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Season 2

Episode 1

We are introduced to our next example of people who are not heterosexual, Mord’Sith. The Mord’Sith in the show are more functional than the ones in the book. They have their own politics going on all the time instead of just until Richard needs to call on them. And we learn that Cara is bisexual so yay, bisexuals exist. I do take issue with all the confirmed non-heterosexuals except Cara being out of the picture by the end of the season. The total comes to a gay joke, a dead woman, a woman whose entire life was retconned away, and a heavy Zedd/Panis subtext. Fore the record, I read Triana and Cara as bi and Dahlia as a lesbian who makes exceptions for Darken when she has to. I’m open to other interpretations. Transgender, third gender, intersexed, gender neutral, bigender, and asexual people still don’t exist but growing up in Western culture has taught me to expect that.

Anyway, we have our first woman on woman kiss, we have dominance games, and we have a dead woman. We have Shota turning up to tell Zedd about all the horrible things that will happen if he doesn’t name a new Seeker. Even though in the three times we’ve seen Shota previously she’s been right about the future, Zedd decides nepotism wins. Martha and Rachel are again placed as passive damsels in distress who need the heroes to save them. I realize this is realistic for a nine-year-old girl and a cook. They’re even less active than their previous appearance and they never come back on screen.

All in all, 1x22 and 2x01 rush through their plot points like it’s a checklist. Both would benefit from slowing down and taking about three episodes apiece to complete.

Episode 2

Oh Kahlan and Cara. Why can’t you share the Awesome Ball? Richard and Kahlan take it on themselves to educate Cara, to turn her into a proper human being. I have so many issues with this that they have issues worthy of their own five thousand word essays. In brief, interrogating someone is not the same as getting to know them.

Kahlan lectures Cara about needing to be more sympathetic and pay attention to people’s feelings. Be compassionate and caring. You know. Womanly stuff. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. I agree Cara needs to learn social skills for her new situation. But I think it’s just that, social skills. I don’t think her pragmatic approach is a sign of a gaping hole in her soul. Then, I adore Cara and think she’s awesome to watch on screen as she is.

Besides the leads, the other woman in this story is the Baneling mother. Note, yet another ineffectual single mother. After I’m done going through episode by episode I will come back to what’s wrong with that running theme. She’s also another feminine angel of vengeance character because she became a Baneling to protect her son. It’s shown to be wrong but sympathetic. In addition, the boy is dead anyway, so it’s futile.

Cara uses sex to manipulate Flynn and it’s played for laughs. I’ll just point to the big long Goodkind paragraphs to show why I think that’s a problem. Again, not something that I find troubling as a scene or set of scenes, but in the context of the rest of the show it just adds to the nasty undercurrents.

I still think death camp imagery is inappropriate and death camps without mass transit are an affront to political history.

Episode 3

This is the episode where we learn that Cara is another of those feminine angels of vengeance. She only killed her father because she was lied to and in order to protect her sister. I have written many, many words on the subject of the way Richard treats Cara in this episode. I think he’s emotionally abusive towards her with the belief that it’s ok because he’s trying to save her. This is a recurring theme all the way back to Richard and Kahlan’s first meeting.

I do think crimes committed to save others are more forgivable than crimes committed for personal gain, whims, or out of callousness. However, it’s exceedingly rare for anyone other than Our Heroes to kill someone in self-defense. Something else I’ll bring up after I’m done going through episode by episode.

The female characters for the episode are a brief appearance from the Priestess of Casca, Mistress Nathair, Grace and Ella. The Priestess is an expository character to let us know that Dennee is dead again. Ella is there to make Grace’s husband protective and Grace is another passive character. We see nothing of how Grace responds to the way Silas has Cara arrested. She exists to give Cara someplace to go and be captured. She exists to give Cara a reason to kill their father. Fair enough. That’s what family is good for when you’re a main character. However, Grace, Silas, and Ella are characters added specifically for the show. In the books, Mord’Sith were always only children and they killed both parents. By making the Mord’Sith training about fathers and daughters, it makes the father more important than the mother. It also means that we see Cara’s father and are told what a good, kind man he was but don’t know more about Cara’s mother than Dead Of Grief. By giving Cara a sister to protect instead of just wanting to see her first home again it makes her birth as a Mord’Sith about someone other than herself. It turns it into something more selfless which gives me the impression they don’t think torturing a child into killing her father in order to make the abuse stop is sympathetic enough.

