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#so there’s really multiple timelines where vision should be alive
thatguymartty · 2 months ago
WandaVision: a Curse more than a spell
Wandavision is the best piece thing marvel and Disney have ever made and likely ever will. I get this sounds a bit dramatic, and also realize I’m a bit late to the party, since, depending on when you’re watching this the first episode of Falcon and the Winter Soldier may have already been out and you, together with the entire world of media-devouring goblins will have moved on to pay attention to the next big thing for a while. But I don’t want to let go off Wandavision quite yet, in fact, I don’t think I ever want to. After thinking about it again and again weeks after its finale I came to a couple conclusions. Wandavision has shown us a glimpse into a very different reality than our own, not just to its characters, and I can only dream about the endless beautiful possibilities inside. Or well, make a video out of it. So, why don’t know join me, and learn it all. In this video we’ll discuss what elevates Wandavision far beyond what the superhero genre is known for, and what makes it all come crashing down. Ensuring that we may never see anything like it ever again.
Before we get to the show itself I think it makes sense to have a bit of a history lesson, and get you up to speed chronologically. Trust me, even if you already know who these characters are what I talk about now will be important later. Both Wanda and Vision first appeared in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The now rather despised sequel l to the first Avengers movie. Wanda’s parents died during the American bombing of their home-country Sokovia, barely surviving together with her brother Pietro out of the sheer luck of a Stark missile not exploding. Fuelling their hatred for Tony Stark and making them later join the terrorist organization Hydra and developing superpowers thanks to the Mind Stone, one of the infinity stones which derive from the big bang and hold the entire power of the universe inside. In the movie, she is first an enemy of the Avengers until she joins them to put an end to Ultron which she is in part responsible for creating, at the cost of the life of her brother. While I still to this day find this movie entertaining, the problems Wanda’s character is introduced with will go on to riddle her for every single forthcoming movie. First and foremost, visually her character is an absolute nightmare and would continue to be just that up until very recently. She wears weird gowns and coats, goth make up, paints her nails black, has hairstyles coming straight from the early 2000s. They probably wanted to convey her youth, sadness, and discontent with the world but fell flat on their face through it. But the more important issues lie below the surface, and they aren’t even necessarily the moviemakers’ fault. The scarlet witch, just like so many other comic book characters is the victim of an era in which writing a backstory meant piling heaps and heaps of traumatic events onto someone without ever wanting to address any of it or think about what It might mean for the character itself. Lest we forget that spiderman was at one point the victim of multiple cases of sexual assault, just because the writers thought that might make him more interesting. Him. Spiderman. Needed to be more interesting. The scarlet witch’s story was never changed back much from this period, so when she was introduced in the MCU, her troubled story stuck. Aside from the fact that a person with the deeply rooted calibre of her trauma should never be made to fight alongside the avengers as what is basically a superpowered soldier and would actually be barely able to function for months being overwhelmed by grief, her identity as a Sokovian is also never given any discernible weight. This is simply because at the time the entire MCU was very much Tony Stark’s story.
So her, and by extension her entire nation of birth were just another gateway to make him feel bad about his past, without any of the real animosity or bite that would stem from such a tense relation. She never gets any real closure with Stark. In fact, with it all just being a superhero movie we need the big, dramatic moments without any tangible consequences. The entire issue at hand gets treated in a handwaved manner with the messages ultimately being: “Yes, Tony’s weapons helped murder thousands in Sokovia, but Wanda was also kinda bit evil once. And she gave the Avengers nightmares. So that’s bad.” The same movie sees the creation of Vision, a being both human and robot with powerful abilities, fuelled by the mind stone (remember that?) implanted in his head. He should have been Ultron’s new body before the upload failed. He is a character both all-knowing and naïve. Both immensely powerful and sugary innocent. Unfortunately, his characterisation spells further doom for the both of them and he doesn’t amount to more than a robot that likes to spew philosophical phrases. Back then, superhero movies were also, let’s face it, mind-numbingly sexist. And Wanda is more or less side-lined to just occasionally give Vision a scared-yet horny look while he displays powers far beyond what we’ve seen at that point. At the end of the movie she gets a painfully cringy scene in witch she rips out the heart of Ultron’s main body in order to make him feel what she felt when he killed her brother. Ugh. Okay so. Ultron is just a machine. As much as Joss Whedon or whoever thought this scene was cool, he doesn’t feel pain. And in fact, this isn’t even Ultron himself. He is an AI capable of inhabiting thousands of bodies at once, at this point in the story he has about tens of other Ultrons flying about the place. It is of course Vision who gets to kill the final remaining body so that they may have pseudo-philosophical exchange on the nature of humanity, this approach essentially ruining the scene for both. Damn. Women really weren’t allowed to have shit back then. Well anyway.
Vision and Wanda grow closer over the span of the next movies and different than the other tragic attempts of romance in the MCU they somehow work really well together. They are an extremely weird couple of course, a living android with the power of an aspect of the universe and a telekinetic east European witch. But there seems to be a mutual understanding between them. They both don’t know neither the limits, nor the nature of their power, and struggle with their identity, loneliness, as well as the fight to preserve the innocence they have left.
It is clear however that the writers, even more than with Vision, have no idea what to do with Wanda. In the comics she is powerful on the scale of actual gods but the MCU needs her to be an inconsequential side-character. So, under the excuse of her simply not knowing how to use her powers she is limited to doing funny hand-motions and oh! Being subjected to further trauma by accidentally blowing a bunch of people up while trying to save others and therefore creating a conflict between heroes that will split up the avengers, weakening them when Thanos attacks. Wanda is then forced to destroy the Mind Stone inside Visions’ head, killing him before Thanos rewinds time and kills him himself in order to retrieve it. She then fights Thanos in the next movie, almost tearing him apart, for the first time displaying powers similar to those in the comics.
That’s the history lesson done, before we move on I want you to keep in mind that Visions death is one of the very few permanent consequences in the MCU, since Loki is getting a TV show this summer, making him the first of what is probably going to be tens of characters dying and coming back to life over the span of multiple timelines and Black Widow got a movie six years ago. What? It’s still not out? *exhale*
WandaVision’s premise then is inherently interesting for MCU fans, the first trailers, just like the start of the series, show us Wanda and Vision living a happy life as a couple in the 950ies. In black and white. As a sitcom. Now if you’re not totally gullible, you’ll soon notice that something is wrong here. Vision, first and foremost, shouldn’t be alive. But the viewer isn’t the only one noticing something weird. Both Wanda and Vision don’t know how they got here, or seem to remember anything before the day they moved to Westview New Jersey. And so the first two episodes are spent on setup, and the shenanigans the couple encounters while trying to hide their powers from the others in order to fit in. Here already I don’t really get the common consensus that these two episodes are boring, because if anything they might be the most well-executed. Every scene in these 20 minute shorts serves a purpose. Either hinting at a perhaps more sinister explanation to the sitcom reality, a characters’ intentions, who is controlling who, where everyone is and what is really going on. If not, there is some great classic sitcom humour to be found. I never laughed out loud but none of the jokes were aggressively bad or unfunny, especially when you look at the more darker implications and references behind them. (My husband and his indestructible head)
The effects are also stellar, and do an amazing job of transmitting the main characters’ powers into how they might’ve been done in old visual effects. All this without ever looking cheap. The homages stay consistently high quality. The entire production always looks expensive and elaborate.
The scenes in which the sitcom reality glitches are genuinely creepy and built up some amazing tension and potential for theories here. Characters seem to be prohibited from questioning the sitcom world and will be violently forced to shut up, scenes will cut abruptly or even be entirely rewound.
