A fun fact that I found out last night: the voices of ‘Lust’ and ‘Roy Mustang’ are provided by voice actors (and “Critical Role” cast members) Laura Bailey and Travis Willingham. Awesome!
A quick recap/review:
Edward (“Ed”) and Alphonse (“Al”) Elric are Alchemists: people that use a mix of Science and Magic to Transmute objects from one form to another, via Transmutation Circles (well, mostly – Ed doesn’t always need Circles to conduct Alchemy; neither do a few others). Their biggest mistake was trying to resurrect their Mom via Alchemy; it cost Ed his left arm and right leg, and Al his body – Al is now spirit-bound to a suit of armor.
To fix everything that went wrong, the brothers are in search of the Philosopher’s Stone, which would allow them to perform Alchemical feats without Circles, feats that would be next to impossible to perform otherwise. Supporting them are Lt. Colonel Roy Mustang (Ed’s military boss), Major Hughes, Lt. Hawkeye, and select members of the Military, plus their childhood friend (and Automail expert), Winrey; opposing them is a mysterious man named Scar, who is killing Alchemists rather frequently. Lurking in the shadows are Lust, Gluttony, and Envy; who or what they are, we don’t know know, at this point.
Episode 9: Be Thou for the People
If you ever watched the cartoon “Chip ‘n Dale’s Rescue Rangers”, you probably remember the technical genius, Gadget. Well, imagine if Gadget was let loose in a hardware or Electronics store, with a virtually unlimited budget; the “enthusiastic chaos” you are picturing is how episode 9 started. Winrey is in some kind of hardware store and she is going absolutely bonkers: she wants basically one of everything in the store, financed by Ed. There a couple of slightly awkward moments between Ed and Winrey, where something might be simmering between the 2 but nothing was said or acted upon.
An officer pulls up and informs Ed that Mustang wants to see him. At Military HQ, Mustang wants Ed to leave immediately to inspect the mines at Uswell, to the surprise of Ed and the disappointment of Winrey.
The brothers are now on the train to Usewell, “The Last Town of the East”, after a sad goodbye to Winrey (“we don’t have a home to come back to”). It was a mining town but it’s more like a ghost town.
Holling, the Inn owner, and his son welcome them to the town, although they try to charge them 200,000 gold for one night at the inn. To offset the costs, Ed starts repairing things around the inn with Alchemy. This goes really well, until Ed brags that he’s a State Alchemist.
Out into the streets he’s thrown. Al doesn’t get bounced – Ed lies for him, saying that he “just met him on the train over here”. The source of that anger is the State Alchemist/Military officer that runs the town, Yoki.
Al manages to sneak some food out to Ed. They talk about Winrey (Ed thinks she only thinks about his metal parts; Al says she thinks about all of him) and the Military (Al wants to become a State Alchemist, to help Ed; Ed is vehemently against it) before there’s commotion at the Inn.
Yoki and his entourage have arrived.
He is demanding more tax money; the miners demand that he raise wages so that they could pay the taxes. One of them charge at Yoki but a dark-haired woman Alchemist – using no Circle but wearing a spinning, glowing pendant – blasts him back. Holling’s son throws a cloth at Yoki, hitting him in the face; one of the officers knocks him down and pulls a sword out, ready to “kill him as an example”. Ed steps in a deflects the sword strike, shows them his Pocket Watch, and completely defuses the situation.
Well, not quite: the miners still think he’s a “State Military Dog”.
At HQ, Geneal Hakuro mentions that Mustang is being promoted to Colonel and 2nd Lt. Hawkeye to 1st Lt., and transferred to the Eastern Division, to “watch over it for a while”. Coincidence that that is where the Elric brothers are?
At Yoki’s home, Yoki continues to gush over Ed’s appearance in his town. Yoki’s servant (?)/daughter (?) made it known that she wants to be a State Alchemist, just like Ed. Yoki offers a fancy meal – odd, since the rest of the town is struggling to make ends meet, a fact not lost on Ed. Yoki also offers Ed a small bag of gold – “Equivalent Exchange” – in exchange for “discussions” on Ed’s inspections.
