The whirring blades of my MD-902 throbbed against the warm evening air, and I smiled.
From 5,000 feet, the ground flew by in a carpet of dark forests and kelly-green fields. The sun hung low on the horizon in a picturesque array of dazzling orange and gold, and I could make out the narrow strip of the Ohio River to my left, glistening in the fading daylight. This time of year, the trees would be full of the sweet aroma of fresh blossoms, and the frequent rains kept small pockets of fluffy white mist hanging in the treetops. It was a beautiful view, one that reminded me of why being a helicopter pilot trumped flying in a jumbo jet far above the clouds every day of the week. Fourteen more days, and I’m debt free.
That made me grin even more. I’d been working as a charter pilot ever since I obtained my license at age 19, and after years of keeping my nose to the grindstone, I was closing on the final payment for real-estate in western Pennsylvania. With no debt, a fixer-upper house on 30 rural acres all to myself, and a respectable wage for a 26-year-old pilot, I looked forward to the financial freedom I could now enjoy. Maybe I’d take a vacation, somewhere exotic like Venice Italy, or the Dominican Republic. Or perhaps I’d sock the money back for the day I started a family. “Remember kleineun, a real man looks after his own.”
My elderly ouma’s
voice came back from the depths of my memories, her proud, sun-tanned face rising from the darkness. She and my Rhodesian grandfather had emigrated to the US when they were newlyweds, as the violence against white Boer descendants in South Africa spiraled out of control. My mother and father both died in a car crash when I was six, and it had been my grandparents who raised me. Due to this, I’d grown up with a slight accent that many of my classmates found amusing, and I could speak both English, and Afrikaans, the Boer tongue of our former home.
I shifted in my seat, stretched my back muscles, and glanced at the picture taped to my console. Both my parents flanked a grinning, gap-toothed six-year-old me, at the last Christmas we’d spent together. My mother beamed, her dark hair and Italian features a sharp contrast to my father’s sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. Sometimes, I liked to imagine they were smiling at me with pride at how well I flew the old silver-colored bird my company had assigned to me, and that made the long, lonely flights easier to bear.
A flicker caught my eye, and I broke my gaze away from the photograph.
Perched in its small cradle above the controls, my little black Garmin fuzzed over for a few seconds, its screen shifting from brightly colored maps to a barrage of grey static. Did the power chord come loose?
I checked, ensuring the power-cable for the unit’s battery was plugged into the port on the control panel. It was a brand-new GPS unit, and I’d used it a few times already, so I knew it wasn’t defective. Granted, I could fly and navigate without it, but the Garmin made my time as a pilot so much easier that the thought of going blind was dreadful.
My fuel gauge danced, clicked to empty, then to full, in a bizarre jolt.
More of the gauges began to stutter, the entire panel seeming to develop terrets all at once, and my pulse began to race. Something was wrong, very wrong, and the sludge inside my bowels churned with sour fear.
“Come on, come on.” I flicked switches, turned dials, punched buttons, but nothing seemed to fix the spasming electronics. Every gauge failed, and without warning, I found myself plunged into inky darkness.
Outside, the sun surrendered to the pull of night, the sky darker than usual. A distant rumble of thunder reverberated above the roar of my helicopter’s engine, and I thought I glimpsed a streak of yellowish lightning on the far horizon to my left. Calm down Chris. We’re still flying, so it must just be a blown fuse. Stay in control and find a place to set her down.
My sweaty palm slid on the cyclic stick, and both feet weighed heavy on the yaw pedals. The collective stuck to my other hand with a nervous vibration, and I squinted against the abyss outside.
I jumped despite myself, as the little Garmin on my panel flared back to life, the static pulling aside to reveal a twitching display. Each time the screen glitched, it showed the colorful map detailing my flight path over the ground below, but I noticed that some of the lines changed, the names shifting, as if the device couldn’t decide between two different versions of the world.
One name jutted out at me, slate gray like most of the major county names, appearing with ghostly flickers from between two neighboring ones. Barron County.
I stared, confused. I’d flown over this section of southeastern Ohio plenty of times, and I knew the counties by heart. At this point, I should have been over the southern end of Noble County, and maybe dipping lower into Washington. There was no Barron County
in Ohio. I was sure of it.
And yet it shown back at me from the digital landscape, a strange, almost cigar-shaped chunk of terrain carved from the surrounding counties like a tumor, sometimes there, sometimes not, as my little Garmin struggled to find the correct map. Rain began to patter against my cockpit window, and the entire aircraft rattled from a strong gust of wind. Thick clouds closed over my field of vision like a sea of gray cotton.
The blood in my veins turned to ice, and I sucked in a nervous breath.
Land. I had to land. There was nothing else to do, my flight controls weren’t responding, and only my Garmin had managed to come back to life. Perhaps I’d been hit by lightning, and the electronics had been fried? Either way, it was too dark to tell, but a storm seemed to be brewing, and if I didn’t get my feet on the ground soon, I could be in real trouble.
“Better safe than sorry.” I pushed down on the collective to start my slow descent and clicked the talking button for my headset. “Any station, this is Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot, over.”
“Any station, this is Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot, requesting emergency assistance, over.”
Still nothing. If the radio’s dead, I’m really up a creek.
With my hand shaking, I clicked on the mic one more time. “Any station, this is—”
Like a curtain pulling back, the fog cleared from around my window, and the words stuck in my throat.
Without my gauges, I couldn’t tell just how far I’d descended, but I was definitely very low. Thick trees poked up from the ground, and the hills rolled into high ridges with flat valley floors, fields and pastures pockmarking them. Rain fell all around in cold, silvery sheets, a normal feature for the mid spring in this part of Ohio.
What wasn’t normal, were the fires.
At first, I thought they were forest fires for the amount of smoke and flames that bellowed from each spot, but as I swooped lower, my eyes widened in horror.
They were houses.
Farms, cottages, little clusters that barely constituted villages, all of them belched orange flames and black pillars of sooty smoke. I couldn’t hear above the helicopter blades, but I could see the flashes on the ground, along the road, in between the trees, and even coming from the burning buildings, little jets of golden light that spat into the darkness with anger. Gunfire. That’s rifle fire, a whole lot of it.
Tiny black figures darted through the shadows, barely discernable from where I sat, several hundred feet up. I couldn’t see much, but some were definitely running away, the streaks of yellow gunfire chasing them. A few dark gray vehicles rumbled down one of the gravel roads, and sprayed fire into the houses as it went. They were fighting, I realized, the people in the trucks and the locals. It was horrific, like something out of war-torn Afghanistan, but worse.
Then, I caught a glimpse of the others
They didn’t move like the rest, who either fled from the dark vehicles, or fired back from behind cover. These skinny figures loped along with haphazard gaits, many running on all fours like animals, swarming from the trees by the dozens. They threw themselves into the gales of bullets without flinching, attacking anyone within range, and something about the way they moved, so fluid, so fearless, made my heart skip a beat. What is that? “Echo Four Actual to unknown caller, please respond, over.”
