In Terminal Dogma, Rei stands with Gendo before Lilith. Gendo has grafted Adam to his hand, since the forbidden unification of Lilith and Adam was the only way he could see Yui again. Rei's left arm falls off, and Gendo deduces that her AT Field is failing, which means they must begin Instrumentality soon. Gendo takes off his glove and tells Rei to discard her physical form, merge all souls into one, and take him to Yui's side. He touches Rei's chest with the hand that contains Adam, which goes right through her skin. Rei tenses in discomfort as Gendo moves his hand and Adam towards her womb. But then she senses Shinji's agony...
Shinji screams out in despair as he sees the MP EVAs holding Unit-02's remains in the sky. Powered by Shinji's emotions, Unit-01 breaks free of its restraints and forms a cross with its wings of light. The Lance of Longinus drops out of its orbit around the Moon, as if grabbed by a strong magnetic force, and flies straight to Unit-01; it stops right in front of the EVA's throat. SEELE applauds the Lance's return, since it means they can complete their Third Impact ritual. The MP EVAs drop the remains of Unit-02 and focus on Unit-01: they crucify the EVA by piercing its hands with their replica Lances, then drag it upwards towards the upper troposphere. SEELE is confident that the time has come to restore the Tree of Life, so they order the MP EVAs to activate their S2 engines. This act generates a powerful anti-AT Field, which Maya notes is a phenomenon identical to the energy readings from Second Impact.
As the anti-AT Field reaches a critical point, the JSSDF's commander delivers a simple statement to his men: "Our mission is a failure." A huge explosion emitting from the Geofront wipes out the JSSDF forces and most of Toyko-3's ruins. Central Dogma survives the explosion, and Fuyutsuki and the bridge crew see that the Black Moon—the Egg of Lilith—has been exposed. The Egg hovers out of the crater, taking NERV Headquarters and the remains of the Geofront with it as it ascends. Everything is ready for SEELE's "Red Earth" ceremony, but Fuyutsuki tells the bridge crew that what happens next is up to Lilith.
Inside Terminal Dogma, Gendo tells Rei to reunite him with Yui, but much to his shock, Rei turns against him by absorbing his hand and Adam. "I am not your puppet," she says as her arm regenerates. Rei turns towards Lilith and hovers upwards towards her as Gendo, having completely lost his composure, desperately begs her to wait for him. "I can't. Ikari is calling me," says Rei as she continues her ascent. She stops a few feet from Lilith's chest, looks upon the crucified giant, and declares, "I'm home." Lilith answers the declaration with "Welcome Home", then absorbs Rei and Adam. While the entire chasm fills with the sound of Lilith's reawakening heartbeat, Gendo looks on in defeated silence as her body regenerates completely, before her hands slides off the nails that held her to the crucifix and she falls into the orange lake underneath her, drenching him in a rain of LCL. The mask with SEELE's symbol falls from Lilith's face, and she begins to change form from an androgynous human into that of a woman. Aoba and Hyuga detect an AT Field on their computers, seeing a blue pattern field approaching from the lower levels. A panicked Maya asks if it is another Angel, but Hyuga tells her the pattern is human in nature. Just then, a ghostly Lilith rises through the floor of Central Dogma and passes by the bridge crew, rapidly growing in size. Her hand phases through Maya, who immediately breaks down.
Shinji is at his mental breaking point when Lilith rises towards him, showing him a face that looks like Rei's. The horrified Shinji screams at the sight. SEELE counted on this, since destroying the ego of Unit-01's pilot can trigger Third Impact. The bridge bunnies detect a change in the MP EVAs' energy signatures as the faces of the EVAs mutate, twist, and change into a form that resembles Rei. Shinji breaks down even further, and Unit-01 roars as its core is exposed. A panicked Shinji tries pulling the EVA's control, but it does nothing. The monitors in Central Dogma show his psychograph going down; Fuyutsuki realizes Shinji won't be able to last much longer.
