Arc Thoughts: Colony

And that’s it for Arc 15! Let’s have a look back, shall we?


I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that this Arc probably suffered a bit from my liveblog migration. It was already drawing long before I put the blog on hiatus for four months, so ultimately it ended up taking me almost half a year where most Arcs before this took closer to a month and a half each. As such, I don’t think I’m in much of a position to judge the pacing of this Arc, at the very least.

In any case, this was a fairly decent Arc overall. We’ve had some of the best Taylor-Rachel bonding yet, the capture of Victor, Imp showing her worth in multiple ways, Grue speaking Norwegian, a really good back and forth between Skitter and Ballistic, Parian and Flechette development, and lots of awesome, competent and horrifyingly cruel Skitter, finishing off with some delicious Taylor-Danny pain.

Some of the action in the Arc did suffer from being a step back from the Slaughterhouse Nine, but at the same time that acted as a way to show how much Taylor has grown. These conflicts would be big trouble for Taylor some Arcs back, but now that she has been through hell and come out mostly on top, she can face them confidently and competently.

And, of course, there’s Coil. Coil is our new main antagonist for the Undersiders, and he knows it. With that, the focus is shifting from a chaotic scramble for survival to a game of superpowered chess, and this Arc is a good transition. This is going to be very interesting.

Now, I did deliberately gloss over a few things above, because they deserve to be talked about individually: The Interludes.

Interlude 15a is one of the best chapters in all of Worm up to this point. It’s a fantastically well-woven send-off for Amy, and a thing of beauty. The only thing I’d change about it is the use of Alan Barnes, with his surname treated as a twist, right after we got rid of the other Alan.

Interlude 15b was a lowkey but excellent look into Brian’s psyche post-Snare, and it contributed beautifully to the way the rest of the Arc shows Taylor’s growth, by showing from the outside her confidence and calmness and the way her power grounds her and makes her feel like a part of a whole. It was also the best damn case the story has made for the ship.

And then there’s Interlude 15c, which was a doozy and a half. Cauldron backstory, Protectorate backstory, Behemoth, Alexandria being a fantastic parallel to Taylor, Coil being important to Cauldron’s plans… so much good stuff.

Interlude 15d wasn’t quite on the same level as 15a or 15c, or even 15b, but it was still a very good one with a somber ending. And hey, Defiant’s a cool development.

All in all, Colony is lowkey compared to some of the Slaughterhouse Arcs, but full of good stuff, especially in the Interludes.


The Arc title

Colony focused less on Skitter’s territory than I’d expected. It still did focus a fair bit on the territory, but I’m not sure it focused enough on that to warrant it being the cause for the Arc title.

I don’t really know what else it’d be, though. A colony of ants, something something working hard? Except Taylor has been working hard on the territory for several Arcs now. If any Arc should be named for that, it’s Infestation.

I don’t know.


Prediction review

From Arc Thoughts: Prey:

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.

Not yet, but we’re definitely building up to it, what with the massive secret and the Sundancer development. Roll over.

We’re getting closer, but damn, this is taking longer than I thought. Roll over.

Predictions for Arc 15 before reading the title

This is a hard one. There’s not much to go on as far as where the story is headed next.

It’s possible we’re about to learn more about the Travelers, but I doubt that’s the main plot. Likewise, I don’t think dealing with the Chosen is that big of a deal for Taylor at this point, especially since they’ve lost their leader.

We did learn a little bit about them at least?

But the thing about the Chosen wasn’t entirely correct. It’s not entirely wrong either, they weren’t exactly her main priority, but they weren’t irrelevant.

It is also very possible that we’re heading into the second boss battle Arc, though it’d be a bit curious that no strong indication of that (except Eidolon mentioning that another Endbringer strike was due soon) appeared at the end of Prey like what happened at the end of Buzz. If we are heading into that territory next Arc or in Arc 16, I think we’re in for the Simurgh attacking Brockton Bay.

If she does, we might see some of the characters start to question why two Endbringers would attack the same location in a row like that, lending more credibility to Coil’s “Noelle draws Endbringers” theory.

We were not heading into such an Arc, no, and I don’t think we are in Arc 16 either.

I suppose it’s also entirely possible that the miasma was the boss battle of this section and we’re not getting attacked by all three Endbringers like I’ve been theorizing, in which case we’d be moving into an Interlude Arc.

We also weren’t moving into one of those. The Interludes were the highlights of the Arc, but that doesn’t make it an Interlude Arc.

But that’d feel kind of anticlimactic, even though Prey was a fantastic climax to the Slaughterhouse Nine plotline, and unless the chapters in the Interlude Arc were themed like the ones in Sentinel, it’d call into question why we had two Interludes in Prey. Though that can still be explained by thematics and threads, wanting Legend’s Interlude to be clearly tied to Prey.

So yeah, I’m not really sure what to expect. Let’s see if the Arc title gives me any ideas, shall we?

Past me’s attitude here is kind of puzzling, honestly.

Predictions for Arc 14: Colony

Colony. That, to me, sounds like we’ll be focusing on the rebuilding of Taylor’s territory and its community for a while. Maybe all the territories, even, turning the city into the Undertravelers’ colony?

