In this episode, Diane turns her mind to finding ways around her predicament, and there’s a very intriguing meeting held in Riverside. Meanwhile an old problem rears its head for Kaab, who does not necessarily respond well…
Let’s discuss Tremontaine.
Will this awful weather never cease?
I am not a fan of bad weather unless it’s on the other side of a nice secure double-glazed window, and even then it can leave me grumpy and out of sorts. So it’s pretty easy to imagine how all these poor sods feel, in the middle of a terrible spring season. It’s been building some nicely atmospheric tensions, though, and I’m eager/anxious to see whether or not it improves (metaphorically or otherwise) before the end.
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Patriarchy?
If you’re Diane de Tremontaine, truly faced with its ugliness for the first time, you take a breather. Then you turn to a friend (seriously, who would have thought even one season ago that she would have any of those?) to figure out a way around it that doesn’t involve simply giving up.
I see what these writers did there.
Esha comes through in this episode, pointing out that even though Diane’s newfound power has brought problems she hadn’t foreseen, she isn’t without her means of solving those problems. Diane doesn’t have to fight every battle herself in order to win it, and the tiring issue of butting heads with sexist old men is just one more obstacle to overcome. All she needs is one not so tiring man to help her get around it. (Irony.)
I’m enjoying this plot development immensely because it’s here that we’re beginning to see shades of the Duchess we first met in Swordspoint, and to get some context for the scheming ice queen persona, and … I really can’t hate her anymore. It’s harder to blame her for turning out as she did when we’re seeing what she was up against and how she responded to it. It is, however, reassuring in a way to see that no matter how weary she might get, Diane still keeps her wits about her.
I’m going to miss this warmer side of her, but I’m still 100% here for seeing how her story ends, so to speak.
Another thing I’m curious about, especially in light of what I recall from the novels, is her proposal to Esha regarding the ‘salon’ for young ladies. “Marriage lore”, indeed – I don’t remember anything like this ever being touched upon in the books (and it’s The Privilege of the Sword, in particular, that I’m thinking of here), but that’s one more reason I want to go back and read them after this season’s done. Where was this salon while Artemisia Fitz-Levi was swooning over fictional heroes in her books instead of being properly educated? Was it sabotaged, abandoned, or just never properly established in the first place? If it was established, Mrs Fitz-Levi has a hell of a lot to answer for.
Elsewhere, Rafe Fenton is doing what he does best and wallowing in some quality self-pity. With Doctor Goodell’s unexpected departure, he’s facing the ruin of his dreams of publication, and lamenting over what to do about it. Once again we’re seeing Rafe flirting with a backward slide into his old habits, which might have gotten tiresome if he didn’t turn himself around from it this time by *ahem* thinking of how much better it could be than this.
I swear if he and Reza don’t at least admit their feelings for each other before this serial ends I might break something. GO TO HIM, RAFE.
Instead, for the moment, it’s Kaab who turns up and attempts to comfort her friend, only for things to get ugly when she (finally) realises that the book Rafe is so tied up in knots over is the one whose existence she tried to lock down back when it was a gleam in Rafe’s philosophical eye. Like silt from the stormy river they’re bobbing along on, however, it’s been dredged back up and now Kaab has to decide how to handle the matter once and for all. Given all that she’s capable of, and willing to do, her options are potentially very unpleasant for her friend – and Rafe’s not so oblivious that he doesn’t figure that out.
Everything about this scene was SO TENSE. Kaab may not have pitched him overboard and let him drown this time, but I’m very worried for Rafe at this point. Will he ever get to admit his feelings for Reza and have a sweet sunset moment, or will he fall victim to Kaab’s dedication to her family’s political ambition? It seems pretty clear that, despite that dedication, Kaab is not entirely comfortable in her new role after all. Rafe is (or was) her friend, and she misses the days when she only thought of her own cares, but is that enough to stay her hand when it comes to making the problem he represents disappear?
Either way, this seems destined to not end well.
The Point of No Return?
Despite all of the speculation about endings, here, it’s apparently not quite time for last call where this story’s concerned. We still have plot developments afoot, and where else to crank them out than in Riverside?
What the actual hell?
Seriously though, let’s talk about Arlen and Everly for a bit because … OK, first of all I love it, because it is so utterly unexpected that it’s impossible not to chew on or flail about. My initial reaction was AAAAAAAAAH.
However, upon some calmer reflection … I do not understand what’s going on here.
One thing that stands out in this episode, and which frankly nags at me a little, is the moment where Everly somehow mystically senses that they’re going to have a visitor. One who’s important enough to drop everything else for.
… Okay then?
To be fair, this isn’t the first time something ‘fringe-magical’ has happened in this story. William’s drug-induced visions weren’t entirely wild ravings from a madman, and I haven’t forgotten the crow. But in both of those cases we were seeing strange things happen to people. This is someone pivotal to the story suddenly doing something strange. It stands out for that reason, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it.
But then, I’ve been unsure what to make of Everly this whole time. Strangeness and the Salamander go hand in hand, and while that has arguably always been potentially problematic given the gender diversity they represent here, this is a particularly glaring moment, at least for me. I’m still engaged, and definitely still fascinated by this character, but now we have less than ten episodes to go before this story comes to a close and I don’t feel any closer to any educated guesses about this particular ending. This plot twist pushes me further from an understanding, if anything; all that’s really confirmed is that Everly is training Tess for something, and that they’re at least preparing for chaos to hit Riverside, if not plotting it themself?
And now they’re mixed up in it with Lord Arlen? Who has personal ties of his own to Riverside? And there’s a romantic angle here?!
Nope. I have no clues. None. But I still have faith in these writers to bring everything together for a memorable finale. I’m just having faith a wee bit nervously now…