Can we talk about how well Zeke and Shao go together?
Zeke’s creative intellect (geared toward writing and prose and poetry and literature) complements Shaolin’s talent with music, DJ-ing, and rhythm.
Both Zeke and Shao are driven by emotion, but Zeke is more sensitive and expressive of his emotions, whereas Shao internalizes his true feelings until they burst into flames.
They’ve both suffered great tragedies in their life and have had to adapt to the cruelty of the world at very young ages. And both of them have coped in either positive or negative ways. For example, Zeke funnels his emotions through poetry (which is positive), but he hides and downplays his talent because it’s not a talent that is necessarily lauded by his peers (which is negative). On the other hand, Shaolin is determined, which can be seen in his passion for learning how to DJ (which is positive), but he forces himself to hide what he truly wants to do and instead embarks on jobs that harm him mentally and physically so that he can get money quickly (which is negative). In both their negative cases, Zeke and Shaolin are demonstrating that they are doing the best they can given difficult circumstances, which means that they are not at fault for coping negatively but that the way they cope does eventually harm them.
Zeke and Shaolin both have important mentors in their lives. Zeke has his English teacher, who recognized his talent and pushed him to accept it with confidence rather than shame. Shaolin has Grandmaster Flash, who helps him hone his talent with grace and humility. If it weren’t for these two mentors, then neither Zeke nor Shaolin would continue to pursue their true desires and goals.
Shaolin is the reason that Zeke began gaining interest in music and rapping in the first place. As Zeke himself says in the first episode, Shaolin is the reason for everything. This proves that they have a very intimate dynamic. How can you not love the person who introduced you to a world of color and brightness and music and who put you on the path to future greatness?
Zeke is the reason Shaolin can come back to himself. We know that both Zeke and Shaolin face moral and internal conundrums. In Zeke’s case, he faces the conflict between doing what’s right for his community and doing what’s right for his future (symbolized by the election - should he acquiesce with his intern boss’s demands or should he prioritize his people, who are detrimentally affected by white supremacist corporate politics?). In Shaolin’s case, he faces the conflict between pursuing his actual goals (namely, DJ-ing) and making money (through his relationship with Fat Annie, who manipulates and blackmails him and is trying to groom him into something he’s not). I find that every time Shao reaches a moral precipice, he is brought back to himself because of his relationship with Zeke. And vice versa. Zeke reminds Shaolin that he is more than just ash, that he doesn’t have to be engulfed in his own flames, that he isn’t anyone’s errand boy and that he has so much to give to the world. Shaolin reminds Zeke of the importance of genuinely and passionately pursuing your dreams no matter the circumstance, and of the love and importance of community.
You have two boys who are very different yet who also face moral conflicts, internal conflicts, trauma generated from what has respectively happened in their lives, and the external systematic forces that shape the way they interact with each other and their world. I cannot think of a better foundation for a more intimate or wholly romantic dynamic. They push each other to be better people, better friends, better artists. There is narrative chemistry between them: they are such good friends, constantly in each other’s orbit, but also liable to getting into arguments because of said conflicts that they are facing. And they have galvanized each other’s developments. One cannot exist without the other anymore.
an older design for thuringwethil Ive now moved on from but still; as well as a sketch of Mairon as I see them in the very early times aka “just moved into angband”. i feel sauron would take full advantage of trying out all kinds of forms and appearance (while it was still possible :)) …). also, that awkard moment when “hey thuringwethil can I see your boobs for reference”; then copying gothmogs hairstyle (horn-style?)