As always with Attack on Titan, it feels like the more you learn, the less you know. It’s been no secret that Zeke is most likely up to something. However, I always suspected that he had his own goals that Eren was not a part of. But “Guides” seems to make it clear that Eren is just as involved in whatever is going on as Zeke is. Are they really working together? Is one of them manipulating the other? Are they both trying to pull a fast one on each other?
We’ve been seeing the signs of internal conflict all during the season. The splintering in the core group is just one small part of a very big problem. In “Guides”, we discover that there are hundreds of soldiers who are loyal to Eren and not the government, and they are apparently working with Zeke in whatever plan he has, which we still do not know the nuts and bolts of.
Whatever the plan is, it involves the murder of the head of the military. Zackly and three soldiers are killed when a bomb goes off in his office, just moments after Armin and Mikasa are there. Because of their visit, Armin and Mikasa are able to deduce that the military views Eren as replaceable, and are already undergoing the process of trying to pick his replacement.
This is later confirmed, and leaving Hange and the others out of the loop is justified by the fact that most of the defectors are from the Scouts. Obviously most of the defectors are from the Scouts – Eren is in the Scouts and they would have known him better than people from any of the other military branches. It looks like they didn’t learn anything from what happened with Erwin.
On the one hand, I wish I had caved and read the manga so I knew what was going on. On the other hand, I like getting to sit here every week and try and figure out the threads of the plot. Zeke has a plan, clearly – a different plan than the one they thought they were enacting. Eren seems to be in on that plan. Hange thinks that Zeke may be manipulating Eren, which is possible, but we just don’t know enough to be sure.
I want to have faith in Eren because he’s the protagonist I’ve been rooting for since the series began (even though he really annoyed me in season 1), but Season 4 has made the story go from relatively black and white to littered with shades of gray.
As I said before, the more we learn in “Guides”, the less we know. There is the potential for a four-way battle coming up: Yeagerists vs Zeke and the volunteers vs the Scouts vs Marley and the rest of the world.
Do the ends justify the means? The current resident of Paradis have done nothing to deserve the ire and scorn of the entire world. They shouldn’t be punished for the misdeeds of their ancestors any more than the captive Eldians in other countries should be. Willy Tybur pumped everybody up for war on a possibility – not an inevitability, not even a likelihood. Residents of Paradis sat clueless behind their walls while Marley spent decades dropping man-eating Titans on their shores. If Eren hadn’t moved up the attack, Paradis would have been facing the might of literally every other country in the world. Don’t they have the right to defend themselves?
But should they have gone to the lengths that they did? There were countless innocent civilian deaths in their assault. Those people didn’t deserve to die. Violence just begets more violence. I sound like a broken record but that’s the truth. I have a feeling I’ll be repeating this statement ad nauseum until we learn just what the hell is going on in this story.
The arguments in the core group are still important. The 104th are all doubting Eren after his actions – forcing Paradis’s hand when it came to military action against Marley. I suspect that they would have been angry at him anyway, and Sasha’s death just makes the situation even that more untenable. Yet in “Guides” they are starting to turn on each other. Connie accuses Mikasa, which considering her loyalty to Eren isn’t completely out of nowhere, but with everything that’s going on, they need to stop fighting amongst themselves.
Something I am curious about is Onyankopon’s role in everything. He seems to have no idea what is going on. Yelena was clearly going to be involved with whatever Zeke was – she came across as a fanatic long before this episode confirmed it – and it stands to reason some of the other volunteers are, too. But how many, and which ones?
Well, the cut to the restaurant where Nicolo works would imply that he is in on it, as well, even if we didn’t have the fact that Hange brought up Yelena arguing to put the Marleyans in “odd” jobs, like restaurants. Not to mention that weird scene from a few episodes ago with the wine. As we go along, that scene seems to have more and more importance, and I suspect it means that something is going to go down in the forest with Levi and Zeke.
If Levi dies, I riot.
I am also interested to know Kiyomi’s role in this. In “Guides”, she was present when they were discussing the Yeagerists, which is odd. Why would she be there? She’s not a member of the government; she’s an ally, but she’s not really entitled to any of this information. Plus, there were a lot of cuts to her during the explanation. Nothing is incidental in animation – those are intentional. But why? Is she involved in what’s going on as well? Is she being manipulated by Zeke, the way they suspect Eren is? Does she have her own endgame?
We see Annie again in “Guides”. For two seasons, we had no idea of her status, only mentions, and now we’ve seen her multiple times. I have to believe that she still has an integral part to play, but what? And when does it happen? They wouldn’t keep showing her if she wasn’t going to wake up.
I’m very curious about the timeline of Season 4. The very last shot of “Guides” shows that Pieck, at least, has infiltrated the walls. Now, I know for dramatic and storyline purposes that they held off on showing us what was going on back in Marley in order to focus on what’s going on in Paradis. And likely the scene from last week’s episode with Reiner arguing for an immediate retaliation was right after the assault. But how long has it truly been, that Pieck was able to get to the island already? And how did no one notice her approach? Did she swim?
Pieck’s arrival proves how detrimental all of the in-fighting is. They’ll be too busy fighting amongst themselves to be able to prepare for the real enemy. And then, of course, there is whatever Zeke is planning. Pyxis is right to want to negotiate with the Yeagerists. They can’t afford to be at odds.
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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