FUCK YEAH RIDER
Everyone is in various states of D: and as they had not prepared for this eventuality at all.
Waver is all like “OMG NO WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” With good reason, since standard procedure (as Lancer and Saber demonstrated earlier) is to hide your Servant’s identity so their weaknesses could not be used against them. Before Waver can continue to protest though, Rider silences him with the Man-Flick, then like a good head of state begins aggressive negotiations. Specifically, that Saber and Lancer surrender the grail to him, and then become his bannermen as he continues on his quest to rule the world. The sheer audacity of the request…Rider, never change. Lancer quietly notes a disinclination to acquiesce, while Saber notes that 1. asking her to stop her duel is insulting to a knight and 2. as a king herself, she would never bend the knee to a foreign monarch. Britons, after all, never shall be slaves, and Cambria cannae yield.
Thus Rules Britannia!
Kiritsugu’s watching from his sniper perch, and he has Waver in his sights. Oh jeez, is he gonna shoot a little boy? Don’t do it Kiritsugu, Rider is too awesome to be taken out of the game this early, but suddenly…a wild Malfoy appears! The seventh Master’s identity is now revealed, as Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi enters the field, noting with amusement that it was the student he had dismissed for his silly little “work > bloodline” theory who stole his original summoning artifact, and closing with obligatory jerkass snark about how he will put the little mudlood in his place. Waver is frightened, as in literally shaking and sweating, but fortunately for him, his Servant is the Bro-Rider who proceeds to call El-Melloi out for being too much of a pussy to join everyone else on the battlefield, whereas Waver at least has the balls to be riding in Iskander’s chariot (even if it was Rider who picked him up and stuffed him in the passenger seat). Being a fair and just king, he then calls out everyone else who was hiding from the shadows.
NO KIRITSUGU DON’T DO IT
Cut to Tohsaka Mansion. Tokiomi Tohsaka isn’t amused by the smear to his honor (yeah, the honor of giving up your daughter to be raped by parasitic mana worms, jerkface). And so, a wild Gilgamesh appears! And now he is engaging in who’s the better king one-up-manship. Between Arturia, King of Knights (Arthurian legend being pretty much the codex exemplar of chivalry), Iskander, King of Conquerors (having conquered most of the known world in his lifetime, although this now makes me want a 1st-3rd Holy Grail War where someone summons Genghis Khan as an Archer or a Rider. I mean, srsly, look at this.), and Gilgamesh, King of Heroes (The Epic of Gilgamesh being the Ur-example of the mythological hero’s journey). Right away the personalities become clear, between Saber, the knight who fights to defend those who cannot defend themselves, Rider, the conqueror who believes in honorable combat on the field along with might makes right, and Archer, who is not only unimpressed by Saber and Rider’s pedigrees, considering himself leagues above any one of them, because he is the hipster hero who was a myth hero before myth heroes were cool.
So all of you are heroes from ancient mythology? Sorry, ancient myths are too mainstream for me.
Oh Gilgamesh, so arrogant. Never change.
Cut to a thin hooded guy in an alley – oh shit, Kariya? He’s here too? OH FUCK IT’S BERZERKER. There are now five fucking Servants on the field, along with Assassin who’s watching.
What is this i don’t even –
NONE SHALL PASS
Waver tries a combat scan, but apparently Kariya’s enchanted Berzerker such that his stats and identity are completely obscured. Gilgamesh continues to be unimpressed by this “mad dog,” until he has the temerity to look Gil in the eye, at which point Gil decides to give Berzerker the Old Yeller treatment and launches a couple of weapons from his armory at him, using the same Noble Phantasm that killed Assassin (as far as everyone knows, anyway).
Time to put you down like the Bull of Heaven.
What follows is another excellent contrast to the previous series. In Fate/Stay Night, while it was possible to summon Hercules as a Saber class, Ilya von Einzbern summoned him as a Berzerker to max out his STR and CON stats. This also gave the Twelve Labors as his Noble Phantasm, which gave him twelve lives. F/SN’s Berzerker would launch himself at an enemy and smash until it was dead. Fate Zero’s Berzerker, on the other hand, shows himself to be high in DEX as well, snatching a sword out of the air and using it to deflect the other weapons in the blink of an eye.
