The Arc in which Taylor Hebert looks at the long-term plot that was set up in Plague and says “fuck that let’s do this my way”.
Much like Plague, Snare feels a bit less self-contained than pre-Leviathan Arcs, being the third (counting the Arc 11 Interludes) part of the larger Slaughterhouse story arc. Interestingly, it all but throws out the formula that was set up for these Arcs, not as a result of bad writing, but of good. Actually adhering to that formula would be a bit too predictable after a while, what with how many tester rounds there were originally supposed to be, and watching Taylor go “fuck that” in this Arc was quite satisfying.
Also satisfying were the encounters with the Nine. We had four or five of them in this Arc, depending how you count. That’s a high density of awesome fights for an Arc of ten chapters and two Interludes!
I was right that we’d be focusing on fighting two Slaughterhouse members in particular over the course of this Arc, but I was wrong about who’d be the second. Twice. Because while Burnscar took over for Cherish, she was not actually in the spotlight anywhere near as much as Mannequin and Bonesaw.
Mannequin added a new weapon to his arsenal and came for a rematch with Skitter. That move kinda blew up in his face, but it was very cool.
Later, Bonesaw gave us one of the more gruesome sights in the story, with Grue having been unpacked to figure out where his power came from. She continued to be great as she almost managed to remove Taylor’s brain temporarily. Best antagonist right here.
On the protagonists’ side, I really like what was done with Imp in this Arc. She finally got to have significant relevance to the plot (beyond being Grue’s reason to fight), by getting in touch with Cherish and making it so the latter didn’t alert the other Nine to the incoming attack. It was also nice to see the conflict between her and Grue regarding her wanting to contribute vs. Grue wanting her to be safe. I like how that tied in with both of Grue’s trigger events, with her getting in trouble that he couldn’t help her out of, and the way that mirrors what he was feeling for Taylor.
Oh yeah, and Grue x Taylor is back! I wasn’t expecting that, but I can appreciate it. Like I’ve mentioned, I’m not entirely back on board yet, but depending how things develop from here, it might happen quite easily.
Grue’s second trigger event… I’m not gonna lie, it feels very close to a deus ex machina. But it’s pretty damn cool, and I’m excited about the opportunities. I’m also curious about the true power of whoever Grue stole the monochrome copy from if that thing – which pulverized Burnscar’s head – was just a fraction of the power.
And finally, Interlude 13 set up the Protectorate as another major enemy in the upcoming Arcs. With Piggot in the lead, they’re planning on a massive dick move against the villains of Brockton Bay. (Which I guess I somehow partially predicted by accident in my SU/Worm crossover crackfic??) When the Nine are dealt with, the pressure will still be on for the Undertravelers, now from the PRT. And then there’s Hookwolf’s small army, which might also be a threat for them further down the line.
Overall, Snare was a really, really good Arc with non-stop action and satisfying twists and turns. 🙂
The Arc title
It was immediately apparent to me that “Snare” would relate to traps, and sure enough, half the chapters in the Arc contain the words “trap” and/or “trapped” (there’s also a bit of “strapped”, but that doesn’t count), and Mannequin’s cloud of gas acted as one when the battle started.
It also refers to the situation the Undertravelers ended up in at the end, ensnared and paralyzed by Bonesaw. They were as helpless as flies in a spider’s web until Grue had his second trigger event.
Last time, I let some of the predictions I had for Plague roll over:
We know that Bitch, Armmaster, Hookwolf, Noelle, Regent and Panacea are all now targets for Slaughterhouse testing. This might be lethal for some of them, as I doubt the Slaughterhouse members will hold back. However, I doubt we’re losing Bitch, Hookwolf or Regent – Bitch and Regent because plot armor and Hookwolf because he’s probably the most competent fighter out of all of them, besides maybe Armmaster, and better equipped defensively than anyone except maybe Noelle. Besides plot armor, it would be more interesting to have Bitch actually join the Slaughterhouse Nine and become an antagonist – at least temporarily – than to have her just die.
Turns out Bitch doesn’t, in fact, want to join them. Fair enough!
And, if someone attempts to kill Jack Slash, they will either fail, or do it too late.
Well, there were a couple failed attempts this Arc, so I suppose it’s holding true for now. But yeah, this prediction stays.
I am pretty curious to see how [Plague] deals with the fact that there are other characters we care about who are going through the same thing as two of the Undersiders. Maybe we’ll have some Interludes to help out with that? Though it is worth noting that Wildbow seems to have a rule against using the same POV character for two Interludes (which is probably part of why Alec wasn’t the POV in 11g, besides Cherish’s power and personality being better illustrated from within her own head), so he’d have to show us the perspective of someone else close to the action. Perhaps even one of the attacking Slaughterhouse members, though that might be a tad redundant.
So far, the other groups targeted have been backgrounded except where they interact with the Undertravelers. We did get a look at what Amy’s been up to, which was neat, but it was not via and Interlude.
Man, the general thoughts section of this post is quite long and
there were things I forgot to talk about. This Arc was dense.
Primarily, though, I think we’ll be focusing on Taylor and the other Undersiders doing what they can to protect Alec, and maybe Rachel if she does eventually decide to tell the others anything.
Rachel’s secret did come out sooner than expected, though not much has been done with that yet due to more pressing concerns. But yeah, protecting Alec and Rachel is explicitly part of Tattletale’s game, so this too is going to carry over.
This Arc did a bit more with Rachel than Plague did, giving us confirmation that she doesn’t actually want to be part of the Nine, as well as some excellent development of her relationship with Taylor. It didn’t focus all that much on protecting her and Alec, though.
And then there’s what I had to say about Arc 13 last time:
At this point, I think the nomination game is going to take at least a few more Arcs to finish. In Arc 13, though, the game’s definitely afoot.
If we’re doing two nomination turns per Arc, we’ve got Mannequin and Cherish in the spotlight of the next Arc, with Mannequin specifically being tasked to deal with Skitter. A doll in search of revenge and a sister who might be in no particular hurry to help her candidate succeed even if it does make her look better. And they’re both super deadly.
Yeah, things are kicking off now.
It kicked off hard. But as I mentioned earlier in this post, I was wrong about the pairing, although Cherish was still relevant.
Predictions for Arc 14
Due to an accident while writing the End of Interlude 13 post yesterday, I know the title, or original title if it has been changed, of Arc 14: Prey.
Who’s the prey, exactly? After hearing Piggot’s plan, I’m inclined to think it’s both the local villains and the Slaughterhouse Nine. The Nine are at the bottom of the parahuman food chain for a change, being hunted by the Undertravelers and the Protectorate, but the PRT is also hunting the Undertravelers and other local villains.
I suppose there’s still civilians under the Nine on the overall food chain, but the Nine have already been preying on them quite a lot, so that shouldn’t be enough for an Arc title.
…oh. Oh, right.
I was already going to predict that Siberian was going to be in the spotlight next Arc, because of the focus she got in Interlude 13. Of course that ties in with the title Prey. She’s probably the next tester, which means the nominees are going to be her prey.
That doesn’t invalidate the other interpretation, though. I’m inclined to think both are correct.
So is the next Arc going to give the spotlight to only Siberian, among the Nine? The Nine’s numbers have been reduced enough that Wildbow can do that now, especially if they continue being reduced.
I don’t think the Undertravelers are going to let up on their ongoing assault against the Nine, but Taylor might start being a tad more cautious thanks to Grue’s input. Maybe that’s what ends up saving them from the Protectorate’s explosive backstab?
And finally, I think there’s a good chance we’ll finally learn what the Travelers’ deal is. Hell, if my theories on that are anywhere near right, that might even be another reason for the title.
So… yeah! Snare was very, very good, and I’m looking forward to what Wildbow has in store for me next. See you in Prey!