I think we’ve all been here before: Simmering in the stew of a titan’s stomach with dead bodies floating all around, before inexplicably growing 10x your size and shoving an arm up the gullet of Hagrid and Brian Blessed’s lovechild. It’s disturbingly reminiscent of certain kinds of wasps that let their young eat caterpillars from the inside out, as metaphors for adulthood are wont to be.
As abrupt and kind of silly as it is, it’s appropriately symbolic of Eren destroying the titans from the inside, by becoming one of them. Last episode was certainly cathartic in this respect, but by assuming Eren’s point of view, it’s even more satisfactory to see him tear other titans apart in a savage, feral fashion. There’s definitely a method to his brutal madness, five years of pent up fury gushing endlessly from his fist into other titans’ waiting faces. It’s almost enough to make one forget that fucking twist that was hastily foreshadowed toward the beginning of the series.
Next order of business: That fucking twist that was hastily foreshadowed toward the beginning of the series. For such an important plot point, it was sure thrown out without a lot of fanfare or context, given just enough attention to keep from being completely forgettable, but ignored enough that it was tough to be curious when there were infinitely more interesting things going on. It adds up to something a bit more revelatory, that Eren’s father knows something about what makes the titans tick, but it was thrown off the stage as soon as it stepped on, not having enough time to make any sort of impact on the audience—certainly not as much impact as Eren punching a titan so hard through the mouth that it dies.
The flashback in this episode went a long way toward actually giving it some weight, but I wish they would have either spliced in this scene earlier for extra shock value, or saved it completely for after Eren’s return from titan form without hinting at it earlier. As it stands, Eren just suddenly being able to remember his father injecting him with a foreign substance in time to not be pounded into dust by cannonballs is just awful writing, no matter how cool the final result is.
It certainly doesn’t help that everybody sees Eren’s titan form only go after other titans, yet their first act upon him returning to human form is to ask him if he’s human, then plan on pelting him with cannonballs either way. He could potentially be the weapon that humanity needs that’s shown no aggression toward other humans, yet their first thought is to kill him rather than try to puzzle out what the fuck happened and maybe try to find a way to use his newfound ability to their advantage. It doesn’t sit well with me that these are weary soldiers at the end of their rope, yet when something comes out of the woodwork that makes short work of their enemy, their first instinct is to blow it into smithereens. I mean keep him under watch and guarded, but for fuck’s sake don’t try and kill him when he saved your asses.
However, all this semi-clumsy drama contrasts the Recon Corps getting an entire segment to themselves, harnessing the almighty power of the episode’s budget to put Mikasa’s air-ballet to shame in what gives off the impression of a recruitment video. Zoe in particular takes the cake, managing to remain playful and fun to watch, even while being grabbed at by a voracious titan. It’s kind of a bleak thought, that these people know how fragile their lives are and so try to keep a light mood even while dicing up titans, but it’s a subtle kind of grimness, tinged with enough hope to keep their situation from feeling hopeless. Seeing them hop about like sword-wielding fleas is the sort of self-assured coolness that reminds us that, every once in awhile, our cast is good for more than titan nourishment; if the entire episode was nonstop Recon Corps fury instead of dodgy drama, I would have been completely fine with it.