“I got rid of dangerous animals. Animals that happened to represent humans.”
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.
We are introduced to Dimo Reeves, who will become more prominent in season 3. He is preventing citizens from leaving by attempting to force his goods and supplies through the small opening. I won’t say too much. But the scene with Dimo Reeves introduces a character who might become more prominent in season 4, dependent on if the anime chooses to include their role.
A leader in Mikasa’s guard asks her how she became such an efficient killer. The rest of the episode is dedicated to her backstory. Honestly wish we got more Mikasa character-focused episodes as I feel her roles here and in the next episode are the strongest for her character. She’s an interesting character for how divisive she can be in the fandom. Some see her as a weak character because her motivation is driven by someone else (double jeopardy since the person happens to be a boy). I’d say that the themes the story explores is trying to expand upon this exact point.
Mikasa’s parents were driven into hiding by the outside forces of this society. Ackerman’s, her father’s side, are actively persecuted. Her mother is Asian, and Mikasa’s kidnappers note that since she is a ‘rare’ race, she’ll fetch a high price from underground brothels. It’s a distinct transition from the fantastical horror that the titans present to the real horror that humanity presents that the series will continue to blend.
The sociopolitical implications are summarized by both Armin and past-Mikasa’s epiphanies. From survival through eating other living creatures, to childhood bullies, to the rich pushing the poor to the front lines, to man-eating titans, they both recognize a certain ouroboros quality to nature, with humanity included in that. The titans, and by extension to themes from larger horror works, zombies, are a sort of perversion on survival since they do not eat or kill to survive but simply because they are compelled to. The ouroboros quality of the death fueling a purpose of other life is non-existent.
– Grisha would be known in the area from him curing a plague, but also was likely safe for Ackerman’s and Asians to reveal themselves around (not that he knew of the backstory of Ackerman’s). Grisha would not report on their identities or them being in hiding, even if for reasons unbeknownst to her parents. Grisha would’ve also taken a specific interest in them due to the Owl mentioning Armin and Mikasa from his future memories. It’s why Grisha was immediately adamant on adopting Mikasa, since he knows she’s somehow involved in their future.
– The cartoon-like quality of Mikasa finding the strength to save Eren is later proven to have purpose. The shocks shown from her brain to her body are literal in that her family line was experimented on to ‘activate’ fighting abilities under certain circumstances. We won’t learn this until season 3 though.
– It’s important to note that Eren’s outburst here isn’t normal (and won’t be treated as such). Up until now, we’ve seen Eren experience trauma and have bloodlust for mindless killing creatures, but this sequence occurs before all that. Supposedly, here, he’s level minded and he both murders actual humans, and disregards their lives as animals. Something is not right with Eren.
I like when Mikasa connects the kidnapper choking Eren to instances of survival she’s experienced living in a family of hunter-gatherers. She’s seen prey kill predators. She’s seen her father kill for food. She now sees human nature as no different in their base motives. “A cruel world in which only the victor survives.”