The Last Command Spell
I… truly don’t know what to make of this episode. I knew this would be helplessly rushed unless they made it a double episode, and my fears ended up coming true. The good news is, there were obviously some scenes cut – for instance, one can even notice a sound flop right in the beginning when the Saber vs Berserker scene cut to Kiritsugu vs Kirei. And thankfully ufotable already announced they’ll have extra material in the Blu-ray.
Anyway, I have no intention of turning this into a ranting comparison between this episode and the light novel (even though I can’t avoid some parallels between them), so on to the episode itself.
Kiritsugu and Kirei finally come face to face with one another and the much expected confrontation develops before our eyes. And you know what? It was pretty much awesome. Taking out every single one of the light novel’s described moves (there was one thing missing but that’s irrelevant), the battle choreography was perfect and exciting. The scenario was way brighter than I had imagined, but it works great in delivering more contrast with the moves of the black-clad contenders. Kirei is a real monster when it comes to physical ability, as besides his prodigious strength and battle prowess we were already aware of, he has even the speed to keep up with Kiritsugu’s Time Alter, even when the later is moving at three and four times the normal speed. It was undoubtedly a very visually pleasing battle, even though I despised the flashbacks we were shown while Kiritsugu was exposing his reasoning. Seriously, the viewers aren’t stupid, you know, ufotable? It’s rather hard not to remember what the Origin Bullet did to Kirei or the fact that Kiritsugu received Avalon from Irisviel. Those cuts were rather awkward, interrupting the otherwise flawless flow of the battle.
While the aforementioned confront develops inside Fuyuki Hall, in the underground parking lot, the battle between Saber and Berserker, following last episode’s revelation of the later’s identity, finally comes to a close. A lackluster one though, as we see almost no transition between Saber’s weak blocks to her being willingly beaten up to her sword piercing Berserker. This was supposed to be a scene of character development even more so than a battle, and it mostly failed at it. When Saber, with her resolve to get the Grail, steps into the music hall where Archer awaits her, I got a completely different grasp of her motives and her rage than I did while reading the novel. The emotions just felt too superficial…
On the other hand, Kiritsugu’s illusion within the Grail was emotional enough to make up for it. Faced with the will of the Grail, which took up Irisviel’s form and personality, he was shown the shortcomings of his way of life, the true consequences of his utilitarian perspective on the right thing to do and the way to save people. The objective of the Grail was to show him how it would grant his wish, but the outcome was Kiritsugu’s realization of the wrongness in his nature, which led up to the ultimate decision of rejecting the Grail and exiting the illusion by “killing” his wife and daughter. While he did know that wasn’t reality, doing that brought him great suffering, especially considering that the will of the Grail used the shell of Irisviel’s personality, being that her reaction to Illya’s death was exactly the reaction Irisviel would have had and the hatred she showed was the hatred and resentment the real Irisviel would have borne towards Kiritsugu. That scene was pretty much insane.
As for what preceded it, the argument showing the flaw in Kiritsugu’s ideal was quite well done, with things happening according to his mindset, yet against his will. I did imagine the “game master” to have been Irisviel (aka. Irisviel’s voice), rather than Kiritsugu himself. It was still great though. It interesting how always choosing the most favorable option considering the current circumstances can end up in the most unfavorable scenario in the long run, for there are plenty of factors beyond any human’s control, yet Kiritsugu never realized that before it was laid out like this, right before his eyes. But… Irisviel’s dress was supposed to be black. Seriously, what’s up with its white color? It’s a symbolism to the corruption of the Grail and its color was even showed as foreshadowing before, bringing up kind of a continuity issue with this episode.
Anyway, the battle between Kiritsugu and Kirei, which would end in a tie, had it not been interrupted by the black mud, was decided by the simple fact that Kiritsugu woke up from the dream before Kirei did, which showed his mental superiority. It’s still a rather ironic and somewhat ungrateful way to decide the victor but things were as such. The trade of words that followed really showed the difference in their mindsets but what really matters here is how Kiritsugu shot Kirei in the heart. Really well deserved. *runs from Mimi*
Following the amazing battle, the victor heads to the music hall, where the Grail still is, only to be met with the sight of Saber and Archer. The little scene between those two was also rather entertaining on its own, while far from a true battle, as we get to see how Gilgamesh’s obsession with making Saber his wife came to be. I still find his attitude quite disgusting, but he has the power to back up his arrogance, so he does come off as a believable character and seeing him tease Saber was actually somewhat amusing. And just as she regains hope by seeing Kiritsugu arrive, believing that with the power of a Command Spell, she’d manage to beat Archer without destroying the Grail, that hope is suddenly taken away when he uses said Command Spell to order her to destroy the wish-granting device she so desired. While she tries to resist, neither the higher than usual Magic Resistance provided by her class nor her unbelievable determination can overcome the power of the second Command Spell. And thus, with a painful shout, Excalibur is unleashed.
All the fighting has now come to a close, but a lot remains to be tied up, and next episode we’ll know what happens to the Grail and Fuyuki Hall, as well as what happened to all surviving characters and how this ties up with Fate/Stay Night. Fate/Zero has one of the best epilogues I’ve read, so I’m really looking forward to it.
All in all, and if I’m allowed a final comparison I’ve tried to avoid during this entire post, this episode felt very much like Deen’s adaptation of the Unlimited Blade Works route – let’s put in enough information for the novel readers not to get lost and be happy with the eye candy and forget everyone else’s understanding of the events. Still, I hope (and believe) most of this problem will be fixed in the Blu-Rays, so I guess I’ll be holding up my score of this show until then.