Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 8, Assassin’s Bullet, just dropped. I thought there would be some close calls in this episode, given the title and the preview. But I had no idea what was coming, and now — like many fans — I’m completely heartbroken. But I’ve also found hope in an unexpected character. It was a roller coaster of emotions today, that’s for sure.
This is a review for Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 8, so the article will have spoilers for the anime’s latest episode. But the article itself is manga-spoiler-free. Please don’t add spoilers from the manga in the comments. Thanks. 🙂
Let’s address the most heartbreaking parts of the episode first, before we process everything that happened, since I’m pretty sure I know what we’re all thinking.
When the Last Words Are ‘Meat’ 🙁
I was so happy to see Sasha last week and how much she’s grown in her confidence and Titan-killing skills since we last saw her. I enjoyed seeing her interactions with Connie and truly related when she asked how long it would be until they could eat. But then Gabi stole onto the airship, and hell broke loose from there.
Sasha couldn’t bring herself to kill a child in their earlier encounter, so she let Gabi live when she killed the two guards with her. But once Gabi got on the airship, she fired into the group, her heart hellbent on revenge, and her bullet found a target: Sasha.
Sasha bled to death on the ground of the airship as they flew back to Paradis, and no one could save her. The fan favorite’s very last words were: “Meat.” 😭
Attack on Titan has never been an anime that glosses over the horrors and high costs of war. The show reminds us over and over that life is cruel. And once again, the show drove that lesson home in a poignant, heartbreaking way.
i can't do this please sasha don't leave us please pic.twitter.com/qcBJBpZcuA
— claire (@whoreforhange) January 31, 2021
If you recall, Sasha was Mikasa’ first friend. Now Mikasa is watching over Sasha’s grave. 🙁
— mars (@iwtdfe) January 31, 2021
Levi has lost many close to him, but Sasha’s death still hits him hard.
— mars (@iwtdfe) January 31, 2021
Jean, Conny, Armin — their heartbreak cannot be contained.
the pain in their eyes after finding out that sasha's dead… pic.twitter.com/A9m0bvBctA
— claire (@whoreforhange) January 31, 2021
Connie’s heartbreak might just be the worst of all though.
Connie lost his twin, his other half, his best friend, the girl he used to goof around with. His family was all gone and Sasha was the person closest to his heart after them, and she was taken away from him too. I can't even fathom the suffering he endured. pic.twitter.com/qeBWsw73s2
— Carte Blanche✪Sora (@annenetic) January 31, 2021
Some fans were concerned that maybe Eren had lost some of his “humanity” in the last few years. But his reaction to Sasha’s death revealed that was not the case.
— Reynol (@reyn_ortiz04) January 31, 2021
Can Gabi Be Redeemed?
It’s going to be hard for fans to forgive Gabi after she singlehandedly killed off their favorite character. We’ve seen her walking down a path that strongly parallels Eren’s, and making a lot of brash choices like Eren did when he was a kid. But the big difference is that while Eren had Mikasa to hold him back, and Mikasa was arguably stronger than him as a kid, it’s different for Gabi. Her “Mikasa” is Falco, and while he has a pure heart, he doesn’t really have the strength to continually hold Gabi back like Mikasa did, and keep her out of too much trouble. (But even Mikasa had limits.)
There are some pretty big differences between Gabi and Eren. Both saw their loved ones killed by Titans right in front of their eyes. Both were misled about their people’s history. But in Gabi’s case, her people are being bullied and mistreated by a government that she’s still trying to preserve. She’s trying to win favors with a government entity that has no interest in ever truly awarding her for it. She may view the Eldians of Paradis as devils, but no matter what her people do, the Marleyans will still view them as devils too. But since she was brainwashed all her life, leaving that programming behind is going to be very hard for her. Falco was able to, but he spent time getting to know Eren as a person before he learned who Eren was, and then he saw Reiner’s heartbreak over his own actions. Gabi hasn’t been privy to any of that.
But if Gabi does break free of her brainwashing, will she be redeemable? While I do think the people of Paradis could forgive her (as Eren demonstrated by forgiving Reiner for causing his mom’s death), I’m not sure the viewers will ever forgive her. With Reiner, we saw him as a “person” before we knew who he was, just like Falco did with Eren. But we always knew Gabi was “with the enemy” so to speak, which kind of colors the perception of her.
Only time will tell if she’s redeemable.
