The walls fell and the ground rumbled – this is how we started episode 81 of Attack on Titan. Eren managed to fulfill his goal and activate The Rumbling, sending thousands of Colossal Titans towards the outside world. His friends and enemies are thrown into chaos and no one is safe.
This episode had some pretty great scenes, but it also had a lot of derpy-looking ones, especially when it came to titans (and I’m not talking about Bob Odenkirk lookalike) and it didn’t look that great. As is the case with most of MAPPA’s Attack on Titan – it isn’t the animation that carries it, it’s the story. And as always, there was a lot to unpack, especially with the story so close to the end.
First off – Gabi. She gets so much hate, which is understandable, but Gabi is such a well-written character. Her growth since she first appeared up until now is astounding. She starts off as Eren’s counterpart on Marley’s side, angry, hateful, loud, and a bit of a brat. But as she meets the people of Paradis her opinions change, and this is something we talked about in the past in one of the earlier episodes of the season. In a way, she is still Eren’s counterpart but this time she manages to become everything he never did. She reaches out to Kaya, forms a bond even though they started off on the wrong foot (this is an understatement). Her killing Nile, who is now a titan, to save Kaya and realizing how easy it is to take a life is proof of her changing ways.
And it’s not just Gabi – Nicolo and Kaya both start to realize what Sasha’s father has been saying all along. Leaving the forest is once again a theme, as one of Isayama’s favorite metaphors. If we don’t change our ways, if we don’t stop being hunters inside a forest, we will never change and never move forward. The world would be a much nicer place if more people shared Arthur Braus’ view. I would say it’s a bit ironic that Eren’s last name is Jeager (hunter in German), but knowing Isayama this is no accident.
The Devil in Us
One of the characters that embraced the devil within in this episode was Connie. He seizes an opportunity to revive his mother by feeding Falco to her. Everything comes back to the beginning and it’s Falco’s turn to pay for the sins of his people. Armin and the others try to stop Connie but are unsuccessful.
While all this is happening, Eren is still in his titan cocoon and The Rumbling is still ongoing. The shifters’ powers are also affected by his Founding titan and it seems like he possibly stripped Zeke of the power to control the titans he created. We get a glimpse of Eldians in Marley, who will die just like everyone else once the titans reach them. We get a glimpse of Annie’s father (again) and I can’t help but feel like his reaction is the one of realizing that he’ll never see his daughter again.
Jean’s leadership skills really shine in this episode and his growth is visible once again. It almost feels like watching Erwin command the Scouts, except this time they are killing their former commanders and friends. All this while Sawano’s “Barricades” are playing in the background. Unlike Eren, Jean doesn’t want this war and is trying to justify Eren’s decisions while protecting his friends and pushing forward.
Floch also makes an appearance and tries to strong-arm Yelena into following his orders. We will have to wait and see how this turns out, but it also made me wonder if Floch knew about Eren’s plan. As much as I dislike him, his actions follow the narrow path he chose – Floch is a nationalist, and even if Eren doesn’t share these beliefs deep down, Floch is extremely useful to him.
And last, but not least: Annie finally wakes up. Eren limiting her titan powers probably played a big role in that and she will be forced to pick a side. It never felt like Annie wanted to fight for Marley and the only thing she does want is to go back home and be left alone, but as things are she probably won’t have that luxury.
One last thing: the story of Ymir traditionally has her getting lost in a forest and meeting a devil, that gives her the powers. As we saw in last week’s episode this isn’t historically accurate, but the symbolism of that tale is very much present with her modern-day subjects and in this episode.
The next episode of Attack on Titan is titled “Sunset” and set to air on February 20.
Attack on Titan episode 81 is streaming on Funimation and Crunchyroll every Sunday. Vote for it in our weekly polls.
©Hajime Isayama, Kodansha/”ATTACK ON TITAN” The Final Season Production Committee