When you wish upon a Rod…
Levi’s squad finally breaks into the chamber and faces Kenny’s team. Using diversion tactics and armed with knowledge about their enemy’s equipment, they manage to wipe out almost all of them. Kenny arrives soon after and takes on Levi personally, but still gets hit by Levi’s blades, so the remaining forces fall back while Kenny goes to guard Reiss.
Rod Reiss explains the founding of the country and the initial building of the walls. They were both built by a Titan, the Founding Titan, who was the Intelligent Titan ability the Reiss family has had for generations and used to manipulate the memories of their country. Reiss’ father had it, then his younger brother Uri, and finally his daughter Frieda before Grisha stole that power and later passed it down to Eren. Each holder gains the memories of the true past the country had, as well as the memories of the previous holder, but only someone of the Reiss family could use that power to its full potential.
This is why Rod has brought Eren to be eaten, as well as a syringe to turn Historia into a Titan so that she can eat Eren and reclaim that power. Kenny also shows up (with a stylish landing, I might add) and proceeds to manhandle Reiss for apparently leading him on about helping him while knowing Kenny wouldn’t be able to get the power he wanted. Historia is committed to fulfilling her destiny, but Kenny tells her Rod only wanted her because he’s scared of becoming a Titan himself. He then cuts Eren’s forehead to trigger his Titan transformation, putting pressure on Historia to transform.
But she soon notices that Eren hasn’t transformed, and Eren has every reason not to. Now that he knows only someone of Historia’s bloodline can truly use the power he has to end the Titan threat, he realizes that his whole existence is blocking the path to his greatest dream. This strikes a chord in Historia, who realizes that even with that power, her family never did anything to stop the Titans. Rod has no idea why because only people with the memories know the reason. But remembering Ymir’s words to her about leading her own life, Historia smashes the syringe and fights off her father to go free Eren. As he writhes on the ground, Rod licks up the fluid and transforms into a gigantic Titan.
JEEZ, this was a heavy one. We’ve had a lot of peeling back the curtain lately about the lore, specifically the secret government conspiracies and how Titan Shifters gain their powers, but this cuts right to the core of both Historia AND Eren’s entire characters while also filling in a lot of gaps in the mystery of the Titan conflict. Seems it’s actually an artificial one that was put in place by whoever first constructed the walls, but while knowledge of why the secret must be kept was lost to time for most, that reason stayed alive in the Founding Titan’s user’s memories, almost making them a higher being that never truly died, but simply went on into a younger body. It’s no wonder then that Rod was so scared become that, even without having to become a mindless Titan briefly.
Eren, meanwhile, gets the greatest shock of his life while being tied up and gagged on his third kidnapping, as he learns the power he thought he could use to change the tide of a war that he’s seen destroy countless lives was actually the result of theft from the only people who could possibly make any significant change. That’s not really something he can really blame himself for not knowing since he didn’t even know he had the power until several years after he got it, but he’s learning the very thing he thought was his greatest strength was actually the biggest roadblock in his way. Talk about a rough night.
But I have to give it to Historia for really having the most significant breakthrough here, which I really like in a lot of ways. For one, it’s the further continuation of her breaking free from the shackles of her family line, whose rejection of her forced her to join the Scouts in the first place and using lessons learned from both Eren and Ymir to truly make her own decision. Like Eren, here the situation was massively reversed, with her father wanting nothing to do with her and then suddenly offering her to become the closest thing to God. In reality, however, this was simply him throwing her away when she was useless and trying to take her back when he could make use of her, and her realizing this just in time to save herself. A grand destiny does await Historia, but it won’t be as a Titan. On an unrelated note, she and Shinji Ikari should really have a talk about father issues and piloting giant flesh monsters.
With Rod taking the plunge and finally transforming, this seems like it would be the climax of the arc…but it seems there’s at least another handful of episodes left to go. How could this get crazier?!