Previously on Attack on Titan, Eve of the Counteroffensive Part 2
All the cadets find themselves the suspects in the titan murder cases. Now considering all we’ve seen so far, that’s a total 180. Some of the cadets see the irony in this but as the superiors check each soldier’s rig, Armin explains to Connie why it was a stupid thing to do. They don’t know anything about the Titans. As test subjects they were invaluable. The person who did that may have avenged his friends but shot everyone in the foot. Connie admits he’s a dumb ass so he can see at least why they’d kill the titans.
Cut to a few days ago with most of the recruits at the funeral pyres for the fallen. John grabs a piece of bone and does his rendition of “Alas, poor Yorick I knew thee well,” starring Marco. He knows full well that if any of the recruits had any idea of what a soldier really entailed, they would have opted out. They have to move forward and John knows this. But he also know that not everyone welcomes death so quickly like Eren. As if one Hamlet parallel wasn’t enough, the spirit of Marco visits John. And he repeats the same thing he told him back at the refueling station. This is the kick that John needed as he tearfully told the others that he was going to join the Scout Regiment. He’s finally gained the courage to push forward.
Connie shakes his head. John’s a brave fool. So he polls Annie and Armin. Annie doesn’t give two shits. She’s joining the Military Police. Armin without saying it is joining the Scout Regiment. This opens up the debate as to following orders-including the ones that cost you your life versus letting your time come when it does. Another way to look at is do you choose to go out or do you let someone make that choice for you? Annie says Armin’s a brave kid but she just wants to save herself. It looks like she’s nicer than she lets on, by trying to talk them out of joining the scouts. Annie brushes it off.
Back at the Scout Regiment base, those two Scouts are discussing the investigation. It was a total wash and no one found anything. One is more concerned with the recruitment ceremony and asks Eren if he knows anyone that’s going to join them. Eren knew that some of them had planned to, but isn’t sure about them now. Before more can be said, Levi rides up and tells them to get their horses. They’re going on reconnaissance and remind Eren he’s only allowed to hang out with them because he’s watching him. So don’t fall behind.
Back at the Academy grounds, the cadets are being mustered together. Today is the day they choose which branch they’re going to serve in. With the Military Police only taking the top ten cadets, it’s really about choosing between the Scouts and the Garrison regiments. On the stage is Commander Erwin. He introduces himself by name and rank. He doesn’t mince words in his recruitment speech. He knows that they saw the terror of the titans and the reality of their own limitations. He then offers hope; that in this last battle that they made the greatest advance towards victory than any other battle in their struggle. They managed to not only repel the Titan invasion, but with Eren’s all-out effort have proven two things; he is on their side beyond a shadow of a doubt but also a key to understanding the Titans.
This throws everyone for a loop. A secret to understanding the Titans in the ruins of Eren’s family home? A secret that he himself may be unaware of? To anyone who doesn’t read the subtext sees Erwin making a bold statement to recruit more soldiers for the Scout Regiment. Armin sees something else. There’s always a need for soldiers in the Scout Regiment. So much so that it’s expected that the Commander would say anything. But this information is the last thing that he would expect to make public. Armin is trying to read into his plan. Is it just that he needs soldiers or is there some other far greater purpose that he’s trying to accomplish?
He gives out a basic detail of the plan. They need to retake Wall Maria. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is the route. They sealed off the Trost gate. Four years of building their army, establishing their main route, sacrificing 60 percent of that same army has now hit a roadblock. I’m not good with numbers but even that sounds like a pretty shitty casualty rate. Erwin doesn’t hold anything back about the dangers they’re going to face. Of those that join the scouts, 30 percent of the newbies are going to die. In another four years most of them will all be dead. The ones that do survive however, will have survival skills far beyond any ordinary soldiers. So if you’re going to join the scouts, stay. The rest of you can piss off, is basically the end of Erwin’s recruitment speech. That was intense to say the least. One of his soldiers asks if he scared the cadets more than he needed to. Erwin ignores him and if I can offer my own insight into what he did, it’s that his speech was specifically meant to weed out the ones who weren’t 100 percent sure about joining the scouts. It also served to keep the ones who were undecided yet strong enough to serve in his regiment. I don’t know about the rest of you, but based on Erwin’s speech I would join the Scouts.
Once the bulk of the cadets have walked away, we see only a handful of the cadets there. Most of them we already know, save for Annie who has stuck with joining the Military Police. Erwin smiles and thanks them. He likes the look on their faces and calls for a strong salute. This is the real deal; effective immediately they are all part of the Scout Regiment. John can’t believe he actually picked the scouts, Sasha is naturally scared and wants to go back to her village. Connie couldn’t give two fucks any more. Berthold and Reiner are silent while Ymir tells Christa to dry her tears or quit. They’re all in this together now. Erwin gives them a heartfelt congrats and tells them that they are all brave soldiers for choosing this path.
The following day began their training which actually consisted of memorizing their battle formations. Despite it being a very specific formation with a system in place to detect titans and relay it throughout the formation, Eren’s position within was not shared. Speaking of Eren, he is being briefed on that part of the plan. He’s in the rear, in the safest possible position. This expedition outside of the wall is a trial run for the Titan power that Eren has. If it all goes well, They can make a play for his home district. Eren still has his doubts about his power. Eren is asked about the remark that the Commander made. He doesn’t know and before he can ask, they say they don’t know anything. They are in the dark as much as he is. With Commander Erwin, there’s a purpose for it. But he’s decided they don’t need to know right now. As such, their only concern is to set out and come back.
Eren manages to break away from his chores to talk with his classmates who have just arrived. Armin is more than happy to see Eren while Mikasa has been worried sick. She even swears that she’ll give Levi a what-for one day, for beating Eren to a pulp. The others fall in behind them and he finds out that Annie is the only one who went to the MPs. John tells Eren that Marco died. This is one death that hits him hard. He can’t believe it. But there’s no time for tears as the new recruits get their official uniforms. They are now Scouts on the frontlines of the most one sided battle in the history of their existence.
Later that evening, John confronts Eren about the incident where he almost killed Mikasa. It might seem that John’s being a prick and he is, but there’s a reason for this. Mikasa is the only one who would be more than willing to give her life for Eren. Everyone else however can’t make that same commitment. So he asks Eren to promise them to not let them down. They’re really counting on him.
The day of the expedition has arrived and they have mustered at the gate. Everyone’s here and it’s almost déjà vu for Eren. He even sees two kids looking at him with awe and splendor. One of the senior members calls everyone’s attention to the front. Commander Erwin at the head calls out for the order the regiment to move forward; the 57th Expedition has begun!