After a week break, the second part of Attack on Titan‘s final season came to an end on Sunday, but as fans have speculated for weeks, it’s not the conclusion of the story. It was confirmed that a third part will air in 2023, which will presumably be the final part of the final season. I’m sure they mean it this time. And “The Dawn of Humanity” was certainly a fantastic episode to go into hiatus with.
You know that it’s serious when there is no OP or ED. When there’s neither, that means that sh*t is about to go down. The ending of “The Dawn of Humanity” was likely the cliffhangeriest cliffhanger I think I’ve ever seen, and now I find myself faced with the typical dilemma of whether or not I can resist the temptation to read the manga.
I’ll begin with the ending, because that was terrifying. The Rumbling has been in the background for much of this part of the season – the slow, scary march of colossal Titans as they wend their way to destroy the world outside Paradis. Just seeing that was enough to solidify why everyone was so rightfully afraid of Paradis using this weapon. But then the Titans reach Marley.
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to see Titans swimming, and it was a little goofy and silly. But then they swam past the blockade of ships, melting the skin off the sailors and capsizing all of the ships with the wave of water and steam. This is the combined might of the entire world. This is the best defense that they can muster. And the Titans just blew it out of the water – literally. Then they rose out of the water, and my stomach dropped. Imagine seeing that and knowing that you were looking at your doom.
I have this dream sometimes where the moon falls out of orbit and crashes into the Earth. I imagine it’s something like that. Just this overwhelming feeling of dread, because you can see the end coming, but you can’t do anything about it. Where can the people go? There’s nowhere to run.
And then Eren appearing behind the line of Titans like that, like something out of a nightmare. He was mostly skeleton with just a head, towering above even the colossal Titans, who are literally taller than trees. We haven’t seen Eren in a while, and now we know why. It’s so that his appearance at the port of Marley can fill you with this sense of foreboding.
(Although for me, the scariest thing in this episode was that clown.)
This episode answered a lot of questions that were still lingering, mostly about how and why Eren ended up in Marley, and what the deal with Historia was. In fact, much of the episode was a flashback to things that happened before season 4 even began. I still can’t say I’m really satisfied with the answers that we’ve been given, but I have to trust that all will be revealed in time.
Or maybe not. The thing about Attack on Titan is that there are no easy answers. I’m sure, for some things, there will be no answers at all. After all, in real life, we don’t always learn the reasons why.
“The Dawn of Humanity” begins with Mikasa on the ship, remembering the last time she was on a ship – when the group went to Marley on a reconnaissance mission. In her voiceover, she wonders when Eren changed, or if that’s the way he had always been, and none of them ever noticed. Actually, I think this episode proves that Eren hasn’t really changed, at least not about what matters.
In one of the flashback scenes, Eren is talking to Zeke about the plan, and he affirms that it doesn’t really matter what happens to him as long as his friends are safe and happy. Eren has been like that for the entire series; he recklessly rides into danger to protect those he loves. He’s gone too far this time, but his intent is the same. He wants to protect his people.
I think what this episode did was show how conflicted Eren is about his plan. When Mikasa finds him on the hill overlooking the refugee camp, he seems sad. Some speculate that he is sad because they’ll never truly be free, while some think that he already knows he’s going to wipe them out with the Rumbling. It’s possible he regrets that these people will have to die so that his friends can be safe. He knows that it’s wrong, but he’s going to do it anyway.
We may never truly know Eren’s real thoughts on the matter. After the disastrous conference on “Eldian safety”, where everyone blamed all the world’s problems on Paradis, he probably suspects that there is no other option. He’s seen his future, so he may think he’s destined to do it no matter what. He’s trapped in a prison of memories; he might not even be looking for alternatives because he thinks he knows the future already. And he is willing to do whatever it takes. The scene of him sawing off his own leg made me squeamish. And then he gouged out his own eye!
It turns out that the Ackerman imprinting thing was a lie Eren concocted to distance himself from Mikasa. Well, I totally bought it! Actually, Mikasa is so devoted to Eren because she likes him. Who knew?
It’s hard not to feel for Mikasa, who was finally given the perfect opportunity to confess her love for Eren and froze. I hate that she’s second-guessing herself, wondering if things would be different if she’d given him a different answer. I think Eren’s conversation with Zeke proves that Eren was relieved that she gave him the answer she did. And when he saw the chance to push her away, he took it.
If Eren thought that Mikasa loved him romantically, then she would feel massive guilt at what he’s going to do. But also, he does only have a few more years to live. Perhaps he thinks that, if she doesn’t love him that way, she’ll be able to meet someone, fall in love with them, and be happy. But I don’t think her answer would have changed anything. Eren had already decided he was going to do it.
We finally got more than a brief glimpse of Historia. She even had lines in “The Dawn of Humanity” after having been sidelined for the entirety of season 4. It looks like I was wrong that she got pregnant to protect herself. Honestly, it looks like she got pregnant to protect Eren. Eren told her his plans, and she wanted to stop him from committing such an atrocity. I have no idea how her being pregnant is meant to do that, and hopefully, we learn what her plan was later.
Something that surprised me is that Floch also seemed to originally be against Eren’s plan. Considering how gung-ho he seemed about everything, I didn’t expect that reaction from him. But judging by the timing, the conversations with Historia and Floch were before the original trip to Marley. That means that Eren was planning the Rumbling even before they went to observe the situation. It also means that Floch would have then been exposed to the outside world after hearing about Eren’s plan, and seeing the way everyone united against Paradis likely only turned him further towards the cause.
This episode doesn’t really tell us anything new, even though it does. We now know a little bit more of the why, but it doesn’t change what’s happening. The Rumbling has reached the other side of the sea. And our intrepid band of rebels are still determined to stop it.
Before I close out the final review of this part of the season, a word on the teaser for part 3 that was released. The promotional image shows our rebels in the footprint of a Titan. The most important thing, for me, is that Levi is fully kitted out. I’m totally ready to see him back in action. And Armin standing at the front with the others in a circle around him implies that he will be pivotal in whatever happens.
See y’all in 2023!
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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