Well, that was certainly something. Titans on the left, Titans on the right, Titans from goddamn beneath. It is really not a good time to be this series second tier…or third tier. I won’t mention the tiers under that because, well, it’s not pretty. Still, the 104th aren’t doing too poorly for themselves, all things considered. Some of them have backstory now and, whether they make it past this castle siege or not, people will remember their names. Think about it, when was the last time anyone even said Ymir? Heck if I know. Season one was pretty much the Eren show from dash to dot, with a sprinkling of Mikasa for good measure. Also Armin was there. And everyone kind of lost their tops for Levi in a neckerchief. But mostly Eren. Look, what I’m getting at here is that I like the variation…I just wish it was under slightly less dire circumstances.
Following up before where we left off last week (because of totally necessary two hour flashbacks), we are given the answer to one of the greatest questions of Episode 28 that we didn’t even know we had: Why was Gelgar so confident he would be drinking if it weren’t for the Titan attack? You see, rifling through the stores of the abandoned Utgar Castle, he just so happened to find a bottle of undetermined alcohol. So let your minds rest easy now that one of Attack on Titan’s greatest mysteries is solved. Also Connie’s nervous breakdown about the titan on his house reminding him of his mother was avoided by Ymir’s purposefully crass outburst that Conny must be a runt of a Titan if that is indeed true and also that his father must have been one to, for the logistics of…doing it. Other than that, really nothing happened in this two hour jaunt to the past and the episode picks up once we catch up to where we were. Still, it was nice to see at least some follow up to Connie’s story, if only to transition into the fact that it’s Ymir’s time to shine.
But before we get to that little plot twist, let’s take a glimpse at this episode as a whole. continuing the trend of this season, we find ourselves yet again in a more horrific scenario than normal. Though the Titans have always been their own type of hell, these recent episodes have sought to increase that looming sense of doom that comes with them. This is most obvious in the fact that none of the characters who have a chance of surviving (sorry Nanaba) are equipped with their ODM Gear. No swords, no wires, no gas canisters that make them go whoosh through the sky. Nothing. This is driven home even further this episode by the focus given to the one knife they have. Krista even throws a pebble at one point, that’s how hard up they all are. I mean, they do have a cannon at one point, but it’s all they can do to push it down some stairs, which is probably not what the guy who invented cannons intended for his weapon. Though why are cannons even around? Now that I think about it, they are far from effective against Titans. Now they lie in a far second to ODM Gear, but how were they ever the first line of defence, how did humanity survive for so long? Regardless, the 104th used one, lived and have a knife, that’s the take away from all of this. But it certainly would help if they had some kind of secret weapon, like if there was some kind of power that allowed a soldier to increase their power by an inconceivable amount and single-handedly lay waste to a group of Titans. But where would one even find such a thing? And in the ruins of a castle no less…
Ymir, as it turns out. After telling Krista to stop wishing for a hero’s death and start longing for a peaceful life, Ymir leaps from the castle on which the 104th now huddle, armed with nothing but a knife. It honestly makes for a pretty cool image and really ties together the whole “Jerk with a Heart of Badass” persona Ymir has going for her. Of course, since leaping into a veritable den of death is not the smartest thing to do, Ymir reveals a neat little truth that really makes you wonder about the coincidental nature of the world: She’s a Titan Shifter. Take that Eren. Though I will admit angry protagonist boy looks way cooler as a Titan, although if you’re into the whole “angry gremlin” motif then Ymir might pique your interest. Although not too much has been revealed about the how or why or Ymir’s ability, as it ended this particular episode, it is certainly an attention grabber. Combined with her inexplicable ability to read the (possibly) ancient language on the goods within Utgard Castle and the fact that she absolutely believed Connie’s supposition about the Titans, we’ve got ourselves quite the interesting character here. Which is a far step up from simply being that tall girl with freckles who totally has the hots for Krista (not that anyone in the 104th can blame her). She even tried to make the girl turn more of her skirt into bandages for her non-existent wound, which is a joke ripped straight out of Hot Shots: Part Deux and that made me laugh. Especially considering how different in tone it was from the rest of the episode and the fact that I don’t think Connie had any idea what she was trying to do.
Ultimately I’m glad that this episode finally came around. Though the suspenseful horror of the previous episodes was interesting, the season thus far has carried with it a certain meandering quality, like there wasn’t anything it was heading towards. Though that is still somewhat the case, the revelation that there is yet another Titan Shifter within the ranks of the primary cast feels like the kick this season needed to get going. Ironic, considering Eren’s initial transformation sent the first season down a different path than we were led to believe. Although, if previews and character progression are to be believed, nobody in the 104th is truly who they say they are, I’m looking at you Krista. That being said, I think Connie may be the exception to this rule and that makes me feel sad. No secrets, no lies, just a guy who lost everything and doesn’t know it yet. Also, I’m not entirely sure I am happy about how interconnected everybody is given these recent revelations. Like it wasn’t startling enough that Ymir can transform, they just had to go and make her the Titan that ate Reiner’s friend. Really? It just had to be her? It wasn’t sad enough that Reiner’s friend dies saving him? That wasn’t enough? Next thing you know Jean is going to be revealed as Armin’s long lost, non-identical twin brother…and a Titan Shifter…who ate Reiner’s other friend.