In the wake of last week’s epic confrontation with the Armored and Colossal Titans, things are relatively peaceful in this episode of Attack on Titan, albeit pretty dire for the likes of Eren and Ymir. In the very final moments of Close Combat,” it looked like Eren would best the Armored Titan — but then the Colossal Titan dumped its entire body on the two of them as they grappled on the ground. A 60-meter Titan falling directly on you seems like a tough thing to survive, and the ensuing impact and burst of steam leaves everyone dazed or injured.
“The Hunters” picks up right where that left off with one of Season 2’s most thoughtful and reflective episodes yet.
Brutal spoilers follow about the war against humanity’s greatest enemies in Attack on Titan Season 2, Episode 8: “The Hunters.”
As it turns out, the Colossal Titan’s sabotage was more about creating a massive diversion that would allow Reiner and Bertholdt to kidnap Eren and Ymir while injuring most of the soldiers present. It’s clearer now more than ever that they have some motive for wanting to keep their fellow Titan shifters alive.
“The Hunters” hones in on Armin and Mikasa, especially the latter, who was knocked unconscious and injured in the final moments of the battle. She grows despondent after waking up, having failed to protect Eren. Reiner and Betholdt, with Eren and Ymir in tow, had already been on the run for five hours by the time she regains consciousness — and there’s nothing she can do.
When we do get an inevitable flashback, it’s an extended version of the oft-remembered time that bullies stole Armin’s bread when he, Eren, and Mikasa were all children. Eren foolhardily goes ahead and confronts them. It becomes an all-out brawl when Mikasa shows up to fight the bullies for him, and a rowdy stall owner confronts Hannes, who is drinking nearby with his fellow soldiers, lazily not doing anything to break up the fight.
It ends with Mikasa watching helplessly, incapacitated by a soldier as Eren chases after the bullies, an on-the-nose reflection of what’s happening in the present day. Mikasa and Armin realize that this is always how it is for them, getting left behind by Eren.
It’s Hannes, the very soldier that saved Mikasa and Eren as children, who gives them the pep talk to keep going. He reminds them of Eren’s tenacity: Even if he almost never wins the many fights he charges into, he also never gives up.
That’s the kind of tenacity they’ll need moving forward. Commander Erwin arrives with the Military Police, determined to lead an expedition to catch up with Reiner, Betholdt, Eren, and Ymir. It’s a newly awakened Hange that realizes (correctly) that Reiner and Bertholdt will head straight for a nearby giant forest, which is exactly where Eren wakes up for the start of next week’s episode.
You can watch the simulcast of Attack on Titan Season 2, Episode 9, “Opening,” on Funimation and Crunchyroll at 10:30 a.m. Eastern next Saturday, May 27, or on Hulu at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.