This is one looking-glass I don’t want to peer through.
The sixth episode of Fate Extra: Last Encore has aired, and so I’ve come to give my review.
The episode opens with a crossover to Madoka Magica, whereupon we find the 3rd Floor covered in a witch’s barrier filled with patchwork grass and polkadot reindeer that all stare up to the sight of Hakuno telling a young girl that the 3rd round has ended and he won. She managed to come out of it alive, but begs Hakuno not to leave her alone. He promises to come back once he gets the Grail and departs, leaving her to wait for him to return.
Then, in the present, our group emerges to that same floor and see it as a snow-covered forest with the Ladder to the fourth layer out of order. There’s a bounded field around it and a castle in the distance, beyond the Nameless Forest where the ghosts of the dead gather. Then mention of ghosts gains Hakuno’s attention, leaving him to ask if it was possible for ghosts to be there, which they confirm.
Since Souls are transformed into information, in contrast to Earth, where you need a body to go with the Mind and Soul, ghost can remain. However, these ghosts are just reproductions of their moments of death and so they can only regret. Thus, they are the dreams of the dead, a bug that gets stamped out when Moon Cell finds them, which kind of bothers Hakuno given the whole Dead Face thing.
Rin then drops more information that Dead Face is a legend that has lasted over one thousand years in the digital world. It embodies a different concept of death, but she claims she never saw it before. Despite the fact that we saw her witness it on the First Floor at the end of Episode 2. So she’s obviously withholding information.
When they get closer, they find it to be an Alice-in-Wonderland situation where they had to go through smaller doors to enter. Inside is a mind-screw as they look for the Master where Saber holds his hand and looks adorable until they find a room filled with water. That’s when Hakuno spots something and runs off on his own, essentially doing the one thing he shouldn’t in an unfamiliar place, where he runs the little girl who is named Alice.
She’s ecstatic that he can see her and explains she’s been playing alone since normal people can’t find her, due to being a cyber-ghost. Then he plays hide-and-seek with her in a forest, gradually getting more information about her in the process and agrees to be her friend, but she brings up that if he leaves her side then he’ll forget about her due to the Nameless Forest.
To round out the information dump, they then sit down to have tea and we get her backstory. There was a war and she was injured while everyone else was dying around her, left in the Hospital suffering until she died alone and in pain. Hakuno looks like he’s going to be sick until the ringing of bells signify that its time for him to leave and Alice begs him to remember her and to be careful of monsters on the way out. But when he finds Rin and Saber again, he can’t remember that he was with someone properly.
They then head to the center of the floor and we find Amari and Rin discussing how things have gone in the war, with Amari declaring she sacrificed everything to reach that point and challenges Rin to a fight to advance. Rin refuses to fight because she won’t fight against someone who won’t make it to the 6th Floor, predicting that Amari will lose in the next round. It then turns out to have been a flashback of Rin’s, but she denies anything when asked and they advance to the final room.
The room has Amari’s name, with the girl lamenting her name and not wanting to end up like her mother, who simply gave birth to her to satisfy her superiors. Rather than being laughed at, she wants to be the one laughing, and sacrificed everything to get to that point by using people weaker than her to beat those stronger. But she couldn’t find someone weaker than her in the war and then asks Hakuno why he wants to ascend before we find out that was another flashback on his behalf.
At this point they all figure something’s not right between the loss of time and light-headedness and visions of the past. Then they come across one place without dust and battle scars, causing Rin to remember that this floor has monsters that won’t die even if you kill them. As proven when Saber tries to kill one such enemy and they find themselves back at the entrance, because said enemy is manipulating the time and space to write a narrative for itself.
The enemy is Nursery Rhyme, a Servant that’s an incarnation of fairy tales, it intends to repeat the day now and forever, trapping them in a time loop.
So… this episode feels like the lovechild of Madoka Magica and Persona Q with how unsettling it is. I mean, the last few having been mind-screwy, but this is the first time I’ve felt outright that my mind had been twisted up. Especially that imagery from when she was explaining how every day was painful for her in the hospital, with the scissors and tools being shoved into a tear in the cloth while shifting figures crowded her.
Anyway, it’s made pretty clear that the enemy on this floor are Alice and Nursery Rhyme, a Master/Servant pairing from the game. They waste no time in revealing that Alice is the a ghost of someone who died and yet ended up in Moon Cell, referring to it as Wonderland. It’s a place where she can do whatever she want, but she still wants to revive herself and come back alive.
However, that information was basically for the audience’s sake as the Nameless Forest removes the information from Hakuno’s head. In the game, the Nameless Forest is a Reality Marble that gradually removes your memories until you forget that you even exist. Here, it seems that something even more wonky is going on that makes ceasing to exist even less frightening.
Remember, normal people can’t see Alice in her own words. We know Hakuno is different due to Dead Face, meaning he holds a concept of death. And since normal folks can’t see Alice, they don’t know she’s the Master while Nursery Rhyme constantly screws with them and makes her unbeatable as the Last Master on this floor.
Yet, why hasn’t she ascended then? I want to believe its because Alice is a Cyber-Ghost and needs to remain outside of Moon Cell’s notice, which is what Nursery Rhyme is doing. On the other hand, she was defeated in the previous war by whoever it was she asked to come back and get her. That means she should have been deleted as well and we know that dead masters can’t ascend from Dan.
Either one means that her dream for a wish to come true will never come to pass, thus making it a tragedy.
At least we got to know more about Amari, Shinji’s girlfriend who is exclusive to this adaptation. She was apparently just someone who was looked down on for her name and possibly her birthright, given how she talked about how her mother wasn’t an elite and gave birth to her to make those in power satisfied. She drinks a lot to escape her problems over being weak, apparently, but somehow she made it to the 3rd floor despite all of that.
A final thing thing I’ve noticed is that people who Hakuno has met in the past seemingly haven’t been able to recognize him. My belief is that those weren’t Hakuno as we know him, but other Masters who died and became part of the collective that was Dead Face. So every time we saw him get murdered through his memory and perspective, it was someone else that he pictured as him.
Of course, that’s just a theory at the moment. We’ll see if it gets confirmed in a later episode. But that’s all for now.