Tonight we dine in hell.
Ashamed over his failure to talk down Bertholdt, Armin relinquishes command to Jean, with their next step is to stop him from reaching the wall and interfering with the others. Eren tries tackling his leg but gets punted onto the wall. They try distracting him so Mikasa can hit him with the remaining Thunder Spear, but his steam blocks it from contact. And on top of all that, Reiner and his Armored Titan form have rejoined the fight.
Things outside the wall aren’t going well either, as the Beast Titan starts decimating Erwin and Levi’s forces by throwing cluster boulder fastballs (having an odd familiarity with baseball terminology) that literally turns most of the Scouts on that side into a fine red mist. With the Colossal Titan setting the inside ablaze and the Beast Titan quickly destroying their cover, Erwin and Levi find themselves in a rapidly disintegrating situation. Especially since their only remaining men are greenhorns who are completely flattened by the pressure. Plans shift to prioritizing Eren and Erwin’s retreat, but Erwin realizes that the only way to a slim chance of victory is for him to act as a decoy with most of the other scouts still alive so that Levi can kill the Beast Titan. Regrettably, this also means that he’ll likely never know of the discoveries to be found in Grisha’s basement.
Erwin’s charge begins while Levi hops across Titans to reach the Beast, but they are soon struck with speeding rocks.
Since last week focused mainly on the battle inside Shiganshina and the build-up to Berthold’s transformation, these switches focus mostly to show how Levi and Erwin are doing…and it’s not looking good. Almost all of their troops have been turned to Swiss cheese, leaving only newbies who are likely all wishing they had dark brown pants right around now. As Erwin mentions a few times, they are pretty much all about to die, so all that’s left is deciding whether they go out on their own terms. To end their brief existences on this planet as crying and hopeless OR to serve their people until the last possible moment for even the most unlikely shot that their sacrifice will mean something.
To that end, we see what might be the culmination of Erwin’s character arc of the course of this season, being previously driven by a thirst for vengeance against those who murdered his father simply for knowing too much. Once he obtained that revenge, he found himself questioning his place of leadership compared to others who served their cause wholeheartedly while he made things personal. That doubt and regret clearly has hung over him as remembers all of his former peers (most of which we’ve met in previous seasons) who lost their lives for this war, but also that the only thing he can really think about is being so close to Grisha’s basement, likely the collection of information and secrets to finally vindicate his father’s research…but knowing he will likely never be able to see it. And so, his final act as leader is to atone for his perceived selfishness by giving himself fully to this cause in his final moments.
It’s through this that Attack on Titan is able to once again show us how it became the mega-hit it was in 2013, with an almost dire scenario that tests the resolves of everyone on either side. Some of them fail to find or reclaim that resolve, some of them succeed only to see it lead them to their deaths. It’s been a common theme over the course of the series, so despite this episode being actually rather low in terms of notable turning points, I’d say revisiting this theme was an excellent way to keep up the momentum and show the tension and dramatic stakes at the show’s highest yet. Gripping from beginning to end.
But seriously, how did Zeke know all that baseball stuff?