If you thought the last instalment of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was dark and depressing, then you ain't see nothing yet, as episode seventeen takes us into even more dark and morally dubious territory.
With Maria Ross called into questioning regarding Lieutenant Hughes' murder last time around, it's clear that someone, somewhere is using their power to toy with the entire fabric of the State Alchemists organisation (and of course, we know exactly who that someone is), and despite evidence to the contrary a sufficient case is built up to charge Ross with the murder, to the shock and consternation of those close to her. However, before she is so much as sentenced it appears that help is at hand from a most unlikely source, helping her to escape..... For a while at least.
What happens next is, quite simply, a bolt from the blue, and one that shocks both of the Elric brothers as much as anybody. But were Colonel Mustang's actions purely motivated by revenge, or is there some deeper plan at work here? Further movements and actions after this shocking turn of events seems to suggest that latter case is correct, but just what is Mustang playing at?
All in all, I have to laud this as possibly one of the best episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist from either TV series that I've had the pleasure of watching - Having never read the manga (and I'm assuming this episode is continuing to stick close to it), I was swept away on the waves of shock and confusion that this instalment sent through me, and the whole thing has been played so perfectly straight and in such a seemingly up-front way that I really have no idea what the grand plan here is... and I love it. In a world where anime tends to be all-too predictable in the way that it goes about telling its story, particularly for a popular and relatively mainstream show, to actually finish an episode confounded and unsure as to what will happen next time around is like a breath of fresh air, especially when it's carried out with the kind of darkly knowing aplomb on show here. Right now, episode eighteen can't come soon enough... I just hope it doesn't disappoint.