Choking back a cry of shock, I fumbled at the control panel with clumsy fingers, the man’s voice sharp and stern. I hadn’t realized that I’d let go of the talking button and clicked it down again. “Hello? Hello, this is Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot out of Pittsburgh, over.”
An excruciating moment passed, and I continued to zoom over the trees, the fires falling away behind me as more silent forest took over. “Roger that Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot, we read you loud and clear. Please identify yourself and any passengers or cargo you might be carrying, over.”
Swallowing hard, I eyed the treetops, which looked much closer than they should have been. How far had I descended? “Echo Four Actual, my name is Christopher Dekker, and I am alone. I’m a charter flight from PA, carrying medical equipment for OSU in Columbus. My controls have been damaged, and I am unable to safely carry on due to the storm. Requesting permission to land, over.”
I watched the landscape slide by underneath me, once catching sight of what looked like a little white church
surrounded by smaller huts, dozens of figures in the yard staring up at me as I flew over a nearby ridgeline. “Solid copy on that Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot. Be advised, your transponder shows you to be inside a restricted zone. Please cease all radio traffic, reduce your speed, climb to 3,000 feet and proceed north. We’ll talk you in from there. How copy, over?”
My heart jumped, and I let out a sigh of relief. “Roger that Echo Four Actual, my altimeter is down, but I’ll do my best to eyeball the altitude, over.”
With that, I pulled the collective upward, and tried my best to gauge how far I was by eyesight in the gathering night, rain still coming down all around me. This had to be some kind of disaster or riot, I decided. After all, the voice over the radio sounded like military, and those vehicles seemed to have heavy weapons. Maybe there was some kind of unrest going on here that I hadn’t heard about yet? Kind of weird for it to happen in rural areas though. Spoiled college kids I get, but never saw farmers get so worked up before. They usually love the military.
Something moved in the corner of my eye, and I turned out of reflex.
My mouth fell open, and I froze, unable to scream.
In the sky beside me, a huge shadow glided along, and its leathery wings effortlessly carved through the gloom, flapping only on occasion to keep it aloft. It was too dark for me to see what color it was, but from the way it moved, I knew it wasn’t another helicopter. No, this thing was alive, easily the size of a small plane, and more than twice the length of my little McDonald Douglass. A long tail trailed behind it, and bore a distinct arrow-shaped snout, with twig-like spines fanned out around the back of its head. Whatever legs it had were drawn up under it like a bird, yet its skin appeared rough and knobby, almost resembling tree bark. Without pause, the gigantic bat-winged entity flew along beside me, as if my presence was on par with an annoying fly buzzing about its head.
Gripping the microphone switch so tight, I thought I’d crack the plastic, I whispered into my headset, forgetting all radio protocol. “T-There’s something up here.”
Static crackled. “Douglas Three-One-Four-Foxtrot, say again your last, you’re coming in weak and unreadable, over.”
“There’s something up here.” I snarled into the headset, still glued to the controls of the helicopter, afraid to deviate even an inch from my course in case the monstrosity decided to turn on me. “A freaking huge thing, right beside me. I swear, it looks like a bat or . . . I don’t know.” “Calm down.” The man on the other end of the radio broke his rigorous discipline as well, his voice deep, but level. “It won’t attack if you don’t move too fast. Slowly ease away from it and follow that course until you’re out of sight.”
I didn’t have time to think about how wrong that sounded, how the man’s strict tone had changed to one of knowledge, how he hadn’t been the least surprised by what I’d said. Instead, I slowly turned the helicopter away from the huge menace and edged the speed higher in tiny increments.
As soon as I was roughly two football fields away, I let myself relax, and clicked the mic switch. “It’s not following.” “You’re sure?”
Eyeing the huge flapping wings, I nodded, then remembered he couldn’t see me. “Yeah, I’m well clear.” “Good. Thank you, Mr. Dekker.”
Then, the radio went dead.
Something in my chest dropped, a weight that made my stomach roil. This wasn’t right, none of it. Who was that man? Why did he know about the thing I’d just seen? What was I supposed to—
A flash of light exploded from the trees to my right and shot into the air with a long finger of smoke. What the . . .
On instinct, I jerked the cyclic stick to one side, and the helicopter swung to avoid the rocket. Boom.
My world shook, metal screeched, and a dozen alarms began to go off inside the cockpit in a cacophony of beeps and sirens. Orange and red flames lit up the night sky just behind me, and the horizon started to spin wildly outside. Heat gushed from the cockpit door, and I smelled the greasy stench of burning oil. The safety belts dug into my shoulders, and with a final slip, the radio headset ripped free from my scalp. I’m hit.
Desperate, I yanked on the controls, fought the bird even as she spun toward the ground in a wreath of flames, the inky black trees hurtling up to meet me. The helicopter went into full auto-rotation, the sky blurring past outside, and the alarms blared in a screech of doom. Panic slammed through my temples, I screamed at the top of my lungs, and for one brief second, my eyes locked on the little black Garmin still perched atop my control panel.
Its screen stopped twitching and settled on a map of the mysterious Barron County, with a little red arrow at the center of the screen, a few words popping up underneath it. You are here.
Trees stabbed up into the sky, the belts crushed at my torso, glass shattered all around me, and the world went dark.
Copper, thick, warm, and tangy.
It filled my mouth, stank metallic in my nose, clogged my throat, choking me. In the murkiness, I fought for a surface, for a way out, blind and numb in the dark. This way, kleineun.
voice echoed from somewhere in the shadows. This way.
Both eyes flew open, and I gagged, spitting out a stream of red.
Pain throbbed in my ribs, and a heavy pressure sent a tingling numbness through my shoulders. Blood roared inside my temples, and stars danced before my eyes with a dizzying array. Humid night air kissed my skin, and something sticky coated my face, neck, and arms that hung straight up toward the ceiling.
Wait. Not up. Down.
I blinked at the wrinkled, torn ceiling of the cockpit, the glass all gone, the gray aluminum shredded like tissue paper. Just outside the broken windows, thick Appalachian bluegrass and stemmy underbrush swished in a feeble breeze, backlit by flashes of lightning from the thunderstorm overhead. Green and brown leaves covered everything in a wet carpet of triangles, and somewhere nearby, a cricket chirped.
Turning my head from side to side, I realized that I hung upside down inside the ruined helicopter, the top half burrowed into the mud. I could hear the hissing and crackling of flames, the pattering of rain falling on the hot aluminum, and the smaller brush fires around the downed aircraft sizzling out in the damp long grass. Charred steel and burning oil tainted the air, almost as strong as the metallic, coppery stench in my aching nose. They shot me down. That military dude shot me out of the sky.
It didn’t make sense. I’d followed their orders, done everything they’d said, and yet the instant I veered safely away from whatever that thing in the sky had been, they’d fired, not at it, but at me.
Looking down (or rather, up) at my chest, I sucked in a gasp, which was harder to do that before.
