Drama Belongs to the Forsaken!

Image by Daily Blink. Click to see the full sized version at TheDailyBlink.comIf there is one thing that’s got the Alliance and the Horde talking during Cataclysm it has to be the Forsaken.  The verdict is more or less in on some of the other major shake ups: No one likes Garrosh, everyone tolerates Variann, and no one is happy about losing Cairne.  The Forsaken on the other hand are still a constant debate.  Have they gone evil?  Will Sylvanas be the next Kael’thas?  Do the ends justify the means?  All very good questions on how this whole situation is shaking down.

I just finished all the Lordaeron quests (Tirisfal/Silverpine/Hillsbrad/Plaguelands) and I have to say – Sylvanas doesn’t really strike me as “evil”.  Disobedient and delusional maybe. But certainly not evil.  The big thing here is that Sylvanas quite clearly adheres the motto “the end justifies the means” and is quite open to any and all solutions to get the job done.  Including using the New Plague to ensure victory, and employing the Lich King’s creations to help repopulate your dwindling armies – because let’s be honest here. The Forsaken are not a “race,” they are the Banshee Queen’s private army.  They’re raised in service to Sylvanas, they cannot reproduce and they eventually all succumb to becoming mindless zombies.  The ONLY reason Sylvanas has a reason to continue to raise more from the dead is to pad out the numbers of bodies she can hurl at her opponents.  She is a brutal tactician who we have seen several times over has no issue disposing of even her closest allies if they stand in her way or betray her.

Which is why I think that Sylvanas isn’t lying to the orphan during the Children Week quest.  While she make think that Garrosh is an idiot, She – like Vol’jin – has no reason to betray the Horde. Or at least not yet.  Garrosh called her out on using the Val’kyr but did not forbid it and while he did forbid the use of the New Plague, no one has stepped up to call her out and showering Gilneas and Southshore with the stuff (Despite speculation that Garrosh knows it’s happening).  I think the big line that is preventing the Forsaken from splintering from the Horde is that the Horde is fully willing to give control of Lordaeron to the Forsaken and the Banshee Queen. Which is only that they apparently want at this point. Granted, it’s easy to speculate where the lust of power can lead Sylvanas and her people, but at least she didn’t succumb to worthlessness after claiming her vengeance like Maiev (who for all we know is still sitting on Illidan’s rotting corpse to make sure it doesn’t run off.)

Still the choices she’s making are not the smartest ones.  Breaking orders, making pacts with creatures created by your enemies (Especially foolish considering how many demon lords have stabbed her in the back), and forceful purging your subordinates of emotion are historically all things that in good drama tend to come back to bite you in the end.  I think the big turning point in the entire story of the Forsaken in Cataclysm will be the fate of Koltira Deathweaver.

Koltira is an example of one of my tropes in fiction – the noble dark knight. He knows he serves the Horde, but has respect for his Alliance opponent.  He believes in strategy and mercy over brute force and savagery.  He is level-headed, neither quick to anger nor impatient.  This unfortunately makes him less useful in the eyes of Sylvanas Windrunner.  So after claiming Andorhal for the Horde, Koltira is hauled off to “beneath the Undercity” to essentially be reprogrammed to be more in line with Sylvanas’ wishes. Namely, purging him of all those problematic emotions and turning him into the perfect, loyal, tactical, killing machine for the Forsaken.

The problem with that plan however may be the fact that without those pesky emotions that Sylvanas wants beaten out of poor Koltira, his priorities may be shifted along with it.  Naïve and sympathetic concepts like “loyalty” may not mean much to New Koltira, and now Sylvanas has two unpredictable elements that formerly served the Lich King in her employ.  Honestly, I think Koltira and the Val’kyr stand a good chance of betraying Sylvanas and putting her in a rather rough situation.  She has full force put her blind faith in the power of the Val’kyr and she has probably turned one of her best assets into an emotionless harbinger of death.  Considering Blizz was eager to tease the plotline that resulted in Zul’Gurub returning as a 5-man in the new low-level Stranglethorn Vale quests, I think it’s well within the possibility to see Koltira and the Val’kyr becoming a new heroic dungeon in the future.

After all that, Sylvanas might start reconsidering some of her bold choices since returning from Northrend.  That’s my guess anyway.

Fallout: Adventure Time

Finn and Jake in the Land of OooWARNING: This post contains some spoilers and speculation for the show ‘Adventure Time’.

