The Adventure Zone: Ep. 66. The Stolen Century - Chapter Seven
June 29, 2017 11:18 AM - Subscribe

Our heroes long, forgotten journey comes to an end.
posted by Tevin (62 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

And then I might have to go back and listen to the last few episodes from before this arc, to catch my mind back up to the 'present day' before it all pops off for real. MY BOYS.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:28 AM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

"This is it."


I'm not sure what all to say except that this is the only episode of the Stolen Century that I was able to make it all the way through. I didn't feel like I'd missed anything and I still feel like this arc could have been condensed into two episodes.

This episode sets the scene for the final couple episodes well enough and explains the history of the BoB.

posted by Tevin at 12:51 PM on June 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

i feel so legitimately sad for the people who weren't able to enjoy all the wonderful character moments this arc had to offer.

that said i'm also extraordinarily glad i don't have to hear them complain about it any longer.
posted by JimBennett at 1:27 PM on June 29, 2017 [23 favorites]

(i should say that this isn't meant as a dig on any individual person but the general fan reaction here and on reddit. people discussing ad nauseum how uninterested they are in a work of art leads to no interesting discussion whatsoever)
posted by JimBennett at 1:39 PM on June 29, 2017 [7 favorites]

The arc has definitely enriched the climax, or, at least, I assume it will, as it turned the Bureau characters into full characters and created a rich backstory for them, especially Lup, who I think we can count on to return.

That being said, it was a pretty bold narrative decision to stop the forward thrust of the action, which had reached its climax, for a century-long backstory with almost no real D&D elements. I didn't enjoy listening to these as much as I did the regular adventure, although there were some elements that I thought were really fine bits of storytelling.
posted by maxsparber at 1:48 PM on June 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

i feel so legitimately sad for the people who weren't able to enjoy all the wonderful character moments this arc had to offer.

that said i'm also extraordinarily glad i don't have to hear them complain about it any longer.

this. It's really hard to talk about something you like when you have to start from a place from defending why you don't think it's actually terrible all the time. I thought this episode was spectacular, and I can't imagine listening to it without knowing about everything that came before.
posted by bleep at 6:40 PM on June 29, 2017 [8 favorites]

I do understand most of the complaints about the arc: people saying it's filler stretching out the end, people complaining about the non-D&D system, people complaining there's no stakes and there's nothing here showing new development. But then I hear stuff like Justin's "Who are we looking for?" and it's just, this arc has been Good and I'm sorry lots of people think it's Not Good.

- I have really liked Lup! We know it's her body outside the vault where the PhoenixPhire Gauntlet was, but she's a litch. Barry's litch self has been pestering the heroes since fairly early on, but where is Lup's litchy filling? Looking forward to learning what she's been up to all this time.

- We've seen the boys spend their Assets, with the promise that they'll spend their Bond and Experience later. Should be interesting to see how those numbers tie into their final battle.

- It looks like Griffin is shaping up for two possible endings: A Good Ending where the boys face and defeat The Hunger, or a Not As Good Ending where Lucretia casts the ward over the plane and they're safe from The Hunger but it's still out there.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:09 PM on June 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

But remember, Mr. Encyclopedia, there is always a third option
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:16 PM on June 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think Lup's soul is supposed to be in the Umbra Staff. I've been listening to old episodes and I recently listened to a few pertinent bits- how the Staff won't let itself be used by anyone but Taako, and the time when it blasted the letters L U P on a wall outside Taako's control. And the time when they first met Lich Barry and he was like "You found her??" and was very effected by the staff.
posted by bleep at 8:13 PM on June 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am so in love with Lup it's not even funny.
posted by bleep at 8:14 PM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

That moment when Taako realized he was forgetting his sister and blasted Barry with a fire ball... OMG
posted by bleep at 8:18 PM on June 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

Also? I'm looking at a lot of twitter messages about the feels, but this episode (and every episode) was funny as hell too. I laughed like crazy. I feel like this aspect of the show doesn't get commented on very much.
posted by bleep at 9:38 PM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I found the rest of the arc pretty pleasant, but this definitely made it worth it. Taako forgetting Lup, forgetting the best day ever...I'm tearing up even now. And it could have just been this episode and the first one of the arc, but having that room to grow and acclimate to Lucretia and Lup and Davenport and Barry made it so much more heartbreaking when Lucretia made the decision to erase their memories.

