Jeez, when these guys do a battle episode, they really do a battle episode. We’re treated to three Servant vs Servant fights this time around, and true to Fate style there’s chivalrous banter, clashing ideals, sorcery, bending of the laws of physics, widespread destruction, and grown men bickering like ten-year-olds. Truly a spectacle.
(Forgiveness is asked—in an effort to be more supportive of the production, I’m henceforth going to be watching this on Hanabee which is unfortunately a week behind in releases. I’d love to keep writing these if you all don’t mind that I’m going to be a little late to the party. Screencaps will also be coming from here with many thanks!)
All of the pieces are on the board—as of these Temple shenanigans, both Caster and Assassin have been unveiled, though whether or not they’re behaving as true Servants should is another matter. In an unusually righteous downturning of his eyebrows, Archer complains that Caster broke the rules by summoning her own Servant, who takes the form of the purple-haired samurai duelling with Saber on the stairs as she tries to get past him to rescue the no-longer-hypnotised-just-kind-of-lost-and-irritated Shirou. Well why shouldn’t she, Caster asks, accompanied by some menacingly feminine giggles? She’s a mage too. Who are you losers to tell her what to do?
So now we have a big fat irregularity in the setup of the Grail War in that one Servant is controlling another with her own Master unapparent. They’re either very strong and wily or a complete pushover, but Archer discerns that as long as Caster defeats Berserker it’s neither here nor there. He’s even cool with her continuing to suck the life force from the townsfolk if it makes her strong enough to take the other opponent out (they can kill her after she’s done that, Archer reckons, and have significantly less dirty work to do). Shirou is notably less than impressed by this, and horrified at the idea of letting more innocent people die. There’s a good argument about this, but first, he has to be rescued.
Caster is definitely, if I may say so, a badass of impossible scale. Literally, she’s using magic that shouldn’t technically be possible, like time control and instant teleportation. She certainly gives Archer and Shirou a fright when she appears to have been killed then reappears in the sky with the world’s deadliest butterfly motif and a staff that shoots energy to rip the ground—and anyone in its way—to shreds. Shirou ends up on his butt again and even has to have it saved by Archer, leading to a lovely little segment of Shirou hanging from his hand by the shirt while they bark insults at each other. Caster just kind of… watches, for a moment, in awe. I can only imagine what Rin’s going to think when she hears about this. Boys. I will put you in a get along shirt.
Saber, to her lamentation, can’t even run up the stairs and help because she’s been apprehended by another pretty knightly type who likes bending the laws of reality. Whether or not he’s a ‘true’ Servant, Assassin is pretty good at what he does, right down to almost killing her with three simultaneous strikes of his katana. We really are reminded that Servants are something next level and beyond this world—there’s a convincing sense of mysticism and awe-inspiring bizarreness to them when they clash, and especially when they continuously one-up each other in their efforts to break the laws of the world we know.
Caster freezes Archer in a vacuum so he can’t move? Archer summons his swords to the air just outside the vacuum and throws them straight at her. He also drops some conspicuous and likely very important English, “I am the bone of my sword”, before whipping out another one of his pseudo-arrows and Caster-blasting the sky in half. Now what does all that mean?
Short of finishing her off, though, Archer lets her go, leaving her to titter once again (they do love that evil giggle for her) at him and Shirou, observing that they’re very alike. This outright offends both of them, and the tension only continues once Caster’s gone, right down to Shirou throwing a punch at his tall sword-shooting companion and having it deftly deflected. There’s no point in trying to fight without any collateral damage, Archer explains. If you try to save everyone, you’ll end up not saving anyone at all.
Shirou’s had his altruistic and giving nature questioned and called a flaw before, but that was by his friends. This is by a Heroic Spirit, someone in the business, as it were. The warning has much more weight coming from Archer, and a hidden significance, we have to imagine, given that it feeds into a ghostly flashback of him in that field of swords we’ve seen once in a dream. What secrets are you concealing, grumpy man? What vendetta does he have that would lead him to save Shirou, only to stab him in the back (literally! Well, more like a slash) moments later?
Again, I cannot imagine Rin will be impressed, but first we’re treated to the lovely sight of Saber catching the swooning, bloodied Shirou, and Assassin letting her go out of respect for her character and skill. He even engages Archer in a duel when he leaps down presumably to finish the job. A decent fellow in the Grail War? How nice. That should cause some clashes further down the line, especially since he’s meant to be working for Caster. I’m quite wary of the repercussions of this episode’s recurring ‘letting people go’ thing. Shirou does get home safe, though, and once he’s bandaged up again, asks Saber to teach him how to fight. Properly, you know, so he can actually kick and save some ass. But do you have to kick one ass to save the ass of another? Or is there truly a way you can keep everyone safe?
He can’t help remembering what Kiritsugu said to him all those years ago, nor can he help frowning and throwing an experimental punch at his reflection. Aside from his painful recoil being adorable and hilarious, you have to wonder what they’re trying to tell us with this. Under the cloak of all the swordplay and magic awesomeness, the plot, as it is, is thickening substantially.
- My subs had Shirou keep insulting Archer with “son of a…” Son of a what, kid? A misguidedly idealistic assassin? Because I have news for you, my friend.
- Only a little flash, but I’m glad we caught a glimpse of Caster’s feelings that weren’t “ohohohoho, sorcery~”. Character building to come! Watch this space and fear for yourself!
- Shirou has now been punted across the screen by two out of three of the Knight Classes!
- Sakura was not relevant in this episode but that’s okay