Previously on SAO:
Kirito saves Leafa from her pursuers and is taken to the Slyph city of Slyvein as a thank you. There Kirito learns that Asuna is being held captive within the World Tree and Leafa agrees to take him there. Spoilers Ahead.
Kirito returns to ALO the and meets up with Leafa so she can take him to the World Tree. Before they can depart however, they are stopped by Sigurd, head of Leafa’s party. He warns that Leafa will be labeled a “renegade” if she leaves with Kirito but she goes anyway, the two of them departing towards the world tree. Meanwhile at the top of the tree Asuna learns Kirito is alive and obtains the key for the cage’s lock.
Once again we get a look at how things work within the game, which is one thing this arc does better than the SAO arc. Renegades are just that, players who have abandoned their races and roam around on their own. Leafa’s friend Recon (known as Shin’ichi Nagata in the real world) also wants to come but decides to stay behind to investigate something about Sigurd. We also get to see more scenery when Kirito & Leafa fly towards the World Tree it’s quite beautiful and shows just how much work was put into the show’s animation. Soon Kirito & Leafa have to stop flying as the only way to get to the city at the base of the world tree is to go through a mountain and take turns logging out to refresh themselves. This leads to a couple slightly funny scenes where Suguha tries to check on Kazuto when she logs out and makes him a sandwich, and Kirito telling Leafa when he gets back from logging out that his family made him dinner.
Speaking of Suguha she gets some development this episode when we learn why she started playing ALO in the 1st place. At first she hated the world that took her “brother” from her, but soon she grew curious as to why he loved virtual reality so much. This prompted her to start playing ALO and she grew to love it just like Kazuto loved SAO. We even begin to see her develop feelings for Kirito (even though she doesn’t know it’s Kazuto). This leads to a convo with Yui when the young A.I. asks her what it means to “like” someone.
Asuna is shown again with Sugou as he is still trying to win her affections (in the creepiest ways possible) and tells her that Kirito is still alive. He tells her that Kirito won’t be able to save her as he thinks he’s too traumatized from SAO to put on a NervGear again (obviously he doesn’t know about our black haired protagonist). This doesn’t faze Asuna as she manages to learn the code to her cage and resolves to escape and find Kirito.
“To The World Tree” is another episode that boasts some incredible scenery and some more world expansion. We get a look into Suguha’s origins with the game as well as her growing attraction to Kirito. No action but that’s not a mjor deterrent. The quest to save Asuna continues next week as Kirito & Leafa continue their journey to the world tree.