Mark Watches ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’: Episode 25

In the twenty-fifth episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the most discomforting part about all this is that there are so many episodes left, which only means that this somehow gets worse. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch FMA:B.

Goddamn it.

  • So, I know it’s probably very silly that I constantly screech about HOW THERE CAN’T POSSIBLY BE LIKE FORTY EPISODES LEFT IN THIS SHOW, but that’s actually a really fascinating way to think about FMA:B!
  • In terms of plotting and pace, this is one of the most relentlessly plot-heavy, twisty, and mind-blowing shows I’ve ever watched for this site. (I’m looking at you, Dollhouse, because once you gave up story-of-the-week episodes, everything became so lovely. And messed up.) Yet we don’t ignore character development or emotional motivations or the visual splendor provided by the medium. It’s such a masterful balance, and it makes me want to create something like this.
  • It’s why I have brought up the pacing so many times. I fully expected half of these mysteries to be spread out over more than half of the show. And yet, we’re here at episode 24, and nearly everything has been addressed. I really don’t expect this show to peter out and become boring, so that means there’s something else coming. That’s both immensely exciting and fucking horrifying.
  • I mean, the very implications of what we learn about Gluttony here are so disturbing, but they also put the character in a new light. I assumed that Ed, Ling, and Envy had been transported to some place, that Gluttony’s belly wasn’t literally inside of him. I had even mentioned that the weird monster mouth looked like the Gate, and yet I didn’t put two and two together. How do I get so close and miss the point? Let this stand as an example of how I publicly make a fool of myself on a daily basis.
  • (Can I make a quick aside? I spoke about this in Europe at my events, but it has become a very liberating thing to be able to be in a fandom and be wrong. I admit to being a bit pedantic at times about Lost and The X-Files because THEY ARE MY BABIES, but I’ve always been turned off by people in fandoms who are so pedantic that they become mean and condescending. Of course, I’m looking straight at you, Lord of the Rings fandom. There’s a large part of the Mark Does Stuff experience that is intended to create a safe space for newbies. It is terrifying to start something new when there’s a fandom in existence that’s large, all-knowing, and active. So I like the idea that many of you can join the fandom along with me, knowing it’s okay to make terrible predictions or to misinterpret plots/characters when you first meet them. Let’s keep that up.)
  • Anyway, we find out from Envy that the place they’re all in is a failed duplication of the Gate that Ed and Al had passed through. See, that idea by itself is messed up, but then you put it into the context of Gluttony’s character, and it’s SUPREMELY FUCKED UP. What would you do if you were created for a specific purpose, and that purpose ended up being a failure? Gluttony can’t help who he is. He was created with the desire to consume, and he’s a living failure of someone else’s experiment.
  • There’s a really strange moment when Al and Gluttony are talking with one another that got me thinking about this. It was bizarre to see Al and Gluttony get along. He’s a clear antagonistic force, but then, all of a sudden, the narrative portrays him in a way that makes him appear almost infantile. He sounds like a child who is terrified of his father. He’s confused. And really, that’s something we’ve seen from him before, but it’s truly highlighted when he talks with Al. And that’s really messed up, y’all. That doesn’t mean I like Gluttony or anything. His characterization doesn’t lead me there. I guess I just feel pity in that context.
  • I don’t feel pity when I think about all the people he’s eaten, though. Yeah. No.
  • The unexpected backstory to Xiao-Mei (which the credits spell differently??? I always assumed it was the Chinese spelling, not phonetic) and May was just SO HEARTWRENCHING. I love the deliberate parallel between Scar and May because… well, it’s just as unexpected. These two characters exist in such opposition to one another in nearly every other way, and yet Scar is able to empathize with May’s fear that her clan may be wiped out if she doesn’t find the key to immortality for them.
  • Seriously, so much of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is unexpected, and I’m totally into that.
  • By the way, I feel like it would be horribly pedantic to tear apart the scene where Ed and Ling eat boot soup because… yeah. I can’t even think about it without laughing. In fact, that’s probably its redeeming feature: The show went straight to Looney Tunes for inspiration.
  • So, Ishval. And Envy. Again, the implications of this reveal are SO FUCKING HUGE. Given that we now know how corrupt the state military is, that means that they went along with the frame job that Envy set up, and then continued with the genocide of the Ishvalan people. For… something? I still don’t understand what this has to do with the master plan. Marcoh, the Elric brothers, and Kimblee (who we haven’t seen in a long time… since the first episode? Oh god, I barely remember what he looks like anymore) are all possible candidates for sacrifice, but how would the Ishval Civil War fit into that? I DON’T GET IT.
  • PS: Bradley is fucking evil. He splits up Mustang’s team and takes Riza as his personal assistant, and that is just so ridiculously malicious that it scares me. He is controlling everything, and it’s made Mustang’s plan to expose Bradley backfire horribly. GREAT.
  • No, it’s not great. It’s the opposite of great.
  • Of course, the unreal transformation of Envy in “Doorway of Darkness,” which reveals his true form, is just too much. It really fucking is, y’all. Like, what are you doing to me, FMA:B? I’m pretty sure I saw that monstrosity in The Thing, and I’m going to go board the U.S.S. Nope again because I need to get out of here.
  • Oh, right.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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