"I can't take it anymore!" Shinji chants over and over...until he hears a familiar voice asking him, "Is this better?" Shinji looks up to see a giant Kaworu looking back at him. Moved to tears by the sight, Shinji relaxes and gives himself over to the process of Instrumentality. The Lance of Longinus penetrates Unit-01's core, and the fusion of the Lance and Unit-01 creates a gigantic tree-like entity. "The Fruit of Life is held by the Angels. The Fruit of Wisdom is held by Man. EVA Unit-01 now possesses them both and therefore becomes God. Now the Source of all souls, the Tree of Life, has been formed again," says Fuyutsuki. "Will it be an Ark to save mankind from the vacuum of Third Impact? Or is it the demon that will destroy us all? The fate of mankind now lies in the hands of Ikari's son." Inside the Tree of Life, Shinji hears his mother speak to him, telling him that the Rei he sees is from his soul—she is the embodiment of his wish. She finally asks him the big question: "What you do wish for?" The last thing Shinji sees is someone alluringly clutching her breasts; he then melts away and turns into LCL.
Shinji sees himself as a young child somewhere that looks like a cross between a playground and a soundstage, bathed in the light of a setting sun. "I see. It's like when I started playing the cello," he says. "I thought I could find something if I came here." He is invited by a pair of strange, doll-like children to build a sandcastle with them. Moments later, their mother (a woman who looks like Misato) comes to pick them up, leaving Shinji alone in the sandbox. Sad from yet another abandonment, he tries to complete the castle by himself. When the pyramid-shaped castle is done, he takes a moment to regard his work and then destroys it by stomping on it in a sudden fit of anger. Realizing what he has done, he tearfully tries to rebuild it again. "Enough already," Asuka's voice angrily interjects. "Even just the sight of you gets on my nerves!" The scene shifts to show Shinji lying on a bed while a naked, hunched-over Asuka straddles him, her face livid with hate. He calmly answers her with a question: "Because I'm just like you?" He hears Asuka repeatedly calling out for her mother before Misato says, "I wasn't able to be a mother to Shinji in the end."
Shinji watches a scene from Misato's memory: a moment from the week she spent in bed with Kaji during their college days. Asuka calls the scene stupid, saying it's just two depressed adults trying to find comfort in each other. Ritsuko's voice says it's nice to feel needed, even only in a physical way, and Misato confirms she is indeed glad to feel like she's meaningful. Shinji, meanwhile, is disgusted and surprised that Misato does such things. Misato says sex is indeed a part of her, a side of her Shinji has never seen, and this realization—however painful—is something he has to accept. Asuka wonders, "So when I grow up, does that mean I'll do the same things Misato does?"
Shinji is back on the day he and Asuka kissed, and he hears her asking him if he wants to kiss again. But Misato interjects: "That stuff's not for kids!" The scene unfolds as before...until Asuka walks up to Shinji, at which point she shouts at him and accuses him of not understanding her before kicking his leg. Frustrated, Shinji says he tried to understand her, but she refused to talk to him and made it impossible. Rei asks if he really ever did try to understand, which Shinji sullenly insist he did. Shinji is now on the hellish train again; Asuka calls him stupid as she stands in front of him in a domineering posture, then pushes her chest in his face and tells him she knows about his "visit" to her hospital room. She even dares him to do it again in front of her, telling him that if she can't have all of him to herself, she wants nothing to do with him. Shinji asks her why she can't try to be nice to him, which prompts Asuka, Rei, and Misato to answer that they are all being nice to him. Shinji lashes out and calls them liars, accusing them of hiding behind their smiles and keeping things ambiguous. Rei tells him why it has to be like that: "Because the truth causes everyone pain, because the truth is very, very traumatic." Shinji says he believes ambiguity is more frightening than the truth, as it makes him feel insecure and anxious. He then begs someone—anyone—to talk to him and care about him. His plea remains unanswered as Asuka, Rei, and Misato silently stare back at him.
The scene changes to Misato's kitchen, where Asuka is dejectedly sitting with her head leaning against the table. Shinji walks to up her and says he wants to help her and be with her. In a voice dripping with bitterness, Asuka tells him that if he really wants to help, then he should not do anything or even come close to her, since all he ever does is to hurt her. When Shinji begs Asuka for her help, telling her that she the only who can, she calls him a lair. Fixing him with a venomous glare, she gets up from her seat and pushes him away, ignoring his protests and pleas while she accuses him of only coming to her because he is afraid of Misato, Rei, his mother, and his father. She pushes Shinji into the coffee maker as she accuses him of only looking out for himself without being able to love himself. Shinji loses his balance and lands on the spilled coffee. Asuka looks down on him and declares him "Pitiful." A dejected Shinji gets up on his feet and starts trashing the room, turning over the table and throwing around furniture, growing angrier and more desperate while pleading not to be left alone, abandoned, or killed, before he, exhausted, goes quiet and slumps over in defeat. Asuka, having remained silent and unmoving during Shinji's tantrum, looks at him and gives him the simplest answer possible: "No." Shinji freezes for a second...then violently strangles Asuka in an act of rage. She doesn't resist.
