Ritsuko and Ibuki are picking up their clothes from the laundromat before the start of yet another day at NERV. Aoba joins them on the train ride into Headquarters with a guitar on his back. The trio also run into Fuyutsuki who is reading the newspaper. Ritsuko comments on how early the vice-commander is up. Fuyutsuki explains that he has to represent Commander Ikari uptown for the City Council meeting. He complains about the tedium of such an assignment and how Ikari always seems to push the most meaningless tasks to him. At Ritsukos remark of the city elections coming up soon, he clarifies that the whole exercise is ultimately meaningless. In truth, the government is run by the three MAGI supercomputers used by NERV. He comments that in a twisted sort of way it is a kind of democracy. Ibuki is delighted in being part of a city that she views as being "built on science" while Aoba has the exact opposite reaction. Fuyutsuki then casually mentions the Unit-00 activation test that Ritsuko will oversee and hopes to hear good news.
Some time later, however, the test does not seem to be going well as alarms go off and Unit-00 has to be powered down before it goes berserk like before. Ritsuko orders the reciprocal conversion rate to be lowered by 0.01 and starts the test over again.
As for Misato, she steps into an elevator and just happens to encounter Kaji also running towards her. She tries to close the door before he gets in but he just manages to stop the door from closing with his hand. As they descend, Kaji asks why she's looking so down this morning to which she says that it's from having to see his ugly face.
Meanwhile, Shinji, mustering up all his courage, makes a call to an audibly irritated Gendo telling him that he was instructed by the school to talk to his parents about the career discussion interviews that will be happening at school. Gendo curtly tells him that he has delegated all of those duties over to Misato and tells Shinji to not waste his time again. However, near the end of the message Gendo begins to break up.
Misato is also experiencing some trouble as the power shuts down for the elevator. Ritsukos experiment shuts down as well. The backup circuits are not connecting so there is no backup power available. Elsewhere, Hyuga walks out of the laundromat, wondering out loud why he ever agreed to help Misato with her laundry, before he also notices the blackout as he stands at a street crossing and sees the crossing signal turn off.
Shinji tells of the abrupt interruption of his fathers call to Asuka and Rei as they walk to NERV. Asuka simply dismisses the incident and criticizes Shinji for letting little things like that bother him so much. However, the trio encounter a significant problem when they find out that they can no longer gain access to NERV Headquarters due to the lack of power.
As Ritsuko makes her way from the test room to the command center, she comments on the potential gravity of the situation if all the backup systems fail. Misato explains to Kaji in the elevator that there are three backup systems which can never fail simultaneously. Gendo, in the command center, states that this must be an act of sabotage. Fuyutsuki then mentions how disastrous it would be if an Angel attacked at this moment.
As if on cue, the JASDF notice a foreign object moving towards Tokyo-3 from the former Atami region. However, the generals dont concern themselves much over it since they expect NERV to handle the situation, but they are concerned that they can't seem to get in contact with NERV itself. The object is the ninth Angel, Matarael, a giant harvestman-like creature, covered in eyes.
Shinji, Asuka, and Rei are, in the meantime, repeatedly trying and failing to get into some form of contact with NERV. They make up their minds to find some way into NERV and Asuka takes this opportunity to take charge of the group and act as leader. However, Rei seems to be the only one who knows anything about the structure of NERVs facility and she decides that they should use one of the access ports for Route 07 which can be manually opened. They make progress even through all the unnecessary bickering. Asuka repeatedly tries to take control of the group but, in the end, always has to be corrected by Rei. Shinji, as usual, just takes a passive stance and follows the leader.
The JASDF, getting increasingly worried about NERV not answering their calls, finally decides to act. They issue an evacuation warning to Toyko-3, sending planes equipped with loudspeakers to spread the message that a threat is heading their way. Hyuga hears the message, and decides that he has to do something quickly.
Back in the command center, Fuyutsuki deduces that the reason for the multi-system failure is because of someone wanting to figure out the layout of the facility through the gradual restoration process. Ritsuko offers to run a dummy program through the MAGI that would prevent anyone observing from getting the full picture. Fuyutsuki says that he is surprised that another person would potentially endanger all of humanity with this kind of sabotage. "One of Mankind's greatest enemies is Man himself," Gendo calmly comments.
Hyuga, in the meantime, has been busy on the surface and has commandeered an election propaganda van with its loudspeaker and uses it to ram into the barricades for NERV Headquarters. He uses the loudspeaker to warn everyone at NERV that an Angel is on the way. Upon receiving the message, everyone at NERV prepares to mobilize the Evas for launch manually. Even Gendo goes down to help the workers hoist the entry plugs up. The only thing missing from the whole plan are the pilots themselves. Said pilots soon come tumbling out of the ventilation ducts some time later. (At least, thats the case for Shinji and Asuka. Rei actually lands quite gracefully.) Shinji is told by Ritsuko that the Evas have all been prepped and shows his father working with the other men on opening the entry plugs, something which surprises him. As the pilots enter their respective units, the ninth Angel, Matarael, halts directly above NERV Headquarters.
The three Evas start climbing up a vertical shaft in order to fight Matarael. However, Matarael starts dripping acid down the shaft, causing the team to lose their weapons and forcing them to retreat and come up with another plan. Asuka comes up with a plan involving one person playing defense and shielding the others from the acid with their bodies, another person going down the shaft to retrieve the lost weapons, and the third person standing by to receive the weapon and open fire on Matarael. While Rei volunteers to play defense, Asuka actually tells them that she will play the part of defense while Rei fetches the weapons, saying that she needs to get even with Shinji for her rescue from the volcano. The plan is executed without any significant drawbacks and Matarael is defeated.
Misato and Kaji, meanwhile, are trying to find a way of the elevator. Misato, having climbed up on Kaji's shoulders, attempts to open the maintenance hatch, but much to her frustration it won't budge. Just then, the back-up power finally kicks in, causing the elevator to start move again. The shock leads Kaji to lose his balance and fall over, causing Misato land on top of him in a rather compromising way. To add insult to injury, the two are found inside the elevator by Ritsuko, Ibuki, and Hyuga before they can get back on their feet.
As the three pilots sit outside at night on a hill overlooking the city, Shinji notices how beautiful the stars can be without the interference of artificial light. Asuka, while agreeing, mentions that without electricity, the whole place looks abandoned. She feels much more comfortable when the lights go back on, leading Rei to say, Man has always feared the darkness, and so he carves it away with fire. Shinji asks if thats why mankind is special and if thats the reason why the Angels attack. Asuka dismisses the notion and simply states that theres no way to know what those creatures think.
Tropes in this episode include:
- Big Blackout
- Foreshadowing: The situation NERV finds itself in demonstrates that while they might be able to do a good job of fighting off Angels, they are conversely woefully vulnerable if a human force was to attack...
- Homage: The reference to The Day the Earth Stood Still in the episode title is more than just skin-deep; Kaji, like Klaatu in the film, is responsible for causing a Big Blackout, and he ends up getting stuck in an elevator with Misato as a consequence of it, much like Klaatu gets stuck in an elevator with Helen.
- Makes Us Even: Asuka's reason for taking the defense role since Shinji saved her in "Magma Diver".
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Kaji inadvertently causes the Big Blackout in Tokyo-3, which leaves it open for Matarael to attack.