Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 19 blew my mind. It might be a bit cliche to say that about Shingeki no Kyojin Episode 78, but it’s the best phrase I can think of to sum up the episode. I’m still processing everything that happened, and planning a bunch of follow-up articles to explore some questions more fully. But wow. This was intense and we learned so much, while still having so many questions left unanswered. How did Zeke do what he did? Is Eren still alive in the real world? There’s a lot to process, so let’s get started.
This Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 19 review will have spoilers for the newest episode, but the article itself is manga-spoiler-free beyond this episode. For anime-only discussions, join us on Discord or in our AoT Facebook page.
I’m dividing this review into two parts. BEFORE Eren’s scene and AFTER that scene with Eren.
The Fighting Leading Up to Eren’s Pivotal Scene Was Insane & Heartbreaking
The episode kicked off with the intro song and no opening scene, which was my first clue that this was going to be an extra intense 23 minutes. And unlike last week, we didn’t spend any time going back over scenes we already saw. Zeke was hit, and then we immediately kicked into new content.
Porco Galliard didn’t waste any time trying to stop Eren, but as with all of his attempts, he didn’t get very far. Eren quickly pummeled him into a pulp. Half of Porco’s brain was smashed in, and he was going to need a lot of time to heal before he could get back into fighting form again.
Reiner proves a much more formidable foe — again — against Eren than Galliard. He’s got Eren pinned down, while he’s begging Porco to get back up. Reiner has a lot of pent up guilt about Porco, since his brother Marcel was eaten by Ymir when Reiner, Annie, Bertholdt, and Marcel were on a quest to take down the wall the first time. Marcel died saving Reiner’s life from Ymir, and it’s something that Reiner has never gotten over. So of course, he’s heavily invested in trying to make sure that Marcel’s brother, Porco, lives. Not to mention, Porco was supposed to be the Armored Titan, but Marcel talked Reiner up so he’d get picked instead and Porco would live. It’s a lot to deal with.
Zeke manages to fight back a bit and is determined to summon the Titans who drank his spinal fluid, as a last-ditch effort to save both his life and Eren’s by giving the Marleyans another enemy to fight. Eren doesn’t want this and he wants Zeke to stall. Those are his brothers and friends who drank Zeke’s spinal fluid — he doesn’t want to see them die. But then Colt and Falco appear on the scene, and they’re even more determined to get Zeke to stop. Falco will turn into a Titan and die if Zeke screams — Colt begs Zeke to give them time to get out of range. He doesn’t care who lives or dies in this fight, he just wants his brother to live. Colt is next in line to inherit the Beast Titan and he begs Zeke to just give him time to get his brother to safety.
Zeke is moved by Colt’s plea, because he loves his little brother Eren just as much. But he won’t listen. And I’m not surprised. I never thought that Colt’s plea would move Zeke to inaction. Not only does he not have the time to wait, but Zeke has already betrayed everyone he loved in order to enact his plan. He betrayed his own parents, the Marleyans he fought with, he killed Eldians in Paradis in order to keep his cover — literally everyone. Whether you believe Zeke’s plan is misguided or not, his motivations at least are pure. He wants to end Titans once and for all and end all the bloodshed they caused. (Never mind that Marleyans might then become the oppressors of the Eldians in Paradis, Zeke just wants the Eldian race gone.) He believes any sacrifice is worth his end goal, so even saving Falco’s life will not dissuade him.
The scene were Falco turned into a Titan was absolutely heartbreaking. This kid has a heart of gold, he was one of the first to feel compassion for the Eldians and see through the brainwashing. He only became a Warrior candidate to save Gabi from being one. And Colt is just as heartbreaking. He knows he will die if he holds onto his little brother, but he’s not leaving him. It doesn’t matter. His love for his brother is greater than his fear of a painful death.
And Gabi has to watch the whole thing unfold before her, right after Falco had declared his love to her.
Others are activated too. Nile, who had helped Falco in last week’s episode and was a friend to Erwin, and had a wife and children he was trying to protect… Many other Paradisians who are unnamed. (You can see a full list of all the people who died in the episode in our story here.)
Pyxis also became a Titan, which was heartbreaking to see. He has been part of the show since the first season.
It’s not clear the exact number who died in this scene, but it was a huge amount.
The Marleyans are then faced with the hell they unleashed on the Paradisians, and the hell they unleashed on the other countries that they conquered by dropping Titans in their cities. I can’t really feel sorry for the Marleyans here. They did this to so many others.
Falco’s Titan form is SO creepy too. It’s weird how there’s no predicting how someone will look as a Titan. He has this super long neck. I had always predicted that Falco would eat Reiner once he turned into a Titan, and so when Zeke gave him that command, I wasn’t surprised. But I was surprised when it turned out that Reiner was not the Titan that Falco inherited at all. Once Reiner thought that Zeke was dead and his goal was accomplished, he was willing to let Falco eat him. But Porco steps in and has Falco eat him instead.
This didn’t make a lot of sense when I first watched. We didn’t see Porco having a deathwish like Reiner did, and I wasn’t sure why he decided in the heat of the moment that this was the better sacrifice to make, considering that Reiner is much closer to aging out as a Titan anyway. When I rewatched, I saw Porco saying, “I’m all out of power to heal my body.” (But still, given enough time, even Pieck healed herself, so was it really impossible for him?) I can’t help but wonder if there is also some brainwashing that compels Jaw Titans to sacrifice to save Armor Titans. I mean, how many times has Reiner been saved by a Jaw Titan so far? There was Marcel, then Ymir, then Porco Galliard multiple times until he finally died in the process. It makes you think.
