|We'll bring them back. Still, some things are gone forever...and they'll have to pay for that.|
|— Eren promises to bring back the old days|
Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall (奪還作戦の夜 Dakkan Sakusen no Yoru?) is the 2nd chapter of the 18th volume and the 72nd chapter overall of the Attack on Titan manga, written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama.
With the revelations involving Grisha Yeager brought to light, new questions are raised about what lies in Eren's basement in Shiganshina District, and preparations are made for the next expedition beyond the Walls. Meanwhile, as the Survey Corps celebrates the upcoming expedition to retake Wall Maria. After Connie subdues a meat crazed Sasha, Eren and Jean once again come to blows, causing Levi to break up their fight. As they prepare for the expedition, Eren and Armin make plans to see everything the outside world has to offer after they retake Wall Maria and discover the secrets hidden in Eren's basement. As the Survey Corps begins their expedition to retake the Wall, Bertolt and Reiner lie in wait in Shiganshina for the arrival of Eren and the Survey Corps.
In Trost District, Erwin holds a meeting with Hange, Levi, and the Survey Corps' squad leaders to discuss the new revelations involving Dr. Yeager. Hange informs Erwin of Grisha's origins from outside the Walls, and his abilities, but notes that unlike Annie, Bertolt, and Reiner, Grisha apparently desired to aid humanity. When one of the Squad Leaders laments the fact that Grisha never helped out the Survey Corps despite his interest in them, Hange notes the possibility of Grisha having knowledge of the Reiss family's abilities, and the likelihood that he never informed anyone of them so that the Royal Government would not find out about him. She also notes, however, that despite this, Grisha immediately sought out and killed the members of the Reiss family when Wall Maria fell.
Hange decides that Grisha was likely investigating the Government after he arrived inside the Walls, and notes that Grisha also wanted to show his son, a boy who aimed to join the Survey Corps, their basement which, with his dying breath, Grisha had claimed held the secrets to everything. Hange openly wonders if Grisha had been forbidden to tell anyone what was in the basement, but Erwin disagrees, hypothesizing that Grisha had not been able to say anything, and puts forth the possibility that the basement holds information about the outside world that was erased from the populace's memories by the First King, but notes that there is no way to know for sure without checking the basement. Erwin then declares that, with preparations complete, the mission to retake Wall Maria will take place in two days.
Erwin dismisses those present, but Levi stays behind to speak with Erwin in private. Levi asks what Erwin plans to do after retaking Wall Maria, and Erwin reveals that he does not have a plan, and does not intend to formulate one until after the Corps reaches Eren's basement. Levi reveals that, in light of Erwin's recent injuries, he does not want Erwin to participate in the Expedition, and that he should leave Hange in charge. Erwin refuses, claiming that he does not care if he is eaten, and even suggests that he be used as bait for the Titans, but reiterates that he will not stay behind, as the Expedition is too important to humanity, and its chances of success will decline without him. Levi argues that this is exactly why Erwin must stay safe, as he will be more valuable out of action, and forming more strategies for the Corps.
When Erwin once again tries to argue, Levi interrupts him, threatening to break Erwin's legs if he hears another "noble-sounding excuse" from Erwin. Erwin, amused, notes that Levi is probably right to keep him out of the battle, but insists that he must be present when the Corps discovers the truth about the world. Levi, surprised to learn that this is more important to Erwin than even humanity's victory over the Titans, concedes, and declares that he will place his faith in Erwin's decision.
Elsewhere, trouble brews among the Corps' soldiers as they are presented with meat for dinner, leading to fights between the soldiers over the food. Jean and Connie are forced to wrestle a slab of meat away from Sasha, who, in the presence of meat, has lost all sense.
As Jean attempts to take the meat away, a tearful Connie begs Sasha to stop, threatening to kill her if she does not, and when they finally wrestle it away, Sasha blindly begins chewing on Jean's hand, confusing it for a slab of the meat. Marlowe notes from everyone's reactions that the Survey Corps never eat meat, before being punched in the face by Sasha. Mikasa instructs Connie to choke her into submission, but Connie incredulously notes that Sasha is already unconscious, but is still moving. As the Squad Leaders look on, Hange asks who decided to give them meat, and one of the Squad Leaders apologizes, admitting that he should not have spent the Corps' food budget for the next two months on meat.
