Here’s everything you need to know about AOT episode 81, the sixth episode of the second half of The Final Season, “Thaw.”
After spending episode 79 in Grisha’s memories, Ymir’s memories were relived. Her village was sacked by the eventual King Fritz, she was enslaved, then hunted for freeing pigs. This led to her being saved by the source of all living matter, which triggered the first Titan transformation. She was used by Fritz to conquer lands, using her love of him against her for undying loyalty. She protected him from an assassination, dying, then had her body fed to their three daughters Sina, Rose, and Maria, which is how Titan powers have been passed on throughout history. She’s been at the Coordinate ever since, creating Titans, including the Colossal Titans that formed the walls of Paradis.
Eren, rather than commanding Ymir, asked her to make her own choice because she’s just a human like anyone else. She not only granted him the Founding, but the source of all living matter transferred to him as well. In real time, it extended from his severed head to his body, creating a new Titan form. Eren broadcasted a message to all Subjects of Ymir, transporting them to the Coordinate, and telling them he’s going to wipe out all of humanity beyond the walls.
“Thaw” – AOT episode 81 synopsis
The episode begins with the walls crumbling and Colossal Titans being freed from their long slumber. Eren’s message to the Subjects of Ymir that ended the previous episode was rebroadcast before the opening credits.
The Subjects of Ymir are suddenly back in real time, asking what that place was. A shocked Mr. Leonhart is on his knees, asking if they heard that the Titans are coming from that island to kill us.
Back in Paradis, the Rumbling is shown before the camera pans to Reiner’s discarded Titan, its armor now gone. Gabi and Reiner are searching for Falco as Reiner reminds Gabi that the first transformation is rough, affecting memories and being unable to move for a short time. Reiner says most likely Jean and Connie took Falco because “there’s no way they would leave someone as crucial as Falco behind.”
Reiner collapses as Gabi runs over to her cousin, the anti-Titan rifle still strapped around her body. Reiner says his armor was stripped and he took a direct hit from the wall debris, then blames himself for not being able to stop Eren. He says Eren is going to destroy the world.
Gabi takes Reiner to an abandoned house, where he implores her to leave with the airships. She asks if everyone’s going to die, including her mom, father, and Aunt Karina (Reiner’s mom), and that they need to kill Eren to stop it, but Reiner says it’s impossible. He says since Eren has the power of the Founding Titan and can control Titans and Subjects of Ymir as he sees fit, so he’s unstoppable. He falls into unconsciousness, and Gabi puts him in a bed before heading off on her own.
Mikasa, Armin, Jean, and Connie are shown on a roof with Falco tied up and a gag in his mouth to prevent transforming. Jean says he never thought Eren would slaughter everyone, but at least that means all the hatred from people outside of the walls will disappear, “leaving nothing but a blank, empty land” after the Rumbling. He adds that the thing people beyond the walls feared the most happened because they labeled Eldians and the Subjects of Ymir as devils, so this is what they brought on themselves.
Armin says this is too far, that “it’s an unprecedented level of genocide.” Jean asks Armin if he’ll stop Eren, then reminds them that Eren rejected Zeke’s euthanasia plan and the plan to sacrifice Historia; in other words, Eren is sacrificing humanity beyond the walls to save them. “The ones who’ll benefit from this genocide…are us.” They flashback to Eren telling them they’re more important to him than anyone else.
Mikasa asks Jean his plans for Falco, and Jean says since Flaco probably inherited the Jaw Titan, he plans to feed him to one of their comrades who was turned, like Pyxis. Connie jumps in and says Falco should be fed to his mother, still immobile and in the collapsed house of Ragako Village. Armin says if Eren is killing off humanity, then there’s no need for them to extend their blood feud with Reiner, Gabi, Pieck, and the rest since Falco is a Warrior Candidate and well-liked by Reiner and those in the Warrior Unit. Connie asks if Armin means his mom doesn’t matter, then asks if Armin knows how he feels going back to his village over and over again to see his mom in that state. He adds Armin is only alive because he ate Bertolt Hoover (the previous Colossus Titan).
A Pure Titan attacks and Connie uses that distraction to grab Falco and head off. The other three are confronted by a bevy of Pure Titans. They show the Pure Titans all around the district, then inside a building where Yelena asks Onyankopon why those Titans created by Zeke aren’t being controlled by him.