The navy-blue shirt stuck to my torso with several big splotches of dark, rusty red. Most were clean slashes, but two held bits of glass sticking out of them, one alarmingly bigger than the other. They dripped cherry red blood onto my upturned face, and a wave of nausea hit me. I gotta get down.
I flexed my arms to try and work some feeling back into them, praying nothing was broken. Half-numb from hanging so long, I palmed along my aching body until I felt the buckled for the seat belts.
“Okay.” I hissed between gritted teeth, in an effort to stave off my panic. “You can do this. Just hold on tight. Nice and tight. Here we go . . .” Click.
Everything seemed to lurch, and I slid off the seat to plummet towards the muck-filled hole in the cockpit ceiling. My fingers were slick with blood and slipped over the smooth faux-leather pilot’s seat with ease. The shoulder belt snagged on the bits of glass that lay just under the left lowest rib, and a flare of white-hot pain ripped through me. Wham.
I screamed, my right knee caught the edge of the aluminum ceiling, and both hands dove into a mound of leaf-covered glass shards on the opposite side of the hole. My head swam, being right-side-up again enough to make shadows gnaw at the corner of my eyes.
Forcing myself to breath slowly, I fought the urge to faint and slid back to sit on the smooth ceiling. I turned my hands over to see half a dozen bits of clear glass burrowed into my skin like greedy parasites, red blood weeping around the new cuts.
“Screw you.” I spat at the rubbish with angry tears in my eyes. “Screw you, screw you, screw you.”
The shards came out easy enough, and the cuts weren’t that deep, but that wasn’t what worried me. On my chest, the single piece of cockpit glass that remined was almost as big as my palm, and it really hurt. Just touching it felt like self-inflicted torture, but I knew it had to come out sooner or later. Please don’t nick a vein.
Wiping my hands dry on my jeans, I gripped the shard with both hands, and jerked.
Fire roared over my ribs, and hot blood tickled my already grimy pale skin. I clapped a hand over the wound, pressing down hard, and grunted out a string of hateful expletives that my ouma would have slapped me for.
Lying on my back, I stared around me at the messy cargo compartment of the MD-902. Most of the medical supplies had been in cardboard boxes strapped down with heavy nylon tow-straps, but several cases had ruptured with the force of the impact, spraying bandages, syringes, and pill bottles all over the cluttered interior. Orange flames chewed at the crate furthest to the rear, the tail section long gone, but the foremost part of the hold was intact. Easily a million-dollar mess, it would have made me faint on any other trip, but today it was a godsend.
Half-blind in the darkness, I crawled along with only the firelight and lightning bolts to guide me, my right knee aching. Like a crippled raccoon, I collected things as I went, conscious of the two pallets of intact supplies weighing right over my head. I’d taken several different first-aid courses with some hunting buddies of mine, and the mental reflexes kicked in to help soothe my frazzled mind. Check for bleeds, stop the worst, then move on
Aside from my battered chest and stomach, the rest of me remained mostly unharmed. I had nasty bruises from the seatbelts, my right knee swelled, my nose slightly crooked and crusted in blood, but otherwise I was intact. Dowsing every scratch and cut with a bottle of isopropyl alcohol I found, I used butterfly closures on the smaller lacerations that peppered my skin. I wrapped soft white gauze over my abused palms and probed at the big cut where the last shard had been, only stopping when I was sure there were no pieces of glass wedged inside my flesh.
“Not too bad.” I grunted to myself, trying to sound impassive like a doctor might. “Rib must have stopped it. Gonna need stitches though. That’ll be fun.”
Pawing through the broken cases, I couldn’t find any suture chord, but just as I was about to give up, I noticed a small box that read ‘medical skin stapler’. Bingo.
I tore the small white plastic stapler free from its packaging and eyeballed the device. I’d never done this before, only seen it in movies, and even though the cut in my skin hurt, I wondered if this wouldn’t be worse. You’ve gotta do it. That bleeding needs to stop. Besides, no one’s coming to rescue you, not with those rocket-launching psychos out there.
Taking a deep breath, I pinched the skin around the gash together, and pressed the mouth of the stapler to it. Click.
A sharp sting, like that of a needle bit at the skin, but it didn’t hurt nearly as bad as the cut itself. I worked my way across the two-inch laceration and gave out a sigh of relief when it was done.
“Not going to bleed to death today.” I daubed ointment around the staples before winding more bandages over the wound.
Popping a few low-grade painkillers that tumbled from the cargo, I crawled wriggled through the nearest shattered window into the wet grass.
Raindrops kissed my face, clean and cool on my sweaty skin. Despite the thick cloud cover, there was enough constant lightning strikes within the storm to let me get glimpses of the world around me. My helicopter lay on its back, the blades snapped like pencils, with bits and pieces of it burning in chunks all around the small break in the trees. Chest-high scrub brush grew all around the low-lying ground, with pockets of standing water in places. My ears still rang from the impact of the crash, but I could start to pick up more crickets, frogs, and even some nocturnal birds singing into the darkness, like they didn’t notice the huge the hulk of flaming metal that had fallen from the sky. Overhead, the thunder rumbled onward, the feeble wind whistling, and there were other flashes on the horizon, orange and red ones, with crackles that didn’t sound quite like lightning. The guns. They’re still fighting.
Instinctively, I pulled out my cellphone, and tapped the screen.
It fluttered to life, but no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get through to anyone, not even with the emergency function designed to work around having no service. The complicated wonder of our modern world was little better than a glorified paperweight.
Stunned, I sat down with my back to the helicopter and rested my head against the aluminum skin of the craft. How I’d gone from a regular medical supply run to being marooned in this hellish parody of rural America, I didn’t know, but one thig was certain; I needed a plan. Whoever fired the missile could have already contacted my charter company and made up some excuse to keep them from coming to look for me. No one else knew I was here, and even though I now had six staples holding the worst of my injuries shut, I knew I needed proper medical attention. If I wanted to live, I’d have to rescue myself. My bag. I need to get my go-bag, grab some gear and then . . . head somewhere else.
It took me a while to gather my green canvas paratrooper bag from its place behind the pilot’s seat and fill it with whatever supplies I could scrounge. My knee didn’t seem to be broken, but man did it hurt, and I dreaded the thought of walking on it for miles on end. I focused instead on inventorying my gear and trying to come up with a halfway intelligent plan of action.
I had a stainless-steel canteen with one of those detachable cups on the bottom, a little fishing kit, some duct tape, a lighter, a black LED flashlight with three spare batteries, a few tattered road maps with a compass, a spare pair of socks, medical supplies from the cargo, and a simple forest green plastic rain poncho. I also managed to unearth a functioning digital camcorder my ouma had gotten me for Christmas a few years back, though I wasn’t sure I wanted to do any filming in such a miserable state. Lastly, since it was a private supply run from a warehouse area near Pittsburgh to a direct hospital pad in Ohio, I’d been able to bring my K-Bar, a sturdy, and brutally simple knife designed for the Marine Corps that I used every time I went camping. It was pitiful in comparison to the rifle I wished I had with me, but that didn’t matter now. I had what I had, and I doubted my trusty Armalite would have alleviated my sore knee anyway.
