Attack on Titan‘s final season is finally back and has returned with a bang in “Judgment”. (Literally.) The fates of fan-favorite characters are up in the air, the enemy is more prepared than anticipated, and our beleaguered heroes from the 104th have no idea whose side they should be on.
“Judgment” is everything that a season premiere needs to be. This is one of those episodes that felt like it was five minutes long, because I was on the edge of my seat. I managed to resist the call of the siren song that is the manga, so I am still almost entirely unspoiled for what will happen. (Spoil me and die, just saying.) It is really exciting having absolutely no idea what is going to happen, yet still loving every second of it.
The episode opens with a distraught Hange hovering over Levi’s mangled body. When one of the guards offers to shoot him in the head – thereby removing him as a problem – she claims that he’s already dead. But Floch doesn’t believe her, and neither do I. While I have no doubts that we’ll probably lose more people in this final season, the way we lost Sasha in the first half, I can’t imagine they would leave Levi’s fate up in the air for the entire hiatus only to, in the first few minutes of the next episode, be like, “Yep, he’s dead.”
Story-wise, it doesn’t make any sense. I suppose it makes sense in a Game of Thrones “subverting expectations” kind of way, but it would be a waste to kill Levi so soon. I anticipate a final showdown of sorts between him and Eren. Although, with those injuries, he’s going to be out of commission for a while. Besides, if he were really dead, Hange wouldn’t have escaped with his body when the guards were distracted by Zeke.
Speaking of Zeke… What’s up with that? Previously, he had a vision of a girl who was presumably the original Ymir, and he expands a little on this vision in “Judgment”, describing being sculpted out of clay. Were the original Titans built? It’s as good a creation story as any. I can only hope that we learn more about their creation before the series is over, because I have a million questions.
Marley is more prepared than I thought. I guess I figured, from how quickly they launched their counterattack, that they were going in there half-cocked, willing to through whatever they had and hope something stuck. But to know that they specifically developed a new weapon just to go after Eren (in a month!), and how they already knew the best way to get an advantage from the terrain… That is some serious planning. I imagine Reiner was heavily involved in the planning because he had insider knowledge.
It just goes to show how easy it is to be a military superpower when you have superior weaponry. I mean, Marley has airships and machine guns, and what do the soldiers of Paradis have? …Not those. The Yeagerists were getting slaughtered; “Judgment” was perhaps the bloodiest episode of Attack on Titan yet, and that’s saying something. (This is the first episode I remember having a content warning at the beginning.)
But of course, Eren has to be all Eren about everything and just dive into the fray against all reason. He’s very desperate for a rematch with Reiner, but I can’t believe he so casually risks his life like that. I mean, it seems very reminiscent of the way he was at the beginning of the series, but I thought he had gained a little bit of maturity (or at least some sense of self-preservation) by now. His plan can’t have just been “suicide charge the enemy” so he must have something in mind.
Regardless, Eren is another character whose “fate”, so to speak, is up in the air at the end of the episode. It certainly looks like Reiner has him against the ropes, but come on. It’s only the first episode back. Eren isn’t going to go down that easily.
I still don’t know what to believe about Eren’s true motivations. I’m Armin, desperately trying to reason out Eren’s thought process. I do believe that at least some of what Eren said back at the restaurant were lies, or purposely meant to hurt Armin and Mikasa. I think he wanted to distance himself from them so that they would be safe during whatever happened next. Perhaps he thought if he locked them up in the dungeon, they’d be spared from whatever plan Zeke and Yelena came up with.
To continue on with what Armin was saying, as he desperately tries to convince his friends that Eren would never have agreed to sterilize all Eldians, I have to wonder… do they know that Historia is pregnant?
“Judgement” is a really good episode for Conny. You have to feel for the guy. His entire family was turned into Titans, he lost trusted allies when Bertholdt, Reiner, and Annie were revealed to be spies, and Sasha was shot basically right in front of him. He’s not playing around anymore, and the episode ended without the group reaching a consensus of what to do, so it’s possible he may not want any part of their plan. He seems a thousand percent done with everything.
I’m relieved to know that Onyankopon’s remorse was genuine. As soon as he realizes that Marley is attacking, he races to free Armin and the others. I can’t fault Conny’s response, but hearing that Onyankopon only went along with Yelena because he feared for his life leads me to believe that there may be quite a few in the Yeagerists who would not have agreed with the ultimate plan. (Of course, it looks like most of the Yeagerists are dead, so…?)
The general consensus, from what I’ve seen in episode discussions, is that the animation in “Judgment” is much better than it was in the first half of the season. I will admit that there is a lot of nuance to animation that I don’t always catch. I’m not always good at spotting when it’s “good”, but if it’s really bad I will notice.
The new OP is unbelievable, but I’m trying not to look at it too closely because it’s hard to tell what’s a spoiler and what’s just a metaphor. The song is called “The Rumbling”, though, and that can’t be a coincidence. The lyrics (which are in English) combined with the imagery in the ED should give some insight into Eren’s motivations. But like I said, I don’t want to sit here and analyze them because I’m afraid I’ll spoil myself.
What did you think of “Judgment”?
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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