|It's us who gives meaning to our comrade's lives! The brave fallen! The anguished fallen! The ones who will remember them... are us, the living! We die, trusting the living who follow to find the meaning in our lives!|
|— Erwin Smith rallies his Scouts|
The Scout Regiment battles on two fronts. Inside Shiganshina District, Jean Kirschtein takes over for Armin Arlelt in leading Levi Squad in an attempt to stop the Colossal Titan. However, Eren Jaeger's Titan is easily kicked away and Mikasa Ackermann is unable to land a hit, even using the new Thunder Spears.
On the other side of the Wall, the Scouts are devastated by the Beast Titan's rock bombardment, leaving Erwin Smith, Levi Ackermann, and the new recruits as the only survivors. Realizing that they are likely to die, regardless of what happens, Erwin stakes everything on a final operation. He leads all the recruits on a decoy suicide charge towards the Beast Titan, so that Levi can approach undetected and kill it.
The Colossal Titan scoops up homes in Shiganshina District and hurls them into the air where they scatter across other parts of town as flaming pieces of debris. Mikasa Ackermann realizes from his Titan's actions that Bertholdt Hoover does not yet know where they are. Conny Springer and Sasha Braus pressure Armin Arlelt for orders, but Armin recalls how he misread Bertholdt's intentions and freezes up without any ideas on how to proceed. He asks Jean Kirschtein to take command in his place.
Though visibly distressed, Jean orders everyone to the river by riding on top of Eren Jaeger's Titan to conserve gas. He tells Eren that they are going to have to get Bertholdt's attention eventually, but until then he will have to stay hidden. Jean then tells Armin that even though he has a good read on their current situation, he does not have a plan to get them out of it. Armin will still have to come up with something.
Outside Shiganshina, Dirk informs Levi Ackermann that all of the small Titans attacking their forces have been eliminated except for the ones at the very front of their line. However, the Beast Titan is still sitting far out of reach without any buildings nearby for the Scout Regiment to use. As Dirk's squad leaves to mop up the rest of the small Titans, Levi looks at the smoke coming out of Shiganshina behind him and wonders what the explosion was and what happened Hange Zoë and the other soldiers.
As he thinks about rejoining his squad, chunks of stone fly by his face and he turns in time to see the front line of buildings being shredded and the Scouts being wiped out by debris. Zeke is disappointed in his throw, and has the Cart Titan deposit boulders beside him in easy reach. He picks up a boulder and crushes it between his Titan's hands, calling the first pitch a warm-up, and winds up for another throw.
On the Wall above Shiganshina, Erwin Smith spots the incoming salvo and warns the remaining soldiers to take cover. Levi manages to land between buildings, but the majority of the Scouts are not so lucky, and the air is filled with a bloody mist as wave after wave of Scouts are ripped apart. He finds the recruits guarding the horses and orders them to retreat up to the Wall as the bombardment continues.
As they arrive, Erwin comes down to join them. He informs Levi of the situation: the front line of houses has been completely destroyed by the Beast Titan's throws. It will only be a matter of time before the Beast Titan levels the rest, and then the Scouts will have nowhere to hide. They cannot even go to the other side of the Wall because the Colossal Titan is heading their way. Aside from that, scaling the Wall would mean leaving the horses.
Erwin realizes now that the Beast Titan had directed the smaller Titans so that the Scouts would group in a single location, which would make them easier to kill. He does not know the status of Hange and Levi's squads, but as a result of the bombardment, the only Scouts remaining on their side of the gate are the recruits, Levi, and Erwin. The recruits panic as debris from the rock bombardment strikes above their heads, and Levi asks Erwin if he has a plan.
Inside Shiganshina District, Jean directs Eren to get Bertholdt's attention and draw him away from the Wall. Eren roars, and Bertholdt pauses momentarily to look, before resuming his march towards the Wall. Seeing that they are being ignored, Jean has Eren chase after the Colossal Titan. Sasha reminds them that their omni-directional mobility gear is useless thanks to the Colossal Titan's steam emissions. As they approach, Mikasa asks for Conny's Thunder Spear so she can attack while the rest of the squad distracts Bertholdt. Jean tells Armin to stay back and observe the battle so they can find a way to beat him.
The squad scatters and Eren is enraged at seeing the Colossal Titan up close, thinking that after what Bertholdt did, he should be begging for forgiveness. He grabs onto the Titan's foot in an attempt to shove Bertholdt back. He initially seems successful, but then the Colossal Titan pulls its leg further back into a kick that launches Eren to the top of Wall Maria. Below him, on the other side of the Wall, Levi and Erwin realize that Eren is still alive and must have been hurled up there by the Colossal Titan.
