Fate/Zero 23

As the final battle for the grail approaches Saber arrives only to find Berserker armed with dual machine guns lying in wait, while Rider and Waver find themselves face to face with Archer blocking their path.

Couldn’t decide on the title screencap.


Before they fight however, Rider and Archer take a chance to finish the drink they had together earlier, Rider admitting that he shamefully lost the Gordias Wheel and making one last chance to reach out to the King of Heroes, proposing that they team up and conquer the world, however Archer responds that he has only one irreplaceable companion. Rider then heads back to Waver and Bucephalus, and with Waver’s three Command Seals taking effect, summons his Ionian Hetairoi and charges. Back on Saber’s side of things, Saber narrowly dodges Berserker’s barrage and is forced to take cover, while Kariya begins to have delusions of Sakura and Aoi.

But when her chance to launch her counter attack arrives, she can do little more than crack his helmet when Berserker, of all things, catches her blade. So realising that he must be someone who knew her in life she calls him to reveal himself as a knight, and when he does she’s shocked by his answer as Berserker disables For Someone’s Glory and draws his on sword bestowed upon him by the Lady of the Lake, Arondight. His helmet shattering to reveal the tormented guise of Sir Lancelot, the Knight of the Lake. Leaving her powerless as Rider’s words finally hit their mark. At this point on Rider’s side of things however, Archer answers his charge by drawing his most treasured weapon, the sword of rupture that split the earth from the heavens, Ea. Rider and Waver only narrowly escaping as the Ionian Hetairoi collapses in on itself and is destroyed.

Even so Rider intends to keep fighting but entrusts one duty to Waver, to live on and remember what he sees, Waver acknowledging him as his king, and so Rider charges forward on Bucephalus against the fully opened Gate of Babylon, not even stopping to look back when Bucephalus falls. But just as his blade is about to reach Archer, he finds himself trapped by Archer’s most dearest Noble Phantasm, the chains that bound the Bull of Heaven, Enkidu. Archer following through by impaling him with Ea and as Rider acknowledges that this journey has been a good one, hearing the crashing of Oceanus, Archer bestows upon him his respect, telling him that the world is his garden and that he’ll never grow tired of it. Following Rider’s defeat, Archer moves on to confront his Master but upon seeing Waver’s loyalty towards Rider, Archer lets him live as a sign of respect towards Rider.

Thoughts:

To be honest everything that this episode covered had been stuff I was looking forward to right from the start and I wasn’t disappointed by it one bit, sure Archer using Ea on the Ionian Hetairoi may have been kind of underwhelming but even so Rider’s last charge and the reveal regarding Berserker’s identity more than made up for it.

This image feels strangely appropriate.

As I’ve said before, after his representation in the first ending theme I didn’t think that Berserker’s identity being none other than Lancelot was exactly hidden let alone it was only kind of obvious in the anime, but even so the effect that it had upon Saber more than made the reveal worth it. The whole Lancelot and Guinevere matter will probably be covered in the next episode (though the matter of Lancelot not being willingly capable of seeking death probably won’t be), thus explaining why Lancelot is the way he is and so pent on lashing out at Saber. However with the way things ended Saber was faced with the living result of her distorted ideals, and to think that Lancelot of all people, one of her most trusted friends in life could be reduced to such a state because of her would have, and pretty much did, destroy her. As shown by how she pretty much gave up when she recognised him. And better yet, Lancelot is only one of many who suffered because of her, this aspect leaving me wondering whether we’ll see some of the other Knights of the Round Table, Gawain has already shown up in Fate/Extra.

Moving on from that as underwhelming as the effects of Ea on the Ionian Hetairoi was the long-awaited battle between Archer and Rider was simply amazing, and while the result may have been kind of obvious, Rider certainly didn’t go down without a fight. Even after effectively being left powerless as all his dear friends were cast into the abyss, the Reality Marble that embodies his very ideal and the dream that bound them all smashed to pieces and cast into the wind, he still didn’t give up and even went on to charge the Gate of Babylon. He wouldn’t have been expecting to come out on top but he still did it anyway, running through a rain of Noble Phantasms and not even slowing down when he lost Bucephalus. Either way, while some people are sure to shout that the way Archer defeated him was unfair, Rider went out in an unforgettable way that befit him, and as something that I had been looking forward to seeing from the start, the representation of it was great.

Let alone the way in which he was defeated was a show of great respect from Archer, on top of using the Gate of Babylon to its full extent the two weapons he used to defeat him showed this. Ea for one was a Noble Phantasm that Archer could have steamrolled all the other Servants with but he only deemed Rider worthy of facing it, and secondly the chains that he used to bound Rider were one of his most trusted Noble Phantasms, named after the companion he mentioned, Enkidu in reference to how they took down the Bull of Heaven together. So in short even though Rider’s death may have been something of a surprise to Zero only viewers, the way in which it happened showed a great deal of respect from Archer, really only comparable to when he fought Berserker in Stay Night. Other than that, the secondary show of this towards Waver was great as well, Waver undoubtedly must have been pissing his pants as he stood up to him, but in order to honour Rider’s last wishes Archer let him live.

Also on a rather ironic final note, Alexander the Great is believed to have died on the 10th of June, 323 BC, and this episode itself aired on the 10th of June. I’m starting to think Ufotable/Aniplex is doing stuff like this on purpose.

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