This week’s episode of ATTACK ON TITAN had so many secrets and almost no fighting. The prevalence and preference of plot development and world building aren’t new this season. But usually, there’s at least some action, a fight, or a punch thrown. This week, it was somewhat important to not have action. Every time the Scouts learn a bit more about the truth of the world, they’re stronger. In a massive war where information asymmetry is the constant strategy, knowledge is power. So, knowing something as simple as Kenny being an Ackerman makes a big difference. And, since both sides of the conflict are fighting without the information of those in power, there’s a blurred line between hero and villain. This is to say, Kenny’s soldiers don’t know anything and Erwin’s don’t either. Because of that, we as an audience get to see each explosive secret ripple across the series and enhance it.
Episode 43 revealed new details about Eren’s power, more memories from Historia, and more of the nobles’ plans. In doing each one somewhat separately, the viewer got the chance to independently piece contexts together. In an informationally heavy anime like ATTACK ON TITAN, this makes for a much more enjoyable narrative. Instead of the series just telling us, it shows us, and we learn in turn. While the episode wasn’t quite as forward moving as previous weeks, it still gave some much-needed information. And honestly, seeing as the manga needs multiple monthly chapters to communicate these secrets, the anime is parsing it as best as possible.
Power of the Titans
We’ve known for a few weeks now that the version of Eren’s Scream from the end of Season 2 was an incomplete form of a massive power. During the fight to beat back Reiner and Bertholdt, Eren managed to repel a horde of Titans after standing his ground. In Season 1 and 2, we saw that the ability to control Titans exists to some degree amongst other Shifters too. Annie was able to call Titans to herself and command them to attack her. It’s unclear how far her control went, though. And the Beast Titan was able to not only control Titans to a certain extent but speak in his Titan form.
The fact that the Scream is a non-unique power means two super important things. One, it seems that some Titan Shifter powers are common to multiple Titans. And two, and more importantly, Eren’s Scream, being the strongest, is the biggest threat.
Historia’s memories come back the instant she touches Eren. On top of that, Eren briefly sees the memories of both his father and one of Rod Reiss’ daughters, Frieda. So, there is some connection between royal blood and the Power of the Titans. If Grisha Jaeger’s memories are any indication, we now know that a Titan Shifter who consumes another Shifter steals their power. Eren’s father obtained the power of the Scream, and Eren somehow turned into a Titan, took his father’s. Given the current plot of the anime and the fear of Eren being eaten, the plan is falling into place. The Reiss family intends to let one of their own consume Eren. Once they do, they’ll once again have the ability to modify civilizations memories.
The Insurmountable Threat
Based on what we saw, Eren’s father almost seems like a criminal. As always in ATTACK ON TITAN, the narrative plays games with our perception. Whoever tells the story at a given moment seizes control of that narrative. Protagonist bias toward Eren makes me assume that his father was justified in killing the Reiss family and children. But even then, if modifying all of humanity’s memories is the only way to ensure constant security, that seems more worth it. Like Pixis said, if the coup was justified, but the conflict is perpetual, it seems easier to avoid all of it. The nobles in power are incredibly confident in the Power of the Titans. Even when tied up and tortured, they have no fear of the Scouts or anyone.
This was the most impressive part of the episode. Some intense characterization of Reiss’ family created feelings of strong pity. From a perspective we hadn’t seen before, the “evil royal family” looks like victims. It’s unclear what direction the world of ATTACK ON TITAN is going toward. In the absence of clear outcomes, soldiers are forced to create their own Gods in the form of ideas. People like Kenny, Levi, Erwin, or even Reiss are strong enough in their resolve to assuage others’ fears. So, rather than be afraid, they defend their form of defending humanity to the absolute end.
A Battle to Come in ATTACK ON TITAN
As the end of this episode made clear, we’re about to see some action. I love plot and world-building quite a bit. But even I have to admit that seeing Levi kick some ass is a rarely satisfying experience. During the ambush a few weeks back, most of the Scouts were annihilated by the Interior Squads unique and new gear. Now that the Scouts have gotten their numbers back and understand their opponents’ weapons, we’ll get some real action. I for one need to see Kenny and Levi face off. Those two are some of the best fighters in the series thus far. Seeing people like Levi outmaneuver other humans instead of slow Titans is a kind of action unique to this anime.
This week’s episode wasn’t quite as plot heavy as other ones, and a good chunk was dialogue. But with an anime as chock full of secrets, massive developments, and mystery as ATTACK ON TITAN, things have to slow down before they speed up. Any manga reader will agree with me when I say that the best of the season is soon to come.
Featured image from Crunchyroll.