|I'm... not losing. Because I don't run.|
|— Armin Arlelt as a child|
Zeke finishes off the remainder of the Scout Regiment recruits and pities them for wasting their lives. However, he is startled by Levi Ackermann, whose arrival was hidden by the Scouts' diversionary charge. Levi soundly defeats Zeke's Beast Titan, but before he can use a Titan injection to feed Zeke to a surviving Scout, the Cart Titan attacks Levi and then runs away with Zeke. Zeke sends his remaining Titans to finish off Levi.
Meanwhile, Armin Arlelt splits his squad into two teams. Most of the squad leaves to hold off the Armored Titan and succeeds, thanks to the timely reappearance of Hange Zoë. Armin wakes up Eren Jaeger who is comatose in his Titan, and relays a plan that will allow them to defeat Bertholdt Hoover's Colossal Titan. Eren falls off the Wall and pretends to be unconscious while Armin distracts Bertholdt and goads him into using up all his energy to burn him alive. When Armin finally collapses, Bertholdt moves on to deal with Eren, but discovers Eren has secretly used his hardening powers to plug the remaining hole in the Wall. Eren ambushes Bertholdt from behind with ODM gear, and cuts him out of his Titan's nape, ending the battle.
Floch cries out when Erwin Smith falls from his horse, but Marlo Freudenberg urges him to continue the charge. Ahead of them, Zeke finds their efforts pitiful, and deems it a tragedy that King Reiss stole their memories of the world, since it is causing them to repeat mistakes of the past. In his frustration, Zeke crushes the rocks in the Beast Titan's hand to dust, startling himself. He wonders what has gotten into him and reminds himself not to get worked up like his father as he prepares another set of rocks for bombardment.
As he prepares to throw, Marlo calls out the next volley and the remaining recruits in the Scout Regiment fire more signal flares to obscure the Beast Titan's vision. Marlo can see the arc of the Titan's arm though, and wonders if this is how he is going to die. He find himself wondering what Hitch Dreyse is doing at that moment, reasoning that at this hour, she is probably still asleep. He wonders why he would think about such a thing at a time like this, only to be struck in the head with a rock moments later.
Zeke cheers as his volley kills Marlo and many of the remaining Scouts, but to his surprise, a few of them still survive and fire another round of signal flares. Irritated, he asks why they bother and what good continuing to fight will do them. His third barrage takes out the remainder, and he calls them "poor things" before noticing that the Titans on one side of him are now lying dead on the ground.
The grappling hook of an omni-directional mobility gear pierces his shoulder and an enraged Levi Ackermann bursts through the haze of signal flares that have formed around the Beast Titan. Zeke tries to stop him, but Levi dodges his thrust and cuts a long spiraling wound around the Beast Titan's arm, tearing it to pieces. Zeke then remembers that Reiner Braun had warned him to watch out for a single soldier; Captain Levi, who may pose a threat to him. Realizing who he is fighting, Zeke covers his nape with his Titan's hand, but Levi's next attack takes out the Beast Titan's eyes, followed by its legs and remaining arm, sending Zeke crashing to the ground. Levi taunts him, as Zeke begins to panic.
Zeke tries to harden when he realizes Levi is going for his nape, but does not have enough time before Levi tears into the Beast Titan's form with such force that Zeke is ripped out of his Titan. Levi jams his blade into Zeke's mouth, taunting him by reminding him that he cannot transform while his body is regenerating. Though he would like to kill Zeke, Levi first wonders if there could be anyone else left alive. Even if that person is dying, the Titan injection could save them and allow them to obtain Zeke's Titan power, as he remembers Erwin.
However, before he can take things further, the Cart Titan charges in behind him. Levi jumps out of the way and the Cart Titan grabs Zeke in its mouth and carries him away. Zeke shouts for his remaining Titans to kill Levi, counting on the fact that Levi's weapons and gas must be nearly used up. Frustrated that he was not able to kill the Beast Titan, as he had promised Erwin, Levi readies his last pair of blades and engages the oncoming Titans.
Meanwhile, Floch, having fallen from his horse, gets up, surrounded by the bodies of the other recruits, and wonders why he survived the suicide charge. He wanders through the carnage, calling out for other survivors.
On the other side of the Wall, Jean sees that the Armored Titan has recovered, and reluctantly tells Armin that escaping with Eren is their best bet at survival. However, Armin notices that the Colossal Titan has gotten thinner since they started fighting it. As Hange Zoë had theorized, the Colossal is weak in a battle of attrition. It eats up a lot of its own body mass when it uses its attacks, particularly the steam emission, and given that Eren could only transform three times in succession, the Colossal Titan, being much more massive, would be unlikely to transform again for quite some time. This gives Armin an idea and he asks the rest of his squad to draw Reiner's Armored Titan away while he and Eren Jaeger handle Bertholdt Hoover themselves.
Leaving Reiner to them, Armin heads up the Wall and lands on Eren's unconscious Titan. He shoots his ODM into the Titan's body so he cannot be thrown off and prepares to stab Eren with one of his blades. Armin realizes that if this plan works, he will not be able to look at the sea, but thinking of the outside world gives him courage. He drives his blade into Eren's Titan and calls out to him, waking him up. Armin then explains his plan.
Jean Kirschtein leads the remainder of Levi Squad towards the Armored Titan with a plan to fight conservatively and keep Reiner away from the battle with Bertholdt, but Reiner completely ignores them and runs past the squad in pursuit of Eren. Mikasa Ackermann declares that they will have to kill Reiner and changes direction to follow him. She cripples his Titan with a Thunder Spear to the back of the knee so he falls to the ground. Though Jean is initially upset with her, he agrees with her assessment that distracting Reiner is no longer an option. However, their squad has only three Thunder Spears left.
