An action-packed episode as Attack On Titan’s second season reaches its penultimate episode and I really don’t want it to be anywhere near this at this point because Charge ramped up the tempo fantastically and was a huge ride of revelations, tense and dangerous combat and major storyline advancing. Everything you could ever really want from an Attack On Titan episode.
On the action sequences, if I were being a bit persnickety I’d note that a couple of the wide shots with the Scouts chasing Reiner looked very jumpy and static but most of this episode was incredible on the animation front. The shot where Erwin got his hand bitten off and was left behind, still desperately shouting orders really sticks in the mind, as does the shot of the 104th on Reiner’s chest, the saliva covering Historia, Bertholdt getting slashed again, the tossing of titans, all very visually pleasing. And that sequence of visually appealing shots tells a story that is moving at a really fast pace and is starting to feel tense. I think this had more background Scout & Military Police deaths than any other and with the season finale up ahead, without me reading the manga, I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question for a character we really do care about to die here. And still so many questions to be answered, like what the hell the Beast Titan is and who are the people behind Reiner and Bertholdt forcing them to do these things?
After a couple of episodes focusing on Reiner and Ymir as ‘antagonists’, we got quite a lot from Bertholdt here, the other two spending all or most of the episode cooped up in their Titans. At the moment, the once quiet character is the spokesperson for the group of Titan Shifters, trying to keep Ymir in line, and defending himself against the 104th by trying to explain his actions. If he’s to be believed, then he isn’t a total monster and he has never really come across that way, a shy kid who has allowed himself to be manipulated. But that still puts him as a moral analog to somewhere between the real world’s radicalised young terrorists and drug smugglers, coerced by evil, sure, but still ultimately responsible for the acts he’s committed. And yet a part of me wants to believe that he can be accepted back into the team as can Reiner and Annie, at the end, the hopelessly naive part of me. I believe him when he said that the time with the 104th was real to him, it allowed him to forget who he was, who he really didn’t want to be, and the reason I find this convincing coming from Bertholdt is that he has never seemed vindictive or cunning or even angry. He is very much like I would be in that situation, , looking way in over his head, not evil but unsure of where to go. And I say that fully aware that he could really change and do something irredeemable soon, even after an episode where we got an insight into his character, I still can’t say for sure his motives. He remains the most enigmatic and therefore the most interesting of the 104th for me.
Though they are all pretty good in their own way, though Krista’s devotion towards Ymir at this point seems basically lovestruck and ill-informed given the danger she’s likely heading into (though it did give us the best dialogue of the episode with (paraphrasing) ‘Life outside the walls is bad, the Titans will eat me’ ‘Well, everyone has one or two faults’). I’m impressed by the amount they’ll stick to each other if it wasn’t so obviously self-destructive and will likely lead to one or both of their deaths at this point. Because they have almost alienated everyone.
Mikasa indeed showed no hesitation at potentially killing them both and this episode really saw a change in Mikasa, she was downright scary and violent with her demeanour towards Krista, Ymir, Bertholdt because at this point she cares about nothing but getting Eren back to her and nothing will get in her way. Armin is showing similar scary tendencies has he finally does figure out what will make Bertholdt angry, the thought of Annie being tortured, and uses it to catch Bert off guard. When Eren is in danger, the rest of the main three are ruthless in their protection of him.
My favourite part of the episode was all of the 104th present on Reiner’s chest to have a good mid-battle heart-to-heart. As I’ve already mentioned, it showed some humanity to Bert and reinforced the image of the team that has been split apart by so many world-shattering events being able to come together, even though they are not all on the same side. As I said up ahead, it gives you a glimpse of what would happen were they all accepted back into the team, though of course that can never happen.
Finally, all the titan battles in this episode were breathtaking, the high number of casualties were enough to make no one feel safe, Erwin is surely doomed now even after his immense acts of bravery, and the Smiling Titan has returned to creep us out even more next time. Charge was excellent, let’s bring on the final.