Fate/Zero – 12
「聖杯の招き」 (Seihai no Maneki)
“The Holy Grail’s Invitation”
This week’s episode may not have exuded the same “epicness” as the last one, but the dialogue between Kirei and Archer was just as good as the three kings’ debate. It was a lot less ambiguous with the foreshadowing, not only with the Holy Grail’s invitation but with Archer’s not-so-subtle proposition as well. With Assassin confirmed to be dead — noted by the lack of Command Seals on Kirei’s right hand — I don’t know if this episode could have been any more obvious about the direction things were headed. Archer took a very systematic approach to try and make Kirei realize his inner “sinful” desires, but while his choice of words and proposed scenarios were confusing to the now Servant-less Master, his manipulation of the chess pieces was much less so to us as the viewer.
Archer starts off by showing that he has a new-found interest in Saber and her righteous ideals, and then after the lengthy explanation of how a Servant can form a contract with another Master upon losing theirs — and likely with a Master who’s lost their Servant — he takes away the Assassin piece and knocks over the Master piece in front of the Archer one. Once he succeeds in getting under Kirei’s skin and resurfacing the remnants of this Seal, the scene switches back to the shot of those chess pieces with Kirei taking notice. Coincidence? I think not, especially for those who have seen Fate/stay night where both Kirei and Gilgamesh participate in the Fifth War. Archer looked like he was only a second away from actually proposing that Kirei dispose of a “boring man” like Tokiomi and form a contract with him.
While this by no means guarantees that Kirei will go after Tokiomi himself, I wouldn’t put some other form of betrayal past him such as conveniently overlooking a trap that’s been set up for Archer’s Master or simply not coming to his aid. It’s pretty clear that Kirei and Archer have an unspoken understanding, despite how much the former is shocked about actually considering it, so I’d wager it’s all but guaranteed that they’d instantly team up if something were to happen to Tokiomi. That’ll definitely be something to keep in mind as the war progresses, but for now, I find it rather interesting how Kirei’s obsession with Kiritsugu has taken a backseat to his self-realization of sorts. Archer himself suggested that it was nothing more than an obsession, so it’s almost as if the tables have turned with Kiritsugu more concerned about Kirei. As far as Kiritsugu’s concerned, I almost see this as his downfall — to be so emotionally fixated on one individual — so with Kirei getting more absorbed in personal desires, plus the prospect of making Archer his new Servant, I get the feeling that Kiritsugu’s already losing the nemesis-like rivalry that’s barely gotten off the ground. It doesn’t bode well for the Einzbern savior either when he’s in constant disagreement with Saber and Iri isn’t holding up too well as a homunculus.
In light of all this build-up, the only downside is that we’ll unlikely see any sort of resolution to any of it in the mid-series finale next time. The preview suggests we’ll see more of Rider and Caster, leaving the follow-up to what we saw here for the latter half in spring 2012.