Roughly the first half of the episode focuses on Renly, the Integrity Knight who ran away from the battle in the previous episode. As he cowers in a supply tent, we get to see a couple of flashbacks that help explain why he’s so cowardly. Not surprisingly, Administrator is one of the reasons. She referred to him as a failure, and that he was missing something that an Integrity Knight needs. The second is a tragic flashback having to do with a friend of his.
But the situation changes when the two pages bring Kirito to this particular tent to try and hide him. They encounter Renly, but the goblins break through, and one of them enters the tent. The pages talk tough, but are obviously too shaken up to do anything. Renly, who is initially frozen with fear, sees Kirito gripping at Eugeo’s sword, as if he wants to protect the pages even though he can’t stand or speak. But seeing this gives Renly the courage he needs to act. After saving Kirito and the pages, Renly goes out to take on the goblins. He easily defeats them, but finds himself up against the goblins’ leader. When the goblin leader treats him like Administrator did, it almost looks as if he’s going to retreat… but another flashback gives him the strength he needs to take on the enemy. So now he have yet another character in the Sword Art Online franchise who has become a better person thanks to Kirito’s influence. Although, this time, is wasn’t through words, since Kirito can’t speak.
After this, we see the leader of the dark mages being informed that all of the first wave of fighters have been destroyed by the enemy. She decides to launch all 800 of her “minions” (creatures with the body of a dragon and a face that kind of resembles the Sarlacc Pit from Star Wars). The leader of the Integrity Knights, however, has an impressive power that allows him to obliterate all 800 at once. The leader of the dark mages looks like she’s about to go insane upon hearing that all of her “minions” have been destroyed. She decides to send out the next wave of fighters, which includes an army of her dark mages.
And in this episode, we finally learn what Alice is doing… absorbing the life force of all those who perish on the battlefield, both good and evil. She makes a startling realization that the life forces on both sides of the fight are the same… that they are both warm and light. And this realization makes Alice wonder: if their life forces are the same, why are they fighting? But she doesn’t have time to dwell on this idea, since she has a job to do. It turns out that part of what she’s doing makes it impossible for the army of dark mages to perform their magic. The episode ends with Alice pulling off something rather spectacular, but we have no idea what results from this. I’m sure we’ll see a recap of this final scene in the next episode, followed by the aftermath from what Alice has done.
Once again, at the end of this episode, I found myself asking where Asuna is. And I’m going to keep asking this question until we finally see her. How many episodes has it been now since we saw Asuna begin her dive into Underworld? This is getting a little ridiculous. Having this stray loose end out here is distracting.
And since this series is supposed to run for two cours, what’s going to keep this plot moving? Will this cour focus on the battle at the Eastern Gate, and the next season focus on trying to get Alice to where she needs to be so the scientists at Ocean Turtle can keep the invaders from taking over Underworld? With the way this has been going, I can’t see the battle at the Eastern Gate to last beyond this cour. Not unless later battles are drawn out and stretched out more. The only way I’m going to get any answers to these questions is to keep watching to see what happens.
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