If you haven't seen episodes 41-43 of Fullmetal Alchemist, you really truly do not want to read this post. Even more than usual.
Reminder on spoiler policy: if it's information from an episode after 43, no matter how insignificant, I don't want to hear it. Comments containing spoilers will be screened and reposted under ROT13; people who post spoilers will be killed with my brain.
That said, I would like people's advice on the best episode groupings for the rest of the series. Example: stopping on 26 is a bad idea, one should stop on 25; 43 was a reasonably good place to stop, while episode 41 would have been awful. If people could recommend which episodes to watch together, either for all of 44-51 or just for a subset, with no explanations, that would be great. Nb.: we usually watch 2-4 episodes at a time.
Episode 41, "Holy Mother": In which all the pieces are in place in Lior.
At the opening, Scar blames Ed for the graves in Lior, which seems very unfair to me. (For a week this was all we knew about this episode, because a computer glitch caused the playback to stall out just after here.) Al in the courtyard, chestplate open to reveal a red-stained middle, yelling at his military friends that eye-for-an-eye is no good. Mustang looks very sad, and then weirdly—challenges?—Armstrong about taking Hughes' position and supporting Mustang's goals. I could not follow his thought processes there. I also note that Al doesn't tell them that the Fuhrer is a Homunculus.
Scar using Rose as a political/religious figurehead. We still don't know why Rose is the Holy Mother. Scar might have had a useful career as a leader under other circumstances. I was also interested that he freed Ed to lead the evacuation along with Rose; he's got Ed's measure (finally?).
Lyra's scent makes Ed nauseous; presumably this is A Clue.
Ed's letter of warning is not a good trade, equivalent or otherwise, for that amplified watch (even if Ed never uses it). => But yay, warning Mustang.
Tucker's making some really good chimeras. Everyone else saw this before The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, so I'm probably the only one who flashed to the wolf saying "Take them" as in all those commercials.
Pride is not the person who's pulling the strings—good to have that confirmed. He has absolute orders not to move the troops in, which baffles me as much as the rest of the characters. Lust defies orders and goes to help Scar.
Scar and Kimblee's confrontation. When, exactly, did Scar take an oath not to kill any more State Alchemists? Because I missed that. Absorbing the incomplete Stones seems to hurt Scar; I don't think it did before, and wonder if it's a volume issue. What would creating the complete Stone in human flesh do to the human?
Moral universe notes: Scar fights for revenge (but briefly looks like Al's pleas move him, before Kimblee attacks again); Kimblee fights for nothing, because people are all the same, empty, worthless, just bomb components; Al is empty but not worthless (but is, alas, still a bomb).
The Ed-Sloth-Wrath-Rose showdown in the tunnel. Though Sloth was taken aback by Winry recognizing her face as Trisha Elric's, she now doesn't seem to have trouble taunting Ed with his memories of Trisha. Wrath is distraught at hearing Rose's baby crying, flashing back to his own creation. Is this an exploitable weakness, in the absence of his own remains? (Once again I bitch about the writers making Ed dumb in order to get information across to the audience. Is this really the time to remind us that Homunculi are weakened in the presence of the intended-resurectee's body, and do we have to do it by Ed telling Wrath about it, when he ought to know that it won't work for Wrath? And while we're on the subject, why didn't Greed tell Ed about the need to drain the Homunculi of their Stones to kill them, instead of implying that all you need is the presence of remains? Yes, I'm still annoyed by this.)
Go Rose! Back to speaking up and out. "Move forward" indeed. Though I could've done without the lame cliffhanger speedlines.
Episode 42, "His Name is Unknown": In which Al becomes the Philosopher's Stone.
Representative quotes from my notes:
- Partway through: OH SHIT.
- Later: I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY REALLY DID THAT.
This show traumatizes me. In a good way, but still.
To take the non-traumatic stuff first:
Archer sends in the troops and says it's his turn for fame. Based on later events, my guess is that Pride's orders changed (which, again, WTF?). Pride also tells Gluttony "We'll take it [the Stone] ourselves after everyone else is dead. It will be as though the Stone never existed at all." In other H-team news, Sloth shows off her spiffy black clothes and her Ouroboros mark (which is almost in the same place as Lust's, for whatever that's worth). And Ed leaves Sloth and Wrath buried under a lot of pointy stones; I kept yelling at him to hurry, it wouldn't hold them long. Long enough, I guess.
