Dita, the young woman who’s been talking to Fesmer, is desperately trying to alert the townspeople of Velia when the tae-oden refinery explodes behind her. She runs to help Fesmer, only to find Mike wandering the rubble; together they dig out the entire party, who’ve miraculously made it out alive. We find out that she and Fesmer are leaders of the Hunters of Truth…and that they’re together. After this distinctly awkward introduction, the party then moves along to Velia, even though no one really trusts Dita; even Zana won’t really talk to her. They reach the city and split up, as their goals have never been more divided.
Mike and Katherine move to the center of town to find any available information about Shauna – not that they have much luck. The two move towards a fire that just broke out elsewhere in town, and discover that neither the Legion, nor University, nor the Hunters are much liked.
Jareth breaks into the local University, where Targonane is visiting to give a series of lectures. Behaving very unlike his prior self, he threatens Targonane (who is, for all intents and purposes, very forgiving) in order to find out just what is going on in the University system.
Fesmer and Arkahn follow Zana to a local store; while they wait for her, Arkahn admits just how resentful she is of Mike for being self-sufficient in Boston, confesses to stealing his technology to give to Jareth, and explains that Jareth has been teaching her the basics of magic. Fesmer, realizing how skilled his friend is, invites her to join the Hunters, and along with Zana, they proceed to a very large meeting of local Hunters. Unfortunately, Zana and Arkahn realize that, for all his growth as a leader, Fesmer has developed a very nasty streak: in leading the meeting and inspiring his followers to finding the Legion’s “tool”, Shauna, Fesmer announces that he is perfectly willing to kill her if she refuses to help them.
- It’s kind of hard to know what to make of Dita sometimes; we haven’t known her very long, and the period during which we do know her is the most stressful, trying time of her life, as she deals not only with the Hunters’ attempt to take down the Legion, but (SPOILER) also the deaths of her father, mother, and Fesmer. It’s easy, I think, to forget just how much is affecting Dita at any one time. This introductory scene is therefore pretty important, as it’s one of our chances to get to know who Dita is before she’s bogged down with what is to come…and for all her harshness later on, we can see just how dedicated she is to protecting others
- Mike has this absolutely heartwrenching quality to his voice when he’s caught in a moment of vulnerability; it starts to show when he’s searching for the others, and makes itself very obvious when he finds Katherine and isn’t sure she’s alive. I honestly think it’s one of the reasons I love Mike as much as I do; it’s so easy for him to come off as this bullheaded idiot, but Mike Hunter plays him in such a way that, as you get to know him, you come to learn that quite a bit of that bravado is just a front.
- Arkahn has just been kidnapped, tortured, and had a factory fall on top of her…and she still has the energy left to crack jokes once they dig her up from the rubble. Zana isn’t kidding when she says this woman can survive ANYTHING.
- …they’re all going to have magical lung cancer in 10 years from breathing in tae-oden dust, aren’t they?
- Katherine’s utter refusal to let her hands be healed before they find everyone just makes me love her more. Mike may have made fun of her stubbornness only a few episodes ago, but in a pinch, this is a woman I’d want on my side, no question.
- Ugh, Jareth’s calling Fesmer maraa for the first time in forever just fills my heart with utter joy.
- Oh, that delightful awkwardness of meeting someone’s new significant other after crawling out of the rubble of an exploded building.
- “Come on, guys, it’s been 2 weeks on the road and we’re all a little cranky.” Man, who would’ve guessed a season ago that it would be Katherine who’d be in charge of keeping everyone from fighting? I’ve said it before, and I’ll doubtlessly say it again, but her evolution into a person who knows how to keep perspective, console others, and pick her battles wisely will forever be one of my favorite things.
- “…but as different as the sights are, it is still the same fractuous, loud, vibrantly-alive city I once thought I could call home…” It’s hard for me to comprehend what it must’ve been like for a young Zana (or really, what it’s like for anyone in her situation), to have come from a tiny rural town to a big, bustling place like Velia (or Laundi, or Sonsa, or New York, or Boston). Clashing cultures, new ideas, a rainbow of people – it must’ve been thrilling to a person as intellectually curious and accepting as Zana.
- Mike and Katherine’s conversation explicitly says what we’ve all been thinking for a while: in spite of the fact that there are 6 people on this quest, they’re starting to think of themselves as the only ones who are truly in it to find Shauna. And honestly…they’re not wrong. Everyone else has their own motivations, and that’s okay! Arkahn needs to stand up to her parents and redeem herself, Jareth needs to find out if University is worth his dedication, and so on. But Mike and Katherine’s only goal is finding their lost friend, and that sort of devotion is admirable.
