@ Conspicuous : I think that Shinji perfectly understood that WILLE were the good guys, when Asuka asked him if he's trying to start 3I all over again(the underlying question being "Are you by neo-NERV and SEELE's side?"), he answered that no, that's not his objective, that what he wanted was to use the spears to fix the world, he said it himself : "If I get the spears, I can ix the world, I'm trying to save the world!"(underlying answer : "No, I'm not by their side, I'm with yours!")
Yet Asuka answered by saying that he's "really" a little brat. Why would she had responded that? My take is that she had informations that Shinji didn't, that whatever his plans are, touching the spears would leasd to the apocalypse whether there is two LoL or one LoL and one LoC, and she realized that he was being completely manipulated.
About that you said that her decision to go into full-assault was the right one because Shinji was completely delusional, but I think that Anno wanted to show us that her decision was wrong : she did the same thing that it's accused rom Shinji : she jumped to conclusion and didn't tried to understand what the others think and resolve things by dialog.
And the plot showed to us that she was wrong simply : she failed, utterly : she thought that with her Eva and level of skill she could easily destroy Shinji's Eva, yet the RS Hoppers proved to be very efficient, Shinji more skilled than she thought(he hit her easily with the RS Hopper and stopped her blades middair when she jumped on him), and more importantly, he had infinite energy while she relied on a battery.
And in the end she ended completely at Shinji's mercy(a chance that he still cared for her enough to "only" bitch-slap her instead of taking one of her glaives and driving it through her Eva's skull by retaliation!) and reduced to desperate pleas to try to stop him. Ladies and gentlemen, WILLE's top dog!
And, and that's the point I'm trying to make, it contributed on the final outcome of Shinji pulling out the spears because it closed what looked like the only viable alternative to Shinji.
You said that once Kaworu told him that they should stop, "Shinji should have submitted to WILLE's authorities rather than rely on his own judgement", but three things prevented him to do that :
1/ WILLE's authorities looked hell-bent on driving a giant glaive through his skull and rejected every one of his arguments for insults and more lethal assaults
2/ he wasn't in the best mental state to realize that his own judgemen isn't reliable, Gendo made sure of that, that was even one of the cornerstones of his plan to double-cross SEELE.
3/ the most important point : Shinji thought that he must be the one to fix the world because that's the only way to atone for his sins and get forgiven by everyone. You said that Shinji is someone profoundly selfish, but I tend to partially disagree : when everything his okay(like during the first half of 2.0) he's portrayed as someone very sweet and caring(makinf luches for everyone, regularily asking Rei about her health...)... but, when things get sour, then yes, he tends to coñpletely close himself and only see the world on how the bad things happening are affecting him, discarding how it affect the others. That's why he refused to pilot for operation Yashima even thought if he don't do it Ramiel will enter the Geofront and probably won't distribute flowers, or also why he resigned from piloting after Bardiel, even though that would left Rei and the NERV crew all alone against the next Angel, and said next Angel happened to be Zeruel...
Here in 3.0 that was the same thing : part of his intentions were good(fix the world), but apparently the main reason for him to act was to be forgiven by everyone, and that's why he refused to listen to Kaworu when he told him that they should stop(well, that and his growing insanity, a nice gift from Daddy...) : if he listen to Kaworu and surrender now, his chance to fix everything and be forgiven will be gone, forever : WILLE made it clear that they don't trust him at all that will never let him try amything to atone for his sin, it's Asuka and Mari who will be sent to do that and will be remebered as the savior of the Lilin, while he will be remembered as the monster who almost anihilated mankind.
Now was his only chance to atone for his sins and be forgiven, so he must try to do something, even if he's told that it will fail, because that's his only chance, that was what's truly important for him... and of course he never stopped to think what his obsession to be the one who must fix everything will bring to the others, and what it brought was 4I and Kaworu's death...
Which promise to be even more painfully and karmically ironic for Shinji if as I suspect it turns out that he isn't the one who destroyed the world!
And I think that's what Asuka was referring to when she said that he only thought about himself, like usual : he wanted to be the hero to make up for everything, and completely discarded the potential consequences for the others, in the end it was all about him and how he could be forgiven and not actually about how the world could be fixed, which would have included Shinji understanding that he can't fix everything by himself and accept to surrender to WILLE... except that what Asuka didn0t realiwed is that she closed that door herself by attacking him without pause and not trying to explain to him why he can't fix ecerything by himself(i.e. why he musn't touch those fucking spears!)
Because fortunately, what still distingush Shinji with his father is that he's actually capable of changing his mind when presented the right arguments :
- he refused to go to fight Ramiel again because he's sick to be the one on the front-line against the Eldritch Abominations while Misato and the others are safely inside the Command Room? Misato showed him Lilith and that if an Angel makes contact with her 3I will happen and mankind be wipped out, and that to prevent that if an Angel goes that far the whole HQ will self-destruct, taking Misato's and the other's life with it, meaning that in the end they are all in the same boat.
Result? He understood why he's needed, and had gone to fight Ramiel by his own volition. Better, he didn't questionned to the others again why he must pilot, at least until Bardiel.
- he resigned after Bardiel, sick of what his father made him to with the Dummy System(even thought he himself did nothing to try to save Asuka...), without thinking one scond what it would entail for Rei, Misato and cie left behind? He witnessed the vivid images of the consequences for the others by seeing the Geofront carbonized by a N2 Missile and Rei being eaten by Zeruel, all of this because his absence ultimately led Rei to have to kamikaze herself with a half-healed EVA-00 because Yui brought a big "Fuck you" to Gendo...
Result? He finally understood that running away from his problems and the pain won't make it disappear, and that the others still have to deal with them, with or without him, which prompted him to get his ass in gear and go pilot EVA-01 to save Rei, even if it entails directly confronting Gendo, and that his chances of being reduced to a bloody pulp by Big Z where exrtremely high.
Abd you know what? That lesson stuck even after : when he saw Asuka going to ignite the Wunder, he immediately asked to go to help Asuka, because he understood that staying on a corner will resolve nothing. Well at least, that was until the latter revelations broke him completely...
Gendo on the other hand is so obsessed by his gran plan and getting reunited with Yui that absolutely nothing can convinces him to stop, even the fucking Apocalypse couldn't convince him!
In the end, I think that we can't really talk of an Idiot Ball with what hapened in the final fight, by an exploitation by Anno(through Gendo) of the character's flaws : Shinji's tendency to retreat into himself when things don't go the way he likes, Asuka's utter lack of tact and unwillingness to try to understand and talk to people being on the wrong, and finally Kaworu's insane obsession for Shinji's happiness, which made him fell into Gendo's trap.
But anyway that tendency to egocentrism when things get sour is Shinji's most important flaw, and what made him so easily manipulated by Gendo, and that's something that he will really need to address in FINAL if he hopes to one day become someone better that WILLE could really count on... and Asuka seems to have understood this and is begining to act to correct him, let's see how that will unfold in FINAL...
Avatar: THE HIGHEST OF ALL HIGHS WE AAAAAAAAAARE!!!Kensuke is a military otaku who, at one point, is shown creepily taking pictures of girls to sell. He would clearly fit right in as an animator at Studio Gainax. -- Compiling_AutumnEoTV is a therapist, EoE is a drill instructor. -- ChuckmanSeriously, that is the most fananked theory I've ever heard, more than Mari being Marty McFly travelling through time to keep her parents (Asushin) together. -- Jäeger