The best way to describe episode thirty-six is to imagine a room where everyone is shouting and moving erratically in a maelstrom of chaos that just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense- it’s just pure emotion and confusion and everyone is on a different page.
To truly appreciate the chaos that this episode brings, you may have to step back and let the reactions of everyone involved sink in. I want to point out the key players in this to narrow down the focus: Historia, Ymir, Mikasa, Bertholdt, and Conny. Each on their own has their own thoughts and insights on the ensuing battle where the only thing they can all agree on is that non-person titans are bad.
Ymir and Historia have their own tragic histories, but Historia in particular is an intriguing character in this fight because she is still attempting to please those around her instead of living for herself- as Ymir hoped would happen if she revealed her true self. After Historia is “thrown up,” Ymir pleads that she understand why she was kidnapped. Ymir does a terrible job of explaining herself, but Historia is able to understand and tells her dear friend that they will always be allies- and that’s something that I just can’t trust. I don’t know what game Hisotria is playing, or even she has an angle, but I know I can’t trust someone who blindly pushes back her negative emotions just to make others feel better.
Similarly, Ymir is acting out of pure selfishness and self-preservation. It’s easy to see why considering her circumstances, but it doesn’t make it any less disgusting when she attempts to pin her kidnapping on Reiner and Bertholdt. Everyone has choices in life, and Ymir is oddly destined to act in her own twisted self-interest as she convinces herself it’s sacrifice for others.
I think we all understand how Eren feels at this juncture since we’ve have two episodes largely focusing on his anger, but we have managed to breeze past Mikasa’s feelings, simple though they may be. Mikasa’s intense love and devotion for Eren shines in this episode. Back in season one we learned that Mikasa is willing to do anything to protect her dear brother, and his newfound titan-personship has not quelled that flame. Mikasa doesn’t care about the wellbeing of anyone who isn’t acting directly in Eren’s interest. Her one track mind leads to some terrifying faces and hazardous situations during the larger encounter.
Berthholdt is pretty much done. He’s terrified of Mikasa and of being caught by the scouts. He regrets every action he has taken in life until now because it’s cost him the friendships of the very people who are chasing him now, and he regrets all the people he has helped kill as a titan. Though Bertholdt continues to belive in his cause, Reiner’s shattered mind and Bertholdt’s own intense regret have caused him to come unglued. Bertholdt is weak and prone to slipping at this point which is why he loses custody of Eren after a distraction from Jean.
Conny is an interesting case because he’s not in the limelight for much of the episode, but his mindset and actions are actually very important. He just learned the other day that his entire village was destroyed without a trace and a very large titan resembling his mother lays on his home. Conny has also recently found out his two best friends were the enemy agents who caused the recent titan panic in the last ten or so years.
Basically, Conny is dealing with a lot right now. He doesn’t know what to believe and the earth is crumbling beneath his feat as all his beliefs about the world are torn asunder. During the battle, Conny acts with desperation and tiredness. Conny eventually is even tired with Historia’s protests to let her go back after being saved- He tells her that Ymir only wants to save her own life and that Ymir only seems to care about Historia when she is in danger. It’s a harsh truth that I believe the happier Conny wouldn’t have noticed.
Here’s the tldr:
Historia’s actions reflect that of a people pleaser, Ymir is acting out of self-interest, Mikasa is focused only on Eren, Bertholdt is exhausted and remorseful, and Conny is questioning his ideals and purpose. Combined, these emotions and reasons make for an action-filled, dangerous battle with a ton of ebb and flow.
I was good to see Mikasa and the scouts in action again. It no longer feels like the show has stagnated, and things are moving along rather quickly. The episode ends with the titan who killed Eren’s mother rearing it’s head. I can only expect that Eren loses what little composure he has in a mad dash for revenge. I’m also curious to see if Reiner and Bertholdt will be able to recover Eren and escape, or if we are going to go right back into the safety of the walls.