In the third episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Edward and Alphonse discover that their journey to get ahold of the Philosopher’s Stone has brought them to a manipulative and charismatic cult leader. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch FMA:B.
OH GOD, LET’S DO THIS.
- I don’t think this is terribly subtle, and Edward’s conversation with Rosé hits about every trope I could come up with regarding faith versus agnosticism. (I hesitate to call Edward an atheist because I don’t know that the word has any meaning in this fictional world; plus, he did meet some sort of being that is otherworldly in the previous episode.) Even Cornello himself is consistently over the top and predictable, though Edward uses this very stereotype against him in the end.
- What I came to enjoy about “City of Heresy” was the way that Edward came to understand the cost of playing God with alchemy. His rejection of Rosé’s faith ends up being a scathing condemnation of what he tried to do with his own mother.
- I think that episode also made me think about all the unintentional similarities between this and Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Did the Avatar folks take inspiration from this? Because I know timeline-wise, this whole fictional universe came first, but there’s a lot here that I recognize. People can “control” elements. This episode reminded me of “The Fortuneteller” in Book One of Avatar as well!
- Anyway, enough of that, though I can’t promise I won’t make any more bending jokes. It is too hard to resist. I enjoyed that the writers didn’t make a big deal out of Cornello’s transmutations. From the very beginning, we are meant to believe that he’s lying about his godly powers and that Letoism isn’t a valid religion. We don’t know what Cornello’s intent is, but from his talk with Cray, we suspect it’s malicious in nature. Plus, why else would he be frightened of the State Military sending someone after him?
- Before Edward and Cornello have their confrontation, though, Edward speaks candidly with Rosé about his lack of faith. In one sense, Edward’s commitment to science will always makes sense. Despite that he knows its horrors, he clings to it because it’s the only thing that will hopefully bring his body and his brother’s body back. What Edward doesn’t realize is that this, in and of itself, is a demonstration of faith. He’s so used to faith being associated with religion that he can’t see he’s acting quite similarly to Rosé.
- Which brings me to my sole… well, I was going to say “complaint,” but that seems too strong of a word. Issue? Concern? I think this just rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like the script for this was exceptionally harsh on Rosé, even after bringing up a sympathetic motivation for why she became so attached to Letoism. She pursued something irrational and dark because she desperately wishes to bring back the love of her life. It is Edward’s story, and yet, this episode was so brutal towards her. I might change my mind on this if this is a form of foreshadowing, hinting towards Edward’s own desperate journey. But by the end of “City of Heresy,” the message Ed had for Rosé was essentially, “You’re all alone and I refuse to help you.” Despite going through a similar experience, there’s no empathy here. How come? Why be so cruel to Rosé but not to Edward?
- I initially thought I would have had a problem with how Cornello was portrayed until I realized how intentional this was. Cornello was the perfect representation of the type of villain who is nefarious, over confident, and over-the-top. He uses the emotional vulnerability of others for his own benefit. He breaks all the rules because he can. (I assume chimeras are not ethically sound in the world of alchemy? Also WHAT THE FUCK?!!?!?!?)
- Of course, Cornello’s biggest flaw is the funniest bit of the whole episode: He is a villain who relishes dramatic monologues explaining all of his intentions. Edward correctly assumes that this is precisely what Cornello would do, so he makes sure to broadcast Cornello’s monologue to the whole town. Bless. BLESS. I love this so much.
- SO WHAT THE FUCK IS A REBOUND AND WHY DOES IT TURN CORNELLO INTO THAT THING?????? OH MY GOD WHAT???
- Question, and you can answer this if it’s not spoilery, but if Cornello’s Philosopher’s Stone was fake, how was he able to transmute out of nothing? That confused me. I thought Edward’s entire case against Cornello rested on Cornello having something to boost his power. So… what?
- Does anyone else find the voice work for Alphonse to be endlessly adorable? I love it so much.
- And then there’s the ending, which I don’t understand. At all. WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE? GLUTTONY? ARE YOU SERIOUS? And what the fuck did that woman kill Cornello with? Her fingernails??? Why did they use him? WHO IS THEIR FATHER?
- WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON???
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