But also I'm super-duper ready to get this finale on.
posted by Maecenas at 10:00 PM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

About an hour and six minutes in-

"That was the last conversation you ever had with your sister.

"When someone leaves your life, those exits are not made equal. Some are beautiful and poetic and satisfying, others are abrupt and unfair, but most are just unremarkable, unintentional, clumsy. Where Lup went, she didn't intend to end up there and she certainly didn't intend to spend as much time away as she did. And we'll talk more on that later, but from your perspective Lup was there, and then the next day she wasn't. And you all searched for her, Barry tirelessly, painfully so, but she was nowhere to be found, and all you had to go on was a note that she left behind on that kitchen table, and its two word message offered no clues as to her whereabouts, but simply a promise that was left unfulfilled:

"Back soon."

Again at an hour eighteen-

"Not all exits are made equal. Lucretia didn't intend to spend as much time as she did away from you, saving the world. She could not sit idly by..."
posted by fomhar at 12:52 AM on June 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

I can't decide if Taako's moment of forgetting was something that Griffin fed to him or just Justin continuing his run of extremely good intuition for powerful moments. Neither makes the moment better, and neither is less impressive, but it was so well done.

I listened to this episode in my back yard at dusk, watching the fireflies come out. Those fireflies were surprisingly dusty. I'm glad I wasn't on the bus. I liked this arc a lot. I'm glad this arc happened. I like being invested in the other team members and knowing them a little better.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:45 AM on June 30, 2017 [6 favorites]

Following this on I've just gone back to the start, because the thing that happens after they all forget is, of course, episode 1.

It's very strange because I know so much about these characters now, past and future.
It's weird to hear Barry created out of nothing as a joke. (he was originally Sildar Hallwinter, but no one could remember his name). Merle does not follow Pan, he's a follower of Marthammor Duin.

I'm going to whizz through these episodes as fast as I can, maybe in time to get the last done ready for the finale.
I'm very much looking forward to the finale.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:00 AM on June 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was honestly stunned by this episode. Having listened to it twice, now, there are two major frameworks for how I’m processing it: the act of its creation as a piece of fiction, and the thematic through-lines of what actually happened to the characters.

Metatextually, this was an unexpected gem of the chemistry that’s always made TAZ special, sitting at the intersection of Griffin’s careful planning and the players’ intuitive spontaneity in a way that amplified the impact and effectiveness of both. A common complaint about the Stolen Century and its compressed format is that it inevitably hobbles the players’ ability to really sink themselves into a scene, to find their feet and run with what Griffin has handed them. More conventional episodes of TAZ are all about establishing a feedback loop of energy and enthusiasm — the players spend the first five or ten minutes finding their bearings again, and then they settle into the easy chemistry they have with each other as they solve whatever problem Griffin has presented them with.

The structure of a Stolen Century episode made it MUCH harder for the players to build momentum — an entire year compressed into fifteen-to-twenty minutes of audio, dipping briefly into scenes with NPCs or each other and then rushing on again to the next year, the next world. Like anything else, they got the hang of it with practice, and I’ve personally been impressed by how everyone involved has balanced the need for density and the desire for substance and emotional depth, all while managing some very funny shit. But I’ve been looking forward to a return to the old format — the breathing room of being able to stay inside of a scene for the whole hour, the uninterrupted stretches of the four of them playing off of each other.

And then the end of the arc absolutely bowled me over.

How to even articulate this? So much of this episode was “just” Griffin talking, and yet it was BURSTING with the enthusiasm and thoughtfulness of the players, with how closely they were paying attention, how invested they were in every detail of what was happening. Griffin set out to assemble the last few bits of the puzzle of their history, and it felt like the players were grabbing the pieces right out of his hands and slamming them into place. Every scene was electric with the eagerness of “I see where you’re going, I see what you’re doing, here let me help you make this even better, let me wring even more out of this moment, let me carry this even further than you could on your own.”

The magic of Justin asking “Who?” wasn’t only that it was a perfect line at a perfect moment, but that it was a perfect line at the perfect moment which neither of them had planned for. He listened to Davenport’s harrowing disintegration, and understood what Griffin was going to do — that each of them, in turn, was going to play through the loss of themselves in real time — and he dove right in, and it was awful and perfect.

