|The operation to retake Wall Maria starts in two days. Want to know what's in the basement? Let's go see for ourselves. Isn't that what Scouts do?|
|— Erwin Smith, meeting with his officers|
Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall (奪還作戦の夜 Dakkan Sakusen no Yoru?) is the 12th episode of the 3rd season and the 49th episode overall of the Attack on Titan anime, produced by Wit Studio and Production I.G.
Erwin Smith and the Scout Regiment officers prepare for the operation to retake Wall Maria, suspecting that the truth of their world lies in the Jaeger family basement. Levi Ackermann tries to convince Erwin to remain behind due to the fact he is now handicapped by the loss of his arm, but Erwin refuses.
The night before the operation, the Scouts have a party for all the soldiers in the mess hall where they are treated to a rare meal containing meat. This turns the soldiers rowdy. Sasha Braus needs to be restrained and Eren Jaeger gets into a fight with Jean Kirschtein. After the fight is broken up and the soldiers are told to go to bed, Eren shares his renewed optimism with Armin Arlelt and Mikasa Ackermann. The following day at sunset, the Scouts are sent off from Trost District by a cheering crowd.
Dhalis Zachary meets with Dot Pyxis, Erwin Smith, and two of his Scouts to discuss the syringe left behind by Kenny Ackermann. Hange Zoë explains that its contents seem to originate from some sort of human bodily fluid, but it evaporates when exposed to open air, making it difficult to study. She suspects that whoever made this had access to a higher level of technology than they do.
Since they cannot tamper with it without ruining it, Pyxis suggests they use it for their current objective, and the syringe is entrusted to Levi Ackermann, who Erwin points out as having the best chance for survival. He tells Levi that they cannot predict when it would be best to use it, so they will be relying on Levi's ability to make a decision on the fly. Levi agrees to take it.
Later, Erwin meets with his officers to go over the operation to retake Wall Maria. He tells them that Grisha Jaeger likely came from outside the Walls. Hange notes that like Annie, Reiner, and Bertholdt, Grisha possessed the Power of the Titans, but unlike them, he was supportive of humanity. One of his final words to his son Eren was that the truth lay in their basement. Erwin suspects that the basement holds things that Grisha would have been unable to tell them, even if he wanted to; things that the First Reiss King had wiped from humanity's memory.
He announces that their operation will start in two days. If they want to know what is in the basement, they will go see for themselves. It is what Scouts do. This places his officers in good spirits and they make preparation to spread their enthusiasm to the younger soldiers, even suggesting serving meat to their squads.
Dirk asks if they should do something about Keith Sadies keeping secrets from them, but Hange tells him to forget about him. As they leave, Marlene teases her, saying that Hange used to adore Keith. Once everyone is almost through the door, Levi shoves it closed, pushing Hange outside.
Now that they are alone, Levi asks Erwin what he intends to do after retaking Wall Maria, aside from making defense plans. Erwin replies that there is someone outside the Walls who wants to see them all eaten by Titans. He would eliminate them. Their identity is probably in the basement, and he will make any further plans after they get there.
Levi makes it clear that he is asking because he does not know if Erwin will live that long, reminding Erwin that he is now handicapped following the loss of his arm. Levi suggests letting Hange lead the mission, but Erwin thinks back to his childhood memories about his father and refuses. This operation is critical to humanity, which is why he has put so much effort into planning it, and if he is not there to lead it, their chances of success will plummet.
Refusing to budge, Levi argues that if Erwin dies out there they truly will be doomed, so it would be better for him to stay at his desk. He threatens to break Erwin's legs to keep him at home. Erwin reluctantly agrees that Levi's logic is sound, but he wants to be there when they learn the truth about their world, and that is more important to him than his legs or humanity's victory. Finally, Levi relents and decides to trust Erwin's judgment.
The night before the operation to retake Wall Maria, Harold delivers a speech in the soldiers' mess hall to the Scout Regiment's rank and file. Conny Springer and Sasha Braus are amazed that they are receiving meat for dinner. As Harold's speech ends, the mess turns into a madhouse as all the soldiers scramble for meat. Sasha jams a large roast in her mouth as Jean Kirschtein yells at her and Conny tries to pull her back without killing her. Shocked, Marlo Freudenberg asks if the Scouts were never fed any meat and gets punched by Sasha, who Conny is still trying to control.
From another table the officers watch the chaos and wonder if it was such a good idea to give everyone meat. Harold apologizes, but says they now know what happens when they blow two months of the food budget in a single night.
Eren and Conny eventually restrain an unconscious Sasha. Conny reflects on her current behavior and how she once offered to share meat with everyone when they were servicing the cannons four months ago. Eren remembers that was right before the Colossal Titan appeared at Trost District. He can hardly believe it has only been four months.
Back in the mess hall, Jean explains to Marlo why he is being placed in the rear guard. If the Scouts threw their recruits into the vanguard they would be dead before they would receive a chance to learn. In the back, the recruits will have a chance to study what works and make it home in one piece. Jean uses this discussion as an opportunity to take a dig at Eren, calling him a "suicidal maniac," and Eren rises to the bait.
The two begin a fistfight, to the amusement of the other soldiers and disappointment of the officers. They take potshots at each other, about Eren needing to be bailed out by Mikasa Ackermann and Jean not getting along with his mother. Armin Arlelt asks if they should stop them, but Mikasa tells him no. Eventually both Eren and Jean begin to tire, and Levi interrupts their fight, knocking them both to the floor for being too rowdy.
As the group breaks up for the night, Eren is helped away by Armin and Mikasa. He asks them why they did not help, and Armin replies that he knew Eren would heal and he is glad that Eren is feeling better. The three of them sit down on a long set of steps outside and Eren confesses that he is glad they went to meet Keith. He used to wonder why he could not be strong like Mikasa or Levi, but now he knows that no one does anything by themselves, and it is joining together that makes them powerful.
The three of them see a Garrison soldier walk past who reminds them of Hannes and Mikasa asks if they reclaim the Wall and defeat all their enemies, if the happier days they lost will come back. Eren says they will, though some things have been changed forever, and they will make them pay for it. Armin adds that there is more beyond the Wall than just Titans. He wants to see the ocean, a lake so large that a merchant could never obtain all the salt within it. As Armin tries to infect Eren with his enthusiasm for the outside world, Levi listens to them from a nearby building.
The next day, just before sunset, the Scout Regiment prepares to leave Trost. Led by Flegel Reeves, the town's citizens shout their thanks and good wishes to see them off. Hange is disappointed everyone found out, but is not surprised given the ruckus they made the night before. Harold confesses that they bought all the meat from the Reeves Company. Though their officers are embarrassed, Jean, Conny, and Sasha express no such restraint and cheer back at the crowd.
Erwin smiles, realizing that this is the first time the Scouts have ever had a send-off like this. He roars at the crowd and basks in their enthusiasm when they return his cheer. Turning, he then draws his blade and announces the commencement of the operation to retake Wall Maria. The Scouts depart down the other side of Wall Rose and begin their ride for Shiganshina District where Reiner Braun and Bertholdt Hoover await.
In the indeterminate future, Levi, Eren, and Mikasa stand on top of a roof in a ruined town. Levi asks a visibly distressed Eren and Mikasa if they have any idea what they are doing. He punches Eren hard enough to knock him over, prompting Mikasa to attack Levi in retaliation with her blade drawn.
Currently Publicly Available Information
After the fall of Wall Maria, there was a dramatic decrease in food production. Livestock in particular suffered due to requiring plentiful land. As a result, meat became expensive and occasions to eat it are scarce.