This is where the real tension and drama of the series begins, with the threat of Scar looming over the head of the State Alchemists, with Edward being no exception. We see Edward here under attack from an opponent who he can't easily defeat like his previous enemies. Scar is a force that even unnerves Roy Mustang and Alex Louis Armstrong, two very powerful alchemists. He's shown as a major opposition who will not rest until he's metted out some vengeance against the State Alchemists. The episode does a fairly good job putting this across, especially showing just how off Ed is during this incident, like in the manga.
As an adaptation of the manga material, it does a fair job. This happens right after the Tucker incident, so Ed and Al are somewhat vulnerable, emotionally. However, if I were to pick out a mistake in the adapting, I would say that the part where the soldier comes to warn them about the alchemist killer was something that they should have kept in, because as he falls victim to Scar, it shows Edward exactly what it is that Scar's about to try to do to him. In this episode, Scar just appears and lunges at him (with this weird cracking of his hand all the time, I might add), and it doesn't seem as harsh or frightening as in the manga. Other than this, though, there was a lot of great material from the manga, such as a basic rundown of the Ishbal situation, complete with cameos by the better known alchemist characters as younger men (you even see a younger Isaac there).
In comparison with the first anime's workings with this material, perhaps because I saw that first, the episode lacks the same dramatic impact. In episodes 15 and 16 of the original series, we're introduced to Doctor Marcoh, we find out that Philosopher's Stones were used by the military at Ishbal, get Scar's attack on Marcoh and then Ed, are introduced to Alex Louis Armstrong, find out who killed Winry's parents, Ed's automail is broken, and we see hints of things to come in the form of the Fuhrer's secretary, Juliet Douglas, who looks suspiciously like Trisha Elric (and we all know why later on). This, and all the desperation from the characters that this episode expressed. Now, it wasn't just off the Nina incident, but at this point that there would be an enemy so fearsome that it stopped Ed in his tracks was extremely exciting.
Production-wise, while some elements improve, others remain disappointing. The animation in this episode was all over the place, with some of the scenes with just Ed and Al's emotional turmoil being better animated than the action sequences. Characters, especially Riza Hawkeye, seemed off-model several times, and not for humor's sake. The music complimented the scenes well, though there was nothing that noteworthy. I've gotten used to Shinichiro Miki as Roy, almost as though he was always him. Minami Takayama seems subdued right now, but we're talking about the voice for Dilandau from Vision of Escaflowne. I dislike Gluttony's voice change, though. He sounds too old and hoarse. The new Scar is excellent.
The action sequence on the stairs was a pretty neat extra, but it wasn't quite up to the first series' standards. Still, a fairly good episode.