Did you have fun the past few weeks? Better have, because it’s denouement time. Or as SnK likes to call it, flashbacks with foreshadowing. Every burst of action needs a little downtime after all, particularly when the next wave of violence intends on overshadowing what came before.
Given how last episode ended with shockers all around, it’s not too surprising those jaw droppers became the focus of this week. The main one is naturally Zeke, who likely in surprise for some anime-only viewers had the plan to defect and sow the seeds of Marley’s destruction via the Rumbling several years in advance. And not just him either; Yelena and Onyankopon (among others) are actually Marley defectors, disgruntled conscripts just a tad annoyed their native lands found themselves under the Marleyan yoke who leapt at the first chance to get revenge. The success of Eren’s Paradis’ attack on Marley (outside of certain sacrifices) is thus not too surprising, as when you have inside knowledge and the enemy is wholly unaware of what’s coming, the results tend to be what you’re after.
The big thing revealed this week though was in how the future will play out, and that namely is Marley itself. Building off of the cycle of violence brought to the forefront previously with Marley rage at Eren’s (and Armin’s) rampage, we got the Paradis side of the coin here as many are shown understandably doubtful and/or outright distrusting of changes in loyalty. For our protagonists Marley has been the source of everything life threatening: they’re the source of the Titan attacks, the raids into their walled lands, and the attempts at fully eliminating everything they hold dear. Considering prior actions—i.e. Zeke—and knowledge held—i.e. Yelena—it’s not illogical for the likes of Pixis and Levi to doubt anything Marleyans may say or do. There are always exceptions to stereotypes as some have learned and Armin yearns to further develop, but when your very survival is at stake where one wrong move can mean certain death it’s incredibly easy to reject such thought in favour of simple black and white as personified. It’s not simple breaking the cycle, especially for those who’ve only know the effects of its motion.
If you think the Survey Corps and Paradis in general are united best start reconsidering those thoughts, because with Paradis on a timer before the 500-pound Marleyan gorilla comes knocking, the strategy for securing victory—and the price willing to be paid—will have to be decided soon. Very soon.