This episode starts off with a “flashback” to Kirito’s days in SAO. From the first season, we saw that he did have a few run-ins with the Laughing Coffin guild. However, they didn’t really show where his fear off the guild came from. If I remember correctly, the only LC member Kirito killed was Kuradeel who was a jerk anyways and didn’t seem to cause him any mental anguish.
I wish they showed this raid back in the first season of SAO. While it’s a great scene, it feels as if the author is forcing it in. Kirito hasn’t really shown any negative repercussions from his time spent in SAO (a few minor ones, but nothing as serious as this). I guess for the sake of developing a connection between Sinon and Kirito, this flashback was needed. It also shows us more of Kirito’s experience with the guild since SAO focused more on escaping from the world.
Back in Sword Art Online, Kirito’s guild members hesitated when dealing with the LC guild. These people have no remorse for killing others and took advantage of their hesitation. The fear that these members have instilled onto Kirito has stuck with him over the past year. Kirito was forced to make a decision, either let his teammates die, or kill the LC members. Because of this situation, he’s had to bear the guilt of ending another human being’s life which has left him scarred.
It was nice to see Kirito finally show some vulnerability. He went from being trapped in a “death” game for two years, and then went to save the damsel in distress right after. His whole recovery process was completely glossed over since he had to rescue Asuna right after. No matter how tough someone may appear, they’re still human and they too have things that they can’t get over.
He loses the will to fight after being reminded of the incident. In the end, this is just a game, all he has to do is get into the main tournament and then the rest doesn’t matter. However, he made a promise to Sinon to play for real when they meet. To her, the match means more than the title. It was supposed to be two “friends” giving it their all and having fun.
Sinon admires Kirito’s abilities. It seems like he’s able to do anything and defeat anyone. She wants to be strong like him, but Kirito quickly intervenes. Strength isn’t about overpowering others, it’s about knowing when you have to use your powers. Using your powers to protect those you care about is being strong whereas using those powers to hurt others (for no reason) is being a coward.
It seems like after their little match, they understand each other better. Sinon understands some of Kirito’s pain and perhaps she too can overcome her problems after being inspired by him. It looks like she’s also starting to fall for him (who can blame her though when Kirito puts on the moves), I wonder what Asuna will think about this!.