SINON SOUNDS ALMOST EXACTLY LIKE INABA.
Miyuki Sawashiro, as always, turns in a good performance. HOWEVER, I really really really dislike her script. Drama in SAO doesn't work when removed from the setup that Aincrad had or the stakes of the ALO arc. Characters agonizing over decisions in a video game without any real consequences beyond a k/d ratio sounds really stupid. Sinon tries to cut this tripe out from her party's thinking but then she goes on and on about how the enemy is so strong because he can smile on the battlefield...in a video game. I wouldn't be surprised if she were revealed as someone traumatized by an event where she had to use a gun but wasn't able to and now she's compensating for it by being the best in GGO (or, well, until Kirito picks up a gun).
One thing that SAO undoubtedly does well is scenery. The only problem I have with it is that I WISH THEY DIDN'T RUIN IT BY FOLLOWING IT UP WITH A PANTIE SHOT. I usually don't care about fan service (I love NGNL) but the fan service in SAO is starting to get to me. Maybe it's the offhand way that the characters are ogled, without a hint of being self-aware or trying to be a parody, that gets to me
Try to count how many times the angle below shows up, this is probably their favorite shot...
Alfheim, regrettably, also makes an appearance in this episode and, lo and behold, it still looks like shit. There's a malboro like monster and some tentacles grabbing one of the characters I couldn't care about which made me have brutal flashbacks to that terrible tentacle scene in the ALO arc.
Overall, this was a pretty good episode since it focused on one of SAO's strengths: Action. The action is pretty good (that final shootout between Sinon and Behemoth was well animated and well done) but it's marred by bad writing. Sinon is turning out to be an interesting character but has the potential to be ruined by terrible drama.
ps. This sequence/shot always reminds me of Operation Yashima: