…that during the Uprising Arc, it was Jean, Sasha and Connie who disagreed with his methods at first…
…and that Mikasa and Armin were the only ones to fully support his decisions, despite his harsh orders and use of violence.
But how did he know?
Armin’s wits and bravery.
Mikasa’s resolute answer and Jean’s appalled reaction.
His sideways glance at Mikasa when she reentered the stables after comforting Armin outside.
Sasha and Connie’s troubled expressions and finally, Jean’s confession.
Jean was extremely guilty because it was his aversion to the Captain’s violent methods that led to Armin having to go through the trauma of killing in order to not be killed.
Connie and Sasha were guilty because they shared Jean’s view. When Mikasa, of all people, defended Levi, Sasha, Jean and Connie knew they were in trouble: their way of thinking might not have been the most appropriate to the crisis they were in. It was a lesson well learned - later, during the underground assault, they didn’t hesitate to do their job.
Did that mean Armin and Mikasa were better prepared to do their jobs than these three? Not exactly -
judging from his reaction, Armin sure wasn’t ready to kill someone so suddenly. What distinguished them from the others was that after losing their family, their hometown and almost losing Eren many times, Armin and Mikasa were the first to come to a fundamental conclusion already shared with Erwin, Levi and Hange: one day, all of them would have to set aside their humanity to make any difference in the world they lived in.
They would do it again less than thirty chapters later. Armin and Mikasa’s pleasantly surprising behavior during the Uprising Arc
(at least to Levi) completely foreshadowed their decisions in the Battle of Shiganshina. Ironically, what Levi didn’t know was that these two, who so readily supported him not so long ago, would be the ones to give him the most trouble then because of their decisions.
Why Armin Needed to be the One to Shoot the Soldier
Ok so before the chapter leaked, there was furious debate raging on both tumblr and between my friends as to whether it would be Armin or Mikasa to kill the woman in the wagon and save Jean. I’m glad it was Armin in the end, not just because of shippy reasons (even though I prefer Jearmin, I definitely don’t hate Jeankasa) so it’s not because tEH YAOIZ R BETTER THAN TEH STR8 PPL or any shit like that.
Rather, look at it from a point of character development. Would it have been a shippy moment for Jean and Mikasa if Mikasa had saved him? Sure. But Mikasa’s character didn’t need further development in this direction.
Exhibit A: Though some people try to claim that Mikasa oNLY CARES ABT EREN WUT A STALKER she has, in fact, killed for the sake of other people. Some were titans, like in the case of Sasha, and in Armin’s case, she once stopped him from killing himself. But one example that sticks out is the first person she killed, when she was nine. Yes, that was for Eren’s sake, but Eren wasn’t anyone she knew or cared about at that point, just a boy that saved her and now needed her help.
Exhibit B: Remember when Eren was “dead” and Mikasa had her confrontation with Reeves? She was fully ready to kill him there if he hadn’t moved his cart, for the sake of the lives of the other citizens that were trying to evacuate.
Case in point, Mikasa will kill anyone, be it titans or people, for the sake of other people’s lives. She has grasped that the world is cruel and sometimes it has to come down to this. So would she have saved Jean if she’d had the chance? Undoubtedly. Without blinking.
Which is why it was better for the story and Armin’s development in general for him to be the one to shoot the soldier: Armin has never killed anyone, nor has he even been seen killing a titan onscreen. He’s sensitive and cares about morality, as shown in his reaction afterwards. But when it came down to it, he had to make a choice between preserving his “morality” and saving Jean, and he chose to save Jean, almost paralelling the choice that Mikasa made when she was nine. Armin had to make a choice, whereas with Mikasa there would be no doubt–she already made her choice years ago. Equally important was his reaction afterwards, and Levi’s, and Jean’s, and Mikasa’s. They may not be “good people anymore” and that’s heartbreaking, but as Levi said, “If your hands had stayed clean, Jean wouldn’t be sitting with us right now.”
The situation with Jean was actually one of the rare cases where he didn't need to be a good actor to make it work. I mean, his "victims" were two people who didn't know him, were at his mercy and were already on edge already. Since we're talking about acting, do you think that Armin is a good actor? He always makes those creepy faces when he lies, is that a visual cue of him being stiff/stilted when it comes to acting?
True point on Jean.
Hoo boy, Armin.
Armin’s a bit of an odd case. He is remarkably steady with language when he’s manipulating people. Facial expressions aside, he snaps straight to lying to Bertolt about Annie without even a stumble.
And even further back, when he’s talking to Annie, he holds an entire conversation with her without any of the stress he’s feeling getting in the way.
So he doesn’t lose his head in a psychological playing field, which is excellent, he’s smart enough to know what kind of lies he can use to his advantage, and he communicates them very well verbally.
But one of the most consistent details of Armin is how expressive his face is. Armin, more than–I’ll go ahead and say nearly the entire cast, wears his emotions on his sleeve.