Episode 12 – the Grail Beckons
Back at Tokiomi’s crib, he and Kirei discuss next steps. Kirei believes Rider’s Noble Phantasm to be the equal of Gil’s Gate of Babylon, which is…impressive given how broken of a skill Gate of Babylon is. Tokiomi isn’t worried, however, given that now that they know what Ionioi Hetairoi actually does, they can formulate a response to it. From the way they talk, it seems like all the Assassins did die.
Protip, Kirei…when you put all your eggs in one basket, you’re supposed to watch the damn basket.
Cut to Kiritsugu who’s on the phone with Maiya. She agrees with the assessment that all the Assassins are gone. Kiritsugu asks about the “new workshop” which I presume means a new safehouse for Iri to live in. It’s ready, and Saber and Iri are being taken their now. Meanwhile, he enjoys a late-night meal, then gives us all a reminder of where everyone is at.
Tokiomi Tohsaka is turtling behind his defenses. Kariya Matou hasn’t been doing anything, but he’s useful to keep around if only to keep Archer in check, so it’s not conducive to go after him now. Caster is still at large (I guess everyone forgot about the supposed temporary truce to prioritize him). Kayneth is incapped, but Lancer is still at large. Rider goes everywhere on his flying thunder chariot so he’s hard to track. Which leaves Kirei, who Kiritsugu notes is acting in ways that make no sense if the goal was to just ally with Tohsaka – were that the case, there would be no point in ambushing him at the hotel or going after him in the Einzbern forest.
I take this cheeseburger…and EAT IT!
Cut to Gil enjoying Kirei’s booze, sitting in front of a Holy Grail themed chess set (where does he get those fancy toys? I want one). He picks up the Saber piece, interested, while confirming that yup, all the Assassins are dead, as Kirei has no more command spells.
Let your soul take you where you long to be….only then can you belong to me…
Gil and Kirei sit down to explain to us how unused command spells work – apparently, they still remain in the world after the war ends, going to whoever the mediator was, which explains why Priest Risei Kotomine has all those spells running up his arm like it was Zerg creep. When a Servant is killed, the Master is usually out of the game for good. But, if a Master is killed, there is a window of time before the Servant disappears when another mage could step in and take control of the Servant. This is why the church always provides asylum to Grail War losers (to prolong the game) and also why everyone prefers killing Masters rather than just incapping them.
…Tokiomi Tohsaka you are so screwed.
I foresee a sudden but inevitable betrayal in your future
Cut to Saber driving a car! She’s acting as Iri’s chauffeur and wonders what it would have been like if automobiles existed in her time. They’re actually driving to the aforementioned safehouse, and as they get out, Iri explores the place with childlike wonderment. She rather likes it, starts talking magic, and asks Saber to help her get the materials.
Saber pauses to notice that Iri has avoided touching stuff for the entire day. Iri smiles, and asks to hold her hand. She squeezes as hard as she can, and apparently Iri has lost all her physical strength.
In other news, Iri/Saber still >>>>> Shirou/Saber.
Iri reveals that she’s actually a homunculus, built by the Einzberns for…some purpose that hasn’t been revealed yet. Her body’s breaking down, I guess? To prevent it from shutting down entirely, she’s cut off her sense of touch and now needs Saber to do stuff for her. In the meantime, resting in a magic circle will help. Saber understands and goes off.
Cut to Kirei’s crib. Gil is not impressed with Tokiomi’s motives, considering it petty. Meanwhile, he analyzes Kirei, trying to get at his motives at doing his part in playing support for Tokiomi so well. Does he really have no wish he wants the Grail to grant? Of all the things he’s seen, he’s followed Kariya for a while. What would happen if Kariya, who’s done next to nothing so far, ended up winning the Grail War by sheer luck. Kirei considers it, then writes it off by listing reasons why, but Gil is amused that he entertained the possibility instead of denying it outright. And then he switches gears to trying to convince Kirei that happiness is kosher.
Kirei is offended, stating that deriving happiness from this turn of events is just schadenfreude, and maybe it’s ok for Gil, but it’s definitely against his religion!
Suddenly, Kirei’s Command Spells come back.
Out, out damn spot!
Gil is again amused at this turn of events. He says that the Grail clearly has bigger plans for Kirei, and that the Grail can show him what he wants even if he doesn’t know.
Kirei is still ambivalent, noting that he’d have to crush the dreams of six others just to satisfy a somewhat petty desire for self-discovery.If he did that, his teacher would become his enemy.
Gil shrugs. For better or worse, the Grail wants him to rejoin the Grail War, so he’d better find a strong Servant if he wants to tangle with Gil. Or…he can take another option.
Tokiomi you are so screwed.
So…I’m finding that Fate/Zero is kinda bad at “set things up”/downtime episodes. all this ep does is set up stuff. It’s okay, but nothing special. Part of this episode was devoted to just setting up what Team Saber is doing now. Part of it is us learning Iri’s a homunculus who is breaking down which I’m sure will crop up later. But the part that moves the plot forward is the Seduction of Kirei Kotomine, and that part just…fell flat.
When you do a seduction scene, where a character is convinced to do something they are supposed to have deep reservations about, it is important that we get a good grasp of that character’s personality. How they think, what’s important to them, what they want, etc. We have very little insight into any of that from Kirei beyond that he’s your standard straight-laced antagonist who probably doesn’t enjoy himself and is used to a stern and spartan life, but nothing beyond that. And his convictions are still just a tad too…unconvincing, I think the word is. It’s probably just me, but a secular progressive like myself finds it very hard to imagine anyone taking their religion so seriously that they think seeking their own happiness is sinful. Kirei’s not as batshit as Rinnosuke or Caster, but he’s still just a little out there, and that combined with the fact we know very little about him just adds to the meh-ness.
Now, in contrast – how to do a seduction scene well? Avatar; the Last Airbender, Book 2, Chapter 20: The Crossroads of Destiny. The part where [SPOILER]Azula convinces Zuko to turn against his uncle Iroh and join her in capturing the Avatar[/SPOILER] was a thing of beauty. We knew from the previous season that Zuko’s an exiled prince who’s always been about capturing the Avatar to restore his honor and make daddy love him. The current season establishes him as trying to come to terms with the fact that his father has officially given up on him, branding him and his uncle traitors and sending his sister who had always been more talented and more favored on the mission instead. The last several episodes shows him developing more empathy for the people that his nation was trying to wage a war of subjugation against, and his uncle is pleased that he seems to be starting to take in the message of tolerance and multiculturalism.
However, Azula knows more about how Zuko rolls than Iroh does. She correctly identifies that no, his hesitation isn’t because he’s coming around, but because he’s given up on any chance of his mission succeeding. And so she attacks the core of the issue, deigning to ask for his help even though she’s always lorded the fact she was better than he was at everything , then shutting down Iroh when he’s trying to convince him otherwise by insisting he lets Zuko choose for himself. She correctly read that Zuko still wants his honor/daddy’s love/everyone else’s recognition, and so she seized on that, planting the idea in his head that things aren’t hopeless, that everything he’s lost he could have back if only he just helped her. Between going with Uncle who’s telling him what to do and gain nothing, vs going with Sis who’s just offering a path to everything he’s been trying two seasons to get, that’s a very easy choice to make.
That is how you do a proper “join the dark side” scene.
Also, why doesn’t this exist yet?
Shut up Type-Moon and take my money!
Until next ep.