and he gives her hope that she has a greater destiny

about the hugging scene

it really is wild to me that a scene as sweet as this has caused so much controversy in fandom. and not because of the dialogue exchanged between keith and allura, but because allura ‘had the audacity’ to hug a boy she holds dear to her heart. fandom seems to think allura was out of line, that by touching keith at all she was making him uncomfortable and disrespecting his personal space. fans willfully ignore the fact that keith hugged allura right back. and that allura’s goodbye seemed to have meant a lot to keith, judging by the determined look on his face after allura pleaded for him to return to the team in one piece.

anyway, fandom’s bullshit aside … i actually do want to talk about this moment. and in depth. while i loved everything about this scene aesthetically, i did feel like allura’s apology could have been written better, and that keith should have apologized to her as well. allura was upset, after all, because keith hadn’t shared the possible truth about his heritage with her even after she’d opened up and put her full trust in him.

still, this is also one of my favorite scenes :) !! so here’s what i liked about it, what i didn’t like, and what i loved ♡

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Things I love about the original Star Wars trilogy:

  • I love the beginning. I love that first moment of anticipation in the blue letters of “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” I love the explosion of music and excitement and adrenaline as the opening crawl begins, the immediate sensation that you have flown headfirst into something incredible. I love reading that Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy and that it is a dark time for the rebellion and that Luke Skywalker has returned to his home planet of Tatooine in an attempt to rescue his friend Han Solo from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt

  • I love Luke’s journey. I love how at first glance he’s just an ordinary farm boy who dreams of a bigger destiny but who has to help his aunt and uncle, stuck on a barren planet he fears he’ll never get off of. I love his pain and his devastation when he loses his home even though he always wanted to leave it. I love how he gets caught up in a whirlwind adventure because of the arrival of two droids. I love how he’s brave and true and loyal. I love that a simple farm boy becomes a hero, that he rescues Leia and destroys the Death Star and joins the rebellion. I love how he’d do anything to help his friends, how he leaves Dagobah to save Han and Leia and how he goes to get Han from Tatooine. I love how he always idolized his father, how his jedi training was centered around the desire to follow in Anakin Skywalker’s footsteps, and I love his conflict when he learns the truth. I love that he won’t kill Vader even knowing the evil he’s committed and his determination to save the man he once was. I love that the greater destiny he always wanted comes to a fork in the road, and that he stands at the precipice of two fates: is he doomed by the legacy of his blood, or can he forge his own path? I love that he strays to the very edge of the Dark side, and I love that Luke Skywalker does not fall. I love when he says, “I am a jedi, like my father before me.” I love that the Light in him prevails.

  • I love Leia. I love that she’s a princess AND and a spy AND a rebel soldier. I love her cinnamon bun hair. I love that she stands toe to toe with the most feared man in the galaxy and doesn’t cower. I love that she’s so strong that she can withstand Vader’s torture and that she takes control of her own rescue. I love how she can shoot a blaster and command troops and fly the Falcon. I love that she doesn’t even abandon her post on Hoth when the Empire is on their doorstep and the command center is under fire and she’s supposed to already be on her transport. I love that she’s dedicated to bringing peace to the galaxy. I love that even though she seems tough as nails, she still feels and hurts and fears and cries and that her strength doesn’t come at the price of her humanity. I love that she doesn’t ever stop fighting–not when her ship is captured, not when she’s taken prisoner, not when her planet is destroyed, not when the man she loves is taken, and not when she’s shot on the battlefield. I love that she’s Luke’s sister. I love that it’s her message that brings him into the story. I love that brother and sister separated at birth are drawn together by destiny, and I love that she’s just as nuanced as he is, that their paths and experiences are balanced–that he must cope with the knowledge that the father he idolized is a monster, while she must deal with the revelation that the monster she hated is her father. I love that she is an Organa and a Skywalker. I love when she learns who she is. I love that she has the Force. I love, “That boy is our last hope.” “No, there is another.” I love, “You’re wrong, Leia. You have that power, too.

  • I love that Han is just a smuggler and a rogue who wants nothing to do with the rebellion or the Force or the fight for the galaxy, but he takes a job transporting passengers to Alderaan and gets swept up in the whole mess. I love how he’s not the selfless mercenary that he seems to be. I love how he claims to care about only money, but then he turns around to help the rebels at Yavin. I love that he has a conscience. I love that he can’t help but get attached to the dumb kid he picked up in Mos Eisley and the haughty princess who insulted him the second they met. I love that he volunteers to go out into the freezing conditions on Hoth without a second thought because his friend’s out in it. I love that he gets his clearance to leave but he won’t get out of danger when he knows that stubborn, crazy Leia isn’t safe yet. I love how he’s so smart and daring and can fly through an asteroid field and that he escapes from the Empire by hiding on a Star Destroyer right under the enemy’s nose and drifting off with the trash. I love, “Never tell me the odds.” I love that he doesn’t even think of himself when he’s about to be frozen in carbonite. I love how that smuggler that “ain’t in it for your revolution” becomes a general in the rebellion who would sacrifice his life for his friends. I love that Han doesn’t have the Force. I love that he’s just a regular person with an enormous heart that he pretends not to have who gets through thanks to his cunning and his stubbornness and his courage. I love that he’s a good man.

  • I love that a princess and a scoundrel find true love. I love the way they bicker and fight and drive each other crazy. I love how Han calls Leia ridiculous names like “Your Worship” and “Your Highnessness” and I love how Leia gives it right back to him. I love that neither of them are willing to admit how they feel. I love that they’re both afraid. I love the angst because Han has to leave and Leia doesn’t want to give her heart away to a man who’s going to take off, and I love that Han doesn’t want her to get hurt because of him and the bounty on his head. I love “Do you think a princess and a guy like me…?” I love when they finally kiss on the Millennium Falcon. I love that Han would do anything to protect her. I love that he tells Chewie to take care of her when he knows he’s probably going to die. I love their desperate embrace in front of Vader and Boba Fett and all the stormtroopers. I love that Leia leaves the rebel alliance to go rescue him. I love that Han was willing to step aside for her to be with Luke when he thinks that would make her happy. I love that they’re equals–that they’re both strong and smart and independent. I love that they have each other’s backs in battle. I love that they bring out the best in each other. I love “I love you.” “I know.

  • I love that the Millennium Falcon is the fastest ship in the galaxy. I love how much Han loves it. I love that there’s always something wrong with it and that Han and Chewie are always having to repair something. I love when Luke calls it a piece of junk and I love that Leia is always insulting it and I love that it becomes a part of them just like it’s a part of Han and because Han becomes a part of them. I love when it jumps to lightspeed. I love the cockpit and when they’re all in it. I love the gun turrets and the holochess table and the smuggling compartments and the circuitry bay. I love the blue light of the hyperdrive. I love what the Millennium Falcon represents.

  • I love the medal ceremony on Yavin. I love Luke’s yellow jacket and Han’s confident swagger and the look on Leia’s face when they march down the aisle. I love the music and the feeling of triumph. I love that Threepio and Artoo are there and that our sassy not-so-damsel-in-distress princess is rewarding the farm boy and the smuggler and the Wookiee for their bravery and their victory. I love how all of our heroes are together and how it cements the bond that has been forged between all of them. I love this ending to our first chapter.

  • I love the rebels and their hidden bases and their ragtag fighters. I love Rogue Squadron. I love the call signs. I love X-wings and space battles. I love watching them take down AT-ATs and AT-STs and TIE fighters and Death Stars. I love that the underdogs win. I love the look on Leia’s face when they hear Han and Chewie come back to cover Luke so he can destroy the first Death Star and I love General Rieekan shaking Han’s hand and the corridors of Echo Base and I love Admiral Ackbar saying “It’s a trap!” and that Mon Mothma is the leader of it all.

  • I love Dagobah. I love Luke training with Yoda. I love watching him learn to use the Force. I love seeing his vision in the cave, and the foreshadowing that his face in Vader’s helmet represents–that not only is Vader his father, but that this is what Luke will become if he falls to the Dark Side, as well. I love when Yoda lifts the x-wing out of the swamp. I love “Wars do not make one great” and “Do or do not. There is no try” and “Luminous beings are we.” I love that there’s mist and snakes everywhere. I love Yoda making Luke run around with him on his back. I love levitating Artoo and rocks and one-handed handstands. I love when Luke goes back in Episode VI and learns that he’s done with his training but that he must defeat Vader; confirms that Vader is his father then learns that Leia is his sister. I love how much he’s changed between when he first crash lands in the mud and when he leaves there for the last time. I love the mantle of responsibility that he must take upon his shoulders.

  • I love how Lando was in a tough position and tries to redeem himself by rescuing Han from Jabba’s. I love how Chewie is referred to as “The Mighty Chewbacca.” I love that tiny little Leia is disguised as the bounty hunter who theoretically took the enormous Wookiee down. I love “Someone who loves you,” and how Han reacts to the sound of her voice. I love Chewie running to hug Han in their cell. I love “Together again, huh?” “Wouldn’t miss it.” “How are we doing?” “Same as always.” “That bad, huh?” I love that Leia frees herself and strangles the vile scum who forced her into that degrading outfit and chained her to his throne like an animal or a decoration. I love seeing Luke’s green lightsaber in action for the first time. I love “Don’t forget the droids.” I love the relief.

  • I love the scene in the trash compactor and how all of them keep yelling at each other. I love when Han keeps shouting at Leia to get on top of it. I love when Threepio thinks they’re dying. I love that Han and Leia hug.

  • I love when Leia hears Luke call to her through the Force. I love when she makes Chewie turn the Falcon around to go get him. I love the ending of ESB, and how even in the wake of such turmoil–Han frozen and taken by Boba Fett and Luke losing his hand and his lightsaber and learning that Vader is his father and Leia losing the man she loves–it still leaves you with hope and determination. I love when Luke and Leia watch Lando and Chewie fly off in the Falcon. I love Lando promising her that they’d find Han. I love the final image of the rebel fleet and the crescendo of music and those final chills before the credits roll.

  • I love that the Emperor underestimates love. I love the battle between Luke and Darth Vader. I love that the moment Vader says, “So, you have a twin sister? … If you will not turn to the Dark Side, perhaps she will,” is the moment when Luke unleashes his fury. I love when Luke refuses to kill his father. I love when Vader refuses to let his son die. I love that Luke refused to give up on Anakin, and I love that Anakin Skywalker’s two final requests are to look upon his son with his own eyes and for his daughter to be told that Luke had been right about their father all along–that even after everything he’d done, there had still been good in him. I love that Leia can sense Luke’s survival. I love that Luke build’s his father a funeral pyre. I love the Skywalker legacy.

  • And I love the end. I love the final scene of the trilogy. I love where it leaves us. I love that our heroes have survived. I love that they bled and fought and sacrificed and cried and feared and hoped and that they come through it all. I love that they win despite the odds. I love that even though the war was long and hard and that all that evil and injustice seemed impossible to ever defeat, they do it. I love Luke and Leia hugging–brother and sister who loved each other even before they knew the truth, who’d been brought back together by fate and who together were the hope for the galaxy. I love that they found each other. I love when Han and Luke embrace like brothers, and the look of understanding as they grip arms and look into each other’s faces. I love their friendship–that what started as hiring a pilot in a seedy cantina has become this absolute, binding trust. I love the tenderness on Han’s face as he holds Leia to his chest, and the happiness and devotion on hers as she closes her eyes and smiles. I love that their love endured every conflict. I love that all three of them all got tossed together against their will and found belonging in each other. I love that last shot. I love Luke and Leia and Han and Chewie and Lando and Threepio and Artoo all together, smiling and victorious. I love that they’re family. I love that the story is one where hope can pay off. Where good can overcome evil. Where somewhere in a galaxy far, far away, a band of misfits–planetless princesses and smugglers with Wookiee first mates and starry-eyed youths from the middle of nowhere–can fight against adversity and win. I love the feeling in my chest that last second on Endor, knowing that those characters and what they believed in prevailed. I love Star Wars.
4x22: THE Exchange

Originally posted by dustydreamsanddirtyscars

I was just watching this episode (I jump around a lot at the moment) and fuck me, this scene is so incredibly weighty now with how 12x23 went down. 

By the end of S12, Cas has gone through a full-blown reverting back to his old way of thinking, every single lesson that Dean and Sam and life on Earth and truly deep rebellion against Heaven have taught him have all been pushed aside for his need to leave all the pain behind. Cas in S12 is in so, so much pain. And what else has canonically been associated with pain? 

Love.

When Dean speaks to Anna in S4 about why she fell, she says that there are many reasons, but all of them have to do with having an actual emotional life. She lists loyalty, forgiveness and love as the foremost ones. Dean immediately correlates love with pain. That response is instant and without hesitation. I’ll talk about that exchange some other time, but for now I invite you to read through this dialogue between Dean and Cas and see how it relates to where we are now in the narrative:

Dean: It’s Armageddon, Cas, you need a bigger word than sorry.
Cas: Try to understand, this is long foretold. This is your–
Dean: Destiny? Don’t give me that holy crap; destiny, God’s plan, it’s all a bunch of lies, you poor, stupid sonofabitch. It’s just a way for your bosses to keep you and keep me in line. You know what’s real? People, families - that’s real. And you’re gonna watch them all burn?
Cas: What is so worth saving? I see nothing but pain here. I see inside you. I see your guilt, your anger, confusion. In Paradise all is forgiven. You’ll be at peace. Even with Sam.
Dean: You can take your peace and shove it up your lily white ass, ‘cause I’ll take the pain and the guilt, I’ll even take Sam as is. It’s a lot better than being some Stepford bitch in Paradise. This is simple, Cas. No more crap about being a good soldier. There is a right and there is a wrong here, and you know it. Look at me! You know it! Now, you were gonna help me once, weren’t you? You were gonna warn me about all this before they dragged you back to Bible camp. Help me now. Please.
Cas: What would you have me do?
Dean: Get me to Sam. We can stop this before it’s too late.
Cas: I do that we will all be hunted. We’ll all be killed.
Dean: If there is anything worth dying for - this is it.

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Musings about character arcs coming full circle in S7

I was recently rewatching 5X2 “Strangers” and subsequent episodes and I realized something about the character arcs that are finally resolving in S7. Basically the road map for several characters (5 characters) arcs is outlined when they walk into Father Gabriel’s church at the beginning of S5. Each character pauses at a specific area and focuses on something critically important to them and their development from S5 onward. I am putting these thoughts under a read more because it’s quite a bit of musing. 

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The most interesting thing about season 2b of Legends, to me, is how they’ve been subtly developing and reinforcing the very intriguing dynamic between Rip Hunter, Sara Lance, and Jefferson Jackson.

I don’t mean this in a romantic ‘ship sense (though I’d absolutely read that fic), but just in terms of general dynamic.

Raiders of the Lost Art had those lovely scenes between “Phil” and Sara, “Phil” and Jax (the script!!!), and Jax and Sara.

Turncoat, of course, set up the heartwrenching confrontation between Jax and broken Rip, with Sara’s life in the balance.  Jax having to use everything he’d learned about the Waverider against the man who’d taught him that knowledge.  Rip killing the one person who had been his strongest support.  Sara having to pull Jax back from killing Rip, for Jax’s own good.

Camelot, which directly paralleled Sara and Rip to their Guinevere and Arthur, a strong woman stepping forward to lead in place of the man she admires, when he is compromised and victimized.  Sara saving Rip, to his bewilderment.  And Jax’s beautiful confrontation scene at the end.

And we know from spoilers that it will be Jax and Sara going into Rip’s head, later.  They’re going to have a very significant role in Rip coming back to himself.  And that’s a lovely thought.   It was clear from early on last season that Rip was grooming both characters for different but significant roles (bringing Sara in on tough timeline decisions like Martin in Failsafe, setting her up to learn to fly the ship and navigate.  Choosing Jax as mechanic/engineer and trusting the majority of the ship’s systems to him.)  It fits to have these two characters be the ones to bring him back.

I am really intrigued by what this increased dynamic may mean for the future.  I honestly think that regardless of who goes by “Captain”, they’re setting up basically a leadership triumverate a.la Kirk-Spock-McCoy from the original Star Trek.

And it occurs to me that there really isn’t a better balance to have in a leadership trio.

We have Jax, the youngest and purest of heart.  He’s the innocent.  The one without blood on his hands.  But he’s also the calmest and wisest.  He’s the most forgiving of the crew when it comes down to it (he even got over his initial kidnapping AWFULLY quickly).  He is the moral voice, and the voice of hope and optimism.