I may be crazy, but I do know karate.
This also has the effect of making Gilgamesh has lost his cool completely at the thought of such a base creature dirtying his precious weapons with his peasant hands. The Gate of Babylon opens wider, and more weapons come flying out, but Berzerker gives a repeat performance. Sword, spear, ax, shield, he seems equally proficient with with every weapon despite being batshit insane. The animation here is also quite good, and although the CGI-ness of Berzerker’s character clashes a bit with the hand-drawn-ness of everyone else, it also kind of somewhat works to highlight how being summoned as a Berzerker makes you a warped, almost artificial version of whichever heroic spirit you were in life.
Impressed? No. ENRAGED? YES.
Yet again, the Gate of Babylon opens, super wide this time, like a friggin football field covered in legendary weapons waiting to be unleashed.
Each one of those dots is someone else’s Noble Phantasm. So. Ovepowered.
Tohsaka doesn’t like this constant use of the Noble Phantasm however, considering it to be too much of a risk of others learning his identity (as happened with Lancer). He uses one of the Command Spells and call Gilgamesh back, much to Gil’s chagrin. “You dare order a king around?” he rages. And since we know Gilgamesh is now pissed at Tohsaka, and we know that both he and Kirei survive into FSN…I foresee a rocky relationship for Team Archer. Better hold on to those Command Spells…
One down, four left. The combatants appraise each other. Suddenly, as Berzerker locks eyes with Saber, he flips the fuck out, picks up a broken light pole, and attacks Saber with it. The ad hoc weapon begins to glow and warp in his hands. Apparently everything he wields becomes his Noble Phantasm, and that, coupled with his natural speed, strength, and ferocity, plus Saber’s old injuries, puts him at an advantage. He sets aside her sword, and there is a slow-mo shot of his light pole about to dash her brains out…
“I’M INVINCIBLE!” “You’re a loony.” “IKNOWEPUJGOAJDSGAHFIGAHGLOIAJFA”
…but Lancer intervenes, claiming he’s already claimed the duel with her. El-Melloi does not agree, saying this was the best chance to eliminate Saber (who is generally considered the strongest Servant class, all else being equal). Lancer (who was quite the ladies’ man in his day) begs his Master to let him help Saber, his voice quavering as he pleads upon his honor and chivalry as Diarmuid Ua Duibhne. And looking back, I think I see what Lancer is getting at here. Previously, only Saber knew his identity, and possibly Rider, but depending on when the others showed up it is possible that they had not seen Lancer’s Noble Phantasm (Assassin would have, but as far as anyone other than Kiritsugu knew, Assassin is out of the game, so he doesn’t count). And so, Lancer probably guessed that his Master would try to get him to kill Saber to preserve his identity, and pre-empted that by announcing it to everyone.
Unfortunately, El-Melloi just uses a command spell to make him help Berzerker. Wow. That was…somewhat of a dick move. And…also unnecessary? If he wanted to eliminate a Servant, he could have just let Berzerker and Saber fight it out and then pick off whoever remained. Sure, there was Rider to consider, but Lancer being the fastest class pretty much guarantees a first hit. Then again, there’s no better time to kick someone like when they’re down. Alternately, he feels like since he and Lancer started the fight, he should be the one to finish? Although judging by how his lines indicate El-Melloi has no use fr Lancer’s worthy-opponent ramblings, it’s almost certainly the former.
Isn’t it sad, Diarmuid?
Either way, Lancer can’t resist, as going against a command spell makes a Servants stats permanently drop by a rank. As the two walk ominously towards Saber, Kiritsugu and Maiya search for Lancer’s master. He has El-Melloi in his sights, but Rider seems to sense it, and right when Kiritsugu is about to fire, a wild Rider appears!
This is not a dri-i-i-ive by
Iskander continues to call out El-Melloi for being a big giant pussy hiding behind his bloodlines, announcing that if he and Lancer do not retreat, and if he continues to sully Lancer’s honor by making him double team a wounded woman warrior, he will ally with Saber and beat the crap out of both of them. Now that force concentration is no longer in his favor, El-Melloi leaves.
