In this episode, politics brings out interesting sides to everyone, but I almost don’t care about that because SOMEBODY FRIGHTENED MICAH.
Let’s discuss Tremontaine, while I sharpen this knife.
So in this episode, the inspector for the Batab finally arrives, while the Balam family are still in mourning for Ixsaabim. Elsewhere, Tess finds herself having to keep a bunch of Riverside boys from causing more trouble with the City in the wake of the siege, and Davenant makes the first move in his efforts to loosen Diane’s chokehold on him…
Everybody’s worrying about politics and power, it seems. Kaab is struggling to find her feet as head of her family, walking a line between doing what she feels is right and falling victim – again – to her own impassioned instincts. She can’t fail to impress or to satisfy the inspector, or her family loses its trade monopoly and its standing among the Kinwiinik. She also can’t bring herself to set aside the proper course of mourning for Aunt Saabim on account of the timing of his visit. And at the same time, if she’s got the careful building of her house of cards, as spymaster, to consider. Any wrong move could bring everything tumbling down, and it bears repeating that she’s been thrown in at the deep end, in all of it.
I was so nervous for Kaab in the build-up to the inspector’s arrival, and his response to her decision not to abandon mourning, even under pressure to put on a good show from the rest of her family. It’s clear she’s being patronised all to hell by her aunties, and while I do appreciate a good busybody auntie, I did want to tell the lot of them to sod off, and was quietly very pleased when Kaab decided to defy their attempts to belittle her and push her around. She has to start as she means to go on, even if she isn’t at all sure how she’ll go on, so I was glad to see her taking the time to think things through and reflect on all of the ways she’s done things wrong until now. Kaab is painfully aware of her past mistakes at this point, and equally as aware that she can’t afford to make another one here. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens, and what she does next – and let’s face it, I’ll be surprised if something doesn’t go wrong eventually… Poor Kaab.
Then there’s Tess. She may not be facing the prospect of losing trading monopoly or the respect of her people, but the siege of Riverside is still a bit of a tender wound to some, whether it’s been broken or not. When a gang of cabbage-brained boys decide the best response is retaliation, it falls to Tess to steer them on a less disastrous course, and I won’t lie. Her handling of Ned, and the way she pricks his bully-boy ego, was pretty damned fun to read. I can’t say he didn’t deserve the roasting, and I might have taken some satisfaction in seeing her take notice of Charlotte, the only girl in the group. I want to see more of Charlotte, please.
On the other hand, and I suspect this is going to be a recurring annoyance … I don’t entirely approve of Tess’s outlook in regards to the whole ‘us against them’ mentality of Riverside vs. the City. I’m not arguing that someone needed to take charge of what was happening, or that she’s free of at least some responsibility for what happened to Shade, but seeing her focus her resentment on everyone but Riversiders rankled a bit. Yes, their backs were to the wall, and they’ve long since gotten set in their ways, but let’s be real. Nobody really forced them to do what they did to Shade, and if Tess got herself involved in a leadership capacity, it’s because she chose to accept that role. I can sympathise with the guilt she feels – hell, I’d be more upset with her if she didn’t feel any – but refusing to admit, even to herself, that what happened was at least in part their own choice? No points for that, Tess. Sorry.
Though it does have me wondering what it will take for Tess to focus that particular resentment where it arguably rightfully belongs, and I don’t think for a moment that the matter is entirely done and dusted. I still think the Salamander is up to something. I’m watching them. *Narrows eyes*
Now let’s zoom out a little bit, because I want to talk a bit about the Night of the Flames, and the delight I took in this riffing-on-Halloween holiday/festival/celebration thing. It fascinated me, and while it might have lacked a lot of the spectacle I was expecting, I’m not at all dissatisfied with the backdrop it provided for the scene between Rafe and Reza. It was a more subdued affair, true, but I really appreciated the dynamic here: both men are grieving for a lost love, both presently very introspective about what that loss means for them, and both considering how they’re going to move on from it. It was the perfect time for them to meet again after the Convocation, and I just loved everything about the conversation they had. Reza’s views on people in positions of political power, how they handle that power and why, felt very very timely for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on hold on let me think it’ll come to me I’m sure. *Looks at camera forever*
Also, while it might have felt like a completely underplayed aside, I have to admit I loved the way Rafe finally(?) ditched Florian to continue spending time with Reza. Like ‘you know what, sod this, I’m tired of alleyways’. YES RAFE, GOOD.
Though, to be fair … I can’t imagine Florian’s response to being ditched was/will be very pleasant…
And OMFG THAT MICAH SCENE.
Fuck you, Davenant. And fuck the goons you hired as well. HOW DARE THEY FRIGHTEN MY CINNAMON ROLL. HOW DARE THEY.
And Diane’s moment of “la la la, what a beautiful day, how peachy my life is, what could go wrong now la la la la” was sheer fate-tempting perfection. I cannot wait to see how she’ll respond to what Davenant’s done, but really I just want to know that she’ll find Micah, hug and comfort her until she’s OK again, and only then go off on the Dragon like he deserves. GET HIM, DIANE.
I might have Strong Feelings about harming Micah. Just maybe. You’re so surprised, I know.
Gimme the next episode please.