The episode opens on the same day of the third Shift spell, with Shauna and the Winged Herald listening in on Fesmer as he attempts to cast the spell. While questioning why her friends would want to come back, Shauna reflects back on her experiences of the previous year…
Porec and Shauna’s journey starts out rather rocky; Shauna is furious that she’s being kept captive, her hands bound and a tae-od collar locked around her neck, but Porec is otherwise very respectful and kind. Nonetheless, she tries to escape several times, but each time with less and less conviction that it’s the right thing to do. A final escape attempt several weeks later brings Shauna to the edge of a Legion controlled town, where she realizes that things may not be entirely as she thought in Laundi; the region is calm and orderly, the people happy, and she returns to Porec, now definitely confused about the realities of this world. Over the next few months, the two become friends; Porec permanently releases Shauna from the tae-od and continues training her magical abilities and teaching her the Legion’s side of the story.
After nearly a year of travel, the pair comes upon a town thrown into chaos – a man stands accused of kidnapping and murdering local children, and Porec, as a Brother of Oren, is called upon to dispense justice. After hearing the rather inconclusive testimony, though, he puts Shauna on the spot: either potentially condemn an innocent man, or let a child-murderer go free. Shauna nearly loses her cool, but ultimately pulls herself together enough to deliver a guilty verdict. Unbeknownst to her, however, justice in Baela is swift – and brutal.
Finally, we come back ‘round to Shauna and the Herald listening in to Fesmer’s spell, where the Herald realizes a certain side effect to Shauna gaining so much control of her power – she’s able to conceal the results of Fesmer’s spell. Whether they returned or not is not her concern. She’s just going to keep moving forward.
- Ugh, if it were up to the Herald, Shauna wouldn’t be allowed to talk to anyone other than Oren. She does her best to drive a wedge between Shauna and pretty much every other person in her life. Creepy.
- “His pain is our pain” This is an interesting basis for a religion, not gonna lie. The whole system of belief behind Oren seems like a strange, fascinating amalgamation of Buddhism (the fixation on the fallibility and suffering of man, Oren’s image of the spinning wheel being reminiscent of Samsara) and Christianity (one human/god figure who suffered, faith involves the followers’ personal connection to that figure)
- “You do not desire some of this roasted squirrel, Shauna?” …Mr. Fuzzy-Lumpkins?
- I can’t help but think Porec is brushing over some rather unpleasant truths when Shauna accuses him of trying to kill Mike and Katherine. Porec says that he would have regretted that choice…but earlier he told Arkahn’s parents that his lost hand, a result of his trying to eliminate the two, was a reminder to keep his temper in check, implying that he threatened them out of anger. I think this sort of reveals a flaw in his later reasoning, and possibly in Oren’s doctrine as a whole: yes, sometimes a life must be sacrificed to save many others…but who gets to make that decision? And under what circumstances?
- “No, we are not equals…and we never will be…” I know that, at least at this point, Porec knows Shauna as less a person and more as an “All-Powerful Odi Goddess” for Oren, but despite the fact that this episode details the year they spent getting to know one another, Porec’s opinion on this never really changes. For all his prominence as a Brother, and for all that he talks to Shauna about personal fulfillment and growth, Porec never really seems to value himself.
- Seriously, look at tricksy Shauna go, fooling Porec into taking her collar off! As this episode – and really, this whole season – continues, we get to see just how good Shauna can be at hiding her true intentions (and let’s face it, Porec really wants to believe her).
- “Feeling this again, it’s like breathing – you can’t take it away, please!” Man, contrast this with the Shauna of a season ago, who resisted even the idea of magic. It’s only been about 4 months since Shauna discovered the existence of Odi, but already it’s an intrinsic part of her. (SPOILER) This makes me wonder, though: how will Shauna react to being back in our world? I mean, Earth isn’t completely devoid of Odi, which is presumably how she had her “Shauna-sense” in Boston, but it’s very, very faint. Being cut off from that for only a few weeks has made Shauna kind of desperate, so what is she going to do when she’s all but devoid of Odi for the rest of her life?
- The music during the magic duel (Magic duels! How cool is that?!) is so awesome. I’ve said it before, but the strange little alien touches to familiar musical themes will always be my favorite.
- That being said, it’s occasionally a little difficult to envision what’s happening during Shauna and Porec’s fights. It took me more than one listen to realize that Shauna had smacked into her own ward (and boy, did people give me weird looks when I laughed at finally figuring it out.)
- Oh, Porec. Never attempt to physically wrestle with a woman who grew up with several younger brothers. We don’t mess around.
Oh god, here goes CT on one of her rants about gender again Random note: I love that Shauna gets pissed that Porec punched her in the face, not because she’s a woman, but because they were having a magical fight and that shit’s not fair. When a story is set in our world, there’s a distinct power imbalance when a man uses any physical force against a woman…but I don’t get that sense here. In a way, magic renders physical strength moot as a value. It’s kind of nice.
- Okay, I know the point of this episode is to show the other side of the Legion, and it does a good job of that…but still, if your governing body is sometimes required to destroy a town to “make an example of it”…then we probably still have issues!
- Hmmm…I wonder if Shauna’s ability to sense Porec coming, even despite the tae-od collar, is due to her not being from Amarand? I mean, Targonane and Jareth have make a point of commenting on how Odi is not part and parcel of the Boston Trio’s natures, unlike everyone in Laundi. The tae-od makes Shauna feel cruddy, yes, but she never seems to have quite as strong a reaction to it as some of our other magical folks.
- “Morality does not interest us…you may use your power as you desire…” Man, (SPOILER) we shouldn’t have been surprised when Oren turned out to be a completely amoral individual, not when his Herald went around saying things like this.
