Episode 45, "A Rotted Heart"
Synopsis: Dante reveals her and Hohenheim's secret: they made a Philosopher's Stone ages ago and used it to keep switching bodies to remain young and healthy. However, Hohenheim disappeared, so Dante had homunculi prepare situations for alchemists to create a Stone so she could continue living that way. Alphonse gets a phone call from Shou Tucker and hides it from Edward. Back in Central, Colonel Mustang stands before the military/government officials, claiming that the Elric brothers have gone to another country. He begins to ask pointed questions about Juliet Douglas. Edward and Alphonse disguise themselves for travel and take a train out of town. Hohenheim tells Dante that their souls are breaking down from constant body transfers and she says that she plans to use the Stone that Scar made inside Alphonse. Sloth appears, catching Hohenheim off guard and subdues him. Dante opens an alchemic Gate through Rose's baby and sends Hohenheim through it. Ed and Al escape from the military and Ed goes to visit Izumi while Al decides to contact Tucker. Roy and Alex are assigned to go attack the North where the brothers are said to be, knowing that it's a trap. Edward asks if Izumi has a piece of her dead child to use against the homunculus she made. Alphonse meets Tucker at a factory.
There's a lot going on in this episode.
First, we discover that Hohenheim and Dante made a Philosopher's Stone with some other guy many years ago using people dying of the plague (well, at least they used dying people), but Hohenheim was struck with Sudden Alchemist Death and Dante used the Stone to transfer his soul to their partner's body (who was that guy, a butler, another alchemist, just some guy they invited over to see the show?) and they've been using it ever since to transfer their bodies. They also mentioned something about "witch hunts", which may have something to do with alchemy, too, and I'd like to have had a little more information about that. Maybe alchemists were being persecuted? But then how did Amestris go from a society that persecutes alchemists to one that is built around them? Guess they got over it after the plague. Maybe alchemists helped find the cure.
Which leads me to wonder what level of an alchemist Dante is. She knows how to make homunculi, it seems, but for some reason was never able to make a true Philosopher's Stone on her own? Is she unable to do that, or is she just trying to keep a low profile because people would get suspicious? She's going through quite a lot of work to do something that Ed an Al could do easily if they had no morality. Doesn't Dante have an entire nation's military at her disposal? In the manga, the military was making those Stones like they were going out of style. You could trip over a Philsopher's Stone in their labs. Shit, Kimbley didn't even bother to find one of his after he lost it. He had a spare.
This makes me come to a few possible conclusions. One, Dante is "spending money to make money". She doesn't want some small dinky Philosopher's Stone. She wants a huge one. The one Scar made is fairly big. It should probably last a while, as long as she's just transferring her soul to others' bodies. The lesser stones are used to get the homunculi together to creat the opportunity to make one that will be more powerful and last longer. Maybe she figures her bodies keep rotting away because she isn't using a strong enough Stone. But the problem is, she doesn't say this.
The second conclusion is that she may not be that great an alchemist. Sure, she can use alchemy without circles, but that's a result of having made homunculi and she did teach Izumi, but she's probably not much more capable than either Ed or Al. Hohenheim is the one who probably did most of the work, and when he abandoned her, he likely figured she'd be unable to make another Stone on her own.
Whatever the case, although I do enjoy thinking about Hohenheim and Dante's pasts, it's a little bit of a tease that they never really go into it. We just know that they've been around for a long time because a Philosopher's Stone they made ages ago. We don't even know when or why Hohenheim left Dante. To be fair, it's really not important to know why. They obviously had some kind of falling out. The why is likely because she's such a bitch.
We have a bit more of the duo of Winry and Sheska in this episode, as they argue over their approaches to making a pie. The scene is utterly worthless, but I really like it. Winry approaches it scientifically and Sheska argues cooking is more like an art. Now, okay, the oven Winry makes is a little advanced for the FMA world, but no so advanced that it's completely out of the realm of possibility some one as ingenuitive as her could make something like that. Plus, hey, pie! I wonder if it's apple.
Roy standing in front of the military council sure reminds me of a certain scene. I'm pretty sure this aired before the chapter where that similar scene in the manga happened. Arakawa did outline her story for the folks at Bones, though, or so I've read. Things go a little different here, though. Instead of Bradley just going, "Oh yeah, I'm a homunculus, so what?" because Roy floats the rumor, Roy instead decides to skirt the edge of the issue by mentioning Juliet Douglas. I don't know why he doesn't outright accuse Bradley of being a homunculus, but by the end he's fairly convinced that he's definitely on to something. Instead of taking Roy's subordinates away from him, he plans to send him off to the battlefield, where he can be killed at Bradley's leisure. Pretty smart move, actually. Especially since in this version of the story, he doesn't need to worry about Roy living to be a "human sacrifice".
I wonder how that meeting ended, though. Roy says he'd like to speak to Bradley in front of the others, Bradley pulls open the curtain and looks at him, and then we see Roy leave the room to where Riza is waiting. Did Bradley excuse himself to the bathroom?
Hohenheim didn't have much luck in confronting Dante. For a woman who doesn't know how to make a Philosopher's Stone on her own, she sure knows how to use a baby to send people beyond the Gate. My question is, does she have to toss the baby in the air to do that? It's really weird and inappropriate. We get it, Dante is a villain. What is she going to do next, chew on the poor thing's limbs?
I have no problem with Hohenheim being immobilized by a homunculus who looks like his wife. None. I have no problem with Dante somehow transporting Hohenheim beyond the Gate, thereby ensuring he wouldn't get in her way. I don't even mind that she used the baby to do that with her reasoning that babies are somehow closer to the Gate, blah blah blah. Fine. I can buy all of that. I even kind of like it as an element. But tossing it? Tossing it in the air? Come on. Bask Om in Zeta Gundam wouldn't toss a baby in the air! You do not have to convince us Dante is a bad person. We know she pushes people into killing large groups of people for her. This is like having Hitler punch a crippled war veteran.
Something else that bothers me about this episode is, where the hell is that place Ed and Al go to? I'm guessing it's somewhere near or in Dublith, since Ed visits Izumi, so it's probably nearby. But they don't mention it. The factory Tucker is in is also there (convenient). Where the hell is this place? And are they in a hotel of some kind? They just appear in this room suddenly. Where is it? Establish where the characters are!
It was a decent episode overall, though. More flashbacks should look like the one Dante had about making the Stone.
3.5 out of 5