The primary focus of this episode is providing a backstory for Reiner, which explains both his life in Marley and how he became a Titan, as well as how he and the others made it to Paradis Island and how they ended up joining the Survey Corps. One thing I found that was very effective was how there were a couple of shots from the first season that were intercut to show the audience where in the timeline some of these backstory scenes were taking place. I especially appreciated seeing Bertholdt and Reiner’s attack on Wall Maria from the very first episode of the season, but we get to hear a voice over of Reiner’s thoughts as he launches his attack.
Knowing more about Reiner’s childhood, it helps the viewer to understand why he’s the way he is. And I think it also made me feel kind of sorry for him. It was especially heartbreaking to me when, after becoming a Titan, Reiner discovers that the reason he pushed so hard to become a Titan is something that could never become a reality. There’s a scene near the end where it’s hinted that Reiner in the current day is seriously considering suicide. Fortunately, though, one of the current Warrior recruits makes him realize that suicide is not the answer. Yes, Reiner’s 13 years are close to being over, but I think he realizes that he does have the new Warrior candidates to still look after during his remaining time.
One of things I really enjoyed with the backstory was getting to see the younger versions of Reiner, Bertholdt, and Annie. And, it was just nice to get to see Bertholdt and Annie in some way after all this time. I also appreciated having some of the holes filled into the narrative that existed previously. Having these holes filled in helps the viewer to finally piece a lot together, and plot elements from earlier in the series make a lot more sense now.
One thing that really caught my attention was a flashback scene of Eren and Reiner. In the particular situation they’re in, it’s clear that Reiner realizes that Eren is like he was when he was going through Warrior candidate training in Marley. There are definitely parallels between these two characters, and that becomes very clear after watching Reiner’s flashbacks. I also found it ironic that in this scene, Reiner encourages Eren to follow his dream of killing every last Titan… since, in order to fulfill his dream, Eren would have to kill him.
We also get a scene of Falco, one of the new Warrior candidates, encountering a wounded man at a hospital in Marley. From the dialogue, it’s clear the two have talked before. As a manga reader, I know who this mystery man is, but I can’t say anything so I don’t spoil things for my readers who are only following the anime. But, all I will say is… I think you’ll be surprised by his identity. I know I was when I read the manga.
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