Attack on Titan ep20: how much do you want it?
This show has evolved into something beyond my expectations, but not something beyond what I should have expected. The war on the titans has really turned into a more pitched battle between the Recon Corps and some very special titans. There’s more strategy involved here than in all of the Trost arc, and really shows how the Recon Corps is on another level compared to the rest of the forces we’ve seen so far, and it also displays just how powerful Eren may be.
With the female titan captured, the question now becomes how do they cut the human they know is inside the nape of the neck out of the titan itself? conventional methods don’t work because the female titan has consciously covered the nape of her neck with those powerful titan hands. To make matters worse, even the veteran slayers can’t get through because she’s able to harden the skin on her hands to the point that a sword’s impact will shatter the sword. This chick has some nifty tricks up her sleeve to save herself. But she’s still not going anywhere, as Hanji (who is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters) has developed spear heads that actually use the titans regenerative ability to help secure them in place. It appears to be only a matter of time before they break through, as Erwin makes the decision to blow the titans hands right off to get to their target.
As those preparations are undertaken, the soldiers on the perimeter of the forest are left to wonder what their prospects are, and just what the leadership is thinking. While I watch this scene, I’m just waiting to see who the first poor fool is that will slip and fall to their death. Or worse, who’s gonna get snatched up by an ambitious titan. Even as the soldiers talk, those giant idiots are slowly attempting to figure out ways to get to the humans. One is even adept enough to halfway climb its way up a tree. Pretty creepy stuff. This trip has been eye opening for the soldiers, not just the new ones either. With the female titan they see that Eren and his contributions may help them, but he’s not even remotely special now.
The most interesting conversation though is between Armin and Jean, arguably the smarter characters in this story, with the short one between Sasha and Mikasa (who I sorely want to see more of) that occurs later coming in second. Armin points out that he understands why Erwin chose the plan they’re undertaking now. In making this choice, he’s chosen to sacrifice the lives of possibly hundreds of Corps members for the lives of the humans they protect inside the Walls. Erwin in his words has chosen to capture the female titan in hopes it will save countless more lives than it risks. And that Erwin is able to do this because he’s abandoned his humanity, or a portion of it anyway. He’s a man who is able to change, who is willing to throw everything away for a greater goal. They’re words that will turn out to be poignant in unexpected ways.
Back at the trap housing the female titan, Levi stands atop her – almost taunting her. In a way, he’s acting like an interrogator. He asks her what she’s thinking by holding out. He tells her very clearly that he’s going to chop off her arms and legs – her human arms and legs. He’s very clear that he thinks she can understand him and that he’s going to make her pay for killing so many of his men. Though his words and actions have a rather unexpected consequence. It appears he’s managed to frighten the female titan, as she lets out a horrifying scream that can be heard for miles.
That conversation that I mentioned before that was the second best in the episode, it’s the one between Sasha and Mikasa about what happens now. The cries of the female titan send the nearby titans into a frenzy, it appears that abnormal titans have just come sprinting into the forest for all directions! As the abnormals stream by and the soldiers in the trees attempt to intercept them, Sasha warns Mikasa not to follow. Her hunter senses tell her that the situation has just become a hundred times more dangerous, likening it to the final moments of a hunt. Mikasa actually takes heed to her warning, even though she obviously doesn’t like her at all.
Despite the desperate attempts to hold off the torrent of titans, it’s a futile effort. The abnormals totally ignore the soldiers despite any and all attempts to attract their attention, and they all just latch onto the female titan and devour her like buzzards to a carcass. The mission is a failure, and Erwin has no choice but to tell his troops to use the slaughter to their advantage and retreat and quickly as possible. He warns Levi though, to get his squad to restock specifically. In the meantime, he takes a moment to soak in the situation and his amazement at how the female titan was willing to go to the very brink to fulfill her mission.
As everyone begins the retrograde, Hanji inquires with Erwin about why he ordered to Levi’s squad to restock on supplies. His answer is a simple and clear one. In the carnage of blood and steam that came from the female titan becoming a buffet line, they never saw the female’s human body. He suspects that she’s escaped, donned the gear of the corps and is going to continue her mission to get Eren. After all, he’s long suspected that there’s a spy in the ranks, and Armin even figured this out, too. It’s also the reason he’s been so secretive with his orders up until now. The purveying thought being that during the destruction of the wall five years ago, a titan agent or spy snuck in during the carnage. I personally suspected that it was the Armored Titan that showed up back then, but then disappeared just as quickly. But who’s to say that there’s just one? Regardless, his hunch is dead on, as we soon see Levi’s squad attacked by one of their own.
End of episode.
This nightmare just won’t end! Like I said in the beginning, this is quickly starting to look less like a battle between humans and monsters, and more like a battle amongst humanity, though humanity in its strangest form. It’s quickly becoming clear that the regular titans that roam the lang mindlessly and aimlessly are just pawns in a greater, smarter battle. And we’re getting questions than answers at this point. But I guess that’s what naturally happens in the pursuit of knowledge.
What I want from this show at this point though isn’t answers, I want to see more of the players that brought us to this point participating. Though this honestly isn’t their stage. Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Jean and the others are only taking their baby steps into this world where surviving for five years is an amazing, elite accomplishment. But at some point, Eren is going to have to stop playing the princess and start fighting back. That wide-eyed, scared look of his is going to have to disappear soon, because it’s quickly looking like no one else can protect him.
As for the titans, I suspect that as they age they slowly get smarter. Though I can’t push that hypothesis very far, because it can’t necesarily be connected to advanced titans like the Behemoth, Armored and Female. We see they can be made by looking at Eren, but we have no proof that his kind can rise from a form evolution. We’re not exactly dealing with Pokemon. Still, I wonder what the connection between the dumb titans, the abnormals and their intelligence and hunger are? I can’t think of a reason why they hunger, or why they’d voraciously devour the female titan only after her desperate cry. It looks like we’ll have to remain ignorant a little bit longer. Something I’m OK with so long as this show continues to be sharp and entertaining.