What becomes more and more clear is that it at least in part seems to be Wanda’s doing. This entire Tv show a giant distraction from Vision’s untimely passing. We are also introduced to Wanda’s neighbour and dear friend Agnes, as well as new-in-town Geraldine.
By the third episode she is inexplicably pregnant while the passing of time takes us from sitcom era to sitcom era all the while the pregnancy progresses over the span of just one day.
Geraldine helps Wanda deliver her babies while Vision fetches the doctor who was supposed to go on vacation but mentions small towns being simply to hard to escape. After a bone-chilling scene in which Wanda sings in Sokovian to her new-born, and talks to Geraldine in her old accent, the former remembers the real world and mentions the death of Wanda’s brother. The furious Wanda banishes her from Westview by launching her away in one swift motion.
From this point on the show’s structure changes. Thanks to Geraldine, who in reality is Monica Rambeau we can see that WandaVision is merely a fictional TV show emanating from the radiation coming from Westview new jersey where Wanda seems to have created a giant field in which only her sitcom reality can exist.
From this point on the show is full of jaw-dropping surprises, heartfelt emotions, and most importantly, soul. As the world both inside and out tries to make sense of the situation. Crucially, for the first time in Marvel history the characters are finally allowed to come alive. Thanks to WandaVision’s extended runtime, clocking in at over 90 minutes longer than the longest Marvel movie yet, characters are allowed to be confused, misunderstand each other, yell at each other and the hurt they feel is genuinely transmitted by there being consequences and changes in their behaviour. While Monica’s actress, Teyonah Parris, tries desperately to bring superhero bombast to her scenes, that’s never really what the script demands. This series doubles down as her superhero origin story, and while her journey towards it is one of overcoming personal weaknesses, it is far more unique and tied to Wanda’s own journey perfectly.
It is exactly this smaller-scale, more personal approach that makes this series’ impact so much grander. Yes, I knew that what happens here would go onto influence the Marvel universe for years to come, but what really got me hooked is the mystery and the emotions themselves. Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen respectively finally get to show off the acting talents they’ve kept hidden in the MCU for so many years. Olsen especially gives an award-winning performance as Wanda. She will effortlessly switch between sitcom homage, funny banter, silly mother, unbridled grief and even just being plain scary and threatening. Sometimes all in the same scene. Not only does this finally align her with the imposing presence of her comic book counterpart, but it also makes Wanda probably the first morally grey character in the franchise. For the first half of the series she even IS straight up the main villain. Wanda will hurt people and show little to no remorse, blinded by her love for her resurrected husband. This is never taken to such extremes as a show like the boys, which is still the best superhero show ever, does. But it doesn’t have to. It strikes an almost golden spot between the lifeless cynicism of the boys and the bubbly naivete of the MCU. And speaking of oversimplification, the show itself is also very clearly tired of the concept of villains themselves. Yes, towards the end there are people with much more sinister intentions than Wanda’s. But they aren’t monsters. Agnes is revealed to actually be Agatha Harkness, an ancient witch that came to Westview only after Wanda’s supreme display of power and sees her as an extreme danger to all of reality, wanting to first understand Wanda and then drain her of her power. She is mischievous and bitter, but ultimately still sympathetic towards her as she knows how much Wanda has suffered. Then there is Tyler Hayward. While an absolute piece of shit, all he wants to do is secure that Vision’s corpse may not be used as a weapon against America by weaponizing him himself.
So through all of this muddled morality and these multi-faceted characters, WandaVision is spinning a lot of plates, but does so beautifully, every minute of the show is incredibly engaging and nerve-wracking as you truly never know what will happen right around the corner. All of this, again is achieved without a single action-scene up until the very last episode. There are moments of violence but the emotional weight and intension behind them is always prevalent and clearly the reason as to why it is shown, making me not really ever miss the way the MCU handled this before. Especially because the effects are still so amazingly done. Let’s not forget that both Vision’s body and face are heavily edited by effects. And he looks amazing.
In addition to this, the creators are also more brave in the characters they introduce. Wanda’s son Billy, is not only one of the most important and most powerful characters of the Comics, but he is also gay in a way that is relevant to the story, as he and his husband are essential marvel characters. Introducing Wanda’s twin sons therefore locks marvel into a path of inevitably being one day confronted with how they will handle this in countries like china.
WandaVision also introduces the additional element of Evan Peters as Quicksilver, playing Wanda’s brother from another reality. The X-Men movies.
And yet, while of this sounds bonkers, what shines through at the end are the character moments and subtleties in conversations.
This all combined into achieving a near impossible feat: The marvel world feeling alive, vibrant, evolving and engaging.
And with me finally connecting with Wanda on an emotional basis thanks to her finally being able to live and breathe like a real person, for the first time in god knows how long I cried during an episode of a Tv show. In episode 8 the entire weight of Wanda’s trauma and experiences, her crushing grief and loss came not only crashing down on her, but on me as well. This character that hasn’t been done justice in almost 10 years, who has been constantly shoved to the side and subjected to more hurt, had finally come alive in front of my eyes, together with the realization of being the titular scarlet witch. Tears ran down my face at the exact same time she started crying. Everything was put into place for a truly magical finale.
And then, the spell was broken.
Watching the last episode of WandaVision is a truly bizarre experience.
It ot only feels like a completely different show, and also straight up turns into a dragonball Z episode for half it's runtime. Fully equipped with crazy flying-around CGI fights, exaggerated explosions, lasers, teleporting and throwing people through walls.
This not only shoves everything that made the show so great up until that point aside, but also wastes a lot of time meandering around and not getting to the answers to the countless questions swirling around the viewers' heads. Vision and Wanda are both powerful in ways that make them essentially immortal. So seeing them locked in a fight with equally powerful foes unfortunately doesn't do much to engage the viewer.
It doesn't come out of left field. From episode 1 on it was always clear that all this would eventually lead to a conflict more in line with traditional marvel action scenes, and yet....I never thought I'd say this but the fight scenes in this marvel movie feel like a waste of time.
They are spectacular, but since pure spectacle was never the point of the show, it all feels separated from the plot. But while I certainly can excuse pacing issues and forgotten plotlines to a certain degree, after all, there was way too much left to clear up, I can’t excuse how sterilized and all of a sudden soulless the finale feels. I don’t have any insight in the writing process of the show, so all of this is just speculation, but in many ways it seems the writers were given a bunch of toys to play with that they all had to put down again in the last episode in order to appease the corporate overlords.
A great example for what I’m talking about is probably both the worst scene and worst joke in the history of Marvel entertainment. The aforementioned introduction of Quicksilver from the X-Men universe, and no, I’m not here to discuss if it was actually supposed to be him. It clearly was and according to rumours it was changed at some point. Culminates in the reveal of him just being….some guy. Named Ralph Bohner. One of the most interesting and mysterious plotlines is given up for the worst dick-joke I’ve ever heard.
This, unfortunately, sets the tone for what the entire episode is trying to do. The interconnectivity of the marvel universe, the thing me and many others love so much about it, seems to desperately try to choke the life out of WandaVision to normalize events again. It turns out that the military was now able to weaponize the Vision’s corpse thanks to Wanda’s magic which attacks her and her family. However, the Vision Wanda created in her reality restores the others’ memories making him fly off in confusion.
Ugh. Look. This is in line with the comics. In a certain plotline, Vision dies and gets rebuilt in white, without his human side and emotions surviving the transition. But in the MCU this character has now died 3 times. It’s just tiring at this point. It really is. Plus, it fully undermines and sours the entire point of the show: Wanda going through the stages of grief and eventually letting vision go. Next up, instead of giving us hints on what all the characters we actually liked in the show will be up to next, we get a near meaningless end-credits scene teasing Monica’s appearance in Captain Marvel 2. We already knew she’d be there. It’s obvious. What are Darcy Lewis and Jimmy Woo doing? You know, the characters the show made us care about?
