This is a very serious, dark show. People are trying to kill each other. Innocents are manipulated. Buildings are destroyed. Demons are summoned and children are harmed. Grown men cry. And lines like “authority and your pants have zip, zilch, and absolutely nothing to do with one another!” are uttered without a single hint of irony.
For context, Iskander has successfully conquered the beast of ‘mail ordering’ and gotten himself a video game t-shirt that somehow isn’t ripped in half when he puts it on and flexes his gargantuan arms. Waver is livid that his Servant would even try such a thing, not only because it undermines his control-freakiness, but gosh darn is it going to draw attention to them, especially if he goes out exploring as he has every intent of doing. The delivery guy timidly asking if an “Iskander King of Conquerors” was in residence was bad enough. At least Iskander agrees, begrudgingly, that he can’t leave the house without some sort of legwear. Waver, begrudgingly, finds himself promising to buy some extra-extra-large jeans if Iskander defeats an enemy Servant. Ah, the trials of housesharing.
On a more serious note regarding the whole ‘this is meant to be a secret war you guys, damn it’ rule, the overseer makes a grave announcement: Caster and his Master have been on somewhat of a murder spree, and seeing as this has been in the news (more foreshadowing at 11, sports report to follow) since episode one, they figure it’s time to reign the suckers in before anyone investigates too closely and accidentally discovers the magical underworld. Thus, Risei offers, from the ample supply given to him as Judge (supposedly from previous fallen Masters—how many dead mages are represented in that flowing design?), an extra Command Spell to the one who takes out Caster.
No one’s actually listening in person, since everyone’s sent familiars to relay the message to their Master’s eyes. Tokiomi has to note the animal headcount, and ponder that despite Kiritsugu’s best efforts, Team Kayneth must still be alive and kicking. And since Kayneth, like Tokiomi, used up Command Spell on the night of the shipyards battle, it seems as though they’ve got some stiff competition. The only question is, when are they both going to come out of the woodwork? Tokiomi hasn’t seemed to have left that cellar room for four episodes.
Someone who doesn’t seem interested in the scramble for an extra Spell is Kiritsugu, who sees this whole debacle as a perfect opportunity to take his opponents out while they’re all distracted with going after Caster. Maiya, by his side, has no opinion about this; Iri seems a little perturbed; but Saber is full on livid that he’d let Caster continue running around murdering small children if it would serve his own purpose. Kiritsugu doesn’t even reply to this and all but talks over her. The King of Knights may as well be wallpaper, and she is not happy about it.
Kiritsugu, though, doesn’t seem too happy himself—not that he’d show it with the present audience. When Iri finds him brooding on the balcony though, things take (with almost mood-whiplash-inducing pace, mind you) a very different tone. He asks her, voice and badass façade cracking around the edges, if she’d come with him if he ran away. Away from the Grail War, away from the whole mess surrounding it, picking up little Ilya from the castle and killing anyone who got in their way until they found somewhere safe. As he goes on, he sounds increasingly adamant and hopeless, which is a jarring combination, especially from a guy we just saw so stone-faced.
Iri calls his bluff of course, and practically melts our coal-built anti-hero into a pile of mush. He couldn’t run away—even if the Einzberns didn’t get angry at him, as ‘his own first and final accuser’ he’d never forgive himself, and she outright says that he’d end his own life. He admits that he’s terrified, and seems brokenly reassured that Iri’s there with him, even if only for a while. And Saber will protect him, she assures, tearily… and he has Maiya too. Oh dear. She knows.
But really, disjointed as the entry to it is, I love this little scene. It humanises and develops Kiritsugu brilliantly—and more than that, it demonstrates him as total sop, a fragile ball of fear and love and hopelessness. Both the voice actors that I’ve heard do a stellar job of getting across that lump-in-the-throat awfulness of the entire situation, and his face becomes wonderfully expressive. Your badass is a sadass. And the supposedly conflicting strength and weakness exist in the same person, the person who’s still the centre of the show. So being emotional, crying and needing hugs and being frightened, is not expressed as a bad thing.
They promise you a gritty tough guy with a troubled past and manpain, and they actually display that pain, and aren’t afraid to taint his awesomeness with a legitimate emotional centre. And, for the second time, they outright describe him as suicidal. I almost wish they’d delved into his depressive cycle more because that would just be another layer of excellence in terms of not only making the character emotional and flawed in ways that usually wouldn’t suit a ‘badass’, but would also be representation of depression and suicidal tendencies in a total badass which I think would be pretty uplifting for a lot of people to see. Not that Kiritsugu should be anyone’s role model in a total sense (assassination is illegal and bad, even if it’s for a good cause), but it would still be a case of “hey, this well-rounded, much-loved character is suffering mentally. If he can get through it, you can too, and if he commands that much love from writers and fans and other characters, it shows that your condition does not take away your ability or deserving to be loved.”
But I’m also willing to admit an exploration like that would have been a touch out of place (but hey, that’s what fanworks are for) and something the show didn’t have any time for—we get our well-tuned glance into his brain and a demonstration of how much he and Iri actually do care for each other (show! Don’t! Tell!) and then snap, there’s trouble afoot, and it’s time to get back to the action. Caster has come to them, and he seems unnervingly pleased with himself.
Saber goes out to confront him, and try to rescue the hypnotised kids he’s brought to ‘play’ in the Einzbern manor forest. Just when she thinks she’s secured the life of at least one, the little lad warps as something disgusting emerges from his body—and just like that, everything is terror and tentacles. Caster has come to party, and he’s brought octopus demons and an apparent never-ending flow of mana to feed them with. He’s also still firmly convinced that Saber is Joan of Arc with her memories suppressed, so naturally, the decent thing to do as her old friend is to attack her with bloodthirsty monsters until she comes to.
Saber’s finding herself a bit tied up in the most unpleasant and seafood-scented kind of way, when who should appear in a flash of red and gold spear-shafts and a fanfare of faraway cheering but Diarmuid. He even winks, the beautiful cad. Saber owes him a duel, he declares, and if Caster wants to creep on her that’s his business, but Diarmuid is not, as a knight, going to let him destroy her in such an unfair fight when she’s lost use of one of her hands because of him. And so our friendly rivals end up exchanging chivalrous smirks and banter on the battlefield, this time back to back as allies instead of face to face as enemies. You get the sense that they really are having a great time.
But this brings the question—if Lancer is fine, where is his Master? Well, Kayneth answers it quite neatly when he smashes through the front doors announcing himself, accompanied by what appears to be a giant blob of magical mercury. Now that, if I may say so, is cool. As it can change shape, it flows and bounces all over the house hunting for prey, and finds Kiritsugu, giving him just enough time to jump out of the way before it opens a hole in the floor for Kayneth to rise out of like a Eurovision contestant.
Time, though, is always on Kiritsugu’s side, as we learn when we see him move Matrix style and dart out of the way of the mercury’s attack. Kayneth observes (conveniently telling the air and the camera about it the whole time) that Kiritsugu has created a way to warp time within his own body. It comes in handy for both escaping at supernatural speed and slowing down his heartrate and breathing so Mr Mercury can’t detect him (which leads to a very… visually interesting shot of him flat against a wall, panting and looking very strained and sweaty. Thanks, ufotable).
He does manage to take Kayneth by surprise through this method, and jumps out at him firing a mini machine gun. Kayneth just laughs—the mercury shield is impervious to his brutish modern technology. Only magic can penetrate it (this time). But oh, why then, does Kiritsugu look so smug as he pulls out that custom pistol of his? Stay tuned to find out!