They show soldiers cowering in fear in a tower at their impending doom before a wall collapses from a Titan attack. It cuts to the Braus family, running from a Pure Titan. Nicolo tells Kaya to watch out, but she crashes through a wooden gate and tumbles down stairs as the family hits an alley to the side. The Titan crashes through, and Kaya has flashbacks to the day a Titan ate her mother in front of her and Sasha saved her.
As the Titan is getting ready to devour Kaya, Kaya calls out for Sasha, but Gabi appears. Gabi shoots the mouth of the Titan with the anti-Titan rifle, then yells for Kaya to get up. Gabi leaps off of some boxes to gain some height, then rams the rifle into the Titan’s mouth and pulls the trigger, killing it as the round went through the nape of its neck. Kaya looks back to see the visage of Sasha with the wooden bow from the day she was saved.
The mid-episode infographic was on the anti-Titan rifle used by Gabi.
Nicolo asks Gabi why she’s there since he heard she escaped with the Warrior Unit. She informs them Falco was taken, and Mr. Braus still calls him Ben. Two soldiers appear on the roof, asking what happened and if Gabi was the one who killed the Titan with the rifle in her hands. They recognize her as the kid from Marley who infiltrated Paradis. Kaya yells out that they’re a family who lives in the stables, Nicolo grabs the rifle and says he killed the Titan and knows how to use the rifle as he was a former Marleyan soldier and POW, and the rest of the family ask to be taken to safety.
Mr. Braus tells Gabi, though he still calls her Mia, to find “Ben” and run, but to stay with them until it’s safe. The soldiers ask them if they also had that “daydream” and Mr. Braus responds in the affirmative, asking if the Titans of the Walls are really free. Gabi asks why they’re protecting her as the soldiers lead them to safety. Kaya asks the same thing about Gabi saving her.
Kaya says she tried to kill Gabi, so isn’t she a devil. Gabi says no, she’s the actual demon since she’s killed many people all to gain praise from others; that’s the devil inside her. Nicolo says it’s inside him and Kaya and everyone else and that’s why the world turned out this way.
They cut back to the soldiers in the tower as Surma is about to be eaten. He’s saved by a returning – yet still bruised – Keith Shadis (Sadies). He reminds them he never trained them to cower in fear of Titans and there’s still some old Vertical Maneuver Gear they can use. He says if they want to survive, follow him.
Yelena is just watching as a Titan nears her, but Mikasa takes it out. Jean and Armin fly throughout and tell the surviving soldiers to head to the top of the fort and gather all the Thunder Spears they can to take out all of the Pure Titans. He says, “If you care about your friends who’ve been turned into Titans, put them to rest here and end their misery!“
A contingent of soldiers led by Jean then leap from the fort’s tower and use their gear to unleash a horde of Thunder Spears at the base of the neck of many Titans. After the first wave, they show those saved by Shadis using the old gear to lure Titans toward the tower. Shadis reminds them their goal is to lure them there and not to fight.
Readying for the second wave, Armin, Mikasa, and Jean look down to see the Titan of Commander Pyxis looking right up at them. A wave of emotions cross their faces as they resolve themselves to their task. Flashbacks to their time with the Commander play as Armin thanks Pyxis, saying they were only able to make it this far because of his guidance and teaching. He shoots a Thunder Spear into the base of his neck and says to his former Commander rest in peace. Scenes of Titan slaughter follow as Thunder Spears land and even Shadis gets some more kills. Mikasa goes on her own spree as none are a match for the Ackerman.
Jean and the soldiers debrief in the fort. Jean says they should be safe as all the flames died out and Pure Titans killed. Onyankopon then asks Jean if he could inform them of the daydream and exactly what Eren is doing, but Jean just says “Exactly what it looks like.” Onyankopon then asks if his homeland is doomed as well, but before Jean could respond, Floch makes his way up to the fort with the assistance of a soldier.
He says that while he was busy dying with the walls collapsing, he heard Jean led the Titan hunt. Jean just says Floch’s alive, and Floch says thanks for showing your concern. He then puts a gun to Yelena’s head – still despondent – and orders her to gather the volunteers as he’s placing them under arrest.
Mr. Braus is shown leading Armin and Mikasa to a lower level, saying he’s glad they’re safe and he’s sorry he has to bring them down here like this. They see Gabi, who says she doesn’t want to fight and just wants Falco. They tell her what happened with Connie and his mom and how he’s been taking care of her Titan form for four years.
