So for a few years now, there has been this persisting theory: The Owl and The Beast Titan Tom Xaver were working together the whole time.
Maybe they were both Eldian Restorationists, but differing ideals made them go about their mission alternatively. Or maybe, it was always supposed to be this way.
Obviously in the manga, things are left more up to the reader’s interpretation.
Small hints here or there, possibly leading to the formation of something bigger.
While watching Episode 15 of the anime however, I noticed something.
I’m sure others did that are familiar with the theory, but as I went to bed and woke up thinking about it – I decided to write a post about this topic.
As with Grisha, Zeke Yeager was also targeted by an adult as a child.
Why Did Grisha Join the Eldian Restorationists?
Grisha decides to go beyond the walls of Liberio as a child after hearing his teacher talk about the dirigible. He brings his younger sister Faye along, and what happens next results in her death.
Had Kruger not asked Grisha to stay with him and watch the blimp, Faye most likely would not have been killed. Or on the flip side, both Grisha and Faye would have been killed that day – preventing the births of his future sons Zeke and Eren.
When confronted with their daughter’s death, the Yeager parents play it off and remain docile against the Marleyan guards.
The whole time, Kruger is watching the hatred swell inside young Grisha.
When he was old enough and had already chosen a path in life, another appeared – Enter Falco’s uncle Grice.
Grice attends the clinic Grisha works at, tells him the truth about his sister Faye, and brings his hatred of Marley back to the surface.
Faye Yeager’s death that day at the hands of Marley was necessary to get Grisha on board with the events that were yet to come and fulfill the prerequisites necessary to inherit the Attack titan.
In other words, Faye’s death was the catalyst for Grisha Yeager to join the Eldian Restorationists and inherit the Attack Titan from Eren Kruger.
Then, The Owl introduces Dina Fritz – the only one possessing royal Eldian blood on the continent to the Restorationists – and the rest of the prerequisites are filled.
Grisha even mentions in Episode 57 that he “let fate lead his life” and went along with wherever it took him.
From their union a year later, Zeke Yeager was born.
But…Zeke didn’t live up to the ideals of the Eldian Restorationists. He was not the son his father wanted (although Grisha still loved Zeke dearly).
Why Did Zeke Betray His Parents?
Because Zeke was mistreated at home, and in the army…he was caught by the eye of Tom Ksaver.
We even have a scene of Magath talking to Xaver on a horse where Xaver clearly takes note of Zeke and even learns his name. Then one day while he was on his way home moping from another long miserable day, Xaver drops his baseball and offers to play catch with him.
Since nobody else was in the boy’s life, of course it would make sense that Zeke gravitated toward him.
While The Owl is off busy influencing Grisha and Dina with the Eldian Restorationist movement, their young, lonely, and impressionable son Zeke whom they neglected is being influenced by the Beast Titan Tom Ksaver to ultimately betray them, and side with Marley.
I also find irony in the fact that Zeke is playing with a Beast Titan toy by the time the Marleyean Warrior youth program is announced, and that Xaver’s son had a stuffed toy Ram.
If you are caught up with the manga, you will know that the ram is the form Xaver’s Beast Titan took.
Who do you think gave these children those specific toys? Someone in the Eldian Restorationists, or by way of PATHs did they just happen to receive them?
(Also I am aware that in the manga Ksaver’s toy is a beast, but was changed for the anime adaptation in light of recent plot developments in ch 138).
Now here’s where all PATHs converge…
Zeke Turns in His Parents and Sides with Marley
Zeke is on cleaning duty for being a terrible child soldier and overhears some higher-ups in the Marleyan military just openly talking about The Eldian Restorationists. Why they had the door cracked is beyond me, but as we have been shown before – the Marleyans aren’t too bright.
Zeke warns his family and when they do not listen, he confides in the only adult who has been kind to him – Tom Xaver.
A dirigible flies overhead as Xaver tells Zeke to turn his parents in, and attests that they never loved him.
(It’s almost the same as “that day” when a dirigible flies overhead, triggering Grisha to leave the walls with Faye and meet ‘the Owl’ Eren Kruger.)
Zeke turns them in and essentially falls into the care of his grandfather and Xaver – both of whom share the same ideals of being docile and keeping their heads down while living in Marley.
His father Grisha is taken to the wall, where The Owl finally explains everything and specifically mentions that his goal was to “restore morale” to the Eldian Restorationists.
A morale that ended with Grisha and Dina becoming the leaders, and from their union birthing a child with royal blood – Zeke.
