“Yes, that’s what I’ll be. I will kill every last Titan in existence.”
DISCLAIMER: This rewatch will include spoilers for seasons 1-3 of Attack on Titan. If you have not watched all 3 currently available seasons of Attack on Titan, I discourage you from reading further. Even though I am a manga reader, I will not be talking about spoilers for the upcoming season.
Episode 2 is a refugee story. It’s compact in that it covers quite a large chunk of time in order to move on to ODM training and establishing the larger ensemble cast. The titans have invaded, representing a terrorist attack on civilians severe enough to force them to flee. We see images of people forced to leave behind all their possessions so that they may ferry more people to the inner walls. As ships leave and gates close, people jump to try and save themselves, they try to bribe for their children’s lives, and soldiers abandon their posts.
After they flee, and arrive at a refugee camp within Wall Rose, we see dismal food rations, with some only being given a loaf of bread for the day. Garrison members from Wall Rose are upset at having to give up their precious food and resources to ‘outsiders’ and the refugees fight amongst themselves to try and get more food for their own.
Regarding tone, this episode establishes a hopeless atmosphere that will carry for the majority of this season. Although we saw the death of Eren’s mother in the first episode, we didn’t get a good idea of scale or how this is affecting the whole town. Here, the opening shows us the devastation, religious leaders praying for salvation before their doom, innocents chased into corners before being violently eaten.
The structure of the walls is an inherent clue to the corruption of the upper class and government. Pockets of towns like Shiganshina are on the outer rims of each circle in order for titans to be attracted to those areas, making them less likely to penetrate the inner walls. In essence, if you’re poor, you’re bait. With refugee’s being used in the effort to reclaim Wall Maria, it’s becomes transparent to everyone that their sacrifice was intentional on the part of the government to alleviate the food shortage they’re experiencing.
After the death of Armin’s grandfather, the trio have no remaining ties, so all three decide to enlist in the military. Driven primarily by his hatred, Eren vows to kill all titans, “all enemies,” in existence.
– In typical form, we get hints without context. “It’s happening again,” Mikasa says as she grabs her head. What’s happening again? We’ll find out in four episodes — the loss of Carla means Mikasa lost her family for the second time.
– Okay now this is where the timeline gets interesting. We know from flashbacks in season 3 that Grisha went and stole the power of the Founding Titan from the Reiss family. And we know from Eren’s flashback in the final episode, that Grisha only went after finding out about the fall of Wall Maria in an attempt to appeal to the king to stop the titans from killing his family. The one shot we get of Grisha returning is immediately after he’s killed the Reiss family and stolen the Founding Titan. Also Eren’s ‘dream’ is Eren being turned into a titan and eating his father. From here on out, unbeknownst to Eren, he’s a titan shifter. I always thought it’d be funny if he transformed from something minor.
– We’ve seen Armin living with his grandfather, but this is the first time he’s mentioned that his mother and father are dead. He states specifically to Eren that if, “…you do something dumb, you’ll die, like my mom and dad.” Armins’ grandfather then dies in the Wall Maria effort.
– Reiner, Bert, and Annie make appearances amongst the refugees.
– Despite Eren’s insistence on not relying on reluctant charity and his inherent ability to kill all the titans, Mikasa reminds him that it’s only from the collective help of people around them that they’ve managed to survive this long. “Eat, and survive.” It always makes me think of Sasha’s character, being an extreme, comic representation of this theme. Her story with her father in season 2 builds well off this.
– This is a bit of an expository episode that covers a lot of ground. It’s a tie between the Armored Titan’s first appearance and the final scene. The final scene, I think, is the most impactful in terms of it’s importance to the larger story.