If there’s one thing to be said about perilous mountain expeditions, it’s that characters will either perish on them, or come to understand themselves, and others, on an entirely new and intrinsically true level. Yes, technically that is more than one thing, but that probably doesn’t make it any less insightful and cool sounding.
Jumping back to a time and place unknown, though assumedly during the 104th’s training and somewhere on a mountain, we are given yet another glimpse into the life and times of Ymir and Krista. Left wandering during a powerful blizzard, Ymir comes to a realisation chronologically that we have already had explained by her…in the future. It is also the one thing we know about Krista and kinda makes this whole perilous flashback a whole lot less expositionally interesting. Despite her sweetness and overall cute demeanour, Krista wants to kill herself. Not in an obviously suicidal way, but in a heroic way that would see her remembered fondly. To that end, she opts to drag the half-dead body of another trainee back to camp, believing whole heartedly that she will fail and both will perish. Oh, happy day. Whilst this is undeniably sad, I am not entirely sure why this is the only thing we are told about Krista…again. We’re it the first hint of this personal plot, it would come as quite the contrast to the girl we have seen thus far, however we have already seen this fight between her and Ymir. Like two weeks ago. They were on a horse and Ymir was mad that Krista wanted to die more than she did survive. It was confronting, Ymir was a bit of a jerk about it, though she obviously cared. We got that bit. Though more detail into this mentality was, and is needed, this episode did little to further it. Even the revelation about her past was heavily weighted towards Ymir’s telling of it, which is where this episode lost its impact.
This is a Ymir episode, through and through. From her reveal as a Titan Shifter last week, to the flashback of her and Krista’s wacky mountain adventure, she is the focal point. Which is fine, which is expected. However, the episode apparently wishes to fight this and tries to make Krista the focal point. From naming the episode after her to using Ymir’s screentime to talk about her, the story loses its power by not knowing who it wants to showcase. Yes, Ymir and Krista are inescapably tied together, but they are not the windows through which we view the other. Not entirely. Each are their own person and each are capable of independent action, of affecting the other, something that was shown previously. Though Ymir’s harshness helps break Krista of her suicidal desires, Krista’s compassion softens Ymir’s callous heart. It’s a whole yin yang, complimentary colours thing that painted them as an interesting couple in the first place. Unfortunately, this episode ultimately amounted to Ymir telling Krista she is dumb and then going off to do cool Titan stuff off screen. OF course, I could be wrong about all of this. The reminders and Ymir centric, yet somehow Krista focused, vibe of the episodes first half could be a stroke of genius, showing how far they have transitioned in their relationship with each other, how far Krista has come as a person. If it was, I apologise. But either way, that’s not how I felt watching this.
Something else I was less than thrilled about in this episode, is the confirmation that Ymir did in fact eat Reiner’s friend way back when. Why? Was it not enough that Ymir revealed herself as the third Titan Shifter of the 104th? Is that not a big of enough deal? Why did she have to, on top of that, be so deeply linked with two other characters? Krista is her connection to the group. Having this shared history just makes everybody feel too connected. Eren, Mikasa and Armin, they have the shared past. Reiner and Bertolt, they have the shared past. Ymir developed a present with Krista. Jean bettered himself through his rivalry with Eren. Sasha learned camaraderie through working with the group. Annie betrayed them all and Connie is the slightly funnier one. Everybody transformed within the 104th, tacking on deep, dark secrets just seems pointless and an intentional shortcut to get people to care about Reiner and Bertolt, who really haven’t done a lot. Barring that time Reiner dead lifted a Titan. That was cool. And last week.
Sorry. I didn’t mean to rag on this episode so heavily. It’s not like there weren’t enjoyable moments this week. Namely Ymir flipping around a battlefield of Titans, biting their napes out like nobody’s business. Though her Titan form is admittedly nowhere near as cool looking as Eren’s, she still proved to be quite the deadly weapon and quite the smart one too. As in, she can think tactically and somewhat talk in Titan form smart. Cool? Yes. Sets her apart from Eren? Yes. Somewhat undermines the uniqueness of a talking Titan? Also yes. Combine this with the Titan that was totally Connie’s mother and it’s a wonder Titans have gone around this long without having conversations with everybody. Rest in peace, Ilse.
This week was an interesting one. With absolute, unquestionable confirmation that Krista, now revealed to be named Historia, wanted to kill herself as a side effect of a dark past, we are finally able to move forward in the development of the 104th and the plot proper. Reiner and Bertolt will surely have words to say with Ymir, once she wakes up from missing two limbs, and you can be sure that will not be pretty. But that is a story for another time. The story for this time is the awesome moment in this episode when backup arrived at Utgard Castle and totally decimated the Titans that shrugged of being crushed by the falling remnants of Utgard Castle. In addition to being visually awesome, it reminded us all how far humanity has come in their fight with the Titans and why the Beast Titan was so interested in the ODM Gear. It also marks the first discernible win for humanity this season, which was much needed and entirely welcome. Also, am I the only one who found it hilarious that this episode marks Eren’s first Titan kill as an actual soldier? Because it’s pretty hilarious. Or sad. Or startling. One of those.