Spoiler alert: This article contains major Attack on Titan anime/manga spoilers.
In Season 4, Part 1 of Attack on Titan, Eren Jaeger tells Mikasa Ackerman that he's always hated her. His cruel statement reduces the typically stoic Mikasa to tears. Mikasa has dealt with man-eating Titans, the death of friends and comrades, and the traumatic murder of her parents. So, why is it this moment that finally breaks her?
It's blatantly obvious to any fan of the show that Mikasa's been in love with Eren since they were kids. Ever since Eren wrapped his red scarf around Mikasa, her heart belonged to him. But given Eren's cruel and rather confusing statement in Part 1, is there any hope for this potential pair to go the distance in Season 4, Part 2?
SPOILERS AHEAD: Eren lies to protect Mikasa.
Do Mikasa and Eren make it past their rough patch? Sort of. In the same scene, Eren throws in another emotional wallop for good measure. Eren informs Mikasa that the only reason she feels compelled to constantly protect him is due to her genetics. According to Eren, the Ackerman clan have a genetic trait that forces them to protect whoever houses the Founding Titan, no matter what.
But this Ackerman "bond" Eren spoke of turns out to be a lie, proving that Mikasa's desire to protect him is genuinely grounded in her love for him. Why did Eren lie to her so cruelly? Our Attack on Titan protagonist basically tries to push everyone he cares about away in order to enact his master plan successfully.
Why does Eren have to lie to ensure his plan works?
Attack on Titan's biggest reveal is the fact that there's humanity beyond the walls of Paradis, the island where Eren and his friends live. The people of Paradis, known as Eldians, were brainwashed into thinking they were the last humans left and the only ones that could take on the terrifying Titans. But it turns out that every other country in the world hates Eldians because they can all be turned into Titans.
Eren's plan is to make himself the villain to craft the narrative that the Eldians saved the world, finally freeing his people from the centuries of hatred they've endured. To pull off this feat, Eren realizes he has to trigger the Rumbling to unleash the dormant Titans in the walls of Paradis and set them loose on the world. Eren accepts that he must become a killer so his friends, and Mikasa, can finally live in peace.
So how does Eren really feel about Mikasa?
Eren loves Mikasa, but he doesn't tell her this of course. Instead, we see Armin Arlert meet with Eren in a memory one last time before the final battle. Eren tells Armin what his plan was all along and explains that, once they're done talking, he'll wipe Armin's memory of their meeting. However, before he has the chance to erase his memory, Eren has an emotional outburst that proves his love for Mikasa.
Eren jealously says that he doesn't want Mikasa to be with any other man, or even think of any other man but him for the rest of her life. Even though Mikasa shares his feelings, Eren believes he must sacrifice any notion of being able to be with her, and he asks Armin not to tell Mikasa how he truly feels.
In the ultimate case of sad irony, Mikasa ends up being the one who kills Eren in order to stop the Rumbling once and for all. When she finally realizes what Eren did to save the world, she kisses him after he dies. It's a heartbreaking moment to watch but one that fans won't want to miss. Be sure to stream new episodes of Attack on Titan Season 4, Part 2 starting Sunday, Jan. 9 on Crunchyroll.