The penultimate episode of Fate/Zero is a messy one: things were obviously rushed (even us non LN readers could tell) to try to get the very important scenes covered. The result is well, it was too rushed but there was some good things about this episode.
So yeah, let’s talk about the bad first: I was expecting a much longer fight between Saber and Berserker, not some poorly meshed together clips (and is Kariya dead?). Ufotable has done a commendable job so far, even episode 12 wasn’t THAT bad but compared to this..it’s a real step down. From what I know, the episode really skipped over a lot of important things about Berserker but it’s confirmed that all of the skipped scenes are going to be in the BD release. While that’s a relief, I’d rather have this episode been an hour long to fit the necessary details at the expense of waiting two weeks for the finale. Build-up is important, and Fate/Zero didn’t deliver in its penultimate episode but it’s been such a great series so far, that I’ll forgive it (but I was going to give this show a 10, now it’s probably a 9).
Now onto the good: Boy, I already knew the grail was corrupt but compared to both the VN and Fate/stay night, this was a much better introduction to the real grail. It’s been tainted by Angra Mainyu, an evil zoroastrian force and the wishes made will only bring despair as Kiritsugu (and us the viewer) realize. So, according to the grail (via Irisviel) it can’t make Kiritsugu’s wish come true because he himself doesn’t know how his vision of ending all conflict will work and the grail can’t make a wish if the wisher doesn’t even know the details of his own wish.
But, wow the grail really screwed with Kiritsugu and took his ideals and turned it against him: first it was saving 300 passengers on a boat or 200 and then it turned into either killing Irisviel and Illya or kill six billion people. Even I would be torn between loved ones or many, many more deaths but once again the magus killer takes the path of least bloodshed. I just finished watching Darker than Black and their idea that the contractors always choose the most logical plan of action over anything else really reminds me of Kiritsugu: no matter what, he takes the path of least bloodshed and this was proved by killing both Ilya (via, gunshot) and strangling Irisviel (already strangled to death by Kotomine…). Being cursed by the grail is just the icing on the cake for Kerry’s misfortunes: he is, in fact, bearing all evil and sins by himself as a last resort to getting his wished granted grail or no grail (something the protagonist of the sequel series does as well..). That concept was already established in Fate/stay night but Gen Urobuchi maximized the anguish and suffering that comes with being a superhero. I really enjoy Urobuchi taking things we see as inspirational like superheroes and crushing them emotionally and beating them to a pulp while preaching that being a hero is worth nothing. I know that sounds wrong, but I do like Urobuchi’s works and I hope he stays around the anime industry for a long time.
More good things: Kiritsugu using all of his command spells to order Saber to destroy the grail. Even Gilgamesh didn’t see that one coming but boy if I was Saber I’d be more than pissed but since Kiritsugu used TWO command spells for the same order, it forced Saber to destroy the grail. The fight with Kerry and Kotomine was very nicely animated as well, now that scene really delivered. Now I wonder how it ends: a confrontation between Saber and Gilgamesh, Kiritsugu or Kotomine (rematch?) or is there more surprises coming. Definitely this second half of Fate/Zero wasn’t as good as the first though it had its moments (last episode), but I expect a really solid finale..no BD-only scenes ufotable!