1477: Heroes and Villains – Chapter Three, Part OnePosted: July 20, 2016
Title: Heroes and Villains
Author: Horrible’s Igor
Media: Television / Movies
Topic: Buffy: The Vampire Slayer / Kitchen Sink
URL: Heroes and Villains
Critiqued by TacoMagic and Eliza
Welcome back to Wednesday, patrons. With me again as co-host is Eliza!
“I’m so excited! This week I get to play with the sledgehammer!”
Yeah, the text gets seriously wall-y today, so there is going to be a lot of demolition work for everyone. Anyway, last time we had a visit with Olaf who was uncharacteristically melodramatic for a good portion of his appearance. Before that, however, he managed to not only get lost in space but also time as he ended up pre-collapse Sunnydale instead of Yosemite Park. After visiting many of the local … places, he has a broody psychic-ish conversation with himself/Elsa where he/she tells himself that (s)he’s better off without him or herself.
“You’re making my brain hurt.”
Mine isn’t feeling so hot either. At the end of the chapter Olaf tries to shake off his massively out of character moment in favor of seeing some sights. And possibly shopping if he’s got money, which he may or may not have since nothing has really been established.
Meanwhile, we start this chapter off back at Willow’s Secret Volcano Lair.
The next afternoon, the doctors told Willow that she could finally take that giant bandage of off her eye, switching to an at-all-times eyepatch.
‘Finally?’ It’s been like three days! She should be in a bandage for at least another two weeks!
“Those at-all-times eyepatches are really stifling. I prefer my special-occasions and Sunday-best eyepatches.”
When questioned about whether it would be necessary, they merely scoffed, because they just knew that that eye was blinded for good.
Huh, Willow had the forethought of hiring asshole doctors for her evil organization. Now that’s just good planning.
“Why does she need an eyepatch if the eye is blinded. Sure it’s gross and stuff, but maybe she could rock the evil one-bad-eye look.”
I think Twoface patented that look.
“Dodging royalty fees by using an eyepatch!? Diabolical!”
It wouldn’t be fully healed by any stretch, they warned her, so she had to be careful about not putting any pressure on it, otherwise the wound might open again.
“Then why take the bandage off if it isn’t healed!?”
When she asked how bad it would look, they had all shifted around uncomfortably before the anaesthesiologist had said, “It won’t look pretty.”
“Are they squeamish, or are they afraid she’ll kill them if she can’t be pretty?”
A wise man once said that life isn’t worth living if you can’t be beautiful.
“I don’t think Howl can be considered a wise man.”
She’d grinned at that- she’d highly doubted that it would anyways, but sometimes it was just a tiny bit funny to watch them squirm and try to figure out how to phrase it gently, as if their jobs were on the line.
If they’re only worried about their jobs, then you’re failing as a villainous employer.
“Unless you’re Crunchy.”
He’s like the Costco of evil employment. The job security is second-to-none, provided you survive to see another day.
She may have been evil, but she wasn’t going to fire anybody over sugarcoating.
Author, don’t make me take away your italicizing privileges.
Same formula- empty box or free knife.
“I’ll take the box! Box forts are amazing!”
So she went to her room, sitting down in front of the small double-sided flip-mirror on her dresser and began the crusade every person who ever has needed a Band-Aid has undergone: getting the darn thing off as painlessly as possible.
“The doctors used a Band-Aid on a wound that left her blind in one eye?”
Told you the doctors were assholes.
Of course, this is impossible to do painlessly. Band-Aid karma, so to speak.
That doesn’t make any sense.
“The band-aid karma, or the tense?”
She began picking at the upper-left corner, trying to loosen the adhesive enough to grab the flap and gently peel the entire bandage off.
Fucking hell, author, are you really going to make us sit here and read about her taking off a bandage!? Pacing, who needs it, right!?
But, yes, the author does devote an entire paragraph to Willow removing the bandage. I won’t make you guys read it because it’s as boring as it is pointless.
She took another few seconds to pull herself together, then opened her eye and looked in the mirror at her face. Her new, horrifyingly marred face.
“Are we about to get scar porn?”
