It’s flashback time! Rather than pick up where they left off last episode, Historia takes us back to the time when Eren and the rest were cadets during a winter training exercise that includes traversing through a mountain in a killer blizzard. Christa and Ymir are left behind because Christa has chosen to drag their incapacitated comrade Daz with her. Ymir is there because Christa is there but that doesn’t stop her from trying to convince Christa to give it up and save herself.
But Christa is determined not to leave Daz behind and it all seems very (foolishly) noble until Ymir claims that Christa is not trying to save Daz (otherwise she’d at least have asked Ymir for help) but rather trying to die a hero. Christa doesn’t confirm verbally but her reaction makes it clear that there’s some truth to Ymir’s words.
Ymir then asks Christa if she’s the daughter of the ‘mistress’ who had people after her life. Whose mistress, you ask? Apparently, Christa is the illegitimate child of some noble and was almost killed for it. But they gave her the option of living under a different name. Ymir-of-the-past overhears a couple of priests discussing this at a church and seems supremely pissed off. The priests are dressed the same as Pastor Nick so they must also belong to the Wall Church. That group does seem involved in a lot of fishy business. Plus Nick has already named Christa as the person he’ll listen to about the titans in the walls so maybe both incidents are connected.
Anyway, turns out that Ymir joined the military to find Christa. Extreme, yes, but apparently, their similarity was enough of a reason for her. Christa takes this to mean that Ymir wanted to be friends with her. While there may be some truth to that, Ymir’s outward reaction is to berate Christa for wasting her second chance at life. Ymir got a second chance too but she didn’t give up her name. If she gives up who she is, then they will win. So she’s pissed off to see Christa willing to die and let those who ruined her life win instead of using that passion to save herself.
This is followed by Ymir kinda attacking Christa as distraction so that she can use her titan form to get Daz down to their base unseen. It’s a good thing she’s small for a titan. When Christa later confronts her on how she managed the impossible, Ymir makes a promise with her – when Ymir is ready to reveal her secret to everyone, Christa will also start living under her true name.
Back in the present, Ymir has a nice inner monologue as she jumps off the tower about how she’s the same as Christa; she too thought she was better off not being born as she was hated just for existing. She gave up her lie to give countless people joy but she also swore that if she ever got a second chance, she’d live only for herself.
That last part is ironic since we’re seeing Ymir take on a plethora of titans much bigger than her for the sake of protecting her friends, especially Christa. Guess Ymir got attached. Of course we still don’t know where Ymir is from or how she became a titan or what exactly was her tragic situation but all in due time.
Meanwhile, Bertolt and Reiner gape at Ymir’s titan form as they recognize it as the one that ate their friend. But we know titan shifters don’t eat humans like normal titans. So why-oh-why would past!Ymir eat that boy?
Ymir fights the titans but is soon overwhelmed. She really is a tiny thing. Plus she’s trying to keep the tower from falling so that limits her movements. Back up in the tower, Christa is superbly worried and has the most wonderful freakout ever as she too falls victim to this series’ penchant for having characters scream their words. Though to be fair, it’s warranted in this case since Christa is talking from on top of the tower to Ymir who’s below and needs to yell to be heard.
She tells Ymir to stop playing hero and live for herself like she said she would and to tear down the tower. It’s a very nice speech and Christa’s best moment yet.
Ymir listens a little too well and promptly tears down the tower. She climbs up top and gets Christa, Connie, Bertolt and Reiner to cling to her hair while the falling tower crushes the titans. Seems like titan!Ymir can speak just a bit which is not a trait we’ve seen from either Eren or Annie.
All is well for like 5 seconds before the titans shake it off and start emerging from the rubble. Ymir faces them again and is quickly beaten. Christa watches, horrified, as Ymir is torn apart. She rushes to her but just as Christa herself is about to be titan food, Mikasa comes to the rescue like a knight in flying armor, followed by the rest of the Survey Corps led by Hange.
The Scouts make quick work of the titans which is as cool and impressive as expected. Eren even gets to kill his first titan in human form, something he’s very happy about even though he’s told off for it.
The last scene is of Christa cradling a gravely injured Ymir and revealing her true name – Historia. I like it better than Christa and from next episode onwards, that’s what she’ll be called.
Ymir smiles and closes her eyes and I’m sure they want us to think she’s dead/dying but we’ve seen Eren recover from similar injuries before so the situation can go either way at this point.
By the way, the next episode’s titled Warrior.