TO ATHENS BY WAY OF PANDORA’S COVE


Let’s Get A Party Started!

How Do I Recruit Bears?

Sure, I’ll go to Athens, but I’m going to take the round about way doing it, so I can clear some more areas! A quiet shipwreck, bandit camp, cool. Nothing exciting or too challenging. Hah! I do come upon a fishing village, which I think is going to be a chill place, but it is filled with huntresses that attack me as soon as I step foot on their beach. Like, serious, I wasn’t intending on fighting you guys, but here we go I guess. I want to make peace with the huntresses, they are bad ass and are one with the bears! There is literally nothing to be gained aside from XPs by fighting them, but alas, they are attacking me anyway.  Later on there are more huntresses that I don’t want to fight, but I have treasure chest to raid and ancient tablets to find, so I can unlock the secrets of this damn spear for my future relative? Is that even necessary for the memory machine to work these days? I mean, it’s portable now. I don’t know. TBH I barely pay attention to the current times portion of the game. The Pirate one was the first version of Assassin’s Creed I ever played, so you can imagine my great confusion with having to deal with the hacking computers and the reading boring emails portion of the game.

Anyway, I find another gruesome scene at some different cult’s HQ on top of a mountain. The God of War worshipers. I free a dude, and learn nothing about the cult that wants to kill me. I’m getting bored with grinding now, so I guess I will do a quest. I pick one about the Daughter’s of Artemis, head towards it, and discover it is the one where I have to kill legendary animals. Apparently I did initiate that quest, but I still haven’t killed the pig so Daphnae hasn’t given me further instructions to hunt for the rest of the creatures yet even though I already snagged the stag.

Loving the idea of bacon more and more every passing moment

Several levels later and I still can’t kill the thing, but I do get to the part where it summons five regular sized boars to attack me at the same time. There are boars flying, and I’m dying, so it’s time to run away again.

Seriously, forget it, I’m going to Athens. Let’s go to the ship, back to Herotodus, who is my guide on this journey. Apparently we are not docking in Athens, we’re going in the back way because my ship is directed to this cove where there is no dock. 

Welcome to Athens, home of the fighting Llama Birds

Actually, there seems to be no purpose to avoiding the docks, because we just walk right up to the leadership who are out and about orating to the masses. Perikles is giving a speech and some dude named Kleon is rousing the people against Sparta. Oh, Ok, they’re word fighting now. Perikles is the sensible one, or at least the one that doesn’t want to fight everybody?? I know he’s an historical figure and possibly terrible though, so I’m going to proceed with caution. He might help me by giving me an invite to his Symposium pretending to be a servant. First, he gives me side quests to prove myself, as you do. I am reminded that my entire goal in this Odyssey is to find my mom and learn about my dubious ancestry. I must admit, I was so intent on raiding camps and collecting shark bounties that I forgot what I was even looking for. 

Oh, well. To the quests!

First Metiochos is late for a very important date. Obvious, he is dead or in a cage somewhere.

Second, Phidias the famous sculptor awaiting trial for impiety. I’m fairly sure I saw this guy is on my culty list though.

And a vote on Ostracism. I’m supposed to help decide who stays and who goes apparently? But I’m too much of an outsider to just go to the symposium, yet this I can decide?  Sure thing, Pickles. 

Oh, No!

OK, To Metiochos. His quest is called a venomous encounter, so he’s dead by snakes, cornered by snakes, or caged by a group of bandits called the serpents. Onward! 

Well, two out of three; he is corned by snakes and tied up by thugs! I save him from the vipers, but obviously, I will have to go on a quest for the thugs now. They are apparently poor fishermen and followers of Kleon. I inspect their house and find more snakes and a note. Metiochos is a corrupt politician who is oppressing the poor and they are working on the plans of a higher up. I let them go and give an inspiring speech about improving their neighborhood and ignoring politicians as if it’s that easy, but whatever. I’m off to see what the snake dealer has to say. Is there another higher up baddie? Is it Kleon? Are the politicians the real bad guys after all? Maybe, Maybe, and Yes. Let’s go!

The Snake Dealer has no option for diplomacy, so I guess we’re just going to end him right here, and as it turns out he is the top guy. Huh. I was fulling expecting this to lead back to the big K himself.

Now for the sculptor. Perikles want’s me to help him escape. He’s not a culty guy that I have to kill after all.  He’s just the key to finding them! They are trying to kill him too. I mean…hopefully he’s not lying. I get to ask about his specific relationship with Perikles, and he says they are the bestest of friends. Okay. Also, Kleon is trying to set him up for theft along with the impiety he’s already on trial for. We are heading to another island to meet sculptor’s friend who I 100% do not trust. When we get there, it turns out that indeed, he is trustworthy as advertised and he gives me some deets on the cultist who wants sculptor dude dead. Alright! Sculptor man wasn’t the bad guy after all. Nice. I didn’t want to kill him.

~Pause for sleep!~

Okay, now we get to decide who’s getting exiled. I have to go to another island to do this. WHY??? Oh, wait, no, it is not on another island. I am on another island. I forgot I was dropping that dude off to hide out from those culty douches. I’m back in Athens now, and it turns out Perikles wants me to rig the ostracism. I’m not deciding anything, I’m just stuffing the ballot box. That makes a whole lot more sense. Let’s hear it for the cradle of democracy!  We’ll see if I get a choice in this.

I don’t. Let’s see who I’ve doomed.

Dust in the wind, Dude.

I’m not quite sure what happened, but the guy I meet back at the ostracism isn’t the same guy that instructed me to rig the vote? Or is it?? I don’t even remember. In any case, the guy I meet is none other than So-Crates himself, best known for helping Bill and Ted on their Excellent Adventure.

Well, the vote’s are in, and we get reassured that they have all been counted despite evidence of vote tampering. Now, this close personal friend of Sokrates and Perikles has to go. Wait, wait…so, the vote was or wasn’t fixed? I’m so confused. Sokrates is giving me a guilt trip though. Ugh. Go philosophize somewhere else, my dude. I’m going back to Pickles to see what the deal is.

But first I help a townsfolk deliver a flower to a doctor, who is not nearly as cute as my country doctor. At least I get some easy drachmae, and Whooosh. Level Up! Good detour, self. Should I head to Perikles, or should I see what mayhem Kleon is up to? 

Kleon it is!

OK, he’s just trying to overthrow the government.

…or not.

He wants me to hassle some Spartans to bump up morale. I guess I can take him up on it since I’m probably going to be doing that anyway. I mean, on the one hand, I don’t trust his squinty ass, but on the other he’s not hiring me to straight up murder Pickles, sooo…

Ok, manual save. Let’s put hassling the Spartans on the menu.

But first, I have a symposium to attend to!

Whaaaat?

OMG, PHOIBE is there???? What? Not dead of the plague? Yes, it is Phoibe, and not a case of reusing the same model for all children in the game. Turns out she saved her money, stowed away, and came to Athens before she could perish. Alexios can’t believe she’s here either. She’s working for someone named Aspasia, who I feel like I should know, but I don’t.

Phoibe is clearly done with me.

Anyways, Pheoibe is here to make sure I’m in the proper fancy robes and check my weapons at the door. I have options here to not change, but I’ll do it. Even though such things are always suspicious. I will probably need a dagger at some point. Alexios is 100% echoing my feelings about this as soon as I’m typing them! I feel vindicated.

Anyway, Herodotus is here and giving me the deets about this schmooze fest. I guess this new squishy non-armor was a good choice for rubbing elbows. He tells me about all the dudes here. I won’t tell you all about these argumentative playwrights now though. I learn that Alexios doesn’t like Sokrates at all, and Perikles isn’t even at his own shin-dig. UGH.

Before I can get any more introductions, I am accosted by a shirtless drunk dude, who is kind of shameless and amazing. Like, everybody else is chatting and drinking and this fella just rolls on up in his undies like it’s nothing. Haha, what is happening? He’s reciting some love poem or something at me before he wanders away.

Now Herodotus goes to find Pickles, and I’m left alone to my own devices. My first side quest is to find and talk to shirtless drunk guy. I’m not sure how much information I’m going to get out of him. 

Oh, great. Turns out he’s behind a closed door. With moaning and goat noises. This guy’s name is Alkibiades, I’m pretty sure it’s exactly what it sounds like and he is not attempting to lift heavy furniture for comedic effect back there, but I pound on the door and demand to be let in anyway. Yep. Indeed, this is some kind of orgy situation happening (the goat likes to watch???) He asks if I’m here to join them. He’s also super into Sokrates for some reason. (Sokrates is not there for the record)

Stop Flirting with me, Ace, I’m Trying to Find my Mom!

Well, I have agreed to get him some oil in exchange for info, but in the kitchen I’ve bumped into this playwright guy who was arguing with some other playwright named Euripides earlier and I’m supposed to care about this? No. I am just getting oil for the horny dude. Time is of the essence! I think this guy’s drunk too. Sophokles is his name. He want’s me to get Eurpides drunk, so he too can become a public embarrassment. Everybody at this party is drunk! Except for me. Alas.  What has Pickles gotten me into?   Symposium does sound far more elegant than this drunken frat party I am at.

Okay, well, now that Alkibiades has his oil and is pumped up about his orgy (that he still is trying to convince Alexios to join. I do have the option to say yes, but I’m going to stick with the find mom plan. I mean, not gonna lie, I like his style. He seems way more fun that those bickering playwrights, but I am on a quest!) Anyway, Alkibiades, does seem less drunk somehow and thinks my mom might be on Korinth with the hetarae. He is surprisingly helpful even though Alexios isn’t particularly pleased by this info.

Now we’re off to get some playwrights drunk and see if they’re as helpful as shirtless guy. I have already fucked up this quest and got the wrong wine from the kitchen staff. Let’s see how it goes. 

