Attack on Titan Season 3 – Episode 48 – “Bystander”

The last episode was basically one giant flashback of Kenny before he went on to Titan Heaven. Or Titan Hell, who knows. In this episode, we get another flashback in the form of one of the characters who left an impression on us in the first season and who helped spawn a bunch of Sasha memes as well.

It’s been 2 months since Historia got sworn in. She’s taking her role as Queen as … not quite Queen-like. She chases around orphans from the Underground on a farm and helps out on it, earning her the new nickname “Cattle-Farming Goddess.” Eren says this was all for the orphans and needing people who have suffered during the Titans attack. She did say she would rescue anyone, no matter who and where. As she tells Eren and co. to get back to work, she and Eren chat it up. The Hardening experiments are going well, but he wants to hurry it up, because they will show up soon. Historia asks what Eren will do if he faces Reiner and Bertholdt again. It’s simple: he’s gonna kill them. Their chat on the world goes back and forth, as Historia even blushes when Eren thinks she did nothing wrong with all she has done so far. Mikasa ends this friendly chat with her cold, jealous glare and takes up Eren’s workload.

Even though the military lost a lot of talent because of the coup, citizens now have new electricity because of the glowing ore from the cavern. Also, Eren’s hardening ability is going along pretty well.

“Stupid, sexy Titan Eren!!”

With this Hardening, they made a new anti-Titan weapon that they can use without soldiers fighting. It shows the hardening blocking the wall, with a Titan trying to get in. They have a giant log attached above and release it down on to the Titan’s nape, killing it. The new weapon makes Hange pretty damn excited.

However, she stops this as she sees Eren bleeding from overusing his powers. He’s fine with it, as he wants the weapons made so they can get to Shiganshina.

At the base, we see Marlo all excited with this new weapon, as he’s now with the Scouts. Hitch herself is not with him, as she tried to stop him. Sasha and Connie make fun of him for Hitch being in love with him, and yet, his explanation is that Hitch told him not to because he’s not acting cool and could live a better life without joining them. When even Eren thinks you messed up here, you may be as dense as a boulder, but it’s not just Marlo who’s excited. Others with no experience fighting Titans are also worked up. Yeah, they were in the same squad as them, but they can tell Jean and co. have a different look to them, which they don’t ask about for now. Connie leaves because he’s going to his village in the morning, as Sasha points out it’s not impossible now to make his now-Titan mom back to normal. It makes Eren flashback to learning both this and of Ymir’s plight as a Titan. It’s all a nightmare, as who have they been fighting? Are Titan’s people who are being tormented by a nightmare? Mikasa snaps him out of this eternal monologue, as Jean has had it with Eren doing this. He wants Eren to remember the one guy he saw in his memories who was with his dad. Eren feels like he has met the dude before. It’s with Sasha telling Eren to smack his head, and Jean pointing out getting headbutted by the commandant all that time ago, that Eren finally realizes who the person is. Even though the man had hair and was crying tears back then, it was said commandant of the Cadet Corps, Keith Sadies. As they head out, we find out Keith was the 12th Commander of the Scouts before Erwin took over. They meet up with him once more, as some have  unpleasant memories of him.

Sasha: “H-hey there, Keith. I-it’s been awhile.” *stares at her* “PLEASE DON’T HURT ME OR MY POTATOES!!!”

As they start to talk, Keith barely recognizes them, even though it has only been a few months. Yes, only a few months. Hange can see he knows why they’re here with the Wall Maria mission close at hand. Keith sees Eren stare at him menacingly. He tells him how he looks like his mom, but his eyes resemble his dad. Wanting to know more about him, Keith tells him that he knows nothing (at least in the grand scheme of it all), but he can tell them an “utterly useless story” to humanity. So, like anything from Shippuden, then? This is the story of Keith’s past as a bystander.

It begins 20 years ago at Wall Maria. In front of the gates outside the wall, a younger Keith found Eren’s dad, Grisha, there. Grisha can’t remember why he is outside the walls, as all of his memories are gone aside from his name. Since venturing into Titan territory without permission is a crime, they put him in a cell. Hannes, still as drunk as ever, can’t believe anyone would do this, but because Grisha didn’t hurt anyone, he tells Keith not to report this. After being released, Grisha tells Keith that he remembers one other thing: he was a doctor, so working at a hospital should work out. Grisha doesn’t know anything about this world or the Scouts, so Keith tells him everything in a bar. Grisha thinks this peace from the Titan is good, but not Keith. He hates this life, and wants to see how far this world goes. It’s why he’s with the Scouts. Grisha likes that, as he thinks the Scouts are very brave and wise, moreso than our cowardly Marines, representing humanity’s pride. A bar-woman name Carla thinks that Keith is up to no good, but Grisha believes it takes being someone special, a chosen one, to be a Scout. This was the first time anyone has spoken to Keith like this. Seeing how their commander kept facing defeats, and not building a base outside the walls, this gave Keith confidence that he could do better as a commander, while also hoping Carla will recognize all he’s doing.

