In the sixty-fourth and final episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, we find out what our heroes do after such a lengthy fight. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish FMA:B.
I DON’T EVEN LIKE TYPING THAT. I don’t! I hope that I’ve given the impression that I’ve enjoyed this show and not just conveyed my absurd (and totally fictional) hatred for y’all for making me suffer over 64 episodes. (I just went back to make sure that I was still destroyed by the first episode, and lord, was I ever unprepared for this journey. I LITERALLY ASKED IN THE FIRST VIDEO IF AL EVER TOOK HIS ARMOR OFF. help me.) This is seriously one of the most satisfying shows I’ve ever seen. Questions are answered constantly! Stakes are raised! I cried a lot! Feelings! Wonderful women! EXCELLENT THEMES! Constant emotional devastation. And seriously, this is one of the finest endings to a serialized story that I’ve ever experienced. Of course, now I know why there’s another episode after “The Other Side of the Gateway.” We needed this. The story needed this. “Journey’s End” doesn’t just give us closure in some ways; it actually opens up an entire new world in the process.
Let’s talk about the final journey for each of these characters.
With the exception of the Elrics, nearly everyone gets a brief scene to complete their story in this show. Understandably, more time is spent on the Elrics than anyone else, but I appreciated that this show, which is ridiculously complex, still manages to get nearly everyone into the finale. In the opening scene, Dr. Knox finally returns to the show when he pays a visit to Colonel Mustang, who is still recovering in a hospital bed alongside Riza Hawkeye. Surprisingly, we see that Mustang is studying Ishvalan history and culture with his friends. HE’S GOING TO RE-ESTABLISH ISHVAL. OH MY GOD. I love that Mustang’s dream of ascending to be leader of the country now involves him giving back. So much of what he’s planned here is contrition for what the Amestrian military did to Ishval, and it’s important that they all recognize that this whole ordeal began for them back in Ishval. It’s only fair that the Ishvalan people get their holy land back on their own terms, too, so I think that’s why Mustang is being so thorough about his studies.
Of course, Dr. Knox had a surprise of his own: Dr. Marcoh, who comes bearing a gift and a demand: Let him heal Mustang and return his eyesight in exchange for using the Stone to repair the Ishvalan country. Little did I know how much this fit in with what the Elric’s would later devise as a way to change alchemist culture. This isn’t about equivalent exchange anymore; it’s about giving back more than you took in the first place. SO MUSTANG ASKS DR. MARCOH TO HEAL JEAN HAVOC FIRST. NO, TOO MANY EMOTIONS.
Just the image of Scar in the Armstrong mansion alone is surreal, but the character development for Scar that’s handed to us in this scene is AN OVERLOAD OF EMOTIONS. This character was introduced as one of the most vicious antagonists until we found out why he was murdering state alchemists. Over the course of this show, he’s had to reconcile his hatred of the country responsible for his people’s genocide with the realization that he also can’t let Amestris be destroyed. It’s been such a nuanced journey for Scar, and now we discover what the last part of it is. Essentially, he becomes his brother’s half of the equation, shedding his destructive alkahestry in order to begin the rebuilding of Ishval with Major Miles. I’m satisfied that Mustang appointed the two sole Ishvalans for this task because it wouldn’t make sense (or be fair) any other way. For Scar, though, we see how he finally has a path set before him that will allow him to heal, and he’ll do so by healing the very country that was taken from him.
SEE? EMOTIONS. SO MANY OF THEM. And I adore that Scar doesn’t get a name here. This isn’t about identity as it is about Scar’s dedication to what his brother set out to do. Instead of taking credit for the repair of Ishval, Scar will do the work, nameless, without credit.
I did find it sad that so many of these characters were parting ways to go off and live their own lives. I had commented a few times before that I loved the ensemble feel to this cast of characters, so there was a part of me that wasn’t exactly excited to see them leave. But I was happy to discover that not only was Ling returning home to be the emperor of Xing, but that he was going to unite the clans instead of allowing his country’s tradition of clan wars to set his citizens against one another. It’s interesting to witness this because it shows how much this experience has affected these characters. In Ling’s case, May points out that it’s “greedy” for him to want to protect everyone at once, and it’s clear that Ling’s time spent within Greed has rubbed off on him.
