Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4: A Time For Everything

Attack on Titan Season Three Episode 4

Sorry. I stuffed up the schedule on this one and it came out earlier today than intended. Here it is at the intended time slot.

This week Attack on Titan seems to want to  look at all the possible choices and outcomes of the current internal conflict. And so we have a characters finding their time to fight, their time to run, their time to listen, their time to gloat, and their time to shout, in an episode that is undeniably a bridging point and yet perhaps one of the better episodes from a narrative point of view that this series have ever delivered.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4 - Jean

With the exception of the newly introduced antagonist, Kenny, and the currently held hostage Eren and Christa, this episode runs us through almost all the major players in the current internal conflict. The titans have definitely become a footnote to those in charge rather than an actual threat that needs to be dealt with and while that might diminish some of the horror felt earlier with the appearance of the titans, it does go a long way to explaining this world and why only a small group of Scouts were ever interested in actually expanding territory or exploring beyond the walls. Those in charge are looking only inward and only to their own lives. It seems a terribly flawed and short sighted approach to leadership, and it is framed that way, and that is why as an audience we can continue to tolerate the violence Levi, Hange, and other characters we’re supposed to like unleash upon the people that technically their role is to protect.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4 - Levi

It isn’t as if this human on human violence came out of nowhere. Season one brought us the horror of titans, but also showed us Eren’s savage treatment when his nature was revealed, refugees being sent out as fodder to reduce the number needing to be fed, and the general broken nature of the command structure of the world. One of the earlier scenes with Levi involved him literally kicking a tied up Eren so the fact that he is capable of extreme violence is hardly news.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4

However, what differs in season 3 to season 1 is the context. In season 1 we constantly had the threat of the titans breathing down the necks of characters who were desperate to fight them back. Season 3 so far has none of that. The only threat presented in this season has been other humans and they are doing a fine job of supplanting the titans as the real monsters (and again that was pretty clearly hinted at in both previous seasons).

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4 - Erwin

So while we’re getting no closer to Eren’s basement, I can’t say I’m unhappy with the direction this has taken so far this season. As plot and character points start converging and a real picture of this world comes together, it makes the viewing a far more satisfying experience. And if the characters would stop shouting that would be fantastic, though I did mention that this episode a lot of characters found their time to shout. Eren being gagged last week and absent this week apparently left an opening and every character except Armin and Erwin decided to take their turn at shouting. Now if only anyone was listening.

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Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 3: Rewriting the Past Won’t Make It Go Away

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After the almost breakneck action of last week, this week we hit the breaks hard as a very bleak picture begins to get painted. While some balance between the two extremes might have been nice, there’s definitely something promising about the direction this is heading.

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Attack on Titan this week seemed to go to fairly lengthy efforts to fill in some details about the world, lingering on Historia recalling her childhood, Hange explaining things to the other scouts, and Erwin’s current scheme and motivation (which is shot down almost as soon as it is formed, unless that was also part of his plan). There’s a lot of talking but unlike the episode in season two where we essentially hung around in the trees for a whole episode chatting, this kind of felt like it was bringing pieces of the puzzle into clearer focus even if it wasn’t yet ready to put them together.

Attack on Titan - Season 3 Episode 3

It has been a fair while since I felt the narrative of Attack on Titan was actually going somewhere so despite the lack of action this week, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the small character moments. Levi and Hange’s interaction after she kicks the table is fantastic to watch and there are a number of observations about their relationship and personality that you could draw from the scene. Although, that did make me wonder how much better things might have been if these two more interesting characters were the leads from the beginning rather than Eren and Mikasa.

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Did I mention Eren spent the whole episode gagged? An entire episode free of Eren speaking… I won’t say that made the episode better but it certainly prevented his usual shout fest or immature declarations. That said, his comments to Historia in the first episode this season did demonstrate that he had grown up a bit and it is kind of a shame that since then he hasn’t really had a chance to prove whether that impression was true or not.

Okay, I was cautious returning for a third season of this, but these first three episodes have done a lot to re-engage me. This might just be setting me up for future disappointments, but for now I’m pretty happy with how this is going.

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Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 2: Whatever It Takes

Attack on Titan - Season 3 - Episode 2 - Levi

This episode is breathtaking to watch for a number of reasons, though I’m still left wondering if this is the direction I ever wanted this show to go when I recall what was fun about season 1.