Quick! Barricade the door and turn the lights off! If Swenia catches wind of this, the entire Society of Lechery will be in here!
“Nah, I’ve got this.” *Eliza fiddles with her phone a bit* “There, done!”
The heck did you-
“I just released the location of my secret stash of Yaoi fanfiction. You know, within a few dozen miles or so. That should keep them busy.”
The slash travelled from the far corner of her left eyebrow to just above her upper lip and a bit to the left of her nose, going straight through her left eye- or what was left of it.
“I wouldn’t call that horrifyingly marred. A scar like that would give her face character.”
Certainly more character than anyone in the fic has.
Where her eye should’ve been, there was a blackened, bloody mess, her eyelids forced shut and covered in clotted blood, and the nastiest black eye she’d ever had surrounding the scar. Positively hideous.
Kinda gross, but not really that bad. I’ve seen a hell of a lot worse, honestly.
“Oversell in three… two…”
It would be impossible for anybody who looked at it not to wince.
“There it is.”
Don’t tell the audience what they should think! You need to build the scene so that they feel those things without prompts!
She frowned, looking at the wound with mild concern, which, considering how one would normally react to such a mark, was being oddly okay with the fact that her eye had been put out, but she had good reason.
Upgrading the bark?
“I thought I’d bring in some variety.”
With magic positively crackling underneath her fingertips, it would be a cinch to heal the thing.
When we made that same point, it was a joke. I’m not sure what you’re going for, though. Trying to make the character look stupid?
She’d only gotten it dressed and bandaged because for some reason her magic was finicky at the moment, but a little experimentation earlier seemed to assert its return.
“Translation: Because blue.”
Not necessarily. It’s also possible the author realized that he made a mistake earlier and is trying to apply a quick-fix rather than going back and changing things.
“Or coming up with something plausible.”
Nah, plausible explanations require you to have thought your plot through before you start to write.
So she confidently raised her arm and waved her hand over the wound, feeling a surge of heat in her hand as it healed the scar.
You don’t heal a scar! A scar is a wound that has already healed with connective tissue! And it shouldn’t be a scar this quickly, and you even described it as a freaking wound! Why do authors keep screwing this simple concept up!? GAH!
She felt the edges tingle a little, and she almost began to smile- until she saw the mirror again after the split-second disruption her hand caused to find that it hadn’t worked.
*Tilts head* “The heck does that sentence mean?”
I think the author just redacted the sentence where he stated that the magic “healed the the scar.” Something about a disruption caused by a hand.
“Why thank you, Thing!”
Her frown deepened. She knew for a fact her magic was back at 100%.
All evidence to the contrary.
“Willow must not realize that she’s trying to magic away the plot. That never works.”
She tried again, the heat in her hand and tingling returning, but nothing concrete happened.
This is why you don’t try to pave your face.
“At least she didn’t try to use asphalt.”
Oof, yeah, that would have been bad.
Her confidence wavered- if she couldn’t heal it…
Then the contrived plot will have won.
“Don’t let it win, girl!”
She rapidly waved her hand over her face, forcing the magic out- and it didn’t work. It did. Not. Work.
*Eliza and Taco turn and look expectantly at the door*
“Hold on.” *Eliza messes with her phone for a bit.* “Apparently the DRD agents are busy. They were contracted by the Sisterhood for Lewd Behavior to help find something.”
Huh, I wonder what they could-
*Eliza tackles Taco out of his chair*
“Yay! It’s hammer time!”
You know what, I’m not going there.
She could barely process it. She was permanently scarred for life. She would be unable to see with her left eye ever again.
“Or at least until the plot allows magic to fix it at just the right moment.”
Shhh! You’ll spoil the surprise!
Lucky Number Three had been extremely so- he had given her a permanent handicap that she could do nothing about, a constant reminder of the one time she failed- that one bad day.
This lucky number thing is starting to grate on me. It was almost kinda cute the first time you did it, but enough is enough. Call him Stan or Frank or something.
“What is this ‘one time’ thing!? Willow’s failed way more than that! And I’m not being negative here. Everyone fails, it’s how learning happens!”
