Episode 39, "Secret of Ishbal"
Synopsis: Winry and Sheska warn Maria Ross and Denny Brosh that there's something going on within the military. Winry tells Sheska that they're going to Risembool. On a train to the east, Roy discovers that Kimbley has been welcomed back into the military and is under Archer's command. In the desert, Edward admits to Martel that he killed Greed. Martel, however, holds no grudge against him, but rather the other homunculi and Kimbley. The next day, the group arrives in the ruins of Ishbal. Martel explains that she was in the military before becoming a chimera and was part of a covert operation that stirred up the Ishbalan rebellion. But her team was then arrested, turned into chimeras and locked up. Ed and Al encounter Havoc and Breda and end up meeting with Mustang where the military are gathering. Roy brings Edward under his command. Edward realizes a new war is brewing. Ed and Al are told that Lior has been rebelling against military authority, that Scar is there, and he's drawing a giant alchemy array around the city. Edward volunteers to run recon for Archer, inflitrating Lior. Edward leaves his alchemist watch with Armstrong at Archer's request. The watch is brought to Tucker. Disguised and in Lior, Edward learns of the Holy Mother, a new spiritual leader, but recognizes her as Rose. Back at the outpost, Martel spots Kimbley and attacks him. While Ed goes to get a closer look at Rose, Scar finds him.
The main plot shifts into full throttle in this episode, as we find out what really started the Ishbal massacre and what Scar's been up to since meeting the Ishbalan outcast.
The military welcoming Kimbley back into their fold so readily is very unsettling, as it's almost like they're not even trying to disguise the fact that they're murderers now. And now Archer has been granted the rank of colonel, so he's on the same level Roy is. This is sort of the point of Archer, though. He's the slimier, less moral version of Roy Mustang. He's also a shrewd soldier determined to make his way to the top, but through more wicked means, and for only himself. Then again, perhaps Archer has a sense of patriotism that just differs from Mustang's.
Martel reveals how she and the rest of Greed's gang became chimeras, which is tied in to the beginning of the Ishbal war. I like the story. It's creative how they tied those two elements together, with the crew having been a special ops team that stirred things up and then were imprisoned as a cover up, turned into chimeras, and locked up in Lab 5 to die. I'd like to think that Greed met them under similar circumstances in the manga, even though he wasn't in Lab 5 and it was Envy who started the war there. Maybe in the manga universe, they were soldiers gathered up from the different border conflicts. I really like the idea of the chimeras having been soldiers.
Things are getting more complicated now that Scar is making a giant alchemy array around Lior. The last time Edward was in town, he was able to topple the false prophet, but now Rose is their spiritual leader and Scar's found Ed almost immediately. Martel was as difficult to control as you might imagine, because the moment she sees Kimbley she leaps out at him. The plot thickens!
4 out of 5