|This isn't an Abnormal...it has intelligence! It's just like the Armored Titan, the Colossal Titan, and Eren! It's a human clad in a Titan body!|
|— Armin's realization upon encountering the Female Titan|
Female Titan: The 57th Exterior Scouting Mission, Part 1 (女型の巨人 ―第57回壁外調査①― Megata no Kyojin -Dai Gojū-Nana Kai Hekigai Chōsa (1)-?) is the 17th episode of the 1st season and the 17th episode overall of the Attack on Titan anime, produced by Wit Studio and Production I.G.
Erwin's long distance enemy scouting formation proceeds towards Shiganshina as expected until Armin encounters a Female Titan. Joining Reiner and Jean, the three confront the Titan to buy the commander time.
Reiner comes close to death in the Female's grip, but narrowly escapes with his life. Afterward, the Female Titan changes direction, heading for Eren's position in the formation.
The Scout Regiment soldiers enter the area beyond the Walls, beginning the expedition. Shortly afterward, Miche Zacharius notices a Titan with his keen smell and even though Hange Zoë is interested in it, the support squad rushes to deal with it in order to keep the Titan away from the main squad. As they engage the Titan, Sasha watches in fear, but her squad leader tells her to focus and just let the supporting squad deal with the situation.
Eren recalls Gunther's words about how the support squad will only be able to support them until an old town, after that, they will have to rely on the Long-Distance Enemy Scouting Formation developed by Erwin. Eren then asks Oruo whether he thinks that the new recruits will be able to defeat Titans, but Oruo explains that the whole point is to avoid the Titans, he then bites his tongue again before finishing his sentence. As they leave the old town, Erwin orders everyone to enter the formation and Armin, Jean and Reiner part their ways.
Everyone spreads out and Armin continues on his own. Trying to calm himself down as he reacts fearfully to every sound, Armin notices the first red flare signal from the far right of the formation, he then passes the signal to the inner formation by shooting a red flare, notifying everyone of a Titan's presence. Thanks to this, Erwin is able to lead the formation to its destination with minimum contact with the Titans.
The technique may not always work as a Titan may go unnoticed and appear within the formation due to the landscape or obstacles in the area, as Sasha encounters a crawling Titan within the formation firsthand. The Titan rushes after her, she tries nervously to put a round into her flare gun but drops the round. As she is trying hard to escape from the Titan, her team leader and a squad member catch up to her and manage to distract the Titan, the team leader leads the Titan to a nearby tree with the Titan crashing into the tree eventually.
Meanwhile, as Armin keeps going he wonders why no red flare is seen for a while. Suddenly, he sees a black flare is fired into the sky, signalizing an abnormal class Titan. Armin then shoots a black flare, the abnormal Titan makes its way into the right flank of the formation. Not wanting to let the Titan reach Armin, Ness and Cis, who are nearby Armin, successfully defeat the Titan with a fluid tactic. Armin praises them, but they immediately notice another Titan reaching them from behind. Concluding that it is a 14-meter abnormal class Titan, Ness says that it is tough to have encountered two abnormal Titans in a row.
As Ness and Cis prepare to attempt the same tactic, the mysterious Titan suddenly increases its speed and rushes through the two soldiers, much to their shock. The two quickly get into action, but ultimately fail as the Titan kills both of them effortlessly. Armin then watches in horror as the Titan rushes towards him while he tries hard to escape and fears that he will be killed. He realizes that this Titan is not an abnormal Titan, as it is showing signs of intelligence, he concludes that it is a human capable of shifting into a Titan like Eren.
As the Titan leaps over Armin and stomps right in front of him, Armin wonders what is it they want from humanity. He then falls from the horse, he faces the ground and is overwhelmed by intense fear, with his hood covering the back of his head. The Female Titan gets close to Armin, removes his hood and takes a long look at his face, then leaves. Armin shivers, and is completely surprised that the Female Titan does not kill him and wonders if it was glancing at his face. Meanwhile, it is revealed that most of the Scouts from the far right of the formation are dead as the Female Titan brought along an army of Titans with it.
