I made some slight changes to the schedule of when the reviews of the 1st 20 episodes would be posted – LINK.
Episode 8: The Philosopher’s Stone
If the shock value of the last few minutes of Episode 7 didn’t provide enough of a scar, the pre-intro of Episode 8 cut that wound right back open… and poured salt into it.
It starts mere moments after Ed and Al discover the remains of the Nina-Alexander Chimera. Lt. Col. Mustang, Lt. Hawkeye, and most of the non-Generals of the Military are now on the scene, too. Ed is still very distraught while Hawkeye is stoic-faced but hurting for the Elric brothers, and Mustang is almost emotionless; he explains that in the Military, especially as Alchemists, you have to separate work from emotion, or you will suffer from it. He relays the same basic message to Ed when Mustang gets out of his car and walks up to him. Ed (understandably) can’t make that separation, at this time, so Mustang uses a more forceful tone and message: stop trying to go around and save everyone you meet, then getting distracted by every lost cause. Ed runs off as Major Hughes and the rest of Investigations arrive. Hughes announces that the killer of the Chimera is not the same guy as the Serial Killer that they’ve been tracking.
Ed is back at Military HQ (I think), dejectedly fiddling around with his State Alchemy Medallion. He needs “something to take his mind off of this whole mess”, so Lt. Havoc gives him an assignment: Organize and categorize all of Tucker’s “Chimera” work, including the still-alive creatures.
Ed was chosen for the job because Tucker is no longer able to do it. And the Military is likely trying to cover the whole mess up.
The combination of this new assignment, the guilt/sadness over Nina-Alexander’s death and Mustang’s denial of Ed’s request to hunt down the killer, and Al’s revelation that Tucker was doing extensive research on the Philosopher’s Stone is too much for Ed: he turns in his Medallion and resigns from the State Alchemists’ ranks. He runs from Al, who is trying to get Ed to abandon the serial killer search and use his talents for research – “You’re not the only one that’s hurting, Edward!”.
Here is an example of that stubbornness and borderline selfishness and arrogant behavior that I mentioned before. Ed is so focused on how much he is hurting, and how he is the only one that can help, he totally ignores Al and how much he might be hurting (or how much he can help).
Ed ends up back at the alley… and runs into an old friend.
The “friend” thinks that Ed, since he had access to the State Library, is still a State Alchemist. When Ed tells him that “that is now behind me”, his response is “That’s for the better”… then mumbles to himself: “Because, if you were still a State Alchemist, this arm would destroy you.” In Ed’s emotional state, that arm would probably do just that!
At the train station, a “true” friend arrives in town, to congratulate Ed on his State Alchemist rank: Winrey!
Back at Military HQ, Lt. Hawkeye and Al are having a conversation about the Philosopher’s Stone. She doesn’t have much info but warns him to “find another hobby”; behind Al, a General is lurking, eavesdropping on the whole discussion. He steers Al to the National Library (restricted access to State Alchemists only) and info that may or may not be there; Al rushes off. He also seemingly demoted Hawkeye to 2nd Lieutenant, on the spot.
I’m not sure what rank of ‘Lieutenant’ Hawkeye was beforehand.
It’s lunch time at the Barracks. Ed sits at table, with his meal and a book on either Tucker or the guy he’s bumped into twice. It doesn’t matter – he’s being ‘slightly’ distracted by Major Hughes and a picture of his adorable family.
Hughes does remind Ed that a family pic in the face is a small price to pay for “top secret info on that serial killer”. Touche. Anyway, Hughes really doesn’t have much: no motive, no witnesses, a stalled investigation. As he and Ed continue to brainstorm, an officer arrives to tell Ed that he has a visitor out front.
In the Barrack’s kitchen, a woman in a green dress drops off her latest delivery; she might be a supplier for the kitchen. She talks with the chef about the Alchemy Tests (he points out Ed, as he and the officer head outside), the gossip surrounding the serial killer (he warns her to be extra careful, since the killer “goes after all the pretty ones, like you”), and any other info he might have about everything going on. A random, oddly places scene.
Outside, the visitor is revealed to be Winrey. Getting restless (Ed hasn’t made it outside yet), she spots a food truck – “one of those new Refrigerated Trucks!” – and, being an uber Engineering/Science geek, she investigates, wanting to take it apart. The driver – the Green Dress Woman – arrives back at the truck. Amused by Winrey’s fascination, she offers to let her look inside. Winrey can’t refuse.
