Finally arriving in Central after a series of adventures, Ed and Al begin their journeys towards becoming State Alchemists. Ed learns he has a strange ability, while Al is ultimately given some disappointing news. "The Alchemy Exam" sets up an interesting multi-part story, once again laying groundwork for some of the subplots we'll see through the life of 2003's "Fullmetal Alchemist."
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Mustang Assigns Al to Shou Tucker
Upon arriving in Roy Mustang's office in Central, Ed is told that it is his responsibility as a State Alchemist candidate to find someone to train him. Even so, Mustang suggests, or gently insists, that Al go to work under Shou Tucker, the so-called Sewing-Life Alchemist. Tucker apparently has experience bringing things to life, even going so far as to create a doll once that could replicate human speech, though it only ever said "I want to die." The fact that Ed and Al are looking for the secrets to human transmutation and Mustang assigns them to the expert in a related field, well, it shouldn't be seen as coincidence.
Through Tucker, Ed and Al meet Nina, Tucker's daughter, and the family dog. Throughout "The Alchemy Exam" you see Ed and Al take joy in being part of a family again.
If you thought we'd seen the last of Major Hughes after "The Man with the Mechanical Arm," worry not. We're treated to visiting Hughes in his home, and we're introduced to his pregnant wife. In a moment of panic, as Hughes' wife goes into labor, Ed slaps his hands together and accidentally heats a basin of water for Mrs. Hughes'. This is, we're told, the first time Ed consciously uses alchemy without a transmutation circle.
|Ed discovers his unique ability.|
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Ed Earns Status as State Alchemist
The most important develop this episode is Ed earning the rank of State Alchemist. Unfortunately, Al, because of his unique, em, predicament, is forced to drop out of the running. Otherwise, Mustang promises, he risks revealing his secret and putting Ed and himself in harm's way.
From here on out, it's all kicking ass and taking names for our young State Alchemist, Edward Elric.