The episode opens with Gabriel (the leader of the forces that attacked Ocean Turtle) having a flashback, which shows that he was obsessed with the idea of souls as a young child. As part of this flashback, we see him wondering about where the soul of his friend, Alicia, is stored. It’s interesting to note that at one point in the flashback, we see Alicia reading a particular book: Alice in Wonderland. Now, remember Alicia, because we’ll come back to her later.
We then see the various races in the dark territory rushing to the emperor’s palace, since the emperor has now returned. Gabriel makes it clear that the Eastern Gate will be falling soon, and that he wants to spread death and destruction in Underworld. He wants the “Angel of Light” (aka Alice), but he tells the forces that they kill all the rest of the humans. Not surprisingly, most of the people and creatures gathered in the throne room are exuberant. The leader of the Dark Knights, however, is not, since we saw previously that he desires to achieve peace with the people of Underworld.
That night, Lipia, the girlfriend of the leader of the Dark Knights, takes on a mission to try to assassinate Gabriel. Unfortunately, her attempt fails. As Gabriel kills her and sees her soul leave her body, he finishes his childhood flashback… where he sees that his curiosity about Alicia’s soul has resulted in him killing her. Not only that, we see her soul leave her body and enter his. Ummm… okay. And content warning here: during this particular flashback, there is blood, for those who may be squeamish about that. After the flashback, we see Gabriel absorb Lipia’s soul, and he goes off the deep end. Apparently, in the real world, he’d done more experiments on trying to find human souls, but hadn’t really had any success since Alicia. We then see him nearly having an orgasm as he thinks about what Alice’s soul will be like once he absorbs it. OMG, Gabriel is one sick fuck. Sorry for the language, but this guy is just nuts.
When Gabriel addresses everyone in the throne room the next day, he mentions the assassination attempt and brings out Lipia’s head to display. Her boyfriend, obviously, gets really pissed and tries to attack Gabriel. One of the members of the Assassins Guild shoots a strong poison into him, but the leader of the Dark Knights goes to his Lightcube to find more power. With this newfound power, he manages to blow away some of the people and creatures in the throne room, and then attacks Gabriel directly. He enters Gabriel, and sees that he doesn’t have a soul of his own and thrives on others’ souls. Unfortunately, Gabriel defeats the leader of the Dark Knights… which means that the one hope for achieving peace has been destroyed. Gabriel declares that the Eastern Gate will crumble in a matter of hours, and then they will begin their battle.
Right at the end of the episode Alice and Kirito arrive at the Eastern Gate riding on the back of Alice’s dragon. She discovers that the words, “Destroyed at the Last Stage” written on it, and that the gate is already cracking. She flies above the gate and peers over to see that the forces of the dark territory are headed that way. The episode ends with the dragon flying off.
OK, I think we had a time skip for Alice’s story here, because there was nothing previously to indicate that Alice would be headed to the Eastern Gate. Why do I have a feeling that after this, we will be going back in time for Alice’s storyline to see what happens before this point?
Also, during the last episode, we saw Asuna starting her dive into Underworld. What’s happened to her? Where is she? Hopefully we will finally get the answer to this in the next episode. BTW, the next episode is titled, “The Night Before Battle,” so I’m guessing we will be linear in the storytelling.
I hope this isn’t a sign that the pacing is going to start getting out of whack like it did with Sword Art Online: Alicization. But this seems rather soon to be launching the fall of the Eastern Gate, considering this is only the fourth episode out of a planned 23. But I’m honestly starting to feel concerned that after the first three to four episodes seemed so promising, that the series is going to start experiencing the same pitfalls that the previous series had. I hope I’m wrong, but this starting to not feel as promising as I had hoped it would be.
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