Attack on Titan Season 3 – Episode 52 – “Descent”

On to more Attack on Titan, and this one has some character growth from one coward and a “face off” from another character, but that will be shown when I get there. Right now, let’s start with a question that’s been around the fandom for a while and some have wanted an answer to. and no, it’s not “What’s in the basement?”: How did Marco die?

It goes back all the way to season 1 when Eren, in Titan form, was trying to plug the hole in Wall Maria. Bertholdt and Reiner are watching this and talking out loud, saying stuff about “My Titan” and how to stop Eren from covering the hole. Did I mention they were talking out loud? Because someone overhears them, and of course it’s Marco who heard it all. The two try to play it off as a joke because turning into Titans is like that.

Marco takes off, but he can’t shake what he heard. Seeing Eren transform earlier, he knows humans can turn to Titans as well, so putting 2 + 2 together means there may be a Titan enemy who can turn human like those two. It’s a short thought, as Reiner attacks and captures Marco. This joke is becoming reality, as Reiner knew Marco was too sharp to forget this. Marco calls for help, and in time arrives Annie. He wants her to help him, but unfortunately for him, Annie is on their side.

Yeah, how DARE you Marco! Finding out about their Titan secrets, you bastard!

Unfortunately they can’t sit around as a Titan is closing in. Reiner tells Annie to remove Marco’s ODM gear as she has to prove she isn’t a traitor because she saved Connie once. Time’s running out, so she removes his gear as Marco cries out worrying about why she’s doing this. Marco then flashes back a bit to when the 3 wanted the Titans to gather in town as that was their plan all around. Annie throws his gear into a house, and the 3 take off. The trio watch as Marco is taken by the Titan and eaten right there. Annie cries for him as Bertholdt shows regret, but it’s Reiner, who planned all this, shellshocked as to why Marco is being eaten.

RIP Marco. You died horrifically like most on this show do.

Going back to before the Scouts got into town, Reiner and Bertholdt are having a chat with the Beast Titan. Or rather, him in his human form.

Handsome, isn’t he? Anyway, he suggests that Annie is fine, and she can handle herself because she’s as strong as anyone else, but Bertholdt still have issues with her being captured, so our bearded fellow wonders if they’re both still committed to the plan. Reiner could always fight him like before, but if he loses, Reiner will lose the Armored Titan to another person. Reiner is committed as they only have one mission: get the Coordinate, and end this cursed history that he wants to end with all of them together. Bertholdt finally gets on-board as he wants no one else to experience this hell. We finally get a name for the bearded guy when someone calls out for “War Chief Zeke.” It’s the Quadruped Titan who has spotted the Scouts coming, so Zeke toasts to them and their last mission.

The sun rises, Reiner kicks the cups and pots off the wall, and taking off, Reiner reminds Bertholdt he will have to think for himself and not wait for Reiner’s signal. Bertholdt may have one of the greatest weapons, but he isn’t reliable, even to Reiner. To win this, Bertholdt has to get tougher, especially if he wants to save his “beloved” Annie. Bertholdt dismisses him liking her, as Reiner has someone he likes still. He still wants to save Christa, as he is keeping his promise to Ymir. The two fist bump each other’s backs and take off in opposite directions. As it goes forward, Bertholdt is still in hiding, waiting for Reiner’s signal and wondering if he is okay.

Just a guy missing the top of his face, he’s probably fine. The soldiers are celebrating as if they won, and Eren can’t believe they did it. Jean rejoices, but Connie and Sasha both cry for their old friend. Hange tells them it’s not over yet, as they need to get the next rounds ready. Armin wanted to negotiate with the duo, but they knew with a lack of info and now knowing how to capture a human-tuned Titan, it was impossible.

However, it’s not over. The Armored Titan moves and roars as loudly as it can. The roar was the signal, as it finally shows where Bertholdt is: inside the luggage that the Quadruped Titan is carrying. Beast Titan takes the barrel he is in and throws it over the wall. Armin realizes the roar was the signal for Bertholdt and spots the barrel flying towards them, and they need to run now with Bertholdt being in there. Hange orders them to run, but Armin knows they’re too close to not avoid Bertholdt’s transformation. He is still looking for Reiner as the ground closes in, and as he’s about to transform he spots Reiner at the last second. He pops out of the barrel and goes right to his friend. Somehow, Reiner is still alive, since he transferred his consciousness through his whole nervous system as a last resort to survive. All he needs Reiner to do is move, as Bertholdt is going to finish this off.

Nothing like a little science lesson in a series like this.

