All has been revealed this week and we end up on another cliffhanger…
Archer explains exactly who he is and how he came to be. He was summoned to this time because of his connection with Rin, the pendant, acting as a catalyst. It wasn’t a coincidence, since the two were bound by the pendant, similar to how Shirou had a connection to Saber before her summoning.
Archer is set on killing his former self. Having lived his life, he can no longer accept the ideals that he once held. He witnessed what his ideal would lead to and it was nothing like he imagined. He wanted to save everyone, but he soon realized that it was impossible. In order to save people, others would have to be sacrificed, and that’s exactly what he did. By the utilitarian principle, you take the route that benefits the most people. In the end, he just stained his own hands with blood and went against his values.
Archer thought he was doing the right thing by making that pact with the Counter Force. Even in death, he could continue to help others. This resulted in him being summoned to slaughter thousands of people, in order to save others. He eventually became numb to all of this, and was basically no different from other soldiers or a normal person. He was not a hero. He wasn’t defending anything, he was just fighting another person’s war. The only thing he can do to break free from this torment is to prevent himself from making the pact in the first place. By killing Shirou, the shallow ideal should end here, and the world would not have to experience the destruction that he caused.
Ultimately, he was very similar to how Kiritsugu was in Fate Zero. A man who always sacrificed others to save a greater number of people, a so called hero of justice. He once shared that dream, but finally let it go after seeing the destruction caused by the previous war. Shirou wanted to live out that dream for Kiritsugu, but in this timeline, he ended up walking the same path that he did.
Shirou has to process all of this, was his way of living really going to cause this much pain and suffering in the future, would it be better to end it all here? Shirou already vowed to himself that he would live without regrets, and rejects Archer because of this. You can see how stubborn both of them are, refusing to accept each others’ beliefs and are determined to stop themselves from carrying on their path.
Saber’s identity and her reason for wanting to obtain the grail is also revealed. She is King Arthur who pulled her sword from the stone. She regrets having become King since she believes she led to the fall of the kingdom. Her desire for the grail is to wish that she never became King so that her men would not have had to suffer.
On the other side of the castle, Lancer rushes to Rin’s aid. Shinji continues to be a pest, but is quickly cast aside by all the other characters. Lancer has grown some attachment towards Shirou and Rin. He continues to help them, and even tries to save Shirou from fighting himself when it’d be beneficial for them to wipe each other out.
Kirei finally reveals himself as the one behind everything. He was the referee, the one who basically enforces the rules, yet he was taking part in it himself. Basically, rules don’t apply to him because he can just choose to ignore them, or make them up himself. He’s also the one manipulating Shinji, using him to set everything up for the summoning of the grail and using Lancer to help accomplish this. Both of them were pretty much unaware that they were playing right into his trap.
He also reveals that he was the one who killed Rin’s father in the previous war. She had been raised and trained by the man that betrayed her family. He had been planning for this turn of events for the past few years and was in complete control over it all. In the end, Lancer’s honor and attachment to Rin makes him defy his master, resulting in his death. It’s a shame since Lancer was genuinely a good guy and did not resort to any tricks to gain an advantage in this war.
Next week, we get to see the battle between Archer and Shirou that I’m sure everyone has been waiting for.
You can watch Fate Stay Night UBW Episode 19 on Crunchyroll