Yeah, this episode proves it: the creators really were trying to rush through the first bunch of chapters for the sake of those who already watched the first series. This episode was much slower paced than the previous eight episodes, and it allowed for a lot of time to flesh out the characters. For once we have an episode without action that instead focuses on characters, and although quite a few parts of this episode did return in the anime at one point, it was an enjoyable episode.
The comedy was a bit overkill, though. It was definitely funny, but some of the jokes missed the mark; especially the ones in which Ed started yelling. Energetic jokes don’t suit this series: its humour is at its best when it’s subtle, not when the characters are jumping around and yelling like a bunch of overexcitable teenagers.
One big issue that was solved pretty fast was Al’s doubts about Ed’s intentions. If I recall correctly, in the original series it took him tens of episodes of emo-ing before he spoke up his mind, though here they managed to set their differences within an episode. It’s two different approaches which both make sense in their context. My only complaint about the way it was handled in the original series was that Al’s development wasn’t really moving in the time he was wondering whether he was brainwashed by Ed.
There was also a nice Easter-egg when Izumi and Sig Curtis walked past in the train station. That’s the second time that we see familiar faces at a train station, so perhaps it’s going to be used in the future again.
Another big difference with the first season is that the Humonculi don’t seem to want anyone to find out about the philosopher’s stone. They seemed to be using Lior in order to track down the idiots who were searching for it, kept track on them and whenever they’d get too close they seem to be destroying the evidence that was left. Their motive in the original series was to become human, but I don’t think that that’s their intention here.
While the comedy didn’t always work, the new parts of this episode were pretty good.