Reiner can’t kill Eren and hold down Falco Titan at the same time. It’s too much, as Zeke had hoped. In the midst of the battle, it looks like Zeke died (only because he pulled the same trick that Pieck had pulled earlier.) But when Eren has to abandon his Titan after Reiner attacks him again out of rage at Porco’s death, we learn that Zeke didn’t die either.
But that’s when something happened that I NEVER predicted. As Eren is running to touch Zeke, Gabi SHOOTS HIS HEAD OFF.
Seriously, I did not see that coming. I screamed when it happened. Gabi has been breaking free of her brainwashing, but she still wanted to stop Zeke and Eren from fulfilling their plan. We know that when someone she loves dies in front of her, her initial reaction is rage and a desire to kill. And today was no different.
Zeke & Eren’s Scenes Left Me With A Lot of Questions
First, after Eren loses his head, we see a flashback to his talk with Zeke, where he acknowledged that his dad killed all of the Reiss children to stop the Royal Family from inheriting the Founding Titan’s power and being bound to the “no war” vow for the rest of time — a philosophy that left the Eldians in the grips of Marley’s constant Titan attacks. He convinced Zeke that he was on his side and wanted the Eldians and the Titan lineage gone for the rest of time.
This flashback sets the stage for what’s to come.
It’s been said that when a person loses their head, they may still “live” for a few seconds before they die. And that plays out here. Zeke was able to catch Eren’s head while he was still alive, and thus unlock the key to join the Founding Titan Ymir in the paths. Zeke’s royal blood was the key and Eren’s Founding Titan was the lock.
Before Eren wakes up, he sees a flash of memories that I explore in a separate story here. When he does awaken, he’s in his full, working body. I’m going to guess that Ymir rebuilt him just like she did Zeke. We finally get to see the scene that was shown in the teaser photo so many months ago.
Zeke, being Zeke, plays the long game with Eren. He pretends to be bound by the anti-war chains in order to discover Eren’s true motivation. These two brothers have one big thing in common: the ability to deceive for a long period of time in order to reach their goals. And they both keep doing it to each other. I honestly believe that Zeke’s tears were real when he learned that Eren didn’t side with him. He loves his brother and feels alone in his quest to end the Titan lineage. Although I do personally feel that his quest is misguided and won’t achieve the peace he hopes for, I can totally understand why Zeke is so compelled on this road, and I can see that his motives are indeed pure.
We learn that the Founder Ymir lives in The Coordinate, where all the Paths converge.
Zeke explains, “Those who use the Founding Titan’s power must come here. Those with royal blood, that is.”
While rebuilding Eren and waiting for him to wake up might not have taken a long time in the real world (as far as we know), it’s felt like an eternity to Zeke.
“We succeeded, we obtained the power of the Founding Titan,” Zeke tells Eren. (In case you’re wondering why Eren and Historia couldn’t reach the Path by touching in human form like Zeke and Eren did, I believe it’s because Historia was never a Titan, so she couldn’t unlock that side of her bloodline’s power.)
In an eerie and kind of creepy scene, the Founding Titan Ymir (the Founder Ymir, as Zeke calls her) appears, never saying a word and never looking up. It’s almost like she’s in a trance. Zeke observes that she “expends untold years” making Titans whenever they seek the Power of the Titans. But while Zeke only sees her as a tool, Eren sees her humanity and his heart goes out to her.
“All alone here, forever,” he observes about her.
Zeke tells him that the chains he’s wearing are there “‘to restrict my freedom. It’s the vow renouncing war.” (Which we later learn isn’t true about those particular chains.)
When Eren and Zeke both reveal their true motivations, we learn even more. Eren never wanted to follow Zeke’s plan (and it’s not clear what Eren’s plan was — that is not revealed.) Zeke, meanwhile, achieved a lot more while he was waiting on Eren to be rebuilt.
“The Founder can make anything, even these earthen chains,” Zeke says, revealing that the chains he was wearing were fake and only in place to fool Eren. He had the Founder make them to help further his deception. He can make her do anything he wants since he has royal blood.
“Unlike the kings of the walls, I’m here without being tainted by the First King’s ideals. And in the mind-numbing time I spent with the Founder, I managed to nullify the vow renouncing war.”
So this confirms that the vow renouncing war and the First King’s ideology are two separate but related things. Zeke likely could only nullify the vow because, since he wasn’t a direct descendant of King Fritz, he didn’t inherit the ideology. (Not having the Founding Titan’s power also played a role in that ability to nullify the vow too, I’m sure. It all gets a bit confusing to track.)
“Though possessing tremendous power, the Found is a slave with no will of her own. She believes those with royal blood are her masters and obeys them,” he further tells Eren.
(Since Eren wants everyone to be free, I’m certain he will want to free Ymir too. This is going to bother him a lot. I also can’t help but wonder if she fell under some kind of brainwashing, just like Eren claimed the Ackermans did.)
Zeke reveals that he’s obtained the Founder’s power for himself, because Eren was simply the key for getting to the Paths and reaching her. However, he doesn’t want to kill Eren and he doesn’t blame Eren, he simply sees Eren as a victim of their dad, Grisha.
This leaves me with a lot of questions. One being whether or not Zeke will still have the Founder’s power once he leaves the Paths and returns to Earth. (I’m guessing “no,” but I’m not certain.) It appears he still needs Eren to unlock that power, but now that he’s nullified the anti-war vow, I’m guessing he could “eat” Eren in the real world and be as powerful as King Fritz himself was, if he wanted.
This episode was insane, but also SO perfect. A lot of things happened that we had been waiting on, and it looks like next week is going to answer even more questions.