In the fifty-first episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Edward and his team battle the Immortal Legion, while Alphonse deals with Kimblee and Pride. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch FMA:B.
THE PROMISED DAY IS WORSE THAN I EXPECTED, AND IT STILL HASN’T EVEN TECHNICALLY HAPPENED YET.
- Because right??? No eclipse yet. YET. WHICH SCARES ME. DOES THIS MEAN THIS IS GOING TO GET EVEN WORSE. Oh god, the opening credits are full of blood and tears, and I am not going to be able to do this, y’all.
- But new songs! That’s always awesome. I’ve been saying it a lot in the videos for this week’s reviews, but many thanks to the kind person who gifted me the theme songs on iTunes! You’re awesome.
- I don’t really know what I expected from the Mannequin Soldiers. (I’m so thankful for the mid-episode character title cards because they spell out the names of people! It’s awesome.) I knew they’d be an intimidating force. I knew they’d provide a challenge to the protagonists. I did not expect them to be literally bloodthirsty. The cold open to “The Immortal Legion” is, again, more nightmare fuel for me. It’s so goddamn unfair, I swear. Y’all did this to me. This is your fault. Because I’m not going to forget the image of those things advancing on the unnamed general and eating him alive. Or the image of the falling glasses that belonged to the scientist who was annihilated.
- Because THEY AREN’T READY TO BE CONTROLLED. THEY OBEY NOTHING BUT THEIR OWN HUNGER
- SO IT’S LITERALLY WORSE THAN IT COULD HAVE BEEN. And it’s precisely why Edward seals himself and the others in with these immortal monsters. All of them know that the second these things get aboveground, it’s going to be hell on Earth. Truthfully, their immortality is what scares me the most about them. I don’t know how to defeat them. Is it similar to the Homunculi? Do you wear out their Philosopher’s Stones? Even if that’s the case, how do you do that with hundreds of the things at the same time?
- I DON’T KNOW. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SOLVE THIS?
- Barry the Chopper. I AM SAD FOR BARRY. 🙁 🙁 🙁
- Just… all hail Olivier Armstrong. I am just so enamored by the complexity of her characterization, that even though the writers could have just made her a tough-as-nails commander, we get a layered character with complicated emotional motivations. It’s fascinating to me that she’s got to balance her own survival with doing what’s best for her soldiers. Well, she’s also thinking about how she can continue gaining control, too! I don’t doubt that she wants to run Amestris, either. (Which makes me wonder where the hell Grumman and Greed are. More loose canons that I need to keep in mind during this clusterfuck of chaos!) Her actions here just have so many possible readings to them, you know? That’s what excites me about fiction, y’all, and it’s why I’ve come to love this show. Oh my god, SO MANY AMAZING CHARACTERS!
- I’ve got a lot of caps lock waiting to be used, just for the record. This is one of the most consistently shocking episode of the whole show. Olivier pinning the general to the floor with her sword! SLOTH CRUSHING THE GENERAL TO DEATH WITH A SINGLE PUNCH. SCAR’S DESTRUCTIVE ALCHEMY NOT WORKING. THAT GREEN GUNK IN THE MANNEQUIN. THE MANNEQUIN SAYING, “MAMA,” TO EDWARD. (Which just made me think of a certain thing in Protector of the Small. OH GOD WHY MUST PEOPLE DO SUCH THINGS TO ME.)
- And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I swear, this show is so good at escalating tension and odds. How? How do you do this? It’s just so relentless. I guess it’s not hard to look back at how far Fullmetal Alchemist has come from those first few episodes. You know, I’m nearing the end of this show, and I’m beginning to see how much this show feels like a novel. Granted, it is based on a manga, so it makes sense that the pacing and the narrative framing resembles a book, but still. It’s hard to pull that off, you know? I’m 51 episodes into FMA:B – 51!!!! – and the sheer scope of this all is endlessly impressive to me. The best part? I still have no idea how this is going to end.
- Actually, I don’t even know how Mustang and his group are going to get into Central, let alone how the whole show is going to end. Let’s start with the small things, right? I still don’t get it. This show is one constant experiment in getting me to feel helpless in the face of being unprepared. It was designed for me.
