Review: Attack on Titan, Episode 409: “Brave Volunteers”

Image: Attack on Titan
Image: Attack on Titan /

The latest episode of Attack on Titan takes viewers back three years to show how Eren and the rest of the gang came to attack Marley.


Following last week’s tragic loss, this week’s episode of Attack on Titan goes back in time to fill in some of the blanks created by the fourth season’s time skip. As present-day Armin speaks to a still-frozen Annie, “Brave Volunteers” shows how Paradis Island came to develop the advanced technology the Scouts used in their assault on Marley, as well as how they formed an alliance with some of the Marleyan soldiers living on the other side of the ocean.

Picking up three years earlier, the episode opens with a Marley ship advancing on Paradis Island. In Titan form, Eren takes the ship hostage. But while he and his comrades may have expected a fight, several of the Marleyans soldiers aboard turn on their commanders and hand the boat over to the Scout Regiment, complete with captives. (It’s later revealed they’re from nations conquered by Marley and have some issues with the nation they’re serving.)

Meeting with Commander Hange and Captain Levi, the two leaders of this Marleyan resistance — Yelena, the woman who led Pieck and Porco into a trap, and Onyankopon, who was seen flying the airship with Hange — offer intel. They reveal what kind of weapons and transportation Marley has (Levi has to keep Hange from exploding with excitement over the cool new gadgets) and why the country hasn’t decimated Paradis Island yet.

Calling themselves the Anti-Marleyan Volunteers, they also reveal that Zeke ordered them to turn on their commanders and comrades, giving the audience some insight into how the Scouts came to be working with the bearer of the Beast Titan four years later.

Following the meeting, Hange reads the terms of Zeke’s offer to the leaders of Paradis Island, who are naturally skeptical. It doesn’t help that the plan he promises is “secret,” though he does explain that he’ll require the Founding Titan and a Titan with royal blood. Basically, he needs to work with Eren to see whatever he’s scheming through to the end. And once Eren confirms that he has the power to enact “the rumbling” — controlling all of the huge Titans trapped in the walls — with the help of someone with royal blood, the group is forced to consider Zeke’s offer.

From there, the Scouts begin working with the Anti-Marleyan Volunteers to intercept any attacks on Paradis Island and begin engineering advanced weaponry and transport of their own. Understanding and trust begins to build between the two groups, but one thing becomes increasingly clear: Eren isn’t ready to forgive or forget.

When the episode returns to the present day, it shows the Scouts mourning Sasha, along with a Marleyan cook with whom she formed a bond. This scene underscores that the two opposing forces could have made peace. However, that sentiment is quashed when members of the Paradis Island military circle and entrap the Marleyans that helped them; they’re concerned that Zeke coming home with the Scouts will create some kind of uprising. It’s clear that trust between the two groups is tenuous, and it may not be fixable.

Gabi and Falco are also locked up for the time being, and Levi insists their treatment will be determined by how Zeke behaves. Whether or not Zeke can actually be trusted remains to be seen, but everything that’s happened has clearly taken a toll on the Scouts. While Armin monologues to Annie about whether they made the right choices, we see Eren looking in the mirror and prompting himself to fight.


After the fast-paced, momentous events of the past few episodes, “Brave Volunteers” provided a much-needed break to gain a better understanding of just what’s been happening on Paradis Island. It’s satisfying to get some insight into how Eren and the others have gotten to the point of launching an attack on Liberio, and it’s also refreshing to see less war-weary versions of these characters — especially Sasha, who fans won’t get to spend any time with moving forward.

And although “Brave Volunteers” may feel like it’s info-dumping at times, it’s necessary to give the context needed to understand the past few episodes — and to set up the coming events, which will see Zeke and Eren moving forward with their plans.

With all of the action and twists of last week’s episode, fans didn’t get to appreciate the weight of everything that went down between the Scouts and Marley. Armin’s troubled thoughts and Sasha’s grave drive home how serious things have gotten, and the fact that there aren’t any real villains in this story, just a bunch of humans doing what they think will help them survive.

The tensions between the Paradis Island military and the Anti-Marleyan Volunteers, even after working together for years, further solidifies that point. Whether Commander Pixis’ decision to detain their allies will spoil the relationship remains to be seen, but it’s unsettling.

It’ll also be interesting to see if anything comes of Armin’s conversations with Annie. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen her, even frozen in ice, but the show could be building to a return at some point — especially now that Armin seems more able to empathize with her and the other Warriors from Liberio.

“Brave Volunteers” presented new questions heading into the anime’s final stretch, all while driving up the stakes of this conflict between nations. Whether it will deliver on everything it’s introducing is another story. But after such a solid start to the season, it’s easy to be hopeful.

Episode Grade: A-

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