Alright, finally got some time for Titan. It’s definitely earned a fair shake this week – Pixis’ focused and theme-outlining speeches from last episode definitely helped renew my interest in this show, and partially made up for the pretty terrible pacing and lack of meaningful action that have recently brought momentum to a standstill. It’s also just nice to see someone displaying actual competence in this universe – getting down on humanity for their panic and weakness is great and all, but it’s kind of an empty message if your portrayal of humanity is all babbling strawmen like the bearded officer. Pixis displayed actual charisma, got straight to the point when necessary, and used a handy dash of psychological warfare to rally troops in the face of terrifying odds. We know a recap episode is coming soon, so hopefully this episode will ride the current momentum into a fast-paced and eventful conclusion.
4:08 – “We must win this battle.” It still seems crazy to me that they’re betting both Eren’s power and the entirety of this fighting force on Eren’s powers maybe working the way they hope they do. Sure, losing the buffer wall puts them in serious danger, but potentially losing both these resources seems far more risky.
I think I’d be more accepting of this as a necessity to keep the story moving quickly if the story actually weremoving quickly in general, or if this show didn’t place such an emphasis on plans and tactics. As is, it’s a little harder to suspend my disbelief
4:58 – Mikasa versus the Titan. That’s a great image and a great moment
8:05 – “Unlike us, he’s an irreplaceable resource.” Thank you.
8:29 – It’s Jean! SAVE US, JEAN!
9:07 – “Minimizing losses is the correct tactical choice. The bosses are in the right!” Jean always best character – I love seeing his strong understanding of strategy and absolutely terrible understanding of people slam against each other. Nice pep talk, Coach!
11:08 – Is this the screencap you fuckers wanted?  Pretty adorable, admittedly
12:07 – Well, we’re halfway through the episode, and so far Eren has successfully hit himself in the face and fallen down. Not exactly what I was hoping for
12:15 – “During training, instructors will sometimes intentionally cut trainees’ cables to gauge their reactions.” That’s pretty brutal! I’d say a mean little detail like that is worth a dozen terrified reaction faces
16:02 – “Back then, Eren emerged from their weak point. I’m sure that’s a clue about what they really are.” And clearly that’s a clue about where this story is heading
17:05 – “Eren, get out of there!” Eh. This is the exact same dramatic trick they pulled when Eren was basically comatose in front of the firing squad – and it wasn’t very satisfying then, either. It’s not about accomplishing some heroic task, with specific, defined obstacles (the way their raid on the gas supplies was, which is in my mind the only really successful action setpiece so far) – it’s about them dragging out moments while we wait for Eren to wake up again. Maybe this works in manga format, but here each “panel” is several seconds of the camera zooming while the show attempts to build tension around a binary conflict (will he wake up, yes or no) we’ve seen before and pretty much can guess the ending of
I think that’s all pretty obvious, so for the sake of making this writeup interesting, let me at least think about how I’d handle a moment like this. Well, first of all, I probably wouldn’t be here – I don’t think “everyone slowly gets themselves killed while Eren, the one truly relevant factor, either succeeds or doesn’t succeed” is a very good use of this show’s resources, so I’d probably have spent an episode integrating Eren’s abilities in some dynamic way and then set up a mission where both his part and the part of the regular squad were meaningful and interesting in their own right. If I were in this particular moment, I’d say we need something to add relevant tension to the conflict. I’m guessing the best way to do that would be to run with that little flashback Eren had, and have a thematically relevant flashback to accompany Eren’s awakened resolve – his inability to accept the complacency of the other humans has always been pretty key to his character, and maybe remembering that could also be the key to his ability to master the Titan. This would also make for a nice symmetry with Mikasa and Armin’s own resolve-discovering flashbacks this arc
17:37 – Oh look, they’re doing that. That’s good
21:11 – “Deserts and oceans and massive tracts of land!” I’d make a Holy Grail reference, but I’m pretty sure “massive tracts of land” is just Commie being Commie
So it’s looking like only incredibly strong primal emotions (“I can’t die here!” “I have to protect them!” “I was born into this world!”) can actually guide the Titan? I guess that works.
Otherwise, pretty meh episode. I liked the stuff with our main trio’s squadmates, but I pretty much always like their brief relationship-building exchanges. Otherwise, more redundant we’re-all-gonna-die stuff from the peanut gallery, and the conflict with Eren was pretty much an exact copy of the second time he became a Titan. I’m assuming next episode will finally bring an end to this conflict – hopefully the next arc won’t drag its story out to the degree this one has been doing.