Welcome back to my weekly episodic review series for Attack on Titan: The Final Season. We’re still sticking with the Marley based story at the moment, and this week focussed on Reiner. So, let’s start with a brief recap.
The story began by tracking snippets of Reiner’s past. We learned that his father was from Marley, and so cannot be seen to be with an Eldian. That was what drove Reiner to become a Chosen Warrior, he wanted to be a hero so his family could be together. The current Jaw Titan, Porco Galliard, was actually more likely to become the Armoured Titan, but despite being bottom of the group, Reiner actually won out. Being chosen made no difference though, as his attempt to speak with his father was rebuffed due to the people of Marley viewing Eldians as demons.
From there, we jumped the group after they landed on Paradis Island. Marcel, the then holder of the Jaw Titan, apologised and told Reiner he intentionally made him look better and made his brother Porco look worse so that he could save Porco. That confused Reiner, distracting him long enough for Ymir in Titan form to try to eat him. Marcel shoved him out of the way and got eaten instead, causing both Annie and Bertholdt to doubt whether they should stay.
The argument Annie made was that they can’t complete the mission without Marcel’s leadership and she blamed Reiner for his death. She beat the hell out of him, but a bloodied Reiner stood right back up and choked her out saying he’ll be Marcel. We saw a little of the attack on the Wall from season one, then cut to Reiner in the military, talking with the other recruits. Finally, we cut back to the present, with Reiner attempting suicide. He only stopped when he heard Falco outside, doubting himself. Falco then went to the military hospital and spoke with a wounded soldier to end the episode.
In terms of story, I really enjoyed this one. Reiner as a character has always seemed pretty hard to kill, and now we know why. He was originally driven to be a hero in order to reunite his family. That was never going to play out, of course. He even questioned his own motives during his first attack as the Armoured Titan; he knew his mother knew her wish wouldn’t come true, his father wanted nothing to do with him, he should have died instead of Marcel, and he didn’t understand why Marcel kept apologising to him. But still, he wouldn’t give up.
In a way, what we saw of the past presented Reiner as someone who grew immensely. He started out as the worst in his class but stepped up to be a leader when it was needed. His goals were fairly noble too; yes, his view of those on Paradis Island were faulted due to the Marley influence, but his desire to bring his family together wasn’t a bad thing.
In the end, he clearly understood what Marcel was apologizing for though. We saw last week that he wanted to save Gabi from becoming a Titan. He understood the torment of it all now, I think, and saw what Marcel had already realised. This week, we saw the weight of it all driving him towards suicide, and it was only the thought of saving the new Chosen Warriors that stopped him from going through with it. It makes you wonder if he viewed Paradis Island as Hell because it proved his worldview wrong, and tore down what made him want to fight in the first place.
Reiner is truly a tragic character. I was always mixed on his inability to die, but after all of this, it makes sense that he fights so hard to live. It was sad, really. Importantly, it was also part of a cycle. The conversation between Falco and the soldier he tried to help last time revealed that the injured man was faking amnesia to avoid going home. He told Falco that many in the battles are forced to be there by outside forces, and for them, it’s a Hell. There are those that force themselves too though, and they see something beyond the Hell, but there’s no way for them to know what it is they see if they don’t keep moving forward. That is itself, a different kind of Hell.
What we’ve learned here is that Marley is – as we already knew – a terrible place. The effects they’ve had on the Eldian people is horrible, and the entire race is now stuck in a cycle of death. Those who fight with Marley have either been indoctrinated into believing they have to do this or are desperately trying to gain freedom for their loved ones. It makes the ‘bad guy’ Titans more sympathetic, but without making their actions less evil. It’s a wonderful touch.
My only real quarrel with this episode was the brief the moment we saw Reiner and Eren together. Before they spoke, we had a few seconds of the recruits trying out their ODM gear. It was disappointing to me. It lacked the smoothness I’m used to, and not in a way that indicated they’re amateurs with the equipment. It just felt off. I’m hoping that improves when it comes to the combat because if it doesn’t, it’s going to downgrade one of the most exciting things about the series.
So, those are my thoughts. But what did you think about this episode? Did you enjoy the Reiner story? Let me know in the comments below.