Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 13, “Children of the Forest,” may very well be one of the best episodes of Shingeki no Kyojin yet. Even though the episode didn’t have any major Titan fights, the intensity and raw emotional struggle — along with layers upon layers of political intrigue — was enough to catapult this episode into one that viewers won’t soon forget. Some theories were proven correct, but many questions remain unanswered. And I bet I’m not the only one who literally yelled at my screen at the cliffhanger they left us with.
This article is Season 4 Episode 13 review, so it will have spoilers through the episode. But the article itself is manga-spoiler-free. Please don’t add spoilers from the manga in the comments. Thanks. 🙂
Connie’s Village Was Finally Explained by an Unreliable Narrator
Exactly what happened to Connie’s village, Ragako, was finally explained, but unfortunately, Zeke is an unreliable narrator. So just how much of his story to Levi we can believe remains to be seen. When the episode began, we saw Zeke with other Marleyan soldiers, spraying gas laced with Titan serum into the village.
Here is how Zeke explained what happened to Levi:
It’s called a gas weapon. The gas contains some of my spinal fluid. Breathing just a slight amount makes Subjects of Ymir freeze up. They can’t control their bodies and lose consciousness. On my command, I send the Power of the Titans to the coordinate via Paths. That’s why the people of that village obeyed my orders.
At this point in his explanation, we see him yelling like he did when the Eldians were parachuted into battle, just before they turned.
— riz✰ (@levihanwap) March 7, 2021
But this leaves a lot of unanswered questions. By the end of the episode, we confirm the theory that the wine may be laced with Zeke’s spinal fluid, but the people who drank that are just fine. That leaves viewers wondering if Zeke lied about Paradisians’ freezing up so they wouldn’t suspect he was doing it again. My guess is that yes, Zeke was lying and the story he told Levi was only partially true. Perhaps the people of Ragako were poisoned by food or drink also, rather than by gas fumes.
An interesting point is when Zeke says he sent the Power of the Titans to the coordinate via “Paths.” He obviously has much more control over his powers than anyone else does at this point. It’s likely that the only reason he can access “the coordinate via Paths” is because he’s of the royal bloodline. And Eren, meanwhile, holds the power of the Coordinate (aka the Founding Titan) within him. But since he’s not royalty, he can’t access the power unless he touches Zeke.
But this does leave me wondering… Would Zeke be able to access extra power himself if he touched Eren? Does it only work in Eren’s favor, or would it work in Zeke’s favor too, but Zeke’s not telling anyone that? However, Zeke does tell Levi that HQ doesn’t have time to spare, like they think they do, and they need to connect him and Eren soon. In that sense, he’s right. We know that Reiner wants Marley to attack immediately and Pieck is already embedded in Paradis. So there really isn’t much extra time.
Still, I don’t trust Zeke yet. I know that some others do. Some argue that Zeke gave up a lot in the Marleyan fight, including almost all of Marley’s Titan advantage, to Eren. Therefore, he really isn’t gaining anything. But maybe he’s just playing a very long game. 🤔
There Are So Many Emotions to Unpack from Nicolo’s Dinner
Where do I even begin with all the scenes at Nicolo’s dinner? From Nicolo’s anguish, Gabi and Falco’s emotional upheaval, and the strength of Sasha’s father, there’s just so much to unpack.
this was the saddest part actually…. kaya thought they were friends and did all of that to help gabi just so she could be more like sasha…. and then to find out gabi is the reason sasha is gone pic.twitter.com/bbuEshStVy
— sarah ☾ ymir’s defense attorney (@zvkoda) March 7, 2021
Nicolo, Kaya, and Sasha’s dad all confronted Sasha’s death in vastly different but equally heartbreaking ways. Kaya started out wanting to live out Sasha’s legacy by helping Gabi and Falco. But once she learned that Gabi was the one who killed Sasha and still had no remorse of her actions, she lost it. She tried to kill Sasha, only to have Sasha’s dad stop her. Kaya’s heartbreaking cries, followed by the entire family crying together, was devastating.
Nicolo, meanwhile, had done his best to fit in, while still also secretly working with Yelena. He suspected the wine was tainted, but didn’t tell anyone until Jean almost drank some himself.
He was ok with having corrupt MPs drink the wine, but not his friends. His love for and connection to Sasha helped build a bridge to the Eldians of Paradis whom he had once hated. He and Sasha had a deep connection. But when he came face-to-face with Sasha’s killer, and saw her spouting such hated lies about the woman he loved, he had no room for grace in his heart. He lashed out, almost killing Falco in the process.
