Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files: Rail Zeppelin Grace note
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files: Rail Zeppelin Grace note ?
A history lesson is in order for this episode. Hephaestion was a real historical figure whose position as Alexander the Great's most trusted confidante is well-documented. Hephaestion served in a number of capacities for Alexander, including as diplomat, engineer, advisor, bodyguard, and eventually commander of Alexander's elite Companion cavalry (aka the Hetairoi, which was part of Iksander's Reality Marble in Fate/Zero). Waver not immediately recognizing the figure who appears on top of the train as Hephaestion is understandable, since she was originally known as a guy. Her interest in Waver also makes sense, and portraying her with a hint of jealousy was entirely appropriate; in a sense, Waver did take over her role.
The encounter also brings up a term that I don't recall having heard in a Fate anime before: Ghost Liner. Even after doing some research, my best understanding is that it's a more generic term for materializing spirits, including Servants. Regardless, a Servant-caliber manifestation appearing without the Grail's involvement should mean that someone is dumping a lot of power into the effort, and Luvia and Kairi's investigation suggest that this is an inside job being carried out by a highly skilled mage. But to what end? It would make sense if the theft was a ploy to participate in the Holy Grail War – after all, that's how Waver got into the game – and eliminating Waver in the process wouldn't be out of character for unscrupulous Clock Tower mages. However, luring him to the Rail Zeppelin seems a needlessly roundabout plan, and summoning Hephaestion seems too laden with additional meaning to be a random choice. Either someone is targeting Waver (or the El-Melloi clan) personally, or else someone wants Waver on that train so that he'll encounter something else, and Hephaestion's assassination attempt is a more personal matter for her. I'm leaning toward the former explanation, but I can't discount the latter.
That's because something else is definitely happening on the train that may or may not be related to the theft of the relic. Someone has absconded with poor Trisha's head, presumably because they want her Mystic Eyes, and they're taking pains to magically cover their tracks. The conductor and auctioneer being so blasé about this reinforces the statement that mages killing each other on the train isn't unusual, but this is probably beyond the range of the usual shenanigans. The Church guy looking to give up his Mystic Eyes is another interesting twist. Waver's conclusion about the perpetrator being “a man invisible to time” seems like a riddle to the audience; does this perhaps suggest that an immortal is involved? Hishiri's comments about how the same person seems to have sponsored the antagonists in episodes 3-5 also seem significant to the case, as does Waver's explanation about the invitations effectively being tickets to the underworld. A bigger puzzle is unfolding now, and we're still seeing only small parts of it, but that's what helps make this series fun.
Waver getting badly injured is a new twist for the series, though it does allow for the introduction of healing magic. Melvin, the young man who financed Waver's trip to Japan for Fate/Zero, also looks like he's getting involved, though his reasons remains unknown. I'm also unclear on what “work” Reines has to do if she's not the family head yet, but that's a comparatively small detail. For now, the series is still diligently placing its pieces in its updated murder-mystery style to entertaining results.
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