When I decided to study creative writing, I did so on the basis that I wanted to hone my craft and become a better equipped, focused and driven writer. I didn’t expect that it would make me hate writing in general. Books, films, TV shows all have a dullness now. I don’t get surprised by things, and with a resound sigh I forfeit the true pleasure that comes with the unexpected. Because of my storytelling background, I’ve been conditioned in the art of both recognizing and crafting plot lines, constructing stories and exploring tropes, as well as how subtle foreshadowing is used to advance thematic arguments and character arcs. It’s fair to say there are very few plot twists that I don’t see coming.
All that being said, there are some plot twists that you don’t see coming, and there are some that even if you do see coming, are executed with such excellence that you’re left awestruck and absolutely flabbergasted. Your mouth hits the floor and your heart decides its time to play hop-scotch in your chest. If you’re like me, you probably have to practice your breathing exercises.
Attack on Titan’s Season Two reveal was one of these moments.
Spoilers below: proceed aware.
I’ve talked about the Reiner/Bertholdt Titan reveal before, but I’m going to talk about it again. I’m not sorry. Here are the screenshots:
The confession is spliced, conveyed as an aside while we cut between Reiner/Eren dialogue and Hange’s musings. If you’re not paying close attention or using subs/captions, you’ll miss it. The tone is anticlimactic. It’s nonchalant. There’s no real build up, no reason for this to be revealed, which is precisely what makes this scene a true plot twist. It enhances the element of surprise and the scene’s intensity.
One of the great things about this plot twist is the acknowledgement of the dichotomy Reiner’s soldier and warrior sides. His split-personality and confusion as to which part of him is authentic— they allow us to empathize with him, and make him a very realistic antagonist.
Plot twists are difficult because they have to be shocking, but realistic. They have to feel earned in the constraints the writers have previously set up, and the knowledge of understanding the balance between enough information and enough mystery is a coveted secret.
There are any number of plot twists I could have used here, but as I said, I’m limiting these one per show! What are your choices? Also, please do not post any season three spoilers in the comments (or at least flag them) out of courtesy for those who haven’t watched yet or read the manga. ❤
Watch on, annieme-niac!