The kitchen fades into a mindscape, and as the events of the year 2015 unfold before his eyes in rapid succession, Shinji concludes that no one understands him and the world is full of pain and uncertainty. He accuses everyone of betraying him. Rei says it was wrong of him to think everybody felt like him. Shinji says that if nobody cares for him, then everybody should "just die", and it would be better if he didn't exist, too. Rei asks him why he is here if he really believes what he's saying. Caught off-guard by the question, Shinji asks if it's okay for him to be here, but his question is met with silence; he screams in response.
Inside Central Dogma, the bridge bunnies watch helplessly as Lilith's anti-AT Field expands and Shinji's vital signs drop to near-zero. They note that the size of the anti-AT Field will make it impossible for people to maintain their individual AT Fields—and their physical forms. Third Impact has officially begun.
The Doors of Guf open and Lilith starts collecting the souls of every single person on Earth. Ghostly Reis appear over the remains of the dead lying in the halls of NERV HQ, including Ritsuko and (what remains of) Misato, before their bodies turn into LCL. A ghostly Rei appears before a shocked Hyuga, then turns into Misato and kisses him deeply...at which point he turns into LCL. Aoba cowers under his desk, beset by a horde of Reis, and he screams in horror one of them touches him and turns him into LCL. Fuyutsuki smiles as he asks Gendo if he ever did see Yui again; the ghostly Rei that visits Fuyutsuki turns into Yui, touches him, and turns him into LCL. Maya realizes everyone's AT Fields are disappearing and turns to her computer to write a last entry, but another set of hands writes something for her. Maya turns around and sees Ritsuko, causing her to scream in joy while embracing her...before she too turns into LCL. The members of SEELE disappear one by one, and a surprisingly content Keel says, "All is right with the world," before he turns into LCL. He leaves behind a massive amount of mechanical prosthetics.
In Terminal Dogma, Gendo lies on the ground. When he sees Yui standing next to him, he tells her how happy he is to finally be with her again. He admits that he left Shinji alone because, without her at his side, he was afraid of hurting his son. She asks Gendo if he was afraid of Shinji, and Gendo says he believed that nobody could love him, as he didn't deserve it. Kaworu and Rei appear before Gendo and tell him that, in the end, his fear of betrayal made him close off his heart. Yui transforms into a demonic Unit-01 and picks Gendo up. Gendo says his final words—"So this is my retribution? ...I'm sorry, Shinji."—before the EVA bites him in half, leaving his lower half standing on the floor of Terminal Dogma. One of the Reis picks up Gendo's glasses before going to stand with her "sisters".
The MP EVAs pierce their cores with their faux Lances, which spreads the anti-AT Field across the entire Earth. The whole planet turns red as Lilith harvests the souls of every single human; they float upwards and towards Lilith, then eventually fuse with her. Unit-01 enters Lilith's head, and Shinji looks amazed at the "cloud" of souls as they float around him. He hears the voice of women—some familiar, some strange—with various rejections and admissions of hatred for him. Misato and Rei eventually say he can make it stop if it is too painful. Misato asks Shinji if he wants to become one with her; Asuka's voice suddenly injects: "I'd rather die than do it with you!"
Live-action footage of a empty theater, followed by scenic shots of a city, appears on-screen. As a shot of a crowded street fills the screen, Shinji asks Misato, Asuka, and Rei what dreams are. He admits that he doesn't understand reality and doesn't know where to find happiness. Rei tells him he is dreaming, and he is now in a world based on his reality—the one he wanted to escape. Shinji asks why he can't dream of being alone; Rei tells him that such a dream would be a substitute for reality. As the empty theater is now filled with people, he asks her where his dream is, and she answers that it "is a continuation of reality." Shinji finally asks Rei, "But where is my reality?" Rei answers, "It is at the end of your dream." Back in reality, Lilith's throat is suddenly slit by an unseen force. Her blood stains the moon as she wobbles and falls back toward Earth.
Shinji awakens to find himself in orange water, and he sees the moon before he sees Rei sitting naked on top of him, smiling calmly at him. She tells Shinji they are in the sea of LCL that has covered the planet; he sees her hands fused with his chest at the same time. Rei says the LCL Sea is a place without AT Fields—a place where individuality doesn't exist. It is an ambiguous world, where you cannot tell where you end and others begin. He asks if they are dead, but Rei answers, "Not quite. This is a world where we are all one. This is the world you wished for." Shinji thinks the whole thing feels wrong. Rei tells him individuality can be re-established if he wants it to be, but the walls of people's hearts will also be restored and so will their ability to feel fear and pain. Shinji thinks about it, then separates himself from Rei, accepting individuality. He holds her hand and says, "Thank you."
Now in blue water, Shinji rests his head in Rei's lap. He explains how things were painful before, which is why he ran away, but he has since realized that running away solved nothing—it only caused everybody, including himself, to stop existing. Kaworu appears and asks Shinji if he is okay with the fact that everyone will be hurt by their AT Fields again. Shinji says he don't mind, then asks Rei and Kaworu who they are within his heart. They reply they're "the hope people can one day understand each other" and "the word 'love'". Shinji calls that an overly idealistic belief, as he realizes he will eventually be hurt by another person some day. Regardless of the consequences of individuality, Shinji still hopes to see his friends again, because he knows that his feelings for them were real.
Unit-01 breaks out of Lilith through her eye and roars as it grows wings of light again. The Black Moon explodes and releases the human souls contained within. Lilith breaks apart and falls to Earth. Unit-01 pull the Lance of Longinus out of its body, which destroys The MP EVAs replica Lances and kills them. Kaworu, Rei, and Yui offer Shinji some reassuring words: All living things will have the choice of returning to individual existence if they so wish—they just need to imagine themselves in their hearts. "Anywhere can be paradise, as long as you have the will to live," Yui tells him. As Unit-01 starts to leave Earth's orbit, she adds: "As long as the Earth, Moon, and Sun exist, everything will be alright."
Somewhere in the middle of the LCL Sea, Yui reaches out to Shinji (who is wearing Misato's cross), caresses his face, and asks him if he will be okay. She starts drifting backwards, towards the depths, while Shinji drifts towards the surface. Shinji admits he still has doubts about whether he did the right thing and if he will ever find his happiness, but he knows that at least he is himself. Shinji reemerges from the sea and watches the head of Lilith spilt in two, then asks Yui what she will do. In 2003, at the lakeshore in Hakone, Fuyutsuki asks Yui if her real intention behind the EVA project is to create a god. Yui affirms this: Humans can only live on Earth, but her soul can live inside an Evangelion forever—eternal proof to the universe, even after the Sun is extinguished and Earth and the Moon are gone, that mankind existed. Somewhere beyond the Moon, Unit-01 continues to drift slowly towards the stars, blue hair flowing out from behind its broken mask. Shinji whispers a final goodbye to his mother as she finally disappears.
An unknown amount of time has passed. The remains of Lilith and the MP EVAs litter the landscape, which is bathed in ambient red light due to the now-reddened ocean. Misato's pendant is seen nailed to a wooden pole. Shinji lies on his back on a beach next to Asuka, whose right arm and left eye are covered in bandages, as they stare into the sky. Shinji turns to stare at the ocean with a vacant and distant look on his face. He sees Rei hovering over the waves for a brief moment before she disappears into thin air. He then sits up and notices Asuka. Shinji straddles her, then starts to strangle her, but Asuka does not lash out—she instead raises her right hand and caresses his face. Shinji stops and loosens his grip, shocked at her touch, before he breaks down crying into her chest. Without changing her expression, Asuka looks on him with her unbandaged eye.
In the coldest possible voice, she says, "How disgusting."
Episode 26: Yours Sincerely/I Need You contains episode-specific examples of the following tropes:
- The Bad Guy Wins: Taken at face value, SEELE is ultimately successful in their plans to initiate Human Instrumentality. In any case, Keel is definitely satisfied. However; Shinji's decision to restore individuality might mean that it is ultimately a Meaningless Villain Victory instead.
