|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 reaching 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 of the operation is to avoid the Titans as much as possible. 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 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.
As explained by Erwin, the flare signal strategy may not always work as a Titan may go unnoticed and appear within the formation due to the landscape or obstacles in the area. While passing through a small village, Sasha encounters a crawling Titan within the formation. 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 has been seen for a while. Suddenly, he sees a black flare is fired into the sky, signaling that an abnormal Titan has appeared. As Armin 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, successfully defeat the Titan with a fluid tactic. Armin praises them, but they immediately notice another Titan coming up behind them. Concluding that it is a 14-meter abnormal class Titan, Ness remarks on their bad luck, encountering 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 it deflects their attacks and counters. They 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 is thrown from his horse, landing facedown on the ground. Before he can get up, the Titan appears above him and Armin is frozen with fear. The Female Titan reaches out and, much to Armin's shock, pulls back the hood of his cloak to reveal his face. He looks at the Female Titan in terror for a few moments before it draws back its hand, stands up, and runs off.
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 mortified, wondering why the Titan did not kill him and why it would need to look at his face. He is found by Reiner, who gives him a fresh horse and asks about the Female Titan. Armin tries to fire off a black signal flare, but Reiner realizes that Jean has caught up to them and has fired the signal himself. Pulling up beside Armin and Reiner, Jean informs them the majority of soldiers in the right wing of the formation were wiped out by an army of Titans that appeared without warning. Armin realizes the Female Titan came from the same direction, and wonders if it somehow led the Titans.
Armin then explains his theory about the Female Titan being a human to Reiner and Jean. He points out that most Titans are only interested in eating people, while the Female Titan deliberately killed Cis and Ness when they attacked it. Given that it did not kill Armin, he concludes that the Female Titan is possibly looking for someone, most likely Eren. Reiner mentions that Eren was supposed to be in the right wing of the formation, but Jean notes that his copy of the plan had Eren in a different place, revealing that the soldiers were given conflicting information about Eren's whereabouts. When Reiner inquires where Eren is in reality, 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 thinks that Mikasa or Levi might stand a chance. Jean rushes forward using his omni-directional mobility gear; however, the Female Titan notices and evades Jean's attempt to hook to its left foot. It barely misses Jean before knocking Armin off his horse, sending him flying. The Female Titan looms over Armin as Jean once again tries to attack in order to save him. The Female Titan covers its nape with its hand and Jean realizes the Titan is incomparably more athletic than the normal Titans, and that they severely underestimated its intelligence. As Reiner watches, Jean spins out of control and realizes with horror that the Female Titan is about to grab his ODM wire and kill him. At the last moment, Armin screams out for Jean to "avenge that suicidal maniac," and the Female Titan freezes long enough for Jean to escape.
Surprised as well as confused, Jean gets to safety and wonders if Armin's previous fall has injured his head. Armin continues to scream that the Female Titan killed "him," presumably referring to Eren, as the Female Titan sits motionless.
Jean then notices Reiner rushing towards the Female Titan, his hood falling off in the process. While Armin screams that the Titan crushed his best friend, Reiner fires off his ODM gear. Jean realizes that Reiner is going directly for the Titan's nape, and thinks that Armin's distraction provides the perfect chance to kill it. Reiner flies up by the Titan's face but it quickly grabs him mid-air. As Reiner struggles to escape from the tight grip, the Female Titan moves its thumb over Reiner's head and squeezes.
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 his escape. Reiner quickly grabs the exhausted Armin and starts running away from the Female Titan. Due to her lack of human appetite, they assume they will not be followed. Jean notes that he totally forgot about how good Reiner can be as Mikasa's military prowess has overshadowed everyone else's abilities. Behind them, the Female Titan slowly stands up and then runs off. Though Reiner celebrates their victory, Armin realizes 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.