Waver returns from nearly getting blasted in half by Excalibur to find the elderly man he hypnotised into being his grandfather waving and inviting him up onto the house roof. It is a strange end to a strange night.
And it looks like it could be a troubling start to a new day, as the two of them watch the sun rise over the suburbs and ol’ Glen says “Hey kiddo, you’re not really my grandson are you?” It looks like Waver’s busted, but Not Grandpa is surprisingly cool with this development since his actual grandchildren never want anything to do with him. He and his wife have gotten quite attached to Waver (and his friend “Alexei” who has for once made himself scarce) over the few weeks he’s been magically lodging in their house, to the point that they’re pretty worried about him.
Amongst all the chaos and bloodshed of the past few episodes, it’s surreally serene to just sit with Waver and Glen and watch the dawn (beautifully animated of course), while Glen says genuinely comforting and supportive things—again, things Waver was definitely not used to hearing until recently. Glen says that when you get old enough, you realise that life is precious and there’s really nothing in the world worth dying for, which has to hit Waver pretty hard since he threw himself headfirst into this War in pursuit of glory and nothing else, even and especially if it meant his death. Well, contrary to what mage society seems to think, maybe the lives of individuals are more important than bigger goals…
Unfortunately we have to leave the best fake grandparents ever and visit Kiritsugu, who is sitting in what will become a very significant Temple looking—and I must appreciate the attention to detail here—exceptionally scruffy and haggard. “Once again,” he laments internally. “I’m alone.” And I have to sob, even if I’m still angry that half the reason he’s alone is because the women around him keep getting killed off so he can feel bad about it. Saber arrives, looking equally distressed (but with less stubble) and informs him that she still can’t find Iri. In spite of the opportunity, they do not bond over their loss and worry, and I sob some more.
So where is Iri? You will be delighted to know that Kirei, having successfully manipulated Team Berserker into acquiring her, is keeping her in the sewer Gilles de Rais was using as his murder factory. Iri is understandingly and satisfactorily pissed off, weak as she is, especially when Kirei starts talking smack about her husband. Iri says she’d only trust one man to hold the Grail and that’s Kiritsugu, to which Kirei scoffs that the two of them are effectively the same. This is, in Iri’s eyes, the biggest insult anyone could dish out.
Kiritsugu is not like Kirei, she argues, because while Kirei’s just a slate-faced killing machine, Kiritsugu’s a killing machine with something to believe in, and also sometimes he smiles and cries. To drive her point home, she announces her hubby’s wish for the Grail should he win it: world peace, an end to all human conflict. Kirei can’t decide if he’s confused or angry so he flows straight into a combination of both. What do you mean, end all human conflict? Conflict is human nature. We’re naturally greedy, jealous, and violent, and to wish to end all conflict is impossible unless you’re wishing to end the part of everyone’s psyche that brings that behaviour on, thus making them something other than human… or just end humanity itself.
Neither of those sounds particularly idyllic, which makes Kiritsugu’s an idealistic but not very well thought-out goal now that we look at it with that logic. At least he has one, says Iri, so sucks to you. That was (even though she didn’t actually say it) unfortunately the wrong thing to say to Kirei, as he then takes the opportunity to grab her by the throat for the second time this episode.
Look, I hate to be a Feminist Killjoy™ but could this show possibly stop strangling, maiming, mutating and blowing up its women for maybe one episode? And if they have to die, could it at least be in a way that’s about them and not the nearest relevant male protagonist? The only thing that gives me any hope that this is coming to an end is that the only one remaining is Saber, and she’s the poster girl of Fate/Stay Night and thus has to survive. Though that doesn’t mean she can’t be made to suffer, because while Urobochi had to promise he’d kill of all his OCs and leave Nasu’s, the contract didn’t say anything about messing them up real good.
So! Iri has had her neck broken—after a few lovely unnecessary full-body pans, some whimpering, and an another example of this studio’s awkward habit of giving characters in pain oddly sexual facial expressions (Kiritsugu, funnily enough, is the only male example I can think of)—and been flung aside like a dishcloth as Kirei strides off with a new goal: to ruin Kiritsugu’s dreams. Gee, it’s lucky he tortured and then killed Iri, otherwise he wouldn’t have gotten that new information, and we wouldn’t be quite sure if he was a terrible person!
I’m just. Tired. I enjoy this show but I’m tired to my bones of this. And it’s not even the end, because Iri is in some way or form still alive and conscious… inside the Grail. Which as we should realise by now is something much bigger and conceptual wearing a cup as a disguise, and something seemingly sentient enough to send its landscape to horrify and attack Iri. She finds herself staring at a pile of naked, featureless clones of herself, presumably a representation of the other homunculi built and trashed for Grail-getting purposes. She finds cute little Ilya, who says she had a nasty dream where seven big painful mythological character lumps appeared inside her, and then she turned into a cup. Iri’s efforts at comforting her are cut off as black gunk swirls around the room and sucks Iri down, taking the form of tiny hands. It’s really quite nightmarish.
And then Iri appears again, in a black-and-red version of her pure white dress, that creepy music box version of the “Let the Stars Fall” motif playing. She says something about now seeing the truth of the Holy Grail… and as the camera looms over her as she tips her head back at an uncanny angle, she smiles, and it’s the spookiest expression we’ve ever seen on her sweet little face.
Right. So she’s not dead, but she’s been consumed by Grail Gunk and is now implied to be evil. Even better!! Can we please get back to Waver and Iskander?
They are, I’ve been forced to realise, the set of characters always having the nicest time, or at least, the storyline with the most positivity. Out the window they see light signals cover the sky (at this point does anyone care that the War is meant to be a secret?) that issue a challenge in some sort of code. The War is nearing its end. It’s time to face the music. Kirei, gloating with Gilgamesh about going into battle, is certainly looking forward to it.
Iskander is all ready to rock (he’s lost his chariot, but he still has his faithful horse), but Waver surprises him by issuing all three of his meticulously conserved Command Spells, ordering him to ride on and conquer and have a great time. Now he has no command over Iskander, and is no longer a Master. It’s over. Go do your thing, big guy.
Oh, but Big Guy is not having any of this, and hauls Waver up into the saddle, declaring that if Waver’s not his Master, he’s still his friend, and it would be an honour to ride into battle with him at his side. Waver is nothing short of shocked by this, and so deeply moved that someone considers him that worthy, on merit of his friendship alone, that he bursts into big fat anime tears and has to blow his nose on Iskander’s cape.
They take off towards the challenge, and what must be the climactic battle looms on the horizon. There are three episodes to go. Iri’s turned evil, Kirei’s on a high horse, Kariya was last seen screaming and limping out of a church, Kiritsugu and Saber are grieving messes, and Gilgamesh is… probably making a valiant effort to finish all the wine lest he perish in battle. Which he won’t, because we know he’s in the sequel, just like we know something terrible is going to happen if we know the sequel, but for now it’s all speculation and tension and two best friends on a flying horse.