- Book-Ends: The mysterious ghostly Rei and "Kimochi warui" have their pay-off in the last minutes.
- Conveniently Close Planet: At its closest to Earth, the moon is still well over two hundred thousand miles away. For Lilith's blood to splash against the moon's surface, either this trope is in effect or her High-Pressure Blood is taken Up to Eleven (and then some).
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Try to count all of the instances where something either looks like a vagina or references sex/penetration. Just don't turn it into a drinking game.
- The Dog Bites Back: After spending the entire series being yelled at, criticized, and mistreated by Asuka, Shinji finally loses it and strangles her to death.
- Empty Piles of Clothing: When Rei/Lilith harvests the souls of the human race, they leave this behind.
- Existential Horror: Shinji asks if it is "okay for [him] to be here", but his question is only met with silence.
- Go Mad from the Isolation: Visual clues in the ending sequence imply that Shinji was alone in the post-Third Impact world for at least a few days before Asuka appeared. Considering what he just had gone through and the state of the environment he was alone in, it is no wonder that he appears to be a bit...unstable.
- Ironic Echo: Shinji's "I'm home", and Misato's "Welcome home" are used (and twisted) for the third and final time once Rei fuses with Lilith. When she softly whispers "I'm home", Lilith responds with a textual, "Welcome home".
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Komm, süsser Tod", a song heavy reminiscent of "Hey, Jude", but with lyrics pertaining to suicide, heartbreak, and regret, is perhaps one of the most infamous examples ever, at least in anime.
- Medium Blending: The live-action sequence. Notably, it even plays a bit further with the trope by slyly splicing a few fictional elements into some of the shots in the sequence. The pan over the city-scape includes several buildings from Tokyo-3 inserted with CGI amongst the real ones, and Megumi Hayashibara, Kotono Mitsuishi and Yuko Miyamura are shown cosplaying as their characters while walking down a crowded street with their backs to the camera.
- Neck Lift: Shinji does this to Asuka when he completely snaps during their argument, with both hands.
- Non-Dubbed Grunts: In the 2019 Netflix English dub:
- A well-trained ear can detect that Shinji's screaming as Unit-01's core is exposed is left in by the original voice actor, Megumi Ogata. Interestingly enough, said scream sounds remarkably similar to Casey Mongillo's, since the latter dubbed all of Shinji's screams aside from this one.
- All of Megumi Hayashibara's roars as Unit-01 were also kept in.
- Averted in the Netflix Latin American Spanish dub, as all the screams, barring a few ones from random nameless characters, were dubbed.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Gendo when he realizes that Rei is going to merge with Lilith herself.
- Maya upon realizing that NERV has begun Third Impact.
- Shinji gets one when Lilith shows him a face that resembles Rei. Then he has another one when the MP EVAs transform into objects that resemble Rei.
- Hyuga and Aoba when they realize that Lilith is about to turn them into LCL.
- Robotic Reveal: The "harvest" of Keel's soul reveals most that most of his body has been replaced with cybernetic implants.
- Silence Is Golden: The final scene with Shinji and Asuka, aside from the latter's line at the very end, lacks any dialogue.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: "Komm, Süsser Tod" is perhaps one of the most (in)famous examples of this, at least in anime. Musically, it is a pretty upbeat sounding light pop-rock number somewhat in the style of "Hey, Jude", but it is set as the background music to a The End of the World as We Know It sequence. And then there is the song's lyrics, which sounds eerily like a suicide note, making it double as Lyrical Dissonance.
- Stock Audio Clip:
- In the 2002 Manga English dub, Spike Spencer's scream from the end of the previous episode is reused twice.
- For the 2019 Netflix English dub:
- Casey Mongillo's scream from the end of the previous episode is also reused when Shinji sees Unit-02's remains.
- As with Evangelion: Death(True)2, the scenes that were recycled from the TV series reuse some of the previously-recorded audio clips. One of the most notable instances is the scene where Asuka asks, "Hey, Shinji, do you want to try a kiss?".
- Tantrum Throwing: Shinji starts throwing around furniture when his frustration about being unable to connect with Asuka reaches a boiling point.
- Title Drop: The ghostly Ritsuko writes "I need you" on Maya's computer.
- Visible Silence: Taken Up to Eleven. Shinji's question of "Is it okay for me to be here?" is answered by a textual response of "silence".