Mark Watches ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’: Episode 38

In the thirty-eighth episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, everyone descends on the old mining town of Baschool to find Scar. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch FMA:B.

So, this wasn’t as mind-bending as the previous episode, but it’s a clear set-up for the “finale” that comes next. (Since episode 39 is the end of a “season,” I mean.) Let’s do this!

  • I think the logistics of Riza’s dilemma are spelled out here in “Conflict at Baschool”: If Pride truly can spy on Riza within any shadow, then how is she ever going to notify the others about Selim’s true identity? This is tested when Mustang coincidentally calls her just after she’s escaped Pride’s grasp. She has this unsettling moment where she looks down and realizes what her shadow means: she’s always being watched. At the same time, I realize that Riza Hawkeye is a resilient and creative person, and I think if anyone was going to find a way around this, it would be her. RIGHT???
  • Much credit must be given to Edward and Al, who manage to escape Kimblee’s men within 60 seconds of arriving in Baschool. THAT’S TALENT, Y’ALL.
  • Of course, that doesn’t mean that they’re in the clear. Baschool is huge, and searching for Scar is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
  • AND THEN MAY FINDS THEM INSTEAD.
  • Can we talk about how hilarious the animation is for the sequences where May freaks out over the Elric brothers? I love it. It’s so strange and touching all at the same time. But it’s actually something I dearly love about how the people making this show tell the story. This part is supposed to be weird because of how surreal it is that Winry, Ed, Al, May, Xiao-Mei, Yoki, and Dr. Marcoh are hanging out. At once. Without fighting. It’s a strange assortment of people who we don’t really see all at once.
  • It’s also during this section that we get my absolute favorite part of “Conflict at Baschool”: Yoki’s flashback, which is done in the style of a silent film. Oh god, first of all, it’s just so unexpected. He gets nearly five minutes of this episode devoted solely to his experience in Baschool and how that got him to where he was now. What’s also fascinating to me is how the animation on the screen doesn’t necessarily match what Yoki is saying. He paints himself as the eternal victim in his story, and we see that he was actually quite abusive to the people of Youswell. How much of the rest of his story is embellished? Did Edward really trick him into giving over the deed to the mine? Did he seriously try to steal from the Armstrong family? (CAN I PLEASE MEET ALL THE ARMSTRONGS ASAP. THANKS.) Oh god, Yoki, it’s so wonderful.
  • The best part? No one is paying attention to his story. Barry would sympathize with you, Yoki. He would!
  • And then the first plot twist hits me: Jerso and Zampano, Kimblee’s men, ARE CHIMERAS. WHAT THE HELL.
  • I love that this show constantly reminds me that not everyone knows the same things the viewers do. Edward has to tell Dr. Marcoh, May, and Yoki what’s been happening because they’ve all been in… well, another plotline. Ha.
  • I WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS IN THE RESEARCH NOTES. I WANT TO KNOW VERY BADLY.
  • I know that Edward pokes fun at Jerso’s saliva ability, but that just grossed me out.
  • Actually, let’s go back a bit. I talked briefly over the opening credits in today’s commission that this show is incredibly complicated, which is one of my favorite things about it. There are so many layers! One such thing is the characters’ loyalty to one another. See, I misjudged Edward and Al’s reaction to “rescuing” Scar. I assumed that after they took care of Jerso and Zampano (DID AL SNAP JERSO’S NECK BECAUSE THAT WASN’T CLEAR TO ME), they would whisk Scar off to safety so he could help decipher his brother’s research. Yet as important as that book is to them, I forgot that they also hate Scar. They want nothing to do with him, not even if it helps them translate the ancient Ishvalan in the research notes. And it’s fascinating to me that the writers are able to juggle all these levels of characterization like that.
  • AND THEN WINRY SHOWS UP.
  • AND EVERYTHING IS SO TENSE
  • AND MY HEART HURTS FOR WINRY
  • AND OH MY GOD WHAT DO YOU SAY TO SOMEONE LIKE SCAR
  • You know, not that I’m sitting here thinking that Scar is redeemed at all, but at least he could admit to Winry that no matter what justification he tried to give her about her parents’ murder, he’d still be making an excuse. He understands her anger, and refuses to dismiss her feelings.
  • UGH, THEN THERE IS AN EXPLOSION. GODDAMN IT.
  • So, we need to talk about Olivier. We need to talk about Olivier Mira Armstrong. Buccaneer and his companions arrive back at the entrance of the tunnel that Olivier had had blocked, expecting that since they ran out of time, they’ve been cemented in. Except they aren’t? Oh. Oh, wait a minute. That defective watch. Did Olivier use that on purpose?
  • JUST… THAT SCENE WHERE BUCCANEER THANKS HER FOR SHOWING MERCY, AND SHE SMILES EVER-SO-SLIGHTLY AND SAYS, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” KILLS ME UNTIL THE END OF TIME. Oh, Olivier, I didn’t know you had it in you. I adore you. I love that Buccaneer uses the “black and white” comment to suggest that even Olivier doesn’t see everything in such simple terms.
  • Hey, were you experiencing joy and bliss?
  • Were you?
  • THEN LET ME RUIN IT BECAUSE SCAR ESCAPED AND KIDNAPPED WINRY, WHO IS UNCONSCIOUS IN HIS ARMS
  • THIS FUCKING SHOW ISN’T FAIR.

The video commission for this episode is now archived in my store for just $0.99! You can purchase the entire show at once for only $49.99 for 64 videos!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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