Attack On Titan Unleashes Hell On Earth In Bleak, Apocalyptic Season Finale 'The Dawn Of Humanity'

And there it was, the final episode of "Attack on Titan" is here and the modern classic show goes out with a bang ... except this wasn't the final season, as it was announced that there will be an "Attack on Titan The Final Season Final Arc" coming next year. Still, the part 2 finale ended just as it started — with a bleak, nightmare-inducing, emotional half-hour of television.

The thing is, it makes perfect sense to split the season the way they did. Part 1 ended up focusing on the time skip after season 3, the attack on Marley and the rise of the Yeagerists, while part 2 focused on Eren's descent into villainy, the rise of the resistance, and the activation of the Rumbling. This leaves things perfectly set for part 3 to follow the actual end of the world. The problem is that naming the season "The Final Season" more than 30 episodes before the show actually ends is disingenuous. Still, "Attack on Titan" delivers another stellar episode that gives us further insight into the mind of one Eren Yeager.

One last moment of happiness

Where the last episode left us on a rather sour note, "The Dawn of Humanity" starts with the closest thing we'll get to a happy episode of "Attack on Titan."

We see Mikasa pondering the question plaguing everyone's mind since the start of the season: what is going on in Eren's head? How could he change so much? Did he even change at all? As she goes through the same thought process as the relatives of the main subject in every true crime show, she thinks back to the last time they were all truly happy: when they first went to Marley.

We knew that the Scouts had visited Marley to try and see if they could convince the world leaders of the good of the Eldian people, but seeing it happen was truly shocking. It is difficult to remember that the main characters in "Attack on Titan" are still kids; no matter the death and destruction they have witnessed and taken part of, they are still just teenagers who never got to act like it. It is then a true joy to see everyone from Mikasa and Armin, to Jean, Connie and a returning Sasha have a minute to just enjoy life and be kids. Sasha, of course, finds an ice cream cart and has the same reaction as Wonder Woman when meeting one of the wonders of the world, while Connie and Hange are shocked beyond belief that cars are not just horses covered in metal. Even Levi (here with all his fingers and both eyes) gets a moment of levity, as he gets mistaken for a child in a suit by a creepy clown, bringing back the best recurring gag in the show.

Then, there's Eren, who acts distant and uncaring, until he sees the young boy from the pier and starts crying. When Mikasa asks what's happened, he answers, "Nothing yet." Remember, at this point, Eren knows parts of the future. He doesn't know why, but he knows that at some point he will communicate with his father and force him to take the Founding Titan, and that Grisha said Eren will cause untold destruction.

Eren then asks Mikasa what he is to her, why she cares about him so much that she dedicates her life to protecting him. Is it because she owes him for saving her as kids, or because they grew up as family? After pondering for a moment, Mikasa answers because they're family, but in the present, she wonders if she should have answered differently.

Their conversation gets interrupted by some war refugees, including the boy, inviting Eren and Mikasa to drink and eat with them. For a brief moment, all is right with the world, as the old Levi Squad parties with a whole camp's worth of people, drinking, dancing, and singing like there was no tomorrow — Titans and war be damned. Sure, institutional racism and bigotry still exist, and the rest of the world wants them dead, but for a single bright moment, none of that matters. We get a shot of Jean and Connie dancing with some people — a moment he thought about a few episodes ago when explaining why he'd turn his back on Paradis to save people he doesn't even know. Hell, even Eren, the devil of Paradis, the suicidal maniac, gets drunk and has a moment to forget about all his problems, while the song we heard when we first saw Marley in Grisha's flashback evokes happy, innocent times.

As violent, brutal and bleak as "Attack on Titan" gets, it is most effective when contrasted with small moments of joy like this. And it works like gangbusters in this season finale before all hell breaks loose again.

Of course, just like Grisha's memories in Marley, Eren and the guys' time in Marley is doomed to end in tragedy. After a summit to discuss Eldian refugees ends with overall denouncement for the "island devils," Eren abandons his friends, and starts his solo plan to destroy the world.

The devil we know

It is a testament to the writing of this season that we haven't seen Eren in two months, yet he's never stopped casting a huge shadow over every scene of every episode this season. So when we finally get an insight into his mind and actions, it feels like an event.

