Just a few more episodes. Just a few more.
So, first order of business is probably to say that I'll be winding down this blog for a hiatus soon -- probably not a permanent one, although I realise every blog that goes on hiatus says that, but a combination of a lack of energy and enthusiasm for the blog, plus the fact that Google has now started playing silly buggers with my view count to the point where I have no idea how many people are even reading, means that I could probably do with a break for a little while.
So, I'll be dropping days bit by bit and reducing activity up until this ongoing is done, which should only be a few weeks from now.
If you're wondering why I'm saying this in a Fate/Apocrypha review of all things, it's because I have to fill the space somehow, and god knows I'm not going to be able to fill it by talking about the great mass of nothing that is this and every episode of this godforsaken show.
In this week's episode, Chiron (Archer of Black) and Achilles' (Rider of Red) duel continues when Achilles uses his Noble Phantasm, creating a sealed off area where no outside forces can interfere, allowing the two to settle things with a fistfight. As Achilles wins and they return to the real world, Chiron uses his own Noble Phantasm to snipe Achilles' heel and strip him of his immortality. Meanwhile, Astolfo (Rider of Black) and Sieg (Saber of Black) attack the Hanging Gardens, with Sieg transforming to fight Karna (Lancer of Red) while Astolfo destroys the Gardens' defenses. On one of the planes, Jeanne (Ruler) faces off against Atalanta (Archer of Red), who uses a forbidden power.
Okay, so there are really only two major plotlines to this episode: Capping of Achilles and Chiron's rivalry, if you can call it that, and Astolfo destroying the Gardens' defenses -- and, to be honest, there's basically nothing to talk about for either of them. They're both very dry and by-the-numbers, with no real surprises.
In fact, the show actively works against ever surprising the audience: Before Chiron and Achilles even have their fight, Chiron asks that Achilles do something for him afterwards, basically sealing the deal that Chiron is definitely going to lose, survive just long enough to tell Achilles what he wants, and then die -- because of course he is, that's how 'when this is over, will you do something for me' always goes.
And of course, Achilles then follows through on that promise; and of course, Astolfo just barely takes out the last of the Garden's defenses through grit and determination; and of course, Sieg goes and starts his duel with Karna; and of course, and of course, and of course, always taking the most obvious route available each and every time.
Here are a few ways this episode could have been more interesting:
Astolfo fails to take down the last few defenses. The rest of Team Jeanne must now attempt to board a Hanging Gardens which is weakened, but not undefended. How do they cope with that? What ramifications does that have?
Caules and Fiore die. Chiron now has a time limit to defeat Achilles or make him mortal in, as he will soon dissipate due to lacking a Master.
Chiron dies before he can tell Achilles what he wants from him. Achilles is victorious, but is left struggling with the feeling of his victory being 'incomplete' with a loose end that will now never get tied up.
See? It's simple. Take the route that creates more conflict, not the route that has everything fall neatly into place. This is basic stuff, and Fate/Apocrypha can't even manage that.
Tune in next week, I suppose, when I guess we'll be getting the end of the Jeanne-Atalanta rivalry (because that's a thing, I guess) and seeing more of Sieg fighting Karna, which may actually end up one of the more interesting fights of the show.