The ending of the last episode hinted that Kirito would be telling Alice about her past. Sure enough, that’s exactly what we end up getting here… a recap episode covering the previous episodes of this series. This series has been heavier on the exposition side than usual, so adding a recap episode on top of that is a little grueling. Yes, it makes sense for Kirito to be telling Alice about her past and hoping that she’ll accept what he tells her. However, devoting a whole recap episode to this just feels a little excessive.
Overall, though, the recap focused on events that Kirito either witnessed himself directly, or became involved in partway through (such as the attempted rape of the pages). Surprisingly, Crunchyroll didn’t include the disclaimer that was put onto the episode that this scene originally came from. Maybe it was thought that viewers watching this recap would already be familiar with the episode and that the disclaimer wasn’t necessary?
The only time the cheated on what was shown, though, happened right at the end. There’s footage of Eugeo’s battle in the previous episode (which Kirito wasn’t aware of going on), with Kirito’s voice-over dialogue saying something to the effect that he’s sure Eugeo is still inside the tower and fighting in order to save Alice.
For the opening credits, the first opening theme song was used. For the footage, about roughly half of it came from the first opening and the remainder of the footage comes from the current opening. For the ending credits, I believe it was the first ending theme, but the footage used at the side of the credits is all from what was seen in the real world while the story in the game world is taking place. I guess it was felt that the real world side had to be acknowledged, but it obviously couldn’t be part of the actual episode, since Kirito wouldn’t have witnessed most of it.
While it makes sense to place a recap episode here, it’s still a recap episode. It’s all footage that the viewer has seen before, with some additional voice-over narration by Kirito to explain why this footage is showing up while he’s talking to Alice. Unfortunately, I tend to get bored with recap episodes, since it’s all material I’ve already seen.
At least the story should be continuing with the next episode, and hopefully it’ll have a decent mix of action and exposition.