So, maybe this is bad of me, but I am SO glad that someone finally tried to kill Tess. Thank you, Joel Derfner.
We needed this. Oh, we didn't want it to succeed -- and I'm hoping Florian gets removed from the picture, and I suspect that if and when it happens, the talented authors of Tremontaine will twist the knife and make us regret it. But, we needed this.
From the moment we're told that Tess has two weeks to get a protector, there's... well, it's not a gun on the mantel, not yet. But, there's a contract, not just among Riversiders. No, as Ada Palmer explained at ChessieCon, authors make contracts with readers. And this contract says that, in Riverside, people without protectors will have people trying to kill them.
And in season one, that's not a problem. Tess gets a protector, and Kaab is wise enough to ensure that this is a protector far more qualified than she is. And she works to learn the sword, theoretically in return for teaching Vincent the dagger (something we never see her doing).
Then, we get to season two, and we are reminded of this contract. Florian and Shade menace Tess, which they should not do because Tess _has_ a protector. And that protector should menace them right back. That's what a protector is for, right?
And, Vincent doesn't do this. Maybe he doesn't take them that seriously. Okay, maybe he doesn't need to take them that seriously. But, he's not around for Tess -- he hands off the job of protecting Tess to Kaab.
Now, I've already ranted about that at length, so we'll skip that. Kaab is now Tess's protector, and Florian and Shade pretty much just about hold their own against her, so she doesn't totally suck at the job.
Mind, she isn't _good_ at it. Tess realizes the implication of Kaab leaving them alive after her confrontation -- a confrontation which isn't about Tess, and a confrontation whose aftermath leads to Kaab no longer being Tess's protector.
And again, I've ranted about what led up to that, but that's not important here. What's important is this: Tess does not have a protector.
Furthermore, Tess has been menaced by Florian and Shade. There is nothing standing between her and them.
All right. According to the contract the authors have made with the readers, this means that there should be some attempt to coerce Tess into acting as they wish, and of harming her if she refuses.
And, there isn't. Instead, Tess rallies Riverside around her, banishes Florian, and makes Shade choose Riverside over his lover and -- hey, guess what? Maybe she didn't need a protector after all!
Er... maybe? This left me somewhat dissatisfied.
And then season three opened well, with, among many other things, Shade wondering just who was protecting Tess the Hand these days.
Yes! Follow through! Consequences from last season! No one is protecting Tess, and Shade has every reason to want to harm her.
Great! I thought, and also About time! We're going to see that gun go off.
Only, we didn't. The Siege of Riverside and The Bridge were wonderful, devastating episodes, but at the end of them, I felt let down in this one thing.
Nope, Big Bad Shade -- and I'm not being cute here; he's genuinely terrifying -- is dead and no way, no how is he hurting Tess.
But, Florian knew Shade was dead. "Help me, Florian LaRue," I thought. "You're my last hope!"
So, yes, the scene between Kaab and Tess was wonderful, perfect, heartbreaking -- but for me, what I needed, more than anything else in that episode, was that gun on the mantel to finally go off, for someone to finally try to kill a Riversider who had no protector.
According to every rule in Riverside, this is legitimate.
This was the third time we've been told how important it is to have a protector, if you're not one yourself.
We needed this.
Sure, we also needed Reza there to stop it. And yes, there will be consequences for it.
And yes, this plays into one of the themes of this season, that there's no real safety guaranteed by any space or time or rule. You have to make your own safety.
And yes, that's what Tess is working on, whether she realizes it or not -- making her own safety, not just for herself, but for Riverside, and for her, Riverside means the people in Riverside, her family, as she told Kaab. All of this is fine.
But I needed that gun to go off. I needed someone to follow through on the promise that people like Tess who did not have protectors were vulnerable to assassins.
Thank you, Joel Derfner.