Spoilers for episodes 44 and 45 of Fullmetal Alchemist behind the cut. If you spoil me for future episodes, I will kill you with my brain (and screen your comment).
Episode 44, "Hohenheim of Light": In which the person pulling the strings is revealed.
Again with the religious imagery; a monotheistic church (I didn't see anything specifically Christian, but see next episode), which is the entry to the Homunculi's hideout in Central, with Lust still crucified to the wall.
Ed and Al tell Mustang's group that the Fuhrer and Juliet Douglas are Homunculi, but not that Al is the Philosopher's Stone. On a happier note, I love Armstrong deliberately doing the muscle thing as a distraction.
Significant conversations with Hohenheim:
"The Fuhrer has been accused of treason. Your children have as well. But honestly I'm more interested in discussing the pictures I've seen of you."
"When a Homunculus is born it doesn't have a human shape, never would if left alone. The only way for them to obtain one is to be fed sufficient amounts of a vital energy source, shards of the Stone."
"You mean they have to feed on human lives?"
"Mmm. They may start out like innocent children, but in time their desires and powers corrupt them. You can't trust anyone who lives that long. No-one. It's important you remember that fact."
And then he leads Mustang into the realization that someone else is pulling the strings; I can't tell if the comment about the military is a deliberate dig.
The fansub starts out with:
"The Fuhrer is married, and he has a child too. On top of that, I've even seen pictures from when he was a young [sic]."
"I can imagine that they could change their appearance as though they are aging, and he may have adopted that child."
Now, there are three weird things here.
- We saw Wrath before Wrath was fed Stones, and he had a human shape. The only thing I can think of to make these consistent is that Wrath had to take shape to use Ed's limbs.
- The switch in the opening from the fansub to the dub; this seems to be an attempt at addressing two different plot holes. The dub goes for showing Mustang's lack of trust of Hohenheim (after all, we first saw him when he was looking for Hohenheim and in possession of letters not addressed to him), at the cost of a really weird transition; the sub for info-dumping about how Pride is getting away with it. I'll be interested if the dub attempts to address this question about Pride some other way.
- The dub gives the impression that Hohenheim is deliberately undercutting his apparent trustworthiness, since Mustang apparently knows that he's very long-lived.
With Al, in two parts:
Part the First:
"Dad? Why is it that Homunculi can't use alchemy?"
"It's because all of them come from beyond the Gate."
Part the Second:
"I wonder if I'll be able to restore my body to normal with the Philosopher's Stone."
"By using the Philosopher's Stone, you'll be able to attach your soul to someone else's body."
"Someone else's? That's not what I want."
"I'm afraid your body was lost, in accordance with equivalent exchange. But by sacrificing your body you must have gained something else."
"What we gain is not always what we want. If you returned everything you gained, perhaps you could have your body back."
"If I could defeat that Homunculus—woah! Uh, nothing, nothing! I'm just so happy you're home, Dad. Oh, I have another question for you."
*fade to daylight*
Ah, the NOT TELLING PEOPLE STUFF. If they had, would Hohenheim have been taken so off guard by Sloth? (And was that question significant or just a lead-in to general catching-up?)
Ed and Al split over talking to Dad, partly because of their personalities and partly because Al's younger and doesn't remember as much. And they finally, finally learn about Hughes. The women present give Mustang's actions a fairly charitable interpretation, arguing that he didn't want the Elrics to be driven by revenge. Ed backslides temporarily into thoughts thereof, and also claims that if avoiding revenge is an adult's choice then he doesn't want to be an adult.
I call this a fairly charitable interpretation because, as far as I can recall, Mustang kept the news about Lior from them because they were children, and I've not seen anything explicit that his view has changed since. However, since we've got three relatively sensible characters putting it forth, I think we're supposed to take it as true. Which is mildly annoying, but since it proffers a much more palatable view of adult moral codes, I'll take it.
Ed at Mom's grave, waah. *heart breaks, again*
And the big confrontation & revelation: that's Dante in Lyra's body, which makes so much sense that I am quite relieved, weirdly. Both Hohenheim and Dante use the same scent to mask their decay, which is really A Clue rather than a rational decision, since there's no reason that a man and woman would use the same perfume. Hohenheim's not trying to save Dante "this time" (were there others?), but offers to tell her why her new body is rotting so soon if she'll stop using his sons as pawns (which offer of exchange appears to be promptly forgotten).
Also, I love the fight with hunching Gluttony-type monsters battling translucent Al-figures.
Episode 45, "A Rotted Heart": In which Hohenheim meets what's on the other side of the Gate, Ed meets Izumi, and Al meets Tucker.