I propose a drinking competition. I really don’t like these dudes. They’re kind of A-holes, treating me like a nameless servant here to pour them wine. I am pouring them wine and possibly posing a servant, though not much has been made of that since I first met Perikles.  I realize this special robe may in fact be servants attire.  That’s not the point. Eurpides gives me some info to track down. I wasn’t paying attention, so I will check it out in the quest menu later. I wonder what would have happened if I’d picked the right wine? Perhaps Sophokles would have given me the info instead?

Ok, back to Sokrates for some philosophical discussions.

We’re discussing the art of war. Lol, Alexios is not getting it. We should have stuck with the orgy dude. Just in time to save me from this conversation, the mythical Aspasia who I feel like I should know makes her appearance. Turns out, I don’t know her after all. She gives me some contacts to talk to in the places the other guys told me to go, and also another contact—a woman called Xenia!

Now let’s see what Perikles has to say.

He’s just up on the second floor moping and doesn’t want to join his own party for a speech. Like, he’s very sober. I’m not sure anybody down there is going to remember anything he has to say anyway. While we’re up here, we’re going to find out what the heck was up with all those errands:

I saved the sculptor because he’s a bro. That’s it. Perikles thinks he was delusional, but a good pal that deserved a hand.

And the Ostracized guy? He got sent away because Perikles wanted to protect him.

And Metiochos just got snaked through no machinations of Perikles. That was all on some rando dudes who were into Kleon.

Well, Perikles himself was less than helpful, but at least I have some leads.

On the way out Pheoibe tells me some rumors about the plague back home, so now I have a quest to go check that out. I tell her it’s not our fault that we’ve doomed our whole island, but yeah. Totally my fault!

I tell her I’m going off to Korinth. Since Alkibiades is the first person I talked to, that shall be the first place I’ll go!  I’m going to put off handling this plague situation for as long as possible, that’s for sure!

Oh, Deers


Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Well, here we are at the temple with the Kingfisher and his dagger thugs. Agapios realizes his bro is around the bend when he starts going on about world domination and how his bro is weak. Agapios thinks some people just want to live in the world and not rule it, which is a direct contradiction to the Kingfisher and also Tears for Fears. Now, We Battle!

There’s not much to say about this, since the eventual conclusion is foregone. (It takes me a couple tries, I’ll be honest.) The most interesting thing that happens is that I manage to dispatch the Kingfisher himself by Sparta kicking him right off the edge of the cliff. These Daggers have picked a terrible spot for fighting a dude with mad kicking abilities since the temple is right on top of a mountain. I try to do that with the other four or five dudes, but I have to do it the regular sword way because they keep running around.

In any case, we’ve defeated the bad guys, but everybody is sad anyway. Agapios learns that he is now a free man, since he ran away before the Magistrate! could tell him earlier. I think they’re teaming up to rid the dagger remnants from the island anyway. Well, my work here is done! To the shiny question mark!

Safe and Sound at last

But first: A. I realize that half this island is still unexplored which is why I haven’t triggered a conquest battle yet. I have more supplies to burn and fort locations to complete. B. The Cult section of my menu screen tells you where to find the cultists—of which the dagger is not one. There is one on the island though, so I go find him in a cave and get another X on my cult map!

Now the golden Q! 

Doe, a Deer, a lot of Deer

It is not a bear jamboree after all. It is a DEER jamboree!  Also, clearly a place for a boss battle if I’ve ever seen one.  So I go down there and cut-scene to a shining majestic golden antlered buck.  I don’t want to fight the deer because he is beautiful, and I feel bad until the thing pins me to the ground with its giant gold antlers. We are meant to do battle; now I know. I am going to make a golden spear out of you!

That’s What You Think, Adventurer!

Nope, I lied. After this deer murders me for the thousandth time, I decide to go see if I can muster up some fire arrows or something. I defeat some more forts, get into major trouble at a quarry, but manage to complete the location anyway with my patented technique of running and grabbing the treasures and running away again, and just taking a few hits while destroying the supplies. I would prefer the stealth method, but I’m not particularly great at that. There’s always some guard perched somewhere that I didn’t see who catches me. It takes too much time to hack and slash my way through an entire camp so I can raid it at my leisure anyway.

After this, I attempt to recruit the charming mercenary to my team. I’m determined to get him, but right now he keeps beating me, so I’m back to the deer. I have a personal vendetta against this monster buck now. However, I am getting sleepy, and I just don’t feel up to memorizing his charging pattern right now.

I awaken renewed and begin by recruiting the charming mercenary to team Alexios. Yay! On the un-yay, side of things, I have triggered a conquest battle, but keep failing at it, until I upgrade my gear, which I should remember to do more often. Now, I can at least manage without perishing immediately. I still fail, but without dying. I jut fail the battle, but do manage to defeat one of the mercenaries that shows up, so I don’t restart, because I don’t want to fight that guy again. He isn’t charming, so he can begone and I can move up the mercenary tree!

Work Your Magic, Magic Forge!

 Now, for Mr. Deer. I have researched how not to die, and realize only now that I have a thing called second wind which replenishes my health during battle, so now I have some golden antlers and a quest item for a quest I haven’t started? I don’t think anyway. What is the deal with the legendary creatures? I suppose we will find out. And that is it for this island. All my locations are checkmarked. Athens remains undefeated, but whatever. So, what now? I’m going back to Andros, where the spear upgrady machine is, so I can defeat a cultist and complete the second half of the island that I haven’t yet discovered! I don’t remember what I find here, because that was a couple days ago. I’m going to guess that’s it’s a bunch of stronghold locations, which I can defeat, and Oh, yes — One cave to the underworld!

This sounds exciting in theory, (Yes! Let’s go chill with Hades, Persephone, and the Cerberus! and that one dude in the boat), in reality, it is more just culty, cultists, culting it up deep down underground. It is a particularly gruesome location, so I have no qualms about ending these particular pixels. Seriously, there is half a dude on an altar just to give you an idea of what these guys are up to. I am still not great at fighting hand to hand, so I use my arrows. Bless the arrows! None of them are any of the leader cultists though, but they do give me a few more clues on my map that I’m going to check out and deal with some Q’s along the way!

I take a moment to wonder vaguely about poor Herodotus and Barnabus, who are just sitting around twiddling their thumbs on the boat waiting for me to finally get on with it and go to Athens. Where even is it? I dunno. Let’s find out next time!

Athens is somewhere out there!

Dak Reads Les Misérables / SAINT-DENIS AND THE IDYLL OF THE RUE PLUMET: Book 4


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information.  Things not to expect: deep literary analysis.  Things to expect: Spoilers.  All the spoilers.

Pennies From Heaven

Today we arrive at Cosette and Valjean’s place, post Jondrette caper where Cosette and Valjean are suffering a collective loss of memory. But first a very short diversion backwards where we learn that our duo have really found that despite Cosette’s distraction with teenagerdom and Valjean’s Marius avoidance, their most joyful time together is helping the poor. Then the whole disaster with Thenardier happened.

 Valjean returns to their abode and I realize now that he has actually been branded by Thenardier’s hot murder chisel on the arm. This wound has become gross and infected and Valjean is all feverish and incapacitated. He doesn’t want to go to any doctors, which is Cosette’s reasonable plan. He says call the vet instead. I think this was a plot line in season one of Schitt’s Creek. 

I will inject here that Valjean isn’t quite angry at the whole Jondrette/Thenardier situation. He just kind of feels sorry for them, and shrugs it off because they are in prison now where they can do no harm. So, the Jondrettes will keep on keeping on, I suppose, while Valjean is over here dying of sepsis.

 In any case, he doesn’t end up at the animal doctor. Cosette just takes care of him and nurses him back to health. All is well! In fact all is better than well according to Valjean’s mind, because, in taking care of him, Cosette seems to back to her doting former self. He gives praise to his gross infected wound for her continued attentions! She spends more time in the out back shack and Valjean has to push her to go hang out in her front garden again. 

 Speaking of the front garden, it’s springtime and the area is abloom and beautiful. I’m sure this is very symbolic. Something, something, rebirth, something, something, Cosette becoming a woman maybe? But you know what we say about symbolism here. 

Regardless of symbology, they are happy again! So happy in fact, that Valjean maybe thinks that whole Marius business was in his imagination, and Cosette never even mentions the convict caravan again! Yay! Now they can live happily ever after, right? 

 Wrong. 

As soon as Valjean is well enough, he begins his night walks again (apparently he was going on night walks sans Cosette), and here the book informs me right there in black and white that night walks are a great time for adventures! I assume this is alluding to a forthcoming night adventure Valjean is going to be having in this chapter! Let us forge ahead: 

Now, do you remember little Gavroche? He is the young son of the Thenardiers who they don’t care about, so he lives on the street. He’s hungry because he hasn’t eaten tonight, or the night before, or the night before that. He decides that he’s going to this apple tree he knows about to find some apples to munch on.

This is Valjean’s garden, right?

Wrong! It is our friendly neighbor, Mabeuf’s garden. Gavroche doesn’t go apple raiding right off the bat. (watch out kid, an arrestable offense, or at least a way to get press ganged into the Royal Navy.) This is because Mabeuf is out and about, sitting on his old man rock looking sad and talking to Mother Plutrarch. We learn that Mabeuf is broke. He has no money for food or anything, and Mother Plutrarch is attempting to prompt some action out of him. Every one of  the suggestions on what and how they’re going to eat is met with the news that he owes too much for the vendors to give any more. He just says he doesn’t want any of that old food that he can’t buy or get on credit anymore anyway. They can just eat the apples. Eventually mother Plutrarch departs since she’s not getting anywhere. Gavroche doesn’t go for the apples yet. Instead he crawls into some sort of alcove and then, from this hiding spot, he can see a couple people heading down the street.

 I won’t keep you in suspense. One of them is Jean Valjean on his night walk, and the other one prowling around behind him with a rose in his teeth for some reason, the deadly dandy himself, Montparnasse. I guess the reason is just for a little panache. He throws it away as he assault’s Valjean though. Maybe  that’s a symbol of his badness? 

