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Monday, 16 October 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E15: Differing Paths

Episode 15
Differing Paths.

Well, we had a good run of episodes wherein things actually happen, but now we've slipped securely back into 'absolutely nothing is going on' mode. A more charitable soul might call this a character development episode, but with the exception of Sisigou and Gordes, nobody's character actually gets developed at all -- and let's face it, nobody cares about Gordes. Even the writers don't care about Gordes, they just needed a way to fill up some time.

Look, I'm not saying that I want there to be action all the time, that'd be boring. What I am saying is that every episode needs to have some kind of arc, and some kind of conflict: You can't just have an entire episode of people pottering around and doing basically nothing. You need some kind of structure, and some semblance of plot.

Anyway, in this week's episode, in the aftermath of the battle with Avicebron, Jeanne (Ruler) bestows new command spells on Sisigou and Sieg (Saber of Black), and warns Sieg to never use his third command spell. With the Shirou Faction making an escape on the Hanging Gardens, the Jeanne Faction attempts to figure out how to pursue them, and Sisigou tells Mordred of his past.

It's actually surprising how little happens in this episode, especially considering you could have strung an entire episode over the Jeanne Faction figuring out how to pursue the Hanging Gardens, making the preparations, and putting that plan into action -- but instead of doing this, the episode instead flits about in a string of mostly pointless scenes that achieve nothing.

Let's be honest, we didn't need a scene about Caules being devoted to his sister, because we already knew that. We didn't need a scene about Shakespeare being untrustworthy and disliked by the other Shirou Servants, because we already knew that. We didn't need Shirou talking about how he drugged the other Red Masters, because we were already aware he'd done that, and, equally, we're all aware that even though Karna says that he'll kill Shirou once he's had a chance to fight Sieg, that won't actually happen.

So, what we're left with is really about two scenes that actually effect any change upon the plot: The Sisigou scene and the Gordes scene.

We'll talk about the Sisigou scene first, since it's by far the meatier of the two, telling us about Sisigou's backstory (his family made a deal with the devil to rise to power as necromancers, only for Sisigou to learn that if he transfers his magic crest to anyone, it'll poison them, resulting in the death of at least one of his children), and about his goals for the future -- he intends to steal the Grail from under the noses of both the Jeanne and Shirou Factions while they're busy fighting.

This would be a great way to set up Sisigou and Mordred being the final villains, having them nominally work with Jeanne and the others before eventually backstabbing them and taking the Grail for themselves, and they'd certainly make a more compelling set of villains than Shirou and Semiramis. But we all know that this show is not remotely brave enough to do that, and so Shirou, a boring and flat character even by this show's low standards, will doubtlessly remain our villain until the end.

Which leaves us with the Gordes scene, which is honestly such a hack-handed attempt at character development that it just feels absolutely pointless. The set-up is that Gordes -- who apparently created all the homunculi, but if that was ever mentioned before then I must have missed it -- encounters the injured homunculi being treated and does a one-eighty from 'man who would happily murder a homunculus who looked like a child' to 'man who eagerly helps out treating the homunculi.'

If this development happened over a longer span of time, it'd actually be a pretty big point in the show's favour. Instead, it happens in a single scene, and it feels empty and pointless, a time-wasting scene about a character none of us really care about.

So, that's episode fifteen, leaving us with about nine episodes left. Next week, I presume we're going to have more time-wasting, possibly leading up to another battle starting the week after that. So, look forward to that if you like losing twenty minutes of your life that you can never get back, I guess.

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