Southwestward

     Southwestward is the third episode in Attack on Titan’s second season, and as such, it slows down quite a bit, not to say that this is a bad thing, as the show is notable for having ebbs and flows, but here’s where you begin to… feel the crunch, and bear with me on this.

     Southwestward starts where we left off, Connie and some of the members of the 104th still warning the surrounding villages of the titan invasion. They find no one at the village and come to the conclusion that everyone must have escaped successfully, despite the fact that all horses remain. It’s where we also see the titan inside Connie’s house talk to him, though Reiner denies hearing anything.

Reiner reminds him of his duty and urges him to continue on with their mission, leaving behind the mysterious talking titan.

 

reiner1
No time for pretending we didn’t hear that titan talk now…

 

There are two teams still looking for the breach inside Wall Maria, and Ymir argues that they should be sent back, as they do not have the gear to fight titans should they encounter them. Nanaba denies her requests and they ride on. It’s here where we start getting some development from Ymir and Christa, a welcome change of pace from what we’ve seen so far.

It’s nice to get away from our main cast, if only for a moment…

Christa hounds Ymir to tell her why she cares for her so much, why she gave up her spot in the top 10 for her, she asks, is it because of my family?

“Yeah, that’s the reason,” Ymir says, but also tells her she’s there because she wants to be.

We see the Garrison Corps taking out a titan, which is also in the manga by the way, and it’s nice to see Captain Rico once again, if only for a little bit. It’s still odd to see such a few number of titans, there should be more, that’s what they’re asking, and that’s what we should be asking as well, so, what’s going on?

Still, no sign of the breach and night is falling.

Hours later, and no breach in sight, it’s night time, and with no electrical lamps, it’s ride by torch light and we can see the fear, the tension they’re undergoing. There could be titans all around them and they wouldn’t know it.

 

the titans at night
Damn…

 

Easily one of my favorite panels in the manga, it’s brought to life here with an even greater effect.

They regroup with the other team coming from the opposite side, and do not find the breach. Where is it? Did they miss it? There’s no time to look, they’ve been riding all day and must rest. With the moonlight coming into play, they see the ruins of an old castle and decide to rest there for the night.

Meanwhile…

Levi, Hange and the others are still riding south, looking to regroup with those looking for the breach. Hange is fascinated by the piece of hardened titan rock that fell off of Annie and explains to them why it’s so important. The wall is composed of titans, and the priest knows it. If Annie could leave this behind, Eren could potentially do the same. Eren could at some point do the same and fix the holes in Wall Rose and Wall Maria, at least that’s what they hope he can do.

Interestingly, it’s also during this trip that the plan to return to Shingashina is developed, though we won’t see that happen for a good while…the bigger issue is still fixing Wall Rose and clearing the titans. Levi tells Eren he has to fix the Wall, there’s no other choice. You have to do whatever it takes. We see the key, the boulder that landed atop his home, and the basement is mentioned.

 

erens house
It’s there, like right there, just show us what’s in there already…

 

We still don’t know what’s in there, and why it’s important…. all we know is that there are answers there.

The scenes with the priest are anime-only, as well as the scene where Sasha returns to deliver the news. I don’t remember it going down that way in the manga, but it’s a nice change, and kinda keeps her character relevant, especially after the character development she got in the last episode.

The fact that Nick told them about the “girl” is done well too, and it’s quite a treat for the anime viewers. Why were they instructed to watch this girl? Only she knows the truths? Gotta love how you think you know what’s going on, only for AOT to completely turn everything on its head. Running into Sasha is funny, as our main characters don’t really interact with her that much and the potato scene…

 

sasha and her potato
I kinda want to eat steamed potatoes right now

 

She delivers the news to Hange, and they head out.

We cut back to the castle, with everyone resting at their post.

Reiner and Ymir were talking, but we missed their conversation. Doesn’t look like it was a good one. Let’s hope we find out in the next episode what it was…

 

ymir death glare
I don’t want to be Reiner right now…

 

The alarm is raised and they all climb to the top of the tower.

They are surrounded by titans.

 

titans at night
“You gotta be kidding me…”

 

The titans aren’t supposed to move at night, and yet that’s exactly what’s happening. Connie spots him.

Connie spots him.

Monkey trouble.

The plan is assembled, and now Eren and Co must take off, but before they do, Levi reminds them of what they must face, what they must do.

Armin is assigned to work with Hange, his brilliance is about to be put to the test. Mikasa is assigned to care for Eren, and Levi reminds Eren to control himself, an order he takes to heart.

The situation at the castle ruins is getting more and direr, as the titans are trying to break through the doors to get inside.

