|If we kill all our enemies... over there... will we finally... be free?|
|— Eren Jaeger, looking out at the sea for the first time|
The Other Side of the Wall (壁の向こう側 Kabe no Mukougawa?) is the 22nd and final episode of the 3rd season and the 59th episode overall of the Attack on Titan anime, produced by Wit Studio and Production I.G.
The royal government decides to release the information contained in Grisha Jaeger's journals to the general public, causing some chaos as people try to accept the news. Some do not. However, progress on killing Titans with the Executioner from Hell continues until there are scarcely any left, and refugees are allowed to resettle in Wall Maria.
A year after the attack on Trost District and six years after the fall of Wall Maria, the Scout Regiment is able to launch an expedition past Wall Maria to explore the land outside. They see the wall where the Restorationists were turned into Titans, and eventually arrive at the sea; a body of salt water so vast it stretches to the horizon. Most of the Scouts are happy to play in the surf, but Eren Jaeger is pensive, knowing that this sight – one that he so longed for and idealized as a symbol of freedom – in reality offers no freedom at all, but that the other side of the sea is where their true enemies are.
The military discusses the facts revealed in Grisha Jaeger's journals and the Military Police Regiment is largely against sharing their contents with the general population of the Walls. However, Dot Pyxis points out that doing so would make them the same as the previous Kings, ensuring that the population stays docile and ignorant. Queen Historia Reiss decides that they will announce the truth, reasoning that they would simply be returning the memories that King Reiss had taken away. All of the people of the Walls will share the same fate, so she wants them to unite.
As the news goes out, Hange Zoë and Levi Ackermann meet with Roy and Peaure, who are trying to digest the truth that the rest of the population is now learning. Peaure is concerned that they will be invaded in the near future by an enemy that wants to obtain their land and resources, and that their attack actually started five years ago with the arrival of the Colossal Titan. Roy is more concerned about the credibility of the Scout Regiment's information, but Hange finds it consistent with what they already know.
According to Roy, the general population's reactions have been all over the place; some people accept it, some people do not, and others think it is a conspiracy. The situation inside the Walls is now chaotic. Hange is sympathetic, but acknowledges that it is the Scouts' job to report their findings and it is up to the taxpayers to decide what to do with it, and that is one thing they are doing better than the previous King. Roy finds that admirable, which embarrasses Hange. Levi asks him to write an article that pats them on the back next time.
More seriously, Roy wonders what will become of them now that the rest of the world looks at them like they used to look at Titans.
At a military ceremony, Hitch Dreyse greets several of the surviving Scouts, calling them the heroes of the Walls. They are surprised to see her and Jean Kirschtein tries to tell her a few comforting words about Marlo Freudenberg, saying that he was brave up until the end. He encourages Floch to corroborate, but even though Floch acknowledges that Marlo was an inspiration in his final moments, he suspects that Marlo must have regretted his choices in the end.
Upset, Hitch leaves, saying she will laugh if Floch screws up the ceremony. Jean admonishes Floch for his insensitive remarks, but Floch defends his actions, saying that someone has to tell the truth. It is the same thing as the choice between saving Erwin Smith and Armin Arlelt. Floch tells Armin that he believes the commander should have been saved, and he is not the only one, claiming that most of the people who have read the Scouts' report agree with him.
Eren Jaeger tries to defend Armin, asking Floch what he knows about him, but Floch explains that that is why he does not trust his choice. He does not know Armin and he is not Armin's childhood friend. Floch believes that Armin was only saved because Eren, Mikasa Ackermann, and Levi allowed their feelings to get in the way. Eren begins to escalate the situation, telling Floch to shut his mouth, but Floch refuses to back down and accuses Eren of thinking that he is always in the right, and that is why he never gives up. When Mikasa tries to calm Eren down, Floch praises Mikasa for acting more like an adult compared to Eren, because at least she backed down in the end; this statement and realization shocks Mikasa and causes her to back down.
Jean shoves the two apart before their confrontation can go any further and asks Floch to not do this at a funeral for their fallen comrades and Conny Springer tries to calm the situation down by stating that dredging up the past will not help, but Floch is not done, and points out that while Jean and Conny may not have acted against their superiors, they made no effort to actually stop Eren and Mikasa; all they did was watch and this realization shocks them both. He asks why they are getting medals and who this funeral is truly for. Floch wants the Scouts to tell the truth before more recruits like him are enlisted. He understands that someone like him is expendable, but still believes that he has a right to call it as he sees it, and to decide whether this cause is worth dying for.
Armin quietly agrees with Floch, and that Erwin should have lived. Eren tries to bring up Armin's spirits with talk about what is beyond the Walls; things like the sea, the fiery water, and lands of ice. He starts to say that beyond the Walls is freedom, but abruptly stops as his father's memories come back to him and he remembers what happened to Fay. Levi then interrupts and tells his squad that it is time to line up.
The nine surviving Scouts kneel before Historia who present each of them with a medal. As she hands them out, Eren wonders what they truly found in the basement, whether it was hope or despair. He knows he could sacrifice his own life if it would make a difference, but he cannot do the same with Historia. Eren does not know what he should do, nor does he feel like he can talk about this with anyone.
After Historia places his medal around his neck, he kisses her hand, triggering another of his father's memories. He sees the Reiss family in the Underground Chapel as Grisha announces that he is an Eldian who has come from outside the Walls. Grisha asks the King of the Walls to kill the Titans attacking them before he loses his wife and children and the rest of the people of the Walls are killed. Eren reels from seeing the memory and Historia and the other Scouts notice something is wrong.
Time passes, and by the time winter arrives, the giant sledge crushing the Titans outside of Trost District grows silent. In spring, the military announces that the Titans inside Wall Maria have been eradicated, and a year after the attack on Trost, the refugees are allowed to return home. Now, a full six years after the first time the Colossal Titan appeared, the Scout Regiment is finally able to explore the land outside Wall Maria.
As Hange suspected, nearly all the Titans had moved inside Wall Maria when given the chance, so the land outside is largely devoid of them. But as they ride, one signal goes up, setting the regiment on alert. When they get to it though, the Titan is largely immobile due to the size of its limbs. They can see the depression it made in its wake, but its movement has been so slow that grass and small shoots have grown in the groove behind it. Eren walks up to it without fear and touches its head. He lets everyone know that it was a fellow patriot who was shipped to paradise. He tells them to continue, and that they are close. Floch remarks that they should kill the Titan.
The Scouts leave the Titan without killing it and follow its trail until they come to the sandy dunes of Grisha's memory. There they see the wall where the Restorationists had been pushed off and transformed into Titans. Hange leads them around it, taking them to an overlook with a view of the sea. All of them are stunned to see a body of water that goes out as far as the horizon.
They go down to the shore, where Armin spots a seashell. Conny splashes water at Sasha Braus while Jean complains about how salty it is. Hange is amazed that the entire sea is composed of salt water and spots something that Levi warns them away from, on the suspicion that it might be poisonous. Even Mikasa smiles as she gets used to standing in the surf.
Delighted, Armin tells Eren that it is just like he said; the sea is a salt lake that merchants could spend their whole lives harvesting and still not get all the salt. Armin's dreams about the outside world were not all unfounded. Eren, however, is pensive. He recalls that he used to believe that on the other side of the Wall, they would find freedom. But now, having explored beyond the Walls and seen his father's memories, all Eren can think of are the enemies that await them.
Eren points out into the distance and wearily asks: If they kill all their enemies on the far side of the ocean, will they finally be free?
Currently Publicly Available Information
Intent for the Future
It is evident that the world perceives us as a 'race of devils.' The people of our world wish to eradicate us 'Subjects of Ymir.' However, we must not simply wait for our extermination to come about. As long as we live, we must strive to ensure our survival and our efforts to prevail must never cease. However, is a display of power enough to frighten the world our only method of doing so? Is there no other option than flaunting the very power we possess, the Power of the Titans, that makes the world believe we are devils? Is it delusional to think we could all sit around the same table and talk? I want to think it is possible, even if it seems an idealistic view. I believe coming up with a better way is my duty, and so I must never turn away from thinking about it.
Characters in order of appearance
- Hajime Isayama consulted with both the directors and the animation staff for this episode, giving them suggestions for how to portray the Scouts' arrival at the ocean and how to end the scene.