86-Eighty-Six’s Surprising Season 1 Ending, Explained

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for 86-Eighty-Six Episode 11, “Here We Go,” now streaming on Crunchyroll.

In the 11th episode of 86-Eighty-Six, the Spearhead Squadron's adventures come to a brutal end. As Shin and his friends escape with just one Juggernaut, they hope to make their way to an Imperial city and find a shot at a real-life away from the war between the Republic of San Magnolia and the Empire of Giad. But things take a dark turn that results in a costly attack by the Legion's mech-units.

There is, as usual, a lot of blood on the battlefield. It just doesn't seem like these youngsters were meant to escape the turmoil of the 86th District, so let's break down what the 86-Eighty-Six ending means.

What Happens in the Final Legion Battle?

As they navigate across a cliff, Shin asks to pilot the Juggernaut but while the others think he's having fun, he shoots down some rocks and abandons them. They realize his special hearing of the Legion's 'bots has confirmed a new battalion is near. Shin confesses he's going to meet them head-on, buying time for his allies to escape.

However, they're a family and don't believe in leaving him as the sacrificial lamb. Raiden, Anju, Theo and Kurena grab basic rifles and join the skirmish, but we all know that won't suffice. Shin does his best but thanks to a hail of bombs from the sky, his Juggernaut loses its leg and he becomes a sitting duck. The Legion also drop and one by one, the Spearheads end up on the floor, apparently lifeless.

Is Shin Truly Dead?

A damaged, bleeding Shin hears his brother Rei's voice and meets him in some sort of ethereal plane. But this Shin isn't the old, rugged Undertaker that killed the bot which had his brother's mind earlier in Season 1 -- it's a younger Shin. Rei seems glad to be reunited with his little brother and turns into the Skull Knight, Shin's favorite hero from a book in his childhood.

Rei escorts him through a door into what appears to be the afterlife, leaving behind a shot of Shin's headless body on the ground before the 86-Eighty-Six finale ends. Now, this has deep meaning because it suggests Shin's head was indeed cut off by this new giant Legion bot and his brain will be implanted in a Black Sheep. In other words, Rei's fate will befall Shin and unless someone with Shin's connection to the Legion's voices comes around, Shin may well be lost forever as a killer bot.

Can Shin and the Squadron Be Saved?

It stands to reason that because his friends weren't blown to bits, the same thing may happen to them. The Legion would then head back to the Republic to finish off the remaining Spearheads whom Aldrecht is caring for. But there's an interesting turn of events with Lena visiting Aldrecht. She finds goodbye letters from Shin's crew before their suicide mission, so she may well assume they're dead as she lost contact with them.

Or she may have used a squad of her own and pursued them, intercepting the Legion bots before they could finish the job. 86-Eighty-Six might be disguising when Lena arrived at camp to ensure she gets a surprising heroic moment, reuniting with the team she's bonded with for so long over the Para-Raid comms link. If Shin's crew is dead, though, then maybe Lena can harness their minds using the tech Annette's father worked on and the psychic abilities of some 86 families who were human experiments.

There's one last option, though -- another cavalry might have arrived. Shin heard a voice talking about a princess in his ghost conversations, so maybe they've reached the border of another royal nation. This army may be Shin's saviors, with Rei being a fever dream after bombing the site in self-defense as the Squadron and Legion fought.

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