I see a lot of meta talking about how the John Verses are John telling the story of the leadup to the apocalypse with the most sympathetic biased self-justifying gloss to make it sound like nothing was his fault, and I guess that's why so many readings go for a hardline worst-faith interpretation of them, but.... I don't really see it.
When he tells about how he murdered everyone who had a gun, he could have played up the self-defense angle. He could have claimed he was scared, and he did it to protect everyone. He could have emphasized that he was killing cops, instead of emphasizing the civilians. He could have stuck with the story he told at the time, that he freaked out and made a mistake and hadn't meant to kill them all. He doesn't. He admits to mass murder, and he admits to having done it because he was angry. And he admits to still not regretting it one bit.
The story John tells just doesn't paint him in the best possible light. He does include all of the justifications he used at the time, he does explain why on earth any of this ever seemed like a good idea to anyone, and he does want to be understood, but he doesn't really try to sell it as having been right.
I really don't see the verse chapters as being John's justification. They're his confession. That's why they feel so good to condemn.
“Red book cover, red book cover.”
You know the book that Flint’s reading in the fort cell in 4x05? The red one that resembles his beloved copy of Meditations? This one?
It’s not Meditations. It’s The Pilgrim’s Progress…
… which, for anyone unaware, is a famous Christian allegory written by Puritan preacher John Bunyan in the 1600s, which sets out a prescription for how one ought to seek and attain salvation from a Puritan perspective (the only correct one according to them).
It stands in complete opposition to Thomas’ “know no shame” inscription in Meditations, encouraging its readers to feel ashamed about everything they do that might divert them from the straight and narrow. It also opposes Miranda’s assertion that “true love shouldn’t require suffering,” being very much on the “the truest form of love, love through suffering,” side of things.
Which brings us to Flint. According to Miranda in 2x05, Flint’s being driven to fight against England is, in part, a result of his shame. She perceives this shame to be that which Civilization’s judgements have burdened him with but Flint himself suggests that his shame is also the result of guilt over having not tried to save Thomas when he had the chance.
This is interesting because, though I do believe that Flint has largely made peace with himself by season four and has found a greater cause to fight for overall (which are not insignificant things, I want to be clear), it’s also true that he says to Silver in 4x04: “I think if [Thomas] knew how close we were to the victory he gave his life to achieve, he wouldn't want me to [give it up],” suggesting that Thomas’ death is still hanging over him in a way that’s honestly not that dissimilar to how he started out. There’s still a shame-based aspect to his desire to fight in the sense of “I can’t give up this war because Thomas (and now Miranda too) died for this.”
All of this could easily be said to parallel the protagonist of The Pilgrim’s Progress being driven to undertake a perilous journey in order to rid himself of his burden of shame and finally find peace at the end of it all.
According to the Puritan teachings espoused in the book, believing that you are inherently unclean and sinful is paramount to your salvation so, in other words, shame is good and necessary. As I said, this is the complete opposite of the Hamiltons’ beliefs, but it aligns pretty well with the ideas that Oglethorpe professes at the beginning of 4x10 about how “human debris” such as Thomas and Flint are “anathema to the Empire” and how they “must cease to be… to be able to find peace.”
Plenty of people have pointed out that Oglethorpe’s prison plantation can be viewed as a metaphorical afterlife which Flint enters into at the end of the show (through a gate even, just like the entrance into Heaven), but I’d also like to highlight his having to walk down a literal straight and narrow path—again, like the protagonist of The Pilgrim’s Progress—in order to finally reunite with Thomas.
So, with all that being said, the message behind Flint reading this particular book in 4x05 seems twofold to me:
1. Despite doing his best to follow Thomas and Miranda’s example and cast off his shame, shame is still something that Flint is very much burdened by and which still influences his desire to fight against England, even into season four.
2. Silver’s orchestrating Flint’s being sent to the plantation in Savannah and reunited with Thomas aligns with the “happy ending” of The Pilgrim’s Progress, freeing him from his shame and allowing him to find the peace he sought at last. And yet, with the plantation itself being upheld by shame, by the idea that men like Thomas and Flint deserve to be cast out of Civilization, is this really the kind of ““peace”” that Flint wanted for himself? Can imprisoning him for life in such a place truly be said to be “freeing” him from anything?
By having this particular copy of The Pilgrim’s Progress superficially resemble Meditations despite it being a book whose values are entirely opposite from Thomas’ core tenant “know no shame,” the show presents us with a “fruit, fruit. tits, tits.” commentary on its own ending: Silver’s solution might look like a happy ending for Flint at first glance, but, in reality, it promotes shame rather than eliminating it.
I’m sure you wanted to kill him. I’m glad you held back.