We saw that particularly well in River of Time/Destiny.  It was Jax’s endangerment that nearly drove the team apart, it was Jax’s arrival that changed the tide in Destiny.  Jax is the one who keeps Sara going in Raiders, and wants to save Rip in Turncoat and even Camelot. He was the one upset that they were leaving Rip behind, and the only one of the crew willing to face Rip in the brig, out of the drive to protect the others.  His only real issue, I think, is that he sometimes lacks direction when it comes to his own initiative.

We have Sara, who probably has the bloodiest hands (though obviously not her fault), but the noblest heart.  She’s the one with the strength and fortitude to push past her demons and control her rage and bloodlust.  She’s the one focused on duty, responsibility and ethics.  

We saw that countless times during season one, when she would call Rip out on his more problematic decisions.  She’s also the one who reminds Jax that they can’t just make changes in the timeline even for good, because that’s not what they’d been tasked to do.  Sara’s biggest problem is when her impulses of duty and responsibility collide.  We saw it in Star City, and arguably even Left Behind.  We definitely saw it in Shogun, when she was so focused on extracting Ray and Nate from the problems they’d created/encountered, that she wasn’t paying attention to the preservation of the timeline. 

And we have Rip, who sees the big picture.  Possibly, he sees too much of the big picture, as his tendency toward questionable decisions, and occasional moral fluidity would demonstrate.  But Rip is the one who never loses sight of the greater goal, whether it’s killing Savage, preserving the timeline (and making sure certain rulers get conceived), or protecting the spear. 

He’s the one who pulls the team together, he’s the one who gives them direction and a plan.  He’s the one who gave Sara something to focus on instead of bloodlust and regret.  He’s the one who gave Jax a goal and purpose beyond just being Martin’s other half.  Rip’s main problem is that he is SO goal focused that it consumes him.  He needs to be reminded sometimes that there is something behind that goal.  People who need help.  People who deserve the truth.  Lines that shouldn’t be crossed.  He keeps too many secrets, and I sometimes think that’s less about distrust than just Rip forgetting that the rest of the team deserves to know what’s actually going on.  

It’s really funny when you think about it, how much they balance each other.  Jax’s humanity, Sara’s responsibility, and Rip’s direction.  They each hold 1/3 of a perfect leader. 

I really hope that the increased focus on these three characters in recent episodes means good things in terms of developing this in the future.

About Gods, Hipocrisy and Infallibility

So almost a week later, I am very much still not over just how stupid the thing™ was last episode. I mean, here’s a goddess who

  • Locked herself away in hiding
  • Locked the access information to her hiding place away in a guy hidden away in the forest with no idea on how to access the information inside him
  • Was sought out because she was the one hiding the information on how to ascend to godhood (which was then stolen from her and exploited to wreak doom upon all the world)
  • And because she was also hiding the information on how to contain a god once ascended
  • Which she had literally locked up in an insanely hard to unlock secret place
  • And then distributed more knowledge on how to save the world, but with a time limit on its accessibility

…and she rejects Percy because he likes to keep secrets? And therefore gives her championship to a storyteller, who a) has voiced concern about being the storyteller instead of part of the story and b) was only ever interested in telling stories about his exaggerated greatness instead of passing on actual facts? Maybe in part to make up for feeling like his part in the story as the storyteller wasn’t big enough?

I’m not even saying that the blessing isn’t fitting for Scanlan or that the challenge wasn’t tailor-made for him. It was. Tailor-made by the DM, that is. I’ve previously voiced the suspicion that this was based on Matt’s view on what a bard is supposed to be, rather than what Scanlan is actually like.

(also what I’m saying is that her reason to not choose Percy is just ridiculous and doesn’t add up. Percy’s policy regarding keeping secrets is literally identical to what Ioun does)

And after rejecting Grog’s attempts to connect with Kord straight-out, that is pretty likely. Matt has planned out this final arc and everyone’s god connections (or lack thereof) some time ago, probably from the beginning given his affinity for the long game. That’s why this arc feels a lot more on the rails than any previous one. He has a specific endgame in mind, and maybe it’ll involve more gods, maybe the Allhammer will be the last dude and we’ll all be here next week yelling about whether Percy or Grog are better fit, maybe Keyleth’s entire role is supposed to be just everyone’s convenient taxi so no one will yell about Marisha getting the DM’s GF bonus or whatever.

However, there might actually be a greater point to Ioun and the hypocrisy here.

Ioun also presented the first counterpoint to the whole shebang the Raven Queen introduced regarding fate-touched, destiny and inevitability. There is always a choice. Which is to say, she hinted at the Raven Queen being downright wrong. That the gods are not infallible.

Like, I have previously argued that Pelor is an asshole and just the latest in the long-standing line of asshole male (father-) figures Vex attaches herself to even though they are not even remotely worthy of her, and that claiming he had a bunch of better champions despite none of them lifting a finger when dragons raided the world was either wrong or a dick move, and this just goes a step further. The gods make mistakes. They say shit that is plain-out wrong. They can be giant hypocrites. We don’t have to take ANYTHING they say at face-value.

So like Percy pointed out at one point, there might be hope for Vax’s soul yet. That also means Vecna is even less powerful than he thinks he is – what use are his godhood when it doesn’t even help him verify his secrets (and I’ll have words for the gross, gross, gross attempt at a parallel there)?

So maybe the very unconventional theme of this god arc is that the gods ain’t shit. Actually, that’s the take-away no matter what at this point, because either the gods ain’t shit and that’s what Matt is going for, or I’m right about the rail-roady thing and Matt is the god who is actually even less infallible than previously thought. But as I said before, that… Just sounds so lame. So…

Fic Update: Courtship (6/7)

Fandom: Mass Effect: Andromeda

Chapter Title: Spiritually (read on Ao3!)

Pairing: Jaal Ama Darav/Skylar Ryder

Rating: Teen

Summary: Jaal’s family comes to Meridian, ready to ask questions and get some answers about the relationship between Ryder and Jaal.

Notes: Endgame spoilers here.

chapter one | chapter two | chapter three | chapter four | chapter five

#

He decides to waste no time.

After Ryder leaves to have a video conference with Bradley, the new ambassador for the Nexus, Jaal sets out to find his true mother. His nerves are on edge; he supposes that’s to be expected. Never before has he participated in a tavoan for himself. He’s asked questions for several of his siblings, but that felt a great deal different. It wasn’t his love in question.

If his true mother thinks Jaal should end the relationship… She won’t, of course she won’t; Sahuna loves Ryder, understands how important she is to him. He shakes his head. Nothing sort of Ryder becoming the opposite of who she is now - steadfast and hardworking and above all, kind - will end their relationship.

She is the love of his life, of that he is certain. An alien, born more than six hundred years ago, who then crossed dark space to find him. So many chances to miss each other by an hour, a day, or a year, and yet they are together. And she loves him.

His true mother sits in the cafeteria, surrounded by family. They leave tomorrow morning and then in the afternoon, the Tempest will leave Meridian as well. Back to Kadara, he thinks with a shudder. Perhaps Jaal will finally take up Ryder’s offer to stay on the ship when they dock.

Jaal catches his true mother’s eye, and she nods. He waits at the entrance as she stands and excuses herself. More than one family member looks back at him, all with smiles on their faces. They all know exactly what he and his true mother will talk about. There are no secrets in angaran families.

“Let us walk,” Sahuna says, taking Jaal’s arm. “Perhaps outside.”

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Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 Review

Legends of Tomorrow was definitely the most improved of The CW’s superhero series this season, it was so good! I enjoyed the series last year, but there were a few missed opportunities and missteps that kept me from loving it. Finding its groove in season 2, Legends was able to focus on fun, fast-paced adventures, touch on some of the crazier aspects of the DC universe, and focus on developing the core cast. Season 2 fixed the biggest concerns I had about the show and made the Legends competent heroes facing equally competent villains rather than letting the Legends’ personality conflicts trip them up like amateurs. If you had doubts about the show last year, I think you’ll definitely enjoy rejoining the Waverider crew!

Full Spoilers…

Sara Lance/White Canary
Sara (Caity Lotz) was as awesome as always! Season 2 saw her ascend to Captain of the Waverider and she immediately proved she deserved the position. Her plans were infinitely better than Rip’s (Arthur Darvill)—though I do wish the Invasion Crossover mission to save the President (Jerry Wasserman) had included Sara suggesting a stealthier approach—and she was able to inspire hearts and minds much better than Hunter did. In addition to her new role and new responsibility with the crew, Sara continued to be the fun badass—with gravitas and a dark side she’s working to atone for—I love. Lotz balanced the weight of Sara’s past, her fun-loving side, and the responsibility of leadership very well. I’m not a huge fan of Damien Darhk (Neil McDonough)—he was a fine villain, but I got my fill of him last season on Arrow—but I really liked that his reappearance immediately brought up Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) death, giving Sara a villain who could get under her skin. Since she couldn’t kill past-Darhk without destroying the timeline, shattering his dreams of victory when they met in the 80s was a cool way for Sara to win without “winning.“ Sara getting to kill an imaginary Darhk in the Invasion Crossover was a great moment of catharsis too. However, Sara’s most badass moment came fighting Malcolm Meryln (John Barrowman) on the Waverider. Right before completely taking Merlyn down, Sara got the best response to any villain’s “I’m about to teach you a lesson” boast ever: “Those who can’t do, teach!”

With Sara’s resolution not to change time to save Laurel, I understood why she’d call Stein’s (Victor Garber) Time Aberration-created daughter Lily (Christina Brucato) “not real,” but that assessment was still a little cold. More surprising was that she didn’t trust Mick (Dominic Purcell) more; she was an assassin and she’s changed, so I felt she should’ve extended some belief in his ability to do the same…though perhaps she knows how hard it is to keep walking the good path and didn’t think he could cut it. And as phoenixfive reminded me in the comments of this post, the reasons behind Sara and Mick’s past transgressions are vastly different, Mick did allow them to stay trapped in the Legion’s future for a long time, and he still enjoys being a criminal. Plus, Sara’s worked much harder and made greater strides towards redeeming herself from her past (something she clearly wants) than Mick, who is inching towards heroism, but still bristles at the idea of being good. While I liked Sara talking Jax (Franz Drameh) down from becoming a killer and shooting Rip, I wish she’d shot Hunter in the leg to incapacitate him immediately after Jax lowered his gun rather than hoping there was still good in him. However, I’m glad that lost chance for a victory was brought up and dealt with in the following episode instead of being forgotten. While Sara seducing famous women across history was a fun running gag (and I totally called her being “Sara Lancelot” right after she met Guinevere!) and a cool reversal of skirt-chasing male heroes, Ray (Brandon Routh) and Sara being down with screwing with Guinevere’s (Elyse Levesque) marriage—even if Stargirl (Sarah Grey) also loved Arthur (Nils Hognestad)—was a little morally suspect (but in keeping with Sara’s character as she was introduced on Arrow, I suppose). Despite these few questionable moments, the season finale was a true showcase for Sara! Not only did Rip confirm she was better as Captain than he ever was, she got closure with Laurel and saved the whole timeline. I really liked the twist that it wasn’t a pure heart that was needed to wield the Spear of Destiny, but someone who knew and had fought through darkness (which made those questionable moments reminders that Sara has never been perfect). Sara’s one of my favorite Arrowverse characters—she’ll always be THE Black Canary in comics or shows/movies to me—and it’s awesome to see her get her due. At the same time, a glimpse of where she’d come from as an assassin in the Legion of Doom’s alternate timeline was a fun look at where she could’ve gone had she not grown into the heroine she is. On the other hand, it was cool to see another alternate Sara happy and vigilante-free in the Dominator fantasy world. I can’t wait to see what new sides and possible evolutions Season 3 will explore!

Mick Rory/Heatwave
Mick’s my second-favorite character on the show and another of my favorite Arrowverse people. I was surprised at how well he was developed in Season 1 and while he did get stuck in a bit of a rut this year (due to filming commitments for Prison Break, perhaps?), I liked a lot of what they gave him. Bits like Mick just eating an éclair as they were about to die were hilarious, but Rory’s constant hunt for food or beer teetered on the verge of becoming an unfunny running gag as the season wore on. Still, I love that he retained his ability to bluntly cut through his teammates’ crap and force them to deal with their issues. Along those lines, his rendition of the Series Sell, opening by calling the audience “idiots” and chastising us for not knowing what the show’s about by now, was brilliant! Bringing Snart (Wentworth Miller) back in various forms—as a memory, as Mick’s mind manifesting his criminal instinct as Snart, and ultimately the real deal pulled from the past—was a great arc and produced some excellent material for Purcell. Mick felt Snart betrayed him by going good last season, so I liked the warped idea that he’d imagine evil Snart berating him for doing the same. What a clever way for him to torture himself! Mick eventually setting Cold on the path to making them both better men, even though it’ll lead to his best friend’s death, was perfect.

Since Season 1, Mick has been able to challenge and bring out the best in his teammates; this year, that was especially true of Ray, Stein, and Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers). I loved the idea of Ray becoming a new “Captain Cold”/Mick’s partner in crime and wish it had continued, because playing Boy Scout Ray off barely heroic Mick is always a good idea. Mick vs. Stein over who had the better brain was comedic gold too! Bringing back Mick’s Chronos expertise is always welcome and any time he gets to teach Stein a lesson (frustrating Martin to no end), it’s hilarious. I really enjoyed Mick nudging Amaya towards a walk on the less heroic side and I’m glad they paid off their early unexpected connection when Amaya believed in him in the end. Mick’s connections with people in the past were also great: befriending Turnbull (Jeff Fahey) in the Old West was a fun surprise and Rory inspiring George Washington’s (Randall Batinkoff) guerrilla warfare tactics was awesome (they should definitely visit Mick’s monument sometime!). I loved that the moment he’d change most is burning his parents alive; he’s got more depth than the team gives him credit for, even if he doesn’t want to admit it. Though he felt somewhat sidelined for a lot of the year, I’m glad Mick got more to do in the last two episodes, and they were packed with great moments for him.  Here’s to more of that next season!

Jefferson "Jax” Jackson & Martin Stein/Firestorm
Jax and Stein seem to be working together better this year than last. I like them both and Firestorm has cool, unique powers, but the show has a bad habit of saddling these two with expository dialogue that makes them sound like fools. For example, Jax had a moment where Rip “revealed” that he’d been teaching him about the Waverider by making him the engineer; why would Jax be surprised that learning to fix the ship would teach him about it? Another conversation between Jax and Stein went like this: “Why would Rip hide this room?” “He must not have wanted us to know about it.” Well, obviously. I also find it pretty hard to believe Stein didn’t know how a speakeasy worked. I get that the audience needs to be brought up to speed sometimes, but give us more credit than this. 

While I originally thought they relied on his family drama too much to feel fresh, Season 2 introduced a daughter Stein had never met, making for an interesting arc that gave Garber a new dynamic to play both with Lily (Christina Brucato) and against his crewmates, who initially saw her as a time aberration that needed correction. Lily was a likable and fun addition to the world, so I hope we see more of her. I liked that Stein’s arrogance was toned down a bit (except when played to comedic perfection against Mick) and enjoyed his historical fanboy tendencies. Realizations like “time gives you what you need” and “just live and you’ll figure yourself out” were great moments of clarity for Martin. They also gave Garber some great comedy bits, be it singing as a distraction, referencing Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy, and any time he interacted with Mick. Sorta-bad Stein from the Legion of Doom’s dark alternate timeline was a fun departure too. Garber seemed to be having a blast with the role this year and I’m definitely interested to see where he takes Stein next season.

Stein’s partnership with Jax is coming along nicely and the younger half of Firestorm had some great development. I loved Sara making Jax second-in-command of the Waverider (as well as chief engineer) and all the growth Jax got this year! Sara asking “Is that a promise?” about Jax’s assertion they’d still save Rip, only to be answered with “It’s a prophecy” was possibly his best line yet. Jax standing up to evil Rip was great, as was his reaction to witnessing slavery in action, and I’m eager to see him continue to grow as the series goes on. I like Jax a lot and Drameh is great in the role, but I want to see more of what he brings to the Firestorm mix. Jax could definitely use an arc of his own in general, particularly since his Season 1 role was being the newbie dragged onto the team who had to adjust to superhero life. Where does he go from here? Does he still want to be a hero? How will he handle being second-in-command if he has to give orders to the rest of the team? His role has been immensely expanded from what it was in the comics and I’d like the show to run as far as they can with it!