Winrey should have refused.
Ed and the officer finally make it outside, but no one is there. There is a film of frost on the ground, footprints and tire tracks leading away, and a screw on the ground. Ed notices that it looks like one of the screws from his Automail arm. The officer tells Ed that “Refrigerated Trucks usually park there to deliver food to the Mess Hall”. Ed puts two and two together: the screw, the frost, the conversation with Hughes about cars that can hide bodies. Ed runs away, again by himself.
Ed comes to a warehouse/slaughterhouse. He sees Green Dress Woman in a corner, huddled up. He asks her her if she’s seen other women; she points off to the left. As Ed turns his back, planning their escape, the woman stands up and hits Ed in the upper back with a large club, knocking him out!
Ed wakes up to the sounds of metal grinding. He is tied to a chair but his Automail arm is missing. The woman took it, to keep Ed from Transmuting with “just his hands”. And here’s another surprise: she is, in fact, not a ‘she’: removing a wig, it’s a man named Barry! Barry moves some of the carcasses aside, to reveal a chained-up, gagged Winrey. Her revelation about ‘taking apart the truck’ inspired Barry: he wants to “take her apart”.
Ed asked Barry why he is doing this (killing women). Barry didn’t give a short answer, a sarcastic answer, or even no answer: he gave a very detailed, long answer. In essence:
- his 1st kill was his wife, who was nagging him about ‘something’
- he wanted to cut people to their most basic building blocks
- he kills because he can
Ed, while Barry is talking, is trying to draw a Circle with the first 2 fingers of his right hand. He yells to Barry that he’s crazy, and Barry (to Ed’s ultimate horror) charges… only to pull up at the last second. He also reveals that seeing State Alchemists slaughter entire villages may be another reason for his killing…. then stabs Ed in the shoulder. Ed manages to finish his Circle, which breaks him free of the chains that had him bound to the chair.
Ed manages to fend off a wildly-swinging, machete-wielding Barry, as he chases him through parts of the slaughterhouse. Ed manages to gain some room by cutting Barry’s hand with the metal rod that he picked up; Ed uses that space to try to free Winrey but Barry’s attacks don’t give him the needed time. A bump to a table knocks Ed’s Automail arm to the ground; he picks it up, runs, and the chase is on again.
Ed finds a nook to stop and snap his arm back him. Barry catches up and starts flailing at Ed, with Ed’s only defense being his recently-attached Automail arm. Ed is saved by a equally-wildly-flailing Winrey; she bumps into a carcass, knocking the chain of carcasses forward, into Barry. Ed knocks the machete from Barry’s hand, transmutes his arm into a sword and is about to kill Barry… until Al grabs him. Seeing red, Ed swings behind him and slices Al’s armor; no physical damage is done but it takes an emotional toll. Ed absolutely breaks down from the fright of nearly dying. Military personnel arrive to free Winrey and arrest Barry, while Al consoles Ed.
Al revealed that Major Hughes is reason for the rescue: he saw that the delivery truck had bypassed numerous inspection points. He also revealed that most people saw this as Ed’s first Distinguished Achievement; Ed saw it as a moment of helplessness. Winrey and Ed cried, for different reasons.
Ed meets with Mustang and rejoins the State Alchemists, on the condition that he’s permitted (by Mustang) to see and get all information on the Philosopher’s Stone and to go in search of it.
Mustang agrees but adds his own conditions: Ed has to report everything he finds to Mustang, personally, and he gets his official state title (and the medallion/pocket watch back): “Full Metal”.
The episode ends with Ed, Al, and Winrey, walking down the sidewalk, with a giggling Winrey planning on getting a shopping spree paid for by Ed. Ed reveals to Al that Barry wasn’t the one who killed Nina and Alexander. As the quartet walks by, the guy that Ed bumped into – named “Scar” – is standing in an alley, watching. He notices that Ed now has his state pocket watch back, adjusts his sunglasses, and walks off.
This was not a good 24 hours for Edward Elric. He saw the remains of Nina-Alexander, left the State Alchemists, got knocked out, found out that his best friend from childhood was kidnapped, and both were nearly killed by a serial killer. While I still get a little annoyed at his rushing off by himself, this episode added a lot more depth to the Edward Elric character. You saw him face his own mortality and come to realize that Alchemists are not ‘Gods’, they’re human. You saw a little more of the connections between Winrey and the Elric Brothers. It was a pretty entertaining episode!