Last week we gave you a beginner's guide to Sword Art Online - one of the most intense, insane, and thrilling anime we've seen in a while. Now, we're doing episodic recaps.


What is the meaning of strength? Is it being able to protect the people in your life you care most about (as Kirito believes)? Is it learning to move beyond your past and strive towards a better future (as Sinon believes)? Is it doing what's right, no matter what (as Asuna believes)? Or is conducting an elaborate campaign of fear and menace (as Death Gun believes)?

Maybe it's up to the individual to decide what strength means to them. For now, let's talk about the 10 big moments of this week's episode (which you can watch for free on Crunchyroll right now, if you haven't seen it yet):


1. Kirito and Sinon are still in the desert cave, talking about those they've killed and how to deal with the guilt



The events of the previous few episodes have left Sinon and Kirito in a dark place - literally AND metaphorically. Kirito's been injured by Death Gun, and the two narrowly escaped a pursuit, eventually hiding out in a dank desert cave. But Sinon's also in a (metaphorical) dark place over the lives she's taken - she asks Kirito how he deals with it. How do you put something like that behind you?

Kirito, for his part, has a pretty healthy attitude towards dealing with having killed - he lives with it and accepts it. No point in beating himself up over it. Plus, if he did try to beat himself up, odds are he would break every bone in his body, because Kirito is pretty much the greatest fighter ever.


2. Kirito goes full Sherlock Holmes, trying to solve the mystery of Death Gun by himself


Since they've gotta lay low for a while, Kirito starts putting together the pieces of the Death Gun mystery. Why did those killed by Death Gun in GGO die of heart failure instead of brain damage? Why did Death Gun shoot at him with the rifle instead of his handgun? Why does Death Gun make the cross sign before the killings? How can Kirito sneak a peek at Sinon's butt without her noticing?


3. Major revelation: THERE ARE TWO DEATH GUNS!

Actually, that sneak peek at Sinon's rear-end pretty much cracked the case (I'm so sorry) - after noticing her holster, Kirito figures it out: there are TWO Death Guns. It's impossible for a kill in the game to cause a death in real life - the gear isn't even attached to the heart. Therefore, there must be someone who syncs up with the GGO Death Gun and administers a drug to stop their heart at the same time as he kills them in the game. The others who died lived alone in old apartment buildings with crummy locks, so it was easy for IRL Death Gun to get to them unnoticed.

But Kirito's body is being heavily guarded in a hospital, so it would have been extremely difficult for IRL Death Gun to get to him - so GGO Death Gun couldn't use his pistol. If he'd killed him in the game but not in real life, the secret would be out.

Still - how would the Death Guns be able to communicate to time up the killings?



The reason he makes the cross-sign before he kills is to check his wristwatch to make sure the time is right.

Kirito - not only is he noble, self-sacrificing, and a great sword fighter - he's a pretty solid detective too.

There's only one problem...




See, Death Gun was aiming for Sinon. A lot. And with his pistol. Which means, ya know...she's next.

Of course, she also lives alone in a poorly-secured apartment, meaning IRL Death Gun is probably hovering over her real world body right now, waiting for the right moment to stop her heart. Which also means she can't log out - doing so would wake her up right in front of the IRL Death Gun, who would probably not take too kindly to her seeing him.


6. THE FINAL REVELATION: Kirito needs to stop staring at Sinon's butt.

C'mon, Kirito, stop that. What if Asuna found out? Well, at least you're not being filmed right now or anything!


7. Back to ALO, where Asuna and team start asking Chrysheight the tough questions, like "WHY CAN'T YOU JUST LOOK UP DEATH GUN'S IDENTITY, BRO?"


Kikuoka Seijiro logs into ALO as Chrysheight, and rushes to meet with Asuna and crew, where he spills the beans on the current situation in GGO and Kirito's role in it. Everyone (rightfully) asks him why no one can identify Death Gun or ask the company behind GGO to do something, but that gets them nowhere.


8. Asuna's all "screw this" and decides to head for Kazuto's real world location

He's in the hospital, heavily guarded (according to Chrysheight, at least), so that's where Asuna's heading.


9. Kirito has come up with a plan - draw out Death Gun by using himself as a decoy. Then Sinon can have a clear shot at him, taking him out once and for all.


Kirito's accomplished quite a bit for just sitting around in a cave the whole episode - he's figuring out most of the mystery of Death Gun, he's established what Death Gun plans to do next, and he's come up with a relatively solid plan to take out Death Gun in the game. Of course, it will depend on both his own reflexes and skills as a swordsman, matched up with Sinon's sniper skills.


10. Kirito and Sinon get caught getting reeeeal close...ON FILM.


Of course, right as Kirito and Sinon begin to share a tender moment, the live broadcast camera starts floating above them, capturing their every move. It's meant to focus on battles, but since there aren't many players left, it's just wandering around looking for anything remotely interesting - such as two players planning to take out the most evil player with an elaborate trap.



Now we're left on a couple cliffhangers:

  • How will Sinon escape the grasp of Death Gun?
  • Will Kirito and Sinon's trap work?
  • Will Asuna make it to Kazuto okay?
  • And - oh lord - what happens when Asuna sees that video?!

Honestly, it's that last question that's making me nervous - much moreso than the murderous pair of PKers.



Don't forget - you can catch up with this episode and ALL of SAO I & II for free on Crunchyroll, and even watch simulcasts of SAO and tons of other anime.