SPOILER WARNING >> WATCH EPISODE 34 OF ATTACK ON TITAN FIRST <<
Madly popular semi-seinen series Attack on Titan seems to take a break from its usual oeuvre in the latest episode so it seems, with only a brief flashback to support the mostly character development happening in the story. This is ff course against the backdrop of the talkative group being chased by the Scout Brigade anyway. The vast majority of the episode is dedicated towards the conversation between Eren, Ymir, Reiner and Berthold. Although it makes up for quite a boring episode action-wise it is an important first step into actually unraveling the plot. For anime-viewers only in particular I’d like to point out that the actual plot (as in what the hell is going on) is actually starting here. The first season and the first couple of episodes of the second season only served to create the world setting and the premise of the story.
We start the episode with Eren waking up and finding himself captured by Reiner and Berthold. Ymir was captured too and seems to be in the same predicament. What makes this gathering so pivotal to the story is that 4 of the 5 known Titan-humans are present and they all now know of one another. Previously Annie managed to enclose herself into a crystal and thus preventing any more information from being provided. This is the first time Eren is in the presence of other Titans and with enough time to kill to maybe elicit a few answers.
Eren is furious at Berthold and Reiner but also realizes that this is perhaps the only opportunity to extract information from them. Now there’s also Ymir who doesn’t seem directly affiliated with the Giant and Armored Titans.
The process by which the conversation ensues is tantalizing and very well put together. It is wise to take careful note of who says what and when. At first Eren questions Reiner and Berthold’s motivations, accusing that they could simply hear the story of Eren’s mother’s death with such seeming empathy. A death, among thousands, that they caused. Reiner states that he did feel sympathetic towards Eren’s loss and this seems genuine. However neither let go any concrete motivations as to why they destroyed the wall.
At some point the conversation breaks down as neither Eren or Reiner can consolidate their feelings towards the subject and of course remain at odds. Reiner then suddenly has some kind of mental breakdown where he thinks they’re still in the army and doing patrols. He wishes for a promotion and expresses the feeling that they all deserve a promotion. All except Berthold are taken aback by Reiner’s apparent split personality until Eren demands an explanation. Berthold then reminds Reiner that they’re “not soldiers but warriors” and how the situation currently is. Reiner comes back to his senses and sits down sunken in deep thought. Ymir comes up with a possible explanation stating that Reiner took on the role of a soldier for so long that he came to believe the facade was real. Probably to cope with his sins. While prying however, Reiner gets mad and Ymir desists from thereon.
This transient part seemed immensely significant to me. It gives us some clues to Berthold and Reiner’s motivations. The hint is where Berthold calls them “warriors”. At first the difference between a soldier and a warrior seems insignificant. But when you think about it there are some very clear nuances between the two. Being a soldier is a profession. By the definition of the word itself a soldier is paid. A warrior however not necessarily so. This tells us that Berthold and Reiner take allegiance with some kind of outside force not being the army and it also tells us that the motivations (and philosophy if you will) of this outside force is shared between multiple individuals including Berthold and Reiner.
Eren also speculates that the monkey Titan has something to do with it and provides his testimony that both Berthold and Reiner seemed shocked at seeing it. Although it’s obvious that they know more nothing more is made known about this.
What’s more questioning though is Ymir’s allegiance in this. She seems to have been captured by Berthold and Reiner just like Eren. But Eren realizes that he doesn’t know what Ymir’s motivations are either. In fact the whole thing, from his point of view, could be staged as well to try and get Ymir closer to Eren. Perhaps Eren will trust Ymir, while she is working with Berthold and Reiner instead in the meantime? Outwardly however she seems quite at odds with Berthold and Reiner. In fact, Reiner even speculates that Ymir could probable escape with the help of Eren if they both turned into Titans. Ymir doesn’t seem too opposed to the idea.
That is until Reiner says that they might be able to do something for Christa. Ymir might not like them but, as Reiner speculates, she must now realize that they are more capable of saving Christa than Eren and his companions are. Immediately we see a dramatic change of attitude from Ymir, prompting Eren to demand more information from Ymir. Whatever Reiner was on about, Ymir seems to have become much more agreeable to Berthold and Reiner’s plans. Whatever the case is, Ymir certainly knows more about the “danger” that’s coming for humanity soon.
The episode ends with the sighting of the scout brigade who are nearing the forest Berthold and Reiner are hold up at. All in all, very little action this episode but a lengthy conversation. I guess having to wait a week for an episode and being treated to all talk can be quite the bummer. But after a careful analysis of what’s being said still an interesting watch and promising of more.