At long last Kiritsugu and Kirei confront each other on the final stage without a single word being exchanged, while down below the raging Berserker continues to dominate Saber helpless to act against him.
Kiritsugu opens their battle with an Origin Bullet, however by using the inherited Command Seals as a Prana source Kirei is able to completely evade its effects, forcing Kiritsugu to use his Time Alter Double Accel to narrowly avoid his attack. However taking this into account, Kirei moves in and with a single strike crushes his heart. But even so Kiritsugu finds that he can regenerate from such while his Time Alter magecraft doesn’t bear as much strain on his body, using this chance to take out Kirei’s right arm as he deduces that Avalon must be healing him, and thus as they both go over their options he doubles his speed once more, but as things reach their climax the grail forms.
On Saber’s side of things Berserker has fallen to a sudden halt as Kariya dies, and so takes advantage of this opening to run him through with Excalibur, reaffirming her will to attain the grail before moving on. Kiritsugu however finds himself within the grail face to face with Irisviel, the grail having taken her form and thus has inherited her wish, encouraging him to give the grail form. However to the grail there’s only one way that this and Kiritsugu’s wish can be granted, Kiritsugu finding himself face with a situation where the minority must be sacrificed for the majority, but as time passes the scales gradually change, with more and more people having to die in order to save the majority. Then finding himself once more at important points of his life, where he once more kills his father and then his mother, Natalia, the pattern continuing as he kills Maiya to save Irisviel and Illya. However faced with the realisation of the grail’s true nature, he rejects it and kills the images of Illya and Irisviel to escape it, Angra Mainyu cursing him as he affirms that saving the world is worth more than the lives of the two he loves.
After which he comes to at just the same time as Kirei does and has come to one conclusion, the grail must be destroyed and as stands against this as the grail’s desire to be born would answer his own questions about himself, he puts a bullet through his heart without a second thought. By now Saber has arrived before the grail and finds herself face to face with Archer, the wounds taken from the fight with Berserker putting him at an obvious advantage. But instead of fighting her Archer proposes and asks her to be his wife, offering her every pleasure in the world. Saber of course refuses but finds herself without a chance against him, until that is Kiritsugu arrives bearing his Command Seals, but instead of ordering her to take the grail he commands her to destroy it. Having to use two Command Seals to force her to do so.
It honestly had some great moments but no matter how you look at it how much was cut from this episode let it down. What we saw of the long awaited fight between Kiritsugu and Kirei was awesome but short lived and Berserker’s death is limited to a single line and falling over, but even so what followed both made up for it.
To start with however I was disappointed at how the second half to Saber and Berserker’s battle was all but omitted, we saw some short segments of him lashing out at her and how powerless she was against him but that was pretty much it. There was a lot more to it in the novel than what was shown in this episode, after Kariya’s death gave her an opening to run him through with Excalibur he has a moment of clarity before her, falling into her arms and noting that dying in his kings arms unworthy of a disloyal knight like himself and before she can insist otherwise he’s gone. Given how abrupt the cuts were this will likely be addressed in the inevitable extra BD scenes but even so from this we’re left with little understanding towards Berserker’s character and the effect that it has on Saber’s resolve.
Before this what we were shown of Kiritsugu and Kirei’s long waited and built up to battle was great as well, let alone when you consider that Zero originally came to be out of Nasu and Takeuchi meeting up with Urobuchi to write just it, the entire show could be thought of as one big prologue. It’s actually kind of strange that one of the best fights in Zero is between two humans without a single Servant involved as well. Following this while the matter of how Kiritsugu was ultimately cursed by the grail/Angra Mainyu was left in the dark, I liked what Kiritsugu went through within it, he found himself revisiting key points within his life and facing countless ordeals that pushed his will to pursue his ideal and standby his way of pursuing it to their limits, but at the end it told him one thing. The miracle that he had been waiting to justify all that he had sacrificed didn’t exist. And so as he rejected the grail it seemed to be with a much truer driving force, it still showed what he was capable of in being forced to kill his wife and daughter to do it, yet it has to be one of his most genuine acts of heroism.
Immediately following that and considering Saber’s renewed drive to obtain the grail the final scene was great as well, to Saber obtaining the grail was something she had to do after she had seen what had happened to Lancelot, and up against Archer she had put her faith in Kiritsugu to do this for her. A Kiritsugu which from the former scene had seen the grail’s true nature and concluded that it had to be destroyed. The series has already established that they were completely unable to understand each other, but it really was one of those scenes that makes you wonder just what would have happened if Kiritsugu had shouted that the grail’s true nature lied in death, Angra Mainyu over riding any wish to kill everyone through pure (and well deserved*) hate and spite. However either way you look at it that has to be part of the tragic beauty to it, Saber leaves the Fourth Holy Grail War obstinately resenting Kiritsugu for tearing victory and with it salvation from her grasp unknowing that the grail wouldn’t have granted such. Only discovering its true nature and just why Kiritsugu acted the way he did towards the end of the fifth.
Concluding this was a good episode however without the obvious, glaring, and abrupt cuts it could have been far far better, without doubt the uncut BD version will remedy this just as they did the eleventh episode of the first season but to what extent remains unclear at this point. A lot of stuff was entirely omitted or cut. So while I still enjoyed this episode in spite of this I would prefer to see how much they’ll fix in the BDs, judging what only felt like half to two thirds of the episode at least just doesn’t feel right.