At the Inn, Al is worrying about Ed when there’s an explosion outside. Lira is outside, ramping up another attack. Another explosion and the inn is leveled. Holling frantically searches for his son, Kyle; Kyle was buried under the rubble… but protected by the armor suited Al.
The town mourns the loss of the Inn. Kyle asks/demands that Ed “just transmute some gold” for Holling but Ed refuses: “Equivalent Exchange” would demand that the transmuted gold cost Ed (or someone) something in return, and Ed isn’t willing to risk that. Plus, Gold Transmutation is illegal.
Ed has an idea: he takes Yoki’s gold and transmutes it, ending up with… quite a bit. This gold ends up with Yoki, as Ed offers to buy the mines, the town, and everything in between. “It’s for Alchemical Research”, Ed says. He also offers to “keep it out of the books”: if Yoki writes a deed, saying that everything belongs to Ed – free of charge – then all of the gold that Ed and Al brought with them could be considered “an unrelated gift”.
Back at the town, Kyle is ready to bust some heads but Holling tempers those fires: “it [the Inn] was just a building.” In comes Ed, holding sheets of papers. He wants to turn the townspeople’s frowns “upside down”: he is now the owner of the town, the trade routes, and the mines. He sadistically describes just how expensive the deed paper is and how much his “busy life in Central [City]” demands he return. However, he makes a deal: 200K gold and the deed belongs to the town; a coincidence, since he was charged the same amount for a night at the inn. Holling scoffs – “there’s no Inn”, Kyle says. Oh, how wrong he is. 😉
Yoki and entourage pull up, Yoki in a huff. It seems that all of those gold bars in his house turned to stone; since he basically gave Ed the town and signed off on it, Yoki is now empty-handed. Lira wastes no time in attacking Ed with a wind/water blast. Ed counters and cuts her medallion off, stating that he “hasn’t sold [his] soul to the Military”, unlike Lira. Yoki’s officers were also disarmed and tied up. Yoki is not having a good night. Especially after 2 miners assault him off-camera (complete with ‘punching’ sound effects).
The town celebrates with Ed in the Inn. A grateful Holling and wife reflect on how nice the new Inn is and how Ed saved them all.
At Military HQ, 1st Lt. Hawkeye reads part of Ed’s report to Col. Mustang. In essence, Ed’s actions resulted in a restructuring of the Eastern Command… which just happens to make Mustang and Hawkeye’s jobs much easier, once they head east.
I’m with Hawkeye: Mustang might have orchestrated the entire mission.
The final scenes return the series to the “present”: a 3-year jump, with Ed now 15 years old and Al 14. Ed and Al’s reputation (especially Ed) has spread throughout the East: “the Champion of the People”. The Elric brothers are in a cab, headed towards the city of Lior. Ed asks the driver if he’s heard of “Edward Elric”; the driver has. He asks if “Ed is tall in statue”; the driver says “he’s heard he’s quite short, almost like a Dwarf”. Ed loses his mind again, chasing the cabbie through a desert, with Al in pursuit.
Episode 10: “The Phantom Thief”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” should be the tag line of this episode.
Ed and Al are back on a train, presumably after not killing the cab driver from the end of the last episode. Ed is bored/restless; they are on their way to meet with Mustang, which Ed is reluctant to do.
The boys do not stop in East City (where the meeting is supposed to take place); instead, they stop at a tourist city called Aquroya. This stop also revealed that Ed is a cheat in cards – he had repeatedly beaten Al on the train, but a sleeve filled with Aces and Spades doomed Ed’s winning days.
Speaking of cards, 2 officers are confronting someone, when one of them gets a facefull of playing card. The culprit: a very tall woman, blonde, dressed in a tight black outfit and black mask. She runs along a dock, chased by police. Cornered at the end of a walkway, she pulls out more cards, throws them into the water, and (with the help of some kind of alchemy) creates a rope on which she runs away. The police try to follow suit (get it? suit?) but fall into the river. She climbs out of the water on the other side, holding some kind of large jewel.