Amaya Jiwe/Vixen
Amaya was my favorite addition to the team this year! While the show’s second episode threw a lot of Justice Society characters at us, Vixen was the clear standout and the most compelling. Her no-nonsense attitude played against the rest of the Legends pretty well and I’m glad they didn’t relegate her to making annoyed comments about the team’s infighting like Rip in Season 1. Mick getting Amaya to walk on the bad side reminded me of Cold, Snart, and Ray’s interactions last year, even if her biggest crime was stealing illegal goods from criminals. I loved the unexpected chemistry she had with Mick early on and it was great to see that pay off at the end of the season when she was the only one to really trust him (though I expected her to go with him when he left for the Legion of Doom near the end). I would’ve liked to see more of the “woman out of time” aspect of Amaya being pulled from the 40s, but I suppose that’s negated a bit on a time travel show where everyone’s out of their own time. The touches they did add, like not believing in ninjas and never having seen Star Wars, worked well. Trying her hand at a “modern” no-strings relationship was a nice way to both reflect on her out of time status and to throw Nate’s (Nick Zano) expectations in his face; I loved when she took the idea and ran with it, shooting down his concerned/bordering-on-controlling attitude later on. I didn’t mind her relationship with Nate; I just wish I liked him more. The one time their burgeoning relationship really felt out of place was when they were paired up to go undercover as husband and wife in colonial America. I get pairing them up to stoke their attraction, but since their cover didn’t result in them having to play husband and wife beyond a brief appearance at a party, it would’ve made more sense for Sara to play Nate’s wife. It should’ve raised more attention from the other guests for a black woman and a white man to be married.

I’d like them to be more creative with the use of Amaya’s Vixen powers next season: when the team was searching through a forest, she could’ve been using bat echolocation to detect enemies, for example. I’m glad they later gave her things like eagle eyes as small, practical uses of her powers and hope to see more of it. I also love it when they find new animal spirits for Vixen to invoke and I’d like to see more about how her powers inform her outlook. Settling Gertrude the T-Rex and Amaya’s attitude toward a snake they encountered were good starts, but I wonder if wielding animal essences could define her personality and choices a bit more. Richardson-Sellers proved herself a great asset to the show and I hope they stretch Amaya’s personality and explore her perspectives next year. I was shocked when Amaya died in the Legion’s alternate world and I was even more surprised when she decided to stay with the team rather than go back to 1942. I’m happy she’s sticking around, but with something of a ticking clock over her need to return and take part in the timeline in Zambezi, I wonder how much longer she’ll be with the team.

Ray Palmer/Atom
Ray improved a lot from Season 1: he felt smarter in general and his personality seemed more distinct from Stein’s. Last year, they seemed to trade off being arrogant and geeking out about history, and this year seemed to settle them into distinct characterizations a bit more. For the most part, Ray seemed more competent this season too. I guess they wanted Ray to have his powers for the crossover, but I wish he’d had a bigger arc without his suit. I was hoping that without the ATOM suit—which had been stolen, broken, or manipulated into a problem an awful lot—Ray would be driven to adapt on the fly. Acting as Mick’s new partner/Junior Captain Cold seemed like a promising start, but it ended too quickly to really force Ray to think outside the box. That said, Mick (as always) brought out the best in Ray by evening out his goofiness and the two of them gelled quite well. Nate, on the other hand, seemed to bring out the worst in Ray. Their bickering and straight-up fighting on the Waverider (and blaming Sara for being uptight when she told them to stop) was childish and really tried my patience. 

Still, I think the show found a balance that works for Ray in the Apollo 13 episode, “Moonshot.” Not only was his standoff with Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher) great, but Palmer was written very well. When Ray’s written like in that episode—smart, resourceful, wide-eyed about the adventure he’s on, and hopeful—he’s a great, fun character who I can’t help but like. It’s when any of those characteristics are thrown out of proportion that he gets super goofy (instead of just having a childlike fascination with how cool all of this is) or egotistical (instead of just being a competent genius). Here, though, episode writer Grainne Godfree and Brandon Routh nailed it! Ray’s powers also allow for some unique, fun gags, like being stuck small and chased by a rat, acting like a “gremlin,” etc. I love it when the writers get creative with his powers and hope that continues next season! Routh also got to have a lot of fun playing a Cretaceous Era survivalist, love expert for Nate, and not-so-bright janitor in the Legion’s terrible future. It was also a nice character moment that Ray was the first to say yes, they’ve treated Mick like crap. Even without going as far with their partnership as I’d hoped, that was a nice payoff. I did think it was odd the Dominators’ fantasy world had him with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) instead of his dead fiancée, whom we’ve never even met. They even referenced Anna Loring’s death via the Mirakuru soldier he fought to escape, but I thought she was an odd loose end. Given I don’t think Ray ever needed a dead fiancée to drive his superheroics and she barely seems like a factor anymore, I’m not entirely sad we haven’t met her, but this highlighted how unnecessary that bit of angsty backstory is to his character.

Nate Heywood/Steel
While this “time detective” (cool title!) started off fine and I liked how enthusiastic about being a hero he was, by the end of the season I was hoping Nate would either grow up or leave the Waverider. His interactions with his grandfather (Matthew MacCaull) added depth to him (particularly in “Moonshot,” which featured some great acting from Zano), but I’m not sure why he was necessary to the team or what he added to the dynamic. Yes, he’s an expert at history, but Vixen’s powers double his super-strength and the team already has Gideon (Amy Pemberton) for historical records; as I saw pointed out on Twitter, the crossover even featured Nate “deciphering” the location of a Dominator battle, information that should’ve been obvious since Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) told the heroes about it in the Flash portion (surely she knew where her footage had been recovered and when it was recorded). I also couldn’t help but think a history expert is exactly the role Kendra (Ciara Renee) and/or Carter (Falk Hentschel) should’ve been playing last season, since they’ve lived through most of those time periods. Oh well. Still, Nate’s reactions to just about everything early on were very entertaining and I loved that he named the villains the “Legion of Doom”…and that no one else on the team wanted to call them that. His Steel suit was super corny, but even knowing the two guys who built it (and the fact that it’s comics-accurate), it didn’t translate very well to live-action. My biggest issue with Nate was that, particularly as the season wore on, he got increasingly whiny about what felt like everything. He got injured being a hero (exactly what he aspired to be) and whined about it, he complained that “the future is boring” and “legends aren’t real,” he complained about not having water and food in the event that the Waverider even survived burning up (focus on the problem at hand!), he moped instead of helping plan an attack on the Legion, etc. It became grating and I hope he improves next season. 

Rip Hunter
I was happy to see the crew function without Rip’s poor leadership skills and his complaining about how the team couldn’t get along, so I was wary of his return later in the season. However, the show surprised me when Eobard reprogrammed Hunter, making Rip a member of the Legion of Doom! I agree with Mick: he was much better as a villain. Evil Rip was a lot of fun (Darvill seemed to be having a blast!) and I was hoping he’d stay a villain: not only were the Legends not represented by a show-specific enemy in the Legion, but the personal conflict of their former leader now being their enemy was great! Attacking the team with an EMP was a brilliant way to knock the heroes back on their heels and I actually thought Rip had killed Sara when he broke her neck (good thing Gideon’s magic!). I hadn’t even considered he could still control the Waverider, so Rip calmly taking over Gideon from inside the Waverider’s cell was such a cool way of demonstrating how truly scary and dangerous evil Rip could be! I would’ve liked to see the ship vs. the Legends for a bit longer, but it was enjoyable while it lasted. I also thought the inside of Rip’s mind could’ve been a little more symbolic, but I enjoyed seeing Sara and Jax go up against evil versions of themselves to save Rip. With Rip once again something of an obstacle for the team—though not evil—next season with his Time Bureau correcting the timeline “the right way,” I’m hopeful his new role will recapture the fun of Rip vs. the Legends.

The Legion of Doom
I loved the Legion of Doom plot and thought it was a huge step up from Vandal Savage (who I liked initially, but ultimately felt his evil plan was lacking in planning and depth and thought he could’ve evolved more through the decades). I’ve long loved the ability of Arrow and Flash to bring back minor villains for random guest spots—it makes the world feel like the comics, where anyone can show up at any time because it’s just a matter of drawing in whoever you want—so bringing back three (eventually four) of the Arrowverse’s biggest enemies like this was a great payoff. Eobard Thawne, Damien Darhk, and Malcolm Merlyn worked really well together, making for an excellent villain team-up! All of them totally chewed the scenery—though not too much to take them seriously or to prevent them from being threats—and I loved it. Thawne, Malcolm, and Darhk had some great banter, my favorite exchange being Thawne’s “We have one other advantage over them.” “What’s that?” “They’re idiots.” That we even got an episode dedicated to the Legion’s point of view—right down to the credits and the Series Sell—was a masterstroke. I can’t believe the show gave us live-action versions of the Hall of Justice (in the Invasion crossover) and the Legion of Doom base in their alternate timeline; I love that these shows are willing to go so far into the more “cartoony” aspects of this universe! 

Thawne was my favorite of the three—one of my favorite Arrowverse villains overall—and I couldn’t wait to see what his plan was. I initially thought he wanted to use the Spear of Destiny to kill Barry (Grant Gustin) while retaining his powers, but the personal focus on just staying alive was brilliant. Making Hunter Zoloman the Black Flash hunting Eobard was a great use of the shows’ shared universe. I loved how smart Thawne was about fighting the heroes, like when he separated the halves of Firestorm at the speakeasy so they couldn’t merge (though to be fair, he also had a chance to kill Martin and didn’t take it). As dumb as “the villain keeps the heroes alive” plots can be sometimes, Thawne allowing the Legends to continue living without their memories in his alternate universe worked really well (except letting Rip keep his memories in a fully-functional, if miniaturized, Waverider). I loved that he had to rely on Ray to get off the moon in “Moonshot” and I thought the lack of gravity inhibiting his ability to move at superspeed was a clever workaround for his powers (I don’t mind that he still should’ve been able to vibrate his hand at superspeed: he needed Ray anyway). I was skeptical at giving Thawne his swan song here instead of on Flash—it just seemed like he should face Barry in his final scheme—but this storyline proved an excellent, worthy finale to this version of Thawne. The Legion of Eobards made for an insane finale, and even though it seemed like they should’ve been able to kill the Legends in seconds, Sara’s emotional victory made the scene work. I’d hoped he could be trapped in the Speed Force for a while instead of dying, but Sara taking him down was great. Besides, this was Eobard at the oldest he’d ever get, after he’s clashed with Flash countless times; there’s still young Eobard out there to torment Barry!

I’ve long wanted Merlyn to have one final supervillain arc on Arrow and while this wasn’t what I was expecting, I enjoyed it a lot. I liked that his ideal world included bringing Tommy (Colin Donnell) and his wife Rebecca back to life and gave him a great relationship with Thea (Willa Holland). That was a great way to honor the fact that as horrible as Malcolm is, he’s always truly cared about the people he considers family. It would’ve been cool to actually see those characters reappear, though. Merlyn was my favorite villain on Arrow and I’m glad he got one last evil hurrah. It was smart of the writers to have Merlyn comment on how foolish it was to keep the Legends alive while also being wary of Thawne himself, echoing Malcolm’s continually shifting and always self-serving alliances. 

While I think bringing him back after so recently having been on Arrow was a bit much, Darhk made for a good, calm presence in the Legion, even if he’s not as threatening as Malcolm and Thawne without his magic. On that note, I would’ve liked some clarification on his powers and when he got them in the timeline. Even without magic, he made a great black knight when the Legends went to Camelot. He was the most affable of the villains, so I appreciate what his personality brings to the mix even if he isn’t too imposing anymore. I’m interested to see what the resurrected Darhk will be like next season, though.

After several imaginary visits to Mick, it was awesome to have Leonard Snart back for real! I was hoping he’d be rewritten into reality by the end of the season so he could return, but I was satisfied with his reunion with Heatwave. I love their chemistry and Snart was another of my favorite characters last season, so I wish we could’ve had the real Snart back for longer than we did. I’m definitely intrigued as to how different the “bizarro Snart” will be next year!

General notes
The season as a whole was fast-paced, fun, and exciting! I loved that they reformed the team within one episode rather than dragging out the hunt for the Legends across the opening weeks. The season premiere’s missile threat to New York was an intense sequence, outdoing anything in Season 1 besides Snart’s death. The improved pacing aside, they did sometimes allow it to overtake plot logic, like not showing us the team confiscating the laser guns in old France and not showing Ollie (Stephen Amell) leave the Waverider. Likewise, Ollie just handing the ship to Nate—a total stranger—felt rushed, even if Mick was also there. Leaps in logic like those aside, I loved how much fun this season was! The vast majority of episodes mastered marrying eventful done-in-one adventures to a continuing arc via the search for the Spear shards.

I’ve never been a big JSA fan and I could take or leave this version as well, mostly because they didn’t get much time to make an impression. I didn’t feel like their legacy really connected to or impacted our present day heroes at all (Nate and his grandfather aside), and not just because they were secret agents. Does Mari McCabe (Megalyn Echikunwoke) even know about Amaya’s time as Vixen? Did the JSA really make a difference in the world? However, I did enjoy Lance Henrikson’s guest stint as Obsidian and I wouldn’t mind seeing him again. Commander Steel also provided a good amount of emotional grounding for Nate. Avenging Rex Tyler’s (Patrick J. Adams) murder was a fine introductory drive for Amaya and she sold their relationship (and her anger/sorrow over losing it) well without us really getting to see them together, but I didn’t feel the impact of Tyler’s death because we barely knew him. It helped immensely that his death didn’t drive her to be a hero or anything; while she had real feelings involved, Rex dying wasn’t just something to fuel her heroism or to make her mad. Props to the writers for including the fact that interracial relationships and LGBTQ people existed in the past too! When the team visited the 1980s, I was really glad to see there was no longer an operational JSA: it would’ve strained credibility that no one on Arrow or Flash had ever mentioned those government agents if they were still around as recently as 30 years ago. That the government didn’t take their files when it mothballed the JSA base was odd, though. I enjoyed that the show delved into Katana’s (Rila Fukushima) lineage; that was an unexpected bonus! Merlyn mentioning the Zambezi totems was a cool connection to Vixen’s animated side of this universe.

I feel like Legends sometimes works better when using DC Comics’ alternate history rather than real historical figures—that seems more the purview of Timeless—though I did like this show’s George Washington better than the NBC show’s version and how Legends handled Einstein (John Rubinstein) and his wife/secret collaborator Mileva (Christina Jastrzembska). JRR Tolkien (Jack Turner) also fit into the season arc very well, and his inspiration to write courtesy of the Legends felt much more natural than how the show handled George Lucas (Matt Angel). While I enjoyed the toll Indiana Jones and Star Wars never existing took on Nate and Ray, their attempts to spark Lucas’ creativity felt especially blunt (particularly a scene where Lucas was approached by Ray, Nate, and Amaya in a parking lot). Likewise, screaming at Lucas in a trash compactor to conjure an epiphany about his future didn’t work for me. I’m not sure how I would’ve done it differently; maybe, as I saw suggested online, if Darhk had his powers Lucas could’ve witnessed his use of the “Force.” Perhaps A New Hope and Raiders could’ve been Lucas’ attempt to tell the world some version of the truth after realizing no one would ever believe the reality of this adventure. On a smaller scale, I was impressed that the Secret Service was immediately on Sara when she pulled a knife in the White House in the 80s: that was a great bit of competency from random guards you don’t always see, even if I was left wondering where they were when Ray declared there was a bomb. 

Legends wrapped up the Dominator saga—The CW’s best crossover so far—very well, even with a few bits that didn’t work as well as they could’ve. None of the episodes felt overburdened with recapping multiple shows (as the Flash crossover episodes have tended to be in the past), even with Arrow celebrating 100 episodes. The subplots from the other shows played into the crossover events organically (aside from Supergirl, though they built up Barry’s appearance there well), and Legends provided a really good finale! It also felt like a huge amount of subplots neatly came to a head during this episode, clearing the board for new ones. I liked the Dominators’ plan and reasons for attacking Earth: preventing metahumans from becoming a threat and causing things like Flashpoint. Everyone rallying around Barry despite his instinct to turn himself in to save the others was great. Long-awaited moments like Felicity and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) geeking out in the Waverider were everything I hoped they’d be! The crossover’s missteps were minor. I wish we’d seen a scene of Thea and the rest of Team Arrow fighting Dominators in Star City during the climactic battle. Two dialogue bits bugged me: Mick’s “That’s a first; talking to an alien” (totally forgetting Kara), and Kara’s “On my Earth, it’s just me and my cousin” (what about J'onn (David Harewood), the DEO, Guardian (Mehcad Brooks), Mon-El (Chris Wood) that vigilante she’s mentioned Clark working with, etc.?). Ray’s comment about Kara looking like his cousin was funny, but the awkward exchange of glances between him and Felicity dampened its effect for me. I would’ve liked a little more clarity on why it was OK to use such extreme force against the Dominators from characters like Barry and Kara too (them not being humans shouldn’t count when Kara isn’t one either). Dodgy morality aside, the climactic battle was great and the crossover ended in spectacular fashion! I wondered why Kara didn’t just go and catch the metabomb at first, but Firestorm transmuting it was definitely cooler. The Earth-1 heroes and Kara are totally a secret, unofficial Justice League now and that’s awesome! Ollie and Sara commenting that everything started with the two of them was perfect; I’d forgotten that and was glad to be reminded. It felt like the best way to cap off this crossover, honor the CW universe, and Arrow’s first 100 episodes all at once. Ollie and Barry getting drinks at the end was another great moment, and not at all where I expected an episode of Legends to end. 