But that sounds like a really anticlimactic premise on its own. We may focus on that, but something needs to not go smoothly to make the Arc interesting. It needs more conflict than just “how do we fix up this building”. Dealing with the Chosen still doesn’t sound all that interesting after tangoing with the Nine.

I mean… yes. It wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, but things did feel a little lowkey by comparison, even with the added conflict focused on Coil. That was a good thing, though. We needed some time to relax after the intensity of the last few Arcs.

(…heh, past me fucked up the Arc numbering in the subheader there.)

I’m not saying I expect the upcoming Arc to be boring. I’m saying that if I’m right about what the title implies, I don’t really know how Wildbow is going to prevent that. I do trust that he will, though, in some way.

He did. 🙂

Perhaps the title is less literal. Maybe it’s about the cohesiveness and cooperation as the heavily hurt and fractured people of Brockton Bay band together to defend their colony, their home, against the Simurgh or another threat?

Mmmm, no, I don’t think that’s the case. Cohesiveness and cooperation aren’t things I associate with this Arc.

Or maybe it’s a colony in the sense of an additional area taken and controlled from afar? But I can’t imagine Taylor wants to take another piece of territory, away from her current one.

This next Arc is very hard to speculate on, jeez. In any case, I’m looking forward to starting on it and finding out what’s actually going on. See you soon!

It continued to be hard to speculate on as it went along.

[postscript]

Hmm. I suppose there’s one more thing that could be next.

“(…) I’m thinking the biggest issue right now is the man at the top.”

Maybe Colony is about Taylor’s attempt to free Dinah the hard way?

It’s the beginning of such, anyway.


Predictions before title

So. Coil knows the Undersiders are plotting and wants them to know that he knows, and that he knows how to fool Tattletale’s power.

I think that means we’ll see more obvious moves on his part next Arc, now that both sides know the other is playing. Colony was just the beginning of the game – now we’re heading deeper into it.

On top of the game against Coil, parts of the Protectorate and Wards will likely be an issue, spearheaded by Assault. Or, if something happens that changes the remainder’s minds on the subject, a larger portion with draconic backup. I think there’s a good chance Skitter will be captured in a surprise attack – question is just whether she’ll be able to get out of it fully by her own power and/or negotiations, or need backup in the form of a rescue mission.

Coil would probably support the rescue mission as long as no one else wound up captured. Skitter in custody is an information leak waiting to happen.

It’s also possible we’ll hold off on this stuff until Arc 17, perhaps with the events of Arc 16 being what prompts a change of heart from the PRT’s side.

Arc 16 may also involve Victor a bit more. That could be involved in the PRT reconsidering?

It’s possible the Arc will build on the “divided Undersiders” foreshadowing from Colony a bit, perhaps having such a division happen right before the Protectorate moves on Skitter. Regent would likely be on the other side of the rift, making for extra irony points when he’s part of why they’re moving in the first place.

Alright, let’s find out what Arc 16 is called!


Predictions for Arc 16: Monarch

Monarch.

That’s an interesting title. Very regal.

The obvious candidate is Coil. The guy at the top, the man who wants to rule the city. But I think at the same time the title probably also refers to Taylor.

It’s likely we’re going to be touching on Taylor’s new status as leader of the Undersiders and her preexisting status as ruler of her territory (perhaps there’s a challenge to her rule there), in addition to taking on Coil around the time of the election that would make him monarch of Brockton Bay.

And if I get more metaphorical and start grasping at straws for a second, maybe there’ll be something about the butterfly effect (Monarch -> monarch butterfly -> butterfly effect), perhaps with regards to Skitter fucking up Cauldron’s plans with her little wing flaps?

Sounds like fun. See you there!


[postscript]

Oh, right! There’s one more post of predictions to review, which I would’ve forgotten entirely if not for the migration.

From the intro post to 15.3:

So, what are we in for today, besides finding out which of the Chosen the Undersiders have, well, chosen? Hmm… We’re probably going to be taking a moment to discuss why Lisa and Alec didn’t tell Taylor about their plan (whether it’s between the characters or just in Taylor’s narration). Maybe we’ll also get some more cracks in the group.

That seems to be the progression we’re going to see in this Arc. We started off with a chapter where the Undersiders seemed more whole than ever. Even Rachel and Taylor got along. Then we had an Interlude about a family breaking, and a chapter where a) Alec and Aisha pointed out the gap between the main trio and the, uh, background Undersiders, b) the same pair went on to joke about the “Othersiders” and the team splitting up, and c) the chapter ended on a note of dishonesty between teammates. Everything points to an increasing amount of fissures between the Undersiders as this Arc goes along. Little things that add up, mostly.

Oddly enough, I could see Rachel being the only one on Taylor’s side at some point. Now wouldn’t that be quite the inversion from what we’re used to.

I don’t think this is going to be permanent. The question is just how far it’s going to go before they manage to pull things together, and how long that’s going to take.

They’ve only got a few weeks if they want to get it together in time to take on Coil.

(…well, this is clearly a post I need to review in the Arc Thoughts. I hope I remember to do that.)

Ultimately, 15.3 ended up setting this progression back a bit, but I don’t think it’s entirely irrelevant. I do expect this development to come back and bite everyone in the ass within the next few Arcs.

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