In the aftermath to the battle with Caster, Sola watches on from above when her right arm is severed in an instant.
Elsewhere at this point Kirei returns Kariya to the Matou household now directly realising his betrayal but unable to resist his newfound feelings of excitement, and at the church Kayneth meets Risei about the matter of the Command Seal for Lancer’s role in defeating Caster, but Risei is hesitant in passing one to someone who’s only a Master in name. However in order to maintain this advantage for himself, Kayneth wastes little time in using the arms he acquired from a certain expensive puppet master to put a bullet in his back. Later meeting Lancer and belittling him for his inability to protect Sola, bringing up his legend and openly calling him out on doing the same thing again, but this humiliation is cut short when some unexpected visitors arrive.
Saber and Irisviel having learned of their location have arrived and meet Lancer outside, with Saber seeing the current situation as the perfect chance for them to finish their duel and Lancer joyfully accepting. However as they exchange blows he notices that she’s feinting the injury that he previously dealt her, her revealing that the shame from not doing so would dull her blade even more and Lancer greeting it with a certain sense of rejoice. At this point however, Kiritsugu confronts Kayneth and revealing that he has Sola as a hostage offers him an agreement, using a geas that would seal his Magic Crest if he broke it, he offers to end any hostilities and remove any intent to harm on the condition that he uses his remaining Command Seal to force Lancer to kill himself. And so faced with a shame that would remain with his House and his and Sola’s way out he makes his choice.
Cutting back to Saber and Lancer’s duel where everyone stands horrified as Lancer impales himself on his own spear, cursing all those who play and belittle the honour and dreams of heroes and all who would seek the grail as he fades away. However while Kayneth may have signed the Geas it contains a loophole as Maiya eliminates, Kiritsugu’s refusal to finish Kayneth off leaving Saber to do it. Her going on to confront him on this despicable act, and Kiritsugu consoling Irisviel that with this any chance of Kayneth returning is gone and that those who glorify the hell of the battlefield with honour and glory are the true monsters, seeing Saber as one who it isn’t even worth addressing.
And as he leaves Saber believes that he once carried the same sort of ideals and hopes and sees him more as someone to be pitied before Irisviel, her senses now having left her, collapses.
It went quicker than I expected but it certainly didn’t disappoint, with this episode one more competitor has been removed from the Holy Grail War outright as well as giving us a better idea of Kiritsugu’s ideals and why he resents Saber. First and foremost though if there was one thing that I had been looking forward too before the last arc it would have had to be Lancer’s death.
It may sound strange but it’s true, it stands as something of a highpoint on the lead up to the end and the tragedy to it can’t be ignored either, Lancer simply wished to escape the chains of fate and serve his Master honourably but with E rank Luck even that just wouldn’t be so. The saddest part of all however would have been how he rejoiced at the chance to fight Saber again, in a way he seemed to know that Kayneth’s plight was hopeless and that it was only a matter of time before he was picked off, but this simple honour still remained his sole remaining joy and ray of light as a Servant. And even that was denied to him, so with these sorts of sentiments in his heart his final curse really had a lot of power to it and Hikaru Midorikawa did a great job at carrying it across. In an instant Lancer’s serene and chivalric demeanor was shattered and replaced with one filled with anguish, rage, resent, and despair, he went out feeling betrayed by all those around him including Saber and continued to curse them until he faded away. It was a horrible way to go to say the least.
The Luck of the Irish.
Following that the divide that this and how Kayneth and Sola were dealt with placed between Saber and Kiritsugu was great as well, following his involvement in dealing with Caster and Ryuunosuke it’s possible that Saber even grew to trust and understand him a little better however with this the divide between them has become irreparable. The exchange that it led to really said a lot, despite being one of the things that Nasu may have written Gen into a corner with. We were able to learn how that Kiritsugu views Servants with resentment for glorifying the hell and horrors that are the battlefield and secondly just what his way of doing things truly is. For the sake of combatting evil he would become a greater evil regardless of how despicable he became. The only downside is that Saber won’t grow at all from this and will remain the same from start to finish to make room for her development in Fate/Stay Night.
The only complaint that I have with this episode was that this entire segment of the story was rushed and heavy-handed as it was crammed into a single episode, I know I complain about pacing and how some things needed to have more episodes to deal with them a lot but even so I still think that this fault stands strong for this. With another half of an episode it would have been perfect but instead one of the most heart wrenching moments in Zero is reduced to a rushed segment in another clunky and dialogue heavy episode, in order to better explain things to the audience and move on, Kayneth’s fate and that end exchange between Saber and Kiritsugu particularly falling victim to this. Notably coming from how any little pauses between the characters were near completely absent, suggesting that they were trying to stuff in more dialogue than they had screentime for. That said given the way that the BDs handled the eleventh episode, which also suffered from a lot of dialogue cuts. there’s still hope yet.