The University is mourning the loss of an esteemed Doctor. Rafe is mourning the death of a friend – and of his dream of being published. But up on the Hill, there’s hope for the future as Diane and Esha bring fresh perspectives to their challenges. And down in Riverside, Everly has the most unlikely of visitors…

How gorgeous was this week’s cover art? Micah, illuminated, gazing up with a solemn expression into the light. I loved it – and it captures that sense of hidden depths, churning away – much as the plots do this week.

We find Micah, Joshua and Rafe at Doctor Goodell’s funeral. For a rarely-glimpsed tertiary character, it’s impressive how big an impact he made on me. When we did see him, he seemed a gentle man of great compassion: quietly encouraging Rafe to found his school; believing in the young hothead’s work; warmly supporting first Micah and now the Academy’s students in their intellectual pursuits. The dimly lit hall, the defiant dignity of the grieving woman, the procession of former students – they all seemed entirely apt, a genuine marker of respect that I can imagine few other characters in Tremontaine receiving without reservation (let’s face it – Diane’s funeral would pull quite the crowd, but many would be there to gloat).

But oh, the unraveling at his wake. I loved the drunken remembrances, but I loved even more how Rafe and Joshua responded to Micah’s rare outpouring of emotion. Rafe, resisting the urge to hug her – which would be the entirely wrong thing to do for Micah; Joshua, knowing that even his gaze might be too much, granting her the simple comfort of his presence and attention. Bless you, pigeon, when you’re a good lad you’re a very good lad indeed.

Poor Micah. She has no real experience of the death of a loved one; she’s all at sea. And poor Rafe, forced to confront hard truths: that unless he’s willing to sell himself body or soul, his book will never see the light of day. And he’s not willing, these days. He has come to see that some prices are too high; some gifts have become precious. Yet he’s still too proud to ask Reza for help. GET ON WITH IT RAFE.

On the Hill, Kaab again exhibits a remarkable delicacy (although I freely admit I couldn’t read about her jumping out a window without flashing forward to a similar Swordspoint moment and wondering about Tremontaine’s drainpipes), making space for Diane to get a quiet moment with Esha. I love that these former lovers have remained friends, and share a rare honesty; this is one of the few (only?) relationships either has where there’s no sense of rivalry or debt.

On the one hand, my heart aches for Diane: finally holding every card she played for, only to find herself wishing she weren’t at the table. On the other, I’m frustrated that this fundamentally feminist saga seems like it will end with an apparent victory for the patriarchy: they’ll think they’ve pushed this troublesome woman back into her salon. Her detractors will be so damn smug! However, I won’t say I’m sad to hear we’ll see a bit more of Lord Perry and his psychic dog before the end of the season…

However, I was honestly surprised (and delighted) by Diane’s suggestion to Esha. Sex Ed for Young Ladies! It has more than a whiff of the Marquise de Merteuil about it, but I get no sense of malice from Diane here – she’s genuinely trying to help, I think. It seems irreconcilable with what I know the future holds (poor Artemisia and her awful mother), but perhaps that’s simply a sign that such an audacious practice won’t – can’t – survive Esha’s departure. I shall be watching with great interest to see how this develops.

However, I’ll be watching nothing and nobody (not even Kaab; well done for not drowning your friend, Kaab. Keep up the good work. LEAVE HIM ALONE KAAB) so closely as I watch Everly. I’ve put off my flailing long enough: WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!

I have always been intrigued by Everly; now, I’m increasingly alarmed. I don’t particularly like the suggestion of almost supernatural powers (sensing a visitor? Really? Unless some wag yelled Make Way For The Serpent Chancellor outside their window, this is a level of mystique I feel is unnecessary), but I do like a whole raft of new clues about Everly. Very much.

So what have we learned? That Everly isn’t from Riverside. That Everly is older than I thought – their age has always felt indeterminate, but even given short Riverside life expectancy, if nobody remembers they’re not from Riverside, they’ve been around and pulling strings for a long time.

AND THAT THEY KNOW ARLEN.

Knock me down with a feather, seriously. Here’s a twist I never would have called, and it’s got me working overtime. I can see Arlen placing an agent in Riverside, but I’m not sure that’s the relationship here.They could as easily be members of the same secret society. They know one another’s name, and they clearly know each other well, even if they don’t understand one another. Lovers? Rivals? Siblings? I NEED TO KNOW.

I’m also intrigued that the Serpent has been due to come to the Salamander (finally I see how elegant that has always been) for ’almost a year’ – so it’s not the Bridge project that’s sending him down to the River at night. No, both of these master manipulators have been consulting the same book (‘he’s the only one who got it right’- I feel so teased!) and tonight they choose to change the game being played. I get the sense that none of the other players may even realise the board is being over turned; even if I can’t be precisely certain who they seek to thwart.

Just what does Arlen’s key open? What is Everly about to do? I get the distinct impression they don’t expect to come back from it…

Oh yes, I feel TEASED.