(after decimating my kingdom)

so, yesterday i went through this blog & locked about a hundred old posts, i.e most of my old spn stuff. i’d been holding off doing it because i’m still proud of the amount of time & effort i used to put into meta essays, even the ones that were completely batshit. but when i looked through them yesterday i didn’t feel like i was reading about a t.v show; i was reading my teenage psyche, as it was at a difficult time of my life. i found them painful to look at. i also found myself cringing at the bossy knowledgeable tone i often took, as well as choice bits of implicit social commentary. i’ve grown more sensitive & well-informed since then, as one would certainly hope would happen between the ages of fifteen & nineteen.

i’m grateful for the audience that writing about supernatural gave me, & i’ve met some lovely people through this blog. i also haven’t actually stopped talking about supernatural on here, but this is not a fandom blog anymore, & if i’d known how far this page would move away from its original purpose after i started writing here again i would probably have let it be & started again somewhere else. frequently terrible writing aside, the main reason i finally took down my old VS posts was because i felt like the ghost of my fifteen-year-old self was still halfway controlling this page, almost drowning me out with that desperately self-serious academic voice of hers, & it was stopping me from writing. this is no longer a blog about only one thing.

i don’t expect anyone to be too upset, although i do expect my stats to halve, as i’m pretty sure those posts still brought in an embarrassing amount of my viewers. i’m not posting this to justify deleting a ton of four-year-old bullshit from my own page. it just made me a little bit sad, because those shitty old posts were a surprisingly clear window onto how my mind used to work, back when writing was my only real crutch, & now i’m doing the thing where you listen to ludovico einaudi & Reflect on the Past whilst ruminatively sipping tea.

also, i may not be the same person who started this blog, but i’m the admin & i can do what i want. sorry, past self, & maybe try starting that novel you’ve been thinking through, eh?

 

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flip-flops & globs & hares, oh my!

-i write this sitting on a rock in the arse-end of nowhere. i actually got lost half an hour ago & ended up in some kind of farming metropolis, surrounded by agitated horses. but all is well; i am now enthroned in state upon a shapely rock, looking out at the valley. i think the purple flip-flops were a rash choice of footwear, though.

-so far my home-for-the-summer status is strictly theoretical. i think i’ve spent more time haunting ibby’s house, wandering the woods, facing down zenwriter among the dust motes & sunbeams of the library, than actually at home. all this going outside has put me into a state of being that i have not experienced since the age of ten: reader, i am tanned. it’s wreaking havoc with my whole scruffy impoverished pre-raphaelite aesthetic.

-a large & persistent golden retriever just appeared out of nowhere & disgorged a stream of bubbly slobber all over my rucksack. i wanted to be friends but i think he just wanted my strawberries. so it goes.

-i feel like the last person ever to discover what a fantastic writer hilary mantel is, but i finished wolf hall this morning. i think my favourite thing about it might be the awareness there of a not-quite-banished world just beneath that one, lingering in the grins & sneers of gargoyles, in carved saints, in bowls of milk left out for the fey-folk. in the ghosts whose language is the creaks of rope & floorboard.

-it’s so hot here. in the suburbs you can feel the heat striking up from the asphalt. i’ve been despairing over my wardrobe, which goes black, black, purple, black, maybe a bit of scarlet here & there, you get the picture; i’ve been hacking up old t-shirts with scissors & the result tends to be indecent but pleasantly breezy. i’ve also developed a habit of wandering around barefoot over the past few weeks; occasionally this bites me in the ass, because the pavement gets so hot it actually burns my feet. okay, yes, this predicament would be easily evaded if i put my damn shoes on, but where’s the sense of adventure?

-i’m also the last person ever to watch kenneth branagh’s film of much ado, but so much of it was just spot-on perfection. i laughed so hard during the benedick-‘overhears’-his-frat-bros-gossiping scene that there were tears streaming down my face. i think it was claudio launching into a full on wailing, breast-beating performance that did it. i couldn’t take it. i also LOVED how emma thompson & denzel washington played don pedro basically asking beatrice to marry him. he’s absolutely laying himself on the line- it’s very vulnerable- but he does it so lightly- & she gets this, & i love her response. she makes light of the situation, but she’s gentle about it, she does it in a way that doesn’t shame him. it’s very compassionate. i find it a really touching scene.

