This review contains spoilers for the 42nd episode of Attack on Titan (aka Season 3, episode 5) titled “Reply.”
Once again, Attack on Titan Season 3 doesn’t disappoint. In “Reply,” we’re finally seeing the carefully laid strings of the last four episodes tie together in neater knots than the past.
Erwin’s storyline, which had been somewhat on the backburner up until now, is the star of this episode, as he goes into his audience with the king. Of course, this entire season has dabbled in the politics of this world, but this episode leans heavily into the different agendas at play, as Pyxis fakes a Titan breach just to expose the government’s disregard for its people, allowing him to declare a military coup d’etat and derail Erwin’s execution. (Was anyone genuinely worried that he might die in this episode? The tension was certainly there.)
From what we know of Hange, Levi, and Erwin’s plans, they’re aiming to expose the government for what it is and establish Historia as the rightful queen. We’ve seen whispers throughout the season so far that Erwin has been clued into the false leadership for some time now, and has been plotting his own way to expose the corruption and lies, not only for himself, but the sake of the people. That’s no surprise: Time and time again, even before Season 3, we’ve seen Erwin’s empathy and care for the survival of humanity. But although he’s possibly the most empathetic character in the show, even he is in no hurry to die, even if the sacrifice would’ve been noble.
Possibly the most interesting aspect of “Reply,” however, is the commentary on the way those in power think of the people they lead, even when they’re ostensibly beholden to their citizens. The current ruling body in this world expects its populace to follow, as it always has. Literally and metaphorically, this government treats its people like cattle. And even if those people are blissfully ignorant, Erwin’s testimony brings up an important agency that the people have, and might have forgotten: the right to disagree.
As the coup dismantles the government, things start to look up for the Scouts and humanity. The Scouts’ honor has been restored, and the truth has been revealed to the people. Historia can now take her rightful place as the true queen, but the problem is, the Scouts still don’t know where she or Eren are. So the chase begins to save the duo from the hands of Rod Reiss, and uncover more secrets about the Reiss family.
Outside of story developments, as with all of Season 3 so far, “Reply” picks up directly after the cliffhanger of the previous episode with a near seamless transition. In past seasons, this hasn’t always been the case, and I’m glad that we’re seeing the smooth handoff with every episode now. It makes the ebb and flow of this arc that much more engaging. This season is arguably proving to be AOT’s best in terms of pacing; here’s hoping that it keeps this momentum in its back half.
It’s also nice to finally see this part of the story being addressed. We learned that the government was corrupt this season, and the show has wasted no time tackling those issues head on, rather than drawing the drama out unnecessarily. For a series that still hasn’t answered lingering questions from the first season, it’s still too early to tell whether we’ll get any other major reveals, but there’s a small bit of promise here.