Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season Episode 25
When the opening doesn’t show up, you know this episode means business. And boy does it ever. Though I will say it was quite noticeable that this episode was composed of nearly 90% of still shots with very little animation. Not to mention the sheer amount of tree branch shots that happened every other moment in the forest. But I guess I’ll talk about that later. This was a very heavy dialogue episode and while it was a bit slower than the others, I do think it needed to happen. Especially with so many characters throughout the season saying “why can’t we just talk this out?”
I’ve seen a lot of people get on Hanji’s case about only acting on how “genocide is wrong” without actually having a solution. And while yes, on the surface it just looks like someone just kind of drawing the line of what is good and bad. However, I feel like it goes deeper than that. It’s a moral dilemma and while she doesn’t know what else they can do, she doesn’t want to believe genocide and trampling over innocent people is the “right” thing to do in the situation. She repeats “genocide is wrong” several times as if to convince herself that it isn’t the answer. She refuses for it to be the answer. And it’s sad because ever since the 4th season has started, Hanji has just been grappling with what is “right” or “wrong.” She doesn’t have all the answers and is trying her best to figure out what is the right course of action. Unfortunately, inaction has caused desperation for change, thus the scouts turning on her and the others. She acknowledges the fact that she had just been trying to run away from the situation because she doesn’t know what to do and if she had actually figured out what to do, Eren wouldn’t have been driven to destroy the world. There was only so much that she could do. However, this episode shows us that Hanji isn’t exactly leader material but more so mediator quality. She’s able to break the tension when emotions get too high and seems to be able to see things from both perspectives.
Magath has been an interesting case. Out of all the Marleyans on the opposing side so far, he’s the only one who seems to have a sense of decency when it comes to Eldians who live on Marley. As shown with how much he seems to care for both Gabi and Falco. However, we haven’t seen him interact with Eldians within the walls outside of battle to which his feelings for them are the same as everyone on Marley. Which is a shame, but considering the rhetoric there, it’s not surprising. However, after watching Gabi’s story of realizing that everyone on the island are just people, it is a little hard to see another character spout the same thing she did again. His argument with Jean felt like it was going nowhere as both sides kept pointing fingers at who started this mess. This argument basically represented the cycle of hatred and how people will just continue blaming each other for what the other did. It’s not productive and I love how the stew boiling represented everyone’s feelings on the matter. And just as things are about to boil over, Hanji stirs the stew so settle it down, stopping the argument between Jean and Magath before it got out of hand both figuratively and literally.
I love how when Magath was blaming the Eldians for starting the whole mess two thousand years ago, the camera focuses on both Reiner and Gabi. Both of them have come to realize that blaming these people for what their ancestors did in the past wasn’t right and that the people now have nothing to do with it. Learning the hard way that these people aren’t devils, just regular, normal people who don’t deserve the treatment they have been getting. And while they didn’t speak up against Magath, their close relationship to him probably makes it difficult for them to go against him in that way and instead opted to just stay quiet in fear of causing a bigger argument. It isn’t until he sees Gabi desperately ask for help that he seems to rethink where he stands in all of this.
Annie brings up a good question to the Paradis Island Eldian group: Would they be able to kill Eren if they had to. Both Armin and Mikasa still want to be able to talk things out with Eren. However, considering what happened last time, talking with him may not be an option. And this is a valid concern. If Eren doesn’t stop after they try and talk to him, everyone’s family outside of Paradis are going to be trampled. While I respect Mikasa’s decision to stop Eren, I am still annoyed with her inability to really think about the worst case scenario if she can’t reason with him. With that act of defiance of refusing to let them kill Eren, basically proved Annie’s point. I appreciate that Annie was the one to act as the bigger person to say they shouldn’t be fighting until they try to talk to Eren. When the time comes, the time comes. For the most part, it’s a temporary truce as their goals remained aligned. But once those are gone… oh boy. That’ll be fun to deal with…
And then we have the moment where everyone gets to talk over a meal. I feel like this was a long time coming since it was brought up several times through out the season about how the other side didn’t allow the other to talk things through before resorting to violence. Quite a number of past themes were brought up during this conversation: The forest, wanting to be judged for their sins, wanting to be a hero who saved the world, the cycle of hatred. All of these themes were addressed and acknowledged, burdened by the atrocities each had committed at one point or another. Though the biggest theme had to be that all of these characters were trapped in their own forest. While I admit there was an ungodly amount of tree and tree branches shots during this conversation (not to mention jarringly transitioned), I think it hammered home the idea that all of these characters needed to get out of the forest. They’ve been there for far too long and need to be the ones to end the cycle of hatred. It was also an interesting choice to show all the characters alone in their own separate shots. It almost felt as if they were showing that everyone is not innocent in all of this.
