Well folks, Rider’s officially dead. That means we can all go home dejected, but I guess not every show ends happily. Oh right, there are still two episodes left. Two lonely Rider-less episodes…
In order to pull myself away from the inevitable wave of Rider mourning, I was originally going to write this post on Berserker and the not-so-secret revelation that he’s Sir Lancelot. Unfortunately, there’s been little to no content related to his character elaborated on in the show, and from what I’ve read his Nasuverse representation differs very much from Arthurian legend, so in the interest of content it looks like I’m going to don my proverbial black veil and write about Rider’s death was handled.
After lasting for most of the show before finally biting the dust in one of Archer’s douchiest displays of gross might, which is saying something when every moment Archer is on screen is douche-tastic in one way or another, I can say that I’m nowhere near as disappointed at his death as I thought I’d be. While I can say that I was hoping against hope for him to win the Holy Grail War, since he was the perfect counterbalance to the combined angst of every other character and just once I’d like a non-brooding anime character to one-up the angst-brigade, I think the story did him justice by lending his final moments an almost poetic air.
When looking at Alexander the Great in history, he may very well be the paragon of selfish, yet infectious ambition, something reflected in his Fate/Zero incarnation down to his last moments. For somebody with an almost single-minded devotion to conquering in one way or another, Rider was a very sympathetic character for the sheer breadth of his ambition—a breadth almost too large for one man to satiate by himself. Just like his past incarnation, his nature as a conqueror, which far surpassed his nature as a king, led to his undoing while charging at Archer. It was very sobering seeing a character exuding such an air of bravado have his dreams crushed before his very eyes, his beloved men being swallowed by the vast expanse of oblivion, and all with a few dismissive swipes of a gold-plated hand.
Appropriately, his death almost felt like something stolen from Greek tragedy, where a character practically pulsating with ambition is put in their place by forces outside of their control, no matter what they try to do. This is a boon in that it’s an appropriate, mournful way to end the story of the King of Conquerors, and serve to lend his final moments gravitas that they might have lacked if he and Archer were originally on equal footing. Sacrificing suspense in favor of Rider staging a final, ultimately fruitless final stand was a good decision, possible negative consequences and developments aside, making this the strongest episode of Fate/Zero yet.
Despite not standing much of a chance against the superior firepower of Archer, Rider still went out with as much of a bang as I could have asked for, not the squelch or whimper that I was expecting. If they were going to kill off the most interesting character no matter what, at least they did it with style and a copious amount of explosions. In the end, that’s all I wanted.