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|Father Before the Grave|
|Series||Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood|
|Title||Father Before the Grave|
|Japan airdate||August 14, 2009|
|U.S.A. airdate||August 20, 2009 (online stream)|
June 27, 2010
|Preceded by||Death of the Undying|
|Followed by||Advance of the Fool|
|Full Synopsis: Plot Details Follow|
|As Van Hohenheim greets Edward in front of Trisha's grave, he remarks that Pinako had told him of the boys' attempt at Human Transmutation. Furious, Ed responds that there is no longer a place here for Hohenheim, which causes Van to inquire as to why the family house is gone. Edward explains that he had burned it down several years ago so that he and Alphonse couldn't turn back from their goal, but Van rebuffs this claim by asserting that the real reason Ed burned down the house was to hide all traces of his sin and run away from the painful memories. Further angered by this astute observation, Ed storms off angrily, denying that Van would know anything about it. As he watches his son walk back toward the Rockbell house, Van remarks to himself that he was exactly the same at that age.
That evening, as Ed lies in bed, Van goes to see him and, remembering his son as an infant, moves to touch him, but refrains and leaves the room. Ed, however, is only pretending to be asleep. Pinako remarks that Van has not changed his appearance at all and asks what on earth he was doing all those years while Trisha was waiting for his return. Van doesn't answer, but noticing that the door to the bedroom where Ed is sleeping is now open after he himself had closed it, he changes the subject and asks Pinako if the thing Ed and Al had transmuted had really been their mother. Pinako responds that the creature could not even be called a human, but Van elaborates, inquiring whether the being's eye and hair color matched Trisha's. Shocked by his implication, Pinako wonders in horror if the creature the boys had destroyed their bodies to construct had been something wholly unrelated to them or their mother. Eavesdropping on the conversation as Hohenheim had deduced, Edward is equally horrified by the possibility.
In Central City, Al explains to Ling, Lan Fan and Winry that the Blood Rune in his armor keps him alive without the need to breathe, eat or sleep. Ling marvels at this, calling it immortality, but Al corrects him, remarking that the two unlike substances of a soul and an unrelated inanimate body are incompatible and will reject each other at random and without warning - his existence is like an unpredictable time bomb. Hearing this, Winry stresses that Al needs to get back to normal as soon as possible, but Ling interjects and says that Al could simply transfer to another immortal body when signs of danger arise and go on being immortal and invulnerable. However, Winry angrily chastises Ling for his insensitivity and storms off. Al follows to calm her down and they both reminisce about Al's first night in his armor body. Winry asks if Al will be able to return to human form, but Alphonse is unable to give her an answer.
Back in Resembool, Edward sleeps fitfully through a nightmare in which he chases down the Truth and demands his brother's body back. But the Truth merely mocks Edward and explains that what happened to Al is Ed's fault. As he sees signs of his past failures with Nina Tucker and his mother, he is awakened in the morning by Pinako who hollers up to inform him that Van is leaving again. As he prepares to depart, Van spies a family photograph of the Elrics from many years ago and asks Pinako if he can take it with him. She complies and, in return, he advises her to leave the country, as something terrible is to happen very soon. She calmly refuses and he lets the matter drop. As he leaves, he laments that he will never again be able to break bread with her. Later that day, as storm clouds converge overhead, Ed and Pinako head over to the remains of the Elric house in order to exhume the remains of the creature Pinako had buried there. As the rain begins to fall, Edward finds the task of confronting his mistake so directly physically difficult, but presses on until his shovel reaches the makeshift burial plot and uncovers some of the creature's stray hairs. Reaching down and cleaning them off, he remarks madly that the discovered hairs are jet black while Trisha Elric sported chestnut locks. The two of them dig up the rest of the creature's bones and Pinako's examination of them reveals that the height, body shape and even sex of the creature do not match Trisha's characteristics. The thing the Elrics had transmuted was not their mother. Falling to his knees, Edward begins to laugh and declares that, with this confirmation that resurrection of the dead is absolutely impossible, this corpse that he has feared for so long has become a beacon of hope - rather than requiring a new human body, Alphonse can be returned to his original body!