We get another flashback, this time explaining how Eren worked out his Rumbling plan. The scene jumps around from Yelena meeting Eren in secret to tell him about the euthanasia plan, to Eren confessing his entire Rumbling plan to human cockroach Floch and getting him on his side. While it is revealing that he'd actually talk to and confide in Floch, more shocking is that Eren went to see Historia and revealed his plan to her too.

This is the first time we see Queen Historia all season, and it is reassuring to see her be absolutely terrified by Eren's plan and tell him that the Rumbling would just be like when Eren's mom died a senseless and tragic death. "I know," Eren tells her. "But the only sure way to end this cycle of revenge fueled by hate is to bury our hate-filled history along with civilization itself." He then offers, in his messed up logic, to erase Historia's memories with the Founder to ease her guilt, and reminds her that she already was the worst girl in the world for saving Eren back in season 3.

That is the tragedy of Eren Yeager, the kid who got cursed with all the power in the world and a short lifespan, born in a cruel world with so little hope for an actual happy ending that his best idea was to doom all of civilization to ensure his friends could be safe rather than die planting the seeds for a possible bright future. It's telling that, when we see Eren talk to Zeke shortly before his attack on Liberio, he specifically talks about having less than four years left to live, and wanting his friends to live long happy lives. Of course Eren would never go along with the original plan of sampling the Rumbling to buy Paradis 50 years, because he could not be around to ensure those 50 years go along free of conflict. In his hotheaded, teenage head, it is much easier to kill all of civilization and personally ensure the future of those he loves, even if it doesn't really secure anything, as we learned before.

Eren also asks Zeke about Mikasa's headaches, which he previously told her were signs of genetic engineering by the Eldian Empire to make the Ackermans slaves to the Titan shifters. Except Zeke says there's no such thing, no one has ever heard of Ackerman headaches or forced genetic connections. Zeke's only theory is that Mikasa just likes Eren so much that she'd kill hundreds of Titans for him. This, together with the scene where Eren asks Mikasa what he means to her, double down on the idea that Eren is still a teenager underneath the genocidal maniac.

As much as certain fans love that "Attack on Titan" never really focused on romantic subplots, this makes perfect sense for Eren. Now that the immediate threat of the Titans is gone and with the impending end of his tenure as a Titan shifter and member of the living, Eren may be starting to consider things he never thought of before, like his feelings for Mikasa. This show has always been about the cost of war on children, and seeing Eren think, even for a moment, that maybe he would have liked to have a normal life when he could worry about the girl he likes, is heartbreaking.

'Is that the destroyer, or the creator?'

Back in the present, the navies of every nation in the world unite with a single purpose — stopping Eren. "If we can't stop this here, then nobody will," one admiral says. But of course, canceling the apocalypse isn't easy (unless you have Idris Elba on your side). Kohta Yamamoto and Hiroyuki Sawano continue to outdo themselves with the score this season, with a darker, slower, operatic score accompanying what is essentially humanity's last stand, with thousands of cannons firing to the sound of a choir.

But the cannons are not enough. We finally get an answer to how the Titans are able to cross the ocean, and it is as ridiculously goofy as it is utterly frightening — they swim. We see hundreds of Titans swimming faster than Michael Phelps in the Olympics, and for every Titan that gets shot down, thousands more take their place.

Then, the score changes, and we hear the classic song ətˈæk 0N tάɪtn, which we hear the first time the Colossal Titan appears in the very first episode of the show. As the army of Titans swims past the world's navy, they emit so much steam that it literally liquefies the skin off the sailors' bones, in the bleakest and most gruesome piece of imagery the show has done (since Ymir's daughters ate her corpse, of course).

It is fitting that this would be the song to end this season of "Attack on Titan," given its lyrics speak of someone bringing death, asking if they are a destroyer or a creator. As the song plays, the army of Titans appear on the border of Marley, echoing the very first shot of Bertolt's Titan destroying the wall of Shiganshina at the start of the show. At the same time, we hear Eren's speech from the first season. "I'll wipe out every last one of 'em from this world!" he says, originally meaning the Titans, now all of humanity.

The episode may be titled "The Dawn of Humanity," but the ending suggests everything but that. The end of days is here, Eren's giant whale skeleton Titan has arrived with his army of Titans, and it's hard to imagine anything being able to stop him.