Though Sakura is saved, there are still fierce fighting going on between Saber and Assassin and between Shirou and Kuzuki. Saber and Assassin are both running out of time (the latter because it’s almost morning time). Assassin unleashes his Tsubame Gaeshi attack, but it only manages to shave off some of Saber’s hair. Saber, however, injured him to the point where blood starts coming out of his mouth. He lets her go ahead since he knows that he’s lost and soon disappears in sparkles. Caster, meanwhile, has decided to make Rin the sacrifice. She’s briefly interrupted when Kuzuki knocks down Shirou’s body between her and Rin. Caster turns to finish off Shirou with her magic, but Saber jumps in and attacks her first. However, since Caster has stabbed Saber with the Rule Breaker, it’s impossible for Saber to defeat her. Since she thinks she’s won, Caster plays with several ideas, among them using both Shirou and Rin as sacrifices and having Saber become her servant.
Suddenly, a new voice speaks up and everyone notices that there is a sea of swords behind now floating above them. This new person, dressed in gold armor, compares Caster to a struggling clown and claims that Saber is his thing. And people who try to take the King’s treasure must disappear. He sends his swords flying down towards Caster and Kuzuki, but when she blocks them with her magic, he personally throws three swords through her barrier. As Caster uses herself to shield Kuzuki, she remembers Kuzuki telling her that he’d help her if she needed the help, even though he has no interest in the Holy Grail. Having been impaled many times, Caster is still more concerned about Kuzuki’s safety than her own. She’s feeling regretful now, but Kuzuki says that he’ll take her place and carry out her wish. Caster says that it’s no good because her dream just came true. For her sake, Kuzuki keeps himself from collapsing until after Caster disappears.
With Caster gone, the entire place has begun to disappear in sparkles. The mysterious man asks Saber if she remembers his decision. Since he sees that she still hasn’t determined, he decides to wait until they meet next time for her 10-year-due reply. Saber and Rin start running out, but Shirou first pauses and stares at Kuzuki’s still-alive body. Whatever thoughts are going through his head are quickly interrupted by Saber telling him to hurry up. With Sakura in his arms, Shirou makes his escape along with Rin and Saber. Once they return home and put Sakura to bed, Saber admits to Rin and Shirou that she knows the new Servant, who is of the Archer class. She had fought him in the previous Holy Grail War on the final day, but could not defeat him. Rin asks if she lost, but Saber doesn’t reply. Rin then surmises that this new Servant probably remained from the last war since only seven Servants can be summoned per Holy Grail War. This Servant must have gotten the Holy Grail and used its powers to keep himself around. Unfortunately, the three of them don’t know who his true identity is. Saber also confesses that this Servant proposed to her the last time they fought. Of course she had turned him down with her sword. Rin then decides to go attend to Sakura, and Shirou and Saber move their conversation outside.
Shirou asks Saber about what had been said earlier about a Servant being able to stay in this world if the Holy Grail is obtained. Saber says that she has no intention of doing that because she wants to return to her own world. She remembers more rumblings from her past when people had complained that she didn’t understand her people, and she wants to let the people choose a more appropriate king next time. Shirou tries to convince her that she shouldn’t try to change in the past, but rather start from now on. Saber wants him to stop saying those things. She asserts that the mysterious Servant couldn’t have obtained the Holy Grail in the last war because on that day, the Holy Grail was destroyed by of Saber’s betraying Master, Emiya Kiritsugu – Shirou’s father. They had the grail and only needed to defeat Archer and his Master to end the war. But Kiritsugu had thrown it away and as a result, the town was engulfed in flames. Kiritsugu had actually used his last command spell to force Saber to destroy the Holy Grail, since only Servants can touch it. Her memory ends there because when the Holy Grail disappears, the Servants can’t stay in the world. And she can’t to find out what had happened with that gold Servant since Kiritsugu isn’t around anymore to ask. Truthfully, Saber had cursed the existence of the command spells rather than curse the person who betrayed her. In any case, she’s not about to let anyone else get in her way for the next Holy Grail.
Afterwards, Shirou decides to go alone to the church where Kotomine Kirei is. Kotomine explains that Saber only needs to drink water from the Holy Grail in order for her to no longer be a Servant. She’ll obtain a second life in this present world for as long as her Master stays alive. Shirou realizes that the Holy Grail is still needed for this too. Before he leaves, he has another question for Kotomine: it’s about the 8th Servant.
This episode reminds me a lot of Episode 16 because it follows the same end-of-arc-then-new-arc-exposition format. Here, we conclude the battle with Caster and Kuzuki and introduce a new enemy. The Golden Servant has quite the attitude with the way he talks and how he refers to Saber as his thing. Of course, the sea of swords scene made for a very impressive entrance and attack. And it made up for the fact that the animation quality was all over the place in the first few minutes of this episode (ranging from good to bad to stock footage, etc).
I ended up with mixed emotions about Caster. With her hood on, she was really evil, but with it off, she was quite the sympathetic character. Even Kuzuki got to show a little humanity with how he promised to carry on her wish and then stayed standing until she disappeared. I got a little worried when Shirou started to stare at him because I thought that Shirou would try to help him. And that somehow led to the thought of Kuzuki being added to Shirou’s harem… -_-;;
After having not shown up for many many episodes, Kotomine Kirei finally makes an appearance again. With the war nearing the end (and the series too), you just know that he’s going to play a part. Next week though, Shirou takes Saber out on a date. 🙂