Welcome, one and all, to my latest weekly episode review for Attack on Titan Season Three. Today, I’m looking at the episode The Basement. This was an interesting one because it was pretty much action free, yet managed to breeze by. Let’s talk about it.
Poor old Armin had a tough time of it this week. He had a nightmare about the Colossal Titan then awoke on top of Wall Maria, and found Sasha next to him, in a terrible state. From there, we learn that he only remembers Bertholdt transforming and nothing from after that. Levi left it to Eren to bring him up to speed; that made sense as it was Eren’s arguing that helped Armin’s case. Once Armin is told what happened, he is understandably shocked.
I liked that, instead of a major run through of the events, Eren’s talk through was done off-screen and we just got Armin gong through little snippets in single sentences. That he felt ill at the thought of eating Bertholdt was also a nice touch as it fit well with Armin’s general demeanor.
The rest of this section was given over to the continued thoughts about who should have been saved. Armin thinks it should have been Erwin, and Hange agrees. Though Mikasa and Eren stood up to Levi – and will be punished for it – Levi insists that the decision was his though. He was entrusted with the choice by Erwin, and he stands by that choice.
There was a nice little exchange where Armin says he could never replace Erwin, and Levi agrees but goes on to say that Armin has a strength that nobody else does. That’ll be a strength that he needs, as the Scouts are now down to nine in number. Jean says that number is a ‘for now’ thing, and I tend to agree. Whatever happens, the victory here will raise the regular people’s spirits. For better or worse, that’s going to inspire more kids to want to join the Scouts. The end result will be the focus for them, not the losses. And so the cycle of recruitment will continue.
My favorite part of the episode was the walk to and uncovering of the basement. The only four that made the trip were Eren, Mikasa, Hange, and Levi. During the final bit of the walk, we saw multiple short flashbacks. These ranged from little flashes of walking the streets as kids to full-blown memories of Eren’s dad Grisha telling him he’ll let him see the basement when he realizes the most important thing of all.
From a storytelling standpoint, it achieved two big things for me. First, it reminded us how long this particular story thread has been hanging unresolved. This goes way back to the very start, and even before that. Second, it created contrast. The vibrant imagery of ren and Mikasa’s childhood compared to the desolate scenes of the present really showed that things have gotten bad. And all the while we were treated to some fitting music. It was so atmospheric and had just enough touches of lingering hope to make the future feel important while still embracing the dark present day. Great stuff. It actually almost had me in tears.
When they first reach the basement, we find that Eren’s key doesn’t actually fit the lock. That was unexpected but did make it clear that there would be more to find. Levi took the practical approach and just booted the door open, leaving the team free to explore. Hange pointed out that it all looked like a standard doctor’s laboratory. There was nothing there, but it seemed too much like that was what Grisha wanted people to think. Levi reminded them that Erwin’s hunches were rarely wrong and set them about searching more deeply.
It was Mikasa that kick-started the big reveal as, when she knocked a cup down, she noticed a keyhole on the desk. Eren’s key fit, but the drawer it opened appeared to be empty. Levi noticed that it was a false bottom though and it was revealed that it contained some books. They were obviously important, as they had been preserved with a mix of peppermint oil and charcoal, designed to keep bugs and moisture out.
There was a weird moment here where we jumped forward in the future a little. We saw Dot Pixis and company discussing how Erwin believed that there were more humans beyond the Walls. Then another soldier ran in and said the Scouts were back, and that they’d retaken Wall Maria. There was a brief shot of the people celebrating as the remaining Scouts looked on, and then…we jump right back to the basement. Honestly, I feel like that scene could have been saved for a later episode.
Anyway, the team open the first book and find a high detail picture of a family. Hange says it’s not an illustration, and Mikasa notices some writing on the back. Grisha had written that it was a photograph and said how it was made. He said that humanity had not perished and he prayed that it would be found by a fellow Patriot.
That was a reveal that we likely all saw coming but it’s great to finally see it come to light. As a bonus, we get a nice preview of what’s to come with a post-credit scene featuring Grisha and his little sister Fay as children. The world they’re in looks a little like 40’s Europe, and the two children needing to wear armbands declaring what they are felt very Nazi Germany. Fay is interested in the airship that flies above, so Grisha drags her past gate security and out of the walls.
This was a great episode. It provided a little bit of a respite from the high octane action we’ve had recently, nudged the Armin arc forward, and basically set up the big reveal that we’ll likely get in the next episode. Really well done.
So, those were my thoughts. But what about yourselves? Did you enjoy this episode? Do you agree or disagree with any of my observations? Let me know in the comments below.