So much happened so quickly, and the players were given the very difficult task of conceiving of and then acting out their characters’ reactions with almost no time to process or reflect. But Griffin did a very smart thing, here — if you listen again, make particular note of how he’s framing events in his narration, how he sets scenes with interactions between NPCs. He carefully, unobtrusively handed the players the tools they needed to very quickly find their emotional feet in a scene, or to understand the implications of some change in the characters’ circumstances.

And holy shit, were the players on top of their game. Travis discussing how Magnus struggles a bit with the practicalities of his own mortality, Justin’s devastating and apt-as-fuck take on Taako’s growing disconnect with the world outside of his own immediate circle, even small details like Justin’s reference to the “the last glassing,” literally I could go on for a thousand words recapping half of the things which were said.

None of which is even getting into the tremendous amount of planning and writing which Griffin obviously did in order to build the bones of this arc, how he built a narrative scaffolding that left the players room to breathe and space to build their own histories inside of the outline he had drawn.

…..all right, hmm. This has gotten. Long.

Maybe time to split this into two comments.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:37 AM on June 30, 2017 [16 favorites]

Again, so much happened in this episode that I was having trouble figuring out where to start. But having slept on it, what’s stuck with me is how this final chapter frames the SC as an arc about trauma and grief.

I still don’t quite know how I feel about Lucretia, and her decisions, and the fallout. She’s one of my favorite characters, and when we reached the end of the last Lunar Interlude, it genuinely pained me to be told that she had done something so unforgivable, whatever her reasons might have been.

A lot of this episode was spent on laying the groundwork for what we already knew was coming. Up until this point, my assumption had been that her erasure of their memories was entirely due to a disagreement — she thought the relics were too harmful to be worth it, and couldn’t convince the rest of the crew, and felt cornered into taking away their ability to argue.

But Griffin took an interesting tack with this which I hadn’t considered at all, but which — like all the best narrative developments — seems so obvious in retrospect. He focused on the subjective experience of setting the relics loose on a world, just settled right down into how it would feel to live under the weight of that responsibility, how it would change you and wear you down. And he pointed out, in particular, the trauma of Lup’s absence from their circle. He framed Lucretia’s decision as an act of mercy and of love for her family, as well as a means to the practical end of removing deadly magical objects from the world.

That said, as many many other people have already pointed out, Lucretia’s decision remains incredibly troubling. None of them consented to this, and her actions effectively robbed them of their ability to disagree, to even understand that something HAS been taken away from them. She’s robbed them of their agency. And she’s denied them the right to GRIEVE a terrible loss, which strikes me as particularly unforgivable. Barry and Taako were destroyed by losing Lup, but would either of them have willingly given up their memories of her in order to feel better? Would Taako EVER have volunteered to have the most important person in his life ripped from his heart and his mind?

And there’s are argument to be made that Taako, Magnus and Merle all carried the effects of their trauma inside of them, despite having lost access to their memories of where it came from. Which traps them in a static version of their damaged selves, in a way — how can you heal from something if you can’t process it, can’t tease apart the painful details and make peace with what happened on your own terms?

I’m also uncomfortable with the degree to which Lucretia shaped their new lives, in addition to their memories. She decided that Merle would live on this beach with these people, decided Magnus would pursue this craft in this town, decided Taako would remain homeless and alone in a crowd. These are HUGE decisions, and all three of them suffered as a result in different ways, and it’s just….I am deeply disturbed by the image of these men being lead in a daze to lives which have been designed for them. It feels like a Truman show scenario.

In a way, this all provides an in-world explanation for the strange savage detachment of the player characters in those first few arcs — their seeming indifference to other people, their ruthlessness, how quickly they brush off objectively traumatizing experiences. It’s like they spent the entirety of the present-day campaign to date leaning how to be people again, perhaps in part due to proximity to unrecognized old friends.

Lucretia has been grieving alone for all of the time we’ve known her. And now, despite her best efforts to the contrary, she’s been reunited with the only people who can possibly understand what she’s been through.

I am upset!!! I felt a little sick to my stomach which typing all of this up!!

I also could not be more eager to see where all of this is going.

[ALSO: I shamelessly reused these comments on the FB group, so apologies if you’re seeing them twice!]
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:38 AM on June 30, 2017 [14 favorites]

That said, as many many other people have already pointed out, Lucretia’s decision remains incredibly troubling.

