This Attack on Titan review contains spoilers.
Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 24
“To save the world.”
Pride and hubris are rampant in Attack on Titan right from the very first episode. Pride is a transformative force that can be a poisonous venom when it’s abused, but this episode explores the healing grace of pride and what it’s capable of when it’s properly embraced among the right people. So much of Attack on Titan’s final season has solidified the opposing forces in this war, but “Pride” continually rejects the past and emphasizes that it’s the current decisions that individuals make that determine who they really are.
The first two-thirds of this final season have pushed every character into their own crises of faith as they examine the individuals that war has turned them into and how far removed these ideals are from why they first volunteered for this cause. Annie just went through this internal struggle with her father and now Connie is pushed to a breaking point as he considers the cost of “fixing” his mother. “Pride” is a cathartic episode for all of Attack on Titan’s characters as they’re given one last chance to confront their pasts before they decide who they want to be in this “free” world. That is, of course, if it’s not completely trampled into oblivion.
Lingering trauma is present in each of Attack on Titan’s soldiers and Connie’s perpetual pain stems back to the transformed Titan state that his mother remains trapped in. Connie isn’t everyone’s favorite character and his plan to sacrifice Falco is reprehensible, but his desire to save his mother is something that anyone can understand. What’s so compelling about Connie’s struggle is that it becomes just as much of an opportunity for Armin to exhibit growth.
Armin still carries the weight of Erwin’s loss on his shoulders and in his eyes he’s only failed to honor his fallen comrade’s legacy. His attempt to sacrifice himself to save Falco is completely genuine and it’s another elegant occasion where the lines blur over who’s the real enemy. Armin holds himself to a high standard, but at this moment there’s no question that Erwin would be proud of him.
Fortunately, Armin’s selflessness is the catalyst for Connie’s change of heart. He laments over the person that he’s become and how his mother would be ashamed of someone who gives her a second chance at the cost of a child. He can’t help but feel that Sasha would also criticize him for his actions here and he’s left to wonder if the soldier that he’s become is someone who deserves to survive. This is a nice parallel to Armin’s own ambivalence over his existence in this moment and how he still feels indebted to Erwin.
It’s so powerful to have characters use the memories of fallen figures to prompt their own improvements. Emotions run high and everyone’s fragility is on display. However, this heightened homecoming is at its strongest during the muted moments of reflection. A lingering shot on Connie’s immobile Titan mom perfectly encapsulates her son’s pain.
The drama involving Connie’s Titan mother is the centerpiece of “Pride,” but there’s a quiet sequence between Mikasa and a wounded soldier that’s thematically louder than any action scene. The exchange between Mikasa and Louise isn’t much longer than a minute. However, it’s an interaction that will likely hang over Mikasa’s head for the rest of the series. Louise cherishes Mikasa’s discarded scarf and Mikasa can’t help but view her as a past version of herself who doesn’t have the strength to escape. The shifting symbolic weight of Mikasa’s scarf continues to impress. A scarf can comfort one person and suffocate another, not unlike how the emergence of the Founding Titan can be a divine intervention for some and a portent of doom for others.
Louise confidently tells Mikasa that she has no regrets, which becomes the mantra of “Pride.” It’s harrowing that in Louise’s final moments that she’s saddest over how she won’t see the new world that Eren builds. Mikasa’s heart breaks when Louise credits Mikasa for inspiring her to fight in this war. She clings onto Mikasa’s old security blanket and when she’s asked to give it back, she refuses. Mikasa has woken up and figured out her priorities, but she’s haunted over how past actions have formed new fighters who might just prolong this cycle of destruction. It’s a reminder of war’s domino effect and how every single decision splinters into dozens of consequences, some of which remain invisible until it’s too late.
Levi fans have waited patiently for the confident character’s return and “Pride” finally follows through on this front. Levi remains in poor shape and currently bears a heavy resemblance to Frankenstein’s Monster. It’s going to be a while until he soars through the sky again with ODM Gear, but just knowing that he’s alive is such a huge morale boost. It’s also exceedingly on point that after seven episodes of silence, Levi’s first words connect to his lingering grudge against Zeke. He remains dedicated to his cause, even if he’s fading in and out of consciousness.
Levi and Hange have their work cut out for themselves, but “Pride” really starts to come together once Pieck and Magath accept them as allies. It’s honestly electric to see all of these former foes on the same side, all of which culminates in the thrilling rescue of Yelena, Onyankopon, and Jean from Floch and the increasingly irrational Jaegerists. Floch is more terrifying and unstable every time that he’s seen. It’s deeply reassuring to have Mikasa and Jean out of his grasp, but their recent escape has him even more dedicated to destruction. The new alliance that forms from this chaos calls back to Niccolo’s speech to Kaya and Gabi that if everyone has a devil inside of them then nobody is a true villain. Anyone is capable of redemption.
“Pride” tackles some very mature and challenging ideas, yet there are a few lighthearted moments that tease at simpler times. Connie’s awkward Titan teeth-brushing subterfuge, Jean’s hygiene freakout over riding around in the Cart Titan’s mouth, and Annie’s ravenous Sasha-esque appetite (a four-year crystalized diet will do that to you…) are all bright spots in a dour entry. These moments of frivolity are sometimes tonally out of place, but every character interaction in “Pride” strongly resonates. These silly exchanges hit harder and are inherently bittersweet since each laugh feels like it’s closer to being the last one before war swallows up everyone and replaces joy with screams.
This final season of Attack on Titan has successfully concluded each episode with massive cliffhangers that make the wait for the next installment especially excruciating. It’s hard not to stand up and cheer during the culmination of “Pride.” For a brief moment Attack on Titan’s core cast from season one are together again, but these hardened versions of their characters are a far cry away from their season one selves. It’s extremely satisfying to not just have Annie and Reiner together again, but that everyone is on board and ready to take down Eren. If this Traveling Wilburys of Titan extermination doesn’t get your adrenaline racing then do you even Titan?
A newly united front has these heroes finally ready to change the world, but with only a few episodes left in Attack on Titan it’s going to take absolutely everything that they have. And if they can’t defeat Eren’s threat then at least they can pass on, full of pride, that humanity worked together when it mattered the most.