And, yes, Montparnasse is now fighting with and attempting to rob Valjean. Gavroche thinks he’s going to have an easy time with the old man, but we know that Valjean is stronger than bulls, faster than a wild horses, more wiley than a coyote, and stickier than a spider man. He quickly gets the best of the kid and is now in the street, in the dark holding Montparnasse in his clutches and interrogating him about his age and his current ambitions.

His current age is twenty and his ambitions are to be a lazy layabout do nothing i.e. funding his fancy tastes through thievery rather than working.

Valjean doesn’t like to hear that and is now giving our thief and huge, huge, very long lecture about the value of an honest day’s work, and how thieving and/or laziness is actually more work in the long run. It’s almost, but not quite as long as Grantaire’s monologue about how the world sucks. I mean, I guess he’s just trying to talk some sense into this guy, because he’s going on and on about his own experiences (and the little hidden saw in his coin that he used to escape Patron Minette) and if Montparnasse continues on this path he’s just going to end up in jail for twenty years. (And pursued by Javert off and on for the rest of time, but like—I feel as if it were at least insinuated in his intro that this dude is a murderer. Maybe he should be in prison?)

After Vajean gives Montparnasse all his advices on how it’s better to be an honest man, he let’s him go and gives the kid his purse anyway. As Valjean is walking away, Montparnasse just calls him a “blockhead” and stares slack jawed at him as he disappears. I’m not sure that Valjean’s speech and money was quite as inspiring as the Bishop of Digne’s gesture was for him so many years ago, but maybe we’ll see.

In any case Gavroche takes this moment of distraction to sneak on in and steal the purse off Montparnasse. That little scamp!

He doesn’t keep it for himself. This starving child that hasn’t eaten for days, I remind you, throws the money into the garden and onto Mabeuf’s feet. It wakes up the poor old man who had dozed off, and he brings it to Mother Plutrarch. She praises the heavens for this sudden windfall, and that is the end of Valjean’s night walk adventure! Aww, that was kind of a nice adventure, not at all what I was expecting. 

There is one thing that didn’t happen in this chapter, though. Maybe if I give up on Marius ever meeting Cosette it will finally happen? Cross your fingers, and I will catch you next time!

Daggers for Daggers


and More Bears

First a little catch-up on what I’ve been up to as Alexios the mercenary. First, we set sail from the island of Achillies after having attempted a conquest battle and failed it about a bajillion (the official number) times. I fight for Sparta; I die. I fight for Athens; I die. Also, there is another mercenary after me, I realize on my one time making it halfway through the battle. You can tell because not only is the red hat meter in the bottom corner, but they appear in the middle of battle screaming at you to come and fight them. Then they chase you around until you are dead, and since everybody else is also trying to get you during a battle, it’s best to just pay your bounty or find the other mercenary ahead of time and dispatch them one on one.

Charge!

None of this matters because I am leaving this battle for another day and heading to another rando island to avoid my main quest some more. Here I come upon not one, but two animal caves. My least favorite locations to complete, because, yes, I do want a platinum trophy, thanks, but I don’t really like fighting animals unless I have to. I’d rather just let the other guys fight them, or avoid them. OH, well. Now this island contains not one, but two big old white alpha creatures to defeat. A bear and a boar! The boar is slightly easier, because it is alone, and as we learned before, for some reason bears roam in packs in this game.

He’s gonna get me

Today I learned, just now as I am writing this, that a pack of bears is actually called a Sloth or a Sleuth (as in slow, not as in bears are good at being detectives.) Now, if group of bears is a Sloth, then what is a group of sloths?? (A bed or a slumber is the answer. Bless you, internet.)

Bear asides aside, I decide to go do one of those daily quests that get you some of that rare ore to buy stuff in the store which I’m probably never going to do. Legendary gear? Meh. I pick up a bounty for 5 sharks. I wonder where to find some sharks and just go swim the hell out into the ocean. I find a shark, but it keeps swimming away. Then I go to bed, because I’m tried.

Flailing in the Deep

 The next day there’s still time on the shark timer and I find three at a shipwreck which I dispatch handily, but I run out of time before I can locate more sharks, so it is all for naught. Alas. However, I find a secret tomb on the far side of the island while I’m looking for killer fish. Neat!

In the Tomb looking out

After tomb raiding, I go back into town to defeat the leader and attempt to trigger a battle. I haven’t managed to get Athens’s power down far enough for that yet, but I did initiate a quest, because I don’t want to leave the island with an exclamation point.

So, here’s the story, there’s a group called the dagger that I have to defeat. This guy, whose name I forgot and I can’t find on the ‘nets, but I luckily screen capped his dialog at some point; His name is Agapios—Well, he’s a slave working with the magister (magistrate?) to uncover this dagger dude. I pillage the gang’s hideout on the dock and we find out that the dagger’s leader is called the “Kingfisher” and he is this dude’s brother! *gasp*

Agapios does not believe this shit. Literally. He want’s me to prove that his bro is really dead and not a bad guy, but I actually prove the opposite of that. He’s totally the Kingfisher, leader of the Dagger. I have a thought that he is one of the cultist leaders I’m looking for, so I’m getting amped for this quest. This does not last long, because there comes a time in the gamer’s life where they stumble upon a quest and learn the hard way that they really should have made a manual save before they jumped in and made all the wrong choices. This is that time.  I mean aside from that time I doomed my home island to a plague death that is.

In the sidequest to the sidequest I meet a couple that runs a theatre, also they take care of orphans. Clearly these people must live, because they do not suck unlike half the people I meet. They are getting the shakedown, so I have to go take care of the dagger agent who is in charge of this.

I managed to talk to dagger dude. He was just extorting the theatre people for his family.  I guess some other higher up dagger is putting the screws to this guy too, so I don’t want to kill him, but there’s nothing I can do to convince him to leave the theatre couple alone. I tried to just punch him unconscious and recruit him for myself, but he never wakes up. He’s alive…but won’t get up. Restart.

Next time I approach him, he just attacks me. Apparently, I was lucky to get the talk prompt on my first try.  Anyway,  I must do what I must to advance the quest. We won’t mention that if you do it while at his house, his wife and kid come back home and it is tragic. I get back to the theatre and trigger a cut scene. Another dagger thug is now is holding the theatre couple hostage. Everything I do leads to them being dead. The thug is making me choose which one lives with malicious glee. Like, he is literally squealing with laughter about this horror.

It’s not funny, you maniac!

Whether I choose one or the other or neither…both end up dead. (Because the NPCs won’t stay out of the fight! Seriously, why does the AI have them punching geared up agents of evil with their bare hands when they could be running and hiding under a bush or something?) Several restarts later, I decide to cheat and see if it’s even possible to save everyone. It is. I can snipe the baddies with arrows! Good news.

The bad news is, I have overwritten every autosave with my attempts to figure this out for myself. Woe! I have to leave it with the orphans now double orphaned, because my closest manual save is two entire levels ago when I decided I wasn’t going to do the conquest battle, and I really don’t want to undo all my progress so far. Alas. At least the couple told me where to find Kingfisher before they were gone. 

Before I forget, the cherry on the top of this fail sundae is that even chickens are attacking me now.

But first, I feel like I must finish all my side-sidequests. I have to go visit Agapios’s contact up on a hill. She wants me to get a treasure from a shipwreck before the Dagger gets it. Turns out the treasure is a Dagger meant for sacrifices to Apollo. The Contact thinks this is the most hilarious thing. (The dagger wanted a dagger? Hahah!) I manage to defend her from more thugs that magically spawn, and now I’m off to face the Kingfisher!

So, the big reveal, which I mentioned earlier, is that yes, the big bad is my Agapios’s not dead bro. When I break the news, he just runs away, presumably to go save this bro. Some bystander guard wants to go stop him, because—slavery, but the magister (magistrate?) is just like, nah. He’s free now, let’s go fish for some Kingfisher. We make it to Apollo’s temple and face down the head of the Dagger. I choose to tell my now free friend that his bro is beyond saving, and the fight is on!

I also choose this point to fall asleep again, because I am le tired, and it is late! Next time I will find out for sure if this dude was a cultist. I’m guessing no, because that is my luck. There is also a really, extra shiny glowing question mark on the map of this particular island that I must check out! Tune in next time when I find out that it is actually just a bear jamboree and nothing to do with the finding these cultists I’m supposed to be finding!

I Fought the Bears, and the Bears Won


So Many Bears

So, here we are, post night at the Doctor’s abode.  I feel like clearing some more ??? instead of doing any relevant questing, so I head for the nearest one.  All is fine and dandy until I reach the ? and find–a Bear cave.  Full of bears.  Also, a soldier is chasing me, so I feel it is prudent to leave this area as soon as possible.  For now the Bears have won.

Having Flashbacks to the Hinterlands

I shall revisit this area later, but with my luck all these bears will probably just level up with me.  Cool.  The next ? is just a soldier camp, but they get me too.  As a bonus, I find a really nice scenic vista as I’m running far away.

It’s a sunset whilst in retreat

OK.  Enough doing nothing.  I’m to meet Herotudus at a statue on the shore at Thermopylae for questing things, so I’ll go do that.  We meet in front of this lion and he gets my spear, which I suppose I didn’t realize was Leonidas’s spear.  I (The player on my rocking chair me, not the player character, Alexios, me) realize that now because as soon as Herotudus touches it we get a flashback to the battle.

Time for a magical vision!

   I had a momentary thought the Leonidas might be my secret dad, but that notion is put to bed once we are back at sea, because we’re chatting about my mom and he’s her dad, ergo my grandpa.  This is a known fact, and not a mystery.  So, I’m still on track to be a demi god, eh?

So, we’re actually on a quest, sailing to some island to find a huge door.  Herotudus is insistent on this, so I figure I might as well even though there are lingering ?s on the map.  Did I mention that naval combat is back in this game?  It was 100% my favorite part of the pirate one, so yay!

