Shingeki no Kyojin – 17
「女型の巨人 ―第57回壁外調査①―」 (Onna Gata No Kyojin? ―Dai 57 Kai Kabe Gai Chosa (1)―)
“Female Titan ―57th Expedition Beyond the Walls―”
After a surprisingly “short” prelude, the 57th Expedition begins, and it’s every bit as star crossed as we expected it to be.
Generally, the episode starts off innocently enough with its great exposition of military tactics (the point is to avoid confrontation) and formations (that spectacular semi-circle)—giving a military buff such as myself quite the treat to say the least. It’s a pity that all of that goes down the drain in the blink of an eye though, as a female Titan arrives to crash the party along with dozens of her minions. And it just goes to show that even the best tactics and formations have a weakness, and that’s the inability to combat something that exceeds virtually all parameters of your anticipated plan.
Admittedly though, the plan itself (and it’s wonderfully designed system of alerting the formation of danger) likely saved a lot more lives than any other plan would’ve… but one wonders at this point if even Smith anticipated the threat that would come upon them this time around. Indeed, it can be argued that the attempt to hide Levi + Eren’s position in the formation via the spread of mis-information has failed spectacularly at this point, as the female Titan clearly knows exactly where Eren’s location in the group is. At the same time though, I can’t help but feel that Smith isn’t the kind of incompetent commander that would just underestimate the threat like this, and it makes me think that it’s entirely possible that at least part of this was planned all along.
See, judging from last week, it’s clear that he clearly anticipated some kind of internal threat or interruption to his expedition. The fact that no one knows exactly where Levi and Eren are in the formation is an obvious demonstration of this foresight, as was his cryptic comments to Eren about “who it is they’re really fighting,” and his decision to reveal the Survey Corps’ ultimate goal of going to Eren’s basement. With that said, one can’t help but believe that the use of this formation was thus either the best formation they could use given the circumstances (long distance reconnaissance with large amounts of flat ground) or intentional (or both). Considering that such a large scale formation requires a large amount of training to learn, it’s also possible that there are no alternative formations either. So what this essentially does is make the spread of misinformation the key to this equation, and it makes sense, given that it prevents any person from within the group from getting to Eren because they’ll realize that he’s not where they thought he’d be. At the same time though, it becomes quite obvious to an outsider with multiple sources of information that this is all a ruse, and arguably, it becomes obvious that the only real place to put Levi + Eren would be in the safest place in the formation.
As such, it kind of feels like Smith is pretty much painting a bulls eye on Eren at this point (and daring someone to go for him), all the while protecting him to their best ability, and also potentially limiting the amount of people who could’ve figured this information out. Of course, it’s all speculation, but it’s definitely an interesting perspective to look from, even if it turns out to be completely wrong. Just a note though, I have no interest in anyone telling me if I’m right or not (speculation is okay), so for those of you that have read ahead, please don’t go posting spoilers regarding this (or the identity of the Titan) in the comments, and note that the zero tolerance policy still applies.
In any case, the entirety of the episode was just a fabulous mixture of action, military awesomeness, and the suffering that Shingeki’s been known for. We’d already anticipated that the expedition was destined to lead to suffering before hand, but that doesn’t really do anything to lessen the impact regardless. Reiner almost biting the dust in particular made me go “whoa” in particular, and really, if this is how they’re starting the expedition off… gosh darn, it’s gonna be off the charts insanity in the coming weeks. And well, that’s about it really. This is one of those episodes where you gotta watch to get the full experience, and words can only go so far in describing the contents of this episode.