"In the Still Darkness" is the eleventh episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The electrical power in Tokyo-3 is completely cut off as a result of sabotage by parties unknown, trapping most NERV personnel inside, and worse, trapping all three Evangelion pilots outside of the base. A new Angel, Matarael, appears and begins to burn its way down to NERV Headquarters by using a corrosive acid attack, and everyone inside must struggle to power up the Evangelions, as the pilots try to make their way back into Central Dogma through a maze of closed corridors and air ducts. The pilots then enter their Evas and go into battle. After traversing more vents and passageways, they come face to face with the Angel. Asuka defends Shinji and Rei from Matarael's corrosive acid, while the other two pilots retrieve Shinji's rifle. Shinji then uses the rifle to destroy the Angel.
The episode opens as Ritsuko, Maya, and Aoba, are doing their laundry. They then board a train and meet Vice Commander Fuyutsuki, who complains that he is always given the trivial duties, and the city council being nothing but a figurehead, with the Magi supercomputers doing all the job. He also mentions that Ritsuko will be conducting an activation test on Unit-00 that day.
At NERV HQ, Misato boards an elevator. Kaji runs after her, and despite her pushing the "close" button, joins her. At this time Shinji calls his father to tell him that Shinji needs Gendo to show up for a career discussion interview at the school. Gendo starts to tell him that all those parental duties have been delegated to Misato when they are suddenly cut off. At the same time, Misato and Kaji realize that the elevator has stopped working due to a power failure and speculate that Ritsuko might have caused it during the Unit-00 test. In the lab, Ritsuko denies responsibility. Fuyutsuki orders all the emergency power channeled to the Magi and Central Dogma.
Shinji, Asuka and Rei arrive at NERV and find that their cards won't open the gate. Inside, Gendo and Fuyutsuki realize that the power must have been sabotaged. At the same time, the Ninth Angel, Matarael, emerges from the ocean at a point near the former Atami region and heads for Tokyo-3. The JSSDF commanders tracking the Angel get no response from NERV HQ as the Angel begins advancing towards Tokyo-3 inland.
Misato tries to call out of the elevator, but can't get anyone. Aoba also tries to call, but finds that all the phone lines are down. The pilots try to call, but with the same results. Ritsuko and Maya must climb a maintenance ladder to get to the control room. Rei finally thinks to consult her emergency manual; the other pilots follow suit and they realize that they need to get to headquarters.
Asuka declares herself leader and chooses Shinji to crank open the doors manually. Meanwhile, the waiting JSSDF commanders decide to warn Tokyo-3 directly by sending an aircraft to warn the city about the Angel's attack.
Hyuga, who had been picking up Misato's laundry, hears the evacuation order and confiscates a politician's loudspeaker van and heads to NERV HQ. On the elevator, Kaji tries unsuccessfully to flirt with Misato. In the control room, Gendo, Fuyutsuki, and Ritsuko decide that the purpose behind the sabotage must have been to investigate the HQ, and Ritsuko offers to run a dummy program on Magi to make it difficult to learn everything about the structure. At the mean time, under Asuka's leadership, the pilots have got themselves lost. Hyuga passes above them in the van, informing everyone within earshot of the attack, but they are unable to get his attention. Rei points out a short cut and they begin crawling through an air vent. Shinji tries to speculate on the nature of the Angels, but Asuka thinks that the question is pointless; if they're attacking, they must be enemies. Asuka then leads them up the wrong path again, opens a door and encounters Matarael face to face before panicking and slamming the door shut. Hyuga reaches the control room and informs NERV personnel of the Angel's attack. Confident that the pilots will arrive on time, Gendo orders the preparation for the Evas to launch manually.
