This episode starts with Chudelkin using an art to create this flame monster that seems like it’s supposed to be pretty powerful. Alice holds this thing off so Kirito and Eugeo can go after the real Chudelkin. Unfortunately, instead of being an interesting battle with a powerful monster, the real Chudelkin is defeated pretty quickly and the monster disappears when he dies. As Administrator even quips, “Well, that was a boring show.” Considering how this series has gone so far, this line ends up coming across as true and unintentionally funny.
Then we spend a lot of the episode seeing both Alice and Kirito arguing with Administrator. And then Administrator decides to show off by creating a powerful Sword Golem. At first, it appears that this could be an epic fight. It cuts down Alice and Kirito pretty quickly, and it comes down to Eugeo. But all of a sudden, he hears a voice telling him to use the dagger Cardinal gave him and insert it into the floor next to him. A spider named Charlotte, who apparently has been on Kirito’s collar, enlarges in size and sacrifices herself so Eugeo can use the dagger. A doorway appears, and Cardinal comes out of it. She heals Alice and Kirito, and at the end of the episode, Cardinal turns her attention to Administrator. It looks as if the show is gearing up for some kind of showdown between Cardinal and Administrator in the next episode. Let’s see how this gets messed up. 😛
But by the end of the episode, Cardinal was really feeling like a “deus ex machina” to me. And I’m afraid she will continue this role into the next episode, and will somehow defeat Administrator a lot quicker than the time that it really should take. With both of the battles in this episode, there was hardly time for any tension to build before the enemy was defeated. To me, this makes for unsatisfactory viewing. It just feels like that when adapting the light novels for the anime, the writers messed up on the pacing early on, and then found themselves having to rush through the sections that should have been longer because they’re more interesting and would have provided the tension and action that helps to keep the viewer invested in what’s going on.
Right now, I’m going into next week’s episode without very low expectations. I really hope that the writers will be able to exceed my low expectations by a large margin. But we’ll just have to wait and see.