This Attack on Titan review contains spoilers
Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 13
“Someone like me? How can I save humanity?”
We’re back, everybody! And while the return of Attack on Titan is always exciting, this second half of Season 3 feels especially loaded since it returns to where this all started, Shiganshina District and that ominous basement in the Jaeger abode. “The Town Where Everything Began” doesn’t get to Eren’s childhood home just yet, but it delivers a delicate, tense installment that’s a slow burn that erupts into an inferno by the end.
Eren and company continue to head towards Shiganshina District and try to use the cloak of night to conceal their journey. There’s talk and concern over the more recent “Moonlight Titans” that have proven to be nocturnal in nature, but none happen to actually make an appearance (much to the curious Hange’s disappointment). The excitement as everyone gets closer to their goal is palpable, but this also translates into a real fear for Eren. He’s well aware of how important it is to be able to overtake Wall Maria and the stakes of this operation get in his head for a while. This level of self-doubt in Eren is nothing new, but this is also a mission that’s much more personal for him than the rest of the Survey Corps. Thankfully Eren is able to follow through when it’s actually important and his help is needed the most.
“The Town Where Everthing Began” takes its time during its first half and mostly allows for emotional character moments, as the team gets closer to Wall Maria. An entire episode of this would make for a lackluster return, but “The Town Where Everything Began” understands how to properly balance this more thoughtful character work with suspenseful action. It’s touching to see Eren and Armin reminisce about their earliest days and how they still plan to reach the sea one day. If anything, these reflections on how far they’ve come and how close they are to some kind of freedom are what inspire Eren to swallow his fear and act like the hero that he is.
After this mindful contemplation, the rest of the episode is all action and it’s a little surprising how much gets accomplished. The Survey Corps know that their enemies are aware of Eren’s ability to plug up the holes in Wall Maria, which makes him a major target. They come up with a rather brilliant plan that involves one hundred Survey Corps soldiers with concealed faces that get sent into the fray so it’s impossible to tell which one is Eren. Then, by the time he transforms, it’s too late to do anything about it. Not only is this a great plan, but it works almost too well. Eren plugs up the first hole with zero complications, but Erwin begins to worry about how there’s been no Titan interference so far. Armin finds evidence that Reiner and Bertholdt were ready for their attack, which invites the foreboding feeling that this is all part of a giant trap. They’ve possibly done exactly what the enemy wants.
In spite of their caution, The Survey Corps are still unable to turn up any Titans until Armin makes a chilling discovery. He comes to the conclusion that there’s a Titan hiding inside of the wall itself. Others are initially skeptical of this, but Armin brings up all of the other nonsensical Titan business that they’ve encountered so far and it’s honestly as good an explanation as anything else. Not only that, but the way in which Levi wastes absolutely no time and plunges his blade through Reiner’s neck after he reveals himself is easily the best part of the episode. On that note, the show’s animation also continues to look amazing, whether it’s the ODM maneuver aerial sequences or Eren and Reiner’s Titan transformations. It’s satisfying to see that there hasn’t been any drop in the quality of animation in the second half of this season.
The final moments of “The Town Where Everything Began” are so damn great and hit as a total surprise. The Survey Corps learn that this very much is an ambush and in the blink of an eye hundreds of Titans reveal themselves and trap the humans within Wall Maria. It may seem like Reiner and Bertholdt have the upper hand here, but it’s pretty amazing to see how this attack only encourages our heroes even more. This inadvertently turns into the battle between humans and Titans and it feels like by the time it’s over the atmosphere of the series will be very different. Everyone is ready for all out warfare and it’s safe to say that the next installment should not disappoint.
“The Town Where Everything Began” is a satisfying return that throws the characters right into chaos. It’s a busy episode that still allows for quiet moments and delivers that addictive kind of storytelling that fans are used to by now. This entry sets the stage for what could easily be the most satisfying run of episodes yet. It looks like this homecoming will be a painful experience for Eren, both in an emotional and physical sense.
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.