In this episode, Halliday’s political progress gathers steam – while Tremontaine’s machinations might just have suffered a setback. And I (finally) got what I’d hoped for with Rafe and Reza – and more besides…
Let’s discuss Tremontaine.
Blood, Sweat and Tears
We’ve had some time for recovery since the last shocking twist in this season’s story, and now we’ve been dealt another one – but rather than just straight up wrecking me like the loss of Tess did, this is making me really nervous instead. I’ve had questions regarding Octavian’s role here since this season began, and now I have a few more.
We’ll get to what those are, but I have to take a moment to appreciate the various different ways that these plot twists are being delivered. Rather than being one-note shocks upon shocks, every unsettling or surprising development affects me differently. Tess’s death was a pretty devastating blow; Kaab’s vengeance upon Salford was surprising and satisfying at the same time; and now, this.
I’m worried for Octavian, as he comes down with this illness gradually enough that we see it coming, but manages to hold out long enough to at least see his and Diane’s plotting bear some fruit. Will he survive, or will Diane lose her most well-matched partner to date? And if she does, just how deeply is it going to affect her?
We’ve seen Diane manipulate every man in her life with varying degrees of affection and/or animosity, and not even her husband was safe from her scheming. But Octavian is the first to really seem like he’s on her level. Diane is honest with him about her intentions in ways that she never has been before; even Davenant, who could match her for every scheme and underhanded tactic, never truly understood the Duchess.
Do I think that she’s fallen in love? No. But I am definitely wondering if Diane is going to surprise herself with how much she cares about his wellbeing. And if she loses him, I’ve got to wonder if it will genuinely grieve her. Let’s just say that, after everything she’s proven capable of … I won’t be surprised if she does grieve.
Happily Ever After?
But it’s not all doom and gloom in politics, in this episode. Kaab seems genuinely set upon putting her past behind her and looking for ways to brighten the future, both for herself and her people. Regarding the latter, she makes a surprising discovery about the potential for a trade alliance with Zeren through Esha, and both women waste no time seizing the opportunity. Where the former’s concerned, though – that’s what’s leaving me with some fascinating questions. Having finally confirmed for herself what happened to Tess during the flood, Kaab needs to take time to grieve, and to consider what might lie ahead for her personally now that all of her old emotional connections to the City, to the Land, are crumbling away. With Vincent and now Tess gone from her life, it’s natural that she’d begin to wonder what’s keeping her here. Will she stay, or find new opportunities elsewhere – as her budding new partnership with Esha seems to be offering her? And will that partnership remain strictly business?
What? Shippers gonna ship.
Speaking of characters questioning their ties to their old lives and speculating about forming new ones… Reza finally brings up the subject of Rafe coming back to Chartil with him. YAY, OH MY HEART.
But he does it while nervously babbling about/informing Rafe of his politically motivated intentions to marry a woman back home, for the good of his family and their personal safety. As he has begun to show an encouraging capacity for doing in recent episodes, Rafe takes it far better than I’d thought he might, but he also finds himself feeling insecure about what this really means for his and Reza’s relationship, even after Reza admits that he loves him.
Oh, my heart.
For all that I ship these two with a flaming passion, I can also really appreciate that when the outcome I’d wanted finally lands, it raises issues beyond just fluttery heart-feelings. As is the underlying theme in this episode, and in this season in general, Rafe has to think of his own future and not just what Reza means to him. Going to Chartil would mean staying close to his lover, but it would also mean getting the chance to finally study, and write, and be Rafe the Natural Philosopher without having his every ambition and achievement undermined or outright sabotaged by the University. And that means just as much to him as Reza does. But are either of those things enough to balance a life spent hiding another undeniable part of himself from everyone else in that shiny new life?
So, the end is truly rolling around now, and rather than simply wondering how it’s all going to end, I find myself wondering instead how life will carry on for all these characters I’ve come to love. I mean, some of them have to survive, right? And that’s a much more heartening sort of question to ask, so I’m going to comfort myself with the (hopefully) certain knowledge that, for all that there’s an end in sight, it doesn’t have to be written in stone for everyone.
I just want my babies to be happy – even Diane! Just for a little while! COME ON, WRITERS.