We’re still on the other side of the sea in “Midnight Train”, where there is a very serious discussion happening about how Marley’s reputation has been weakened on a global scale, and what can be done to get them back on top. It also seems, just like it was in Grisha’s day, that not everyone buys 100% into the anti-Eldian propaganda.
The war is over, but the fight is not done. For Eldians, the fighting will never be truly done. The Eldian soldiers are returned home in “Midnight Train”, but they don’t know that they will soon be heading back into battle, as Zeke is determined to make up for his failure in recapturing Paradis. They need the power of the Founding Titan for whatever reason, because they believe it will keep them at the top of the world.
I think it’s interesting to see that the Marleyans relied so heavily on the Titans in battle that they seemingly haven’t bothered to develop any more technologically advanced weaponry. Their “enemies” have made some advancements in order to combat the Titans, and even though they weren’t successful this time, it’s only a matter of time before the Titans are essentially powerless. This shows how egotistical the Marleyans are, believing that nothing could ever defeat the Titans, so there’s no need to develop.
Something interesting in that scene – as the brass are discussing technological advancement, they look up at seagulls. Seagulls have in past episodes represented Paradisian freedom, particularly for Eren, Armin, and Mikasa, who so desperately wanted to see the sea. And they did say that they’ve sent more than 30 scout ships to Paradis and none of them have returned. It could just be Eren and Armin yeeting some ships out of the water, but I’d be willing to bet they’ve been developing some weapons of their own.
The propaganda is strong; I was disgusted at the family dinner when Gabi’s parents were so enthusiastic about their child risking her life in battle and almost dying. And Gabi seems to have completely bought what the Marleyans are selling. I mean, she’s extremely excited to become the Armored Titan, despite the fact that doing so means she will be eating her own cousin.
The question is, how much does everyone else believe the stories they’ve been told? Reiner had the opportunity to reinforce the belief, but apparently, the worst thing he could say about them was that they eat potatoes and wouldn’t share equally or couldn’t remember why they went to the bathroom – though he did say it in a very frightening tone of voice.
This could have been a very subtle way for Reiner to tell his family that the Paradis residents are just people, the same as they are. From the way his mother quickly shut her window (there are ears everywhere) and reminded everyone that the people on the island are to be blamed for their current situation, I got the sense that she understood what Reiner was trying to do and either disapproved or was putting on an act.
Falco also clearly does not think that being a Titan is the grand honor that everyone else thinks it is. For the record, I think Reiner agrees with him, especially after his experiences on Paradis, where he interacted and even became friendly with the “devils”. But Reiner knows how to play his role even if he no longer has the heart for it. Him yelling at Falco the way he did was reminding him that he has to put up the front or it isn’t just him who will suffer.
Something to point out – Falco and his brother are from the Grice family. Grice was the man who recruited Grisha into the rebellion.
Reiner and Zeke seem to have PTSD after Paradis, and it’s completely understandable. That Zeke is still intimidated by Levi after four years is telling, and Reiner still has nightmares about Mikasa. PTSD is a minor theme in this episode, with the presumably Marleyan soldier mocking the Eldians who returned from the front lines, and the nameless soldier who leapt from the roof.
We also now have confirmation that Ymir was indeed eaten – by Galliard, the brother of the boy Ymir ate.
Zeke is fully aware that he’s of royal blood – Grisha told him this as a point of pride – so it’s telling that he hasn’t made this information public knowledge. That must be the secret he hinted to Colt. Whether he’s withholding for his own protection, or whether he intends to use this to his advantage later, we have no idea. But clearly, the Marleyans are suspicious of him, if they’re spying on him. And even if he has been playing the long game, his behavior on Paradis, when he was away from Marleyan control (supposedly) was pretty sadistic. So I’m not at all upset he only has a year to live.
There is some speculation that the long-haired soldier that Falco goes to help may be Eren in disguise. His eyes are bandaged, so we can’t really see his face, his armband is on the wrong arm, and as a shifter, he’d be able to regrow that missing leg. There is also a brief scene earlier in the episode where a long-haired person watches the Eldians from above which may have been Eren as well.
“Midnight Train” is doing to the audience what Reiner is doing to his family. By focusing so much on the other side, we can see that while these people may be the “enemy” of our protagonists, the situation is a lot more gray than we may have previously thought. These are people, just like Eren and the others, and they have their own motivations. Growing up brainwashed is no joke, and it’s a very tough mentality to escape from.
Not to mention, many of them are harmless, just going about their daily lives. They have no choice but to swallow the lies they’re fed in order to survive. In contrast, there are some Paradisians who actually are kind of evil, but given the near-constant danger they live in, it’s not surprising they would become that way.
Regardless of who will emerge victorious, there are no winners here. I think that’s the whole point. “Midnight Train” in particular highlights the ambiguity of war.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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