While seeing him in Marley was a huge surprise, it was an even bigger surprise when Eren proceeded to attack Marley and wreak havoc in the internment zone, killing innocent civilians and military personnel alike. This definitely was food for thought: why would Eren repeat an action that caused him and so many innocent people pain?
When Eren met Reiner Braun on the day of the festival by tricking Falco, it was obvious that he was going to pull something. But it most probably wouldn’t have been this violent, if it weren’t for Willy Tybur’s piercing speech. Things took a darker turn when Eren’s attack turned bloodier than expected.
So, why did Eren attack Marley, and what was his motive? How did he even reach there in the first place?
For anime watchers, here’s a spoiler-less answer. Eren attacked Marley and ate Willy Tybur because he wanted to stop the alliance from launching a quick attack on Paradis. Since Willy had declared the war, it was obvious that combined military forces of the world and Marley would descend on Paradis to annihilate it. By taking out the dignitaries and diplomats gathered at the festival in Liberio, Eren made sure that they won’t be able to attack Paradis right away!
The following part of the article contains spoilers from the Attack on Titan manga. Read ahead at your own discretion.
Why did Eren go to Marley?
Eren had two reasons: one, as the member of the Survey Corps to perform his duty, and secondly, he went to Marley to meet with Zeke Yeager and bring him to Paradis Island; as the latter had planned. He did so without the approval of the Survey Corps members. Eren was instructed by Yelena about Zeke’s intentions. Now let’s discuss these in detail, shall we?
By the end of Attack on Titan Season 3, we realised that the future of Paradis Island was not secure. The Eldians were looking to be eradicated by Marley. According to Yelena, Zeke had devised a secret plan for saving Eldians as a whole. This involved him coming in contact with Eren and making use of the powers of the Founding Titan. He couldn’t do so while he was in Marley. So he wanted Paradis Island to offer him shelter and agree to certain terms of his.
As a part of this plan, he sent Yelena and a bunch of his lackeys to negotiate with Historia and the superiors governing Paradis Island. This means Zeke was not technically on Marley’s side. With a lot of skepticism from Paradis’ government initially, the negotiations proved successful with them agreeing to partner with Zeke.
With his convincing skills, he managed to get Hizuru on their side. As mentioned above, Hizuru allowed the Corps a chance to learn about the outside world through attending “Association to Protect the Subjects of Ymir”‘s conference. Here, they would get the chance to observe what countries think about making ties with Paradis. Unfortunately, that did not work out, and Eren went rogue.
As mentioned, Yelena told Eren to meet Zeke. However, Eren did not tell anyone that he had been in contact with Yelena and knew of Zeke’s true intentions. Therefore, he went to Marley pretending to have the same objectives as everyone else. While the failure of negotiation with the diplomacy gave Eren a convenient way to slip, we can surely say he would leave to meet Zeke regardless.
There, they were supposed to create a small commotion to let Zeke slip out. Once feared dead by Marley, he could live in Paradis with no issues. What was surprising was seeing the way Eren attacked Marley (more on this later!).
In conclusion, Eren went to Marley to not only know about the outside world, but to meet Zeke to discuss his true plans. Eren did so by abandoning the corps and infiltrating the Eldian Warrior Unit to slip into Liberio. There, he managed to meet Zeke and kept in touch with the corps through letters he sent. .
How did Eren get to Marley?
Simple answer: with a boat, and some lying. With their alliance with Hizuru and Hizuru’s own vested interest in Paradis, Lady Kiyomi sought out everything so that the corps could make it to Marley and take part in the Association for the Protection of Ymir’s Subjects.
It is very important to know about Hizuru. Our favourite Wonder Boy Zeke Yeager managed to somehow convince Lady Kiyoomi to establish diplomatic relations with Paradis. The Eldia-friendly nation had not previously established any ties due to global pressure. Moreover, establishing ties with Paradis had economic advantages for Hizuru. The nation could use the resources of Paradis for its own benefit.
Diplomacy sounded like a great idea, which is why Hizuru helped the Survey Corps reach Marley to attempt to make ties with the association.
Why did Eren attack Marley?
Eren attacked the festival at Liberio in Marley, to prevent the allied forces from launching a quick attack on Paradis Island. This was in accordance with a pre-planned idea. Killing the dignitaries and military personnel present in Liberio was Zeke and Eren’s way of buying time to execute the secret plan Zeke had to save Eldians.
The Survey Corps’ were also on their way to assist him, having no choice. They were thrown in for a loop as their plan of diplomacy had failed, and Eren sent them a letter that most probably detailed his “new plan”. Not only did so many die at their hands, but Armin was forced to do exactly what Bertholdt had done nine years ago to his home.
