Welcome back to my continued episodic review series for the final season of Attack on Titan. We’re looking at two episodes again today, so let’s dive right in.
Episode 8: Assassin’s Bullet
This was another excellent episode, especially in terms of setting up where we’re heading in the story now. The key takeaway though is that everyone is divided. In terms of those living in Marley, Gabi noted that, even though she’s Eldian, two of the gate guards went out of their way to save her before being shot. That’s in stark contrast to the majority of the Marley citizens who look down on the Eldians. Gabi wants to show the world that the Eldians are good people, and saw this assault as ruining her chances to do this. Where she and Falco go after this episode, I don’t have a clue. Their worldview has been set in stone, and everything here – and what will likely come after – will shake that.
Meanwhile, the Paradis Island crew that invaded aren’t really any more united. We saw that the main team that flew in are most definitely not all on the same page. Jean – and, of course, Sasha and Conny – mostly want the fighting to stop. The other recruits though seem pretty into the battle and view this as a first victory for the New Eldian Empire. The only thing that seems to unite all of them is that they are against Eren at this point.
Eren had apparently been writing to them and telling them what he was up to, but it came at a cost. As Hange put it, he put his trust in them, but they lost their trust in him. Meanwhile, it appears that the whole plan was Zeke’s anyway, as not only is he still alive, but he’s in league with the team as he wants to set the Eldians free. Even that has the caveat attached that Levi still wants to kill him though.
Honestly, I’m loving that as a story wrinkle. The franchise has been built on conflict, and it’s almost like that has infected all the characters now. Trust is fleeting, peace remains just out of reach, and each step towards it seems to move them two steps back. It feels like there’s no way this can reach a happy ending for everyone, and what would even constitute a happy ending is debatable at this point. I can’t wait to see how this all comes together.
Reiner came across as the hero again here. We saw him very briefly at the start of the episode, picking up just after his shift into Titan form at the end of the last one. All he did was grab Galliard and haul him away from Eren, but in doing so, he took a hard blow to the face. There’s no way he didn’t see that coming, so he essentially tried to sacrifice himself to save his comrade. That is actually far more hero-like than Eren, who seems willing to let people get sacrificed to save him right now.
And boy did we get a sacrifice. Gabi and Falco ended up on the team’s airship and Gabi managed to shoot Sasha through the gut. We spent a chunk of the episode watching potato girl bleed out, dying slowly in front of us. While never the lead character, Sasha was one of the core team that had been present from the early days of the series, so to see her die like this was a real shock. I actually felt myself pale a little when she fell, and I realised what was happening. So, well done AoT, you managed to shock me, yet again.
Episode 9: Brave Volunteers
This felt more like a ‘filling in the blanks’ sort of episode than the previous. A good chunk of it was a flashback to three years ago when Yelena – the soldier that led Pieck and Galliard into the trap – first came to Paradis Island. What we learned here is that the Eldians aren’t the only ones to have been swallowed into the Marleyan army; people from all their conquered nations form part of their 1,000,000 strong forces.
There was a lot of set-up in these scenes, essentially painting Zeke as the one giving the oppressed hope. He convinced them to turn on their superiors when they reached the island, and so, it was presented to those in charge that Zeke wished to join them. Now, there was some resistance to this; Zeke has always wanted the Founding Titan, and this could be seen as him switching from brute force to diplomacy.
Interestingly, we also learned that there were two reasons Marley hadn’t attacked the island in a year at that point. One was their ongoing conflicts with other nations. The other was that the Pure Titans on the island would hinder a land assault. So, the Scouts killing them all off may have had an unforeseen negative consequence.
We continued to deal with Sasha’s death, seeing her friends and family grieving at her grave. It was interesting to see how the cycle of assault continues on the island here. Nicolo, a Marleyan defector who was serving as a cook, really like Sasha. She also liked his cooking. Yet, when he came to pay his respects, he was assaulted by an Eldian soldier in much the same way Eldians are in Marley.
While quick-moving, the episode felt less consequential than the last. Really, the most important scenes came at the end, for me. Here, we saw Zeke and Levi interact briefly, and learned that whether Falco and Gabi get to see the natural wonders of the island will depend on Zeke. We also saw our three original heroes expressing their views on what is to come. Armin was sat with Annie, lamenting that the attack was necessary but wrecked all hope of securing peace. Mikasa sat in the graveyard pondering the concept of ‘fight or die, win and live.’ Finally, Eren made his own views clear: the only way to win is to fight.
It’s quite clear that further conflict is coming, and Eren referencing the need to wake the millions of titans in the Walls is a terrifying prospect. Whether that is part of Zeke’s plan remains to be seen though. Whatever happens next, I doubt our original trio will be able to remain together too much longer.
So, overall, while episode 8 was by far the stronger for me, both were decent. Both also continued to keep me hyped up for whatever the final crescendo will be. But what about yourselves? Did you enjoy these episodes? Let me know in the comment below.