One of the most appealing things about Sword Art Online is its gripping plot twists, and the latest season of the isekai hit was especially reliant on this kind of addictive shock factor. Sword Art Online: Alicization kicked off with Kirito venturing into the new VR realm Underworld -- a digital world unlike any video game he’d entered before. After the first half of SAO’s Alicization arc, the saga continued with more intense battles in the Dark Territory.
War of Underworld was filled with exciting moments to keep viewers on the edge of their seats -- some were expected (Kirito’s awakening, his friends arriving in Underworld), while others were jaw-dropping surprises. Here are the five best plot twists of them all in War of Underworld.
Commander Gabriel Miller Logs In As Emperor Vecta
In the Sword Art Online: Alicization finale after Administrator is defeated, a squad of American soldiers infiltrates the Ocean Turtle, attacking the ship and creating an energy surge that renders Kirito catatonic. This troupe is led by Commander Gabriel Miller, who takes hold of the submarine and seizes the Soul Translator technology for the U.S. government.
In order to claim Alice as a military weapon and wreak havoc on Underworld as the Dark Territory wages war on the Human Empire, Gabriel boldly decides to log into Underworld himself. The commander chooses the dark knight avatar Emperor Vecta alongside his lieutenant Vassago, the two serving as dual antagonizing forces in War of Underworld.
As an invasive and aggressive force on the Ocean Turtle, as well as a former GGO player, Gabriel seems to have no problem taking on the role of villain in this fantasy-inspired world. As Emperor Vecta, he continues to shock viewers with his sick and evil deeds such as slaying Integrity Knight Lipia and presenting her frozen head to her lover Shasta. While Vecta is eventually defeated by Bercouli, Miller survives in the real world, allowing him to re-enter.
Asuna Dives Into Underworld As Goddess Stacia
Gabriel isn’t the only person from the real world to enter Underworld – the glorious Asuna also jumps in at a crucial moment to save Kirito and retrieve Alice before Vecta can. While everyone may have been expecting Asuna to join Kirito in Underworld at some point -- which took longer than Sword Art Online fans had wished -- her fantastic entry stuns everyone nonetheless. In the episode “Sword and Fist,” Asuna descends from the sky as the Goddess of Creation Stacia, instantly ripping giant ravines in the earth to pull in swarms of enemy soldiers.
Stacia is actually an Admin account, meaning Asuna is bestowed with magnificent power that dazzles many citizens of Underworld who believe in her legend. The suiting avatar is met with Asuna’s tremendous sword skills as well as her excellent battle prowess and diplomat skills, making her a key player in War of Underworld.
As honorable mentions, Sinon’s entry was similarly miraculous along with many others like Leafa, Agil, and even Yuna joining the fight. Additionally, the introduction of 20,000 real life American players joining the opposing side, believing the war to be a simple MMO game, was an interesting spin on the real world / Underworld immersion following Asuna’s lead.
Pugilist Leader Iskahn Defies Vecta's Orders and Switches Sides
The war between the Dark Territory and Human Empire seemed to be a rather black-and-white battle, with the “evil” forces from the Dark Territory invading and threatening the lives of humans. However, in one of SAO’s most unexpected twists, certain armies of the Dark Territory start to switch sides as Emperor Vecta’s nefarious plans – such as sending factions on suicide missions or sacrificing them to cast their dark art -- begin to unfold.
One faction of the Dark Territory holds the Pugilists' Guild, led by the formidable fighter Iskahn. As Vecta’s intent sinks in, Iskahn defies his superior’s orders to enact his own free will. Though his defiance may not be as flashy as other twists, his unforeseen actions turn the tide of the war as the Pugilists break free of the Dark Territory’s destined antagonism. Blurring the lines of good and evil, Iskahn adds great depth to War of Underworld, especially via his sudden romance with Integrity Knight Scheta.
Kirito and Asuna Get Trapped in Underworld For 200 Years
In order to ensure Alice and Asuna escape Underworld safely through the World End's Altar, Kirito faces off against Gabriel Miller toward War of Underworld’s climax. Meanwhile, on the Ocean Turtle, the attackers manage to release limiters of the Underworld server which greatly accelerates time inside the digital reality. Unable to log out while Underworld reboots, those unable to escape in time would be subjected to 200 years in the virtual reality server.
While Asuna helps Alice make it out, Kirito’s climactic battle forces him to stay behind. This heroic yet damning choice means he’ll have to bear another 200 years alone in Underworld. However, just as Kirito collapses in sorrow, fully realizing his lengthy sentence, Asuna suddenly appears before him. The romantic cliffhanger adds an astonishing twist to Sword Art Online: War of Underworld, as fans finally see the OTP reunite to face many lifetimes of Underworld together.
Alice Enters the Real World as an Advanced AI Android
When it was unveiled that the objective of Project Alicization was to create autonomous murder machines for the military, Alice’s potential as an advanced AI became apparent. Thus, her extraction from Underworld and placement in the real world was relatively anticipated. However, the extraordinarily advanced android version of Alice, which quickly appears fully functional in the real world, came as a shock.
Researcher Rinko Kojiro holds a press conference to present Alice as the first-ever autonomous Artificial Intelligence, her advanced technology Fluctlight successfully implanted into an android. This new version of Alice is staggeringly advanced and lifelike, perfectly resembling her Underworld features and giving her full functionality as if she had a real human body – without the mortal confines.
When Alice suddenly goes missing in the real world, viewers were surprised to see her pop out of a box at Kirito’s door, having shipped her android form to his house. Seeing Alice’s seamless integration into the real world is a surreal twist that will forever change the future of AIs in Sword Art Online.