Will of Heaven
We're now officially one fifth of the way through this accursed hellshow. Hooray. It also marks the end of this story's first act, with a major change in status quo, at least one reveal as to what on earth is even going on, and the two factions set to clash in Sighisoara, which is an actual city -- one that we even mentioned before when we were talking about how traveling in this series makes no sense.
All of that makes the episode sound much more exciting than it is, so let me be completely clear and up-front: This episode is boring. Like the entirety of this series thus far, it's just twenty minutes of nothing.
Continuing on immediately from the end of the last episode, this episode sees the homunculus -- who soon names himself Sieg -- waking up as the rest of the Black Faction arrives. At Jeanne and Astolfo's insistence, they reluctantly let him go, with Jeanne urging him to live a peaceful life, even as she has a vision of him dying on a battlefield. The Black Faction soon finds themselves faced with another problem, though, when Jack the Ripper -- their Assassin, now gone rogue -- arrives in Sighisoara. Red Faction, apparently realising this also, dispatches Sisigou and Mordred to defeat or capture Jack.
Okay, let's start on the biggest plot hole of this episode: How, exactly, do either of the factions know that Jack the Ripper is in Sighisoara? Do they have spies? Would they even know what they're looking for, especially when they have no reason to believe Jack the Ripper would even be in Sighisoara? Both factions realise this at the same time, and yet there isn't any kind of inciting incident to make them realise. The show just kind of brushes over it: We need the characters to go hunt down Jack the Ripper, so now Jack is conveniently close to all of them, and they've somehow found out s/he is there.
(I say 's/he' because apparently Jack the Ripper is a tiny young girl. I'm generally not against the genderswapping of historical figures -- King Arthur, Mordred, and Frankenstein's Monster all don't really concern me at all -- but given how much Jack the Ripper's crimes were rooted in misogyny and sexual violence against women, having the show go 'ah, yeah, s/he was a young girl all along' feels weird to me.)
Prior to that, the episode is almost exclusively focused on Sieg and Jeanne, but again, there aren't any kind of stakes. I wasn't sitting at the edge of my seat wondering if the Black Faction would let Sieg go, since the show had already established that Jeanne could control all the Servants there if she wanted to, and since they were unlikely to risk losing Astolfo. The only real wild card of the bunch was Avicebron, and that wasn't enough to give the scene any tension.
(The same applies to Astolfo's 'punishment.' I already know it's not going to be anything that terrible, since they need all the Servants they can get -- and the show just compounds that by playing up the torture for, of all things, comedy. Sometimes, this show's grasp of tone is just completely bizarre, and I can't get my head around it.)
Similarly, when Jeanne is trying to push Sieg into living a safe life, it just lacks any kind of tension -- partly because we all already know that he's going to be joining the battle one way or another anyway, but also partly because we don't know either of these weird, flat, personality-less characters. I'm not concerned for either of their welfare because I don't empathise or sympathise with them at all, and they haven't managed to endear themselves to me in the slightest.
Still, with Sieg and Jeanne now as a unit, Siegfried gone, and the Red and Black Factions on a collision course in Sighisoara, we've definitely hit the end of the first act. Maybe things will improve in the second act.
(But they won't.)