So, Hohenheim & Dante backstory: four hundred years ago they, with another man, made a Stone using deaths from witch-hunts (see, monotheistic religion that killed a lot of people) and the plague. The Stone was not made in a person, and (as a result?) it killed Hohenheim's original body. In a panic, Dante used the Stone to transfer Hohenheim's soul into the other person's body. Then they were in Luv, except at least a hundred years ago, Hohenheim left her, taking the Stone and just leaving a little fragment, which was used up in transferring her soul to Lyra's body. Dante didn't know how to make a Stone on her own, so she started the long process of using the Homunculi to get other people to make one. Except that when they jump to new bodies, they leave a bit of their soul behind, and now their souls are running out of energy to maintain a body: they're going to die.
(Does Hohenheim still have a Stone somewhere? Apparently it wasn't used up in their successive transfers, so maybe there's not a problem in what happens to Al when the Stone is gone. Which reminds me, Al doesn't seem to be traumatized about being the Stone, which I'm not quite happy with.)
(And was Greed right that Al's soul-bond to armor was the way to eternal life? No body to maintain, no successive jumps; well, except for the problem of the blood washing away. And the question of whether Greed had a soul. That's probably a no, then.)
"I've been doing some research since you've been gone, trying to learn more about the Gate that is the source of all our alchemic power. . . . Did you know part of the Gate is actually within all of us? As our consciousness matures and we grow more attached to this world, we lose our awareness of it. But by using someone whose link is still strong, like a baby, the Gate can be summoned."
And she does so, and puts Hohenheim through.
If the Gate is the source of alchemy, then people who've attempted human transmutation have remembered/reopened their connection to it, and thus can do alchemy without a circle (otherwise you need arrays to invoke it/connect to it). We know that Dante created Greed; Hohenheim is looking more and more like he created Envy and thus got his circle-less transmutation abilities. (Having re-watched bits of episode 29, you don't go through the Gate when you attempt transmutation, you just go up to it and look past. So Dante can ask Hohenheim if he'd like to know what's on the other side, even though she knows he's been before the Gate.) Anyway, if you can do circle-less transmutations because your awareness of the Gate is returned, then I doubt you need to draw arrays on helpless babies to summon it. Ed or Izumi ought to be able to do it just fine, maybe even Al, considering.
Also, I don't quite understand why the Homunculi can't do alchemy. Is it literally the Gate itself that's the source (rather than being a, well, gate for the power), and thus the Homunculi don't have a connection to it because they come from beyond? Obviously there's some more metaphysics to be revealed.
Wrath freaks out at the Gate, which maybe will be a weapon against him?; Sloth comforts him; and they and Lust are sent to get the Stone (with an unsubtle carrot-stick applied to Lust).
In military news, Mustang confronts the Fuhrer and accuses Juliet Douglas; Ed and Al are still fugitives, and Mustang and Armstrong have been sent to fight in the North, which convinces Mustang that something's being covered up. Poor Mustang, who knows whereof he speaks when he says that you need despair such as that created by war to think about making the Stone.
Back at home with the Elrics, we have the great philosophical cookoff; a call from Tucker; Ed remembering Scar and why revenge is bad; and ED NOT TELLING AL about grave-digging. And so Al goes off to Tucker (and his small female chimera) to ask for help learning to use the Stone, while Ed meets up for Izumi and asks whether she kept any of her baby's remains. She seems to know what that means: "You're going after them." Will she help? (It's good to see her again. She's too kick-ass to have seen the last of.)
Fucking talk to each other, people! Or is this the writers forcing stupidity on Ed yet again because they need to be split up for plot reasons? I dunno, but it is in-character for Ed to try and protect his younger brother, even though he should know better. And then Al doens't tell Ed about Tucker because Ed's not going to help him . . . *kicks everyone*
Roundup: The Homunculi
|Lust||Scar's brother (attempt: his lover)||pre-1901 (per eps. 39-40)||pointy fingernails||originally the first-seen Homunculi team, working for Dante; defied orders in ep. 41, forced back into team in ep. 45||wants to become human; in ep. 45, sent to get the Stone|
|Gluttony||?||?||eats through metal, tracks by taste||the H-team||devoted to Lust, but not more than he's scared of Dante; as of ep. 45, in Central|
|Envy||? (probably Hohenheim Elric)||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; in ep. 45, sent to get the Stone|
|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); in ep. 45, sent to get the Stone|
|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!; seems to scorn Lust's goal of becoming human so presumably wants the Stone for something else; back in Central in ep. 45|