Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 23, “Sunset,” was a slower-paced episode, giving viewers time to sit back and process everything after last week’s action-packed episode. But hidden within this slower-paced episode was a careful, deep look into the motivations and anguish following multiple characters in the aftermath of war. As each character struggled with what to do next, the merciless Colossal Titans rumbled on in the background, creating a faux sunset over Paradis.
This Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 23 review will have spoilers for the newest episode, but the article is manga-spoiler-free. This Episode 82 review is written for anime-onlies, from the perspective of an anime-only viewer. The review will work for either the sub or the dub episode (which airs March 27.)Check out this new #AttackonTitan review for anime-only viewers. Click To Tweet
Annie Has Quietly Returned, Sharing Her Backstory
The episode began with Hitch observing a growing level of division among the people of Paradis. Some are 100% on Eren’s side and believe any sacrifice is worth what’s happening. Others have lost loved ones due to the Rumbling, with the walls falling down on their own family and friends. They think Eren was wrong not to even think about the people inside the walls and leave so many to die. Hitch grows concerned that people will begin to get violent with each other, so she goes out to get riot gear.
Although our main focus is on her next encounter with Annie, this moment is still important. It shows the turmoil that is happening even within the people of Paradis. It also reveals that even with knowing genocide is Eren’s plan, many are still on board with it all.
The show quickly establishes a reason for Hitch and Annie’s journey together in the rest of the episode: Annie is threatening to turn into a Titan at any moment, and Hitch has no idea if she’s bluffing or not. She decides it’s safest to just help Annie get out of town.
In case you need a quick refresher on Hitch, she and Annie were roommate when they were training to be part of the Military Police, so they were pretty close for quite some time. Since then, Hitch has established herself, helped the Survey Corps at different points in time, and developed a friendship with Armin while he visited Annie frequently.
Annie mentions that although she was in a state of semi-conscious blackness for most of these past four years, she could hear what Armin and Hitch were saying as if it were from a distance. She also heard Eren’s announcement to all the Eldians. So she doesn’t need to be caught up on what’s happening. She’s very much aware.
She doesn’t share much of an opinion on the Rumbling and what’s going on around her, only a bit of surprise that Eren is actually going through with it. She then shares her backstory — much of which was covered already in the OVA. (Learn how to watch the OVA here.) We learn for the first time that her dad isn’t her biological dad. Her mother was a Marleyan who had an affair with an Eldian, and she was abandoned. Her adopted dad — a “foreigner with Eldian blood” — raised her.
But throughout her life, his only purpose for her was to make her into a Warrior candidate so he could have a better life. She describes a lifetime of growing up being mistreated by him, never shown love. As a result, she developed a detachment to everyone. But right before she left for Paradis, he felt remorse and begged her to come back to him.
It’s interesting to me that after knowing nothing but mistreatment from him, she gravitated back to her father so strongly from just a few words of caring from him. Even though people in Paradis treated her even better than he did, she allowed him to be her own personal “coordinate” and her only reason for doing all that she did. It reminds me a bit of Reiner. Even after his eyes were opened to Marley’s lies while living in Paradis, he still ultimately remained loyal to Marley.
It’s hard to feel sympathy for Annie, remembering how she toyed with people and knowing that all the death she brought was only out of love for a man that never showed her love back until one fateful moment in her life.
In the next scene, we see her father begging the Marleyan guards to release them because the Rumbling is coming. But the Marleyans can’t see outside their own racist attitudes, and refuse to believe him. Although it’s not shown on screen, we’re left to assume that the Marleyan guard shot and killed her dad when he wouldn’t surrender.
Shaddis Is Still a Hero
The episode artfully overlays the shooting of what was likely Annie’s dad with Shaddis hearing another shooting in Paradis — most likely Falco shooting a volunteer.
Ever the hero, even to the end, Shaddis tells the men who are loyal to him that they need to look out for themselves and join Falco’s Jaegerist movement in order to survive. He tells them not to “lose themselves” in the process, but there’s nothing else they can do now. He will take whatever punishment or death awaits him. He even admits that he let them beat him up in order to give them a better chance of survival.
Armin Has His Own Breakdown
Armin, meanwhile, is feeling completely powerless in the face of what’s happened around him. He feels like Erwin would have handled all of this so much better, but instead Armin himself was blindsided and didn’t see what was coming. The only thing he can control right now is attempting to stop Conny from feeding Falco to his Titan mom, in order to avoid a civil war when only the people in Paradis are left.