Row, Row, Row the Boat

I make it to the door and it turns out that it is ancient/future tech.  My piece of the cult pyramid and also my spear fits neatly into this device and my spear is upgraded!  Nice.  Back outside where I forgot to take a screen cap, Kassandra appears to kick my ass.  We have a talk that is basically me being happy to see her and trying to convince her to come with me and be a good guy.  She, on the other hand, is convince she saw me throw her off the cliff in the flashback and she is just super into this cult, and believes she is a demi-god…so the cult thinks I also am a demi-god.  I guess I have something in common with the cult after all.  Kassandra thinks not though, and I somehow don’t have to actually fight her right now.  I can’t imagine we aren’t ever going to fight though.  Not looking forward to that.  I run away back to my boat guy, Barnabas (He has a name!)  We go fight pirates and clear off all the side quest on Achilles island!

  There is a break where we travel back to our present day counterparts in the machine.  I think we stole this tech or something and I learn about some previous missions through small talk with the crew and reading a bunch of sad emails.  Probably they are just Easter eggs from previous games?  Anyway, these present day peeps are trying to find the spear before the company they took the tech from, because it can control time itself is what I gather, but enough of this depressing warehouse.  Time to get back in the memory machine for the next quest.

SECRETS, CULTS, AND BOARS


Catching Up With Assassin’s Creed

Well, I’ve never done a write up of my gaming nonsense, but I might as well start somewhere.  Got to get those writer fingers a-writing again.  As always, Spoilers abound.

Sparkles!

We start off in modern times, the two — archaeologist? women whose names I don’t remember are stepping into the portable maguffin machine that lets us travel back in time to see the memories of the olden times, as is the main conceit of Assassin’s Creed.  There’s a spear with two blood types on it and I get to choose which character I’m going to play.  I chose Alexios.  The other option is sister Kassandra.

So, stepping into the machine sends me to Greece and I awaken a mercenary, I guess, on this little island called Kefalonia or something.   It’s a place that everybody wants to get away from including me.  The first person I meet that is not trying to immediately kill me, if I remember is Phoebe, a fellow orphan who wants Zeus to bestow an eagle upon her just like my own eagle pal.  I want this too.  Make it happen, Z-man!   Obviously, since she seems attached to me, I am worried immediately for her continued safety.

Punching Sharks for Profit

  My other cohort is the dude who must have raised me, Markos.  He’s kind of a grifter type guy.  Like, he has big ideas and borrows money from shifty one eyed loan sharks called ‘Cyclops’, and the less said about the Cyclops’s eye, the better.   Let’s just say, I have a lot of goat pelts now.   

I spend the tutorial solving Markos’s Cyclops problem (which includes the amazingly terrible idea of stealing his fake eye) and punching sharks and priests who want to murder people because they maybe, might have the plague.  Whether this priest decision leads to Kefalonia’s viral downfall has yet to be seen.  During the course of all this, I meet a guy named Elpenor who I absolutely 100% do not trust right off the bat.  (He knows my name and is totally cool with me killing his own crew.)

I also meet Odessa, who is cool so far, but I choose not to flirt with her because she’s way too into being like her namesake and supposed relative Odysseus.  I recruit her to my ship later on after I help her dad though.  

Anyway, the game leads me to work for this Elpinor character, and he wants me to kill the Wolf of Sparta and bring him his head.  I don’t want to do this, because I do not trust this tool, but I guess I must.  

I rescue a boat guy whose name I can’t remember from the Cyclops and we sail off to other, non-sucky, islands.  I can now recruit people to my boat crew by knocking them unconscious.  (Some you can recruit via questing.  I did not KO Odessa for the record.  I also recruited a pirate woman whose crew got eaten by sharks in this manner.)

Revelations!

So, we learn in flashback form that the Wolf of Sparta (whose name I don’t remember) is my dad.  He used to teach me how to be a real Spartan.  I have a baby sister whom an Oracle told dear old Wolf Dad to throw off a cliff.  No!   My poor mom is crying and some dudes are holding us back, but I break free, try to save her, and in the process we are both thrown off the cliff.  And this is how I came to wash up on nowhere island to be cared for by Markos of the terrible ideas.

So maybe I will go after Wolf dad after all.

When I get to where the Spartans are warring with the Athenians I am met with —  my brother????   Okay, he’s the son that Wolf dad must have adopted after he threw all his kids off a cliff.  Bro doesn’t believe I’m Alexios because I should be dead, but I can go see the wolf if I help him defeat the Athenians and gain control of wherever the heck territory I’m on now.

I do that.

When I confront Wolfdad, I decide I’m not going to murder his ass & bring his head to Elpinor after all.  Like, I always end up trying to be as nice as a mercenary can be.   He also reveals that he is not my real dad and I have to ask my mom about it wherever she is.  I have to find her, but I am going to just assume I am a demi-god for now.

So, my two options are to go see the oracle at Delphi, or to meet up with Elpenor.  Obviously, I’m not down with Oracles after one’s vision got me cliffed.  My boat guy is down with it, though, and I just hate Elpinor more every passing moment.  I figure the Oracle can maybe give me some insight into this.

  That is how I failed a quest.  Elpinor doesn’t get his head, and the Oracle reveals that she is making shit up at the behest of a murder cult whose murder objective is my family in particular.  I can sneak into their lair if I steal the robes from a certain member–  Do you want to guess who it is?

  Yeah, it’s Elpinor.  I feel super vindicated!  Now we have reached the place where I started last night, more or less.

Ridin’ the Snake

I handily dispatch Elpinor, so now I don’t have to worry about his duplicitous ass anymore.  I forgot about Herodetos, my boat guy introduced me to him and told him way too many of my secrets for a stranger.  Him, I trust though.  We shall see how that turns out.  He goes with me to scope out this murder cult under Apollo’s temple.

I learn there that they are worshiping some kind of futuristic pyramid thing, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t recall.  I now have a bunch of cultists to end, and in my searching of their cult cave I find they are torturing the poor Oracle.  I can do nothing to save her though.  That is not sitting right with me, because I convinced her to talk to me about the murder cult.  Alas. 

When I return to the pyramid I am met face to face with my totally alive Sister.  She is now the cult’s main muscle and she knows there’s a traitor in the midst.  We all have to touch the pyramid now.  She sees our mingled memories when it is my turn.  I presume she knows I’m the thing that doesn’t belong, but she lets me go and kills some other dude instead.

Now that was something.  I decided to try and defeat the giant mega boar again to take my mind off this reveal, which doesn’t work at all.  I thought I might get to flirt with Daphnae, who gave me this pain in the butt quest, but alas.  We will never know, because this pig is not going down any time soon.

It is as tall as Alexios.  It will not die.

Now, since I lack the boar hunting gene, I decide to find some quests and level up.  There can’t possibly be any more world shattering reveals under this innocuous looking exclamation point in this little town.  I’m just going to have to fetch a thing, get some easy, peasy, xp–easies?  Let’s check it out.

What?  It’s a cute doctor!  Even better!

Just as expected, he sends me on a quest for some herbs.  Unexpectedly, I get to flirt with him.   Later, after fighting a pack of wolves for these stupid herbs, Lykaon (that is his name) suspiciously holds back some for his grandma and sends me on another quest to deliver the medicines to his patients.

All of whom tell me about how cute and single he is.  Okay, I get it town’s people.  Twist my arm.

Now, we learn about Lykaon’s dear grandma.  He wants to murder her because she is a former lying oracle that ruined lives by her lying.  I might just happen to be down with this plan if she’s the lady that told my Wolf dad to throw my sis off a cliff.  What do you think the odds are?  Unfortunately she’s been captured and must be rescued before we get to her.   I manage do this pretty easily and we find out that, yes, she is the one.

And she was lying to my Wolfdad about it, so nobody had to go over the cliff?  This snake cult has fully infiltrated Greece since way back then?  What is their game??  Why do they want to snuff out my fam?   I guess I will find out.

   Right now I am going to convince Lykaon to not kill his repentant grandma.  I know she did wrong in general and to my family specifically, but…   I can’t do it.   I don’t let him do it either.  We let grandma run away for now and instead make out under the stars and fade to black. 

How far will I travel next session?  Will I kill the boar?  Will I find my mom and find out Zeus visited her in the form of a ferret or something?  Will I dispatch some cultists?   Who knows.  Until next time!

Dak Watches: Rise: S01E08


EPISODE 08: The Petition

Tears of a Coach

 

   Today, Coach Sam starts some fights–with his tears, but first!  Mr. M has some good news!  that comes crashing down a few seconds later.  Ticket sales have spiked!  Has this small town finally realized how deep and meaningful and relevant theatre is?

  Oh, no.  No.  Of course not.  They have realized that there is a youtube promotional video for the show that includes a whole lot of butt close ups (among other parts) from rehearsals.  Mr. M and Tracey give each other sidelong glances and wonder if they should take the video down.

 They should get the video down like responsible human adult authority figures, but–  all.  those.  tickets.

The video stays up. 

 At rehearsal, Robbie is back from his tantrum (on another day).  He’s apologizing, but not quitting.  He knows he isn’t the greatest actor like the rest of them, but he’s going to do his best!  Mr. M wants to try and fix things though, because even though QB1 is back, he’s lacking the proper mojo he supposedly had in the beginning.

  Mr. M’s solution is to go to Coach Sam and admit that it was his terrible idea for Robbie to call his bluff.  There’s a big game coming up and they both know that Robbie is the best QB.  Mr. M is totally not doing this because some high school football commentators on a presumably public access radio show have been shit talking him for all of Stanton to hear.  Coach is uninterested in this olive branch until Mr. M gives Robbie the entire week off rehearsals to prepare for the game.  Finally coach gives in.  Later on Lilette has to run lines with her mom because Robbie is footballing all week and Tracey is totally gobsmacked at this insane decision only a couple weeks from opening night.  We don’t get to see if this tactic has repaired Robbie’s broken mojo or not re: stage performance.

Let us tackle the secondary story lines.  Mr. M’s second problem with the show, right behind Robbie’s mojo, is Simon and his scene partner, whose name nobody says in this episode either, but I caved and looked it up.  It’s Jeremy.  A good solid name.  I will keep you posted when and if anybody actually says it in the final two episodes.

