Theory and Analysis:Third Impact (NTE)

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At the end of Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance, we see the event known as Near Third Impact come to a conclusion. However, in the follow-up film, Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo, countless developments appear to have taken place sometime during the 14-year interim. A good case can be made that a proper Third Impact occurred off-screen. However, we must first take a look at what we know.

Near Third Impact (N3I)

Eva-01 is awakened to a pseudo-evolved state by Shinji's desire to save Rei. Soon after the Eva makes contact with the 10th Angel's core, the Door of Guf opens. After fusing with the soul of Rei and the remains of the 10th Angel, Eva-01 is elevated to the god-like state of Radiant Giant. The center of Tokyo-3 is demolished and the surface divided by a cross-shaped fissure, the middle of which is lifted up toward the Door. Ritsuko says that old life will perish in order to usher in the new, and that the world is coming to an end.

Shortly thereafter, Mark.06 disables Eva-01 with the Spear of Cassius. The Door of Guf vanishes and Eva-01 reverts to its original state. Apocalypse has been, it seems, averted.

Note: Immediately before Eva-01 is first shown as the Radiant Giant, there is a quick cut to Lilith, still on its cross in a visibly shaking Central Dogma. The meaning of this cutover is unknown. It is possible that it is simply meant to show that Lilith is not being affected by N3I.

14 Years Later

Fourteen years later, the very landscape has changed dramatically. Determining precise cause and effect is difficult, so we must first compile a set of observations.

Landscape Changes

Landscape Changes

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Pyramid in the Sky

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  • All is Red

The entire Hakone vicinity has a glittering red consistency, and has been transformed to core material, down to houses and their contents. There are no signs of trees or other life; areas not built up heavily by humans appear to be, essentially, barren waste.

  • Facial Features

Surrounding the cross-shaped fissure formed at Near Third Impact, there is now what appears to be a giant blue iris. Close by, there is a massive fissure lined by anatomically correct teeth and gums.

  • No Ashinoko

Ashinoko (Lake Ashi) was present for Near Third Impact at least up to the point that Tokyo-3's center was destroyed and the Door of Guf began to expand. There is no sign of the lake in the current landscape.

  • Mysterious Moon

There was nothing unusual about the Moon at the end of the second film. Now, the Moon is unusually close to Earth, possesses an atmosphere, is covered in massive "blood" splotches previously unseen, and is enveloped by a suspended(?) red grid.

  • Red Evas

Inert red Evas, the Failures of Infinity, litter the outskirts of Tokyo-3, and appear to be coming out of the buildings themselves. Most or all of them appear deformed in some way. All are headless. They vary in size as well; some are the size of buildings, while others are even bigger than that.

  • No Geofront

At the end of 2.0, the Geofront had been exposed to the sky Near Third Impact. However, in 3.0, there is no trace of a subsurface Geofront level whatsoever.

  • Pyramid in the Sky

From the center of the cross-shaped fissure, there is an immense pole with an inverted pyramid on top. This pyramid, "New Nerv HQ", contains the partially entombed remains of the Nerv HQ pyramid and its pool, along with all of the Nerv HQ facilities seen in previous films. The inverted pyramid contains the pyramid section of Nerv HQ, and likewise all of its equipment. Nerv seems to be surrounded by what looks like carved-out layers of sedimentary rock.

Within New Nerv HQ

Within New Nerv HQ
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  • TOP: Old HQ Pyramid.
  • BOTTOM: Rei Head in ruined old command center.
  • Old Nerv HQ
    On top of the inverted pyramid, tall walls with no ceiling entomb the ruins of the old Nerv HQ pyramid. They resemble sedimentary rock. The pool appears to have been sealed completely with bakelite.
  • Command Center
    The ruins of the command are home to Lilith's disembodied head upon a pedestal of Failures of Infinity. Unlike the Failures in Tokyo-3, these Failures are perfectly formed save for their missing heads and red color, and can be seen to be copies of Eva-01.
  • Pits
    A massive pit of undisclosed location holds countless damaged tanks. Another one is full of Eva pallet rifles.

Inside Central Dogma

  • Main Shaft

The walls of the lower shaft are lined with countless Failures of Infinity. It appears that a cylindrical cut has been made through them -- hence, the Failures probably formed a complete blockage at one point, and something cleanly bored through the middle. The barrier to Lilith's chamber straddles the Failure-covered section of wall.

  • Lilith's Chamber

The bottom of Lilith's chamber is partly covered by hills of giant, human-shaped skulls, and partly by a pool of red LCL. Lilith's cross has fallen onto the skulls and appears to be stained with blood.