I enjoyed the hunt for the shards of the Spear of Destiny and liked that it gave an impetus to visit several different time zones with a ticking clock. While I would’ve liked more time in the year 3000, the twists to Camelot and Arthur’s Knights were fun! Stargirl as Merlin wasn’t something I saw coming, but I liked it. I wish they would’ve fleshed out the JSA in general if they were going to introduce them, but small visits like this worked well. Also, given the Christ allusions in the Arthurian legends, hiding the shard in Excalibur was a clever choice! The production values in Camelot were also great, though (as I saw pointed out on Twitter) Ray’s “lightsaber” probably should’ve delivered more damage than any other random sword could. My other favorite hiding place for a shard was the American flag on the moon; what a cool idea! The later hunt for Christ’s blood to destroy the Spear was a cool last-ditch effort, but I’m not sure why they couldn’t just time travel to a point in the past where there wasn’t a World War on to grab the blood then. You could even twist it so that they fail to get it during the War, go back, drain the vase of blood and rebury it, so their earlier selves could still dig it up but don’t realize it’s already empty. Nevertheless, I loved that they went to the worst-case scenario with Thawne destroying the Spear, because the team having to pull a heist on themselves was great!

Season 2 proved to be a strong and much-improved season that totally stuck the landing in its finale! Not only were the Legion of Doom excellent villains, but moments like the Legends’ Christmas party worked perfectly to continue molding this team into a family. I was very satisfied with the season arc and can’t wait to see how the team deals with the very mixed-up timeline the team found themselves in at the end! My theory is that time didn’t break down when Mick was Chronos and he attacked the team because he had the Time Masters stabilizing history for him, so without them everything has gone insane. The concept of “anachronisms,” historical figures displaced throughout history, sounds like a lot of fun! I can’t wait to see the Legends sort things out!

PRO SASUSAKU DATABOOK QUOTES:

Databook 1 (Haruno Sakura’s Profile):

  • “Sakura’s feelings towards Sasuke has been unrequited since childhood. Despite having to handle tough training and missions, she also gives her all in love - certainly she might be an ideal among the girls. Watching her, I can’t help but root for her!”

Databook 1 (Haruno Sakura’s Profile):

  • “Sakura’s goal is to have Sasuke notice her… for him to turn around and really see her.. so that he might fall in love. Little does she realize that this goal acts as a powerful weapon in her arsenal, constantly motivating her to sharpen her skills as a shinobi so she can impress Sasuke during every task and mission!”

Databook 1 (Haruno Sakura’s Profile):

  • “True love conquers all! When Sakura is assigned to the same squad as Sasuke, she jumps one step ahead of Ino, her rival for his affection! Hoping to immediately start taking advantage of this opportunity, she decides to make the first move and approaches Sasuke with her most alluring smile!”

Databook 1 (Haruno Sakura’s Profile):

  • “"Sasuke is dead…?! Her heart was torn between her shinobi’s duties and pure love.”

Databook 1 (Uchiha Sasuke’s Profile):

  • “Though until then he had taken no notice of either love or friendship, after meeting with Naruto and Sakura, Sasuke begins to accept them as nakama, even if only little by little. In Sasuke’s eyes, before he even notice it, he and Naruto became mutual good rivals capable of boosting up each other’s skill - and also, when his heart was about to be swallowed by Orochimaru’s wicked cursed seal again, he was rescued by Sakura…”

Databook 1 (Uchiha Sasuke’s Profile):

  • “Sakura willingly and bravely calms the rampaging Sasuke under the influence of the cursed seal. Sakura’s heart, thinking of Sasuke, devours the wicked power.”

Databook 2 (Uchiha Sasuke’s Profile):

  • “Growing distant, towards darkness.. the one to appear before him as he began to leave was Sakura. To the back of a Sasuke that tried to face away from what was left behind, Sakura desperately conveys her feelings. Bright and earnest feelings - feelings that did not want to lose Sasuke. The one who filled his lonely existence with the emotion called love was Sakura. But as expected, Sasuke cannot respond to those feelings. Sasuke was only able to leave a single word of thanks as a parting.”

Databook 2 (Uchiha Sasuke’s Profile):

  • “Friendship and love, a future filled with warmth. But as long as he is there, he cannot make his dream come true. This is why he throws away a future with his friends. To make dreams of revenge a reality…”

Databook 2 (Haruno Sakura’s Profile):

  • “A parting with a loved one that tears at her heart. Sasuke left the Leaf Village. Sakura’s heart did not reach him. Naturally lonely and peace loving, for Sakura, the loss of one teammate causes her great pain. Thus, if that person is someone she loves, the pain is greater. So she shouts out her love which goes unheeded, squeezing the words out of her throat. It’s as if this is her imprisoning destiny.”

Databook 2 (Haruno Sakura’s Profile):

  • “A New Beginning. Sakura who swears to begin anew. This is her resolution to bring back Sasuke by her own self. No matter how hard the journey, Sakura will never give up….”

Databook 3 (Haruno Sakura’s Pofile):

  • “There’s a saying: "Turning hardship and grief into nourishment is what makes a sakura, a cherry tree’s flower, so gorgeous”. Indeed, Haruno Sakura, a kunoichi from Konoha grew up beautifully out of the sorrows she’s experienced. The death of a close one, then the parting of ways with the person she loved… But whenever she was hurt, she faced forward, and tearfully vowed to become stronger. Those sorrows engraved into her heart, her predispositions as a shinobi will certainly prove even more fruitful, as she’s obtained apprenticeship under Tsunade, the legendary kunoichi. The day when the entrancingly graceful, fully bloomed sakura flower dances upon the battleground is close at hand!“

Databook 3 (Haruno Sakura’s Profile):

  • "Sakura knows that in the shinobi world, one must pay a suitable compensation to obtain something. Despite this, if she could recover Sasuke… and the daily life that were lost, Sakura would gladly make any sacrifice. And that resolve gives Sakura the strength to open a way towards the future.”

Databook 3 (Haruno Sakura’s Profile):

  • “Upon thinking about Sasuke, regret tightly grips her heart, and strength invades it at the same time!”
Guild Wars 2 Lore: Sylvari

“ I will bear your pain, Sister.”- Caithe

Today’s lore post will be over everyone’s favorite salads, the Sylvari! I have been doing posts on each of the playable races so if you wanna read the others, just click the links for Charr, Asura, and Norn! Now I am fairly certain everyone here is up to date on current happenings in Guild Wars 2, BUT just in case anyone has avoided Living Story Season 2 finale, as well as major plot points for the Sylvari that are coming up in Heart of Thorns, there are major spoilers here. So if you wanna play the Living World Season 2 with no spoilers, or the ending, you’re gonna have to save this post to read later!

‘I. Live life well and fully, and waste nothing.’
The Sylvari are the youngest race in Tyria by a wide margin, the Firstborn first awoke in Tyria in 1302 AE, 25 years before the start of the Guild Wars 2 personal story. The start of the Sylvari goes back a bit further however, back to Guild Wars 1 actually, to when the Pale Tree is first planted. During the events of Guild Wars: Prophecies, a human solider, Ronan, stumbled upon a cave, and inside he found a tree that had several fist-sized seeds. He took one with the intention of showing it to his daughter, and was attacked by what he described as monstrous plant creatures, but he was able to escape. The location of this cave and tree has not been discussed or found since that day, even though some Sylvari have tried to find it. Ronan headed home with the seed, but once he arrived he had found his home destroyed, and his family slaughtered by the White Mantle’s Unseen Gods, the Mursaat. Distraught, he buried his family, and on their graves he planted the seed, and made a vow to never fight again. Some time later the centaur Ventari found Ronan and the two formed a friendship and set out to create a refuge around the growing tree for others weary of fighting to seek shelter. This place came to be known as Ventari’s Sanctuary, and welcomed all who laid down their arms, centaur or human. After Ronan passed away, Ventari kept watch over the budding Pale Tree, and before his death in 1180 AE he inscribed ‘Ventari’s Tablet’ a list of his life lessons and placed it at the base of the tree, with the hopes that travelers would read and learn from him, even after death. This tablet would go on to serve a greater purpose however, giving the Sylvari their moral code and ethics, and may have helped free the Sylvari from their original and sinister purpose.

‘II. Do not fear difficulty. Hard ground makes stronger roots.’
And so after Ventari’s death, the tree grew, and 100 years after Ventari’s death, golden fruit formed on the Pale Tree for the first time. Then, in 1302 AE the Sylvari Firstborn emerged from the fruit, the first of the Sylvari to walk Tyria. The first to awaken was Trahearne, making him the oldest of the Sylvari, leader of the Pact, and whose Wyld Hunt was to Cleanse Orr. The order in which the other Firstborn emerged is not shown, but all are treated with respect and reverence by younger Sylvari. The other Firstborn are, Aife, diplomat and archer, Caithe, mentor to new Sylvari players, member of Destiny’s Edge, her Wyld Hunt was to slay Zhaitan, Dagonet, Diplomat to Kryta, she also studies The Dream, Faolain, current Grand Duchess of The Nightmare Court, and former lover of Caithe, Kahedins, he tends to newly awakened Sylvari, helping them to understand their Dream, Malomedies, responsible for bringing mathematics to the Sylvari, he was also the first to encounter another race, the asura, he suffered terrible experiments at their hands, until they discovered he was sentient, and not a mindless creature, Niamh, she founded the Wardens to fufill her Wyld Hunt in protecting The Grove, Riannoc, he holds the sad distinction of being the first Syvlari to die, Wynne, First of the Night Blooms, and as such her Dream told her the terrible truth of the Sylvari, the last two of the Firstborn Sylvari have not been mentioned at all in the game, and as such their identities unknown. Among these 12 firstborn, Aife, Kahedins, Malomedies, and Niamh are known as the Luminaries, one of each cycle, Dawn, Dusk, Night, and Noon respectively, that act as the governors of the Sylvari, with the Pale Tree’s physical manifestation, the Avatar of the Tree as the leader, they are in charge of maintaining society, as well as developing political relationships with the other races. After the Firstborn were the Secondborn emerging in 1304 AE, notable members are Cadeyrn, founder of the Nightmare court, Canach, former member of the Consortium, and Ceara, who would later rename herself Scarlet Briar, and terrorize Tyria and unleash a dangerous force. Afterwards Sylvari began emerging from the Pale Tree at an increasing rate. 

‘III. The only lasting peace is the peace within your own soul.’
Most Sylvari are connected to each other, and the Pale Tree, through The Dream. The Dream is a state of consciousness that Sylvari experience before awakening. It contains the pooled knowledge and experiences of all the Sylvari, through this Dream they learn about the world, and history of their race. The Dream can also reveal, however cryptic, the future of a Sylvari, usually manifesting in what is called a Wyld Hunt, a call to destiny for some Sylvari. The Pale Tree itself is not fully aware of what The Dream actually is, instead she refers to herself as the custodian of The Dream, making sure that each Sylvari born is equipped with the knowledge they need to survive once born. Once the Sylvari emerge, their connection to The Dream is very weak, but their experiences are added to The Dream for sylvari not yet born to experience and absorb once they emerge. This connection to The Dream is also theorized to be the cause of the Sylvari’s ‘immunity’ to Elder Dragon corruption. If a Sylvari were to be put through the same process that would corrupt another being, they would simply die, instead of being turned. The Nightmare Court are made up of Sylvari that have a different interpretation of The Dream, they believe that Ventari and his tenets have affected the Sylvari’s development, and turned them away from their true nature, that of The Nightmare. The Nightmare is encountered at the edges of The Dream and contain the dark thoughts and experiences of the sylvari, and is present within each Sylvari. For most. this darkness is just a part of being alive, for others, it consumes them, and turns them to the court. The Nightmare Court seeks to destroy Ventari’s Tablet, ‘freeing’ the Sylvari, and turning the Pale Tree to nightmare. To this end, the members will commit dark and evil acts on other Sylvari, the goal is so that these acts will get transferred to The Dream from their victims, and grow the Nightmare that emerging Sylvari experience. Another faction of Sylvari, known as The Soundless, have decided to remove themselves from both Dream and Nightmare. They do not wish to be brought into the pressure or burden of The Dream, and through mental exercises and meditation they are able to minimize their connection to the Pale Tree and other Sylvari, though they will never fully be rid of it.

‘IV. All things have a right to grow. The blossom is brother to the weed.’
The Sylvari’s young nature leads them to be very honest and direct with meanings, taking many things at face value. The Dream creates so many similarities between the Sylvari, that they are constantly trying to learn new things, to help create a unique identity for themselves. Their naive nature also leads to a very limp grasp of things such as emotions, where many Sylvari are known to say out loud something that would have been avoided in conversation by other races. They’re concept of death is also seen as disturbing to other races, treated more with fascination then dread, and seen as something to be embraced. Another confusing part of Sylvari culture may be the views that Sylvari have for one another, while all coming from the Pale Tree and may be considered of the same family, most treat each other as distant relatives, rather than siblings. Also, despite all of them coming from the Pale Tree, lovers are still found among them, for Sylvari, love is viewed as spiritual and eternal, regardless of the physical form it takes. Sexuality is also viewed as a natural part of life, believing that as long as love is entered into with good will and joy, gender doesn’t make a difference. The human forms that Sylvari has been stated that it is based off the Pale Tree’s memory of Ronan, and her abstract ideas of human biology. Though it is replaced with plant materials, such as bark replacing skin, and golden sap instead of blood.

‘V. Never leave a wrong to ripen into evil or sorrow.’
Although the Sylvari have had most of their existence from a single view point, and being viewed as the innocent optimistic plant folk, recent events have lead to a shift in not only how others view them, but questions for themselves. All Sylvari know they are all born of the Pale Tree, but during the course of their personal story, a Sylvari player choosing to follow Ventari’s tenet of ‘Where life goes, so too, should you.” discovers the existence of a Sylvari, not born of the Pale Tree. Malyck is a Sylvari that is not of the Pale Tree the other Sylvari are from, and he has no memory of his tree. He claims to have no connection to The Dream, or other Sylvari, and his first memory is waking on the bank of a river, and about two weeks later, the Nightmare Court started hunting him. When brought to a Sylvari Seer it is determined that it is indeed the truth, he is not of the Pale Tree, but that he is from another, and that the seed that bore the Pale Tree is just one of many. He cannot be considered soundless however, he does not feel the Dream, but he does have a “great sense of distance, and loss.”, Trahearne then wonders if his Tree even had a Dream to guide him. Even without the Tenets and Pale Tree to guide him Malyck still seems to hold many of the same ideals as the other Sylvari, however he is much less trusting, and is more prone to revenge. The player rescues him from the Nightmare Court, keeping his existence a secret, the fear being that if discovered, the Nightmare Court might set their sight on corrupting his tree. After he is rescued, he heads west into Magus Falls, with a promise to find his people, and return with an army to help fight the Elder Dragons.

‘VI. Act with wisdom, but act.’
Other events in Tyria have led to distrust of the Sylvari, and the revelation of their ‘true’ nature. Shortly after the defeat of Zhaitan, various rogue factions had teamed up to assault Tyria, examples being the Molten Alliance being forged between Dredge and Flame Legion, and the Toxic Alliance between the Krait and Nightmare Court. These were seen as random actions, until it was revealed that the broker for these alliances was a Sylvari named Scarlet Briar. A Secondborn originally named Ceara, she first revealed herself after attacking the Queen’s Jubilee with her Watchknights. Though she was repelled, she was still in command of a formidable army through the various alliances she had forged. She then set about dropping probes all over Tyria, searching for something, and finally she found it in the ruins of Old Lion’s Arch. She assaulted Lion’s Arch with all of her forces, destroying much of the city, and killing many of the citizens, and although she was eventually slain it appeared to be too late, she had found what she had been looking for. As she lay dying, her ship, The Breachmaker, which had been drilling into the bay in Lion’s Arch, struck what is now known as a Leyline, sending a surge of magical energy out towards the jungle, and found its target, and with a single roar heard all over Tyria, The Elder Dragon Mordremoth now stirred.

