We rejoin Katherine and Mike a little while after the end of last episode, but the afterglow has to wait, as Arkahn bursts in to bring them to Zana. Fesmer and Dita wait to see her, and despite the healer’s instructions not to tire her out, Zana insists that she get a chance, for the first time, to tell her children her story. She gets through her childhood when Katherine, Arkahn, and Mike arrive, and progresses only a little further before Jareth bursts in.
Zana joined the Seekers at a young age, coming from a small farming family where she was increasingly discontented. She passed her years in work and study, and eventually was assigned to assist Targo, a University student who’d come to Draenmer to do research. The two became fast friends, and bonded over a shared desire to see the world and learn from something other than books. After Targo had graduated, he invited her to travel with him, as he wished to escape the life his family had planned; after asking her one question, Zana agreed. The two set off, christening themselves with new names to begin the journey.
Along the way, they encounter two other young people, very similar to themselves: Rungrot and Dita. Eventually, Zana and Targo learn that these two have left the Legion, much in the same way that they left University and the Seekers. Together, they travel and talk, debating the ways of the world. Slowly, they gather others to join in their discussions, but it is not until the drastic actions of one of their followers that the Hunters are truly founded. This follower, Tristolopo, is secretly a member of the Cult of the Mother, and is tasked with executing Dita for her desertion of the Legion. Zana is brokenhearted over the loss of her best friend, but shows the man mercy – a wise choice, as that man ended up being Fesmer’s father. As our group deals with this revelation, they are ushered out of the room by the healer – the rest of the story will have to wait just a bit.
- I can’t help but wonder: if Arkahn hadn’t interrupted them in their playful afterglow banter, would Mike and Katherine have been able to talk things out, thereby bypassing the next month of awkwardness and unrequited affection? Because this is pretty much the last point at which any of our characters are safe and happy until the conclusion of our story, and racing against time towards your enemy’s stronghold really hinders the “I maybe sort of fell in love with you, so can this whole sleeping together thing not be awkward?” talk.
- That being said, Arkahn handles this little revelation with great aplomb. I mean, she’d only just found out TODAY that Mike was officially giving their shot at a relationship a pass, and then she walks in on him in bed with Katherine – and all this after Fesmer proves his ruthlessness and Zana collapses. Seriously, all this, and her only reaction is to pause a second to take it in before she gets back to business and leaves to let them get dressed. This woman is the definition of UNFLAPPABLE.
- “Katherine, look, I didn’t mean to imply-” Ah, but you did imply, Mike, you implied a whole mess of things, and that’s going to haunt you for the next few weeks.
- I love how quickly Fesmer snaps back to his old self when Zana’s in trouble. He hates University, but he’s entirely willing to go crawling to them just to help Zana.
- Dita and Fesmer’s relationship is intriguing, in that it’s the only established relationship in the show that we haven’t watched develop. Still, it’s very clear that there’s a lot of very genuine affection and love between the two of them; they may have not helped each other over their respective issues yet, but Dita clearly is one of the only people who can calm Fesmer down, and later on in the episode we’ll see the same is true in the opposite scenario.
- “Shishwa? All will be well!” “…Perhaps.” Zana is doing here exactly what she tells Katherine to do later: telling her children what they need to hear, rather than what she knows to be true.
- “That was not a request, Fesmer.” Zana has always, ALWAYS put the needs of her children first; that’s just who she is. This, therefore, will be the only time she takes care of her own needs first – because it’s the last chance she has to do so. It’s just a fortunate accident that her need to talk about her life experiences coincides with what her children need to hear in order to better understand what just happened (again, what they need to hear, not what they want to hear).
- I have clearly gushed about it before, so I’ll just come out and say it now: Zana’s theme may be the most beautiful piece of music in the Second Shift soundtrack. There’s just something so gentle and melancholy about it.
- Zana’s telling of her life’s story makes me wonder: how old is she exactly? I mean, the characters all make allusions to her being an older woman, but we’ve never gotten an exact age. And really, when I think about it, Dita’s probably about the same age as Fesmer, or maybe a little older, so unless Zana had her very late, she can’t be older than 60. That begs the question: what does “old” constitute in Baela? How long does the average person live?
- I think the most fabulous thing about Zana’s story is that it demonstrates just how little we actually know about even the people we care most about. Did any of us wonder where Zana came from? How many siblings she had? Why she joined the Seekers in the first place? Or did we just figure she’d always been the wise old woman dispensing advice? And for that matter, how often do we assume these sorts of things about the people in our own lives? Things to consider.
- Targo and Zana: FOOD NOW, FOOD ALWAYS
- “Does the author seek out new evidence? No!” (SPOILER) Does the study of magic require anything resembling the scientific method? Because if it doesn’t, Jareth’s going to need Katherine to teach him a thing or two about scientific investigation before he can become Amarand’s first engineer.
- Oh man, I just realized that Targo mentions Jareth’s grandfather as the current dean! I also find it delightful that Simethehae espouses the exact lessons that his grandson is learning RIGHT NOW.
- Every time I listen to this, I’m amazed by how young Targo sounds. It’s not that Paul (who does a brilliant job throughout this episode, though I’m sure that goes without saying) is making his voice any higher or anything; it’s just that Targo sounds more energetic, more excited about what the future holds. Targonane is an older man who’s seen a great deal, and there’s always a touch of world-weariness to him. Targo doesn’t have that yet, and you can hear its absence.
