All the Evil in the World
Waver is tired as he finally made it home. Grandpa MacKenzie waves to him from up on the roof and wants to talk to him. Waver doesn’t really want to, but Rider encourages him.
So Waver gets up, and Gramps tells him that it’s the best place to see the sunrise. He used to do it all the time, and when Waver didn’t come back, he figured he’d wait up on the roof for the sun to rise and his grandson to return. We find out when the MacKenzies first moved to Japan, they did it with the dream that they’d start a new life here, and eventually they’d end up with a house full of grandkids that they’d take stargazing every night, but their real grandkids never showed any interest. Huh. So he knew. Probably from quite a while ago, since he adds that he’s not sure why they were so convinced – Waver was too nice to be one of their kids.
Waver is now embarrassed and asks if Gramps is angry with the whole hypnosis thing. Old Mackenzie replies that he supposes he should be, except his wife’s been so happy since Waver’s been around, and he doesn’t seem to mean them any harm, so he’s okay if Waver sticks around for longer.
oh. my feels. all of them.
Waver apologizes, but he and Rider might be dead b the time this is all over. Gramps is somewhat surprised that it’s something they’re risking their lives for. He leaves Waver with the advice that while he doesn’t know what’s so important, but once you get to his age, you realize nothing more important than your own life.
And now I have a sad because this is really kind of like Gran Torino, except Grandpa MacKenzie isn’t Clint Eastwood, so instead of having a fearsome angryface and a sweet ride, he just has to settle for being reminded every day of the dream he had never coming to pass. And it takes Waver literally strolling in and brainwashing him and his wife to allow them to indulge in this fantasy for a couple months before it eventually has to end anyway.
Cut to a temple…OH SHIT IS THAT THE TEMPLE FROM FATE/STAY NIGHT?
Finger off the trigger when not shooting stuff. Yay gun safety!
It’s been 40 hours since Kiri slept. We learn that in order to call forth the grail, you have to do it at one of the four key ley lines intersections in the city. He hasn’t seen Kirei two of them, which leaves the temple and the civic center. He muses that had Maiya been alive, he could have stationed her at the civic center, but now he’s alone again. Then Saber shows up and he realized he’s never counted Saber as a teammate. Anyways, Saber’s scoured the city looking for Iri but found nothing. Cut to Kirei, who’s got Iri in a magic circle.
The opposite of a circle of life. So, a circle of death.
It’s in Caster’s Master’s old lair. The Grail War is about to end, Kirei says to Iri as she wakes up, and he’s probably going to win. Iri denies this, saying that Kirei’s forgetting about Kiritsugu, and how Kiritsugu has the advantage of being able to see right through Kirei, but Kirei doesn’t understand Kiritsugu at all. This riles Kirei up, and he begins choking Iri, ragefully asking her how they are different. To Kirei, they’re the same – they both do nothing but kill people, be it on the church’s orders or for money. But, he challenges, if they’re really so different, what does Kiritsugu want from the Grail?
Iri answers: World Peace.
No war, and no violence too. Seems hard to imagine, but it’s easy if you try.
Kirei dismisses it as naive, and Iri retorts that that’s why Kiritsugu is asking the Grail to do it. Since it requires such a radical alteration of the human condition, he knows that nothing short of a miracle will accomplish this. Thus, ask this reality warping artifact to rewrite reality such that there will be no more wars-
What’s that, Irisviel? You have a bone in your throat? Here, let me fix that for you.
Aaaaand necksnap. Alright, wasn’t quite expecting that. Looking up from his handiwork, Kirei announces that he now has a reason to fight – finally, he understands Emiya Kiritsugu, this mystery he had been struggling with since episode 1.
Back in the MacKenzie residence, Waver is sleeping while Rider reads…it looks like the book about himself? Waver stirs, and admonishes Rider, since he was supposed to wake him up at night, but Rider thought it’d be better if they waited and rested up. He has a feeling that everthing is going to end tonight. It’s only the powerful enemies left now…and a mana burst just flew from the sky.
