The battle continues but things ground to a halt in the latest episode…
Stigma of the Disqualified continues the story of the battle between the Human Empire and the forces of the Dark Territory, literally picking up where the previous episode left off. Unfortunately, as far as episodes of Sword Art Online go, this was definitely one of the series’ weaker outings.
One of the few good things about this episode is that we do indeed learn the backstory of Renly, the Integrity Knight who ran away and hid in the previous episode. The explanation for Renly’s un-knightly behavior includes cameo appearances from Administrator and Chudelkin, the primary antagonists of the previous season. While providing a backstory, this sequence also reveals that the Integrity Knights are still very much human, Renly just shows it more than the others. It’s refreshing to see an Integrity Knight who isn’t automatically all-powerful and the absolute master of his or her weapon. Renly actually has to work on it, and it was a nice change in the format usually seen for Integrity Knights.
Kirito once again managed to inspire the people around him, all without saying a word. The swordsman has yet to utter a word this season and yet his smallest action is enough to inspire and motivate those around him, in this case Renly. It’s actually pretty impressive that a non-verbal character (for the time being) is able to do so much while doing so little.
Aside from that, not much happens in this episode. For every impressive attack launched by an Integrity Knight, legions of enemy warriors step forward to continue the offensive. In other words, this fight isn’t going to end any time soon. Alice notes during the battle that the souls of the human fighters and the monsters each contain the same energy. She nearly comes to the correct conclusion that their souls are actually made of the same energy but dismisses the notion at the last moment (of course the audience knows that each soul in the Underworld comes from the same template). It would be interesting to see if any other Underworld characters come to the same conclusion or if this will be limited to Alice.
There is still no sign of Asuna, but given that not much time passed in this episode, that isn’t surprising. Hopefully the pace of the story will pick up in the next episode.
Guessed the spoiler? Are modern audiences too savvy for TV show twists?
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum