That was… a lot.
Fuck, let’s split this up by the sections:
Darkness: A fantastic intro, raising many questions and getting the reader invested in where this chapter would be going and who it was about. Sets up the desperation of the trigger event as well as the way Carol would later feel about the long-haired guy’s betrayal really well.
Alan Barnes: By far the most mundane section, but it casually shows us who we’re following and how she’s dealing with what she knows of the Victoria and Amy situation by seeking more mundane work as a break from her endless search, while somewhat subtly making it clear that she favors Victoria. The section is not that interesting at first read, I think, but it’s not without purpose in the chapter.
It does suffer heavily from the inclusion of Alan Barnes and the fact that his surname was being kept from us until the end of the section, even though this was clearly the section’s second purpose: Telling us that Emma’s father, and therefore very likely Emma herself, is/are back in town. The fact that this happened just after we got rid of the other Alan, and only two chapters after the latest reminder of that name for the other Alan, made things extremely confusing for a while. Especially as this section happens early in the chapter, while we’re still trying to figure out exactly when things are set and how things are laid out.
Trigger events: Dandelions, fuck yeah. I love the fact that what appears to be their birth mirrors the spreading of seeds from a dandelion.
The action, and especially Carol’s reaction to the long-haired man attacking them, was also pretty decent, especially with the way the latter was later revealed to have affected her for the rest of her life.
Daughters, plural: A pretty short section, really more of a transition. Carol’s reaction to the others finding both daughters is worth a mention, though, and the way it reinforces what was subtly set up in the Alan section.
Marquis: Marquis is such a good character. Must run in the family.
The battle was very good. I love the fact that Marquis was defeated because he was acting differently than usual to protect Amy. It really helps to sell the love he has for her. And the way he acted after his defeat, entrusting his daughter to the people who were about to take him away from her forever? So good.
The battle was suspiciously different from what we’ve been told about it before, about how they sent in an all-female team to play off of Marquis’ honor. I suppose in retrospect that might’ve been a public fib made to protect the secret of how he was really beaten? Except I’m pretty sure we heard that story from Dragon, one of the few who seem to know the truth.
Anyway, I love how things come together in this section, between their trigger event and Marquis’ appearance and Carol’s behavior regarding Amy (as seen in two of the earlier sections and from Amy’s perspective).
Art: And the pain begins.
Carol confronting Amy and making it clear that only Victoria is her daughter.
Amy’s uncertainty and fear.
The horrifyingly beautiful sculpture that used to be Victoria, and the way that came about.
Carol picking that moment out of them all to finally realize that Amy wasn’t so different from herself.
So much pain in all the best ways.
“Please tell me what to do.”
One of my favorite characters just decided to take herself out of the story (as long as the Birdcage isn’t compromised, anyway). I’m fine. Sure.
You guys were just waiting for me to get to this, weren’t you. I know how liveblog readers work.
But seriously, this is a really painful but really fitting ending to her character arc. She’s been in so much turmoil since she found out about Marquis, and Bonesaw set her on a downward spiral of unethical use of her power. Now we got to see the climax of the latter and an apparent acceptance of the former – she must’ve known she’d meet Marquis in the Birdcage, and it might even be a part of why she volunteered to go.
And Carol’s found a certain acceptance. She’s not feeling good, but she acknowledges that Victoria is for all intents and purposes gone, and she seems to accept that Marquis and his daughter are reunited and may even be happy together in the Birdcage.
It’s bittersweetness at its finest.
Holy shit, this was so good and so painful but so fucking good.
See you next time. I have a chapter to go recover from.