In Attack On Titan Season 3, we saw Erwin leading a suicide attack on the Beast Titan after convincing the new terrified recruits to die with courage. The Beast Titan wiped out all of them with his “baseball throws”, leaving only Floch and him alive, though Erwin had his left stomach missing.
Floch brings him alive just when Levi is about to administer the titan serum to the charred body of Armin who is barely alive after successfully acting as a decoy for Eren to kill the Colossal Titan. Then, Levi decides things have changed and he will be administering the serum to Erwin instead because he’s “humanity’s hope”.
This leads to a violent scuffle with Mikasa and Eren attacking Levi in an outpouring of emotion and rage. However, when they have been held down and pacified, Levi goes to inject the serum when the almost-deceased commander in a dream-like state brushes him off and starts asking questions like he did in his dad’s class.
Finally, Levi gave the serum to Armin, giving him the Colossal Titan powers. Since then, the “Serumbowl” scene has left many fans reeling from the sheer terror and tragedy of that dilemma they faced right after some traumatic fight. Let us try to find out why he did so. Let us explore the theories that many fans have flouted for Levi’s decision.
Find Something You Love
It is at this point that Levi remembers what Kenny Ackerman had told him about how everyone needs to be drunk on something to live life, to ward off existential anxieties. Erwin had a dream to know about the true history of humanity more than caring about the safety of humanity. His position is beautifully outlined in this quote:
He cared more about discovering the secrets hidden in Eren’s basement, and finally proving his father’s theories correct, than he did about retaking the lost territory of Wall Maria. His dream of understanding the world was so strong that he confessed to Levi that he considered it more important than the victory of humanity.
Before the “Serumbowl” scene, when Erwin was asked what he planned to do after discovering the basement secrets, he replied that he didn’t know. However, Armin had a wish, a dream to see what lay beyond the walls.
His dreams extended beyond the confines of the walls and that is what probably made Levi realize Armin had better, long-lasting dreams. He had longed to become free and going to the outer world to see the oceans and deserts with all their splendor since he was a kid. He’s still a beginner, but a youthful, intelligent soldier with a lot of potential is invaluable.
In the “serumbowl” scene, he came to the dawning realization that Erwin’s wish had been to prove his father’s theory right. In many ways, he had been a very selfish man; in trying to find the secrets, he had led many of his comrades to their death. His comrades had been trying to fight for the freedom of humanity while his was purely selfish.
For a long time, Erwin had been forced to become a despicable devil that was on auto-pilot mode searching for what it wanted to find. Levi saved Erwin from the horrors of “hell”, from the horror of becoming a Devil, by relieving him of that enormous responsibility.
Foreshadowing of Levi’s Dilemma in the “Serumbowl” Scene
Armin, Mikasa, and Eren are shown having a nighttime conversation shortly after Erwin’s faction took control of the government of Paradis. A starry-eyed Armin joyfully tells an angry Eren about their ambitions of seeing the oceans, and the camera switches to reveal a gloomy Levi discreetly listening in on their chat, foreshadowing the decision he will have to make later.
2. Armin’s Intellect and Inept Strategizing Ability
Armin had, in many situations, demonstrated an ability to think outside the box. When Eren was discovered to have titan powers, he convinced the authorities that his powers could be used to close the hole in Trost. This mission had been successful.
In many other cases too, he had been instrumental in revealing the true identities of the Female, Colossal, and Armor Titans. While this reason may not have been the sole contributing factor, the fact that there was somebody as smart (if not more) as Erwin may have eased Levi’s fears about the future.
While some may say that Levi had no idea whether Armin would live up to people’s expectations of him, all these instances of his contribution to the Survey Corps helped allay Levi’s doubts.
Because of all these reasons, the “Serumbowl” scene was the most heartbreaking scene ever. It was so complex and beautiful in the sense that it unveiled the nuanced horror of a show like Attack on Titan.