We ended the last episode of Fate/Zero partway through the battle against Caster. Or, it had started out as a battle against Caster, but by the end of the last episode it had turned into more of a sort of a general mixer for Holy Grail War participants. Saber, Lancer, and Rider were still trying to fight Caster and having trouble coming up with the necessary OHKO to deal with his monster’s regeneration, but away from the main stage, Archer and Berserker had paired up for a beautiful aerial waltz, and Tohsaka and Kariya were on the ground reminiscing about old times. And then the two socially awkward Holy Grail Warriors, Kotomine and Kiritsugu, were standing alone in their respect dark corners with throwing knives and sniper rifles, nursing their drinks and trying to find an opportune moment to break into one of the conversations. Let’s enjoy the rest of the party in episode 15 of Fate/Zero.
…thirty minutes pass…
It... it's not like I saved you from Berserker because I like you or anything! I was just mad that he abandoned our battle, that's all. Don't get the wrong idea! Mongrel!
Cool episode, although I could have done without the first couple minutes where they established that, yes, we are still in the middle of all the various battles we were in the middle of at the end of the last episode. I dunno why they felt a need to recap in this episode, but they were perfectly happy to launch into the previous episode after a season hiatus with no introduction. I liked the scenes of the Archer vs. Berserker dogfight and the dogpile on Casterthulhu last episode, but action scenes are only interesting when they’re novel.
I’m not very happy with the way they dealt with Saber’s wound. I mean, it’s better than having Lancer deliberately get himself killed to unlock Excalibur, but given that he only managed to fight a crippled Saber to a standstill when he had both his Noble Phantasms, he may as well have killed himself by placing himself in the situation of having to fight an intact Saber with one Noble Phantasm. You could say, fighting Saber is an NP-hard problem, and he is unfortunately no longer NP-complete. Ahahaha. Pardon me.
I guess the moral of the story is that cooperation is a powerful force, more powerful even than terrors from the deep. Caster seemed like he was becoming very powerful via all his blood sacrifices and summoned horrors, but at the same time, he made it impossible to cooperate with anyone, and in fact convinced the forces of “good” to team up against him. Rider, Saber and Lancer were bound together by the bonds of chivalry and honor, and so they were willing to make sacrifices for the good of their common goal. It turned out the one that had to sacrifice was Lancer, but surely Saber would have if she’d needed to. Maybe Rider would have too, but he would have couched it in some sort of individualist rationalization.
Maybe Saber did sacrifice something. Don’t get me wrong, she seems to have come out massively ahead on the deal, no longer being crippled, but her use of her Ultra Power Magic Beam Ekky Skallybah seems to have caught the attention of some of the other combatants. Archer falling in love with her may not be a strict negative, though from what’s revealed in F/SN it doesn’t seem like a positive. Berserker, though, also seemed to zero in on her the moment she showed off her Noble Phantasm. I wonder if that’s a strategic choice? From what I recall, the accepted strategy for Berserker is to try to kill everybody as quick as possible before you lose control, so it would make sense to start with the most powerful player. Which would fit with him fighting Archer. And Berserker might have the power to corrupt fortresses and other military structures, so an anti-fortress weapon would be something he’d want to get rid of. But Berserkers are not known for their instinctive grasp of long-term strategy, and Kariya was too busy getting clowned on to have been directing him. So it seems more likely that the reason Berserker flipped out is that he realized Saber was King Arthur and he had a grudge against her from his past life. Which would be a clue to his identity if I knew enough Arthurian Legend to know who would have a grudge against Arthur, would go berserk, and could corrupt weapons. Mordred? Gawain?
Kariya getting clowned on was hilarious, by the way. He just kept sending insects pointlessly into Tohsaka’s magic bug-zapper, then got taken out by a single fireball. I halfway expected Kotomine to jump in and assassinate Tohsaka while he was distracted, but I guess they’re trying to stretch things out and try to pretend like there’s some tension as to whether or not Kotomine will fall.
Bonus Image Corner:
An interesting idea, how does your Master feel about it?
You may feel a slight sting. That's Excalibur fucking with you. Fuck Excalibur. Excalibur only hurts, it never helps.
I am shocked, just shocked, that Berserker has started attacking indiscriminately without any forethought.