This brings me to my complaint about the crime this episode makes a big deal out of. As a Mord’Sith Cara has tortured men into submission, she’s gone on special missions for Darken Rahl. We know she has done terrible things in the Rahl name. On the one hand, the Council want to punish Cara for every crime the Mord’Sith have committed against them. On the other, Kahlan wants to punish Cara for a crime she definitely committed. I don’t think killing Dennee and Finn is the worst thing Cara ever did. From her perspective at the time, they were two extremely dangerous fugitives. My point being, she’s done something worth capital punishment by the village’s laws. That’s what the Mord’Sith do and they’ve never tried to hide that. Someone who proudly belongs to an organization that commits war crimes is not being oppressed when they’re brought to trial and sentenced based on their membership to an organization that commits war crimes. Cara’s fate is an excellent argument against capital punishment but not much else.

Then Mistress Nathair adds herself to the list of people who sacrifice themselves for others. The timing of her attempt to defend Cara makes me think she’s trying to serve her Lord Rahl. Whether she’s sacrificing herself to try to save Cara or to try to save Cara for her Lord Rahl, she’s still someone who only comes forward in order to defend someone else.

Episode 4

There are two more instances of woman on man rape in this episode. Josephine rapes Callum which we see as a series of flashbacks where neither she nor Callum’s sweetheart have any dialogue. His love is driven away and he’s saddled with a daughter he doesn’t dare allow to inherit. Annabelle’s treatment deliberately echoes Kahlan’s childhood but with Kahlan’s being worse (more special). Both of them are raised primarily by their fathers after their mothers die, thus releasing Frederick and Callum. Frederick tied his girls up and used them to Confess people into giving him money. Callum locked his daughter away in a tower. Both are examples of single fathers being abusive.

Due to Annabelle being cut off from the Confessors who would have trained Annabelle to only enslave responsibly, she enslaves willy-nilly. She wasn’t taught by Confessors so she doesn’t know the knife fighting that would allow her to protect herself. Since her father kept her, she’s in position to be kidnapped by the episode’s bad guys. Since she hasn’t been trained by Confessors, she’s easily tricked into believing lies. And of course, the source of her reason for turning against Our Heroes is that she’s being denied a life with marriage and babies. Because what woman in her right mind doesn’t want that?

I’m not sure what the big deal is with why Flynn is a bad choice for mate. He seems less likely to blame his children for their mother ruining his life than Callum. I have issues with Kahlan telling Annabelle her dreams weren’t happening and then being unwilling to talk about the positive aspects of being a Confessor. (Can’t help but notice we only saw what Confessors were supposed to be in 1x04.) It’s interesting that this is the episode where they show Kahlan to be lacking in compassion and it’s towards a girl more like her than anyone else we see.

The other two women are TWWSB #4 who gave Annabelle to the sorcerer and the old servant who tells Richard and Kahlan about Annabelle’s family history and the woman who tells Cara and Zedd about the Banelings. All the other characters are thugs, Banelings, and D’Haran Banelings who are all men.

The biggest issue I have with Annabelle/Flynn is the contrast with Josephine/Callum. Flynn was ok with being Confessed when Callum wasn’t. Callum jeopardized everybody by withholding Annabelle’s Confessor education from her because he wasn’t ok with being raped. That gives the impression that the problem is Callum reacting badly to being raped.