Wanda’s kids also disappear together with her husband, for now, at least. While other young Avengers are already getting their own TV shows and movie appearances to set up their team up, the only gay one gets suspiciously fridged until Marvel figures out what to do with him and his brother over the next years. Alright then…
All this might sound harsh to you. Or even nit-picky. And I must admit, I’m not really mad. I just honestly wish the show about Vision’s death didn’t…you know…revive Vision.
The one thing the last episode doesn’t manage to ever drag down is the raw power in Wanda fully embracing her identity as the Scarlet Witch.
As someone who, for years has been exhausted with trying to do the right thing and be a hero while others were terrified and hateful towards her, that relationship is finally strained until it breaks in this show. Wanda is not a hero and she doesn’t want to be. The show, even in the last episode dares to portray her as a dark and resentful human being that mentally tortured and controlled an entire city over the span of weeks. She isn’t heartless, she knows what she did is wrong, but she realizes she doesn’t owe this world explanations and apologies anymore, as her chance to ever get kindness in return has long passed. The last thing Monica Rambeau says to her is especially meaningful: “They’ll never know what you sacrificed for them.”
Indeed, the only chance for a normal life Wanda ever had was the direct cause of unbearable pain to others. This doesn’t change the weight of her sacrifice however, and shows
that even as her power nears that of godhood ever more, she is still capable of empathizing. Where the show deviates from the comics is in Kathryn Hahn’s Agatha. While usually a mentor for Wanda she assumes the role of a more villainous figure, harshly but very usefully introducing Wanda to the world of magic and her prophesized role as the Scarlet Witch, harbinger of chaos. But while at first this new role seems to reduce and oversimplify a rather complex character, it does wonders for the Scarlet Witches’ current position in the story.
A mentor figure only works as an extension of the figure they are mentoring. And at the end of the series, Wanda doesn’t need anymore guidance, she has found herself, and while alone, she isn’t lonely. As she says to the vision she has created, and this notion is echoed throughout the whole show, the love she feels for her family is real, and she will carry all the grief, hope and most importantly love with her for the rest of her life.
I do hope we get to see more of Hahn’s Agatha in the future though, as the performance was absolutely flawless.
Also, before we get to my conclusion, complete sidenote but: I don’t understand the common criticism that the more emotional dialogue in this show is extremely cringy? Like, I’ve seen Visions quote: “What is grief if not love persevering?” memed the hell out of on twitter as if it was somehow this atrocious piece of writing when if this same phrase would’ve been said in an indie movie (Which I also adore so don’t come for me) y’all would’ve non-stop jerked off about it? Sorry that Marvel tried to do a little bit more for one time and you all found it so unbearable because hurr durr evil company. Guess what? 99% of what you engage with every day is made or owned by an evil company you dipshits.
Ahem. In conclusion.
WandaVision is a wonderful piece of art that not even it’s tone-deaf last episode and a whole lot of corporate meddling manage to drag down. It’s exploration of underdeveloped characters and adult perspective on grief through the lens of a superhero world is a delight, and is sure to fascinate and inspire audiences for years to come. However, more than a spell, it casts a curse over the next few years of the MCU. On a more personal scale, it came into my life at a time in which I was a unsure and afraid to pursue my own romantic interests, trying to maybe, a bit, portray myself as stronger and more perfect than I am. But just as Wanda herself, I let my guard down, relaxed, and embraced reality. It wasn’t hard, it wasn’t harsh. It was, liberating. Just like it’s tagline it does present us with a love like we’ve never seen, a love story transcending lifetimes, timelines, even realities. It comes with high expectations in plot, themes, acting and cinematography, raising the bar unreachably high for creators to come. It also shows us a glimpse into a world where Marvel Studios forgets the Studios part for a bit, and focuses on delivering an emotionally resonating and coherent story. While this illusion ultimately breaks in the end, it leaves us with the formation of the best, most developed, complex and interesting character in the franchise which, just like in her best marvel tales, both on a meta level and an interior one, is destined to either guide or ruin this universe. Which one it will be I don’t know yet, but won’t it be fun to find out?
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lilianrogers · 4 months ago
January Books
The thirteenth month of 2020 is coming to close and I managed to read yet another book about a global pandemic (Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim), dip my newbie toes into Henry VIII’s love life (Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel), experience the weird weird weird world of Jeff VanderMeer (in Dead Astronauts), and pick up a self-published collection by two local - but not residing in Singapore - academics, Cherian George and Donald Low (PAP v. PAP). 
For my thoughts in video form check out my YouTube video:
Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim
Somehow I managed to read four books set during a global flu-like pandemic over the past several months. I finally figured out that this is not because authors are suddenly gripped by the subject, but that these books always existed and are now coming to the fore. I was eager to pick this one up because it's written by a Singaporean-Canadian author and it was mentioned to me by my friend Daryl.
Ocean of Minutes turned out to be the most depressing of the flu books I’ve read, with the main character Polly never catching a break. Polly has time traveled to the future in a kind of indentured servitude to work for the company that will also provide the treatment for her boyfriend Frank who has caught the flu and must remain behind. They pick a meet up location for when Frank’s timeline has caught up to Polly’s.
Lim uses this premise to critique the treatment of workers under capitalism, and the callousness of the immigration system in the US. It’s also a neat vessel for reflections on love, and whether Frank and Polly’s young romance can stand the test of time, and their struggles apart from each other. Highs for me included the tender and realistic depiction of the early days of Frank and Polly’s relationship. Lows included the hamfisted manner in which Lim critiques the systems that strip us of our humanity (these scenes of despair mostly served to move the plot along rather than build an organic sense of indignation), and the frustrating naiveté (borderline cluelessness) of Polly. 
Rating: 3.5/5 
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
I am very late to the game on this one. Everyone, including both of my parents, read Wolf Hall when it first came out in 2009 (to critical acclaim). This first book of Mantel’s trilogy is a dramaticized history of 1500-1535 England through the lens of Thomas Cromwell, a well known advisor to English archbishop and Catholic cardinal, Thomas Wolsey, and later to Henry VIII. Key events covered include: Wolsey’s downfall, Henry’s infatuation with Anne Boleyn (and her maneuverings to become Queen), and the many executions of heretics, traitors, and fallen politicians. 
Thomas Cromwell really comes alive as a cosmopolitan and industrious man, and there is some gut wrenching writing from Mandel, but I think you need to already have a relationship with this history in order to really fall in love with this book. Every mega fan I know is British, and someone in my book club summed it up perfectly by calling Wolf Hall the “Hamilton: An American Musical” for Brits. To have history that you’ve known all your life, but only in a superficial way, sketched out with such detail and drama is a kind of drug. Unfortunately I didn’t even know Henry VIII had six wives until reading this book, so I remained mostly immune. My early 16th century European history is quite up to snuff now though, so feel free to quiz me. 
Rating: 3.8/5
Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer
This is the weirdest book I’ve read in ages. Dead Astronauts is book two of VanderMeer’s Bourne trilogy (which I did not realize until later). I picked it up from my local library because I liked the cover and because the first book of VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation, gave me literal goosebumps. 
I still have no idea what I read, and there’s not really a plot in this book so much as a bunch of snapshots with recurring characters, which include anthropomorphized animals and the three dead astronauts (only one of which is human, I think). The only thread I can confidently say I understood is that there is an evil Company that has destroyed the natural Earth with terrifying biological experiments that produce Hieronymus Bosch-like creatures. There are multiple realities and universes, and the astronauts are working towards some kind of common goal (but I couldn’t tell you what that is). 
