Our party arrives in a small town during a torrential downpour, and though Mike forces them to walk through the rain to the westernmost inn, they eventually settle in for the night to dry off and rest up. Arkahn, having caught a cold, heads off to bed, but everyone else decides to pass the evening in the common room.
Mike and Fesmer discuss how heavy the local dialects are getting, and Fesmer has the bright idea of “learning” this version of Charendraen from a local. Mike, ever the helpful wingman, points out a pretty woman sitting by herself, and Fesmer strikes up a conversation. Lorrelai is a young woman troubled by some big issues, and she and Fesmer bond over their mutual sorrow. As the night wears on, Fesmer discovers that her husband was recently executed by a Brother of Oren and his assistant – Porec and Shauna. He keeps this information to himself, however, and manages to “obtain” the local language and lead Lorrelai back to her room.
Jareth has found himself at the bottom of a bottle of wine, and for once, completely comes clean to Zana about how he’s feeling. Turns out his decision to leave University has been weighing on him – but he’s realized he couldn’t live with himself if he’d let them kill Arkahn unjustly. Zana commiserates with Jareth, revealing just a little of her own decision to completely walk away from her past life many years ago. Eventually, Jareth’s self pity – and several glasses of ale – get the best of him, and Zana walks him to bed.
After being completely flabbergasted at Katherine’s surprising ability to punch a pestering drunk out, she and Mike settle in for a game of cards and some not-so-light conversation. After chatting about their parents (and a little unintentional flirting), the two turn to some serious questions they have about their quest: what will they do if Shauna doesn’t make it? Will Katherine return to Boston? And does Mike have even the slightest clue what he’s doing? Eventually, though, the two run out of booze and turn in for the night, and the next morning, the party (including a very hung-over Jareth) heads out, as always, to the West.
- How much do I appreciate that a large country with no unifying mass communications (i.e. television) has multitude of dialects? So much.
- “It’s not absurd. It’s what Ainorem, your ancestors, told him to do.” I will doubtlessly come back around to this one, but this is our first hint that on some level, Katherine has actually started respecting Mike, in that she’s willing to stand up to the others to defend his choices.
- Y’know, hearing about the young girl doing the serving at the inn, it strikes me that there’s at least one practical difference between the Legion and University: location, location, location. The 7 Universities had cities sprout up around each of them – at least, places that could be termed cities in this culture. By contrast, outside of Sonsa, the Legion functions openly mostly in small towns and villages. How much of their rivalry stems from that sort of innate enmity between urban and rural sensibilities in an agrarian culture?
- Okay, when it comes to the friendships in this show, I know I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of my time talking about the ladies, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like the guys’ friendships! One of my favorite bits of this episode is Fesmer and Mike hanging out, having manly fun! It’s been a while since, well, anyone’s gotten a chance to just hang out and enjoy themselves, so this is a nice change of pace.
- This whole scene is made, I think, by the Ballad of Dear Vanya playing in the background. It’s just so quintessentially “tavern” that it pulls the rest of the episode together.
- Ugh, I can’t help it, I just find Mike’s Midwestern sensibilities so freakin’ adorable. One of my best friends is from South Dakota, and she’s exactly the same way about changing clothes. Like many Shifties, I was in theatre for too long to find that anything but cute.
- Mike’s insistence on trying to help Arkahn is probably a remnant of their time in Boston together, and while it is sweet, I can see how Arkahn came to resent it a little in time, and why she’s so keen not to let it happen in her world. Even if it’s well-intentioned, that much attention focused on your inability to function has got to be grating.
- “Your devotion to Shaena is…unending.” I can’t help but feel for Arkahn here. I mean, it wasn’t just her helplessness in Boston that ruined her chances with Mike, though that was a big part of it. The other part, though, is Shauna. No matter what you do, you can’t have a relationship with a person who’s fixated on someone else, romantically or otherwise. It just doesn’t work.
- “I can’t help her, I can’t find Shauna, I…” “Hey now, Mike…c’mon, let’s go downstairs. If you cheer up I’ll buy you a drink!” (SPOILER) Y’know, much as Katherine tells Mike a few episodes down the line that he’s been supporting her on this whole quest, she’s pretty much been doing the same for him. He may be the de facto leader, but he would have lost hope a long while ago if he didn’t have at least one person backing him up, and Katherine does that all throughout this season.
- Oh man, forget what I said about Drunk!Fesmer, because AwkwardlyFlirting!Fesmer is actually my favorite. Seriously, (SPOILER) Dita must find this as adorable as I do, otherwise he’d never have talked to her long enough to win her over!
- In listening to Fesmer talk about his father and brother, I get the sense that, despite his year of traveling and learning, he never really dealt with his feelings of betrayal, grief, and anger. This is going to be important in the future, as these lingering emotions begin to fester, ultimately leading Fesmer down a very unpleasant path.
- Y’know, Oren’s teachings certainly got at least one thing right: violence only ever begets more violence. Lorrelai and Fesmer are perfect examples of how one act of violence doesn’t stop with the person the violence was committed against. Lorrelai, as best we know, didn’t do anything wrong; it was her husband who was condemned, not her. Yet, despite the fact that he was punished and the case is closed, she’s still suffering because of his public and brutal execution. Fesmer is still reeling from the violence committed against his father (and yes, himself) at the hand of the Legion, and ultimately plans to repay them in kind; (SPOILER) this decision ultimately costs not only him, but all of his family and friends, particularly Dita, Jareth, and Porec.
- “You simply walk away, Jareth. Walk away…and never look back.” Well, there goes Zana, breaking my heart again, just like always. She knows, better than anyone else in the cast, what it means to just walk away from something. (SPOILER) Unfortunately, she can’t convey to Jareth the other half of that lesson – that walking away from something, refusing to dwell on it, doesn’t mean that you can ever forget it. She may have walked away from Doro, Dita, Rungrot, the Hunters, and perhaps even Targonane, but it’s clear that her memories of them are still present, still inform the things Zana chooses to do.
- “I would have lost my worth…” And so Jareth hits the nail on the head: despite his love for authority and the status quo, those things are not always the right thing, and at the end of the day, he’s the one who has to live with himself, not University.
- “Gimme your hand.” “Huh?!” Oh man, you can practically hear Katherine blush.
- “So where’d you learn not to punch like a girl.” …Mike, we were having such a lovely moment, why’d you have to go and open your mouth? (The fact that Katherine doesn’t rip him a new one for this just goes to show how much more patient she’s become!)
Oh god, I’m so sorry, I’ve been threatening you guys with this for nearly a month but I’ve just gotta let it out Okay, so. I enjoy Katherine and Mike. A lot. There, I said it. I think it stems not only from my enjoyment of the Beatrice/Benedick vibe to their interactions (which I have a vast weakness for, bickering being my favorite mode of communication), but also from the fact that they are well and truly equals. They both mess up, they both get to be right, they both have opinions (and aren’t afraid to argue over them), and they both spent so much time as enemies that they’re really, really good at covering for each others’ weaknesses when they’re working together to accomplish something. I love that.
- “I am still determining who I am, and what I am, outside the context of my father, my brother…my obligations and my family. Those things are not what I am.” UGH Fesmer, you were so close! So damn close to accomplishing what all your companions are struggling with RIGHT NOW (i.e. the defining of self based on the internal, not the external). If only he’d dealt with that anger, instead of just letting it control him…
- Oh Jareth, I love you, bb, but you’re a terrible drunk.
- I’m fairly certain that this is the only time in the whole series that someone calls Jareth, “Jar”, and of course it’s Zana. I’ve never really commented on Zana and Jareth’s relationship, but if I pause to think about it…well, Jareth moved to Laundi without his family to attend University, probably around the age of 15, like other students. Zana is a friend of his family and has been, if not his official mentor, then at least his un-official mentor for over 10 years. If anyone’s allowed to call him “Jar”, it’s Zana.
