Attack On Titan Final Season Goes Full Apocalypse In Revelatory 'From You, 2000 Years Ago'

"Game of Thrones" had its ninth episodes, "Bojack Horseman" had penultimate episodes, and "Attack on Titan" has fifth episodes. Whether it's Eren being devoured by a Titan or Armin sacrificing himself to beat the Colossal, the show has given us incredible half hours of television that change the game in visually awe-inspiring ways, and this is not the exception.

After the mind-blowing events of last week, the show finally takes us back to where it all began with "From You, 2000 Years Ago," an episode that tells arguably the saddest, most tragic, and most important story in this world: that of Ymir the founder. If it wasn't clear before, this is "Attack on Titan" fully entering its endgame, and based on the last minutes of this episode, it's going to be one hell of a violent, nihilistic way to go.

'You Should Live in a Way to Be Helpful and Loved by Everybody'

We start where we left off, with Zeke and Eren back in Paths. Despite being in chains, Eren still maintains a sense of humor, mocking a completely bewildered Zeke about not even getting to see the part where Eren eats their father. But after the older Yaeger commands Ymir to euthanize all Eldians, Eren literally tears his thumbs apart, frees himself from his shackles, and runs towards Ymir. Then we're back to another flashback episode that changes everything.

We see a young Historia reading a book with her sister Frieda, who tells Historia that she should be more ladylike, like the girl in the story she likes — Ymir. Most of the episode, then, tells the story of Ymir the founder, a girl we've heard a lot about but never really seen before. Even as far back as season 2, we knew she was worshipped like a deity, and hated as a demon. The real story is both much simpler and far more complex. Frieda then tells her sister the tale of a young girl who was "always thinking about other people because she's so kind" even if the world she was born into was full of violence, sadness, and hatred. We see Ymir 2000 years ago, when she was a girl living in a small village that gets raided and conquered by a barbaric Germanic-looking tribe. Those who survived are turned into slaves, with their tongues cut out — literally taking away their voice and agency.

Though "Attack on Titan" has done flashbacks before (as recently as last week!) we haven't seen something similar to what "From You, 2000 Years Ago" does. Every character we see in the past is devoid of color, with the art direction obscuring everyone's eyes with shading lines, essentially taking away their souls — something myth-making tends to do with the real people that inspire the legends. As Ymir grew up a slave, one day she gets accused by 13 hands — there is a lot of unsubtle symbolism in this episode — of letting some pigs escape their pen. The king tells her that she's "free," and proceeds to have his men hunt her down through the woods like an animal, shooting arrows at this child as she bleeds to death. But before she dies, Ymir stumbles upon a giant tree in the middle of the woods and falls into an underground cave. Right as she starts drowning, a translucent blue hallucinogenic creature fuses with Ymir's spine, triggering the very first Titan transformation.

'You're Not a Slave! You're Not a God! You're Just a Person!'

For as long as we've known of Ymir the founder, we've had this image of a girl holding an apple while standing in front of a demon with sharp fangs and claws (and in the case of Marley's history books, a furry, horned figure). While Eldians believed that Ymir was blessed with the power of the Titans by the gods, and Marleyans believed she made a deal with the devil, both sides agreed that Ymir had allied herself with a deity to get this immense power bestowed upon her. What "From You, 2000 Years Ago" makes clear is that this image is only half true.

Ymir was, as Frieda called her at the beginning of the episode, a girl trying to please others. She did not receive the apple from the devil — quite the opposite — she offered this power to the devil, King Fritz, even after he and his men enslaved her and nearly killed her. The king with the horned helmet took, used, and abused Ymir's power to grow his empire. They may be called "Subjects of Ymir" in the present, but as we hear Fritz command his Titan slave Ymir to annihilate the people of Marley, "in the name of Fritz," the show makes it clear that she never had any agency beyond her desire to be helpful and needed, and that the real devil got away scot-free from the judgment of history.