Meanwhile, the Elrics are enjoying the scenery until Ed is splashed by a passing horse and wagon. No matter – a quick Transmutation and he’s clean.
And in handcuffs. The Detective that was chasing the thief at the beginning of the episode? He has questions for Ed. He, in the typical dark, small Interrogation Room, kept grilling Ed on his knowledge of said thief; Ed, eating multiple bowls of noodles, of course has no clue. This went on for 3 hours until the detective finally was convinced that Ed:
- didn’t know anything
- was a State Alchemist
- was The Fullmetal Alchemist
Suddenly, Ed turns a dual shade of purple (forehead and eyes) and peach(?) – probably from the 800 bowls of noodles he ate. Off to the hospital we go. It’s food poisoning – an injection is all Ed needs. An injection, Ed will fight.
Maybe it’s his ‘kid’ status but man, can Edward Elric pack food away, in a quick amount of time, too!
A pretty nurse distracted Ed long enough to give him the shot. Ed didn’t notice the shot but Al definitely noticed the nurse; he can’t stop thinking about her. Outside, on a bench, the brothers are relaxing when they hear a slight commotion. An older woman can’t eat some bread and rolls on her plate (they hurt her teeth); the Nurse (we’ll capitalize that, to distinguish her) instead cuts up an apple for the old woman.
Wouldn’t that be even worse for her teeth?
Nevertheless, Al is smitten… but it’s not in the same way as before. Instead, the nurse reminds him of his Mom. Before Ed can berate Al for that, the old woman drops her plate of apple slices, shattering the plate. Al goes over, draws a Circle (Transmutation Circle) around it, and turns the apple back whole again, to the surprise of the Nurse.
The detective that detained Ed rushes up to him again, this time in need of a favor.
In a dining hall, at the town’s Police HQ:
Ed obviously didn’t learn his eating lesson from before.
The gist of this scene:
- The detective called the Military and verified everything that Ed told him about being a State Alchemist
- He needs help catching the thief from earlier, “Psiren”. She’s so good (and cocky!) that she tells the newspapers what she’s going to steal next… and succeeds. This has garnered her many fans from the general public.
Psiren’s target appears to be a museum. There’s an artifact inside of a tall, glass chamber. A drop of water falls from the ceiling and suddenly explodes into a steam and water cloud. In the cloud, cards fly through the air and pin Al to a wall. Ed gets his first look at Psiren. She takes the artifact and flees, with Ed in pursuit. He cuts her off on one of the water walkways, not in the best of moods. She answers with a sword-card-desk. They duel for a few moments, until an Ed punch is parried by a card-sword; the two crash to the ground, with Ed on top of Psiren. Psiren makes things much more awkward by unzipping her top, revealing a Circle drawn (tattooed?) above her breasts. The best thing that happened to Ed is that that Circle blasted him many feet away and pinned him to the ground – Psiren might have been a bit much for him. 😉 Psiren escapes.
Ed is back at the hospital, for some reason, looking for Al, for some reason. Instead, he finds a cracked door. Inside, a small garden is growing, tended by the Nurse. She, for some reason, unbuttons her blouse, revealing a Transmutation Circle. A circle that Al’s seen before.
She grows some kind of medicine from the transmutation before Al confronts her. She doesn’t quite admit her identity until Al barges in the room, interrupting the two. Al found out that the hospital is scheduled for demolition in a few days and the Nurse (“Claire”) is robbing and stealing to get enough money to keep it open. A ‘modern-day’ Robin Hood. Claire tells Ed what I have been mentally begging someone to tell him: “The world’s not all black and white. You kids are too young to understand.” The detective again rushes into a room with Ed, saying that he has a tip about Psiren. Ed keeps his mouth shut.
The 2 and Al are outside of a mansion. The detective has a trap set for Psiren, just inside the door. Sure enough, Psiren shows up. She triggers the trap: an electrified cage that drops down around her. However, the ground suddenly swells and cracks, dislodging the cage just enough to allow Psiren to escape.
