TL;DR: As Paradisians debate Zeke’s potential influence over Eren, a major power play is made that leaves viewers debating whose side is the right side.
This article will have spoilers for Season 4 Episode 12, but the article itself is manga-spoiler-free. Please don’t add spoilers from the manga in the comments.
***This propaganda review has been HACKED by the Jaegerists!***
Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 12 Review
If there’s one thing that Attack on Titan is good at doing, it’s making us question our own assumptions. The show’s focus on the dangers of war and unmitigated propaganda drives home the message that no one is ever completely immune. We must constantly question our own assumptions, our own motivations, and our own biases. And even when people are basically on the same side, they can still have very different ideas about how to fix a problem or even what that problem might be.
Last week’s Episode 11 drove home just how deeply propaganda can become ingrained, but how acceptance and sacrificial love can still have the hope of pushing through it. Last week I cried as I learned the backstory of an innocent girl and how one act of self-sacrifice changed the trajectory of her life.
This week’s episode was very different, but no less compelling.
We began with Armin’s regular visit to Annie and his continued quest to reach out to her. Annie and Armin had made a connection prior to the revelation of her Titan form, but Annie threw that away. She cocooned herself in a protective crystallized shell and hasn’t emerged in years. But Armin hasn’t given up trying to reach her. We also learned that he’s not allowed to touch the crystallized shell to see if her Titan memories can transfer by touch. That seemed really odd to me (as have many decisions by the Paradis government.) Why wouldn’t they want to test that theory after all these years? Isn’t it worth trying?
And that opening sets the tone for the rest of the episode. We’re faced with strange government decisions that don’t make a lot of sense strategically, while logic seems to dictate a different approach. Questions upon questions, and layers upon layers.
In the next scene, Hitch and Armin discuss how the public’s trust in the military has diminished after the news that Eren Jaeger is being detained was leaked. The public understandably is having trouble with this. Eren is the only reason they’re still alive after endless Titan attacks sent to them from Marley. Of course they don’t want to see their hero jailed (as the Paradis government has done to him multiple times in the past too, I might add.)
Armin explains that Eren is in jail because of Zeke and his Rumbling plan, and they can’t disclose this to the public. But this sparks a lot of debate. On the one hand, I can see why Paradis (including Hange) is being so careful with Eren. Yes, he’s proven his loyalty. But while in Marley, he flipped his position on Hange’s plan and went with Zeke’s plan instead. And Zeke inflicted terrible damage on Paradis, including killing Erwin. I understand why the Paradis government is skeptical of Eren’s camaraderie with Zeke and concerned (after learning about Yelena’s secret meeting with Eren) that Eren might be influenced by Zeke.
The subpar treatment of Eren is inexcusable, and these “strange government decisions” are not random acts of stupidity. They are a pattern of disloyal and craven actions by the corrupt Eldian government. While they drink their wine and try to make nice with Marley, we are still at war. A war they declared on us. They have consistently forced us to choose between our own lives and theirs. If they continue to attack after our greatest victory, a victory in which we only attacked after they once more declared war on a peaceful nation, surely they cannot simply be reasoned with.
Now back to the rest of this Marleyan sympathizer’s review.
At the same time, I also see where the Jaeger supporters are coming from. Eren is the only reason they’re alive. My husband and I had a pretty spirited debate about this, and he thinks Eren should never have been jailed since he’s more than proven his loyalty. And I get that. Jailing him was an odd choice.
Your husband is right. A loyal Eldian. Unlike yourself.
We learn that Jaegerists are surrounding the entire headquarters, demanding his release.
Yelena Wants to See the World Reshaped by Two Brothers
Meanwhile, Pyxis is meeting with Yelena, discussing her secret meeting with Eren that even the other volunteers didn’t know about. Yelena acknowledges that her secrecy about the meeting is a good reason for detaining the other volunteers, even though they served Paradis faithfully all this time. (Don’t forget: there’s still a lot of damage from Bertholdt and Reiner’s betrayal. They too served faithfully for years before revealing their loyalties.) Yelena explains that Paradis didn’t understand the world and needed a fire lit beneath them to spur them into action. Eren felt that same need for action, she said. Zeke’s loyalists wanted Eren’s Founding Titan to crush Marley, as they too were victims of the Marley government.
“He delivered the divine retribution we wished upon Marley for years,” she said. “For him to achieve such things is proof he possesses the Founder.” (As a side note, I wonder about this. We were told the Attack Titan always yearns for freedom and justice, so I’m not sure Eren’s actions are from the Founder, but how can you really tell the difference?)
He brought justice to the evil Marley empire and so you aren’t sure it fits the Attack Titan’s “freedom and justice’ persona? How do you figure?
She says they’re witnessing history as two brothers reshape the world, and she wants to see it from their side.
Then Pyxis asks her to write down everything that happened between her and Eren, and comments that a lie is more convincing if some truth is mixed with it. This leaves me wondering… Is Pyxis implying that he doesn’t believe Yelena’s story, or is he asking her to lie when she officially reports what happened between her and Eren?
He is asking her to lie because Pyxis is a loyal Eldian and has always had our backs. Unlike the treacherous fucks who locked up Eren in a jail cell after he returned home from war. We should be celebrating him in the streets. And now Pyxis has handed over command to our rightful military leader.
Hange Doesn’t Trust Yelena
In the next scene, we see Hange and Onyankopon chatting, as Onyankopon shares that he can’t believe the Paradisians still don’t trust them after three years of working together and helping the island prosper. (Which makes me think back to how many years Reiner and Bertholdt pretended to be on their side, and how much damage Zeke inflicted. The suspicion is understandable.)
