We open in a parking lot…no, really. Arkahn and Mike are in the same parking lot that the original Boston Trio was pulled from, Arkahn drawing the array for the Shift spell, Mike worrying that Katherine won’t show. But before we can see if it works…
It’s been a year since Mike, Katherine, and Arkahn returned to Boston, and life isn’t going so great for any of them. Mike and Arkahn are back working at Antonio’s, but it’s obvious Arkahn’s having a rough go of it; she’s got only a loose grasp on English, and city life is taking a serious toll on her health. Katherine, in the mean time, is working at a local coffee shop, trying to knit her life back together – a goal that she feels is impeded by Mike’s weekly visits to try and convince her that there’s a chance they could get back to Laundi to rescue Shauna.
As the year anniversary of their return approaches, things quickly come to a head. Arkahn is sure that she can retrace their steps and Shift them back, as she’s been communicating with Fesmer in her dreams, and Mike is equally certain that they won’t make it without Katherine. Katherine, for her part, denies that this plan could work – until, finally, on the day of the casting, she realizes (through talking to Shauna’s brother, Tyler, and her jerk of a boyfriend, David) that returning to Laundi is the right thing to do, however improbable. She arrives just in time to meet Mike and Arkahn at the parking lot, and together they Shift.
Comments: (may contain spoilers for the whole series!)
- Okay, let’s start with the obvious here: the show sounds GREAT. Season 2 got a real bump in the sound production, so between Arkahn’s monologue, the gentle music slowly building behind her, and subtle foley setting the scene, it all comes together beautifully.
- Speaking of Arkahn’s monologue…wow. Andrea was right – she really did take Charendraen and make it feel real.
- On other things that are gorgeous sounding: WOAH MY GOD the new version of the opening theme. It’s been a while since I’ve compared the openings to the first and second seasons, and every time I do, I’m taken aback. It’s fitting that the show get a more epic opening when it itself starts getting more epic.
Tiven, you wonderful, wonderful dude, I sort of adore you
- Okay, is that an episode from Season 1 playing on the radio in the background of the pizzeria scene? Because I swear I can hear Becki!
- This opening scene is a great way of establishing not only what’s happened in the year since they’ve returned to Boston, but also how hard Arkahn has had it while she’s been here. The way she snaps at Mike when he tries to take the phone from her spells it all out – she doesn’t fit in at all, and it’s almost completely worn her down.
- Have I gushed about Christina Molodowich yet? Because if I haven’t, I really should. She manages to play an older woman, (SPOILER) that woman’s daughter, a traumatized torturer, and this stuck-up-but-well-meaning barista, and they all sound pretty much completely different. She’s amazing (and seriously, did she work as a barista at some point? Because she’s got that whole drink announcement voice down like WOAH).
- “My GPA’s going to dip another tenth of a point over this, I know it.” “Well, there are worse things…” Temporarily ignoring the beautiful call-back to 1.01 here, I just want to take a moment to say UGHHH there are no inconsequential lines in this show and everything conveys character and past experiences and it’s amazing.
- Oh man, I’d completely forgotten that Katherine was all set to transfer back to MSU Boston. That really only serves to deepen the choice she makes at the end of the episode – she was all ready to resume life as normal and forget everything that happened, but she still makes the choice to return to Laundi.
- “Kind of cute…in that lost, unshowered puppy way.” Hmm…is there a reason Mike gets more physical description than anyone else in the show? Not that I’m complaining, mind, it just seems to come up more often for him than for anyone else. At the very least, I have the easiest time picturing him out of the whole cast (Also: yay for the callback to his limp!)
- I really enjoy the fact that, as much as they would prefer not to, it’s made obvious that Katherine and Mike have continued talking to each other this entire year. It makes sense, though; other than Arkahn, they’re the only two who know what happened in that 3 month gap. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have a full quarter of a year of my life that I couldn’t talk to anyone about, and I imagine that, along with the desire to get Shauna back, that feeling is what keeps Mike coming back to the coffee shop.
- I stand by my conviction that the person Katherine is truly mad at is herself. She consistently lashes away at Mike, despite the fact that, for once, he’s not really bating her at all.
