Years ago during the Ishval conflict, Mustang had expressed his ambitions about reaching the top in order to protect people, and Hughes was willing to help him. As Mustang now prepares to transfer to Central, he has a dream about this. Meanwhile, Ed is describing Envy to Hughes and Armstrong, and they try to put all the clues together surrounding the mystery of the laboratory. To their surprise, King Bradley himself comes to see Ed and to talk about the investigation. King Bradley knows that there have been some disturbing movements inside the military, and he reveals that all the people who were researching the Philosopher’s Stone have gone missing. Given the danger involved, he forbids them from investigating any further or telling others since they can’t trust anyone. He then sneaks out to avoid the people looking for him, and Winry comes to see Ed soon after with the train tickets he wanted. Ed and Al are going to see their teacher, and when Winry figures out where they’re going, she convinces them to take her too because it’s near the automail holy land, Rush Valley.
The next day, Hughes is unable to see them off, so he sends his best wishes through Winry. On the train, Ed explains to her that they’re going to see their teacher for two reasons: to get stronger and to ask about the Philosopher’s Stone. Back at Central, Hughes talks to one of his men about recent uprisings in Lior, the North, and the West, and he realizes something. He goes to the book room to look into it, but right as he starts to figure things out, Lust appears. She attacks him for knowing too much, but Hughes tosses a knife at her head and manages to get out of the fight with just a shoulder wound. He stumbles towards the telephone area to call the Fuhrer, but he reconsiders and decides to go use an outside phone instead. There, he gets the operator to put him through to Mustang, but while that’s getting relayed, he is approached from behind by Ross with a gun. Hughes realizes though that it’s not really her because she’s missing a birthmark under her eye, and he’s shocked to see her add it on the fly.
Hughes prepares to fight with another knife, but when he turns around again, Ross has changed into his wife. She shoots him before he can do anything, and by the time Mustang picks up on the other end of the phone, there’s no one there. Envy hangs up the phone for Hughes and leaves him bleeding to death, and Hughes final words are an apology to his wife and daughter because he won’t be able to come home early. Unaware of what’s going on, Ed, Al, and Winry meanwhile enjoy some of Hughes’ wife’s pie on the train and reflect on how Hughes was nice enough to come see Ed frequently even though he was so busy at work. Back at Central, everyone attends Hughes’ funeral, including Mustang and Hawkeye. Noticing how his old buddy got promoted posthumously, Mustang tells Hawkeye that he now understands the Elric brother’s feelings when they tried to transmute their mother.
After shedding a tear, Mustang tries to piece together what happened by visiting the scene of the crime, and he wonders what Hughes was trying to tell him. Armstrong is able to reveal that they have suspects on the murder, but they don’t know exactly who those people are. He isn’t able to say any more, even when Mustang tries to pull rank on him, however he does reveal that the Elric brothers had been here recently. Mustang is able to pick up several clues from the conversation, including how there are multiple people responsible, how someone higher-up is preventing Armstrong from talking, and how it involves the Philosopher’s Stone. He doesn’t understand how it all connects together yet, but he vows to investigate once he gets transferred and to find Hughes’ killer. With Hawkeye willing to follow him, Mustang is ready to go up against the top brass.
Even when I thought I was ready for Hughes dying all over again, the Elicia scene still got me a little misty-eyed. However, it soon became clear that they weren’t going for what was most powerful emotionally, and so they didn’t linger on the after-effects of his death as much as I thought they would, unlike the first series had the Mustang-rain and ghost-Hughes-waving scenes in quick succession to end episode 25. This version still had the Mustang crying (but not ghost Hughes waving), and it moved on fairly quickly to Mustang trying to figure things out, ending the episode on his determined face. In fact, considering how the episode began with a Mustang dream, it felt like there was more focus on him than Hughes, which I thought wasn’t very appropriate. This was still a pretty good episode; I just think the first series covered Hughes’ death much better.
On a side note, King Bradley is as creepy as ever this episode, and he’s obviously not a good guy, but I couldn’t help but be amused by some of his actions.