I really like this episode. It was very emotional.
Asuna wants leave from the guild to join Kirito but Heathcliff challenges Kirito to a duel. If Kirito wins, he gets Asuna and if Heathcliff wins, Kirito joins the guild. Normally it should be Asuna who should be challenged by the guild leader since she’s the vice-commander of the guild but Heathcliff being a smart guildmaster challenges Kirito instead because the guild will benefit in recruiting another strong member. This goes to show how strong Kirito is.
Great animation for the duel between Kirito and Heathcliff aside, looking at the structure of episode 10 (assuming you have read the light novels), Kirto was meant to lose this duel. With Kirito’s loss against Heathcliff, comes Kirito’s breaking of the guilt of the past. I say that at that point, Kirito is on his path towards redemption.
For some, redemption comes easy but for Kirito, redemption isn’t something easy as he has to overcome Kuradeel’s crimson killing intent directed towards him and when the moment presents itself, he protects the one he truly cares, earns full redemption and the rewards.
I wish SAO episodes were always this good.