I'd venture to say that the boys will be Pretty Fucking Pissed when we next see them.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:45 AM on June 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd venture to say that the boys will be Pretty Fucking Pissed when we next see them.

posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:46 AM on June 30, 2017

You know, I'm not sure why it never occurred to me to ask this before, but since knowledge of the Grand Relics was wiped out by Fisher, how come people are able to perceive them without getting inoculated?
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:47 AM on June 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Like... of course we can't know how long it's been but Merle has a kid in her early TEENS. So it's been well over a decade! You'd think that after a couple of years Lucretia would be like "hmm maybe this was A Big Mistake." But maybe by then she figured that it was too late to give them their memories back without having already succeeded... and also that if she failed, then at least none of them would know it, which is pretty fucked up.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:49 AM on June 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

It wasn't a mistake though cause it was working. I think she had a plan for bringing their memories back gradually. I dunno I feel a lot more sympathetic to Lucretia & her position than most. How many of these "glassings" do you think they could have survived.
posted by bleep at 10:10 AM on June 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

You know, I'm not sure why it never occurred to me to ask this before, but since knowledge of the Grand Relics was wiped out by Fisher, how come people are able to perceive them without getting inoculated?
I'm going to speculate that the relics' ... craveability? ... overrides that effect. Although it would be super sinister to have relics that called out to you that you couldn't perceive until you were under their thrall.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 1:39 PM on June 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Justin’s “Who?” with Clint chortling in the background might just be my favorite moment of this podcast so far.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:54 PM on June 30, 2017 [7 favorites]

I love the irony of this episode's central crux being the memory eradication, juxtaposed with the earlier moment where the boys were soooo proud of Clint for remembering that Goldcliff existed.
posted by FatherDagon at 4:57 PM on June 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

Griffin confirms that Justin improv-ed that “Who?”
posted by Rock Steady at 4:14 PM on July 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

Thursday was the three-year anniversary of my father's death by cancer. I'd found in previous years that I was better served not being in the office when that date rolled around, so I took the day off of work and spent it doing things that I knew that my father would enjoy if he were alive. I went for a hike overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the Santa Monica mountains. I saw Baby Driver, which was exactly the kind of movie that he loved. I kept my shit together and decided I was doing ok and gave myself permission to listen to a D&D comedy podcast.

When someone leaves your life, those exits are not made equal. Some are beautiful and poetic and satisfying. Others are abrupt and unfair. But most are just unremarkable, unintentional, clumsy.

And that went just about as well as you probably imagine.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:04 PM on July 1, 2017 [22 favorites]

This was an excellent episode, but at the risk of saying something critical about an episode I really liked, you could really see Griffin trying to paper over cracks in the plot that had been forced on him over the years. I don't think he was always successful.

Especially regarding Lucretia. In order to push all the pieces where they needed to be, I think Griffin was forced to make Lucretia much more of a villain than he wanted. He tried to soften the blow with some flashbacks from her perspective, but... she's horrid now, and pretty much irredeemable. If THB play out their characters instead of just letting them be swept along with the plot, they had better not forgive her, ever. Lobotomizing Davenport; making loved ones forget each other; not ensuring that Barry and Lup were safe before taking on her plan; sending three of them on quests where they could be killed (and to Wonderland specifically!) without even deigning to join them and without giving them advice that could help them survive; not giving them their memories back at an earlier stage; not even trying to convince them of her plan before wiping their memories (it seems like Lup might have had similar ideas and could have been on her side), etc. She's unforgivably criminal.

I really don't think that Griffin wanted to make her such a bad person -- I think he wanted to make her tortured but sympathetic -- but the game got in the way. The BoB needed to act as a quest hub, which demanded that she recklessly throw her friends into danger. Griffin's wistful and melancholic flashbacks do successfully evoke sympathy, but that sympathy is false; constraints of the game system mean that her motivations barely make sense and she is basically just evil.

There were a few other things that rang odd because Griffin needed to shuffle all the pieces in the right places. Everyone was supposed to be sad that their artifacts were being used for destruction. But THB were not emotionally there at all. The NPC team members had to chide the players for being so cavalier, even though the destructive use of the artifacts was foreseeable and, as Taako argued, a huge success and just what they wanted. I think we were supposed to see that the whole team was having second thoughts so that we'd see Lucretia as partly in the right. It was too artificial to work.