-i have finally, finally got round to reading hemingway! i’m about seven chapters into the sun also rises. it’s his first novel & the writing is very good, although there’s something a little too self-consciously ambiguous to it at times. i’m not sure what i’ll read after it- it’s between the thousand autumns of jacob de zoet & the well of loneliness. unless i’m feeling whimsical- in which case who knows.

-i’ve been rewatching season eight of supernatural. the whole amelia thing works so much better than i remember- it’s a difficult & delicate relationship, but there’s a maturity to it, & to the writing. sam is not in a younger brother role here; everyone is an adult; he & amelia are both weary drifters. it’s not nice (& oh boy neither are those colour filters) but it works. & my god- all the sam-dean-benny stuff is so WEIRD- by which i mean that there’s such an absurd jealous love-crossed vibe to the whole thing. they really go for it & everyone is seething & deceiving each other & lying out the wazoo. it’s completely horrible. i’m enjoying it so much.

-okay, so, a fucking hare just came lolloping into the clearing where i’m sitting on my rock-throne. with long graceful back legs & black fur in its ears & it sat up & gave me the most hardass stare you ever saw & then went gambolling off, presumably to bully its family. i’ve never seen a hare before. clearly i am at the centre of a teeming hub of wildlife.

-jo & i communicate through a convoluted system of in-jokes & personal slang that occasionally amounts to our own language. we undertook some artistic collaboration.

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this resulted in her painting these lovely dancy little chaps!

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jo’s selling them as stickers on her redbubble at castle of jo (& her cuttlefish are beautiful too). so, you know, go & buy them if you want your life to be filled with small jumping beans of joy. also to fund our olive habit.

-i’ve been plugging away at A Certain Project for weeks now, & i keep saying that i’m gonna go on one of my 31k-in-twelve-days kicks, but between all my reading- shakespeare in the morning, poetry in the evening, novels wherever i can fit them, plus things like, you know, socialising & exercising & watching stuff- i’ve been getting maybe seven hundred words a day done. i’m going to face the fact that unless i let everything else go out of the window for a fortnight, i won’t get this done. so i’m going to let everything else go out of the window for a fortnight. i’ll try & keep posting- probably little stuff- so that you guys won’t be deprived of my delightful online presence.

-you get no apologies for the title. ‘but isabel, do you have no shame?’ no, & you still get no apologies for the title.

-anyway, my throne is getting distinctly chilly, & i’m a little worried that the next visiting creature of the wild will be a grizzly bear or something, & most significantly i want to watch the joss whedon much ado tonight, so i’m going to attempt to flip-flop the four rocky miles home. pray god that i arrive with my feet still attached.

 

note: isabel did indeed retain her feet, although she arrived home with some exotically placed blisters & a sunburned neck. it moreover turns out that she was trespassing on land belonging to some fancy-ass golf club or other for most of her walk. she advises readers to wear sturdy shoes if they plan to go on extended hikes in the british countryside, & to watch out for friendly animals; the last creature she encountered was not a bear but an extremely willing cat, who ruthlessly exploited her back-scratching skills for a good ten minutes on her way home.

 

 

the ‘wayward sisters’ petition (i.e a shameless plug)

here’s one for my spn-fan buddies. Silver Dragon has asked me to share this petition around:

https://www.change.org/p/the-cw-save-wayward-sisters

i, personally, think that wayward sisters sounds cool as all hell. so i’m signing. you can never get enough of jody mills, amiright?

now i’m off to catch a train to ipswich, there to spend what will hopefully be a long, lazy, dreamy weekend, filled with writing. & ghibli films. & sleep. (oh, god, sleep.) catch you on the flip side.

the run-down (+ digressions on spn, ben whishaw, ‘a midsummer night’s dream’ et al.)

-so, i’ve just been informed by the doctor that, due to an unidentified muscle injury, i can’t do any high impact sports for at least a week. which means no running. which kinda sucks out loud, because i’m a running junkie & it happens to be my only really clear thinking-space & there’s nothin quite like that high. but i’m limping everywhere & the doctor was making noises about painkillers & Seeing How It Goes, so i guess i’ll just deal.