- “It has brought me a lifetime, Jareth, one with joy and sorrow in equal measure…” Seriously, at this point in her story, every word out of Zana’s mouth breaks my heart. There’s just so much she’s not saying in order to protect her children.
- “May your dreams be pleasant.” “And yours, Zana.” “…I can only hope.” I’d never noticed it before, but here’s our first mention that Zana’s being plagued by nightmares. (SPOILER) We’re never told what her nightmares are about, though; I wonder, did she have some notion that she was coming to the end? Of what would happen to her?
- From the way he talks about it to Katherine, it seems like Mike’s finally gotten over the notion that he’s in this alone (he finally doesn’t refer to it as “his” quest, but “our” quest)…which is good, because he’s going to need as much help as he can get before this is all over…
- Mike is not the type to easily admit to weakness, so the fact that he’s even able to articulate that he has issues with violence is probably a sign that he’s started dealing with those issues.
- “You sounded like Zana just now.” “Huh.” For the record, I don’t think Katherine’s going to become the “new!Zana”, because really, that’s sort of antithetical to a lot of the themes of Second Shift, particularly concerning outgrowing one’s past and moving beyond others’ expectations. That being said, I think that as she continues to grow and change, she’ll always keep Zana in the back of her mind as an example – not necessarily as someone to become, but definitely as someone she’ll always respect and love. (Besides, I don’t think I can see Katherine ever becoming quite as calm as Zana – she’s always going to be a little opinionated, a little quick to get fired up. That’s what makes her Katherine.)
- “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but he’s a loser…and isn’t it about time you upgraded from a loser to…I dunno…lovable slacker that you’ll dump when tall, dark, and handsome comes your way?” Mike has this bad habit of being COMPLETELY UNSUBTLE when he talks to the women he likes. In truth, I find it rather adorable.
- (SPOILER) I straight up LOVE that Katherine sticks to her guns and makes the decision to stay in Amarand, but I also love that she acknowledges that this isn’t an easy choice, or one that has a clear right or wrong answer. She clearly spends the rest of the series, probably from this point onward, figuring out what she wants to do, so when she does eventually make that decision, it has real weight to it.
- “‘Go West’? And you know at the end of all of this we’re going to realize what they were trying to tell us…” (SPOILER) Oh loves, you’re not only going to figure out what Ainorem meant, you’re going to have a nice, civilized conversation with them where they calmly explain it to you!
- “…are you still talking about Arkahn?” “Oh, who knows anymore?” I think Arkahn and Katherine are a really good example of what Mike and Jareth could be if they stopped yelling and started talking. Their friendship is one of my favorite parts of Season 2, and I love their bonding over their similar backgrounds, their journey, and the events that are rapidly coming up.
- I can’t help but be a little sorry to see Lorrelai go, because this was possibly the first time all season we’ve seen Fesmer open up to anybody about what he’s been through. He clearly needs someone to talk to; (SPOILER) the fact that he currently can’t really talk to Dita openly seems like it’s weighing on him, making him more tense than he ever used to be.
- Ah, the return of Tinkerbell! Really though, I remember being equally fascinated and frustrated with this development, because it’s obvious at this point that Fesmer’s NOT talking to Shauna, but that he’s relaying information about her to an as-of-yet undetermined third party.
- Arkahn! Good to have you back!
- Not gonna lie, Mike with a Charendraen accent is weeeeiiiird.
- Jareth with a hangover is perhaps the best thing of all time. ALL TIME.
- “Ugh, this could delay us for several hours. He could never hold his drink…” HI FESMER, I HAVE THIS KETTLE HERE, I DON’T THINK YOU’VE BEEN INTRODUCED.