This episode is all about the awesomeness that is Ms. Quill and happens at the same time as the events of detention last episode
I am definitely here for an episode all about Quill because Quill is awesome and anyone who disagrees is just wrong and should be ashamed.
Headmistress Dorothea is delivering on her promise to remove the Arn- the enslaving creature in Quill’s brain that stops her doing violence, touching weapons and making sure she serves and protects Charlie, despite him being the last remnant of her sworn enemy – from Quill’s skull. It’s risky, but if the choice is between freedom and death then Quill will stab death in the face and grab that freedom with both hands
This being Class the pathway to getting there is bizarre. The Governors has a special little transporter device. They also have another prisoner who is integral to the process – Ballon. He’s a shapeshifter, fixed in one place and is also along in the hope of the freedom he will be given if they succeed.
The transporter takes them to… the afterlives of various people. Or not the afterlives so much as the dimension/world/thought construct created by the collective beliefs of everyone who believes in that afterlife. Yes it’s a but weird but Quill is there to snark
Quill is there through this whole episode being either perfectly snarky (warning them of the menace of the kitten’s online cultists) or epic (“I will be war itself!”). Really this whole episode is worth it for Quill’s every last word.
They collect an Arn from the Arn afterlife (with a brief brain squeal moment when Quill points out they’re genetically modified beings yet still have an afterlife) before dropping in on the shapeshifter Hell with Ballon to get some god blood to free his shapeshifting so he can do the surgery followed by a spot to Quill heaven to get a Quill brain
While this is a pretty simple object quest, along the way we get some really nice exploration of the cultures of these beings. Like the shapeshifter’s idea of hell is being reduced to statues, be unable to move or change, being silent: basically hell for the constantly moving/changing shifters is stasis. Which equally informs why Ballon is so eager to be freed since being unable to shift is literally hell
We have nice little looks at the Quill as a species and some exceptional moments from Quill herself. Her little description of how Quill eat their mothers is a really interesting little snippet because it clearly encompasses something Quill considers important to their culture while also being rather unnecessary in the modern world: she talks about is in an embarrassed way in that she expects outsiders to shame her for it and she’s slightly embarrassed but still defending it because it matters. There’s a nice amount of layers in that one statement.
We also have Quill confronting her deity (or the copy of her deity anyway) with utter, seething rage: the deity that was silent when her people we persecuted, slaughtered, destroyed and reduced to near extinction: her rage is absolutely epic. Yet she still is horrified when Ballon denies her the chance to talk to that deity by killing her – but, because this episode is just full of these moments, we have a layer added on that. Before meeting this deity Quill had made a point of her identity – her people’s identity – of having left this deity behind o it no longer being a part of hem. Their identity has been defined by them saving themselves, relying on themselves, protecting themselves, knowing no-one else had their backs: did Quill want to change this fundamental element of her people by listening to this copied deity, by worshipping?
See, layers – lots of these little scenes where we just have a lot of layers building and development and thought
Through all this we also have Quill and Ballon bonding epicly. Normally shows which try to throw a romance at me after half an episodes introduction fail to sell it to me – this? This was sold. I really invested in this. They were excellent together, their scenes had a lot of really good connections with some awesome bonding over their experiences, their shared imprisonment, the injustices they faced and their experiences as soldiers
They were really good together
Which makes it all galling when he finally reach the last place, the Reliquary of Souls where all of the Rhodian souls go and the surgery is completed successfully. Quill and Ballon celebrate with some surprisingly tender and gentle sex
And then we hear that there’s only enough energy for one of them to leave and they have to fight to the death to see how gets to escape and live. Nooooooooo…. They fight, because family and vengeance are so important to them, even while the respect and love they have for each other is so very clear, until Ballon fires Quill’s gun and dies when it backfires. This leaves Quill to mourn his death.
Noooo, there was no need for this?! You wanted Ballon not to be a regular character? Then have him escape as well and go and find his family and leave Quill to her vengeance. There’s the story – there’s the same message. You wanted to say how important family/vengeance are to each other? Than have them separate – make it clear these things matter more to them than actually staying together and pursuing their relationship. There was no need for the Black man to be killed off for the greater development of the white woman. There was zero need for this.
Quill confronts the Rhodian souls with yet another epic speech and pulls herself out of the reliquary in time to save the others and head towards the epic finale.
Quill oh how I loved Quill. And I would have loved Quill and a living Ballon way more.