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We open on a group of young people talking to their mentor – but not, for once, on our main cast.  This group is clearly planning something – and their plans take a turn for the ominous when one of their number spots Arkahn and the others arguing in the entryway of an inn.  Mike wants to continue westward, but everyone else thinks he’s being ridiculous; the party eventually decides to turn around after a night’s rest, and Arkahn and Katherine go to settle in.  As they reach their room, however, someone knocks them both out and drags them off.

Mike and Jareth continue their argument in their own room, and it slowly escalates until Jareth tells Mike that he regrets saving his life last year.  Before the fight can continue, however, Zana bursts in to tell them that the girls are missing.  When they continue their arguments, Zana finally loses it and goes to take care of business herself.  She enlists the aid of the innkeep’s employees in helping the boys to search.  Zana stays behind, but not before sending Fesmer off on his own mission.  It turns out Garvin the inkeeper is the head of a fake band of Hunters of Truth, and they’re working to destroy a local tae-oden processing factory in order to help the locals.

Katherine and Arkahn awaken in a strange room, blindfolded and bound, and realize why they’ve been taken: the woman who spotted them is Cheanti, the woman from Laundi who Arkahn tortured the prior year for information about the Red Circle.  Cheanti has had a year to dwell on the loss of her husband and unborn child, and proceeds to extract her revenge; she beats Arkahn into unconsciousness, then when Katherine begs for forgiveness, smashes both her hands.

Mike and Jareth, after being manipulated by Garvin’s protégés, break into the false tae-oden disposal facility, where they are quickly discovered by Legionnaires.  Katherine and Arkahn run to help, as they’ve been forced by Cheanti to plant bomb charges in the factory.  After a close call with Mike falling in a tae-oden vat, the fight is ended by the arrival of Fesmer, Garvin, and Zana, who announces that, as a founder of the Hunters of Truth, she is putting this farce to an end.  Unfortunately, the bomb has already been set to detonate, and when Garvin’s group blow up the controls, it’s all our gang can do to survive an explosion that levels the building.  When the flames die down, all we can hear is Mike desperately searching for anyone else who’s still alive.


- I want you guys to know, before I even get started, that just loading up this episode still kinda makes my stomach knot up with preemptive anxiety.  And that, my friends, is what good writing can do to you.

- It’s really disorienting to see…err, hear a group of young people bickering amongst themselves about a grand plan they have, only to be settled down by their mentor…and not have any emotional attachment to ANY of them.  I was actually just talking to a friend who’s started listening to 2S about this, and she had an interesting perspective; she’s not quite halfway through Season 1, and she mentioned to me that “I just kinda want to smack all of them!”  And y’know, she’s kind of right; in the beginning, Shauna is whiny, Katherine can be a bitch, and Mike acts like an idiot.  Unlike me, she hasn’t gotten attached to them enough to forgive them their faults yet – which is exactly what we the audience experience when we hear Garvin and his protégés.

- “What’s with you lately, always questioning my-”  And here we have another hint that Arkahn’s patience with Mike is wearing thin.  Can’t really blame her, either; in Boston she was utterly dependent on him, and now back in Baela, where she’s finally able to take care of herself again, he’s taken the lead.  She hasn’t gotten a break from him in over a year!

- “We should have gone to visit Velia at that fork last week.” Yeah, Fesmer, because you have NO ULTIRIOR MOTIVES to get the group to go to Velia.  NONE AT ALL.

- I know Fesmer cuts her off, but seriously, Zana didn’t think to mention Sonsa before this point?  I wonder why?

- Up is down, the sky is orange, and Katherine just told Mike to stop being so uptight.  My world no longer makes sense.

- Back when I was first listening to this, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of Zana’s nightmares; after all, they’re only given this one brief mention, and quite frankly by the end of this episode we’ve got bigger things to worry about.  Still, given our characters’ history with dreams, I should have known to take Zana’s nightmares more seriously.

- Jareth and Mike are, admittedly, being really immature here…but having been on more than a few road trips, I have to admit to being impressed that they’ve made it this long without coming to blows.  Being around someone for that long, particularly someone you rarely see eye-to-eye with, while under a lot of pressure isn’t easy, and makes outbursts like this almost inevitable.  That being said, damn, I think I’m getting lightheaded from all the testosterone here.

- “You asked me once why I did not let you die; trust me, I ask myself that!”  Aaaand this is the point where Jareth officially goes too far.  He must really be doubtful of his own abilities as a leader of others if Mike’s jibes pushed him to this point.

- ANGRY ZANA ♥♥♥.  Really though, at this point I love Zana almost more than I can articulate.  This is a woman who spent several years leading a huge organization consisting of people from all different backgrounds, and she is finally done sitting on the sidelines.  If no one else is going to get this ragtag bunch whipped into shape, SHE WILL.

- And look at how quickly she sees right through Garvin!  She’s only talked to him for, what, 3 minutes?  And already she can tell he was probably involved in the disappearance.  I just have so many FEELINGS about Zana, and for this I refuse to apologize

- “…why does the spaceship run on ravioli?”  Why hello there, last bit of humor of the episode, I will wave to you as you go by, leaving only tension and my stomach tying itself into knots.