It’s the magical equivalent of flares, and Waver notes that together, the spell out “Victory Achieved”? Can’t be from the church, based on trajectory, so it wasn’t the mediators deciding this, but rather someone’s getting uppity. It’s a challenge. Rider, naturally, decides to meet it. He calls upon Zeus’s lightning for his mount…
Hey, Rider, you don’t have a mount, your chariot got totaled by Saber remember?
OH SHIT IT’S BUCEPHALUS! The beloved horse of Alexander the Great, considered wild and untameable until a young Alex stepped in, wagered that he would either tame it or pay the horse dealer the full asking price, then proceeded to do so by observing that it was merely spooked by its own shadow and turned it towards the sun, calming it down enough for him to mount. From then on, Alexander and Bucephalus became entwined in legend, such that it was said the two were actually born and died on the same day. This also kickstarted the trend of conquerors being obliged to have a favorite horse, which is why Roman emperor Caligula held birthday parties for his own steed and wanted to make it a consul. According to Nasu, Becephalus itself is so famous that it actually qualifies as a Heroic Spirit – the King of Horses, as it were.
By decree of Bucephalus the Magnificent, *shades* the neighs have it. WHINNYYYYYEEEEEAAAAHHHHH
Granted, this does lead to the fridge logic of why didn’t he summon the horse so they could ride back, but yay history! Anyways, as Iskander saddles up, Waver raises his right hand. He’s using his first Command Spell to order Rider to be victorious. Well, Command Spells are able to provide a boost of power to allow a Servant to do things he might not otherwise be able to do, and this late in the game, might as well use them. This one’s a pretty specific order also, so the compulsion factor is raised as well. Waver commands him to be victorious. Wait, now he’s using another one to order Rider to obtain the Grail. And now he’s using his final spell to order Rider to conquer the world! Oh shit, in a lovely culmination of characterization, Waver just used all his Command Spells, effectively freeing Rider from his summoning contract as well as freeing himself from the Grail Wars! The Grail, proving his theories, everything, it’s no longer so important as living his life the way *he* wants to, rather than than letting it be ruled by the opinions of others. Go on, Rider! Do the things you want!
Like Frankie said, do it your way! Just live while you’re alive!
…and then Rider picks him up and sticks him in the saddle again. Hell yeah Bro-Rider! You are no longer my Master, he tells Waver, but you are my friend. Join me on this excellent adventure!
My feels, they are melting.
As are Waver’s, he’s even doing the Hinata-fingers!
Now that they finally made their relationship official, Rider’s first order to Waver is to simply sit tight and watch him kick ass.
Ride into the danger zone!
Meanwhile, in the MacKenzie residence, Grandpa MacKenzie is smiling…
Urgh. Dammit show, my feels can’t take it!
Kiritsugu recognizes that whoever launched the flares chose the worst possible place to hold the Grail summoning ritual – the Civic Center. I guess the point is that thinking that due to heavy muggle presence, it will force the other Masters to pull their punches, so Kirei can use Archer to kill all the other Masters from range? Although Kiritsugu can’t possibly have known about all that, unless at some point it was relayed to him that Kirei is still sufficiently in the game for him to piece the backstabbing together and…meh. He figures the best thing he can do is just attack head-on.
Cut to Gil, who is amused at how fierce Kirei looks. So what’s the plan, he asks. Kirei figures that unleashing Gil’s powers at close range might damage the Grail, so if he wants to go all out for this final fight, stay far away. Gil raises an eyebrow. What if you’re attacked, he asks. Kirei, demonstrating more EQ than Tokiomi, responds with “I’ll use a Command Spell”, but phrases it as a “if you don’t mind” kind of request, to which Gil acquiesces. He’s a little disappointed though that Kirei still doesn’t really have a wish beyond “let the fight be uninterrupted.” As Gil exits, he advises Kirei that if both Berserker and Saber show up, let the two of them fight it out, and also asks about what happened to Irisviel.