Then there’s the mess between Confesed!Richard and Kahlan. This plays back into the point of Kahlan and Richard’s relationship. Good women want to have sex and babies with men who love them and no one else. Turning down sex with Richard becomes a sign of her virtue and how true and epic her love for Richard is. (Frankly, I don’t see Kahlan as being very interested in having children beyond “That’s what [she’s] supposed to do” but I suspect that’s unintentional.)

Episode 5

Shota tries to save the world and in her efforts becomes TWWSB #5 instead of #3. And she does it by offering Zedd a fruit. Charming. The information she’s working on is something she has every reason to believe is correct but she can’t act on it alone and Zedd refuses to help her. Therefore, she takes matters into her own hands and is not only shown to be wrong but tortured for her efforts. (Side note, this is why I do not buy that Cara has actually changed very much from her first appearance. For all that she is remorseful that she killed her father without just cause, she’s still torturing and killing in the name of her Lord Rahl.) Shota’s method of trying to control Zeddicus leads to nearly losing Zeddicus, Richard and the Sword.

Salindra is the other woman with a speaking role. She’s a prostitute Zedd picks up because without his wisdom, Zedd is just another man with urges. She’s TWWSB #6. Well, not so much backfire as fail to follow through. First, she shows she’s shallow by turning down sex with a man she doesn’t find attractive and then being willing to bed him once he’s handsome and has shown an ability to shower her with wealth. Zedd’s behavior on that is another example of Nice Guy thinking. He showers her with unasked gifts to win her over. He doesn't care if she likes or respects him. He doesn’t care who she is. He can give her stuff and that makes him manly and deserving of nookie. Then she accepts the Keeper’s bargain to save herself from pain and nearly dooms the world. This tells me two things. One, Zedd’s taste in women has not improved. Two, women want men for the things they can get out of them. (Shota wants a new Seeker. Salindra wants a pretty castle.) Except for Kahlan because her love for Richard is Pure and Epic. Yet again, men want to dominate and the reason better men don’t is because they know better.

Episode 6

We now reach the second time Richard leads a group of people on mass slaughter. Sine he’s the hero it’s not his fault. The magic did it. This is where my problems with season 2 Kahlan start. Zedd sees something inside Richard that calls the anger forth and he’s right. Being a man, he sees that Richard’s need to dominate is pressing to the forefront and needs to be released. Kahlan, being a woman, believes that only an outside force could make her love behave like a beast. I like Kahlan but not when she’s being Richard codependent shadow.

Cara is busy learning the value of pacifism and vegetarianism. These lessons are ignored by the next episode but the learning curve continues. It seems the things she needs to learn are how to be open about her emotions, empathy towards others... compassion. Considering that she dislikes hunting, the vegetarian lessons are useful but I get an echo from 1x04 where hunting was what made men manly.

We have our first co-ed fighting force. And they’re all fountains of uncontrollable rage. The moral of the story, is that you shouldn’t mess with people’s local customs unless it’s stop them from being enslaved by bad people people who aren’t Our Heroes and then it might blow up in your face but only bad people were killed so it’s ok and look they found the puzzle piece they were after and now they’ve freed the pacifists from the binding spell so they can be violent and eat meat, as God intended. The characters dragged into Our Heroes’ story this episode are the pacifists and the slavers. Slavers led by a man and the pacifists led by a woman. Beasts and angels. It’s made even more obvious by the rage issues originating with one of Richard’s male ancestors.

This episode nearly made me stop watching altogether.

Episode 7

Denna is TWWSB #7 with a wonderful plan to make Lord Rahl her slave. It works pretty well too. She gets to manipulate herself into being the power behind the throne. She runs her plot out of the back of a very high-class brothel. I suspect her job as a Madame is intended to be fallen circumstances from being one of the Mord’Sith. It seems to offer her a lot more freedom though. She has her own pet sorcerer and her own business. Therefore, she has her own income and her own weapons of mass destruction. She’s her own boss but she wants more. She wants to dominate. How many women in this show do you see who have their own jobs, no husbands or children, enjoy being their own bosses and are not villains? Denna tries to separate Cara from the others by turning her against Kahlan rather than Richard. Playing women off each other is another way of saying “women are catty.” It applies to both what Denna seems to believe and how the writers approach the dynamics between the three women.

