In the second episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, we learn what Edward did to result in his and his brother’s physical state. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch FMA:B.
Reminder: Please read the opening bit of the review for the first episode if you are new to Mark Watches or will be following my reviews of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. This will inform you of my site’s rules and policies, explain why I chose this version of FMA, and will let you know about how future posts will work. Thanks!
Now, let’s talk about “The First Day.”
- OH MY GOD!!!!
- oh my fucking god
- WHAT HAVE Y’ALL DONE TO ME
- The sheer brilliance of “The First Day” is based entirely on the fact that this type of episode is normally saved for later in a season or near a finale and NOT THE SECOND FUCKING EPISODE OF THE SHOW.
- If this is what I get from the second episode of the show, what the hell comes after this?
- I often speak of my need for an emotional basis for caring about a plot, and it’s one of those things that sort of make or break a show or a book for me. Which is interesting to me when I think about one of my favorite books, The Stranger, because so much of that novel is about the lack of emotion. But anyway, not the point. I ultimately want to care about the people who are a part of whatever narrative I’m experiencing. For some shows, it took me a while to care. Buffy is a great example of that. Hell, Dollhouse is an even better one, since so many of the characters are both unlikable or without consistent characterization. (I won’t spoil why, since you should watch that show because of reasons.)
- I think that’s a big reason why it’s so exciting to think about “The First Day.” I’m two episodes into this show, and the writers have given me a huge and massively sympathetic reason for caring about the two lead characters. Well, perhaps it’s three main characters, since this episode introduces Winry, who looks to play a big part in the childhood of Edward and Al. (I also completely misunderstood her relation to them, and the same with Winry’s grandmother.)
- It’s clear that the mention of the Philosopher’s Stone in the pilot episode was intentional, which excites me for the possibility that this show is highly serialized. I am a HUGE fan of serialized shows because they’re so rewarding to me. As Edward and Alphonse head to the town of Reole by train, the show flashes back to explain exactly how they got there.
- It also breaks my heart.
- And terrifies me.
- And makes my brain explode.
- I will never get over the fact that this is the SECOND EPISODE.
- Anyway, with the knowledge of the cleverly-placed cold open, which explained the concept of alchemy in very scientific terms, I watched as Edward and Al began to experiment with his own alchemical abilities. I was impressed that the writers completely avoided the trope of having the boys’ mother shame them for their talents. Instead, she is pleasantly surprised and ecstatic that her sons are “little geniuses.” SHE SUPPORTED THEM.
- AND THEN SHE DIED, AND EVERYTHING WAS SAD and I have to remind you that this is the second episode. The second one. After the first one.
- This is the basis for what Edward does with the support of his brother. Unable to comprehend a world without their mother, they set out to figure out the secret to Human Transmutation. Obviously, a cost had to be paid. The opening monologue explained that you could not create something out of nothing.
- And I loved that these boys took YEARS to come up with a solution. This did not happen overnight. I honestly expected them to try and resurrect their mother within a week of her death. Instead, we’re shown the dedication both Edward and Alphonse have within them towards bringing their mother back.
- If you would like to see a real-life version of all-caps, look no further than the exact moment Edward started the Transmutation. It doesn’t end until the story catches up with the flashback we saw in “Fullmetal Alchemist.”
- Because this was the only way I know how to react to this show doing something NO OTHER SHOW DOES IN THE SECOND EPISODE.
- ALPHONSE DIES.
- EDWARD IS PULLED INTO SOME OTHER WORLD WITH THE BEING THAT REPRESENTS TRUTH AND GOD AND EVERYTHING AND HE IS SHOWN ALL OF EXISTENCE AND OH MY FUCKING GOD, HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS IN THE SECOND EPISODE. HOW?????
- THE PRICE EDWARD HAD TO PAY FOR THAT INFORMATION WAS HIS LEG, HIS ENTIRE ARM, AND ALL OF ALPHONSE’S BODY
- I AM SO DONE WITH THIS SHOW AND I AM NOWHERE NEAR DONE WITH THIS SHOW
- OH MY FUCKING GOD WHAT IS THAT THING
- WHAT IS THAT THING MAKE IT GO AWAY!!!!!!
- THIS IS SO FUCKED UP
- THIS SHOW IS FUCKED UP
- So, obviously, all this visceral stuff is mega disturbing. There’s no denying that. But I found the story of how Colonel Mustang recruited Edward to be pretty damn unnerving as well. I don’t see him as an antagonistic force in the show, but I also can’t deny that when he sees what Edward has done, he doesn’t offer sympathy or comfort. He’s furious at first, and then he seizes the opportunity to recruit him. Like, nothing about how he’s sorry for what happened to him! No, this kid definitely needs to join the state military and keep pursuing his interest in alchemy. I mean, I get that Mustang saw a resource. I get that he also wanted to give Edward the means to repair his body. But I agree with Winry’s grandmother. It seems nightmarish to keep going further when she’s seen what that kid’s alchemy produced.
- I was also instantly drawn to young Winry, who is able to recognize the inherent emotional dangers in child militarization from the get-go. Obviously, she rationalizes it in a way that she can understand: These people will take her friends from her. They already took her mother and father, and now Winry is an orphan because of that. This spoke to me because my own father was a veteran, and I grew up observing the effects war had on him. In that sense, it was the greatest deterrent for joining the military that I could have ever experienced.
- It’s also fascinating to me how the writers deliberately contrast Riza’s statement that the choice to enlist was entirely up to Edward with Mustang’s nearly vicious pursuit of Edward. Was it a choice at this point? Or was Mustang preying on Edward’s emotional vulnerability?
- WHO IS RIZA PROTECTING?
- Oh fuck, Alphonse did not experience that freaky other world that Edward did. That seems bad.
- This all seems bad. Pursuing the Philosopher’s Stone? Oh god, that can’t end well, can it?
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