-so you see that title was a pun! man i’m clever

-in the mean-time i intend to get absolutely killer biceps in order to beat lucy in our next arm-wrestle. (the tally currently stands at one point to each of us, but she was drunk the time i won. & she’s butch as hell. & i have noodle arms. i don’t like my chances.)

-i’ve been workin on a post about the picture of dorian gray. the decadence is a bit of a fixation of mine at the moment. somethin about decayed elegance fascinates me. & then of course there’s the side of it where i’m a queer who finds the wildly obvious homoeroticism hugely enjoyable. it’s so blatant!

-there’s a dead bat in the courtyard. it’s so tiny- a ball of fur the size of my thumb with little leathery wings. i always find it so strange, seeing dead things. like envoys from another world that barely touches mine. it’s because i’m a city kid who watches too many horror films; it gives you an unrealistic attitude towards death.

-blew twenty quid on two huge volumes of t.s eliot’s letters yesterday (‘yeah, jo, let’s go in city bookshop, whatever could go wrong?’). i’ve only flipped through so far but my god the guy had an impressive correspondence. jean cocteau, alain-fournier, virginia & leonard woolf, antoine de saint-exupéry, james joyce, alfred knopf, ford madox ford, wyndham lewis- you name ’em, they’re in there. it’s a testimony to the network of excitement that surrounded the literary community then- the sense that a huge upheaval was happening (an upheaval, remember, which paradoxically was born of disillusionment, ennui, the inadequacy of words in the face of what the world had seen). i’d love to go back & visit that time.

-just finishing the last act of a midsummer night’s dream. man, bottom is such a sweetheart. onto richard ii next- i’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since i watched the hollow crown production. which is a fucking masterpiece & probably the best onscreen shakespeare i’ve ever seen. it might be my favourite of ben whishaw’s performances- & i say that as a ben whishaw fan & someone who numbers bright star & cloud atlas amongst their favourite films. at the beginning he’s this alien gold-draped figure, sort of remote, like half of him’s looking down from a distant star- & completely disengaged with his political duties. (there’s a wonderful quote about the casting process from rupert goold: ‘i wanted someone who was poetically distant in their soul.’) & then the rest of it’s the slow unravelling of this persona- little cruelties, pettiness, kindness, despair. martyrdom & redemption & narcissism get completely mixed up, are often indistinguishable from each other. & there’s a riveting scene in the throne-room where i held my breath the whole way through.

-for the past few months i have been very slowly rewatching spn. i’m just into season six now. lucy & my other flatmates staged an intervention last time i watched an episode because i was laughing so loudly. it’s been good to come back to it- remembering why i got obsessed with this ridiculous show in the first place. i forget how good they are with character stuff sometimes- what a quality of realness, of predictable unpredictable life, is in sam & dean. & in characters like bobby & john & ellen & jo & charlie & even the ones who only last an episode, like madison. hell, even in jess, although by rights she should be an irritating stereotype- instead you really believe in her kindness, her goodness, that sam could glimpse a better world through her. i don’t know how they pull it off but they do.

-i’m two seasons behind on spn, by the way. i’ll catch up eventually. i’ve heard things about season twelve that make me want to bang my head against the wall, but i’m pretty excited to get stuck into season thirteen.

-i’m currently sitting surrounded by books, drinking coconut & honey kefir because apparently uni has made me into a giant hippie. also, despite already being in the middle of about six books here, plus two more that i left at my mother’s house (wolf hall & a new york winter’s tale, if you want to know), i started reading the dresden files earlier. they’re the kind of semi-trashy that really, really appeals to me. harry dresden is an irritating chauvinist git & i’m exasperated with myself for liking him.

-on a serious kaleo kick this week. morose icelandic rock is a Mood, frankly.

-me & the gang- meaning lucy, jo, will & jamie- are catching the train down to house-sit (read: sleepover!) at jo’s this weekend. cue studio ghibli marathons & banana bread-making. it’s gonna be a fun weekend. even if i can’t pavement-pound my Manly Inner Torment away. sigh.