We learn Dennee killed her own son, which makes more sense since Darken wanted the kid alive. At the end, she gets a replacement baby in the form of her current body’s biological son. Not creepy at all. Lucinda, the body’s original occupant, is another single mother who has to work to support her son. Do I even need to spell out the implications of killing Lucinda, Salindra, and Denna while having no other prostitutes with more than a few seconds’ screen time?

Grix was a man who gave in to his lust and thus allowed Denna to capture him. Because men are base creatures led around by their animal desires. He’s also the one who wants control over his fellow generals and kills Richard. So; bloodthirsty, lustful, power hungry, and allows himself to be led around by those traits. Richard claims to be the opposite of this and I think the writers believe that. Richard turns down a prostitute, showing that he really loves Kahlan. He talks to Lucinda and she immediately tells him about her family. Because that’s exactly what you do when you know your boss is a Mord’Sith. Her last words are about her son, which prove her worthiness to be avenged.

Richard is also the stated reason Kahlan hasn’t killed a known murderer, Cara. “Kahlan trusts Richard’s sense of morality more than her own” is shown to be a sign of Kahlan’s emotional growth. She also claims Cara has changed. In what way, I’m not sure. From what I can tell, Richard has replaced Darken and Kahlan has replaced Cara’s fellow Mord’Sith. A few minutes before that we heard Cara talking about how the leader of D’Hara needs to be ruthless. (Also, I find apologizing when you know it won’t be accepted to be a selfish act. “I needed to say it” makes it about the apologist and not the person who was hurt.)

Episode 8

Denna dies, Verna is introduced, and overall there are roughly the same number of men as women in this episode. A woman dies to save Richard because... their Order is sworn to serve him. Haven’t heard that one more than three times. Verna is awesome and is even allowed to point out Richard’s flawed logic a few times. Of course, she’s also implied to be wrong about the big picture because Richard Is Right.

Denna is still scheming and Zedd shows his worthiness by being able to pity the poor woman who is railing against her place in the universe. She only hurts people because deep down she’s a lonely little girl. No way could a woman who was nearly in charge of the Empire possibly be an adult. It has to be because she’s trying to fill the gaping hole in her soul.

Episode 9

Oh look, Shota was right. A new Seeker is needed. If only Shota had had the patience passivity to wait for Zedd to realize she was right. Then the entire conflict of 2x05 could have been avoided. There are more women than men in this episode. We meet Verna who betrays Richard on orders and is betrayed by her superior, Annalinna, who is TWWSB #8. Nicci fills the role of TWWSB#9. Both of them are fulfilling the roles they had in the book so I’m not going to make a big deal of it. I’ll just note how high that number is getting. The Sister with the annoying laugh is evil and Liliana is less of a sociopath than in the books but I think that’s more about time than anything else.

Cara offers to help Kahlan control her emotions so they can get on with their quest and Kahlan turns her down. Later, Kahlan offers Cara advice on dealing with Leo and doesn’t really take no for an answer. Kahlan has certain ideas about how love is supposed to work and pressures Cara in a friendly way to meet her standards for relationships. As I noted in my comments on 2x06, Richard and Kahlan’s attempts to “humanize” Cara end up being attempts to “feminize” her. She’s “supposed” to be more compassionate, caring, and loving. She’s had sexual relations multiple times during her previous appearances but when she has ~feelings~ for a man, it’s all different. I kind of like Leo. I don’t like the way his relationship with Cara was handled.

Richard is to planning what Bloody Stupid Johnson is to architecture.

