The previous two episodes really were an intermezzo: they were completely standalone compared to the rest of the linear storyline. In theory, they could have been shown at any point in the series. The place the creators ended up choosing is interesting. The effect is that this episode immediately started with the aftermath of what happened three, four and five weeks ago, only to follow with one heck of a climax as well.
I get the feeling that there would have no point in the second season where the past arc would really have fitted in: there are four different storylines going on at the same time and the build-up and aftermaths of all are so intertwined that it’s impossible to find one clear point where everything has quieted down. the first season had these moments, but it seems the creators were really saving that arc for the second half of the show. This is all a good thing, by the way. It’s a sign that the storytelling is great if there is always something going on like that.
The interesting thing is that this episode contained even more background, but this time it was much more weaved into the narrative. These really were the remaining bits of background that were still missing, like who the black-haired woman was, and why Irie devoted herself to the Grail War (her loyalty towards Kiritusgu did not turn out to be the only reason; that surprised me”).
And then there was Rider. First of all I really liked that this episode showed some of the things that went on in his mind during his monologues in the first season of Fate/Zero, but at the end of this episode he really showed a different side of his. The first person he actually killed, the black haired woman. After so much heroic talk, he finally shows that like Kiritsugu, he isn’t going to take it easy on his opponents. There was no chivalry in it whatsoever, which is a great point against Saber.
Rating: **+ (Excellent+)