The Boston trio are now firmly entrenched in life in Laundi, to the consternation of some. Jareth is furious at Fesmer for teaching Shauna his illegal brand of magic, and expresses his distrust of these strangers, particularly Mike. Katherine overhears, and tells Jareth that, either way, Shauna must learn both forms of magic if they are to return home.
Arkahn is also distressed by their presence, though her distrust is more out of jealousy and dismay, particularly when Shauna demonstrates her prodigious magical potential. Zana, who has taken such a liking to Katherine that she has gifted her a magical bow, reassures Arkahn as to her own abilities and strengths.
Fesmer is growing tired of Mike’s refusal to take anything seriously, and Mike is on the verge of apologizing when the two encounter a huge herd of Undying, the zombie-like creatures that plague Laundi. They rush to warn the town, then retreat to Zana’s. Mike, deftly ignoring the seriousness of the situation, runs to the roof with a box of football-shaped spell bombs to fight the Undying; Katherine follows him to help, but she is unable to do anything when one of the unstable bombs explodes early, blowing Mike from the roof.
- I think it’s a mark of just how much Jareth cares about Fesmer that he doesn’t report him to University. I mean, let’s be honest, he’s essentially University’s bitch at this point in the story, and he practically reveres Targonane. Despite this, he has, for years, turned a blind eye to Fesmer’s illegal magic, even when duty tells him to do otherwise. Jareth wouldn’t do that for practically anyone else. For all that they fight constantly, they really do love one another like brothers.
- “You possess a keen intellect, Katherine…but you are an awful liar.” For all that they butt heads over differences in ideology, I think Katherine and Jareth understand one another better than almost any other pair in the show. They are very similar, after all.
- “Therefore you cannot chide me for shirking my duties. Victory is mine! Good day, ladies.” I generally think of Mike as the funniest character in the show, but let it never be said that Jareth has no sense of humor. His dry little quips are really quite charming.
- Oh, what the hell, I’ve yammered on about him too much already, but let’s talk about Jareth! For all that I identify with Katherine and Shauna, and for all that Mike appeals to my secret-yet-enormous soft spot for slightly-below-average intelligence dudes who try their hardest, Jareth fascinates me, perhaps more than anyone else. He is more conflicted than any other main character (with the notable exception of Arkahn), and his character arc is perhaps the furthest reaching. He goes from someone unmovable, who judges right and wrong almost entirely based on the opinion of authority (A.K.A. University), to someone who is willing to foreswear one of the biggest parts of his life because he believes it is wrong. His desire to bend to authority constantly wages war with his own intellectual curiosity. He’s so dedicated to logic and reason that when he does act based on his emotions, it’s incredibly endearing. And even when he’s acting like a complete jerkwad, Brad Smith plays him with such charm and conviction that I’m always willing to give Jareth time to work out his (numerous) hang-ups. If that’s not the sign of a good character, I don’t know what is.
- “He’s an old friend of mine. A…very old friend.” Oh lord, the weight of the world is in that pause, isn’t it, Zana? Who would’ve guessed it back when this first aired?
- The way Zana describes the bow’s power, it makes a lot of sense that (SPOILER) Dita wouldn’t be able to hit with it when she fires out of anger. Particularly if it gives the same “advice” to her that it did to her mother.
- Okay, it’s kind of an odd thing to reflect on, but I find it very interesting to think about violence and “quests” in video games through the lens of Mike’s expectations of Laundi. When Fesmer and Mike are talking in the goat cart, Fesmer remarks that they must stay hidden to prevent certain higher-ups from looking into the Bostonians’ appearance. Mike responds that it doesn’t matter, after all, “You saw what I did to that Legion dude.” Mike still believes that he’s in a video game inspired dream, and sees his actions as being intrinsically without repercussion, but Fesmer knows, as we know in our everyday lives, that acts of violence have political ripples, and that there is never a choice made without consequences. Hell, Season 2 is pretty much all about consequences of past actions, not to mention about the political side of violent revolution. So what does it say about video games, and other popular media, when our main concept of them involves an entirely consequence-free world?
And so ends the ChonklaTime Wax Philosophical Power Hour!
- “I thought you said you didn’t know very much magic.” “A-a-and I do not!” (SPOILER) When Arkahn had her face-heel turn, it completely blind-sided me; admittedly, after 1.08 it probably shouldn’t have, but it did. Now, relistening to Season 1, I feel REALLY DUMB. I mean, it’s all beautifully and subtly done, crafted specifically to make the audience not notice the first time around just how suspiciously Arkahn is acting, but damn, a relisten just spells it all out.
- Julia Lunetta does this amazing thing that I love where she speaks with this little derisive, flabbergasted laugh. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard another voice actor pull it off so well.
- Speaking of Arkahn: I LOVE HER MONOLOGUE. I’ve always had this problem with the Fall Into Another World trope, in that frequently the native residents completely accept the people from our world sight-unseen. They’re just totally okay with the strangers being better than everyone at everything, and becoming instant friends with a group of people. I love that Arkahn points out that this is happening, and that she HATES it; she finds it weird that they’re so good at everything, and she’s resentful at how quickly they insinuated themselves into life in Laundi.
- That being said, Zana’s words are wise, and it’s really, really endearing to see her openly demonstrate her love and affection for Arkahn. And Zana’s subtle little compliment about how Arkahn works magic with “subtlety and finesse” probably doesn’t hurt either.
- “Undying move about! That is a condition of their not remaining dead: they MOVE, Mike!” God, I love this line.
- I really appreciate that names aren’t explained until several episodes from now. We get Fesmer’s comment about how he hasn’t been “Fes” for many years, but names still remain a pretty big puzzle at this point. It’s a subtle way of not only hooking the audience, but making them feel like they’re immersed in a larger, mysterious world.
-“Undying have no interest in animals.” “Huh, that’s strange.” TELL ME ABOUT IT. Ugh, we’re only one episode away from the end, but Undying and Ainorem are still a giant mystery. WHAT ARE THEY?
- I said it last time, and I’ll say it again: Shauna and Katherine’s friendship fills me with joy. They never say it aloud, but it’s very, very clear from their conversations that they are absolutely best friends. Shauna is never so relaxed with anyone else, and almost no one can make Katherine laugh except Shauna. (SPOILER) It’s very obvious, relistening to these, why Katherine broke down as badly as she did during her year back in Boston. It’s not just that she failed out of school, or that she re-entered her emotionally abusive relationship with David – it’s also she no longer had anyone to hold her steady. Shauna was Katherine’s rock during her first year alone in Boston, someone stable she could balance herself by. With Shauna gone…well.
- Shauna hears that Undying are coming, and her first thought is of Fesmer and Mike. This is how you write internally-consistent characters, people!
- “Hell, half the time I don’t believe me either.” It’s interesting to catch these little snippets of self-doubt from Mike, not the least of which because they usually come wrapped up in layers of machismo and RPG jokes. They’re important, though, especially considering what we see when we finally get inside his head a few episodes down the line.
- “Katherine? Why did you follow me?” Gooooood question, Mike…
I promise, I’ll take the shipping glasses off now!
- Whenever I try to rope someone into listening to Second Shift, I always tell them to listen up through 1.04. One reason for this is because I sort of divide Season 1 into two halves in my head; the first part, Episodes 1-3, set up the characters and the world, while the second part is the main action, and it’s hard to judge a story based on exposition alone. The other reason is because 1.04 is AWESOME, and if you’re not hooked by a cliffhanger ending where people are fighting the undead with spell bombs and arrows on the rooftop of a magical pizzeria, well, then I have NO CLUE what will please you.