Suisei no Gargantia 8 is a quiet episode where loose ends are tied up and we begin what feels like a new story arc, or end the old one. Even though this show doesn’t really do story arcs.
Somber times aboard Gargantia. Not only does Commodore Fairlock die in the teaser, but a lot of ships are leaving for various reasons. Ridget, appointed to succeed Fairlock, has a huge crisis on top of her sorrow, and she’s new at the job. The show demonstrates it by raising the question: will she attend Fairlock’s funeral or not? It seems like the right thing to do, but there’s lots of other stuff to do as well. There’s also the implication that some of the fleet is leaving because Fairlock is gone, which can be read as “We don’t trust the new girl to be such a good commander.” This runs through the entire episode just as Fairlock’s body runs through just about every nook and cranny of the ship in its procession (giving her plenty of time to make up her mind about showing up). It’s resolved in the only way it can, a few words from Bellows and Krown (who maybe ought to have been appointed captain but doesn’t mind in the least that he wasn’t, right there proving that this show is more thoughtful about the characters than most series), and a big speech which is more of an appeal.
There wasn’t much connection with the other underlying story. Ledo is leaving with Pinion to go after those whalesquid. Bevel tries to talk him out of it. Amy knows better than to try. When we’re not watching Ridget try and get a grip, or seeing hands pouring sand on Fairlock’s body, we’re watching either Amy being sad or Ledo saying “Nope, I’m going” whenever anyone asks. It’s poignant, but not terribly interesting. What I DO find interesting is Chamber’s confirmation that they are stranded on Earth with no hope for return or rescue. Suddenly, Ledo has no home except Gargantia, and he’s about to leave it. It’s such a powerful revelation that I’m surprised they didn’t do more with it. Instead, it comes early in the episode, and after a quick shock Ledo seems to decide that he might as well kill Hideaze while he’s here. … Chamber has more of a soul than he does. But I think we’ll get back to it. When explaining to Bevel why he has to leave he frames his every reason in terms of Amy. Either he’s doing it because he wants to make Bevel understand, or if they’re his real, underlying reasons, we don’t know yet.
Gargantia was quiet, Attack on Titan 8 was anything but.
So there’s some giant out there that’s out to kill all the other giants. That’s some good news for the soldiers left standing, but there are a lot of giants out there trying to eat people, and this renegade giant doesn’t look too bright. Besides, can you trust them? Our heroes figure they’re going to die anyway, so they concoct a plan to lure the big guy to where there are other big guys for him to kill, thus clearing the storehouse and allowing everyone to gas up again. And so we get some of the most satisfying scenes of the series yet. It’s especially gratifying because it’s Armin who not only comes up with the plan to use the giant, but comes up with a strategy to clear out the giants who got in the storehouse. Good for him! Not only that, but the soldiers managed to knock off those fuckers without this giant trump-card they’ve been handed. Good for them! And good for the show for making it all work.
As for the giant-killer, we’re given another scene or two of it saving humans (probably without realizing it), and beating the crap out of giants, which makes me almost want to cheer, though the humans in the show understandably still have their doubts. When it finally goes down, Jean, who’s been given a lot of scenes where he doubts himself as a leader, wants to just abandon it, while the others want to study it. You probably know about the weirdness that happens next already. Eren pulls himself out of the thing’s neck, limbs intact, and kneels there staring at nothing while Misaka gets more emotional than you’ve ever seen her before. It’s sort of a nice contrast. The other soldiers are trying to figure out what just happened while Misaka runs straight for her beloved boy. Yep, it was another wild episode. Too bad we have to wait a week before we get any answers.