Attack on Titan Season 4, Ep. 4-5 “From One Hand to Another” and “Declaration of War” Review
The fourth and final season of Attack on Titan has been nothing if not surprising thus far. As the show has renewed itself by taking an in-depth look at the motivations of Reiner and Zeke in Marley, fans could be forgiven for thinking this “through the looking glass” approach might comprise the entire first half of this season. However, any notion that this was the case was abruptly shattered with the shocking post-credits reveal at the end of “From One Hand to Another”.
It turns out the mystery man in the recovery unit is Eren. Like Reiner, Bertholdt and Annie before him, he has infiltrated the enemy ranks in order to launch a devastating counter attack against the forces that threaten him. As a subversion and call-and-answer to Attack on Titan‘s beginnings, it’s an utterly brilliant bit of writing, one that puts the shoe on the other foot, proverbially speaking.
Even as new motivations and political machinations were being set up in Marley, even as we seemed to be entirely focused on a mostly new set of characters, Attack on Titan was working overtime in the background to set up an all-time great anime twist. The moment Reiner follows Falco to what seems to be an entirely normal and innocent meeting until Reiner pulls a shocked face and utters the name that sets the entire season ablaze: “Eren!”
Suddenly all of the Tybar grandiosity and the Marleyan manipulation becomes meaningless in one fell swoop. As “Declaration of War” begins in earnest, the story weaves back and forth between Tybar’s grandstanding speech to motivate his allies to attack Paradis, while Eren reveals his quiet menace in a subterranean bunker directly beneath the gathering. In that way the titular declaration becomes a double entendre, one that allows one side in Attack on Titan to begin the war, even as the other is declaring it.
Still “Declaration of War” manages to keep things incredibly tense along the way. Though Eren makes the threat clear from the beginning of the conversation, the nature of the time jump and the way that Eren speaks leaves us not entirely sure what he will actually do. He seems to be mentally unstable, even dissociated slightly. He talks about appreciating the Marleyan way of life, how he now sees things from Reiner’s perspective. He even says “Reiner, I’m the same as you.”
None of that stops him from carrying out his devastatingly calculated plan, though. As he takes Reiner’s hand at the end of “Declaration of War”, Eren suddenly transforms. He blitzes through the entire apartment block of innocent civilians above as he transforms, murdering hundreds in the process. No one said war was pretty but as the protagonist of the show, this marks a bleak turn for Eren. Has his quest for vengeance consumed him at last?
We don’t know what the whole plan is yet, just that the scouts are also in Marley and that Falco has been contacting them for Eren unwittingly, rather than helping a disable and traumatized Eldian war veteran. The last thing we see is Eren transforming, and appearing to be about to eat Tybur. Whether Falco survived or not is unclear, all we know is that Reiner tried to shield him at the last moment.
Attack on Titan also shows us another shadowy figure, one who leads two of the other Marleyan titans into a trap. It’s still not clear who this is, but chances are it’s another of Eren’s allies. What other surprises the Scouts have in store for their attack remain a mystery. Armin will have fully mastered his Colossal Titan powers by now and we haven’t even seen the other Scouts, least of all Levi and Mikasa. That Zeke still experiences PTSD from his near death tussle with Levi foreshadows another battle to come, but we will have to see the other Scouts before we know how they’ll figure into these events.
Either way, Attack on Titan is on one hell of a hot streak. Will Reiner survive to battle Eren a final time? What of the other Marleyan warrior candidates? Surely they will be a force to be reckoned with but can they stand up to the aerial mastery of the Scouts? How will Tybar figure in now that he’s just a man amidst warriors and beasts? The only thing we know for sure is that next week: all bets are off.