- For all that his choices brought him a certain amount of suffering, it’s nice to see that Targo realized, much as Jareth is realizing right now, that living up to the expectations of others does not by necessity make you happy.
- It’s pretty clear by the time they leave Laundi that Zana at least cares for Targo as more than just a friend. I wonder why she never said anything about it? Was it just that sort of awkward tension that happens when you realize you’re attracted to someone after you’ve already become friends? Or was there another reason?
- Man, I don’t think we realized back in Season 1, even when Arkahn pointed it out, just how much that bow must have meant to Zana when she gave it to Katherine. Looking at their relationship, though, it all feels right: Katherine reminded her not only of herself at that age, but also in part of the daughter she was forced to leave behind. It must have been cathartic, in a way, to give that bow to Katherine.
- Zana is, quite literally, on her deathbed – but she’s still got the energy to critique another’s “cuisine”. Have I mentioned lately how much I love this woman?
- Katherine has been through hell without reverting to her argumentative old self…but threaten her mentor, and all bets are off.
Also, how much do I love Mike’s gentle attempt to calm her down? SO MUCH.
- “I will have plenty of time to rest later.” The story of Zana’s life is her not saying things in order to keep others safe and happy. The whole of her final tale is a perfect summation of her life, as much as in what she doesn’t say as in the story itself.
- Man, if Fesmer thinks Mike is angry with him for just not telling him about Sonsa, he should be thanking his lucky stars Mike wasn’t there for his speech at the Hunter’s meeting. If that’d been the case, Fesmer would be in several unhappy pieces right about now.
- Speaking of Mike’s anger: look at how fast Mike jumps to the conclusion that Arkahn must have known something about Shauna’s location – and Arkahn is probably the person he trusts the most, after Katherine. So how much of that distrust was lurking under the surface in Boston, and how guilty did that distrust make Mike feel?
- “I suspect there will be much for the 7 of you to discuss on your way to Sonsa…” Alright, does Zana know more about (SPOILER) Porec’s arrival than she’s letting on? Or is this just another side effect of our main cast being big enough that we legitimately have to count them?
- I agree with Zana 100%: there is very little in this world more transcendent than making and eating an excellent slice of pie.
- “The most wonderful aspect of making new friends was finding new people in whom to confide…growing to trust them with your innermost secrets as they grew to trust you with theirs…” Isn’t that just a beautiful summation of Second Shift right there? Meeting new people, and growing because of it?
- I like Zana’s little throwaway line about the Legion being less stringent 20 years ago, not only because it sets up how Oren started gearing up for the arrival of Shauna, but also because it rings very true. Political bodies change rapidly over time, no matter where they’re from.
- Hmmm…a Seeker, a graduate of University, a Keeper of the Word, and a Legionnaire. How might things be different now if events had transpired just a little differently? If Dita hadn’t died, if Rungrot hadn’t become so angry? Instead of the Hunters, a group now considered to be terrorists, we might have gotten the first true union between University and the Legion.
- Something about Jareth’s arrival, his utter desperation, gets me every time. He has known Zana longer than any other member of our main cast, and she’s served as his unofficial mentor for over a decade. The thought of losing her is not just awful to Jareth, it is world-altering. The broken quality of his voice just makes this more apparent.
- Oh god, between Jareth’s arrival and Zana’s unhidden joy at the fact that Targonane is nearby, I’m going to start sobbing before this episode is out.
- Apropos of nothing, I really disagree with Tristolopo’s argument. I’m of the opinion that different situations, different lived realities lead to different understandings of the truth, and that it’s important to act upon that understanding using both logic and emotion. Use one without the other, and something will inevitably go wrong.
- I like little aspects of Zana’s story, little details that slip in without her pausing to flesh them out. For instance, she never actually says that she was in a relationship with Rungrot, as it’s not really important to her story, but it’s gradually made apparent from details like the fact that she thought Rungrot was jealous of Tristolopo.
- Hmmm…was the first Dita’s murder the point at which Fesmer’s father started questioning the Cult and his role there? We never find out exactly what he did to warrant his inevitable execution by the Legion, only that he defected in some way. Was this the event that started him down that path?
- (It’s so unimportant, but I agree COMPLETELY with Fesmer on the issue of half-siblings; just because you only share one parent doesn’t make the sibling relationship any lesser.)
- “She was so terrified to tell me the truth about what my father and brother did, afraid she would lose me too…though…I suppose she has…” Fesmer’s mother is perhaps one of the most tragic figures in this entire story, particularly considering that we never meet her. (SPOILER) At various points in our tale, she ends up losing her husband and both her sons. God, I hope Porec, or at least Dita, go back to her after this is all said and done. Someone needs to comfort that poor woman.
- Oh Dita. Don’t get mad about Zana not telling you about who really killed your aunt…she’s not telling you much more important things!
- Zana makes a good point: how often do we sabotage potentially wonderful relationships with others because of our preconceived notions about who other people are, or what they must believe? How much do we miss out on because of our prejudice? (SPOILER) As angry as Dita is at the end of the series, I hope she takes this particular lesson to heart.