Following a spine-chilling cliffhanger, Attack on Titan season 4’s third part delves into the beginning of the Rumbling and the fallout from this world-shattering event. And as expected, it is every bit as suspenseful and harrowing, but there is still hope amid this dark time.
For the first ten minutes of the one-hour special, everything feels bleak and hopeless. Eren’s rampage causes untold number of deaths and unprecedented destruction, and even the innocent ones aren’t spared.
But what makes these scenes so gut-wrenching is Eren’s own remorse, shown through a flashback during his and his friends’ visit in the refugee camp. Indeed, Eren weeps not just for the child in front of him but for all the deaths he would cause.
And that’s what make him a compelling character; at his heart, Eren knows he is about to commit the greatest evil, and he tried his best to prevent it from happening, but circumstances forced him to go with his plan in order to save his home.
He chooses to move forward.
It is clear at this point; Eren must be stopped. Even though Marley has done a lot of atrocious things, the Rumbling is killing humanity itself. And it is up to Armin and the rest to save the world.
Of course, it isn’t easy as each of them holds so much emotional baggage to weigh down a Colossal Titan. This is particularly true for two unlikely lovebirds, Armin and Annie. For Armin, he feels extreme remorse for killing innocents. For Annie, surprisingly, it’s the fact that she feels undeserved of Armin’s love due to her past.
While it is debatable whether Armin’s feelings are genuine or simply a byproduct of eating Bertholdt, there’s no denying that Annie does like him, and it is a breath of fresh air seeing a tender moment between them in a hopeless situation. Still, Annie is tired of fighting, and it is only natural that she refuses to join Armin in stopping Eren.
Unfortunately, her refusal might be meaningless, for the Rumbling has reached them at last.
Attack on Titan is known for gruesome and unexpected deaths, and with the ending so near as well as the dire situation, it is only expected that someone would make a great sacrifice.
It still doesn’t prepare all of us when Hange steps forward to make that choice.
From the eccentric scientist to a reluctant commander, Hange has been one of the most prominent characters in the series. Not just that, she has become an integral part of the story that losing her feels like also losing either Armin or Mikasa.
And it does feel like that. As Hange finally bids farewell and passes the mantle of leadership to Armin, we feel the full emotional impact of her decision. Hange is tired, after all, and this is her way of paying tribute to Erwin and those who have died while enjoying her passion for one last time.
Getting up close and personal with Titans.
Her death scene is arguably the saddest in the series, hammered to the point with everyone’s sorrowful reaction to her passing. And yet this is her moment of glory, allowing her to finally join her dead comrades in a meaningful death.
There’s no time for grief. With Hange’s death, the burden of ensuring humanity’s survival now fully rests on Armin’s shoulders—the heaviest burden he has to carry on top of his own guilt and remorse for his sins.
And he’s not the only one, as everyone feels the same. But like Armin, they choose to move forward so that their friends’ sacrifices won’t be in vain.
Still, it’s really heartbreaking when we realize that Eren’s friends don’t want to kill him and still clings to the hope that he will stand down. They know he is doing it for them, and they have been given the freedom to stop him, but harming their friend is their last option if diplomacy fails.
Of course, Eren is a single-minded individual since day one. And this becomes more obvious during his final conversation with his friends. Despite their pleas, he won’t stop, though they are indeed free to stop him. It’s admirable, and it perfectly sums up his principle in life ever since the first episode.
That everyone deserves freedom.
Humanity’s Last Stand
The initial premise of Attack on Titan involves humanity fighting for survival against a seemingly hopeless war. And while the story has gradually evolved to include other themes, that essence is never lost. In fact, stopping Eren is the culmination of that theme and brings the story full circle.
The last ten minutes of the episode shows that struggle. Fort Salta is essentially the last bastion for humanity, and much like Paradis in earlier seasons, Marley stages a last-ditch effort to stop Eren by attempting a bombing run using airships. Naturally, it fails horribly, but it still proves that humanity’s fighting spirit is still strong.
One thing that makes this an emotional scene is the commander’s speech. For the first time, Marley finally admits their sins, resulting in this apocalypse, and vows never to repeat it if ever they survive. It is a strong and thought-provoking speech, and it shows that Armin’s hope for diplomacy isn’t unwarranted.
Unfortunately, this could be the end as Eren is virtually unscathed by the bombing run.
Fortunately, Armin and his friends finally arrive, beginning the last battle against Titans.
Gripping, suspenseful, and heartbreaking. Few words could describe the emotions that Attack on Titan’s penultimate episode evokes. It may have taken a long time to reach this point, but it was worth the wait. Now, the only thing left is to see whether the final episode fully delivers and ends the series on a high note, or leaves us long-time fans crushed and disappointed.
Episode score: 9.5/10