem to activate her kill switch to fight back. When all seems lost Illya discovers Ruby discarded amongst the refuse. But with Ruby and the Caster Class Card in hand Gilgamesh, Tanaka, and Illya are forced to flee. But even their retreat is fraught with danger.
I mentioned it during my Unlimited Blade Works reviews but Enkidu is always Gilgamesh’s always versatile and I would even argue most unfair weapon. Even Ea is not as fearsome because Servants can dodge, reflect, or counter Enuma Elish but Enkidu totally locks down any Servant. Divine Heroic Spirits are utterly hosed if they get tagged by it. That is proven once again within this fight between users of the Gate of Babylon.
Overall we don’t see too much of the fight. We see the key moments and then let the other fight fill in the less interesting gaps. At first, it seems that Gilgamesh is HOSED. He is partially incarnated which gives him neither the full powers of being fully incarnated or being a pure spirit Servant. Gil does not have any of his powerful combat Noble Phantasms. Also, Angelica has some backup tricks up her sleeve being at the Ainsworth castle.But Gil has two important advantages.
This first trump card is that he can absorb any weapon thrown at him Archer style because he is the true owner of all of the items in the Gate of Babylon. This second trick is that his oldest friend aka Enkidu works for him no matter what. So after the first time Gilgamesh absorbs a bunch of minor Noble Phantasms fire at him they avoid showing us Angelica deciding what she can and can’t fire at Gil as she tests the limits of their abilities. The fight skips around the warfare of footsies and skips to the high points of their battle.
I am insanely curious as to who Tanaka really is. Is she is a confused Counter Guardian here to stop all this foolishness? Is she a manifestation of the broken Holy Grail or an injured Gaia? Is she a tail of Tamamo no Mae? The main things know about her is that she generates heat like a volcano and that she can take hits from Thor’s Hammer, various other energy blasts, and weapons as if she were being hit with wet paper. Since they have yet to really let her unleash while in serious mode her actual powers are still a mystery. That would probably be the biggest clue to who she really is. Later events give some hints that she must be related to the Swirl of the Root but that hardly narrows down who or what she can be. Everyone from Servants and Gods down to lowly hedge mages can theoretically tap into the Root. It is just clear that she has a far greater connection than most.
But speculation aside Tanaka’s main role here is to be a punching bag. Until Illya regains Ruby she is basically someone who Beatrice could kill with the flick of her wrist. So Tanaka allows Beatrice to have a target until Illya is back in fighting form.
But even when Illya is a Magical Girl again she is only less of a dead woman walking than a serious threat.
One might think that Illya and Ruby reuniting would mean that Beatrice’s goose was cooked but that is hardly the case. Illya’s regular attacks bounce off of the wielder of Mjölnir despite the fact that Beatrice has not even fully installed her class card. That it turn, makes Illya bumps things up a notch and Install Medea’s Caster card. That only makes Beatrice go a little more on the defensive and be a little more serious than do any actual damage.
As anyone who has experienced any large amount of the Fate universe will know it is Rule Breaker is actually the reason you summon Caster. Her Rain of Light is more the flashy attack you use in a Dynasty Warriors game to mop up weak mobs in spectacular fashion than anything that kills high-level warriors. Rule Breaker is actually the ability that gets things DONE. The ability to break bonds, kill enchantments, and nullify effects is the real power to possess.
Except to see some Chekhov’s Rule Breaker down the line.
Gilgamesh starts off on the ropes. Bound up by Enkidu it seems that he will die ironically like many of the characters he killed in Fate/Stay Night. But when he gains control of the chain he quickly regains the tempo of the fight. At that point, Angelica gets serious and shows that she has a whole slew of minor noble phantasm cards. The battle switches to be much more even fight with Angelica on the defensive but with the knowledge, it could go either way depending on how things go down. Then the wall breaks.
While Gilgamesh might have been able to kill Angelica he is unable to take on Beatrice and Angelica even with Illya as back up. Illya was losing her fight and Tanaka is only a meat shield at this point. Plus Tanaka is too beaten even for that. Gilgamesh realizes that it is better to run away in order to fight another day. This was only meant to be a stealth mission and open combat will only lead to their defeat.
As the trio escapes, they catch the attention of Miyu. When she sees the noise is coming from Illya she is overwhelmed with a mixture of happiness and sadness. While she is given some hope with the return of her friend she also clearly knows that her would-be rescuers are also outclassed. There was a reason she fled to another dimension instead of staying to free her brother. If anything the hope that she could be reunited with Illya and her brother might make her pain even sharper.
Also, note that Illya dropped Hades’s Cap of Invisibility. It less lost never to be seen again and more has become a wild card that can be used to let someone pop out in just the nick of time or get away when they are in trouble. It might actually be more useful this way then it was before.
It seemed like getting away from the castle was the easy part. Angelica and Beatrice had the home turf advantage being in their Master’s sanctum. The truth of the matter is that they have gone from the frying pan and into the fire. The reason that the Ainsworth family never fixed up the crater was more than just them trying to keep out intruders. It was also to make the area around the castle a killing field.
With the open sky above them, Mjölnir can tap the heavens for even more deadly blasts. Ruby tells Illya that it would be such devastation that it is not even worth putting up a shield. But before the trio (or at least Gilgamesh and Illya) can be burnt to a cinder two things save them. The first is a mysterious Archer. Who this valiant sniper could be should be very obvious. But the blast only delays the second and even more deadly attack. That is stopped by Darius.
Darius has been avoiding the killing blow against Illya for unknown reasons despite the fact that Angelica and Beatrice seem rather gung-ho about eliminating her with extreme prejudice. Since Darius wants Miyu as a vessel for the Holy Grail it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why he might still want a backup as well.
It is also worth noting that everything points to Darius being insanely powerful. Every magic he displays is Grand Master class. He is a threat even beyond Angelica and Beatrice. Darius is the big boss and Gilgamesh makes it clear he is the one who has to be defeated if they truly wish to save Miyu.
Illya makes her Oath of the Peach Garden and swears that she free Miyu despite the odds.
But as anyone who has even watched a magical girl show knows there is always someone else behind the throne that you do not see.
The episode end with the big damn heroes stepping out of the shadows. Chloe reveals that she has met up with Bazett and they were the ones who saved the retreating forces. They are still no match for the Ainsworth family forces but they are at least two powerful members stronger.
The next episode is going to be a mixture of licking their wounds and planning for a counter attack. While they still have so many questions they at least have some amount of new-found knowledge from the raid. But Chole clearly feels that some high stakes training is also still in order and the brunt of her discipline is her other half.
My reviews of previous episodes: