When the Beast Titan debuted in the Attack on Titan Season 2 premiere, fans were bewildered and absolutely shocked when the monster caused one of the most gruesome deaths in the show’s history. But rather than have this new massive talking Titan be the principal villain of Season 2, he wound up sidelined as a tangential force of nature for the duration of the 12 episodes. Everything he did raised only more questions about his identity and motives while virtually no answers were given.
If the teaser at the very end of Season 2 is any indication, then the monstrous monkey will play a much more prominent role moving forward. But ultimately, we still have a lot to wonder about. Why does he look so different from every other Titan? How is it that he can talk? How does he not know about vertical maneuvering equipment? What are his powers? How does his mission relate or not relate to Reiner and Bertholdt?What are his powers? How does his mission relate or not relate to Reiner and Bertholdt?
Well, the manga has some of these answers.
Extreme spoilers from the Attack on Titan manga follow, and they might ruin the anime’s upcoming third season for you.
The Identity of the Beast Titan
Chief among the many questions fans have for Attack on Titan Season 3 is the identity of the man inside the Beast Titan.
In the manga, his identity is eventually revealed as Zeke Yeager, who as you might expect, is related to Eren (though the surname name is spelled Jaeger in the anime). Zeke is Eren’s older half-brother. They have the same father, Grisha. Remember the “Smiling Titan” that devoured Eren’s mother and Eren used the coordinate to destroy in the Season 2 finale of the anime? Yeah, that’s actually Dina Fritz, Grisha’s first wife and Zeke’s mother.
She, and Zeke as well, are the only direct descendants of the original Ymir, who discovered the power of the Titans hundreds of years ago. Anime fans might remember when the newer Ymir was falsely worshiped in a flashback for having the “blood of Ymir.” This is what they were referring to. The Fritz bloodline in Marley is also directly parallel to the Reiss line in Paradis, which also explains why Historia (formerly Christa) is so important.
Dina, Grisha, and Zeke’s shared history is wrapped up with Marley, the nation that Reiner and Bertholdt hail from, and its centuries-long war with the government of Paradis, the city and surrounding lands that Eren and Mikasa grew up in.
Eldians in Marley are basically oppressed and segregated refugees used by Marley government; they’re supposedly the only types of humans that can transform into Titans. As such, they are bred specifically to be used as weapons to inherit Titan powers and attempt to invade Paradis to recover the Coordinate; this is the origin of Reiner, Bertholdt, and Annie as well as their mission.
When Zeke was very young, Grisha volunteered him for that very program. Grisha was part of the Eldia Restorationist Movement and wanted to use Zeke as a mole to undermine the Marley government. Zeke turned on his father, leading to his mother being turned into a mindless Titan and Grisha being tortured. Zeke would then go on to become a War Chief and the direct commander of Reiner, Bertholdt, and Annie.
What can the Beast Titan do?
The Beast Titan is said to be the strongest of all Titans mainly due to its unique powers, which are mainly due to Zeke being a part of the royal Fritz bloodline. It also helps that the Beast Titan is 17 meters tall, just slightly larger than the Armored Titan and Eren’s Titan form, which are both 15 meters in height.
Zeke can command mindless Titans — as he demonstrated in the Season 2 premiere — and also create new Titans from any common Eldians, which is what happened to the citizens of Ragako.
Zeke’s Beast Titan has a scream-based trigger that can transform Eldians into Titans without the need for a Titan serum. This is how Conny’s village and family are transformed from within the Walls. It’s limited, however, because the victims have to come into contact with Zeke’s spinal fluid in some fashion.
Personality and Goals
Zeke is an authoritative leader who is ruthless and uncompromising. Anime fans will remember how he tried to communicate with Mike Zacharias in the Season 2 premiere, and he could even command lesser Titans. But as soon as his thin patience wore out, he let the Titan devour Mike. He’s sadistic, curious, and smart which make for a formidable new villain.
Zeke’s principal goal is to recover the Coordinate for Marley, which currently rests firmly in Eren’s hands. He has less compassion and is much more severe when compared to Reiner, but that also renders him much more focused on the mission at hand.
What Happens Next?
Expect Reiner, Bertholdt, and Ymir will regroup in some capacity with the Beast Titan next season, and the Beast Titan to become the new principal villain. But don’t expect Reiner to simply fall in line. Reiner and Bertholdt are still concerned for Annie, who is still captured and is presumably being tortured and studied.
Season 3 of Attack on Titan is slated to premiere sometime in spring 2018.