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This episode fills in some of the gaps in Retreat – namely, the stories everyone told on that last night around the campfire.  Fesmer starts out by telling the story of an epic prank played by his brother Porec and Jareth a number of years ago (though the story is quickly co-opted by Jareth, who demands the story be told truthfully).  In the tale, a young Jareth steals one of his grandfather’s books of magic and tries to impress Porec with a spell.  He accidentally sends all of the village animals into estrus, enraging the villagers.  Though amusing, it was only through Porec’s sole acceptance of the blame that Jareth’s reputation was saved, thereby allowing him to attend University some years later.

Katherine relates the story of how she met Shauna and Mike during their Freshman Orientation: Shauna and her family took Katherine in with open arms, and Mike just refused to go away.  Together, the three of them competed in a scavenger hunt that took them all over Boston, requiring them to swipe small items and take pictures of local landmarks.  Mike’s very expensive camera, crucial to the hunt, is nearly confiscated by a security guard, but thanks to Katherine’s shameless flirting with said guard, they were able to get it back.  Though they didn’t win, this marked the first time the Trio had to work together.

Fesmer, assisted by Arkahn, tells the tale of Arkahn’s first days working at Zana’s shop.  Fesmer quickly warmed to the shy (and rather nervous) Arkahn, even going so far as to take her to Zana’s cellar to show her one of his spells.  He accidentally causes the stored vegetables to come to life; while initially amusing, things take a quick turn for the worse when the chaos causes the kitchen to light on fire.  The pair are only saved by the timely arrival of Jareth, who extinguishes the fire…and then proceeds to lecture them.

The stories all told, Katherine, Mike, and Shauna quietly discuss what they’ll do when they get home…and how much they’ll miss these new friends they’ve made in Laundi.


- This marks our very first time hearing Ari Herbstman in the role of Fesmer, and is the entire reason I was confident he could take on that mantle when Andrew had to step down in Season 2.  They both play the part admirably!

- I get the distinct sense that Mike’s got a running narrative going through his head at almost all times that sounds exactly like his opening monologue.

- “Which of us was guided by a creepy oracle to study magic and invent a spell to send you home?” “Send us home.” “That’s what I said.”  We’re in the middle of some rapid-fire exposition to sum up a season of plot for an audience who’ve never heard the show before, and somehow the writers still find time to keep characterization and motives entirely accurate.  MY HEART, SHE DANCES.

- I haven’t listened to his episode as many times as the others, since it’s not on my iPod.  So it’s nice to relisten and appreciate all the nifty little tricks the writers are using to catch the audience up on the story.

- The full version of the Mr. Ham song makes me laugh so hard I start tearing up.  Hand to god.

- “So the monster in my dreams…maybe that’s what actually summoned us.”  This is the very first time someone connects the Herald to the spell that brought our Trio from Boston, and it’s pretty darn on the money.

- “I have assembled the remaining pieces from the scandalized talk of the townfolk that I have managed to overhear by completely honest means.”  Fesmer, you are the greatest.

- I love how it’s made very clear that Jareth’s dedication to study and urge to live up to his grandfather’s reputation are nothing new; they’ve been a part of his personality for literally decades.

- Our first exposure to Porec (chronologically, at least), and it’s already demonstrated that he’s big on teaching and pushing others.  Interesting.

- “Your family has been naught but trouble since the day you arrived!”  Hmm…how much did the townsfolk know about Fesmer’s family?  Was Fesmer the only one who didn’t know about his father and brother?  If so, I can understand why he went a little bit off the deep end in the year between Seasons 1 and 2.

- “At times, protecting others…protecting our friends…can require certain sacrifices.”  Hey Jareth, way to point out one of the major themes of your development next season!

- I wonder – how much did Porec know of his father’s “business” at this point?  He was at least 14 at this point, so he had to know something, I suppose.  (SPOILER) The reason I bring this up: Porec is, heart and soul, dedicated to Oren and the Brotherhood…but he still took the blame so Jareth could be accepted to University.  If Porec was as dedicated then as he is now, that means he took undeserved punishment so that someone could attend a school that is the enemy of his faith – all for the sake of Jareth’s dream.  That speaks miles about his personality.