But the point of this book is definitely not plot. It’s a book that is meant to creep you out, and leave you bewildered by a slew of environmental horrors (Jeff VanderMeer’s specialty). Through this kaleidoscope of weirdness you get a solidified feeling of the cruelty of humans and the brutality of environmental degradation. The form is also totally unconventional with the use of different fonts, multiple pages of the same words repeated over and over, and passages that read like spoken word. I didn’t really know what was going on most of the time, but sometimes it’s okay to have a book where you’re just along for the ride.
Rating: 3.5/5
PAP v. PAP by Cherian George and Donald Low
I am a Cherian George fangirl and really felt my Singapore politico identity come to fruition when I ordered this self-published collection hot off the presses. The main argument of this volume of short essays by the two academics is that the PAP is here to stay (at least another 15 years) and true reform must come from within the party itself, rather than from external forces or the Opposition. I am not fully convinced this is possible, but if there is any political party enlightened enough to overcome the kryptonite of control maybe it’s Lee Kuan Yew’s. 
This was a fun read because it is so recently published and includes all of the events of the most recent General Election that took place in July 2020, but in general I felt that it skimmed the surface (either providing a too-basic overview of issues like economic distribution and democratic accountability, or rehashing well-known arguments). I much prefer George’s Singapore Incomplete, which feels both snappier and better thought through. 
Maybe George and Low might have been better served by writing a book solely focused on the case for why reform must come from within (and how, whether that’s possible or even likely, and in-depth examples from other countries), instead of providing short overviews of many different issues. The chapter that offered the freshest view and food for thought was the last one, “Riding the populist tiger,” which dissects how the recent wave of populist nationalism in the world has provided the PAP with a political advantage, but is also a poison that could threaten Singapore’s longer term stability.
I also agreed with George and Low’s appeal for a “PAP that wants to lead not just to rule”. They argue that the PAP must be bold in describing a positive vision for Singapore, rather than continuing to position itself as a protector of Singapore from “its inherent vulnerabilities”. The PAP should be proud of the material success and stability Singapore has been able to accrue since independence, but George and Low are right in saying gone are the days when the PAP can simply rest on these laurels. PAP leaders should address the issues of the day with the confidence and creativity of a dominant party.   
Finally, the status and treatment of foreign workers in Singapore received widespread public attention during the Covid-19 pandemic, and I am looking forward to an in-depth treatment of this topic, which George and Low mention only in passing in this book. 
Rating: 3.5/5
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riverraysong · 6 months ago
On the Subject of Underverse S2
You read that correctly: this is a post about one of the greatest shows ever created, the Undertale animated series Underverse, written/animated by @jakei95​. I have a lot of theories that I’ve been pulling together ever since I watched both Underverse and Xtale (the Underverse prequel series). Maybe one or two have no basis in anything, but for some reason they popped into my head and I’ll stick by them until they’re proven incorrect. I will discuss the possibility of a Geno/Ink fight, Fresh!Ink, XI (you’ll definitely want to read their section!), and the fates of many different characters. This is quite the long post, so buckle up for a long ride.
Let’s begin!
I’m putting this theory first because it is the least important. At some point in time, I somehow got it into my head that there is supposedly going to be a fight between Geno and Ink. I have no idea where I heard about this, and when I searched for any specific videos or posts about the subject, I found nothing. But I personally think a fight scene between Geno and Ink would be pretty cool, so I’m adding this in here.
This is a more relevant theory. Ever since Jakei announced that Fresh!Ink would be a part of Underverse, I have wondered how he would be incorporated. I don’t know if she means for him to be in the future “Beach Episode” or something more serious. (Of course, I know almost nothing about this supposed “Beach Episode”, which is apparently when Epic!Sans will be showing up, so I really wouldn’t know.) But there is an important thing to remember: Ink and Fresh made a deal in the first season.
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Ever since I saw this Underverse - Xtra Scene 2, I have wondered what this “prize” could possibly be. What was Ink’s side of the deal? What did he promise Fresh? Hmm... maybe a new body to take over?
Ink’s body doesn’t have a SOUL- that’s basic “Undertale AU Knowledge 101″. What does this have to do in regards to Fresh? To my best knowledge, the actual parasitic creature True!Fresh feeds off the souls of other creatures to survive. In fact, his soul-feeding would kill his victims if he stayed long enough in one body, but he likes to play it safe and leave his victims alive in case he needs to use their body again. But he wouldn’t need to do this with Ink. Because of Ink’s SOULless nature, Fresh could theoretically feed off his body forever. Some might object that since Ink doesn’t have a SOUL, Fresh wouldn’t be able to feed off him. But then how does Fresh!Ink exist?
So, what was their deal? Fresh watches over the Xtale AU while Ink is gone, and after Cross and X!Chara are taken care of, Ink comes back and lets Fresh take over his body for a little while. There may be something else I’m missing, but the pieces seem to make sense.
For those of you who don’t know who XI is, I suggest you watch this video about Jakei’s Overwrite merch. This is when the character of XI was introduced to us, back on good ol’ April 1st, 2019. Haha, yes, the joke character of XI- funny April Fool’s Day video, a good laugh for everyone. Jakei has made a few comics about XI since then, but overall, XI hasn’t been involved in Xtale or Underverse so far. That has never sat right with me, and I’ve always thought there would be something more to him. I was proven absolutely correct when Xtale - The Movie came out. But before we discuss the little extra scene tagged onto the end of that video, I would like to point out some very interesting facts about XI.
On October 6th, 2019, Jakei posted a traditional speedart. Obviously, the art is gorgeous like always and every time I watch it I wonder if I will ever get to the level of skill she is at. But besides that, there is a very important aspect about this video. In the speedart, Jakei drew two pictures: one of X!Chara and X!Frisk fighting, and one of XI. In XI’s picture, they are depicted in full armor with a magical purple sword & shield.
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Hmmm... I wonder who this could possible resemble?
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Every time XI is shown, whether it be in comics or artwork, their bangs hang over their eyes. Their armor looks exactly like Kris’s from Deltarune. Heck, they both use a sword and a shield! What does this mean? XI is X!Kris. There is no way to deny this. This is why they are X!Chara’s and X!Frisk’s little sibling. I would also like to point out XI’s silver oval locket. I find it interesting how he has a different piece of jewelry from everyone else- all other important characters in Xtale have a matching golden heart locket. Does XI also have people he has given copies of this necklace to? Perhaps X!Susie and X!Ralsei, if they exist? But XI being X!Kris is only the beginning of this theory. Remember how I mentioned Xtale - The Movie earlier? Take a look at this picture.
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This is a five-second frame pegged at the very end of the video, after an entry written in wingdings by Mister XGaster himself. The message is as follows:
Entry Number Eleven: As clear as a reflection in a mirror, I have found the most perfect projection of forbidden visions. Get ready. Your time is coming.
Okay, just whoa. Not only is the entry #11, but the person standing there is XI. Oh, and let’s take a closer look at what they’re holding in their hand.
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I knew that silver locket was going to be important. There is no way that XI is not going to play a major part in either Underverse S2 or hmm... maybe a spin-off about the Xtale versions of Deltarune characters? To my knowledge, Jakei has not said anything about her plans after she finishes Underverse. She has her Metadora project, and I am aware that her husband @nyxtheshield​ is planning out his own Undertale series- someone will need to animate that, and I’m sure she would be able and willing to do the job. She has stated that there will be no seasons of Underverse after S2, and the finale will be 1.0. But that doesn’t mean she won’t make a new series. If she does, will it be about all the Deltarune characters? Will the other Xtale characters show up at certain points in it? Will XGaster play a large part in it? There is no way to know, as the idea of a new show is simply drawn from that there may not be enough time in S2 to fully expand what XI is.
