Once again, the day is saved thanks to the people of the Survey Corps. Well, not exactly “saved” per say and the classification of “people” is certainly blurred when it comes to Eren, given his true nature and all. Okay, so one major threat was stopped…and a lot of people died…also their houses broke…and the walls have seen better days. Man, even when humanity pulls out a win in this series it sucks. Hooray for Pyrrhic victories.
With Eren still resting up from his clash with Annie and the emotional turmoil brought on by such, we are given an opportunity to focus on the other characters that stand under the Wings of Freedom…and boy are they bored. Refined to quarters/some building, the 104th muse over their lives and escape into a few fantasies that would honestly be fun to watch. Connie for example, wishes to steal away into the night, breaking free of lock-up and visiting his village. A somewhat normal thought for a series revolving around giant monsters that eat people for literally no reason. What’s even better about Connie’s plan however is that Reiner claims he’ll help, letting a little relatability slip in through his stoic outer shell. Also Sasha talks about bears. It makes sense in context, but it’s funnier out. Thus we find ourselves with a calm, borderline boring bottle episode revolving around “What If?” scenarios…
Except that we don’t, because Titans have busted down yet another impervious wall and are making a beeline for the innocent populace, whose bodies will no doubt populate the screen at one point or another. What? Look, I know that sounded morbid, but have you seen this series? You probably should have if you’re watching the second season, but to each their own. Speaking of, Connie, Sasha, Reiner, Bertolt and all those other faces make for their horses and sound the warning bells. Though obviously a tense moment, there’s just something about this whole ordeal that didn’t grab me. Perhaps having to do with the huge time gap in the real world versus the utter lack thereof in-universe, I just couldn’t get into the same state of nerves that this series usually brings out in me. I objectively understood that this latest batch of Titans was bad news and that it was sad that Connie’s village lay back on the path from which said monsters came (because this is a series and he just mentioned his village), but I didn’t care as much as I wanted too. Hopefully that’s just me and everyone else felt their hearts thump thump in their chest, but I’m just not so sure. Perhaps the sudden startling appearance had as much an adverse effect as it did positive. Exciting, unexpected and just a little disorientating.
I’ll tell you what did grip the ol’ attention part of the brain: The Beast Titan. Big weird looking ape guy; scary enough on its own. Have him start talking; the holy crap quotient shoots up through the proverbial roof. Honestly, the scenes with this guy were great. Rather than tack on some scary, growling monster voice, the series presents this Titan as almost a scholar. Calm, direct, curious, the guy just wants to know what’s up. The manner in which he wonders if Mike (the poor mangled soldier) can even talk is just so…unsettling. Questions that have been asked of the Titans are now being asked by them. What? Not to mention the fact that he can apparently order other Titans around and has the restraint and dexterity necessary to take a part of the 3D Manoeuvre Gear from a human’s back, everything you thought you knew about Titans goes soaring out the window. Though the only example thus far, this Titan makes you wonder: Are there others? How many? Where are they? Why hasn’t this one shown up until now? How much of a guiding hand has he been? Why is he so darn hairy? Okay, maybe that last one doesn’t need to be answered, but the others are valid questions.
Reeling back a little to one of the briefest scenes of this rude awakening of an episode, we see that little has changed on the Eren/Mikasa front. Again, woefully lacking in length, we simply see Eren wake up and notice Mikasa, who is asleep sitting by his bed. If the subtext of this scene weren’t enough for you, a brief flashback reminds us that Eren has always been the brazen and reckless type, diving headfirst into trouble…only to get his butt kicked and have Mikasa save the day. Now, this would honestly be rather sweet, if I for one second believed that Eren cared for Mikasa anywhere near the amount that he cares about the Titans. Honestly, I have always carried that vibe that Eren derives so much of his personality from hating the Titans, there is little lying beneath. Likewise, Mikasa draws so much from her love and duty to Eren that they are more enablers than love interests. Just as when his pragmatic comment about her long hair led Mikasa to immediately cut it, Eren lacks any sense of tact when it comes to the girl who would literally do anything for him. I may be reading a touch too much into this, but Eren’s comment about finding her a new scarf really cemented this thought for me. Mikasa is literally sitting next to the sewing kit she uses to fix the thing and Eren lacks anything amounting to warmth regarding that fact. Yes the scarf is old, yes it has seen better days, but that’s the point. The simple fact that Eren seems oblivious to this fact presents him as the weapon others feared him to be. Just look at his face in this scene, it’s just so…blank. If Armin hadn’t stormed in with news of the Titan attack, I’m honestly not sure how long he would’ve just stood there.
So yeah, heck of an episode. Two seconds break before the Titans return with a vengeance, Eren and Mikasa doing what they do and the immediate aftermath of discovering there is a Titan in one of the walls supposed to protect humans from Titans…which I really didn’t talk about. So let’s do it now, because it’s my favourite part of this episode. Normally the goofball of the group, with discernibly dark undercurrents, Hange loses all joviality when she sees that blank face staring out from the wall. She even hangs one of those Church of the Walls fanatics (Pastor Nick) over Wall Sina. Which is awesome. Never liked that guy. What’s even better than Hange’s breakdown however, is her absolutely unconvincing declaration that it was just a joke and she never would have dropped the Pastor off the wall. Combine this with the simple fact that she is the only one to think beyond the Wall Titan and ask if more exist in every wall and you can see why she is such a dangerous force to reckon with. Speaking of dangerous forces, I wonder what the Beast Titan will do once he meets those of the cast we actually care about? (No offence Mike) If it’s anything like his treatment of horses…