I wonder if the series maintains this two part structure throughout. Could be interesting to talk about that later.
Eren runs along the wall. He notices that the titan isn't interested him and went for the cannons. It was also not a coincidence that it went for the gate. This is the first time we see a character realize that some of the titans are sentient. Eren says it doesn't matter since, if he can defeat it, none of the other titans can get through the walls.
Smoke or steam of some kind rises, and this is, I assume, unbearable heat, but Eren just uses the exposed muscles to place the hooks for his maneuver gear and finds his way to the back of the titan's neck. As he is about to strike, however, the colossal disappears. Thomas asks Eren if he killed it, and Eren says that, just like five years ago, he simply disappeared. Then Eren apologizes, and Thomas says that no one else could even move. Connie is about to tell them there is no time to talk when a seasoned veteran of the Survey Corps shows up and tells them the contingency plan for the colossal is already underway, and they should report to HQ.
Our favorite silver bells relieve tension.
Townspeople run scared, as before, but this time the Garrison is prepared. They have mounted the cannons and are taking out titans with vigor, unlike five years ago, when they were scared and could not even aim.
Inside HQ, Hannah and Franz, the two Eren told off at the parade, are holding each other, promising to be safe. Armin is having trouble with the gas tanks, as he cannot stop shaking. He tells Eren he will get over it soon, but they're in bad shape, at this rate. Originally, they had planned to dig up a big rock so they could stop up a future breach, but they have not managed to do that. Armin speculates they will have no choice but to surrender the wall in Trost, the outer district similar to Zhiganshina for Maria, and then it's only a matter of time before they breach Wall Rose. Besides, the titans can defeat them whenever they want, anyway. Images of titans getting up, their facial features blown away by cannon shells, play as Armin rants. Eren grabs his hand and tells him it's different. Humanity will not be defeated by the titans anymore.
There's silence. Mikasa looks like she's warring with herself. Then Armin apologizes. The scene ends as titans walk into the now evacuated Trost; the only sound is their loud footsteps.
Commander Pixis is playing chess with a drunken Marquis Bart. It is clear that the former allows the latter to win repeatedly. Marquis Bart gives us a bit of exposit by asking if Pixis is the commander of the Southern region, when there's no reason he wouldn't already know that. The Marquis then asks him how he defeats titans with high levels of intelligence and skill as a member of the Garrison runs in to inform Pixis of the breach. Bart is shattered, dropping his wine glass. Pixis, however, calmly retrieves the bottle and takes a swig, saying that he would be honored to take it with him into battle. Then he leaves.
Bart follows Pixis outside, into a field of legit flowers and butterflies, telling him he cannot go. He must gather his forces and defend the Marquis. Pixis tells him his men are risking their lives and dying in Trost while they engage in idle chitchat. Bart calls them expendable. All of Pixis' soldiers treat the Marquis as if he is not there, telling Pixis they will ready his horse. Bart tells Pixis that his presence at the front will accomplish nothing, as he has never even won at Chess. One of Pixis' men reveals what the audience has known from the start, but he does so in a glib way. "Don't worry. In a real battle against titans, it will not be necessary for Commander Pixis to throw the match."
Pixis tells his soldier that that's enough, and it's time for them to go. Bart should enjoy a pleasant day, as he would any other. The Marquis calls after him, spooking the butterflies.
Yeah, that scene, while entertaining, was a little excessive and cliched.
The commercial bookends explain that the cannons were developed before maneuver gear to address the dearth of mobile troops. Grapeshots are low lethality, used to slow titans. HE Projectiles are powerful, but have low accuracy.
A commander announces that the Garrison is separated into three guards by skill throughout Trost, with the elite being in the rearguard. He says the Advance Guard is already decimated, and the titans are inside, meaning the armored titan may appear at any moment to breach Wall Rose. The troops are to defend humanity with their lives by supplying troops and defeating titans. He then dismisses them.
As the trainees run in various directions, Jean curses that the titans came that day. He was supposed to move to the interior the day after. Christa comforts a vomiting trainee. More of her compassion shit. Jean wanders away and runs into Eren. Eren can tell he's pissed, and he asks what's wrong. Jean tells him he doesn't have a death wish like Eren does. Eren tells him to stay calm, and when Jean says "Just stay calm and die?" Eren tells him not to forget the three years of Hell they endured. They almost died during training many times, and some people did, but Jean survived. So he'll survive today and make it to the interior. In Eren's world, pointless deaths don't just happen. This is a concept he still hasn't grasped. Each person to die to titans so far has done so for the sake of their eventual defeat. Jean won't die today after three years of training for no reason, etc.,. In either case, Jean calms down and tells another trainee, Daz, to stop sobbing and heads off to report to wherever he's supposed to go.