- (SPOILER) Given what we learn in the finale, I think it’s safe to say that Arkahn’s condition in Boston isn’t entirely due to pollution and what seems to be an unhealthy diet. Oren says something to the effect that the very limited presence of Odi in our world actually made him weaker – and Arkahn is perhaps the most attuned person in the main cast, short of Shauna. And without Odi…well, Jareth himself said that it’s like air, and he would know. It makes me wonder how long Arkahn could have made it in our world, were she forced to stay.
- I love the little in-joke here about how a Charendraen accent sounds similar to a Russian one, but the interesting thing is that, when you hear them side by side…they’re actually noticeably different!
- Arkahn’s discussion with the other student actually raises some interesting ideas about her stay in Boston. For all that her experience mirrors that of the Boston Trio, the real ins-and-outs of her life are far more similar to this student. Mike, Katherine, and Shauna Shifted into another world, it’s true, but they could understand the language, were supported and sheltered by others, and were oddly adapted to life there. Arkahn has none of this – she had to learn English the old fashioned way, she and Mike are barely scraping by, and to top it all off, unlike the Boston Trio, she knows that she most likely has nothing to return to. Mike tries to be understanding and supportive, but I think that, were they to talk more, this student would be better able to understand her plight.
- ARKAHN’S RINGTONE. ♥♥♥
- Okay, so…David. For all that we never hear the man, it’s obvious that he’s at least not a very good guy…and I, at least, am pretty sure that he’s verbally and emotionally abusive. From Katherine’s side of the conversation alone, we can tell that he’s controlling, overly-jealous, and uses his side of the relationship, his presence, to emotionally blackmail and threaten Katherine into doing what he wants. He is, in short, a complete scumbag – and if we extrapolate from that, probably one of the reasons Katherine is so angry with herself. She’s wound so tight, is so particular in her habits, because she feels like she doesn’t have control of anything else (a common behavior among abuse survivors). It probably took everything she had to get away from him the first time around, and now, out of desperation, she went back to him – and she kind of hates herself for it.
- Tyler is just…heartbreaking. He has so much faith in his sister, so much faith that she’s still alive. To see that quashed, even a little, is awful.
- I don’t think Arkahn realizes just how much Mike hides behind humor. It’s his shield, in a way; he turns everything into a joke so that no one will recognize any of his insecurities.
- Y’know, I’ve never had Moxie. What does it even taste like? (SPOILER) Hey, maybe Moxie was one of those things influenced by our world next door – that’d explain why no one on this world likes it.
- I love how you can tell from the dialogue alone just how long Arkahn and Mike have lived with each other at this point. That sort of awkward, flirtatious, new quality to their conversations has instead been replaced with relaxed, easy back and forth, and Mike is very comfortable in his role as her primary source of comfort and reassurance.
- It’s been over a year since they first got Shifted to Laundi, and Mike STILL hasn’t gotten over his penchant for jumping into a plan before really thinking it through (SPOILER)…and thank god for that!
- “Katherine, we need you, Shauna needs you, and I think you need to return more than you’re willing to admit.” Man, for all the fighting these two do, you can’t deny the fact that Katherine and Mike know each other. Perhaps that’s why they make such a good team: they spent so much time as enemies that they know each others’ weaknesses, and can compensate for them.
- “And what should we tell Shauna?” Damn, Mike, low blow. Effective though.
- “Don’t pick up, don’t pick up, don’t…” ::checks off another tally mark on her imaginary scoresheet:: ::raises eyebrow::
- “I fought Undying, for Christ’s sake!” I honestly think this is the moment it all clicks for Katherine. She remembers for a brief instant her own strength (isn’t it interesting how often that term comes up, and how it means a whole host of things?), and that’s when she realizes what she’s been doing versus what she needs to do.
- (SPOILER) Oh man, what is Shauna going to tell Katherine’s parents?! Or Mike’s? Because unlike Shauna, there’s a significantly smaller chance that they’re ever going to return to our world.
- “Did you just say the median was ‘concrete’?” “…I see you have been talking to Mike.” Our first sign that these two have started rubbing off on one another, but definitely not our last.
- “Thank god you’re here, Katherine! I was really starting to think I’d have to do this alone…” Going back to Mike’s insecurities, this is a big one. Mike hates being perceived as weak…so he must have really panicking about the prospect of being alone in Laundi if he says even this much.
- Oh man, that ending. The surge of the music, Arkahn’s almost rhythmic chanting, the final rush of the spell…masterfully done.