It would take a lot to top the big, fat cliffhanger we were left with at the end of the previous episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, with both Elric brothers and Izumi Curtis simply disappearing right in front of their comrades... yet, somehow, episode fifty-eight of the series manages to do just that.
Following on from the shock of that last episode, what we're greeted with here is easily one of the darkest instalments of the series yet, with death, blood and tears from the outset, and all three quite frequently occurring at the exact same time. With Fu already dead, Buccaneer soon follows, while the epic battle against King Bradley finally seems to be ended as he's shot and ditched in Central's moat before Greed goes on the rampage at Ling's behest to ensure that the "rebel" forces manages to hold their ground against those still loyal to Bradley.
Meanwhile, Edward, Alphonse and Izumi find themselves meeting a decidedly odd-looking "Father", who now also has Hohenheim in his clutches - While their fate remains unknown, it appears that further sacrifices are needed; a fact which puts Colonel Mustang in a situation which is quite literally the stuff of nightmares, and bringing us a bloody and shocking conclusion to a horrifically brutal episode.
Horrifically brutal yet utterly brilliant, that is - Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood's pull no punches treatment has frequently been a joy to behold, and once again watching the series refusing to shrink from death, sorrow and violence adds a lot of power to both its story and characters. That it manages to bring us death and near-death to much-loved characters without ever over-blowing the emotional aspects of what we're seeing adds even more to the viewing experience, as we're left feeling the raw emotion of the characters on-screen in a way that never seems forced or thrust upon us - It's simply there, and you can't avoid it try as you might. As per usual, I'm left cursing the fact that I have to wait an entire week to get my next fix of the series - Goodness knows what I'm going to do once it's all over.