Mark Watches ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’: Episode 23

In the twenty-third episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, WOW, EVERYTHING IS SUPER MESSED UP. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch FMA:B.

oh my god what is happening

  • There are like twenty plots, and they all finally come together, and then that thing happens, and THIS IS SO GREAT.
  • Actually, this specific arc is really fantastic, and it’s the longest we’ve spent being this serialized. Well, the show has always been serial in nature, but since “The Envoy From the East,” the writers have largely stuck to Lan Fan, Ling, Scar, and the increasing violence from the Homunculi. Here, though, we get a fascinating story about how two women choose to stay involved, as well as a ridiculously suspenseful set of fights and chase scenes.
  • HOW DID I NOT FIGURE OUT THAT LING WAS HELPING MUSTANG? I blame this on my European tour and nothing else. I HAVE AN EXCUSE!
  • Can we talk about all the fabulous, amazing ladies in this episode? “Girl on the Battlefield” gives us three stories of three women who all contribute in their own way to the world, whether it’s in battle, in strategy, or in creating things for other people. In the case of Lan Fan and Winry, both characters struggle with what their role is in an ever-violent world. What can Lan Fan do to help the possible king she swore her service to? Why does Winry always feel like she’s left behind to wait?
  • Lan Fan comes from a specific culture that takes their version of royalty very seriously. It was clear to me that she knew that Ling’s survival was key not just for their country, but for their clan. She specifically mentions that, and I thought that wasn’t just a coincidence or a random choice of words. On top of that, she’s a fighter, one who specifically uses her arms as a form of combat. Now, I admit to totally misreading her intention when she pulled out the kunai. I thought she was going to outright kill herself! But she said that some things had to be left behind, and that was a clue that she was going to cut her own arm off to save her friend. And make no mistake: I really do think Ling and Lan Fan are the best of friends, not just attached to one another because of some sort of royal duty. That’s not to say that what happens here can’t be read as problematic in terms of the gender dynamic at hand. I just saw it as a demonstration of loyalty and duty and respect. Lan Fan cut off her arm, which was either broken or damaged beyond repair, and used that to save Ling and herself. I think you can argue that because Ling later tells Riza that Lan Fan is waiting for him. She expects him to return for her, and he is livid when Riza tries to reject his claims.
  • I dunno, I just have a lot of feels for these two because of this episode. And now she’s probably going to get an automail arm from Winry, and I want her and Winry to become best friends, and everything is perfect.
  • How chaotic is everything by the train tracks??? Like, in the span of a few minutes, Scar finds out that Gluttony is a Homunculus, Gluttony is caught because Ling shows up, then Riza shows up, then May and Xiao-Mei arrive to protect Scar, then May casually shows us what type of Alkahestry she can do, and what the fuck is going on. It’s such an entertaining sequence specifically because one thing follows the other in such rapid succession!
  • NO, BRADLEY KNOWS THAT RIZA IS HELPING. UGH. HE IS SO CREEPY.
  • Can we talk about Xiao-Mei’s pyramid of power? Xiao-Mei believes he is AT THE TOP OF THE PYRAMID. THIS IS THE FUNNIEST THING ON THE WHOLE SHOW.
  • Oh god, so Al has Xiao-Mei now. THIS IS GOING TO BE WEIRD and it will also clearly be really cute, and I can’t wait for Al/Xiao-Mei adventures. Oh, they’re coming, and I will sit here and anxiously anticipate them.
  • WHY IS BRADLEY TALKING TO WINRY? I HATE YOU. I HATE YOU SO MUCH.
  • Mr. Garfiel still weirds me out a lot. Like, his stereotypical appearance is even worse than it was before. Maybe if he wasn’t played entirely for humor I might like it, but I don’t. It just feels gross.
  • But his appearance does give Winry an answer to her existential despair. If everyone is going off to fight, what is Winry supposed to do? We know from “Backs in the Distance” that she doesn’t want to fight. But the clamor in Mr. Garfiel’s shop reminds her that she is talented and that people still do depend on her. She might not be on the battlefield, but she still has a purpose.
  • Now, I always knew that Winry cared for the Elric brothers a lot, but her growing feelings for Al would also provide another explanation for why she is so constantly afraid for him every time he leaves: She is falling for him.
  • Then there’s the scene at the rendezvous house. I’m glad that Ling is admitting his responsibility in what’s gone down, since he came to Amestria to seek out immortality, and now his best friend has lost her arm.
  • Lan Fan telling Ed that the trap was effective = A MILLION EMOTIONS FOREVER.
  • OH MY GOD. NOW THEY ALL KNOW BRADLEY IS A HOMUNCULUS. That scares me???? It scares me because THERE ARE FORTY-ONE EPISODES LEFT. If the writers are willing to reveal that secret now, then what else is coming?
  • Oh, can they not fight over the Philosopher’s Stone? Can they not?
  • WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT EYE AND MOUTH THING ON GLUTTONY????
  • OH MY GOD WHAT EXPLODED
  • THIS IS NOT FAIR. WHAT HAPPENED???

Most unfair cliffhanger yet, I swear. 🙁

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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