We returned to Attack on Titan already in the climactic event, so all of the remaining episodes will surely be action-packed, with frustrating cliffhangers. “Sneak Attack” had some genuinely surprising moments, and I find myself completely unsure of which direction things will go.
“Sneak Attack” is one of those episodes where it feels like a lot happens even though there isn’t that much going on. Think about it: almost the entire episode is Eren just walking to Zeke in the world’s slowest shuffle. Just how far apart were they? But still, Zeke is incredible in a fight; in a short amount of time, he is able to completely turn the tides and have Marley on the defensive.
Meanwhile, after running up the world’s longest staircase, Armin and the others convince the Yeagerists guarding the cells to let all of the prisoners out, recognizing that their only chance is to work together. And let me tell you, Yelena’s face in that moment, when Armin told the others to help Eren get to Zeke…. Well, you can see why Onyakopon felt obligated to join her movement. She was legitimately terrifying.
Something is off with Yelena. I think that was fully cemented with that abrupt switch from “I’m going to kill you” to “yes, please, help”. I assume she knows that they’re lying, but she’s going to use them anyway.
Zeke’s appearance clues the 104th in to the fact that something happened to Levi and Hange. The two of them are still unaccounted for – Levi’s fate still unknown (but come on, it’s Levi, so he’s probably not dead) – and I think that was the biggest shock to Armin and the others than anything else that happened in this episode.
Gabi and Falco showed a lot of growth in “Sneak Attack”, although Gabi showed the most of all. It’s no secret that I’ve found Gabi to be obnoxious. Yes, she’s a brainwashed child, but I still wanted her to shut up. In this episode, she seems to have truly realized that the Eldians in Marley were lied to. “There are no devils here. There are just people.” It’s what everyone has been trying to tell her, and I don’t think it really sank home for her until she heard Sasha’s father – who has every reason to hate her – still worried about whether or not she was ok.
Another moment for Gabi was taking off Falco’s armband. It was some kind of irony, that even on Paradis, Falco ended up having to wear an armband. And Gabi was always so proud of her armband, because it marked her as one of the good Eldians. Has she now finally realized that it doesn’t matter? In the end, to Marley, they are all just Eldians.
Falco sneaking in a confession and marriage talk in the same speech as admitting that he inadvertently helped Eren with his attack was just too much. I like that he got the courage from Nile, who admitted that he wished he could tell his family something before he died. And honestly, Nile and the others are likely to be turned into Titans in next week’s episode.
That’s another indicator of how much this time in Paradis has changed Gabi. For one, that she trusted Nile – “the enemy” – and didn’t let Colt kill him. For another, that she absorbed Falco’s confession about his role in the attack and ultimately forgave him. Even a few episodes ago, I feel like she would have screamed at him and called him a traitor. Has Gabi finally learned about a little thing called nuance?
Back on Zeke’s potential scream for a moment. The episode ended with Falco running towards Zeke and Magath saying that as long as there is life in Zeke, he can still scream. Could that perhaps be foreshadowing that Zeke does scream, Falco is turned into a Titan, and then possibly eats one of the other shifters? They’ve been leaning into that too much for Zeke to not scream, so he must. And it seems just too naïve of Colt to assume that Zeke won’t scream just to protect Falco, when he’s so close to his literal life-long goal. They should be getting Falco as far away as possible. But they aren’t. So bad things are going to happen, clearly.
Also, can we talk about that incredible fakeout from Pieck? When they showed her skeleton, and Zeke commented on that finally being her downfall, I immediately thought, “But we didn’t see her die, so she isn’t really dead.” And then she wasn’t! It was just a trick, to distract Zeke and allow Magath the opportunity to take him out. And while that was a great shot, it didn’t quite work out the way he wanted.
There are a lot of little moments in “Sneak Attack” that even I, as that English major who absolutely abhorred discussions on symbolism, can appreciate. Mikasa leaving behind her scarf – strange enough that it was commented on by another Scout – indicates that she is starting to distance herself from Eren. This may be important later, because without Levi, Mikasa is their next best fighter. The birdcages in the room with Falco, Gabi, and Colt – with one of the cages being open – continue to tie into the overwhelming imagery of birds and freedom.
Some characters returned – like Shadis, Pxyis, and Louise (who was rescued by Mikasa all the way back in season 1). But still no Annie. Or Historia.
I also appreciated the humor. Attack on Titan is a very dark show, but there have been moments of levity peppered throughout. The past few episodes, going back into part one of the season, have been heavy. This is the first episode in a while that made me laugh out loud. Like when Sasha’s father was just like, “Um… can we go?” And Conny remarking that they couldn’t let Eren die before he got to punch him in the face.
Now, I joked about it a bit in the beginning, but the pacing of this episode was weird. It made sense for the first few minutes of last week’s episode to be a bit of a recap, since it was the first episode back from hiatus. But there was no reason to do the same thing in this week’s episode. How are they padding out the episodes when there is still presumably so much left to cover? I’m not a fan.
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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