Sword Art Online Alicization – Episode 20 – Synthesis: Alice’s Resolve

The episode starts with a funny joke. Alice is upset that Kirito, who carried her up the side of the tower because she was afraid of heights, got sweat on her. I laughed but also knew that the rest of the episode would probably be heavy. At the end of Episode 19 you wonder if the process that Eugeo undergoes to become an integrity knight is the norm.  There are a lot of questions that needed to be answered, since in the course of Kirito and Eugeo crashing the Pontifex’s party at the Central Cathedral we have learned a lot about the inner workings of the Pontifex’s administration. Alice proves to be a feminine character, who displays a strong sense of duty and virtue, and resolves to correct her errors as an integrity knight without which could doom the realm to the reign of the Pontifex.

It doesn’t require much imagination to wonder how Alice became a person of strong moral character and has a keen sense of duty. These had been ingrained into her fiber of being since she was young. The Taboo Index and the Axiom Church worked together hand in hand not only to control those who reside within their realm but also to mold the citizens inside of it. The people inside the realm of the Axiom Church not only are ignorant of a belief system outside of the church, they also have a seal in their right eyes on them as disclosed by Knight Commander Bercouli Synthesis One. No explanation is given as to how or why the seal is place on their right eye. It’s sufficient knowledge for the viewer that it exists. The environment had a tremendous impact on Alice.

After Alice is taken as a criminal to the central cathedral, she is further trained as a sister and then ultimately turned into an integrity knight. As an integrity knight she goes through the process of having her memories removed of family, friends, and of the life she had in the past. She is also made to believe she is an all powerful integrity knight that is sworn to protect the people from the realm’s of darkness and to enforce the rules of the Axiom Church. Her role is divine, or so she is told. She is a sworn knight and as such is an example of integrity to the people.

Kirito brings Alice to a realization of the truth that her role isn’t divine, that she has a family, and that the Church has improperly distorted her memories in order to use her for her value as a knight. Feeling a sense of betrayal by the Axiom Church and guilt that she is borrowing someone else’s body, she is able to break the seal on her right eye. Kirito is unable to completely heal the wound. Alice’s eye patch is a symbol of her rebellion against the Axiom Church and the Pontifex.

Climbing the tower of the Central Cathedral Alice discover’s that the Knight Commander Bercouli Synthesis One had been turned to stone. Miraculously, perhaps by the power of Kirito himself, Bercouli is able to converse with Alice and see’s she has broken the seal of the Axiom Church. He praises her for that because he never managed to do it himself. The viewer gets the sense that Bercouli understands there is something wrong with their world but is unable to see clearly as his understanding has been clouded by the Axiom Church. Even with her one eye Alice can see more clearly now that he can. How a stone man can see and talk is a question I will leave to the imagination. Bercouli does manage to instill more resolve in Alice as she continues forward, Alice takes the words of her mentor to heart.

Alice continue’s her journey into a world she had never seen before, her rebellion takes her to the senate. In the senate Alice see’s that their world is monitored and the manner in which it is monitored is also disturbing. Alice also takes us to Prime Senator Chudlekin’s chambers, which resembles a child’s room. Alice threatens the Prime Senator who begins to give Alice more information about her and how he enjoyed turning her into an integrity knight against her will. Alice doesn’t let him continue speaking as she stabs her blade into him. He dissolves into gas and then they chase him further up the tower. Her rebellion takes her close to the Pontifex herself.

Before them Eugeo stands as the newest integrity knight. Alice shows strong resolve in the face of Eugeo, now Synthesis Thirty-Two. She has experienced synthesis herself, though not in the intimate way Eugeo had. She is ready to slay him to move on if necessary, but she also knows that Kirito knows a way to save him. Kirito is saved by Alice’s resolve and words of reason. If Kirito had faltered at the end because his friend Eugeo had been turned into an enemy it would have been a fatal error. Alice knows the terror all too well of having the Axiom Church taking things precious away from you. Ironically Kirito had saved her from the errors of the Axiom Church, but Alice’s resolve saves Kirito from making the mistake of thinking Synthesis Thirty Two was his friend Eugeo. From this moment on they are enemies. The Pontifex once again takes something important away. She takes Eugeo.

Without Alice’s resolve Kirito might have faltered at the very end. The sense of duty that Alice has is strong to end the wrongs of the Axiom Church. Her virtue is moral courage to stand for what she believes is right in the face of overwhelming odds against both her and Kirito. The Alice who was trained to obey the Pontifex without question is gone. The new Alice, with a bit of help from our protagonist Kirito, is here. This Alice will see the end of the Pontifex and the Axiom Church from the world.

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