Thanks to Rei, the pilots are on the right path once again. Asuka accuses Rei of being the favored pilot, which Rei denies. They begin crawling through a duct once again, which they had to force it open. Asuka orders Shinji not to look forward and gives him a flurry of kicks to the face when he disobeys, which made the duct crash, dropping them out of the vents into the Eva launch area, with Shinji and Asuka landing in a heap, Rei nimbly landing on her feet. They find the Evas nearly ready for launch. Shinji looks on in surprise as he sees a side of his father he has never seen before. Gendo is diligently working beside everyone else to insert the Entry Plugs by hand with a pulley.
The three pilots launch and craw into a large horizontal shaft to try to come underneath the Angel, while it had stopped moving, but when they climb into the vertical shaft they realize that Matarael is trying to burn its way into NERV with strong solvent liquid. They scramble into a side shaft, losing their guns and batteries in the process. Asuka comes up with a daring plan: One Eva will be on defense to block the acid and neutralize the Angel's A.T. Field. The backup Eva will go to retrieve one of the guns to the offense Eva who will open fire as the defense Eva dodges back into the horizontal shaft.
Rei volunteers for defense, but Asuka has reserved that role for herself and gives Rei the backup role. Shinji will be offense. The plan works perfectly and Matarael is destroyed. The power is restored, and Kaji and Misato, who had been trying to climb out of the elevator, fall into a heap, and the doors open to reveal Ritsuko, Hyuga and Maya, who all react with disgust. As the episode ends, Shinji once again speculates about the Angels' motives; Asuka thinks that such speculation is meaningless, because there's no way to know why.
- First sortie of all the 3 Evas (Unit-00, Unit-01, and Unit-02) at the same time.
- Evangelion Unit-00 reappears in this episode for the first time since it was severely damaged in Episode 06, and it has now been repaired and partially rebuilt, with shoulder armor plates like the other Evas, and it has been repainted blue (with white highlights) from its original orange color, along with retro rocket activated when it went to retrieve the rifle.
- We see more of what off-duty everyday civilian life is like for NERV personnel, when we see them all stopping at a laundromat. As Ritsuko, Maya and Shigeru do their laundry at the same laundromat, it would seem that they live near each other. Misato forces Hyuga to take her laundry to the laundromat for her.
- This is the only time in the series that we see the trio of NERV technicians in their civilian clothes. Shigeru was previously seen to be a guitar fan last episode, when he was reading guitar magazines and strumming an air guitar while in NERV HQ. In this episode, he is seen carrying a guitar case.
- It is never explained who exactly sabotaged the power supply in Tokyo-3, and this remains an unanswered mystery of the series. It could have been SEELE, or the Japanese government, or an independent act of terrorism. However, since SEELE orders the JSSDF to attack NERV HQ in The End of Evangelion, and at that time Aoba noted to Hyuga that it seemed that SEELE had been planning this attack far in advance by cutting NERV's defense budget, it seems likely that the real culprits behind the power sabotage were SEELE.
- Matarael is probably the weakest Angel in the entire series: it is literally the only one to ever be killed using an Eva's standard-issue pallet rifle, and a single burst at that.
- It is possible that had there been no power outage and the Evas had been sortied against it normally, it would not have posed a significant challenge.
- Another possibility is that the eye that was shot by Eva 01 was the angel's weak spot. The angel isn't aware at any point that there are enemies below him so he could have been caught by surprise. It's possible than on a ground fight - the usual Angel versus Eva combat environment - Matarael would have shown other abilities, perhaps using his other, side-facing eyes. The acid he spews would also likely destroy any opponent down the shaft if it was working alone. The Evangelion only had a couple of minutes of energy left at the end of the battle so it was by no means a trivial win.
- There is a subtle hint on this episode about Commander Ikari's feelings for his son. When he gives the orders to prepare the Evangelions manually Fuyutsuki tries to tell him that the pilots aren't there yet - Gendo goes on anyway and the scene cuts to a focus of Shinji's face, as if implying that Gendo has no doubt that his son is doing whatever it takes to get there on time and for that reason the Evangelion units should be ready. This cue alone could be seen as mere coincidence but in another part of the episode Asuka mocks Rei about being the commanders favorite and she replies not to be so and being "well aware of that" - again hinting that another one (Shinji) is his favorite, being hard to interpret as something else like "there are no favorites".
