「謀略の夜」 (Bouryaku no Yoru)
“Night of Stratagems”
The episode title said it all, so I don’t think anyone should be terribly disappointed that the action dialed back this week in favor of more exposition. It’s not like more exposition is ever a bad thing when it comes to Fate/Zero, but Kiritsugu did blow up a building to make sure everyone’s paying attention. The extreme measures he employs when going after other Masters directly easily make up for the lack of a Servant battle this time around, as they’re a valid tactic that’s crossed my mind ever since Fate/stay night, but were never really used out of “anime convenience”. The Servants are always concerned about protecting their Masters, but no one ever seems to target the Masters and force their Servants to defend them.
Back in the First Holy Grail War, the rule may have been to only go after Servants and spare the Masters from any needless bloodshed, but I doubt that’s the case anymore when Masters are conspiring together and using underhanded tactics to get the jump on the competition. It’s common knowledge that taking out a Master will unbind their Servant from this world, so between trying to kill a Heroic Spirit and a human, going after the much more vulnerable option makes the most logical sense. I presume most Masters don’t because of the unwritten code of honor between mages that Tokiomi and Kirei talked about in the first episode, but it’s ironic how they singled out Kiritsugu’s assassination methods — which go out of the way to ensure innocent lives aren’t killed (with proper building implosion too) — when the two of them are working with the Church, who’s assigned Kirei’s father as the judge. (Talk about a massive conflict of interest.)
Anyway, while it says a lot when a professional hitman is arguable one of the most rule-abiding Masters, it does make for a much more interesting war when we have Caster mistaking Saber for Jeanne d’Arc (a.k.a. Joan of Arc) and Kayneth’s mana-supplying fiancée Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri (Toyoguchi Megumi) falling for Lancer because of his “love spot”. In Caster’s case, if you’re going to tell me you foresaw that he wouldn’t believe that Saber’s King Arthur even after she gave her real name and that he was going to round up sacrificial children with Ryuunosuke in defiance to God because I “spoiled” how he’s going to mistaken her as Joan of Arc, then I’m going to have to very politely call “bullshit” on ruining your viewing experience to that degree. 😛
In all seriousness, I for one had no idea a mistaken identity would lead to this, so unless you’re psychic enough to see that far (but not the mistaken identity itself), I still stand by how that bit of information was more of a teaser than a spoiler (which is the main reason I threw it out there). As for Sola-Ui, her uncontrollable attraction toward Lancer should make for an interesting dynamic with Kayneth, now that the latter’s picked up on why she’s so respectful of Lancer. I’m going to assume they all survived the building’s collapse simply because Sola-Ui was just introduced and Lancer likely has a bigger role than what we’ve seen, though Kiritsugu could probably easily confirm Kayneth’s death by asking Saber if her wound has healed. (That is, if unbinding Lancer and his Gae Buidhe from this world is enough to relinquish the curse.)
Last but definitely not least — judging from how most of the second half was devoted to it — is Kirei’s ever-changing perspective on the war thanks to Gilgamesh. The premise for this prequel mentioned that Kirei would find a new purpose to being selected as a Master once he sets his sights on Kiritsugu, and now it’s finally been foreshadowed with Gilgamesh’s suggestion to find out what drives the other Masters. His talk about “joy” and growing interest in Kirei over Tokiomi also echoed the same sentiment that I have with Kiritsugu and Saber, where I feel there’s a clear mismatch in the personalities and/or ideals of the Masters and Servants in this war. (I gather I’m not the only one who’s thought about how much better off Kiritsugu would be if he summoned Assassin.) The difference is, Gilgamesh looks like he’s scouting out a potential candidate to jump ship to since he clearly doesn’t like Tokiomi’s shrewd approach. As those who have seen Fate/stay night will recall, breaking contracts between Servants and Masters and reforming new ones is definitely possible.
While I don’t have a concrete idea where this is headed, I do have some possibilities in mind from some tidbits that I’ve come across (which I won’t mention here). All I can be sure of is that the interactions between Kirei, Tokiomi, and Gilgamesh will be something to keep an eye on as Kirei learns more about Kiritsugu. Thus far, Kirei’s been nothing but a loyal pupil to Tokiomi — doing whatever he asks of him — but the question remains on whether he would follow orders so obediently if he had aspirations of his own. The show is heavily implying that the answer would be no, but until we see what that translates to, it serves as nothing more additional foreshadowing for the time being. The same goes for how Kirei recognized that Kiritsugu will come to save Maiya, which probably means he’ll target her to exploit one of Kiritsugu’s weaknesses if the opportunity were to present itself. While it sounds like there will be a temporary alliance to eliminate Ryuunosuke and Caster for their murderous conduct, it’s only natural to suspect that someone will try to capitalize on this chance, especially when the preview makes it sound like Kiritsugu will be cornered next time.
* Interestingly enough, there was also a bit of talk about obtaining the Holy Grail to reach Root, i.e. Akasha, the center of the universe outside the realm of time from where everything originates, which is a shared concept in the Type-Moon universe. (The same idea is used in Kara no Kyoukai.)
* Iri’s got some mad drifting skills in her Mercedes-Benz 300SL, even though it looked like she was going to get Saber and herself killed.