I am a Political Science graduate, major in International Relations and Foreign Service, with an interest in anime, religion and philosophy
“Deceiver” is directed by Teruyuki Omine, who handled the “Declaration of War” and, in a way, this episode serves as a spiritual successor to the discourse that motivated Eren’s conversation with Reiner as Willy Tybur presented the history of Eldia before an ignorant world. Here we see a conversation appear amidst different players encountering their pasts.
A commander looks upon her duties and promises only to find that the changing world is also creating new problems that she feels ill-equipped to handle.
Within the story of the survivor Kaya is a lost girl’s call back to life after losing her mother to Marley’s violence and the need to live out the legacy of kindness amidst a cruel world.
In another world, such kindness hides a darkness Mikasa refuses to acknowledge. For it is this same darkness that gave her the warmth of Eren’s home.
Following our Roles - The Commander's Burden Unfolds
Hange is hounded by the press over information that has been leaked about Eren’s imprisonment and the attack on Marley. We see the return of Flegel Reeves and the journalists from Season 3, who trusted Hange since she opened their eyes to the truth suppressed by the former regime. Now they are demanding accountability and answers, which she hides from them. As we delve deeper, we see that this was the result of Floch’s group leaking information about Eren’s actions and his imprisonment. When Hange acknowledged responsibility for what had happened and her need to suppress unverified information, she recalls the words of a lapdog of the former regime Djel Sannes. He warned her that every person has a role, where one person can take the place of another. This was about regime changes, where the next regime will carry over the task of the previous one.
Hange’s crisis is taken from her experiences throughout Season 3. The death of Pastor Nick, a source of an unreachable truth, triggered her pursuit for the regime’s secrets. However, now that she was in a position of greater power, she wonders if this was how her former enemies felt then. What if to preserve fragile order, she might have to deny her former allies, people who brought the Scouts to their place of recognition, the truth they probably deserve?
The Beauty Behind the Cruel World - Mikasa's Unwanted Truth
As the Scouts lead Floch’s group into prison for discipline, Mikasa sees Louise into her cell, where she expresses her admiration after Mikasa saved them from a Titan in Season 1. Louise wanted to know if Eren was the reason Mikasa joined the Scouts. However, Mikasa tells her to keep quiet to avoid more trouble. As Louise devotes her heart with a salute, Mikasa recalls a painful memory, to the time she met and was saved by Eren from human traffickers. However, she saw things differently.
The anime portrayed the flashback with the uncomfortable use of bluish and greenish hues, giving it a horror-esque vibe that made Eren look more like a killer than savior. We sometimes forget how brutally Eren killed the men who would taken Mikasa’s life. To him, they were nothing but “animals in human form” and “too dangerous to be left alive.” Why does this scene appear differently now? Too often, Mikasa remembered Eren for giving him her scarf, the symbol of the world’s beauty. Yet to get it, Eren had to become as vicious and animalistic as the animals that would hurt him and Mikasa. Here, she reconciled with an unbearable fact, that Eren was always capable of darker things and it scares her immensely.
The Legacy of Kindness - Sasha Brings Gabi Home
After her hair-razing escape with Falco, Gabi stops by a creek. Falco convinces her to remove the armband, her symbol of being a “good Eldian”. As she fights over this, a girl, Kaya, comes over to meet with them and offer them shelter and food. There is an ironic sense here, that the loss of her precious armband was accompanied by the arrival of an Eldian who was immediately good to them, something Gabi could never see as in her eyes, they were all devils.
Breaking bread with devils has made herself feel uncomfortable but she should have remembered Reiner’s words over dinner. What makes eating with “devils”, who gave her a warm breakfast, so different from being at home in Liberio? She would continue denying the kindness of the people who took her in, the Blouse family Sasha once belonged to.
Continually feeling frustration over her work, she barely hides the fact she resents the people around her. Yet denial was a coping mechanism for her to survive in her new environment. How can the people who took her home show her any kindness or be “human”?
It is when she is shown Kaya’s former home. The events of Season 2 are painted with a richer coat of paint. The Wall Rose invasion Zeke led destroyed Kaya’s family. But to Gabi, who was taught the greater narrative of world history, this was a consequence of old Eldia’s crimes against humanity.
Gabi's fanaticism clashes with the ruined village she sees, the consequence of Marley's justice. In executing "justice" against descendants of wrongdoing hegemons, more violence was carried out and escalated. Eren was the darkest fruit of this poisonous tree of hate, executing the same savagery against his oppressors while trampling upon innocents. Eren destroyed Gabi's home but long before that, Marley broke down his. Kaya lost her mom to Titans and their family knew nothing of Eldia's past genocides. Her mom did nothing wrong.
Falco was necessary for this conversation, telling her how Marley's mission took her home. He found the missing piece of his understanding behind Eren's attack in Liberio.
As they head home, Kaya tells the two about the girl who saved her, someone who inspired her to be kind enough to help Gabi and Falco escape.
And it so happened to be Sasha Braus, the woman Gabi shot down. Now she is hearing her story.
A Cycle of Revenge
Zeke's treachery discovered, Magath briefs the Warriors on the situation. As he tells them to wait as the global alliance prepares its assault on Paradis, Reiner pushes for an immediate attack, fearing the worst from Zeke's plans.
Like in Paradis, Marley also went through grief and loss within the episode. This highlights how any form of discrimination can lead to indiscriminate violence. Kaya's argument breaks the coping indoctrinated racism brings to people in as much denial as Gabi went through.
Overall, Omine directed a powerful episode, a spiritual sequel to Eren and Reiner's basement conversation. Just as the protagonists of their nations' current history seek closure, the new generation opens the wounds of racism before a ruined village.
For me, Omine's greatest accomplishment was following the footsteps of Isayama in showcasing how strongly Sasha's death affected everyone, this time by replicating the Eren-Reiner conversation in a much more emotionally-charged confrontation between Kaya and Gabi. He has an understanding of Kaya's character that I probably will never grasp. The direction behind Gabi's argument with Kaya is beautifully executed, allowing us to see in ourselves why the sins of forefathers should not be justification for the murder of their innocent descendants. It is in knowing the past that we can move forward to more discussion like these and heal from the grip of hatred.
© 2021 Mar Louie Vincent Reyes