Sword Art Online: Alicization - 1.20 Synthesis
The story of Sword Art Online: Alicization has been hit or miss in recent episodes, but in Synthesis there is definitely an upswing as the storylines of Eugeo, Kirito, and Alice merge back together. A lot of the episode is devoted to finding out what happened to Eugeo, as well as gaining a bit of insight into Alice's time at the Cathedral before she became an Integrity Knight. The first part of the episode also has a small reference to season one when Kirito retrieves the Blue Rose Sword and is briefly wielding both blades. Alice comments that the dual wielding look suits him, not knowing that Kirito wielded dual blades during the Aincrad arc.
It was interesting to see Kirito and Alice view the aftermath of Eugeo's duel with Bercouli in The Legendary Hero. Up until now, it was hard to say how much time had passed between Eugeo's duel and the arrival of Kirito and Alice. However, we learn that it's been less than hour since Eugeo's fight, which leads to a puzzle. As I suspected with the end of the previous episode, Eugeo has indeed become an Integrity Knight, with his memories blocked. However, according to Alice, there's no way the synthesis ritual could have been completed so quickly. Which leads one to wonder...is Eugeo subconsciously acting of his own free will? From his brief conversation with Kirito (and remembering the end of the last episode), it almost sounds like Eugeo wanted to forget his past. It will be interesting to see how the fight between Kirito and Eugeo turns out since the former taught Eugeo almost everything he knows about sword fighting.
This episode also delivers the revelation of what the Senate actually is. Given the brief references in past episodes, I'd gathered the Senate was some council of old men in fancy robes but that wasn't true at all. Instead, Kirito and Alice discover that the Senate are made up of people confined to metal pods, who spend all their time scanning the world to make sure the Taboo Index is adhered to. It was like something out of a dystopian nightmare and actually reminded me a little of The Matrix, with its humans are kept in pods to serve machines. This scene is another harsh reminder of how awful Quinella really is and why she must be removed. This scene also reveals that it was a Senator we saw back in the first episode when Alice violated the Taboo Index as a child.
And then we have to talk about Chudelkin. As a character, Chudelkin might be one of the creepiest characters introduced to the series to date. After watching this episode, I'm starting to think the Prime Senator might be just as much a threat as the pontifex. He openly tells Alice that the Integrity Knights are puppets and he further mocks her by revealing that she had to be forcibly synthesized when the time came and survives a stabbing attempt unscathed. I have a feeling there's a lot more to the Prime Senator than meets the eye and he definitely bears watching in future episodes. Since the episode ended on the verge of a duel between Kirito and Eugeo, I'm hopeful this upswing in the series will continue.