[Review] Tremontaine, S1E9: “Lies In Our Stars”

We are racing toward the finale of this first season of Tremontaine, and the drama is seriously heating up! There is so much to talk about, so with that and the obligatory SPOILER WARNING, let’s get talking!

Lies in our Stars

A moment of staggering inspiration and insight sets events in motion that have the potential to fracture friendships, shatter alliances, and remake the balance of power in the city . . . and the world. As Micah explores the implications of her discovery, and Rafe moves quickly to exploit them, Kaab is faced with a calamity that threatens not only her own future, but that of her family and the Kinwiinik people.

This episode is brought to you by guest writer Paul Witcover, who wants to thank Ellen Kushner and the rest of the Tremontaine writers’ room for the chance to play in their sandbox.

This was one of the episodes I’ve been waiting for! Or at the very least, a solid precursor to them… All of the various story threads are beginning to come together now, and there’s a nearly tangible sense that whatever they’re leading to, it’s going to be HUGE. I think this is due in part to how well-written this episode was! I was completely unfamiliar with Paul Witcover before now, but his handling of the pacing and the timing of humour in this episode, as well as the cranking up of drama, is impressive enough that I’ll be looking out for more writing from him, here or elsewhere…


Oh, so much Micah in this episode! I loved it. Our genius was genius-ing all over the place – quite literally! – in this episode, and her scenes were a delight to read. I mean, they always are, but this is something special. She finally solved the problem! Huzzah!

Though, to then see her struggle with the knowledge that a) Kaab lied to her and Rafe, and b) they have to try to keep Kaab from finding out that they’ve found her out… It’s Micah vs. anxiety once more. What takes the sharpest edge off of that struggle, though, is the edge of humour that’s given to the nerve-wracking scene with the trio that follows Micah’s discovery and her explanation to Rafe. He manages to explain to Micah the likeliest reasons for Kaab to have lied, and why they must keep a lid on what they know for now. Of course, asking Micah to be deceptive is like asking a fish to breathe air… Cleverly, however, we get the resulting exchange from Kaab’s perspective, and the odd duck side of Micah gets to come to the fore as well:

“How did you get so dirty? Did you fall into an inkpot?”
Micah kept her eyes on her feet. “I’m not supposed to talk.”
“Whyever not?”
“Because Rafe is better at it than me. But I’m better at math.”


“And how is the work?” Kaab asked. “Any progress?”
“None at all,” said Rafe as Micah continued sorting the papers. “Isn’t that right, Micah?”
“Yes,” said Micah, and then glanced up at Kaab with an expression of almost frightening intensity. “I love my family.”

Bless. Just when I thought I couldn’t feel any harder for Micah, all of this has to happen…


… Which leads me, in a roundabout sort of way, to our fledgling University Master. He’s quicker than Micah to see the truth of Kaab’s deception, and also the implications regarding why she would lie to them – trade secrets are important to trade for a reason, and these are the kinds of worldly matters that largely seem to pass Micah by. That said, when it comes to how best to act on what they know, Micah has a surprise advantage up her sleeve – and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s a moral one.

“Land’s sakes.”
“What?” said Micah, who had also stopped.
“Your results indirectly prove my theory.” He felt a stirring of pride, of confidence, that had been sorely lacking these last hours and days.
“Yes, of course. That’s obvious.”
“It’s just a question of working out the math.”
“Obviously,” Micah said, rolling his eyes. “But that’s not important.”
“Not important?” cried Rafe. “Not important? Micah, it’s only the single most important thing in the world!”
“No, it’s not. What’s important is the port.”
Rafe blinked. “What are you on about?”
“The port,” he said. “Every Kinwiinik ship is in terrible danger. Their whole system of navigation is based on a”—he visibly groped for the words—“faulty premise. That’s why we have to shut it down. We have to save those poor sailors—Kaab’s people!”

Micah, the math-obsessed introvert, understands the potential danger here while Rafe is puffing himself up over finally making the breakthrough they (he) needed. Despite all of the recent developments up until now, I can’t say that this really surprises me. He might be learning new relationship habits, but Rafe’s pride has gone nowhere, as this scene shows us. What that might mean for his relationship with Will, I couldn’t say – but I’m not the only one speculating. Rafe himself is beginning to wonder at the Duke’s rather selective blindness when it comes to the world beyond his own interests, and I can’t say I blame him. Swoon though I may at their fling, and I’ve touched on this before, but Will needs a good sharp wake-up call – and I don’t doubt he’s about to get one.


What would also not surprise me at all is to see that wake-up call coming from his wife. If we know anything about Diane at this point, it’s that she has even more pride than Rafe does, and she’s dangerous when it comes to protecting her interests. Unfaithful though he may be, Will is still her husband, and therefore he’s still hers. Rafe is becoming a real challenge in her eyes now, and what that might mean for him has me a bit concerned for his safety. I mean, if anyone’s now at the top of Diane’s ‘list’, it’s the upstart student who’s been doing her husband. Stands to reason, no? Sooo yes, I’m worried for Rafe more than ever now…

On the other hand, powerful though Diane might be, there’s a certain saying about pride. With her financial troubles looking like they might be behind her now, Diane’s pride is clearly taking back the reins, and that will not be good for anybody. Including Diane. Right? I mean, come on. She’s the most powerful woman in the city. That’s got to be one hell of a fall. Hasn’t it?


So there isn’t much further development on the Tess front this week, unless you count Kaab’s swoony inability to focus on her lessons with Vincent, which is understandably frustrating for the swordsman – and, when you consider Diane’s renewed focus on settling scores, more than a little bit worrying. Damn it, Kaab, you really really need to be paying attention!

So, remember how I was saying it looked like Kaab was heading for a challenge-the-Duchess type of situation? Well, it looks like I had that right. With her deceptive efforts elsewhere starting to unravel, Kaab is led to the logical conclusion that, while the Balams may still require that alliance with Diane, it’s becoming more important than ever to have leverage to bring to bear where the Duchess is concerned. And Kaab is taking it upon herself to be the one who steps into the parlour (sidenote: I loved that spider’s web analogy!) to keep Diane in their proverbial sights.

*Deep breath* So that game is leveling up. No pressure. No worries! Well, maybe a worry or two. Or three. Or a whole bag full. OH GOD THIS IS GETTING SO TENSE. I won’t lie, I’ve been waiting for this development for a while as well. Now that it’s on, though, I’m nervous as hell. Kaab is good, but Diane has been doing this far longer. And while Diane knows her tricks, she’s letting her pride hold the reins, while Kaab has apparently learned the lessons of her own pride. She’s taken her falls, both in the past and in this episode, and I’ve got a feeling that’s going to be to her advantage if/when she takes Diane on more directly. Now she just needs to get her head properly in the swordfighting game because I have a pretty strong feeling she’s going to need those skills before long too.

(Note that we haven’t seen much of Reynald in this episode. The rogue swordsman with a proven taste for killing has gone offscreen, and Diane is unconcerned by his absence. That cannot be good. For anybody.)

*Another deep breath* *Squeaky voice* Bring me the next episode!


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