With Asuna's providential intervention, the Integration Knights can finally take some breath after the incessant battles they have faced.
A precious exchange of information between the army and the new arrival, however, will discreetly move the cards on the table, putting both the Human Empire and Asuna in front of a delicate situation.
After the victory brought home by the intervention of Asuna, entered with the super-account of Stacia, creative deity in the folklore of the Human Empire, the girl finally manages to reunite with Kirito, who, however, still cannot manage to recover her autonomy.
Without delay, the new ally of the Integral Knights will not spare any information from the inhabitants of Underworld, gaining in exchange as many novelties, although part of them are not a little alarming.
Speaking of the previous episode, we expressed doubts about how War of Underworld would lead the end of this cour in relation to the residual material to adapt of Alicization Exploding, doubts to which this tenth episode responds by slightly dilating the adapted content. We can therefore expect the real plot twist of this part of history in episode 12, with the next two episodes dedicated overall to stir the situation.
One of the first dilations occurs in showing us, very early in the episode, the conversation between Asuna and Higa on Ocean Turtle just before the girl's login, just mentioned in the novel and detailed here, allowing us to immediately establish how in her immense miraculous power the Stacia's account still has operating limits, dictated by the human nature of its user. This immediately allows you to discard the option of constantly abusing incredible large-scale wonders such as those used in the previous episode, which we find here to have proved a tangible burden for Asuna.
One of the highlights of the episode is certainly the anticipated meeting between Alice and Asuna, two strong and determined personalities who find themselves colliding against each other giving life to an elegant and compelling exchange of blows, interrupted only by the direct intervention by Bercouli.
Even the touching reunion between Kirito and Asuna turns out to be very important: in different situations we could have expected that the boy could wake up to the arrival of his beloved, however this does not happen and the importance of this moment is given by his to be put aside very quickly by other issues: a choice that reaffirms the story's ability not to stand solely on Kirito in order to be able to entertain and carry on its events.
The naked and raw honesty of Asuna in denying his state of divinity and in revealing (without going into too much detail) the reality of his situation and the existence of a "real world" to the Knights attests without a shadow of doubt one of the reasons for which Kirito had been chosen by Rath over other SAO survivors: where the boy chose to act cunning, deceiving the inhabitants by adapting to the narrative based on their beliefs of being a "lost son of Vector", Asuna saves himself from "Role playing" even at the cost of creating great confusion.
Fortunately, and it is right to praise man's great wisdom for this, Bercouli is able to rationalize the truth revealed by Asuna very effectively, bringing the entire group of Knights back to focus on priority issues.
And these issues are what make this episode more connected to the real world than to Underworld, despite being entirely set in the virtual environment: based on what revealed by Asuna, Bercouli manages to conclude that the Emperor Vector at the head of the enemy army she is similar to the girl, letting her know that Miller 's mercenaries have entered Underworld and that the Dark Territory super - accounts have not been protected.
Asuna is also made aware of the existence of Code 871, the seal placed on the right eye of the inhabitants of the Empire to prevent them from violating the Taboo Index, a fact which confirms a reality already suggested several times during the series, especially in the last moments of Quinella and which now becomes a focal point of the story: in Rath there is a mole.
The code, as the girl also highlights, would in fact be counterproductive to Rath's purposes, in search of an AI (later identified in Alice because of the events of the first episode) which, of his own free will, is able to violate the laws described in the Index: a code that prevents Fluctlights from performing this action would drastically slow down searches, making the seal a real sabotage to the experiment.
The exchange of information between Asuna and the Knights therefore serves to instill a sense of urgency on both sides: the Knights now know the importance of Alice and the true nature of their enemy, allowing them to formulate an appropriate strategy, while Asuna is now aware of real world facts that Kikuoka and Higa need to be made aware of as soon as possible.
To support these central moments for the development of the story there are lighter moments, which see the return of Sortiliena to participate in the exchange of tales about Kirito between Alice, Asuna and Ronye.
Also present in the original material, the subtext of this short final curtain could have been handled differently, although it did not destabilize the balance and content of the rest of the episode which, although highly talked about, manages to carry on the narration in a pleasant and functional way leaving anticipation for the events to come.
The next episode should begin what, in all respects, should be a "season finale" of this part of the story, with a cryptic "A cruel choice" to serve as a title. Who and what this will understand, we will find out soon