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Fate/Zero - "Master and Servant" - Episode 9 Recap

With Kayneth gravely injured and his magic circuits damaged, he has been
put into a situation where he can no longer be Lancer’s master. His wife
Sola-Ui recognizes this and asks that he transfer the command seals
over to her so she can win the grail. Though reluctant at first, he caves when
she subjects him to physical torture. Meanwhile Rider and Waver finally
make their move, with Waver finding Caster’s hiding place. When they
enter the area Waver is overwhelmed by the sight of the dead children,
and in his vulnerable state he’s attacked by Assassin. Luckily, Rider is
there to protect him and he drives off Assassin. As they leave they
decide to forego searching Caster’s hideout for clues, deciding to destroy it instead.

There have been a few complaints regarding Fate/Zero’s slow development, and I can sort of see where they are
coming from. We are nine episodes in and all of the servants are still active. The biggest development happened last week with Kayneth being
eliminated and even that has been nullified with Sola-Ui taking over.
Still, I have yet to find a single moment of Fate/Zero boring or
uninteresting, so I don’t mind the large amount of exposition that has
taken place; instead I appreciate the effort to develop every master and
servant properly. As I have mentioned in past recaps, it gives the
fights more impact and the war itself a very grand feeling. I especially
don’t mind in light of Fate/Stay Night, where all of the exposition was
on Saber and the other servants were merely for show.

That
being said, this was a slower episode in regards to plot; Sola-Ui taking
over as Lancer’s master and Waver/Rider discovering Caster’s hideout
and the fact that Assassin is still alive are all that happens. Sola-Ui taking over as
Lancer’s master is a pretty big deal, and confirms my early suspicions
about her. We know so little about her that her motives are unclear, but
she is definitely hiding some dark secret; as she breaks Kayneth’s
fingers she explains that they have to win the grail no matter what. To
go to such lengths with her own husband is a rather extreme and clear
indication of what type of person she is. Later on in the episode Lancer objects to her as a master, claiming that he is a knight before he is a
servant and he will not betray Kayneth. She lies to him and claims she
only wishes to win the grail to revive Kayneth. I imagine the details of
her marriage with Kayneth will be explained later, bringing her true motives to the surface at that point. For right now I am just happy to have an
official female master (Irisviel is just a proxy).

A fair
portion of the episode focused on Lancer and his heroic tale. I
personally don’t know anything about the Knights of Fianna, let alone
the dual spear wielder Diarmuid Ua Duibhne. Even so, I
thoroughly enjoyed seeing Lancer’s past being detailed and knowing why
exactly he has gotten involved in the Holy Grail War. It also gives
depth to his character and his chivalrous honor, as well as the tragedy he
suffered. He fell in love with a woman promised to his superior. They
decided to run away and fight against his former comrades, and ultimately they’re accepted back into the kingdom only for that same superior to betray
Diarmuid. Sola-Ui acts as a reminder of his past love, the one he
sacrificed his knighthood and honor for. His story actually makes his
respect and connection with Saber all the more interesting, as they both
are in the war to change their unwanted fates. Learning more about the servants like this will make future battles more powerful.

Meanwhile, Waver shows off a bit of alchemy by using water and pinpoints
Caster’s hideout. It was nice to see Waver take some initiative, and
then for Rider to be impressed by that. Last week I mentioned that I wanted to see how Rider would react
to Caster’s terrible acts and we got that this time, but more so
from Waver. I imagine as a King Rider has seen a few horrible acts in
his lifetime, so it wasn’t hard for him to keep his emotions in check.
Waver however throws up and begins to cry, a reasonable action for
a normal person witnessing something horrific. What I loved was that Rider tells
Waver that he would have been concerned had he not been so emotional. It’s another sign of what a great guy Rider is and how he and Waver make a
great pair.

The surprising part of this episode is
Assassin’s involvement. He/she/it lurks in the shadows so I suppose it
shouldn’t have been, but I was under the impression they were under
orders not to be seen. In fact, after being exposed twice so far, Assassin seems to be a sloppy
servant. When Assassin attacks you’d think there’d be more of an effort to silence the pair, but the instead the assassins are quickly driven off and appear to be relatively weak. Tohsaka and Kirei have a brief conversation
about how it is inconvenient that Assassin has been spotted, but their
plans haven’t been foiled yet.

For Fate/stay night fans, next
week’s episode looks to be pleasing since it will be focusing on Rin
Tohsaka. My only worry is that it will be another episode with very
little plot movement. One episode is fine, since the show is so
detailed, but two in a row would be troubling. Perhaps the episode will
give Archer some enlightening character development. Either way, “Master
and Servant” may have been slow, but it was informative and enriching.

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