In any case, XGaster states in the entry that “your time is coming”. This could either reference a new show or XI’s appearance in Underverse. I find it extremely interesting how XGaster words his message. “The most perfect projection of forbidden visions.” What does that mean exactly? XGaster has seen something in one of his many visions, obviously. The most perfect image of prohibited sights. XI is a person that stands for something that should not be allowed to exist. That makes sense- XGaster, a man, somehow got pregnant and birthed them, as shown in the Overwrite merch video. The “forbidden visions” might imply that he has seen something quite “cursed”, as us modern Internet-users would say. But then he tells this projection to get ready, because their time is coming. XGaster is telling XI to prepare themself. This just proves that XI and XGaster are tied together very closely, and that if XI does get their own series with X!Ralsei and X!Susie, XGaster will be involved.
Whew! That’s a lot of information to take in all at once. This was the big “theory” I wanted to discuss, so now we will move on to the different fates I believe may befall some of our beloved characters.
Ah, Ink. One of the true protagonists of Underverse. Remember: a protagonist is not necessarily a hero, just one of the leading characters. It has been seen that his story arc is the most important throughout the entire story. He is the one that inspired XGaster. He is the one that made XGaster’s plan succeed. And he very well might be the one to make it fail.
Wait, you’re asking me. I thought he was on XGaster’s side? What do you mean he will make it fail?
I didn’t want to address whether Ink was going to stick with XGaster or flip until a certain song was posted by Nyx two days ago on December 5th, “Soulless Heart”. If you haven’t listened to it yet, go ahead and click that link because the song is beautiful and absolutely necessary to continue on with this theory! The song is the Underverse 0.5 Ending Theme, and guess who it’s about? You guessed it, our good old buddy chum pal Ink. I’ve been listening to it on repeat since it came out, and it really is incredible. (Nyx, if you’re somehow reading this, I would like to personally congratulate you, because not only is the music amazing but mwah! Your voice is a joy, and I would not have any other singer do the vocals.) But the most important thing about the song is the lyrics. Here’s the first verse.
How long have I been longing
to be free and not broken
in this ocean of hollowness?
I don’t want to be forgotten.
Instantly, the lyrics hit you hard. This is about Ink, though, so you can’t expect anything less. Essentially, the song is about the emptiness that Ink feels without a SOUL. This goes along with one of his main aspects in Underverse. The only reason why he worked with XGaster to make sure XGaster’s game worked was so he could feel more emotions. As a chaotic neutral character, Ink literally only cares about himself and his personal goals. But what is interesting about this song is that he addresses the pain he has caused.
Sacrificial lambs
laid upon my path
now are broken worlds
killed by senseless wrath.
Ink knows that he has hurt people. I mean, in the present timeline when 0.5 is to be set, Ink’s actions just caused Error to literally “pull the plug” and destroy all the AUs. (Although, how many AUs were actually destroyed is impossible to determine, because there are still multiple Sanses that will be incorporated into S2 that were residing in their AUs at the time of their supposed destruction.) Ink knows that this is his fault. And now that XGaster has won, Ink will be receiving all those emotions he wanted! In the S2 teaser, which was released on the original Underverse 0.5 release date (the episode was unfortunately delayed due to issues with Nyx’s distributor, RouteNote), shows something very important.
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Look at those vials in his hand. Those aren’t just colored vials. Well, they are, but their colors are especially important. Look at their specific colors: orange, yellow, and amber. Previously, Ink’s vials have been seen as very straightforward: roy g biv, that sort of thing.
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You have one or maybe two variations, although in this picture there seems to be about four different aqua vials. But there certainly isn’t an amber vial. This goes to show that XGaster followed through on his promise, and Ink has a lot more variations in his color-coded emotion vials. The obvious conclusion from this is that he can feel a lot more things than he thought was possible- including guilt. With his newfound feelings, he could realize that what he did wasn’t just wrong, it was horrible. He might start to blame himself for getting all the AUs destroyed, which in turn might result in a betrayal of XGaster. With his emotions, he would become a real good person. But ultimately, without XGaster’s Overwrite abilities, Ink’s new emotions will fade and he will return to be the same old Ink as before. He will no longer understand why he sacrificed his emotions, and the cycle will start anew. Ink will never be truly happy, because being happy will always mean the suffering of others.
Or, Ink will stick with XGaster. It would be the same fate, after all; if the heroes defeat XGaster, Ink will still lose those emotions. This, though, might leave him feeling bitter and even more willing to do anything to get what he wants, which could potentially lead to him becoming a real villain. Perhaps XGaster isn’t the final boss of Underverse. Maybe the one to start everything will be the one to finish everything.
This wouldn’t be a real theory post without discussing our favorite fanfiction writer, would it? And yes, XGaster is literally a fanfiction writer. He has symptoms of OCD concerning the world-building of his universe and he just loves to add as much angst as humanly (or monsterly) possible. It just so happens that he lives in his own created universe, so his creations have the pleasurable chance at getting revenge.
Now, there are obviously two ways that Underverse can go: XGaster succeeds, or XGaster fails. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this will be the ending of S2. As I mentioned above, perhaps XGaster will be defeated at the end of 0.9 and 1.0 will be about everyone trying to stop Ink from taking the Overwrite SOUL for his own, I don’t know. In any case, I don’t really have anything to discuss about XGaster specifically, but I am pretty sure I know what his last scene will be if he happens to lose.
It is shown in the Underverse S2 Prologue - Owners that XGaster and UT!Gaster spent a lot of time together in the Void between the events of Xtale and Underverse. Not only do they hold an entire conversation together in Owners, but in Underverse 0.1 when Sans is hit in the head with a ball, he has a vision of the two of them standing together.
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In XGaster’s and UT!Gaster’s conversation in Owners, UT!Gaster tells XGaster that he will fail in his quest for perfection. XGaster brushes him off because he’s an egotistical prick, yadda yadda. But this conversation is important because I believe it will parallel the ending of XGaster’s quest. In the end, UT!Gaster will approach his old Void-buddy and tell him to just give up on his pointless venture. XGaster will turn to dust after saying something like, “I will never give up”, and then we have Ink going on a rampage. That’s pretty much all I have to say on them, but I thought it would be worth adding.
Lastly, we have the brothers. As with XGaster and UT!Gaster, I don’t have much to add with them. But I do believe they will both play a major role in S2. They will be the overseers of the battle to come. Out of all the characters in the Undertale fandom, they are the most omnipotent. They are the protectors of the Tree of Feelings, which is one of three trees to give the Multiverse life. In Underverse 0.4, when X!Chara accused Nightmare of “watching us all this time as if we were part of a show”, Nightmare responded by saying:
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Of course, Nightmare mostly means himself, Error, and Ink. Dream is much more active in helping people be happy, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t on the same god-tier level as his brother. Dream could sit back and watch the world tick, but he chooses not to because that goes against his morals.
In other words, Dream and Nightmare will probably affect the outcome of Underverse more than any other characters. They’re both pissed about what Error did: all those people that Dream cared about were murdered, and Nightmare can no longer generate negative feelings from innocents. They both have invested interest in this Multiverse war now, and their powers will certainly come to the forefront.
I believe that at the end of the story, the Multiverse will essentially go back to the exact way it was before Xtale was invented. XGaster will be dead, the Xtale characters will be put back in their AU, the other AUs will be restored, and at the end of it all, Dream and Nightmare will be once again pitted against one another. We may even see an alliance between them during Underverse S2 to stop XGaster, but afterwards, they will reestablish their rivalry. Unless the Omega Timeline comes into play, which it very well might, I don’t see the two brothers reconciling.
Thank you everyone who took the agonizingly long time to read this! I hope this shed some light on certain characters (especially XI) and encourages to make some of your own theories. Stay safe and good night!
