The episode opens with Bercouli having a flashback of a conversation with Administrator. After this, we see Bercouli recognize that he realizes what she meant during that conversation.
After this, Bercouli, Alice, Asuna, and some of the others gather and see that the pugilists are trying to cross the chasm that Asuna created by using tightropes. This was on orders from Vecta. The leader of the pugilists is quite upset about this, as he sees some of his people falling into the chasm. Before too many of them are able to cross, Bercouli, Alice, Asuna, and a couple of others ride up on their horses and start attacking the pugilists. One of them succeeds in cutting at least one of the ropes.
However, this is where we switch over to what’s happening in the real world, and we don’t see Underworld again right until the end of the episode.
In the real world, the U.S. force that has invaded Rath have successfully synced the time of the real world with Underworld, and have launched a message about a Beta for Underworld. It plays up how you can actually dismember characters in battles and other violent things. At the time of day this is posted, though, it’s primarily reaching Americans (it’s said later in the episode that the message went out on noon on the West Coast and 3 p.m. on the East Coast). We later learn the goal is to recruit these players and turn them into troops for the Dark Territory.
Yui starts reaching out to Shino and the others about the situation. She directs Shino and Suguha to a subsidiary of Rath to try to get word to the members of Rath at Ocean Turtle about what’s going on. Since they were asleep on Ocean Turtle, they had no idea about the time sync.
Kirito and Asuna’s remaining friends talk with Yui, with Yui spelling out the situation. She lets them know that they can help by converting their current accounts to Underworld, but that there are risks involved. They decide they want to take the risk, because they want to save Kirito, Asuna, as well as Underworld itself. As Yui explains, the virtual words they had been in before had basically been the seed to help bring about Underworld.
However, when they try to convince other players to join them, they receive a lot of resistance, especially after they lay out the risks. If that wasn’t bad enough, a lot of the players believe that the SAO survivors look down on other players, and believe this is a trick to take down other players. There’s a riveting speech that takes place right near the end of the episode, but it’s going to be interesting to see how many people may or may not have been moved by it. We should get an answer to that with the next episode. But I have to say that, when it comes to the risks, at least, these players do have a right to be concerned. The risks are quite major for the players.
The final scene returns to the battle with the pugilists, but we see the new beta players starting to spawn in for the Dark Territory.
The preview shows that the next episode is titled, “Ray Of Light.” Obviously, not all hope is lost here, but it will be interesting to see what exactly this ray of light ends up being. Players converting current accounts to Underworld ones? Kirito snapping out of his coma? Something else I haven’t even thought of?