Note: Originally published on my other blog Wonder | Wander.
After crisscrossing the country to give us the lowdown on each character’s current situation and opening up a pandora’s box of unanswered questions and conspiracies, Attack on Titan Chapter 27 slows down a bit and brings us to ground zero to put a human face in the struggle against the Titans – and that face belongs to Sasha Braus a.k.a. Potato Girl. We all remember Sasha as the hilarious food hoarder who was made to run laps for five hours on her first day as a cadet for stealing a potato and eating it in front of Keith, the cadet training officer. This time, we get to know her beyond her eccentricities and class clown antics. This, I think, is one of the strengths of Attack on Titan. Underneath its posturing as an action-packed and gore-filled spectacle is a beating heart.
The first half, however, continues the search for answers regarding the titans on the Wall. The episode opens in Stohess District, where Eren, Mikasa, Armin, and the other Survey Corp and Garrison personnel prepare to contain the breach in the South of Wall Rose. Armin, ever the genius, observes that, during the fall of Wall Maria, the titans went in through the gate which was destroyed by the Colossal Titan and not through the walls. He suspects that the walls are made of hardened titan skin as there are no spaces, cracks, or crevices to indicate that the walls are made of stone. The fact that titans have been protecting them from other titans all along looms over their head like a dark cloud.
As a side note, I think Armin should be given more credit; I mean, the guy may not have the flashy moves or the hero temperament, but he is a genius and his critical thinking has given them so many breakthroughs in their fight against the titans. What I really like the most about him, though, is that he is still very emphatic and kind-hearted, a rarity among anime geniuses (#TeamArmin). On the other hand, Mikasa is strong and lethal but her fussing over Eren all the time annoys me. Sometimes, I just want to slap her so hard and tell her that Eren is a fucking titan, for Christ’s sake! He won’t die so easily, okay?!
Going back, Hange seems to have also made a discovery of her own with the piece of shard she took from the Female Titan’s shell but she keeps it to herself for the meantime. Instead, she brings Pastor Nick along on their expedition to Ehrmich District to let him see for himself the horrors of the war against the titans. Eren pleads to Pastor Nick to reveal what he knows but Pastor Nick remains silent. Levi tries a different tactic by pointing a gun at him but Hange informs Levi that intimidation doesn’t work on the priest. Will exposure to the titans make Pastor Nick confess?
Now we focus on Sasha as she heads back to her hometown, Dauper Village, to warn her townmates about the approaching titans. Along the way, we get a flashback of her life in the village prior to her joining the military. Apparently, she belongs to a clan of hunters living deep in the forest within Wall Rose. Life was harsh in the forest – they are in survival mode every waking day – but the situation grew worse with the influx of refugees coming from Wall Maria. Meat, the main source of their nutrition, has become especially scarce. Sasha blames the outsiders for their worsening food situation. Her father explains that titans have taken their lands, their homes – everything they had. He felt so moved by their plight that he is thinking of giving up some of their lands in the forest and converting it to farmland so they can provide more food for everyone. Sasha is appalled by her father’s decision; she didn’t want to give up their identity and traditions for people who looked down on them before. Yet, Mr. Braus stands firm on his convictions. “We are all part of the same world,” he tells her. “If you’re not there for them, don’t expect them to be there for you.”
I think this scene is crucial in that it contextualizes Sasha’s chief character trait, which is her unappeasable appetite and propensity to hoard food. We now know that this hunger did not come out of nowhere just to get us to laugh. I appreciate that the wisdom her father imparts is not only a poignant lesson to Sasha but to all of us here in the real world.
Anyway, Sasha snaps out of her reveries when she sees titan footprints on the dirt road. She didn’t expect that titans would be able to penetrate the village that easily. She follows the road and ends up to find that Dauper has changed; the forests had been cleared and in its place is a small farming village with stone streets and houses. The townsfolk seems to have evacuated already until she stumbles upon a house where a titan walked in. Inside is an old woman who is being eaten alive by the said titan while a little girl huddles in a corner. Sasha hacks its neck with an ax, but the blows are healing too quickly to make any significant damage. Knowing that her efforts are futile, Sasha grabs the girl and runs away, apologizing to the old woman in the process. The little girl is visibly shaken and recounts how the other villagers have forgotten them because her mother has a bad leg. Sasha comforts the girl and tells her that everything will be ok even if she herself is also trembling from fear.
The titan emerges out of the house and sets its sight on Sasha and the little girl. They are forced to run after the horse sets off without them. A memory seizes her again, this time during her training days in the military. Ymir confronts her about her polite way of speaking towards her fellow cadets. She thinks that Sasha is embarrassed by her lowly upbringing and she tries to hide it by speaking in a formal manner. Krista comes to Sasha’s defense and says that she can speak however she wants and be whoever she wants to be. Back in the present, Sasha laughs at herself and finds it weird that such a random memory crossed her mind at such a very crucial time. But it was this memory that strengthened her resolve. She tells the little girl to continue on her way, promising her that help will eventually find her. The little girl comes to her senses and does as she was told while Sasha confronts the titan alone with only her bow and arrow.
Sasha’s plan is to blind the titan and give her enough time to escape, find the little girl and get some help. However, her first two arrows miss the target. She concentrates on her third time and finally hits its right eye. She knows she cannot risk another missed shot so she abandons the bow and charges at the titan, stabbing it in the other eye with the last arrow. The titan grabs her in retaliation but its chest was too slick with blood from the old woman earlier and Sasha uses this to slither away and escape. She reunites with the little girl who has returned with her townmates to rescue her. It turns out that one of the rescuers is her father. In the aftermath of the encounter, he tells her how proud he is of what she has become. Sometimes, in a story as bleak as Attack on Titan, a little moment of triumph is very much appreciated and this is what we get from Sasha’s story. There is still something good out there and it brings meaning and purpose to their struggles.
The optimism is short-lived, though. The episode ends with Connie finding his village in ruins and his house destroyed by a titan. But something is eerily amiss in the whole scene. The titan that destroyed Connie’s house has very small legs and a huge head; it could not have been capable of even standing upright, so how did it end up on Connie’s house? Another mystery is in the works.
People who are used to the high-octane and fast-paced action of a usual Attack on Titan episode may find Chapter 27 lacking but I find it interesting because it gives us an opportunity to care about and be more sympathetic to the causes our characters are fighting for. I’m just kind of scared whenever TV shows do character-driven episodes like this because it could only mean one thing – death. Will Sasha’s arc come to an end? I hope not.
However, the bigger question would have to be: what happened in Connie’s village? I have an inkling but I won’t say it yet. I guess we just have to watch the succeeding episodes to find out.
Note: I have not read the manga as I don’t have the luxury of time to catch up with its 22 volumes and counting. Thank you for not posting any spoilers.