She is next shown running along the waterfront until Ed steps in her path. He only freed her from that trap so she can save the hospital; judging from the look on her face, that story may not be entirely true. nevertheless, she is thankful… and impressed that Ed sounded “grown up”. “As a grown up woman, I always repay my favors. Is there something that you’d like for me to do for you?”
Ed only wants info about the Philosopher’s Stone. Psiren can’t help him with that but offers to steal the stone for him, if/when he finds it.
There is an explosion in the distance.
The hospital is gone.
Ed and Al argue over this unexpected incident: Ed thinks Al (and everyone else) got played by Claire; Al thinks Ed is rushing to judgement. The nun behind them thinks that brothers shouldn’t argue – it’s sinful.
Wait a minute! That nun is Claire!
She became a nun due to the guilt of not getting enough money in time to save the hospital. She’s now trying to save the convent that she’s with: it’s also scheduled for demolition in 3 days. Al is convinced; Ed is not.
I’m in agreement with Ed.
At the Hotel Aquroya, Al is excited to hear that “Psiren” struck again; the public believes that the convent will be saved!
With nearly identical animation, the two brothers argue again over Claire’s merits. “Do I need to put you two boys in a corner?”, a school teacher asks from behind.
Second Verse, Same As The First – Claire is the teacher!
Al is still defending her; Ed’s patience with her (and Al) is about to end. Ed wants to know just what exactly is she; “the best answers are found on your own” was her reply.
Ed is getting increasingly frustrated that he can’t pin down her exact motives, and I understand that frustration.
Ed and Al are glumly walking down the street when a Town Crier announces that Psiren announced her next target. A citizen tells Ed and Al that Psiren basically saved the toown from destruction, hence her overwhelming popularity among the masses:
The town of Aquroya – “The City of Water” – is sinking several feet a year into the nearby lake. When news leaked about the city, most of the people left, putting a major dent in the economy and all but crippling the tourism industry. Psiren then appeared. People flocked back to the town to catch a glimpse of her – “one last bloom before we drown”.
While he doesn’t completely switch over to Al’s side, Ed does see merit in the story. However, he still wants to make her pay for tricking him
“Appearances CAN be deceiving”.
It’s night and Psiren is rowing down one of the waterways in a stand-up boat. She stops, as Ed is also on the water, in a boat. She admires the view and appreciates the meeting.
Thanks for killing the mood, Ed!!
Ed, unnecessarily harsh, stops her talk. She explains that they are alike – something that Ed grows tired of hearing from other “bad guys” – since he’s trying to take the Philosopher’s Stone that doesn’t belong to him. She then attacks him with Water Dragons! He retaliates with a giant stone hand that closes around her.
For you Dungeons & Dragons readers/players, imagine a stone version of “Bigsby’s Hand”. That’s what grabbed Psiren.
Psiren is on the shore, in hand cuffs. She applauds Ed for stopping her. Before she’s led away, she offers a tip to Ed: go to the city of Xenetar and look for the man who did research on a “certain funny stone”. Ed and Al are shown on the train; Al is more than a little bitter at Ed for getting Claire/Psiren arrested. Ed tried to justify it (“I was the officer, she was the crook – we just played our parts”) but Al repeated Ed’s words from earlier, basically that “you can’t always go by the rules when you are doing what you think is right”.
The last scene is Psiren in the police wagon, with the detective and other officers. She is hot… I mean that temperature is high in the wagon and she wants to cool down. Sheesh! Anyways, she asks if someone could “unzip her a little”.
Explosion in the distance.
Psiren is free again, running off into the distance.
Episodes 11 and 12 will be up by Sunday (a slight change).
Episodes 9 and 10 were pretty good. #9 established Ed’s growing reputation as ‘The People’s Champion’, despite the initial, hostile reactions from the people of Usewell. #10 was the episode that I think might have added even more depth to Ed and Al: it showed Ed learning that everything isn’t as it appeared, and it showed Al being less deferential to Ed’s every thought and whim. Al stood up for what he believed in, even if the results weren’t to his liking. I like it!