And hey, new music! I see a theme of inexorable downward descent, though possibly I am overprojecting.
Anyway, on to trauma:
The moral (semi-)redemption of Scar continues: Lust shows up, urges him to consider Al a lost cause and think only of himself, he rejects her. She tells him he needs to transmute and not just destroy with his arm; so he gives the arm to Al, proto-Stone and Grand Arcanum markings and all—thinking of his brother who he couldn't really love. (This would be where the OH SHIT shows up in my notes. Also "moral universe moral universe," because even though it's all dead obvious, I'm still pleased to see my theories confirmed.)
(Oh yeah, I almost forgot: after they get out, Ed wants to go back and catch Scar, to turn him over to the military—but all Rose has to do is sigh and say "Equivalency, right," to get Ed to change his mind.)
Scar's body has a will of its own when it comes to bullets fired at someone who looks like his brother's lover, who he also loved: another gift. He has no name because of a life of "sin, malice, and retribution" (my emphasis). He completes the last broken line of the array with his own body, a final gift. (To lower the tone here dramatically, I was wondering how he was going to do that with, hello, no arms left!) I say semi-redemption because, while his motives for creating the Stone were better, I don't think that killing 900 soldiers to save Al is a morally sound decision (yes, it's a decision not based on equivalent exchange, but that's not sufficient).
Al's emptiness keeps getting filled with life and death—kittens, Marta—so the Philosopher's Stone is a natural progression (and nicely foreshadowed by the red of Marta's blood). Did Al hit his trauma quota over Marta's death? If not, I expect a freakout at some point (there's hardly time at the end of this episode, and in the next he seems somewhat in denial).
I still can't believe they really did that.
Episode 43, "Stray Dog": In which the Elrics run from the military and are caught by Mustang and his loyalists.
New opening voiceover, by Ed:
"The Philosopher's Stone. Those who possess it are no longer bound by the laws of equivalent exchange in alchemy. They gain without sacrifice, create without equal exchange. We searched for it. We found it."
(I'm going to wait and see what they do with it before trying to fit it into my moral universe framework.)
Hohenheim Elric returns: very vague about time and—disengaged? "There's no good reason. We're all lost." Also, at least a hundred years old: does this mean he has a Stone as Dante did (or as I presume she did)?
Ed and Al are back trekking through the Lior desert, full circle in another way (and now they're going back home because Ed needs "something," a bit of Mom's hair or whatever, which is yet another way). When they touch, they see the Gate and some of Al's memories come back—which explains why Al can't give Ed a piggyback and speed things up a bit, at least. But if one of them (Ed? since he can do circle-less transmutations, which is a mark of the Gate (even if that still doesn't quite make sense to me)) can make a connection with the Gate via the Stone, that seems to be a good sign for getting Al's body back, at least. Maybe?
Ed wonders what happens to Al when the Stone is gone. This suggests that there is thought to be a difference between just possessing the Stone (which apparently gives long life, see Dante) and actively using it—using it up? Maybe that's what happened to Dante's Stone, Lyra got hold of it somehow and used it to kill her.
Military news: rilina spotted the wounded soldier being loaded onto the train as Archer; I didn't recognize him. Pride-the-Fuhrer blames Ed for the disappearance/death of nine hundred soldiers and sends out a hunting party under Hakuro, which is diabolically clever whether it's his own initiative or orders. Lust is pinned (almost crucified, actually) to the side of a train car; I note that one of the stakes is through her Ouroboros mark. I see Pride, Gluttony, and Sloth looking at her, but not Wrath. Which reminds me, we haven't seen Envy (that we know of) since episode 38; where is it and what's it doing? I can't think of any field it's particularly needed in at the moment, considering Lior and the military.
