Japanese Title: 命の選択を (Inochi no
Sentaku wo) (The Judgment of Life)
English Sub-Title: Ambivalence
Airdate: January 31, 1996
The transport of Evangelion Unit-03 from NERV-01 in American to NERV Headquarters in Japan is underway. During flight the transport plane encounters an area of cloud cover with a cumulonimbus (a type of cloud that is vertically tall, dense, typically involved in bad weather, and extremely dangerous to aircraft), directly in its flight path. After confirming with the control tower, which finds the barometric pressure acceptable, the transport along with Evangelion Unit-03 enters the cloud. As it does so, a mysterious electrical disturbance occurs.
Meanwhile Misato Katsuragi struggles to find a chance to tell Shinji Ikari about the new pilot of Evangelion Unit-03. Before she gets the chance however, Shinji asks if the rumors he has heard about the destruction of NERV-02 and Evangelion Unit-04 are true. Misato confirms it to be true, but hesitates when Shinji asks about the pilot of the surviving Evangelion Unit-03. The doorbell rings before she can reply, with an excited Kensuke Aida pleading Misato to make him an Evangelion pilot.
Later that morning Misato and Ritsuko Akagi are on their way to the Matsushiro site, where Evangelion Unit-03 is to be activated. Misato confesses that she still has not found a way to tell Shinji about the new pilot, and that she is worried about him. When she suggests the new pilot should introduce himself, Ritsuko replies that it is doubtful, because this pilot is not enthusiastic about piloting. In fact, he has accepted the position only on the condition that his little sister would be transferred to NERV's private medical facility for better care.
At Public Middle School 1, Shinji Ikari notices Touji Suzuhara's odd behavior. During lunch, Touji is alone lost in thought on the school's rooftop when Rei Ayanami approaches him. Touji asks if she knows. As Rei nods, he says that it is unlike her to worry about someone else, someone other than Shinji that is. Rei is startled by the comment, but admits that he may be right.
At the same time Hikari, who has prepared a lunch for Touji, notices both Touji and Rei from the classroom window.
After school Asuka Langley Sohryu and Hikari Horaki walk home together, during which they have a girl chat about boys. Hikari is feeling down, and when Asuka asks if it has to do with Touji, she is surprised that Asuka had noticed. Asuka explains that everyone knows, except the three stooges (a derogatory term she uses to describe Touji, Shinji, and Kensuke). Hikari then reveals that Touji might be interested in Rei, to which Asuka replies that she has nothing to worry about, because if Shinji is denser than lead, Rei is off the atomic scale.
Later than night, as Misato is still away at the Matsushiro site, Ryoji Kaji spends the night to look after Shinji and Asuka. During the night, Shinji asks Kaji what his father Gendo is like, because he seems to have spent a lot of time with him. Kaji explains that Kouzou Fuyutsuki that spends a lot of time with his father, not him. When Shinji says that he wants to understand his father, Kaji replies that people cannot understand each other unless they understand themselves. When the discussion turns to Misato, Kaji explains that women in particular are troublesome to understand.
The following morning, Misato Katsuragi and Ritsuko Akagi supervise the activation test of Evangelion Unit-03. As final preparations are underway, Ritsuko comments that Misato does not look very enthusiastic, reminding her that when these tests are complete, this unit will also be assigned to her detachment.
A suspicious Misato comments that with exclusive control of four Evangelion Units, she could conquer the world. Ritsuko however ignores the remark, instead asking if Shinji knows about the Fourth Child yet.
The activation test of Evangelion Unit-03 commences with the Fourth Child as its pilot. As the synchronization process reaches borderline, alert sirens go off. The Umbilical Cable is immediately severed, but an abnormal energy reaction is nonetheless detected within Evangelion Unit-03. Moments later Ritsuko cries out that it is an Angel, and a massive explosion engulfs the Matsushiro site.
NERV Headquarters reacts immediately, detecting an unknown object near the site. While the MAGI Super-Computer System is unable to confirm the presence of an Angel, Gendo Ikari orders a first stage alert. Within moments, the Evangelion Units are prepared for launch by air to the Matsushiro site.
With Evangelion Unit-00, Evangelion Unit-01, and Evangelion Unit-02 standing by at the ready, Shinji asks what happened to Misato, and how they could possible fight an Angel without her. Rei replies that his father, Commander Gendo Ikari will lead the operation.
As Evangelion Unit-03 enters visual range, NERV Headquarters transmits the abort signal in their attempts to eject the Entry Plug. They find that while the pilot's life signs are weak, the Fourth Child is still alive. However, the signal neither stops the unit nor ejects its Entry Plug. Gendo then announces the loss of Evangelion Unit-03, ordering it to be reclassified as the Thirteenth Angel.
The Evangelion Units are then ordered to engage and destroy the target known as Bardiel, the Thirteenth Angel. Shinji comments that it may be an Angel, but it is also an Evangelion Unit, and therefore there must be a pilot onboard. Asuka is surprised that Shinji still does not know about the Fourth Child, but before she can tell him, her transmission is cut off as she is attacked by Bardiel.
Within moments, Evangelion Unit-02 goes silent and rescue teams are dispatched to recover the pilot. Gendo orders Rei and Evangelion Unit-00 to stop the target but to avoid close-range combat. As Bardiel approaches, Evangelion Unit-00 awaits in ambush, training its rifle at it. However, Rei also knows who the pilot is and hesitates, allowing Bardiel to spread its AT Field. The Angel lifts into the air and crushes Evangelion Unit-00 to the ground. While Rei struggles to break free, Bardiel releases a fluid that infects the arm of Evangelion Unit-00. As nerve contamination begins to spread, Gendo orders the arm to be severed, incapacitating Evangelion Unit-00.
As Bardiel engages Evangelion Unit-01 in combat, Shinji notices an Entry Plug is still inside the renegade Evangelion Unit. Despite Gendo's orders, Shinji refuses to fight and possibly kill another human being. Bardiel then begins to choke Evangelion Unit-01.
Suddenly Gendo orders the termination of all synchronization circuits with the pilot, instead ordering the activation of the Dummy Plug. Moments later Shinji's Entry Plug shuts down. When Shinji's displays flicker back to life, Evangelion Unit-01 is no longer under his control. Instantly, the berserk Evangelion Unit-01 crushes Bardiel's neck. While the Angel is already dead, the unit continues its rampage, throwing it to the ground and viciously ripping it to shreds.
Streets and rivers flood with the red blood of Evangelion Unit-03 as Shinji Ikari cries for his father to stop. Even NERV personnel are shocked at the bloody carnage. After gutting Bardiel across several miles, Evangelion Unit-01 crushes the Fourth Child's Entry Plug.
Survivors are recovered from the nearby Matsushiro site, Misato and Ritsuko among them. Slowly regaining consciousness, Misato asks Ryoji Kaji what happened to Evangelion Unit-03. Kaji informs her that it was destroyed by Shinji. Misato breaks down; saying she never told him about the pilot.
As the sun sets, Evangelion Unit-01 with a traumatized Shinji Ikari still inside stands motionless against the twilight. Misato makes contact with Shinji over the communications system, apologizing that she did not tell him something important. Shinji breaks down, saying that he killed someone, that his father made him do it. Just as he says this, a confirmation report comes in that the pilot is still alive. Relieved, Shinji watches as the pilot is recovered from the crushed Entry Plug. An eerie silence follows as a shocked Shinji realizes who the pilot ishis friend, Touji Suzuhara. As Misato frantically calls out to him, the silence is shattered by Shinji's bone-chilling scream.