If you’re not playing Fate/Grand Order I will point out that the title of the post is a reference to Mordred’s Max Bond Level Card. Even if you know nothing else about the game it should be a big hint that most of this post will be spent talking about the Knight of Treachery.
The biggest revelation in this episode is actually quite significant in the greater Type-Moon pantheon of lore but is easily missed by casual fans. This was the first onscreen shot of Morgan le Fay. Even if she is either in shadow or a faceless memory it is still more than she has even been seen before. When Fate/Stay Night has first released King Arthur and Bedivere were the only Arthurian characters who had portraits. As time has gone on various Fate offshoots have increased the amount of fully fleshed out pieces of the legend. Especially since Merlin was unveiled there have been three people who I feel are critical and have been left out. They are the Lady of the Lake, Guinevere, and Morgan le Fay. Thanks to Fate/Apocrypha one of the three great mysteries finally have some answers. While Morgan le Fay is still partially clouded in secrecy she now has a general character design and a voice actress. I expect to see her appear in Grand Order fairly soon with a full character design and a little more insight into the infamous sorceress.
It starts with a dream of a child only wishing to be acknowledged by their parent. But the waking world quickly rears its head with a battle with a tiny assassin and a scholarly centaur. While the Red Knight deals with a one-two punch of deadly Servants her Master is challenged by an extremely dangerous paraplegic.
Looking back like this it is easy to see why Artoria is filled with regret about her reign when she is summoned in any Holy Grail War. It seems that Morgan le Fay succeeded more due to Artoria’s mistakes than her own genius and duplicity. While Mordred was supposed to be blade that brought down the King it did not happen the way that Morgan le Fay envisioned. For the longest time, Mordred was enthralled by her father’s glorious reign. The fall of Camelot was only due to Artoria’s really disastrous handling of Mordred’s feelings. Only then could Morgan le Fay finally use Mordred as intended. Until then she was a pretty poor sleeper agent as we see from these flashbacks. Morgan le Fay is constantly nagging her daughter to take down her hated sibling but Mordred is mostly ignoring her like an annoying parent trying to get their child to clean their room.
To top it off while it is not seen here Agravain starts off as an Assassin sent by Morgan to infiltrate Camelot and then kill Artoria but instead also winds up becoming a devout follower. As I stated before he is the Paul von Oberstein of the Round Table. Although he is partially responsible for destroying Camelot by discovering Lancelot and Guinevere’s affair it is another case of an agent who inadvertently succeeds at their job. Artoria’s horrible disaster control is the actual problem.
The whole flashback makes me realize that being such a fluid story the tale of King Arthur has played out in so many ways over the years. The beginning and the end is usually are the same but the beats in-between can be amazingly different depending on what the author wishes to say. How Arthur falls from grace says volumes about the person telling the story and the times they live in. The Fate interpretation of Arthurian legend speaks so much to its character focus and the fact that it all centers on Artoria’s personality belays its visual novel roots.
If you saw random animated Gifs and pictures from this episode it was probably not of the cool fights or stunning pieces of lore. It was almost assuredly pictures of Morded playing with cats. This is the age of the Internet. Only a fool would assume anything differently.
This little interlude does well to get everyone together in the same place while also building the bond between Mordred and Sisigou showing that they make a fairly good pairing. They both seem like the type that does not work well with others. They do have the right mixture of openness and offstanding that lets them not only tolerate working together but actually enjoy it. It lets them work separately from the two major powers in the war and not immediately be at a disadvantage.
It is also worth nothing that the apple does not fall far from the tree. It seems that Mordred has retained Artoria’s love of eating and seemingly bottomless appetite. Camelot had to be a prosperous Kingdom to support the two of them. In a different world, they could have bonded over a proper feast or two. I’m sure someone has written a story of two involving Shiro and that premise.
Also, does anyone know what Modred stance on Gawain’s boring quantity over quality stance of food preparation is? Artoria was clearly traumatized by it but Mordred might not have been as fussy.
