After the previous episode brought young Ushio into the frame, so this instalment continues Tomoya and Ushio's trip, further highlighting the former's short fuse and general apathy towards his own daughter.
That is, until they reach their destination, slowly discovering just how meticulous Sanae's planning of this trip has been. Realising it looks familiar, Tomoya finds himself following a path he recognises, which leads him to meet his grandmother on his father's side. She regales him with the story of his own father, and how he moved into a poky apartment just to be with the person he loved, followed by his struggles to bring up his son once his wife had died. Of course, this brings home the intense similarities between Tomoya and his father, finally allowing him to realise that he wasn't a bad person per se, simply a man struggling alone in the world to protect the one thing important to him. This also brings home the importance of Ushio to Tomoya, bringing us a tearful union of father and daughter with a new level of understanding of her importance to him.
As someone who hasn't really warmed to After Story all that much, and somebody who has frequently longed for a return to the more humourous and carefree times of the first season of Clannad, the final few scenes of this episode hit me hard. I've rolled my eyes at the nature of Tomoya and Nagisa's relationship, shrugged off Nagisa's death despite admitting that it was well handled by the series, and not really getting any feeling for Tomoya's depression subsequent to that.
Despite all of that, the second half of this episode was simply beautiful, and beautifully realised to boot - Tomoya finally coming to understand his father was one thing, but the subsequent scenes with himself and Ushio reduced me to tears ridiculously easily. Maybe it was a little cheesy in a sense, but I suppose I just wasn't expecting this particular moment to happen either so soon or so quickly, and between Ushio's adorable behaviour and the huge burden and pain being lifted from Tomoya's shoulders, I couldn't help but break down. I may not be the biggest Clannad fan the world has ever seen, but this was one excellently delivered episode.