The final battle begins in licensing in the Cathedral of the Church of Axiom, now led by Cardinal who, after two hundred years, is ready for a final confrontation with Quinella.
The Administrator, who controls each program, however, has one last revelation in store.
Synopsis of Alicization
The two halves of the Cardinal System, now finally face to face, prepare for the final confrontation by declaring their full intentions before Quinella, in full control of the whole area, imprisons Cardinal and his allies in an empty space, disconnected from the rest of Underworld, prepared by the Administrator in the event that he had faced Cardinal a second time.
Even the apparent numerical advantage does not seem to particularly disturb Quinella. Reveals the Sword Golem still fully functional, bringing the battle to an overwhelming 300 against 4. With this declaration, it reveals a disturbing reality: the weapons that make up the titanic construct are actually humans turned into instruments. They are converted by Quinella to be used as war tools. His intention to convert at least half of the 80.000 inhabitants of the Empire to mass produce his weapons so he could invade the Dark Territory.
Eugeo, on Quinella's suggestion, deduces that the woman manages to control the people who make up her terrible experiments through the frescoed vault above, set by crystals, actually composed of the memories forcibly extracted from the subjects so as to limit their mental abilities.
After hearing all this Cardinal is no longer able to eliminate the Golem, and chooses to grant his life in exchange for the security of Kirito, Eugeo and Alice.
Quinella accepts the agreement and proceeds to evoke a weapon with which she repeatedly attacks Cardinal, trying to kill her as slowly as possible in front of the helpless trio of friends, helpless in the face of what is happening.
Eugeo, faced with dying Cardinal, makes the decision to transform himself into a weapon, considering it the only way to acquire enough strength to be able to face Quinella, a request that Cardinal, using the last trace of his strength, satisfies by merging the boy with his Blue Rose.
Quinella, understanding what is happening, tries to prevent the proceeding but is promptly confronted by Alice, who defends Eugeo during his conversion which, once completed, gives rise to a new, powerful autonomous weapon that manages to annihilate Quinella's weapon piercing her before facing Quinella herself, successfully cutting her arm before being broken in two, ending Eugeo's life.
The Pope, indifferent to what has just happened, recovers his arm and transforms it into a sword with which he prepares to eliminate Kirito, the last obstacle left standing in front of his authority. Unexpectedly, however, Alice throws herself in front of him to protect him from Quinella's blade, making Kirito react who, recovering from recent losses and resuming his determination, prepares for the final battle with Quinella.
Considerations on the work
While leaving the key events to take place completely and without additions, the episode leaves a sense of excessive prolongation where, as in the case in which Quinella delights in torturing Cardinal, they could have presented the scenes in a more synthetic way.
We know that Quinella is evil, we have already had proof of this through numerous of her victims and by her careless attitude of human dignity, therefore further staging of her sadism is superfluous.
Despite this, the slow rhythm of the scenes allows Eugeo to make a local mind and rationalize what is in its possibilities, choosing to sacrifice itself to put the antagonist as much as possible into difficulty.
This leads to the only real battle of the episode, which features a metal construct and a flying sword. Certainly not something that one would normally expect and which, especially in the animated adaptation, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
Although, in retrospect, we can find traces of a setup for such a sacrifice by Eugeo, the critical absence of the presentation of Eugeo's strong repentance with respect to his inability to do anything to stop Alice's arrest as a child and her recently being manipulated against the girl and Kirito, elements that shaped the decision made in this climax, weaken the more dramatic side of the character by reducing his choice to being, trivially, the only solution he was able to think of .
That the final clash of this arc would have involved a duel between Kirito and the villain was certainly not something unpredictable or surprising: it is a classic scenario, in which the supporting characters help cover the hero by eliminating the obstacles that separate him from the final enemy while he gathers his strength and concentrates his emotions in preparation for the final battle.
However in this sense Alicization surprises us positively giving Kirito the strength and the decision sufficient and quickly enough to prevent the repetition (with a parallelism that is temporarily shown in a flashback) of what happened with Asuna during the first narrative arc, perhaps even a symbolic act of Kirito's growth and his ability to face defeat in battle.
This parallelism obviously would not have been possible if Alice had not lost the sword defending Eugeo during his transformation, a detail that although not overlooked in the anime is easily negligible, given that the scene in which the Osmanthus Blade is broken passes to the screen very quickly and without particular attention, an event better highlighted on paper that helps make Alice's act more credible, otherwise senseless for a knight so prepared and capable.
To the detriment of the subjects of the action scenes, they are rarely trivial thanks to, again to praise, excellent sound and well-made animations, elements that have the main merit in transforming many scenes in this series into actually dramatic events.
Furthermore, the detailed work on the vault of the room is particularly commendable, especially considering that it is only partially shown in the background in some scenes.
The final part of this first act of Alicization has now been perfectly outlined, and it will be up to the next episode to conclude these events and show us the direction of the story for the next two cours, now that the role of Quinella is about to end.
If on the one hand the series has provided some vague clues about it, in fact, it will be the task of the finale, entitled "My hero", to give a clearer and more definitive picture of what awaits us in the future.