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steve0discusses · 7 months ago
Yugioh Ep33 S4 pt 2: The Best Storyboarder Came Back Just so They Could Draw Tristan Getting Hit in the Nuts
OK lets just get to the good stuff.
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God bless you, storyboarder.
(read more under the cut)
The team has entered the Atlantis lair of Dartz, which is also accessible through Paradius in San Fransisco, but youknow...we don’t have magic so it’s not like we could’ve skipped like 10 minutes and just done that instead of the helicopter escape, the Military moment, and the ride through a hurricane.
Oh wait, we do have magic, that’s right...well...for now, pretend we don’t.
Enjoy the snakes.
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Strangely, Kaiba does not feel comfortable with the snakes, when snakes really just a smaller and cuter dragon. I love snakes. Never owned one...but I trust em.
Dartz has the Yugioh “old guy” aesthetic of “We just really like yellowed sandstone”
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I get that they want this place (and also Yami’s house) to look like a tomb so there won’t be any paint on the wall but this is just a pet peeve of mine that Ancient times freakin loved garish colors on the wall in layers and layers of patterns and yet in fiction we never show that. doesn’t go with the vibe. I’ll let it go because it would absolutely ruin the vibe to have a bunch of swirly stuff in neon orange and green.
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Before we have a chance to grab a step stool and just kinda yoink Yugi Muto, Dartz shows up, and this shot happens.
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I couldn’t not grab a cap of that. I mean...look at it. It is SO HARD to foreshorten hands so it looks right and then bam they just did that. It’s just...
...I’ve been breaking down foreshortening in Yugioh shots for a while now trying to figure out why when I do it, it looks like a busted huge hand, but when they do it, it looks really good, and I’m starting to realize that maybe it’s more than just stacking but also...the composition?
You can’t really look at this picture as a whole. The hand is such a strong focal point that you must start there, and then follow down the arm to the face. I think when I do these foreshortening shots I make the hand the same weight as the face, and that’s my downfall. You gotta let the composition force the viewer to slow down and take time in order for the optical illusion to happen...maybe? I’m like over 30 now, you’d think I’d figure this out by now.
Whatever, that’s another post.
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So like...what happened to those two people who used to be there????
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And now prepare thyself for my lazy math. I know this math is bad. For people out there who feel like working out the geometric growth and calculate just how many souls Dartz slurps up--feel free to tell me. If I like the explanation, I will adjust the Death Count to match it. It’s just too 2020 for me to do more than multiplication at the moment.
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Did I count how many people would have existed 10,000 years ago? no. Did I account for plagues? No. Like this math of 4 a day is bad...but eh it’s all I got right now in my mental ammunition.
Something that we did think about was...
Why not slurp up the Pharaoh soul when Yami was still alive? Like we assume the puzzle existed in the past but like...did Yami not get superpowered until Yugi woke him up? Was he in fact useless until he got a little bit of a battery charge during Season Zero when he was dumping people off of bell towers?
And like I get not knowing about the underground Ishtars, and not being able to get a hold of Shadi because Shadi is a lazy ghost, but Bakura was RIGHT THERE. You can’t munch up Pegasus off screen and then say “eh but Bakura’s kinda low tier” we know for a fact that Bakura is like...there must have been some copyright situation where they couldn’t use certain characters. This is a filler arc--but it would have been nice to have at least some explanation as to why it took Dartz so long to finally murder the hell out of Pharaoh.
Which is me expecting way too much out of this show. Just something I was really hoping would get addressed but leave it for the headcanon.
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It’s at this point that Mokuba realized he’s standing on top of people.
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A crypt made out of human souls! Crazy, usually we’re in a crypt made out of one single human soul....and both of these crypts have Yugi in it.
In Raphael’s storyline, he’s been busy just cleaning up after everyone else. It’s supposed to come off as very serious but I was totally busting up when he’s just dropping bodies into the back of this jeep.
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And in the Kaiba Corp plotline, Roland is anxiously wondering if he should be a Dad and save the kids or if he should be a dog and stay in the plane.
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He stays in the plane.
Strangely this was the right call. (And this is why Roland has never died)
So they start throwing around cards, as you do, and Dartz puts down his Orichalcos, has he does, when suddenly...they started seeing stuff again. Can’t have a single card game without it.
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So the Orichalcos is just a backstory device? For reals?
Something I alluded to quite a few episodes back with Valon was just...wondering why the hell the Orichalcos crew had so much freakin magic as to make all these visions during duels. Turns’s just a thing to occasionally trip on Oricalchos juice. I’m not sure why we never had a vision with Mai, Weevil, Rex, or Gurimo, but at least we now know that Raphael and Valon weren’t as magical as I thought they were.
So we’re in like...outer space. Kind of the last place you’d expect out of ancient Atlantis and Dartz isn’t having ANY OF IT.
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And honestly that makes sense. Imagine giving someone 10,000 years ago the run down on outer space. They’d freak. They’d definitely think you’re talking about demons.
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If space is an elaborate analogy, we don’t know that yet. For how this is presented, it’s just an old man hootin and hollerin about how much space sucks, and I love that.
PS how anime is this shot of the earth behind the orichalcos symbol and the dude in the middle with the ass length blue hair--really damn anime, right?
Like at least one of you has this wall hanging, right?
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For those that are too tired to look it up, Pangea was 280-230 million years ago.
So my thoughts are...either the math is wrong and I’ll fix it eventually in post, depending on my mood come next Wednesday, OR...humanity was deleted and then came back later??? (because the dawn of mankind was 7 million years ago)
They just felt like drawing Pangea 10 million years ago. Maybe that’s all. Maybe I don’t have to fix anything. I dunno.
Maybe this isn’t Earth.
Maybe Yugioh Earth never had Loma Preita because it isn’t actually Earth. And, like a Final Fantasy situation, is a second planet on a parallel plane of our own?
Either way, I’m not redoing the math because I actually don’t know how to change it anymore. I’m v undecided of the timeline now......maybe the next episode will tell us more? (I doubt this very much)
RIP deathcount.
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Yo Atlantis!
I have a lot of questions!
About Atlantis!
And the purpose of the aqueduct going the wrong direction.
Is that in fact the poop shoot?
But wtv it looks neat.
So anyway, that’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed my bad math, and I hope you enjoy your Halloween. Ours is a whole lot of nothing. I’ll be watching lots of Phasmaphobia streams while eating Butterfingers that I legally can’t give to children because it’s an epidemic (butterfingers is like the last candy that my old 30 yo ass can handle without passing out or gagging. Weird how getting older makes me hate all the good things I couldn’t eat when I was younger because I was too young to be allowed to eat them.) and that’s about it.
WHY did Halloween finally fall on a Saturday DURING an epidemic? I only get so many Saturday Halloweens in my youth...just why.
(and here’s a link to read these in chrono order)
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wondergotham · 9 months ago
The Start of Something
Requested by @jaszzan​: “Hi I saw that you were writing umbrella academy fan fiction! I was wondering if I can request a 5 fan fic. Maybe something like y/n and 5 are close and the other siblings find it odd that he’s close to y/n and then y/n starts developing feelings for 5 or 5 develops feelings for her and yeah. Maybe a little bit of kissing but not much because he’s a minor of course :)”
Pairing: Five Hargreeves x Reader
A/N: Five is 17 along with the reader. She has super speed like The Flash and follows a similar backstory to his.
IMPORTANT: If you’ve read “Back Home” it is a part 2 of this imagine. If you haven’t read Back Home yet read this first and then that one. Thank you!
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To say time traveling was exhausting was an understatement.
Time traveling drained every last bit of energy in your body that you had, down to the smallest drop. No matter what you did to try to regain it it was impossible if you weren’t in your own timeline.
It was like jet lag but a million times worse. You think you’d be used to it since you’re a speedster but boy were you wrong. You had never time traveled before until Five asked you to help him.
