There should certainly have been enough action to please any of the hardcore fans in this episode. It was pretty breathless from start to finish, and in addition to showcasing several of the teams it also shed a good deal of light onto the characters. It’s been pretty clear for a while which servants have honor and which don’t, but the masters have been harder to read. For a game that has so many rules, most of them certainly don’t think twice about pissing all over them. It’s been obvious for a while that Tohsaka and Kirei were jobbing the system, but revealed her was the fact that they’ve managed to buy the judge, too – the priest from the sanctuary church is part of Tohsaka’s plan. And the suspension of the grail war to turn all attention to Caster is at least half a ruse, too, with the main thrust being the opportunity to poach the prize – an extra command seal – and maybe a free shot at picking off a couple of masters in the process.
What’s really interesting is that the “hero” of the piece, the guy we’re supposed to root for, is really no better. Kiritsugu seems totally uninterested in stopping Caster’s slaughter of children, also seeing the manhunt as a way to get a free shot at unsuspecting masters during the cease-fire. Clearly his wife and his servant feel quite differently, and indeed Saber takes Caster’s bait as he lures her out of their fortress with a small army of hostage kids he intended to murder until she comes to him. Even then Kiritsugu is more interested in using the opportunity to try and finish the job of killing Kayneth, though the Archibald family head, with his odd mercury-like magic (alchemic?) seems to provide a bigger challenge than he expected. Kiritsugu is clearly not an honorable man, using underhanded sneak attacks to try and eliminate the competition and ignoring Caster’s slaughter – he didn’t get the name “Magus Killer” for nothing. Only the love of his family seems pure about him, for all his talk of saving humanity, though that might be his intention in an “ends justify the means” sort of way. But why is he so frightened of Kirei?
Caster’s demon summoning book seems to lend him an enormous amount of prana, as he was able to field an army of tentacle monsters to throw against “Jeanne d’Arc” and inspire doujin circles everywhere. With her left arm still useless as a result of Lancer’s curse, the noble King of the Britons was really no match for Caster’s Cthulhu cavalry, but as fittingly enough, it was Lancer to the rescue as Kayneth was off to do battle with Kiritsugu. I’m sure Kayneth wants to replace that command seal he used very badly, but I’m equally sure than Lancer and Saber aren’t going to be up to the task of eliminating Caster so early in the story. Frankly, I’d be going after the snot-nosed pimply serial-killer that’s his so-called “master” as he seems like a much easier target. Caster is certainly an effective villain – I loathe the bastard with every fiber of my anime-viewing soul, but I suspect we’re going to be subject to seeing his atrocities for a while longer.
As for our old pals Waver and Rider, they were mostly comic relief again this week. “At least put some pants on before you go out!” may be the most unexpected and hilarious line of dialogue in the series so far, but this was about as close as I’ve seen Waver come to actually growing a pair. He forbade Iskander from going outside until he’d killed a servant and even refused to trek to town to buy him XXXL pants. While Iskander was taking delivery from a bemused driver on his home shopping network t-shirt, Waver was receiving the summons to attack Caster. I suspect that those two will go into action in the Caster hunt soon enough, but I really worry for Waver – he seems incredibly naïve compared to the others in the competition. And truth be told, that’s the pair I’m rooting for at this point – Rider is just a GAR, “I don’t give a shit” barrel of laughs.