Alright, so we’re halfway through Arc 11, and done with the regular chapters for the Arc – coming up is a series of a whopping eight Interludes. I’m going to be making another Arc Thoughts post after those.
For now, let’s take a look at the first half of Infestation. 🙂
Infestation so far has largely been a story about guilt and bystanderism. We opened with Taylor having nightmares involving various things she’s feeling guilty over, and learned about how hard she’s pushing herself to do things, both to keep herself occupied and not thinking about her various guilts, and to make (quite possibly fruitless, because Coil is a manipulative fucker) progress on fixing one of the things she feels responsible for.
Then she went out and ran into another of her guilts, Danny. I’m glad to see him again, though I’m concerned he might get killed by the Slaughterhouse Nine in the near future. The two of them had a much needed, if somewhat awkward, conversation, their first one since 6.9. 🙂
Further, in Taylor’s quest to do things, she did a thing and claimed her territory, declaring war on basically everyone standing in her way. Oh, and establishing her benevolent rule, of course. This got her in contact with Sierra Kiley, who needed help – determined to prove herself to Coil, to her subjects and to herself, and to not have another unfortunate child on her conscience, she agreed to help retrieve Bryce Kiley and spent the rest of the half-Arc pursuing that goal with all her might.
Along the way, a fit of anti-bystanderism caused Taylor to save Charlotte, a Merchant victim who ironically happened to have been a bystander for Taylor’s trigger event. (For added irony, if Charlotte had actually helped Taylor back then, she might not have been saved from the Merchants now. Then again, if the Protectorate were right, Leviathan might not have attacked in that timeline anyway.) This led to an interesting examination of how Taylor views bystanderism, and it really helped to put into context some of Taylor’s strongest heroic urges and guilt complexes.
Then, after a brief but very interesting Dandelion intermission and the end of The Great “Skidmark is a Dick to His Flock” Brawl of 2011, Taylor & co. ironically ended up as unwilling bystanders as Faultline’s Crew beat up the Merchants and stole back their super juice and papers from Cauldron, though not before Taylor and Lisa could learn a bit about it.
Finally, Taylor hired Charlotte and Sierra, made up with Brian and ended the half-Arc on a high note, feeling like she accomplished enough for the day and things were looking better. It’s a very nice counterposition to the literally nightmarish opening of the Arc.
And also quite a bit of tempting fate.
This Arc so far has had a decent storyline, with some very interesting elements scattered into it and making the Arc overall a lot more exciting than it would’ve been otherwise. The Dandelions showing up was incredibly unexpected and what we learned was very interesting, and the same goes for everything involving Cauldron.
Other than that, I quite like Sierra and Taylor’s dynamic and hope to be seeing a fair bit of that in the future.
Overall, I quite like this!
The Arc title
This has been fairly obvious since we learned of the Merchants’ relevance to the Arc. They are the infestation being cleared out.
However, I suppose it might also refer to the infestation of negative thoughts and guilt in Taylor’s brain, which was also quite important. That hasn’t quite been eradicated, but the events of this Arc do seem to have helped so far.
So what do we have coming up?
As mentioned earlier in the post, this Arc ended with Dragon finding out Taylor’s identity and starting a search for her. I don’t think that’s a plot that’s going to be left dormant for too long, so there’s a good chance Dragon will play a role in Arc 11, or maybe Arc 12.
Meanwhile, the Undersiders will need to try to stay away from the Slaughterhouse Nine. They will fail, that much I’m certain of, but whether they’ll fail in the next Arc or later remains to be seen. When it happens, though… well, there’s little reason to hold back against Jack Slash in particular. But even if someone does try to kill him, I think they’ll fail. I could see the story’s climax happening in two years, but I highly doubt we’ll be skipping ahead enough for it to happen in fifteen.
We might also learn more about Imp/Aisha (though with the reveal that Imp was Aisha, that’s become less of pressing matter since we’ve had a chapter getting to know Aisha as a civilian before) and how she ended up on the team… I wish I could see Brian’s face the moment Aisha probably told him straight that she has powers now and she knows about the Undersiders. 😛
Literally none of this has come up yet. I guess some of these predictions are going to carry over to Arc 12.
Predictions for the Arc 11 Interludes
Given the number of Interludes, my main prediction is that these Interludes are for the Slaughterhouse Nine, starting or more likely ending with Jack Slash. Eight members, eight Interludes.
Knowing that the Interludes were done for the purpose of celebrating the anniversary of Gestation 1.1, the number might just be the result of 1 regular Interlude plus 7 bonus Interludes for the week of celebration, but that seems too perfect for Wildbow not to use that for the Fellowship even if that was the case. (If this is how it shook out, I do feel like that slightly increases the chances of Jack Slash going first, though that depends on when Wildbow got the idea for the week-long marathon of Interludes.)
That said, I could still be wrong. If the Interludes aren’t for the Slaughterhouse Nine, I don’t have a clue who they’d be for. Maybe some of the other villains in town? Maybe one of the Wards or Protectorate members as they learn of the Merchants’ collapse? Perhaps even a short check-in on Dragon’s progress in finding Taylor?
Also, given the marathon, I suspect these Interludes might each be a bit shorter than the average recent chapter.
So yeah, whatever Wildbow has in store for me, I’m sure it’ll be good. If perhaps brutal. 🙂
See you soon for the first Interlude of the marathon!