Shirou awakens from a mysterious dream in which his body literally turns into swords. He tries to forget about this by training with Saber, and finds his performance remarkably improved. Saber explains that he has started using Archer’s techniques, which he is more suited to than her own – which, though she won’t admit it, rather offends her.
Back at school, Shinji’s behavior has become increasingly erratic and crazy. Shirou is distracted from Shinji by Rin, who invites him to eat lunch with her on the roof in a very roundabout, drawn out, Rin-like way. Rin reveals that she used another Command Seal to prevent Archer from attacking Shirou as long as they are allies, and apologizes for Archer’s behavior.
Shirou and Rin skip class and discuss magic. Rin explains a bit more about Magic Crests and how her own power works, still insisting she ‘owes’ Shirou. Specifically, she explains that her specialty is the transfer of power between herself and others. Hmm, totally not gonna be relevant at all, right?
While Shinji and Rider prepare something ominous, Rin explains that she considers Shinji not worth her time, and encourages Shirou to focus on finding the still-hidden Master of Caster. She also reveals that Shinji has been desperately pursuing her in hopes for an alliance, and he is now furious with Shirou because he is Rin’s ally.
Rider encases the school in a bloody dome, which drains life energy from anyone who is not a mage. Shirou refuses to escape without trying to save the others, and is determined to track down Shinji. Caster’s skeletal golems also appear, increasing the danger of the situation and forcing Shirou to summon Saber via Command Seal. Saber fights Rider while Shirou and Rin attempt to disable the field. However, the “Rider” that Saber faced is revealed to be Caster in disguise. Caster escapes while the real Rider, along with Shinji, is attacked by a mysterious presence.
Rin and Shirou find (and kick!) Shinji, who has completely snapped. They also find the corpse of Rider, who is officially the first Servant eliminated. With her death, the Bounded Field also disappears. Shinji claims to have no idea who killed Rider and escapes, concerned only for his own life. The school’s students are revealed to still be alive, and Rin suggests calling Kirei for assistance. Saber explains that the entire situation was a trap set with the goal of eliminating Rider, and that Caster (and her still unknown Master) will likely turn her attentions to them next.
Man, was this a dark episode! Between Rider draining the life energy from the entire school with her weird giant eye field to Caster’s weird skeleton golems with way too many teeth to Rider’s bloody, twisted corpse, this episode is NOT for the faint of heart. People who think Fate/stay night is just a cutesy romance visual novel should definitely see this episode.
This episode also features the elimination of the first Master/Servant team, Shinji and Rider. It is sad that Rider gets the least amount of focus in this arc (though the upcoming Heaven’s Feel movie will likely rectify that). That’s not entirely the fault of the show, though – Rider is a very stoic character who doesn’t have a lot to say. However, her action scenes definitely spoke louder than her few words – I absolutely love how her movements were animated so fluidly in all of her fight scenes. Despie her limited screentime, she successfully came across as fearsome and deadly. Her stoic nature also made her a great foil to Shinji’s insanity. Overall, Rider can’t compare to Fate/Zero’s far superior Rider, but she was pretty cool while she lasted, and has one of my favorite fighting styles of the /stay night Servants. I’m just a bit sad that we didn’t get to see her Noble Phantasm – spoiler, it explains why she’s designated as the Rider class, and it’s quite a sight.
Rider’s demise aside, this episode started out a little slow paced, with a lot of conversation between Shirou/Saber and Shirou/Rin. While I do like that ufotable is taking the time to develop the relationship between Shirou and Rin, their conversation was still mostly exposition, specifically Rin explaining the Tohsaka family’s magic. It’s frustrating how Rin is basically “Ms. Exposition” in most of her scenes so far, I’d like to see more badass!Rin, please! Though her and Shirou laughing over Shinji’s patheticness and her epic verbal beatdown of Shinji were both great. (I still really fail to see what Rin sees in Shirou, though).
Overall, this was a pretty solid episode. My major gripe is that the Saber/Rider (actually Caster) fight was so short and that Caster fled immediately after revealing herself – while it is in character, I would have liked to see them fight a little longer. The high point was definitely the aforementioned verbal beatdown of Shinji. It was so great to see that guy get what was coming to him.
The well done creepy vibe permeating this episode and the especially creepy death of Rider puts this at a little above average. Out of 5 Dios: