Sword Art Online: Alicization 2.13 - The War of Underworld
After an extended hiatus, Sword Art Online: Alicization returned for the final story arc that will conclude the Alicization saga. The War of Underworld picks up immediately where the previous arc concluded, with Sinon arriving in the Underworld armed as 'Lady Solus' to save Asuna and the others from the overwhelming enemy forces. At around the same time, Leafa crash-lands (literally) into the Underworld and starts her own adventure.
The final arc of Sword Art Online: Alicization certainly didn't waste any time in getting started. While the action is divided between Asuna & Sinon, Leafa, and Bercouli (chasing after Alice), the story barely pauses for breath as it hops between story lines. Normally I would chafe at an episode skipping around this much, but considering this is the show's return from hiatus, an episode like this is almost necessary to bring everyone back up to speed on where the story is. And this episode makes it clear that the war in Underworld is far from over. With Vecta on the run with Alice, and Sinon and Leafa arriving with god-level abilities, plus one epic surprise at the end of the episode, things are getting interesting indeed.
The one place this episode falls short is when Leafa makes her sudden arrival into the Underworld. If the Sword Art Online series as a whole has one major failing, it's how it occasionally treats some of the female characters, and Leafa's introductory scene in this episode unfortunately contained one such example. The problem comes with how Leafa is briefly held prisoner by Dee Eye Ell, revealed to still be alive after seemingly dying at Alice's hands. The way Leafa is tortured is uncomfortably close to being sexual in nature and made me very uncomfortable. There was literally no reason for the scene to play out in this way and I was disappointed to see this is still an issue.
Furthermore, there's also an issue with Leafa being in any trouble at all. It was implied, if not outright stated that Asuna, Sinon, and Leafa all have god-level Underworld accounts. But while Asuna and Sinon receive badass entrances, Leafa literally falls flat on her face upon arrival and doesn't get her moment of awesome until almost being tortured to death in-game. If someone has an account that powerful, things like that shouldn't happen. Even the moment of Lilpilin "breaking free" wasn't enough to save this scene.
One thing The War of Underworld did get right is the entire scene between Vecta and Bercouli. In case anyone forgot how dangerous Vecta is, this scene makes it clear why he is a force to be reckoned with. Whatever power the would-be Emperor has, it's scary to see how easily he can disable Bercouli, the first and most powerful of the Integrity Knights. Vecta is a terrifying villain, especially since it's not at all clear how he will be defeated as yet.
The War of Underworld drops you back into the story of Sword Art Online: Alicization and quickly makes it feel as if you never left. Despite a major misstep with Leafa's introduction into the Underworld, the episode mostly does a good job of restarting the story while simultaneously promising a lot more action to come. Thus far, the final arc of Sword Art Online: Alicization is off to a rousing, if imperfect start.