Clicking on my flashlight, I huddled with the poncho around my shoulders inside the wreck of the chopper and peered at the dusty roadmaps. A small part of me hoped that a solution would jump out from the faded paper, but none came. These were all maps of western PA and eastern Ohio. None of them had a Barron County on them anywhere. The man on the radio said to head north, right before they shot me down. That means they must be camped out to the north of here. South had that convoy and those burning houses, so that’s a no-go. Maybe I can backtrack eastward the way I came.
As if on cue, a soft pop echoed from over the eastern horizon, and I craned to look out the helicopter window, spotting more man-made flashes over the tree tops.
“Great.” I hissed between clenched teeth, aware of how the temperature dipped to a chilly 60 degrees, and how despite the conditions, my stomach had begun to growl. “Not going that way, are we? Westward it is.”
Walking away from my poor 902 proved to be harder than I’d anticipated. Despite the glass, the fizzling fires, and the darkness, it still held a familiar, human essence to it. Sitting inside it made me feel secure, safe, even calm about the situation. In any other circumstance, I would have just stayed with the downed aircraft to wait for help, but I knew the men who shot me down would likely find my crash site, and I didn’t want to be around when they did.
Unlike much of central and western Ohio, southeastern Ohio is hilly, brushy, and clogged with thick forests. Thorns snagged at my thin poncho and sliced at my pant legs. My knee throbbed, every step a form of self-inflicted torture. The rain never stopped, a steady drizzle from above just cold enough to be problematic as time went on, making me shiver. Mud slid under my tennis shoes, and every tree looked ten times bigger in the flickering beam of my cheap flashlight. Icy fear prickled at the back of my neck at some of the sounds that greeted me through the gloom. I’d been camping loads of times, both in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, but these noises were something otherworldly to me.
Strange howls, screeches, and calls permeated the rain-soaked sky, some almost roars, while others bordered on human in their intonation. The more I walked, the softer the distant gunfire became, and the more prevalent the odd sounds, until the shadows seemed to fill with them. I didn’t dare turn off my flashlight, or I’d been completely blind in the dark, but a little voice in the back of my head screamed that I was too visible, crunching through the gloomy forest with my long beam of light stabbing into the abyss. It felt as though a million eyes were on me, studying me, hunting me from the surrounding brush, and I bitterly recalled how much I’d loved the old Survivor Man TV series as a kid. Not so fun being out in the woods at night. Especially alone.
A twig snapped somewhere behind me, and I whirled on the spot, one trembling hand resting on the hilt of my K-Bar.
Nothing. Nothing but trees, bushes, and rain dripping down in the darkness.
“This is stupid.” I whispered to myself to keep my nerves in check as I slowly spun on the spot. “I should have went eastward anyway. God knows how long I’m going to have to—” Creak.
A groan of metal-on-metal echoed from somewhere to my right, and I spun to face it, yanking the knife on my belt free from its scabbard. It felt so small and useless in my hand, and I choked down a wave of nauseas fear. Ka-whump. Creak. K-whump. Creak.
Underbrush cracked and crunched, a few smaller saplings thrashed, and from deep within the gloom, two yellow orbs flared to life. They poked through the mist in the trees, forming into slender fingers of golden light that swept back and forth in the dark. The soldiers . . . they must be looking for me.
I swallowed hard and turned to slink away.
Ice jammed through my blood, and I froze on the spot, biting my tongue to stop the scream.
It stood not yards away, a huge form that towered a good twelve feet tall in the swirling shadows. Unpolished chrome blended with flash-rusted spots in the faded red paint, and grime-smeared glass shone with dull hues in the flashes of lightning. Where the wheels should have been, the rounded steel axels curved like some enormous hand had bent them, and the tires lay face-down on the muddy ground like big round feet, their hubcaps buried in the dirt. Dents, scrapes, and chips covered the battered thing, and its crooked little radio antenna pointed straight up from the old metal fender like a mast. I could barely make out the mud-coated VW on the rounded hood, and my mind reeled in shock. Is . . . is that a car?
Both yellow headlights bathed me in a circle of bright, blinding light, and neither I nor the strange vehicle moved.
Seconds ticked by, the screech-thumping in the background only growing closer. I realized that I couldn’t hear any engine noises and had yet to see any soldiers or guns pointed my way. This car looked old, really old, like one of those classic Volkswagen Beetles that collectors fought over at auctions. Try as I might, I couldn’t see a driver inside the murky, mold-smeared windows.
Because there wasn’t one.
Lightning arched across the sky overhead, and the car standing in front of me blinked.
Its headlights slid shut, as if little metal shades had crawled over the bulbs for a moment and flicked open again. Something about that movement was so primal, so real, so lifelike, that every ounce of self-control I had melted in an instant.
Cursing under my breath, I lunged into the shrubs, and the world erupted around me.
Under my shoes, the ground shook, and the car surged after me in a cacophony of ka-thumps that made my already racing heart skip several beats. A weather-beaten brown tow truck from the 50’s charged through the thorns to my left, it’s headlights ablaze, and a dilapidated yellow school bus rose from its hiding place in the weeds to stand tall on four down-turned axel-legs. They all flicked their headlights on like giants waking from their slumber, and as I dodged past them, they each blared their horn into the night in alarm.
My breaths came short and tight, my knee burned, and I crashed through thorns and briars without thought to how badly I was getting cut up.
The cheap poncho tore, and I ripped it away as it caught on a tree branch.
A purple 70’s Mustang shook off its blanket of creeping vines and bounded from a stand of trees just ahead, forcing me to swerve to avoid being run over, my adrenaline at all-time highs. This can’t be happening, this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening.
Slipping and sliding, I pushed through a stand of multiflora rose, and stumbled out into a flat, dark expanse.
I almost skidded to a stop.
What had once been a rather large field stood no taller than my shoestrings, the grass charred, and burnt. The storm above illuminated huge pieces of wreckage that lay scattered over the nearly 40-acre plot, and I could just make out the fire-blackened hulk of a fuselage resting a hundred yards away. The plane had been brought down a while ago it seemed, as there weren’t any flames left burning, and I threw myself toward it in frenzied desperation.
Burned grass and greasy brown topsoil slushed underfoot, and I could hear the squelching of the cars pursing me. Rain soaked me to the bone, and my lungs ached from sucking down the damp night air. A painful stich crept into my side, and I cursed myself for not putting in more time for cardio at the gym.
Something caught my left shoelace, and I hurtled to the ground, tasting mud and blood in between my teeth. They’ve got me now.
I clawed at the mud, rolled, and watched a tire slam down mere inches from where my head had been. The Mustang loomed over me and jostled for position with the red Volkswagen and brown tow truck, the school bus still a few yards behind them. They couldn’t seem to decide who would get the pleasure of stomping me to death, and like a herd of stampeding wildebeest, they locked bumpers in an epic shoving match.
