General Armstrong faces her moment of truth as she’s being given a chance of a lifetime.
What They Say:
As Raven tries to corrupt Armstrong, Ed and Al can only wait in their cell. Long ago, their father faced his own captivity, confined to an eternity of regret in an undying body. To escape the pain, he said goodbye.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)”
With an episode titled “Family Portrait,” you have a good idea of what to expect at least for part of the show. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood changes things up a little bit with the layout of this episode by starting right into the show and then doling out the opening sequence after a few minutes. And it also returns to having a little epilogue piece after the end credits but before the next episode preview, which may catch some folks unaware if you tend to walk away when the credits roll on.
There’s two main stories running through this episode but they’re very much disconnected at the moment. The opening story takes us back thirteen years in time when Hohenheim was living at home with Trisha and the boys and really trying to come to grips with his place in things. The larger goals he had in life, the things he sacrificed his body for, now feel somewhat insignificant in place of actually living with his family and growing old with them. The choices he’s made are gnawing at him and he’s trying to decide on the course that he must take in order to put things right. We know what the course is from past episodes, but seeing the emotional wrangling the man had to go through prior to walking out the door finally gives us the other side of the story, albeit one that is still somewhat incomplete. But it is good to see this character slowly having his story told since it’s so critical to the understanding of things.
The bulk of this episode does go back to focusing on the Briggs segment though as General Armstrong is now being approached by Raven about the legions of immortal undead soldiers to help defend the country. There is some rather nice little bit of verbal swordplay going on here and we see some intriguing thoughts that Armstrong has over it as she makes her tentative acceptance of a seat in the future of the country. Raven is surprisingly forward about things, not only with Armstrong but with the soldiers in the fortress itself as he’s very open about getting Sloth back on track for his mission and sealing up the hole so they can forget the whole sordid affair.
There’s a lot to like in this segment, especially as Armstrong again manages to prove herself to be one of the more engaging characters of the series. And it’s a series that knows exactly how to play the characters right as we often have Ed and Al offscreen for awhile so the other characters can shine and move the story forward. And that’s what continually gets me about this show is that it isn’t all about Ed acting and reacting to situations to move things along but rather everyone making plans and motions as things play out. When you look at other shows, it’s often all very centrally focused and the leads dominate and react to situations rather than making their own path. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood lets all the characters make their path and we get to follow all of it, which leads to fascinating twists and turns. This episode has a lot to offer as it sets more things into place and allows Olivier Armstrong to become quite the dominant character in the viewers mind.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.