Gabi says she’s sorry, but she can’t give up on Falco. She asks if Eren can turn Connie’s mom back into a human with the power of the Founding and the Founding can do anything, but Armin says if he could, he thinks Eren would have turned the Titans turned by Zeke back into humans, which he didn’t.
She pleads with him to ask Eren and that Eren doesn’t have to kill everyone outside of the walls, instead attacking the military bases. She says Eren even stripped Reiner of his armor. Armin asks exactly when Reiner’s armor was stripped, then recalls Eren’s words from the Coordinate: “I have undone all the hardening.” It hits him as they pan to a shot of Annie Leonhart, gasping for breath, as her crystallization was undone through Eren’s Founding power.
What happened to Connie’s mom?
Connie’s mom was turned into a Pure Titan by Zeke. The Titans that attacked those years ago from within Wall Rose were from Ragako Village, Connie’s home. Zeke diffused a gas with his spinal fluid into the air, turning all Subjects of Ymir in the village – everyone – into a Pure Titan. When Connie and the others came to check on the village those years ago, they noticed no blood and hoped that that meant everyone escaped; it was only later they realized the truth.
However, Ms. Springer wasn’t killed by the Survey Corps as she was immobilized by the transformation. Her limbs were not strong enough to support her large frame. Unlike Rod Reiss’ Titan form that crawled across the land, Ms. Springer was caught in the wreckage of her house from transforming, leaving her unable to move. Connie noted that the Titan resembled his mom, and it even said “Welcome home” to him. He’s been taking care of her ever since.
What happened to Kaya?
Kaya was in a village within Wall Rose when the Titans from Ragako appeared. The villagers left her and her mom due to her mother having bad legs. A Pure Titan ate her mom in front of her, leaving Kaya in a state of shock. She was only saved by Sasha appearing and leading the Titan away. She had Kaya run in the opposite direction, where she ran into the Braus family and told them that Sasha was off fighting a Titan. She was then adopted into the Braus family, looking to Sasha as both her savior and her elder sister.
Sasha had such an impact on her that Kaya thought she saw Sasha after Gabi saved her from the Pure Titan.
What powers does Eren possess with the Founding Titan, Attack Titan, and War Hammer Titan?
With the Founding, Eren has many abilities that do not need royal blood thanks to Ymir bestowing him with the power and the source of all living matter now residing within him. He can control all Subjects of Ymir, including turning them into Pure Titans. He can manipulate their memories and their anatomies; an Eldian King used this power to protect all Subjects of Ymir from an epidemic. As shown in the episode, he can communicate with all of them telepathically as they’re all connected through the Coordinate. Lastly, similar to the power of the Attack Titan, he can directly influence events of the past, but only to preserve history as it’s already been written.
As the War Hammer, Eren can build structures out of hardened Titan flesh, including weapons – which is how it’s mainly been shown to be used. A unique feature to the War Hammer is the ability to remotely operate the Titan from a connected cord rather than the human needing to be inside the nape of the neck.
As the Attack, Eren has immense physical abilities. However, its most unique and powerful ability is future memory inheritance. Unlike the Founding, which was only used to manipulate the memories of the past, the Attack Titan can see the memories of future holders of the Attack Titan, though only the next successor. For example, Eren Kruger – or the “Owl” – saw memories of Grisha telling Eren to protect Mikasa and Armin, though he had no idea who they were (Kruger told Grisha this just before turning Grisha and being eaten by him).
Grisha saw through his son’s memories the need to have royal blood to control the Founding Titan and the Rumbling, which is why he asked Zeke to stop Eren. Grisha also knew of the day the walls would fall, but Eren somehow blocked his father from seeing the memories of Carla dying from being eaten by a Titan in front of Eren and Mikasa.
With the Attack Titan’s ability to see into the future – or transcend time as Zeke said – they’ve always been known as the rebellious Titan as the holders of the Attack have continually pushed forward in the fight for freedom, which most recently has meant freedom from the memory manipulation of the King of the Walls.
What does the ending mean for the next episode?
A lot of emphasis was placed on the word “she” in the preview. “She” was once an ally and an enemy; what choice will “she” make? It all seems geared toward to figuring out the plans for Annie after being encased for in a hardening crystal for multiple years.
If this made you want to check out the AOT episode 81 yourself, catch Attack on Titan on Crunchyroll outside of Japan.