Episode 10

The Sisters of the Dark defect from the Palace of the Prophets. Annalinna is revealed to be dangerously fanatic about saving the world. Our second example of the season about what happens when a woman tries to save the world. She botches it and turns to underhanded means like keeping people hostage in order to save the world. Which is totally different from Richard giving the most powerful Han in generations to his enemies on purpose. There are more women than men with speaking roles in this episode.

The other plot is all about Richard’s mental state and fears. Richard is afraid of the Love of His Life making babies with someone else. I find it interesting that he isn’t scared she’ll produce another male Confessor. Instead, it’s a girl child, which could be construed as him fearing the connection between Kahlan and her child. A boy baby would have no hold on her heart. Richard fears being replaced both in Kahlan’s life and as Seeker. The script goes out of its way to show that his greater fear is about being replaced as Seeker. There were two between him and Philip and Kahlan’s response to Richard’s accusation that he’s been replaced is about that rather than about how long she waited before hooking up with Philip. He fears watching the women he thinks should help him commit suicide. He fears Kahlan losing her powers (specialness). He fears Cara turning to evil. In contrast, he fears Zedd’s death. He trusts Zedd to continue fighting until the end and to not take the Keeper’s Bargain. Watching Kahlan die when he could help her but she turns him down in favor of going to be with another man and the child they had together is the only thing that we’ve seen rock Richard’s confidence since the first couple episodes. Deep down, Richard is afraid that if Kahlan weren’t prevented by her powers she would run out and have sex with other men.

This is where Cara’s love life starts to feel like punishment. Having a Leona instead of a Leo wouldn’t be better in terms of Dead Lesbians but it would be a lesbian character who wasn’t a Mord’Sith and a Seeker who wasn’t a man. Kahlan’s ~womanly intuition~ tells her Cara has ~feelings~ for Leo. They have sex, admit it might not be a forever thing, and he dies. They’re the only ones who admit that they have feelings that might not be forever. It’s possible Cara might be being punished by the universe for her past crimes, but it feels a lot more like she’s being punished for having a different view on sex than Richard does.

We meet our second all female fighting force. This brings the tally up to one co-ed fighting force of rageholics, one female fighting force bent on destroying the world, one female force intent on helping their master subjugate the world, one male force bent on dominating the world for their master, and one ambiguous male fighting force that helps the Seeker when it’s plot convenient. ”Women can fight too!” is not a statement of female ability when the women who don’t fight for evil are portrayed as exceptional cases. In addition, all the fighting forces follow male figures: Richard, Darken, and the Keeper.

Episode 11

Cara gets put on the back burner for this episode and the only female character other than the regulars is a girl who barely appears. The girl’s a victim in that kissing her is the reason her boyfriend is threatened by thugs. Having two Kahlans does not make the discrepancy in the cast. For the sake of clarity, I’ll be referring to them as Kahlan and the Mother Confessor.

Kahlan is clingy, jealous, has emotional outbursts, and helpless at inconvenient moments. She likes romance and is on the bottom when she has sex. The Mother Confessor is ruthless, merciless, and very rational. She tops when she has sex and picks her mate in accordance with her training. The reason we’re given for the split is that Kahan’s heart wants to be with Richard while her mind knows her duty is in Aydindril. The Mother Confessor has a frank attitude towards sex (“I’ll please in ways you can’t imagine.” “I doubt it. You can try.”) while Kahlan is coy, (“I don’t have my powers.... No, not that. I don’t have my powers.”).

Fyren is a ruthless warrior, which the Mother Confessor sees as a reason to make him her mate. He’s a leader, strong, of good breeding stock. Kahlan has sex with Richard because she LOVES him. The Mother Confessor’s purely rational decisions are seen as evil because they lack mercy. She declares love to be a luxury. She fires the Council who failed to stop Fyren (in case anyone is interested, I think the ideal solution would be appointing a new Council). She charges Zedd with treason when technically he is plotting against her. Kahlan wants to run away and hide with her LOVE. She needs Richard to save her in battle. The unfeminine Mother Confessor is evil and the hyper feminine Kahlan is weak. The script goes so far as to compare Mother Confessor to male Confessors, making her state as unwomanly text and not subtext.