Zeke planned to have the Survey Corps create disruption at the festival to assert Paradis’ will to not back down. Taking Zeke to Paradis would be easy due to the chaos made, while Marley would believe he is dead. This would also be in line with the secret plan he had for the Eldians!
Zeke obviously knew about the speech Willy Tybur was about to make, but the timing seems suspicious. It is peculiar that Eren managed to appear the second Willy made the declaration.
However, the disturbing reactions of the Corps to the civilian casualties is intriguing. It seemed like Eren went overboard the agreed damage decided. With Eren’s mental state being extremely serious, it would make sense to see why he seemed “fine” with taking such bold actions.
Deep down, Eren was ready to commit any crime in the world if it would allow his friends to save him and be termed heroes; guaranteeing their protection.
Why did Eren kill so many civilians?
Ever since the plan of action against Marley was being decided, Eren was a stern advocate for striking first. With the advent of the volunteers and their collaboration with the Survey Corps, Eren met Yelena who told him Zeke’s true plans. Though he agreed to the plan on the surface, Eren loathed it.
We can assume this due to the way season 3 ended. At the sea shore, Eren asks whether he will need to kill the enemy on the other end to get freedom. All those who participated in demonising Paradis residents were enemies in Eren’s dictionary.
Hence, it makes sense that he would want Marley to have the taste of its own medicine. Eren attacked Marley with not only the plan to get Zeke out, but to perhaps unleash his anger to show the world just how Paradis had suffered when the wall had fell.
It is important to understand Eren and the way his mind worked to understand why he did what he had to. So, let’s take a look at his state of mind and how it influenced him.
Eren’s state of mind before the declaration of war
Before Willy’s speech and his encounter with Reiner, Eren had met with Ramzi. This meeting had changed Eren’s outlook on the world completely. Even though he had decided that he would destroy the world (when he comes to know about Zeke’s plan), Eren realised that he did not have the determination to see through this brutal goal of his.
We witness a stark change in Eren’s attitude. We see him crying to Ramzi and apologising right after he left the meeting. Eren made up his mind that he would need to kill them all, but it mentally took a toll on him. This is similar to Reiner’s plight; both kept moving forward despite wishing to get rid of their burdens. This is where he realised that he and Reiner are the same.
According to me, when Eren met Reiner, he had deviated from his plan of killing everyone. Maybe he was ready to give diplomacy one last chance. However, Willy Tybur declaring war totally changes the scenario. Eren has a knowing smile on his face while Willy called Paradis Eldians “devils”. Its as if he was waiting for this moment; something that would reassure him that what he was about to do was right, and that it can’t be helped.
On the other hand, Eren was able to wipe out the strategically placed guests. Yet, Willy’s speech was the perfecting launching pad for Eren’s plan. This poses another question: who played into who’s hands? Was it Eren, or Willy Tybur?
This whole arc left us with multiple questions about the complex desires of our characters. However, let’s address the elephant in the room- just how did Eren manage to live in Marley for long?
How long did Eren stay in Marley?
Thanks to Isayama sensei making a fool out of the concept of time, we can only assume. However, with the way the events are, we can say that Eren was in Marley for around 3 months.
With investment from Hizuru, the completion of rail lines in Paradis finished by 853. 854 is when the Marley- Mid East Alliance War reached its climax at Fort Slava. From Eren’s get up, it’s obvious that he infiltrated the unit that was digging trenches during the war. Therefore, the Survey Corps arrived in Marley when the war is going on.
Eren left the meeting after its disappointing outcome and went to infiltrate MArley’s army. He was there in the frontlines for more than a month or maybe two. The meeting with Falco and the Tybur festival probably took place another month after his return to Liberio.
In the end, Eren managed to achieve two things by attacking Marley. Firstly, killing the dignitaries to make sure Marley is unable to counter-attack or intervene in his and Zeke’s plan. Secondly, he terrorised his enemies and made them suffer, either to make them realise what they did to Paradis was wrong or for his own genocidal intent.
Hiding his intentions by playing along with his duties as a soldier, Eren arrived at Marley via Hizuru’s transport arrangement for diplomatic work. Upset with how it turned out, he left and infiltrated the Marleyan army and managed to meet Zeke later on, which was his goal to come to Marley all along. The Survey Corps had no idea and were baffled by his disappearance, only for him to contact them almost 3 months later with a bloody and risky plan to save him and Zeke.
And the rest, is history :).
Why do you think Eren attacked Marley? Was he playing along Zeke’s ideas or did he have any ulterior motives in doing so? Let us know your opinions in the comments section!