I also thought the craveability of the artifacts was a pretty contrived reason for them to be let out into the world, but that was probably unavoidable.
posted by painquale at 3:19 PM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

She's unforgivably criminal.

I guess that opinions can differ on this one. To me it feels like Lucretia choose between a couple of shitty choices, and I think that it's fairly ambiguous as to whether or not she made the wrong one. Choosing between deceiving her friends in a more-or-less-reversible fashion and standing back while the world tears itself apart over something that the crew of the Starblaster was directly responsible for, she chose the former. It was a terrible thing to do, but the alternative was arguably worse. At the point we're at in the story, the pursuit and use of the Grand Relics have resulted in the deaths of (possibly tens of) thousands. Lucretia thinks that she has a way to stop the Hunger. Maybe she's right about that and maybe she's wrong (she's almost certainly wrong, but that's more a function of Griffin needing Tres Horny Boys to make the heroic save than anything else), but I don't fault her decision-making.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:41 PM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

"The desire to be desired" is what young people call "thirst", right?
posted by rollick at 5:25 PM on July 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

that's more a function of Griffin needing Tres Horny Boys to make the heroic save than anything else

I mean, they have never shyed away from letting the boys being rescued by much more competent women so why start now.

There's very little in this show that to me feels like "Griffin needed to do this in an inorganic way because they're not playing traditional D&D". I think stuff like that takes away a lot of credit where credit is due.
posted by bleep at 6:08 PM on July 2, 2017

I think the players can fix the problems I have. Griffin seems to me to be pushing a narrative where Lucretia is overly sympathetic, but I have a feeling that Justin or Travis might reject that narrative. They could flip out at her and turn their back on her for good, arguing that her betrayals and choices are unforgivable and that she's the real villain. (Clint wouldn't do it, I think). I hope they do.
posted by painquale at 7:28 PM on July 2, 2017

The argument was that Lucretia's shield would kill the world slowly, but Lup and Barry's plan seemed to be killing the world more quickly, and violently, scarring the earth with glass and time skips and crystals. And more importantly to Lucretia, who almost lost her mind the year everyone else died, it was breaking her chosen family apart. Lup was already gone. Who'd die next? Probably Magnus. Under the circumstances it seems like a reasonable plan--a very Dumbledorian plan, granted, with similar mistakes, but certainly less monstrous than calmly writing the story of your century-long beloved friends being killed with guilt.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:19 PM on July 2, 2017 [7 favorites]

So, is it confirmed that the Bulwark Staff will basically enact Lucretia's shield plan now that all of the rest of the light of creation is absorbed into it?

(For the record, I sympathize with Lucretia's decision, fucked up though it is. Not warning them about Wonderland is a different story, though.)
posted by Navelgazer at 11:46 PM on July 3, 2017

I had a vague idea of what "Bulwark" meant so i looked it up and

noun: bulwark; plural noun: bulwarks

a defensive wall.
synonyms: wall, rampart, fortification, parapet, stockade, palisade, barricade, embankment, earthwork
"ancient bulwarks"
a person, institution, or principle that acts as a defense.
"the security forces are a bulwark against the breakdown of society"
synonyms: protector, defender, protection, guard, defense, supporter, buttress; More
mainstay, bastion, stronghold
"a bulwark of liberty"
an extension of a ship's sides above the level of the deck.

so yeah seems so.
posted by bleep at 4:17 PM on July 4, 2017

I had a vague idea of what "Bulwark" meant so i looked it up

Every now and then one of the McEls will drop some line that reminds me they were raised in a fairly serious Christian tradition, and for some reason I feel like the word 'bulwark' is maybe related to that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:52 PM on July 4, 2017

"A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing"

"Bulwark" is also used with curious frequency in the video game Bloodborne (which Griffin has said repeatedly is one of his favorite games of all time), in a conceptually similar way to the way it is used by Lucretia (including the idea of guarding against the incursion of extradimensional invaders).

Influences from all over the place!
posted by Tevin at 7:52 PM on July 4, 2017

While I don't feel a lot of sympathy for Lucretia, I get what Griffin is doing in creating a "villain" who is misguided versus the Big Bad of the Hunger. The plan to divide the Light worked but was flawed, and Lucretia took the wrong actions to address those flaws.

