It’s that time. The first season finale of Tremontaine is out in the world, and now I get to talk about it. Dear sweet baby teacups, it was everything I wanted (and a thing or two I was NOT ready for).
Let’s discuss Tremontaine. (With spoilers!)
So after the cliffhanger in the last episode, we go straight back to Kaab and Diane, who’ve made their bargain after all. Nobody died in the process, which is a huge relief – I was genuinely afraid that Diane would get desperate and it would be Ben Hawke all over again. Tess and Vincent also survived! There’s a nice dynamic growing there! And Tess and Kaab got to celebrate and drink and dance and be swoony and gorgeous on a boat! I APPROVE OF ALL OF THIS. NOW GIVE THEM A SUNSET TO SAIL OFF INTO.
… Then again, it still could be Ben Hawke all over again – the Duchess is in a stronger position than ever now, after all. Despite her secret getting out, she’s paying off her debts, she’s about to have a better grasp of political power, and her husband’s back under control.
OR IS HE.
“William.” Curse it, her voice was shaking. She had let herself fall into folly, and here was the result. “I am your wife.”
“But that can’t be,” he said reasonably. “My wife died on the road.”
She allowed herself a sliver of hope. “My poor love, you’re still dreaming. I am Diane.” She smiled richly and beautifully at him. “Diane de Tremontaine.”
He peered curiously at her face. “You do look like her. But my Diane died on the journey. Only her maid survived.”
“Her maid?” Diane said icily.
“Poor girl. My wife is dead, you see.”
The duchess rose from the bed to hide her trembling.
“How do you know?”
“The black crow told me.”
WHAT IS UP WITH THAT CROW? I am intrigued by this, but I have to admit I’m also puzzled as hell. Between Will talking to crows, Rafe’s dream about the stars talking to him and that oddness with Kaab and the possum, it looks like there might be some kind of spiritual/supernatural strangeness going on. But if so, it’s the only dose of anything actually magical in this story and its setting… Unless there’s more to the effects of shadowroot than anybody knows… So, is it magic or just Rafe’s conscience and Will’s “illness”? I am honestly not sure! I only know it’s fascinating…
To bring this back to Diane for a bit longer, I’m also fascinated by all of this because it’s clearly becoming something that’s having an undeniable impact on Diane’s own emotional state, and I suspect she’s so unused to losing any kind of control that she isn’t equipped to deal with it well. There are cracks appearing in Diane’s armour, and we know the Duchess can’t have that, right? Case in point: she wastes little time following her encounter with Will in shipping him off to Highcombe out of the way, and is careful to specify that nobody should be allowed to visit him. Out of sight, out of mind?
While she’s arranging this, she breaks one of her own rules and stoops to taking revenge on Rafe, whom she believes is responsible for Will knowing the truth about her.
NO, DIANE, IT WAS THE CROW. DON’T YOU LISTEN?
Soooo, despite a very interesting almost-peaceful interlude in which Rafe and Diane almost, almost share a moment of what seems to be attraction – more on that in a moment – they end this episode, and the season, very much set against one another… Though for now at least, the only one who’s aware of this fact is Rafe. Diane seems to believe she’s beaten him. Yes, and that won’t bite her on the perfectly coutured behind…
Please let it bite her. I want to see vengeful Rafe, adulting up at last like I know he can and determined to win back his love. Even if the winning may not happen. I MUST SEE IT.
Speaking of things I’m eager to see… Ellen Kushner did something rather interesting (and very sly) with the Rafe/Diane scenes here, and she’s left me wondering if maybe, just maybe, there’s another option when it comes to settling their differences…?
“What are they doing to him?” Rafe asked her.
“Restraining him,” she said bleakly. “If he does not calm himself, they will bind him to the chair. Or to the bed.”
“I’d better go,” Rafe said.
“Wait.” The duchess put one hand on his sleeve, and left it there. A fine-boned hand, tiny and perfect. Such a fragile hand, he could not move against it. And the one word: Wait. Two little things that made him powerless. Rafe looked down as she raised her face to his. She was so close. She did not speak.
One bend of his head, and he would be kissing the Duchess Tremontaine. It was almost inevitable. And he would do it, just for the pleasure of remembering how far she had held herself above him, how she had mocked and flouted him— Betrayed! Will’s voice rang, muffled, through the door.
Rafe took a step back. It made no sense. He didn’t even want her.
Let’s chew this over a bit. Before Diane’s revenge play is made, they come intriguingly close to understanding and learning to respect each other – or Rafe comes close, anyway. Diane seems far too caught up in her machinations to spare much thought for how wrong she might be about him, and about his and Will’s feelings for each other. But we know she’s smart and can, if left with no choice, see what’s in front of her. Kaab showed us that much, right? So maybe Rafe’s eventual comeback will open her eyes and remind Diane, again, that underestimating certain people is foolishness on her part. And from there…?
At this point I’m not completely convinced that they’ll work out a polygamous arrangement. I mean, these two really hate each other. But it’s an idea that I’m sticking a mental pin in, shall we say. We’ll see where that goes. I’d kind of like to see the less destructive road taken, though – and it would definitely be interesting to see if any of these writers can pull that off!
And while Rafe is making his own plans and plotting his own revenge and whatnot, this leaves our girl genius Micah facing the prospect of studying at the University without her friend there. She’s doing unsurprisingly well at the studying part – although I need to remark on something there. Doctor Goodell knows she’s a girl, and this is acceptable? Did I misread the equality situation at the University, or is something more devious going on with Goodell? Evidence: Micah tells him everything about the navigational stuff she was helping Rafe with, and Goodell doesn’t even bat an eye. No shock, no awe, no reaction of any note whatsoever. In fact, he goes in precisely the opposite direction and distracts Micah from that topic entirely.
What the hell? I am offically watching Goodell. Serious side-eye, right here. NOBODY MESSES AROUND WITH MICAH, DAMN IT.
Also, while I’m on the subject of Micah, she is responsible for finally wringing actual tears out of me. Behold:
“Micah,” he said, “I know you’re happy about the room. But are you sad I’m leaving?”
Micah’s eyes filled with tears, and when he nodded they ran right down his cheeks followed by new ones. “I know you have to go take care of your sick boyfriend and make money and keep your enemies close and everything, and that we’ll still be friends like you said”—he ran his black sleeve over his nose—“but it won’t be the same, and I hate that part!”
Rafe didn’t know what to say. Micah was right, after all; it wouldn’t be. “Things change,” he said helplessly. “They just do.”
Micah looked up, wiped his face with his hands. “I’m going to hug you, Rafe,” he said, “and then I’m going to give you a present. And then I’m going to say good-bye. Is that all right?”
Oh, Micah, you sweet precious angel. I WOULD PLANT FIELDS OF PRETTY FLOWERS FOR HER TO CHILL OUT IN FOREVER AND PROBABLY ALSO TO COUNT IN VARIOUS WAYS TO HER HEART’S CONTENT.
*Eyes Doctor Goodell more fiercely than ever*
So I’ve rambled on quite a bit, heh! I will sum up now.
I was NOT ready for the emotional wringer that this episode turned out to be. I am, however, fully ready for a second season of this wonderful, wonderful thing. So very, very well done to the writers. I am a fan of each and every one of them now, and need to content myself until Tremontaine returns by reading all of their other stuff.
On that note, I shall see you next time…