Anyway, their scene is just going terribly.  Jeremy sitting on stage, still mad. Simon is standing upright at least two feet away from him.  Mr. M is wondering what the heck is going on.  What happened to all the physicality etc.  Simon says they were going for something a little more subtle.  Subtle as in non-existent.  Mr. M is like: no.  Don’t be afraid of the material! (For some reason Annabelle isn’t around this week to also be mad at Simon from the chorus area of the stage.)

  We will come back to Simon in a minute, but first Principal W. arrives to yell about the video and demand that it be taken down.  Tracey and Mr. M pretend like they have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. They are very convincing /sarc.

Anyway, it turns out one of the Chorus who has never been seen before has perpetrated these video crimes.  She runs away to take the video down immediately.  After the commercial break she’s crying in Mr. M’s office, and he’s doing his best to comfort her and assure her that she’s not actually in trouble when who walks in but yet another Robert.  I have now learned Simon’s dad’s name.   He is there to inform Mr. M that even though the video is down, the internet never forgets.  He vows he is going to do everything in his power to end this play and proclaims that Mr. M is only hurting the kids.  If only Dad!Robert had a mustache to twirl.

  Back in football-land, Robbie is staying after school for extra time to throw balls at some barrels.  Gordy is there too because he’s still on probation with coach for the booze found in his locker.  Robbie asks him to run plays, because living breathing humans are better than barrels.  This seems to become their after school routine and at least one time Coach Sam catches them at these extra night practices.  This will come into play later.

 This week Gordy also attempts to talk to Gwen, but she appears to be over it already.  Or at least she definitely doesn’t want to be his girlfriend.  It was fun, and maybe they’ll do it again, but she was going through a thing and is not in that place right now.  Gordy is a bit put out by this, but doesn’t run straight back into the arms of Jack Daniels for the time being. 

  Back to Coach and Lilette’s mom (Vanessa!)  Gwen has been upset all week and when Lilette asks her what’s wrong she says Why don’t you ask your mom??  So she does.  After a short interrogation, Vanessa admits that she’s back with Coach Sam.

  Lilette is 1,000% not here for this irresponsibility.  (Hooking up while at work.)  She’s also not here for coach, but Vanessa seems to think they’re going to make an actual go of it now that the divorce is still on after breakup #1. 

Later on Vanessa goes to visit Coach at school, and we can tell he’s not going to make an actual go of it by how quickly he closes the blinds of his office.  Vanessa tells him that the kids know, and he tells her that maybe they should cool it after all.  He’s trying to keep his family together and only just moved out a week ago, so he’s not ready to be publicly dating anybody else right now.  The divorce IS still on isn’t it?  Maybe he’s just worried about Gwen hating him for the rest of time?  Whatever it is, Vanessa storms out on him, broken hearted, and he’s trying to punch back his own tears.  He basically spends the rest of the episode with red rimmed eyes since his entire family life and extra curricular love life is falling apart around him.  (But whose fault is that?)

  Back at home Vanessa is sad about breakup #2 and wants to hang with her best girlfriend, Lilette.  Lilette just gives it to her with both barrels instead.  She’s tired of taking care of mom.  Mom should be the adult doing the adulting.  Basically, Lilette is tired of picking up the pieces and doesn’t want to be a best girlfriend.  They have a huge fight, say some regrettably mean things with a surprising amount of cursing at each other, and Lilette’s mom gets in the car and runs away.  The only thing anybody sees of Vanessa for the rest of the episode is her driving alone down a dark highway, which I thought was going to end in a devastating car wreck as it was juxtaposed with Sad Coach Sam being weepy amongst his piles of lonely fast food bags at the hotel, and Mr. M meeting Robbie’s mother, who is sick, but no.  My instincts were wrong about one piece of drama. (So far!)

  Back on the football field, it is the last game of the season.  Stanton has one chance to make the playoffs, and they’re losing with very little time left on the clock.  One of the receivers goes down and Coach Sam sends in a surprise substitution.   It’s Gordy! who has apparently been riding the pine for this entire season.  Initial thought:  He’s going to catch a hail mary and win the game, triumphantly propelling our guys into the post-season!

  Almost.  Gordy does get the pass, but instead of all the glory, he manages a bit of footballery and gets out of bounds in time to stop the clock so we can have one more play.  Robbie runs the ball in for a touchdown as the clock winds down to the last second.  Playoffs here we go.  Taking bets now on whether or not Robbie’s going to have to choose between a game or the show.

  Of course, Mr. M and family are beside themselves with excitement.  For some reason Robbie decides that Mr. M needs to come with him to visit his mom in the skilled nursing facility where she is located.  I forget why she is there, but I kind of remember that it seemed like the dad abandoned her in her illness.  Maybe we will learn about Mr. Robbie’s dad’s motivations in the future, or maybe we learned about them in the past when I wasn’t paying attention.

  Also, after the football game, Coach tries to patch things up with Gwen, but she’s done with him too.  She does not accept his explanation that adult relationships are complicated.  So, he’s broken up with Vanessa, broken up with his wife, and Gwen still totally hates him and doesn’t want to get rides to school, or ever speak to him again for that matter.  He tries to fight away the tears again.

 Speaking of complicated, in other non-sports related drama, Michael has gone to a doctor’s appointment with Sasha since the boyfriend is the worst.  It appears that they have indeed made up!  Sasha still doesn’t know what she’s going to do.  Later on, back at Sasha’s place she reveals to her friend that she’s leaning towards keeping the baby.  She wants to make her own family and have someone that will love her all her own.  Michael doesn’t think this is the best idea and we find out later that he goes to Tracey with his misgivings.

  Tracey has a talk with Sasha and reveals that she too was pregnant as a teenager and she gave the baby up for adoption.  She has decided that she’s going to be there for Sasha and help her no matter what she decides despite the teacher/student boundaries she insisted on earlier.

 As for Maashous, nothing too big happens with him.  He’s still unsure about the whole mom thing, but he tells Mr. and Mrs. M about it because he needs a ride.  Later he has a heart to heart with Mr. M about all the nice things they’ve done for him.  It’s unsaid, but basically staying with them was more like a family than any of his other foster homes.  He does end up meeting with his mom, but we don’t really find out how that goes in this episode.  All we see is them hugging while Mr. and Mrs. M watch on and Mrs. M cries.

  In the most dramatic part of the show, let us circle back to the sexy video, fallout and Dad!Robert.

  Simon gets eyes on this petition at some point and confronts his mother about it, because her name is on the thing, and he feels betrayed. She’s his only support at home after all.   (He’s the only drama kid whose parents have signed this, by the way, which just makes it all worse.)   Mom tells him that she’ll take care of it and we get a glance at the petition too. 

She did not sign it.  Seems Dad!Robert has taken it upon himself to include her without her permission. 

  She confronts him on this when he gets home and this does not go well at all.  He thinks she would have been glad to have her agency taken away, because clearly she should be on his side.  He is only protecting his family, and it is the Christianly thing to do.  She stands up to him.  He thinks he’s helping Simon, Mom says he’s only hurting him by not letting him be himself.  Dad wonders what she means by this and…basically does the equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and going “lalalalala”  Supportive Mom (Patricia!) doesn’t let him get away with it though and she follows him for more confrontation.

Turns out they are in some kind of loveless marriage where he never looks at her or touches her or anything like that.  She wonders if this isn’t about Simon could it be about him?  She more or less just asks him if it’s because he’s gay and hiding behind religion that he’s doing this.  He nopes right on out of the conversation again and storms out of the room while telling her he will never stop protecting his family.  He totally does not answer her question. (I was right!) 

PS. Simon is upstairs with his sister while this yelling conversation is happening.  He hears the entire thing.

Back at school the next week, Mr. M finds out that the whole entire PTA have now joined Simon’s dad’s crusade.  The woman he is speaking to about it wonders what he was thinking.  It looks like Mr. M is wondering the same thing.

  Meanwhile, in the office, Tracey is meeting with Principal Whatever, who has now become Principal Action Man, because the school board, the pta, the community, everybody is basically on his ass about the content of the show.

(Tracey and Mr. M basically keep trying  and trying to explain that the video isn’t representative of the show for this entire episode, but nobody is believing them.)

 Anyway, Principal wants her to rework the show so it is PG.  If she does, he will take the drama program away from Mr. M and give it back to her.  He knows she wants the job after all!  And that is the end of the episode!

 

via GIPHY

Next Time: Will Tracey sacrifice the art for the job?  Will Simon’s dad succeed?  Will something tragic happen to either Vanessa or Coach Sam?  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Dak Watches: Rise: S01E07


Episode 7 (for real): This Will God Willing Get Better

 I feel like this title is missing some commas

 

PS: In case this is something I need to say for something that’s been kicking around in some form since the 19th century: Spoilers for Spring Awakening ahead, FYI

 We start off with Mr. M and Tracey placing the poster for the show up on an easel in what I presume is the main lobby of the school, but doesn’t look like the main lobby for a school.  I feel like this may be because there was a carpet and potted plants in the background.  These are things that just do not mix with hundreds of teenagers trampling through so I don’t know where they are.  There may be some schools out there with fancy pants auditoriums separate from the main building, but–  I dunno, speaking from experience, small industrial towns in this area of the country don’t tend to pass a lot of levies for extra $$$s.  (I’m not bitter).  Also, there’s a lot of traffic behind them for a separate auditorium, and this is a lot of paragraph for some small detail, but I just want to know where the hell they are!

 Anyway, Mr. M and Tracey are uncharacteristically delighted and taking selfies with the poster when Principal Whatever comes up to them.  (I will call him that because not only did he just wave his hand and give Mr. M Tracey’s job, but also did not fire anybody or suspend any students for starting a huge bonfire out of the Pirates of Penzance costumes in the school parking lot.)

