This episode promises to contain Mikasa's back story, so the end is a good time to break down the Eren and Mikasa relationship thing. The title also invokes the theme of perception by referring to the world she "saw." Anyway. Bathroom break. I shall return.
I should probably look up these lyrics. Eh.
Connie is shaking Armin out of his stupor. He asks what happened to his team and why he's covered in weird slime. Armin suddenly remembers and starts screaming again. Ymir, who still hasn't been called Ymir in the script, tells Connie it's obvious that the rest of Armin's team has been wiped out. It's only a shame that Armin was the only survivor instead of Eren or someone else.
Connie is pissed, but Christa interrupts and says they shouldn't fight. It's terrible what happened. They need to advance. Ymir proposes to her. Um. Okay. I'm with Connie on this one. Bitch is weird.
Armin says, despondently, that he'll meet up with the rear guard. Connie calls after him, but someone else in his team tell him to keep moving forward.
Oh, by the way, it's suddenly dismal and rainy.
On the way to meeting up with the rear, Armin thinks about how the world has always been Hell. The titans have done them a favor by making it easy to see. The strong devour the weak. His friends tried to be strong to protect Armin, who is weak. He always resented being seen as someone in need of protection. And this, him trying to prove himself, resulted in Eren dying. He is interrupted from his self-loathing by Hannah giving CPR to Franz. She demands Armin's help, but it's pretty clear that the lower part of his body is decimated, though they don't show it in the anime--just the manga. Armin begs her to stop and to go to the roof where it's safer. He can't take any more of this.
The gates are blocked by a merchant trying to shove his giant cart of goods through. The people gathered beg him to clear out, but he insists that his goods are necessary for their lives. He will pay them to help. Soon, a titan appears. An aberrant runs straight for them. Members of the rearguard are on its tail, but it ignores them. Mikasa appears and takes it out easily. She is shocked to see the merchant blocking the way. When he tells her that it's her job to give up her life for the people, she says it is a matter of course for her to sacrifice herself for lives, but this is something else. His goons rush at her, and she easily incapacitates them. Then she aims her blade for the merchant's throat. He orders the cart to be pulled back, and the evacuees make it through the gate, thanking Mikasa.
This is the dismissal of the trickle down effect. I'm not sure how this applies to a world where resources are limited, and the problem isn't employment, but we'll take it. Lives are more important than resources. Even when people will die anyway without them. I am still fuzzy. It's difficult to justify sacrificing 20% of the people to save the rest, but there has yet to be a suitable alternative proposed. That's the frustrating thing about this world. The characters know what's right in their guts, and they fight for it, but the rest of the world can't sustain it. Hello, reality.
Mikasa's team leader congratulates her on the kill. She says she ruined her blades and will have to be more careful. Her stoicism spooks him, and he begins to ask her what happened to her to make her that way, and she has a brief flashback from her childhood. She wonders why she would remember that now.
Well, you did just get asked about it, essentially, soo...
The commercial bookends describe ultra-hard steel, which is what is used in the titan-killing blades. It's just really hard--steel. Yep. Good, technical writing. It's manufactured in the blast furnaces of factory cities.
The year is 844. It's rainy and dismal again. There's a log cabin and some evergreen trees. Mikasa and her mother are doing embroidery. Her mother, who is full Asian, while her father is some blond guy, tells her the embroidery pattern has been passed down for generations, and she should teach it to her children. Mikasa asks how one gets children, and her mother tells her to ask her potato-peeling father, who also chickens out and tells her to ask Doctor Jaeger, who should be arriving shortly. He goes to answer the knock at the door, thinking it is Jaeger.
With clever cutting, we see Jaeger and little!Eren outside discussing Mikasa. Apparently, Mikasa lives in an area with few children, so Jaeger brought Eren along for her to make a friend. He asks Eren to be nice to her. Eren says it depends on how she acts, and Jaeger tells him that's why he only has one friend. Apparently Eren and Armin were friends first. Jaeger is surprised they have not answered the door yet, and he opens it. There are blood spatters inside the door, but that's all we see. When his father is clearly distraught, Eren asks him what is wrong.
In the next scene, Eren and his father are inside, and both Mikasa's parents are dead, but Mikasa is nowhere to be found. Jaeger tells Eren to wait at the base of the mountain while he calls the Military Police. Eren stands there, shocked, but determined.
A couple thugs have Mikasa in another house. One explains that Mikasa will fetch a high price in the underworld as one of the last of the Asians. The other one argues that her father wasn't Asian, and the first says it's his fault they didn't get the mother, who was worth much more as a pure blood.
The flashback scene shows the father getting stabbed as soon as he opens the door. Then the mother attempts to buy time by running at the thugs with scissors, so one of them just cuts her down with an axe. Her mother pleads with Mikasa to run, but she is paralyzed by fear.
In the house with the thugs in the present--err, initial flashback, or if you prefer, first level of inception--Mikasa thinks it is very cold. Then Eren knocks on the door with tears in his eyes and tells one of the thugs he got lost. It is clear they will kill him, but one of the thugs underestimates him, and Eren stabs him in the chest, saying "Die, asshole." Then he closes the door and leaves the house.
What a bamf.
The second thug follows after him, and as soon as he opens the door, Eren jabs a broom with the knife strapped to its end into his chest. Didn't see that one coming. Nope. Then Eren mounts the thug and stabs him repeatedly. Yep. Mikasa watches on in a daze. That's two down. Obviously, she must kill the third.
While Eren introduces himself and unties Mikasa, she informs him there were three thugs. He doesn't have time to process this before the third thug returns and grabs him. He holds Eren up by the throat and demands to know if he killed the other two. Eren struggles to tell Mikasa she must fight because if they win, they live. If they lose, they don't live. They can't win if they don't fight.
Mikasa grabs the knife, and she sees a happy memory of a praying mantis killing a butterfly and her father returning with a dead duck in a new light. This world is cruel. From that moment, she gained complete control of her body and learned to fight. We see her rushing the third thug, and the scene ends.
Night has fallen. Two members of the guard are shocked that two little kids killed the three thugs.
Jaeger scolds Eren and tells him he is just lucky to have lived. Eren said he had to save her right away. Jaeger has nothing to say to that. Mikasa complains of being cold, and Eren gives her his scarf. It's the same scarf she wore for the first two episodes of the series. "It's warm," he says. And it is.
Mikasa, in the present (no more inception levels), resolves this world is cruel. But as long as she has Eren, she can do anything.
Sucks to be her. Kind of. Except I'm not even pretending to think he's dead, so...
Since this is actually at least a three-parter, I'm holding off on the Eren Mikasa analysis, but I am asking some questions. First, we see how Armin and Mikasa learned the world is cruel here. Armin learned during the battle for Trost, and Mikasa learned as a child. How did Eren learn the lesson that one must fight to survive? How naive is he really? How much of his boundless enthusiasm is a show and how much of it is amnesia? God only knows. But something must have happened to Eren in his past. Unless it hasn't happened to him yet, and he's just naturally a bamf. He doesn't really get that the world is cruel. He just says it a lot. Armin and Mikasa actually get it.
And I love Armin, so fuck all of you.