It's going to be so cool when Eren finally breaks.
Mikasa tells Eren that they should meet up once the battle starts so she can protect him. He says that isn't feasible since they're in different groups. She starts to argue that no one will notice once the chaos of battle throws everything into confusion, but a man dispensing orders interrupts her and tells her she has been reassigned to the rearguard. She is about to object and say she will just slow such high caliber soldiers down, but this is quashed as well. They need all the highly skilled soldiers they can get, and she has a good reputation already. When she continues to argue, Eren headbutts her--lol--and tells her humanity is at risk for extinction; what she wants doesn't matter. She apologizes and only requests that Eren not die. He takes his hand from her in disgust. It is clear he is offended she would even consider that he would die.
Eren and Mikasa's relationship just gets increasingly stranger. I guess I should break it down for the end of this two parter.
Exposit time. A short flash back pits the trainees in a classroom setting--where Armin supposedly excels--and the lecturer claims there is no record of the origins of titans. All known information is from reports made by Survey Corps. Titans have a fundamentally different structure. They have extremely high body heat. They lack reproductive organs. Manner of reproduction is unknown. They mostly appear male. They ignore all living things besides humans, and their sole purpose seems to be the consumption of human flesh, but they do not need it to survive. One of the largest problems in dealing with titans is their regenerative capability. They can even grow back their heads in a matter of two minutes. Their only weak spot is the base of the back of their necks. Hack off enough flesh from there, and they vanish or explode. Lovely.
In Eren's group, Eren says if they kill many titans today, they will quickly rise through the ranks of the Corps. Thomas insinuates that he can kill more than Eren. Eren tells him not to pad his numbers, and the strike begins. FREEZE FRAME. I hate these.
Then a shot panning the roof as the trainees run across and leap through the air. The camera is below Eren before we watch the entire group run over the slatted roofing and through the town.
An aberrant, which is a titan that behaves strangely, leaps at the group. Generally, titans are stupid and sort of shamble around, but every once in a while, one exhibits more advanced behavior. This one, for example, leaps directly at the group, wraps itself around a church tower, and catches Thomas in its mouth. It chews slowly and swallows. It looks a little like Thomas, too.
Eren, enraged, leaps after the aberrant as it walks away. The rest of the group advises him not to go alone and quickly follows after. Blinded by his rage, Eren doesn't notice another titan before it tries to chomp down on him, and he narrowly avoids death, but barrels into the roof. He's lost a leg, and there's a lot of blood--and housing damage!--so it doesn't look good for him.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group is waylaid by titans snatching them out of the air and feasting in an effort to catch up to Eren. Armin watches on the rooftop opposite Eren, wondering why he can't move as all his friends are devoured. A titan who resembles Armin's grandfather a little bit snatches him from his perch and unceremoniously pops him down his throat. Eren registers this, apparently unable to move, and we get a flashback sequence.
The basis of Eren and Armin's frienship is that they're both obsessed with seeing the outside world. Armin stole a book from his grandfather, which is apparently illegal to even possess, about the outside. He tells Eren the outside is covered in saltwater. Eren is shocked when Armin tells him that greedy merchants wouldn't even be able to take it all. He also talks about lands covered in sand and snow. He shares with Eren that his parents are talking about going outside soon--I guess that's what happened to them--and he says it would be great if they could go some day too. This flashback is sepia toned. Again, we get the warm colors for something hopeful.
Back in the present, Eren, with only one leg, has managed to launch himself across the space between the rooftops and into the titan's mouth, where he rips Armin from the titan's throat and throws him onto the roof from whence he came. Like a boss. Eren reaches his hand out to Armin, struggling to hold the titan's mouth open, and Armin is finally startled to action, but before he can reach Eren, the titan clamps its jaw down, slicing through Eren's arm and supposedly eating the rest of Eren. Armin is left screaming on the rooftop. Faraway, Mikasa turns around like she can hear it. Which she probably can't.
Welp. Maybe two people in the world actually believe Eren is dead at this point. I think the story could have been really interesting of it suddenly became about Mikasa and Armin at this point after Eren's death, but what the fuck do I know? It's still good anyway.