Hange tells him about Yelena’s secret meeting with Eren that she didn’t divulge to Paradis, which is why they’re suspicious again. Hange says that Yelena’s secret meeting (and Onyankopon’s suspicions that he didn’t divulge) is enough of a reason to arrest them all. “Tell me what you know about Yelena for the sake of our future,” she says.
Eldia brought great shame upon herself when she locked up those volunteers. She is punishing them for something they didn’t do, which is exactly what they fled Marley to escape.
If Eren trusts them, and I trust Eren, then we should trust them as well. He has the memories of previous Titans, and spent much time undercover among the Marleyans. His loyalty to Eldia is unquestionable, saving us from the Titans several times, and at great risk to his own life. His own mom was eaten by a titan from Marley for fucks sake! Eren has our best interest at heart and more knowledge. In addition, he is our best hope because he is the strongest man on earth.
He says that Yelena organized the volunteers, but it didn’t go well at first because everyone was suspicious. He says that she was ruthless and killed colleagues who suspected anything, which helped them start to trust her and her loyalty to Zeke. He said they buried anyone who doubted them, but pushed forward because of the homelands Marley had taken from them.
Hange said the whole thing seemed weird because Yelena advocated for Paradis to give specific rights to Marleyans, while she had previously been so ruthless toward them when she was in Marley.
Hmmmm… she advocates rights for Marleyans during peace and yet fought them in order to survive. How curious, eh Hange?
Some people are angry at Hange for not releasing Eren from prison. However, I can see things from her side. She doesn’t trust Zeke or Yelena. She’s trying to figure out Yelena’s angle because something seems off to her. If she had fought for Eren, she would have been removed from the government and removed from her position of power in investigating Yelena and Zeke. Plus, after Eren threatened her while she visited him in jail, she has her doubts about him. I’m not making a judgment call on whether those doubts are warranted, but I can understand things from her perspective.
Premier Zachary Hasn’t Changed
All this talk about Hange not trusting Yelena, and can I just say that I do not trust Premier Zachary? I mean, it appears all his actions were based on some pretty corrupt scheming. Armin thinks he was going to give Eren’s Titan powers to someone else. With Historia being pregnant, it might not have even been a member of the Royal family (since she’s the only one left.) It might’ve just been someone he had a lot of control over.
Talk about someone who was sketch. He wouldn’t even let Armin and Mikasa talk to Eren to try to get information out of him. He said it was because Eren’s secret meeting with Yelena led to the attack on Marley, but I’m not buying that explanation. He said they believe Eren is being manipulated by Zeke, which is worded as a foregone conclusion rather than a concern about something that might be happening. Also, he had that super creepy chair brought into his office because there was nowhere else to store it (right).
The man’s motivations are definitely questionable, and I’m not surprised the Jaegerists attacked and killed him. (If it was the Jaegerists who did it.) He’s the only one they directly attacked, and he’s the only one who seemed really, really corrupt.
Oh, we did it. The bastard had it coming.
(It’s important to recall, at this point, Zachary’s past to better understand his motivation. He’s the head of the entire military, but he told Erwin that he only participated in the revolution against the monarchy because he hated some of them very much. He liked seeing their fear when they lost power, and he doesn’t really care about humanity — just himself. That mysterious chair is his torture machine, which he hasn’t given up.)
Armin and Mikasa agree that Premier Zachary was acting super, super weird and there was no good reason not to let them talk to Eren. Then those recruits show up to visit him, and a bomb explodes, killing Zachary. Which was likely for the best. I’m glad Zachary’s gone, ewww.
But in response to his death, the protesters are ready to show their anger about Eren being held captive. Their feelings are understandable, and then we learn that in the midst of the explosion, Eren escaped. His allies, led by Floch, are waiting for him when he escaped, and also let him know that they have more allies hiding within the military: “Including some who blew up Dhalis Zachary.”
They believe that Eren is the only one who can save the Eldian Empire, and they might be right.
It is regrettable that our own fellow Eldians caused it to come to this, but the people were victorious in the end. That bomb will save not only Eren, but all of Paradis.
Hange later explains that the secret plan to take the Founder from Eren is what triggered them to act. Roeg, however, is suspicious of everyone now. (He’s the one who was gossiping about Historia in last week’s episode.)
After this, Pyxis announces that they are going to essentially surrender to Eren, because infighting will leave them vulnerable to Marley. He says they must protect Historia and Zeke from Eren contacting them, but he also doesn’t want to go to war with Eren.
“We’ve been utterly beaten,” he says. “Let’s surrender to Eren.”
He says they’ll use Zeke’s location to negotiate with the Jaegerists, which seems like a pretty wise plan. Honestly, part of me wonders if Pyxis is a Jaegerist himself.
So Pyxis acts like a Jaegerist. Armin may have planted the bomb. Mikasa never wavered in her loyalty to Eren. What more do you need to know? Smart Eldians know that Eren is right. He was right to attack Marley when they declared war. He is right to ally with Zeke.
At the very end, we learn a surprising bit of information.
Pieck is already there, embedded in Paradis just like Eren was embedded in Marley. Does this mean Porco and Reiner are nearby too?
In the end, my loyalty is still with Eren, though I understand Hange’s side and I’m glad she’s being skeptical of Zeke. Most of all, I’m glad Zachary is gone. What about you?
I am glad to know your loyalty lies with Eren. We all hope that Hange will see the light before it is too late. But just remember: the Jaegerists are watching you.