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Attack on Titan picks up this week exactly where it left off with Levi being confronted by Kenny (who I guess we’ll get more back story on at some point but they are pretty heavy handed already with making it clear Kenny knew Levi when he was kid) and the ensuing fight. Now, this is a fantastic fight sequence. It throws you right back to the very beginning when you saw the ODM Gear in action for the first time and this is one fast paced chase sequence with aerial combat thrown in. It also knows when to take a pause and a breath, like when Levi got cornered in the bar. It’s just a well thought out sequence that gets the audience excited, show-cases the animation that this anime is known for, and also gives us a clear new enemy and problem for our group of main characters to deal with.

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Does that warrant 11 minutes of an episode? Maybe not, but I will admit I didn’t really care the episode was half over and all that had happened was the end of a fight left over from last week. It was fun to watch and seeing Levi in action was thrilling (even if realistically there’s at least six occasions where he should be dead because people just don’t move like that).

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There’s also some attempt at dealing with the emotions of the kids as they come to terms with having to fight people. They trained to fight titans. Some of them even mocked combat training against humans back in season one because they didn’t see a point when they would be fighting titans. Now the Scouts are the clear target of the Military Police and this puts them on the back foot because they aren’t used to dealing with human enemies. Armin and Jean provide a wondrous look into the turmoil they are all feeling while Levi actually provides a voice of reason rather than comfort.

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A disappointment on the character front would be Mikasa. As usual, other than her obsession with Eren, she has very little to do in this episode. While she does provide some comfort to Armin after the dust has settled, Levi was forced to hold her back to prevent her from throwing herself after Eren despite losing any chance of victory.

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Of course, there’s no way to talk about this episode without looking at the torture that occurs. Levi and Hange torture the enemy for information. They don’t just threaten it, they don’t play act like they will torture, there’s no hidden element here. They just straight up torture to get what they want. And while they might not be thrilled about it, there’s little hesitation in their actions. It definitely feeds in to the question about who the real monsters are in this show, which at least thematically came about in season one, but at the same time might be a bridge too far for some of the more squeamish viewers. There’s a big difference between watching characters fight and get eaten by monsters and watching humans torture other humans.

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Then I just have my own mixed feelings about this as a direction for Attack on Titan. While this might indeed be interesting and the intrigue of heirs and politics could certainly make this season watchable, I kind of wonder where the monster slaying, screaming in defiance characters went and why it all needed to get this complicated.

Still, if this episode is a taste of things to come, there’s certainly going to be some fun to be found in watching Attack on Titan this season.

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Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 1: Why Not Add Another Faction

Attack on Titan - Season 3 - Episode 1 - Levi

As if we didn’t have enough mysteries and intrigue piled up from the past two seasons, we’re now adding yet more complications. Though, truth be told, this one actually looks like it could be kind of fun.

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While I really loved the first episode of season 1 and most of the first half of season 1, by the end of it I was finding this story becoming a little too drawn out. Season 2 firmly enhanced that impression by meandering about adding in additional complications without actually touching on anything set up from the previous season and I’m going into season 3 very firmly of the opinion that if it doesn’t get back to some of the previous mysteries this will be my last season of this show.

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This line would work better if I hadn’t had to go back to season 1 and rewatch it midway through season 2 just to remind myself she existed as a character.

That said, the first episode was pretty entertaining and I couldn’t help but get a little excited about learning more about Levi, watching Eren and  the others interacting now that they are a little older and a little less idealistic and naive, and just generally seeing how messed up things have gotten. While there is no introduction for people new to the franchise, this just jumps straight into the story from where we left off only it seems like things are even more tense than they were.

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However, despite the many positives this episode brings, including some very cool action sequences and enough squeamish body horror to remind us of what this show was built on way back when, I couldn’t help but wonder if I cared about all the intrigue within the military. Is it really necessary or do I genuinely just want to find out what’s in Eren’s basement and then be done? I’m sure people who have read the source material would have a bunch of reasons why this is relevant, but I know at this point I feel like the story is moving further and further away from the parts that initially intrigued me and those moments of jaw dropping coolness can only distract me from that for so long.

All things considered, I’m happy this is back and I’d really like it to be great, but I am fairly prepared to walk away from this franchise at this point so it wouldn’t really take much for me to decide I’ve invested more than enough time already for minimal payoff.

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