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The Journey of Eren Jaegar: A Road Map to the Final Season

by Umeko Long,

The highly anticipated final season of Attack on Titan is set to return, even if its not this fall like originally planned. The trailer left fans excited and curious about new characters joining this amazing story. One face (and body) that had everyone's attention was the main protagonist Eren Jaeger. Eren has overcome life-changing obstacles such as transforming into a titan and learning the secrets hidden from the world by his father. His growth as a character is extraordinary and has been the guiding force of many events in the series. Allow me to be your guide through Eren's journey of becoming humanity's hope. It's time to see how Attack on Titan concludes, and why following Eren's story has been such a fantastic treat.

Joining the Scout Regiment has always been Eren's dream. Discovering the world outside the walls motivated Eren to look up to the Scouts who risked their lives for the people. His drive became an obsession the day the Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan destroyed Eren's childhood home in Shiganshina. After watching the horrendous act of his mother being devoured, Eren made a vow to become a Scout to slay every titan alive. Due to his grit and determination, Eren was able to graduate and become a part of the military faction he idolized as a child. Ironically, he became a member of the famous Captain Levi squad after discovering his ability to transform into a titan. With this new ability, Eren's life was in the hands of the top military executives. They debated whether to dispose of Eren for humanity's safety or use him as a weapon. Thankfully, with the help of Erwin, a decision was reached for Eren to remain in the military. However, strict guidelines were put in place, which dictated how Eren was to be treated and deployed moving forward. These orders were a preview of the government's controlling nature inside of the walls, which would eventually become one of the leading drivers of progression for the entire story.

Sadly, Eren quickly found out that it wasn't just the government that would become an obstacle. More adversaries were hiding in plain sight and a lot closer to home. The revelation of the Armored and Colossal Titan's identities and their betrayal in season two left a lasting impression on every fan of the series. Reiner and Bertholdt began their assault (unspectacularly or gloriously depending on who you ask) against the military and tried to convince Eren to travel back to their hometown where there seemed to be others who could turn into titans. These two individuals were responsible for destroying Wall Maria (Eren's home) which caused many deaths, including Eren's mother. You could say that they, who initially created the motivation for Eren that has been a driving force for Attack on Titan's narrative, have now become a source of massive internal conflict within Eren. In the first season, Eren was in disbelief when he discovered that Annie was the Female Titan responsible for the deaths of numerous members of his Scout Regiment. Ever since that story arc, Eren never seemed to be the same around his friends. He learns that amongst the comrades he developed a close bond with are those responsible for the devastation of his world, and that trust can be easily broken. Eren couldn't fathom how Reiner and Bertholdt could still conduct themselves without shame or guilt despite being responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people.

Eren constantly asked the question, “Who's the real enemy?”, the same question Commander Erwin asked him in season one during his trial. This significant question is echoed repeatedly in Attack on Titan as the story deviates from the threat of titans to look deeper into the actions of humans.

The first battle between Reiner and Eren at the end of the second season became more memorable thanks to a new ability Eren discovered. It depicted a clearer picture of why Eren became a target of interest for every entity in Attack on Titan. When Eren was in the presence of the “Smiling Titan” (the one who ate his mother), our hero had to watch a pseudo-guardian of his (Hannes) die at the titan's hands. Watching yet another loved one perish at the hands of a titan triggered a new awakening within Eren. He punched the Smiling Titan's fist and a spark erupted, causing more titans to stampede toward it. As if possessed by Eren's anger, these other titans attacked not only the Smiling Titan but Reiner as well. Reiner called this ability "The Coordinate", which somehow allows its user to control titans and thus a high priority for both factions to control. Eren keeping this ability would be dangerous and a considerable hiccup for Reiner's camp's plans. As such, even though it's now clear why Eren having this titan ability was problematic and why some wanted to acquire Eren to gain more power, fans were left with more questions.

Where is “home” for Reiner and Bertholdt? Why is it dangerous for Eren to have this ability, and how will this ability come into play in future seasons? Who are the parties that want Eren so badly and know what he is capable of accomplishing?

In the third season, fans were treated to a glimpse of how dark and desolate Attack on Titan can be. It was during this time when Eren's fiery spirit broke as he learned the hidden truths of the royal family. Rod Reiss, a member of a royal family, has set in motion a plan to kidnap Eren and Christa, a fellow member of the Scout Regiment. We learn that Christa's actual name is Historia Reiss, and that she is the daughter and remaining heir of the Reiss family. Eren's father was revealed as the one who stole the titan power of the Reiss family (which the Founding Titan owned). After taking this power, the Reiss family was single-handedly murdered by Eren's father. In becoming a titan and eating Eren, Historia can return the Founding Titan's ability to the royal family. If Historia were to accomplish this, the world as both she and Eren knows it would be stuck in the same spot it has been since its inception. It created a dilemma that is relatable to what's going on in our world. Do we continue to maintain the status quo, or do we stand up to change it?

Eren spiraled into self-hatred after this revelation and was willing to surrender his life to Historia to atone for his father's actions. He fell victim to the words Rod Reiss was spreading and felt his sacrifice was necessary for the greater good when it would actually prolong humanity's struggle against the titans. Thankfully, Historia refuses to turn into a titan and encourages Eren to keep fighting. After being rescued by their friends from the 104th Cadet Corps, Historia took her rightful place as queen after a well-planned coup d'etat was executed by Commander Erwin to overthrow the imposter king. This historic change brought with it the transparency that the first king denied his people for his version of peace. In continuing his efforts to be humanity's hope, Eren endured intense training to master his new hardening ability to be ready for the vital mission to retake Wall Maria. 

Eren's story comes full circle as the Scout Regiment travels to Shiganshina to retake Wall Maria and figure out what was in the basement that Eren holds the key to. Reiner, Bertholdt, and the Beast Titan did their best to sabotage the mission but were met with defeat, resulting in the first victory (morale-wise) humanity has had against the titans. A heavy price was paid for that success, including the life of Commander Erwin. And while his death left a lasting impression on everyone he's worked with, Erwin's decision to bet it all on Eren, Armin, and the new generation was necessary to help reach a tipping point in this story. Not only would our heroes finally reach the basement to learn the secrets Eren's father kept about the titans, but having Eren be the focal point of this mission's completion emphasized that instead of being taken for a ride by the story's main plot, Eren is entirely in control of it. 

In what feels like a dream, Eren relives the memories of his father before his life inside the walls. It is revealed that humanity is thriving outside the walls, and the secret of the titans is explained in detail. His eyes are cold as he and the Scouts make it to the sea. While Eren and Armin had previously made a promise to discover the sea and other wonders of the outside world together, the memories of his father distracted Eren from enjoying this partial fulfilment of that promise. Eren is now focused on the threat beyond the sea. He wonders if the lives of the enemies across the sea will be the price of true freedom for the people inside the walls.

The evolution of Eren Jaeger has been mesmerizing to witness as we see him grow from a fiery child to a hardened member of the Scouts. For three seasons, we've watched the story unfold around Eren, and now it seems fans are primed to see what happens when Eren has all this knowledge at his disposal. At first, he was driven by raw emotions from hate to self-pity, but now he is seemingly emotionless and apathetic. How will Eren's new persona affect future events? Season four will take us across the sea to a new continent called Marley. The trailer teased Eren in titan form in the new location which begs the question: is Eren bringing the fight to Marley? And how will this play out for Marley and the people inside the walls? The final season will bring an end to this jaw-dropping experience of a young man who strived for the freedom of himself and his people.

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