In the sixty-third episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Father discovers his weakness as Hohenheim discovers his strength. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch FMA:B.
How is there another episode?
- Obviously, this is an important episode that I want to treat with the respect and care that it deserves, but can I just start this out by saying HOW DARE THIS SHOW DO THIS TO ME. This is the penultimate episode, there are still huge, life-destroying plot twists every second, and my emotions are drained. HOW DARE YOU, FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD. HOW DARE YOU.
- What a spectacle, y’all. This episode is one of the show’s most ambitious stories, and I love just how decidedly ambiguous it is about Truth and Father. But we’ll get to that in a bit, because we must first discuss Father’s shock towards Edward Elric. Again, Father’s hatred of humanity (which, after watching this episode, I’d actually characterize as jealousy) leads him to constantly underestimate them. He’s simply shocked that a human can cause him such harm with his bare hands. (THAT’S FORESHADOWING, RIGHT? IT’S TOTALLY FORESHADOWING EDWARD’S CHOICE.) And yet, as much as Father’s defeat relies on Edward Elric, it’s fascinating to me that one of Father’s own “sons,” Greed, is the one who provides the impetus for Father’s demise.
- Now, this wasn’t the first time I experienced a sudden well of emotions for the death of a homunculus. But this was easily the most emotional and saddening death for me, especially since Greed’s character grew so much over the course of this series. The unique nature of this story is what also allows us to witness the struggle between Ling and Greed as Greed faces his imminent death. Truthfully, these two had not only grown accustomed to one another, but they’d come to depend on each other as a way to reach their own goals.
- And yet, it’s Greed who sacrifices himself to allow Ling to survive. Yes, this was the first lie Greed told, but it was also his first and only act of altruism. When he sucker punches Ling, he does so to save Ling. It doesn’t benefit Greed at all, who is sucked into Father’s body for one last counterattack: reversing the effects of his carbon shield to turn Father’s body into a weak form of carbon. IT IS NOT LOST ON ME THAT LAN FAN CUTS OFF FATHER’S ARM. She didn’t get her revenge on Bradley, but it’s my personal headcanon that she got some closure by slicing Father’s arm off.
- At least there’s something positive that comes of Greed’s death: Ling gets full control of his body! Otherwise, this scene is just 100% NOT OKAY. Those flashbacks to Ed and Ling are so fucking rude and not fair and THIS ISN’T EVEN HALFWAY THROUGH THIS EPISODE. Just a few minutes into “The Other Side of the Gateway,” and I was a goddamn mess.
- There are just so many things here that are emotionally volatile, y’all. Seeing the Xerxesian souls pour into the atmosphere was unreal. Father with a hole literally punched through his body? The black arms of the Gate pulling Father into himself? Father’s anguished cry that he just wanted to experience life free from restraints??? Whoa, wait a second, you are not allowed to make me feel bad about Father at ALL. And seriously, that is a bold move on the part of FMA:B. As Father appears inside the Gate in his original form, Truth excoriates him for what he’s done since the King of Xerxes brought him to life. And this is where things are, thankfully, not overexplained. I’m a big fan of how ambiguous Arakawa keeps this part, since we’re left to connect the dots on the complicated origins of Father. We know that he’s a physical manifestation of the knowledge of the Gate, and that alchemy essentially came from him after the King of Xerxes transmutated his country and created the massive Philosopher’s Stone that is within Father’s and Hohenheim’s bodies.
- So, that made me reflect on what Truth is, and why Truth was behaving as they were with Father. Truth criticizes Father for not growing as a human would. The Dwarf in the Flask’s pursuit of perfection and the entirety of knowledge was a selfish power play, and so I think that Truth is essentially a regulatory agent of the Gate. That seems to be the case later on when Edward is in front of his own Gate, so I feel safe suggesting that Truth protects all knowledge, hoping that humanity can seek and find said knowledge all on their own.
- Because of this, Father is given an eternity in the very place he once existed in: total despair. It makes me wonder if this dual nature has always been there and how the being that’s the Dwarf in the Flask ever came to be in the first place. And I like that I can wonder about these sort of things without a definitive answer from the show. Why was the Dwarf in the Flask in this place of despair to begin with, and can we blame Father for wanting freedom from such a place? Could it be that this place of despair and darkness influenced Father’s choices, as horrible as they were?
