What does Eren mean when he says that he is the same as Reiner?
In Episode 64 of Attack on Titan Eren confronts Reiner before beginning his inevitable attack on Marley. It’s a strange scene seemingly without meaning, when looked at from the outside. Why would Eren bother confronting Reiner? Why would Reiner break down in front of Eren? In reality it’s a scene that could have been skipped without altering the course of the story. It’s a coming to god moment for Reiner, while Eren sits listening.
What is Eren’s purpose in listening to Reiner’s reasons why?
Does Reiner just want to be judged for his past mistakes?
It’s a strange scene that reveals more than expected from either character. In my mind it leaves more questions unanswered than answered. The guilt Reiner has been experiencing since his return from Paradis Island is evident. He is an honored Marleyan, but fulfilling his wish has come at losing his sense of direction. Where is he going? Why is he here? Reiner just sits in stupor most of the time, repeating whatever lines he has to from the Marleyan brass.
Reiner was always a character that struggled to reconcile his views he was told growing up against the backdrop of reality. Even when killing Marco for overhearing his conversation with Bertholdt, he acts surprised when Marco is actually dead. It’s as if all those years of acting has taken a toll on him. His pretending to be a good soldier when training with Eldians, while on the other hand plotting its demise must have weighed on him. Reiner puts on an appearance of being reliable, while being the most unreliable of the group. Remember the poor attempt to persuade Eren that he and Bertholdt were the armored and colossal titan? It seemed completely spontaneous and not thought out at all. Reiner’s decisions have been the most interesting in the story, as they reflect guilt and confusion about carrying out his larger mission overall.
As conjecture, it’s not a stretch to say that Reiner experiences that Eldians are no different from him than any of the other Marleyan titan warriors that are sent to the island. Reiner has to balance that against the backdrop of his upbringing and his mission. And in the course of trying to reconcile both he appears unable to keep it together.
It makes sense of everyone in the story Reiner suffers the most internally, unable to express that to anyone. His comrades from the titan unit who were with him are either dead or missing in action. No one from home could understand that the Eldians on Paradis Island are people just like them.
After all this is it no wonder that with guilt weighing Reiner down, being personally responsible for so much death and devastation, he would ask Eren to kill him.
In the cruelty of the situation Eren refuses to kill Reiner.
Why should Eren alleviate the suffering of Reiner? They are not friends. They are sworn enemies. But the confusing part of the story is Eren’s acknowledgement that both him and Reiner are the same. What is Eren seeing that neither Reiner nor the audience readily understand?
While this could be foreshadowing for events in the future, looking at it from the outside it’s hard to understand what Eren means. Eren as I am aware has not killed thousands, or caused the death to the scale that Reiner has. And in Eren’s situation most killings were justifiable within the scope of his mission and the chain of command that he was following. Eren always did what had to be done and what he felt was right.
Perhaps it’s that sense of duty that Eren and Reiner share similarity. Maybe Eren can see himself doing the same in Reiner’s shoes. Maybe it’s what Eren is about to do that makes both him and Reiner the same. Perhaps both are monsters in their own right, with no business living decently in this world.
Whatever Eren’s cryptic message entails, he is neither condemning nor judging of Reiner. Perhaps out of everyone living currently in this world ironically Eren understands him the most.
Do you agree? What are your thoughts? I want to know!
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