On all fours, I scampered out from under the sparring brutes, and dashed for the crumpled airplane, a white-painted DC-3 that looked like it had been cut in half by a gargantuan knife blade. I passed a snapped wing section, the oily remains of a turbo-prop engine, and a mutilated wheel from the landing gear. Climbing over a heap of mud, I squeezed into the back of the ruined flight cabin and dropped down into the dark cargo hold. Wham.
No sooner had my sneakers hit the cold metal floor, and the entire plane rocked from the impact of something heavy ramming it just outside. I tumbled to my knees, screaming in pain as, once again, I managed to bash the sore one off a bracket in the wall.
My hand smeared in something gooey, and I scrabbled for my flashlight.
It clicked on, a wavering ball of white light in the pitch darkness, and I fought the urge to gag. “Oh man . . .”
Three people, or what was left of them, lay strewn over the narrow cargo area. Claret red blood coated the walls, caked on the floor, and clotted under my mud-spattered shoes. Bits of flesh and viscera were stuck to everything, and tatters of cloth hung from exposed sections of broken bone. An eerie set of bloody handprints adorned the walls, and the only reason I could tell it had been three people were the shoes; all of them bore anklebones sticking out above blood-soaked socks. It smelled sickly sweet, a strange, nauseas odor that crept into my nose and settled on the back of my tongue like an alien parasite.
Something glinted in the beam of my flashlight, and my pulse quickened as I pried the object loose from the severed arm that still clung to it.
“Hail Mary full of Grace.” I would have grinned if it weren’t for the fact that the plane continued to buck and roll under the assault from the cars outside.
The pistol looked old, but well-maintained, aside from the light coating of dark blood that stained its round wooden handle. It felt heavy, but good in my hand, and I turned it over to read the words, Waffenfabrik Mauser
stenciled into the frame, with a large red 9 carved into the grip. For some reason, it vaguely reminded me of the blasters from Star Wars.
I fumbled with a little switch that looked like a safety on the back of the gun and stumbled toward a gap in the plane’s dented fuselage to aim out at the surrounding headlights. Bang.
The old gun bucked reliably in my hand, its long barrel spitting a little jet of flame into the night. I had no idea if I hit anything, but the attacking cars recoiled, their horns blaring in confusion.
They turned, and scuttled for the tree line as fast as their mechanical legs could go, the entire ordeal over as fast as it had begun. Did I do that?
Perplexed, I stared down at the pistol in my hand. Whoosh.
A large, inky black shadow glided down from the clouds, and the yellow school bus moved too slow to react in time.
With a crash, the kicking nightmarish vehicle was thrown onto its side, spraying glass and chrome trim across the muddy field. Its electro-synth horn blared with wails of mechanical agony, as two huge talon-like feet clamped down on it, and the enormous head of the flying creature lowered to rip open its engine compartment.
The horn cut out, and the enormous flying entity jerked its head back to gulp down a mass of what looked like sticky black vines from the interior of the shattered bus.
At this range, I could see now that the flying creature bore two legs and had its wings half-tucked like a vulture that had descended to feed on roadkill. Its head turned slightly, and in the glow of another lightning bolt, my jaw went slack at the realization of what it was. A tree trunk. It’s a rotted tree trunk.
I couldn’t tell where the reptilian beast began, and where the organic tree components ended, the upper part of the head shaped like a log, while the lower jaw resembled something out of a dinosaur movie. Its skin looked identical to the outside of a shagbark hickory but flexed with a supple featheriness that denoted something closer to skin. Sharp branch-like spines ranged down its back, and out to the end of its tail, which bore a massive round club shaped like a diseased tree-knot. Crouched on both hind legs, it braced the hooked ends of its folded wings against the ground like a bat, towering higher than a semi-truck. Under the folds of its armored head, a bulging pair of chameleon-like eyes constantly spun in their sockets, probing the dark for threats while it ate.
One black pupil locked onto the window I peered through, and my heart stopped.
The beast regarded me for a moment, making a curious, sideways sniff.
With a proud, contemptful head-toss, the shadow from the sky parted rows of razor-sharp teeth to let out a roar that shook the earth beneath my feet. It was the triumphant war cry of a creature that sat at the very top of the food chain, one that felt no threat from the fragile two-legged beings that walked the earth all around it. It hunted whenever it wanted, ate whatever it wanted, and flew wherever it wanted. It didn’t need to rip the plane apart to devour me.
Like my hunter-gatherer ancestors from thousands of years ago, I wasn’t even worth the energy it would take to pounce.
I’m hiding in the remains of the cockpit now, which is half-buried under the mud of the field, enough to shield the light from my screen so that thing doesn’t see it. My service only now came back, and it’s been over an hour since the winged beast started in on the dead bus. I don’t know when, or how I’m going to get out of here. I don’t know when anyone will even see this post, or if it will upload at all. My phone battery is almost dead, and at this point, I’m probably going to have to sleep among the corpses until daylight comes.
A dead man sleeping amongst friends.
If you live in the Noble County area in southeastern Ohio, be careful where you drive, fly, and boat. I don’t know if it’s possible to stumble into this strange place by ground, but if so, then these things are definitely headed your way.
If that happens . . . pray that they don’t find you.
So I’ve been down the rabbit hole
, trying to chase every off-the-cuff reference, stray allegory, allusion, comparison, and tangent. I’m going to need you to bear (hug) with me for a bit because I think I’ve stumbled on some truly insane parallels between this show and the myriad of references it makes and it will take a lot of text to justify to you that I'm not crazy (or that I am, but at least I do my research).
This is a show that employs a ton of intertextuality and what the poet T.S. Eliot (someone quoted frequently throughout the series) calls “the mythic method”: essentially using historical, literary, and mythological allusions to draw parallels between characters on the show and characters throughout history (real and imagined).
This method helps the audience to build both conscious and unconscious associations with each of the characters and, ultimately, underscores the Roys’ (and humanity’s) damning commitment to making the same mistakes over and over again. The show seems to draw a lot from Greek mythology, Arthurian legend, biblical parables, Shakespearean tragedy, and modernist poetry (among many other things).
These networks of symbolism span from the earliest recorded history to modern celebrity culture and yet they reveal frighteningly unchanged elements in the stories they tell. The parallels of these references throughout the show serve to highlight the cyclical (the illusion of progress) and deterministic (the illusion of free will) nature of existence.
While I will be dipping in and out of the existing references, I want to call particular attention to the poetry of the aforementioned T.S. Eliot (who champions the mythic method) and John Berryman’s poem Dream Song 29
because I believe much of their work has served as a foundation for characters.