Fighting Bertholdt is part of the Scouts mission. As he comes to him, Levi Squad will protect Eren under Armin’s orders, and Hange’s squad will go after the other two, but Armin joins with Hange as he wants to negotiate with Bertholdt, feeling he’s the only one who will listen. The two set up on the rooftops as Betholdt will agree to talking… only if Armin and co. all agree to die. They want 2 things: Eren, and all of humanity to die out. Bertholdt has decided this all for himself. Knowing he has changed, Armin tries to get to him by saying Annie is still being tortured by the MPs and will become nothing but pig chow, but Bertholdt is forgetting Annie now and doesn’t fall for the bait. Armin tries to run, but Bertholdt cuts him off. Eren wants to join in this, but Jean knows he would be no match if Bertholdt transforms.

Bertholdt knows this is all to buy time for not only the soldiers surrounding him, but for Hange’s crew to capture Reiner. Plus, he sees Armin shaking like crazy, so Armin isn’t doing anything. So why did Bertholdt want to talk? It’s because he wanted to know if he’d be that same person crying and begging for forgiveness if he faced them once more, but he isn’t now. He still thinks of them as his precious comrades, but he needs to kill them, not because they are “devil spawn” or in the wrong, but because they need to, that’s all. Of course, it’s not that easy.

Mikasa attacks from behind, but Bertholdt is ready. He blocks and barely dodges her blades (losing an ear in the process), even landing a kick on her. He goes for Armin, but Mikasa counters so he takes off. She stays with Armin so he doesn’t get caught in Bertholdt’s tranformation, but he believes he won’t transform with Reiner near death and could’ve finished Reiner off himself, but even so, they both can see that Bertholdt is a different person than before. As Hange’s soldiers make their way to Reiner, they see that his Titan is now facing upwards, meaning they can’t finish him off, and because of this, Bertholdt takes off into the air. Not being scared, he sees everything clearly now. He can now accept everything as is, with no one wrong because of this cruel world. Hange tries to warn her crew near Reiner, but it’s too late. Bertholdt transforms into the Colossal Titan, with a giant light overtaking the area Reiner is at, and then the shockwave hits. It destroys nearby houses and sends a blast everywhere, with Eren barely holding onto Jean & co. and Mikasa barely holding on to Armin. Hange and her crew get caught in the giant blast.

Eren and everyone with him are alive, and Mikasa and Armin get back to them, but they don’t know if Hange and her mates survived. They see the Colossal Titan in all its glory while we also see Reiner recovering… kind of slowly. The 6 of them may be the only ones left as Bertholdt starts to wreck shit, with flaming debris going everywhere as his long, swinging arms cause everything to catch on fire. Because of this, it all lands on Armin to lead them in this battle.

“How did I get in command now?! I’m usually just a dude who’s used in crossdressing yaoi fanart!”

Armin tells them to retreat and meet up with Erwin to fight the Colossal Titan, but Jean points out if they did, they’d be by the walls. With the chibi animation, it shows that all the fiery debris would make all the houses in the surrounding area burn, leaving the Scouts with the horses in a predicament. Basically, it’s up to the 6 of them with Armin’s command to stop Bertholdt’s destruction, even as flying derbis lands near them. As for Erwin? He wonders what the Beast Titan’s next move is. Right now… it’s scratching his ear.

Overall, this was a good episode that brought some character development to the normally wimpy Bertholdt. He has always been the one who didn’t really want to fight, hesitant with everything, and always a coward. Even with the gigantic power he has, he was never as good as Annie, Reiner, or Ymir was with showcasing what he could do. Even the flashbacks in this episode displayed his cowardice with Marco’s death and the fight in season 2. Showing him growing a backbone is a good start to all of this. Yes, he is a villain for all he has done, but that’s what you want in something like this. Shonen series should show some growth in its characters, be it the good guys, villains, or anyone facing a moral dilemma. Bertholdt is one of those people who fits that mold, and showing he can change into something he never was is a big start. Plus, it was great seeing the back-and-forth with him and Armin: two characters who are kind of the same, now having big weights thrown on their shoulders. Yes, trying to negotiate with the enemy with pacifism wasn’t the best of moves for Armin, but he knows who Bertholdt was, and trying to see if that person remained was actually a brilliant move on his part.

Another highlight was seeing Bertholdt hold off Mikasa the way he did, because remember the last time he saw her? It was a piss-your-pants moment

To see him actually stand up and actually win a (albeit very quick) fight with her was kind of amazing. Plus, we finally saw how Marco died. If you wanted to know, now you know. Basically, this was just a good episode through and through. Next episode, it’s time for some baseball. You think I’m joking? I am not. You’ll find out what this means in the next episode.

Attack on Titan Season 3 is licensed by Funimation. Episodes can be seen on both Crunchyroll and Funimation on Sunday at 1:35 PM ET. The dub version is coming to Toonami and Funimation later in May.

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