The episode begins with Armin going to visit Annie again, and trying to touch the crystal that’s housing her. Hitch, who’s guarding her, gives Armin a hard time and stops him from doing so. Armin was hoping that since Titans can share thoughts when they touch, that perhaps he could learn something important. But Hitch shoos him away, and the audience is left to wonder if perhaps Armin might have learned something that could have prevented the events that ended up unfolding in this episode.
Hitch shows Armin some newspaper headlines, which show that some of the Eldians are growing tired of the fact that the military isn’t answering their questions. The military’s hands are tied, of course, because they can’t reveal military secrets to the public. But as is shown at headquarters, there’s a significant group of Eldians standing outside the gates with signs protesting Eren’s imprisonment and saying that Eren is the only one who can save the Eldians.
Meanwhile, Pyxis is interrogating Yelena about her meeting with Eren that led to him infiltrating Marley and acting on his own. During their talk, there were times that Yelena would almost appear as if she was psychotic. She always came across as being a little “off,” but this scene started to illustrate that there’s something more going on with her than there seemed. And when Hange talks with Onyankopon, he talks about how ruthless Yelena was in Marley. What Onyankopon describes to Hange doesn’t fit with how Yelena acted when she first talked about interacting with the Eldians, and this raises Hange’s suspicions.
Armin and Mikasa go to talk to the premier about allowing them to talk with Eren. As they head to the office, they notice three Scout recruits leaving headquarters and wondering why they were there. When the two of them visit the premier, he makes it clear that it’s too risky for Armin and Mikasa to talk with Eren and denies them their request. They also notice a special chair in the premier’s office, and at the time, it just seems to be an offhand moment. However, that chair becomes important for what happens next. As Mikasa and Armin are leaving, they see three other people enter the premier’s office. They deduce that the military has given up on Eren and are looking for new Titan candidates. Mikasa wants to eavesdrop, but before she can do anything, an explosion rocks the premier’s office. In true Attack on Titan fashion, we see part of the premier’s body fly through the air and land in front of the gates where the protestors are. The explosion encourages the protestors, and they start chanting that it’s time for them to fight.
I have to say that when I first saw the protestors, I was getting an ominous feeling that made me think about the insurrection at the U.S. capitol on January 6, 2021. While these protestors never managed to storm the headquarters, the explosion and its aftermath made me realize just how much worse January 6 could have ended up being. While I read this scene in the manga a few years ago, my reaction to this scene was much different seeing it in this animated format, especially when you consider the timing of when this episode streamed. Current events gave this scene a much different context than it would have had otherwise.
Amid accusations flying around, the Scouts are being looked on with suspicion in the wake of the movements by the anti-government group. During this scene, the military refers to this group as “Jaegerists.” Pyxis comes into the scene and initially starts out by making decisions that make sense (protect Zeke and Historia, for example). But then, when Armin says that Pyxis is really the only one who can lead them now that the premier is dead, he ultimately suggests that they cooperate with the Jaegerists in order to keep the amount of blood shed down. Obviously, this isn’t something that goes over well with the others, and we can even see that Pyxis is agonizing over this. But, honestly, what other choice does Pyxis really have? The guy has been thrown into a situation where he’s between a rock and hard place, and he’s trying to make the best out of two bad options that have been put before him.
Oh, it should be mentioned that during the above scene, Eren escapes from prison. We see him approaching a group of Jaegerists, and he seems to be reveling in this new role of a messiah. Honestly, that’s what I have to think of him as. These Jaegerists are a cult, with Eren as their leader. Again, I can see a parallel with current times, and it makes this plot point more unnerving to me than it would have otherwise.
Additional posts about Attack on Titan: