And the third option won out, after all. Ever since Al refused to accept the zero sum game Kimblee proposed during their fight, I’ve suspected that some kind of thematic counter to the law of equivalent exchange’s rigidity would end up being the ultimate point of this series. In this penultimate episode, it appears as if Ed has found a way to get Al’s body back without surrendering his powers. At least, it seems that way.
Does Ed ultimately get to keep his alchemy by passing some test to prove that he isn’t putting all his faith in it? Is that the real unequal, inexhaustible exchange? Believing in people instead of science?
I’m still trying to figure out what the significance of Father’s final judgment is (though, I was honestly distracted by how much he and his mirror looked like the jawbreaker aliens from the covers of the HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE books.) It’s an interesting twist on the usual “sympathetic villain” conceit, having this whole scheme be borne out of him trying to better himself by purging his sins and eliminating human weaknesses. The Homunculus shrieks as he’s dragged into the door, asking what he did wrong and, discounting the murders, I’d be asking that same question, too.
Is it that the little dwarf thinks he need to use all these tricks to improve himself when such efforts should’ve come from within? Taking the Faustian themes to their usual outcome, his folly might lie in the hubris of presuming that one can exist without human weakness (which is another variation of the equivalent-less exchange fallacy.) Perhaps there’s some symbolism in Pride surviving after all? So many questions...
We get a couple big death scenes in this one. Greed's is oddly surrealistic - - a scrap of his face floating in the wind while his inner monologue ruminates on life and everybody mourns him from below. Hohenheim's is a bit more touching, of course. Pulling off a good death scene is a hard trick, after all, so I think it's a feat how his was understated enough to feel poignant without being overwrought. Did he just end up using up all the souls then? Is that how this immortal alchemist finally died? Well, only one more to go. Let's get to it.
Watch this episode “The Other Side of the Gateway,” below and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.