- “Considering my traveling companions, one never knows when a hasty retreat will be required.” Oh hey, Fesmer, LOOK WHO’S TALKING.
BB, you are adorable, but your ability to self-analyze is woefully lacking
- I’m not gonna lie, Mike putting Arkahn on the spot like that, forcing her to choose who to go with, was a little cruel. The choice is in itself innocuous: go with Kathe and Meek to look for clues, or with Fesmer to meet the Hunters…but there is a definite question-between-the-lines there that both Mike and Arkahn acknowledge. In reality, she’s being forced to decide between the people she’s been friends with for years who have just started forgiving her, or with the person who took care of her for a year in a foreign world – and that’s a nearly impossible choice.
- That being said, Mike’s little “…Oh.” is so sad. They rarely ever mean anything by it, but everyone in our main cast has, at one time or another, implicitly or explicitly told Mike that they prefer someone else to him (Shauna romantically, Jareth and Fesmer as a leader, Katherine ALL THE DAMN TIME in Season 1, and now Arkahn as…well, as whatever they were/could have been). It’s not surprising that he’s starting to cut his losses quicker – that sort of thing is very psychologically stressful.
- “For the longest time, I thought you were perhaps so often by my side…because you were attracted to me.” “…Tell me of your doki-luna!” Oh, what a beautiful, beautiful awkward pause. It actually makes sense that Arkahn would be, on some level, enamored of Fesmer – her home life doesn’t seem like it would’ve engendered much mirth when she was young, so it must have been a little thrilling to meet a person who actively tried to make her laugh. As we found out in Campfire Tales, Jareth was older and handsome, yes…but Fesmer went out of his way to become her friend, and that must’ve meant the world to a young, shy Arkahn.
- Man, I’d forgotten about Dita’s surrogate mother. No wonder she has serious issues with Zana when she finds out about her – not one, but two mother figures walked out of her life.
- “Dita and I both understand abandonment and loss, and have built a mutual regard on that foundation.” There is nothing wrong with building a relationship on shared experiences, particularly negative ones – but a problem can arise when two people with similar issues don’t actively deal with those issues. Fesmer and Dita may love each other (and I don’t doubt that they do!), but from what we see of their relationship, they haven’t really helped each other over those particular burdens. (SPOILER) Perhaps, if they had been given more time, helping heal one another would have been their next step…but unfortunately, we won’t get to see that.
- “I had no choice but to trust his trust in me.” Y’know, knowing Arkahn, she would’ve come out of her experiences at the end of Season 1 much the worse for wear – she hated betraying her friends, she hated leaving Shaena behind, and she very well may have hated herself a little bit for all the things she’d done. But Mike, I feel, would never have let her wallow in that self-loathing for long; when we see her get down on herself in Third Shift, Mike picks her right back up again. If you tell a person that they’re worth something often enough, eventually they’ll start to believe it. Arkahn may be seeking to repent for her past actions now, but at some point she had to convince herself that there was something about her that was worth redeeming, and I think Mike had a big hand in promoting that.
- Aaaand once again, I just want to give Arkahn a hug. Her life has been so damn unfair, and continues in this vein throughout the series. Jareth, Mike, and Fesmer have no idea how much their immature, pointless in-fighting weigh on Arkahn, who is the only member of the group who has equal ties and equal status to all three of them.
You guys need to chill out for like 5 minutes so Arkahn can be happy, okay?
- Fesmer’s offer to Arkahn to join the Hunters must be, on a certain level, incredibly tempting; Arkahn’s never really known a true, loving family, and the Hunters being described as such by one of her best friends would be very appealing on that level. #CT’s gonna talk endlessly about Arkahn and there’s not a thing you can do about it.
- “’Do or do not, there is no try.’” “Rinson!” Oh man, you can practically hear Mike grin. I love this whole conversation, if only because it demonstrates how far both of these characters have come. Katherine makes a nerdy joke without getting defensive, acknowledges her own weaknesses in dealing with people, and critiques Mike’s plan without getting overly harsh; Mike makes a serious gaffe in mentioning Katherine’s inability to use her hands and immediately apologizes, and is willing to accept that his idea isn’t working – and on top of all this, both of them can poke fun at one another without it devolving into a screaming match.
- “Someone did mention something about a fire in the south side of town.” Ah, and so it begins.
