Arc Thoughts: Extermination

Hoo boy, what an Arc.

Where I felt that Arc 7 lacked a true climax, Arc 8 feels like a climax as a whole. This genuinely feels like a point where you could believably say “End of Part 1”.

Pretty much everything was really well written. Yes, that includes 8.3 – a chapter that was so thoroughly hopeless that I started talking about potentially quitting down the line if that became the norm. Now, looking back, I see reason to the hopelessness: They were legitimately fighting a hopeless battle, so Wildbow started establishing that feeling from the beginning. Is it not good writing to be able to put the reader into a state of mind that matches the situation like that?

Similarly, Wildbow pulled off one of the most effective false deaths I’ve ever seen in a work of fiction. I think the key was that Interlude 8a was written like a real death chapter, an effective one at that, to the extent that even though we didn’t see the “body”, I was far more sold on her death than Taylor was once we actually had the armbands reporting her name. (Incidentally, the armbands getting DDoSed was a fantastic way to preserve the ambiguity.) Taylor’s uncertainty also helped to make it not feel like a cop-out when Tattletale turned out to be alive.

Honestly, I should probably have known Taylor was right. She tends to be. 😛

And then there’s Armmaster’s shenanigans. Pride goeth before the fall, and Armmaster fell hard. Featuring a fantastic parlor scene run beautifully by Tattletale.

The Arc title

Usually these are too obtuse for me to figure out without help (”Shell” being a notable exception), but I think this time it’s pretty obvious. Lots of people just got exterminated by the Daleks Leviathan. What more is there to say?

I guess there could still be more layers to it, like to Leviathan, but I don’t have a nanotech Halberd.

Prediction review

Alright, so we’ve got two sets of predictions to go through here.

Let’s start with the predictions from the previous Arc Thoughts post:

The obvious one: Much of the city’s honorable cape population will band together to take down the Endbringer.

Check.

There will probably be a lot of death and destruction before they succeed, possibly including already named characters.

Check as fuck.

In particular, I’m a bit worried for Danny’s safety – Wildbow could get a lot of angst mileage from killing him off right now.

This one’s still up in the air. That fact leads me to believe he’s alright, besides the psychological results of still not having seen Taylor two weeks after a fucking Endbringer attack.

On a brighter note, I think the experience will cause Taylor to ultimately change her mind about leaving the Undersiders. We’ll also likely find out what the Undersiders ultimately decide to do regarding Coil’s offer and their existing arrangement. I’m no longer certain what they’ll decide, though I’m slightly leaning towards them accepting the offer.

That damn cliffhanger!

So yeah! Just bring it, Endbringer… wait, bad wor–

Oh, he brought it, alright.

And now for the closing post of 8.1. You may remember this as the time I bummed myself out by trying to speculate on who would die. Let’s see how wrong I was, shall we?

Armsmaster, for one, has a huge death flag. As far as Brockton Bay is concerned, he’s practically retiring in dishonor anyway, most likely exiting the story for good (except maybe a very occasional guest appearance). As such, there’s no reason for him to not end up dying in this battle, possibly heroically to make up for his dishonor.

Ahahaha! This must’ve been rich to read, knowing what was ahead.

I mean he’s still most likely exiting the story, but he’s retiring in far more dishonor, and probably a one-way elevator.

There’s also a risk of something similar with Aegis.

I can’t believe I predicted Aegis’ death. I think I must’ve forgotten about his power for a second back when I was writing this, because I was certainly surprised when he died.

Taylor, obviously, needs to survive if she’s going to keep being the POV character and narrator,

Which apparently wasn’t the plan!

but I’m not sure I’d assume the same plot armor for all of the Undersiders. One in four is a scary ratio when we’ve got exactly four of the main protagonists here.

Oh yeah, that’s another reason why I was so sold on Tattle’s death. And then after 8.7 brought her back, all of a sudden there was Brutus and Judas on the monument in 8.8, bringing us back up to 2/8 Undersiders… dammit.

(Not gonna lie, though, I’d much rather lose Brutus and Judas than Tattletale.)

Anyway, I think if anyone’s going to die among them, Brian is particularly vulnerable, being someone Taylor has built up a strong emotional attachment to (that attachment having been ripped to pieces in the last Arc only makes it worse). Alec is unlikely because he needs more fleshing out. Lisa has some of the same issue as Alec, though not as intensely – we know her a bit better, but I still feel like there’s a lot more to know about Lisa before she gets killed off.

I was wrong about Brian, though I suppose 8.8 helps to confirm that last point about Lisa.

As for the rest, Sundancer is at some risk, though I think Wildbow might want to delve more into the issues in the Travelers at a later date, and Sundancer seems to be his main conduit for doing so.

I really thought she was about to die at one point, but she just went “down” instead.

I’m also thinking at least one of the big shots might go down, to show even more how powerful Leviathan is. Legend and Alexandria are at a fair bit of risk due to their idolization by Taylor, though their status as Triumvirate members ought to protect them somewhat.

One of the asks did mention that Alexandria almost died, though like pretty much every other death here, that was more a quirk of RNG than anything else.

Maybe Myrddin or Chevalier will go down instead – as team leaders, they’re still fairly big shots, just not thatbig shots.

Nope.

On the other end of the scale, there’s likely cannon fodder such as a whole bunch of thus far unnamed Wards and Protectorate members, Parian, Bambina… Laserdream and/or Shielder might go down too so we’ve got some from New Wave…

Well, one of those, and his dad, I got right, as well as the at the time unnamed cannon fodder.

Basically, lots of people are gonna die and this is getting morbid. I’m beginning to understand Lisa’s reaction in Agitation 3.6.

I had no idea.

Predictions for Arc 9

Arc 9 is largely a mystery for now, due to the cliffhanger in 8.8, but it’ll presumably deal with Taylor setting the first parts of her plan into motion. If Taylor decided to involve the Undersiders in it, we’ll also be dealing with her trying to regain their trust.

There’s also a chance we’ll learn more about Noelle’s situation towards the end of the Arc, given the tendency of Interludes to cover content relevant to the Arcs on both sides.

There’s not much more I can say. Extermination was a good’un. See you soon for the next one!

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