In the show, Frank makes mention of his poem “The Long Song Of J Alfred Prufrock” more than once. Outside of the show, Matthew McFayden (the actor who plays Tom) references the same poem to describe his character. Jeremy Strong (the actor who plays Kendall) says Eliot’s work The Four Quartets
is a huge inspiration to his acting and character. A line from this particular work did strike me as being quite on the nose, which is why I continued to comb the poem for more (which it does deliver on):
"In my beginning is my end. In succession Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended, Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass. Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires, Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth Which is already flesh, fur and faeces, Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf."
This will probably be a monster of a post, so I will attempt to break down the following sections between poetic parallels, visual and dialogic symbolism of eternal recurrence, and an exploration of the historical and mythological allusions. Ultimately, I believe all of these clues point to the overwhelming conclusion that we will end where we began, in some way or another. Circles & Cycles: Endless Recurrence & The Futility Of Progress
The show toys a lot with the philosophical concept of eternal recurrence, which postulates that “time repeats itself in an infinite loop, and that exactly the same events will continue to occur in exactly the same way, over and over again, for eternity.”
These eternal loops are symbolized visually with mirrors, water, fractal reflections; in the “uh-huh” and “mhmms” of repeated, near-palindromic dialogue; and in the show events that echo and repeat: in-air death scares, asynchronous business deals, family betrayal, weddings, retreats, implosions, family reunions, trauma bonding, baptism, funerals, etc.
In this understanding of time, there is no linear progress — or even progress at all. Time is cyclical. People are cyclical. As are the events that transpire. This is particularly interesting in a show like Succession whose title alone implies the phrase “line of succession.” Viewers would expect to see what comes next — who comes next — but as Logan himself yells, “Nothing is a line. Everything is moving all the time.”
Logan consistently evokes the circle shape in his speech, “Put a circle around him” he tells Shiv. “We’ve been circling for an hour, tell them we’re out of gas,” he complains in a moment of grim foreshadowing on his plane. “Crawl in a circle and close your eyes,” he shouts during the game of Boar on the Floor.
And he is the bright, burning nebulous center of this circle. He’s described as “carr[ying] his gravity. He's not a man, he's a f*cking planet.” And the people around him are described like satellites and moons. Characters exist in his orbit. And every complete orbit (or “revolution”) leaves characters in exactly the same place. There are motions, there is the illusion of progress, but the result is the same. Eliot again:
“every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure”
With this understanding, the show may just end where it begins. Not only in “nothing” happening, but in repeating the same events ad infinitum
: A kid tries to take over the family business, they try to align with their siblings, they eventually backstab their siblings, they end out in the cold, and then they reunite, swear not to do it again, until it all repeats.
As most of us are aware, the show has made very direct mention of the John Berryman poem Dream Song 29
. The names of the past three season finales (as well as the name of the upcoming fourth) are all direct excerpts from the poem, which deals with grief and sadness and the guilt of killing someone when you can’t even confirm there’s been someone killed at all.
Berryman consistently wrote about the guilt and grief he experienced from his father’s suicide. Berryman himself would eventually end up taking his own life, which on its own is a brutal reminder of the cycles of trauma. It also doesn’t feel insignificant that Berryman jumped off a bridge.
What’s really interesting is how each subsequent finale is named for a line that comes earlier and earlier in the poem. It also toys with this concept that things come full circle and end where they begin. This echoes Eliot’s essential thesis of the poem:
“What we call the beginning is often the end And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
But while the speaker of the poem comes to realize he has not murdered “nobody” by the poem’s last line; Kendall, moving through the poem backward, must reckon with the idea that he may have killed somebody even if they were a “nobody.” And while we may encounter this as a moment in which Kendall is genuinely despairing over his season 1 inadvertent murder, I believe we are far more likely to see Kendall embrace this moment.
We see "nobody" and "no one mentioned" a lot when it comes to Logan, who believes most people are "fungible as f*ck," and "pygmies" while he's "1,000 feet tall." When Kendall is involved in the accident, we see him echo "NRPI" or no real person involved.
The reason Kendall couldn’t live up to his father’s expectations is that he couldn’t be the killer his father needed him to be (even if his morality or basis of being a good person is off). This retroactive movement through the poem could be Kendall realizing he is, in fact, the killer his father always needed him to be, enabling him to take the necessary steps of seizing the crown on his own. Allegories & Allusions: Mythic Comparisons & Determinism
It’s Shakespearean, like Roman says, “I kill Kendall, get crowned king, like we’re in f*cking Hamlet or something.” But it’s not just Hamlet
, it’s King Lear, King Richard III
. And it’s not just Shakespeare, it’s Oedipus Rex
, The Odyssey
, The Waste Land
, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
, Cronus devouring his children, Romulus killing Remus, Noah cursing his child for looking upon him naked.
The concept of the monomyth was popularized in "The Hero With 1000 Faces" and discusses throughout history, throughout different times and places, different cultures, different religions, different people have developed stories with relatively similar fundamental elements. The show is rife with allusions of stories that follow that same thread. Logan is Cronus who is King Lear who is Romulus who is who is. This is another form of endless recurrence: the inability to break the cycle. Or, in a very Hamlet reference, "maybe the poison drips through."
The themes of patricide, fratricide, and incest in particular are rampant. Rhea (like Rhea Jarell) in Greek mythology is both sister and consort to Cronus. Both are part of the first generation of aptly named Titan gods. Cronus overthrew his father Uranus and learns his children are fated to overthrow him. So he eats them as soon as they are born. Logan does refer to people as food a surprising amount throughout the show, varying from red meat to vegetables. He outright calls for blood sacrifice, which evokes the language of the gods.
Logan is referenced specifically as one of the last real American titans in his obituaries and eulogies. The language around him is frequently god-like. He's known as "the big man" or even "the big man upstairs." Tom tells Greg to "be his representative here on earth"; Roman asks the audience, "who is going to climb Mt. Olympus and be the next Dr. Zeus?" And that's where the myth gets interesting.
The only child not to be eaten is Zeus, who does end up killing his father and was surprisingly interested in marrying his mother. We're familiar with this plot formula through a different archetype: the Oedipus Complex, which we see referenced in the show with “Oedipus Roy,” “Oedipussy,” and “stabbing my eyes out.” The same story is repeated again in Hamlet with brother killing and brother and son yelling at his mother about her milky breasts (something Roman does to Shiv more than once). In the show when Logan says to Roman, “You may want to f*ck your mother but I don’t.” We know none of these stories end well. As Connor muses, “It’s not right to kill one’s father; history teaches us that.”
In the story of Romulus and Remus (whose mother’s name is also Rhea), the two brothers were initially chased out of their city as potential threats to the King (yet again). They were left by the river to die and were saved by the river god (important). After successfully overthrowing the kingdom that left them for dead, they agree to found a new city. They ultimately disagreed on which hill to found it and decided to have a bird-watching competition to see who could see the most omens indicating they had divine approval for the hill. Remus says he saw 6 auspicious birds but Romulus claims to see 12. Romulus kills Remus over this.