- Earlier in this episode Shinji calls Gendo to talk about a school matter. The scene makes him look like a terrible parent, impatient, not accepting any responsibility and even hanging up the call rudely - but in reality he was disconnected due to the power outage. His rudeness could also be because he is a really busy man and he doesn't want to be bothered with small matters or that he is unsure how to deal appropriately with a personal call from his own. There is little doubt that Gendo is not a good parent - but that doesn't mean, as we see above, that he has no warm feelings for his son. Just the fact the he decided to take the call instead of asking the operator to dismiss him goes to show some small level of commitment on his part.
- A dropped scene included Aoba playing the guitar to the pilots on top of the hill. Another early idea included him playing an instrumental version of A Cruel Angel's Thesis on the guitar during Shinji's Congratulation scene in Episode 26.
- This episode was partly animated by Studio Ghibli.
- Gendo:"Mankind's enemy is Mankind"
- Shinji:"Angels, messengers of God, enemies named after servants of Heaven. Why are we fighting them?"
Asuka:"Are you stupid? Strange beings are attacking us. If you're going through a fire, you've got to brush away the embers!"
- Rei:"Man fears the darkness, thus scrapes away at the edges of it with fire"
- Reference to the classic 1951 sci-fi movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still.
- "Studio Ghibli is in charge of the original picture. Nozomu Takahashi, a candidate for the city council who appears in the play, is a name that twists the Ghibli producer Nozomu Takahashi at the time. Mr. Takahashi was once an editor at Animage, and was in charge of the serial article "Video Labo" under the name Dr. Nozomu. Some readers may remember it. Although it has nothing to do with Studio Ghibli, the poet Hideaki Ioridani appears in the "My History" section of the newspaper that Fuyutsuki was reading. Oguro Commentary #44
- The JSSDF generals refer to Matarael as the "Eighth Angel", even though it is really the Ninth Angel, meanwhile the NERV team inside Central Dogma refer to it correctly as the Ninth Angel. This is probably not just a dialogue mistake: it seems that while the top JSSDF commanders know that the first Angel, Adam, is what caused Second Impact 15 years ago, they know absolutely nothing about the secret existence of the second Angel, Lilith, in Terminal Dogma.
- The plane sent by the JSSDF to contact Tokyo-3 says it is part of the JASDF (Japanese Air Self-Defense Force). The airforce subsection of the JSSDF.
- Shinji and Asuka's fall resembles Misato and Kaji's after the power returns
- Even though Asuka only stood still while blocking the acid, there was no action involving the neutralization of the Angel's A.T. Field
- The operation [in Episode 10] itself is carried out by Asuka alone, but Shinji is there to provide support and ends up risking himself to save Asuka. As a result, in the fight in the following Episode Eleven, Asuka volunteers for a dangerous offensive role to repay this debt. - Platinum Episode Commentaries
- Asuka said that she is now "even" with Shinji, in return to saving her in the last episode
- "Shigeru Aoba has a music magazine next to him as he mimics playing a guitar. Aoba's hobby is to play the guitar, and in Episode Eleven, he can be seen coming to work with a guitar case containing an electric guitar. This was never realized, but there was an idea of having him play his guitar and singing nearby Shinji and the others in the final scene on the hill." - Platinum Episode Commentaries
- Neon Genesis Evangelion Encyclopedia (Poggio) pp. 79
- The animation for this episode was handled by Studio Ghibli, known for their work on such films as My Neighbor Totoro. Nozomu (written as "peek") Takahashi, the city assembly electoral candidate, who only appears as a name is a twist on the producer of Ghibli, Nozomu (written as "aspire") Takahashi. - Platinum Episode Commentaries