Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Episode Eight: Sacrifices – **
Audience Assumptions: None
Part One: The Sacrifices Gathered
See? I told you they’re fine. We don’t get much action from the much-built-up sacrifices — Ed, Al, Hoenheim, and Izumi — but they are now in the same spot, so yay, *faint applause*, you did it, you got the characters to the final level. I mean, you did have to teleport them there first, so that’s not exactly the height of intricate plotting, but if it means getting closer to the end of this series, I will take it.
Hoenheim is stuck in the goo fella. That’s all I have to say about that.
You know, some people complain about the first Fullmetal Alchemist series for being goofy and having an incoherent ending. I might have to revisit that, though not before a long breather after all this is over.
Whatever he and Hoenheim are up to, Father seems to need to sacrifice five people in order to enact the next phase of his plan. You may notice he’s one short, which I can’t account for either.
Oh, also Ling’s sort of defeated Bradley and has moved onto smashing tanks in rage.
Part Two: Suiting Up
Based on my previous reactions to battles involving Greed and Ling, you might expect me to gush about their big moment in this episode. Ling, grieving Fu and upholding a promise to Buccaneer, takes full control of Greed’s shield powers and single-handedly takes out the forces besieging the front gates.
And here, finally, I’m going to have to say, “Ehh, it’s not my cup of tea.”
Okay, so there are things to like about it. The animation is lovely, as always, and it is nice to see Ling using Greed’s powers in full. Previously, whenever Greed’s body or face was covered in his diamond shield, that was him doing it, and the way Greed appears in Ling’s mindspace is as a sort of mask similar to the face he has when fully covered. You could read a bit into the symbolism of masks here, and I generally like symbols like that. It’s not the deepest bit of plotting in the world, but I might be able to enjoy it for what it is.
… And yet, this is just that bit over my threshold for teenage melodrama that I’d be good skipping it on a rewatch. I think it’s a bystander saying, “Is that Ling… or Greed?” That line pushes me past enjoying this scene. He’s using his homunculus powers to fight because he can’t use them to save people. He and Greed are on the same wavelength now. Do you get it? It’s like they’re the same person!
I’m good, thanks.
Part Three: The Fateful Choice
I bet you though this was the last you’d see of ol’ Goldy-Chops, but no. The cliffhanger for this episode sees Mustang facing down Gold Tooth with Hawkeye at his back. The homunculi need another sacrifice, and they’ve chosen Mustang for it. This, in fact, was the reason for Gold Tooth’s involvement in the finale: to force Mustang to perform human transmutation.
Mustang holds out for a bit, but finally agrees when Hawkeye is captured and her throat is slit. He has no desire to do it. He knows it doesn’t work and all it will accomplish is lose him part of his body, turn him into a pawn for Father to do with as he sees fit, and make him feel terrible about himself. But, disarmed and with the one person he cares about most in the world bleeding out, her only salvation a philosopher’s stone from the doctor, Mustang has no choice.
Okay, in some ways this is a simple scene, and I don’t think it really works for me. Victimizing Hawkeye for Mustang’s purposes irks me, but let’s say I ignore that since I’ve already ranted a fair bit about how the show treats her. The emotions of the scene work. The cinematography is effective, if a bit hammy. The dialogue is the same way.
I’m not quite going to spoil the next episode, but I am going to say that the reason this scene doesn’t work for me on a rewatch, even though I’m sure it was plenty effective the first time through, is that ultimately, this subplot doesn’t amount to much. Mustang’s actions in this episode are reversed relatively quickly if I recall correctly, and his entire subplot in this portion of the story is largely superfluous. I get the sense that the series felt it needed to put Mustang in the middle of the action because he’s a major character, but they didn’t really have anything special for him to do there. The setup is dramatic, but don’t hold your breath for the results.
Not a lot else to say about this one in particular. I think on the whole, it reads a lot better the first time through. After that, well, for me it’s a bit goofy, and not in a good way.
Hey look, I managed to actually make this one short.
Series Breakdown Rating:
Characters and Character Development: 7
Aesthetics and Style: 7
Overall Plot: 5