He basically believes that at this point, he can’t stop Eren from carrying out the Rumbling, so all he can do is limit the damage on the island as much as possible.
Mikasa isn’t so sure about Armin’s plan because she has concerns of her own: namely, Eren. She asks Armin what she should do, unable to come up with a plan herself. Looking back, most of what she did in the past was ultimately at Eren, Armin, or Levi’s suggestion. But this time, Eren and Levi aren’t here and Armin doesn’t know what to tell her. He tells her to help Jean and to figure out the rest on her own.
But Mikasa can’t stop thinking about Eren, which only causes Armin to melt down. He probably feels like he failed when it comes to Eren, and there’s nothing he can do. He’s heartbroken. And so is Mikasa.
His brief mention of the Azumabito is important, I think. He’s worried they might be in danger. But if you recall, they created flying machines with iceburst stone. They might actually be the only people who can survive this chaos and destruction outside of the people on the island.
Mikasa wonders what happened to her scarf, which I also think is going to play big in the future.
But I’m worried about Armin. He leaves telling Mikasa that he knows what to do now and he shouldn’t have been brought back to life. I’m concerned that he’s going to sacrifice his life to Conny’s mom in order to save Falco.
Gabi & Kaya’s Scene Was a Sweet Interlude
Gabi is getting ready to leave with Armin to try to save Falco. I don’t think Armin has to worry about Gabi being a problem anymore. She seems fully free of her brainwashing. In fact, she and Kaya hug before she leaves. Kaya’s forgiven Gabi, Gabi’s forgiven the Eldians for the past (and herself.) It’s a sweet moment that this episode truly needed. I wonder what kind of conversations Armin and Gabi will have on their journey?
Floch Is Drunk with Power
Remember when Kenny told Levi that everyone has to get drunk on something? Well, it’s apparent that Floch is drunk on his power. He has a group of armed restorationists following him and obeying his every word. He believes he is special because Eren confided in him with his plan months in the past. (It was likely because Eren knew Floch was discontent with the government and would follow his every word without question.)
But now, Floch is using that power to subjugate others, and already showing signs of beginning the cycle all over again. If he gained a powerful Titan, I believe he would subjugate even more people. And he thinks it’s OK because he’s not mistreating special people like Jean.
Floch kills a Volunteer who refuses to bow down to him. He seems proud of the fact that the Volunteers’ homeland is being trampled, even though they too were victims of Marley themselves. He offers to welcome them as Eldians, but only if they submit to him.
“What’s so wrong with submission?” he asks, in a statement that is counter to all that Eren held dear. To Eren, freedom is the most important thing to fight for, so I can’t picture him being OK with Floch’s attitude now. But who knows. He also seems to only care about the Paradisians’ freedom and no one else’s.
Floch assures Jean that he is OK and won’t be imprisoned. He tells him that since Jean’s a hero, he can go live that “comfy life” of an MP that he once wanted and he can go back to being “reckless, annoying, and cheeky.” But I don’t think Jean wants to go back to being the person he was before. I think he’s proud of how he changed.
The Episode Ends with Falco and Levi
As the credits role, we see Conny on horseback with Falco, in a scene that’s bittersweet and almost comical. Falco naively thanks Conny for helping him. He’s lost his memory and knows Conny looks familiar, but isn’t sure why. Conny, meanwhile, is bringing Falco to his death. This isn’t the type of action that Conny would normally condone, but he is hardened by everything that’s happened and see no other choice. He just wants someone he loves to live.
Then we see that Magath and Pieck survived the fall of the walls. Now they’re outside of the city, trying to figure out they’re next move. They decide to fight the Rumbling “to the bitter end” when they run into Hange. (Who, ironically, will be wanting to fight the Rumbling too. For once, they’re kind of on the same side.)
Hange asks them not to eat her, and presents herself as a person who’s friendly to them — someone simply helping “a harmless fellow who refuses to die.”
And that’s when it’s finally revealed to us that Levi is alive! But he appears to still be unconscious, so it’s really unclear how much life he has in him or just how injured he is.
This is another stellar episode that I’ll give a 9 out of 10. (The only reason it doesn’t get a 10 is because I don’t feel like I can grant every episode a 10, even if I want to.) Although some questions weren’t answered, we were given a firm foundation from which we will likely return to Eren’s story next week.