My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Episode 7: Bread Crumbs
Well, didn’t see any of that coming. Wow. Well, not totally true — I’d figured something a lot like what happened with Demi at the end of the episode was coming. But McGuire’s been leading us to that for awhile now, so that’s not a knock on her ability to surprise the reader. Given how many different things happened in this episode, that’s still a really good ratio.
More stuff — little things, episodic things, character things, overarching plot things, comic things, curious things, puzzling things — happened in this episode than any other. The pacing was far different, too — there was an urgency to everything that unfolded that matched what was going on for the characters. The team split up to deal with several narrative events — their night was chaotic, messy, and terrible — and the writing matched that. I read this a few days ago, and more than any single plot point, that feeling sticks with me.
Not that the plot points have faded — this is one of those bits of writing that burns itself into your brain for awhile. Every character is well-served, even the constantly under-utilized Andy. He gets more ink — and action — here than in the first six episodes combined. We learn a lot about him along the way — and while Jeff is featured as much as he usually is, we learn as much about him as Andy.
This is an episode where the changes to the narrative are front and center, on display for Henry’s team to see as clearly as it is for the reader — and the rest of the Agency. Not just the potentially earth-shattering events are lived through, but paradigm-shifting realizations are reached. The road for these five just got a lot bumpier ahead.
In the midst of this heaviness, McGuire puts a well-placed bit of comedy (possibly two, depending how you take the latter). Henry and Sloane are working to keep a Peter Pan from attempting to launch himself off a roof and discover that he really can’t fly. I wondered if instead of trying to stop him, what if they made him think a lot of happy thoughts — would that have actually permitted him to fly? In a world where a Snow White manifestation can actually talk to birds, I wouldn’t have thought so. But maybe. With time running out and their normal efforts failing, Sloane does the smartest, most inventive thing I’ve seen anyone in this book do to help this boy grow up. I laughed out loud as I realized what she was up to, and kept it up through her execution. I’m still not sure why Henry was so against it.
I’m more invested in this story than I’ve been at any point since I started reading it, and cannot wait for Episode 8.