Well… this was one way to spoil my weekend…
Illya’s character certainly is a tragic one, especially if you’ve seen her in Fate/Zero. She was such an innocent child and both Kiritsugu and Irisviel hoped that she would be able to escape the von Einzbern destiny. They raised her with so much love, but had to leave her to participate in the war and promised to return to her. After waiting, they never came back for her and she was left alone, abandoned.
The darkness within her and the Einzbern raised her in a life of solitude. She was always alone and subjected to painful experiments. She had no joy in her life, and became indifferent to everything. There was also a ton of weight put upon her. Seeing the graveyard of failed homunculus placed a ton of pressure on her. The Einzberns put everything on Illya to win the war. If she were to fail, all those other lives would have gone to waste.
She was surrounded by emotionless homunculus who were basically programmed to accompany her. What Illya really longed for was companionship. She suffered for years all alone and just wanted someone to protect her father would have. She probably wasn’t too happy to see Berserker being summoned. The class tends to sacrifice their consciousness for greater strength. It was no different from being surrounded by these emotionless servants of hers. She was ready to do everything on her own as she had done in the past.
Berserker was different though. He actually cared for Illya on his own free will and protected her. She had been left to die, and was completely fine with that, but someone finally came to her rescue. She was no longer alone and bonded with Berserker. While she seemed to be harsh and cruel at times, she truly believes in her servant until the very end as he’s the only one that she was ever able to rely on.
Still, the mighty Heracles is no match for Gilgamesh. Despite being a demigod, and considered one of the strongest servant classes, his combat is handicapped by his will to protect Illya. He has a strong will to protect this little girl, but in the end it just causes them both to fall. It was pretty heart breaking to see Illya meet her end here, especially after seeing how happy she was when Shirou and Rin were trying to work with her. The comrades that she had longed for were so close, but never made their way to her.
Even in death, Illya seems to be at peace. Berserker served her until the very end and died with someone who cared for her by her side. She lived a depressing life, but there was some comfort knowing that she got what she wished for in the end. Thankfully, there is Fate Illya for a less depressing story for her.
While all of this is going on, Shirou can’t do anything but sit and watch. Obviously, this doesn’t sit well with him and he’s about to run into, someone who defeated Berserker with ease, without a servant by his side. I can’t see that ending too well for him since as it currently stands, they’re no match for Gilgamesh and Shinji.
Overall, the episode had stunning animation, as expected from ufotable. The series started off rather peacefully, with the only real casualty being Rider, who was quickly replaced anyways. Now that we’re into the second half, everyone is done their preparations and beginning to move. The masters and servants had numerous encounters early on, but they always ended with both sides retreating. It looks like there’s little room left to run now that Gilgamesh and Caster are gunning for the finish line.
You can watch Fate Stay Night UBW Episode 15 on Crunchyroll