Home > Episode by Episode > Attack on Titan ep16: “We need to know what we’re dying for.”

Attack on Titan ep16: “We need to know what we’re dying for.”


Last episode’s disaster has not gone unnoticed, and active punishment is being sought out. Three-dimensional gear is being inspected across the board, as the active consensus is that hateful trainees have put the titans out of their misery. Armin makes an interesting point. Killing the titans may have brought the assailants personal comfort, but it has set mankind back. A lot of people died capturing and guarding those titans, and now they’ve died for nothing. Sadly, no one is discovered to have misused their equipment, which leads me to believe one of the higher ranked veterans, or some of the soldiers in charge of inspection had a part in the attack…

As some of the trainees stand in line, there’s talk about what everyone’s next move may be. Soon they’ll have to make the life changing choice of choosing to join the Garrison, the Military Police, or the Recon Corps. And more than a few a struggling with that decision, Jean most of all. Then again, maybe Jean’s struggling because he knows what he has to do already. He’s still traumatized by the titan attack and seeing Marco’s rotting corpse. Joining the Recon Corps is basically like deciding to face your trauma head on, you’re essentially diving into it. If you’re afraid of spiders (*shudder*), then you’re diving into a pit of spiders. If you’re afraid of snakes, then it will be a slithering pit full. If you’re afraid of drowning, you’ll be thrown into a deep body of water with no horizon in sight.

Even the veterans are wondering how many will actually join them, especially so soon after a major attack. Eren has no comfort for them, as he wonders if even the people in solidarity with him over joining the Recon Corps before, will still have the heart after surviving such a raw and brutal attack. Even with humanity’s victory and Eren’s power, there’s little hope to still be found amongst the living.

The night of the ceremony for trainees, Commander Erwin is VERY blunt. He tells all the trainees standing before him the very dangerous plan to journey to the Jaeger household, and uncover the secrets of titans within their basement. He shares the stark facts about how more than half of their forces have been massacred in the last four years, and how almost all recruits joining them will be dead in that same amount of time. The other veteran soldiers, and even Armin wonders what the hell he’s doing! It’s clear though, Erwin doesn’t want anyone without a solid steel heart to join them. And when given the opportunity, I’m not sure the majority of the tiny group that’s still standing has even that. Still, Jean, Connie, Armin, Mikasa – even Sasha, who is still shivering like a frightened rabbit, are still standing at salute.

Welcome to the Recon Corps; welcome to death.

The Recon Corps trainee classes begin first thing next morning. In the meantime, Levi, some of the veterans and Eren have been doing practice runs, reviewing formations and reviewing plans for the upcoming mission. Whatever Erwin has planned, he’s not letting anyone onto it. But he is making super sure to keep Eren safe. Which still leaves me completely puzzled. If he’s not really – or solely aiming for the Jaeger home, then what the hell does he want?

At the end of the day, Eren finally gets to meet his old trainee comrades, and is stunned to see so many of them had joined up.  I’m still a bit scared by Mikasa though.  It seems she’s holding a grudge against Levi for the beating he gave Eren two episodes ago.  Honestly, I think Levi better watch out.  Poor Mikasa’s a dangerous combination of superly overprotective and insane.  Putting that aside, Eren is surprised to see that Jean, Mr. Military Police, has decided upon the Recon Corps.  Jean informs him that Marco died during the titan attack, which is quite a stunner to Eren.  After all, Marco was one of the top 3 recruits, but I guess being a nice guy, and talente doesn’t mean much in the eyes of rampaging titans.  And with that last bit of sadness acknowledged, the trainees finally get their new uniforms, including those awesome cloaks and that snazzy insignia.

That night, Jean confronts Eren and Mikasa.  His purpose is to say that he demands to know what he’s dying for.  There’s the fear of death in his eyes.  He knows nothing is guaranteed outside the walls except his eventual death.  And with the knowledge that Eren isn’t even capable of fully controlling his titan form, he at least doesn’t have false hope in his back pocket to let him down.  There’s not a hint of naivety left among the group now that they set off for the Recon Corps 57th sorties beyond the walls.  That next morning, Recon Corps forms en masse for the mission.  Just before they leave, Eren sees a pair of kids gazing at them from a nearby window in reverence.  It’s just as he was as a child.  Things have come full circle.  The question is, if things are repeating, will anything change this time.  Or will those kids end up as titan food in a decade?  Will they even be there in a decade?  I’m not sure even Erwin knows as the gates open and they head off into that hellish land.

End of episode.

Well, I pretty much laid out all of my thoughts in the synopsis.  Though I can at least add that there were a few good  scenes.  The scene where Erwin gave the trainees the opportunity to stay of leave and choose a different division, it was like a stampede of ghosts were passing Jean, Sasha and the others.  Also, I can understand why so many people love cosplaying as the Recon Corps, they get the snazziest cloaks.

As for what really sticks in my mind, it’s Erwin.  He’s the biggest mystery of all.  In a unit full of weridos and outcasts, he seems like someone who could have been on the fast track to a position similar to the one held by Pixis (though I have no idea what kind of ranking system they’re using at the moment).  I’ve yet to figure out just what makes him tick.  He has no backstory, no motive, and yet everything going on in this show essentially revolves around him.  The fact that we know so little about him, just makes the mystery of what he’s really planning even more impenetrable.  It appears we won’t know what his real plan is until they get near the Jaeger homestead, or they get into a dire situation.  That said, I’m excited to see where this goes.  And interested to see who dies next.  After all, at its core this show has one foot heavily in the zombie apocalypse genre.  It’s only natural to expect some sacrifices in such a situation.

Further Reading:

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  1. July 28, 2013 at 19:00

    This was probably my favourite episode in a long time – finally, we get a nearly entire episode without the characters feeling the urge to scream their lines at each other. That scene near the end where most of the trainees end up leaving was great, just the right amount of tension and drama without the cheap theatrics.

  1. August 4, 2013 at 21:15

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