Now we’re left to wonder if Falco did drink some of that tainted wine. Will he turn into a Titan? I believe that Falco will one day take over one of the warrior Titans — either Reiner’s Armored Titan, Armin’s Colossal, or Eren’s Attack/Founding. I believe this because of the dream Falco had in Season 4 Episode 1, where he saw himself using ODM gear. That had to be a dream of the future, brought from his connecting to the “Path” that Zeke mentioned. We’ve only seen a few have “future” visions like that: potentially Eren and definitely the Owl. So I am convinced that Falco will take over one of these three character’s Titans. I’m just not sure which.
Nicolo wanted revenge, but his thirst for blood was stayed by Sasha’s father. There is no greater pain than losing your own child. But her dad — with his south Marleyan accent — demonstrated the greatest act of love and maturity possible. He talked about how Sasha grew up learning to kill animals in the forest to live, and then continued to kill others to live as a soldier. His story is heartbreaking when you look back at the beginning of the episode and see him, his wife, and their adopted children so happy to be enjoying Nicolo’s meal. They had no idea the heartache that awaited them.
sasha's dad is the true hero of aot
— lulu°• (@A0BRIAR) March 7, 2021
“That was just our way of livin’,” he shared. “But I knew there’d come a day we’d have to give up that style of life, so I sent Sasha away from the forest. She went into the world, became a soldier, shot people far yonder, and got herself shot. In the end, though she left our forest, the world is a great, big forest where everyone’s fightin’ for their life. I reckon Sash died cuz she wandered in the forest too long. We’ve gotta keep the younguns out of the forest. Otherwise, ain’t nothin’ gonna happen to stop it from happenin’ again. That’s why it’s up to us adults to shoulder the sins of the past.”
That was a telling statement at the end. The adults have to shoulder the sins of the past, avoiding the desire for retribution, so the fighting is not passed on to their children. To have that sentiment come from a man whose daughter was killed is quite powerful.
Eren’s Appearance & the Wine Revelation Left Us with an Insane Cliffhanger
Of course, Eren’s appearance at the end and the revelation about the wine being spiked left us with an insane cliffhanger. Prior to seeing Eren, we saw Levi struggling with how he protected him all this time, only to still see so many die for a “farce like this.” Among those in his memories was Petra. I know some think Levi is regretting saving Eren, but I had a different interpretation of that speech. He thought about all of those who died after he concluded that Pyxis’ plan was going to end up having Eren eaten at their own hands. All his efforts to save Eren for humanity’s sake, and his own government is trying to end Eren now. First, he thought they were the last of humanity because of the government’s and royal family’s lies. And now, the new government is still going down a terrible path. In my opinion, Levi may be feeling regretful at causing so many deaths to spare such a corrupt system. (I could be wrong, of course, but that’s my take.)
Ultimately, he still seems to have chosen to protect Eren.
We’re also presented with the idea that the government still wants to have Eren eaten. If that’s true, this is a terrible strategy when Marley is about to attack. Remember how long it took Eren to gain command of all his Attack and Founding Titans’ powers? Now he has Warhammer too. That would be just way too much for a newbie to try to handle in battle. Just think about how Frieda in her Founding Titan form was bested by Eren’s dad, simply because she didn’t have the same level of fighting experience and couldn’t command her powers. This would certainly happen to a new person who took over Eren’s powers. SMH.
But back to the wine revelation. We learned that not only is the wine tainted and the high-up MPs drank it, but Floch and the Jaegerists know about this and approve of it. To me, this is way too risky. Implanting Titans within the walls that Zeke can control simply puts far too much faith in Zeke, even if it is just the most corrupt who have been poisoned. We know they defeated a town overnight using this strategy. Why not again?
Nicolo explained that this special wine was packed to the brim in the first scout fleet to Paradis that Yelena was on. He believes she was the only person who was in on the tainted wine plan. Floch reveals a bit later that he knew about the plan, and they believe Pyxis is trying to take over Eren’s Titan powers by having him eaten, so they aren’t negotiating with the military. Hange denies that this is happening, but you still have to wonder.
Of course, perhaps the biggest moment of the episode is Eren’s arrival.
Armin is telling Gabi that Marley is all about killing one person or another, just like someone else he knows. And at that moment, Eren just casually strolls in and shows him that he’s cut his hand.
Presumably, this is a failsafe in case something goes wrong.
Quite a few people are commenting that Eren’s entrance reminds them of how casually Reiner and Bertholdt told him that they were spies. That’s a pretty good comparison.
Now Eren is finally face-to-face with Mikasa and Armin. He has to cut his hand to guarantee his safety, and he just looks so tired.
this difference…the way eren looks so exhausted now nobody hmu pic.twitter.com/HrmyWHRNKg
— kies (@kiieess) March 7, 2021
Now we have to wait until next week to find out what’s next. 🙁