Attack on Titan has been brutal and non-stop this season. I’ve been mostly keeping up to date with the manga, but I admit I’ve forgotten much of the flow of what happens, so even in this episode I was surprised that this big revelation happened so early. SPOILERS ahead!
It’s good timing, though, because Reiner has been my favorite character this season. There’s so much investment in these past few episodes in showing us what a good big brother he is, reemphasized again in this episode. I imagine then it must be shocking to anime-only viewers that he’s revealed to be the Armored Titan (despite the obvious resemblance).
Reiner’s decision to reveal himself came as a result of stress. He’s stressed out at being injured; he’s stressed at Ymir’s actions and detainment; he’s stressed at becoming intimate with the enemy. Reiner doesn’t know what to really think at this point.
But he does know he’s a warrior. A soldier. And that he has to stick with his mission.
There are times in the Christian walk where we don’t really know where our loyalties lie. While our lips proclaim it’s to God, our thoughts and actions might not. To paraphrase Paul, we choose to do what we don’t want to do and we don’t do what we want. To put it another way, we desire what we know we shouldn’t, and we often decide to move that direction.
And surrounded by people who might not be effectively pushing us toward spiritual growth (this could be people who don’t share our faith or it might be church family who aren’t caring for us by action or word), we start living like the world. Like Reiner, we confuse our mission. And then we might make hasty decisions, or at least those we later regret.
Living the way we choose to live is never easy. It’s not easy for Reiner, who chooses to be a spy and traitor among the enemy. It’s not easy for a Christian living in a world that pushes back against grace. It’s not easy for a college student who wants to focus on studies instead of the allure of parties and sleeping in. It’s not easy for a working adult who wants to do more than just push paper. Our allegiances can be diverted no matter how strongly we believe in our “mission,” and even more so in times of stress.
The hope is that when we fail – and we will – that we’ll reevaluate what our priorities are, that we’ll be honest with ourselves and test what it is we believe is true. And in doing so, we can move forward. After all, even if we fall off our paths, almost nothing is irreversible and unforgivable, unless that is, you’re a wall-destroying, humanity-killing titan.