WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 4, Episode 12 of Attack on Titan, "Guides," now streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, Amazon Prime and Hulu.
The final season of Attack on Titan has been in something of a lull since Eren Jeager launched his stunning strike right at the heart of Marley. Episode 12, "Guides," however, marks a tipping point. Not only does Eren escape from the Survey Corps' custody but his new "Jeagerist" cult stage an explosive assassination of the military's top official, forcing both Eren and Zeke's captors to buckle to the brothers' demands. Comparatively, the moments that close the episode out are far less dramatic but make no mistake, "Guides" is merely the quiet before the storm.
Eren made it clear to Hange in Episode 11 that he could realistically free himself whenever he wanted using the power of the War Hammer Titan he acquired in Marley. Practically, though, he couldn't risk drawing that much attention to himself. Eren was probably concerned about drawing the Scouts into a battle he wasn't sure he could win or he didn't want to fight the likes of Mikasa and Armin for the sake of their already-strained friendship. Either way, as Pixis reveals in Episode 12, Eren was paid a visit by the Anti-Marleyan Volunteer Leader, Yelena, who likely disseminated the Jeagerists' plan to him. The explosion the sect used to murder Dhalis Zachary in his own office would have served as an all-too-convenient distraction for a Titan transformation, allowing Eren to slip away confrontation-free.
By the episode's end, Eren is with Floch -- the Jeagerists' key spokesperson -- and his band of followers just outside of the city, who are committed to reuniting Eren with Zeke in order to carry out whatever it is that Zeke is plotting. (We can assume this is to begin to Rumbling, but in actual fact, we don't know for certain anymore.) Meanwhile, in the city, Hange prepares to also travel to the secret location where Zeke is being held by Levi to ensure both of their safety. While saddling up, the Commander ponders Yelena's still-unknown role in all this; specifically, her odd insistence to grant Marleyans on the Island the right to work in places like restaurants. Just as Hange wonders this, Gabi, Falco and the Blouse family arrive at Niccolo's restaurant, as per his invitation in an earlier episode, united in grief over Sasha.
Attack on Titan fans shouldn't view any of these instances as coincidental. Yelena has been playing a game so subtle since her arrival on the Island, her movements have been virtually indecipherable and nigh undetectable until now. There are, of course, certain elements that are probably out of her control, such as Gabi and Falco's presence at Niccolo's establishment and Marleyan Warrior Peick sneaking onto the Island. But, whether the characters know it or not, viewers should always be wary when a series' major players begin to collect in one place like this. The pieces on the board are shifting towards one another, and it's just a matter of time before someone puts them in checkmate.