Eren Yeager Shares Future Memories with Grisha and Kruger
While on the wall, Grisha remarks that he has essentially destroyed the Restorationists, and Kruger tells him that he will see his mission through.
Why? Because Kruger has already seen it.
Here now we can take a look at the reverse uno – 12D Chess game masterpiece that was Shingeki no Kyojin chapter 121.
In that chapter, we finally learn what Eren saw when he touched Historia’s hand during the retake of Shiganshina award ceremony/honorary military funeral:
The conversation between Grisha Yeager, and the Reiss Family.
With one important added detail: Eren saw his older self in his father’s memories – which catapulted him into going to Marley, launching a raid on Liberio, and becoming the person he is now.
In the memory, and while Eren and Zeke are traveling their father’s memories in PATHs, Grisha lets the cat out of the bag that the Attack Titan has the ability to see the future.
Grisha and the 145th Fritz King argue for a bit, until Grisha mentions that he already knows he will murder them all there (with the exception of the father Rod Reiss. – He was needed in order for Eren to get the hardening serum to retake Shiganshina to reach the basement, and for Historia to become her own person and break away from her father’s grip to become queen).
Grisha chickens out midway, and Eren has to step in and influence Grisha to carry out the act of obliterating the royal family members that would not be useful for Eren’s future plans.
Why Did Kruger Save Only Grisha?
Jumping back to Chapter 88 of the SnK manga with Grisha and Kruger on the walls, Kruger mentions that he never told the Restorationists about the ‘Curse of Ymir’. He continues that if he had, Grisha and Dina never would have let Zeke train to potentially inherit a (Beast) Titan.
In other words, Kruger manipulated Grisha for unknown reasons to fulfill his “mission” of getting him to the point where he would inherit the Attack Titan.
…which would make sense, if it was Kruger’s sole mission to save specifically Grisha at the expense of the other Eldian Restorationists, and pass along the Attack and Founding titan.
Kruger was shown memories of the future and targeted Grisha as a child. And allowed his sister Faye to be eaten by dogs based on the memories Eren sent back and showed him to influence the desired outcome.
Interestingly, Kruger gives his own thoughts and basically calls Grisha an idiot for not listening to his father and sequentially getting his wife (and almost son) shipped off to Pardis.
Kruger then tells Grisha to stand, and shows him a photo he brought from his house of his family.
Meaning, this was all premeditated.
Kruger already knew to bring the photo from Grisha’s house and to be on that specific boat when the Eldian Restorationists were being shipped to Paradis.
Hopping back to Chapter 121, Eren egged on Grisha from PATHs to write the “humanity has not perished” message on the back of the photograph.
In addition, this allows future Eren to see a picture of Zeke, and to experience the revelation of how he used the Coordinate power for the first time by coming into contact with Dina Fritz.
This in turn influences Season 3 Eren to realize what would happen to Historia had he shared this memory with the military corps, further putting young Eren onto the PATH older Eren wanted.
Continuing on, Grisha then locks the portrait and his life story in three volumes within the confined basement study for future Eren to find with the key in view of older PATHs Eren.
(basically, under Future Eren’s direction to do so)
Before leaving to complete his mission of retaking the Founder from the Reiss family (the same mission introduced to him by Kruger via the influence of The Owl), Grisha lets young Eren know in Chapter 1 that he will show him the “secret he’s been hiding” in the basement when he gets back – in full view of older Eren glaring at, and coercing him from PATHs.
(Eren also calls The King of the Walls a coward in the first manga chapter, as well.)
This plants the seed in Eren’s mind that if he just gets to the basement, all will be revealed. Which in turn allows Eren to enter the Survey Corps, join Squad Levi, help Historia in the Reiss family church, get the titan hardening serum necessary to clear Shiganshina District of titans, etc, etc.)
How Did Eren Kruger Know About Mikasa and Armin?
An argument can be made that it was actually Eren Yeager speaking to Grisha in the past through Eren Kruger.
Eren sent memories back to Kruger using the coordinate in order for Kruger to fulfill his mission of passing the founding and Attack titan to the 10-year-old Eren Yeager of the future via Grisha Yeager, and as a reminder to himself to save Armin and Mikasa through the Rumbling.
How do we get there?
Jumping back to Chapter 88, Eren Kruger tells Grisha that their “brothers and sisters sought freedom, and paid the price for it”. And that those actions will follow them both until they die, even if they die, and after their deaths.
In Chapter 121, young Eren echoes these words to Grisha, as a reminder or sort of trigger to Grisha that this was the day he had to retake the Founder from the Reiss family.
