The qualms I had with episode 83 of “Attack on Titan” (“Shingeki no Kyojin”) was the strange thing about seeing people who had hurt each other so much, recently, together as if nothing had happened. After that, the series does not ignore something so obvious and takes the trouble to develop the problem in an episode composed only of conversations; where what one said to the other was as forceful as the rumble of a million titans.
Next, SPOILERS for “Attack on Titan” 84, “The Night of the End”:
What is fair
A series cannot be sustained solely on the basis of plot twists, transformations and action scenes. All those things serve, they have a purpose in the collage of multiple plots that TV stories usually unfold. Conversations also have their place, which fulfill multiple purposes: to give the viewer information about the story and to capture the way of being of a character.
“Attack on Titan” had few reveals in episode 84, but the shows still worked well. The episode is made up of four scenes, an all-time low for this anime. On the one hand, there is the exposition of Zoë Hange’s motives to stop the “Rumble”, with which Eren saves the town from her at the cost of a global genocide. The argument of the soldier in rebellion does not withstand the slightest analysis and Hange is convinced that she is doing the right thing because of her convictions and the memory of her fallen comrades, people who, the commander of the Exploration Corps assures, would never have agreed to destroy the world alone. to save the Eldians. This story is a way to continue the legacy of Erwin Smith, who sacrificed his dream so that the death of his comrades would not be in vain. In a way, Jean, present at the meeting, also sacrifices his chances of happiness, of financial stability, for the memory of the late Marco.
But Eldia and Marley’s alliance to save the world brings its own challenges. How to negotiate when your historical enemy has done you so much damage? That’s where the second, and longer, scene comes in, where the sides sit by the fire to talk about what hasn’t been talked about in a hundred years. Marley never negotiated with Eldia, an ethnic group that lived ignorant of its origin. “You killed us with the titans,” says Jean, of which we have proof. “You oppressed us first,” Theo Magath replies; of which we have some proofs (the development of this idea, at the end of the text); in what could be the beginning of an endless discussion. Part of the negotiation includes accepting the other as a person, and though Magath still regards the Eldians as demons, his sitting down with them to share the stew is a step forward.
What is true
But this was only the beginning. In the following minutes all the grudges, doubts, past and present injuries are manifested. The near fight between Annie Leonhart and Mikasa Ackerman shows that Mikasa could compromise the operation by not being able to kill Eren; which would prevent Annie’s father from saving her. There is also the conversation with Yelena, who is required to reveal the location of the Attack Titan. She does not loose her tongue and, in retaliation, is exposed as a fraud: she is not from a conquered country looking for revenge, but she is a total Marleyan with desires for greatness. She made up a story that would put her alongside her idol Zeke Yeager.
The ambush on Yelena was the trigger for the biggest discussion, where the “volunteer” airs everyone’s dirty laundry: Gabi’s murder of Sasha, the port massacre perpetrated by Armin, the destruction of Wall Maria by Reiner. And Marco’s murder, which dominates the conversation from now on and where Jean finally finds out why his friend died, what his last words were and who killed him, specifically. That’s all known information, but revealing it right now when tensions are running high offers the necessary conflict. Without this discussion there is no world that can be saved. Reiner, who for the last three seasons has been going through an identity crisis, exposes his heart by asking for forgiveness: he is the intellectual author of the crime. The reason? “Save the world”.
And then comes the only typical action moment of the episode, when Jean, furious, beats Reiner to the ground, who does not resist. It is the punishment that the Armored Titan wanted for years, that death from which he was saved over and over again. Jean does not lack the desire to fulfill his wish, but it is his own friends who try to stop him, although Gabi’s words weighed more; that in a new step in his character development, he gets down on his knees to beg Jean for help in saving her parents, who live in Marley. She does what her cousin, Reiner, could not: ask for help from whom she can give it. Jean saves her grief as so many other times. She doesn’t forgive Reiner, but she won’t go down the path of revenge either.
“Attack on Titan” is full of pyrrhic victories, where the price of winning is too high to be justifiable. Episode 84 falls into that tradition, for as the sides reach a consensus, the world is torn apart by the “Rumble.” But even so, this alliance, flimsy and very new, is the way there is. Stoned, incomplete even. Some things never change in this story, and the roles of rebel and defender are just borrowed. Now the anti-Eren alliance will know what it means to be a traitor by ambushing Floch and his fellow soldiers.
- There are two alliances in “Shingeki no Kyojin”: the allied countries against Eren and the collaboration of few soldiers from Eldia and Marley (including the “warriors”).
- Armin and Mikasa’s group heads to the port to take control of Hizuru’s tech plane, needed to reach Eren and stop the “Rumble”. If Floch guards it, it is because he is aware of its strategic importance.
- The sense of humor of this series continues to maintain its very rare style, this time, represented in Jean’s fantasy; that he imagines Mikasa as the mother of a hypothetical child.
- According to the same series, Hange’s stew has a lot of potatoes. Do you have meat? Without protein, these “avengers” are going to need not the power of the titans, but a miracle.
- Curious detail of Yelena, who caresses the snout of the Titan Carreta when speaking. Despite her clear disregard for human life, she is able to show some feeling.
- Marley lore accuses Eldia of multiple crimes; including ethnic cleansing and rape as state policies. From Ymir’s memories, we know that the Eldians were brutal; so that part of the Marleyan story holds. However, these are very limited views and, compared to what Marley did, it has not been as detailed. Isayama, by not clearly portraying the crimes attributed to his “heroes”, directs the audience’s empathy.
5 stars out of 5
You can watch new episodes of “Attack on Titan” every Sunday on Crunchyroll.