Armin is still confused about the sudden event, he is then approached by Reiner who tells him to get on a horse that he brought along in order to keep going and to survive. As Armin nervously prepares to fire a flare, Jean does the job for him and the three are then re-grouped. Armin then explains his theory about the Female Titan being a human to Reiner and Jean, claiming that usual Titans are concerned about devouring humans while the Female Titan aims to kill. He concludes that the Female Titan is possibly looking for someone, and it could be Eren that it is looking for. The three then find out that they all were given different information about Eren's position, making it obvious that it is meant to confuse the enemy. When Reiner questions about the correct position of Eren, Armin takes a guess, saying that Eren might be positioned in the rear of the formation, which is presumably the safest position.
Jean then remarks that flares are not enough to relay the situation to others, so they should take the chance to stall the Female Titan, giving the rest of the formation enough time to retreat. Reiner is surprised to see that Jean cares about someone else other than himself, but Jean, not wanting to meet a disappointing end as burnt bones, states that it is a job they must do. Seeing this, Armin proposes putting on their hoods as the Female Titan will not kill them without first confirming their identities. Jean praises him, but at the same time states that it is creepy how Armin always hangs out with Eren, leaving Armin confused about this "praise."
Catching up with the Female Titan, Jean states that cutting the Female Titan's tendon on the foot would be enough to stop it and hopes that others do not do anything unnecessary like trying to kill it. Armin understands that the Female Titan is significantly different than most other Titans and it is virtually impossible for the three to kill it, but there is a chance if Mikasa or Levi attempts to do that. As Armin attracted the Female Titan's attention, Jean rushes forward using his omni-directional mobility gear, however, the Female Titan sees through it and evades Jean's attempt to hook to its left foot. It then goes on to knock Armin's horse with a waving motion, causing great injury to Armin as he falls with heavy momentum to the front and the omni-directional gear is detached from his body in the process.
The Female Titan is seen squatting above Armin, Jean attempts to attack once again in order to save Armin, this time aiming the Female Titan's back, but he realizes the Female Titan is incomparably more athletic than the normal Titans, he then quickly changes his aim and dodges the Female Titan's fist in the process, as Jean circles around it in mid air and coming back to its back again, the Female Titan is seen covering its nape, which prompts Jean to quickly realize that the Titan is not only strong and agile, but also intelligent enough to see through his attack. Jean worries that he is going to get killed as the Female Titan could grip his omni-directional gear iron wire, as it attempts to smash Jean again, Armin yells out that Jean must "avenge that suicidal maniac," in reference to Eren, which causes the Female Titan to freeze momentarily.
Surprised as well as confused, Jean manages to escape and wonders if Armin's previous fall has injured his head, as he now states clearly that the Female Titan is the one responsible for killing "him," still referencing Eren, in a voice willingly made loud enough for the Female Titan to hear. He then notices Reiner rushing towards the Female Titan who attempts to reach the Female Titan's nape directly with his omni-directional gear. Reiner is convinced that it is possible to deal a deadly blow to the Female Titan's nape as Armin has successfully attracted its attention. The Female Titan watches as Reiner is getting closer to its nape and suddenly it grasps Reiner single-handedly. As Reiner struggles to escape from the tight grip, the Female Titan moves its thumb over Reiner's head and prepares to squeeze Reiner to death.
As it happens, blood splashes in all directions from the Female Titan's hand, leaving Armin and Jean completely horrified. To their relief, it turns out to be the Female Titan's blood as Reiner cuts through its hand and makes a great escape. Reiner quickly grabs the exhausted Armin and starts running away from the Female Titan. Jean notes that he totally forgot about how good Reiner can be as Mikasa's military prowess has overshadowed everyone else's abilities in her class all these times. Reiner is delighted just as the Female Titan begins leaving, however, Armin notices that the Female Titan is heading towards the rear of the formation, which is where Eren was supposedly placed.
Currently Publicly Available Information
The Long-Distance Scouting Formation
To describe it in simple terms, this formation is like a human-powered radar. By allowing Erwin, who sits in the center of the formation, to quickly know about Titan spottings, it is possible for the group to change direction before encountering that Titan.