Attack on Titan 3×01 & 3×02 Review: “Smoke Signals” & “Pain”

Attack on Titan Smoke Signals Pain

So Attack on Titan is back for season 3! The first episode premiered while I was at a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, so please enjoy this double dose as we start the new season. Both “Smoke Signals” and “Pain” hit the ground running.

Season 2 was pretty slow, action wise. There were some pretty big Titan attacks, but for the most part it seems like they spent most of the season talking. We still have some important conversations – some major philosophical discussions have happened – but season 3 already seems more fast-paced and action-packed, plus we’ve gotten two major revelations! In “Pain”, we learned that Historia is actually the heir to the kingdom – as the Reiss family are the actual rulers, who are kept in secret so as to not be put in danger – and Levi’s last name is Ackerman… which, you know, is Mikasa’s last name as well.

Historia being the heir certainly explains why she’s so important to everyone, and why Pastor Nick was willing to die to protect her. I’ve no idea if Ymir is aware of this fact, but I feel like she must be, on some level. Needless to say, this was a huge shock to everyone, but unfortunately both Historia and Eren have been captured… by the Reiss family. Historia, for the moment, appears to be safe, but Eren is still bound and gagged when we end the episode. Do they simply want him for his Titan-shifting powers, or for something more sinister?

Attack on Titan PainBoth “Smoke Signals” and “Pain” featured some amazing action sequences starring this girl’s favorite Scout, Levi. I mean, seriously, Levi was unbelievable in these first two episodes, which I think makes up for him being injured during most of season 2 and unable to perform to his badass best. The scene in “Pain” where he’s cornered in the bar and he shoots the gun upside down, over the bar, behind him, based on the reflection he sees in the liquor bottle? I had to watch that scene multiple times. I made a noise that should not be uttered outside of the bedroom at that scene.

And the animation? I’m drooling at how good the animation was. The whole sequence with the Scouts fighting the Police in Trost was fantastic.

“Smoke Signals” and “Pain” are also amazing character episodes. What Armin alone has had to endure in these two episodes is enough to break anyone; he was basically sexually assaulted while acting as Historia’s body double, and then he had to kill a human being for the first time in order to save Jean. When they’re all at the table listening to the torture, Armin says that none of them are good people anymore… chills. This season is knocking it out of the park so far and it’s only been two episodes. The Scouts never thought they would have to kill humans, and now they’re dealing with an elite force of the Military Police that has been secretly dispatching “problematic” people for decades. Titans are no longer the only enemy. My poor babies.

Other Thoughts:

  • Attack on Titan Smoke Signals PainI was spoiled as to Levi’s last name ages ago, so it wasn’t until I read the discussion over at /r/anime that I even remembered that his name is a big deal. This is something that I hope gets addressed during the season. They wouldn’t have brought it up if it weren’t important; I just hope we don’t have to wait too long to find out why.
  • So…where’s Annie? I expect we’ll see Ymir, Bertholdt, and Reiner again sometime this season, but we haven’t seen Annie since season 1.
  • I don’t appreciate the fake out with Jean, but I also thought it was Mikasa who swooped in and saved him at the last second. I would never have suspected Armin.
  • Last week’s episode didn’t have an ED, but I can see why, because it looks kind of spoilery. Although that appears to be just something Attack on Titan does.

Have you guys seen “Smoke Signals” and “Pain”? What did you think?

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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