The first four minutes of the episode see the collapse of the Eastern Gate after the Final Load Test, but it’s drawn out with shots of both the dark realm and the human realm, with text explaining who important characters are. This even includes Alice, who the audience should know she is by now. We even see the battle just beginning before we finally get to the opening credits.
After the credits, the rest of the episode focuses on the battle at the Eastern Gate. On one flank, we have Deusolbert, the Integrity Knight who uses flaming arrows. He’s doing a pretty good job of starting to thin out the forces headed his direction. But when runs out of arrows, the tide seems to start to turn. But Deusolbert has a trick up his sleeve when it comes to attacking the leader of the enemy before him.
On another flank, we have Fanatio. Her ability is quite impressive, and is enough to shake up even the leader of the enemy she’s fighting. But this enemy seems to start wigging out and starts glitching something fierce. But it’s enough to cause problems for Fanatio. But the tide turns when Dakira jumps in to protect her. There’s an emotional scene here between Fanatio and Dakira. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite have the emotional impact for me as it was meant to, since I really don’t remember Dakira from Sword Art Online: Alicization. If she played any kind of important role in the previous season, I seriously have no memory of it.
While these two flanks are doing well, the third one is having major issues. They are headed by an Integrity Knight who just recently became a knight, while the other is unreliable. You could tell just how unreliable this knight was from his reactions before the battle even started. The situation is made worse when the enemy attacking this flank use a smokescreen to distract them. In the craziness of the smokescreen, the unreliable knight runs away. The last shot in this episode is of this unreliable knight cowering in a supply tent, looking like they’re ready to piss their pants. How did this character become a knight in the first place if they’re such a coward?
But right before this, we see Alice on top of her dragon, and she suddenly creates what looks like some kind of energy ball. What the significance of this will be for the battle remains to be seen.
And now I’m going to ask the same question I’ve asked for the previous two weeks: Where. The. Hell. Is. Asuna? Three episodes after her dive into Underworld, we still haven’t seen hide nor hair of her anywhere. Where is she? What is she doing? It would be nice to at least see that she made it to Underworld. Hopefully soon.
But I am a little concerned about how the pacing for the story is going to go for the remainder of the Fall 2019 season. When looking at the shots for the opening credits, we’ve seen a lot of what’s already been focused on, and that quite a few of the focus shots are on the battle. I’m starting to think that the second half of the season is going to be focusing on the battle at the Eastern Gate, and fear that the pacing is going to bog down going forward. I hope I’m wrong, but knowing the pacing issues that Sword Art Online: Alicization had, this is a realistic fear.