Silence is both golden and dangerous in the penultimate episode of See’s first season (“The Lavender Road”), which involves its heroes discovering the colorful pathway to Jerlamarel and his House of Enlightenment. For Baba and company, as well as their royal adversaries, staying quiet is a way to protect themselves and their comrades — but it also comes at a potentially terrible cost.
From the opening sight of Tamacti Jun torturing one of the two Shadows that had infiltrated his camp in order to bring word about Queen Kane’s imprisonment (the other one lies dead nearby), it’s clear that Maghra has agreed to watch over Boots, and that in return, he’s delivered these messengers to her men. Tamacti Jun commends the Shadow on her ability to stay quiet during her ordeal. Alas, lest she think her fortitude will make him reconsider his brutal information-gathering work, he quickly dissuades her of any such notion.
Having gained intel about Kane’s whereabouts, Tamacti Jun reports back to Maghra and Boots, revealing that he knows Boots has the power of sight and isn’t Maghra’s offspring. “You deserved more than that,” he opines, revealing a compassion for her that’ll again manifest itself later on. Tamacti Jun explains that he doesn’t trust Boots, which Maghra dismisses; as the daughter of the king, she is now his protector. As if that doesn’t make things heated enough, Tamacti Jun wants to take his army and retrieve Kane, but Maghra objects, because her family has yet to be found. During their argument, Boots rises up to confront Tamacti Jun, at which point the Witchfinder General warns him, “Boy, I have forgotten more about killing than you will ever know. If you think because you have sight that that will even the odds between us, think again.”
Maghra recognizes this is true and has Boots stand down. Tamacti Jun refuses to let Maghra stay behind because if Kane is dead, she’s the only royal figure standing between status-quo rule and chaos. He compromises by agreeing to leave behind a handful of soldiers to watch out for her clan.
On their way to Cutter’s stronghold, Maghra tells the Witchfinder General that Kane was just like her mother, and as a result, once her mom passed away, being near Kane was like “mourning my mother all over again.” If Kane was an unpleasant presence in Maghra’s life, she’s likewise a pain in the you-know-where for Cutter, who has her beaten for every bell-jingling movement she makes, all as he questions her about the fabled stories of her cruelty: killing lovers for snoring in their sleep, and severing the tongues of young maidens who didn’t please her quickly enough. Ever defiant, Kane keeps her mouth shut — including when Cutter inquires about the lover who broke her heart and left her (I guess everyone knows about Jerlamarel!).
Baba, Paris, Haniwa, Kofun, and Bow Lion continue trekking through the snowy wilderness. Recognizing that there’s still tension between father and daughter thanks to the latter’s decision to trust Boots — which ended in betrayal — Paris counsels Haniwa, “Break this silence while you still can.” They soon arrive at a grassy camping spot, where, in the distance, Baba senses — and Kofun sees — the Lavender Road, which stands out against the otherwise bleak landscape and points the way to Jerlamarel’s encampment.
After some time on the Lavender Road, Baba and his fellow travelers rest for the night. Discussing what lies ahead, Kofun tells his sister to manage her expectations about Jerlamarel, since their mom didn’t want this for them. Haniwa counters by questioning why Maghra was so opposed to their meeting Jerlamarel, especially since she obviously loved him. Doubts about their would-be savior daddy remain as strong as ever (set, ominously, to thunder rumbling in the distance), thereby amplifying anticipation for their inevitable face-to-face with the mysterious man.
Baba’s earlier coughing is, we learn from his conversation with Paris, a symptom of a larger malaise he’s hiding from his kids. He’s also convinced he needs to give his son and daughter the space they need, and to make sure they know they’re not alone — a tactic that Paris herself used with Baba years earlier. Paris accepts this, although it doesn’t seem to completely alleviate her concern that Haniwa is holding onto something scary that she can’t quite give voice to at the moment.
Marching once more, the troupe encounters a gruesome roadblock of impaled corpses. Kofun reads a message found there: “A new world lies beyond. A new god resides within. Enter, and be seen. Enter, and be judged. Enter, and find death.” This makes Haniwa and Kofun fear that Jerlamarel has lost his mind. Paris and Baba surmise (with what seems like a bit of wishful thinking) that it’s just a tactic to scare away would-be intruders. They proceed forward.
Before we see what awaits them on the other side of this gory monument, See takes us to Cutter’s silk operation, where Tamacti Jun stealthily infiltrates the compound, takes out the guards, and rescues Kane. He’s aided in his mission by Kane herself, who strangles Cutter to death — all as Cora, who was apparently on Kane’s side, chooses not to interfere. Cradling his beloved monarch, Tamacti Jun has Maghra approach, but their hand-to-hand reunion, fraught with complicated emotions (betrayal, resentment, fury), is short-lived, as Maghra retreats.
No sooner has Maghra withdrawn from her sister, however, than Kane is explaining how she landed in this predicament — namely, that her enemies moved against her, and that she could either let this heresy stand or commit one of her own. She opted for the latter, telling Tamacti Jun that Kanzua is gone, and that she always resented her rule being predicated on the “whims of machines beneath them.” Instead, she wants to “be queen because I am.” Now, she plans to propagate a new myth: that the Gods destroyed the dam in a rage, killing all the heretics but sparing her, the chosen one.
Tamacti Jun is horrified to hear he’ll have to tell his soldiers that, following two decades in the wild committing atrocities, they have no homes or families to which to return. When Kane reminds him that they’re actually her men, and that they’ll do as they’re told because she’s their queen, he responds by stating — as the camera pans to Maghra — “I think, for the first time in a long time, that’s something we should reconsider.”
With a transfer of royal power now a distinct possibility, the show shifts its attention to Baba, who rightly deduces that a lush mountain path is a death trap. Assisted by Kofun, he pinpoints the position of three archers and takes one out with a mighty throw of his staff. This compels Bow Lion to silently retrieve the fallen enemy’s weapons, but a small noise ends with her taking an arrow to the leg. Now on the brink of hostilities, a distant man materializes and tells them that there is one rule here, and it’s that “only Kofun and Haniwa may cross” the bridge to the House of Enlightenment.
Despite Kofun’s protestations, Baba tells his kids that this is the inevitable moment when he must let them forge their own path. Their sad farewell is followed by Paris’ equally melancholy goodbye, during which she cautions them to be on their guard, because “the gift of sight can be blinding” — and that Jerlamarel is not a god.
Haniwa and Kofun thus make their way across the bridge at night, where they’re greeted by a bank of binding electric lights. It’s a portentous start to their new adventure, although they’re not really alone, as Baba and Paris have secretly agreed to stay close by, because as Baba says, “I have nowhere else to be.”
- Jerlamarel is supposedly creating a new world that’s only accessible to those who have sight, and yet his archers are blind — consequently calling into question what kind of kingdom he’s really fashioning.
- Cutter’s demise is so easily achieved, it begs the question: why didn’t he hire more security to protect his prized possession (Kane)?
- It’s nice that Bow Lion is finally given something to do in this episode, even if she still feels like a frustratingly peripheral player in these proceedings.
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