My guess is that the Bulwark plan is where this is going - but to make it work it's going to involve Lucretia sacrificing herself somehow; it will create a Bulwark that both holds off the Hunger and doesn't starve the world slowly. It's not a happy ending - Lucretia trapped in some way to keep the Hunger at bay (think Merle's years of dying during negotiations) and the Hunger not defeated but stopped, waiting. It would set the stage for future adventures as well.
posted by nubs at 7:20 AM on July 5, 2017

I figure Griffin is going to at least attempt to give them choices leading to multiple legitimate endings.

Say... if I'm Barry, or Taako for that matter, I know exactly what I would be interested in doing right about now, assuming the Starblaster hasn't been destroyed: taking the Relics and getting the fuck out of this universe, because it would bring Lup back to life.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:09 AM on July 5, 2017

There are certainly going to be multiple possible outcomes, yes - sorry, given that I'm DMing in my own life, my reaction to this podcast is to put myself in Griffin's head and envision the outcome he's forseeing/planning for while knowing that there's also the open possibilities of things going in a very different direction because Griffin is really good at "yes, and..." (despite the ribbing he got in this episode around that).

But correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the story to this point kind of convey the impression that this is it - the Hunger has literally consumed everything else at this point? There is nothing else left for them to go to, I the absence of the pursuit of the Light, the Hunger ate everything else and here we are. It's kind of another tragic side effect of them ending their journey, I guess (if I'm right in my recollection) - they preserved one world but at the cost of everything else.
posted by nubs at 8:16 AM on July 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

But correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the story to this point kind of convey the impression that this is it - the Hunger has literally consumed everything else at this point?

I don't think so - we were speculating about that because of all the talk about this being Life's Last Chance, but now we know that they only stopped when they got to their current world because they happened to find the Light early in the cycle when they arrived.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:25 AM on July 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

In that case, then yeah - I can see some people scrambling to get the Starblaster (and I'm guessing that Lucretia's office is part of the Starblaster, or that it lead into it) and GTFO of this plane. Maybe the endgame is the simultaneous pursuit of different solutions - Taako and Barry trying to get the Starblaster gone, while Magnus and Merle try to protect Lucretia while she brings about the Bulwark...who knows?

Part of the fun of things like tabletop RPGs is the way that they sometimes produce unexpected, emergent outcomes that don't follow a normal narrative TV-show setup.
posted by nubs at 8:49 AM on July 5, 2017

I cannot imagine the game ending with Lucretia, who we have all (?) come to love and sympathize with and cheer for, who I do not think is the villain of the piece AT ALL, being punished for her terribly-misguided-out-of-love actions.* She has suffered a great deal already. I also don't see the Boys not eventually forgiving her, or whatever. On a really fundamental level that's been made explicit in this arc, that is just not the kind of story I think Griffin is telling.

*especially as she's canonically a woman of color, having her end the story in misery feels unlikely to me for the same reason that I don't think Griffin will make Lup, a trans woman, have a Bad End.
posted by colorblock sock at 9:20 AM on July 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

It took me a few sessions to get through this episode - not because I didn't like it, but wow did it stir up some stuff for me. I've always been really guarded and hidden a lot of my personality and most of my art from my family, not out of any fear that they'd object, just out of some really deep fundamental need to have a private space carved out in those relationships. I don't know why that is, but it's like this intense, tangible uncomfortable sensation of someone looming over me and into my personal space if that boundary is crossed. So the McElroy family creatively baring themselves so much and so vulnerably to each other has been this rapidly increasing thing throughout this arc, and in small doses it's such an awesome feeling of catharsis by proxy for me, but this episode was SO MUCH of that that it just hit me super hard. I had this visceral reaction to the three vignettes of Tres Horny Boys' final remembered moments that really floored me, I wasn't expecting it. So it was a weird, tough episode for me - but holy shit so worth it for that last Lucretia section.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:19 PM on July 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

But correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the story to this point kind of convey the impression that this is it - the Hunger has literally consumed everything else at this point?