Mrs. Bradley / Selim / Grumman
THERE IS NO WAY IN A MILLION YEARS THAT I EVER COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS. Even in the final episode, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood packs one hell of a punch: MRS. BRADLEY DECIDED TO RAISE SELIM/PRIDE HERSELF. Oh my god, so not only does she know who her son and husband were, but she decides to reject the notion that Selim is an impossible child. It is one of the most striking scenes in the entire series for a couple of reasons. First of all, it shows us that the homunculi, as fucked up as they are, aren’t to be disregarded as pure evil. We know Greed had a change of heart; we watched Envy have an epiphany about their true nature; and homunculi like Sloth and Gluttony weren’t quite what they seemed either. But, as Grumman says, this is an example of the possibility of the world now that Father is gone. Truly, I think that’s what this finale gives to us: a sense of potential.
Perhaps no one exhibits this idea more than Edward and Alphonse Elric, who take their experience and make something more of it. I still can’t get over the mere sight of Alphonse with a body. He’s so tall! His voice doesn’t echo! I AM TRYING NOT TO CRY. Oh my god, two years. They take two years off from everything to just live in Resembool, which is strangely one of the most comforting thoughts I’ve ever had about this show??? Like, for real, these little cuties deserved two years off after the hell they went through. Ed still isn’t quite used to not having the power to do alchemy, but they look so happy. AND ALPHONSE GOT TO HAVE WINRY’S APPLE PIE. THAT DETAIL ALONE IS THE MOST 100% NOT OKAY THING ABOUT THIS. But it’s clear that these two can’t stay still. How could they??? After an experience like that, who could blame them for getting the bug to travel, to see more of the world, to learn as much about the earth as possible? A lot of what these characters go through in this finale involves them realizing that there’s still a lot of work to do to repair their nation and the rest of the world, and that’s still the case for the Elrics.
We find out that the two split up for an indeterminate period of time, Al heading East to learn alkahestry from May, and Edward heading West to see what he can learn from the people who live out that way. All of this is with the understanding that they’re going to help as many people as possible with what they learn, and that’s the sum of what Al tells Gracia and Elicia Hughes. Equivalent exchange isn’t enough; they’ve got to give back more than they took. So Al takes Jerso and Zampano with him to the east, because their journey isn’t done, either. They’ve still got to find a way to get their bodies back, and didn’t Al once tell them never to give up?
Good god, I’m not even close to being done having feelings, y’all.
And that leaves us with Edward Elric and Winry Rockbell. There’s no denying that Edward – that stubborn, quick-to-anger boy we met so long ago – has changed significantly. And yet, as he is about to board his train off to the West, we see bits and pieces of who he used to be. Apparently, he still can’t deal with his growing feelings for Winry, which I imagine only got stronger over the course of the past two years. So he keeps his answers monosyllabic. He hesitates to board his train, and when he finally musters the courage to admit how he feels, it’s with a clumsy (BUT INCREDIBLY ENDEARING) alchemy metaphor that is kind of a marriage proposal??? Oh, it’s too adorable for words, y’all, especially how quickly Winry tries to come up with a way to counter his offer with… well, her own life. I love this idea, that you can equally share yourself with another person and give them your life at the same time, that a good relationship is based on something equivalent and totally ridiculous at the same time. Isn’t that what love feels like? And it plays so directly into Edward’s final message, that pain and misery lead to strength, and that the simple act of surviving can leave us with a stronger heart than we started with. Does that mean I have a Fullmetal Heart now? Because I basically earned it, right?
At the very end of this show, we’re treated to a montage of images, glimpses of the future in this world that we won’t get to experience, but are merely signs of the stories yet to be told. Miles and Scar rebuilding Ishval. Hohenheim lies next to Trisha. Hayate had PUPPIES! Circus shenanigans with Yoki, Heinkel, and Darius. Breda, Havoc, and Rebecca run a bar. Mustang has a horrible mustache that I actually thought belonged to Yoki until I recognized him. Lt. Falman is back in the north, possibly with Olivier Armstrong. And then, the Elrics, whose photo mirrors the very family portrait that Hohenheim took with him. BABIES. GARFIEL. PANINYA. IT’S TOO MUCH.
This show is too much.
Thank y’all for this journey. It’s not quite over for me, though! We will be holding a Fullmetal Alchemist Q&A party on Friday, where y’all can ask me all the lovely questions you’ve had about this show, link me to fanart and behind-the-scenes fun, and discuss the entirety of this show with me WITHOUT SPOILERS. It will go up at 10am PST, and I’ll be online all day answering questions, so don’t worry if you can’t make it exactly at that time.
You know what this means, though. Tomorrow, I start watching Veronica Mars! HUZZAH.
Mark Links Stuff
– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the MarkDoesStuff.com. All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
– I will be traveling for many events! Check the Tour Dates/Appearances page for up-to-date tour events.