Crisis averted, Rider departs as well, after offering Saber advice – finish her duel with Lancer first, so the cursed wound can be lifted. Once that happens, he hopes to have a nice fulfilling battle with whoever remains. Such a bro, that Rider.
Cut to continued bramance (to borrow a friend’s terminology) between Saber and Irisviel. The two women are nothing but supportive for each other, and I have nothing but all the love for this dynamic they have. Having to grown adult women converse with each other as peers and equals with respect and admiration for the other’s attributes is most preferable to all that idiocy in F/SN with Shirou being like “yo saber i know ur king arthur and all but ur a girl so i have to fight and protect you even though i am a squishy high school student with no combat training”. As well as all the vestiges of F/SN being originally an H-game being manifested as half the main female characters in F/SN being annoying clinging tsundere romance interests. But here? Bechdel test passed and then some. Saber/Ilyasviel > Shirou/Saber
Whoaoaoaoaoaoaoa caught in a rad bromance.
Cut to Kariya…and oh my. Looks like torture made Kariya somewhat crazy, as he does the maniacal laugh routine, noting with glee that as soon as Berzerker showed up everyone went all “Oh Crap”. Hey, Kariya, you do remember the part where Alexander the Great ran your Servant over with a chariot, right? Anyways, he’s so happy that he coughed up a pool of blood and worms. Gross. Oh Kariya, you’re totally going to go mad and die messily with only the thought of saving Sakura as your morality chain, aren’t you?
The blood is symbolic of the remnants of Kariya’s humainty, and the bloodsucking behavior of the worms represent the loss of humanity inflicted upon him by his family. In other news, symbol-hunting in literature is bullshit.
Inside the church, an Assassin shows holding a dead familiar with…a camera attached to his leg? Kirei now knows that Kiritsugu knows that he’s still alive and in the game, although now that the familiar has died, Kiritsugu knows that Kirei knows that Kiritsugu knows, which means that Tohsaka also know…fuckin’ web of intrigues, mate.
Meanwhile, cut to Caster and Uryu, who have been watching the battle through the crystal ball. Apparently Caster now has an Edward/Bella thing towards Saber…except one look at the fair maiden with sword and plate leads him to conclude that she is his beloved soul mate, the Maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc.
About three things I am absolutely positive. First, Saber is my beloved Jeanne d’Arc. Second, there is part of her— and I didn’t know how potent that part might be — that will kill me for the Holy Grail. And third, I am unconditionally and irrevocably in love with her.
Well, hilarity will certainly ensue once he finds out that she’s apparently gone and become an English ka-nig-it.
The awesome ramps up yet again with this episode, with all the new combatants getting respectable showings, and here we have an example of a Worf Barrage being done well instead of for artificial drama. We know from F/SN how utterly overpowered of a skill Gilgamesh’s Gate of Babylon is; dude killed Lancer in like one hit with it, and was owning Saber all over the place later. In this episode, we see how awesome Berzerker is for countering the Gate of Babylon by his own pure skill along with his ability to make anything he wields his own Noble Phantasm. But because this is still early-game, Gilgamesh isn’t going all out, so we don’t lose respect for his own power.
The other key takeaway is Rider’s obfuscating boisterousness. It’s easy to dismiss him as just a meathead looking for a good scrap, but here he demonstrates a good amount of strategic thinking as well. For example, Kiritsugu who we know to be the designated smart pragmatic thinks-outside-the-box guy assessed the situation and understood that in this case where Rider and Assassin are neutral, Archer has left the field, and it is Berzerker and Lancer against Saber, the key is to eliminate one of the masters. Since Berzerker’s Master isn’t there, Lancer is the only one. Meanwhile, Rider saw the same facts and came to the exact same conclusion, even if his methods (incap Berzerker and make it two-on-one against Lancer) was different from Kiritsugu’s (bullet to the brainpan squish). Rider here definitely retains Alexander the Great’s military acumen, only doing less than optimal things because he just wants too.
Momma didn’t raise no fool.
Until next ep.