Tangle was a pretty good Arc! I consistently came out of the chapters with the impression that they were at the very least good, if not excellent.
But more than it was good, it was very important – to Taylor specifically. As an Arc, Tangle is held together by a single main thread: the Decision, a very important moment I had been waiting for since at least Agitation. Still, the Arc can be easily divided into three parts: Romance, the gallery attack, and the Decision. In the romance part, the Decision was involved by virtue of Taylor’s plans getting in the way of the romance and vice versa. The gallery attack was Taylor’s chance to get the information she wanted in order to betray the Undersiders, but the information she got factored into the Decision as well. The connection between the first two parts wasn’t that great, though, and besides the single plot thread they had in common, it did feel a little disjointed.
The romance part was pretty good. As you’ve no doubt noticed, I really like BrianxTaylor, and watching them spend time together like this and seeing Taylor get all flustered over it was adorable. Aisha and her caseworker showing up did kind of get in the way of it towards the end, but that was a decent bit as well.
The one thing I’m not a huge fan of in Tangle is the gallery attack. Parts of it got repetitive and uninteresting until Armsmaster intervened, and the battle against Armsmaster kind of… drew out. I did appreciate the solution to escaping him, though. After that we got another chapter of Undersiders versus Armsmaster (and Dauntless), which was mostly a setup to the reveal that Coil is the Undersiders’ boss. The execution of that reveal was not bad, though it could be better.
Following this, we got some insights into what Coil is trying to do. His master plan of taking control of the city and hopefully improving it in ways that happen to largely line up with Taylor’s ideas for how to improve the city is nice, and acted as yet another reason for Taylor to Decide to stay.
Ironically, when the Decision finally did hit us in Tangle 6.9, it didn’t even feel like the most important thing that happened in that chapter. Tangle 6.9 is one of the best chapters I’ve seen in the story so far, and one of the most painful – the confrontation between Danny and Taylor hit like a truck, and kept going only to come back and run the reader over at least five more times, and finish them off with a coddamn meteor as Taylor ran away from home for the time being with Lisa’s help.
I think I still prefer Shell over Tangle, thanks to Shell’s fantastic sequence of chapters in the latter half. Tangle was important, but Shell was more entertaining.
Speaking of Shell, rounding off the Arc we got Interlude 6, which was almost all about what happened to Bakuda and Lung now that the Abberations Beyond Belief had been disbanded. It was also about Paige, a.k.a. Canary, who got fucked over by the justice system when she accidentally mind-controlled her ex into attempting to fuck himself. However, I’m reasonably sure Paige is a character who was specifically created to act as a POV for this Interlude, so I don’t really expect her to have much relevance in the future, even if my hypothesized mass breakout from the Birdcage does happen someday. The real star of the Interlude was Bakuda, who… is probably dead now, if you go by the options we were set up to consider. Even if she isn’t, there’s a slim chance we’ll get to see her again, but I’m definitely hoping for those small odds.
The arc title
What does “Tangle” have to do with the events of the arc? I honestly don’t have much clue. Entanglement, the way getting, ahem, “entangled” with Brian would get in the way of betraying the Undersiders, and the way Taylor wants to get entangled in a more platonic sense with all of them? The way Coil’s master plan is convoluted? Or maybe Taylor just needs a haircut.
There are a few options, but they all feel rather weak. I’m open to suggestions, I guess.
I’m really curious to see what Taylor does from here. Will she tell the Undersiders what she used to be planning, and come clean about her deception? How would they respond to that? Did Lisa know all along?
And then there’s Taylor’s stated goal of becoming actual friends with the Undersiders – to stop keeping herself at arm’s length. I think Arc 7, Buzz, might contain a lot of bonding. And it has not slipped my mind that she wants to pursue a relationship with Brian in particular, even if it’s not necessarily romantic in nature. Ohh no, it hasn’t. :3
Another thing Arc 7 might deal with is the offer from Coil. I think it’s reasonable to expect the Undersiders to accept it, but we might get to see them discuss it. Alternatively, they might accept it early in the Arc and then the narrative can go on to show what changes that amounts to in their work.
Whatever does come next, I’m looking forward to seeing what Wildbow has in store for me in Arc 7. If my plans work out, I’m starting it tomorrow – see you then!