Attack on Titan has always been a show full of bleak, dismal stories, but this week's episode may have set a whole new bar.
Attack on Titan season 3 episode 2, titled "Pain," was one of the darkest in the show's short history. It broke the already flexible rules of the apocalyptic fantasy world of Titans and walls, and brought its characters to a moral low point that some might never recover from.
Spoilers for Attack on Titan lay ahead!
First and foremost, this week saw members of the Survey Corps forced to take human lives for the first time in their military careers. The characters have all been highly trained in combat, and are adept at wielding their sword-sized paring knives. Still, this is the first time they've had to use them on a person their own size, rather than the bumbling, inhuman Titans.
Obviously, the military of this fictional world acknowledged the possibility that the 104th Training Corps would have to face off against human opponents one day. In fact, this was a plot point in the second season, when Eren realized that Annie had worked especially hard on hand-to-hand combat, knowing it would the most useful in her Titan form.
While Armin and some other characters wrestle with the horror of killing another human being, the show goes even darker by revealing how little it means to some of the scouts. Captain Levi, in particular, finds it incredibly easy to justify their actions.
"Armin you've got blood on your hands now," he says matter-of-factly. "You can't go back to who you were. Embrace the new you. Just think, if your hands were still clean, Jean wouldn't be here right now."
Later on in the episode, Levi and Hange take on one of the few war-time practices that is arguable more reprehensible than murder -- torture. The show spares no detail, showing Hange peeling fingernails from the Military Police's leader, Sannes. Eventually, they are faced with the obstacle that Sannes has his own internal justification for what he does, and no amount of pain will turn him from that. At that point, they are forced to resort to psychological torture to break him.0comments
Meanwhile, if the heroes are getting darker in Attack on Titan, the villains are as gritty as it gets. This week's episode culminated in the latest threat, Kenny, murdering Reeves in cold blood after he betrayed the Interior Squad to help the scouts. Kenny the Ripper cut his throat in the middle of the street, appearing to show no remorse.
Attack on Titan is without a doubt one of the grizzliest shows around right now -- look out, Game of Thrones. Season 3 is just getting started, and now is a great time for new viewers to jump in. The series is available on Hulu, Crunchyroll and Funimation, and new episodes go up every Monday at 2 p.m. ET in the U.S.