This Attack on Titan review contains spoilers.
Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 4
“It kinda feels like something is about to change!”
“Yeah. It does.”
There’s a moment in “From One Hand to Another” when Willy Tybur and Theo Magath look upon a statue of Helos, a renowned Marleyan hero and an inspirational figure for the nation. Tybur admires the statue and what it stands for, but Magath informs him that the attractive idol is hollow. It’s an empty monument with nothing on the inside.
Marley puts on a brave face and acts like their future against Eldia is under control, but the echoes that ricochet within these empty promises are beginning to get louder. Deafening, even. Marley, more than anything else right now, needs a new hero and symbol of justice. It’s a nation that’s been consumed by lies in regards to their history – who is actually in control, and what their plans for the future are against Eldia. Marley has gotten comfortable hiding under these lies because in some ways it’s less devastating than the larger truth. Marley is finally ready to rock the boat and come out of the shadows, but the only thing that’s stopping them is that they don’t know who will be the one to light the spark. The statue of Helos is hollow, but there’s someone in Marley that’s filled with courageous resolve and ready to make a difference. “From One Hand to Another” is about that individual finding their voice.
“From One Hand to Another” is a relatively peaceful installment of Attack on Titan , but it goes out on such a huge cliffhanger that deserves to be discussed first because it reframes so much of the episode. A character named Kruger has been present and acted as a sounding board of sorts for Falco as he grapples with his Warrior training. The series has shown just enough of Kruger that he hasn’t come across as a suspicious character or someone who seems like they shouldn’t be trusted. Well, it turns out that Kruger is Eren.
That’s right, Eren Jaeger has actually been present for a while now as he orchestrates a long con and puts together a plan that seems to be several years in the making. Eren’s disguise as Kruger also acts as another glorious parallel to Reiner’s infiltration strategy to Wall Maria all of those years ago when he hid in plain sight under the “enemy’s” nose. Attack on Titan pulls the trigger on this at exactly the right time. There’s enough evidence to be aware of Kruger’s real identity, yet another episode or two that keeps up this charade would have likely made it too obvious.
Eren’s appearance is a major surprise, but the majority of Marley is more concerned with the arrival of the powerful Tybur family. Willy and the rest of his family are the people who actually call the shots in Marley, but they’re also ready to use the upcoming Liberio Festival as an opportunity to finally reveal their solution on what to do against Eldia and their Titans.
One of the most satisfying things about this season of Attack on Titan is that these episodes don’t feel restricted to any kind of rules and they are entirely content to just explore different pockets of Marley. This season’s pacing has been varied, but it’s impossible to say that these episodes are wasting time or moving too slowly without knowing just how much needs to be accomplished before the finale. This freedom has been helpful to the series in terms of keeping the material fresh, but it also reflects a more confident level of storytelling where it’s not afraid to invest time in an argument of words and values rather than one of fists.
“From One Hand to Another” spends nearly a quarter of its runtime on Magath and Tybur as they trade policy. This isn’t necessarily thrilling, especially when it’s just two characters confined to a balcony, but Attack on Titan has figured out a way to make this world building just as exciting as any action sequence. All of the history and political subterfuge that fills Marley and Eldia always makes me think of the Star Wars prequels and their focus on policy and the Trade Federation. That material was similarly criticized, but it’s actually as important to the story as any lightsaber duel. Attack on Titan is no different and it’s fascinating that this episode can feature a debate by two new characters that the audience has never met before and it not only remains engaging, but it actually becomes thrilling due to the pressure that the Tybur family places on Marley.
An earnest bond continues to grow between “Kruger” and Falco and the injured soldier learns a lot about the Grice family. This includes that Falco and Colt are only training as Warriors in order to redeem their family’s disgraced reputation. Kruger/Eren’s simple requests of Falco to deliver his letters could be misconstrued as treason and put the Grice family back in hot water with their own people. Initially this just seems like a scene about sacrifice and responsibility, but it becomes considerably more poignant after the realization that this is Eren talking to his grandfather here. Eren helps the elder Jaeger open up and grieve a little over the fate that he prescribed for his children, which has inadvertently also pushed Eren to where he is in life.
Attack on Titan has always been tremendously causal and there’s an extreme domino effect that’s present in every action and relationship that’s formed. But this innocent exchange between Kruger/Eren and Grisha’s father is one of the best examples of how everything here is intricately connected. This is another case where a strong scene delivers even more of an impact thanks to the powerful score. Jaeger’s scattered confession about his “life’s regrets” is complimented by a fanfare that sounds like a declaration of war. It marks the moment when he truly matures and hardens in a way that can’t be reversed. Additionally, this scene at the hospital is full of lost souls who wander the premises and bang their heads on walls because they can’t handle reality. It’s a very loaded environment that’s full of suffering, yet it allows this pain to normalize itself rather than acknowledge it.
“From One Hand to Another” is more of a subdued entry, but the other big event that takes place involves the changing ranks within the Warrior training. Much to everyone’s surprise, Falco actually starts to best Gabi in their training and it looks like he might now be the one to inherit the Armored Titan ability. This development works as well as it does because Falco is completely disinterested in power. He’s dedicated to win because it means that Gabi won’t be subjected to a truncated life as a Titan.
It’s still so easy to see shades of Eren and Mikasa in these characters. These episodes excel with how they demonstrate that these new individuals are no different than anyone else. Gabi and Falco’s confrontation is the other big moment where Attack on Titan’s score is really exceptional. In this case it does a great job at conveying the different energies that drive Falco and Gabi. It begins as this strumming guitar piece that crescendos over their argument and transforms into this gentle use of flutes by its end.
“From One Hand to Another” maintains its focus on Marley’s plans for the future and the number of important people who have come to weigh in on the issue. There are some lighter moments devoted to the culture clash between these elite Ambassadors and the lowly Marleyans, not to mention the fun that’s had at the Liberio Festival. This extends to a very brief scene between Pieck and Porco where Pieck moves around on all fours like her Cart Titan counterpart. It’s a character beat that’s equal parts endearing and tragic.
“From One Hand to Another” looks at how the lines are blurred when it comes to the Marleyan people’s beliefs over their rulers and enemies, but the lines between human and Titan are also blurred for characters like Pieck as they progressively lose track of what makes them human. Pieck and Porco are important characters, but they haven’t been able to receive the same level of attention that Gabi or Falco have.
“From One Hand to Another” doesn’t change this and Pieck and Porco’s scene is more of a glorified cameo that fits with the episode’s greater theme. However, if Attack on Titan still turned out OVA specials like they did in their earlier seasons then they’d be perfect subjects for a deeper dive. If nothing else, Attack on Titan consistently leaves the audience wanting more with not just Pieck and Porco, but even Falco and Gabi to a certain degree. This season’s approach to characters is so thoughtful and delicate
This episode flexes some of Attack on Titan’s more restrained muscles and it does feel like the calm before the storm in many respects. “From One Hand to Another” almost teases its audience with how much it talks about the future and the changes that lie ahead while characters immerse themselves in frivolous festivals. This episode cultivates a false sense of ease, only to pull the rug out from not just Reiner, but the entire audience, with its bombshell ending that greatly accelerates the plot. Viewers have been wondering when these two disparate halves of Attack on Titan will cross paths and it turns out that this reunion is already underway.
The question is just whether Marley’s next statue is going to be of Eren or Reiner.