In this episode, Rafe sets out for Highcombe to rescue the Duke after last week’s discovery. He takes Micah with him, which is just about the only sensible thing he’s done since Kaab spilled the beans. What follows is more action than character drama, but thanks to the Duke’s “madness” there’s still plenty to speculate on…
Let’s discuss Tremontaine.
We open on a memory (hallucination?) of Will as a young boy, having absconded with one of his father’s books – a history of the Kinwiinik, hello foretelling – when his getaway turns somewhat strange, revealing the scenario as one that the grown-up and very confined Duke is remembering/replaying in his drug-induced madness. All of this immediately raises a cluster of questions I haven’t had a chance to ask since the end of season one.
What, exactly, is the nature of Will’s ‘visions’? The crow is back; how does that fit in? Is he actually being visited or is it all just incredibly vivid hallucinations?
The memory of stealing the Kinwiinik book seems like a relevant detail instead of a throwaway one, one aspect of many interconnected ones where Diane’s larger schemes are concerned. The traders have been drawn into her web as surely as her husband, though each in very different ways. It’s all very mystical, but it raises the question of where this is all going, if it’s going anywhere – and given how much this mystical element stands out in a story that otherwise doesn’t feature anything fantastical at all, I’ve got to conclude that it is in fact important somehow. Why include it otherwise? And having read The Fall of the Kings now, of course I’m being reminded quite strongly of the similar plot elements from that book. Is it the ‘magic’ that matters, or what it does to the people being affected by it – in this case, Will and Rafe? The comparison here with Basil and Theron in TFOTK is fairly obvious, though certainly not comforting given how that novel ended…
I must say though, that the implied sense of all these things being connected, and the possibility of the various Riverside stories being tied together in these little ways is endlessly fascinating to me. It’s a very clever way of not only telling the story of Tremontaine, but folding it into the larger Riverside mythos. How much of what’s going to befall these characters is preordained, and how much of their fates will they be able to avoid or change?
SO MANY QUESTIONS.
But back to the story, because God damn it, Rafe.
“I’m sorry,” Rafe said, simple and heartfelt and then suddenly unable to stop. Having wronged Micah in so many ways, he began to list them off to his friend with ever increasing fervor, until he was crying and snotting like a child who believed that if he was distraught enough, someone would come to rescue them, surely.
But Micah said nothing. Not even to accept his apology or comment on his tears.
It comes to this, after he and Micah are (inevitably) discovered by the staff at Highcombe while trying to sneak the Duke out of the house, and locked up by Norris, the house swordsman, when Rafe (inevitably) fails to best him in a duel. And oh, he fails so hard. There’s more to swordfighting than just sticking the pointy end in the other guy, Rafe, and you really should have taken the time to figure that out first.
But that’s the whole problem with the way Rafe handles this attempted rescue. He doesn’t wait. He doesn’t think any of it through or attempt to actually plan how to get in, get to Will and get out successfully. Along the road to Highcombe, it’s Micah – and a virtual stranger they happen to save from a highwayman – who come up with an actual plan for getting into Highcombe. But of course they can’t tell this stranger, who happens to be delivering goods there for the Duchess (yet another stroke of sheer luck for them) that they’re planning to break the Duke Tremontaine out of his own house, so already Rafe is complicating a plan that’s only half-baked to begin with.
And even when it fails, even though Rafe is finally seeing his ill-advised actions for what they were – romantic, perhaps well-meant, but entirely selfish – he still can’t seem to help taking a self-centred view on the disaster that results from them. Even in his distraught state, I get the impression that it’s sympathy he’s looking for from Micah, rather than any sort of useful response that might lead to them getting out of their predicament.
Sorry, but for all that Micah was the one who offset the Blindingly Stupid parts of the plan with workable ideas, the whole mess is Rafe’s doing. He brought it on himself, and not only that, he got my favourite Cinnamon Roll mixed up in it. There was more than one point during this episode at which I clenched very hard, hoping nothing terrible was going to happen to her.
I’m not sure, with that in mind, that he really deserves much sympathy. He did show consideration for Micah by at least trying to leave her behind (and bless her for having none of that), but this could have caused more damage to more people than Rafe had even considered, if they’d pulled it off. Despite knowing what Diane could do and how she’ll react, I’ve got to say – Rafe is probably lucky they didn’t succeed.
But now they’re found out, Will is still raving helplessly, and before long he and Micah are cooling their heels in a storeroom, awaiting whatever fate is coming… With nothing but a bird for company?
Is it a crow, by any chance? Such as the one Will is still ‘hallucinating’ about?
For now, in the terrible silence, there was only tap-tap-tap.
That sound was not the darkness itself, but something stranger. While it terrorized him no less than the darkness, it could, he knew, spirit him away from this suffocation. But the places it took him, on wings made out of his flayed past, were not always places he wished to journey. No matter how much he begged, it would not learn his language, and it did not hear No.
Tap-tap-tap, over and over again, as it thrust its sharpness into the wall of his prison, and then drew him through the darkness like a thread, spread out and frayed open until he seemed to unfurl in a chamber lined with stone.
WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? Is Will now the crow? Is he only seeing through its eyes? How is that even possible? Also, because this somehow jumps out at me – is the reference to ‘language’ a literal thing, given the Kinwiinik significance of both Will’s ‘memory’ in this episode and the connection between them and the shadowroot? Was that book which Young Will stole important to him here and now? Or am I reading too much into a metaphor? I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING AND IT’S KILLING ME.
This episode felt much shorter than the previous ones, perhaps because of the narrower focus on a particular plot element rather than the usual switching between several points of view. It serves to further that plot, of course, but in true (and deliciously maddening, no pun intended) Tremontaine style, it still left me hanging, wailing helplessly into the fangirl void about what’s going to happen next.
Hopefully, whatever happens next will not involve Norris getting his coveted position back in the city, because yegods he irritates the hell out of me.
One final note – I can’t help but hope that whatever becomes of Will here, he won’t just be drug-addled plot fodder. I really hope that all of these intriguing little clues and speculative hints are leading to something bigger, otherwise I may have a genuine complaint about this story.
But on that score, we shall see, won’t we?