As we wind down to the end of Attack on Titan, the waters get muddier. What is good? What is evil? Who can be trusted? “Deceiver” poses more questions than it answers, while also managing to make me doubtful about the answers I thought I’d already gotten.
“Deceiver” shows us that the more things change, the more they stay the same, as Hange is forced to defend an action that is unpopular with the people, just a few years after being responsible for helping to oust the previous government. Fractures within the Scouts as well as grumblings from the general population show that Eren’s actions – while tactically stupid – are something celebrated by many on Paradis. I wonder if this is similar to what happened a hundred years ago with pro-Titan supporters and anti-Titan supporters causing a civil war among Eldians.
One thing I can appreciate about Hange’s situation is that it shows things are always complicated. Hange doesn’t think Erwin made the right decision by putting her in charge, but now she is in charge, and matters have to be handled delicately. The problem is that no one truly knows what’s going to happen. And poor Hange seems so defeated; she doesn’t really seem to have the support network that Erwin did.
Pyxis questioning Yelena was an interesting scene to include in “Deceiver”, especially right after Hange said she had more investigating to do. So far, we’ve been led to believe that Eren’s actions were his and his alone, that he took it upon himself to escalate the timeline of their attack. But I’m starting to believe that isn’t the case – not just because of the threads they dropped indicating Yelena may have had something to do with it, but just thinking through the situation. Eren had been undercover in the army for a while, and we saw in “The Other Side of the Sea” that Jean was in Marley as well, but we don’t know for how long.
Everything is, I think, tied into Willy Tybur’s grand declaration of war. No matter what Zeke and the people of Paradis were planning, they wouldn’t have been able to endure an assault by literally every civilized nation on earth. If they were going to act, they had to act soon. While I’d originally said (even earlier in this review) that Eren’s actions were tactically stupid – mobilizing the nations to action even better than Willy’s speech would have done – I’m now starting to suspect that it was the only logical course of action.
I’ve been trying not to dislike Gabi this entire season. She’s a child, and she’s been brainwashed, and fighting that kind of conditioning is difficult and takes years to overcome. But, wow, it was really hard in “Deceiver”. Her stubborn belief that all the people of Paradis are devils, even while experiencing kindness, was tough to stomach. The cruel and unwarranted attack on the guard that showed genuine concern at her distress is almost worse than her killing Sasha; it was completely unnecessary to kill him. Her insistence that if they stayed any longer they’d be killed – when more than one person had the opportunity to kill them already and didn’t – made no sense. I know she was operating under fear and desperation, and as an “impartial” observer with more information I shouldn’t judge her for it. But I am. Her hatred is so intense that she couldn’t handle being undercover in enemy territory for an entire day before screaming about how much she hated all Paradisians.
As a counterpoint, you have Falco. Falco is a great example of how you can’t use “it’s just how the society is” as an excuse for poor behavior. For example, excusing racist elderly people as “products of their time”, when there is documented proof that people of that time period can fight against that way of thinking. Falco is a Grice; his uncle is the one who convinced Grisha to join the restorationist movement. It’s mentioned in one of the episodes that he and his brother enlisted in the Warrior program in order to help salvage their family name. Falco also got to know Eren, and observed the way Reiner and Eren interacted.
What I really loved is that the people that took the two of them in after their escape are Sasha’s father and Kaya, the girl Sasha rescued way back in season 2. And Kaya is fully aware that they’re from Marley – the nation responsible for Sasha’s death – and yet she still wants to show them kindness, because that’s what Sasha would have done.
The titular “Deceiver” can be any number of people, but I like to think it’s referring to Kaya and her not revealing that she knew Falco and Gabi weren’t from Paradis. Her role in this episode was to give Gabi an example of the typical “island devil” – someone who did nothing wrong and does not deserve the life she’s been handed. For Gabi to continually insist that they needed to pay for the sins of their ancestors, when they themselves had done nothing, was sickening, and I appreciated that Kaya got in her face about it.
I wonder how much Kaya knows about how Sasha died. Nicolo didn’t know until the others told him at Sasha’s grave, but he’ll surely put two and two together when Kaya brings Gabi and Falco to him. And all that does is remind me of that really weird scene from last week’s episode, with Nicolo and the wine. Whose side is Nicolo on? Will he use the opportunity to get revenge for Sasha, or will he take the chance and side with Gabi?
I’m still thinking about that scene with the wine. What does it all mean? I’m extremely surprised that they didn’t have anything about that in “Deceiver”, especially after they felt the need to put that brief scene with Zeke and Levi at the end of the episode. Why include that if nothing is going to come of it? So something is clearly going to happen, it just hasn’t happened yet.
“Deceiver” officially ends a bit earlier than usual, with an after-credits scene that finally shows us what’s been going on in Marley in the aftermath of the Scouts’ attack. The devastation is terrible, and we’re clearly shown that to remind us of what a brutal attack this was for a bunch of innocent people, much like the Shinganshina attack was nine years ago. Remember, in a war like this, it’s usually the innocents who suffer the most.
Reiner is smart to suggest that they attack now. We have no idea what Zeke’s ultimate plan is (but there have been all those hints that Zeke and his people are working towards something), but it’s likely he does expect Marley to regroup and wait for reinforcements. They’ve never faced a defeat like this before and they are scrambling, but they also have more advanced weaponry and they’ve gotten their hands on some 3DM gear, which they can study and potentially reverse engineer.
However, Reiner’s motivation in “Deceiver” is clearly based on concern for Gabi and Falco. He was so defeated just a few episodes ago, basically asking for Eren to kill him. But he doesn’t want the kids to suffer for his mistakes, and them being in danger is probably the only thing that kept him alive during the assault. He knew these people once, but it’s been years, and he can’t know how they’ll treat Falco and Gabi. It makes sense for him to worry about their safety.
I tend to be very bad at picking up on foreshadowing, but Reiner hearing Gabi and Falco’s voices means something, and combined with Falco’s “dream” at the beginning of the season may hint that it’s Falco who’ll eventually inherit the Armored Titan.
There is almost too much going on in every episode – even the ones where it seems like not a lot is happening – to thoroughly cover everything. I love this show and have honestly no idea what’s going to happen, and there is no way that they can wrap this up in five more episodes, so there better be a second part of this season coming.
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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