Admittedly, nearly being executed would make anyone cranky but the rest of Our Heroes are incredibly blasé about killing two women who look like someone they claim to love. Neither of them can conceive children because they aren’t real women. If Richard had brought up the prophecy about the Mother Confessor’s pure heart, I could believe he killed them for unselfish reasons. As it is, he is killing two women to get the one he wants. And that’s an ok thing to do apparently.

Episode 12

This episode has our second ineffectual mother who becomes a Baneling for the good of her child. She succeeds about as well as the first one. The other Banelings are implied to be men who are afraid to die. This episode also has Sebastian and Thaddicus returning to fleece the undead. The people running the Baneling meat market are men. Many of their victims are men. The only other woman is the one who tearfully informs the Seeker that her husband’s been kidnapped.

I really like the relationship between Cara and Darken. I would like more episodes where they play head games with each other. Cara dying from “one bad day” doesn’t bother me. I’m disappointed the effects are dealt with so quickly. I don’t have a problem with this use in particular but Cara doing yet another round of killing people in order to help someone else adds more to the subtext that women commit violence in order to protect others.

Episode 13

This episode is hilarious. It also says some really awful things about relationships between men and women. Nicci makes her return with several Sisters of the Dark making there more women than men in this episode.

The Countess embodies “women are catty” through mocking Cara and “women want men to get stuff” through wanting the Margrave in order to obtain immortality. Our Heroes use sex and the promise of sex to manipulate both the Margrave and his Herald but it’s ok because they’re evil. The Margrave is left alive at the end despite being willing to sell damsel in distress, Kahlan, to the Keeper, trade his wife in for a new model, and make women compete for his “affections.” That he has no ready bedmate is implied to be a terrible punishment. Then there’s the issue of the Margrave’s sister. I realize that in order to criticize patriarchy you have to show it. The subplot still seems to imply that the Margrave’s sister is in the wrong for trying to get laid. It also plays back to mocking Cara’s less feminine status while Zedd makes cracks about her virtue.

Episode 14

At last we have some women besides Mord’Sith who take a hands-on approach to getting rid of their enemies. They’re all evil of course. We also have gender equal representation of rape victims. The problem I have with both Frederick and Nicci’s response to criticism, is that using rape as an excuse is portraying rape victims as monsters has troubling connotations. We don’t see rape victims who don’t do terrible things because they been raped (child abuse, attempting to destroy the world) and Cara and Kahlan are the only ones we see overcoming child abuse, the stated reason for why Mord’Sith and Darken Rahl are evil. Again, exceptional cases only prove the rule that rape makes you evil.

Then there’s the way the script goes back to implying that fathers are more important than mothers are. Frederick gets a chance to try to get his elder daughter’s forgiveness while Kahlan’s mother appears for a short stint as a glowy ghost.

The two rape victims are not given even treatment either. Frederick was considered an acceptable target by his rapist because he was a D’Haran POW. Nicci was merely available. Frederick was under a deliberate spell for six years while Nicci was raped twice. In the books, Nicci’s rationale for why humanity deserves to die has a lot more to do with her parents, specifically her mother’s ideas about fairness and her father’s inability to say no to her mother. Making it Annalinna’s fault that Nicci went back to her rapist a second time keeps up the dynamic. That Nicci took no more precautions the second time than the first is suspicious. The responsibility for rape is entirely on the rapist. By making the situation an act of idiocy that drives Nicci to attempt omnicide... it adds a feeling of “Why did you do that?” that could easily have been avoided.

Episode 15

The Creator of life is female. The one bent on destroying life is male. They were in love but he felt that she cared more about her children than she did about him. He’s set on destroying the distraction and she’s unwilling/powerless to prevent him. ...Yeah.