Reiner looks at them in confusion, wondering what took out his knee. His memory of everything that happened since he left Bertholdt on the Wall is foggy, but looking around he can see Eren's Titan sitting on the Wall, so the Warriors can still win if they capture him. Reiner decides he will hurry up and finish off the rest of his former comrades before running to help Bertholdt.
Closer to the Wall, Bertholdt finds it strange that their former comrades from the 104th appear to have been the only ones who survived his explosion. He hoped to have killed everyone with his initial transformation, but finds he has gotten used to things being harder than expected. Bertholdt sees Armin talking to Eren ahead of him and wonders what Armin hopes to accomplish when Eren is so clearly in a weakened state.
Meanwhile, Armin tells Eren that their success depends on how long he can hold out. Sensing Eren's unease, Armin assures him that he cannot let himself die until he looks at the sea, so he will back off if things get too intense. He smiles and asks Eren if he has ever lied to him. With a final reminder for Eren to stick to the plan, Armin jumps off his friend's Titan.
The two of them wait for Bertholdt to approach, but part of the Wall crumbles beneath Eren and he slides off the Wall, landing in a motionless heap by the gate. Bertholdt is unsurprised, thinking to himself that with a fall like that, Eren probably has a concussion and cannot even stand on his own. Deciding to end it once and for all, he lifts an arm and swings at Armin. Armin dodges and grapples on to the Colossal Titan's body with his ODM, propelling himself up to its face. Bertholdt acknowledges that Armin has fought well, up until the very end, and emits a blast of hot steam.
Mikasa sees the blast, and though she worries over Eren and Armin, she focuses on facing Reiner. Jean has come up with a plan to finish Reiner off. He goes in first himself, acting as the decoy, and leaving Reiner open to attacks from Conny Springer and Sasha Braus, who are to strike either side of his jaw with their Thunder Spears. Once his mouth is open, Mikasa can send the third and final Thunder Spear straight down his throat, hitting Reiner from the inside. Though it initially seems to work, Sasha is knocked away by some of the debris from Reiner's attack against Jean, and only Conny's Thunder Spear hits. Though Mikasa is temporarily rattled by the plan going awry, she resolves that she still must try to kill Reiner.
By the wall, Bertholdt is puzzled by the fact Armin has not been blown away by the steam, but is still tethered to him somehow, held up by the blast of scorching air. Armin has in fact anchored himself to the Colossal Titan's teeth, correctly concluding that they would not be consumed like the rest of the Titan's body. More importantly, while the Colossal Titan is emitting so much steam, Bertholdt is unable to move. Despite the pain from his body roasting in the heat, Armin struggles to hold on and buy more time.
Bertholdt is perplexed by the idea that getting himself cooked like this is the best plan Armin could come up with, given Armin's intelligence. He wonders what Armin is trying to accomplish and if this could be a diversion, but when he looks through the steam cloud, Eren is still lying unconscious where he landed, and the others are busy fighting Reiner. Bertholdt decides that if this really is the end for Armin, he can at least make it quick; he turns up the intensity of his steam, causing Armin's clothes, hair and skin to burn away.
Armin holds on as best he can in the face of the Colossal Titan's increasing temperature. As his body withers around him, he entrusts everything to Eren; his dreams, his life, and his hope of reaching the sea. When he can no longer hold on to his ODM, his burned body falls to the rooftops far below.
In the battle with Reiner, Conny tries to get Mikasa to stop her attack, thinking it too risky. But out of nowhere, a lone soldier arrives with another Thunder Spear, and hurls it into the other side of Reiner's jaw, which detonates and causes his mouth to fall open. Mikasa recognizes Hange, who shouts for Mikasa to take her chance. Mikasa lands right in the Armored Titan's mouth and fires her Thunder Spear inside. It explodes, sending Reiner flying out of the back of the Titan's nape, putting him out of commission.
Now that Armin has fallen away, Bertholdt moves on with his previous plan, taking care of Eren and the horses. But when he looks down at Eren, he realizes that where Eren's Titan was lying before, now there is only its hardened shell.
Behind the Colossal Titan, a human Eren flies up on his ODM, blades out, and cuts into the Titan's nape. He pulls out a shocked and dismembered Bertholdt, who realizes too late that Eren was just pretending he could not move and that Armin was a diversion so that Eren could harden and make a decoy while hidden by Bertholdt's steam. The Colossal Titan collapses and smolders now that Bertholdt is no longer inside it.
In the aftermath of the battle, Eren drags Bertholdt behind him as he walks along a rooftop. He realizes that he should have known that Armin was up to something. When they were kids, Armin would not fight back against bullies, and while he would get beat up, Armin would never call it losing, because he never ran. That was why Eren wanted to know him in the first place.
Eren finds Armin's charred body and says he knew Armin was more of a hero than anyone else.
Currently Publicly Available Information
The Outside World
It's said a world beyond our wildest dreams extends outside the Walls. It has fiery waters, lands of ice, sandy snowfields, and a saltwater lake called the sea that stretches far past the horizon. Some have joined the Scout Regiment to fight solely because seeing it is their dream.
Characters in order of appearance
- Upon its release, this episode earned a perfect 10/10 score on IMDb, temporarily becoming the highest-rated TV episode in the site and the only one to earn a perfect score at the time. Its rating later fell to 9.9, at least in part due to a trolling campaign of review bombing. As of April 22nd, 2020, it remains the second highest-rated TV episode and the highest-rated anime episode. It shares score with "Perfect Game," "That Day," and "Midnight Sun."
- In the English dub of this episode, Hange is mentioned with a she/her pronoun by Armin. "You remember her experiments with Eren?" - Armin Arlelt. This is most likely a translation error.