While most of episode 46’s focus was on the shock value of Attack on Titan that we may have forgotten (though this episode was very heavy on being gross—titan brains and guts—than on typical violence and gore), there remained strands of two journeys we’ve followed along this season, those of Historia and Eren.
When Historia made the decision to free Eren from his bonds, the choice went beyond helping a friend. It was more about freeing her own bonds, which had held her prisoner to her past and to the Reiss family family. Now, having made the decision to go against her father, Historia asks Erwin if she can participate in the fight against his titan form, to literally fight her dad and perhaps even kill him.
Historia’s decision is symbolic in more ways than one. If she is to take the throne, Historia wants to show that’s she’s a different monarch than those in her past, than those in her family. She will defend the people physically and politically. This is her moment to shine. It feels like everything has led up to this moment.
I don’t know if Historia feels that way, that this is some defining moment for her, but based on the thoughts we’re privy to in this episode, Eren certainly seems to think in those terms. He feels that judgment—both within and without—comes in these big moments. Will he live up to expectations as humanity’s hope when life and death is on the line? Can he make an impact when fighting against those more talented than him?
History, both in real life and in the anime world, does judge by those big moments. And perhaps that’s fair—Eren is selected because of his ability and Historia has the royal bloodline within her. They’re both important figures with vital jobs to do. Their actions should be judged by a high standard.
Thankfully, most are our personal moments are not judged for posterity, nor are the decisions we make the thing of life and death, though sometimes we act as if they are—I know I certainly do. In the disappointment and even brokenness that failure can cause, I sometimes forget this important point: failure can be good. It’s through loss that we win in the long run, that we process and learn. If life is too easy, too full of victory, we won’t grow.
Historia, it seems, made the right choice when opportunity revealed itself. But that one moment doesn’t mean everything, nor is it some singular event in which Historia makes a heroic choice in a vacuum. Her decision to lead started when she was a child, as she walked through pain and failure, developed relationships that changed her, and relied on strength and her integrity. All these things fed into Historia making a good decision.
It’s the same with you and me. We want to do good in the big moments, and we ought to try, but even if we don’t succeed, the journey isn’t over. Failure is part of it, just a moment along a path that started long ago and God willing, will extend far from here. There’s so much more to see and do, but we’ll miss it should we get stuck, whether its on a stumble or even on the summit.