Fate/Zero Episode Seventeen

KIRA-BL-SHI~!

Yes, yes, I know – with that picture, if anything, it should be… uhh… YURIBOSHI~! But, let’s face it, this week’s was so drowning in KotominexGilgamesh BL that it’d hardly make sense to fail to mention it upfront.

WHOOPS. Guess who brain-farted? I lie, all three of us are here this week, it’s next week that some will be in absence.

Without further ado, however, here’s Lily:

So when are Kotomine and Gilgamesh banging already?

Oh wait, you mean that wasn’t the point of the episode? My bad, I must have forgotten to take off one of my personal goggles.

But it’s not too late to start using the Saber/Irisviel goggles and crying your heart out, because everything is looking bad on that front. Or on the general Irisviel front, as some light is finally shed on her condition this week. Not much of it was unknown; Iri’s origin as a homunculus was presented in the early episodes. However, the birth of her personality and humanity as a means of self-preservation is only shown now and… How cruel it is of the Einzberns, to create life only to have it rot away slowly and painfully. As much as we hate Kiritsugu, all of the great families consist of despicable human beings who hurt many people in ambition for a knowledge that should not be theirs. It almost makes Kiritsugu, the magus killer, not seem that immoral in comparison.

And sweet Irisviel, so fragile and with such doomed fate, still moves on with Kiritsugu’s plans, still places herself on the front lines, trusting him despite the atrocities she knows he’s capable of. She walks up to Tokiomi, she makes the daring proposition to get Kirei out of the game. She plays her role because it was what she was born to do, and she will sacrifice herself for Kiritsugu’s goals. Isn’t that familiar? The way our King of Knights sacrificed everything that was her own for what she believed in? Makes Saber and Irisviel more similar than at first glance, with a strong belief in ideals that can help shape a future, and how defining it is for both of them. Saber believed in her knights as Irisviel believes in her allies, and so they play their parts until there is nothing more of them, because they believe that is where the meaning of their lives rest – and it is how they can protect those they love. For someone with desperate and ambitious plans, Kiritsugu sure is surrounded by women of strong beliefs. And if Irisviel believes in him so strongly, makes you wonder how exactly the final battle will proceed – even if we know how it ends.

With Irisviel placing her trust on an almost uncanny ally – it takes a saint to accept her husband’s lover so freely as she does, which is another example of how much she has accepted her fate, or maybe how much she believes in Kiritsugu’s methods – and Saber riding her bike off in the night and making this blogger scream internally, the rest of the episode plays the foils of Tohsaka’s plans and the alliance between Kirei and Gilgamesh. I seriously wonder how a man of intelligence like Tokiomi could trust Kirei so blindly; was it the blood line, or the arrogance that such man would never dare to betray his master? The audience sees a different Kotomine Kirei than the cast, certainly, but Tohsaka is a strong magus who has been playing a game of chess against so many masters, and he’s in the search for the truth of the universe, and he lets himself be played so easily, he trusts so blindly? Well then. I cannot tell if he’s seriously stupid enough to give daggers as a present or if I missed the Keikaku Doori face frame.

Now, since Avalon’s healing powers are in better effect with Saber around…

Next up, we have Katherine:

Awesome episode.

Now I’m glad that Berserker didn’t kill Archer. Archer’s kind of fun when he plays the Lucifer on Kirei’s shoulder.

This episode played out beautifully. How Irisviel’s conditions for cooperating with Tokiomi—and Tokiomi’s reaction—gave Kirei the final push he needed to betray Tokiomi… And ugh, another sympathetic death since Tokiomi was literally stabbed in the back by the man who he trusted enough to make him his daughter’s guardian. I loved how up front Archer was about how he will screw Kirei over just as readily as he screwed Tokiomi over if he bores him too.

I also enjoyed how much Irisviel took charge of her negotiations with Tokiomi. She really acted like a Master—more aggressively than she has so far, at least. I don’t agree with her assessment of why Tokiomi offered an alliance to her and Saber, though. It’s hard to believe that Tokiomi thinks Saber will be easier to beat than Rider and Berserker—especially since he kicked Kariya’s ass, Berserker didn’t pose a formidable threat when he attacked Archer, and Saber took down Caster’s monster single-handedly. Allying with Kariya was obviously out of the question for Tokiomi, and he referred to Waver as an outsider among those left in the war, since Waver doesn’t hail from the Einzberns, the Tokiomis, or the Matous. That better explains why he chose to negotiate with Irisviel (a representative of the Einzberns) to ally against the other Masters (really Waver—it’s telling that Irisviel herself only wanted information on Rider) first—especially considering how hyper-conscious he is of status and pedigree. But whatever the reason for it, seeing Irisviel talk down Tokiomi was fun.

I wonder what the remaining Masters think happened to Lancer, Kayneth, and Sola. Did they make the connection between their deaths and Saber’s group? And what about the blame for Father Kotomine’s death?

As for this week’s yurivision, there was that brief but highly screencappable moment when Saber helped Irisviel up after she recovered from passing out. I thought. “Just kiss already!” Damn it Maiya, why must you interrupt?

And I found Saber’s reaction to getting a motorcycle charming.  It was a nice throwback to her exchange with Irisviel about using modern transportation in season 1. (“Once I mount the saddle and take the reins, intuition does the rest.” “Mount the saddle and take the reins…pfft.”) Giving Saber a motorcycle to ride is by far the best thing Kiritsugu has ever done.

