Three episodes into this season, and the character drama and developments are already racing onward. Diane is making all kinds of new connections (heh), while elsewhere some
heartbreaking shocking leavetaking is going on – and the results may not bode well for those left…
Let’s discuss Tremontaine. (Spoiler alert!)
New episode, new point of view! “Fireworks” opens with a visit to Tess the Hand during her working hours, and we’re quickly diving into the previously less explored waters of her feelings regarding a certain badly behaving Balam. It’s here that we start to see the seeds of potential discontent in this relationship being sown; while Kaab is wrapped up in the wild romanticism of their affair (and in the more physical pleasures to be found in it), Tess just wants her girlfriend to try keeping their house clean and her clothes off the floor. She’s got her doubts about whether or not Kaab is truly committed to her, and given the pretense of a family falling out for which their cohabitation is a cover, maybe she’s not being entirely unreasonable.
Kaab paid her such compliments, made extravagant promises, and she certainly seemed sincere … but Tess knew that words were cheap. She knew that better than anyone.
It doesn’t help that this scene gives us a little more background on Tess, and it turns out she’s been in an unhealthy relationship before. Now, she’s got a clearer idea of how the world (or at least Riverside) really works, and she isn’t asking Kaab for much, but I’ve got to wonder if maybe she’s kidding herself just a little bit here. If words are cheap and yet Kaab isn’t offering her anything else, surely it’s up to Tess to decide, for her own sake, that she deserves better?
Though, to be fair, the unraveling of that wild romance has only just begun – and it seems to have begun with the surprising departure from their happy household of one Vincent Applethorpe.
Oh, and how he takes it. Here’s where the fans are most definitely required, and maybe even a fainting couch as well, because I GOT MY SHIPPER’S WISH. When Tess runs home after an unnerving meeting with Florian and Shade (they give Tess the serious creeps, and I don’t blame her one bit) and promptly breaks down in tears when she gets there, the ensuing efforts from Kaab and Vincent to comfort her turn into … efforts to do something very different for her. Fade to black, and everyone is much more relaxed afterward, which is apparently what prompts Vincent to test his swordfighting student’s protective reflexes by making a show of attacking Tess in bed. Kaab impresses him well enough that he decides his bodyguard services are no longer needed, and with some sweet words (I’m not crying you’re crying) and his head full of last week’s emotional bees, Vincent strikes out on his own.
This is not quite the shipping development I had hoped for, I admit, but it makes perfect sense: Vincent can’t very well remain to be a third wheel, and as he himself notes, their thoroughly enjoyable afternoon delight was what he needed to resolve some of his lingering feelings, not deepen them. With that chapter now written, Vincent’s got some old challenges to meet, and so off he goes, presumably to meet them and very possibly to end up doing so as Diane’s new swordsman. And so the plot progresses, rather than stagnating. It saddens me to break up this trio, but in fairness, it’s a logical step to take. As is what follows for Kaab and Tess as a Vincent-less couple, but let me come back to that.
Right now, it’s time to give the Duchess the stage.
If things are progressing for Vincent, they are most certainly rolling along at full steam for the woman who’s determined to hire him. This week she finally snares Lord Lionel in her sexy not-quite-a-widow web, and because we’re dealing with Diane here, their discreet liaison at the home of Lady Esha – who intrigued me at first simply because she agreed to let her own former lover have a new dalliance under her roof (who does that?) – turns into an unexpected opportunity to ally herself with another intriguing foreigner who might eventually a) help Diane put new colour into her wardrobe, and b) present a new opportunity for trade agreements for Tremontaine.
Guys. Guys! TEA MIGHT BE COMING TO TREMONTAINE. As if I didn’t already love it madly enough! TEA.
I like Esha. And apparently Esha likes Diane, despite the Duchess’s preference to keep her identity to herself, for now.
“I prefer not to coerce a woman to give up her secrets until she is ready.”
Might this be how we finally see Diane de Tremontaine explore certain bisexual urges we’ve seen hinted at? Please let it be so. Also, if she does indeed explore those opportunities (ahem) with Esha, it will mean we see more of Esha, and I am all for seeing more of Esha.
If I can be a tiny bit critical right now, however, the introduction of this character as a brightly dressed, sword-wielding foreign curiosity for Diane feels a bit familiar. On the other hand, as a potential rival to the Balams for her business attention goes, I am definitely here for her inclusion in this story. So I’m more than happy to sit back and see how this will play out.
Also tea, did I mention the tea? Because tea!
Trust Diane to venture out for a romantic interlude and end up expanding her business contacts. I love you, Duchess.
What (or who) I am loving a bit less this week, as I noted in last week’s review, is Kaab.
Vincent’s leave-taking had left the two of them sitting in a strange, intimate nest, and Kaab was a little worried that she was finding herself happier out of it than in.
OK, look. I love Kaab on paper; she is everything that I find exciting about unconventional women in stories. That much, I have no complaint with. But, and call this bad personal experience talking, I am not so much here for the way in which she’s starting to view her relationship with Tess. It becomes fairly evident that Kaab is all for the clothes coming off, and not so much for picking them up off her girlfriend’s floor when she’s asked to. Now, if she isn’t looking for quiet, safe domestic bliss, that’s one thing. Somebody like Kaab simply isn’t wired for playing house; I get that. This is fine, and romantic conflict means we don’t get bored with her story, which is also fine. What I don’t think is fine is the fact that Kaab apparently can’t think of any reason to appreciate Tess that doesn’t involve having sex with her.
Kaab seems far more concerned with having her own needs met and her own whims catered to than she does with actually making Tess happy. If she wanted to do that, she’d tidy up after herself once in a while – but apparently this is asking too much of her when she has such important missions to carry out. To her mind, Tess making these demands equates to “carping”. While I will readily admit that yelling about it probably isn’t going to help Tess there, we did already know that these two women having such quick tempers was going to lead to sparks of all kinds. This development makes perfect sense, but for me, it rubs the wrong way. It is obviously not going to end well, and signs do point to it ending – maybe sooner than anybody thought, given how this episode ends.
It turns out that not all the fireworks implied by the title were the metaphorical kind. Holy crap.
OK, so her spying efforts finally (almost) turn up a chance for Kaab to identify the chocolate thieves, and if not for the inadvertent firework display she might have gotten somewhere there. I am assuming the two she spotted were Florian and Shade, right? But what were they doing making another smash and grab instead of waiting for surety, one way or another, with Tess? I figured they were smarter than that… And what does that ending mean for everybody in that warehouse?!
I might not like Kaab very much but I didn’t expect or want THIS plot twist! Talk about cliffhanger endings. I AM NOT OK. DO NOT DAMAGE THE SWORDSLADY, PLEASE.
If anyone needs me I’ll be over here breathing into this paper bag until I get the next episode.