"The Choice of Life" is the eighteenth episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Evangelion Unit-03, being transported from the United States to Japan via airplane, flies through a microscopic Angel disguised as an odd cloud, infecting Unit-03. During Toji's first synch test, Unit-03 goes berserk and mutates into an Angel, Bardiel. Possessing both the power of an Angel and the form of an Evangelion, Unit-03 destroys the test facility and advances toward Tokyo-3. All three Evangelions are sortied against Bardiel, but the Angel rapidly defeats both Unit-02 and Unit-00. Although Shinji does not know that Toji is trapped inside Bardiel, he refuses to use Unit-01 to attack it, wanting to try to save the pilot. As Bardiel attacks Unit-01, Gendo orders that Shinji be cut off from control of Unit-01 and that Unit-01's Dummy Plug autopilot system be activated. Under the control of the Dummy plug, Unit-01 savagely attacks Bardiel, literally tearing the possessed Evangelion to shreds and crushing its Entry Plug. After the battle, the already emotionally-devastated Shinji is even more horrified as he sees Toji being taken from the wreckage of the entry plug.
The episode begins with the transport aircraft carrying Evangelion Unit-03 flying through a formation of cumulonimbus clouds. A brief but massive spark of electricity is shown as the Eva enters the clouds.
Misato leaves for NERV's second test facility at Matsushiro. Shinji is confused to find Toji absent from school. Kensuke speculates that Toji might be the expected new pilot. Both Toji and Misato are waiting due to a delay in transporting the Eva to Japan. The delayed flight arrives, and the Eva is readied for activation.
The bilingual activation begins normally, but soon goes dangerously wrong. Attempts to cut the power and stop the activation fail and a high energy reaction is detected inside the Eva. The 13th Angel, Bardiel reveals itself and the Angel-infected Eva roars as it sets off a huge explosion (possibly via its S² Engine).
NERV Headquarters is alerted about the explosion at Matsushiro. Subsequently, an entity with Blood Type Orange is detected, which is discovered to be the infected Unit-03. Attempts to eject the entry plug are inhibited by the Angel's biomass holding it back. Unit-03 is designated the Thirteenth Angel and the three remaining Evangelions sortie against the infected Eva, with no choice but to fight it with the pilot held hostage.
Shinji remains ignorant of the fact that Toji is the pilot of Unit-03. Asuka is about to tell him when she is surprised and incapacitated by the infected Eva. Rei hesitates to shoot long enough for Unit-03 to detect Unit-00's presence and attack it. After pinning Unit-00 to the ground, it secretes a grayish-purple fluid that begins to infect Unit-00 through the left arm, which is severed with Rei still synchronized. Unit-03 goes on to fight Unit-01.
Shinji sees the trapped entry plug and refuses to fight the Eva while the pilot is still inside. The Eva's mutated arms reach out and grab Unit-01 by the neck. Gendo orders Shinji to fight, but Shinji would rather be strangled to death than kill Unit-03's pilot. As a result, Gendo orders the Dummy System to be activated. Unit-01 grabs the infected Unit-03's neck and soon breaks it, leaving the infected Eva limp. Unit-01 proceeds to smash in the infected Eva's skull and brutally dismember it. Shinji screams for his father to stop it and makes futile attempts to control the Eva himself, but Unit-01 continues until it crushes the Entry Plug.
Misato is found among the other survivors of the explosion at Matsushiro. Kaji explains that Ritsuko is safe and that Unit-03 was destroyed by Unit-01. A sobbing, miserable Shinji speaks to Misato on the radio briefly before the pilot of Unit-03 is revealed to be still alive. Shinji sees that it is Toji and screams.
- When Toji is extracted from the entry plug, what look like strands of congealed LCL are still attached to his body. This was probably another part of Bardiel's infection, which raises the question of whether or not Toji was infected as well.
- The English language title, "Ambivalence", refers to a state where two contradictory emotions or attitudes exist at the same time within an individual. It was originally a psychoanalytical term, first used by the Swiss psychoanalyst Paul Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939). The title may be referring to Shinji's conflict between his duty to defeat Unit-03 and his emotional reluctance to fight the Eva, due to the fact that it has a human pilot on board. (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Platinum:05 DVD booklet. Released by A.D.V. Films. Translated from the Renewal Vol. 05 DVD booklet.)
- "Conceivably, Bardiel lurked within the cumulonimbus clouds and parasitized the in-transit Unit-03 when it passed through." (積乱雲の中に潜み、移送中の３号機が通過した際に寄生したものと考えられるバルディエル。) From Evangelion Chronicle, Mechanic Sheet 04: Evangelion Production Model / Thirteenth Angel Bardiel.
- English is used in the original Japanese version of this episode to represent personnel from the United States' First Branch: at the beginning of the episode for the interchange between the Eva transport and Air Traffic Control, and later during Unit-03's bilingual activation experiment.
- The English dialogue was performed by Michael House, George A. Arriola, and Hiromi Arriola. Michael House was a Gainax employee at the time who did in-house translation work. George A. Arriola and Hiromi Arriola were friends of Michael and are apparently husband and wife. - Platinum Episode Commentaries
- The American personnel say "Evangelion Unit One" in place of the Japanese "Evangelion Shogouki". (Also from the Platinum:05 DVD booklet.)