Especially in writing. Speaking of failing:
She would never be able to look in a mirror without remembering that once, she had made an irreparable error, and it had cost her an eye. Rage began to burn in her chest, and her reflection in the mirror shot daggers at her.
You know, I would feel sympathy here if the author hadn’t missed the mark so bad. People who lose body parts often suffer from depression and poor self-image in the aftermath. It’s only natural. However, Willow here is focusing on the fact that she failed, not on the fact that she is missing the eye. So instead of a scene where we’re engaged by the character’s loss, we’re instead getting to watch the character wallow in a kind of self-indulgent pity where they whine about not being perfect.
I mean, yeah, she’s evil, so I guess making it so we can’t relate to her is okay, but look at the size of that text wall! That amount of wallowing is going to get irritating pretty fast.
“Well,” she said calmly- though venom dripped from every letter- bringing down her hand slowly and placing it on the dresser, “It’s seems I’ve got a souvenir.”
“I think this would be more akin to losing your traveler’s checks.”
She took a few deep, mildly quick breaths, still scowling at the mirror.
The hell is a deep and mildly quick breath?
“It’s like how a round pool is deeper in the center but not so much in the bits that aren’t the center.”
The anger boiled up into her head, tinting everything frighteningly red, and suddenly it flashed down her arm, sending her hand towards the mirror. It struck the plastic frame, and the thing went flying, smashing into the wall with a satisfyingly loudCRASH against the wood, the frame cracking in two and falling onto the broken glass with a slightly less satisfying thunk-thunk.
No onomatopoeia in the prose! Also, again the gesture feels hollow and petulant because she’s angry at herself for failing, not about the missing eye.
As the red pulsed in her vision, she buried her head in her hands, trying to hold onto the last thread of sanity left in her- and failed miserably, the burning fury in her head and heart overtaking the cool rationality she depended on to keep things running smoothly and consuming it whole.
Uhh, this is Dark Willow; she’s already thoroughly bonkers. What’s the risk here?
She began to giggle maniacally, almost having an out-of-body experience.
“What does almost having an out-of-body experience feel like?”
Probably a lot like having bad gas but being unable to pass it.
“That poor girl!”
Her movements felt almost like they were being remote-controlled, with only a vague sense of me to remind her that she was completely in control of her body right now.
“She was in complete control, despite almost having no control at all.”
The vague levels are increasing!
She brought down her hands, still cackling madly. “Well how about that,” she laughed, “Little Miss Hair-Trigger gets what’s comin; to her. Can’t count her chickens before they hatch, they’ll claw her eye out if she does!”
Is there anyone in this fucking fic who doesn’t talk derisive nonsense to themselves!?
“Well at least this time the fic is trying not to make any sense.”
Yes, finally the author taps into his natural talent for gibberish. Yay.
Her thoughts began to break down, regressing into simple vibes and directions of mad and wrong and angry.
This isn’t the seventies. They’re called emotions, not vibes.
“But these are vibes with DIRECTION!”
An emotional vector does not a vibe make.
“What did she expect from that? Everything would just go away with a wave of her magic hand? Ha! Doesn’t work that way. She needs to be patient. She can’t have everything! Gotta lose some to get some, and it looks like the price this time ’round is her pretty face!” She broke down into giggles again, the feelings shifting more towards fine and worth it and soon.
“If she degraded to a simple state of emotional vectors, how is she able to form coherent sentences?”
She isn’t forming coherent sentences.
“Ah… But little Willow’s moment’s comin’… She’s gonna get the big guys to come out ‘n play with her. They come out ‘n they can all go out ‘n play some fun games in the field… Always liked a good game… It’s fun to have a big castle to use for playing…” Game. Set-up. How?“Gonna need some things to play with, though… I know what they’ll play with!
I’m starting to think the author has mixed up Dark Willow and Drusilla when writing this part. Drusilla was the crazy one who talked to herself in random and vaguely portentous gibberish. Dark Willow was the one who skinned her enemies alive and tried to end everyone’s pain by destroying the world.
