After episode 78 of “Attack on Titan” (“Shingeki no Kyojin”), where Eren Yeager loses his mind, but remains alive in this parallel dimension known as “Paths”; the series would be expected to show what happens in the physical world. But it is not yet time to know what happened to the decapitated body. Instead, the script takes us down memory lane for a family reunion that puts things that were taken for granted into perspective.
Below, SPOILERS for “Attack on Titan” 79, “Future Memories”:
The “Paths” connect all “Ymir’s subjects” by invisible threads. Hence the 145th King of Eldia, Fritz, used the Founder’s power to erase the memory of his people, and Zeke wants to use the same method for his forced sterilization plan. But the “Roads” not only connect the living, but also the dead; which explains why titan wearers can access the memories of previous wearers.
Thus, Zeke, who has been “years” in this dimension; he uses the power he has over it to take Eren on a trip. He progressively shows her the memories of their father, Grisha Yeager, during his life within the walls. Zeke’s goal is to show how this man progressively manipulated his youngest son into fighting Marley’s cruelty. But as the follower of this story knows, Grisha did not do that and Eren lived a relatively normal life.
In fact, all this trip to the past, apart from showing Grisha in his conspiratorial activities (with which he tried to locate the royal family), serve to understand Zeke; who by betraying his parents never had a proper closure with them. Especially with Grisha, who expressly manipulated him to infiltrate Marley and avenge the people of Eldia. What Zeke sees, instead, is an imperfect man; that he still puts his family at risk while carrying out secret activities, but at the same time he wants to protect them.
In one of these “inspections” to the past, where they are not supposed to be seen by anyone, Zeke discovers that his father can see them, even momentarily and, while the brothers have reactions to the scenes they witness; Grisha goes through the same thing knowing that the key moments of her life are being watched by someone. That look that Grisha gives to Eren as an adult at the door of his house, before saying goodbye to his family, proves it.
Throughout this journey Eren is reluctant to continue. He provokes Zeke with hurtful words, but not without truth. When they examine the massacre at the Ackermans’ house where Eren got his hands dirty; we see that Zeke, in a way, is still under the control of the decisions made by his father.
A pawn named Grisha
The last memory examined by Eren and Zeke takes them to the night Grisha killed the royal family, a scene briefly revealed in the third season; first in the underground hideout, when Historia was about to acquire the power of the Attack Titan; and then when Eren kissed the queen’s hand at the award ceremony. But it is only now that we see the whole conversation and can connect the dots.
Zeke, who was sure Grisha would mercilessly kill the royal family, can’t believe his eyes when he sees his father hesitate. The man who kneels, unable to kill children, is not the same as the Beast Titan imagined in the episode; that in one of his readings shows the clash between the image we have of those who raised us and who they really are.
But every argument gets its counterargument. Thus, we see that the hesitant Grisha receives a push from Eren, who approaches him and whispers in his ear not to forget his origin, that he came from a place where his sister was thrown to the dogs just for descending from “demons”. ” from Paradise Island. Here we discover that Grisha not only sees Eren, but listens to him and that this journey of the brothers can change the past. Or, rather, make everything happen the way Eren wants it to happen.
Hearing his second son’s words, something snaps within Grisha, who kills nearly every member of the royal family, children included. This recontextualization of facts already seen reinforces what was feared: Eren is not a hero, “Attack on Titan” is about the origin of a villain and Grisha is one of the many victims of this war between Marley and Paradise Island.
Outside the shelter, Grisha’s mind breaks even more. By this time Zeke knows that his father can see the memories of the Attack Titan of the future, that is Eren, and understands that something very bad will happen. So far the episode also shows us another aspect of Zeke who, as I mentioned a few lines ago, did not have an adequate closure with his father’s story.
Now Grisha can see Zeke and hugs her grown son. He apologizes for all the damage he did to him, tells him that he loves him and how he would have liked to play with him more instead of using him as an instrument of revenge. But he also tells her that her wishes will not be fulfilled, but Eren’s will; which you must stop. At that moment the memory ends and we return to the “Roads”, where Zeke, who thought he was in control, discovers that Eren knew more than he appeared.
“Attack on Titan” uses the time loop resource not only to surprise the audience, but also to enrich its characters. As important as knowing that Eren manipulated his father is seeing how Zeke had unfinished business to resolve and that these led him to want to “save” his younger brother. That Eren manipulated his own father to take over the Founding Titan puts a lot of things into perspective; including that phrase that Eren Kruger said in the past to Grisha: “Mikasa. Armin. If you want to save them all, fulfill your mission”. We also understand that Eren’s fury at kissing Historia’s hand is related to his father’s memories in the underground grotto. It is understood that the young Yeager would hate those who, knowing the suffering of their people, prefer death to the pursuit of justice.
It’s hard for me to find a real culprit here. If “Attack on Titan” has done something right since the beginning of its fourth season, that was to show how the cycle of violence forges the destiny of nations and that trying to end it depends not on institutional will, but on individuals. . King Karl Fritz’s plan did not work and his decisions, which caused the suffering of generations, can be traced back to Eren. I’m not saying that the bearer of the Attack Titan is innocent of his crimes, but I emphasize that the series asks difficult questions and the answers, always different, are not pleasant at all.
- Hadn’t Zeke Yeager examined his father’s memories before Eren came to the “Roads”? I find it somewhat hard to believe that, in all the “years” he spent there, he hasn’t, even if it’s just to kill time.
- The montage of Grisha going mad after killing the children, which at times breaks continuity to reinforce both the passage of time and the delicate state of mind of Eren and Zeke’s father, is remarkable.
- With that hug to Grisha, Zeke’s plot may well end. The warrior manipulated by his father who, twenty years later, can finally understand him.
- I don’t understand if Zeke and Eren, by examining their father’s memories, become corporeal. Grisha hugs Zeke, so it is understood that he does. Be that as it may, the hug is a powerful moment worth suspending disbelief for.
- This mental journey is reminiscent of what was seen in “Game of Thrones”, when Bran Stark, with the help of the Three-Eyed Raven, observes the past and can even influence it. Hajime Isayama, creator of “Attack on Titan”, is a fan of the HBO series; so this episode may well have been influenced by the history of Westeros.
- Finally, this has been the episode with the best faces of surprise and fury of the entire series. Courtesy of Eren and Grisha, of course.
4.5 stars out of 5
You can watch new episodes of “Attack on Titan” every Sunday on Crunchyroll.