Previously on Attack On Titan:
The Survey Corps return to the walls after their failed mission to Zhiganshina. With the weight of the fallen heavy on their minds, Eren is called to trial once again for his fate to be decided. Spoilers Ahead!
Inside Wall Sina Annie joins the rest of her comrades of the Military Police as they are given a mission to escort the members of the Survey Corps to the courthouse. As they begin to escort the convoy through the capital, Annie is called into an alley by Armin. He tells her that he and Mikasa are planning to escape outside the walls with Eren, but they need her help to make it through the gate. As the quartet make their way through town, Annie notices that no one is in the streets and things get even more tense when the group reaches an underground tunnel and Annie refuses to follow.
While last episode may have been all about the consequences and emotions the Survey Corps has to deal with, giving a pretty depressing atmosphere; this episode is in a word…uncomfortable and it starts with the title (we’ll get to that in a bit).
For about the first half of the episode (well the whole episode actually), the focus is squarely on Annie (who we haven’t seen since episode 16) and some of the things she deals with while in the Military Police as well as a breif glimpse of her past in a dream sequence. We meet a couple of her comrades in the Military Police, as well as learn more about how things operates in the capital. As you expect the MP is filled with a bunch of corrupt a-holes who only joined because they were too afraid to fight Titans, but I’m getting off track.
From the onset of the episode, Annie seems a bit…off to say the least. She never was the most talkative character on the show, but she seems completely set off from reality in this episode. She rarely shows any emotion (not until the end but we’ll get to that) but does have some moments when she saves Marlo (one of her comrades) from a beating he gets from their superiors because he caught them selling weapons to a merchant. She even goes as far as to tell him that if he wants to kill them she’ll help him, comparing him to Eren in his way of thinking (Marlo wants to change the MP, classic noble guy schtik). This just makes her later actions all the more unsettling.
When Armin asks her to help Eren escape she initially refuses, until Armin says that Eren will be killed if he’s put on trial again. When Annie asks if Armin thinks shes a good person, he replies if she helps them he will be to her. Things start to going slowly south when Annie and the others walk through town. The streets are empty and Annie begins to suspect Armin is hiding something from her. When the group reaches an underground tunnel Annie refuses to go, acknowledging Armin’s strange behavior..as well as the Survey Corps members hiding and watching them! Here it is revealed that Annie was the one that killed Sonny & Bean (the two Titans being used for research) and that she used Marco’s 3DMG to do it, but that’s not all Armin also reveals that Annie is…THE FEMALE TITAN!
Here is where the title comes into play. After having her identity exposed Annie smiles and laughs. Those few seconds are the most creepy, sad, and uncomfortable in the entire episode. Before the reveal Armin & Eren try to convince her that if she just comes with them she can prove them wrong, but she refuses lamenting on her failure to be a warrior (which is what her father was training her to be when she was young). They try but she’s too far gone and she laughs sadly commenting on how she was glad Armin thought she was a good person, with Mikasa pulling out her swords to fight Annie (always the impulsive one Mikasa is).
Realizing she’s backed into a corner, Annie tries to bite her finger to initiate her transformation but Armin fires a gun that sends all the hidden Survey Corps to come out and rush Annie. The restrain her and gag her mouth but it’s too late as the ring (which she put on in the beginning of the episode) contains a nail, which she uses to cut herself and transform.
As the first part in a technically 3 part finale to the series, “Smile” succeeds in setting up the pieces in the shows final play. Annie’s fall is sad and the uncomfortable mood is set throughout the entire episode (especially if you already knew about Annie). The war to survive continues next week as the battle against Annie begins again.