「扉の向こう側」 (Tobira no Mukou Gawa)
“The Other Side of The Gate”
With the fight against Father looking like it was pretty much settled last time, I wasn’t expecting Greed to get pulled back into the fray for his philosopher’s stone. More so than that, Greed tricking Ling into giving up on the fruitless struggle so that he can play hero was something I really didn’t foresee. I guess it wouldn’t feel like a true ending if one of the homunculus were still kicking around, so it was nice to see Greed go out with a bang and take Father down with him. After softening up from the inside, it was pretty cool to see Ed come flying in and punch a hole through Father’s brittle body, which led to an explosion of Xerxes souls. If nothing else, that spectacle helped signify that Greed’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain, though I could hardly feel bad for him when he went out chirping away insults like he always does. The icing on the cake had to be seeing Father have a little run-in with his own truth, or “God” if he so prefers, and get hauled off into a black abyss of despair and (hopefully) never be heard from again.
Given how things progressed last time, the only real surprise in how all that unfolded was the loss of Greed, which leads us to the real concern, Al. Upon seeing Ed at the gate in the preview last time, I pretty much ruled out the possibility that he’d use Greed or Hohenheim’s philosopher stones. With Greed unexpectedly gone though, the philosopher stone that Lan Fan picked up seemed like the most logical choice. Seeing Ed faced with that option, I’m not surprised he chose to adhere to his promise with Al to get their bodies back without sacrificing anyone, but had to question if it was really worth holding onto that promise now. I mean, those souls aren’t going to regain their human forms anymore and Ling is probably intending to use them anyway, so that kind of took away from Hohenheim offering his own life to get Al’s back. Quite frankly, I couldn’t fathom the possibility that Ed would sacrifice his own living father if he wouldn’t even use some souls that don’t have a future anymore. The order his options were presented to him didn’t quite add up, but it did provide an opportunity for Hohenheim to try and act like a father for a change and for Ed to call him one (albeit a bastard of one). Ultimately, Ed does perform a human transmutation, which I would’ve honestly liked to be surprised about.
Incidentally, I must say that his line about this being his final transmutation did have me wondering for a bit if he was going to give up himself to get Al back. However, it was difficult if not impossible to imagine an ending where Ed doesn’t live to see it through as well, so it wasn’t all that suspenseful to see him choose to give up his alchemy by trading his gate (and subsequently his truth) to do so instead. Be that as it may, I like how no one had to be sacrificed at this point so that we can have a happy ending, plus it was kind of cool to learn that sacrificing your truth is the right way to overcome the hardships that come with equivalent exchange. Despite how handy alchemy is, it’s hard to deny that it’s been the root cause of all their struggles and hardships, making it sure as hell seem like something they’re better off without. Besides, who needs alchemy when alkahestry is so much better and just harnesses the power of the Earth and not human beings. =)
In any case, the best and most touching scene this episode had to be Hohenheim showing up to Trisha’s grave to tell her he’s home and say some final words to her, including how Ed called him “father”. In hindsight with how little time Hohenheim had left, it sure seemed like a good trade to use his life to get Al back. Of course, that would’ve meant that he wouldn’t have found his final resting place beside Trisha, which was very bittersweet as the opening theme played with a montage of the Elric family. A part of me still wishes that Hohenheim survived though, even if it meant he only had one life remaining. At least he passed away with a smile on his face until the very end… =(