- Now there are 6 Browns instead of 7!  (This has always and will always confuse me.)

- “Mike, do you really imagine me as the pillow fight type?” “I have a very active imagination…” Okay, I won’t get into it here doubtless you won’t be able to get me to shut up about it down the line, but this really demonstrates one of the things I enjoy about Mike and Katherine – with the sole exception of the fight in Civil War, there’s always an undertone of playfulness to their fighting.  Even when they finally become friends, they never really stop bickering, and…well, let’s face it, they’re (presumably) straight 20-somethings, so there’s a lot of hormones in the air, even when they can’t stand one another. 

- I find it kind of interesting how Katherine’s story of her arrival in Boston with almost nothing and Shauna’s subsequent taking her in mirrors Katherine’s going back to find Shauna after the upcoming year gap.  She may want to move on, but Katherine can’t just abandon Shauna all alone; on a certain level, she probably feels like she needs to repay that debt.

- “I just wanted to introduce you to Mike.  The minute I met him I knew the two of you would hit it off!”  To be perfectly fair to Shauna…well, she was kind of right.  It just took…what, nearly 3 years?

- If nothing else, Katherine’s story points out something that tends to get lost in the bickering and nerd jokes: Shauna, Katherine, and Mike work together almost alarmingly well as a team.  (SPOILER) Oren may be the big bad, but I kinda feel sorry for him, because I have faith that the Boston Trio will find some way to mess him up big time.

- In Season 2, Katherine jokes once or twice about using her feminine “wiles” to get the gang out of a scrape.  Listening to this, though?  I bet she could actually do it.

- I really like the break-down of how University is different from the American concept of a University.  Don’t ask me why, but I do.

- Hmm…Arkahn notes that she started working at Zana’s almost 4 years ago.  Seeing as she’d just been “rejected” from University, and that one applies around the age of 15, that would put her at 19 years old – exactly the same as the Bostonians.  It also implies something that I should have figured out a while ago; namely, that Laundians start working pretty early in life.

- “I suspect they were not fully aware of Fesmer’s…eccentricities.”  LIES LIES LIES.

- “Had you honestly expected Zana to cane you for being 5 minutes late?” Oh man, this has some really nasty connotations re: Arkahn and her parents, because the answer to his question here is YES.  Yes, Fesmer, she did expect to be beaten, because that’s all she had experienced before: strict rules and brutal punishments.  Ugh, I could just push Lorenalark and Alexalark off something high for how they treated Arkahn

- Oh god, I love how Fesmer delights in messing with Arkahn.

- Jeez, Arkahn is only 15 in this story, but look at how good she is at noticing details and prying for information.  She gets more subtle with age, of course, but damn, she was good even then.

- “Are you attempting to access Odi?”  “…perhaps.”  Ugh, adorable friends are ADORABLE.

- I think this was our very first look, at least chronologically speaking, at how Arkahn is capable of augmenting and enhancing others’ ability to spellcast.

- Oh god, the entire sequence with Jareth arriving may be one of the funniest moments in Second Shift history, and “As you wish, take solace in your lies!” is one of the most brilliant pieces of dialog I’ve ever heard.  Ari’s delivery is perfect.

- All that being said…I totally buy Fesmer’s description of Arkahn being just a touch infatuated with Jareth when she was younger.  She’s always sort of looked up to him a little, and, well…she was 15 at the time, and he was older, intelligent, and a University student.  Makes sense.

- “But Jareth did not know, and when the sun sinks beneath the horizon, what else truly matters?” “What indeed!”  I can’t help but picture Arkahn and Fesmer here, smiling and clinking glasses, as Jareth fumes next to them.  It’s a wonderful image.

- Random note about the recording – someone in the audience figures out the Snakes on a Plane reference about a minute after everybody else, and then proceeds to laugh completely out of the blue on his own.  It makes me snort every time.

- “Where you go, we follow.” “Your stalwart companions ‘til the end!”  Ugh, THESE TWO. Their dedication to Shauna is amazing.

- “It’s slice of life…EPIC slice of life!”  Couldn’t have described this show better myself, Mike.