They deliberately never state whether Maia is the real Creator or not. They act like doubting Richard on the basis of his poor decision-making is a bad thing. She’s the first person we see in a position to question Richard and not be ignored. Richard responds like a three-year-old asked to explain what happened to the cookies. Even if she weren’t the Creator, I think she has excellent questions.

Of course, Kahlan prayed only for other people as a child. She’s compassionate and loving and giving.

There are more women than men in this episode because all the Sisters still in the Palace gave their magic to Maia. Maia ran off with a boy at one point because that proves she’s really a woman and has ~feelings~. There’s no way she could have a human experience without romance. Heterosexual romance.

Episode 16

Cara and Kahlan are simultaneously damsels in distress. They even get to argue about which one will be the more self-sacrificial while they wait to be saved. Also worth noting, Kahlan is the one who succeeds in pressuring Cara to have fun, which leads to their capture.

Cormac is the first father we see who fails to protect his children from the world. The result is that he calls forth a mummy to avenge his sons’ deaths. The fathers who prevented their sons from serving are portrayed as wrong but is doing it out of love, a father’s love. Since it’s about paternal love for sons, men greatly outnumber women.

Episode 17

I love this episode. It has an interesting plot and conflict. It also puts Cara and Kahlan in the background. The only other women who appear are Sisters of the Dark who seem to live in roving bands, some pretty ladies for Zedd to hit on, and a nursemaid/sorceress. I find it fascinating to watch the contortions the plot undergoes in order to avoid mentioning more women.

This episode is all about the family drama surrounding Darken and Richard’s conception. Carracticus, Zeddicus, Thaddicus, Richard, Darken, and Panis all have their parts to play. The women in the family are never seen. Most of them are never even mentioned. Zedd’s mother is still alive when Zedd goes over the boundary so she’s alive when Carracticus is killed. She’s not mentioned. Tarralyn is brought up only in terms of being Richard’s mother, Zedd’s daughter, and Panis’s baby maker. Tarralyn’s mother goes completely without mention. Jennsen isn’t mentioned at all. Darken’s mother is mentioned as the Queen but is otherwise kept off-screen. The focus is once again on the bond between fathers and sons, brothers, and other forms of male family relationships. (Does Thaddicus even know he has a niece?)

Episode 18

Women are not as outnumbered as in the previous episode. It’s a fairly typical fantasy with the heroes of the episode getting treasure and women. Walter/Mika is cute but I have strong feelings on the subject of love interests as good behavior prizes. Yes, Walter underwent a lot of rather nasty things. He meets Mika and they’re both captives together and then they fall into the same trap as Rachel and Martha did in 1x09. If it’s that easy to get out, why not leave before? If it’s that easy to get out with a prisoner, why didn’t Mika leave on her own? Why wait until she hears that Walter’s going to be put to death? She doesn’t escape for herself; she takes action for someone else.

Episode 19

The only women besides the regulars are Sister Marianna who plays an errand girl, some Mord’Sith on Darken’s business, and the Sisters who look after orphaned children with magic. Kahlan and Cara do the work with saving the pregnant pixie while Zedd fetches the Listener. This provides an opportunity to hear that Cara is not an emotionless freak but otherwise is really contrived. Since the Sisters of Light have a prophecy saying the Seeker will help the Keeper, it’s not surprising that they would be unwilling to help the Seeker. It’d make more sense for Cara to go with Zedd. Tabrett Bethell is an excellent actress who played talking into hands very well. It still becomes another example of how Cara’s “growth” is becoming more feminine and more how Richard and Kahlan think she ought to be.

Episode 20

In terms of numbers, this episode has more women than men. It’s subtext on reproduction is where I take issue with it. We learn that Cara is the mother of Darken’s child or one of his children, it’s hard to tell. Also worth noting, the child is a son. Richard and Kahlan are told that their mystical destiny is to spawn the children who will inherit the world after the Keeper’s done with it.

