When Olivier arrives in Central, she runs into Mustang, and the two have a brief exchange about having a meal together and the florists in the city. Olivier then meets with King Bradley who immediately questions her about Raven’s disappearance. Knowing that there’s no use hiding it, Olivier instead tries to make the point that King Bradley didn’t need a careless person like that, and she wants Raven’s seat. King Bradley is amused and grants the request in exchange for her letting one of his men take over Briggs. Over in the mess hall, Mustang sits down to lunch with Hawkeye, and through the names she mentions in their conversation, she passes along a secret message revealing that Selim is a Homunculus. Meanwhile, Father is sleeping underground and recalls a scene from many years ago in Xerxes. Back then, a slave designated with the number 23 had been working in a lab where there was a certain being in a flask. It turns out that this slave’s blood had been used to create this being, and it had decided to name the slave Van Hohenheim. It had also offered him knowledge so that he could get his freedom, and it had called itself Homunculus. As time went on, Hohenheim became more useful to his master and had become an alchemist. He had been grateful to the one in the flask and had started thinking about starting a family because that would be happiness to him. His counterpart, however, just wanted to have a body outside of the flask.
Sometime later, the flask was brought before the king of Xerxes because the king wanted immortality, and based on its instructions, the king had his men dig an irrigation channel around the country and had ordered bloodshed at the key spots. Once it was done, they had initiated the ritual, but everyone then started dying, including the king himself. As it turned out, the true center of the ritual was where Hohenheim was standing with the flask, and when it was all over, they were the only two survivors in the entire country. Both of them were now immortal, each with one-half of the country’s souls, and Homunculus had chosen to take on Hohenheim’s form. Back in the present, Hohenheim wakes up from this memory while on a train and happens to run into Izumi and her husband. When Izumi starts coughing again, Hohenheim learns what happened with her and then plunges his hand into her abdomen. He uses his power to rearrange her insides to improve her blood flow and then tells her that she can’t die yet. When she questions what he is, he calls himself Van Hohenheim, a Philosopher’s Stone in the form of a man. At around this same time, Ed is telling Miles about the many shapes of the Philosopher’s Stone and how he’s never seen one bigger than a small stone. He doesn’t want to see a huge one either because of the unthinkable number of lives that would be needed to create it.
This turned out to be quite a good episode – much more compelling than last week’s. For starters, the small bits of plot development in the beginning were pretty interesting, and I liked how Olivier didn’t back down against King Bradley. It was also pretty cool seeing how Hawkeye got the Selim secret across to Mustang, and I wonder what the combination of Olivier and Mustang can do in Central given what they now know.
But what I really enjoyed about the episode, and what kept me on the edge of my seat, was how they then dived into what happened in the past in Xerxes and were expanding on the overarching plot. It was great to see how Hohenheim developed from Slave Number 23, how the “Little One Inside the Flask” became Father, and how these past events could parallel the future of Amestris. I loved how the episode ended too with Hohenheim helping Izumi and his declaration that he’s a Philosopher’s Stone in human form. It was a very emphatic way to finish. I guess the current ED sequence is appropriate in featuring him so prominently since it really does look like he’s getting involved in the story again. Of course, the preview indicates that next episode will be focused back on Ed, Al, and Winry, so it might still be a bit too early to say that.