The beginning of the Final Load Test…
After being teased for several episodes, the battle between the Human Empire and the Dark Territory has finally begun in the newest episode, Battle of the Knights. As with many large-scale battles in Sword Art Online, this episode only covers the opening part of the battle, but it does a fairly good job laying out who is where, as well as laying the foundation for the next stage of the fight.
It would have been extremely easy for Battle of the Knights to become muddled because there are a lot of characters on both sides of the battlefield, some we’ve met before, and others that have only appeared once or twice. Thankfully, one thing this episode gets right is starting off by listing all of the Integrity Knights and Dark Territory leaders on the front lines, refreshing the audience’s memory so things don’t become confusing later on.
During the battle, something very interesting happens between Lady Fanatio and the leader of the giants. Upon discovering that he, a giant, is scared of a human, the giant leader begins to visibly “glitch” with his right eye glowing red. This looks eerily similar to something that happened in the first season, when Kirito and Eugeo confronted the two noble students who had kidnapped their pages. Upon being confronted with something that directly contradicts what they believe they know, one of the students “glitched” and ultimately died. By contrast, the giant, while glitching, seems to go insane and wants to kill everything around him.
A quick cut-away scene revealed that, while glitching, the giant’s light cube (i.e. his soul) became linked to Lady Fanatio’s light cube (i.e. her soul), rendering Fanatio unable to move. This is something that hasn’t been seen before, and it has the potential to be a game changer if this turns out to be something that either side can weaponize and use at will on their enemies.
The other most interesting thing to happen in this episode is Sir Renly, an Integrity Knight I don’t believe we’ve met before, gets scared and abandons his post. This seems like abnormal behavior for an Integrity Knight; every other knight we’ve met thus far shows little to no fear, and yet Renly flat out abandons his post to run and hide. There’s definitely a story here, and hopefully next week’s episode will reveal what it is.
One detail that’s still bothering me is the absence of Asuna. The bad guys had several days of time (by Underworld standards) to get their army together, yet there’s no sign of Asuna in the game, even though they logged in at almost the exact same time. I get that the writers are likely saving Asuna’s arrival for a big moment during the battle, but so far the show is acting like Asuna hasn’t arrived at all, and that doesn’t make sense. She should be there, somewhere in Underworld, and at the very least there should’ve been a short scene establishing that Asuna did in fact arrive before going back to the main story.
Battle of the Knights gets the beginning of the Final Load Test off to a good start, though I have the distinct feeling this battle is far from over. There are likely many twists and turns to come before victory is declared on either side. Will one of those twists be Kirito finally returning? Only time will tell.
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