It should remind you of Logan visiting his childhood home with Ewan: “I saw a mistle thrush at the bandstand,” and the log book he kept as a child of birds he “saw” that Ewan would cross out if he didn’t believe him. It may also echo a part of The Four Quartets
, “Other echoes/ Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?/ Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,/ Round the corner. Through the first gate,/ Into our first world, shall we follow/ The deception of the thrush?"
There is much to be said about the themes of warring brothers. Also the themes of fathers worried their children would one day overthrow them who take action to thwart or murder their children, which inadvertently sets into motion the very outcome they fear. It happens over and over again in stories old and new. As Panhandle Pete says, “I push him, he pushes me, and around and around we go.” Or as Eliot puts it, “that the wheel may turn and still / Be forever still.”
Much of these works touch on a sort of determinism, or the slow crushing reality that every action you take — even if that action is an attempt to thwart your fate — will ultimately lead to the same inevitable ending. This is the illusion of free will on top of the illusion of progress. And Logan, in fearing his children would usurp him (and also disparaging his children for not being able to), set into motion his own death and his own messy succession.
It’s also a reminder that the greatest men in life are all the same when laid to rest:
"O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark, The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant, The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters, The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers, Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees, Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark…" Structure & Symbolism: Water As Rebirth & Destruction
The show has very much been structured around Kendall, and we watch him move through bodies of water with what feels like different symbolism each time. Is he drowning, is he reborn? We witness Kendall at his lowest point face down in a pool and at one of his highest, splashing into the Pacific ocean. We watch a man drown. We watch Logan beg Kendall for water as they walk through Adrien Brody’s maze. We watch Roman clamor for water at the funeral when he needs to calm down. Poetry has long played with this life and death dynamic in water, like the sailors dying of thirst in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
“Water, water, every where,. And all the boards did shrink;. Water, water, every where,. Nor any drop to drink. The very deep did rot: O Christ!”
This sub has noted Kendall’s connection to water, which has been represented over and over visually. But once you realize every metaphor, analogy, and simile he uses is water-based, you can’t unhear it. He calls his father “a tsunami of corruption” and describes things “as more precious than water”; he calls deals “choppy” and “dead in the water,” and asks to “help steady the ship”; he offers to “row back” on business deals, says timing is “high tide,” and that he has “bigger fish to fry.”
Logan is apt to use similar water symbolism, even telling Shiv that she’s marrying a man “fathoms” beneath her. As Rhea tells him, fearful of his own monstrosity, “I can’t see the bottom of the pool. I don’t know if you care about anything. It scares me.” ATN’s major scandal was “death cruises.” Even his operating nemesis is called “Sandy.”
In fact, there is mention of all elements and seasons — in particular, fire from Shiv, air from Roman, and earth from Connor. T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets
confront these same themes and share some surprising similarities with show scene locations, dialogue, and plot points.
That’s because Succession
is an allegory for the micro and the macro: the rise and fall of families, civilizations, monarchies, dynasties, and empires. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, the cycles rinse and repeat. Eliot modeled the four quartets on the 4 elements and the 4 seasons. And you can see even in Succession a similar manifestation of 4 elements. And, well, 4 seasons of the show. (And what occurs after 4 seasons? A full revolution around the sun, bringing you to where you began.)
Water seems to be at the root of it all. Even Ewan’s eulogy meditates on his and Logan’s journey on a boat. Even their abusive uncle is named Noah. In the show, we watch our nobody die by water, we watch our main character nearly die by water, and then we watch him revive in the ocean. As Kendall and his father wind their way through Adrien Brody’s circuitous Long Island home, Kendall remarks, “I think this leads to the ocean.” Because every path leads to the sea in some way or another.
The overarching narration from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land
is the Arthurian Legend of The Fisher King. This story is told a million different ways with a million different outcomes, but always boils down to an injured or maimed monarch ruling over a dying land. Or as Ewan refers to his "empire of shit": “He’s built a wasteland and called it an empire.”
He’s looking for someone, anyone, to heal him, rescue the kingdom, and ensure the dynasty survives. This is the myth of the holy grail, which, in this show, can be seen as the throne: The original stories of the holy grail were not Christian/religious but they do employ a lot of the same mythmaking from earlier religions and mythologies to tell their stories and thus construct their new realties. As Eliot says in The Four Quartets
"The whole earth is our hospital Endowed by the ruined millionaire, Wherein, if we do well, we shall Die of the absolute paternal care That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere."
I believe Kendall (and the other children) represent the grail knights who try to save the king. (On the same level they stand in for the gods, the elements, or anything at all). When Christianity became more popular, these myths adapted to Christian overtones, but they still had the Celtic and pagan myths at their core: the grail becomes the chalice from the last supper.
That’s why Kendall’s easy comparisons of himself to Jesus feel less blasphemous than revelatory. Jesus is another hero archetype in the show’s mythology. He is willing to sacrifice himself, which Kendall must do in order to become the successor his father wanted. As he says, "this is a culmination of my life's journey to be crucified for you morons."
(It’s worth noting: In some legends, the knight saves the king; in others, he inadvertently destroys him. We know Logan dies, but it does feel less likely that Waystar Royco survives.) Drowning is a constant feature of Eliot's poems, but so is baptism and renewed life. It is difficult to determine the meaning of water in either instance, except that it doesn't discriminate as a life or death bringer, which is both beautiful and terrifying. Parallels & Predictions: Piecing The Plot & Poetry Together
To repeat again, as this show is wont to do: “Crawl in a circle and close your eyes!” Logan Roy shouts during a game of Boar On A Floor. It’s an allegory, like many games on the series, and proudly says the quiet part out loud: Logan always wins. Here’s a little boar on the floor reference in The Four Quartets:
"We move above the moving tree In light upon the figured leaf And hear upon the sodden floor Below, the boarhound and the boar Pursue their pattern as before But reconciled among the stars."
We’ve seen the L.O.G.A.N. system at work many times and with many people. He dangles a carrot, a morsel of love, as each character attempts to play the game over and over while expecting different results. They are doomed to crawl in that circle, to play that blind game, as Logan angrily shouts, “It’s fun!” And this game doesn't end in death. The children still ask. "What would dad do?"
Games on Succession (which are a consistent refrain), it turns out, are rarely fun and are often designed to humiliate or inflict pain. The same goes when characters say “I’m just kidding” after an eviscerating remark. Logan thinks life is a game, and as he says, games should be taken seriously. And because Logan explicitly makes the rules, there is no winning, just trudging around the board, passing Go, and collecting $200. The games are essentially Sisyphean tasks that the kids wouldn’t be able to win even if they were actually competent enough to run the company. And yet they keep rolling the boulder. It’s endless. The repetition. It ends where it begins.
"Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning, Every poem an epitaph. And any action Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start. We die with the dying: See, they depart, and we go with them. We are born with the dead: See, they return, and bring us with them. The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree Are of equal duration. A people without history Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern Of timeless moments."
