It’s a high bar, but Gabi has definitely emerged as Shingeki no Kyoujin’s most annoying character. She makes early Eren seem restrained and dignified. It’s like the series has its very own Zenitsu. In point of fact it’s worse, because Gabi isn’t simply annoying – she’s literally awful. Awful as a person, awful as a symbol, awful as a character. And whether she ends up being used in some sort of high-school literary club redemption storyline or just made an example of, she’ll still have been awful.
Characters like Gabi and Eren really frustrate me, because they undercut whatever point Isayama is trying to make with this story. And that’s already severely undercut by his decision to make the Eldians the Jews of Europe, since “Yeah, you’re guilty of a blood libel and probably Devil-spawn but that was a long time ago, and there are some good ones too” doesn’t count as enlightened perspective (though Isayama seems to believe it does, by all appearances). He’s his own worst enemy as a writer, and that’s always a brutally difficult hurdle to overcome.
If Isayama had chosen to use a mirror rather than Carroll’s looking glass he could have formulated a very interesting moral dilemma here, because there were plenty of countries that committed actual atrocities during the period he’s obsessed with and still struggle with the aftermath of that, most notably his own. “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father” is well worth exploring, as Isayama tries to do in this episode, but he trips over his own feet so much that it’s hard to focus on the actual point. And Gabi’s incessant shrilling doesn’t help matters either.
Gabi does play the self-hating victim to the hilt, I’ll give her that. And Falco’s innate common sense is genuine, a rare commodity in this cast and one that makes him stand out all the more. Falco is of course correct in defending Kaya, both physically and intellectually, from Gabi’s assaults. The problem is an allegorical one, because not only does Kaya have nothing to apologize for, but the people she represents haven’t either – not in the historical context presented here. That disconnect muddies the argument to the point that it loses most of its impact in the narrative.
As to the larger plot, it still feels as if we’re headed towards a mutual wipeout, with Eren acting as an Angel of Death bringing ultimate closure to a deserving world. He’s done a skillful job of backing his own side into a corner where they almost have no choice but to pursue his objectives or perish, and the enemy into launching an all-out attack that will justify him. If you were somehow able to set aside the misguided allegory it would be interesting to debate whether, in the universe presented here, Eren was right or wrong. Is there really no alternative to burning humanity to the ground and salting the Earth behind it?