A Wrinkle in Time was one of my absolute favorite books as a child. It was one of the earliest books I can remember reading, and I devoured all the books in the series before I ever knew that such a thing as “fanfiction” existed. (Nine-year-old me wrote some stories about protagonist Meg Murry’s brothers, the twins Sandy and Dennys Murry—good thing I’ve since lost them!) After I got busy with college and post-college life, though, I mostly forgot about these books, which is why it was such a delight when the trailer for the new adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time burst onto the scene this weekend.
We left last week’s episode with Cosima locked in Westmoreland’s basement and Kira determined to take a more active role in her family’s crusade against Rachel. So of course the clone we start out with this week is… Krystal? With only a few episodes left, it makes sense that she would come back to wrap up her plotline, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it quite so much.
Children play a lot of different roles in fiction. Sometimes they embody innocence and goodness, such as in Rise of the Guardians or Hook. Other times, they’re used in direct contrast to that in order to create a sense of horror. Small creepy children with magical powers are… well, creepy. When we think of children, most people think of innocence, and there’s a reason for that. After all, many children have yet to be exposed to the horrors of living and their naivety only helps to reinforce the idea that they are good deep down. As such, when our media gives us children with awesome powers, especially if those children are evil, it plays into our fears by perverting something many of us commonly see as good.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Spider-Man: Homecoming. I did really enjoy Tom Holland’s outing as Spidey in Captain America: Civil War, but I was kind of out of the loop for the pre-movie publicity (I barely even remember the trailers) and I felt going in more like I was seeing it out of MCU obligation than genuine hype. Plus, I still had some lingering resentment from the whole “pushing back the entire MCU production schedule to slot another white dude in” thing.
Coming out of Spider-Man: Homecoming, however, I had a big ol’ grin on my face. This movie was fantastically well-crafted and cast, and was loads of fun while also telling a heartfelt and complex story at its core.
Major plot spoilers after the cut! Please don’t read if you are planning to see it; it’s really worth going in unspoiled!
Our society has a poor relationship with gender, which is bad for reality, but gets interesting in fiction. This dynamic is pushed to some possible conclusion in works such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Bitch Planet, or Stepford Wives. In these stories, the degrading treatment of women in the present day becomes far more explicit and sinister. We aren’t just looking at microaggressions and lower pay, but being forced into servitude or stripped of all agency. Stories like these are both good cautionary tales and thought experiments, and they can more easily highlight some of the harder-to-see marginalizations women face. But sometimes, an author wants to shock the audience by flipping the gendered treatment of the characters. In some stories, we get to see matriarchal societies and how they tend to operate, which is useful for examining our own biases. But whenever I see these, I wonder if this is how things would actually go.
A month or so ago, we saw some of the drafts for a Wonder Woman movie penned by Joss Whedon. To put it lightly, it caught some flak. Within the droves of criticism, some commenters pointed out that Diana would most likely not resort to insulting someone by telling them to “be man enough.” First off, she was previously unfamiliar with the concept of men in general. Second, as an Amazon her frame of what is strong would include only women. So if anything, she would say to “woman up,” but again, the gender thing wouldn’t come up the same way, because she doesn’t even know men existed. Third, would a society completely comprised of women still value strength as one of its key tenets and judge someone’s value on their bravery and toughness? For a warrior society, maybe, but not necessarily. Would their values be roughly the same as our more patriarchal society, just with a gender flip? I started thinking about it, and then I got to thinking about other times this theme caught my attention.
Back when it premiered in 2014, I settled down excitedly to watch Starz Network’s early-1700s pirate drama Black Sails. I had a notion going in that it was being marketed as Starz’s answer to HBO’s Game of Thrones, and would be trying hard to fold in a comparable amount of sex, depravity, and violence. I wasn’t wrong, but the first episode of Black Sails introduced a lesbian relationship that felt so painfully tailored to the male gaze that I actually lost interest and stopped watching, certain that the rest of the show would be cringeworthy. I only gave the show another shot as of a few months ago, when my partner kept asking if we could watch it together. Had it not been for them, I would have done the same thing over again, because the lesbian scenes were as bad as I had remembered. But we slogged through episode one, and as the show went on, I was surprised to find that things turned around in the best possible way.
Spoilers for the entirety of Black Sails below.
I still feel like I’m hearing the Game of Thrones theme in my head (via vignette1)
there is a story among the Naboo, about a girl who went down to the shore and saw a man drowning, there in the deep water. She was a great swimmer (children of Naboo are) and so she shed her clothing and came out to him with strong, sure strokes. Yet he was desperate and flailing and would not heed her, and in his panic he dragged her down with him, into the dark water.
Her lungs were not so deep as his. She drowned.
this is a lesson, the mothers of Naboo tell their children. sometimes, to be strong and good-hearted is not enough to save yourself.
No one on Naboo seems to remember the name of the girl who went down to the shore. Girls in tales don’t need names.
(this story is different among the gungans. They say: there was a girl, and as she sank down into the darkness and the mud, she opened her eyes and breathed in, and she became a gungan, for nothing is made and nothing is destroyed, and all water that was once snow comes around again in rain.
Death is a rare thing, the gungans say. The rest is just a change of states.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the next Star Wars movie lately, and about the astronomical (ha) hopes I have pinned on it to be even better than the last. I went looking for fics to preemptively fill the hole in my heart, but in the end I discovered one that, while excellent, doesn’t really speculate about the future of the sequel trilogy at all. (The AO3 gods are just like that sometimes.) While those immortal dead doesn’t offer any great ideas about what might happen next, it does offer a bittersweet perspective into what has already happened: namely, the passing of Padmé Amidala and its effect on the people in whose lives she would have otherwise been.