Attack on Titan is on a roll this week with back-to-back great episodes. Episode 15, titled “Sole Salvation” which is about Zeke Jaegers backstory may not be as emotional or action-packed as the previous entry, however it is still a fantastic episode that has made Zeke form a character that I enjoyed seeing getting beat up to one of my favorites. Be warned, this review contains spoilers so read at your own risk.
Easily the strongest aspect of this episode was the way in which Zeke is humanized and made out to be a sympathetic person. Since season 3, I had just hated Zeke for ki**ing Erwin, ki**ing all the Scouts in Shiganshina, and just recently turning all of Levi’s comrades into titans. I was cheering along with everybody else when Levi absolutely destroyed him not once but three times in a row. However, here we see a more human side of him rather than just a cartoon villain. We see that he is just a scared child who is a victim of rac*sm, discrimination, and his own ab*sive parents. He is forced to do things that no child of his age should be doing at his age such as training in the military and betraying his own parents to certain de*th.
It’s made clear that all that Zeke ever wanted was a happy childhood and loving parents. We also find out that he isn’t just evil and that the bad things he’s done were for the good of Eldia. Because of this, I found it nearly impossible to h*te the guy. This is what I love about Attack on Titan; how they can make the characters who appear the most irredeemably evil into sympathetic victims of circumstance. This makes the whole conflict in this story so much more interesting since the enemy that the heroes fight aren’t some generic bad guy but actual people with their own good and bad side.
Another great thing is how just by changing the perspective in which the story is told, it comes off completely different. Grisha Jaeger is a prime example of this. In his own backstory in season 3, he is portrayed as a sympathetic freedom fig*ter out to avenge his sister only to be betrayed by his treacherous son. However, in this retelling of events, Grisha is portrayed as a crazy fan*tic who is only using his son as a tool for his own agenda. This continues the theme of this series that who are the “good guys” and “bad guys” depends on your perspective. What I absolutely love about this is that it makes the story so much more interesting since it challenges you to think and reevaluate who the “enemy” really is or whether the actions of the characters were really justified.
The Father Zeke Never Had
A new addition to the cast revealed in this episode would be Tom Ksaver, the old Beast Titan who takes Zeke under his wing. Although his appearance is only brief and we’ll probably never see him again, I think he’ll be one of the more memorable side characters to come out of this show. He is instantly likable, serving as a mentor/father figure for Zeke and giving him the attention that his own parents never showed him. He also tells Zeke secrets of the titans such as how to activate the powers of the Founding Titan. He’s just a man you can’t seem to h8te since he seems so innocent, honest, cheerful even under the worst circumstances as revealed later. I think he’ll go down like the Owl in Season 3 only having a brief appearance in the show but having a tremendous impact on the story.
What is the Truth?
I personally love all the scenes in Marley even if they don’t contain any sort of action since it is such a great opportunity for worldbuilding and an escape from the already well-explored Paradise Island. Here we get to see more of the racist and discriminatory actions of the Marleyans towards the Eldians. However, there is something I regard as even more sinister; the scene where Zeke is being taught two versions of history, one where Eldians are slaug**ering thousands of innocent people and the other by Grisha in which they are the good guys. I just love that Attack on Titan can insert these polit!cal themes since it makes the world so much more interesting.
Nothing is Perfect
Despite all the praise that I have given this episode I do think that there are some flaws in it. I have to ask, Even if Zeke did be*ray his parents and proved his loyalty to Marley, why would they make him a Warrior? I’m sure they’d appreciate it but I still don’t think they’d give such a precious asset like a titan to someone who doesn’t have the necessary mil*tary skills. We also never get to see Zeke acquire said skills since after his betrayal it immediately skips forward in time when he’s a warrior already.
Overall, despite some flaws, this episode was another solid entry into the series. I simply can’t believe that they could pump out two great episodes in a row but they actually did it. After that suspenseful cliffhanger ending where Zeke bl*w up both himself and Levi with the thunder spear (I won’t give any spoilers as to what happened to them) I just feel so incredibly excited for the season finale. It has been a wild ride this season with many highs and lows but I have certainly enjoyed every bit of it. With the season finale just one episode away, I hope that they can deliver an excellent ending that will do this season justice. After they have given us two back-to-back excellent episodes, I’m confident they can do so.