It’s later on that a plague hits the area, as Keith takes Carla to Grisha to heal her. Her parents and most of the town (Including Hannes’s wife, who I may have forgotten was married?) also got effected, so Grisha makes a cure and heals all. This makes Carla fall for Grisha, not sitting well with Keith. It’s later on that we see Keith get named as the new Scout Commander, but during this time, Grisha and Carla get married.

I’m sorry, but Eren’s mom looks literally like Eren in drag. Take that as you will

During his time as commander, Keith racks up a lot of Titan losses, as his bases are destroyed, and injuries and deaths mount up. He always charged head first into these attacks. The citizens talked of this, as they like Erwin’s squad more, since he hadn’t lost anyone in battle. They all wonder if he’d be the new commander. As Keith remembers Grisha’s words of being special, he runs into Carla again. It’s been a while since he last saw her, as she has someone new with her: a tiny, baby Eren. Asking him if he intends to do this until he dies, Keith then snaps and tells her why people live and die without doing anything: because they lack imagination. They aren’t ashamed that their lives produce nothing. They can’t understand greatness. He cries out, as he knows Carla will never learn. Knowing he can’t do it, he asks Erwin to take over as commander. He knows special people exist. Keith just wasn’t one of them.

It’s years later when news of Wall Maria being demolished by the Titans (with Shiganshina being destroyed) hits the town Keith is in. Everyone panics and runs him over. However, a voice calls out to Keith. It’s Grisha, who Keith is none too pleased to meet. He has Eren with him, who tells them what happened to his mom. Keith can’t believe it, as Grisha tells Eren to avenge her. He leaves with Eren in tow to the forest, telling Keith not to follow. He asks Grisha why he can’t do it, why Eren might be this “chosen one.” Is he going to curse someone else once more? Grisha basically says Keith isn’t Eren. And so, they leave into the forest.

Yeah, he has the power of a plot device, so he’s special.

Keith sees a light with thunder in the forest. He goes to where it happened and finds only Eren there. He takes the unconscious Eren back to Armin and Mikasa in a shelter, and that’s it. That’s all Keith knows. Hange can see now that he left the commander post because of not thinking he was special, and it doesn’t sit well with her because of the vows they made, but Eren agrees with Keith. He doesn’t think he himself is special either: just the son of a special man. He then tells Eren what she told her all those years ago. It’s not wrong to be special. It’s fine if her baby boy isn’t great, as he doesn’t have to be better than anyone else. He is already special because he was born in this world. Seeing that Eren’s path in life has now been set, it shows that it was Keith himself who rigged Eren’s practice ODM gear all those episodes ago, but Eren didn’t give up. Keith couldn’t change this path of his because he is only a bystander.

This was a fun and depressing return of one of my favorite characters on here, as Keith was a lot of fun all those episodes ago tormenting the Scouts in getting better. It may be a flashback episode, but it’s a deep look at a man who wanted to better his life, who gained a lot of self-confidence from a person who he just met, getting where he wanted, all to have it crash and burn stupendously in a vile fit of self-doubt. Life is what you make it, but even so, it can be harsh, as shown here with Keith. It shows how much impact Grisha had on another life, because as he said, Grisha did curse another person, be it Eren, Carla, Rod’s family, whoever. The tiniest of words can really set someone on a path that can lead to greatness, or self-destruction, Keith here notwithstanding. It was also great to see how he cared so much for a crush he had no chance at getting, hoping that her son wouldn’t wind up in the same, tragic life that she did with the broken ODM gear. This episode may not be something a lot of people like, as some will argue why we are seeing an episode reflection on a character we haven’t seen since the early episodes of Season 1, but for me, this was an in-depth character study of a broken man that gained, then lost it all, and his story of watching everything else unfold. Well, we are almost done with the first cour. One more episode to go, then I’m off until this comes back in the Spring.

Attack on Titan Season 3 is licensed by Funimation. Episodes can be seen on both Crunchyroll and Funimation. The dub version can be seen Saturdays at Midnight ET on Toonami.

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