Up until this point, Fate/Apocrypha has had to keep shifting the focus to cover all of the cast. Certain characters have definitely gotten more screen time than others but they have been working their darnedest to flesh out the main cast especially since they have to start killing some of them off soon. This is the first point in the anime to really focus on only a handful of characters. It makes sense considering this is the first real deal death of a Servant so a little narrowing of scope is vital to give impact to the first casualty. (Siegfried does not really count given this episode.)
Mordred fights Sieg, Astolfo, and Frankenstein’s monster all at the same time and kills two of them. Before Mordred can get a hat trick Seig returns as Siegfried so that he can actually give the Knight of Betrayal a worthy opponent.
It is one thing to say the Saber is the most powerful Class but it is another thing to see it in action. Mordred really shows off the power of Round Table when she takes on three enemies at once without too much difficulty. I admit Sieg, Astolfo, and Frankenstein’s monster are sort of the low-end of the opponent pool but they are still significant threats. Astolfo has the excuse that he just fought Semiramis and is deliberately not using super mana intensive attacks. Frankenstein’s monster is hobbled a bit by being a newer Servant and therefore having less cultural cache. Sieg is mostly better than a human but far less than a Servant or even a well-trained magus. So while Mordred does fight three opponents it is not a fight against Gilgamesh, Scathach, and Altera. It is far more than most basic Servants could ever do but not a god tier of combat prowess either.
Still, it is amusing to see her throw around Sieg and Astolfo like they were training dummies.
It seems that the G String Assassin is actually on the battlefield. She has just chosen to murder some of the homunculi and golems that are on the edges of the battle to increase her mana supply since her Master can’t do that. Since the homunculi and golems are also on the Black side I have to wonder if this is a bit of a declaration of war on their own side or is this a bit of a misunderstanding since Reika Rikudou is an unusual master.
This does feel like a bit of a missed opportunity. The chaos of a battle like this would be the perfect time for Jack to try to take out some Masters. She does not seem like the sort to do super well against combat monster Servants but she has proven to be decent at killing magi as demonstrated by her trip from London to Trifas. The problem is that at this point there are really only two Masters left on the Red side. Shiro is a bit too big a target and she just tried to kill Kairi Sisigou so it would be a bit boring for her to attack him again. This is a case where having the other five Red Masters around would have helped. They would not necessarily have had to die but they would have let Jack do more than be cute while she murders nobodies.
I was not expecting Frankenstein’s monster to be the first Servant to be killed. In retrospect, it makes sense since Yuuichirou Higashide went out of his way to set up her history and motivation more than any other the other minor Servants. He also had Frankenstein’s monster and Caules have more interactions than any other pair other than Mordred and Sisigou so the audience had some emotional attachment to her before she died. If anything I have to give the series a little praise for not just throwing Frankenstein’s monster all of that development in the same episode where she dies. I know some people will mention this is something that even the newest writers should easily avoid but it happens so often in other series that it is worth a thumbs up when that trope is avoided.
If you thought Frankenstein’s monster went down easily then Seig asked someone to hold his beer while he showed everyone what a REAL jobber looks like. At first, Mordred seems almost sympathetic to the valiant homunculi trying to save his friend but Mordred is hardly a saint. Even the Buddha gets mad after the third time and Mordred is not really qualifying for the Saver Class anytime soon.
I’m sure there were a small group of people who thought that Sieg died here. But everyone other than those two people probably guessed that he was going to pull through. At this point, there has been far too much emphasis placed on Sieg for him to die and this is not the type of story to subvert those expectations.
If you’re going to go out you might as well go out like a champ. While Frankenstein’s monster does not do that much more than making Sisigou send a command seal it is a damn impressive way to do it. Plus at that point, it was not like Astolfo and Frankenstein’s monster had any chance without a sacrifice play.
The more interesting question is what role does Caules play past this point. Unlike Gordes, the story has shown that Caules is capable outside of having a Servant. Now that he is no longer a direct threat to Fiore’s ambitions he easily could become her direct ally or at least a general supporter of his sister and Chiron and the rest of the Yggdmillennia faction. I’m not sure what role exactly he will play but as a bit more of a free agent he still has lots of potential as a character.
I know that entering the Dragon’s Lair is one of the steps on the Hero’s Journey in the monomyth but you don’t have to be THAT on the nose about it. He essentially gets permission to have the power of Siegfried and Fafnir by taking up Siegfried‘s quest to help others even if the cost is his own sense of self. In many ways, this scene is both the heart of what makes Sieg a compelling character and what makes him feel so bland.
He is simultaneously a very passive character but at the same time, he is often being active. Most of the time he feels like a leaf in the wind in regards to the plot. He seems to just float along to where he needs to be next. But then at key moments, he makes the decisions and choices to move his story forward but he always feels like his hand is being held while he makes that choice. If a parent is standing over a child’s shoulder nudging them towards the right choice so it can feel more like the parent’s choice than the child’s. In every scene so far where Sieg has been active, he feels very passive in his agency. It is a messy feeling that can rob his choices of a sense of character growth.
OK. So Sieg now can temporally turn himself into Siegfried. While it is only for a short period of time it is a HUGE upgrade from his previous milksop form which Mordred brushed aside without even a second thought. He also has a bit of an upgrade thanks to Blasted Tree reviving him on the battlefield. He went from Zero to Hero in the course of half an episode. It is like Sieg is a passive Mega Man. Every time someone dies in this series a weaker version of their power goes to this kid. This really seems like more evidence towards the Gary Stu interpretation of the character.
It seems that we have almost caught up to the beginning of the anime. It will be interesting to see where things go from here.
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!
Fate/Apocrypha #06: Who Am I?
Fate/Apocrypha #07: Castle Crashers
Fate/Apocrypha #08: Mordred Went to the Yukari Tanizaki School of Driving
Fate/Apocrypha #09: The Battle of Red Cliffs