Episode 22, "Created Human"
Synopsis: Hughes sets up a detachment of soldiers to retrieve the Elrics from Laboratory 5. Alphonse and Scar face off with Lust and Gluttony, and Scar falls into a hole. In the room with the red water, Edward figures a way to use alchemy arrays to make a Philosopher's Stone out of the ingredients. Fuhrer King Bradley decides to join the detachment of soldiers to go to Laboratory 5, much to Hughes' surprise. In a room above the main red water room, a Basque Gran-disguised Envy looks over hidden prisoners brought in to be live ingredients. One of the prisoners, Kimbley, uses alchemy to turn one of the others into a human bomb, escaping, and causing the other prisoners to fall down where Edward can see them. Envy appears and Edward is unable to fight him because his automail arm's missing piece. Envy kicks him around. Lust and Gluttony appear with a disabled and damaged Alphonse. Tucker explains that they're homunculi, artificial humans, and reveals that he plans to use the Philosopher's Stone to bring Nina back. The homunculi insist Edward make the Philosopher's Stone to make them human, and threaten to destroy Al's bood seal. Reluctantly, Edward prepares to do what they wish, but hesitates at the last moment. Scar interrupts, telling Ed to escape with his brother. However, when Edward walks into a puddle of red water, his alchemy skills go out of control, which causes the homunculi to flee. The detachment arrives and Maria Ross calms Edward down.
This is one of my favorite episodes of the series.
Everything in this arc leads up to this episode, where it all comes down to whether Edward will make the Philosopher's Stone to restore his and his brother's bodies, or not. For a moment, it looks like he might, given that Al's life is at risk, he really wants Al's body to be restored, and they've been searching for so long. Ultimately, he decides not to, even with his brother's life at risk, because it's the wrong thing to do, and his morality is still intact, despite it all. But things were really getting heated.
One of my favorite scenes in this episode is when Edward is told that everything he and his brother had been through up to this point (at least, involving their look for the Stone) was a manipulation by the homunculi. And that's not even including the stuff they don't know about yet, which we find out later. Edward has always been a proponent of the notion that he and his brother are making their own way, and all their successes and failures have been caused by themselves, so this revelation is staggering to him.
Alphonse makes an argument that they can't make the kind of decision they're faced with here, because they're just children, but Lust dismisses it as a convenient hypocracy. After all, she counters, Edward became an adult when he became a State Alchemist. He can't conveniently go back to being a child when he feels like it. Lust is great in this episode.
I'm still a little annoyed at the whole red water thing, though, which is why I couldn't give this episode a perfect score. If they had all that red water, what did they need the prisoners for? And if they had live subjects, why would they need the red water? Do they need both? Or does the presence of either add to the power of the stone in addition to the other? I still have no fucking clue how the red water is made. Apparently it can cause Ed's alchemy abilities to go out of control just by him stepping in it.
By the way, if I recall, this is the last time we ever see the red water. Now tell me that isn't Aikawa and Mizushima realizing that it didn't make much sense. At least they can learn.
Still, this episode is evidence of the maturity of this series, with its emotional complexities and tough decisions. I'm also a big fan of how so many things come together, and we even get hints to the future of the story (Hughes' look when Bradley conveniently appears, Scar showing concern for Ed and Al, Lust wanting to be human, Kimbley meeting up with Greed). Maria Ross hugging Ed to calm him down was a great touch, too. Everything isn't solved with some great big combat scene. This is why I fell in love with this series when I first watched it.
It's too bad that we're going from this into the Alphonse Angst arc.
4.5 out of 5