Lilith itself is free of the cross, several times its original size, and crawling atop one of the skull piles. Lilith's entire surface is flayed with grid-shaped cuts, it has been disemboweled, and ribs are exposed. The head is missing, and a giant white Eva Mark.06 is fused at the hips with the stub. Mark.06 is impaled by a Spear of Longinus that is is grasping -- whether frozen in the process of impaling itself, or frozen trying to pull it out --, which continues out of 06's back and into Lilith. A second Spear of Longinus behind Mark.06 impales Lilith alone.

Amongst the skulls on the floor, a fallen JSSDF VTOL can be seen. Additional aircraft can be seen in a fissure in the ceiling.

Other Observations

  • Eva-01's Coffin

The "coffin" satellite containing Eva-01 bears Nerv's new logo, hence must have been launched only after Nerv's organizational change.

  • Kaworu's Exposition

Kaworu's "revealing of the truth" to Shinji is dense with information. In response to Shinji's question, "What happened to everyone in the city?", Kaworu responds:

Mass extinctions are not unusual on this planet. In fact, they help drive evolution.
Life has always changed itself to adapt to the world around it.
However, Lilin change not themselves, but the world.
So they brought the rite of artificial evolution unto themselves.
Old life is offered in sacrifice, so that new beings blessed with the Fruit of Life may be created.
All this is an act of extinction that has been programmed since time immemorial.
Nerv call it the Human Instrumentality Project. (...)
Ikari Shinji-kun, once Awakened, Eva-01 opened the Door of Guf and became the trigger for Third Impact.
Lilin call it Near Third Impact. It was all initiated by you.

  • Spear of Cassius

Eva-01 was impaled by the Spear of Cassius at the end of 2.0, but what happened to it afterward? A couple of details suggest that, at some point, it was removed from the Eva. Firstly, Kaworu expected to find the Spear of Cassius in Central Dogma. Second, Eva-01 is able to awaken in outer space, which would presumably not be possible if it were still impaled. At present, its whereabouts are unknown. Kaworu seems to be of the belief that the Spear of Cassius took the form of a Spear of Longinus.

  • Epicenter of Third Impact

Kaworu refers to Lilith's chamber as the epicenter of Third Impact. Contrast this with the apparent epicenter of Near Third Impact, the Geofront.

  • Mark.06

Kaworu says of Mark.06 in Central Dogma, "Remodeled into an autonomous type, exploitation by the Lilin brought the unit to this state of ruin." As of 2.0, Mark.06 was piloted by Kaworu, not "autonomous".

  • 12th Angel

When the Spears are removed from Lilith and Mark.06, the latter is revealed to have the 12th Angel inside it. Asuka exclaims, "The Twelfth Angel is still alive?!" Furthermore, Mari refers to the 12th Angel as the "last Angel", indirectly implying that there had been an 11th, and it was dealt with.

Forming Conclusions

One or more events clearly occurred that caused the landscape changes, created the Failures, and left Lilith, Mark.06, and the 12th Angel in their state as of 3.0. For clarity purposes, we will refer to these hypothetical events as the actual Third Impact (i.e., not "Near"). The following suggests that there was a time gap of weeks or months between Near Third Impact (N3I) and "Actual" Third Impact (A3I).

  • Mark.06 was modified from a piloted model to an autonomous one.
  • The 12th Angel needed to attack (and, likely, the 11th Angel before it)
  • (Anything else?)

However, what triggered the event? Lilith appears to be the focal point of A3I, since Kaworu calls the bottom level of Central Dogma the "epicenter of Third Impact". One basic hypothesis: The 12th Angel reached Lilith and triggered its awakening. The UN airforce attempted to stop Lilith and failed(?). Mark.06, on orders to stop Lilith and the Angel, behead the former, merged with the neck stub, and absorbed the Angel into its body (a la Eva-00 absorbing Armisael in NGE episode 23). It finally sealed the deal with stabbing Lilith with one Spear, and itself with the other.

This leaves many things unexplained, however, such as the involvement of the Failures and their mysteriously missing heads. It also does not address any possible involvement on the part of Eva-01.

The Failures of Infinity are implied by Kaworu's words to be a failed attempt at Instrumentality -- elevating humans into gods. It is unclear when they were created: were they a product of Near Third Impact, forming off-screen (with Misato et al. protected by "eye of the storm" effect), or did they come later? Because they are copies of Eva-01, it must either be "during Near 3I", or Eva-01 was somehow involved in Third Impact.

FoI activity is difficult to reconcile with other events. For example, if the skulls in Lilith's chamber are believed to belong to the Failures, then the Failures must have been created and beheaded long before Lilith's awakening: Lilith's cross is lying on top of the skulls, and Lilith itself is crawling upon a hill of them. On the other hand, the Failures show unambiguous signs of activity after Lilith's awakening and beheading, as dozens can be seen in the Command Center crowded around the head like a pedestal.

(More to come...)