- I happened to read a comment last week that pointed out how nonsensical it was that May would unquestioningly pursue the answer to immortality, given that she admitted that her emperor would kill EVERYONE to get a hold of one. And I can’t get it out of my head? Still, I want to see how she deals with this, since she’s clearly a proficient fighter.
- More nightmare fuel: Envy reassembling out of the bodies of Mannequins. Yeah, this isn’t okay in any universe or any timeline. My god, how does this show constantly come up with a new thing to terrify me with?
- Here’s another example: Olivier being captured by Sloth. Look, when Olivier’s face shows fear, I GET REALLY FUCKING SCARED. I think that’s a fair thing to state. And I suddenly got intensely worried that this was it. She’d met her match.
- Bless Alex Louis Armstrong, who arrives to prove to his sister that he is useful, that there is a point to his bulging and sparkling muscles, and that he cares for Olivier. Like, I know I was laughing and shrieking during that scene, but I kind of wanted to burst into tears? Because I just adore everything that the Armstrong family represents. I love their combination of humor and pride, of love and competition. Seriously, can I be passed through generations of the Armstrong family line? Wait, that sounds like some weird sort of sex pact. Fuck it, I don’t care. I love the Armstrongs.
- So, I’ve purposely left one entire plot out of this review because… well, frankly, it deserves more attention than anything else. Admittedly, I do find myself drawn to Alphonse more than Edward, in part because I admire Al’s sense of hope for the future. It’s not an easy thing to have hope when the world around you looks so grim. Hell, in terms of my own personality, I historically have far more in common with Edward! The anger, the resentment, the desire to prove myself to the world, the sensitivity regarding my body… damn, I never really thought about that.
- Anyway, I appreciate that the Elric brothers are so radically different from one another is what I’m trying to say. Here, Al’s sense of moral certainty is tested once Heinkel realizes that Pride was using Morse code to announce their location. (Well, whatever version of Morse code exists in this world. I doubt it was called that in Amestris.)
- KIMBLEE ARRIVES.
- NO, GO AWAY.
- GO FAR AWAY
- DON’T COME BACK
- FALL OFF A CLIFF AND STRAIGHT INTO THE GAPING MAW OF THE EARTH AND GET EATEN AND DON’T COME BACK.
- Of course, I knew that this was a disaster beyond the fact that Pride was free. They were definitely going to get revenge on Al for what Al and Hohenheim did, and that’s made worse when Kimblee BLOWS UP HEINKEL.
- Well, I thought Heinkel straight-up died in the explosion, but nope.
- And then Pride is attacking Al, grabbing him by the legs and AL LITERALLY TRANSMUTES HIS LEGS OFF.
- i can’t do this I CANNOT DEAL WITH THIS FUCKING SHOW.
- THIS WAS NOT MADE FOR ONE PERSON TO DEAL WITH. GOD. GOD.
- I’m haunted. I’m haunted by the image of Al dragging Heinkel, using the stumps of his legs to inch through the dust caused by his transmutation, Heinkel begging Al to leave him behind, to save himself.
- Except that’s not what Al does, is it? It’s a neat reference to the conversation that Pride and Al had inside that chamber of earth. Pride insisted that Al would never save himself at the expense of others, and now we see yet another example of how Pride was right.
- There are two moments in this show where antagonists ask the protagonists a vital question: Why bother fighting?
- And it’s a good question. Facing an immortal legion of Mannequin Soldiers, or a group of nearly-immortal non-humans who have no moral reason not to commit murder, or a military force that’s spent years supporting the Homunculi, why bother fighting?
- The question isn’t answered until the very end of the episode, when Heinkel is dying with no hope of surviving, and he shows Al his secret: HE STILL HAS THAT PHILOSOPHER’S STONE FROM “THE ABYSS.”
- OH MY GOD, I FORGOT ABOUT THAT.
- This presents Al with a dilemma: Does he save himself if Heinkel asks AL not to save him? Does he use the Philosopher’s Stone to save himself, despite that he is morally opposed to it? If the way to beat Father is to survive, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that using the Stone would be acceptable?
- I love how Heinkel frames this. He tells Al to use the Stone to give the lives within it meaning. Save other lives. Save the whole fucking country. Give those lives a chance to fight.
- Oh my god, I cannot even deal with the image of Al ominously stepping out of the dust cloud. It’s amazing. CHILLS. CHILLS.
- I love this show. I don’t care how many times I’ve said that.
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