OP: 「starting the case: Rail Zeppelin」by Yuki Kajiura
“The Seven Stars and the Eternal Cage ~Not even the stars’ luster can last forever.~”
Last week, I asked for mystery. This week, Lord El-Melloi II Case Files delivered. Without further ado, let’s dive into our first murder case!
Ernest Fargo is killed and horrifically dismembered within his own mansion. There are four suspects to be had – his daughter Mary, his shifty colleague Mr Li, his unscrupulous nephew Alec and the timid housemaid Claire. Each individual was equally motivated on paper in murdering him, which is what made the mystery so intriguing. So whodunnit?
To be honest, when Mr Li first appeared on the screen, I was expecting things to play out like a Chinese villain cliché. Fortunately, the rabbit hole went much further than that. At times, I even wondered if all four parties had colluded in Mr Fargo’s death. And the twist where Alec brutally died took me back to the drawing board. They truly hid things under wraps, and I personally didn’t piece the mystery together right until the very moments leading up to Waver’s ultimate reveal. For that reason, I thought the mystery premise was excellently constructed. Though congratulations if you did manage to guess it from the get go. Still, who could have guessed that the Fargo patriarch was very much alive, only that his attempt to achieve immortality had gone horrifically wrong, leaving him in a vile state of undeath? We even got a deliciously animated fight scene between Gray and Mr Fargo’s corrupted soul, with the beautiful quality to match Ufotable’s work on the Fate franchise. Yummy.
The Whydunnit was a really nice way to wrap up the episode. It turns out that Mary was fully aware that her father’s plans would likely result in his death, yet she didn’t go about stopping him. Let’s assume this takes place in England (which it does). Now I have an excuse to whip out stuff I learned during my law degree. While the failure to act does not usually result in criminal liability, exceptions arise in situations such as a special relationship – e.g. parent and child. So there would be a voluntary presumption where Mary as an adult would be obligated to provide care and protection for her father. This, she failed. The distinctive ethics behind active and passive euthanasia within English law are also relevant. Is there a difference between Mary directly murdering her father as opposed to letting him die, where the ethics would be concerned? I would feel inclined to say, not really. What she did was morally wrong, even if it’s understandable why she would do it. If people felt Mary was justified in knowingly allowing her father to die, then I’d ask you these questions. Is it okay to let someone drown without doing anything? Do all abusive and controlling parents deserve to die? My answers would be no – death cannot be justified in this particular scenario for me. Her omission and failure to act heavily contributed to her father’s death, imparting a significant degree of culpability upon her. There’s also a significant conflict of interest, regardless of her claimed motives, in that she inherits his entire estate too. A bit too convenient.
So while I sympathise for Mary, her actions cannot be justified in my eyes. And I’m pretty sure most English judiciaries would have sent her to the slammer, if all these facts came to light during a trial. If your answers and perspective varied from mine, I would be very curious to know, so feel free to provide them in the comment section below!
To conclude, Waver went full magic Sherlock in trying to solve the mystery, and succeeded too. It’s great as always to see a mainstay from Fate/Zero getting on with life, having grown so much since his days competing in the Holy Grail Wars. El Melloi II’s been fantastic start where the mystery is concerned, that doesn’t feel particularly contrived or convoluted — so props to the source material’s writer. And I’m curious as ever to find out more about Gray. To begin with, I wasn’t sure if Gray’s physical appearance alluded to a connection with Artoria or whether it was simply a case of Saberface. Now I’m certain there’s a deeper connection with Artoria, and I’m excited to find out how they will be related. Truly, the Type-Moon mythos and its extensive depth never ceases to amaze me.
Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. As always, thanks for reading my post and see you next week for what will hopefully be yet another magical mystery!
ED: 「雲雀」 (Hibari) by ASCA