You didn’t hesitate the moment he said he needed you.
You loved him as well as his other siblings. They were like a second family to you. Reginald and your parents had been friends since before any of you were even born. So of course you’d do anything to help them.
At that moment the moon was falling apart and the apocalypse would end everything in a matter of seconds.
As Five used his power you ran as fast as you could around him and his siblings who were in a circle grabbing each other’s hands tightly.
Your speed gave Five an extra push so it wouldn’t take a huge toll on him.
Blue energy from his power combined with your yellow and red streaks as you continued to run around him creating more energy. Finally when the energy had them surrounded he instructed you to grab onto him as they were teleported.
Unfortunately that caused you all to get separated throughout the 60’s.
You thought you’d be alone. You were scared, what were you supposed to do. However, you were more than happy and relieved when Five landed a few seconds after you. You wouldn’t be alone after all. 
Now after helping Five find the rest of the Hargreeves, getting into a fight with the Swedes or as Five liked to call them the “IKEA mafia” and running into his older self while he experienced paradox psychosis. 
Here you guys were in a standoff with Lila in Sissy’s barn. Diego and Lila were standing in front of each other while you, Five and his siblings surrounded them. 
“You think she’ll join us?” You whispered to Five without taking your eyes off of Lila.
“Doubtful. The Handler is awfully good at manipulating people, so it’s gonna be hard to convince her.” Five replied causing you to sigh. “Dammit.”
Lila looked around, you couldn’t hear what Diego was saying to her but it looked like she was considering his offer. Her eyes landed on Allison and she gave her a soft smile.
Then Lila looked at you. You also returned a smile, hoping it would somehow convince her to join you guys. She had a good heart that had unfortunately been corrupted by The Handler. You knew Lila could be redeemed. 
She looked back at Diego and as he started telling her something the unimaginable happened. The sound of bullets and gunfire erupted. 
“No!” You shouted. 
As you moved to run and stop The Handler from continuing to fire you were quickly stopped. Bullets ripped through your body, you felt them piercing each part of your body. Some passed through but others stayed lodged in.
“Y/N!” Five yelled. 
He tried to catch you in his arms as your bullet riddled body came crashing to the hay covered ground.
But the sound of gunfire continued and you watched helplessly as Five and his siblings fell to the ground.
Tears blurred your vision as the pain took over. Pain of the bullets, pain of knowing that even with your speed you still weren’t fast enough to save Five the boy you loved and his siblings who were your second family.
Using all the strength you had left in your body you turned your head to the right. You grabbed Five’s left hand and held it with your right hand.
Blood slowly made it’s way up your throat and into your mouth causing you to cough as you tried to speak to Five’s unconscious body. Blood pooled out of your mouth falling to the ground.
“I-I love you F-Five. I l-love you.” You managed to choke out before your eyelids grew heavy and you felt the darkness consume you completely. 
Five gasped, he was still alive. He felt pain throughout his entire body but it didn’t compare to the pain he felt when he turned his head and saw you lying there unresponsive.
He noticed your hand was holding onto his. He moved the sleeve of your black jacket and placed his two fingers on your wrist. You had a pulse but it was barely there.
You were clinging onto life. 
Since you had super speed your body could heal within hours of being shot. But since you were riddled with bullets and there would be no way to take them out you would soon die. Your body was trying to heal itself but it couldn’t.
“I’ll save us, don’t worry. I’ll make this right.” He whispered still holding onto your hand. He placed a kiss on it. 
“Oh good. You’re still alive.” The Handler walked over to him with a smile plastered on her face.
Five stared at her in anger as he breathed in heavily trying to stay alive. “Lucky you. You got to see how this all played out. But your little girlfriend not so much.” She smirked lifting her weapon at Five.
He prepared for his fate. Was this really how it would all end? It couldn’t be. He refused to believe that even as he was lying on the ground bleeding to death.
Then before she could pull the trigger she was shot by Axel, one of the Swedes. She turned around before being shot multiple times again before she fell to the ground. Blood spewing from her mouth as she took her final breath.
The final Swede walked over to Five who pointed his weapon at him. But memories came back to the young boy replaying in his mind like a movie.
“This doesn’t have to be the end. We use my ability to time travel.” He remembered telling his siblings and a smiling Y/N who nodded excitedly. “And I can help.” 
“You’re the genius who said we should jump. Right? You’re the one who got us stuck here.” Luther retorted. “And in doing so he saved our lives Luther. You have no right to be mad at him. He did the right thing.” You replied defending Five who smiled at you.
Then he remembered the conversation he had with Reginald. 
“Maybe your appetite is disproportionate to the size of your abilities. Start small. Seconds, not decades.”
Finally, there was you. He had just finished talking to you about what Reginald had told you. You didn’t go to the meeting because you didn’t want to interfere with the timeline so you waited until they all got back. Five caught you up on what happened.
“He’s right Five. As your fellow Speedster friend I’m telling you that you need to slow down. It’s not always about traveling back years, seconds can change even the smallest things you want. You don’t have to go back too far to change the things close to you.” You smiled placing your hand on his shoulder. 
Five had to change things, he had to make them right. He clenched his fists hoping it would work even if he wasn’t moving. 
Slowly but surely it did. 
The Handler stood up, then Lila, then him, and thankfully you. And so on. He was doing it. 
He was reversing time and saving his family once again.
As he continued to go back he ended up stumbling into the entrance of the barn. He dusted off his uniform and patted himself in disbelief that his body was no longer riddled with bullets.
He smiled when he saw you in all your glory standing up. You were alive and breathing right before his eyes.  You looked next to you confused as to how Five had disappeared out of no where as you were about to ask him something. You didn’t even see him use his power.
Looking up you noticed he was next to the barn doors. That’s when it hit you. He went back in time, you looked around and noticed everyone was alive again. You looked at yourself noticing you had no bullets in your body. 
It hadn’t happened yet.
Using your super speed you ran to his side as Diego talked to Lila, again. “You did it didn’t you? You went back?” You asked with a smile forming on your face.
“Yeah I did.” He said as his hand caressed your cheek causing a warm sensation to spread across your face. “I’m so proud of you.” You replied. 
Before he could answer he turned back around as The Handler came into view. He lifted the weapon over his head and twisted her arm. Quickly you lifted your leg up kicking her in the groin. She stumbled forward and put her arms up in defense.
You super sped back to Five’s side as he pointed her own weapon at her which only caused you to smirk. 
“It’s true, isn’t it?” Lila asked. “What Five said.”
The Handler looked at Five with a smug smile on her face. “Answer me! Is it true?” Lila demanded.
“Well-” The Handler spoke up but she never got to finish her sentence as the last remaining Swede gunned her down.
You gasped in shock covering your mouth. Five pushed you slightly behind him with his arm, trying to keep you out of harm’s way. Everyone gasped as The Handler fell to the ground, blood pooling out of her mouth.
Lila started running and Luther took off too. “The case!” He yelled. 
Luther landed on top of Diego while Lila teleported away with the briefcase. 
The Swede, Axel entered the barn. Five walked in front of him and cocked the weapon in his hands.
“Y/N get behind me.” Five said in a quiet voice.
“Hell no we have no idea what he’s going to do.” You stated as you stood in front of him. 
You could feel the electricity running through your body. This time you were prepared and if Axel chose to fire his weapon you would be more then ready to stop the bullets. 
You weren’t going to make the same mistake twice.
Five could see from the corner of his eyes the red and orange lightning moving in your eyes. Your powers were ready to be used if you needed them.
Fortunately things wouldn’t need to go down that path. Five let go of the weapon in his hands and it landed with a thud on the ground. 