Please also note the use of “the rose” and “the yew tree,” which are the names of Logan’s siblings Rose and Ewan, which derives from yew-tree. Other important name comparisons include Kendall’s association to spring/river valley; Siobhan’s nickname either a knife (Shiv) or Pinky (a variation of the name Rose); Roman’s connection to Romulus/Corialanus; Tom’s name meaning “twin” because there was already someone named Judas in the bible HELLO; Logan’s name meaning little hollow, which recalls another Eliot poem, The Hollow Men
We know this show is a game, one that isn't fun at all, and one whose rules Logan made up. Even when there's a winner, there's no winner. So it's almost futile to play at all. That said, it’s impossible to make sense of any of it all without the ending — to confirm this ball has been rolling toward an inevitable conclusion, but given the show’s ending has probably occurred already, here are my thoughts:
This may feel a bit on the nose given we’ve already seen this almost happen to “the Kurt Cobain of floaties,” but it would certainly be poetic. This could be sad (launched from a bridge); empowering (a la The Awakening
); or metaphorical (a drug overdose). At some point Kendall says, "If dad didn’t need me right now I wouldn’t know what I would be for." The kids exist with Logan as their sun; they are moons, satellites, in orbit. And when their sun dies out, they repeat the motions in the cold, slowly losing their patterns and motions. The term is science is a rogue planet and the following lines from the poem remind me of Kendall and his broken, hollow stare.
“It would be the same at the end of the journey, If you came at night like a broken king, If you came by day not knowing what you came for, It would be the same, when you leave the rough road And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for Is only a shell, a husk of meaning From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled If at all. Either you had no purpose Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured And is altered in fulfilment.”
- Kendall is king of the ashes
Any victory feels like it will be a Pyrrhic victory regardless when you've had to systematically take down everyone you love to achieve it. The same lines above can echo here "the purpose is beyond the end you figured/And is altered in fulfilment." A hollow victory. The Fisher King question Logan poses is, "Who can replace me?" Logan wanted each of his children to display the killer instinct. Kendall’s backwards journey through Dreamsong 29
may very well see him realize he is, in fact, the killer his dad always wanted — with open eyes. This will probably involve taking down his siblings. In this version, winning is a lot like losing, which feels very Succession
These Shakespearean histories and tragedies rarely end well for existing houses. With Richard III
(the-multiple-lineage-ending war of the roses) and Hamlet
(the-whole-house-dies-but-a-norwegian-king-swoops-in-to-take-it-all dynastic struggle) references abound. We may just see a new house rise up and rinse and repeat. This would probably also occur if the kids take each other down and leave it open for another party. We saw last season that Roman thought he had an in with Mattson until it didn’t serve Mattson anymore. I see the same thing happening between Roman and Mencken. This puts Mencken and Mattson in a position to take over, which may make Mattson win it or…
When Mattson is introduced, he is referenced as a trickster. Generally, in mythology, this character is quite intelligent or in possession of secret knowledge, and he uses it for trickery and commandeering situations. (Is that blood thing real???). Hamlet
concludes with every major character killing the other with their own tragic flaws until a third party Scandinavian comes in to take the crown with no necessary action or bloodshed at all. We already know he's unscrupulous; what is his end game? It reminds me of one of his early lines to Roman, which would be an eerie foreshadowing:
“Success doesn’t really interest me anymore, it’s too easy. Analysis + capital + execution. Fucking, anyone can do that. But failure, that’s a secret. Just as much failure as possible as fast as possible, burn that shit out, that’s interesting.”
We’ve seen it happen before (which is why it should happen again). We’ve also seen Tom remove the thin veneer of his ambitions to the point where he almost feels like Richard III. He has played the fool, which is Shakespearean estimation, is often equivalent to the trickster. This would be a fun and distorted parallel to Shiv offering this job to him for Logan to offer it to her. This would probably happen in conjunction with Mattson winning. As I mentioned earlier, the name Tom means “twin” and the apostle Tom was only called as such because there were already one too many “Judas” in the mix. He's also from Minnesota (the twin cities!), so this is becoming very real, you know???
While we know Tom has betrayed Shiv before, we also know Greg betrayed Shiv and Tom when he spoke to Geri in the first season about Tom having a press conference on cruises. He leads Tom to believe Shiv has betrayed him, getting one over on both of them. There may also be something with the Rule of 3 and being betrayed 3 times that feels biblical. The show also makes TONS of references to holding on to blackmail for opportune moments. Will we see something like this?
I’m not a big believer that Greg will fail so far upwards that he will win (this would feel like a betrayal in its own right), but do I believe there’s a world where Greg gets himself on a piece of paper with a question mark. Maybe???
This is my personal hope because I want the Tom and Jerry allusion to be real more than any other I put together (we love a good cat and mouse game). If Mattson wins, he needs a US CEO. Geri has collected a massive amount of dirt on everyone. And to call back to season 1’s interim CEO discussions, Shiv says, “I don’t like Geri. But I don’t hate Geri either.” It would feel particularly good given how much time and effort Logan spent clarifying Geri would be terrible at the position. Especially as Logan disparaging someone generally means he’s afraid of what they can do.
I’ll end at the ending. Or conclude where Eliot did on The Four Quartets:
"We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. Through the unknown, unremembered gate When the last of earth left to discover Is that which was the beginning; At the source of the longest river The voice of the hidden waterfall And the children in the apple-tree Not known, because not looked for But heard, half-heard, in the stillness Between two waves of the sea. Quick now, here, now, always— A condition of complete simplicity (Costing not less than everything) And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flames are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one."
PS. Given ‘Pinky’ is another name for ‘Rose’ does this mean Shiv wins??? JK let’s just watch the show tonight and laugh at our predictions in the morning.
All picked up on 4/20 week.
*Top upvote gets next review, second highest after that and the third highest after that. So Top 3.
Please check for comments before typing duplicates.*
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Motorbreath #15 by Skunkfoot
MTN Trop by Skunkfoot
Gas Cap #11 by Skunkfoot
Pink Lemonade by Skunkfoot
Khalifa Kush by Skunkfoot
Bahama Berry #2 by Elm
Mendo F2 by Doomsday
Meat Nut by Doomsday
Ballerz by Doomsday
Cookie Breath by Doomsday
White Nightmare by Doomsday
Han Solo Hash Plant by Doomsday
Slap N Tickle by Str8 Chronic
Paradigm Shift by Art & Craft
Radiation Exposure #1 by Weaving
Sweat Helmet by Dolph
Stardog Daydream by Weaving
Dragonfruit Thai by Blackwood
Swagyu by Laughing Lobster
Neon Groove by Brave Boat
Grapefruit Gelato by Brave Boat
Banana Macaroon by Mentation
K1 (Ice Cream Cake x Secret Genetics) by Frost Factory
Iced Mocha by Royal River Botanicals
Garlic Juice by Mentation
Wizard Punch by Maine Craft Cannabis
Cheers for all the good reccos. Hash reviews also coming soon after I get more experience!
Appreciate y’all! Remember Updoot the ones you wanna see if already listed. I still pick based on totals just please don’t make the stoner do math 😂