‘VII. From the smallest blade of grass to the largest mountain, where life goes—so, too, should you.’
After Scarlet’s attack, the player with their newly formed group of allies, ventured towards the Magumma Wastes, instructed to investigate after receiving another message from a mysterious source only known as E. Once there the wreckage of the Zephyrite’s grand flying city ship was found, having crashed from the sky. It is discovered to not be an accident, but intentionally brought about by one of their own, a Soundless Sylvari named Aerin. While working to stop him before he killed the Master of Peace, leader of the Zephyrites, it is seen that he is talking to some unseen force, and once killed, only more question’s remained. The players and their allies lament that another Sylvari is the cause of more destruction, and are determined to find out the truth. While searching a nearby town for clues they find out nothing about Aerin, instead the origins of Scarlet’s madness. Revealed in journals written by her, it tells of nightmares she had constantly. Seeing a sea of darkness, and a entity calling out to her, she also claimed to hear whispers coming from the forest, she then refused to sleep. Finally, one night, after finally falling into slumber, she witnessed the entity directly. It showed her images of death, destruction, and destiny. After this, Ceara seemed to become more fearless, and was determined to learn more, and to put an end to the entity. While studying under an Asura named Omadd in Drytop, she was exposed to his invention, a machine that ‘opened her mind’ to the Eternal Alchemy. Once inside the machine, she viewed what she believed to be the Eternal Alchemy, and parts of her own mind, but as she got further in, she heard the Pale Tree’s voice for the first time in years, begging her to not go forward, after a second of hesitation, she pressed onward, and what she saw changed her, and broke her sanity. What she saw is unclear, but what has been revealed is that when she viewed the open threshold of her mind, something looked back at her. Once she exited the machine, she killed Omadd and took the name Scarlet Briar, after the red thorned vine seen chocking the Pale Tree in her vision. With this revelation, the player moved forward, finding the Master of Peace with the secret the Zephyrites had been hiding all this time, the last egg of the crystal dragon, Glint. The egg was promptly stolen by Caithe and she quickly disappeared with it. To discover her motives the player relives her memories thanks to the Pale Tree, and in them the truth of the Sylvari race is revealed, along with Caithe’s darkest secret. The Firstborn named Wynne learned in her dream that the Sylvari are servants of the Elder Dragon Mordremoth, born from it, and tied to its future. She revealed this secret to Caithe as she was to be tortured by Faolain, and begged Caithe to kill her, knowing she would break under it. Caithe killed her, keeping the secret to herself, knowing Faolain would use it to turn more Sylvari to Nightmare. Caithe confirms these truths to the player, but once again disappears with the egg, she does however assure the player that they are both on the same side. The secret origins of the Sylvari would not stay that way for long, as The Pact had just launched a preemptive invasion of the Magumma Jungle, hoping to destroy Mordermoth and its forces before it could fully awaken. This initial attack was a disaster, as not only the jungle itself fought back, but some of the Sylvari members of The Pact experienced The Calling, and turned on their allies, now fighting for the Elder Dragon. They destroyed The Pact ships, and now the faith of The Pact, and what is to become of the race as a whole, now rests in the heart of the jungle.

Alright guys! Next week I’ll wrap up the lore posts for the playable races with a post on humans! see you then! And as always if you have any suggestions for other lore posts please feel free to drop us an ask!

-Karn Vileclaw

Classpect Analysis: Mage of Hope

DEFINITION:

The aspect of Hope holds ties over possibility, potential, imagination, desire, drive, angels, the infinite, friendship, and the non-capital concept of hope. Hope is an easy enough aspect to talk about, with varied displays, multiple users, and, best of all, several characters speaking with an operative definition of it. As well, it is well shown that Hope has a very specifically defined counter-aspect, that of Rage, allowing us further insight into the aspect. Firstly, on the subject of its heroes, we have Jake English (Page of Hope), who manages two amazingly powerful displays of his power: the Hope Bubble, a literal burst of manifested Hope that somehow contained more energy than that of the Green Sun, and the manifestation of Brain Ghost Dirk. Most obvious is the Hope Bubble, mostly due to its ability to overpower the Green Sun-derived powers of a First Guardian; as a First Guardian can be said to have effective omnipotence due to their ability to harness the limitless power of the Green Sun, then this means that Jake must have been outputting, at a minimum, more power than that of an effectively omnipotent being, possibly even a greater level of infinite power than that of the Green Sun itself. More impressive is Jake’s manifestation of Brain Ghost Dirk, where he not only violates the principal of conservation of mass and energy, but actually creates a living being, with its own mind, memories, drives, and even separate knowledge, entirely because he believed that Brain Ghost Dirk was real (or at least, so long as he was whammied by Aranea into that state). Next we have That Worthless Fuckup (Prince of Hope), who was able to manifest Hope as a destructive force, one capable of overpowering Sollux, something he couldn’t do at any point prior despite having a weapon that has been described as one of the most powerful that the riflekind abstratus would allow (presumably, anything larger or stronger would fall under cannonkind, artillarykind, or seigekind). Most interesting about this display is that, despite That Worthless Fuckup being able to use his power through a wand, the wand in question is stated to be nothing more than an ordinary wand, likely alchemized out of the shitty wands of the shitty wand pile; this implies that That Worthless Fuckup’s wand held power entirely because he believed it held power. As well, as a Prince, That Worthless Fuckup actively destroyed his own Hope, destroying his romantic hopes (by being a stressful genocidal asshat), his personal hopes (by fulfilling his personal role as Orphaner, when an intentional failure would have served him better), and even destroying his hopes within the session (by suicidally attacking the angels of his Land). Lastly is Cronus Ampora (Bard of Hope) and his post-Scratch counterpart, Orphaner Dualscar, who was actually more pitiful (although less miserably pathetic) than his Dancester; unlike That Worthless Fuckup, we haven’t seen Cronus display any hope-related abilities, although it should be noted that, as a Bard, he passively destroyed his own Hope, driving away any potential romance with his slimy personality, ruining potential friendships with his relentless creepiness, and even demolishing his own destiny by abandoning it. Meanwhile, for less-derived and more spoken information, Aranea Serket makes specific mention as Hope being a difficult aspect, due to its strongly-curved growth (that is, it takes a significant amount of time or effort to gain power), but also lists it as possibly the most powerful of all aspects, something borne out by the events of the comic, with the power of Hope being shown as greater than that of Time (and, by mirror implication, Space) with Jake overpowering the young Lord English, who had already gained ‘limitless power’ from his Quest. Lastly, it should be noted that, in general, Hope players tend to be of a rather high opinion of themselves, from the unthinkingly self-important (That Worthless Fuckup) or callous (Jake English) to the outright delusional (Cronus Ampora).

As for the powers of a Mage, we really have no solid ground to stand on. Every Mage shown so far has failed to display any active associated abilities, and the Mages in question are all failed examples of their class. However, we can gleam some info from them, through the three shown incarnations of the class: Sollux Captor (Mage of Doom), Meulin Leijon (Mage of Heart), and Meulin’s post-Scratch counterpart, the Disciple (Mage of Heart). More specifically, examining them all gives the following definition: “One who experiences and comprehends one’s aspect.” Sollux notably had comprehension of the ~ATH programming language, a language built on the very concept of doom, and was able to experience Doom in a way no one else ever could, having had both two dreamselves, his original body, his half-ghost body, and his unlife as Erisolsprite in the doomed Game Over timeline, allowing him to die a total of five times, each time experiencing a new expression of Doom. Also notably, Sollux manifested the ability to hear the voices of the imminently deceased, a passive ability that would seem most appropriate for a Seer of Doom, possibly the result of his rejection of his aspect and apathy to his class causing his class to invert, implying an active-passive pairing with Seer. Meulin herself, meanwhile, is noted as having a great deal of skill with shipping, especially in the redrom quadrants, and so can be said to comprehend matters of the heart; additionally, she is stated to have little permanent luck with romance herself, implying that she has dated and been in many relationships with many partners, and thus that she has a great deal of experience in matters of the heart. Lastly, the Disciple is most notable for her relationship with the Sufferer, where it is stated that they fell into every quadrant at once with each other; this unique relationship allowed her to experience the full troll romantic spectrum, the human concept of monogamous romance, the cherub concept of devoted kismessitude, and the leprechaun concept of a “Heart-Moon-Star-Clover-Diamond-Horseshoe-Balloon-Rainbow-Pot” relationship (i.e, a full 3x3 trove); thus, it can be stated that the Disciple was allowed to experience every form of romance, and thus the near-complete experience of the Heart aspect. Now, if you wish for a fuller, more in-depth dissection of the Mage, I recommend preforming one yourself and sharing your conclusions with the community; failing that (or simply wishing to be entertained by my conclusions), I recommend reading my analysis here.

With all this, we may now parse the Mage of Hope as, “One who experiences and comprehends imagination, possibility, faith, or hope.” Other Hope players have to rely on a sense of hopefulness and confidence to maintain a connection to their aspect; not so much for the Mage of Hope. The Mage of Hope does not need to keep faith in Hope, because he knows. He has felt the rising joy of his aspect, and known the crushing despair of its absence. Where others are left adrift, wondering what there is to believe in, the Mage of Hope has learned that faith, belief, imagination, these things stand alone, stronger than the weight of ages if you’re willing to keep to them. Sinners and saints, heroes and horrors, the devoted and the desperate, all of these see themselves staring back out the knowing eyes of the Mage of Hope.

ABILITIES:

The Mage of Hope, as one with comprehension of and experience with Hope, functions as a Jack-of-All-Trades, able to fulfil any needed role the aspect of Hope could allow, which (with Hope being the aspect associated with possibility, potential, and imagination) is essentially every role. Having practice and understanding of his aspect, the Mage of Hope can inspire, manipulate, destroy, assume, or wield Hope itself. This pairing of an extremely varied and viable class with an extremely varied and powerful aspect results in the interesting result of a player who can not only fulfil any actual role, but can actually succeed in any role that doesn’t outright require a specific aspect, or which doesn’t require the specialization of a specific class (such as Thief or Muse). In video game terms, it’s easiest to think of the Mage of Hope as an upgraded Red Mage-Mario; that is to say, someone with access to most, if not every, ability, albeit usually at the cost of generalized weakness (the Red Mage) combined with someone who, while not specialized in anything, is instead passably good at everything (the Mario). Put in raw stat terms, think of other classpects as having a set of stats ranked from 1 to 10, with most classes having 9 or 10 in one or two stats and the rest averaging out to about 5 or 6. In this, the Mage of Hope wouldn’t have a 10 in any stat, but instead would have 7 to 9 in all of them. In more mortal terms, the Mage of Hope is a less-physical SBURBian Superman.

At lower levels, it seems likely that the Mage of Hope would be able to access some useful powers of their aspect, likely along the lines of magic attacks or other related abilities, making them an effective lower-level striker, along with their already burgeoning understanding of their aspect’s nature allowing them to help inspire their team and help them with their own issues, such as despair and misery or overconfidence and arrogance; meanwhile, as a learner class, they would be expected to do everything they could to learn more of their session, to tear the lore apart in search of whatever they’d need to bring their session victory. Through their understanding of Hope and its associations they could be expected to come up with some daring plans of action, to accomplish the seemingly impossible, to be generally good at things they set their mind to, and to discover the important secrets and hidden goals of Skaia’s Game, all while also helping to prevent the team from falling to either overconfidence or hopelessness; in other words, a Mage of Hope is probably one of the best possible candidates for a team leader, one rivaled only by most Blood players and some Heart, Mind, Breath, Space, and Time players. This, though, could be countered by their classes influence on their fate, forcing them to experience both the good parts of their aspect and the bad, resulting in spectacular failures and truly hopeless losses. However, while this tendency might be directly problematic, it does serve the triple purpose of both A: teaching the Mage more of his aspect, B: keeping the Mage’s feet on the ground, averting a definite issue with Hope players, and C: helping the rest of the team to not see them as someone ‘beyond’ them, in either status or ego, and so allowing them to actually help and inspire the team to greatness, at least so long as these failures don’t seem to overcome the victories. In other words, “Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.”

Upon reaching God Tier, the Mage of Hope experiences a less dramatic increase in direct power than other classes, but an infinitely starker increase in utility; no longer limited to their mortal abilities, the Mage of Hope can directly affect changes they intend upon the world, and with their comprehension of their aspect, they can use their more-limited but wider abilities to far greater effect than others, as well as being able to better use their understanding to help their team, inspiring the doubtful and taming the doubtless, and also being able to divine ever more information from the world by their greater understanding of Hope, including its associations with all that is possible (and thus, impossible), with potential (and, thus, all that merely could be), with imagination (and all that isn’t so conceptually concrete), and with goals (and, by implication, what those goals need to be fulfilled; goals like the breeding and growth of a Genesis Frog). For more direct abilities, sky’s the limit; the power of Hope is essentially limitless, being shown as more powerful than Time, and is directly associated with things such as imagination, so the actual limits of someone who can truly comprehend Hope are difficult to guess. Feats such as the manifestation of imaginary objects, the healing of the injured or despaired, the direct weaponization of Hope, the open manipulation of their power, the free manifestation of Hope itself, these and more all seem to be possible. Any actual limits would likely be psychological, either due to the Mage losing hope or confidence, or due to the Mage simply not yet understanding just how much their aspect can accomplish; in other words, the abilities of one who comprehends Hope are limited by their hope or comprehension.

At highest level, the Mage of Hope is closer to a full-fledged deity than almost any other God Tier player, having abilities far in advance of some entire classpects, or even entire aspects. Being someone with both power and comprehension of imagination, possibility, faith, potential, and the infinite, the actual direct abilities of a Mage of Hope at their absolute upper limits are less, “awesome magic powers of amazing strength,” and more, “localized and absolute control of reality.” By this point, the Mage of Hope can be said to not only have as much power as they can get, but also as much understanding of Hope as is possible, and so any actual limits on their abilities are purely in relation to the level of power they can output; as the power of Hope (albeit channeled through a Page, THE most directly powerful class) was able to overcome the outright statedly-limitless power of the Green Sun itself, it is %100 possible that a full-fledged and conceptually fulfilled Mage of Hope is truly omnipotent; if one were to establish limits they would likely be in the area of power, leaving the Mage as only being able to use their power limitedly, either as full omnipotence within a specific area, or as only being able to realize one effect at a time, or even only being able to manifest their effects limitedly (such as being limited in the size of imaginary objects they could conjure, or in the actual joule output of their Hope Beams).

Of course, all of this doesn’t mean that a Mage of Hope is unbeatable. As their abilities are directly tied to their imagination, they are also limited by their imagination: if the Mage in question can’t think of a solution to a problem, then all the power in the world isn’t going to help. Also, as the power of Hope is implicitly tied to friendship, a Mage of Hope is likely going to need the support of their friends to use their power fully; indeed, as Hope is so heavily tied to belief, self-image, and positivity, any disbelief or negative emotions and thoughts could have limiting or even outright depowering effects. Also, while the power of Hope is great, greater than any other aspect, it cannot actually do everything; no matter how powerful a Mage of Hope becomes, he can never travel backwards through time, or change the lines of other’s thoughts, or manipulate luck, or breed the Genesis Frog, or to truly create something from nothing. Lastly, the greatest weakness of a Mage of Hope at the top end of their power is that, while they have something close to omnipotence, they would not have omniscience; “It doesn’t matter how fast you are, how good you are, ‘cause it’s always the bullet you didn’t even see that gets you.”

QUEST:

We aren’t actually shown any proper Quests for a Hero of Hope, or for a Mage; Jake’s Quest was never shown, and neither was Sollux, Meulin, or Cronus’, and That Worthless Fuckup actively sabotaged his own Quest. However, we can gleam some information on the very little presented to us. On the side of Mages, the only thing we have to go on is his Land, the Land of Brains and Fire, which ties directly to the source of his power (Sollux’s “hiideou2 mutant brain”) and his suffering (the “cacophony of phy2iical paiin [his] hiideou2 mutant braiin cau2e2”), although that is, unfortunately, the only real information we have on his land. On the Hope side, we have the lands of both Jake and That Worthless Fuckup, the Land of Mounds and Xenon and the Land of Wrath and Angels. Jake’s land’s name is, unfortunately, worthless due to his status as Noble of a Void Session, and its actual environment is mostly worthless, being both filled with explorable burial sites (like all Void session Lands) and marked with an X, possibly as a reference to Xenon starting with X, and possibly a once-removed reference to his relationship with Dirk by way of Plato. Lastly, we have That Worthless Fuckup’s Land and Quest, which do provide some information. Firstly, as the Land of Wrath and Angels, it references both Hope and Rage, Hope’s counter aspect. Next, looking specifically, we can note that, with That Worthless Fuckup being a Prince, he seemed to better embody his counter-aspect, destroying his own aspect within himself, displaying his weakness right alongside what her needed to overcome it. Also, while we don’t have any direct observation of his Quest, we do have some info presented to us. Specifically, the info presented by Doc Scratch, who states that That Worthless Fuckup was taught by the angels how to destroy hope with their light; indeed, with that as context, it becomes far more difficult to decide if That Worthless Fuckup was supposed to talk with the angels like in a normal RPG, or if he actually was supposed to slaughter them all, with his growth as a Prince being hampered by his use of a top-tier weapon, or even if it allowed both options. Taken together, I shall posit that the Land of a Mage of Hope would likely have to do with something related to Hope, such as Angels, Joy, Imagination, Crosses, Crescents, Salt, Sanctuaries, or Imagination, and something to do with the character in question’s suffering. An example would be the Land of Loss and Souls.

As for Quests I may only speculate, but knowing that the Quest is intended to help players become more complete people and to better fulfil their roles as Heroes, I’d guess that a Mage of Hope’s Quest would purposefully expose them to constant hopelessness, while also showing that sometimes things really are hopeless. To give an example using the above posited Land: the Land of Loss and Souls is home to the wandering ghosts of passed consorts, forced to haunt the land because of the actions of the Land’s Denizen, as well as the living consorts who were left behind. The player’s goal is to help the ghost consorts to move on from their present state, at first by helping them personally, then by completing the grand challenge imposed by their Denizen. As well, the Mage of Hope will have to learn that, while they can fulfill some of the ghost consort’s requests (such as being able to see their long-lost child one last time), some requests are truly impossible (such as a request to have been able to start a family of their own blood, ghosts obviously not being able to sire or birth children).

The only denizen shown for Hope players is Abraxas, who becomes less clear as you inspect him. Abraxas is one of the only two Denizens to have a name from a mythology besides ancient Greece, the other being Yaldabaoth. As Yaldabaoth is supposed to be the strongest Denizen for the strongest player, it can also be implied that Abraxas is the weakest Denizen for the weakest player, although this is difficult to judge. As such, until Hussie either shows us Karkat’s Denizen, or shows us the Denizen of another Hope player, we shall have to mark Abraxas as a ‘maybe’. Also, I state now that, as the past section notes, the Mage of Hope is also a character with the potential to be essentially omnipotent; if that isn’t enough to justify the appearance of Yaldabaoth, I don’t know what is.

VERDICT:

Top. Fucking. Tier. The Mage of Hope is, at its higher levels, one of the best classpects period, and at the height of its power could probably solo a session except for the Frog Breeding; if it weren’t for the ticking clock mechanic, a Mage of Hope might even be able to solo a Dead Session, without any Leprechauns to help. The only thing which curbs it from being unstoppable is a possible power limitation and its dependence on positive thinking, the exact kind of thing that would likely doom a Mage of Hope from actually soloing a session, Dead or otherwise. As it is, the Mage of Hope is still a force to contend with, able to comprehend Hope and so use Hope in almost any way they wish; the only real limits to a Mage of Hope come from a lack of understanding on their part. As well, it seems incredibly unlikely for a realized and dangerous Mage of Hope to ever have any actual loyalty issues, being that comprehension of their teammate’s hopes and dreams is well within their remit. Either as an inspiring leader or competent teammate, it is very hard to do much better than a Mage of Hope.

The Mage of Hope needs little in the way of support, being so outright capable with the actual doing of deeds, and so outright requires few things beyond positive attitude. To this end, a Sylph or Bard of Mind, Light, Heart, or Blood would be all they need to keep themselves at the height of their power. The Mage of Hope doesn’t really need much in the way of leading, possibly being the leader themselves, but in the situations that they are a follower, a Breath or Blood player of most classes would do best. For synergies, the Mage of Hope works incredibly well with most classpects, able to adapt to most needs, so the best possible pairings are with most players of Time, Space, Heart, Mind, and possibly Void. Lastly, in the unlikely event that the Mage of Hope goes rogue, you’re in for a bad time. Actually fighting a Mage of Hope requires one to either be resistant to the Mage’s power, or to be able to attack in a way they can’t counter. Witch or Prince of Mind would be a definite, if unsafe, option, as would a realized Page, Prince, or Knight of Rage, and possibly a Knight of Space. Possibly the safest, if not most effective, counters would be a Prince, Thief, Rogue, Witch, Maid, or Knight of Heart, these being generally safe classpects, but still able to fight back against a Mage of Hope.

The Tarot Card Symbolism in ‘Adventure Time: Stakes’

Around episode four of ‘Stakes’, something occurred to me: almost every single one of the vampires from Marceline’s past is named after a card from the Major Arcana of a Tarot Card deck. Not only that, but the entire mini-series is soaked in references to the cards and their meanings. This is my attempt to try and analyze at least the most obvious symbolism, though knowing the subtly of this show and my own relatively limited knowledge, it’s very possible/likely I’ve missed some things. 

But anyway, let’s get started with:

0: The Fool

The Fool is the very first card in the Major Arcana; it represents boundless potential and the beginning of journeys, something which distinctly mirrors this vampire’s role in Marceline’s story. He’s the first ‘main’ vampire that Marceline slays, the one which starts giving her the abilities to take down the others’. Notably, the traditional depiction of the Fool is of a young child with a dog, taking a step off of a cliff; a wonderful parallel to the young Marceline with her own dog, enjoying the power of flight for the first time.

3: The Empress

This card, as you might expect, depicts a regal woman- usually blonde- sceptre in hand, a picture of control. This is the card of female power, representing beauty, creativity, fertility, luxury, grace and love.

Obviously, the vampire with this name embodies certain aspects of this over others. This Empress is all about luxury, being served upon and drinking the finest of blood (with flecks of gold in it!) She literally controls others through mind control, and though Ice King is immune to those effects, he is insnared by her beauty (and her sexuality). 

Grace and love, though? Eh, not so much. However, the greater scope of the episode ‘The Empress Eyes’, is all about love. It’s about Marcy coming to try and save her old friend Simon, even though he (as always) doesn’t even realise he needs saving. At the end, it’s about her apologising for going out of face the vampires alone, and accepting her friends’ help and love.

5: The Hierophant

Sometimes called ‘The High Priest’ or ‘The Pope’,  this card usually depicts a religious figure with his hand raised. He represents religion, obviously, but also tradition and conformity. This, of course, perfectly captures the vampire with this name. He is described as an ‘old vampire’, rigid in following the traditions and rules of the past, even when they actively work against him in this new world of Ooo. He refuses to make a truce, or to switch over to a diet of red or even animal blood, despite now existing in a world with virtually no humans left. Ultimately, he is killed by his rules, burned alive after being thrown into a house (read: Jake) without invitation.

However, I think the Hierophant’s existence in the story plays a larger symbolism. ‘Stakes’ is, ultimately, a story of change. Marceline chooses to give up her vampirism, in order to give a chance to grow up and mature, only to discover herself frightened by the uncertainty of the unknown. She is then given a choice; conform to the old traditions, kill the vampire king and become a vampire again, or break the cycle. By choosing the latter, she affectively avoids the same self-destruction of the Hierophant.

Not that the Hierophant isn’t an entirely negative card. In fact, it can mean a call to spirituality, or advise someone about joining a group. Considering this story is about Marcy self-growth, and coming to accept her friends’ support and solidarity, it would be foolish to ignore this interpretation.

18: The Moon

This is the card of intuition, the subconscious, and dreams. This makes sense considering that throughout ‘Take Her Back’, Marceline is trapped in a coma, experiencing vivid dreams. This card usually depicts the moon over a pool of water, explaining why this his vampire made her home on a boat. This card deals with fears, securities and anxieties, which we see demonstrated in Marcy’s dreams. One, features Marcy herself, living in Bonnie’s cabin, having grown old and near dying, while the still eternally young Princess Bubblegum sings with her. This, presumably, suggests that Marcy wasn’t as unconcerned about giving away her own immortality as she pretended. Earlier in the episode, we also see her dreaming about Simon and Betty; now both cured, happily married and acting as the parental figures they were never able to be. It shows her own regrets about her inability to help her dear Simon. However, the purpose of the Moon card is coming to recognize your anxieties, and channel them into a positive way- an emotional healing. Having internalized the Moon suggests hopeful things about Marcy’s future.

4: The Emperor (The King?)

There is no card called ‘The King’; there is, however, one called ‘The Emperor’, which the Vampire King could have been thematically named after. It is the card of authority and structure, of father-figures. This embodies much of the Vampire King’s person. He is (or rather, was) the leader of the Vampires, and even after he expresses a desire to want to leave that role, he still does his best to guide and lead Marcy, to be a figure of wisdom for her.

And considering the sentiments expressed by the Vampire King, wouldn’t it make sense for him to the one vampire not expressly named after a Tarot Card? Which leads us to…

11: Justice

“I’m not afraid of the unknown! I have the power to change destiny! We are vampires! You weigh the scales of fate! Spill my guts, or face the unknown!”

Justice is the card of, well, justice- but also fairness, truth, and law. The Vampire King presents Marceline with a choice; she can do what she’s always done, and slay the Vampire King, even though he professes to have reformed. Just as the figure from the card holds a sword in one hand, Marcy holds a stake; but at the same time, she has a chance to deliver fairness. 

7: The Chariot

“My path runs straight into the void- on a sick, flaming chariot!”

The Chariot is the card of will, control, and determination. It depicts a man riding out on a chariot, away from civilization to find spiritual attainment. It is not difficult to see the clear parallels to VK’s decision in this episode; he is willing to face the unknown, in order to break free from the dark fate of being a vampire, and make his own decisions. 

10: The Wheel of Fortune

No, not the game show. 

‘By the way, I will not bite… but turning you would subjugate me to the Wheel of Fortune! For I am a king, not a hamster!’

The Wheel of Fortune is the card of cycles, of karma, of change, of good luck, and success. The themes of cycles, of fate- but also of the importance of change- are some of the most central themes of these eight episodes. See this first comment The Vampire King makes, when he’s trying to convince our heroes that he truly does wish to reform.

‘This is the Old Way… agents of darkness and light, in a tug of war. But now, a creature can step out of that struggle.’

Or again, later, this exchange he has with Marceline. 

VK: Tell me, what’s the one thing you’ve noticed about the world, since you beat me all those hundreds of years ago?
M: Everything repeats, over and over again. No one learns anything. Because no one lives long enough to see the pattern, I guess.
VK: But you’ve lived long enough.

VK resents the Wheel of Fortune, resents the cyclical nature of reality. He hates how he and everyone else in existence is forced to do the same thing, again and again, never learning or trying anything new. 

Marceline, ultimately, does see VK’s point. She cannot just continue doing things just because that’s how she’s always done it in the past, just because she’s afraid of the unknown. 

But this card is also about change, and that’s an element of it that both characters appreciate. The Vampire King, ultimately, wants meaningful change. Marceline, too, wanted the chance to grow up- to finally move past the unhealthy emotional state of arrested development she became trapped in when she was originally turned. The song of the mini-series, ‘Everything Stays’, is even about how change, though sometimes difficult to see, is inescapable.

Everything stays
Right where you left it
Everything stays
But it still changes
Ever so slightly
Daily and nightly
In little ways
When everything stays

8: … Marceline?

Even though it is never explicitly mentioned, I think there is at least one other Tarot card represented by ‘Stakes’; “Strength”.

In the final two episodes, The Vampire King asked to have his vampire essence removed from his body, so that he can become mortal. When this is accomplished, her returns to his natural state- an ordinary, tame, lion. Later, when his vampire essence is spilled, it transforms into a terrible dark cloud, vaguely shaped like a monstrous lion, which spreads destruction across the land. At first, Marceline refuses to fight, feeling exhausted and defeated, seeing no point in facing the uncertainty ahead. After an (accidental) pep talk from Simon, however, she finds her inner strength, and overpowers the vampiric lion spirit, taking it into herself. In the very final episode, she discovers that the Vampire King still resides in her- though whether as a literal, separate entity, or just some element of her subconscious, remains ambiguous.

So how about the eighth card of the Major Arcana, strength? Traditionally, this depicts a beautiful young woman, calm and peaceful, taking a lion by the jaws, subduing it. Often, above her head floats the infinity symbol.

Marceline finds her inner strength. She fights the lion, not with her usual anger and ferocity, but through peace and determination, and the lion yields to her. It comes under her control. And in doing so, she regains her immortal nature, having now finally been given the chance to grow, and to learn.

Marceline the Vampire Queen, too, is represented by a Tarot card. Strength.

Fic: Better Angels [Percy, ensemble | T | 2700 words]

[AO3 | FFN | More Fic]

Percy knows a thing or two about losing the battle but winning the war. They all do.

Vox Machina, in the aftermath.

[SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 64.]

Better Angels

He sits for a while in the workshop he used as a boy, head tilted toward the faint drumming of rain on the stonework outside. He should by rights be working, should be feverishly assembling new projects, new ideas. New weapons. Instead he sits cross-legged on the soot-stained floor, workbench looming above him like a monolith, and lets his thoughts spool out from their tangled wad of thread.

He fought a war, once. That is to say, he’s nearly certain it was a war he fought for all those years when he was sinking alone in the shadows. He says softly, to the air, “To engage in war is the last refuge of someone who knows they have already lost the battle,” and, “War is a shift in perspective that places defeat at the head of a long line of future victories,” and, “Make no mistake, a war is an illusion we all maintain to keep from losing hope at the things we’ve already surrendered.”

“Fear,” he says, finally, “is the shield we prop up against the atrocities we commit.”

He smiles, then, and presses a gasping laugh into the palm of his hand, face flushing and eyes watering with the force of it. He remembers Anders, fussing fastidiously with the parchment and books laid out on his desk, speaking those words with a flippant wave of his hand, remembers leaning into his own scroll and scribbling determinedly, as though siphoning the knowledge from the air around him would make it relevant, would make it matter to a boy whose greater destiny was only ever going to be the wasteful personification of the Idle Rich. Remembers the kick of the List in his hand, the snap of a gunshot fading into the rustling clamor of shadow.

The rains tapers off, eventually, and he pulls off his glasses to rub at his eyes with the blackened, frayed edge of one sleeve. He stands. Goes to find the others.

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Line by Line: A Study of Hook’s Dialogue in Every Episode - 2.06 Tallahassee pt 2

Continuing my examination of Killian’s dialogue, especially where it concerns prediction or foretelling of future events, being the voice of truth or reason in the face of direct opposition, or just having a greater awareness of events based on his enhanced perception and human insight. These are of course my own interpretations of his dialogue, I’m sure others have different thoughts and I might forget things.

I obviously have ALOT to say about this episode, and he has a lot of very important lines, so I’m splitting this into multiple parts:

Previously: 2.06-Tallahassee pt 1

2.06- Tallahassee pt 2

_____

Emma: Don’t think I’m taking my eyes off you for a second.

Hook: I would despair if you did.

I left Emma’s line in for context, but I feel like a lot of us are very familiar with this quote, and it has lead to many a painful gifset.

This line, to me, is actually extremely significant both in terms of this individual episode, but throughout their relationship in a variety of contexts.

Despair is a big trigger for Killian for both his vengeance and just his bad decision making in general. Despair from loss in particular, such as the loss of a loved one or a beloved object (Liam, Milah, The Jolly Roger), or the loss of an avenue for the completion of his vengeance (Ursula). As well as just general despair related to being seen as, or feeling, unworthy (Bae’s rejection, his father’s disregard, etc). Almost every low point or villainous act in Killian’s life is related to despair which is why the theme of hope is so important for him in particular.

In this episode they begin their journey with Killian’s hope (I was hoping…) and they end it with Emma literally taking her eyes off him by walking away and leaving him behind, prompting his return to despair and thus to the track of his vengeance.

As we go through the motions of their relationship this is a prevalent motif, with Killian gradually handling this better and better as he moves further and further along the path of redemption, pulling himself further away from that despair.

This is repeated a few times, in varying degrees. When he feels he’s lost her to Neal he propositions Tink, when he is forced back to EF he sacrifices Ariel’s happy ending for The Jolly Roger, when he loses her to the DO he makes an ill-fated bargain with Zelena, etc.

A lot of people credit Emma with his redemption but it’s more that the hope Emma brings into his life pushes away the despair that is a catalyst for so many of his bad choices. It is the lack of despair that allows him to make better, more heroic decisions, not Emma herself, just the light and hope she instills in him that help keep the darkness and despair at bay.

That’s not to say he is without hope during these darker times, just that the direction of that hope gradually changes to “lighter” things, whereas his hope at the peak of his vengeance is literally murder. I know this seems a bit strange, but once Killian has purpose he never gives up. 

Never. 

Even at his darkest times he always has that drive. Even when he is literally dying he has hope for Emma’s future, and that he’ll get to see her reunite the blades of Excalibur. 

And that kind of determination REQUIRES hope, one way or another, this interaction just marks the beginning of a shift from the hope for a finite endgame to hope for a future. 

It will take him quite a bit to get there though.
 
Hook: First beanstalk? Well, you never forget your first. You know, most men would take your silence as off-putting, but I love a challenge.

One of the things I always talk about with Tallahassee is how hard they beat you over the head with the blossoming romance aspect of it, or as a journey of two potential love interests. It starts with, (as all happy endings do) “I was hoping it’d be you.”, our first indication that Hook is approaching Emma from a level of interest that is more than a potential alliance.

This line is the second indication this is a romantically under toned adventure. 

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Wedding day (Requested)

*Y/N Pov*
Today is going to be the most beautiful day in my entire life. I was excited as hell and I’ve waited so long for this day to come. I woke up in the morning with Justin, my fiancé, by my side his arms wrapped around me. A smile flashed over my face and I decided to just lay there and enjoy the moment. Around ten minutes later I finally got up and went to the bathroom. I brushed my teeth and washed my hair before I got dressed. As I finally was ready I went downstairs and made some breakfast. I set the table and headed back to our sleeping room to wake Justin up. I softly kissed his lips until he opened his eyes and looked at me. He smiled immediately. “Good morning beautiful”, he whispered and stroked my cheek before leaning in for another kiss. “Good morning baby. Breakfast is ready”, I answered after the kiss and he told me that he’d get ready so he got up and I went back to the kitchen.

After we had breakfast Kendall came by to pick me up. I gave Justin a goodbye kiss and he told me that he was excited. “So am I.” I smiled at him and left with Kendall. We went to her house where Hailey already waited. I gave her a hug and then they immediately started doing my hair and my make up. I told them they should get a makeup artist but they wanted to do it all by theirselves so I let them. It took them around one and a half hour to finish but as soon as I looked in the mirror I saw that it was worth it. “Girls, you did a great job! I’m looking amazing”, I admitted full of joy and gave both of them a hug. “Thank you!” Kendall left the room and came back with my wedding dress. We choose it together and I really love it. They helped me to put it on and once again I looked at myself in the mirror. I really felt like a princess and I was sure that Justin would love it.

The time came when we had to head off to the church. In front of it they both have me a last hug before going in and taking their seats. My mother and my father who have waited for me came over. My mom looked so happy and so did my dad. She gave me a hug and almost started crying. “You look so beautiful, Y/N!”, she said and tried to calm herself. She went in because my father was the one passing me to Justin. “I love you my little princess”, he whispered giving me a kiss on my forehead. I smiled because I was so happy. “I love you, Daddy”, I replied.

The music started playing which was the sign for us to walk in. I linked arms with my Dad holding the bouquet in the other hand and then started walking in. Everyone stood up and all eyes laid on us but I just looked at Justin who was waiting for me at the altar. He smiled so bright as he saw me.

We finally got to him so my father gave him my hand. They hugged and then he took a seat next to my mother in the first row. “My beautiful bride”, he whispered in my ear what caused me smiling brightly.

We sat down and the vicar started to talk. “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered together here in the sign of God – and in the face of this company – to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony, which is commended to be honorable among all men; and therefore – is not by any – to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly – but reverently, discreetly, advisedly and solemnly. Into this holy estate these two persons present now come to be joined. If any person can show just cause why they may not be joined together – let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”

He paused for a moment but then resumed.

“Marriage is the union of husband and wife in heart, body and mind. It is intended for their mutual joy – and for the help and comfort given on another in prosperity and adversity. But more importantly – it is a means through which a stable and loving environment may be attained.

Through marriage, Justin and Y/N make a commitment together to face their disappointments – embrace their dreams – realize their hopes – and accept each other’s failures. Justin and Y/N will promise one another to aspire to these ideals throughout their lives together – through mutual understanding – openness – and sensitivity to each other.

We are here today – before God – because marriage is one of His most sacred wishes – to witness the joining in marriage of Justin and Y/N. This occasion marks the celebration of love and commitment with which this man and this woman begin their life together. And now – through me – He joins you together in one of the holiest bonds. This is a beginning and a continuation of their growth as individuals. With mutual care, respect, responsibility and knowledge comes the affirmation of each one’s own life happiness, growth and freedom. With respect for individual boundaries comes the freedom to love unconditionally. Within the emotional safety of a loving relationship – the knowledge self-offered one another becomes the fertile soil for continued growth. With care and responsibility towards self and one another comes the potential for full and happy lives.

By gathering together all the wishes of happiness and our fondest hopes for Justin and Y/N from all present here, we assure them that our hearts are in tune with theirs. These moments are so meaningful to all of us, for “what greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together – to strengthen each other in all labor – to minister to each other in all sorrow – to share with each other in all gladness.

This relationship stands for love, loyalty, honesty and trust, but most of all for friendship. Before they knew love, they were friends, and it was from this seed of friendship that is their destiny. Do not think that you can direct the course of love – for love, if it finds you worthy, shall direct you.

Marriage is an act of faith and a personal commitment as well as a moral and physical union between two people. Marriage has been described as the best and most important relationship that can exist between them. It is the construction of their love and trust into a single growing energy of spiritual life. It is amoral commitment that requires and deserves daily attention. Marriage should be a life long consecration of the ideal of loving kindness – backed with the will to make it last.”

Again he stopped because it was time for us to exchange our vows. We stood up and Justin started to talk. “Y/N, we know each other for so long now and I love you with all my heart. You’re the reason why I am smiling and happy. You’re making me a better person and therefore I’d like to thank you. I’m so proud to call you my girl and very soon my wife. My beautiful loving and caring wife.” I felt the tears filling my eyes but I tried not to let them out because I had to talk now. “Justin, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me and I want to thank you for helping me whenever I needed you, for supporting me whenever I was down and for just giving me your love because it’s the most valuable thing that I own.” I finished talking and I wasn’t the only one almost crying. My parents had tears in their eyes and Justin had tears rolling down his cheeks as well but I couldn’t hold them back, either. The vicar continued his speech and turned to Justin.

“Do you Justin Bieber take Y/N Y/L/N to be your wife – to live together after God’s ordinance – in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, to cherish and continually bestow upon her your heart’s deepest devotion, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her as long as you both shall live?”, he asked and everybody now turned to Justin. “I will”, he answered looking at me with a smile on his face.

The vicar was now talking to me. “Do you Y/N Y/L/N take Justin Bieber to be your husband – to live together after God’s ordinance – in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, to cherish and continually bestow upon him your heart’s deepest devotion, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto him as long as you both shall live?” I nodded and smiled while looking at my lovely future husband. “I will.”

“May I have the rings, please”, he asked and so
Justin’s little sister and his little brother came over to us holding the pad with the rings. They were sitting right next to Pattie, Jeremy and Erin in the first row and we were so happy to have them with us on our journey. We exchanged our rings and I had to admit that Justin really did a great job in picking them because they were the most beautiful and probably the most expensive rings on the planet. I would be happy with some cheap ones, too but they were just so awesome.

The vicar took the rings and continued. “As a token that you will faithfully perform these vows, you will now exchange rings.
The ring is an endless circle: a symbol of the covenant you are making here today.
As you place the ring on your fingers say:
<As I place this ring on your finger, I pledge myself to you. I am yours.>” He gave us the rings so Justin started placing the ring on my finger while saying this sentence. I did the same thing and then the moment has come when we finally could share a kiss as married couple. Everyone applauded and in this moment I was so happy. We slowly walked out of the church and waited for our sedan to come in front of it while everyone congratulated us.

We partied the entire evening but to be honest I was so happy to finally be home in the evening. I got undressed and laid down in my underwear because I was so tired. As soon as Justin was ready he came over so we cuddled. “I love you so much, Mrs. Bieber”, he mumbled smirking a bit before he gently kisses my lips. I rolled my eyes but anyways it was fucking cute. “I love you too my husband”, I responded. Smiling I continued our kiss for a while but we both were tired of this beautiful but strenuous day. “Good night, beautiful”, he whispered kissing my forehead before he closed his eyes. “Good night, baby.” I hid my face in his crook of the neck and thought once again about this amazing day before I fell asleep with a big smile on my face.

Wedding dress and wedding rings coming up

anonymous asked:

Would love it if you wrote something Milathos jealous!Athos. Take that any way you will.

Hi Anon, I don’t like you =)I was supposed to be sleeping and then I read your message and I had all those thoughts and I had to write them down! And now I’m weeping bc I’m sad and happy over this story and I love you so much and thank you for the prompt that turned into a bit more then I thought it would be.

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Love and sacrifice, in Stevenbomb 2.0 and beyond - the future of Pearl, Lapis Lazuli, and Connie

“Everything I ever did, I did for her  Now she’s gone. But I’m still here. Sometimes I wonder if she can see me through your eyes. What would she think of me now?” – Pearl, Rose’s Scabbard

I’ve worked out what, for me, made Sworn to the Sword (and the ensuing episodes) such a gut-punch. The very short version: self-sacrifice doesn’t work, and does more harm than good – loving someone (and fighting for them) is most often destructive when there’s a power imbalance. This essay considers the theme of self-sacrificing love in Steven Universe (with particular reference to Pearl, Lapis Lazuli, and Connie) and offers some ideas about how it will develop.

The tragedy of Pearl is that she sacrificed herself, again and again, and at the end of it all she still lost Rose Quartz. She gave so much – and has been left with a vast, sucking emptiness. Yes, she’s got Steven – but just over a decade of looking after a human child, one that’s only just beginning to understand anything about his Gem heritage, is not an adequate replacement for over 8,000 years of devoted companionship. She spent millennia being a knight for the woman she loved, and she’s only had a fraction of that time to learn to be a mother. (No wonder she still panics and messes things up, even while she’s the most traditionally ‘maternal’ of the Mom Squad.)

Pearl’s love for Rose was many things.[1] Some of them are described by Pearl herself in Sworn to the Sword – “completely dedicated to a person and a cause. Brave, selfless, loyal – a knight!” But it was also intense, all-consuming, possessive, and jealous. We’ve met this before in Rose’s Scabbard – Pearl is obviously distressed at the idea that Rose might not have trusted her with all her secrets (“But not from me! I was the one she told everything!) to the extent that she lashes out at Steven (“What do you know? You never even met her!”). We also see this in the flashback episodes with Greg, subtly at first (I can sing!”) and then much more forcefully:

“You’re just a phase. You know that, right? … You can’t fuse. Fusion is the ultimate connection between Gems. And you. Are not. A Gem.” – Pearl, We Need To Talk

But what has become increasingly clear as the dust settles from Stevenbomb 2.0 is that Pearl’s love for Rose was, above all, defined by self-sacrifice. I believe that this theme will come to constitute a major part of the coming season, and we’re just at the point where it’s about to ramp up. What we’ve seen so far of Pearl and Rose’s relationship is an illustration of the destructive power of self-sacrificing love – not just for the lover, but for the beloved, and for the people around them. So when I say the tragedy of Pearl is that she sacrificed herself repeatedly and is still left to face a world without Rose, it goes deeper than that. The truth that Pearl has to face is this: no matter how much you sacrifice for someone, and no matter how many times you do it, you still can’t save them from their own choices. And that’s a brutal thing to learn, especially after thousands of years of sacrifice.

“Back during the war, Pearl took pride in risking her destruction for your mother. She put Rose Quartz over everything: over logic, over consequence, over her own life.” – Garnet, Sworn to the Sword

Earlier, I was talking to a friend about how Sworn to the Sword leaves me crying every time (and how I can’t stop watching the damn thing, or get the song out of my head). He said that surely Pearl chose to help Rose bring Steven into the world and move on to the next stage of her/his life. But did she? I can’t imagine Pearl wanting Rose to disappear – but I can imagine her supporting Rose in that decision, because Rose wanted her to, and she only wants what Rose wants. And Rose chose to end her life on Earth with Pearl – a life which, for Pearl, was the only reason to remain on Earth. (No wonder Pearl feels lost and abandoned. No wonder she gets PTSD symptoms when she’s reminded too strongly of Rose, or given the slim chance to reach Homeworld again.)

So where is this theme going? I think Stevenbomb 2.0 has sown the seeds for an important arc about love and sacrifice, by setting up some key parallels between characters. In Sworn to the Sword, we see the contrast in how Pearl and Connie relate to the idea of being a knight; and in Chille Tid, Lapis Lazuli’s “Steven! …. just let me do this for you!” echoes Pearl’s “why won’t you just let me do this for you, Rose!?”

[Here’s a gorgeous image by labjusticaholic​, highlighting how these moments mirror each other.]

Both Lapis and Pearl, to a greater or lesser extent, seem to believe that they are most valuable not for who they are, but for what they can sacrifice. Pearl has spent millennia fighting for Rose under the motto of “I am nothing” – even if, paradoxically, it was for someone who (presumably outisde the context of battle) “made [her] feel like everything”.  And now, she not only wants to do the same for Steven (as the bearer of Rose’s gem), she wants to teach Connie to do this too – even though, as a human, sacrificing her life would be permanent. As for Lapis, for all of her recent life she has gone from prison to prison: first inside the mirror, then aboard the ship, and now in a self-imposed prison where she is literally giving up her selfhood (“We’re Malachite now”) in order to subdue a dangerous Gem whose containment requires Lapis’ constant struggle and attention. But where Pearl is focused on sacrifice for Steven due to “[his] legacy, [his] destiny”, keeping him safe because “[he’s] too important”, I think that Lapis is motivated by a sense of affection for, and obligation to, Steven himself. This is the boy who talked to her, freed her from the mirror, showed her kindness where the other gems wouldn’t, and healed her even after she’d stolen the ocean and gravely endangered all his loved ones. She doesn’t care about the Crystal Gems (and dismisses their caring for humans), and the Homeworld she dreamed of returning to has become strange and hostile – so all she has left to care about is the human kid who briefly made her feel cared about and listened to.

And yet… Steven doesn’t want sacrifice, from anybody. He wants Connie to fight by his side, rather than be his human shield; he wants Pearl to be happy rather than riven by grief and believing she is “nothing”; he wants to set Lapis free even though it means he’ll need to face Jasper again. At the end of Sworn to the Sword, Pearl takes this on board and agrees to teach both Connie and Steven how to be good knights; however, it looks like Lapis will take longer to convince. Or perhaps it’s not a matter of time, but a matter of who is doing the convincing. And this is where I think Connie will come to the fore, in terms of how this theme develops on the show.

Connie and Steven treat each other as equals, despite Steven’s magical destiny. Their friendship is a strong one based on mutual respect. The new intro sequence shows Connie wielding Rose’s sword, and Steven wielding Rose’s shield – in my opinion, a clear implication that eventually we’ll be watching Stevonnie wield both at once. (I’m pretty new to engaging with the SU online fandom community, and have been mostly busy having ~feeeeelings~ about Pearl in the Stevenbomb aftermath, so I don’t have a lot of meta/analysis to link to on this topic – please feel free send me links to some and I’ll put them up!) But hey, here’s some awesome fanart of them doing just that, because it looks SO PERFECT.

[Art credit: yamino​. This image is also being sold as a t-shirt!]

Essentially, I think the non-hierarchical bond between Connie and Steven will do important work for modelling what a healthier version of Steven’s relationships with Pearl and Lapis could look like. I’ve said (in an earlier post) something along the lines of  “Connie/Steven could be Pearl/Rose ‘done right’ ” – so I want to make clear that I’m not aiming at super-gross implications of Perfect Hetero Relationship Shows The Freaky Queers How It’s Done (which is just NOPENOPENOPE), and in fact what I’m getting at is more specifically to do with the non-romantic parts of their relationship.[2]

Connie: Please, I want to learn! I mean, I don’t know what’ll happen in the future, but if something dangerous comes along, I don’t want to be a burden, I want to help! I want to be there for Steven, to fight by his side! The Earth is my home too. Can’t I help protect it?
Pearl (with big wibbly tearful eyes): Oh… okay! If that’s how you feel… we should get started!

