Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 3 Review: Old Story

Attack on Titan lets the sins and secrets of its government come to light as well as explaining Historia’s twisted role in all of this.

This Attack on Titan review contains spoilers

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 3

“In all the books, parents cared about their children…”

Attack on Titan has always been a series that’s depicted complicated familial relations. While shoddy parenting is not mandatory in this universe, it’s pretty par for the course.

Eren’s feelings for his parents are particularly complex, as he felt extreme love for his mother, but his father and what lies within his infamous basement could be the entire reason that Eren’s a Titan in the first place. With how this show operates, don’t expect to see any father-son attack teams on the Scouts any time soon. 

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“Old Story” leans especially hard into the trappings and bonds of family, for both better and for worse. A parent that loves you too much can sometimes be even more harmful than a parent that doesn’t love you at all and this episode explores the dangers of both of those perspectives.

After two relatively action-packed episodes, Attack on Titan Season 3 pumps the breaks on the 3D maneuver gear to indulge in some backstory on one of the more pivotal characters of the show’s new season. Flashbacks to the past are nothing new for the series and the show has proven before that these installments can be just as satisfying as any huge battle. However, in the case of “Old Story,” your enjoyment of the episode is going to boil down to how much you care about Historia Reiss.

It’s fine if you’ve never cared about Historia previously on the show, but if you don’t feel for her after this episode then you’re essentially a monster. Historia experiences one of the most disturbing, messed up pasts that we’ve seen from anyone in this show so far. 

For instance, the first scene from Historia’s childhood shows the kid desperate to make any kind of contact with her mother and when she finally does her mother’s response is to grab Historia by the face and hurl her away. The mother tops off this excellent parenting by telling her daughter that she just wishes that she had the courage to have killed her back when she had the chance. Historia, so starved for acknowledgement from her mother, cherishes these exchanges because at least her mother acts like she exists. 

This is a mother that just hates her daughter so much that she uses her last words to forever damn Historia and blame her for everything. This is the dark pit that the episode begins in and it’s only downhill from there. It’s truly a wonder that Historia’s traumatic past hasn’t caused her to just murder everyone in their sleep.

Historia’s terrible “relationship” with her mother is short-lived and then she just up and abandons her daughter. Historia explains that she only met her father five years ago, but he quickly sells out his wife and things don’t get any better under his care. This sad history covers the series of events that lead to Historia’s pseudonym of Christa Lenz and why she’s been separated from her father for so long.

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Once Rod speaks to Historia’s royal lineage and the importance of her family, it becomes clear why they were so determined to kidnap her. It’s also inferred what Eren’s role is in this whole hostage situation. It’s inferred that the government must also have a Titan at their disposal and with the recent revelation that when a Titan consumes another Titan that they absorb their powers, Eren is pretty much just meant to be food. The government is aware of his Coordinate ability and if their monster can gobble him up then Eren will be out of the picture and they’ll also possess the impressive skill. 

The growing tensions over this whole false king controversy is also building in a great way. It looks like this whole insurgency uprising storyline has a clear path ahead of it, which likely means that events will blow up in a big way and throw everyone for a loop. 

On this note, it’s fascinating to see so much of this season embrace the conspiracy and espionage-friendly intrigue around the shadow royal family and corrupt government. This is still by and far an action series, but episodes like this one definitely lean into human acts of betrayal rather than flashy, violent battles. 

Frankly, this atmosphere fits the show perfectly and it’s a great development that expands this world in exciting ways. It may be a little rote that the new villains are the trusted officials that are in charge of civilization, but repeated monsters can also yield diminishing results after a while. 

Accordingly, there are no Titans to speak of in this episode (and it feels like there might not be for a while…), but “Old Story” operates like the Reisses and other charlatans within the walls are arguably even worse. Basically everything that everyone has believed for their entire lives within Trost and this walled community is a lie. The people that want to fight the good fight literally have nowhere to turn anymore. Inside of the walls is now just as dangerous as the outside because of the manipulative echo chamber of propaganda that’s unveiled.

It’s easy to get the impression that “nothing happens” in this episode at first glance, but “Old Story” is about the gears that are in motion and the inevitable avalanches that await based on the character development here. An entire uprising revolt can’t happen overnight and so it’s appreciated to see Attack on Titan treat this material realistically. 

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Again, some viewers may not care about realism in a show that deals with giant naked man-eating monsters, but this plot still needs the proper amount of time to sink in and not feel cheap.

By the way, it’s been revealed that the amazing Levi chase scene from the previous episode(which was under 50 seconds long, by the way) took an entire monthto animate and contains over 700 hand-drawn frames. It seems that the standard episode takes around two and half months to animate, so to see that this amount of time is being spent on the more important set pieces from this season is not only incredibly encouraging, but a testament to how much the team cares about this new season. “Old Story” doesn’t feature anything nearly on that scale, but the next big spectacle can’t be far off. 

One of the most important voices in this plot against the government is Erwin, who is quickly becoming this season’s best character. “Old Story” even dips into a mini flashback for him that re-focuses his mission for the year. He really puts the proper amount of thought and strategy into his actions, which seems particularly crucial now. H

umans are dropping like flies and an impulsive plan could result in a lot of unnecessary, unaffordable casualties. It’s great to see him get a larger spotlight this year and hopefully it’s not just setting him up for a mid-season death. His plan to overthrow the government may sound almost impossible (especially by entirely pacifistic means), but it’s an action as drastic as this that needs to take place. 

Sannes explains that this corrupt government is a Hydra-like organization and if someone from the team gets eliminated then there will just be more people that replace them. The ambush on Rod Reiss’ land to reclaim Eren is saved for the following episode, but “Old Story” sets up this showdown with the proper emotional stakes and finds the right cliffhanger to go out on as well. 

Erwin may have a willing plan that’s ready to go, but it doesn’t change the onslaught of setbacks that face Levi and company in this episode. The death of Dimo Reeves results in all of the scouts being arrested as retaliation. Even though Levi, Mikasa, Hange, and the rest of the core group are still in hiding and on the move, it’s not helpful to see Kenny gain such an advantage in this war. 

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“Old Story” serves the necessary purpose of advancing the plot and filling in some important blanks when it comes to characters’ pasts. This is an episode that may seem more inconsequential once the greater scope of this season is revealed, but it’s currently a solid pressure release from the chaos that’s come before it. 

Oh, and what’s Eren up to in this episode? He’s just bound and gagged for the whole thing. Typical day at the office.

Keep up with our Attack on Titan Season 3 reviews and news here!


3 out of 5