The winds are restless as they gather around the city of Fuyuki, with intrigue and drama building in every corner. Tokiomi’s up to something. Kirei and the Church crew are definitely up to something. Iskander is planning world domination from Waver’s couch. Iri and Saber have touched down. And Kiritsugu seems to have taken the phrase ‘bring your wives and girlfriends to the War’ a little too literally.
At chez Tohsaka, in the aftermath of the spectacular smack-down of Assassin’s attempts to break in, Tokiomi stands in what will be a very familiar room come Fate/Stay Night and talks to his broody Archer. Here we learn that our spiky-haired friend is not only the ancient king Gilgamesh (and yet lily pale?) but also somewhat of a gold-plated douchebag. Tokiomi, I can only imagine, is revising his initial glee at having summoned such a powerful spirit as said spirit casually insults his everything and disappears willy-nilly in a whirl of gold dust.
The show did not go unnoticed, though, as several Masters had familiars at the scene, including Waver. His happy chorus of “Ding Dong Assassin’s Dead” isn’t met with an enthusiastic response from Iskander, though. Gosh, may I say, these two are a ray of sunshine already. And they do so without feeling outright like comic relief—mostly because Iskander radiates such an air of bizarre majesty that you simply accept everything he does. Giant beardy man draped on the floor eating rice crackers and declaring sagely that they should find a nearby affluent capital and loot it for funds to buy fighter jets? Sure. Why not. Go for it, big guy. Go beat up Bill Clinton.
Waver is naturally unimpressed, both that there’s a giant lump of Macedonian muscle filling his room with history books and crumbs, and that said lump is not excited. Iskander points out that there’s something amiss, especially in the manner of Assassin’s death. How many swords were thrown at him? Too many to be normal, apparently. Here we’re treated to a nice little exposition piece on Noble Phantasms, which are a Servant’s finishing move if you will—something that embodies their legend, usually a weapon or device they carried in their stories or real life. According to Waver, all of the multiple blades raining from the heavens onto poor old Assassin felt powerful enough to be Noble Phantasms. Does that mean this golden boy has more than one? Well, that’s weird. And rather worrying.
What’s also weird and worrying is Kirei appearing at the church calling for sanctuary, having been supposedly kicked out of the Grail War since his Servant is dead. Supposedly being the key word—Assassin, as it is, is very much the opposite of dead, or at least, most of them is. Assassin is not just one Heroic Spirit but a multitude, the pseudo-hivemind embodiment of Hassan’s organisation, the original brotherhood of hired killers from which the term assassin comes. Thus, losing one head of their hydra-like group is no skin off their skull-masked nose… and again, this serves to be worrying, considering that no one’s going to see them or Kirei coming if they think they’re dead and out. Cunning, Mr. Brick Wall, cunning.
Meanwhile, Iri descends from the sky like the angel she is, escorted from a plane into the city by Saber, who is now sporting a sharp suit. If her blasé attitude to flying makes you think she’s not easily moved, it’s proved wrong when she reacts with such shock at hearing Iri’s never been outside the Einzbern castle before. Kiritsugu’s taught her about the outside world as much as he can, but she’s never actually seen it… until Saber agrees to show her around so they can scope this new world out together. We fade off there, but I can only infer a cute friend date of sightseeing. Aww.
Meanwhile again, Kiritsugu has also arrived in town and is hanging out in a shady hotel room full of equipment (refer to your novel here for several pages of gratuitous gun description) with one of the few important adult female characters in the show thus far. My God, I was beginning to think they were a myth! She’s interesting already, cold and calculating and almost mechanical in nature, with an air of mystery and the canny eye to notice how off the timing is in the Assassin attack for it to have truly been a surprise. She can only be a fascinating addition to the team—hey, hold on, why are they making out?
Making out is a strong phrase (though let’s just say if this was a HBO adaptation, we may not have left that hotel room when we did, wink nudge) and this doesn’t quite have the immediate guise of a passionate secret affair—more, at this point, like a gentler version of smacking Kiritsugu and telling him to focus. The effect is the same, though—before he gets carried away fretting that one of his rifles is heavier than his daughter, Maiya has him in her embrace and is telling him to clear his mind, reminding him where he is and that due to some intrinsic nature of the War that’s been alluded to but not yet explained, his participation is betraying his wife anyway. He may as well practice by kissing another woman.
I’m cheating of course (no pun intended) because I’ve gathered this knowledge from further reading and reflection, but the first time I watched this part I was undeniably confused and a little scandalised. What makes it worse is that in the show it’s never fully explained, and all we can do is scratch our heads, and wonder if they moved the guns off the bed before they used it if they did, and narrow our eyes at people calling Maiya rude names on the internet. And weep a little because Iri’s having such a nice time in her parallel storyline, apparently oblivious and soaking up all the wonders of the world she’s been kept away from.
Until everyone twitches with Spidey Sense and it becomes apparent that something magical in nature is calling out, inviting Servants to come meet it—or rather, as it turns out, him—in the proverbial pit. A challenger appears! Stay tuned!