I said… are you ready to taaaaaaalk? ‘Cause boy have I got a talky episode for you. I guess the consequence of SSSS.GRIDMAN and Goblin Slayer coming to an end is that now I only have SAO to watch on Saturdays. Be careful what you wish for, boys and girls. The only other Saturday show that I would have any interest in is Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen, but that won’t debut for yet another week. What makes this even sadder is that it appears as though the barrage of dreadfully dull exposition from the previous episode is still continuing. It just never ends.
Essentially, the big bad lady started running out of memory space, so she came up with the dastardly plan to overwrite people’s souls. It’s just weird to me that all of this can unfold right under Rath’s nose. Sure, the obviously evil scientist that flashed a grin at Asuna is probably keeping up with all these events, but no one else has a clue? Really? Anyways, Quinella ended up playing herself, because she eventually created two versions of herself. Obviously, they would both vie for control over the other. I mean, goddamn, how could you not see that coming? This is like cloning 101. Nevertheless, Quinella and Cardinal proceed to engage in a duel, but it boils down to individuals yelling out “System Call” over and over in order to essentially cast a spell. That’s all it is. They’re just spellcasting. You wanna know what would make the repeated utterings of “System Call” less annoying? Just establish it in the very first episode that you do a system call by thinking it. This way, two combatants can just fight without needlessly distracting us with the same phrase over and over like a broken record.
Then right after the very brief duel, we go right back to more paint-drying exposition. Basically, Cardinal needs someone to help her fight Quinella and her army of thralls, so she has been stalking our heroes for years. She even offered them advice when they needed it. Personally, that would make me pretty uneasy if I were in the boys’ shoes. The idea that I have had absolutely no privacy just makes my skin crawl. I mean, what hasn’t Cardinal seen? You can’t tell me that Kirito has been a pure-pure boi for the past two years. You can’t convince me that the guy hasn’t even tried to virtually jack-off in the Underworld. Right now, people are cybering like mad all over the internet. The Goldshire inn in World of Warcraft is a hotbed for internet sexing, but it’s not the only one. And of course, Blizzard holds onto every player’s chatlog. It’s just RPing and they’re doing it out in the open, so I suppose the current participants don’t care all that much if their sexual exploits are being tracked. But what happens when we do get VR MMOs on the scale of something like SAO? What happens when two individuals can do more than simply RP? What happens when two individuals can perform the act of sex within a game? Is privacy suddenly going to be important again?
Good lord, this dry conversation never ends. Cardinal opines that their true god doesn’t care about them. It’s just silly, because why would you assume that Rath is your god? Y’know, someone isn’t god just because they created you, right? I never quite understood this thought process. Personally, although I consider myself an atheist, I’m not going to sit here and assert with absolute confidence that a creator doesn’t exist. It’s very much possible that someone or something created this universe. You might think, then, that I’m more of an agnostic. Well, no. I still don’t believe in God or gods. After all, the idea of gods entails more than just simply being a creator. The idea of gods entails worship. A hypothetical creator should have vastly more knowledge than me. They more than likely would also have vastly more power than me. But does that mean I should worship them? Of course not.
More exposition! More! We are eventually informed that there are evil souls lurking in the Dark Territory, and the day that they invade is nigh! And even though Quinella and Cardinal are similar in a lot of ways, for some strange reason, they diverge greatly on this topic. Quinella is confident that she and her brainwashed knights (like 30 of them?) can handle an entire army of baddies. Obviously, Cardinal has a little more common sense compared to her sister. But why is that? In any case, we now know that even if Kirito and his buddies take down Quinella and save Alice, this whole Alicization business is far from over. There’s going to be a war in the Underworld, and it’s going to be the dumbest, most pointless war ever. Why? Because who gives a damn? One, it takes place in a virtual world. Yes, actual human souls are involved, but this is all simulation at the end of the day. Two, the bad guys don’t even have a legitimate reason to fight. Again, they were made evil. Actual wars are born from actual conflicts. You can take an entire course on how WW1 started. And finally, three, the real war is in real life because you just gotta convince Rath to stop this cruel experimentation on human souls. It’s going to be hard to buy into the idea that Kirito and friends will have to personally participate in the war when you can just tell the nerds outside the game to pull the plug on the whole thing.
Cardinal eventually reveals that she can’t accept the world that Rath has created. So although she wants to stop Quinella at all costs, her ultimate goal is to burn it all down. Welp, that’s not going to happen. This pretty much tells me that Cardinal isn’t sticking around for the long haul. I bet you that she’ll die in the final battle against Quinella. Even so, the girl then tells Kirito that if he helps her, she’ll keep a few Fluctlights around. Like I’ve said in a previous post, we’ve seen that Rath has been working on robots, so this is a sure sign that at least one of these artificial souls will make their way out into the real world. It’s going to be Alice, because at the end of the day, this is just yet another stupid harem anime.
But wait, doesn’t the story currently imply that Eugeo is kinda in love with Alice? Just a teensy tiny bit? And if this is the case, can Kirito truly cuckold his own best friend?! Well, not exactly. Thanks to Quinella, we’ve seen that it is possible for an individual to create copies of themselves within the Underworld. It wouldn’t shock me if we end up having two Alices. Might we even see two Kiritos one day? Three? Four? Oh lord, don’t scare me like that. But seriously, Kirito will have to return to the real world one day. After all, he’s got an army of waifus outside of this stupid game. But what if one part of him never wants to leave? SAO is the type of series that wants to have its cake and eat it too. I can easily imagine a version of Kirito staying behind in the Underworld just to play in this stupid sandbox.
Kirito eventually questions why Cardinal, despite being a copy of Quinella, lacks the same selfish impulses as her big sis. The girl reveals that she, too, has desires. As a result, they hug. Barf. Let’s just skip ahead. Fifteen minutes into the episode, we finally get to the point where Kirito agrees to work with Cardinal for the time being. But of course, being the generic hero that he is, he promises her that he’ll find a compromise that will allow the Underworld to continue existing peacefully. Ironically, this means that war is coming. Not only is there going to be a war, there will be a ton of new faces to introduce. After all, the Dark Territory must have its own society if it is organized enough to go to war. God, this stupid story just goes on and on forever. Kirito also tells Cardinal that he doesn’t want her to disappear either. He just met her. He barely knows her. Hell, how can he even be sure that he can trust her? What if Cardinal has just been spewing a bunch of lies just to get him on her side? I doubt it, but it’s possible.
The two of them finally return to speak with Eugeo, and Cardinal promptly inform the blond kid on how to undo the synthesis dealio: just remove the triangular prism and put the missing memory fragment back in its place. I just love it. We go from two people sitting and a room and chatting to three people standing in a room and chatting. This must have been a super cheap episode to produce. The gall of this storytelling format, though. Seriously. Two straight episodes of just non-stop exposition. Look, the bottom line is that the team will have to raid Quinella’s bedroom. But this story is painfully unoriginal, so we have yet another 100 floors to climb. Kirito might be dismayed and thus indicate that the author is somewhat self-aware, but that changes nothing.