Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 28, “Dawn of Humanity,” was a stunning conclusion to Season 4 Part 2. Episode 87 was captivating and perhaps the best episode of the entire season so far (with “Memories of the Future” running a close second.) The episode showed a heartbreaking (and simultaneously heartwarming) flashback before giving us a terrifying glimpse of what’s happening right now in Marley.
This Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 28 review will have spoilers for the newest episode, but the article is manga-spoiler-free. This Episode 87 review is written for anime-only viewers.
The Humor at the Beginning Is Needed to Offset the End
This episode was amazing in its ability to mix humor, bittersweet love, terror, and heartache. The episode animated both Chapters 123 and 130 from the manga. Originally, Chapter 123 went along with a different discussion in the manga. But saving that for the final episode of Season 4 Part 2 was brilliant. It fits in beautifully and heartbreakingly well with the onset of the Rumbling.
When the episode begins, we’ve flashed back to several years in the past, when the crew was visiting Marley undercover with the hope that they would be able to make friends and show that the people of Paradis don’t mean them any harm. But that goal is going to soon fall apart.
Onyankopon greets them at the dock. (And this is sad enough when you think about how despairing he is in the present-day, knowing his homeland is being destroyed.)
We have some really fun scenes where our friends see what an advanced civilization is like for the very first time. Sasha has a strong presence in this episode, which is just pure heartbreaking. We’re reminded of how close she was to Conny and Jean, and how much they’re all hurting in her absence. There’s also a striking resemblance between her and Gabi that I hadn’t really noticed until this episode.
We get to see everyone enjoying life in Marley, with the reminder that much of these advancements didn’t happen on Paradis because their minds had been wiped. And on top of that, the royal family had decreed that technological advancements be absconded, less they have a better chance of moving beyond the walls and learning the truth.
Perhaps my favorite scene is the one where the clown mistook Levi for being a child because he’s just so short. I literally laughed out loud at this scene. It was so well done!
The Dark Underbelly of Marley Soon Shows Itself
But the dark underbelly of Marley can’t be ignored for long. An immigrant (likely from one of the conquered countries or with Eldian blood) steals Sasha’s coin purse. The Marleyans turn dark fast, as they talk about hanging the poor boy as an example for everyone else. Levi isn’t going to have it, so he takes the kid and runs. I can’t help but wonder if he sees himself in that child. He grew up in the underground and had to rely on crime to survive for a while himself.
Eventually they meet up with Lady Azumabito, who explains that life outside the walls for Eldians isn’t very good. She said that as blood testing has improved, many countries are discovering that Subjects of Ymir fled the internment zones and are living freely among them in secret. Apparently Marley isn’t the only country who hates Eldians, and all the other countries want the Eldians confined too. Establishing peaceful relations is going to be very difficult because of all that hatred.
Armin mentions something about how giving up on their plan would mean going along with Zeke’s. Don’t be mistaken — at this point in the timeline they don’t know about Zeke’s euthanization plan yet. But Yelena and the others have already made contact with them, so they do know that Zeke is on their side and wants to connect with Eren to enact a short-term Rumbling. (Only, they don’t trust Zeke and want to find a different way that doesn’t involve more fear and killing.)
Eren Cries Over the Lives That Will Soon Be Lost
That night, Eren watches the refugee camp where the boy is living — the place where everyone who lost their homes is living — and he’s crying. He’s crying because they have never experienced true freedom and, like him, had their lives ripped away through no fault of their own.
But I believe he’s also crying because he already knows his future self is going to enact the Rumbling and there is no stopping that. (He saw this when he kissed Historia’s hand and was able to glimpse his father’s memories of his future.) Many innocent people are going to die, including the ones he is befriending right now, and Eren’s heart is breaking over that.
Would Things Have Been Different if Mikasa Spoke Her Truth?
That’s when Eren and Mikasa have their iconic scene. He asks her, “Why do you care so much about me? Because I saved you when we were kids? Or because I’m family? What am I to you?”
There’s another potential reason, which he knows — because she’s in love with him. But he doesn’t mention this one, perhaps because he would rather she freely say it without any prompting.
I imagine there are two things happening in this scene. Eren truly does want to know if Mikasa loves him like family or loves him romantically. I do believe that Eren has romantic feelings toward her too.
But Eren is also already developing a theory that Mikasa is compelled to love him because of the Ackerman inside of her. So he might be trying to get a better idea of whether or not his theory is correct.
In the end, Mikasa tells him, “You’re family.”
She’s regretted that ever since and wondered if Eren would have been different if she had been honest. But I think the answer is that her honesty would not have changed a thing. In fact, he might have worked even harder to push her away.
What follows this is an adorable scene where the crew all gets drunk and parties the night away, enjoying life in a way that’s been absent for a long time. Even Eren is happy — perhaps the happiest he’s been in a long time.
The next day, they visit the Subjects of Ymir Protection Group’s first meeting. During the meeting, we learn that even the people fighting for the Eldians to have freedom believe that the people of Paradis are devils and the true enemy. Eren sees this and believes no one will change and his loved ones will never be safe. This is when he leaves and begins to enact his plan with Zeke.
We See Eren’s Meetings with Floch & with Historia
I always wanted to see not only Eren’s meeting with Yelena, but his meeting with Floch. And we finally get it, along with a look at his discussion with Historia (which just leaves me more confused.) The two are overlaid to show that both Historia and Floch’s initial reactions were similar.
Floch asks Eren why they are pretending to go along with Zeke’s euthanization plan, and what the next play is. Eren explains that the plan is for him to destroy the world, all their enemies, and wipe out everyone who would stand against them. I can only guess he told Floch the same thing he told Historia about it being the only way to end the cycle of revenge. But I’m betting Floch got on board faster than Historia, despite how shocked he looked when he first heard Eren’s words. What else did he say to Floch?
Eren is the one who revealed to Historia that the MPs planned to have her turn into a Titan and eat Zeke. Her only options are to fight or run. But Historia says that after everything that was done for her, she would be OK making this sacrifice. However, Eren is most decidedly not OK with it. He doesn’t want her to have a shortened life as a Titan or to just be breeding future Titans who eat their parents.
That’s when Eren confides in Historia and tells her his real plan. It’s interesting to me that he chose to open up to her and not Armin or Mikasa. Is it because he knew he couldn’t wipe Mikasa’s memory if he told her, and telling Armin would mean that Mikasa would definitely find out?
Of course, Historia immediately believes Eren’s plan is wrong — he will just be hurting innocent people, just like his mother was hurt. But Eren insists that the only way to “end this cycle of revenge fueled by hate is to bury our hate-filled history along with civilization itself.”
But Historia tells him that she can’t live with herself if she doesn’t try to stop him. Eren tells her that if it’s so hard on her, she can just wait until he gains the power of the Founder and then he can wipe out her memory so she doesn’t feel so much guilt.
She says there’s no way she can do that and he says: “You can. Because you’re the ‘worst girl in the world’ who saved me back then.” (This is referencing an earlier scene when she saved his life. I wrote about it and its meaning in a story here.)
After a break for a Zeke scene, Historia then says, “Say, Eren. What if I got pregnant?”
It’s odd timing for her question (and interesting how it’s spliced with Zeke telling Eren that he believes Mikasa cares for him.) She appears to be asking this as an alternative to the “fight or run” question, as a way to put off having to eat Zeke. But the timing of asking this right after Eren told her his plan is an odd segue. Some fans believe this is indicating that Eren is definitely the father of her child. I’m not so sure of that, but it’s certainly a possibility, especially considering how it was paired with Eren’s chat with Zeke about Mikasa.
Zeke Loves Being a Big Brother to Eren
One thing that was interesting was seeing Zeke so quickly fall into the big brother role with Eren. Eren apparently told Zeke his theory about the Ackermans being compelled to protect hosts of the king, and headaches being involved with that. But Zeke already knows the truth about the Ackermans and how they came to be. (Just a note: the anime skipped over Zeke’s explanation, but I won’t share it here in case it will be revealed in a future episode.)
Zeke tells Eren that Ksaver and the researchers never uncovered anything about headaches. Instead, their powers awaken when their survival instinct is triggered. That actually explains a lot of questions that I had. It didn’t make sense if the Ackermans were beholden to the King that the Royal Family would persecute them. There’d be no need to do so. Zeke’s explanation makes a lot more sense.
Zeke then tells Eren that Mikasa’s devotion to him has nothing to do with any kind of forced behavior. She just really likes him.
“So what will you say to her?” Zeke asks, clearly being on board the Mikasa-Eren ship.
Eren thinks there’s nothing to say, since he only has four years left to live at the most.
That’s when it cuts to showing how Eren mutilated himself, cutting off his own leg and stabbing himself in the eye so he could go undercover. He’s driven by a mission, no matter how much pain it inflicts on him.
“Even after I’m dead, their lives will go on. I want them to. I want them to live and be happy.”
So now we truly know Eren’s motivations. But would his friends be able to “live and be happy” with the survivors’ guilt they would endure? And considering that Eren can’t even mindwipe Mikasa, she’d definitely have to live with the knowledge of what happened.
The Rumbling Is Terrifying
We finally get our first look at the Rumbling. All the nations combined their armies to try to stop it. But their best weaponry can barely make a dent in the onslaught.
I had assumed the Colossal Titans were walking on the ocean bed, but seeing them swimming was a complete surprise. (And maybe just a little bit funny. I wasn’t expecting that at all!) But even the disjointedness of that reveal doesn’t take away the horror of what happens next.
They can’t stop the Rumbling. And these Titans bear a heat like Armin’s Colossal, melting soldiers in their wake.
They look menacing and horrifying as they approach the shore, in a scene reminiscent of the Season 2 ending song.
And then we see Eren leading them. He’s in some kind of horrifying spider-like form, but he still bears the Attack Titan’s face. And it’s interesting to hear the soldiers recognize him as the Attack Titan, not the Founder. We close in on his eyes glowing green and then a Rumbling footstep. We see flashbacks of his mother being eaten and the hatred in his eyes as a child.
“I’ll wipe out every last one of ’em,” he says, in a callback to what he said as a child.
It’s a chilling, horrifying ending. And the perfect end to Season 4 Part 2. I give this episode 10 out of 10.