Episode 41, "Hell"
Synopsis: Miles plans to kill Kimbley and his subordinates, but Edward is reluctant to take lives. Scar, Marcoh, and Mei try to decipher some of Scar's brother's notes. Later, they find Alphonse sticking out of the snow. After digging him up, he warns them about Central soldiers at Briggs. Scar tells them they can hide in a nearby Ishbalan refugee camp. Edward confronts Kimbley, who has figured out what Miles is up to. He uses his alchemy to evade the sniper, and his subordinates, who are chimera, attack Ed. Ed uses alchemy to disable them via their sense of smell and again confronts Kimbley, hitting the Philosopher's Stone out of his hand. However, Kimbley has another stone in his mouth and uses it to destroy the mining tower, bringing it down on Ed and the chimera. Edward comes to with a giant metal pipe sticking out of him. With the help of the chimeras, he uses alchemy to remove it and heal himself, losing consiousness from exhaustion. The chimeras, feeling betrayed by Kimbley, decide to take him to safety.
This episode starts off a bit dull, doing some set up, a bit of extraneous explaining, and the like, but then gets into some action and suspense and hits hard thanks to some great voice performances.
Edward hesitates to let Miles and his company kill Kimbley because of his no kill policy, but Miles calls him naive and plans to have Kimbley sniped before he can do anything. When dealing with Kimbley, this is probably the best choice, because he can be unpredictable. I'm surprised they even got as far as they did before Kimbley showed he had caught on. Maybe Kimbley let them get just far enough to be frustrated when he jumped out of the trap. It's weird, though, that the sniper waited so long. I mean, a fraction of a second earlier, he could have shot Kimbley in the head and been done with it.
What's with Edward, anyway? You don't need to kill Kimbley, but standing around expecting him to admit defeat because his hand is damaged is stupid. Even if you think you've disabled his alchemy, you should have knocked him out and tied him up. You can never be too careful when dealing with dangerous enemies. Edward should have known better from having fought Scar. Kimbley wouldn't have been able to use the other Stone if he had been knocked out. Yes, I know, Ed didn't know he had it, but why chance that he could have had some other weapon? Even if he just had a gun, the battle would have been over, he could have just shot Ed. Edward was acting foolishly.
We don't need to drag out the Alphonse soul-rejection thing by having it happen again so soon after the first time. Especially when it happens at the same time Ed is injured to drum up some extra drama that amounts to nothing. It just seems excessive. Especially when you're already taking time to explain to other characters what the viewer already knows and has no need to hear again. Nor is it necessary to see the characters sit around trying to decipher the notes when they don't come to any conclusions and its just to show Arakawa's research. I know these are all scenes from the manga, but I thought they were padding in the manga, too. At least Yoki falling into the snow, with his English "HELP ME!" was amusing. Otherwise, it was time better spent extending the fight with the chimeras.
Ah, the chimeras. We have another pair of chimera characters who are allies almost as soon as they were enemies. Come on. I like having a lion and gorilla chimera better than whatever the hell those other guys were supposed to be, though. The battle with them, while short, was pretty cool. The animation was great. And, as usual, somebody slips up and falls, this time Ed. This sort of thing can get annoying in a FMA battle, but it's so true to life. Imagine trying to battle so quickly in an environment like this. Somebody is bound to slip on the snow or ice or something. My point is, nobody's movements are perfect, and people mess up even if they're trained. I also like how Edward overcame them, using his knowledge.
Of course, the big scene in the episode is Edward with the pipe in him. Romi Paku delivered, delivered hard. If that's not an award-winning performance, I don't know what is. I very much doubt you-know-who could get quite as much mileage out of this scene when the English dub gets to it as Paku does here. You almost cringe with the scream, feeling how much pain Ed is in.
One thing bothered me about this scene, though, and this goes back to the manga. The Philosopher's Stone was already down there, but they don't find it until after Ed has already used himself as one. But imagine how the scene would go if Edward saw it right in front of him and was tempted to use it in his pain? Then his decision to reject that and use his own life would have had an even bigger impact. It would be a complete rejection of the Philosopher's Stone.
Anyway, a good episode overall, but not without its flaws.
Overall Score: 4 out of 5