On its own, I like this episode. In conjunction with the next two, I have a problem with the emphasis on baby making and a woman being in love being the way out of the valley. She betrayed her community when really, the plan Richard and Kahlan were told about sounds... I’m not sure reasonable is the right word. In a world where you have proof of gods and an afterlife being told about a divine plan that makes sense seems like the sort of thing you’d listen to.

Darken tortures Cara back into being his servant. It’s not anything remotely close to appropriate behavior but he is the villain. She succeeds in the mission he gives her and he decides it’s time to off the Sisters of the Dark. The femmeslash relationship is the one that trips Cara up and leads her back to evil.

Episode 21

People who are better at talking about heterosexism than I am have talked about the problem with making Cara’s “normal” lead to marriage to a man and babies, with saying that Leo was the love of Cara’s life and with focusing on Richard and Kahlan’s marriage after having undone Cara’s sexual history with women. On the subject of misogynist themes, both Cara and Kahlan see themselves as mothers in this episode. No one asks Cara what she wants or what she wants for her children. Both sides decide this version of her is either inconvenient or not as important as the “real” Cara. Now that she can no longer fight, it’s acceptable for Zedd to use her as a spell component.

Richard and Kahlan pressuring Cara into saving her son has some rather nasty implications too. I would call it an example of them being shown to be wrong except that Zedd fixes everything so they never even know about it. They want her to save her son rather than help them save the world. It says a lot about unwillingness to consider other people’s priorities and their belief that blood is more important than other considerations. They’re seemingly oblivious either to how they’re manipulating Cara into meeting their expectations or to why that might be a bad thing. Their expectation being that her son she’s never met will be best served by her saving him. If he does matter to her, she shouldn’t be the one doing the rescuing because it would cloud her judgment. If he doesn’t matter to her, then saving the world would be her priority.

Episode 22

Zedd knows how to fix the world. ERASE THE FEMMESLASH!!! So now that Dahlia was never a Mord’Sith, how did Richard and Kahlan leave the valley, what other things are different now that someone else is doing Dahlia’s job? We’re never told. Issues of rationality and logic aside, how on Earth do you think writing that is ok and get enough people to agree with you in order to get it greenlit?

Anyway, Richard’s Epic and Pure Love for Kahlan saves him from Confession. The cast again is predominantly women and most of them are cannon fodder as they would be if they were men.

However, it also continues Cara’s punishment. At the end, Richard and Kahlan are sharing a kiss secure in the knowledge that their love can now be consummated. Cara is looking very alone.

Conclusion

While Legend of the Seeker fixes many of the overt problems with misogyny that the Sword of Truth novels suffer from, it still manages to add in subtler touches of it. There is still the running theme that women use sex and love to ensnare and trap men. There is still the implication that women are more likely to be underhanded in their villainy while men are more likely to be violent. It implies that fathers are more important than mothers by giving them more screen time when they’re related to the main characters and focusing only on the mothers when there’s no father in the picture. Single fathers are shown to be more likely to be abusive while single mothers are shown to be more likely to be ineffectual in providing protection or instilling a moral compass. My point with this statement being that it isn’t that single fathers are shown to be better or worse parents, but that they’re shown to be bad parents in patterns that reinforce misogynist gender norms.

I understand the need to show misogyny in order to criticize it. My problem is not that James locks Livia away or says she’s not enough to give her son a moral compass. My problem is that when he says those things no one says “But Aidan’s mother is right there” or “Livia should be the one to pick male role models for her son.” My problem is not that Jed and Gryff treat women in a creepy manner. My problem is that Kahlan doesn’t tell Bronwyn, “Hey, he just tried to talk me into having sex with him.” My problem is that Miranda doesn’t slap Jed and tell him she already told him to stay away. My problem is not that female antagonists are often shown to be schemers (9) but that there are fewer male schemers (3) and they often go unpunished (2/3).

I wouldn’t make a big deal out of this except that the creators seem to think this is female positive.

I disagree.

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December 2016

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