Ojo lives, but is weak and disoriented after a vicious Rumikan ambush. As Takeshi fights to save his life and limbs, Adechike rushes to take revenge on Kris. Meanwhile, incensed by what she has learned about the sinking of the Rumikan fleet, Michiko confronts Bellona. Twaa Fei’s traditional neutrality is no more. Even the Warders are at war.
Arguably it’s been inevitable from the start: any series that begins by telling you so sincerely that it’s taking place on neutral territory can only end in tears.
Sweet, sweet tears.
Looking back to where it all started, we had such fine, fierce, happy folk. Kris was (over) eager to have the honour of winning Rumika a seat in the Warder’s Circle. Michiko was (naively) delighted to be representing her country and showing its worth to their Mertikan allies. Adechike was (apparently) bringing good will and good cheer to everyone he encountered.
And look at them now.
Michiko’s commitment to Mertika lasted far longer than my patience for it. Don’t get me wrong. I really like the Mertikan Warders, because they’re both so thoroughly – and differently – horrid. It’s like watching British actors chew up scenery; the commitment is deeply satisfying. But I can’t get behind the Mertikans imperial arrogance, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at Michiko’s early resistance to seeing how Mertika exploits Kakute.
Michiko’s journey through this season has been one of the two I’ve followed with my heart (oh, Ojo). She has been challenged by new ideas and pushed to reflect on her preconceptions; and she has been belittled and humiliated by her so-called senior colleagues. She’s been consistently pushed in the direction I have been rooting for her to take, and this week she’s mad as hell and she’s not going to take it any more.
Because Mertika sank the Rumikan fleet.
Setting aside the question of whether I believe that, it’s a convenient truth to push Michiko over the edge. And with Lavinia away, that means a long overdue confrontation with a bemused Bellona (because Bellona never sees anything coming. She has no concept of other people’s agency, and always seems surprised when they take it into their head to do things she hasn’t considered. She must have been a terrible tactician in her previous lives).
I won’t lie: I cheered.
I have a soft spot for Bellona, but she’s well overdue having her ass handed to her. And my girl Michiko is ready to do the honours. But you can’t underestimate Bellona. She’s been trained by Lavinia, and years of being second best to her boss doesn’t make her wrong to think she’s better than pretty much everyone else.
Meanwhile, Adechike hunts Kris down after a delirious Ojo seems to say he was ambushed by Rumikans. There’s so much reversal going on here. We’ve spent weeks being stirred up against Adechike. Adechike, who was everybody’s best friend and learned everyone’s secrets. Adechike, who – intentionally or not – betrayed them. And now Adechike is the righteous avenger (sorry, Adechike, you’re in the wrong again).
I can’t be mad at Adechike that Kris was stupid enough to tell him their nation’s most closely-guarded secrets (often in public, natch). I can be mad at him for writing those secrets down (sorry Adechike, I don’t care how bad your memory is. All you ever needed to write down was Kris’s favourite drink and their birthday). And while it’s entirely possible that some Rumikans might ambush Ojo, it’s ludicrous to think that Kris put them up to it, so Adechike’s response is completely out of line.
…and Kris, like Michiko, is harbouring too much rage and resentment to go easy on him.
Or are they?
It’s the penultimate week of season 1 and it’s blades and feelings all the way down. Kris has had their glorious dreams shattered. Michiko has lost her illusions and her loyalty. Adechike knows he has done wrong by his friends, and knows his country is doing wrong by their former allies. (Really, only Bellona is secure in her cocoon of misconceptions)
So friends fight friends and alliances go up in flames. Yet our junior Warders haven’t quite lost their belief in one another, or their hope for a better world. Michiko is firm in her belief that a better world is one where she’s out from under the Mertikan heel. But Kris can’t cut Adechike down, hesitating to strike their former friend down just as Michiko hesitated to beat Kris in the Gauntlet. They began with joy and love; they have ended up isolated and despairing. And while some of the blame for that can be laid squarely at Adechike’s feet, there was a time when they were friends. And maybe – just maybe – Kris recognises that they too are partly at fault.
Yet however torn Kris may feel, Adechike is determined to kill them for the attack on his uncle.
And this isn’t even the finale.
I dread to think what the team have in store for us next week. I fear it has to be a cliffhanger, but I cling to the hope that the theme of friendship and forgiveness will be upheld.