As we come down to the wire, every episode of Attack on Titan is going to be more painful than the last. Our intrepid heroes (?) have finally reached the part that they were hoping to avoid; from here on out, in order to stop the genocide, they will be fighting against their friends and fellow Scouts. “Traitor” was a visceral gut-punch of an episode. No matter how things turn out, our characters will never be the same.
Attack on Titan is a show that likes to flip the script. For most of the show, Armin, Mikasa, and the rest of the 104th were the “good” guys. First, they fought against the Titans. Then they fought against those who sought to cover up the truth. But now their “enemies” are people they trained with, people they’ve known for years. The waters are starting to get a little muddied. They are being called traitors. And it’s not even untrue.
Even though they are all on the same side now, the show still wants to remind you of the divisions with Pieck, Reiner, and Annie on one side and Armin, Mikasa, Jean, and Conny on the other. The argument about how to approach was necessary, but I appreciate that Annie and Reiner at least tried to make it easier for the others. Reiner and Annie trained with the Yeagerists, too, but they’ve been gone for a while; it’s not at all like what Armin, Mikasa, Jean, and Conny are experiencing.
The trauma these poor kids have gone through and will continue to go through. I screamed when Armin got shot, even knowing that he has Titan powers and won’t die. (I was expecting him to transform, but if he did that then Conny would be killed and they’d lose the sky boat.) But Conny having to kill Daz and Samuel, two characters who weren’t just random extras and have actually been there since season 1, was devastating. His scream of raw anguish at the end gave me chills.
Attack on Titan is also a show that makes you think. What is “good”? What is “bad”? Do the ends justify the means? I think most people would agree that genocide is evil, but if the alternative is the genocide of your own people, what choice do you have? Is the effort that our rebel band is undergoing worth it – killing their own people, their friends and comrades? What is the point of “saving” a world that wants you dead?
Magath apologizes for his behavior in the previous episode, saying that it’s wrong to blame Armin and the others for the actions of their ancestors. He even laments that Reiner, Annie, and the others were forced to atone for sins they never committed. As someone with considerable influence in the world’s largest military, this definitely feels like too little, too late. But then again, before his time on Paradis, there was nothing to challenge his worldview. If people like Magath – and Gabi – can change their minds, then others can, too.
“Traitor” spends a lot of time emphasizing the futility of peace. Armin and Conny go for the peaceful option first, not wanting to shed blood unless they have to, especially among people they consider their friends. Still, when given the option to sit back and let the Marleyans bear the brunt of the fighting, even Armin refuses to have clean hands. (His hands are already dirty after Marley, but still.) In the end, they are forced to kill in order to defend themselves, and it absolutely destroys them to do so.
It might have been futile, but it was still necessary to go for the peaceful option first. I’ve discussed before the cyclical nature of violence. It’s very much like the cycle of abuse. Decrying the actions of one nation while behaving in a similar fashion. Floch believes himself to be better than the rest of the world even as he kills the Hizuru scientists. Even Magath believes they need to put an end to the violence. One should always strive to leave the world a better place than they found it.
Not to mention, without Armin and Conny trying to trick the Yeagerists, they would never have known that the sky boat was rigged to explode. If Annie had just charged in without any reconnaissance, the Yeagerists would have blown the boat and they would have been stuck.
Kiyomi and Yelena both talk as though violence is the natural order for humans. Kiyomi mocks Floch’s belief that Paradis will be safe after the genocide; there will still be violence, she says, there will just be fewer people to commit it. Yelena implies that people will always resort to violence. And she says this to Levi, a character who has essentially always gone, “I choose violence”.
It was weird to see Levi forced to sit on the sidelines and watch. What must have been going through his head, seeing the Female Titan let loose once more, killing more of his cadets? I made that joke about him choosing violence, but it’s well established that Levi cares a lot about his soldiers. And now he and Hange are really the only veterans left. At this point, you have to believe that those two are just so tired of everything. I hope he is saving up his energy for the inevitable showdown versus Zeke; he made a promise to Erwin.
Loyalties change so often on this show, but I legitimately loved getting to see Annie and Reiner in action. Their coordination during their fight was phenomenal. Of course, they’re likely fighting a bunch of Scouts who never had to fight real Titans before. I think this is one of the first times we’ve seen multiple Titans fighting together, and it really emphasizes the strength of the Nine.
There are only two episodes left in this alleged final season, but there’s definitely more than two episodes of content remaining. Likely the series will end with a movie. On the one hand, I’m glad that they aren’t rushing the final arc in order to fit an episode count. On the other hand, it will be incredibly difficult to remain unspoiled while waiting for the US release of an Attack on Titan film. I don’t understand why part 2 couldn’t have just been 16 episodes like part 1.
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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