Attack on Titan The Final Season
Episode 4

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Attack on Titan The Final Season ?

“Lately, it seems like a lot of new things have been happening…”

“From One Hand to Another” is the first episode of Attack on Titan The Final Season that doesn't have an especially strong throughline that binds the plot together. This isn't necessarily a flaw on AoT's part; in a story with this many moving parts, there are inevitably going to be chapters that serve more to provide exposition and establish future developments in the narrative, even if it means forgoing a more “complete” feeling structure. Analyzing the episode is just a bit trickier than usual, because much of what we learn this week will need more time and context in order to weigh it fully against the larger whole of what the show is doing in this final stretch.

The primary focus of “From One Hand to Another” is on the latest addition to Attack on Titan's expansive roster of characters: Willy Tybur, the heir of the family that ostensibly controls the fate of all Marley. The man is a fascinating enigma at first glance: someone who openly balks at the power and responsibility that he holds in his hands, even as he puts his plans in motion to secure peace between his nation and all the peoples that Marley has seen fit to conquer. He is an Eldian living as a noble in a world that proudly despises his kind, and yet he is planning to reveal to his would-be allies that an Eldian family has been at the seat of power in Marley since the legendary Helos defeated the Titans and ended their reign a century prior. He specifically decries Marley as having perpetuated the same cycle of violence and subjugation as the Eldians before them; and, when Magath suggests that the average Marleyan could use a glimpse of the frontline for themselves – even if it means conscripting them – Willy seems amenable to the idea.

What are Willy Tybur's ultimate goals, and how will they align/collide with the military's plan to invade Paradis? The upcoming festival is apparently when everything will be made crystal clear, and Willy has even prepared a theatrical presentation that will hopefully get his message across. I suspect that, whatever Willy and Magath are cooking up, it is all related to the mysterious envelopes that the injured Eldian soldier “Kruger” has been having Falco relay for him. The post-credits scene of the episode confirms what was already pretty obvious last week: “Kruger” is actually Eren Jaeger, whose plans for Marley will surely be of the disruptive sort. Judging by the look on his face when Falco leads him down to meet Eren, Reiner isn't exactly anticipating a friendly reunion.

As for the rest of the episode, we've mostly got small (but appreciable) character moments to deal with. Eren has a brief but loaded encounter with the elder Jeager, who blames himself for everything that happened to Grisha. Gabi is as determined and arrogant as ever in her pursuit to inherit the Armored Titan, and she definitely doesn't pick up on the not-at-all-subtle signals that Falco is sending when she asks him why he cares so much about beating her, who proceeds to cry out, blushing: “I'm doing it for you!” When the Warrior Unit is tasked to serve as waiters at Willy Tybur's party, Udo has a close call when he overhears some particularly nasty anti-Eldian bigotry and ends up spilling wine all over the kimono of a woman from Hizuru (which is, I guess, this world's Japan/East Asian analogue?). The woman is thankfully very quick to assume responsibility for the accident, which gets poor Udo off the hook for what might have been a terrible punishment. I suppose this scene serves two purposes: To remind the audience that there are some sympathetic figures out in the world who don't completely buy into the anti-Eldian rhetoric, and to confirm what Udo said earlier in the episode about anti-Eldian sentiments being even worse outside of Marley.

So, yeah, I guess all that remains is to see where things go in the next episode. Given that it is titled “Declaration of War”, I think it is safe to assume that the brief spell of peace and revelry that the Warrior kids get to experience at the festival is about to meet a quick and violent end. Gabi tells Reiner, just before Falco arrives with a fateful invitation to yet another basement, that she feels like something big is about to happen, that some kind of great change for all of them lies just beyond the horizon. I wonder how Gabi will be feeling, not too long from now, knowing how right she was?

Rating:

Odds and Ends

• I didn't remember this until Google helpfully reminded me, but Eren Kruger was the fellow who saved Grisha's life way back when he first got exiled to Paradis, so it is only fitting that our Eren would take on his namesake's mantle here in Marley.

• Another thing that I am eager to see clarified is the true nature of the era of Eldian “rule” over society. When we got Grisha's big flashbacks in Season 3, the story of the Eldians' horrifying domination over society was presented as Marleyan propaganda, twisting the truth to justify the empire's present-day crimes. The fact that every other nation in the world also harbors the same hatred of the Eldians makes me wonder if there is more truth to the Eldians' dark past than the Edlian Restorationists are willing to admit, or if the show is playing on how a good many cultures in our own world have been all too eager to jump on the bandwagon of anti-Semitism and other such bigotries, so long as it suits them. You're playing with fire, AoT!

• I will admit that I am a little shaky on how secret or expansive the Tyburs' role in Marley's operations is meant to be, but I don't know how much I appreciate the notion that a secret cabal of “Eldians” is steering the direction of this society from the shadows…

• The gag where Pieck tells Porco that it feels “natural” for her to walk on all fours these days is a useful reminder that pretty much every one of the Marleyan Titans has got their Stuff™ to deal with.

• Remember, the New Year's celebrations will mean a delay for Episode 5, which isn't set to air until January 5th or 6th (depending on where in the world you're watching from). See you all then!

Attack on Titan The Final Season is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and FUNimation.

James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.


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