- We get a hint here of just how good Katherine’s memory is (which will, of course, be important later on) in how quickly she’s able to place Cheanti.

- “She’s left the Legion and now seeks to repent for her actions!” “…How nice for her.”  There’s an interesting lesson to be learned here I think: redemption and forgiveness are two very different things.  When you’ve done something wrong and you seek to atone, you can’t rely on someone else’s forgiveness to assuage your crimes, because a victim is never obligated to forgive.  It can be part of the healing process, yes, but it’s not necessary…and when you’ve suffered as much as Cheanti clearly has, forgiveness may not be something you want or are ready to grant.  Redemption must be sought after for its own sake, even if the people you hurt don’t forgive you.  Even if no one else quite grasps this, I really think Arkahn does; a few episodes ago, she freely admitted that she doesn’t want anyone’s forgiveness; it’s her own guilt that she seeks to own up to, and no one else’s.

- “You are just as guilty…perhaps more so.” “…I am.”  It is very clear, from the way Katherine says this, that this is EXACTLY what she has been thinking for the past year and a half.  As I’ve mentioned before, Katherine is the type of person who’s her own worst critic; every flaw, every mistake, every misjudgment gets turned around and around in her head (whether this is conscious or not, I’m still not sure).  She’s intensely sensitive to all but the most gentle criticism, because there’s not a single word of it that she hasn’t already thought herself.  So when she makes a mistake as massive as the one she made in Trust Me, and is allowed to dwell on it for as long as she did, it should surprise no one when she makes such a drastic decision in order to repent of it.

- For all that I talked about how very unsettling the execution scene in Innocence Lost is…this might be even worse.  Correnlai’s execution is effective because it’s intensely violent and sudden.  The breaking of Katherine’s hands is similarly violent, similarly sudden…but it’s happening to someone we know.  And unlike the execution, where the audience is “watching” from Shauna’s viewpoint, at this moment in the scene, Katherine is our viewpoint.  There’s this intense feeling of helplessness as we hear her go through this, and complete shock when, after having the first hand broken, she freely offers up the other.  It’s gorgeously written, brilliantly acted, and deeply, deeply horrifying.

- Alright, I’m pretty much just gushing my way through the entire cast, I know, but Lily makes this scene.  The way she conveys Katherine’s soul-wrenching guilt is amazing, and my god, I’ve never been quite so disturbed by someone screaming.

- “Some places do not thrive.  Some places are designated as acceptable sacrifices to the greater good.”  Lest we become too comfortable with the “truths” Porec and Shauna were discussing a few episodes ago, a reminder: yes, sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the greater good…but that still means that someone, somewhere, will suffer.

- Hmm…I’d think this town would be reminiscent of Detroit more than Philly, but that may be because I have a friend from there who once described the city and its residents in almost exactly the same way that Mike and Jareth describe the townsfolk.  It was a little unnerving.

- “Now Oren, the Forsaken One, his spite was so strong that he willed himself to live until the revenge upon the other Seven had been fulfilled.”  Given what we find out down the road about Oren and his peculiar longevity, this isn’t entirely accurate – but it is interesting to see which aspects of the truth wound up in Baelan mythology.  Also, yeah, how’s that whole immortality thing working out for you, Oren?

- “At this time, the University Directive was still a great force in the world…”  Now I’m curious: what exactly does this mean?  The whole period of Oren’s splitting off from the Seven and the founding of the Universities is hazy, even with the information we get later on.  So was the University Directive the name given to the period where the Seven founded the schools?  Or is it the name for something more specific?  (SPOILERS) (By the by, I really appreciate the fact that we don’t ever get the full story; it happened 900 years ago, and the only one who was there was Oren, who is in no way capable of telling an impartial version of the story.  That’s how history works, after all – the people who come after make educated guesses, but everyone’s version of things is altered by their own biases, and in the end, you weren’t there.)

- Okay, if I go off on the Father Fox story, we’re gonna be here all day, so here’re some highlights: 1. This strikes me as a story that originated with the Legion, not University, so it must be very old indeed if it’s worked its way into common folklore enough that Jareth, born in University territory, heard it as a child.  2. Looking back, this was a clear metaphor for Oren’s development of ritual magic and how the Seven “stole” it.  Ah, the wonders of retrospect.  3. “You must explore where they do not.” Potential Legion exploration of “forbidden” technology?  4. Mother Woodpecker and Brother Rooster – are there particular historical figures these characters refer to (i.e. Father Fox = Oren)?  5. This story serves to highlight an interesting idea: University, in their endless fight with the Legion, may have actually pushed them into doing all those terrible horrible things University condemns them for.

- “If all cannot have it, then none shall have it.”  (SPOILER) Two things are interesting with this: first off, the fact that, somehow, the “side effect” of Shauna being successful in what Oren’s called her for has worked its way into legend – the end of the world.  Secondly, knowing Oren’s true goals as we now do, it’s interesting to see how they’ve been romanticized by not only his followers, but by the culture at large.  