Play with some pretty lights, some shiny guns mayb-” NO! “No!” she shouted, shooting up from her seat and quickly backpedaling into the foot of the bed behind her. “No guns!… She doesn’t like guns…” Evil. Kill. Murderer. “They took her friend away…” Sad… Catalyst… Evil.
For those who haven’t seen the series, Willow’s first serious lover, Tara, was shot and killed during season six. That death kicks off Willow’s full transformation into Dark Willow.
“Tara wasn’t just a friend. Does the gay maybe weird out the author?”
Hard to say, though kinda unlikely given how much lesbian romance is in Willow’s story arc both during and after the show. I think it more likely that the vague is just overtaking the prose.
“Made her what she is… and oh, I don’t like her one bit.” Her gaze fixed on where the mirror was, and though she knew it wasn’t there she could swear it was there but it wasn’t showing her reflection not the way it was anyway it was her but angry and cold and scary and oh…
Is the vague actually becoming a character at this point? It’s like parts of the plot are dissolving into other parts to create a kind of word bouillabaisse.
“You really like that word.”
Always looking for an excuse to use it.
Speaking of word bouillabaisse:
“She scares me…” She began to move away from the hallucination, but dared not look away from it, almost afraid that if she did the evil reflection-not-reflection would come out and attack her and hurt her and hurt her and it was too scary to let her guard down on and “I don’t want to play with her… She’s scary… She makes the game too real… I don’t like it when the game starts to hurt… It’s not fun anymore… And she’ll be back soon, real soon now…” It dawned on her that it didn’t matter if she looked away- she would come back anyway and then everything would be even more not-okay than it already was. She knew what she would do to the poor girl in the palace, and she wanted no part of it.
GAH! The pronouns! *Taco falls to the ground and writhes around*
“Do you need a few minutes, or should we keep going?”
Carry on with it, I’ll just be down here flailing.
“She’s gonna come back and she’s gonna be so mad at me… Can’t have her looking bad in front of her friends…” She could feel it- she was coming. . She couldn’t see her but she was coming back and she would not be happy, no sir, not one bit.
“She knows that she is going to be her and she while her is she!”
GAH! *Writhing intensifies*
“I’m sorry…” she pleaded, “I don’t get much time alone… I like to talk sometimes…” She was close, really close now… “Please, I’m sorry…” Oh god she was here she was here! “I didn’t wanna get you so upset over it!” RUN! RUN! RUN!
Whew, and with that, the scene of ultimate vagueness ends. I have to say, I never thought I’d read a scene that managed to be hammier than Gary Oldman’s career, but here we are. That entire… whatever the hell that was, is probably about the most over-the-top muddle of confusing and vague “story” that I’ve ever read.
But she knew in her heart she couldn’t outrun her.
“Wait, is she talking about GirlWoman!?”
Girlwoman, why!? You were supposed to use your powers of vague for good!
“Isn’t Girlwoman targeting Dark Willow and planning to do naughty things to Elsa?”
You’re right. Carry on, Girlwoman.
She began to cry, covering her face with her hands and folding in on herself, trying to shield herself from the danger impossible to see.
You cannot hide from Girlwoman, evildoer!
“Has Dark Willow actually done anything demonstrably evil, yet?”
You cannot hide from Girlwoman, evilplotter!
As she sat there, she could feel her mind stitching itself back together, back into the brilliant intellect and stone-cold heart that would bring the world to its knees.
Because that’s how mental illness works.
“We need to revoke the author’s italics permit before he hurts himself.”
The voice in her head slowly died, screaming its apologies until it was no louder than a faint whisper.
“Sorry for stealing your brain! Next time I’ll call. Please, give my regards to Aluwyn.”
Slowly, she stopped weeping-
and she took her hands away-
and she was fine.
She’s the Edward Cullen of this fic isn’t she? She’s only going to have these little breaks when it serves to manufacture tension and then get over them just by willing herself to be better, isn’t she?
“No,” she said empathetically, a small pang hitting her heart, “it’s fine.”
*Facepalm* How did you fuck up that metaphor, author!? It’s been around for decades!
“Lucky for all you readers, we hit a line break at this point, which is coincidentally the half-way point of this chapter!”
Yup, until next time, patrons!