Somehow, until just a few months ago, the most epic show ever had escaped my field of vision. This coming from a guy who spends no less than 15 hours a week watching animation of some kind. Yet somehow I totally missed Adventure Time! An awesome show from Pendleton Ward (who previously worked on the Misadventures of Flapjack, a show that was very hit and miss with me) that I would simply summarize as a 10 year olds D&D game brought to life through animation, as the adventures of Finn the Human and Jake the Dog quest for glory amongst the strange and delightful Land of Ooo meeting characters like Princess Bubblegum, Marceline the Vampire Queen, and squaring off with their nemesis the Ice King.  If that doesn’t pique your interest, don’t be dissuaded – these primitive constructs known as words can do little to properly contain the sheer amount of win that this show possesses.

At first I really just enjoyed the show, it was clever, fun and probably the most energetic thing since I replaced my hamsters water bottle with a can of Red Bull (his wheel is now powering my xbox 360) but then I learned something while surfing around the net. Something that would change my perspective on the entire show and propel it from cool show to a level of awesome not witnessed since ninjas first lifted guitars and unleashed a lick powerful enough to shatter Pangea: Adventure Time is set in a post apocalyptic world.

Did that just blow your mind? This cutesy, crazy and colorful cartoon world that bursts forth with rich childlike wonder actually takes place in a post apocalyptic Earth.  Granted, this is never directly addressed in the cartoon thus far. I can only imagine it’s something that Cartoon Network would be hesitant in bringing up (I’ll admit that they have loosened their standards. We’ve gone from Duo being ‘The Great Destroyer’ instead of ‘The God of Death’ in Gundam Wing to Jedi being killed outright in Clone Wars – Granted it’s usually offscreen, but still.)  The Word of God still has insisted that The Land of Ooo is very much a post apocalyptic Earth and there are quite a few hints of this throughout the show that reference back to the end of the world and the so called “Mushroom War.”

Title Card for the Adventure Time Episode Ocean of Fear
The Title Card for "Ocean of Fear" shows traces of just some of the strange things dwelling at the bottom of the oceans in the Land of Ooo

Some of the clearest examples is when the main characters, Finn the Human and Jake the Dog, encounter strange things that don’t seem to belong in their world.  Stuff like tanks, airplanes, or in the case of the episode ‘The Ocean of Fear’ they find an entire submerged and ruined modern day metropolis at the bottom of the ocean.  Finn and Jake never call attention to it, heck they don’t even seem to notice it – it’s a tease for the audience.  The fact that a major city that resembles something like New York or Los Angeles is sitting at the bottom of the ocean is probably the most direct they ever came to referencing Earth that was.

Subtler hints to how this could have happened have been tucked in places as well, like in the episode ‘Susan Strong’ Finn finds a tribe of hyoomans (which he mistakes for humans, a shocking development because as of up to this point in the show Finn had been the only human, hence the name ‘Finn the Human’) however it turns out that the hyoomans are…  well, let’s just say they don’t turn out to be humans.  However, in earlier edits of the episode, on the metal pipe that led down the hyooman tribe’s land, there originally was a radioactive hazard symbol.  A possible hint that nuclear radiation is responsible for the creation of the Land of Ooo?  Never been confirmed.  Yet.  But the fact that the world of Adventure Time is simply a silly and strange take on the same concept that brought us the Fallout series fills me with demented glee and horrifically wicked laughter.

A zoomed out picture of Adventure Time's Earth with a chunk missing from the episode the real you
A subtle tease from the episode 'The Real You' shows the world missing a large chunk from it. They blew it up! Those maniacs!

The sheer possibilities of this underlying concept makes my mind boggle with possibilities.  Every hint, every tease and every murmur from the show’s creative team about it drives me more into the lore of this nonsensical world.  Because it’s not nonsensical. It’s our world.  Just something happened to make it that way.  Talk about a tantalizing tidbit of toon teasery! If there is only one word to describe how much this show’s dark underlying secret, I would have to borrow from Finn’s lexicon and say it’s “algebraic” (which I suppose is slightly more complicated than Reboot’s “alphanumeric”?)  If you haven’t already taken a look at this show, I think it is totally worth it for this reason alone (the amounts of insane humor and ‘I can’t believe they got that past the censors’ moments always helps too. Reminds me of the stuff they got away with on Animaniacs sometimes.)

Adventure Time with Finn & Jake is currently premiering new episodes on Cartoon Networks Monday Comedy block at 8pm, with reruns throughout the week.