23rd Oct: It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.
It is business about as usual as they can get in the Katsuragi household; Asuka is chewing Shinji out for his constant apologizing and passive attitude, but they are interrupted as Kaji leaves a phone message on Misato's answering machine, revealing that the two of them, despite Misato's claims to the contrary, are back together. Asuka is upset by this, and leaves in a huff.Later that day, the pilots are called in for another sync test. Misato gives Shinji the result; He has surpassed Asuka in synch rate and now sits on the best score. Shinji is greatly surprised and uplifted by that bit of news, while Asuka reacts with barely concealed anger to an indifferent Rei.Next, day a weird, reflective sphere-shaped apparition appears over Tokyo-3. NERV is completely caught by surprise, and with Gendo and Fuyutsuki out on business, Misato takes command. As the MAGI are hesitant with classifying the apparition as an Angel, the Evas are send out to investigate it. Asuka teases Shinji, telling him that he should take point, as he is now the pilot with the highest sync rate. With the test results still boosting his self-confidence, Shinji uncharacteristically accepts her challenge and volunteers for the position with gusto, much to her and Misato's surprise. Ritsuko is amused and remarks that Shinji's hormones must be kicking in, to which Misato responds that she'll have to give him a stern talking to once the mission is over.As the Evas close in on the apparition, the tension gets to Shinji and, in a moment of rashness, he fires a shot against it. A massive black shadow suddenly appears beneath his feet, and he starts sinking into it. The alarm goes off as the MAGI finally declare the apparition to be an Angel. The shadow starts spreading over Tokyo-3, and sucks in cars, trees, and buildings. Asuka and Rei narrowly escape the same fate, as they climb to safety on some tall buildings, but Shinji continues to sink down, screaming to Misato for help all the way, until the head of Unit-01 goes under, and his radio goes silent.At sunset, Shinji and Unit-01 are still stuck in the shadow. The Eva's power cable was pulled out, but nothing was on the other side. Misato personally leads the search and rescue operation. It is estimated that the battery in Unit-01 can uphold life-support for 16 hours at best. If Shinji is not out by dawn, he will die. While she and Rei wait for further orders, Asuka says that Shinji himself is to blame for the whole situation, claiming that he got what he deserved in aiming for the top. Rei, upset by her comments, calmly asks her if she is only "piloting Eva just for the praise of others", and Asuka angrily retorts that she doesn't need anybody's approval but her own. Misato interrupts the brewing fight, stating that Shinji did indeed break orders, and will be reprimanded accordingly when he comes back.Meanwhile, inside the shadow, Shinji is attempting to sleep, while waiting for his rescue. Looking at his watch, he notes that he has around 4-5 hours worth of power left.Ritsuko gathers NERV's technicians around her to explain her findings. The Angel is in fact the shadow itself, while the sphere is a kind of three-dimensional shadow. Unit-01 has been sucked into an inverted A.T. Field, and is stuck in a pocket dimension, a so-called "sea of Dirac" which can only really be defined by abstract mathematics.Shinji wakes up and notices that the filtration in the entry plug has stopped working. With the plug being filled with fragments and smelling of blood, he panics, and desperately calls for help from Misato, Asuka, Rei, Ritsuko and even Gendo while attempting to manually open the plug, but to no avail.Ritsuko reveals her plan to Misato. Fighters will dump all 992 N2 mines in the world into the shadow, while Unit-00 and Unit-02 activate their A.T. Fields, hopefully creating enough energy to push Unit-01 out. Misato questions Shinji's safety in all of this, but as Ritsuko pragmatically answers that merely saving the Eva will be enough, she looses control of herself and angrily slaps the scientist. Misato demands to know why Unit-01 is so special and why everyone's so desperate to save it. Ritsuko tells her that what she has been told is enough and relieves Misato from command of the operation for being too emotionally involved. As Ritsuko walks away, Misato notes to herself the many secrets that have been kept from her.Nearing death, Shinji suddenly awakes again to find himself on a strange train bathed in ominous orange light. A younger, shadowy version of himself, a spectre created by the Angel, sits opposite to him. Shinji asks who the apparition