Previously on Sword Art Online:
Kirito & Leafa were ambushed by a squad of Salamanders sent to eliminate them. After dispatching them, they learn that Sigurd was taking them out of the equation to allow the Salamanders time to disrupt the peace treaty between the Slyphs and Cait Siths. With time of the essence, Kirito & Leafa race off the stop the Salamanders plans. Spoilers Ahead.
Kirito & Leafa escape the corridor and fly at top speed to try and intercept the Salamanders, but they are a bit behind as the Salamanders reach the summit 1st. Seeing that they wouldn’t last in a direct confrontation with the massive squad, Kirito touches down between the three races and asks to speak to the commander of the Salamander force. Little does he know that the commander of the attacking of forces in General Eugene, younger brother of the Salamander leader and one of the fiercest warriors in all of ALO; and to get the force to withdraw, Kirito has to fight him to the death.
Kirito does some more of his trademark talking in this episode (seriously he is much more outgoing in ALO than he ever was in SAO) as he tries to smooth over the situation with the Salamanders. He declares himself an ambassador of the Spriggan-Undine Alliance (despite there being no such thing) and declares that an attack on the Slyph-Cait Sith summit will result in a war with all four races vs. the Salamanders. This is actually a nice boast since no one in the area (save Leafa) can confidently call him on his bluff.
His opponent Eugene is physically imtimidating man and judging by his fierce fight with Kirito it is is easy to see how he became the top warrior in the game. The fight between the two is a good one as they exchange sword swings in the air above the summit, Eugene has the upper hand do to his sword’s ability to phase through objects and break through Kirito’s defenses; but as soon as Kirito takes Leafa’s sword and dual wields the fight becomes extremely one-sided when he takes down Eugene with little effort.
We also learn a bit more about the leader of the Slyphs (Sakuya) & Cait Sith (Alicia Lu). Sakuya is a very insightful and composed young woman who was aware of Sigurds deception from the start but had no means of proving it yet. Lu on the other hand is a kind of childish young girl who acts more cat than human (this is evident when she tries to entice Kirito into joining her by bribing him with “3 meals, 2 snacks, and a nap”). Both of them want peace and want to help each other reach the top of the world tree. They also try to seduce Kirito which leads to funny scene with Yui telling her “father” not to cheat.
As for Sigurd his plan is explained by Sakuya when she learns of his involvement in the attack. Apparently with the newest game patch, players can switch races using a “reincarnation” system. Sigurds plan was to wait until the patch was released and transform into a Salamander, thus having a better chance at completing the game. Sakuya put an end to this plan when she stripped him of his rank and banished him from Slyph territory though.
“General of the Blazing Flame” was an entertaining episode, but it’s relevance to the overall plot was explained until the very end of the episode. The characters introduced were fine, a sub plot was wrapped up well enough, and the fight between Kirito & Eugene was a good one. The quest continues next week as Asuna tires to escape from her prison.