As Eren and Connie tie Sasha up, Connie notes that there was a time when Sasha would have shared meat. Eren, incredulously, demands to know when Sasha ever shared food. Connie reminds Eren of the Colossus Titan's attack three months prior, and how Sasha had attempted to share stolen meat with them, as well as Thomas Wagner, Samuel, and Mina Carolina. Eren is surprised that only three months have passed since then, and Connie proudly notes that in that time, they have both become members of Squad Levi. As Sasha regains consciousness, Eren and Connie return to their table to eat. Jean and Marlowe are in the middle of arguing about Marlowe's position in the Expedition, with Jean insisting that Marlowe and the other recruits form the rear guard, while Marlowe desires to participate in the front lines. Jean insists that recruits should stay back, as they would only be cannon fodder on the front lines, and should instead observe the veterans from a safe position. Jean uses Eren as an example of a useless soldier, as he only knows how to charge headfirst into danger, prompting an argument between them.
Eren claims that he has recently realized that he is a "pretty normal person," and taunts Jean, leading to a fight between them. The others can only sit back and watch as Eren and Jean fight, while the Squad Leaders ignore them. During a lull in the fighting, Jean wonders aloud how many times Eren would be dead now without his Titan powers, and how many times he would have had to be saved by Mikasa, threatening to kill Eren if he keeps taking suicidal risks. Eren promises to keep what Jean said in mind, and in turn tells Jean to be nicer to his mother, before calling Jean by his nickname, to Jean's anger. As the others watch, Armin wonders aloud if he and Mikasa should break up the fight, but Mikasa refuses to. Meanwhile, Jean and Eren, now exhausted desperately wonder why no one is stopping them, before the fight is stopped by Levi, who beats them both into submission, before instructing the rest of the soldiers to go to bed.
Outside, Eren admits that he should take better care of himself, while Mikasa notes that she did not put a stop to the fight since Eren's abilities would immediately heal him after. As the three sit together, Eren states that he is glad to have met with Keith Shadis, and that he is now ready to do what is what needs to be done.
Eren admits that he had recently been worrying about things such as his not being as strong as Mikasa, revealing that he had felt useless compared to her and Levi, but that he now realizes that everyone needs to find their own roles so that they can join together to form one powerful force. Mikasa wonders if, after Wall Maria is retaken, the three of them will be able to return to their former lives. Eren tells her that although they will be able to bring them back to some degree, they will never be able to entirely return to their former lives, which is why the Titans need to pay. Armin reminds them of the things beyond the Walls besides the Titans: the sea, "flaming water," "land made of ice," and "snowy fields of sand," reminding them that he joined the Survey Corps so he could see such things. Seeing the look on Eren's face, Armin tells him that they should go see the sea first, and commences to telling Eren and Mikasa about it. When Armin accuses Eren of not believing him, Eren agrees to go with Armin, so he can confirm what the sea is like for himself. They continue talking about the outside world as, out of their sight, Levi listens to them.
The next day just before sunset, the Survey Corps members take position atop the Wall, where they are seen off by the rest of the Military and the Wall's citizens. Cheering citizens, led by Flegel Reeves, encourage Levi and the Corps to take back Wall Maria. As Levi comments on how selfish they sound, Hange admits that it was unlikely they would be able to keep the expedition secret. As Erwin and Levi observe the cheering masses, Erwin notes that, as far as he knows, the Survey Corps has never received such a sendoff before, and in a rare display that surprises everyone, begins cheering himself, before ordering the Corps to commence their final operation to retake Wall Maria.
Elsewhere, atop Wall Maria, Bertolt and Reiner watch the sun set over the eastern horizon.
Characters in order of appearance
- This chapter contains the first instance of the sun setting in the east as opposed to the west, supporting Hajime Isayama's statement that the sun in the Attack on Titan world rises in the west and sets in the east, a mirror of its path across the sky in the real world.
- Marlene's hairstyle is drawn inconsistently, changing several time between panels during the squad leaders' meeting with Erwin.