So Attack on Titan comes to an end… next year, but here is the first half of the finale! Yes, the modern classic is on its last legs, and while I was debating covering this on the blog due to not having covered the previous three seasons for one reason or another, the fact that this won’t be the only thing on this site that has the last few chunks of episodes reviewed but not the first (though I will get to them eventually!) made me think “why not?”. So how was it? Very weird, is how it was. The end of the previous season pretty much wrapped up the whole “last of humanity cowering behind walls from Titans” story and now we’re suddenly in a world war scenario. Let’s have a look…
Due to the Warrior Unit’s defeat on Paradis Island four years ago, the Mid-East Allied Forces had declared war against Marley. The operation to reclaim the Founding Titan was put on hold as Marley sends Eldian soldiers to take Fort Slava…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
It’s at this point where I’d draw my curtain back and try and pretend I didn’t see anything.
With the exception of Reiner (and a character revealed later), the first four episodes comprise on an entirely new cast of characters in the country of Marley. They are the ones responsible for sending Titans onto Paradis Island and view the Eldians, as we now know they’re called, as “Devils”. They have their own group of Eldians capable of transforming into Titans but they’re just tools to be used, they even live in a small community and have to wear armbands to show what race they are, Jews in Nazi German style. The main focus is on some children who are being groomed to take control of the Armoured Titan when Reiner gets close to the early death he’s bound to experience due to being a Titan holder. Their names being Gabi, the cocky and loudmouth girl who is doing extremely well in the tests, and Falco, the exact opposite in being quiet and not up to much. As Marley assault the “Mid-East Alliance” and their Fort we see several new Titans that weren’t sent to Paradis previously in the Jaw Titan and Cart Titan, plus the aforementioned Armoured Titan. They take the Fort but it becomes clear to the higher-ups that the new canons and guns that are being developed will make the Titans obsolete within the decade, so plans to invade Paradis are pushed forward now they won this war…
But at the official declaration of war (where we hear more backstory on how Paradis Island came to be) Reiner is taken by Falco to meet his new friend… who turns out to be series protagonist Eren Jaeger, who proceeds to transform into a Titan, devour the head of the “Tybur Noble Family” who was giving the speech and then do battle with the newly introduced War Hammer Titan, eventually defeating it and eating its host. During this an airship containing a bunch of characters from Paradis arrive and start causing similar havoc, including Armin transforming into the Colossal Titan and wiping out the whole navy and port, and a bunch of the Survey Corps using a combination of guns and “Thunder Spears” to take out Marley soldiers and the Jaw and Cart Titans that also emerged. Eventually they all escape the country on the airship but an outraged Gabi sneaks on board (with Falco in toe) and shoots Sasha dead, which then causes a rift between Eren and his old allies Jean and Connie due to the whole attack on Marley being Eren’s idea that he didn’t tell them about, instead forcing their hand to come and rescue him. Between Eren’s more cold-hearted nature and Reiner’s emotional outbursts and at one point finding the idea of being killed far more appealing than continuing to live there was some really great drama here amongst the spectacle. We also find out that Zeke Jaeger has betrayed Marley and joined up with Paradis, much to Gabi’s further dismay.
The Cart Titan is a weird design… What use was it before the gun turrets were created?
A much needed flashback to three years ago was up next, to see how exactly the people of Paradis went from not ever having seen the ocean to travelling across it in an airship in just a few years. Basically a scout ship from Marley arrived and was attacked by our “heroes”, and the Eldians and other mistreated folk on board surrendered and sided with Paradis, given how they’re treated. Chief among them are the trio of Yelena, Onyankopon and Nicolo, who all have greater roles to play. The flashback shows us that these betrayers are the ones who showed Paradis Eldians how to build railways, ships and airships, plus guns and other weaponry. Back in the present we see that Nicolo was in love with Sasha so is genuinely heartbroken at her death, Gabi and Falco go on a journey to see the “Island Devils of Paradis” are actually normal people, and eventually that Eren and Zeke have been colluding and they have a plan to basically euthanize all the Eldians so no more Titans can ever be created, thus bring a sort-of peace to the world. People like Yelena and Onyankopon are on their side and the “Jaegerists” (as they become known) soon take over the Paradis government when they lock Eren up and even begin thinking about giving the Founding Titan to someone else. Zeke reveals his spinal fluid, if drank or inhaled, can then turn people into Titan at the call of his voice, a power he had used on Paradis and one he then uses to try and escape from Levi and his men, who he had doped with his fluid (apart from Levi, who isn’t the wine drinking type).
The plan doesn’t work entirely as Levi appears, defeats Zeke and then keeps him at bay by putting a Thunder Spear in him and setting it up to blow if he tries to move. We see a whole episode of Zeke backstory, showing how he was a poor soldier with bad parental figures that found solace in the man who had the Beast Titan before him, a man named Tom Ksaver. It was here where Zeke developed the idea of using the Founding Titan to sterilize all Eldians, thus “freeing them from persecution”, and then in present he blows himself up, and seemingly Levi (though we don’t see a body so I doubt it) before being rescued by a random Titan. It was interesting to see the backstory of a former “big bad” and see he wasn’t so bad… though his plan of wiping out Eldians in a generation or two via euthanasia seems extreme it will free the world of the terror of the Titans, so… sort of understandable? That’s what makes it so interesting, especially as Eren seems to be all-in on the plan as well, emotionally abusing Mikasa and beating Armin up, his two closest friends, to ram that point home. I find it hard to believe he has gone full “evil” and what he did to his friends was probably to keep them away from him due to some risky plan or something, but maybe he has, it would be in-character given his personality and all he’s been through regarding Titans. Anyway, at the very end of the last episode we see Eren avoid an attack from the Jaw and Cart Titan owners as Reiner and a bunch of Marleyan airships arrive to attack Paradis…
“Mikasa isn’t really doing much at the moment.” “Good point, let’s give her shorter hair…” “I was thinking something a bit more dramatic.” “Okay! Needless backstory it is!”
The only thing I didn’t like in this batch of episodes was the revelation that Mikasa was a descendant of the “Azumabito family of the nation of Hizuru” as well as the Ackerman part of her heritage being an Eldian bloodline that was modified to be loyal to the Eldian Royal Family and also gives her extraordinary powers and instinct. So the first half comes out of nowhere but isn’t important (apart from giving her somewhere to go at the end of all this…) and the latter comes out of nowhere and pointlessly explains her talent and devotion as some sort of genetic destiny rather than anything more. Now I’m sure she’ll “fight back against her destiny” and all that jazz, but it was still unnecessary exposition and backstory…
Eren has been through a lot, to be fair. Just look at those bags under his eyes!
Attack on Titan’s final run of plot is almost unrecognisable compared to the three seasons that came before it, but that’s not a bad thing as some of the twists, new countries, characters and some definite shades of grey across both sides of the war are all really interesting and made for a fun watch week-to-week. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all ends… in a year’s time.