That Old Black Magic

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: B | Grade It Now!
When We First Took The Pill

Fake out! Let's talk about Zhaan. My friend Karen wrote to me about this show earlier, for some reason. I had sent her a paragraph from last week's recap. And she said, "Do you know that passage from Maugham's The Razor's Edge..." and then accidentally pressed send. So I knew she was probably retyping it or whatever, and I wrote back, "You mean this one?"

"...it may be that the way of life that he has chosen for himself and the peculiar strength and sweetness of his character may have an ever-growing influence over his fellow men so that, long after his death perhaps, it may be realized that there lived in this age a very remarkable creature."

Which is how I was feeling about Zhaan at that time of day. But she said no, it's the part where the guy goes to Tibet and the monks send him up into the cold mountains with like, some books and basic supplies, and tell him to stay put until he reaches enlightenment. So he's out there freezing and reading and eating through his food and firewood, just readin' and searchin' his soul, as one does, and the food runs out and the firewood runs out. If the fire goes out, he freezes. If he leaves without enlightenment, he's a failure. So he sits there with some embers and his holy books and waits for a third choice. And he gets it, and immediately rips up his books of wisdom to feed the fire. When they're gone, he goes back down the mountain. Alive and enlightened. The last lesson of the quest is the realization that the quest only makes you more of what you already are. Teaches you to taste the rain. "At the end of the day," she wrote, "Still alive is the only truth that counts as universal. Gratitude for that is the beginning of grace."

And I, of course, heartily agree. Even now, Good Zhaan/Bad Zhaan is just a game she's playing with herself, a flashy trick, nothing up her sleeves, to distract herself from the work, and the peace, of existence. She's too angry for the balance. She's too angry to even hear it, on the edge of sensation, too angry to hear the love of the Goddess calling her home, over and over, for hundreds of years. The oldest game in the world. And meanwhile, Real Zhaan -- Charlotte-Light-And-Dark Zhaan -- is sleeping somewhere, beautiful and calm and already free. I'd like to meet her while we still have time. And THAT'S why I hate Zhaan.

Whatever. To Crais's Command Carrier, where Hottie Orn is telling Cutie Teeg that they have to throw a mutiny, because Crais is having a nice long coma. "Not while there's a chance of reviving him," she says. Orn threatens to contact High Command for official authorization, and Teeg tells him sharply: "There will be no communication outside this ship unless I expressly order it. Dismissed." Oh, snap! (Heh, that's a joke. Punchline in a couple of pages.)

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