 

12×03; the foundry

good stuff, berens, i’ve officially forgiven you for your part in THE VOID.

-fiiiiiiiiinally a title that isn’t either a) insanely out-of-context for spn or b) w/ unfortunate connotations of dodgy fic tropes.

-that lightbulb, holy SHIT, that was horrifying. and what a great image.

-genuinely creepy. eesh. i love you, berens <33

-e.m.f!!!

-did i seriously hear the words ‘quail’s eggs’. on SUPERNATURAL.

-loved the opening scene w/ mary cutting off her hair. what is this? have we….. have we SEEN this in spn before? it all feels so new & so Different & i love it.

-also mary’s hair looked fantastic.

-the Eerie Music reminded me v. much of season one’s Eerie Music

-cas & crowley together was v. funny. i especially liked their little step-dance routine going round the car. silly silly silly.

-that hideous purple motel room.

-dean’s lil crack about sam’s hair

-the salt & burn conversation. man, we Needed that.

-‘s’mores foot’ charming as ever, dean

-i got chills all through that scene w/ mary talking to the kid.

-the overhead shot of all the kids at the end. sooooooo awesome.

-um……. i feel like maybe lucifer should have seen that one coming.

-i enjoyed the secondary plotlines in this ep but i am so. ready. to just have a frakkin MoTW with the winchesters alone.

-that ending.

-that ending.

-dean refusing to even hug mary. & sam’s flinch. jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesus.

-loved that they didn’t actually show mary leaving- just the sound of the door. damn fine storytelling <33

-thank you, spn, for dealing w/ mary’s total displacement & grief & trauma.

-dean randomly ogling the bike. ayyyyy

-sam!! and dean!!! eating!!!! breakfast!!! together!!!!!

and that’s all i got, folks. opinions?

idea time

so i was planning on doing a season eleven beauty appreciation post. & then i realised exactly how pretty season eleven was & was like, shit, this is going to be a post for every episode. & just now i was going through my caps folder and was like, shit, this show is too bloody pretty, & now i want to do a post for every episode of the whole fricking show.

so, a proposal: what would y’all think of me doing a beauty appreciation post for every episode, pilot onwards?

i think if this doesn’t get a response i’ll just go ahead & do it anyway. those david nutter caps are beckoning me.

12×02; mamma mia

hey, guys. so i thought the ep was decent overall, despite feeling a bit gappy and under-winchestered. in no particular order-

-what the hell is that title.

-the first scene was so rapey. Deeply Uncomfortable. especially vulnerable bc the last time we saw that much of Naked Sam was six seasons ago when he was Mr Soulless Glistening Brass Abdominals. but it was also lowkey hilarious. they didn’t play it entirely straight- all the candles, the wine glasses, the freakin victorian bedstead w/ the floral covers, so ridiculously out-of-context on spn, where everyone drinks beer from the bottle & sex is something to do in public bathrooms or abandoned shacks or the backseats of old cars. & then the bits where reality started bleeding thru were violently upsetting.

-is it just me or…. did the tension of sam being missing kind of dissipate? too much standing around?

-Deadpan Sex Hair cas is the best cas by miles.

-lookin’ good in that Dead Guy Robe there, mary.

-love love love that mary isn’t the idealised what is and what should never be mom-figure. she can’t cook! she got the meatloaf from the piggly wiggly!

-toni def has a creepy psycho thing for sam. also possibly for dean. what a shock.

-wish more attention had been devoted to the Brother Reunion but the tiny reunion scene we Did get was so touching. dean’s tenderness, the complete adoration in sam’s eyes, j.p’s delivery of ‘i thought you were dead’. i mean, holy crap, fuck me up.

-i am sick of the oedipal soap opera that is crowley & rowena.

-dean surrounded by beer bottles. oh, dean.

-dean looking at their old photographs whilst surrounded by beer bottles. oh, dean.

-blood between dean’s teeth. details matter.

-that torture scene w/ the brothers was absolutely horrible.