(Grisha also steals the one vial of titan serum to give to Eren during his Reiss Family mission.)
So essentially, Eren tells Grisha twice the same words to trigger him to remember his mission, and why this all started.
Kruger finally gets through to Grisha, and as the sun sets on one Attack Titan, another one is born.
Before turning him, Kruger tells him that each of the nine titans have different names.
And that “in every era, the (Attack Titan) has always moved forward, seeking freedom.”
In Chapter 121, Grisha reveals to the 145th Fritz King that throughout the ages, the Attack Titan never obeyed others. And that Grisha realized it was all for this day, to oppose the self-righteousness of the king who has sent his people to slaughter.
The Attack Titan inheritors have memories of the future, and in Chapter 88 Eren tells Armin while in jail that there are “PATHs invisible to the eyes…At times, those PATHs even carried memories or the will to act.”
“And that all of those paths cross at a single coordinate. In other words, that is the founding titan”.
Why Grisha Stole the Founding Titan from the Reiss Family
In Chapter 121 Grisha is then influenced by Eren – the coordinate – in the past.
Eren uses the power of the coordinate to command his father to murder the Reiss family and steal the Founding Titan from Frieda Reiss. Eren sent the ‘will to act’ through memories to Grisha as explained in SnK Chapter 88.
Grisha is instructed to kill every family member – except ‘the father’ for a future Historia to join the Survey Corps and meet Eren. This would trigger Eren’s future memories of himself when he touches Historia’s hand after the ‘humanity has not perished’ basement reveal in Shiganshina.
Finally, in Chapter 88 Eren tells both himself, and Grisha to have a family inside the walls.
This ensures that: 1. Eren is born to inherit the Attack and Founding titan
2. Eren is reminded to have a family of his own to eventually break the titan cycle.
Although given the events of Chapter 138, maybe it was best Eren chose a different PATH…
Did the Owl and Tom Ksaver Know Each Other?
As for how Zeke and Mr. Xaver tie into this plot, well…who on earth told his wife that he was an Eldian?
Xaver said he told no one of his secret.
Unless…a young Owl in the Eldian Restorationist let his suspicion slip to an unwitting young woman with a child shopping for groceries one day. Which propelled Xaver to come home and see his family was dead…leading him to “commit suicide in the most glorious way possible” and end up inheriting the beast titan.
After all, a child with royal blood and a child with the founding titan – two brothers working together as one to change the world…is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, right?
So, did Xaver influence Zeke to wish for the euthanasia of all Eldians?
Was The Owl Eren Kruger sent knowledge or memories that The Rumbling would eventually happen?
Or on the flip side…was Xaver the doctor that falsified Eren Kruger’s bloodwork in order for him to infiltrate the Marleyan military?
And instead of Kruger, it was actually Ksaver who brought The Owl into the Eldian Restorationists?
I was just wrapping this article up and ready to edit when I was searching for a certain photo I had in mind to use and came across this post on Reddit.
(I unfortunately don’t have the original credit of who edited the image above.)
The OP makes the connection to falsified Eldian bloodwork, and I remember Kruger telling Grisha that doctors make good spies.
In that same vein, scientists could, as well.
(Does this make Grisha becoming a doctor another prerequisite for inheriting the Attack Titan from The Owl?)
You should read that reddit theory if you have time. They also added in a few really good connections concerning Mr. Leonhart and Annie.
He’s always been kind of shady to me, so I’d like to actually believe he had a bigger purpose than just adopting an Eldian baby who turned into a crystal for 4+ years.
Anyway, I think I’m going to wrap it up here.
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Recommended: (spoilers) Hallucigenia – the Primordial Spinal Creature from Attack on Titan – Anime Anthology
Another AoT Theory: How Will Attack on Titan End?
Recent Shingeki no Kyojin manga review: ch 138
☆ In Asian Spaces
More parallels between Zeke Yeager and Grisha Yeager being targeted by both Xaver and The Owl on ‘that day’.
Also in the photo concerning Ksaver and Zeke, there is a shadow of an alarm present as Xaver becomes closer to convincing Zeke to turn his parents in.
I thought it was a really nice touch. Like Zeke is about to “sound the alarm” on the Eldian Restorationists.
Update: As of 01/14/22 I just realized that it was Xaver young Grisha bumped into on “that day” as a child.
Meaning…both Xaver and Eren Kruger were both in the same place that fateful day. Convincing me more than ever that there is more to both of their backstories.