- I tried posing Aldo’s question to myself, and I honestly don’t know if I have the proper frame of reference to be able to answer it. We the audience presumably don’t live in a society where one singular country is controlled by two different factions with their own systems of government, so it’s hard to say whether University has the duty, much less the right, to patrol the streets. Honestly, the closest frame of reference I have to the situation in Velia is living in a city being plagued by gang warfare – except that our gangs don’t generally make or enforce the local laws. That being said, thinking about it in such a way really makes me understand why the Velian people don’t like any of the three parties with power.
- Jareth is a reminder of why some people are very reserved with their emotions: because when they’re finally pushed past the breaking point, they end up being very, very dangerous.
- “You’re gonna get me into trouble one of these days…” Oh Mike, I THINK YOU’VE EARNED IT.
- …Is that Brad playing the woman at the Hunter’s meeting? Because that’s the greatest thing of all time.
- “I was much older when I was young!” Fesmer and Zana make an interesting contrast, when it comes to looking at how isolation and cutting off family ties affects a young adult. I wonder how old Zana was when she encountered Doro’s hand? Because, while she doesn’t strike me as being particularly old at the time, I don’t believe she was quite as young as Fesmer is now…but who knows? Nonetheless, Zana and Fesmer dealt with their sense of loss in intensely different ways. Perhaps it boils down to a difference in personality – Fesmer throws his feelings outward while Zana turned them inward.
- It’s so jarring to see Zana acting in such a reserved, awkward way; we’re so used to her being very much in command of herself, and particularly able to talk to young people.
- The throwback to the Mr. Ham song is AWESOME.
- Poor Dita, she’s so left out of these conversations – and everything else, honestly. It must be a new experience for her, being left to the side; she grew up with the leader of the Hunters, and was involved with everything, then joined a pre-established group where only one person trusts her judgment and motivations. No wonder she gets tired of everyone on their trip to Sonsa.
- I can totally understand why Zana reacts as poorly as she does to Dita’s rather gruesome joke. It’s not just that Dita’s comment is in poor taste, it’s that it’s reflective of the woman as a whole. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be Zana in this scenario, (SPOILER) realizing that your child is not the person you would have raised her to be. This isn’t even a difference in personality, as every parent inevitably has a different point of view than their children – this is an active acknowledgement that Dita’s father, Rungrot, has molded Dita to reflect his own ruthlessness and conviction, without Zana’s compassion to temper those traits.
- That being said…(SPOILER) Dita truly is Zana’s daughter. Look at how quickly she picks up on Zana’s evading of her questions, and how effective her questions are at poking holes in Zana’s story. Intelligent and perceptive indeed.
- Okay, I haven’t commented on it yet, but Ari Herbstman makes an absolutely wonderful Fesmer, particularly as we see Fesmer during his final descent into anger and revenge. His speech at the end of this episode is a perfect combination of the cheerfulness and drive of past!Fesmer and the ruthlessness that is fast approaching.
- The call-and-response format of the Hunters’ meeting makes me very, very uncomfortable, and not just because it ends with Fesmer calling for Shaena’s death. I am very much for the Hunters’ ultimate goals – creating an effective, egalitarian system where the common people have agency – but any system that’s built upon mob mentality is dangerous.
- “We must be prepared, for the sake of Amarand, to have her death on our hands!” And so Fesmer reveals that he has started down a dark, dark road. I remain convinced that it’s due to a combination of undealt with aggression and his clinging to black-and-white morality in a very grey world that leads him to this place. I think the most frustrating part of it all is that it really, really didn’t have to come to this; Fesmer is a product of his situation as much as he’s personally responsible for his own choices. Watching him spiral like this…well, it’s difficult.
Alright folks, no update tomorrow, as I’m goin’ to Disneyland! (Ah, the benefits to being a SoCal native) See you later!
…okay, one final note:
- “It doesn’t count if you write slash with your own character!” …Fine then, I’ll do it! Seriously though, this is the ONE AND ONLY THING that disappointed me just a little about Second Shift: no LGBT representation. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the characters and the story, but I also love diversity in my fiction, and it would’ve been nice.
I am going to refrain from comment on how, in my headcannon, there were definitely some delightfully slashy moments, because GODDAMN some of these platonic friends have great chemistry. After all, Jareth and Fesmer care about each other an AWFUL lot, and Katherine and Shauna WERE very close roommates, and…oh hell, who am I kidding, I straight up ship Arkahn and Dita post-series. OH GOD I’M SORRY I’LL STOP NOW.