In the twelfth part of Terrier, Beka clashes with Mistress Noll’s son, realizes she has friends, and pursues the Shadow Snake. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Terrier.
Trigger Warning: Talk of abuse and victim blaming, as well as talk about grief/PTSD.
This really feels like the narrative taking a bit of a break from the chaos that came before it, but I don’t want to ignore that there are a few important developments in Beka’s life here. LET’S DISCUSS.
Beka and Yates
Wow, YATES SUCKS. Yesterday. Today. Forever. I didn’t even know that Mistress Noll had a son, and Pierce introduces Yates in a specter of violence and misogyny. And really, I think there’s an importance in Gemma’s later statement that she doesn’t have a choice here. This is her brother. She can’t… not make him a brother? And as we learn from Mistress Noll, Yates has put both his sister and mother in a terrible place because he’s so awful. Mistress Noll still cares about him, so she keeps him busy delivering her baked goods, all in the hope that if she keeps him occupied, then he won’t go off and be a terrible person.
Let’s be real here: there’s nothing redeeming about this character. And it’s so sad to think that Gemma has been suffering his abuse for, most likely, years. Yates seems like the kind of guy who cares not for the repercussions of his actions as long as he gets to do what he wants. Gods, it’s even more upsetting when you think about how he initially tries to frame his disagreement with Beka as if he’s protecting her:
“We’re workin’ folk here, and my sister’s a respectable mot, not some Rovers Street trull.”
Yet it’s only a few moments later that he’s shoving her to the ground. This is about control and power for him, isn’t it? So yeah, I absolutely love that Beka refuses to take his shit and demonstrates very literally what it’s like to have power shifted away from him. Her physical dominance over him is so meaningful because of this. That’s why I’m worried about what Lady Sabine tells Beka and (specifically) Gemma. There’s a clear power dynamic at work here, and it’s always present when you’re talking about abuse. I liked that Sabine recommended that Gemma protect herself by seeking sanctuary in the Goddess’s temple, but the eye roll when Gemma tries to explain why she can’t just up and leave Mistress Noll? Yeah, no thanks. Not only does that not help at all, it’s way too victim-blame-y for my tastes. Gemma has a complicated situation to deal with, and ignoring that does no good for anyone. And I’ve known people who have never dealt with abuse who believe that leaving an abusive situation is as easy as merely making a choice. It’s one of the hardest things to explain to them! I remember when I first started opening up about my own abuse in my first relationship, and I can’t tell you how many times I heard well-meaning, smart people say, “Well, why didn’t you just break up with him?”
WELL THANK YOU. I HADN’T THOUGHT OF THAT. THE THOUGHT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME.
Anyway, let’s talk about F R I E N D S H I P.
Beka is so worried the following morning that her newly-assembled group of friends aren’t going to want to hang out with her, but she discovers that they actually enjoy the peace and quiet. It’s just as much of a routine for them as it is for her! Of course, there’s also the super incredible dynamic of it being people from both sides of the law, and I’m WAY INTO IT. That’s why I was full of ~intense emotions~ by the reaction to Beka telling the group about the Shadow Snake. Obviously, it was a risky move, and for Beka, she worried that her friends would think she was being too serious. Ah, I just find this so gloriously adorable, you know? Beka’s got a lot of social anxiety surrounding how she’s perceived (HELLO, YET ANOTHER TAMORA PIERCE CHARACTER THAT I CAN PROJECT ALL OVER), and you can definitely see that as she tries to get her friends to consider the Shadow Snake a real threat.
But it’s that same genuine nature that these people respond to, you know? They believe her and they trust her because she’s given them no reason not to. AND EVERYONE IS FRIENDS AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH.
Beka’s Night Shift
(Oh god, I haven’t re-read Night Shift in a few years. I should do that, as I’m convinced that Stephen King’s short story work is way better than his novels.)
I know headcanons can be a dangerous thing, but as soon as Goodwin told Beka not to go get all sentimental about new gear, I seriously could not see anyone else in this character except Rosa Diaz. THEY’RE THE SAME, I AM CONVINCED.
So, how about that reveal that Rosto had killed someone the night before, and then came to breakfast at Beka’s the next morning without any evidence that he’d done such a thing? Good lord, it’s disturbing. And it’s a way for Beka to reflect on her attraction to Rosto and her friendship with him. Note how she’s quick to offer a defense for Rosto instead of accepting that it’s possible that he had killed someone who came for Ulsa. Why is that so out of the question for her? I imagine that because she likes him, she also wants him to be as uncomplicated as possible. But this complicates things, doesn’t it?
Goodwin is quick to make things complicated, too, when she outright asks Mistress Noll about the Shadow Snake. And Mistress Noll’s reaction scares me. Here’s someone who trusts Goodwin, Tunstall, and Beka, and yet, she’s tight-lipped. She knows that the Shadow Snake has been operating for years, and she’s not going to press her luck by admitting it. So what the FUCK is going on??? I mean, this whole situation is horrific. Beka mentions earlier that the Shadow Snake had initially gone after the poor before attacking Crookshank, so the person (or people????) behind this is already a despicable waste for exploiting the people at the bottom.
We unfortunately don’t get to find out anything more because Goodwin is interrupted by the appearance of Tansy. Lord, it’s just so sad. Tansy is obviously not at all okay, and what Pierce writes here is raw and painful. Tansy is clearly trying as hard as she can to maintain appearances, but it’s easier said than done. She lashes out to her maid cruelly; her smile wavers constantly; she’s confrontational with Mistress Noll, even when Tansy is dealing with her own guilt of saying something horrible long ago about Mistress Noll losing her own children. Tansy is a portrait of someone wrecked with grief and loss, and it’s haunting, y’all.
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