- For now, though, Father is gone. Forever. But that doesn’t mean that all is well in Central, and that abrupt cut to everyone standing around the still and lifeless shell of Alphonse is so fucking gut-wrenching. How??? How is Edward going to get his brother back? What the hell could he sacrifice that would make this worth it?
- Oh, I was not prepared for the succession of heart-punching scenes that “The Other Side of the Gateway” gave me. NEVER PREPARED.
- First, we’ve got Hohenheim, who offers up his own long life as a sacrifice for his son’s life. I mean… y’all, I can’t. He apologizes for not being in his son’s lives, knowing that this is probably what got them into this mess in the first place. What if he’d been there when Trisha had died? Would the Elrics have broken the alchemy taboo?
- HE JUST WANTED TO MAKE HIS SONS HAPPY
- HOLD ME
- But I absolutely love that Edward rejects this by stating that he still refuses to take another human life. Even when it’s his brother’s life at stake, Edward doesn’t become a hypocrite. I adore that.
- (HE CALLED HOHENHEIM “FATHER.” !!!!!!!!!!!!)
- (ISN’T IT PERFECT THAT AFTER FATHER IS BANISHED TO DESPAIR, EDWARD CAN NOW RECLAIM THAT NAME OF FATHER FOR HIS ACTUAL DAD.)
- (SO MANY EMOTIONS)
- Oh god, I had forgotten that Edward had once drawn that same transmutation circle: WITHIN GLUTTONY’S STOMACH.
- IS HE SERIOUSLY GOING TO DO THIS.
- Of course he is, because he’s Edward Elric. His title – Fullmetal – is merely that, and I love the message this sends, especially when you think about what it was that Greed wanted this whole time. Edward sheds his alchemy to pay the toll for his brother’s body because to lose your alchemy doesn’t make you less of a person. Not only that, but his life is now full of interesting, wonderful people, all of whom consider him a friend, and that’s all he can ask for. It’s so beautiful, then, that what Edward earns at the end of this painful, traumatic experience is the companionship of his friends and his brother.
- HIS BROTHER.
- ALPHONSE GETS TO COME BACK WITH HIS BODY.
- I admit that it is absolutely surreal to see Alphonse with a physical body, and even when he talks, I’m not used to hearing him speak without that adorable metallic echo of his. He’s back. Alphonse is back.
- HE TOUCHES HIS FATHER’S HAND.
- I CAN’T.
- IT’S WARM OUT.
- HE CAN FEEL WARMTH.
- none of this is okay
- There’s a brief summation of sorts that follows this, which quickly provides us with certain aspects of the aftermath of the defeat of Father. Yeah, like Edward returning Mrs. Bradley’s son to her, and HOW THE FUCK DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT TO SOMEONE? My god, even in the few seconds I saw her face, I was utterly heartbroken by Mrs. Bradley.
- So, they’re not telling the citizens of Amestris the complete truth? It was an “alchemical experiment.” Bradley and Selim simply died, and no one knows they were actually homunculi. Mustang is now in control! Oh god, he got his wish!
- I found it very fitting that despite that I had a million questions about how this was going to be wrapped up, the end of “The Other Side of the Gate” focuses entirely on Hohenheim. After hundreds of years on this earth, he stands at the very spot where this disaster ended, and he can’t help but feel sad. God, could you imagine living with the guilt of knowing how things ended up how they did? It was nice that Alex Armstrong arrived to remind Hohenheim that his sons saved the entire planet because it’s a way of re-directing Hohenheim’s thoughts. What little parenting he did for those two boys turned out brilliantly, and so he returns back to Resembool to say goodbye to the one person he hasn’t spoken to in years: Trisha Elric. It’s painfully ironic that in his last hours of life, Hohenheim feels a desires to keep on living. Wouldn’t you want to? He could have played a part in his son’s lives.
- Instead, he slowly dies while kneeling before his wife’s grave, a smile on his face. I like that Pinako is the one to discover him, too. She knows what this means.
- Hey, you know what’s not okay? The montage of Hohenheim scenes during the closing credits. NOT OKAY.
- HOW IS THERE ANOTHER EPISODE.
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