Team Evil staged a complete coup last week, with the Emir killed and Akbari and Taryn now in control of Basra. Through Taryn’s magic, she sent a distress call to Sinbad, apparently from his grandmother- and he returns, armed with Cook’s knife and accompanied by his friends, to the city.
Akbari, with Taryn urging him on, changes the grandiose plans the Emir had for the city, burning his planning model. Sinbad and his friends watch as centres of knowledge and learning are sacked inclusing the House of Wisdom, the books and scrolls burned and the academics arrested.
Taryn tells one professor that the places of learning were built on dark temples, in the hope of burying them. She is looking for them – including the Gateway to the Shadows, under the House of Wisdom. She continues to wave the reward of having Sinbad in front of Akbari to make him agree to her plans even when he has his doubts. She summons a big shadowy nasty-thing with a rock she finds under the House of Wisdom – which she uses to consume the old master of the House
Sinbad is drawn to protect an academic before the guards can hurt him – he starts losing the fight until Gunnar intercedes, reminding us again what a powerful warrior Gunnar is if he can step past his conscience. He demands Sinbad stick to the plan – find his family and leave the city – and not be distracted.
The academic they saved tells them the Emir is dead, that the old magic is returning and that scientists and scholars are now the enemy. This worries Anwar since his father is Professor of Wisdom and not safe. Anwar and Rina go to find Anwar’s family to bring them to the Providence.
Walking through Basra, the bustling, busy city we once saw is now near deserted, it’s quiet, the markets abandoned and many things destroyed in haste.
At Sinbad’s home he finds it deserted, just a scarf of his grandmothers which, when he touches it, his grandmother can feel it even in Taryn’s prison. Unfortunately so can Taryn. There’s also the shadowy symbol from the rock painted on the wall. Grandmother and Taryn duel with words, but she can’t escape Taryn’s magical prison.
Next step is for Sinbad to see his friend in the guards, Tazeem – and here there are lots of people, a huge number of guards. He tells him his mother is safe – but that his grandmother is prison of Akbari and he will execute her before he becomes Emir – an hour before nightfall. Sinbad begs Tazeem to get him into the palace.
Nala and Gunnar walk the city to the rendezvous point with Sinbad, but they’re watched by Taryn’s Shadow Beastie. They see the scholar they rescued in the shadows plotting with fellows to strike back – but when their backs are turned the Shadow Beastie eats them. They meet up with Sinbad – and Tazeem gets Sinbad and Gunnar into the palace while Nala keeps watch (again. And what is she supposed to do if someone finds the tunnel?). Left alone, the Shadow Beastie snatches her and takes her to a strange blue-lit prison surrounded by shadowy tentacles and full of the people the Beastie has snatched.
Sinbad and Gunnar arrive at Akbari’s investiture as Emir – and Sinbad draws his knife. Gunnar confronts him, saying Sinbad planned to kill Akbari. Sinbad talks about his dead brother but Gunnar asks, again, what good will it do to kill Akbari (stop a brutal tyrant ruling a city, destroying learning, kidnapping people off the street and snatching people up with an evil demonic Shadow Beastie. I’m just saying). Convinced, Sinbad puts his knife away and they go searching for his granny – but Gunnar gets Shadow Beastied as well.
Sinbad finds his grandmother, but can’t get near her – when he approaches his necklace curse starts strangling him. Y’know, granny, you might want to reconsider this whole strangling curse thing, given the givens. She tells him it’s a trap and Tazeen betrayed him – and he needs to leave, and watch out for Taryn, she’s more dangerous than Akbari. Sinbad refuses to leave and decides to heroically strangle himself. Then Sinbad and Taryn arrive.
Akbari has a nice evil monologue (should be the first sign one is falling to the dark side – do you take up monologue) and attacks Sinbad with a sword – Sinbad springs up with Cook’s knife, apparently no longer incapacitated. Cue dramatic fight scene (actually kind of well done) until Sinbad holds a knife to Akbari’s throat… and Taryn seems to be suddenly Team Sinbad, quietly urging him to kill Akbari.
He does not, he apologises for Akbari’s loss and the pain he caused him (awww, Gunnar’s been growing on him. Like a fungus) and in doing so the curse breaks and falls from Sinbad’s neck. Akbari, moved, apologises for his loss.
This kumbaya moment of supreme fluffy hippy-dom is interrupted by Taryn who is most certainly not sorry for anyone’s loss (though, perhaps, faintly nauseous) and stabs Akbari in the back – literally. Just in case he didn’t get the message, she lets him know she’s been manipulating him all this time. She also turns to Sinbad and cryptically points out that he doesn’t know who he “really is” and what he is “capable of” (go go Chosen One Cliché) and she can show him if he’d let her (or possibly go go Mrs. Robinson).
But granny has quietly opened her magical cage while Taryn was busy invading Sinbad’s personal space and has grabbed the evil rock. For the first time, she speaks over a whisper (it is hereby known as the Laryngitis Curing Rock) and shatters it. This is apparently not a good thing as it causes Taryn to pass out. It also frees everyone from Shadow Beastie prison.
Granny is exhausted and back to whispering – she admits she should have told Sinbad the truth about who he is. Of course, being a reasonable woman she then tells him who he is in the last moments before she dies. Hah! No, of course she doesn’t! She asks him to forgive her for keeping the big secret that she will now take to her grave instead.
Tazeem arrives to take him back to the ship.
Anwar and Rina see his family, but they seem unharmed. They aren’t resisting and Anwar’s father is convinced the city will always need doctors so what is happening at the House of Wisdom won’t affect him. We also learn that Anwar ran off to sea before finishing his medical qualification – and that his father has decided Anwar will return to his studies – which is not up for debate.
Of course, Rina questions how they knew to enrol Anwar in university if they didn’t know he was coming back – they have been collaborating with Akbari. Guards arrive and take Rina away, leaving Anwar with his family. Anwar is furious and charges after Rina, leaping from a roof to rescue her… and misses. Thankfully Rina has her knife and is quite capable of rescuing herself.
On the Providence, everyone reflects that they no longer have to run from Akbari. And Nala decides to remain in Basra, to help people rebuild after the damage of Akbari, as her father would have wanted. And Cook has some wise words about the nature of home.
I wish they’d make Rina a more active participant. We’ve already established that Nala is eternally on look-out duty not doing a lot of anything, but Rina is established as having skills. We’ve seen her use them to rescue herself repeatedly (which is good to see), now I just wish we’d see her use them beyond that.
It’ll be sad to see Nala go, though. She added more diversity to the cast and had the potential to be an interesting character if she were developed more, I think they lost the opportunity
I am curious as to where the show will go from here. I actually thought this was a season finale at first. Without Sinbad’s curse or Akbari’s chasing them, what motivation do they have to keep together and keep sailing? Especially if the revelation of who Sinbad “really is” is not forthcoming. It’ll be interesting to see how they keep the show going with “let’s have an adventure” being their main motive.