(Since Lust is captured, I presume she's still in trouble for defying orders, and thus I'm guessing that Pride did not defy orders by sending in the troops. However, the appearance of Hohenheim just after this is interesting to me; here's someone whose age and reputation suggests that he could be qualified to pull the strings on the H-team, and if he's left Lior, maybe Pride feels able to risk going against orders, and Lust is captured because she's no longer part of the team and might turn on them. Or not. Wild-ass speculation, here.)
So the hunt is on and Ross and Brosh come to warn Winry and Sciezka (love the vacation clothes). What's the hiragana over Sciezka's tongue here? The fansubs don't translate it.
Idiotic hunt by Mustang and co., and the whole adulthood-chidhood thing again: Roy: "So what, you're going to shirk off responsibilities and revert to a stubborn child?" Ed: "Say what you want, I'm in control now."
You know, it was all very nice and affecting and stuff to have Mustang explain what he did to Winry's parents and how it changed him and how he wants to help the brothers. Except that his behavior has really not been conducive to accomplishing this! After all, he knows what he's going to do but his subordinates do not, and that standoff with Havoc could gone so much worse. (I put this down to the writers wanting to create tension even if it's dumb, like the way they have Ed convey information even if it's dumb for him to do so.) Anyway, Mustang's put his cards on the table, so PLEASE TALK TO EACH OTHER NOW THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
The list of people who know or knew about the brothers' human transmutation:
- All seven of the Homunculi;
- did the people of Lior understand about the empty armor? I don't think so, but there's a slight possibility that "most of Lior" should be on this list (what's left of it);
- Shou Tucker;
- Winry and Auntie Pinako;
- The ex-soldier without a leg in episode 16, who Ed tells about trying to restore his arm and leg and his brother's body;
- The Slicer(s), and Barry the Chopper;
- All the prisoners in Lab 5;
- Izumi Curtis and her husband; and
- the chimeras with Greed in episode 30+.
- In the military:
- Roy Mustang;
- Riza Hawkeye;
- Maes Hughes;
- Alex Louis Armstrong;
- Kain Furey;
- Heymans Breda;
- Jean Havoc;
- Vato Falman;
- Maria Ross;
- Denny Brosh;
- Lt. Col. Archer;
(Does Lyra know? Rose and Scar do and she was spending a lot of time with them, but I don't think we've seen the knowledge on-screen. Then again, this list is seeming less useful as we go on, since the perils of being known as illegal human transmuters rather pale in comparison to the perils they're facing now.)
|Lust||Scar's brother (attempt: his lover)||pre-1901 (per eps. 39-40)||pointy fingernails||formerly the first-seen Homunculi team, working for an unknown person; defied H-team's orders in ep. 41||stated goal: acquire the Philosopher's Stone so can become human; as of ep. 43, captive of the rest of the H-team|
|Gluttony||?||?||eats through metal, tracks by taste||the H-team||devoted to Lust, but not more than he's scared of the unknown boss; as of ep. 43, on train leaving Lior|
|Envy||?||100s of years ago?||shape-shifts||the H-team||loathes Papa Elric; as of ep. 38, on (solo?) mission and almost at destination|
|Sloth||Elric brothers (attempt: their mother)||1910||manipulates own body as water and vapor||the H-team||masquerading as Juliet Douglas; as of ep. 43, on train leaving Lior|
|Greed (1)||Dante (attempt: ?)||pre-1770s (130-140 years in prison)||The Ultimate Shield (carbon)||himself||imprisoned by the H-team; stated goal: eternal life; killed by Ed in ep. 34|
|Greed (2?)||speculation based on ep. 35 comments that H. will just be replaced|
|Wrath||Izumi (attempt: her unborn child)||~1906? (before 1910, appears a pre-teen in 1915)||can transmute his body + other objects because of Ed's limbs; H.-specific power?||the H-team||survived on own, unlike other H., because of alchemy (per Envy); last seen in ep. 42 having big pile of stone fall on; possibly with rest of H-team leaving Lior but not actually shown on train|
|Pride||?||?||"The Ultimate Eye"||the H-team, though says in ep. 42 to Gluttony that they'll take the Stone themselves||Fuhrer of the whole damn country!; as of ep. 43, on train leaving Lior; seems to scorn Lust's goal of becoming human so presumably wants the Stone for something else|