 Seems as if Spring Awakening isn’t getting much interest in the way of tickets.  Mr. M is sure it will all work out since they have a poster now.  The title of this episode says otherwise.   Later on we will learn that Principal W. has decided that the ticket sales for this show will determine the theatre budget for next year.  This isn’t an established thing, it’s just something Principal W. decided just now.  He says that Pirates of Penzance sold out the last time, so there should be no problem.

  I just think this guy really wanted to see Pirates of Penzance.  Perhaps, as principal, he fancies himself the very model of a modern major-general?

(Later Mr. M is shown doing his actual job of teaching English where he then tries to convince the class to buy tix, but it’s as awkward and unsuccessful as you imagine.)

 In other Mr. M storylines, it is tech rehearsal week.  Tracey gives us the run down of how this is some sort of nightmare portion of putting on a show.  I guess where they figure out whatever will go wrong and try to get everything working smoothly.

  Mr. M jumps right over her and is all: Let’s do it!  The whole show!  Go!

Tracey informs him that this is not how it works.  They take it a portion at a time–  But you know Mr. M.  Go big or go home I guess.  Murphy’s law quickly descends upon him.  The band drowns out the singers, the prop master forgets his props, a lift is super noisy, and QB (Name Robbie!) has forgotten everything he ever learned about acting in this short time.  Mr. M tells him he’s doing great anyway, I suppose so he doesn’t flee back to football.  It’s basically a disaster.  They go back to Tracey’s idea of working a bit at a time.

We will meet back up with Mr. M and his impending breakdown when we get to his son

Now for the kiddos

Lilette / QB / Star (Gwen!!): Well, Lilette herself doesn’t get a lot to do in this ep except trying to convince Robbie that he isn’t a terrible actor.  I think deep down he knows that he isn’t at his best.  He’s got a lot of football feels right now though.  He’s still benched.  Thanks, Mr. M for the amazing advice.

  Anyway, it’s her mom that gets more focus this time.  She does have an awkward encounter with Coach (Sam!) in the Motel walkway, where he offers to move to a different location if being there is too much.  She says that’s not necessary, and the next thing you know the affair is back on!  I’m not sure where we’re going here, because it seems like he does actually like her, he is still getting divorced, and yet doesn’t take the ring off.  Maybe it’s the guilt trips that Gwen is throwing at him in a steady stream that’s keeping it on his finger, probably he’s just a cheating douche.  In any case, these two seem to spend almost the entire episode holed up in  his room, and Lilette only appears to ask where her mom has been all night one morning when she finally does return home. 

  Mom doesn’t tell her that she’s gotten back with El Cheatoh and just pretends that she popped out early to get Lilette’s favorite breakfast sandwich and coffee.  Lilette is not suspicious at all, she’s just grateful beams proudly at her and thanks her for taking a job she didn’t want to help a daughter out.  Oh, Lilette.

  Later on, Gwen feels like she’s been too hard on her dad this whole time, not getting rides with him to and from school and giving him the cold shoulder for the divorce.  She decides to bring him a piece of pizza and happens to see Lilette’s mom there.  I presume he doesn’t get the pizza and the cold shoulder is back on.  She hasn’t started taking it out on Lilette again yet.  We shall see.

 Meanwhile, Pregnant girl (Sasha!) is standing at her locker and her boyfriend is giving her money and telling her to take care of it.  She hasn’t yet decided whether or not she’s keeping the baby.  Michael (who wasn’t really in the last ep.) is watching this all go down and he tries to get her to open up, she’s not having it and doesn’t want to discus it with him, but he twigs on to her pregnancy pretty quickly.  He wants to talk/help/be there for her, but she just brushes him off.

  Later on at the pizza place — I forgot why they were all even there, but a bunch of them end up there at some point — Sasha’s boyfriend shows up and basically blabs her entire business to everybody because she’d sent him a text about how she wasn’t ready to decide quite yet. (He decided so that’s all that matters to him)  Michael decides to stand up to him for her, boyfriend  decides to get transphobic at Michael, and then Michael slams him up against a decorative glass window that is for some reason right in the middle of the restaurant.  Everybody jumps up to prevent this huge fight.  It manages not to escalate further than that, but Sasha is mad at Michael.  He says he just wanted to help her, but she thinks he was just getting in a fight because it seemed like the guy thing to do and she doesn’t even know who he is anymore. 

  We find out through the course of this that Sasha and Michael used to be BFFs when they have a heart to heart in a stairwell later on.  Sasha’s upset that Michael put distance between them.  He was going through a lot of things too at the time realizing he is trans.  She was just hurt that he didn’t tell her/give her a chance to understand.  I think they made up.

  Meanwhile again, we learn that there is a backstage lounge area with a toaster, because Simon is eating burnt toast and Barb (Annabelle!) is making plans to pick up where they left off at the steel mill.  Her parents will be out of the house and they will be able to “Rock it” all night.  (Her words.  Who taught you this euphemism, Annabelle???)  Simon agrees to this without melting away from second hand embarrassment, though I do.  Rock it????

  Over in the lounge area, his scene partner — Nobody has said his name in this episode or the last one that I can recall!  Who is he?  Is he too just coming to realizations of sexuality?  Was he already out?  What is up? — Anyway, he is getting the gossip about how Annabelle and Simon totally did it in the foreman’s office at the steel mill.  He naturally wants to confront Simon about this once they are alone.

    They get in an argument about who kissed whom and Simon basically confirms the rumors.  Why not; she is his girlfriend after all.  But what about the scene / flirting during rehearsal???

Acting!

  Guy is all hurt and upset and tells Simon not to touch him or anything during the scene anymore.  Simon pretends like he doesn’t know why this person with a major crush on him who thought they were having flirtations doesn’t want to act in a romantic scene with him anymore.

  Later, at Annabelle’s, they are in the midst of attempting to ‘Rock it’ but it’s just not happening.  Simon at the last second of seconds just cannot go through with it.  He tries the ‘it’s not you, it’s me line’ and she just yells at him to get the hell away from her.  He leaves with a single tear rolling down his cheek.

Back at Mr. M’s home for wayward teens, Maashous has broken a dryer in an attempt to dry his shoe (He stepped in paint during the disaster rehearsal at the beginning of the ep.)  He catches Mrs. M. yelling about the $400 estimate to fix the thing and later is attempting to fix it in the middle of the night for her.  She catches him, he admits he’s the one who broke it, and she gets stern and tells him that they don’t lie in this house.

  Maashous gets sassy and says he missed the no lying sign.  It’s a tense situation. 

  He also gets a call from his actual foster mom.  Y’know the one who’s committing fraud by getting $$ for a kid she’s not watching?  Anyway, they have to meet with social services!  It’s not terrible news– or maybe it is.  Turns out his mom, who has been in jail since he was a wee lad, is out now.  She’s doing well and has a place and they are going to be reunited!  In another town.  Maashous seems reluctant about this of course.  He’s in a good place right now.

   After getting yelled at for the dryer, Mrs. M catches him packing.  She gives him a hug, tells him to put his stuff away, and that they are family now even if they sometimes get mad at each other, that doesn’t mean they get kicked out.  Clearly this is a new definition of family for Maashous.

  He doesn’t tell anybody about his mom.

And Finally, Mr. M’s alcoholic son, Gordy.  He’s in rehab and seems to be in a good place too.  Everything is going great!  He makes eyes at Gwen.  She confronts him and he says she ‘calms him down’.  When she catches him doing laundry at school they run away to a have sex somewhere on a lovely Pennsylvanian beach. (Please let there be only one teen pregnancy storyline, please.)

  Later we learn that Gordy hasn’t actually been doing great in rehab.  The team leader there says that though he gets along with everybody, he’s just going through the motions.  His heart isn’t in it.

 Mr. M is mad and takes that misplaced anger out on the kids during rehearsal.  Especially Robbie.  To start things off on the wrong foot, Simon and that Guy’s scene is basically in shambles now.  Apparently it was the only scene that was working thus far.  The icing on this terrible cake is Robbie still having trouble with the cemetery scene.  Tracey doesn’t even want to work on this scene to end rehearsal, but you know Mr. M.  He gets what he wants.  Anyway, Robbie is acting the death of his best friend and the love of his life with all the emotion of sturdy plank of wood.  Mr. M just goes off on him and dumb football (his heart isn’t in the show! just like Gordy’s heart isn’t in rehab.  Get it?).

  Football is something Robbie cares about a lot though, so he storms off yelling about how he gave up everything for the dumb play.  Mr. M storms off because the whole thing has become a shit show and starts scattering props all over the prop room.  Tracey catches him and tells him to stop it, and like a giant man baby he dumps more props out right in front of her.  The play sucks, they aren’t selling tickets, everything is doomed and they should have just done Grease.

Probably. 

Tracey attempts to inject a little optimism into the proceedings and tells him they just sold 30 tickets!  Yay!   hahah, turns out Mr. M bought those tickets.  It’s all a disaster.  Tracey thinks they should just go back down and finish rehearsal because Robbie isn’t the only kid counting on him.  Mr. M says no and walks away.   Duuude.  I. Can’t. Even. 

Now’s your chance, Tracey!  Take back the drama program!

She kind of does.  As Mr. M is leaving the school he hears the strains of music.  He returns the rehearsal where the kids are doing a great job at one of the songs.  He stands there, very touched by their performance, with one tear rolling down his cheek.

Next time:  Will Gordy get a lecture?  Will Maashous go home?  Who’s going to be mad at Simon this time?  I have but one more name to learn; will I learn it??

WILL things get better????

 

Dak Watches: Rise: S01E???


RISE: Episode 5 Something; Bring me Stanton

I’m starting in the middle, or Whose turn is it for Mr. M to undermine this week?

The shop teacher. It’s the shop teacher.

Let’s start with Mr. M’s storyline. He, with the help of Maashous, his not really his foster kid foster kid. (Mr. M gets all of the child raising, none of the government subsidies. This cannot be legal. I look forward to the episode where child services comes and Maashous runs away to live in an abandoned factory or something.)