[ID: 9 gifs of yoo ji-tae as choi kang-woo and woo do-hwan as kim min-joon in “mad dog”. 3 scenes are interwoven, one of them in black & white and framing the gifset in the beginning, middle, and at the end. in it kang-woo tells his friend park moo-shin: “i was dying to kill him. i wanted to kill him. but min-joon suddenly called my name, saying: ‘mr. choi, let’s stop this.’ and when he said that, i saw mi-sook’s and joo-won’s face on his face.” the two remaining scenes are in full color, showing examples of min-joon stopping kang-woo: in the first one, min-joon holds kang-woo’s fist, the latter turning to him angrily and shouting: “let go, you punk!” but min-joon only looks at him with soulful, pleading eyes, telling him to “stop”. kang-woo looks back at him, stunned, face twitching as the words finally get through to him. in the second one, kang-woo is about to strangle someone to death, but min-joon shouts through the gap of a door locked by a chain: “don’t kill him! don’t! you can’t become a murderer!” kang-woo seems to snap out of it then, letting go of his unconscious victim. /end ID]
the untamed is very much about credibility, credulity, gaps, bias, spin. it's about assuming you have all the information when you only have a fraction and you don't even fully understand the information you do have. it's about making judgments and decisions based on incomplete data and unreliable sources.
and i don't just mean for the characters in-universe - the show itself plays upon the viewer's expectations and assumptions and often points out to the viewer that it is doing so. the very first & second scenes lay this out for us - some of it we don't realize until a later episode when we see a different shot of jiang cheng on the cliff, but even from the first episode we know this much: that the guy telling the younger generation (and us) the story of the yiling laozu is being paid to do so by some mysterious figure lurking in the shadows. we don't know who's paying him yet, or for what purpose, but we know there is something we don't know! we know there is some motivation behind the story as it is being told to us that is hidden. so from the very beginning we're being reminded to be skeptical about the sources of information available to us.
this is subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) reinforced throughout the series (by the whole Empathy flashback sequence, for one major example - but also see my tags that i didn't even notice the discrepancies between the two versions of these scenes because they happened so far apart in the show) and really hammered home by the last episode, when we finally learn a piece of information about jiang cheng's core loss that we didn't even know we were missing. if we didn't know we were missing something that big, what else could we be missing?
i think this is a show that rewards you for paying attention, for catching the empty spaces, and for questioning everything you're shown and told. that makes talking about the "canon" of the untamed very interesting. any show (or book or movie etc.) is not just the things that happen in the show (the plot) but also the way in which they are communicated to us, and that includes the way in which other things are not communicated to us at all. so it's interesting to me to see people say that something isn't canon as a way to argue that it didn't happen. so we didn't see it happen - does that mean it couldn't have happened? for that matter, just because we saw something doesn't necessarily mean it did happen! if you only want to talk about things that are shown on screen, that's fine, but i think the show itself makes a pretty strong argument for not doing that. so it's not canon - so we can't prove that it happened - is that really the most interesting and fruitful way to engage with this story? when the story itself is about misinformation and assumptions and doubt and lies, and when the way in which it is told reminds the audience that those themes are also playing out between the show and the viewer?
BEYOND EVIL (2021) + Ocean Vuong quotes
for @petekaos 💛💙
RAHUL !!!!! this will be only half a surprise i think, i’m sure you got that i was giffing beyond evil from what i said skdsnd but i really think the quotes will be a surprise eheh anyway time to get sappy ! damn it’s been 2 years already. when people say time flies they really mean it!! honestly these 2 years have been some of the happiest of my life overall, despite the bad and the ugly, and a huge part of it is that i got to go through them with you alongside me :’) you’ve been with me through thick and thin, we’ve laughed so much together, made dumb jokes, shared so many passions and brainrots, been homophobic towards mek’s 2022 costars together (JK!!!) and also we’ve supported each other in everything. i know i tell you all the time, but i’ll never stop saying it: i love you!!!! you are such a kind, funny, sweet, talented, supportive, fantastic person. i never get tired of talking to you, if anything when we don’t talk for a bit i miss you a lot. you’re my best friend and honestly i couldn’t ask for a better best friend like absolutely no one could fill in this role but you !! sure, maybe someone else wouldn’t tease me about pigeons (🙄) but we’re bonded by that pigeon shit so 🥰 i think i’ll never have the proper words to tell you how much you mean to me, but i hope i’ve somehow showed it to you in these two years and i hope i get so many more chances to in the future. here’s to many many more years of getting anons about our friendship 💙💛 love you so much !!!!!!!!
i am absolutely obsessed with your alpha dave because you just hit that itch for me when it comes to the idea of guardians being the worst version of what their kid version could become. i've always wondered that, if the alpha guardians had the same concept the beta guardians did, how would they be-- especially dave, cause the striders relationships with their guardians are always so like. volatile? just the idea of dave growing up with no one to give him proper attention or care or love, (1/2)
and instead of bettering himself he just turns to the constant attention and eyes of the public when he becomes famous, because he NEEDS attention, he needs people to want him and crave him and look up to him and shit. and alpha dave just going down this spiral of doing more and more wack shit to get the public's attention, doing hard drugs with nasty circles he shouldn't be getting himself in, cause he's constantly chasing after the euphoria of people "loving" him. thats all thank you for listening to me go on and on like a maniac. tldr alpha dave being the worst version of who dave can be is an idea i am absolutely obsessed with partially due to your interpretations of him. ur art and ideas are stellar about the striders (2/2)
oh my god I love you. yes this very much how i envision alpha dave to be and it really falls into my stringent devotion to the concept of "universal karma" i.e. where beta dirk strider was so aloof and in his own head alpha dave strider must exist as an extreme direct inverse of that. needy, demanding, overbearing. this man, much like beta dirk, was not built to be a guardian. I think he kind of sucks super bad and it's so awesome. i could go on and on and on about this but I already have another ask in my drafts about him that’s hit 1k words with no end in sight and who knows when that’ll be ready. thank you for your kind observations. picture me smiling at you right now.