is, and it answers that it is Shinji Ikari. It says that people are always composed of two selves, that which is seen by others and that which is seen by the person as his or her self-image. The apparition says that Shinji is afraid of the Shinji Ikari in the minds of others. Shinji affirms that he is just afraid of being hurt. He asks the apparition about who is at fault for this.The apparition tells him that his father is the one to blame. Shinji refuses to accept that, bringing the blame on himself while memories of Asuka accuse him of constantly thinking that heís the one at fault while memories of Misato console him and say that his worthlessness is just something he believes is true.He relives the memory of Rei slapping him and asking whether he trusts his own father. Shinji thought that he hated his father, but when he received praise from him, he was ecstatic and suddenly became unsure of his true feelings.The apparition asks if he plans to live the rest of his life regurgitating and redigesting those few moments of happiness even if he knows that such happiness cannot last. Shinji answers that such an act is enough to keep him alive and says that everyone does it. The apparition then says that if he cannot bring about change or believe that he can bring about change to this vicious cycle, he will not be able to live. Shinji says thatís okay because thereís too much pain and suffering to keep going on in this world anyways. The apparition accuses him of self-deception, saying that he has made himself blind and deaf to those things that cause him pain. Shinji relives the memory of Toji punching him for injuring his sister, of Misato telling him to let go of what other people say, and of his father telling him to leave.The memories cause Shinji to bend down and cover his ears, confirming the apparitionís accusations. The apparition once again tells him that he canít keep living like this. He canít keep living by linking his happy moments together like a rosary. Shinji asks him why and screams out a question of why the apparition canít just leave him alone.Back in Tokyo-3, according to the calculations, Shinji's life support system should be nearing its end. Ritsuko decides to advance the operation by twelve minutes.The apparition starts questioning Shinji about his relationship with his father and mentions the public rumors that circulated about Yui's death, namely the accusations that Gendo murdered her. It ultimately accuses Shinji of running away. Awakening once again in the cold and dark plug, Shinji knows he is minutes from death, and closes his eyes again, but he suddenly notices a bright light in the plug. A ghostly woman embraces him and he realizes that she is his mother. Flashing back to a sunny lakeshore, a young, happy Shinji holds a red marble up to his mother, whose face is covered in shadows. "Is this enough? Well, that's good for you," she says.Meanwhile, Ritsuko is about give the go-ahead when red cracks tear through the body of the Angel on the ground. The shadow of the Angel is pierced through by a fist and red blood sprays out. A roaring Unit-01, moving on its own power, breaks free of the sphere in what looks like a gruesome parody of birth, covered in the Angels blood, which now rains down upon the city. Everyone looks on in horror as the Angel dies along with its shadow, while the blood-soaked Eva howls against the sky. A disturbed Misato asks herself what NERV plans to do with the Evas once the Angels are defeated.Shinji awakens to an open plug and a crying Misato who embraces him. "I just wanted to see them again..." he mumbles, before slipping back into unconsciousness. Asuka asks Misato if she is still planning on punishing him.Gendo and Ritsuko oversee Unit-01 being cleaned of the Angel's blood. She tells him that Misato is growing suspicious. "Let her be for now," he says. Ritsuko tells him that "If Rei or Shinji were to find out the Eva's secrets, they'd never forgive us."Shinji awakes in the hospital, with Rei sitting on a chair nearby, having watched over him. Seeing that he is conscious she stands up and starts to leave, telling him that he can just rest for now. Shinji tells her that he is feeling fine, to which she responses: "Well, that's good for you." Remembering his mother saying those exact words, Shinji gasps in surprise as he realizes who Rei reminds him of. His gaze follows her out of his room, and as she opens the door, he catches a glimpse of Asuka lurking in the doorway outside his room. Trying her hardest to pretend not to care, she quickly hides. Amused by this, Shinji puts up his hand to his mouth to suppress a chuckle, but pauses as he notices that it still smells of blood.