And I’m not shipping Irisviel and Maiya at all, but I liked the exchange between them. We learned more about Irisviel’s origins and Maiya became a little more than “that stone-faced sniper who’s banging Kiritsugu.” I read that Maiya loves Kiritsugu because he saved her from a war zone, where she had been trained as a child soldier and raped. And Kiritsugu is willing to have an affair with her because A) he thinks he needs her to win the war and B) he knows that Irisviel will be sacrificed to the Grail because of what she is, and he considers his affair a “rehearsal” for his ultimate betrayal of her. It’s still messed up and doesn’t excuse him, but it does make the affair make more sense. I do wish I had learned about his and Maiya’s rationale from the show instead of the TYPE-Moon Wiki.

But that’s a minor quibble for me. I’m biting my nails waiting to see what’s next.

And switching over to myself:

Its incredibly ironic to me that in a show that I started blogging explicitly to point out the yuri-ness of and fangirl over it, I’m finding myself engulfed by BL. But this episode is practically oozing it, and I don’t think Lily’s really wearing much in the way of goggles to see it.

I have to be honest, though – even if I set aside that I love BL, I like Gilgamesh best when he is interacting with Kotomine, because he is at his least obnoxious when doing so. Sure, he still has that arrogance, but somehow the edge is taken off of it when he’s around Kotomine – maybe because he interests him, although Gilgamesh has only copped to that now that Kotomine has gone full darkside on us. Well, not that he was exactly Mr. Light and Sugar previously, given his prior sneakiness regarding his Servant and his fake petition for sanctuary in the Church. But he’s definitely taken it all a step further with his betrayal and murder of Tohsaka.

I don’t like Kotomine, exactly, but I don’t feel the same loathing of him that I have of some of the other guys in this show (i.e. Kayneth, Kiritsugu, Tohsaka). I can’t really explain it – after all, he does things that exist on the same spectrum of immorality as many of the characters I dislike, and up until now he’s largely displayed all the personality of a shower curtain. Yet there’s something thrilling in what he does, upending the “rightful” order of things.

And, hell, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the interplay between he and Gilgamesh enough to be thrilled by this outcome. Yes, yes, I know, its not really BL, but the tension in their relationship is nevertheless delightful in a show where most of the antagonistic relationships just seem to lack that pizzazz.

Based on Kotomine’s words, it seems that next up will be Gilgamesh versus Saber. I’m pretty sure this won’t be the final confrontation, though, since Kotomine has been set up as Kiritsugu’s archrival, of sorts; I’m not sure what else to call him, although it feels strange to call him that given that it isn’t clear if Kiritsugu has a huge amount of awareness of him. It certainly doesn’t bode well for Irisviel, though, whose health has apparently been getting progressively worse of late, and who admits to Maiya that her existence is transitory indeed, having been created solely for the purpose of the Holy Grail War. It isn’t exactly a surprise to learn this, but its disappointing nonetheless.

Irisviel is pretty cool this episode, proving herself fully capable of negotiation of her own. Its certainly true that the terms were probably set by Kiritsugu, but as the one who does the actual meeting, Irisviel definitely displays her own skills, saying in no uncertain terms that the conditions she is proposing must be met in order to strike up a temporary alliance. Its a much-appreciated show of force from her, especially given her fainting spell last episode.

Saber, meanwhile, gets a totally cool moment when she revs her new motorcycle and peels out of the parking lot. Oh, Saber, you will always have my heart…

On a different note completely, Tohsaka is, a bit surprisingly, the first death we’ve had wherein I did not feel much sympathy for him; more succinctly, his death did not redeem him somehow. Yes, I felt a smidgen of “gee, that sucks, he was betrayed”, but I felt no warm and fuzzies toward him in the aftermath of his death. I felt a little bit badly for Rin and her mother, but, again, I didn’t feel badly for Tohsaka himself, just that his family would be really sad about him dying. Good riddance, Tohsaka.

So the pieces on the chess board are reduced again. I’d love to see more of Beserker and Kariya at this point, although I don’t think we’ll get that next episode… oh well. I’m just being selfish; I’m tired of having to keep my mouth shut about Beserker’s identity!

One last thing, though: Kotomine tells Gilgamesh that if all seven souls of Heroic Spirits are sacrificed, a Great Grail will appear. Does this mean that those who participate in the War end up gone forever when they lose? But maybe this is something I’d know if I played the games… too bad Fate/Stay Night is so crappy to Saber.

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4 Responses to Fate/Zero Episode Seventeen

  1. David says:

    “… since Kotomine has been set up as Kiritsugu’s archrival, of sorts; I’m not sure what else to call him, although it feels strange to call him that given that it isn’t clear if Kiritsugu has a huge amount of awareness of him.”

    Given Kiritsugu’s breakdown back at the castle, where he was half ready to drop out of the Grail War entirely rather than face Kirei, I’d say he’s plenty aware of him.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t it that Kirei was freaking out about Kiritsugu, not the other way around?

  2. Son Gohan says:

    The Servants are mere copies of the heroes they represent. Heroic Spirit Diarmuid and the others who will die in this war are still existing in the Throne of Heroes, outside of space and time. Theoretically they could be summoned again in another Holy Grail War.

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