There was a thought here, what was it? Oh, yes, Maashous and Mr. M have created a mockup of the set. Admittedly this looks pretty cool and even has a working smokestack. It is a mashup of the actual setting of Spring Awakening I guess, I’ll take his word for it, and this old broken Pennsylvania steeltown in which they live in now. (Full disclosure, Spring Awakening is a show I have not seen) Mr. M, as with everything else to do with the show, is determined to make this set work despite costs and labor. Tracy (rightful drama teacher) is just over here in the corner not even bothering to really argue anymore, probably because she’ll just get another lecture about how Mr. M wants to bring something deep and meaningful to the town. She’s not the one who will be getting that speech in this episode.

Don’t get me wrong, the speech is happening. For sure.

Meanwhile, Lillette (Newbie usurper whose mom had an affair with the football coach, who by the way is also the usual star’s dad.) She has to pull double shifts at the diner where she works because her mom totally, justifiably, and literally kicked the ass of the boss who has apparently been groping her for years. Mr. M rearranges the entire rehearsal schedule to accommodate this because none of the other children have lives to attend to. I think they are starting at 9p.m. This is ridiculous of course, which the kids point out after one of the NPC’s moms storms in and yells at Mr. M. Like, they have jobs and midterms and homework and family too, Mr. M. Geez. Everybody starts arguing and blaming football guy, but this time his schedule isn’t to blame. Lilette speaks up for him, takes the blame… more arguing. Mr. M finally sends everybody home

You too have lots of family, teach. Somehow THIS late rehearsal wasn’t supposed to even run late and he has missed date night with his long suffering wife. She is already in bed by the time he comes home bearing chinese food that he begged the restaurant for because they had already shut the grills off for the night. She is the one who gets the lecture about how he wants to create something amazing and beautiful or whatever, and he somehow doesn’t have to sleep on the couch.

Meanwhile, Tracy is being a good and supportive teacher. One of the students is pregnant. She’s really upset and T is there to be a shoulder to cry on. Later she shows up at the students house to hold her hand and be there as she tells her dad. I don’t remember what this student’s name is yet because she’s been in the background thus far, but we shall see what the future holds.

As for football guy, who is a main character, but I don’t remember his name either. He’s over at practice forgetting is football lines (aka The Playbook) Coach has had it up to the ears with him since he blew the last game. When a scout was there no less! Les gasp! Coach benches him in favor of the second string QB who can at least call the correct plays and throw a pass. Our QB is upset at this of course. Nobody likes to be benched, so he goes and memorizes the playbook and begs coach to give him another chance. (We won’t mention how that would be totally unfair to backup QB, who is probably really excited about getting a start. Could you imagine Coach going up to that guy all “I know you probably invited your entire extended family out to watch you get some play time, but, Psych!”) Coach isn’t having it anyway and gives him an ultimatum basically. Football or Theatre. Ahh, a timeless choice. He is torn, and goes to the best man for advice… Mr. M.

The advice? Call coaches bluff. So that is what QB does. It remains to be seen if this works, because he is still benched come gametime. We don’t really see how backup QB does in this game, because we are focused on our QB’s sadness as he sits all alone on the sidelines. (How a single tear is not rolling down his cheek in this moment, I don’t know.) At least we are spared his dad’s surely OTT reaction at this development.

Quick update on Lilette: She has given her mother a list of jobs she can apply for, the responsible thing to do. Mom doesn’t want to be a Latina stereotype and take a job as a maid, so she has made other plans. She sees a lawyer about suing the diner boss for sexual harassment. This could set them up for life! Lilette is just done with her at this point, since she’s doing the work of two and Mom wants to sue the man who signs her checks on top of it. The rents due, the utilities are past due, and the kid is at the end of her rope with all of this and the show. Mom is all, god forbid, the show, and Lilette is like, yeah, far be it from me to have a little joy or whatever.

Now for Simon. Dear, dear, simon. ~sigh~ He is now back at drama high. He was at that fancy private school for like .2 seconds before telling mom and dad that he wants to go back to public school. It was a surprisingly easy convincing after all of dad’s ragey disapproval. But, yeah, I feel like they’re angling for an ex-gay/conversion therapy storyline with dad, because the reason he gave in so easily is because sympathetic mom asked him to give one reason why this particular show and his son’s part in it are the straw that broke the camel’s back. And dad was just like, okay fine, go back to that devil school, we are not talking about this anymore. I maybe be wrong, but I’m just throwing out guesses on how everybody could be more miserable with more added dramaz and secretz.

So, Simon is back, and like, super desperate to keep the closet door shut tight. His scene partner has other ideas. I don’t know this guys name either, but he seems determined to have a talk bout the ~feelings~ that he is ~feeling~ toward Simon. It all seems a bit abrupt, because this dude hasn’t said a whole lot so far, mostly sidelong glances and whatnot. I think they maybe had one or two conversations on screen. I could have just dozed off during of Mr. M’s speeches though.

Anyways, Simon, basically trying to get as far away from this feelings talk as he can without breaking into a literal run, is all, Plz get away, you’re being creepy, wanting to hang out and run lines all the time, we are in the zone of friendship only!!

Dude doesn’t back down and ends up kissing Simon in the parking lot. Simon immediately jumps into his car and flees. Later on he is determined to take it to the next level with the girl he is dating whose name I also don’t remember, but she was Barb on stranger things. She’s all, cool lets do it, so Simon goes out shopping with BFF Lilette for condoms and sundries like he knows what he’s doing. Of course Lilette does her best to steer him away from this giant mistake in the making, but he has made up his mind.

Back in coachland, his daughter, former theatre company Star, whose name… Okay, I only remember a handful of names, I am sorry! I should make a cheat sheet! Anyway, she is still bitter at dad for continuing to divorce her mom. He’s not seeing Lilette’s mom anymore, but still the divorce, because it just wasn’t working either way. This is where we meet back up with Mr. M’s dream set storyline.

Mr. M has basically promised to buy all the materials needed for the set on his own dime, which he revealed to his wife in the speech that he’s spent 400 dollars on for plywood and such so far. He’s annoyed that the shop class has not made the smokestack round. It has to be round! Shop teach is like, this is a square smokestack, sorry about your luck, my students aren’t your personal form of slave labor, dude. Mr. M is put out about it of course. His wife later convinces him that he can build an amazing set on a dime. Next rehearsal, he and Maashous smash the set mockup with 2x4s and give the students the new plan. Their after school activity homework is to bring him deep and meaningful junk from around town!

(We get an old church window, a rusty railway crossing, and a jukebox that Lilette found in the back of the diner and made out with football guy on top of)

And for the crowning set piece, we will now revisit Star. She’s looking through an old trunk and finds a hard hat from the old steel mill that Coach used to foreman at. She gets a great idea and texts all her theatre buds + non theatre pal, Mr. M’s alcoholic son, Gordy. They break into the old mill to find that the Stanton Steel Sign and quintessential piece of town history she remembered from childhood is way, way huger than she remembered, and they can’t steal it for the show, for they are but teenageres and lack the power tools and trucks to remove it. Alas. At least they have booze and can hang, so it’s not a total loss. Star and Gord chill on a catwalk and chat about the glory days of milling and Gord gives his beer a meaningful look.

Meanwhile Simon and Barb sneak away for a cringey and awkward makeout sesh, but thankfully the cops arrive to bust up the party before they get too far. Star tells Gord to go, and she will take the blame, and later we find out that dad was able to get her out of an arrest for breaking and entering. She’s still mad at him though and tells him she just wanted the stupid sign for the stupid play. We can see where this is going, right?

Later, we are at rehearsal and everything looks pretty good for a cobbled together junk set, and who walks in, but guilty dad Coach and the pièce de résistance, the steel mill sign. Yay! One thing went right in this ep!

Wrapping up:

Gord arrives home from the B&E to finally tell his mom that he thinks he needs help for his alcoholism. So, I guess coach’s tough love approach wasn’t working out after all.

And finally, Lillette’s mom comes to a rehearsal, catches her daughter performing that “Mother” song from the show (I don’t know the actual title of the song), and decides to take a job as a maid after all. As it turns out her new job just happens to be at the motel where Coach is living now.

Because, of course it is!

Next time: Will someone new get the speech about how deep and meaningful theatre is? Will Gordy stick with rehab? Will QB get a chance to redeem himself footballwize? Will Coach and Lilette’s mom have an awkward encounter in the motel walkway? Will I learn anybody’s name? Stay tuned!

Dak Reads Les Misérables / SAINT-DENIS AND THE IDYLL OF THE RUE PLUMET: Book 3


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers

Saint-Denis and the Idyll of the Rue Plumet Book 3;  Beauty and the Boob

What is this?  A recap? I have not abandoned this brick, no.  I took some time off to read many other things. So, since it’s been 84 years, let’s  recap!

Last time:

Valjean was hiding in a convent, eating cheese with Fauchelevent, getting buried alive, raising Cosette, and escaping would be murderer/extortionists as well as Javert.

Marius was disowned and had no friends but  then fell in with a bunch of radicals via bald eagle. He lost his mind over Napoleon then lost his mind over a girl then foiled a dastardly murder plot and lost all hope and his home (again), so he moved in with Courfeyrac, because…

Courfeyrac was everywhere, Bossuet got kicked out of lawyer school and waxed poetic about butterflies. Jehan knew about love and flowers, Bahorel gave Jolllly good advice about trousers. Enjolras was busy planning revolution; blond hair flowing in the wind whilst Grantaire succeeded at witty banter and dressing the part but failed at inspiring the people and also at dominoes.

The Thenardiers were exposed and Patron Minette was arrested except for mysterious Claquesous and murdery Montparnasse, the evil anti-Enjolras. Javert terrified Paris to the point of thieves and murderers not bothering to resist arrest.  He was generally annoyed at all the baddies that have escaped him and one Marius Pontmercy whose name he does not remember. Mabeuf is still trying to grow indigo plants in France, and Grandpa G. was being a dick to every single one of his living relatives.

