Almost done! Spoilers for episodes 46-48 of Fullmetal Alchemist below the cut; even hint at spoilers for the last three episodes (or the movie, or the OVAs) and I will kill you with my brain.
(Also, GIP, because I am easily amused.)
(No first-viewing notes this time, just thoughts reconstructed after, which may make this a bit scattered.)
Episode 46, "Human Transmutation": In which the Philospoher's Stone is used, and not by the Elrics.
Al thread first:
I believe I yelled at the TV for Al not to trust Tucker, especially after learning that he knew about the Homunculi running the country. Tucker knows why someone would choose not to use the Stone, because of what it cost, but doesn't let that stop him, or tell Al—and Al still seems to have divorced his knowledge about how the Stone was made from any emotional reaction about being it, let along using it; he just wants to restore his brother. More on this in the discussion of ep. 48.
So now we learn that the Stone itself (not just a fragment) can be used up and is subject to equivalent exchange. I take it that's what happened to Hohenheim's Stone.
I didn't at first understand Al's statement at the end, "No! Brother? What's happening to me? Is this really the Philosopher's Stone?" Now I think it's more, is this really what happens when you use the Stone, rather than, is this actually the Stone and not something else.
Dante's symbol is the Flamel snake, though she must've adopted it rather than creating it, given that it appears post-Gate on Al and Izumi (I presume). (And I still want to know if Ed has one on his body rather than his cloak. When did he stop wearing his cloak, anyway, and is it thematically significant when he stops or did he just lose it somewhere?)
The love letter uses Christian dating, which stopped being used a long time ago. We're given a year early in the series—1914—is this translated into Christian dating or given in whatever their new system is? It seemed about right in an alt-history kinda way.
Dante, contemptuous, doesn't see as human even people who are by strictest biological definitions (and yet she has a point about the destructiveness of humans; see ep. 48's Significant Conversation). In contrast, Ed tells Wrath that it's not the body that makes someone human, it's the soul, which Wrath will never have.
Izumi prepares Ed for either Dante or Dad being behind it all. Wrath and Lust talk about "she" and "her" when referring to their Master. Let's see if that's enough for him.
Dante's statement about what she did to Hohenheim: "I broke the union of his soul, his mind, and his body. He's as good as dead." I don't quite follow this, but perhaps more on this will be forthcoming—we have to be seeing more of that Gate.
Episode 47, "Sealing the Homunculus": In which Wrath kills Lust amid much mother-confusion.
Oh, the mother confusion. It is not nice to mind-fuck Al! And using him as a literal puppet: please let that be the culmination of the stuff-inside-Al, okay?
(Wrath and Al parallel each other here with their mother-confusion; Wrath and Ed will not parallel but complement each other shortly.)
Ed and Al's debate over their responsibility for Sloth. I feel for Al, but Sloth's not a kitten: she's got volition and she doesn't want to be saved. Instead she wants to escape a role that's being forced on her by memories of a person she never was—which I thought was pretty interesting, actually, and all the more resonant because the role is that of mother (at least to the Elric brothers; she doesn't seem to mind being a mother-figure to Wrath), which is a loaded issue generally and in the series.
Sloth and Lust end up as opposites despite their superficial similarities, and both come to their ends through Wrath's reaction to those opposites. Wrath gets Lust into her own circle and kills her because she betrayed the H-Team generally and Sloth particularly; and then his utterly unhealthy, confused-son devotion to Sloth leads to her destruction when he gets too close. A moral lesson in under a minute: some things can't and shouldn't be held on to, even if that's all you think you have to live for.
So the thing they created when they tried to resurrect their mother was fed Stones and brought home by Dante, to gain a human-looking body and become Sloth. I guess I can see that neither of the brothers would want to ask if anyone had cleaned up that room. This also makes a little more sense of the limited number of Homunculi, as not everyone would do that for their Things (I'm going to put down the suggestion that the Homunculi are limited in number to seven as either a slight inconsistency or imperfect information on the part of whichever Homunculi said it back in the early 30s).
Finally, does ethanol really evaporate at that rate?
Episode 48: "Goodbye": In which Sloth dies and the pieces move into endgame.
(Okay, I'm guessing, but it sure looks like endgame to me, here on episode 48 of 51.)
Trisha Elric's memories (?) speaking as Sloth is dissolving: "Nice job, sweetheart. Clean up after yourselves and take care of each other." Well, whatever the source, the advice isn't bad.
Envy suggests to the brothers that the one pulling the strings is their Dad. Ed shouldn't believe this because of Lust & Wrath referring to "her" and "she" in a much less manipulative context, but OTOH he has Father Issues, so we'll see.
Ed and Al separated again, as Envy kidnaps him. Then Izumi shows up (yay!) and Wrath, completely unhinged, runs after Envy and Al to try and resurrect Sloth.
Ed comments on how Wrath cries when he doesn't; more tying-together, complementary rather than parallel. Ed says that Sloth was the embodiment of his sin, as Wrath is Izumi's, and Tucker's soulless doll is his; Izumi tells him he's really grown up. Ed said he thought he'd grown up after being certified, but he had a long way to go. (More on this below.)
Is there anyone who's not going to come back? The Tringhams show up to give us a little bit of comic relief and to provide a handy-dandy note to Ed with some information about Central. And then there's the Terminator, excuse me, Archer.
In the north, we have the coup that is and isn't really a coup. I like the plan, but eek, this is risky. (Also, that Mustang's going to crash a child's birthday party fills me with thematic foreboding.)
Mustang inna suit! And he and Ed are actually talking, woo. Children hope to accomplish their dreams no matter what the cost or what means are needed; adults know better and give up their dreams to fix what's in front of them. Including the Homunculi, who are not intrinsically evil but are reflections of their creators. By this standard, Al and Wrath are both still children; Ed is not.
Here I'm nodding along, this is all great, and then wham: Ed wants to destroy the Stone? Al's the Stone! Is he going to kill his brother?! And how is he going to destroy it so that its whole existence is erased from mankind's memory?
Gah. This show is eating my brain, I tell you.
Okay, endgame setup:
Fuhrer's residence: Mustang and Hawkeye going after Pride, armed with plans of his house.
Central: Ed, on his way back, armed with information from the Tringhams. Izumi and Archer, fighting in the public building. Dante, Gluttony, and Rose, in the hideout. Envy, Al, probably Wrath, on their way back to the hideout. (The Tringhams, Ross, and Brosh should be on their way out.)
North: Armstrong and Mustang's cohort, surrounded and with loyal soldiers from Central on the way to stop their mutiny. At least they don't have assassin!Envy to contend with.
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; eventually herself||wanted to become human; killed by Wrath in ep. 47|
|Gluttony||? (not Dante)||?||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||Hohenheim Elric (attempt: ?)||100s of years ago||shape-shifts||the H-team||sent north to border but came back to Central in ep. 46 to go after Hohenheim; takes Al in ep. 48 to bring to Dante|
|Sloth||Elric brothers (attempt: their mother)||1910||manipulates own body as water and vapor||the H-team||masquerading as Juliet Douglas; killed by Ed in ep. 48|
|Greed||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|
|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); as of ep. 48, going after Envy and Al in hopes of resurrecting Sloth|
|Pride||Dante (attempt: ?)||within apparent age||"The Ultimate Eye"; ages like a normal human||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; in Central at his house at end of ep. 48|