Attack on Titan 4×13 Review: “Children of the Forest”
Things come to a head in this week’s episode of Attack on Titan. “Children of the Forest” reveals more about Zeke’s plan – like who was involved and what’s up with the wine – and proves that Mr. Braus is better than like 95% of the characters on this show.
Nicolo’s restaurant becomes a hotbed of activity in “Children of the Forest”, with Mr. Braus, Gabi, Falco, Hange, and what remains of the 104th all being there at the same time. Gabi and Falco have come with Mr. Braus, hoping to unite with Nicolo and figure out a way to get home. Meanwhile, Hange, Connie, Jean, Mikasa, and Armin have come to check up on Nicolo after having interviewed all of the other volunteers about their confinement. A few surprise guests drop in on them as well, but I’ll get to that later.
Meanwhile, Levi is still out in the woods and reminding Zeke that he 100% does not trust him. We at last learn just how they were able to transform everyone in Connie’s village into Titans all the way back in season 2, with Zeke insisting that he didn’t want to do it, but he had no choice. We know that Zeke is planning something, but we’re still not quite sure of the extent of his plans, or his ultimate goal, so I was on the edge of my seat all during the episode waiting for an attack that never came.
This was an extremely tense episode. You knew something was going to happen once you had all of those characters in one spot, and you knew not all of it was going to be good. I expected Nicolo’s reaction to learning that Gabi is the one who killed Sasha, although I didn’t anticipate him going quite that far. I absolutely did not expect Eren to show up and just nonchalantly wave his bloody hand at Armin and Mikasa, like he’s just there for a chat and not essentially threatening his best friends. I totally thought that Floch was going to shoot Hange or one of the others; the smile he gave Hange was downright evil, and the Yeagerists seem just that insane.
It seems like every week, there is so much going on in Attack on Titan that I can barely keep up with everything. In “Children of the Forest”, we finally learn just what is going on with the wine in Nicolo’s restaurant: it contains Zeke’s spinal fluid. Also, Nicolo doesn’t have anything to do with the plan, he was just observant enough to recognize that there was something special about it. Onyankopon also had no idea what was going on, which proves there is a schism not only among the Scouts but the Volunteers as well.
Levi learning about the coup actually tore me up a bit. The montage of flashbacks in the woods behind him as he remembered all the times he saved Eren’s life at the expense of others was particularly well done. Levi has done a lot for Eren because he believed him to be the future of humanity; watching him lose his last bit of faith in Eren was devastating. It just makes me wonder, what does Levi want to happen? Which way is he leaning? I think Levi doesn’t have a lot of influence in the military, even though he does in the Scouts; I also think there’s enough evidence that Levi doesn’t agree with the way the military has been running things. But with Eren seeing the Scouts as roadblocks, it’s likely that Levi will not be on their side.
What is the ultimate plan? Floch reveals that the Yeagerists know about the spinal fluid in the wine, which implies that they are in on whatever Zeke and Yelena were planning – though I still suspect Eren has his own plans. Floch makes it sound like the goal is to build an Eldian empire – he’s been chattering about that for a while. I don’t think Eren wants an empire, though; I think he just wants revenge for the original attack and everything that followed after. But the volunteer who sold out Onyankopon and the others chastised Nicolo for being too obsessed with the Eldians. Why is he helping them, then? It doesn’t make sense. I’m still so confused.
If you thought we were done mourning for Sasha, you were wrong. “Children of the Forest” showed us that there is still some sad left in us. Nicolo breaking down over how much Sasha meant to him, helping him forget the war and realize how much he loved cooking, was heartbreaking. Even more so when it occurs to you that Sasha’s last word (“meat”) was possibly an attempt to say Nicolo’s name. (“The food has gone cold” was tragic as well. It felt like him saying that his passion was gone, or that he didn’t expect a happy ending.)
But Kaya’s sobbing rage was also terrible to witness. I think it says a lot about her, that she was willing to befriend the enemy until she learned out they killed someone she loved.
“Children of the Forest” as a title has both a literal and metaphorical application. When I saw the preview last week, I assumed that it was referring to the actual people in the actual forest, i.e. Levi and his soldiers who are guarding Zeke. But it also relates to the speech Mr. Braus gives after being confronted with Gabi and Falco, where he talks about adults being responsible for fixing the sins of the world. They need to stop sending children into the forest. This is why Mr. Braus wins all the awards. Faced with the person who shot his daughter, he chooses compassion instead of violence.
I hope this incident goes a long way towards mellowing Gabi the hell out. She thought she could get help from Nicolo, but he tried to kill her. The father of the soldier she shot chose to spare her life. Kaya, someone she considered a person she could trust, also turned on her. Armin and Mikasa got her to safety and reveal to her that they don’t want to kill her either. Being confronted with Eren Yeager, who she’s been maniacally mumbling about for ages, will probably stoke her rage again, but I have some faith that Armin will prove to her that not every “Eldian devil” wants violence.
“Children of the Forest” was probably the first time I truly understood why the rest of the world fears Eldians so much. Zeke’s recounting of how they transformed Connie’s village and how they took down a capital city in one night is just terrifying. Eldians aren’t just people like Eren, who have special abilities and their wits about them, enough to know what they’re doing and use that to their advantage. It’s also random people who can be turned into giant weapons both without their knowledge and against their will. They look like anyone, and in no time at all they can be changed into a brainless killing machine.
I want to have faith in Eren, but the fact that he is willing to turn his own people into mindless Titans shows that he has gone too far. I think his plan is just to burn the world down.
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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