Calling Izumi in Dublith, Ed explains his new discovery and asks her to confirm that the child she had transmuted so many years ago had actually been her baby. Shocked by the implication, Izumi hangs up on him. As Ed prepares to leave for Central that afternoon, he visits the graves of Urey and Sara Rockbell and explains to Pinako the incident of their deaths as he had heard it in Xerxes. She is grateful for the truth and remarks that she herself had forgotten to give a message to Van before he departed - Trisha's final words to him. Remembering that Trisha had asked her to pass on her apology for breaking her promise and dying before Van, Pinako relays the message to Edward and charges him with delivering it to his father should they meet again.
When Ed arrives in the capital, however, he is shocked to find Al in such a bad state of disrepair and fixes him up as his little brother explains what has been going on since his departure with Major Armstrong. In return, Edward breaks the news about digging up the transmuted body and discovering that it wasn't their mother. But, as a result, he now knows that they can put Al back in his original body. He asks Winry and Al to go over childhood memories to confirm that the soul in the armor is the same brother he's always known. However, he posits that that very occurrence suggests that Al hadn't died then and that his body must still be alive somewhere. Recalling his newfound memories from when Martel's blood reacted with his in Dublith, Al explains that, when he had entered the Gate, the being he had seen calling to him was not his mother, as previously thought, but his own body! If the body is there inside the Gate, then all they have to do is go in and pull it out again just like Ed had done with Alphonse's soul. Continuing his reminiscence of that fateful day, Alphonse remembers that, even before waking up in his armor, he had seen Edward bleeding on the floor. Edward realizes that this means the soul that had been inside the transmuted creature was actually Al's soul and that the two dissimilar substances had rejected each other back then, resulting in the creature's death and Alphonse's soul existing inside the Gate. Just then, Ed is informed by the hotel desk clerk that he has received a call from Izumi, who confirms that the baby she had transmuted did not carry any traits similar to either her family or Sig's. She thanks Edward and hangs up again. When he tells this to Alphonse, the younger Elric explains that he feels the same gratitude, as he had blamed himself for years for forcing their mother to suffer through death a second time.
In Dublith, Izumi feels as though a weight has been lifted from her as she understands she did not murder her child through her mistake.
Ed declares that it is still his fault that Al is stuck in this form, but Al responds that he is just as culpable. Alphonse remembers all the people he has watched die since their journey began and remarks that Hughes' death had made him believe that he didn't need his body back if it meant more people were going to be killed because of it. He continues that he has seen people without human bodies who still managed to make a life for themselves and that the people close to him don't treat him any differently for not having a normal form. Furthermore, the uncertainty of his Blood Rune failing, his fate is no different from normal humans, whose lives can be stolen in an instant by accident or disease. He had started to believe that his body isn't an unbearable existence, but now he realizes that he no longer wants to spend his long nights awake and alone. With new resolve, the Elrics renew their promise to restore their bodies no matter what. As they march triumphantly back to their room, Winry watches proudly and is surprised to observe that Edward's shoulders have broadened without her notice.
- This episode is adapted from content in Chapter 42: The Father Standing Before a Grave, Chapter 43: River of Mud and Chapter 44: The Unnamed Grave.
- The Transmutation Circle which appears in the background of this episode's title card is the Nationwide Transmutation Circle.
- Much of the lighthearted arguing on Ed's side to his father was cut from the anime version. Due to that, the glimpse of Hohenheim's softer, humorous side doesn't show itself until later.
- Hohenheim deliberately begins talking about the anti-Trisha when he realizes Edward is eavesdropping. He does this specifically to put Edward on the path to learning that he and Al could restore their bodies. Though subtle, this was a very fatherly thing to do, and is one of the earliest indications that he really did care about them.
- Also, the fact he did it subtly was important, too. Had he addressed this directly, Edward would have been too stubborn to take it seriously.
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