- Hmmm…Shauna clearly has this habit of jumping into the things she dedicates herself to completely wholeheartedly. When she cared for her family, it was almost all she could think about. When she studied magic, she was entirely devoted to it. In future episodes, when she’s become Oren’s chosen, she’s committed to changing the world. Shauna’s story isn’t just about her learning to live her life without the ever-present motivation of her family – it’s about her learning to find balance in her life.
- Porec must feel something very keenly over his father’s death, whether it be guilt, remorse, grief, or whatever, because this is the only time, EVER, that he snaps at Shauna. Every other time he talks to her, it’s in a very calm sort of way – even when he pushes her to call the verdict at the end of this episode, he does it very coolly. We never do get the full story of Porec and Fesmer’s father, but from what we do know, it’s not a happy tale.
- On a similar note, so many props to Neil Marsh for making Porec as likable as he is. After all, while Porec’s goal isn’t necessarily to brainwash Shauna, he’s still trying to slowly bring her to his way of thinking, which from a certain viewpoint could be considered kind of morally questionable. If played incorrectly, it could be pretty easy to view Porec as villainous, but Neil plays Porec with this sort of beautiful, gentle conviction that both makes the character relatable and that really plays up the “two sides to every story” vibe this episode has.
- “I know him well enough now that I can hide things from him…” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Shauna’s the only person we see in the series who has the ability to hide her spellcasting from others.
- I know that one of Shauna’s greatest flaws is that she likes to think of herself as a pillar of strength to her family, and that the point of Shauna’s far-sight spell is that she’s trying to reaffirm that, on some level, her family can’t get along without her…but damn. The idea that your family would be perfectly fine if you didn’t exist is still is an awful thing to try and deal with. (Not that they ARE perfectly fine, as evidenced by Tyler’s mourning clothes in 1.13 and the P.I. Mr. Brown hired, but they seem that way to Shauna.)
- “Shauna, vol-luna…you ARE alone.” (SPOILER) I suppose Oren’s motivation in isolating Shauna is that he’s trying to get her to a point where she’ll better understand him in his own isolation, and how alone he felt when the Seven betrayed him. But…if he’s got to manipulate her into feeling like he did…he shouldn’t be surprised when she ultimately rejects him and his ideas.
Okay apropos of nothing, there is Gregg Taylor in my Second Shift and my world has been turned UPSIDE DOWN
- The official Legion side of Oren’s story does nothing but confirm to me that both the Legion and University have twisted the story of Oren and the Seven so much that no one really knows the true story anymore. Everyone just has such a vested interest in their interpretations. (SPOILER) Hell, I don’t even trust Oren’s version of those events, not after 900 years of hashing and rehashing the story in his mind. But isn’t that true of everything – that there is no “right” account of a story, just people’s interpretations?
- Ugh, I can’t help it, I just love montages!
- “If it’s the opposite of Silver Night, what does that mean for people like us?” Shauna’s decision later on might be her “moment of no return”, but this right here is what really demonstrates to me that Porec’s won her over. She’s stopped thinking in terms of “us and them” when it comes to herself and the Baelans, and while she may not be completely converted to Oren’s side, she’s let go of the idea that Legionnaires are the villains.
- Okay, I’m sorry: Corven essentially neighs at Porec, and it cracks me up EVERY. TIME.
- “You see, Shauna? Our duty presents itself.” Well, that’s certainly one way to get Shauna to go along with what you’ve got planned: convince her it’s her duty.
- Porec is, on a certain level, correct: Shauna is going to have to face some nearly impossible choices in the very near future, and she’s going to have to learn to make up her mind very quickly. This situation she finds herself in is horrible, yes…but not nearly as bad as the things she will face.
- Listening to this episode, I am forced, as I always am when I listen to it, to consider which of Shauna’s two choices I would pick. And…it’s horrible. It’s designed to be horrible. The writers simultaneously put us in Shauna’s shoes and then purposefully didn’t give us enough evidence to know which choice was the correct one. It’s a little cruel, and remarkably effective. For the record, though? Were I in her shoes, I’d probably choose the same way as Shauna. Unlike our world, it’s much harder to have conclusive evidence – no DNA, no fingerprinting, no chemical analysis – so one’s forced to rely more on circumstantial evidence and witness testimony. If I was wrong…well, I’d have a man’s death weighing on me for the rest of my life. And yes, like Shauna, I’d have to find a way to shoulder that burden. But the continued kidnapping, molestation, and murder of children? I don’t…I don’t think I could live with that. But unlike Shauna, I think I would have out-and-out demanded more time to collect evidence and deliberate. Justice determined while emotional really isn’t justice at all.
- All that being said…okay. I acknowledge that Baela has different values and a different culture than our world. They are a culture that values self-sacrifice for the larger group, and community goals over individual desires. I accept that. But…I can’t help but view this example of the implementation of justice as public spectacle as utterly heinous. I just…when you wrap the justice system up in that sort of heightened emotion and, I suppose, entertainment, how do you know when you’re serving justice, and when you’re just giving the people what they want? (I feel the same way about our own justice system, by the by, not just about fictional political bodies!)
- When I was first listening to this episode, I was on a plane from New York to Los Angeles. I started listening about halfway through the flight, by which point I had successfully established myself as a quiet, “normal” individual to my two seatmates. When I reached the execution scene, it was nigh unto IMPOSSIBLE to maintain this illusion; it took all my self-control to keep from squirming and rolling up into a little ball in my seat with my fists over my ears. Correnlai being executed is…very, very effective. I’ve listened to this episode several times since that first time on the plane, but it is no less successful for that. Even now, I can’t help but squeeze my eyes shut and press my face into my hands – and I have to think that that’s a good sign. It means two things: A. that the Foley and editing on this episode are utterly brilliant, and B. that despite the best efforts of the world at large, I am still sensitive to brutal violence. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet.