The one who threw away human emotions and the one who gained them fight over the fate of humanity.
The twenty-fourth episode of Fate Apocrypha opens with another look at Shirou’s past, where he laments that he aided the people who chose to rebel and they were all slaughtered in horrible ways. He hated the people responsible, but forgave them as they were humans. But he, who wasn’t able to save anyone, couldn’t be forgiven. So he wished for a miracle so that humans could be saved from themselves and thus wishes for the Third Magic to do so.
Back with Shakespeare, he’s talking trash about how Jeanne is nothing but a little, naive girl while Shirou emerges in his full garb while talking about his success since the Third Magic has been put into motion. The hanging gardens will go around the world and absorb the magical energy from every living soul to materialize them so they have immortality with emotions. When Jeanne tries to refute that being salvation, Gilles guilt trips her by citing how he became a child-murdering monster because he blamed God for what happened to her and that this can allow them all to atone.
She looks like she’s about to go along with it until Gilles tries to convince her to use Sieg as a sacrifice, at which point she regains a spine and stands up to them. Shirou doesn’t feel like fighting since he’s already won in his eyes now that the process has started. Before she can be convinced, Sieg shows up and gives his view point on things. True, the world sucks, but most people have good will and that Goodness exists in the world.
This brings Jeanne to tears and forces her to admit she can’t allow for Shirou’s salvation to go through since people fight against their inner evil desires. Servants only aid the living and cannot remove their capacity for good and evil. He’d be denying them the chance to make their own path and nothing would change.
Since they’re not going to get along, Shirou decides to make this the last murder in the world and Jeanne decides to entrust her flag to Gilles and asks Sieg to stay with her while she uses her sword for the first and last time. It’s a Noble Phantasm that uses the flames of her sacrifice to purge everything. Shirou tries to cut it short, but Gilles uses the flag to protect her long enough for it to get off.
She tries to destroy the Greater Grail with her flames, but Shirou has a literal black-hole absorb them until she can’t sustain it any further and dies without completely destroying it. Before she can pass, she has a Revelation about what’s about to go down with Sieg and tells him that no matter how much time will passes, she’ll be waiting for him at the end before vanishing and leaving the body of the girl who she possessed behind and unharmed. Sieg is naturally pissed as Astolfo arrives with Caules only to get caught by a dying Semiramis.
Shirou offers them an olive branch, but figures they won’t run. So it boils down to a final fight for the Grail between Sieg and Shirou, who go at it with their swords and magecraft in a rather decent fight. This shouldn’t be possible for Sieg without transforming, but Caules figures out that when Berserker inadvertently brought Sieg back to life after Mordred stabbed him, she gave him a low-tier version of her bridal chest and that was giving him the ability to actually stand up to Shirou by rotating the magic he was expending into him.
The fight comes to an end with Shirou impales Sieg… who then promptly grabs him and uses Blasted Tree on him. The nuke goes off as the episode ends
I’m happy that Gillies tried to play on her guilt for the things he did, and how she pointed out that what they’ve done cannot be undone. Their victims will not forgive them, even if their God does, so if they want to atone then their duty as Servants is to protect the living. So he does that, raising her banner to shield her in order to do so. One thing to keep in mind is that in Fate Zero, that Gilles also sought forgiveness when he was about to be blasted by the light of Excalibur and whereas that version of him was too far gone until the end to comprehend it, this one at least acknowledged it was possible and did so protecting her.
There’s also something refreshing about Sieg and Shirou being the ones to fight for the grail at the end despite not being human at all. You have a Homunculus that has slowly gained an appreciation for humans and a Servant who threw away what made him human for the sake of humans. Both are well-intentioned, but conflict was inevitable as they have different opinions on how the fate of humanity should be determined. On top of that, Berserker’s wish for someone like her to exist has come to pass with Sieg.
Now onto the whole salvation thing. Shirou believes that humanity would eventually attain the materialization of the soul and he’s basically speeding up the process with his plan is to remove what he sees as the source of human evils within them and grant them immortality. Jeanne’s argument s that humans fight against their inner evil all the time and giving them immortality would remove human potential…
Except then you remember Chiron was immortal until he got the Hydra poison and he was doing just fine. Now you could argue he was a centaur and fundamentally something different from humans at the start, but it’s still something that should be pointed out.
Yeah, let’s be honest. Salvation is looking good with how many things are wrong in the world. Yeah, there’s good in people, but there’s also evil too. The weak and powerless can only pray for salvation and serve as foundation for the strong to decide on their fate, which is what’s happening now with this fight.
Really, the only flaw I can see in Shirou’s plan is that conflict is such an ingrained part of human nature that without conflict we can’t advance. Whether its against one another, against the world, or against the laws of nature. No drive for survival and no necessity means that everything remains static since all our needs are met.
But, by Shirou’s account, humanity would reach that point eventually. So… is there a point in stopping it now? Honestly, Sieg is probably fighting more out of emotion than rationale at this point, but I suppose it comes down to perspective more than anything.
Is it worth giving up advancement for the sake of paradise?
Either way, the next episode will be the last and I can’t wait to see how it concludes.