Connie: Did… Rose make you feel like you were nothing?
Pearl: Rose made me feel… like I was everything.

I love these two interactions between Pearl and Connie, which bracket Sworn to the Sword. My hope/expectation is that this a beginning of a new dynamic – where Connie’s humanity, and the freshness of her experiences, can actually be an advantage over the long-lived Gems with their ingrained habits. While we still don’t know a great deal about Homeworld, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that it has quite a rigid hierarchy, and that neither Pearl nor Lapis were near the top. Being brought up in a system which tells you that you’re worthless – or just that you’re worth less than others, because of who/what you are – and having that cemented through hundreds or thousands of years of experience… is likely to result in internalising that system. I am worthless. I am nothing. I suggest that Connie’s experiences – as a young woman living under patriarchy, as a person of colour living under racism, as a lonely and socially-awkward bookworm– are quite likely to have included being told that she is worth less than others, because of who/what she is. But she’s had a lot less time to internalise them, and for all her life she’s had a counter-example close by: her mother, Doctor Maheswaran.

I’m envisaging Connie as a driving force behind Pearl and/or Lapis Lazuli fighting back against their conditioning and rediscovering a sense of self-worth. In my personal future-headcanon, Connie (whose oratory in Sworn to the Sword moved Pearl to tears!) gets to deliver an awesome speech about how one of the things her mother taught her was that “the world is full of people saying you’re not good enough, not strong enough, not smart enough – but those people are wrong. They’re just saying it because they’re scared of how powerful you could be if you ignored them.” Connie’s message to the Gems continues: “You are valuable as who you are right now. No more sacrifices. Please. Save yourself, and then save the world.”

I think this could be a really powerful way of demonstrating that human beings are just as “extraordinary” as Rose says – a pre-teen human girl having a kind of insight that millienia-old alien warriors lack. And Connie wouldn’t just be a catalyst for Pearl and Lapis reclaiming their power – I’m certain that in the coming war against Homeworld, she is going to be very powerful and significant in her own right: not just as a combatant, but a strategist.

(Going out further on the limb here – if the Gem caste theory is correct, and there are many iterations of every type of Gem, then Connie and her family (as people from the Indian subcontinent) might well have even more insight into caste systems, and living with or breaking free of them. I think it would be really interesting to link oppressive structures on Homeworld with oppressive structures here on Earth – but this is absolutely not my area of expertise, so I’ll leave this idea to be debunked or expanded on by people who actually know what they’re talking about when it comes to caste systems. Edited to add: of course, the Maheswarans might have lived in America for generations and thus not have any recent experience of the caste system - I’m not making assumptions about this, just positing ideas.)

I have some thoughts brewing about how, while Steven and Connie can serve as a kind of role model for Pearl and Lapis, Garnet could be serving in turn as a role model for Steven and Connie, specifically in the context of Stevonnie and fusion… but I think that’s a topic for another time, as this is pretty long now!

So, a quick round-up of what I think:
- love and self-sacrifice becomes an increasingly significant theme in the series
- parallels between Pearl, Lapis, and Connie will be emphasised
- Connie’s non-hierarchical relationship with Steven, and Connie’s insights into unlearning internalised structural oppression, will be key to demonstrating to Pearl and Lapis how they can support Steven without destroying themselves in the process

… and that’s all for now, folks!

If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it :) Also,  I wrote this laaaaate at night and I realise it gets a lot less ‘scholarly’ towards the end, but I figured posting it as-is is better than procrastinating over making it perfect…

Footnotes:

[1] Although it’s not the focus of this post, I want to make it very clear that I think Pearl’s love for Rose was requited – Rose’s tenderness to Pearl in Rose’s Scabbard, “Rose made me feel… like I was everything” in Sworn to the Sword - or at the absolute goddamn minimum, that Rose repeatedly encouraged Pearl’s affection (per We Need To Talk). I don’t think their relationship was healthy, but it was real and it was loving despite all the ways in which it was also fucked-up. Reading material:
nnylittleauggie : highly satisfying screenshot demonstration of how damn queer We Need To Talk was
fairymascot​ : longform analysis of We Need To Talk
louchananalysis of Rose as playing Pearl and Greg off against each other, and loving them both
[2] I don’t think Steven and Connie are (currently) in a romantic relationship and I am really enjoying that the depiction of their friendship isn’t playing up an annoying will-they-won’t-they at the expense of their characterisation (*cough cough Hermione and Ron cough*).

Style notes:

- I use “Gem” to refer to the characters/species and “gem” to refer to their actual shiny bits of rock (or oyster excretion in the case of Pearl, I guess)
- American readers - I’m a Brit, so most things that look like spelling mistakes probably aren’t. (I have been using ‘mom’ rather than ‘mum’ because I think the words are more like dialect variants than alternate spellings, and the idea of Steven saying ‘mum’ instead of ‘mom’ just feels a bit wrong?)

Mild Star Wars Spoilers

So here’s the thing, if you’re going to ship Reylo (Kylo Rey? Kylo Ren x Rey? Idek), please, at least do so in a way that is true and respectful to the characters. Don’t give me some 50 Shades bullshit where Rey enjoys being physically and mentally tortured and finds it a kink. Don’t devolve her character to someone whose only purpose in the ‘ship is to ‘fix’ him, who can forgive the torture and his sins easily, who falls for him as instant as he takes his mask off. Don’t give me emo trash about two tortured souls who slip into darkness together. Don’t make her a creature at his mercy who, even worse, enjoys it!

Give me independent Rey, who condemns his actions, who hates him for them, or pities him, until he gives her reason not to; who focuses on her training and the tasks at hand rather than pining or spending most her time wondering about him. Give me redemption Kylo, struggling with his choices and decisions, who /regrets/ and knows deep down the wrongs of his actions, but who strives for power and respect, who comes to revelations about his behaviour, who doesn’t make weak excuses for it all. Give me the Kylo who was intrigued by 'the girl from Jakku’, who herself almost seems legendary. Give me the Rey who has purpose and determination, hope and loyalty, and who knows how to fly and fix a Corellian YT-1300 light freighter she found in a junk yard.

Give me Rey who won’t put up with Kylo’s outbursts of rage and destruction, who would fold her arms and raise a brow in an 'are you done yet’ way, making him look like the rebellious temper tantrum teen he is.

Give me consequences, like Kylo haunted by her nightmares because he dared to force his way into her mind, Storm Troopers who don’t respect him because he implied the use of rape (physically and mentally) in his torture techniques.

Give him chances to /earn/ her respect, her forgiveness and to learn about each other.

Give him a chance to grow up and grow beyond these behaviours, knowing they were wrong.

Give me a hero/villain arch nemesis arc, where they are reluctant to kill one another, where they are aware of a greater destiny, and where things aren’t as black and white as good and evil, but where things are not forgiven and forgotten so easily. Where 'I could teach you’ is just as easily countered with 'you could leave this path’, while the strength and resolve of their fight remains.

Give me a slow burn, where changes in character and relationship are gradual. Give me them forced to team for survival, neither quite trusting the other, fingers forever ghosting over sabres as they argue about rights and wrongs.


Give me all of these things and more…

But most of all give me a 'ship which is well rounded and not based on sexualising non-consent, torture and abuse of both mental and physical aspects. Do not give me a 'ship where these things are easily excusable and forgiven because of an instant 'connection’, and do not give me a ship where either character is cheapened to make way for lust and 'love’.

[ Obscenely Long Discussion Post about Early Stevenbomb ]

Under the cut, it’s long and unnecessary. Let me preface everything with this:

Keep reading

An Open Letter to the People Who Made JMo Apologize

To all those people angry at JMo for criticizing Neal’s character, for talking about his betrayal of Emma, and saying that he needed to be redeemed, I see you.

I see you for what you are.

You claim that you care about Emma’s character, and then completely ignore Emma’s feelings on the matter because what Neal did was “justified” and “August made him do it!” and “He didn’t have a choice.” You think that having a reason for ignoring Emma’s agency, for making a decision about her life and how it should go without consulting her, and abandoning her to god knows what kind of life and situation (because this was a girl who was stealing and conning to get by), makes up for the devastation he caused.

You completely ignore the fact that Emma was looking for a home and thought she had found it with Neal. She was IN LOVE with him, and he did the worst thing anyone could do to someone who already felt abandoned. He gave her hope and then he took it away. Neal made her realize that love was possible for her, and then he showed her what her love was worth: nothing. One moment, she’s planning on going to Tallahassee and having a real home like she always hoped for, the next she’s staring at a cop, waiting for Neal to sweep in like Prince Charming and kiss her nightmares away. And as she sat in that jail cell and the reality of the situation truly sunk in, she made a decision. Y'all talk about Neal having no choice, but what he did literally stole Emma’s choice, because now she’s in prison, pregnant, with no money and only the knowledge that the man who she loved not only left her, but sent her to prison for a crime that he committed. She feels used and hurt; SHE IS BROKEN, so she does the only thing she can to protect herself: she decides not to ever let anyone get close enough to hurt her again.

Fast forward to the very difficult birth of Henry where she is CHAINED to a bed because she’s a criminal and she is alone with no one there to hold her hand, no one to tell her it’s going to be okay, no one who LOVES her, and it hurts because at this point, she is probably certain no one ever has, and the doctor is telling her she can change her mind, she can keep this baby, but she can’t even LOOK at her own child because there’s a chain on her ankle and a hole in her heart, and what does she have to offer him? Nothing but her love, and Neal has already proven to her that that isn’t enough. So she listens to her son cry, clutching the bed for support because she’s abandoning him too and she never wanted to do to anyone what her parents did to her, what NEAL did to her, but she KNOWS that the only way he’ll be happy is if she’s out of the picture.

Fast forward again to ten years later when Henry shows up at her door, begging her to come home with him. And she looks at this boy and realizes that the only thing she has ever done right is fucked up. She couldn’t be a mother to Henry because she KNEW she would fail him and she wanted his life to be better than hers, but he has what she always wanted: a family, and he’s MISERABLE. She gave him his best chance and it didn’t work out, so now she is faced with a decision: to leave and hope that things work out, or stay in the life of the boy that she wanted to protect from herself.

So she stays and fast forward to the curse breaking and Emma realizing that her parents didn’t abandon her, that they gave her up to protect her. And these are people she’s come to know, come to love as her family even before finding out that they are blood related, and she feels betrayed, even more so because she knows them so well, and she realizes everything that she missed out on. On having these wonderful people in her life. And then she thinks of Henry, thinks of how she did the same thing, giving him up to protect him and she hates herself even more because she’s come to know him too. She knows he loves her as much as she loves him, but she’s hurt him irreparably. Because no matter how much she is in his life now, he’ll always have the memory of her NOT BEING THERE.

And then we move on to her finding Neal in NY. She’s looking at the man she loved so much (and that she still loves despite everything), and she’s probably thought about this reunion so many times, but she’s looking at him AND SHE’S SO HURT, but the first words out of his mouth are, “I don’t understand. What are you doing here?” She’s spent ten years with the pain he caused her ever present in the emptiness in her life, and with those first words, he makes it clear that he’s wiped his hands of her. He doesn’t “understand."Why would the girl who loved him want to ever find him? Why would the girl he left without saying goodbye ever reenter his life? What is she doing here?

What is she doing here?

She’s listening to Neal try to brush off her questions. She’s watching him lie to her, treating her like he would one of the people they used to con together. And when she demands the truth, she’s listening to him get angry at her for bringing his father to him - realizing that her pain is not his primary concern and that he thinks he has the right to be angry at her for bringing a man that he never told her about to him.

She’s laying her feelings on the line, asking him if he ever cared about her at all.

And he concedes to tell her everything, but they can’t do it out there because he "spent a lifetime running from that man, I’m not gonna let him catch me.”

And Emma demands that he tell her there, but he laughs off her demands, and says, “A bar’s better. Don’t worry you can keep yelling at me when we get there.”

He’s joking with her, laughing at her pain.

“Did you know who I was when we met?”

“If I had I wouldn’t have gone near you.”

And for Emma, it’s a punch to the gut to hear him say that. It’s a denial of all the love she felt for him, of everything they shared. It is ABSOLUTE PROOF that her love is not worth anything. If he knew who she was, he wouldn’t have risked himself. Emma Swan, as she truly is, is not worth the risk.

“Come on,” she says, her expression trembling - and she’s not saying it because she doesn’t believe him, she’s saying it because she DOESN’T WANT to believe him. She doesn’t want to believe that her love wasn’t enough. Her words are a plea.

“Come on…Come on what? I was hiding. I came here to get away from all that crap.”

“So you were just using me? You just needed someone to take the fall for all the watches that you stole?”

“I wasn’t using you. When we met I didn’t know. I found out.”

“How?”

“When I went to sell the watches, I ran into a friend of yours. August.”

“You left me. You let me go to prison because Pinocchio told you to?”

“Emma-”

“I loved you.”

“I was trying to help you.”

“By letting me go to jail?”

“By getting you home.”

“Are you telling me that us meeting was a coincidence? Because how the hell did that happen if it wasn’t in your plan or your father’s?”

“Think about it, he wanted you to break the curse. Us meeting could’ve stopped it. Maybe it was fate.”

“You believe in that?”

“You know, there’s not a ton about my father that I remember that doesn’t suck, but he used to tell that there are no coincidences. Everything that happens, happens by design. And there’s nothing we can do about it, forces greater than us conspire to make it happen. Fate, destiny, whatever you wanna call it, the point is, maybe we met for a reason. Maybe something good came from us being together.”

And Emma stares at him, silent. Suddenly, her whole life has been out of her control from the beginning. That people have always been deciding the course of her life. Not only was she the destined savior, but all her pain, all the heartache that she’s felt was meant to be. She was never meant to be happy. She was never meant to feel love. And yet, maybe something good came from us being together. And she stares into his eyes, sees Henry’s face in his, and thinks about that crying baby that she couldn’t look at. She thinks about that young boy, begging her to stay because his mother doesn’t love him. She thinks about Henry, believing in her despite her abandonment, Henry, loving her so much that he cursed himself to make her believe. She thinks about her son, dying in a hospital bed, and her pain because she can’t save him, her son who she’s failed so much, who she should’ve believed in from the very beginning, dying.

“No,” she says, “Not that I can think of. I just went to jail. That’s it.”

 "Doesn’t matter now, I’m over it, and you.“

"Why do you wear the keychain I got you?”

She touches her hand to her neck, to the weight she’s worn so long that she forgot it was even there, surprised at his question, angered that he would ask her that, as if he had any right to demand that she explain anything to him.

As if he had any right to ask whether he mattered to her anymore.

She rips the chain off her neck, says, “To remind myself never to trust someone again.”

And it’s that moment where Emma Swan realizes that she will never be over him. She will never move on from the pain he caused her because it will always be alive in Henry’s grin, in the memories of birthdays spent alone, of moments passing mothers and their children on the street and wondering what Henry looked like when he was that small. She loved Neal, will always love Neal because she was happy once, with him, and he gave her Henry and helped her find her parents. And she can forgive him for leaving her, but in that moment, she’s already closed the door on her heart to him. She leaves the swan necklace on the table, the “reminder” because she doesn’t need it anymore. Knowing that Neal never searched for her, knowing that her love for him was not enough to overcome “fate, destiny, whatever you wanna call it,” she has all the reminder that she needs.

You can talk about Neal “deserving” forgiveness all you want. You can talk about how he left her to help her, hell, you have canon to back you up.

BUT HOW DARE YOU TALK ABOUT JMO’S RESPONSE AS IF EMMA’S FEELINGS DO NOT MATTER? HOW DARE YOU CLAIM THAT JMO IS AWFUL OR HOOK/COLIN OBSESSED OR JUST TALKING OUT OF HER ASS WHEN SHE SPEAKS ABOUT EMMA’S FEELINGS INSTEAD OF NEAL’S?

“She’s definitely more vulnerable, more open, and for the first time in her life, believing in people who have proven that they’re gonna show up for her and that they’re gonna participate in her life and they’re not gonna let her down.”

I don’t care what you think about JMo talking about Neal’s betrayals. I don’t care if you don’t think that they were betrayals. What I care about is this: that EMMA SWAN believes that he wasn’t someone who would be there for her and that EMMA SWAN doesn’t see future happiness with Neal, only a reminder that she put her trust in someone, and they let her down.