Wow… typically, extended shows like this is face the risk of running out of money. If anything, this show’s animation has just gotten better as it’s gone along. This episode’s bravura setpiece of Al, Pride and Kimblee's fight was rendered more fully than the intro! I suppose that’s one of the benefits of producing a show like this where, I presume, the success of the first anime makes the success of the remake pretty much a given. Not only did they probably have a lot of cash to start with, but they probably produced it all at once, and well in advance, to avoid the kind of drawbacks EVA's week-to-week production schedule went through.
Keeping on the subject of the length, I'm sure it’s difficult to keep the plot as on-point to a central theme for a series like this as it would be for a feature or an OVA. So I’m intrigued, surprised and a bit impressed that they've finally revisited the theme of equivalent exchange in Al and Kimblee’s pre-fight tit-for-tat. In economics, the situation Kimblee describes is a zero sum - - for anything to ever be gained, something else must be lost. That's the limitation of alchemy, with even the Philospher's Stones secretly having the cost of human lives, and it was the defiance of that limitation that got Al and Ed in all this trouble in the first place.
However, Al counters that whole conceit with the possibility of the ever-elusive "third option," foreshadowing at there perhaps being a metaphoric and literal solution to the law of equivalent exchange coming up. Maybe they'll get their mother AND their old bodies back?
And, yeesh… what a decisive way for Armstrong to get the upper hand on Sloth, huh? I've talked before about how the Homunculi's powers don't always sink up with the qualities of their sin (i.e. Lust didn't have sex magik) so it's pretty brilliant that Sloth is the fastest Homunculi, he’s just too lazy to use it.
Kimblee checks out in a sudden way, one I definitely wasn’t expecting - - one that maybe isn’t even that fitting in the scope. If Mustang or Scar took him out, that would've resolved long grudges. Heinkel just hated his boss - - which, then again, is maybe the most justifiable motivation of all. Actually, if you want to get technical, Pride's the one who really finishes him off. Now that he's eaten two of the bad guys, I suspect he'll become a threat of his own against Father.
Watch this episode “Combined Strength,” below and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.