Before we reach the end of everything, Attack on Titan takes a look back to a time that was never covered in previous episodes: the last time the Scouts (minus Reiner, Annie, etc.) were all together: when they first arrived at Marley’s biggest port. It’s great to see Sasha alive, Levi in one piece, Mikasa in her Sunday best making the cutest faces while eating ice cream for the first time…while Connie and Sasha chase a car to try to feed it a carrot.
We know the gang is there to meet with the Azumabito and weigh their options concerning Marley. Ideally they can strike some kind of peace, and Hange makes it clear that’s the primary goal to start, no matter how difficult or dangerous it might be. They know there’s a “Subjects of Ymir Protection Group” making a big speech in the forum that will shake things up…it’s not much, but as Hange says, it’s their best shot.
While everyone else is either focused on the political talks or being fish out of water in the technologically advanced city, Eren already seems distant, with a thousand-yard stare that’s more like ten thousand yards. The ever-protective Mikasa finds him looking down at a refugee camp on the city outskirts.
He can’t help but relate to these people from whom everything was suddenly stolen. Then, out of the blue (at least for her), asks Mikasa “what he is” to her. Rather than say he’s everything and she loves him, she goes the safe route, saying he’s “family.”
Following that is one of the most purely joyful sequences in all of Titandom: when Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Sasha, Connie, and Jean are invited to the tent of the refugee elders and their family. There, they get drunk and have a shitload of fun all night long.
When the booze runs out, they simply go get more, and bring more refugees to join the party. When Hange and Levi find them, they’re all passed out, with Eren naturally flanked by Mikasa and Armin, the three inseparable even in intense inebriation.
Sadly, that’s the end of the fun and joy for both the episode and for Part 2 of The Final Season. Everyone gets over their hangovers and attends the forum, their purported ally, while voicing his resolve to help those Subjects of Ymir who have suffered as much or more than Marleyans, still considers the Subjects on Paradis to be “devils” and the “true enemy.” It doesn’t look like there’s much hope for peaceful negotiation, so Eren peaces out early.
Mikasa recalls that this was the day Eren left them. As she stands on the boat in the present, headed back to the Marleyan coast to try to stop the Rumbling, she can’t help but wonder if all of this would have happened had she given Eren a different answer to the questions “what am I to you” and “why do you care about me so much.”
The answer, of course, is probably not. While I still doubt Eren meant the terrible things he said to Mikasa when they basically broke up as both friends and family, but as we see in his last talk with Historia, he believed there was no other way to stop the cycle of hate and revenge than destroying the rest of the world.
Historia is understandably horrified by his position, and by his suggestion he can use the Founder’s power to wipe her memories to soothe her pain. But what probably haunts her most is that she, the “worst girl in the world” saved his life. Had she not, he wouldn’t be here preparing to commit mass genocide against her wishes.
Later, after Eren cuts off his own leg and stabs his eye to end up in a military hospital where he and Zeke meet, he asks his brother about the “forced behavior” of members of the Ackerman clan. Zeke assures him that Mikasa’s devotion to him wasn’t blood conditioning, but simply a level of love so intense she’d happily tear through legions of Titans for him.
I wish Zeke’s words had come earlier, before Eren had already pretty much committed to betraying his brother and usurping the Eldian euthanization plan for an Everyone Else euthanization plan. After all, Eren is certain he’ll only live four more years, tops. But he wants to leave the world a place where Mikasa and Armin can live and be happy.
Unfortunately, Mikasa and Armin aren’t content to simply sit back and let Eren do this in their names; there’s no way they could ever be happy in a world that 1.) doesn’t have Eren in it and 2.) has had most of the world’ population wiped out by the Rumbling. But Eren’s got tunnel vision at this point. Unless anyone can get to him and give their best shot to convincing him to reconsider, this thing is happening.
We see the beginnings of this as the largest joint fleet in human history assembles at the coastline. Their first volley of fire destroys several dozen Colossal Titans, but then the skin of the others begins to harden and that’s all she wrote; the 20,000-ton battleships being tossed into the air like plastic toys. The last line of defense, land-based artillery units, watch this nightmare unfold and abandon their posts.
As the camera pans up to the several-thousand-foot-tall Founding Attack/Founding Titan bearing Eren’s green eyes, the vow he made as a small child before an hour of scout training, when the vision of his mother being eaten still fresh in his mind, is repeated: “I’ll kill every last one of them.”
And that’s it for Part 2. Mind you, Part 2 was not Part 2 of 2. I kinda figured that when I realized half of this episode was over and we were still in a flashback. Still, the stage is set for a Part 3, which may or may not be the final part of the final season.
Will this all come down to an epic lovers’ quarrel between Mikasa and Eren? If it does, how many cities will be leveled before it gets to that? I don’t know, but I do know the face Mikasa should make in hopes of stopping Eren: