“Basically, I really, really wanted to fight Gil with a fighter jet. I worked toward it with all my heart and soul!”
We pick up exactly where we left off last time (you almost wouldn’t notice there had been a season break, but for the introductory panning shot that reintroduces you to all the characters in their current positions): Caster’s giant octopus monster is filling the river with mist, tentacles and awfulness, and the only one having a good time is Ryuunosuke.
Saber and Iskander, for all their best efforts, can’t even dent the damned thing—now, of all things, it has a self-healing ability too. If they want to stick with their previous plan of making an opening for Diarmuid to spear Caster straight through, they’re going to have to do some seriously fast hack-and-slash action, which is looking impossible even for this crew. We really need to get rid of the giant squid thing, guys. And the most powerful one in the extended squad is not helping.
Gilgamesh is watching from on high with his increasingly distressed Master, who pleads with him to go in and help because, you know, a giant squid abomination is squelching its way towards his hometown to eat everyone and everything. Also, it’s creating quite a spectacle, as Father Risei can be seen complaining about back at the Church. Ryuunosuke’s gleeful shouting about how cool the whole thing is is only drawing more onlookers, and soon, oh my heavens, the general populace might find out about magic and mages and Holy Grail Wars. It’s good to know someone’s concerned about this.
Tokiomi tries to get Gilgamesh to see that they simply won’t be able to pass this off as the film set of another kaiju movie for much longer, but the golden king does not want to budge… from his flying throne. The two of them are suspended in the air over the river on some sort of ancient, gold-plated and supposedly magical flying machine—possibly with grounds in reality, possibly not, on that I’m afraid I haven’t done the research and just this once don’t want to ruin the magic. King Arthur’s a girl and Gilgamesh is white, and Gilles de Rais is piloting a Lovecraftian beast around a river in Japan. At this point, just roll with it. It only gets better.
After all, Urobochi just really, really wanted a fighter jet fight. Naturally, this requires a fighter jet, and two appear from the air force (the ordinary authorities are responding! That’s also good to know) to check the thing out. One subsequently gets eaten, and its partner swoops in on a vengeance mission. Their valiant tirade is cut short, however, when Berserker appears on the plane’s roof.
Remember how Berserker’s Noble Phantasm/secret coolest move is to imbue anything he touches with his dark, maddened magic? This applies much more efficiently to planes than it does to lamp posts, it seems. It’s enough to get Gilgamesh enthused about fighting again, and stop whining about not wanting to waste his swords on the ugly blob in the river. Tokiomi leaves him to it, dropping delicately to ground level to meet the mad knight-come-pilot’s Master head on.
And so, the evil snob and the wormy underdog finally face off. Kariya gets to ask Tokiomi, at long last: what the hell is wrong with you, man? Why did you ship your daughter off to the Matou family to be raised in an unloving home and a pit full of worms, doomed to fall into such obscurity that she’ll barely even appear in the sequel series?
Oh, it’s a terrible thing, Tokiomi assures him, but it had to be done. A mage with two heirs, it seems, has a dilemma on their hands: the family Crest, accumulated knowledge and role of headship can only be passed onto one child. The other is left to the wayside, and that simply isn’t fair. In order to give Sakura the magical upbringing her exceptional power deserved, the best option was to adopt her into a family with equal history and knowledge as the Tohsaka.
And it just so happened that the Matou heir—i.e. Kariya—had recently left, leaving the position open and the family in need. It worked out perfectly, you see. Kariya can only look on in horror, whether because the woman he loves and her children are being tossed around so casually, or because it turns out he kind of helped, is unclear, but the whole mess is equally awful.
This whole discussion serves as an excellent insight into the mage world and Tokiomi, who has clearly been shaped by it—whether or not he knew about the worms (and there has been no evidence yet to say he did or didn’t), his chief and legitimate concern was for his daughter’s education. With equal magical potential to her sister, he wanted her to have the same path of glory and knowledge in front of her, which she would have been denied had she remained in his family, effectively stuck in Rin’s shadow with all her innate power wasted, doomed for a life in limbo between the mage world, who wouldn’t accept her, and the ordinary human one, which probably doesn’t look like much when you’ve been raised next to a wizard.
And of course, with Sakura adopted out into one of the family rivals, there’s a greater chance that she’ll end up fighting for the Grail herself, and thus a greater chance of someone from the Tohsaka bloodline winning it and achieving the dream. So Tokiomi’s method is certainly not without logic, though it’s cruel logic from an outsider’s perspective, and it’s very clear that this is the kind of bullshit that Kariya ran away from when he chose to leave his family. What is the worth of a human life, if you only measure it based on what they can do with magic, and what opportunity they’re given to further that ability?
The whole thing becomes a tangled up caste system that is fascinating and terrible to study. The mage world is a system where it’s literally better to send your children away to a pit full of worms for her education’s sake than to keep her with her biological family, who will eventually render her a useless hanger-on in favour of the true heir who gets all the power and glory. Maybe Tokiomi feared Sakura’s resentment of Rin, if she had been forced to grow up like that (as well as whatever else mage family ‘spares’ are forced to go through… there’s the implication of something darker, but it’s never quite stated), and couldn’t stand to see his daughters’ relationship ruined like that.
Pitting them, or even their descendants, against each other in future Grail Wars makes him a hypocrite in this measure, of course. Oh, Tokiomi, what is going on in that head of yours? Are you a mixed-up hero caught in the system trying to do the best you can, or an all-out villain playing favourites with the child who’ll serve your wishes best? Kariya’s made up his mind, anyway: Tokiomi is Bad and will thus be subject to his magical wrath, which comes in the form of angry bugs. Tokiomi thinks this is pretty gross, and his response to Kariya’s whole rant is to look at him with disdain and prepare to fight him to the death.
Well, what must be done must be done, I suppose, by his logic. This confrontation between Masters is beautifully and ridiculously paralleled by the battle between their Servants, which is happening simultaneously with a lot less talking and a lot more pew pew pew!
You win this one, Urobochi. You wrote an aerial dogfight between Gilgamesh and Berserker, and it was the most visually stunning, off-the-wall ridiculous and awesome thing I have ever seen.
Ah, but our machinegun fire and sword flinging and mage musing alike must come to an end soon, as the stakes have just been raised: Kiritsugu, resolving not to lurk forever, has taken Ryuunosuke out with a sniper bullet. Leaving him to… look in awe and wonder at his own blood, deliriously happy that that beauty was within him all along, and die with a genuine smile on his face. I’m not sure he deserved that, but I’m then again I was never sure what to think of Ryuunosuke. In any case, our favourite serial killer is out of the game, leaving Caster wailing in vengeance and even more determined to ruin everyone’s night.
Things are really starting to hit the fan, which you wouldn’t believe when you look back at Diarmuid and Iri, who literally haven’t moved all episode. Our dear knight is about to cause trouble, though—the best way to defeat this beastie, according to Kiritsugu, is to use Saber’s Noble Phantasm, and his curse is exactly the thing stopping her…