Secrets and lies are the name of the game as Attack on Titan demonstrates just how complicated and untruthful the truth can be.
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This Attack on Titan review contains spoilers
Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4
“Nobody knows a damn thing about this world. Not us or anyone else…”
After the bombshells that were dropped in Attack on Titan’s last episode, it seems a little difficult that any future episode of the show could name itself “Trust,” but this is an episode that’s all about rebuilding the bond that’s been shattered between these people.
The Scouts find themselves facing a major PR dilemma as the government and the Military Police’s efforts to disgrace them work all too well. Not only have there been massive trust issues in the past with the Scouts in relation to the secret Titans in hiding, but now the public has been deceived to think that they can’t trust the Scouts at all. This fractured, isolated perspective gives a desperate, frantic energy to Levi and company that results in a very fulfilling, surprising episode of Attack on Titan.
“Trust” kicks off with what’s essentially a perfect cold open that distills Levi’s brilliance down to a simple scene where Armin is effectively used as bait. Not only is making Armin bait always a recipe for success, but the episode also briefly shifts to the perspective of two officers, Marlo and Hitch, who are seemingly emblematic of the public at large.
There’s been a lot of lies and secrecy that have come to light this season that fundamentally changed the show in some very big ways. In spite of all of the work that the Scouts are doing to expose these lies, it’s significant to note that the public has already turned on them. The season’s events recapped through this new point of view speaks volumes towards the show’s themes of deception and manipulation.
Everybody thinks they’re the hero and it may not be clear who actually is until the very end. Hitch is even so hopelessly out of the loop though that she’s still waiting for Annie to return home! Marlo and Hitch firmly believe the lies of the government, which likely means that the rest of the public do too unless Levi and company can do something about this.
There’s another scene that beautifully echoes this sentiment when Hange rescues Flegel Reeves from the Military Police. Flegel laments over a life that’s barely worth living where he never feels safe and is always either hiding or running. It’s no coincidence that a “bird in a cage” metaphor is later brought up by the government.
Hange attempts to motivate the lost soul to take life into his own hands and try to fight the system, even if that means he goes out in a blaze of glory. Flegel immediately shoots down Hange’s proposal and says that there are plenty of people who’d rather live in fear than die in battle. Hange doesn’t even deny her ulterior motives in the situation when Flegel accuses her of manipulating him for her own interests.
Marlo, Hitch, and Flegel are examples of individuals who not only misunderstand and oppose the work of the Scouts, but they downright disagree with their way of life. The Scouts already face an uphill battle with their mission, but it becomes exponentially harder when everyone actively roots against them.
When the episode broaches the subject of what to do with Marlo and Hitch, Jean volunteers to be the one to execute them, but it turns into a bit of a disaster. Jean’s blunders make for a hell of a suspenseful scene that once more comes down to the tornado of lies that everyone’s caught up in and it results in no one knowing where they actually stand.
The three individuals come eye-to-eye by the end of the encounter, but the confrontation just as easily could have gone the other way, and it’s still unclear if betrayal isn’t just right around the corner. It can be a little exhausting to be constantly tense about characters and where alliances truly lie, but it’s a smart way to make the audience feel just as paranoid as the Scouts. Everything reaches its tipping point this week.
There’s also a bit of a wicked streak in “Trust” that speaks to just how intense this civil war has become. It’s just a throwaway line of dialogue, but it’s revealed that Kenny’s buckshot rifles seem like they’re specifically designed to kill Scouts, not Titans, which is pretty distressing news.
There’s been a growing body count of humans this season and Kenny’s new weapon is definitely going to increase those numbers. Furthermore, Levi is all sorts of savage in this episode. He’s taken about all that he can from this charade. He’s frustrated that Eren and Historia are still out there and this anger channels itself through some especially brutal torture. “There’s plenty more bones left to break,” should send a chill down most people’s spines.
The culmination of all of this anger and the episode’s message sees the Interior Police get caught in their duplicitous ways by the people of the community. The tide has officially turned in the Scout’s favor, but the police still shout out things like, “The government decides what’s the truth!” As intimidating and powerful as the government is, it’s encouraging to see the Scouts get a break for once. They’re still very much fugitives of the state, but at least their cause can shine on in the hearts of the public. It also makes an eventual uprising against the state a whole lot more feasible.
In spite of this brief reprieve of justice, “Trust” takes a grim turn in its final moments. The captured Erwin does his death march through Capital Mitras’ castle and it certainly looks like he’ll be executed unless someone can intervene.
Erwin has proven himself in so many ways over the course of the series that it would seriously be a shame if he’s taken out by some pompous aristocrat instead of a three-headed Titan that breathes fire. However, he’s not out of the picture yet. Erwin’s death would be a major loss, but his execution in order to silence the royalty is exactly the kind of catalyst that’s needed to spark a revolt. It’s a strong cliffhanger to go out on because it could seriously go either way.
“Trust” continues the breakneck pacing that’s been constant through Attack on Titan Season 3. There are still no Titans to speak of this week and even Eren and Historia get to take a breather, but the few brief instances of action in the episode play well and look gorgeous.
It’s clear that “Trust” is interested more in headier ideas and the internal struggles that characters face as opposed to big battles, but it’s still a highly suspenseful installment that continues to dissect the show’s mythology in exciting ways.
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Now everyone make sure to never show off their bowl cuts to Jean. There’s a haunted backstory just waiting to be told there.