-so………… i guess cas healed sam then?? look, just spitballin’ here, but i think after torturing a main character for two solid episodes it’s probably a good idea to show something like that just for narrative closure or whatever.

-knew as soon as i saw the season promo that ‘they have to be eliminated’ was a bucklemming line. & whaddaya know.

-love the name ‘mr. ketch’. hopefully this will be more neverwhere than oo7.

-the way sam’s face just fucking crumpled when mary hugged him.

-‘get away from my boys!’

-sam with his arms clutched to his chest after the rescue.

-that whole last sequence was wonderful. ‘lost angel’, the when the levee breaks parallel, mary looking thru john’s journal. subversive as HELL.

-they way overused the lucifer red-eye effect. it was super fuckin creepy in o brother where art thou but here it felt a tiny bit hokey after the fourth time or so.

-however: really liked rick springfield. as Vessel Man: that is a guy in Pain. as lucifer: soooo much fun. & that great effect w/ the melty face!!! my lil body-horror lovin’ heart!

-so weird to see a swanky restuarant on spn.

-the bloody hands! the bloody face!

-vile hotel rooms! that shot of Dude sliding down the Green Maw of Hell hallway!

-top points for continuity.

-i like mick. i hope he returns

-‘I Don’t Sweat Under Any Circumstances.’

so, yes, mixed reaction. but mostly positive. this is also completely unfiltered. no apologies. what did y’all think?

 

supernatural, ode to americana

One of the original draws of the show for me was the America that it presented- that it represented. I’m talking about the importance of Setting here. SPN’s America is a place of neon signs, empty roads, skies. I am young, British, I have never been out of Europe. This was not an America I had seen before, ever. The closest I’d been to it was American Gods. The place I knew from films was all skyscrapers & crowds. & this- this beautiful isolated strangeness, this sparsity- it’s very wonderful to me.

If SPN took place on a more conventional stage, it would be a different show. Heck, it would be a different Story. & as it is there is a tragedy & a malaise to it. It knows what it’s doing. & this is something that has carried over through the entire show thus far, right from the Pilot up to Keep Calm & Carry On, through the horror, the apocalypse, the noir Season Six, the ghastly fake-tan phase, the intensity & darkness of the late seasons. Death rolls up in a white Cadillac. Angels smash through billboards, plunging to Earth. God hides out in an empty bar & writes his autobiography. There’s a million motels, the Blue Rose, the Blackbird, the Velvet Inn, the Too Tired. When shit goes down, it’s in Lebanon, Stull, Cold Oak, Blue Earth.

This is one of the ways in which the show retains its intense hilarious weirdness, is what I’m saying. I can’t describe how satisfying that is to me. There are ridiculous puns on every sign. Death’s number plate reads BUH*BYE. This is what Christmas looks like on the show:

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I mean. Come on.

There are tremendous images of loneliness.

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There are the whackjob motels, the diners, the neon.

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(Look at that freaking dinosaur. A DINOSAUR.)

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There are abandoned buildings. Because what other kind of building is there on this show.

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(& that, by the way, is the look of a show that has spent its entire special effects budget on dry ice.)

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There is the insane and sometimes completely inappropriate signposting.

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‘Martha’s Ass Chili’… I mean…

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This is never commented on. No-one within the show says ‘OMG, that sign is so funny, in a sick sort of way, because Crowley just cut one of Kevin’s fingers off!’ But it’s THERE, & it’s both subtle & absolutely fucking ridiculous. & of course this is all part of the show’s sense of humour, which is totally individual & what makes the show so rich. Tall Tales. Clap Your Hands. Plucky Pennywhistle’s. Just My Imagination. Wishful Thinking.

It’s so loopy.

& then of course where would the show be without its twelve gazillion shots of Baby, & the open road.

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There’s a huge sense of freedom here. & the isolation that, in show-land, inevitably accompanies it. There’s a sense in the show of the hunting life drawing people in; a sense that once you’ve lived that kind of life nothing else seems real enough. I mean, hell, I can believe it. I love that when we saw a skyscraper on the show last season it looked totally flimsy. (I also love that it has the AKF logo on it. Never noticed that before.)

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All this has also given us one of my favourite images of the show to date.

