The Door of Hope
Episode 3 of Attack On Titan Season 4 begins with Reiner in bed, thinking back to key moments in his past. Through a series of flashbacks we see him growing up and facing hostilities from his family. “13 years to be a hero,” Reiner reflects, deciding to make his parents proud by heading to the island.
Of course, Reiner’s journey is not taken alone; he’s joined by our other familiar Titans, including the Colossal, Jaw and Beast Titan. Given they’re all kids, some within the military express their concerns over sending children to find the Founding Titan. Of course, the adults aren’t the only ones with concerns.
Reiner too showcases a divide with his parents as his plight and journey across to the Island is haunted by memories of his parents. Specifically how his Mother wept over their situation.
Reiner’s journey with the others is not without casualty. Marcel (the Jaw Titan) is blindsided and eaten by Ymir while Annie decides they should retreat, believing their mission is a bust. Reiner drives them on though, reminding the pair that without the Founding Titan they have no way home.
Fighting breaks out between Reiner and Annie, eventually culminating in that fateful first meeting inside Wall Maria. The entire time though Reiner is wracked with guilt over what happened to to Marcel. Eventually he promises Bertholdt and Annie that he’ll be the warrior they want him to be.
This catches us up to moments where the trio enlist in the army. Together, they plan to take out Wall Rose but of course there’s still hostilities between Reiner and Anna to sort out.
Interestingly, the conversation between Reiner and Eren from season 1 is given a lot more context now. When Eren asks how he can be more like Reiner, he tells him to “do what you’ve gotta do and keep moving forward.” Interspersed around this bit of dialogue are flashes to Reiner being close to committing suicide. Moments before shooting himself in the mouth and pulling the trigger, Falco bangs on the wall opposite and starts to lose faith.
Interestingly, it’s an injured soldier at the hospital (the same hospital the crowd ridiculed and laughed at last episode) which strikes up courage deep within him. As Falco listens, mouth wide-open, this injured man tells him that “Some can see something beyond hell; only those who keep moving forward will ever know.” While not confirmed, there’s something here that seems to hint at this being Eren. We’ll have to wait and see if that rings true!
The Episode Review
Given how annoying Reiner was last season (I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking there were multiple times Eren and the others could have killed him), this season he’s completely changed the game and come out as one of the strongest and most fascinating characters.
All of Reiner’s actions have been really well plotted with drive and purpose; his parents’ words echoing in his mind the entire time. It also reminds us that the real enemy here in all of this is war itself.
In fact, that seems to be the theme that ties all four seasons together. War is hellish, brutal and full of sorrow. Those thin slivers of hope a soldier may feel are quickly extinguished in the face of bombs, destruction, bloodshed and screams.
This fourth season has so far done a great job blurring the line between what was once a very stark black and white divide, making it a lot more morally conflicting over which side is right.
This episode in particular really feels like an extension of last week’s dive into the past but the ending hints that we could be on our way back to the present in the coming episodes.
So far so good; Attack On Titan season 4 has lived up to expectations until this point – let’s hope that continues next episode!