Speaking of super compatible Masters and Servants we have the exact opposite here. Celenike finally goes full on yandere as she cuts up some homunculi out of frustration. I’m just going to assume the physical violence was the capstone to the sexual variety. She now has her sights firmly set on degrading and destroying Sieg to twist the knife with her rebellious Servant. This is only going to make her an even more divisive character. So to a certain segment of the fanbase her appeal just tripled but to most other people she just became a more dislikeable fiend. For Astolfo fans this is doubly true.
With so much focus on the prime Red Faction members, it only makes sense to balance it all out with the Yggdmillennia screen time. If you thought Caules was a nerd this only confirms he is a big otaku. I could not identify any of the posters as direct parodies of particular shows but they looked more like generic shows that are definitely supposed be recognizable in their genre of choice. They are the generic brand versions of anime. If that show has been Magical Medical Medusa that might be a different story.
It seems a VERY bad idea to make Gordes the heart of a Homunculus. Sure at this point, he is mostly dead weight but that does not make him worth using as a core. Just because you have a junker on your front lawn you don’t put its engine inside the frame of the new car you’re working on because the engine still kind of works. Sure you got rid of the eyesore in front of your house but now you have sabotaged your new purchase. Gordes seems like the type of loser to water down any project he is a part of. Let him drink himself to death in his room.
When Jack the Ripper was revealed to be a 5-star Servant in Fate/Grand Order there was a very upset part of the fanbase. They felt she was a super low-quality Assassin who did not deserve to get such a high-ranking. Due to her loli character design, those sentiments are never going to go away but I feel that this fight sequence shows off that she is not utterly useless. She holds her own against Mordred and almost takes out Sisigou. In a straight up fair fight, Jack could never beat Mordred but her talents are in taking out Masters with the ability to not get straight up murdered by a Servant if she gets caught. That is technically how the class is supposed to work. I don’t think this will win over any fans that hate her character design but it at least shows she is not utterly undeserving of her ranking.
Chiron actually does not do that much better. While he is able to do a decent job of occupying Mordred from a distance his abilities greatly decrease when things get down to the close combat level. Chiron is clearly a super capable Servant. It is just that Mordred is like a mix of a Saber and a Berserker. Engaging in a straight out battle severely puts Chiron at a disadvantage. Mordred is a Servant you have to outthink not overwhelm.
While the Servant fights are always cool I feel that the fights between Masters can be few and far between. You have the fight between Kiritsugu and Kayneth as well as Kiritsugu and Kirei in Fate/Zero but beyond that Masters tend just to be support characters on the side lines. I guess you must have middle-aged men involved to get proper magical fights.
It would seem that Fiore would be the Master you expected to fight from the side lines but she makes a good show of why she has so many hopes pinned on her. It is also one of those cases that makes sure to acknowledge that if you have all these magical abilities you also have a way to cover a lot of deficiencies that would otherwise plague a combatant. Her Doctor Octopus frame makes what might otherwise be a standard battle feel very fresh.
It is also a great knockdown slugfest. Fiore takes on Sisigou’s mixture of modern weaponry mixed with magical might shot for shot. Neither of them seems to be adverse to techno-magic like so many other Type-Moon wizards. Kiritsugu would be proud. (Or maybe just upset that people are stealing his shtick.)
At the end, Fiore looks like she is done for but they make a BIG deal that Caules is going to try to back her up so there is no reason to worry about her at this stage. They clearly want to have her stick around longer so this is more of a cliffhanger than anything else.
This was a super solid episode but it really focuses on most of the characters that people like (ignoring Jack) and avoids the characters people hate. If this is an indication of what is to come then I think we will be alright. It was a good mixture of development and action and that is when the Fate series works best.
Previous Fate/Apocrypha posts:
Fate/Apocrypha #01: One Night in Trifas Makes a Hard Magus Humble
Fate/Apocrypha #02: Who Wears Short Shorts?
Fate/Apocrypha #03: Meet Your Real Main Character
Fate/Apocrypha #04: Sumanai
Fate/Apocrypha #05: Freedom! Horrible, Horrible Freedom!