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The Winchesters, the whole world of Supernatural, feels like part of a dying world. But also an immortal one. The America of the show is theirs, they know it, it’s their homeland, it’s alien. They are damaged, dying, immortal, beautiful. It’s a perfect fit. There’s such a glamour to it all.

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I reckon one of the most profound moments in the show (and maybe in television history, all things considered) comes in Fan Fiction. That last bit of the musical, and the lights come up, & the pretend-Winchesters sing. & behind them is a painted backdrop of a desolate highway. & then- Sam & Dean, just standing, watching them. & we watch them Get It- what their lives mean- to other people, to themselves, their own legacy & mythos. & they stand there & they Realise. Y’all know what I’m on about. (If you don’t, do yourself a favour and rewatch.) & that painted highway, & the way the shadows intersect, & the Route 66 sign…

It is extremely non-literal poetic storytelling. It’s beautiful.

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& you know what, I’m just gonna leave this here.

 

EDIT: so Andrea has informed me that it’s an alligator, not a dragon. Oops. I still find it funny, though.

12×01; keep calm & carry on

i will not be doing anything in the way of formal reviewing this season. (case in point: i am too lazy for capitalisation right now. sorry.) however: i will be posting Thoughts, which will pretty much amount to reviews anyway, & discussion is cherished. so, in no particular order- and, obviously, w/ copious spoilers-

-sam’s long ridiculous vulnerable dirty toes.

-the Look of the ep, the Grain of it, that sun-shadowed sepia gloom.

-that moment w/ dean & mary leaning over the impala, & mary’s gorgeous grin, & dean’s whispered ‘boo’. WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?

-also: that beautiful pan over the deep soft darkness of the impala’s interior, the Mystery, the Romance of it, the History & Suggestion.

-the Look on dean’s face when he saw mary. emotional continuity, folks!

-that first scene was so sad, so lovely. note-perfect. something in dean breaking open, healing, breaking open, healing.

-you bet that fucking nightgown was Salted & Burned.

-my only reaction to Demon Minions un & deux: kill it w/ fire.

-ditto crowley.

-i liked cas in this ep! & i liked the return of the Sex Hair. a big improvement. finally, he has Purpose, he’s Doing Somethin.

-the funny signpost. americana, y’all.

-the moments of Quiet, the ma, the places where everything is allowed to slow, to process, to settle. the sheer weight of what mary has to absorb, dealt w/ quietly & elegantly.

-‘then i burned.’ shivers.

-the Mystery Serum & the sequence where sam is tormented by visions; the way they turned to shining dust when he tried to touch them, a beautiful & poignant effect. aedh wishes for the cloths of heaven-style.

-gosh, sam was Ferocious here. reminded me of ‘i know what you did last summer’. hurling himself, all his Mass, against the door like a wild animal. his total recklessness, resisting for the hell of it, parading what lucifer did to him: he doesn’t care.

-conversely- sam trying not to cry, right at the end, trying not to Care, failing, feeling lonely, feeling small, feeling cold. lady bevell or whatever her name is watching his jaw trembling on the monitors.

-‘screw you.’ ‘screw you.’ ‘screw you.’

-nasty visceral fight scenes; bruised knuckles, unclean hands, cas spitting blood.

-the montage. black sabbath!! perfect!

-spn taking the piss out of Trump is so wonderful i almost can’t bear it.

-how beautifully underwritten it was. dabb knows what he’s about.

-ms. watt. i mean, HELLO.

-dean seemed so calm, so Together for stretches here. except when doing his Protective Rage thing. great character stuff.

-i can’t hate toni bevell & that is a surprise to me. i’ll admit, i expected her to be a Type: cold, psychopathic, etc etc. instead, flickers of unsettlement, disturbance, discomfort. ambiguities. details not hammered in- her kids, for instance- but left to sit there. the way she watched sam on the monitors.

-impala shots! <33

aaaand that’s all i can think of for now. but i Loved it. & discussion is completely welcome.

i can’t promise anything in the way of regularity/linearity for these posts; i’m run off my feet at the moment. (applied for uni earlier. yep.) but i’ll do what i can. waiting on y’all.