So. After all of my thoughts and criticisms over the past few weeks, this episode wrings out all my sympathy for Kaab and her self-made domestic mess, and wrings it hard. I still can’t deny that she’s more or less brought this on herself, but ye gods, I’ve got to admit she deserves a hug at this point.
And elsewhere, Diane and Esha are simultaneously delighting and unnerving me. Let’s discuss Tremontaine.
Kaab first. Our resident fish out of water is truly left gasping this week when her efforts to restore domestic bliss between herself and Tess, by taking her to a Balam family feast, sadly end up setting metaphorical fire to the unhappy home. We all knew it was coming; for all of Kaab’s good intentions, she is setting Tess up to become even more painfully aware of a) the vast and insurmountable gulf between herself and The Family, and b) Kaab’s lack of willingness to bridge it by, say, meeting Tess halfway. Or even, gods forbid, making more than a lame token effort to defend their relationship to her family. So it’s only really a surprise to Kaab when Tess finally appears to decide she’s had enough of brushing off her ‘second best’ status, and ends up walking out on her princess.
Honestly, Kaab, you should have stopped talking when you had the chance. It might have been better than this.
“If you stop loving me, then it is only my world that will end. But I am a first daughter, and I have responsibilities that go beyond my own small desires. If I fail my family, many people will fall with me.”
Oy. Wherever he is right now, Vincent is probably staring in sheer disbelief at the utter mess he narrowly avoided being caught in. I suspect Vincent is the lucky one in all of this, and considering his own slowly (too slowly!) unraveling drama, that’s probably saying something.
The worst part is that Kaab isn’t wrong, and she’s clearly not deliberately being unkind. That’s basically all that’s saved her from being written off in my affections, if I’m being completely honest – but having said that, this entire scene does go a long way toward warming me back up to her, even if it’s only in sympathy. However badly she might have messed up here, Kaab has a good heart to offset her foolish head. Perhaps the harsh lessons I’d previously predicted she would have to learn will have been learned here – but with her family’s problems still weighing on her, somehow I doubt it right now. Will she be able to focus enough now to get the job done, or will the Tess-shaped hole in her life finally teach her some important lessons about her priorities and/or the way she treated the woman she claimed to love? Part of me is dreading finding out the answer…
And now let’s talk about the Duchess, because if anyone’s got as much going on as Kaab this week, it’s Diane. Starting with a surprise guest appearance by her absent daughter Honora, who turns up suddenly at Tremontaine House (during a musicale, how rude) demanding to see her father – despite evidently being very unwell.
This scene got my gears turning because of the way it shows us the real depths of the hurt feelings between Diane and her daughter. As far as Diane is concerned, she has every right to be disappointed in Honora, not only for marrying against Diane’s wishes but for failing to benefit at all from all of the time and expense Diane put into her education when she was a girl. And the Duchess clearly gave it her all:
Her daughter had taken every bit of her good fortune for granted, which had led to hours upon hours of Diane standing over the child like a dragon guarding its hoard, making sure that Honora actually worked on her needlepoint, held her breath properly during singing lessons, practiced the clavier and her dance steps. … It was all for her own good! It was for her survival. But the foolish chit couldn’t see that, and in the end, none of it had ended up mattering.
Hmm, I wonder what could possibly have ended up driving Honora away.
What this scene serves to do, besides planting me firmly in the Sympathy For Honora camp, is highlight Diane’s biggest blind spot as far as I’m concerned – she literally doesn’t seem capable of understanding or tolerating anybody who doesn’t share her sensibilities or priorities in some way. We’ve seen plenty of examples of what Diane does with (or to) people who have dared to challenge or threaten her perfect world, who don’t fit into it, or even upset her so deeply she can’t hide it as usual. Ben Hawke was murdered; she takes every opportunity to needle Rafe Fenton; even her own husband fell victim to Diane’s need for absolute control – and he did it the very moment he started to show signs of not being the doting, clueless patsy she was happy to let him be. She hasn’t made a move against Kaab yet, but it’s surely only a matter of time before that changes. Give Diane de Tremontaine an inch, and …
But I digress. Her disgraceful daughter is back in her life, for however long that might last, and I’m already driving myself wild with speculation about the trouble she might cause. Honora is here because she wants answers about her father’s health. Diane is obviously not going to provide them if she has any choice in the matter, because “he cheated on me, so I poisoned him” is not exactly going to go over well. So what options could Honora possibly have left for getting to the truth?
I dunno about you, but I’m wondering if she’ll run into a certain foreign princess, or maybe a merchant’s son, any time soon…
And while I’m on the subject of Diane’s tolerance for those who don’t understand her, let’s talk about Esha – because this episode has taken my previous concerns about this character and cheerfully tossed them out the window, and I’m happy to let them be tossed.
Diane has a friend, and it’s both amazing and kind of terrifying. I mean, think about it. In Esha’s scenes in this episode, this is literally how she thinks of Diane: as a friend, someone she can honestly relate to. And she can indeed. These two women haven’t known each other for very long but it’s already clear that they share a wavelength, at least when it comes to noblemen and how to handle them. This is good for their respective goals, I’m sure; perhaps not so good for the men caught up in their schemes. Like poor oblivious Lord Lionel, for instance. Diane and Esha literally work out a scheme to their mutual benefit right under his nose, and he believes himself on the winning side because he has political aspirations and Diane is the key to achieving them. And Esha might prove to be a worthwhile side benefit, so to speak.
Oh, dear boy. Lionel. No. Just no.
On a final note…
“…Friends should help one another, don’t you agree?” Diane looked up at Esha, her perfect lips curving into the most inviting smile.
Diane de Tremontaine has a friend. My brain cannot handle this. I can’t decide if this is good for her, or a pants-wettingly terrifying prospect for everybody else.
Then again, it’s also doing very interesting things to my Tremontaine headcanons. GET A ROOM, YOU TWO. Ahem.
So, yes. I loved everything about this episode, though my feelings aren’t sure how much more they can take. Mary Anne Mohanraj is working out very well as a Tremontaine writer, and I can’t wait to see what else she’s got in store.