We have a lot of drama here and I’m feeling all kinds of torn about it. Because I love the storyline, the revelations, he backstory and the building of the armies - but I’m not sure I like where we end up especially with Dutch
Last week Dutch and Zeph ran off to do techy stuff and this week Johnny concentrates on finding them (after D’avin tells him to do “your best friend power twins thing” which is so perfect) which leaves D’avin with the army
Which is in trouble. Their first tests of piloting the Hullen ships go horribly horribly wrong, killing 2 pilots; morale is low,.Turin is not helping stomping around shouting at people.
Morale is also low because Dutch, the woman who put this army together, isn’t there either. The Farren in particular are not happy with her absence since they swore to follow her more than anything else and they’re more than a little suspicious of generals and rulers who aren’t there with them. That leaves D’avin to struggle to inspire them
Examining the ships they talk to Fancy who is with his fellow cleansed about why the ships work. The ships are designed to work in tandem, and to properly use them you need to have your brain rewired with Hullen goo. So D’avin can do it. And so can the Cleansed. No-one else can
The problem is that the Cleansed are desperately trying to rebuild their lives after what the Hullen did to them. On top of that Turin is having the Killjoys harassing the Cleansed because of the idea that they could relapse or are sleeper agents. Turin’s harassment doesn’t make this an easy sell to them - they demand D’avin have their back against harassment.
Especially when Turin decides to round up and imprison all of the Cleansed. He understands only they can fly the ships but hey now they can experiment on hem because war is hard like that, don’t you know
This earns him the come back that he isn’t a general - he’s middle management
The Farren are also super pissed because it’s this kind of betrayal by their generals they were founded to stop. Alvis and the Scarbacks are similarly not ok with this
D’avin has to step up, make some epic speeches, challenges Turin and free the Cleansed. They will pilot those ships and they will be trusted - because the Cleansed are taking an even bigger risk trusting them after the way they’ve been treated. Turin objects and D’avin has him arrested - all the factions of the army; the Cleansed, the Farren, the Scarback monks, the refugees, all backing D’avin over Turin.
Turin is locked up and this brings my first and most minor character issue - what happened to Turin? He was always as diplomatic as a hammer to the face, but when did he become this incompetent? I want to see some character development to see him turn from abrasive, but caring and competent leader to this hot mess?
D’avin is extra awesome when Fancy himself expresses concerns that he may relapse and be evil Hullen: D’avin once turned on his squad because of a chip in his head. Rookies fail and veterans crack - no soldier is a guarantee
Dutch and Zeph are using science to spurt brain goo into Dutch’s brain so she can relive Aneela’s memories. SCIENCE
There we see the history of Aneela - presumably way back before the 9 made their deal with the Hullen to take over the Quad. There we see Aneela and Khlyen, one of the Kreshi major families (it looks like the 9 were 10 at this time) and Khlyen being all fatherly and promising a new dream future for them
It doesn’t quite go to plan. Aneela considers herself broken, partly because Khlyen with Hullen goo is not the caring affectionate father he was (Hullen don’t feel) and is very very distracted - but also because Aneela herself DOES feel, intensely, passionately and completely. She tries to experiment on the goo producing miracles that don’t exactly impress Khlyen so much as scare him. She also refers to the Hullen goo as “she”
The 9 also strike their family from the family records even as they clearly accept the deal with the Hullen.
He ends up imprisoned by Khlyen, seeing him only on his brief visits and becoming steadily more unstable. She continually begs him to stay with her, while he gets angry at the idea of anyone visiting her
While imprisoned she cuts into her neck and drains Hullen goo into a tub - over the years, many many many years, she manages to fill an entire bath tub with green goo cut from her neck which she then bathes in.
Then it gets more freaky: Dutch sees Aneela with… baby Dutch. Ok no-one saw that coming. Khlyen finds Dutch in her harem where she grew up and confronts Aneela about her - how come Dutch looks like her, who the father is… yes, it’s Khlyen asking Aneela. And I always kind of thought Khlyen was behind Dutch
Aneela claims Khlyen is the father of the baby…. Uh…
At which point Dutch sinks into memories of her own wedding night in the Harem, and killinger her new groom. Oopsie. This causes Seizure, a waking dream and nearly has her kill Zeph
Thankfully this is when Johnny finds them (Zeph, at Dutch’s instruction, used geekiness to prevent Johnny following but left a back door for Johnny to crack just in case things went wrong. Johnny, happily, cracked it way earlier than Zeph expected)
Johnny trying t out geek zeph - but she has left a code so he can come in and save dutch should it all go wrong
Which means he’s there for when Dutch relives running from the harem, onto her ship (Lucy) which was her wedding gift - which Johnny is trying to steal
And rogue-ship-stealing Johnny is so much fun and immensely, awesomely sexy.
He manages to bring Dutch back to the present (with the help of a bullet proof vest) - but Dutch still wants to examine her memories and Johnny is there to enable her regardless of the army they’ve left behind
So, it’s back into the memories and it seems Aneela wanted to create a real version of her, a good version, a version that wasn’t broken and a version Khlyen could be proud of. She hates her life so much she spends her whole time in the green looking at her memories - and one day just brought an old memory out of the green. Herself.
Yes, Aneela can pluck memories from the green and make them real - producing Dutch. A hullen goo memory clone.
Also this means Aneela is even more scarily powerful
Khlyen is very afraid of “she” finding out these things (which is why he removed these memories from Aneela’s head) and clearly plans to kill Dutch to cover it up. But killing your own daughter, even as a Hullen, and even if said daughter is a hullen goo memory clone, is too much so he steps into the role of mentor of a conveniently absent father.
Which is the history - and ye gods we needed it and it is beyond awesome
But we also have the second disaster character moment. Dutch reunites with D’avin and, to her surprise, he’s pissed at her. Not for personal reasons - but because she’s run off, abandoned the army and nearly caused a disaster. She is treating this like a personal vendetta, but it’s a war - she can’t run off and keep playing lone wolf. She agrees - but she can’t stop, she doesn’t want to lead and she just hands the army off to D’avin
In some ways I’m glad we’re having this call out because it is excellent and necessary for Dutch to recognise she has stepped up as a leader so she can’t just keep making it about her vs Aneela. She can’t decide she doesn’t want to talk about it because of personal issues and she can’t just abandon her armies to go on a memory retreat. This is good. But having Dutch step back at leader feels like a removal of her from her meta plot, letting a man handle it for her while she focuses on much closer, more personal issues. While D’avin saves the world, she’s getting her shit together, she couldn’t do it: and I don’t like the optics of that
A bonus good point was Johnny talking to Zeph and praising her for the back door - yes Dutch took a huge risk, but Zeph explained them which is her job. Dutch took them which is her job. And then Zeph arranged a back door to save her from herself - which is the nerd job