If I understand our story so far, our recent check-in with Kravitz shows that things on the hunger-consumed planes are very dire but not necessarily unsalvageable.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:03 PM on July 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think the metaphysical nature of the Hunger and the Light, as implied by The Stolen Century, supports Navelgazer's view. It seems like total destruction only occurs when the Hunger and the Light come together. It seems like it's in the nature of the Hunger to ruthlessly seek its "transcendence" but it's somehow in the nature of the Light to transform every desire into its most destructive form. It seems that such is the nature of craveability...
posted by howfar at 8:16 AM on July 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

given that I'm DMing in my own life

I read that as "given that I'm DMing my own life" and I thought, Man, I wish I was DMing my own life. I think the DM of my life is an arbitrary rules-lawyer who puts too much emphasis on daily upkeep and not enough on random monster encounters.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:35 AM on July 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

If I were DMing my own life, the loot tables would be much better.
posted by nubs at 7:39 PM on July 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

Say. So Lucretia has been using a relic (the staff) this entire time right? Is there any reason to think the other relics couldn't be used by the team as well in the final battle? We've been told the whole time that they can't be used for good but clearly Lucretia managed it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:48 AM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Whoa, that's a good question. Would anyone know in-universe whether the crew can use the other relics? I don't think they've tried to yet, and I can't see them risk testing that except as a last resort. Lucretia could extrapolate from her experience - maybe she felt her relic's corrupting influence and resisted it, or maybe her relic is different and she has a theory about why - but what would convince the crew to trust her judgment?
posted by knuckle tattoos at 10:41 AM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oooo also re: the Bulwark Staff, I went back and looked at an old comment somebody liked and found this one from February, preemptively saying I totally called it.

Of the D&D schools of magic that are left over, there are two left that the final relic could be (assuming that this theory about them being all different schools is correct): enchantment or abjuration [...]

“Abjurations are protective spells. They create physical or magical barriers, negate magical or physical abilities, harm trespassers, or even banish the subject of the spell to another plane of existence.” This has stuff along the lines of dispel or repel evil or chaos etc, protection, sanctuary, immunity, freedom. (It can also do evilish stuff like 'dispel good' and 'unholy aura,' but most of the spells aren't like that.) Shield of Faith and Dispel Magic are in this school.

I mean, it definitely sounds like an abjuration relic, if it exists, would be the solution to the whole Hunger situation.

posted by showbiz_liz at 12:21 AM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Not-fully-developed-yet theory: suppose those 'bond' points they've been accumulating are the key to using the relics without totally losing it? I mean look at how things went down with June and with Sloane, vs the rest of the relic-users.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:24 PM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

ok I am sufficiently far down the rabbit hole that I am re-listening to the last two Lunar Interlude episodes, and I have a prediction. Barry is definitely planning to take the Starblaster and leave this reality to its fate, right? In that scenario, even if only one person makes it out of reality alive, the seven of them all live, including Lup - but if they follow Lucretia's plan, which we heard in the last episode, they'll be trapped in this reality forever, and Lup can never come back to life.

That's why Barry and Lucretia have been spending all this time warning the guys not to trust each other. Each of them knows that TBH will be the swing vote between staying and fighting, or running and surviving. Those have to be the "two terrible options" from the prophecy. And that's why Griffin needed to do this arc, in order to make Lup and Barry 'real' and turn it into an actual choice that they would struggle with.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:41 PM on July 12, 2017

showbiz_liz: we agree that Lup is alive in some form, either in the Umbra Staff or in Wave Echo Cave, right?
posted by Navelgazer at 8:27 PM on July 12, 2017

Definitely (I'd say staff). Not sure why she can't 'manifest' though.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:38 PM on July 12, 2017


Holy shit did this episode undo me. The juxtaposition between this awful yet in its own way understandable thing Lucretia was doing, and her love for the people she was doing it to...ouch. And oh god, that "...who?" from Justin/Taako. I literally stopped in my tracks and made this face D: .
posted by yasaman at 4:58 PM on October 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm finally listening to TAZ and just finished this.

This was maybe the most horrifying thing I've ever heard. Legitimate terror. The description of forgetting - and of Davenport essentially succumbing to dementia - is so awful. It's awful imagining it happening to yourself, it's awful imagining seeing it in someone that you know.

Fuck you, Griffin!

Like, in a good way, kind of. But also fuck you.
posted by curious nu at 9:00 AM on November 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm also finally getting around to this. I can't argue that there aren't some pacing issues with the show in general, and Stolen Century in particular, but I definitely don't regret listening to the whole thing to get to the payoff.

Much has already been remarked about Taako's "who?" line, but I couldn't help but notice that you can hear Griffin struggling to maintain his composure during the intro to that scene. I can't imagine what it must have been like for him and the players to spend so much time and emotional investment building up to this point, and then to finally reach it.
posted by teraflop at 6:10 PM on February 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

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