Nanaba and company to the rescue, as the Beast Titan climbs the wall heading south, and turns around to look back.

What is he thinking?

Our final shot is our heroes riding to Castle Utgard, where the rest of the 104th is now besieged…

Alright, having said that, let’s get it…

A few talking points about Southwestward… (there might be some spoilers, so read to the end if you want…)

Why didn’t they show the titan talking in the last episode?

This is just a complaint of mine, it’s not a real criticism, it’s me, being petty, I know they’re doing it for the mystery, but still, we know it’s coming, don’t we?

Reiner feels for Connie’s plight but not Bertholdt.

Again, another super small scene, but this one has incredible connotations, as we’ll find out later on. Reiner genuinely feels for Connie, but Bertholdt looks on, with indifference. He’s worried, but not about Connie, all that in one scene, a few seconds long, the animators are on point, and that’s why this show is awesome.

Why did Ymir give her top 10 spot to Christa? We all want to know…

We’re not gonna find out till much later, but it’s nice that it’s brought up right away, way to treat your audience…

Is it because of my family? What could these mean?

Christa is receiving more and more screen time, and just like I said in my last post, the reason for that is a game-changer.

That shot of the titans haunting them from the shadows….oooh…

Like I said at the top, one of my favorite moments in the series, one shot conveys why we fear the titans so much…

Why did we cut back to the original trio? I’m trying to remember if this is in the manga or they just wanted to focus a bit more on them…

OK, I have to mention this cause it’s not something I dislike, but I could have done without, and it’s also part of my overall feel of the episode….

“It doesn’t matter what you think. You have to. There’s no choice” -Levi

Levi doesn’t mince words. He doesn’t want Eren to start doubting himself, or to even think about something so far off in the future. The situation we’re in now is what you should be focusing on. He didn’t have to say it, but they all understood it.

What is in the basement? When are we gonna find out?

Not for a good while, I’m afraid. Trust me though, it’s worth the wait…

“Only she knows the truths which we cannot even perceive”  -Nick

Nick obviously knows way more than what he’s letting on, but chooses not to say anything. He’s not doing it cause he’s a pain, I mean, look at his face when he sees the masses flee? He knows these secrets have to come out, but the price to know them is high, as we’ll find out soon enough…

“Who is this girl in the 104th” -Hange

Hange immediately getting down to business…

“She’s the smallest one of us” -Eren

Eren would only notice her size, so is that all there is to Christa?

“She’s got long golden hair, um, and…she’s cute” -Armin

Armin is a clear fan of Christa’s as he was there when she rescued him on a horse during the 57th expedition, where they encountered the Female Titan for the first time. The Goddess of the 104th is what they called her…

“She’s always hanging around Ymir” -Mikasa

The flashback that Sasha had in the last episode shows Mikasa talking to Hanna ( I had to look up her name), as Ymir and Christa talked to Sasha, so those two hanging around would be noticeable, even to Mikasa, though I think she only appears uninterested in everything going on, she’s actually quite an astute observer

The conversation between Ymir and Reiner…oooh…

Again, just like the talking titan with Connie, I was so upset to only see the end of the conversation here, and I was cursing the heavens because they cut it, though I later calmed down and surmised that we would see this conversation later on in the show…

Mikasa is assigned to take care of Eren and he doesn’t react negatively towards it

Eren doesn’t react to this news the way he would have before in the first season. Just like I said in my last point. He doesn’t hate her. Doesn’t dislike her. He just wants to be her equal.

Levi reminds Eren to control himself, a change I dislike for reasons I’ll explain in just a moment…

This is a point of contention for me, and maybe I read the scene wrong, so correct me if I did. In the anime, to this point, Eren still needs to be told he has to control his rage, and I feel they added this scene to make that point. If so, it’s a shame they did, as in the manga, Eren already knows what can happen if he doesn’t control himself, and has already demonstrated that he can fight in the heat of the moment with his emotions in check.

I feel that this is a direct result of the change in last seasons’ final episode, which I didn’t like, but accepted nonetheless. It was awesome to see Eren and Mikasa join forces and fight together, and I’m hoping we finally see that in the anime as well (the Opening teases us as much)

Eren is not defined simply by his rage, but they feel the need to remind him again? Come on…

In conclusion,

I felt that Southwestward was a bridge episode, it advances the story quite well but the events of Soldier (which I already saw, this review is late cause I’ve been half-busy, half-lazy) pretty much recap it in more detail, it kinda just seemed like they wanted to give the main cast just a little bit more screen time before we saw the events of Castle Utgard. Also, trying to build the tension and the suspense is good, but we only have 12 episodes…let’s hope this is the only bridge episode we see.

All in all, a good third episode…

 

 

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