In the twenty-fifth and penultimate part of Unseen Academicals, United continues to do everything they can to take out the Academicals. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
So, reading back on this, we don’t actually find out what was in the banana, do we? Mrs. Atkinson put something in that banana that made the Librarian fall asleep pretty much instantly. What the hell can do that? And was there magic involved or something else? Regardless, I hope Mrs. Atkinson is held accountable for this because I TRULY DISLIKE HER for poisoning the Librarian! I shouldn’t be surprised, though. United knows they can’t win on talent alone. It’s one of the main reasons why they’re so willing to cheat and to do so openly. Part of it is also just to punish the other team for daring to defy them, for daring to be part of this match in the first place. But Macarona was too talented, as was The Librarian, as is Mr. Nutt and Trev. And they all certainly try to get at Mr. Nutt, but their repetitive taunting of him does not have the effect that they want.
One thing that I want to credit Pratchett for in this long scene is how well he conveys chaos and devolution. Granted, this match is going to be covered by three splits at the least, so I’m looking at this more as a whole. It did not take much time, relatively speaking, for the game to start to fall apart. Yes, part of that was for humor, and in the last split, we saw the silly and hilarious ways in which the game went awry. Here, though, there’s not nearly the same amount of funny content. Instead, Pratchett leans into the dread of chaos. Once the Librarian is out and conveniently, no one can prove anything about who poisoned him, the game feels lost. Henry certainly does not seem to be in control, even if he claims to be. Look what transpires! Andy Shank had a CIRCLE OF PROTECTORS around him. If it weren’t for Mr. Nutt’s fantastic talents, they probably would have destroyed UU.
Then there’s the chanting. Look, Pratchett not only leans into the chaos of mob thought, but he’s directly referencing the horrible—but completely true!!—tendency for sports fans to use bigotry and hatred in defense of their own team. Look, there’s a decades-long history of throwing bananas at Black football players, and not just in Britain. I feel very, very certain that Pratchett was making reference to that. The same goes for bigoted chants. I’ve heard them at sports games before, and I’m sure many of you have heard them, too. Sports can be EXTREMELY racist!!!
So I admire that Pepe brilliantly gets the crowd to chant something else. It takes their attention away from Mr. Nutt, and Trev’s family name becomes closer to something like an invocation, a prayer to times gone by. Which is disturbing, of course, since Trev has no interest in returning to times like that. He promised his mum, and that promise has always meant so much to him. He refused to follow in his father’s shadow, to give in to a culture that ended with his father’s death.
I assumed Trev would return to the field. I did not expect him to be bad at football. Though I definitely want to state that I did figure out what was wrong with only the smallest bit of prompting. Still! Bravo, though, goes to Pratchett, who finds yet another way to narrate the action of the game. I loved the stylized play-by-play by William, since it’s so much more humorous and exciting than if Pratchett had just narrated what had happened. Plus, the switch in POV made it so much cooler! It allowed him to keep us in the game while pulling us out to focus on other parts of the unfolding action, like Glenda’s realization about the tin can and rule 202. I assume that rule has something to do with what “counts” as a football, right? Because she swaps the ball out for Trev’s tin can, which is what Trev knows.
AHHHHH, THEY’RE GONNA WIN, AREN’T THEY???
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