Yelena starts bringing up everyone’s “sins” as if trying to stir the pot. It felt pretty petty for her to bring all of this up. Not to mention, how did she even know some things like how Jean aimed his thunderspear at Falco while trying to kill the Cart Titan. While it was just shown through straight on shots, I really liked how when Yelena was saying how who wouldn’t want to be labeled a hero in history, it showed each character that was driven by the notion of “becoming a hero who saved the world” at the beginning of her speech and how each of them looked so guilty. You can tell just how they’re feeling by their posture and expression. Reiner and Gabi looked the most uncomfortable as Yelena’s statement most likely resonated with them the most while they left their stew untouched.
It isn’t until Marco is brought up and how it was Reiner who ultimately lead to his death where things get out of control. It’s completely understandable why Jean would snap when Reiner had the audacity to apologize. However, it was rather hard to watch him beat Reiner up. It certainly demonstrated just how tight the cycle of hatred holds onto everyone. Especially how it leads to hurting someone who wasn’t even involved in the current hatred with how Jean accidentally ended up kicking Gabi while beating up Reiner for Marco’s death. It was as if they finally got an outside view of what the cycle of hatred looks like and the repercussions such actions cause. And I honestly have to hand it to Gabi as she’s become a character I respect so much with how far she’s come. Instead of fighting back, she instead begged for them to help save all of their families back on Marley. And I like that she was the one to give the reason why they wanted to kill everyone on the island. It was something that NEEDED to be said to understand just what the warriors have grown up believing and it isn’t as simple as who is “good or bad.” And yes, it is shameless for Gabi to ask the people she’s hurt to help her, but at this point, they’re the only ones who can.
Jean was absolutely the star of this episode. All he wanted was just a peaceful life where he could just do his own thing and not have to worry about the cruelty of the outside world. However, life had another idea for him. Through out the episode, the poor guy just feels incredibly torn and is just trying to find a fail safe plan that would insure the best outcome. Which is probably why he was making very valid questions when Hanji didn’t offer him a good answer. Though I do think he was also trying to make excuses for himself to not try and do anything about the Eren situation. Season 1 Jean would 100% join the Yeagerists if it meant he got the cushy life he dreamed of. And man was it rough when he initially walked away when Gabi pleaded for him to help to go into the forest and cover his ears. It would have been the easier way out to just plug his ears and avert his eyes to what was happening. However, ever since Marco changed his perspective, Jean has been a fighter. And it was such a great character moment for Jean to say that he will forever be a scout. He wasn’t going to go back on his promise he made to his dead friend, even if it’s the harder choice.
I love that in the next shot of Jean was him with trees behind him, but there was just enough room for the sky to shine through. He wants to help the next generation stay out of the forest, even if it means that he has to let go of his own resentment to do it. But I’m glad that he chose to be the better person and come back to help these kids and even apologized for kicking Gabi. In Reiner’s case, it’s understandable that Jean can’t forgive him after what he did. He shouldn’t have to until he’s ready and who knows, maybe that time will not come. At least Reiner understand and doesn’t even want to be forgiven because he knows what he did was terrible. Though I did burst out laughing when Annie asked about herself in that regard. GURL. Now is NOT the time! Read the room! And I cackled even harder when only Falco and Gabi looked over at her. Anyways, before Annie interrupted, while not everything has been resolved between them, it’s a good start. I do hope he gets some sort of happy end after all this.
Because this was a slower episode, it was incredibly character driven. While there was very little animation and multitude of still shots, this episode still worked as most of it was just characters talking. While it is still a little off putting, it might be a sign that they’re going to be putting a lot in the coming three episodes. Things look like they’re going to pick back up again next episode with the Yeagerists having taken over the port and holding Miss Azumabito at gunpoint. I can only hope this is when Floch gets taken down a peg or two… or three.