Saber and Lancer rant. Saber and Lancer fight. Kotohime and Tohsaka observe. Irisviel gasps. Rider intervenes. End episode.
That really is what Episode 4 is in a nutshell. Of course, there’s a lot more detail. Saber and Lancer talk a lot. Lancer’s master is around but elusive. Kotohime seems to have feigned bowing out of the game to allow himself to be a more effective observer and that Assassin being ‘taken out’ by Archer was a staged event by himself and Tohsaka. Irisviel seems rather smitten with Saber while Saber is the dashing, honourable woman we know her to be. Lancer acts incredibly FAB-ulous and even cockier. You could virtually feel the pheromones flooding from him like ravenous vultures. Rider has a much more knightly, honourable approach to the battles and decides to break up the fight between Saber and Lancer – as only Rider can! RIDING LIKE A BOSS! 😄
But in all honesty, if it wasn’t for Rider’s hilarious antics in the closing minutes of that episode, I think I would have been underwhelmed by this episode. Don’t get me wrong – the battle was intriguing and better than ones in Fate/Stay Night in terms of action and bloodshed. But there’s one thing that prevents it from being exhilirating – the dialogue. There’s SO MUCH of it…Look, I like the dialogue overall. When Rider rants, he’s damn entertaining! When Saber does, she’s charming yet sharp. When Lancer does, he makes every sports player on the planet look pretty not fabulous in comparison. The problem is the amount being fired out! There’s parts where there’s half-a-minute to a minute of blazing action, then they go into rant mode once more. Maybe it’s just me, but every time someone rants I always get the ‘Can’t I have slashed you up eights ways from Sunday by the time you finished saying that?!’ urges when they flap their tongues for so long. I guess since several of the Servants are Knights, they are somewhat honourable and love to rant. But sometimes it’s overbearing…it breaks up the flow and moments that should have felt epic feel a bit sedate in comparison. Then again, what can I expect when Nasu Kinoko was one of the major writers for the Fate/Zero novels? I generally like Nasu’s ranting, but he has a tendency to not know when to quit. And it just kills some of the atmosphere/thrills to be had within this episode.
That said, good episode. Not great. I appreciate how honest and dedicated to the source material it is and that Type-Moon fans are rapt. But for the not-so-hardcore fans, they’re going to be tested at times by the sheer volume of dialogue. Fate/Zero is still at the top end of this season, either way. I just hope future battles are more gripping.