“Enough.” He said looking at Axel. You looked at him confused before turning back to the Swede carefully watching his movements.
He looked at the Hargreeves. You closed your eyes and relaxed your muscles feeling your powers calm down. 
Since your stance looked defensive you took a step back and moved a couple of steps behind Five while putting your arms up in surrender. 
“tillräckligt” “Enough.” Axel said. 
He dropped his weapon before walking away. You sighed in relief as Five squeezed your hand comfortingly. 
Finally Vanya had solved the situation with Harlan. You, Five and Diego got the briefcase to go back home. Things were starting to look good for you all. You sat on the steps of Sissy’s house that overlooked the backyard gathering your thoughts together.
Then the sound of footsteps made your turn your head.
“Hey, I hope I’m not interrupting anything.” He said sheepishly while scratching the back of his neck.
“No worries it’s all good. Just enjoying the view.” You smiled as the wind blew through your hair. 
“I wanted to check up on you. After everything that happened I needed to know if you were okay.” Five walked a couple of steps down until he sat next to you examining your face.
“Thank you that’s really sweet. I’m okay. So much happened these past days.” He nodded.
You turned your body to face him and grabbed his hand. “But as long as I’m with you I can go through hell and still be alright.” You winked causing him to chuckle slightly.
His thumb caressed the back of your hand. “Y/N I don’t know how if this is the right time to tell you this but I really like you. And I was wondering if you’d be my girlfriend.” He stared into your eyes.
You jumped into his arms wrapping them around his neck. He was shocked and you could tell because it took him a couple of seconds to hug you back as he wrapped his arms around your waist. Five could feel the huge smile forming on your face and you could feel his too.
“I would love to.” You replied.
When you looked at him his face was inches away from yours. In an instant he leaned forward and crashed his lips into yours. You couldn’t even describe how it felt but it was a fairy tale kiss, your dream had come true. 
It was a surreal moment and you couldn’t believe it was happening.
“Took you long enough.” You said as you both pulled away.
“I was just waiting for the right moment.” He gave you his signature smirk.
“Excuses.” Was all you said as you both laughed and he pulled you into his arms.
You both watched the sunset just enjoying each other’s company before regrouping with the other Hargreeves. You all were ready to go back home.
Back Home (Part 2)
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topicprinter · a year ago
I wrote the below post after we launched our 30th product, just to try to make a note to self on whether any early signs gave away how successful the 2 products would go on to become. I then shared it with my team internally first, and since they loved it felt would make sense to share to a wider audience.1) Both the startups had 2 founders with varying skillsetsIn both cases, there was 1 founder who led product - and was our primary point of contact. We had very limited interaction with the other founder - who was primarily out there leading sales/marketing/fundraising. This ensured that there were not too many hands in a single basket and helped in clear decision making2) The founders had known each other for more than 10 yearsNot exactly surprising is it? But in both the cases the founders had known each other for more than 10 years - and in one case it was 28 years!In most of the other startup products that we helped launch, I have noticed a lot of founder disputes that lead to tension or founders parting ways at the first disagreement. Founder fights are a lot more common than I had initially thought, and especially for a pre-product-market fit/pre-revenue startup, a nasty founder fight would mean curtains for the company.I assume the fact that the founders know each other so well made them look through the indifferences and egos. Also given that the founders were so close, they would want to fight through it more for the other, rather than just themselves.3) The founders' ideas were in industries that they had prior expertise inIn both the cases, we were working with slightly older first-time founders (> 30 years) who had been through the grind of the corporate routine for many years, laboured through the ranks, established their credibility in their space and identified the gaps in the market before venturing out.Having been a relatively young founder myself - and struggling for 2 years before finding my true calling - every time I spoke with the founders of these companies, I was amazed by the clarity of thought they had on their core idea. That was probably the only time I regretted starting too early.4) The beta version of both the products was built within 2 months from the time of UI/UX finalizationThese were the 2 projects that took us the shortest time from UI/UX finalization to beta launch (~2 months), which is ideally how the first version of the launch should be. We have seen many a time with our other clients, founders keep adding newer unvalidated feature requests that would bloat up both the product and the timelines. There is nothing like getting a product out in the market and seeing the first revenue when the fire in one's belly is burning the brightest (which is in the first 6 months). And the first taste of revenue and validation helps fuel that fire.There have been a couple of cases with clients where the product cycles were long drawn out - by which time the founders were demotivated, exhausted and the products died a slow painful death even before the launch5) The sales cycle for both the products were more than twice our average sales cycleWhere these two sets of founders did spend time on though was evaluating and finalizing their tech vendors. Which is ideally how the way it should be.A lot of times clients try to dismiss the tech vendors as adding no intellectual value - and to just listen to their orders. Many a time, the evaluation process focuses on asking tech vendors to show a website or feature - and ask if we have built it before. This is wrong on so many levels - it means that a similar product is already out there in the market and it also means you are not looking at innovation or originality from your tech vendor - but just looking to build what's already been built by them. While this helps in shortening the sales cycle, it surely does not help in building a truly innovative product.But with these two startups, while there was an initial level of screening basis our portfolio, every discussion post that till contract closure focused on how we could add value. They asked us (and I am sure the other vendors too) a lot of questions outside just what we built - and evaluated our design thinking, product development approach, knowledge of the industry/sector, feedback on the idea and ways to perfect it. While this lengthened the sales cycle, by the time we were ready to start, we knew each others' teams really well too - which surely helped.6) The value of both the projects was less than our median project valueIn spite of all the above - the project value for both the projects' was in the bottom 50% of the 30 products built. Which meant how laser-focused they were on what they wanted. There were a core set of features that they wanted to be perfectly working before the beta launch - and were focused on cutting off all the flab from the product.7) Both the startups had five full-time technology hires within 6 months of the beta launchWhile from a business point of view, we would love for our clients to continue having us as vendors forever, looking at it from the other side - it does not make sense at all. Having worked with multiple founders' I feel if one is building a technology focused-product, having an outsourced development team can only get you so far. Founders' would have to hire their own in house team to quickly scale and be more nimble. Both these startups' realized that and were quick to get a small technology team inhouse in place from their revenues/seed funds very soon post the beta launch8) Both the startups were in the B2C space and generated their first revenue within a day of launchThese two were the only clients of ours' that started generating revenue from the first day of the launch. And had pretty solid business models right from the beginning. It also says a lot about their planning and marketing - that they were able to launch with a splash9) Neither of the startups' founders was too worried about the technology stack used, the patents or the infrastructure setup.The founders' stuck to their core of sales/marketing/product and let us take the call when it came to technology. A lot of times with other clients - a lot of importance was given to the tech stack, infrastructure, patents etc. - which though important in the long run, is surely not important in the pre-product market fit stage. This helped us be more nimble and move quickly since they trusted us.10) Neither of the startups' founders was too worried about getting their "idea" stolen and built by usThis is another thing that was refreshing about them. A lot of times founders' do not completely open up or be honest to us about their ideas, in fear of us building the same. One thing I have realized is that irrespective of how amazing the idea is, the only thing that matters is its execution. Execution is severely underrated. No way would we or any technology vendor think of taking whatever we built for you to the market. We have got enough on our plates already.And even these founders' realized it. They realized that the only way they could build a really good product was if they transferred all their knowledge about the idea to us. We had to put ourselves in their shoes to ensure the product vision came across, and for that, the founders' had to be as open and transparent as possible. And open and transparent they were.Disclaimer:The above may be posted on other platforms/subreddits too, which may generate few leads - but the original post was not written with that intention.I am the founder of a product development agency that primarily works with other founders to bring their ideas to life. More on what we do here. We also have another agency that works on small development tasks on existing products. More about it hereDM if you want to know what those 2 blockbuster products are. Cannot post the names publicly.
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