Attack on Titan, Ep. 8-9: “Assassin’s Bullet” and “Brave Volunteers” Review
Attack on Titan has taken some time to slow down and collect itself after the intensity of the last three episodes. Though we’ve lost a beloved character from the show’s beginnings and been made privy to a secret plot that could presumably unite both sides, the tone of the 4th season has undeniably taken a step back to realign the pieces on the board.
Of course, this is only natural. If Attack on Titan could maintain the insane forward momentum of the last few episodes, that would be great, but it hardly makes storytelling sense. As if “Assassin’s Bullet” didn’t open viewers up to enough questions, it also featured the death of a central character, and that was in an episode set during the time of retreat.
Naturally, we’ve gotta start by unpacking the biggest bang of the last two weeks: the death of Sasha Braus. Snuffed out by the eponymous assassin’s bullet, Sasha, beloved over the length and breadth of Attack on Titan fandom as the lovable “potato girl“, was killed by Gabi after the latter snuck aboard the scouts’ airship.
For the show to take away such a well-liked (and often comic relief character), just when the scouts’ victory seemed absolutely assured, is very fittingly Attack on Titan but that doesn’t make the twist of the blade any easier to endure.
Sasha is mourned lovingly by all of those close to her, both at the moment of her death and at the service in which she is laid to rest. However, it is Jean who mourns her best by choosing to let her killers live. His line “If we throw kids out of an airship will the killing ever stop?” has to be one of the most prescient in the entire series, particularly now. If the Eldians are going to save their race, they’re going to have to learn to put the greater good above smaller-scale conflicts.
This brings us to the biggest twist of all: that Zeke has joined with the Paradis Eldians in hopes of ending the war between their two sides. Suddenly lines like “Eren is not my enemy” and “Levi, you’re almost out of time” take on a double meaning from the snippets of the war we were privy to. When Levi appeared to have blown up Zeke, he was actually covering for his recapture of the Beast Titan’s owner, a moment which must have been especially difficult for Levi.
Though Levi still promises he will kill Zeke in the end, we’ll have to see if he sticks to his paring blades on this one. All sides of this struggle have seemingly put aside their current emotions and desires for the greater good of all involved but we’ll have to see if that resolve can hold indefinitely.
With the revelation that the scouts not only made a pact with some of the Marleyan’s conquered soldiers but have now flipped that pact on its head, the tension of the conflicts could once again boil over into an Eldian civil war. Eren certainly seems to be ready for another battle but will the rest of his people follow him into another suicide mission? The winds may be blowing against him if he can’t rein himself in during this vital time.
With Annie’s encased body listening to a troubled Armin, will she emerge to pick a side? Where is Ymir, who we haven’t seen since the end of the second season? And what new help can pragmatic minds like Historia and Pyxis bring to the next steps, now that they’ve been brought back into the fold? With a vengeful other side in Marley, trouble in the scouts’ ranks, and seven episodes remaining, only time will tell.