And finally, Èponine clearly has the hots for Marius, who remains totally clueless about it despite her promises of future domestic bliss, sock mending , and declarations of his attractiveness as spoken from her lips directly into his own ears on more than one occasion.  She is currently on her way to deliver our bambi to his one true lady love that he’s never uttered a word to.

But, before we get to this epic clash of true love… I assume it’s going to be epic since we’ve been waiting three or five or whatever years for Marius to finally speak to this girl.  First we must discuss in great detail what Jean Valjean has been up to all these years. I swear, after my prolonged hiatus, if we go through this entire chapter without Marius and Cosette meeting, I’m going to be very disappointed. <strike> (I have a feeling I’m going to be very disappointed.)</strike>  It has now become clear to me upon completion of this chapter that we are now going to engage in the story that we have already read, but from some different POVs. Maybe I didn’t need a recap after all? Oh, well–onward!

The first thing you might be asking yourself is why, oh why did Valjean leave the safe haven of the convent at Petit Picpus?  It was the perfect hiding spot after all. You know, if you’re going to insist on parking it in the same city that Javert is patrolling anyway.  I know, Paris is a large city, what are the chances? France is a pretty spacious country too, yet they still keep running into each other. The odds are not in your favor, Valjean.

As for his reasoning for leaving the convent, he is Cosette’s father for all intents and purposes and he didn’t want her to grow to resent him for basically roping her into nunhood before she got a chance to go out and experience the world for herself. This is something Valjean will come to regret.  His opening to leave comes when old Fauchelevent passes away.

Let’s have a moment for good old Fauchelevent, shall we…

Valjean tells the nuns that he has come into some money and he shall be leaving them. I kind of feel bad for the nuns.  Now they’re out two gardeners in one swoop. Anyway, he sets up three places around Paris a safe distance apart: Rue de l’Ouest, Rue de l’Homme-Armé, and the place at Rue Plumet.

A little history about this secluded piece of the city, because of course, we must have backstory on anything and everything, including Valjean’s house:

The place on Rue Plumet is the place that an old Judge used to keep his mistresses.  Back in those days the bourgeois would hide their mistresses while the lords would parade them around.  The judge had another little building out in the back of the garden where secret doctors or nurses could come and take care of the secret mistresses and secret babies without anybody knowing about it.  There was a secret path hidden by secret gardens that led out the back and emerged a ¼ mile away on a different street. This is the way the Judge would come and go to the house.

The point:  Shhh, it’s a secret, and that’s exactly the way Valjean likes it!  His days of parading around town doing philanthropic works all willy-nilly as a mayor are over!

Though he would spend time here and there at the other places, Rue Plumet is is where Jean Valjean’s HQ was.   He lived there with one old housekeeper named Toussaint, that he chose because she was an old country lady, and Cosette.  Cosette lives in a fabulous decked out bedroom in the house and wants for nothing while Valjean makes his home in the secret shack out back.  There is also a huge detailed passage at this point in this chapter about the secret garden, because, as we know by now, gardens are super important and very symbolic. (In short: The garden is a microcosm of the galaxy, Cosette is the naive and innocent heart, she has returned purity to this place after all that judge’s shenanigans. etc etc…)  This very symbolic garden Valjean has let grow wild so that the neighbors in their fancy houses won’t suspect anything, and nary a soul would even know about the secret path was there. I should hope so. It would be a terrible secret path if everybody knew about it. Oh! But if the birdies could gossip!

As for Valjean himself, he is hiding in plain sight by being in the National Guard.  He has no problems joining up and doing his duty as a taxpaying citizen, even despite his passing retirement age.  He is sixty now. Officially. And he doesn’t even look a day over fifty. Apparently Valjean is aging backwards, because ten years ago when he picked up Cosette at the Sergeant of Waterloo, he was in his fifties and I thought he was already in his sixties.

He no longer talks of Fantine as Cosette grows older.  He doesn’t know exactly why, but that perhaps she her modesty has been returned to her in death and he shouldn’t speak of her so as not to disturb her final peace.  Meanwhile Cosette dreams of her as an angel.

Valjean also goes on walks with Cosette at the Luxembourg Gardens choosing the most secluded area to frequent, of course.  Just to be on the safe side. He is proud of her and ultimately happy in his life at this point for having Cosette’s love. Unfortunately for him this area of the garden was not safe from wandering students.

As for Cosette, she grows up with the impression that she is just the plainest most homely creature that has ever existed, and maybe she was for a time.  She is actually a very sweet child. Even though Valjean seems to be perfectly willing to give her whatever she wants and the front garden for her do as she pleases,  she would just rather hang out with him in his out back shack instead of the big house and she insists on eating what he eats etc. But, as life goes on, people grow up, and one day Cosette wakes up,  looks in the mirror, and realizes that she is beautiful and that the dudes whispering about pretty girls out on the street are actually really talking about her. She can hardly believe it at first, but it’s true.  Thusly, Cosette becomes more interested in going out and being around the front garden where the gate is and the passersby roam rather than hanging with Dad all the time. She likes all the pretty frilly girly things in life now.  She’s greatly interested in the fashions of the day and the boys of the day. It’s kind of like the exact opposite reaction that Marius had to people whispering in the street about his hottie status. Basically, Cosette is just a typical teenager doing her teenage thing.  Valjean reacts in the dadly way by freaking out about it. He is wholly unprepared for his daughter’s entrance into young adulthood.  He has no idea how to react.  When Cosette first dons her fashionable ‘LaNoir’ gear and asks what Valjean thinks about it, he wonders why she doesn’t wear her old clothes.

“That getup!”  she said.  “Father, what would you have me do with it?  Oh, I’ll never wear those awful things again.  With that object on my head, I look like Madame Mad-Poodle.”

– I think Weird Al made an album about this hat–

 

Cosette in the meanwhile is greatly interested in that specific student that’s always loitering around that secluded area of the Luxembourg.  So, Marius wasn’t totally imagining her interest in some sort of lovesick fever dream after all. Good to know! It’s a requited love story despite the fact that they never speak to each other.  In fact, it was Cosette herself that suggested she and Valjean take a walk past Marius that fateful day when they made the eye contact that officially launched Marius into lovefoolish stalker territory.  She was completely fed up with his inability to make a move. We heard all about this from Marius’s point of view already, but now we know that Cosette orchestrated it.

Meanwhile, Valjean is over here hating all of this.  His daughter is the only love in his life and he’s just in fits thinking about her leaving him.  He’s teetering back on the edge of angry convict Valjean again because of this. This of course, makes him really hate poor Marius, whom he constantly thinks of as an awkward boob this entire chapter.  Clearly he is no good for Cosette, and Valjean is under the impression that she doesn’t particularly care about Marius one way or the other when he asks her about him.

This is not true.  She is 100% into Marius and his passionate nostrils.  She just a bit more subtle about it than Monsieur Pontmercy.   As for Marius, boy does Valjean have him figured out right from the start.  He knows Marius is pretend reading just to be near them and sprucing up his wardrobe to catch Cosette’s eye, and all of that we read from Marius’s point of view earlier.

Well, instead of bringing out intimidating former convict Valjean to just tell Marius to go back to wherever he came from and stop making eyes at Cosette, (I mean, I’m assuming strangers  in a public garden in the 19th century were allowed to speak words to each other without kingly intervention. Right? Maybe not.) We heard all about how Valjean tricked Marius into following them around just to make sure that the kid was indeed being a creeper and Marius falls for it completely, even following them all the way to their damn house. Again, C’mon, Marius. Dude.

This is when Valjean moves and stops with the garden strolls.  This not only upsets Marius, but also Cosette. It really does nothing to push her back into the old days of her childhood, hanging out in the outback shack with dad.  In fact, the next time Valjean suggests a trip to garden, she is overjoyed. Her joy is quickly shadowed by the fact that Marius no longer loiters around there anymore.  What would be the point? Cosette no longer gives a toss about garden strolls.

Later, Valjean has found alternate and isolated walking areas at the edge of  the city in some nice fields. Cosette likes them so she can run around and play, making daisy chains and the like.  Valjean likes them because they are out of the way. Just so happens one day as they are near the Barrière du Maine at dawn when a parade of convicts chained up in carts comes down the road.  It is explained that this convoy is going down this particular road to avoid the King’s kingly carriage path. This path was earlier detailed in the chapter in which Valjean first arrived in Paris.

Anyhow, the point of this is not really the King’s comings and goings, it’s Valjean’s chagrin.  This is not a thing he wants Cosette to be exposed to, and he for sure doesn’t want her to know about his past life of crime. Unfortunately she’s the one that points out these approaching wagons while Valjean is gazing around at the sky having some cosmic musings while Venus is on the rise.   Meanwhile, she is naturally curious about this foul mouthed chain gang now before her with a gathering crowd and a pack of gamin. We learn about each cart having a distinct personality including the final one which is piled up with maybe actually dead people. The guards have no qualms about beating any of the men.

Cosette is the most curious of cats and asks what’s up.  Who are they? Where are they going? Are they men? (are they Devo?)  Valjean tells her that they are convicts, heading to jail, and sometimes they are men.  Any further questions Cosette has throughout the night he doesn’t even answer, because he does not want to discuss this anymore.  Later, near bedtime she’s still got them on her mind and is talking under her breath later like a valley girl: “O my God, I would just die from seeing [A convict] near me”   Which has got to hurt Valjean right in the heart. Ouch!

Valjean manages to distract her with a conveniently timed festival over the coming week!  It works for a short while, but sometime later while he is observing her posing questions of love by plucking the petals of a Daisy  (Do I love thee: A little? A lot? Passionately? Not?) and wondering where the hell she learned this game, she asks one more time. What are convicts?

Cliffhanger!

Will Valjean have an answer?  A confession?

Will we rehash an entirely different part of the story we already read?

Will we return to Eponine leading Marius to his one true love?

Something else entirely?

Until next time, stay tuned!