"Attack on Titan" has always made it a point to show how the truth is in the eye of the beholder, and this episode brings that theme to a boiling point. When a young Grisha heard the Marleyan propaganda about Ymir, the books said she was a devil that helped the Eldians decimate and enslave other nations. When an older Grisha joined the Restorationists and found an old book about Eldia, his "truth" showed Ymir as a benevolent person whose power "built roads, cultivated the wilds, and bridged mountains." This episode shows how reality was somewhere in the middle. Ymir's power did allow the Eldians to thrive and become a vast Rome-like empire with paved roads, aqueducts, and bridges, but we also see Ymir lead increasingly larger and better-equipped armies to conquer more and more people — and based on the treatment of Ymir's own village, it's hard not to picture the horrors inflicted upon those brought into the Eldian Empire. Fritz even repeats the words Grisha used when congratulating Ymir on all she has done for Eldia, before rewarding her by turning her into his concubine.

After being forced to bear the king's children and aiding him in conquering the continent, what is Ymir's reward? Oh, you know, just jumping in front of the king when a captured Marleyan soldier throws a spear at him, which kills Ymir instead. This is highly evocative of the legendary Marleyan figure Helios we heard about in season 3, who we see here as just the right dude at the right time who happened to have a spear handy. To thank her for all her service, King Fritz has his three daughters Maria, Rose, and Sina (whom the walls are named after) literally eat the corpse of their dead mother to gain her power in the most gruesome, ghoulish, dreadful image the show has produced so far.

And so, Ymir died as she lived, serving others, and even continued to do so after death. We see Ymir in Paths manually and painstakingly making every single Titan, including the millions of Colossal Titans in the walls of Paradis Island, often collapsing from exhaustion. All of this while Fritz, on his deathbed, proclaimed the never-ending Eldian Empire, built on the back of Ymir's powers and efforts, an empire that shall "reign supreme for eternity," as Fritz says.

'Hear Me, Subjects of Ymir. My Name is Eren Jaeger'

The one thing Fritz did not count on, was Eren Jaeger, who immediately calls out the cruelty of a world that would allow Ymir to suffer as she did. "I'll put an end to this world," he promises Ymir, while reminding her that she is neither a god nor a slave; she's a person. With this, we finally see Ymir open her eyes, as she begins to tear up.

We then return to the real world, and in an instant, the same worm-like parasite that attached itself to Ymir's spine emerges from Eren's decapitated head and it starts growing exponentially, all while a roaring thunder makes the walls break apart, revealing the Colossal Titans hidden inside them. Then, Eren's flesh-less spine transforms itself into a horrifying, leviathan-like monster.

The ground breaks beneath the Titans' feet and the debris from the wall shake Shiganshina, and the skies literally turn red as Eren and millions of Colossal Titans start their prophesied march. The rumbling is no longer coming, it is here. For all the talk we've heard about the rumbling since season 3, and for the brief and surprisingly spoilery tease we got on the end credits sequence in season 2, nothing could have prepared us for how grim, apocalyptic, and even poetic the scene would actually look like when fully animated. It helps that we also got Kohta Yamamoto's best musical contribution for the show yet, with the track "Footsteps of Doom" and its doomsday choir evoking something worthy of Mordor in "Lord of the Rings" or the coming of Godzilla himself. Indeed, the sound of the Titans marching is so deafening that Mikasa and Armin can't even communicate despite standing next to each other, as Armin wonders if Eren really has good intentions in mind for his army of Titans.

But before they can think about it too long, Eren pulls a Voldemort and psychically connects to every Eldian in the world through Paths, delivering the ominous war declaration speech to end all ominous war declaration speeches. "The Wall Titans will trample every inch of the world beyond this island, and until every last life beyond our shores is wiped out," Eren proclaims, as we get a single static shot of the face of his new Titan form, a true devil of Paradis Island.

"Attack on Titan" was never about right or wrong, but about what level of evil we are comfortable with in order to achieve our goals, and Eren just gave us his answer. Whatever is happening in his head does not bode well for everyone outside (or even inside) of Paradis Island. Rumbling. Rumbling. It's here.