"Can't Look Into His Eyes - Prelude to the Counterattack 1" and "The Special OPs Squad - Prelude to the Counterattack 2"
Sweet Hylia, Levi, take it easy on the kid, even if he is insufferable.
I'm happy to say that on the whole, I'm pretty relieved the Defense of Trost arc is finally over. It wasn't a terrible arc by any means, but I didn't particularly find it hugely effective in the long run, at least, not by the end. Finally getting that boulder mission out of the way is a huge, drawn out sigh, for one thing, and for another, it's nice to see things genuinely starting to speed up again. Though the trial here is still a bit drawn out, it's much better paced than the series has been for a while (and it's always a bonus to see it end in just one episode), and that, at least, helps my enthusiasm for the series as a whole. Even better, however, is that with this new cour, it seems that things might just start getting more interesting plot-wise as well.
What I was most interested this week, as usual when it comes to this series, was the world-building. Whatever issues I have with the characters, I've always found the Shingeki world to be highly fascinating despite some of its structural flaws. That's why I find the drama surrounding Eren so compelling; the Military Police has been an almost shadowy force up until now, but here we finally see what sorts of people they are and what their agendas stand for. It's not necessarily new philosophy that they want Eren destroyed; one of the common themes in the series so far has been the cowardice of the people, especially when it comes to the privileged and the adults in the army, so it makes sense that when they see Eren, who could potentially become a threat, they immediately want custody of him in order to execute him.
Then there's the Scouting Legion, who want Eren to help them in taking back Wall Maria and in furthering their research. I can't help but wonder if there's something more sinister in the plot at work here; is it really only cowardice that is causing organizations like the Military Police to want to remove Eren from the picture? Is it more of a rivalry, or some sort of feud, that directly makes them want to hinder the Scouting Legion's progress? Or is it even darker? Luckily (or not so luckily), Eren's pig-headedness allows the Scouting Legion to get a one-up in the argument over him, if only because Levi-heichou beats the living hell out of him to prove his point; Eren is a useful resource, but he needs to be controlled. Best say goodbye to the days when everyone listened to your self-righteous speeches, boy.
OP2 "Jiyuu no Tsubasa (自由の翼)" by Linked Horizon
I smell a conspiracy. A Shinsekai Yori level conspiracy.
Before I address that though, I think this was a pretty good episode overall, even though there wasn't much in the way of actually attacking titans. There's a distinct feeling of something important unraveling as we move forward, and though this is a bit of an exposition episode, I find that far more intriguing than most of what usually goes on in this series. That the Scouting Legion isn't what Eren expected them to be is typical, especially when we know what Levi is like and we now know that he was once a Mafioso (that's kind of amusing, considering how orderly and clean he is now), but the other members seem to be just as eccentric.
The cherry on top is definitely Zoe Hanji, however, who turns out to be something of a mad scientist and loveable oddball in one body. Her bizarreness is amusing of course, but her fascination with the titans turns out to be more than just a strange quirk. It's her conversation with Eren that really makes my suspicions arise, and her various experiments on the titans are hugely interesting. For one thing, the fact that the titans are dependent on sunlight for energy is intriguing, as it essentially means the humans are safe during the night. For another, Hanji's observation that the titans are too light for their body masses makes me wonder if they really aren't some sort of illusion or otherwise far different from what humans think they are.
Then there's also the fact that the two captured titans are killed by a soldier; who would sabotage the Scouting Legion's important experiments? Could it possibly be the Military Police again? Is it an act of anger, fear, or perhaps even revenge? Or is this someone's plan to keep things in the dark? Erwin too feels strange to me, perhaps not suspicious, but I feel that he knows more than he should, or that he's at least several steps ahead of everyone else. Whether he's in on the conspiracy or not, however, I can't help but think he'll be particularly important in following episodes. As for Eren and the others, I'm sure it won't be long before the Scouting Legion sees some new recruits besides their new pet titan.
N.B.: Many thanks to Ivan for the caps!
N.B.: Many thanks to Ivan for the caps!