Silver Crow and Blood Leopard challenge Rust Jigsaw, and defeat him easily, though they lose sight of him quickly after the battle. After Haru visits Chiyu and realizes that she regrets her actions as well, he realizes that Dusk Taker is preventing his name from showing up on the match list by using an illegal Brain Implant Chip. Confronting Nomi about it the next day, he agrees to fight it out with him in one last duel – staking all their Burst Points on the outcome.
Personally, I found that situation with Rust Jigsaw slightly off-topic, and not really that important in the grand scale of things. Introducing a new semi-antagonist so far down the line and for not much reason at all wasn’t the best move to make, and I’m starting to feel that this arc has gotten too drawn out, with lots of lingering here and there. All we really got was that Rust Jigsaw, Sulfur Pot and Dusk Taker are part of this shady organization that uses acceleration for other means – dedicating a good chunk of the episode to seeing Blood Leopard take one of them down was cool, but unnecessary when all of us are impatient to see Nomi’s face get smashed in.
I suppose the appearance of Nerve Gear is worth mentioning. They’ve started making this link in SAO as well – with the Soul Translator, something in the Alicization arc that is more advanced than ALO’s AmuSphere, that speeds up your brain processes by a certain amount. It’s around 10000x if I remember right (from that side story), making it a direct component of the Brain Burst program, which speeds up processes by a similar number. Evidently, after the Soul Translator there came the Brain Implant Chip used by Nomi and his friends, which became the Neuro Linker somewhere down the line, now commonly used and with no danger of anything previously experienced with the Nerve Gear. I’m more surprised Nomi has decided to be all fair and accept a proper battle royale duel, though Chiyu’s help and his new status probably help to pacify him a bit. That, and the fact that Haru actually now has something to use against him.
Meeting Chiyu once more was rather roundabout, and resulted in not much at all – other than the fact that we now know she went up two levels. Obviously she regrets what she’s doing as well, but is choosing to solve everything herself and keep Haru/Taku in the dark about it. Given that there’s 2 episodes left, her tactic is probably going to work, but I do wish we were given slightly more info rather than letting things trundle along and resolving it at the last minute.
Note: Apologies for the shorter/later posts recently – RL taking its toll.