Attack on Titan Season 3 Episodes 1 & 2 Review/Speculation

NOTE: I do not and have never read the Attack on Titan manga. All statements and speculations made in this article are solely based on the anime and my years of experience watching television.

After watching the first 2 episodes of the new season of Attack on Titan I felt inspired to write an analysis about the show up to this point. There is so much to unpack in this first pair of episodes alone that I believe we will quickly discover the truth surrounding the Titans as well as what truly lies beyond the walls by the end of Season 3.







Episode 1 Summary

The rest of Eren’s graduating class now completely composes Levi Squad as they hide out on the outskirts of the Trost District. Now that the Survey Corps know that the walls are made of Titans and that Christa’s real name is Historia Reiss, keeping Eren and Historia safely hidden is more important than ever before.

Hange’s Squad and Levi Squad conduct secret experimental training on Eren. The Scouts are trying to figure out how Eren’s Titan transformations work and how to create the hardening ability. In the attempt shown, Eren has yet to spawn a fully functional Titan form when he’s not in distress. The Scouts clean up the scene and fail to notice that two people have observed their experiment.

Captains Levi and Hange return to Trost District to report to Commander Erwin on their progress and to check on the secretly sheltered Pastor Nick, respectively. Levi and Erwin suspect that Historia’s knowledge of the walls, despite being the illegitimate daughter of a regional lord, may be the key to learning how and why Titans came to make up the walls.

Hange visits Pastor Nick and finds his room to be protected Djel Sannes and members of the First Interior Squad of the Military Police. Through a bit of dramatization in conversation, Hange learns that Pastor Nick had been tortured and murdered by Djel Sannes and vows revenge. As the Scouts discuss this turn of events, {messenger} comes in with a message from Commander Erwin (who has been arrested). The Scouts leave their hideout just before the Military Police surround the place.

Captain Levi leads the Scouts through the streets of Trost when Eren and Historia appear to be kidnapped.  Jean and Arwin are actually kidnapped due to their use as body doubles for Eren and Historia to bait and capture the kidnappers for information. Levi leaves the dispatching of these amateur kidnappers to Mikasa and the rest of Levi Squad and moves to the covered cart that held the real Historia and Eren. Levi remembers too late that the tactics used by the Military Police to separate the Scouts matched Kenny the Ripper’s MO. Two Scouts are shot at point blank range by Kenny and Co.


Episode 2 Summary

Levi fights Kenny (including a clever face-off in a saloon) while Arwin and Levi Squad fight Kenny’s team over the now unconscious bodies of Eren and Historia. Jean gets the upper hand on one of Kenny’s team and hesitates to shoot her. The woman quickly regains the upper hand on Jean, but Arwin shoots her to saves him. Sasha then saves Arwin from getting shot and a member of Kenny’s team takes the reigns of the cart and gets away with Eren and Historia.

The main kidnapper turns out to be Dimo Reeves, the boss that blocked the pathway to Trost with his supplies when the Titans attacked in Season 1. Levi and Mikasa interrogate the father and broker a deal for him and his son to deliver Djel Sannes to the Scouts. Hange and Moblit break into Erwin’s room to update him on the situation. Hange drops the fact that Eren may be eaten if he is not rescued quickly.

Kenny slits Dimo Reeves’ throat in the cover of darkness. When asked about Levi,Kenny knows that because of how Kenny raised him, Levi will come to him when the time is right. Levi and Hange use torture and expert interrogation techniques to learn from Djel Sannes that Historia and the Reiss family are the true heirs to the throne. The Scouts correctly deduce that the captured Historia and Eren will be with Rod Reiss.

Themes Explored

Attack on Titan seems to be addressing Just War Theory this season.  Just War Theory focuses on the morality of participating in a war and how much of a soldier’s actions are justified in times of war. As Arwin keenly observes, the Scouts are no longer fighting Titans for the sake of humanity’s survival. They are fighting against the Military Police due to the groups’ difference of opinion on what truths the government should keep secret from the people it serves. Because of this difference of opinion, the Scouts are now criminals of the state.  Arwin has already had to kill a human and questions, along with Jean, if fighting and killing other humans is the right thing to do.  He doesn’t even believe that they are good people anymore.

It will be fascinating to see how Levi Squad will change as they continue to perform much less honorable in order to unravel the mysteries of their society. In fact, we witness a potential future for the Scouts through Djel Sannes. After being tortured, Djel talks about all the people he has tortured because of his duty to King Fritz and his staunch belief in maintaining peace within the walls. Djel then shows signs of regret when he states that he never considered how much it actually hurt his victims, but states that Levi and Hange seem to enjoy torturing Sannes in a way that he never did. Could Levi Squad end up continuing the cycle of violence and secrets by using the same tactics that their foes?

Attack on Titan also seems to be addressing government accountability. In a conversation with Niles, Erwin states that their society is about to change soon. He questions the power of the government and how much should be hidden from the people in the name of maintaining order. Commander Erwin has been at the forefront of learning the secrets of the kingdom since Season 1. Who is better suited to confront King Fritz and the nobility than Erwin and the Scouts?


Beyond Season 3 Speculation

Wisecrack has an incredible video called “The Philosophy of Attack on Titan” that aligns the structure of the walled kingdom with those of the Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt. The philosopher theorized that due to humanity’s inherently violent nature, society needed to always have an enemy on which to focus its violence. If such an enemy did not exist, Schmitt believed that society’s violence would turn inward and destroy itself through chaos and violence. Schmitt goes so far as to state that the sovereignty should create an enemy for society when it is necessary to maintain order.

Because of this philosophy, Wisecrack speculates that Attack on Titan may be working to show the flaws of this philosophy by causing the secret origins of the Titans to be the reason that society falls into chaos. We have a number of mysteries to solve before we can confirm whether or not the Titans were initially created to be a state-controlled enemy for the purpose of maintaining order within the walls through a common enemy. But if this is the case, I speculate that Erwin will use the chaos caused by this reveal to dethrone King Fritz and the nobility and become the new militaristic leader of the kingdom.

Historically, monarchs remain in power due to a combination of goodwill with their subjects and a strong alliance with the military and the clergy. A reveal as monumental as the truth about Titans could destabilize King Fritz’s alliance with the Order of the Walls and allow Erwin and the Scouts to either capture/eliminate the nobility. Erwin would already be propped up as a national hero of the people due to his leadership in uncovering this government conspiracy. Erwin could then use Historia to legitimize his reign and Eren could continue to be politicized as the friendly Titan that will fight the forces beyond the wall.

This speculation is not at all unfounded. Eren’s Titan ability has been a point of public interest since the military tribunal in Season 1. And Historia was forced into the military as Christa to keep her safe. Combine this with how much the government wants to maintain control over Eren and Historia, the two of them are the most blatantly powerful political pieces on the board.

Erwin has gambled and sacrificed the lives of countless Scouts and civilians to learn about Eren, Annie, and the Titans beyond the wall. The Season 3 OP also hints that Eren’s father may have told Erwin a few secrets when he was younger that may play a role in his strategic thinking. It is not yet clear if Erwin’s schemes are for the good of society or for his personal gain, but the Commander of the Survey Corps is uniquely positioned to gain the most from learning the truth about the Titans.


Final Thoughts

The preview for the next episode states that it will go deeper into the pasts of Historia and Erwin as well as how they connect. Because of this, viewers may learn just how much of this speculation is true sooner than I initially expected. I have no doubt in my mind that I will write about this season again as the anime reaps the harvest of Season 1 and Season 2’s world building while creating new mysteries.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, TV Time, and Letterboxd. I’ll be back next week with another article about the entertainment I give my life away to everyday.

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