Attack on Titan Chapter 116, Heaven and Earth, Review: The Final Battle Begins… Already?

4 stars
After the fantastic chapter 115, I could not wait to see what Hajime Isayama would do in Chapter 116 of Attack on Titan, “Heaven and Earth.”
Needless to say, it certainly delivered a lot of surprising moments.
I made some predictions about Pieck’s plan in confronting Eren, and where Reiner and Porco were, but I was completely wrong about all of this.
However, rather than being excited at this surprising reveal of what they were all planning, it instead left me concerned about the end of the series.
I will get to the reason for that soon but first I want to talk about Yelena and her interactions with the jailed Scouts.
It has been a while since we last saw these characters so I was glad to see that Isayama brought them back into the story, especially with Mikasa’s reaction to Eren’s cruel words in Chapter 112.
She appears to still be numb from it all, and Armin’s comments about this lead Jean and Connie to two different interpretations of Eren.
While Connie believes that Eren has lost himself and needs to be taken down, Jean believes there must be some reason Eren is doing all this.
Naturally, I think Jean is right here because I still cannot see Eren just turning on Mikasa and Armin like that without a very good reason.
Then, Yelena and Onyankopon walk in and we get more revelations about their characters.
Connie demands that Onyankopon let them out but it seems he is fully on Yelena’s side, telling them they have to stay in their cells until Eren and Zeke meet.
However, I still have my doubts as to whether Onyankopon is truly on Yelena’s side.
At worst, I would say he is conflicted and will most likely come around and release the Scouts from their imprisonment while the chaos is ongoing.
I think this because Onyankopon seems to be against a lot of the things Yelena is doing, like when she shoots one of their fellow soldiers Grior.
But, that said, the jerk completely deserved it after the cruel things he said about Sasha to Niccolo.
It is also a pretty gory panel when he gets shot, with his brains splattered everywhere, and will most likely have to be censored in the anime.
As to why Yelena kills him, she does it in an attempt to gain the group’s trust about their plans to save the world.
She also tells them about Zeke’s euthanasia plan, and it has an interesting reaction from Armin, to say the least.
He breaks down into tears and says he is moved by Zeke and Eren’s noble plan.
I think there are two possibilities why he does this.
The first is that this is some kind of reaction from Bertholdt through Armin, but the second, and what I think to be the most likely, is that Armin just realised Eren’s actual plan and is relieved to discover he has not turned on them.
Before we can get any more information on this though, they are all interrupted by the alarm being raised after Pieck infiltrates the Yeagerists.
Moving on to her scenes with Eren and Gabi, this is where both the best and worst moments of the chapter were.
Getting the positives out of the way, Pieck was the highlight of the chapter.
I said in my predictions for Chapter 116 that Pieck had to have a plan to capture Eren, and, boy, does she.
After holding Eren at gunpoint, Pieck admits she cannot shoot him and acts like she wants to come over to his side, offering to expose Reiner and Porco if Eren takes her to the roof.
Eren does this, handcuffing Pieck to Gabi so she will not try anything funny.
This leads to a funny scene where Pieck meets Yelena and comments on how she is missing her beard from when she trapped Porco and her.
The humor does not last though, because, in an intense scene, Eren demands to know where the enemies are, only for Pieck to point at him.
Then Porco bursts from below Eren in his Jaw Titan form, biting off his legs and forcing him to transform.
The buildup to this moment was stellar, and even more so on my second reading because Isayama subtly places Porco among the Yeagerists when Pieck and Eren are passing through.
However, this is just the beginning because Marley’s forces have arrived, with Reiner, Magath and Colt also preparing to take the fight to Eren, in what looks to be the final battle of the series.
If this is the big final battle though, I am very surprised to see it starting now because I thought it would be at least a few chapters before this happened.
The reason I thought this is because there are so many characters with unresolved plot lines.
Hange is off somewhere caring for an injured Levi, Historia is still pregnant under questionable circumstances, and Annie is still in the goddamned crystal.
These are all characters who are important to the story and yet are nowhere near this final battle, which I find very concerning.
Granted, I do not think Isayama needs these characters to be involved here to make a great ending, but it would be incredibly disappointing to me if these characters did not play a role in how the series ends.
Still, Isayama could find a way to bring them all into the story here but I have my doubts.
Either way, I am not going to hold this against the chapter right now because my concerns have not been realised yet.
What I will hold against the chapter though is Pieck’s backstory.
I said in my predictions post that I was hoping to get some backstory on Pieck because she is one of my favourite characters introduced after the time skip, yet we know almost nothing about her.
Sadly, this backstory had a big problem.
When Zeke’s backstory was revealed in Chapter 114, I criticized it for being too similar to Reiner’s.
Now Pieck’s backstory is too similar to Annie’s, with her father pushing her to become a Warrior to make their lives better, only to feel guilty about it and now Pieck wants to help him.
That is Annie’s backstory to a t.
Still, this was only a small moment so it did not completely ruin Pieck’s character, but it does feel like Isayama is running out of ideas when it comes to character backstories.
Overall, despite my concerns, “Heaven and Earth” is still a great chapter that starts what may be the final battle of the series.
I can only hope that Isayama incorporates the missing characters into the story’s ending somehow.

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