Trust! Who do ya? Trust!
Annie’s old MP buddies Mario and Hutch go wandering in the woods on orders to look for scouts on the run. Hutch still blames them for the big Titan fight in Stohess, but Mario is skeptical that disbanding them is actually good for humanity, or even that the scouts are even at fault considering how much they do to fight Titans. As they talk, they run into Armin, but this is actually a trap for them. At first, Jean plays like he’s about to kill them to keep the scouts’ hiding place a secret, but it’s really a test to see if they’ll join up. It’s clear they don’t know anything about what’s really going on, particularly what happened to Annie, so they end up siding with the scouts in order to figure out the truth in all this.
Erwin remains imprisoned until the time of his interrogation, though there’s already some doubt about his arrest. Nile Dawk tries suppressing talk about the new ODM gear Kenny’s group used to take on Levi’s team, but even he can tell it was made specifically for killing regular humans. This makes the message clear to him that the government has ways of keeping dissidents silent if they make a racket.
Elsewhere in Trost, Reeves’ son Flegel is on the run from MPs out to kill him. Luckily for him, Hange swoops in to save him and hear his side of the story, specifically how the Interior Police were the ones who really killed his dad. With a bit of a push, Hange convinces him to set up a sting and lure the IP out and blab about their hand in Reeves’ death in front of the villagers who were all supported by him. Now the scouts have the people of Trost on their side, along with Flegel, who takes on his father’s role as their new merchant leader.
With Mario and Hutch’s help, Levi’s squad attacks the least manned checkpoint and interrogate its leader, a member of the Interior Police, about finding Eren and Historia. The leader responds that every scout will be killed, starting with Erwin, who’s about to go meet the king. Before he leaves for that meeting, he tells Nile about his plans with Pyxis, and that it will be up to Nile and the rest of the people to decide when that time comes.
We’ve had a few episodes to see what our main cast thinks and feels about how the situation has changed. Now, the focus is placed on several minor characters to gauge if the scouts can truly win anyone over with the truth. The move by the IPs to completely wipe the scouts out was both a bold and desperate one, and the cracks are beginning to show in how they keep trying to cover up a truth that is very close to coming out. The characters we know best have planted their feet firmly in the ground against this, but without the help of people from across numerous social castes, they don’t have a chance.
I certainly didn’t expect to see Mario and Hutch again but they do have a unique place in all this. They were skilled enough to join the MPs, positions that used to be idolized because it gave those who could earn it a chance to escape the chance of certain death fighting Titans. Then one of their peers, Annie, turned out to BE a Titan and brought the fight to them. After something like that, it’s hard to deny there’s something more to all of this than just saving one’s own skin, which is what Mario realizes, and Hutch has been understandably unsettled by Annie’s disappearance. Now they see that they’re only being used as pawns to keep a false status quo. It’s obvious that joining the scouts isn’t going be a righteous crusade for justice that will keep them alive, but at least they can fight for SOMETHING.
Likewise, Nile is also coming to terms with how pretty much everyone in this society is practically being held at by gunpoint. With a special task force made for hunting scouts, the reality of the royalty serving only themselves is slowly coming through. Just like Mario and Hutch, Nile was also content with becoming complacent and soft as long as he could do it from a high perch with the other MPs, but this revelation and talking to Erwin seems to be really shaking his resolve.
And while convincing troops to turn on their command is an essential part of any good coup de tat, it doesn’t mean much if you don’t have the civilians on your side, and that’s where Flegel’s story comes in. He started the season as the dumb son of a successful merchant. Now that he’s also caught a glimpse of the IP’s true nature through them killing his father, he’s scared out of his mind and running for his life. But thanks to Hange’s words of encouragement, he’s able to make use of his father’s connections to at least begin a spark in the people the scouts will need the help from the most. I’m not sure how I feel about him taking his father’s job, but I guess if there’s anyone who could, it would be him.
So, overall, this episode is less about moving the central plot forward as it is moving several minor but important plots slightly forward. With a monarchy built on lies, the best way to get the people on your side is with trust.