In the fifty-second episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, CHAOS. CHAOS EVERYWHERE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch FMA:B.
I can’t fucking believe this show. THERE’S SO MUCH GOING ON AT ONCE.
- The fact that this show can juggle so many plot threads with ease is another sign that it is one of the best things ever, even if it did torment me with the death of all my favorite characters. Rude.
- So, “Combined Strength” is all about how these various characters are able to support one another, to combine their strength t0 fight against the impossible. As many times as the antagonists insist that there’s no hope, I’d argue that this episode deliberately demonstrates that there is hope.
- First, let’s talk about Alphonse. My baby. Alphonse discovers just how powerful he is with the Philosopher’s Stone in hand, and it is a spectacle to watch. The animation for his fight scene with Kimblee and Pride is unreal, and I’m so glad I got the HD version of FMA:B from iTunes for this reason. It’s stunning how the “camera” moves about, and I loved how the battle felt both horrifyingly intimate and massive in scope.
- Just to make sure I say something about it, Al USED HIS SEVERED BODY PARTS TO MAKE WEAPONS. That is a thing that happened in this episode.
- How great is it that Pride insists that they’re not going to fall for the same trick, and then Al tricks Pride with the decoy flash bomb? You literally fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. That’s what you get for constantly underestimating humanity.
- Once Al successfully seals Pride into another earthly container, I was on the edge of my seat watching Kimblee and Al talk to one another. It’s an eerie scene because it follows so much chaos. The juxtaposition is unsettling! And so is the topic of the conversation: Why didn’t Al use the stone to get his original body back? It’s a relevant question given that Kimblee has been using a Philosopher’s Stone himself to add to his power.
- Which then made me realize that it’s kind of ironic for Kimblee to even ask this. Um… maybe I’m remembering this wrong? I recall that Kimblee had a Philosopher’s Stone the entire time he was in prison, so why didn’t he use it then, either? SO NO JUDGING ALLOWED, KIMBLEE.
- Okay, I’m just jesting. Still, it is a bit strange. However, I was totally into how the concept of Equivalent Exchange was brought up to parallel Al’s choices to save others over himself. GOOD WRITING, HELLO. YOU’RE GREAT.
- Anyway, there’s at least one moment in every plot where the show teases us with the possible death of one of the protagonists in said scene. Here, it’s when Pride captures Al again after being freed from their stone prison. How was Al going to get out of this by himself? Easy! HE WASN’T BY HIMSELF. Holy shit, that moment where Heinkel bites down on Kimblee’s neck was so shocking. And it’s not even the most shocking moment in the whole episode. How about Yoki appearing at the last second to protect Dr. Marcoh from annihilation at Pride’s hand? He was sobbing. IT WAS SO ADORABLE.
- Y’all, everyone in this part of the story lived, and they’re on their way to Ed. !!!!!!
- Wait, I’m wrong, because someone didn’t survive: KIMBLEE. Look, it’s not that I necessarily felt bad for Kimblee. He’s not a sympathetic character. BUT PRIDE JUST GOBBLED HIM THE HELL UP. OH MY GOD. But Pride did say that Kimblee will live on inside of him? IS THAT A LITERAL THING? Oh god, I don’t want to know.
- We also check in on May, who is battling Envy in the sewers while trying to fend off more Mannequin Soldiers. Unlike the other characters, May is the only one who doesn’t really get any outside help. No, she deals with Envy and the Mannequins entirely by herself. Because she’s awesome. She’s still desperate to find a way to save her own clan, but I’m worried she’s not going to find anything. Now that she knows the true cost of immortality, what is she going to do to get around it? Is there an exception, like Kimblee suggested, that would allow May to make new rules of nature?
- I loved how deceptively simple Mustang’s plan to infiltrate Central was. JUST CHANGE THE SIGN ON THE VAN. Brilliant. BRILLIANT.
- Oh god, where are they taking Mrs. Bradley? And when are they going to tell her what’s going on? I am dreading that scene, y’all. My heart isn’t ready. 🙁
- So. The Armstrongs.
- I CAN’T.
- Holy shit, y’all, I would not have wanted to watch any more of this show if Alex or Olivier had died. I’m so serious. And that made every scene with them battling Sloth in Central a billion times worse than every other plot in this episode. Yes, they’re both extremely talented and tough soldiers, but Sloth reveals THAT HE IS ACTUALLY THE FASTEST HOMUNCULUS. WHAT THE FUCK. BUT HIS NAME IS SLOTH!!!!!! YOU ARE TRICKING ME.
- God, what a surprise. Of course, now I’m curious what other cards this show has under its sleeve. Shit. I’m sure it’s a lot.
- Anyway, I’d assumed that while Sloth was strong, the Armstrongs’ speed would even the odds, so yeah. Sloth’s speed? It totally changes the odds, and Olivier knows it. Even if they did find a weakness, how are they supposed to deal with Sloth’s now-revealed skill?
- Then Olivier trips.
- And no
- WHY ARE YOU CUTTING AWAY. DO NOT THREATEN OLIVIER’S LIFE AND THEN GO TO ANOTHER PLOT
- THAT IS RUDE, SHOW. DON’T DO THAT TO ME.
- But then Alex.
- Y’all, just look at the expression on Olivier’s face when she realizes that her brother saved her life. It is so rare for us to see anything akin to appreciation or love on her face, but there it is, in all its splendor. It’s fucking beautiful, y’all.
- I mean, he technically saves her twice? The second time, he IMPALES SLOTH WITH A GIANT STONE COLUMN. (Which: !!!!!!!!!!) And then, in the most hilarious display of Armstrong affection in the universe, Olivier and Alex ARGUE ABOUT WHO WILL INHERIT THE ARMSTRONG MANSION. No, oh my god, BLESS THESE TWO FOREVER. IT’S THE BEST THING.
- Actually, Olivier begging that the general shoot her and or let her live to fight the Mannequins? Yeah, that scene is fucking electrifying. And it represents so much of her own personal philosophy about the military! She believes in making choices and sticking with them, of weighing the options and going with what her strengths are.
- I love the Armstrongs so much, y’all.
- ED. SCAR. MANNEQUINS EVERYWHERE. I love all the little nods to zombie horror in this sequence! But all I wondered was how the hell they were going to ever overpower this endless wave of Mannequins. HOW MANY DID FATHER HELP CREATE??? Hundreds? Thousands? If all you can do is incapacitate them, how to you hold back the tide?
- WITH ROY MUSTANG AND RIZA HAWKEYE.
- Best end. BEST END. Again, it speaks to the episode title: By combining their strength, these people just might be able to overcome the impossible.
- I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH.
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