Kirei shrugs. I killed her. NBD.
Cut to Einzbern castle and A FUCKING MOUNTAIN OF IRI CORPSES WTF
Hello, nightmare fuel!
Cut to Iri comforting Ilya by her bedside. Oh, are we inside Iri’s head? Ilya had a bad dream – she turned into a cup with seven lumps inside OH GOD SHE’S A HOMUNCULUS TOO. Iri comforts her that everything will be okay, Kiritsugu will make his wish and she won’t have to worry about it and OH GOD ONE OF THE IRI CORPSES JUST SMILED.
A shadow envelops everything, and hands begin to drag Iri into it.
WTF IS GOING ON.
We end with Iri realizing that she’s somehow inside the Grail, and it’s not at all what she expected.
Well. This show finally figured out how to do downtime. Good deal of character development for Team Rider. We see Waver grow from the young boy who wants to be recognized to a more mature adult who’s learned to decide for himself what is important in life. We’re also seeing him grow apart from the traditional mage mentality of being so superior to muggles – he didn’t really give two thoughts about hypnotizing an old couple into thinking he’s their long lost grandson, but now he actually ends up feeling bad about it, and really, this would have been a more effective way of doing “mages are jerks!” than that bit with Kiritsugu’s dad, but I digress. More importantly, we also see Rider himself change from the cocksure King of Conquerors to someone who’s learned to be more introspective of himself. It’s a subtle process, but contrast how he was at the beginning – certain his way is the correct way and derisive of Saber’s approach to kingship – to how he is now – more withdrawn and methodical. Especially given the events of the last episode, where he finally pitted his style of kingship against Saber’s to surprising results. Iskander cast his Gordius Wheel, the chariot representing his drive for conquest, against Saber’s Excalibur, the representation of all the hopes of everyone who believed in King Arthur’s protection, and the followers’ desire for safety utterly vaporized the soldiers’ desire for more stuff. And coming from the era of might makes right, Rider has to concede that Saber, at the very least, has a point here. After all, their approaches to kingship aren’t necessarily exclusive – Iskander’s historical fondness for leading charges from the front is pretty similar to Arturia’s need to be the paragon, and it’s really only Arturia’s belief in leaving others alone versus Iskander’s use of conquest as motivation for his subordinates that is their main difference.
The inclusion of Waver’s fake family is a nice touch, showing that life goes on outside the scope of these mages and their secret war. It’s also a good developing moment for Waver, and squares with Rider’s earlier advice to him that nobody said the Grail War had to be the most important thing in his life. Indeed, he made an old couple happy for a few months, and that’s always worthwhile, right? And on a personal level, that hit me in the feels. See, my parents went to the US to pursue higher education and employment opportunities, so from up until I was six, my maternal grandparents took care of me. And then I came here to the US with them, and they returned to China. And so every time I go back, I’m visiting my grandparents, but at the same time there’s not so much a cultural gap as just an experience gap. I grew up here in middle class household going through American public education and American college. They lived through like the Japanese occupation of China and the Chinese Civil War and the establishment of the People’s Republic and the Great Leap Forward and the Mass Campaigns and the Cultural Revolution and the Deng reforms and…well, it’s hard to connect. And I feel bad that it’s hard to connect, because I feel like I owe them a lot for bringing me up in my formative years. And it’s worse when I visit my dad’s side of the family, because I never really met them as much. It feels pretty terrible when I’m sweeping my paternal grandfather’s tomb on Qingming, because apparently he was a really smart and cultured guy, but I never got to know him. So…the MacKenzies’ grandkids, who eventually grew so far from their grandparents that Waver being nice was a sign that he’s probably not their real grandkids? Ending up like that, not even purposefully but on accident, is a real fear of mine.
So I’m gonna think happy thoughts about the Asian kid who got Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino in, well, Gran Torino.
Until next ep.