- It’s not meant to be particularly funny, but…I still snicker at Arkahn’s tone when she responds to Cheanti’s inquiry about the story.  Despite being tied up, blindfolded, and beaten, she is still not having any of this.

- I love how the Father Fox story brings to the forefront the fact that regret and consequences are such a huge part of the larger narrative of 2S.

- “I have much to regret…yet I could have much more were I not blindfolded and tied to a chair.”  This is kind of the way Arkahn acknowledges that, while she wronged this woman, the way Cheanti is seeking her revenge really makes her no better than Arkahn ever was.  Also Arkahn you are the biggest badass and you will go down swinging and I love you so very very much for it

- And before I forget, Christina is pulling at least triple-duty in this episode, and absolutely owns it.  Zana is wonderful, as always, but her work playing Cheanti is so good it’s downright spooky.

- I sort of love how Dita refuses to let Fesmer ever undermine her authority, even before we really meet her.  She’s a person who grew up alongside power and prominent leaders, and she knows very well how to wield her own authority – just because he’s her boyfriend doesn’t mean she’ll let Fesmer off the hook when he doubts her!

- Oh jeez, you can practically hear the smile on Fesmer’s face when he says Dita’s name.  I just have a lot of feelings about these characters and their happiness, I’m sorry

- Is this the very first time Mike and Jareth have apologized to one another?  My god, I think it is!  #someone get me some confetti #I’m throwing a party

- “You could have just used the door, Jareth!” “Yeeees, but after I put all that effort into studying explosives I thought, hmm, why not use them?”  OH YOU TWO.

- Stochiani is…really, really unsubtle about those bomb schematics, isn’t he?

- Say what you want about the false group of Hunters, but dang, they are really good at rolling with the punches.  Not only did they manage to capture two “assistants” that Cheanti has a personal grudge against, but they manipulate a University official to get them right inside the place they need to be to make their plan work.

- “I expected you two to meet with no success.  It is fortunate that your results allow us to begin our search so quickly.”  “Thank you?”  All that being said, they sure aren’t the nicest bunch.

- “Why are we always screwed?”  Because conflict is necessary for a compelling narrative, Mike!

- “The cause is right – and that makes the difference!”  For all that they’re not an official branch of the Hunters of Truth, this seems to be the party line for much of what the Hunters do, which is perhaps why I am generally uncomfortable with their methods.

- Y’know, Cheanti says she wants to damage University for failing to protect her and her family…but she was a criminal at the time, and was hurt by the other law-breakers she was working with.  This is not to say that it was right that her husband was killed (and it was most certainly not right that she lost her child), but…was this not an established risk from the outset?  A good deal of her anger is justified, yes, but it also seems like she’s projecting some of the guilt she feels onto University, and onto Katherine and Arkahn.

- Before we get to our explosive conclusion…wow, I didn’t even mean to do that, sorry…anyway, before we get to that point, can I point out the music in this episode?  Because DAMN.  Every piece serves to heighten the emotional pitch of its given scene – the torture scene is more frightening, the battles more frantic, and the ending more tense, all due to the music, and I LOVE it.

- Ignoring the fact that Katherine really isn’t in a state to help lift someone, perhaps it would’ve been better if Jareth had just let her help Mike out of the tae-oden vat.  I don’t think she’s completely impervious to tae-oden the way Mike is, but she’s even less attuned than Jareth, due to her almost complete lack of exposure to Odi.  #Things that are pointless but that CT still thinks about

- Y’know, they may fight constantly, but in the end, Mike and Jareth will defend each other to the death.  If that isn’t a sign of friendship, I don’t know what is.

- “What happened to your hands, Katherine?!” “I…earned this.”  The woman’s been tied up, beaten, had her hands shattered, and was forced to help in an act of terrorism against her will…and she still feels guilty.  Note, though, that after this point in the series, she starts getting a little better about that guilt; if I had to guess, I’d say that being forced to open up and start talking about these things by the events of this episode will be good for her.  Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that Cheanti, for all her claims of forgiveness, doesn’t give a bit about whether they die or not.

- Zana and Garvin are very similar people, in that they’re both older mentor figures with interesting pasts who’ve taken several talented but troubled young people under their wing and are helping them to accomplish their goals.  However, there’s one very, very big difference between them: while Zana kept certain aspects of her history to herself, she never once lied to her children to motivate them, like Garvin has.  Is that the key to why her group survives and Garvin’s does not?  Who’s to say?

- A lesson for all: if you can’t put aside your bickering and work together long enough to do what needs to be done?  People pay the price.

- Ugh, Arkahn corralling Jareth and Fesmer so they can all work together, why do you make my heart swell with love and pride?  It just makes me so happy to see Arkahn working side-by-side with her boys again.

- “If there was anything left unsaid, now would be the time to say it.”  (SPOILER) Oh, Zana KNOWS.  She totally knows!  She’s knows Katherine too well, has had too much experience with old friends working together on difficult journeys not to know.

- All known props in the universe to Neil for the sound effects of that explosion.  That was not just some same-y old boom right there – that was an EXPLOSION. 

- Aaaand I just hit 6 pages in Word.  In the immortal words of Julia Lunetta: “Woo-hoo!  I’m goin’ home.”