Mikasa is horrified that Eren is not moving, and Jean tells her to focus on Bertholdt, since Eren is not dead yet. Jean recognizes that this is a result of them rushing in without a plan, but if they do not turn things around somehow, they and the rest of humanity are doomed. He calls the rest of the squad together and has them go on the attack. Since Bertholdt does not know about the Thunder Spears, he has Conny and Sasha assist him in distracting Bertholdt in the hopes that Mikasa can land a critical blow on his nape. However, Bertholdt notices her before she attacks, and he emits a blast of steam which keeps Levi Squad at bay and blows away the Thunder Spears, which explode behind Mikasa.
The squad lands on the buildings below, Conny coughing due to inhaling some of the steam and Mikasa bleeding due to shrapnel from the Thunder Spears. She asks Armin if he has come up with a counterattack yet, but to his distress he has not. Worse, the squad sees that the Armored Titan has recovered and is rejoining the fight.
Meanwhile, Levi suggests that if Erwin does not have a way to counterattack, the Scouts should prepare to flee. Erwin could wake up Eren and then escape with as many soldiers as his Titan can carry. That way, at least a few people would survive.
Among the recruits, Marlo Freudenberg yells at Floch for letting a horse get away, but Floch has a nervous breakdown. He does not see how horses matter when so many more talented soldiers than them have already died: no one will be riding these horses home. Floch had answered the recruitment call to join the Scouts, knowing that Titans could get to humanity even inside the Walls. He wanted to be a brave soldier who would protect people, but he never thought that being sent to his death could be so meaningless.
Ignoring the dropping morale among the recruits, Levi suggests they could use them and whatever remains of Hange's squad as a distraction by having them ride away on horses while Erwin and Eren's group escapes. Levi says he would remain behind to draw away the Beast Titan. Erwin counters that Levi would not be able to get close to it, and Levi agrees that is probably true, but he says that if Erwin and Eren return home, then humanity still has hope, and that is the best they can ask for at this point. Realistically, Levi does not expect any of them to make it out alive.
However, Erwin reluctantly reveals that he has a plan, but it will require him and all the recruits to sacrifice their lives. As Levi had said, they are all likely to die, so Erwin will stake their deaths on the chance of victory. Given the mental state of the recruits, they will not volunteer to die if Erwin is not leading the vanguard. This means that Erwin himself will be the first to die, and he would do it without ever learning what was in the basement. He slumps against a nearby wall and confesses to Levi that everything he has done has been in anticipation of this day, when he could check if his father's theories were right. Now the answers are finally in reach, but he feels the burden of all the soldiers who died before them, expecting that others would carry on in their place.
He asks if his dream was a childish delusion and Levi kneels before him, saying that Erwin has fought well, and that the Scouts have only come this far because of him, but now Levi is going to make the choice. Levi tells Erwin to give up on his dream and lead their recruits into hell. In return, Levi will take down the Beast Titan. Erwin seems surprised, but he smiles and nods.
The recruits take word of their final mission poorly, with Floch saying that whether they die fighting or die disobeying orders, it does not mean anything, and to Floch's horror, Erwin agrees. No matter their dreams or who they are, they all die the same way when shredded by rocks, but that does not mean their lives are without meaning. Just as they give the lives of the soldiers before them meaning, they will entrust the meaning of their own lives to those who follow in their place.
Zeke prepares another bombardment, but is surprised to see the Scouts riding toward him on their horses. He claims he did not think they would go down without a fight, but had not expected a suicide charge. Erwin and the Scouts make themselves ideal targets for the Beast Titan's attention. As Zeke prepares another barrage, the Scouts fire signal flares to reduce his accuracy. While his comrades act as a decoy, Levi approaches the Beast Titan by using the larger Titans standing around it. Since they are positioned in a semicircle with the Beast Titan in the middle, they serve as a path for him to attack using his ODM.
As Erwin rallies his soldiers, the Beast Titan's bombardment strikes them, decapitating one of the recruits. A rock tears into Erwin's horse, and another catches Erwin himself in the abdomen, causing him to fall from his saddle.
Currently Publicly Available Information
The Colossal Titan's Steam
A Titan's special powers are produced by using its own body as a resource. In that way, it is thought the steam emitted by the Colossal Titan consumes muscle tissue and therefore must be finite.