Love is in the air in “The Key to Paradise”, as Yavalla’s plans become clearer and Tobin has to make a tough decision to save his queen.
This recap of The Outpost season 3, episode 4, “The Key to Paradise”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
You’ll recall that in the cliffhanger of last week’s episode, Yavalla transferred half of her newly-acquired kinj into Gwynn, which had a kind of mind-melt effect and brought the good queen under Blackblood sway. “The Key to Paradise” makes the effects of this obvious immediately, as Gwynn swans into the pub making it abundantly clear that she’s not herself (Janzo and Talon assume she’s drunk). When she inquires about Garret’s location, we see a white-eyed Yavalla puppeteering her directly, literally speaking the words aloud as they come out of her mouth. Talon, rather inexplicably given Gwynn’s behavior, tells her he’s hiding out in the sewers at the Mistress’s old colipsum farm.
Speaking of the Mistress, Tobin and Munt meet with her sister Gertrusha to explain the Outpost’s current predicament, obviously not knowing that “peace” had been brokered now. While there, Tobin runs into Falista (Georgia May Foote), who has inherited all of her late husband’s wealth and lands and is now, conveniently, free to wed again. She and Tobin have a long-standing history and she’s confident that, despite being betrothed, he’ll come around to her point of view. Given what we know about Tobin, that’s a possibility we must consider.
On the subject of romance, Janzo and Wren discuss the biological, epidemiological, or chemical problems with humans and Blackbloods “cohabiting” closely. Janzo thinks they’re more or less the same species, besides the ears and the blood and kinjes, right down to the reproductive organs. Wren is curious about that last bit specifically, which makes Janzo predictably nervous. “I kissed Talon once!” He blurts out. “She’s a Blackblood.” Can’t say I have much confidence in Janzo’s wooing abilities, but he’s getting there.
Elsewhere, Gertrusha informs Tobin that Falista has a large — at least 2000 strong — army in range of the Outpost, but she won’t loan it to him — she’ll only merge it with his if they marry, which Tobin is dead-set against. He loves Gwynn, earnestly, and a marriage — even one of political convenience — is a betrayal of that.
On the subject of betrayals, Yavalla sends some Blackblood goons to retrieve Garret from the sewers. Luckily, he was smooching Talon at the time, so they have a good chance of fighting them off, even if their choice of hostages leaves a little to be desired (they grab the two Blackbloods who aren’t Blackfist, meaning the others are happy to just stab them.) A quick, slightly over-edited fight kicks off, and our heroes are victorious, but they realize that Gwynn has ratted them out.
Talon naturally confronts Gwynn, who plays dumb. Talon is inclined to believe her, but she winces in pain from the kinj as we see Yavalla hijack her mind and start feeding her lines. This is clearly giving away that Gwynn is under someone else’s sway, but whether Talon will put that together is anyone’s guess.
In the meanwhile, we get a little background for Tobin, Falista, and their childhood fling, including her marriage to the now-deceased Lord Relman. Tobin’s affection for her at the time seemed genuine, and her ceasing their relationship for her marriage obviously wounded him. Now, though, both her husband and her domineering father are dead, and she knows that Tobin needs her army. Even though she assumes Tobin married Gwynn in an attempt to be king, she isn’t exactly swayed by his claims that their relationship is genuine.
We also learn a little bit more about Yavalla’s kinj — apparently, it’s contagious. Gwynn passes it on to Sammy with the urging to “spread her gift to others”. Yavalla’s plan for a supposedly “peaceful” rule is really starting to come together here in The Outpost season 3, episode 4.
Speaking of coming together, Wren proposes to Janzo that they should conduct the human and Blackblood interspecies sexual relationship experiment, which Janzo is totally up for: “I love science!” Looks like I was wrong about his wooing ability. Fair play.
There’s romance everywhere in “The Key to Paradise”. It seems like Falista isn’t just lusting after Tobin — she’s genuinely in love with him and is horrified at the prospect of their relationship becoming transactional. She won’t give him her army unless he marries her, and she’s happy to marry him even knowing that it isn’t what he wants. She believes that spending time with her will rekindle his old feelings, and she’s adamant that if he loves Gwynn as much as he says, he’ll give her up. Rich people, eh?
Tobin discusses his options with Munt, who, albeit inadvertently, convinces him that Gwynn’s safety is more important than his happiness. It looks like marriage might be on the cards after all.
Back at the Outpost, Yavalla goes to see Talon, ostensibly to pass on “wisdom” in the form of “truth, about everything.” She’s going to pass her kinj on to Talon, who has figured out it doesn’t exactly do as she said. Yavalla tries, but fails — seems the kinj won’t work on someone who already has one, and the attempt will surely allow Talon to figure out what’s going on with Gwynn. Yavalla passes the kinj onto one of her guards instead.
Zed is getting suspicious too, but he’s more inclined to fall for Yavalla’s grandiose excuses for not having already transported them to paradise, given that’s what she claimed the kinj did. She admits to being wrong about paradise being a place and instead claims it’s within themselves, which is apparently all Zed needs to hear for now.
Janzo, in his post-coital glow, is a bit more receptive to the news — delivered by Talon — that Yavalla’s kinj reproduces, and Garret, making his escape, witnesses Sammy pass on the kinj to another Blackblood, though obviously isn’t aware of the context yet. He promptly meets with Talon and Janzo, reporting what he’s seen, which only confirms what Talon was saying. Garret’s first impulse is to stop Gwynn getting “infected”, so to speak, but Talon tells him that it might be too late. Janzo theorizes — admirably accurately, all things considered — about how the kinj works and that Yavalla is ultimately controlling those who have it.
Anyway, the wedding. Tobin requests a cliff’s notes version, but it occurs nonetheless, much to Tobin’s obvious dismay. It’s hardly the most romantic union I’ve seen, but needs must, I suppose. Nevertheless, he gets his wedding present: An army to save his — sorry, their — Queen. He sets out for the rescue, but Falista reminds him not to forget the vow he made in front of the Gods and all those witnesses.
Meanwhile, Talon and Janzo confide in Zed, their only other potential ally. He isn’t exactly receptive to the news that Yavalla is infecting the population of the Outpost with a magical hive-mind control kinj, but he has a kinj of his own, so he can’t be controlled by her. Believing all this talk to be heresy, Zed tries to leave, but he’s held at swordpoint by Garret, who convinces him to sit down and hear them out.
Zed might be immune to the infection, but Wren isn’t, and Yavalla isn’t exactly subtle about her strange behavior in attempting to pass her kinj on. Her attempt to infect Wren fails — she kicks her in the shin during the transference and then legs it to Talon, Garret, Janzo, and Zed, the latter of whom is convinced by this new revelation. He’s dismayed, but can clearly see the truth of the matter.
Just then, Tobin arrives with his army. Yavalla instructs Gwynn to go to him and “give him the gift”. The others, watching from the ramparts, figure out what’s going to happen, so set off to intervene. Gwynn hugs Tobin, laying out her plans to merge their armies so that Yavalla can take the capital and overthrow the Three, and Garret holds Talon back from interfering. At this point, all she’d do is expose them. “The Key to Paradise” ends with us unsure of whether Gwynn has passed the kinj to Tobin, but with a much better idea of what Yavalla has planned for the future.
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