Reiner Is a Wild Card
— The Colossal Tactician (@TheVictoryStar) January 31, 2021
Reiner is still a wild card. He revived himself just to save the Jaw Titan from being eaten, and didn’t put up much of a fight when it came to his battle with Eren. He was taken out with one punch, and although Eren could have pursued eating Porco anyway and killed Reiner too, he decided to allow both to live. I think after Reiner’s heartbreaking confession to him, Eren couldn’t bring himself to end the man.
Reiner’s only reason for living was the kids: mostly Falco and Gabi. Now both are gone to Paradis, Zeke has switched sides, and it’s just Reiner and Porco left (along with Pieck, but I don’t think Reiner is particularly close to her.) Is that enough for Reiner to continue living? Or could he possibly become a turncoat himself and decide to work with Paradis to free the rest of the Eldians from the constant war cycle and the mistreatment of Marley?
And then there is the part of the episode that gave us hope — Zeke’s reveal. Many fans (including me) thought it was a little suspect how easily Levi killed the Beast Titan last week and then used a grenade to disappear in the smoke. Now we know.
For an unknown amount of time, Zeke has been working as a double agent. (I tend to think of him more as an independent agent working for the freedom of all Eldians, rather than someone who is aligned either with Marley or Paradis.) Zeke and Eren had apparently devised this plan together, it seems. We had hints, like the baseball and glove that Eren had at the hospital. Or Zeke’s statement about how Eren isn’t his enemy during their last big battle. But still, it was shocking to see him there on the airship, talking about how things essentially worked out as he had hoped.
It’s not clear exactly when Zeke turned. Was he always a double agent of sorts? Grisha had told him to always obey Marley, and perhaps he was playing that out to the extreme even as a child by turning in his parents. There was a part of him, at least, that never trusted Marley completely, since he never revealed that he was of royal blood. But when the big turn happened is not clear. I personally feel like he was still working for Marley a good part of the time until more recently. I feel like when he killed Erwin, for example, he was still mostly on Marley’s side. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he always wanted the Founding Titan, but then he would have taken it for the Eldians and NOT for Marley, and used it as a tool to get the Marleyan Eldians free.
Whatever the case, I’m certain that Zeke’s working with Eren is going to have a big impact on Gabi, and possibly affect how she sees things moving forward.
— Dode (@5leepoften) January 31, 2021
This leaves Paradis with a HUGE advantage. The only Titans that Marley has left are Pieck and Jaw, and neither of those are particularly strong compared to the other Titans. I have to wonder — if the rest of the world realizes what Marley has lost, will the other countries break their truce and turn against Marley again?
Zeke also mentioned that the Titan with royal blood and the Founding Titan are now working together. This is HUGE. Perhaps Zeke turned by Eren revealing their father’s true memories to him. Whatever the case, Eren can now access the royal bloodline’s powers — including controlling other Titans or the “Rumbling” (if the Rumbling is even true) — without the barrier of the “no war” vow that the royal line is bound by. It’s going to be interesting to see where this goes next.
This episode was heartbreaking, but the big reveal with Zeke left us with hope for what’s left to come.
Everyone’s Mad at Eren, But They Shouldn’t Be
Everyone’s mad at Eren, but I think it’s an overreaction, personally. Eren did go on a rogue mission and sent the scouts letters about what he was doing, forcing their hand into joining him because he has the Founding Titan. But at the same time, his deep cover worked. He and Zeke made contact, as evidenced by the baseball with him at the hospital. He might have even been the one to get Zeke to work with them. He and Reiner had a heart-to-heart that left Reiner bereft at continuing his war and possibly more strongly leaning toward leaving Marley too. Eren took the Warhammer Titan. Zeke is with them. Reiner is mentally broken. Gabbi and Falco, two of the children who were training to be warrior Titans, are now with them, going to Paradis. Willy Tybur is dead too. Only Pieck (seriously injured) and Porco are the remaining Titans that Marley even has.
It’s absolutely horrible that Sasha died. But Eren’s plan worked. Marley is crippled. They have major assets on their side now. The battle has shifted.
One moment that will perhaps play into the future was the way Armin and Eren acted around each other when Armin helped Eren back into the ship. Something was very wrong between them, and I’m guessing this will play out in the future.
Would it have been better if they had done an Erwin tactic where he gave a motivational speech to everyone and got them all on board? Yes, possibly. But Eren’s plan ultimately worked, and that can’t be ignored either. And he didn’t even strike until after Willy declared war on Paradis, with numerous countries’ support. Eren didn’t rally them against Paradis — they were already going to war against Paradis before Eren appeared. He just dealt a decisive blow that has given them a greater advantage. War is horrific, but a surprise attack from Marley with the other countries of the world backing them would have been even worse.