The Twisted Feelings Created By A Twisted Tale
I know exactly what emotional impact Attack on Titan was going for this week and I know exactly why it missed the mark for me. While I can respect the effort and I think a lot of people will be happy with how it all unfolded, I end up feeling very much like Armin’s sacrifice in episode 5 has been completely undermined.
Which of course, might very well be the point. Armin formulated a plan, he put it into action, he resigned himself to the outcome, and he held fast right to the end. He as a character had more control over his fate than almost any other this narrative has thrown at us and he didn’t die screaming and pleading for his life or in a puddle of tears and piss. He died a true hero.
Only, Attack on Titan doesn’t really like heroes. Or at least that’s how it seems. It is a world where the horrible and the scheming rise to the top and the honest and noble are beaten down or killed before they have the chance to succeed. So in that sense, undermining everything that happened at the end of episode 5 may very well have been the point in which case it succeeded admirably but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Armin has long been one of the few characters in Attack on Titan I’ve liked and seeing his will getting overthrown like that was pretty depressing.
However, if we take Armin out of the equation, this episode did an excellent job with Levi. Also with Mikasa, and Jean, and Hange, and even Eren. Emotionally each of these characters faced choices that truly have no right answer and all of them have horrendous repercussions if they make the wrong choice and yet each of them, in their own way, stepped up to the plate. It is rare that I say that I admire these characters for anything but their absolute guts in the face of insanity, but episode 6 brought out the best in them even as they almost tore each other apart.
Armin or Erwin, who to bring back? Erwin, who sacrificed every scout essentially for the chance to maybe bring down the enemy and a chance to peek inside the basement or Armin who sacrificed himself and thought of how to save the others so that they might continue the journey. I kind of agreed with that random scout that Erwin should not escape this hell so easily, but Levi’s point that Erwin was the character they made him be was understood.
So instead of moved or caught up in the story, my head is spinning with all the what-ifs and maybes and questioning each of the character choices up to now and in this moment. The one thing that is true is that this episode was very Attack on Titan. I don’t know how I feel about it. I don’t know if I’ll ever sort out the mess it just created when I think about this situation. I do know though that I’ll be watching the next episode as soon as I can because at this point I just have to know what is in that basement.
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