Send in the clowns.
A newly eye-patched Alice awakens to find Kirito has carried her up to the 95th floor, but notices Eugeo has not caught up to them, so Kirito uses a tracking spell to find the Blue Rose Sword and traces it to Bercouli’s floor. Alice is horrified to find him frozen, not only by Eugeo’s ice, but also by Deep Freeze, an ability only usable by Prime Senator Chudelkin. With the last of his strength, Bercouli wishes Alice luck and tells them of Eugeo’s capture. After picking up the Blue Rose Sword, the two head out.
Alice recalls her “summoning” in front of Quinella and her overpowering presence, but now knows she’ll overcome it and plans to kill Chudelkin to reverse the Deep Freeze. As for the other senators, she and Kirito soon come across them, revealed to be limbless, featureless bodies held in chambers and fed through feeding tubes. They are the faces Kirito and Alice saw when they each broke the Taboo Index, possibly skilled Sacred Arts users taken and transformed to perform this function. And nearby is Chudelkin throwing a tantrum (about Eugeo, unknown to Alice and Kirito), so the two decide to proceed with the interrogation. Being absolute scum, he revels in remembering how he forced her through the Synthesis Ritual despite her objections. She picks up on this meaning that the ritual can be voluntary, then attempts to go for the kill, but he escapes.
They follow him into the next room, but find it empty. Instead, they are greeted by the newest Integrity Knight: Eugeo Synthesis Thirty Two. He’s already lost all of his memories, but reclaims his sword and prepares to fight.
Well, we’ve hit another lull episode, mainly about getting Alice and Kirito to the next fight and playing catch up with what happened to Eugeo, so not a ton to really analyze this week. The most significant development comes from Alice, now fully committed to her rebellion, learning more and more reasons to truly despise Quinella, Chudelkin, and the Axiom Church as a whole, which is certainly not hard to do considering what they’ve done. In fact, it’s incredibly easy to do so, to the point I think they might be laying it on just a bit thick. I mean, now that they’ve wiped away pretty much all of the remotely likable or relatable characters from their side, it’s down to just the plainly evil naked lady with a god complex, the sadistic ugly clown, and…Eugeo, but not really.
We now have a bit of a reversal to the previous fight against Alice a few episodes ago, only with her now as an ally and Eugeo being the enemy. Now they just need to have one with Eugeo and Alice against Kirito and we’ll have all possible combinations! But seriously, it is potentially pretty interesting to see Kirito have to fight against someone he’s called a friend for, from his perspective, two years of his life. I don’t think we’ve had him forced to fight a friend before in such a dire situation, so it’s a neat way to mix things up. They’re also about equal with each other in terms of sword ability and Sacred Art usage, so it should be a close fight even with Alice there as back up.
But at the same time, the fact that everyone here knows Eugeo is brainwashed takes a considerable bit of wind out of the sales. It should make for a cool looking fight, as Sword Art Online has been known to do, but Eugeo isn’t doing this of his own free will. As we saw at the end of the last episode, he was basically forced into this, meaning that what’s fighting now is just another mindless puppet that is being driven by Quinella’s orders and a bit of Eugeo’s inferiority complex about Alice MAYBE liking Kirito. And considering how easy it’s been to shake up an Integrity Knight by simply reminding them of their lost memories, I can’t imagine it taking long before those bubble up for him.
Perhaps he’ll regain them and choose to fight Kirito regardless out of sheer jealousy (which I really hope doesn’t happen but otherwise I see no reason the fight would continue), but this series has yet to give Kirito and reason to face a morally ambiguous situation so far, so I don’t have much reason to think they’ll start now. Next time starts the final book adapted in this half of the season, so we should be getting some closure at the very least.