Chapter 24 was described as David going to war, and that fits fairly well. He cut a huge swath through Division Three, which will happen with a vastly powerful superhuman who has mental issues and very little restraint. At the end of things, he left Syd comatose on the deck of the airship. Chapter 25 is her story, which brings back a few people we haven’t seen in a while.
We get a very interesting take on the Astral Plane, where dreams and forgotten objects end up. Oliver Bird, who has been missing for all this season and a bit longer than that, wanders around with a red wagon, collecting lost objects, and brings them home to his wife, Melanie, who has been missing for a roughly equal length of time. This time, Oliver finds something very unusual: a baby in a basket. This, we quickly learn, is Syd after her battle with David. Why or how Oliver and Melanie are here is never really explained, like so much of this show. We also meet the Wolf, a malevolent entity here, who has very different relationships with Oliver and Melanie. There are a lot of fairy tale elements through the episode, and the great majority of it is Oliver and Melanie raising Syd, who begins growing up. Again.
Oliver takes Syd on lots of walks, finding objects and fielding questions. Melanie is the stay at home type, but has a lot of serious talks with the young girl. On one walk, Oliver calls Syd back from a branching in the path, which leads to “the real world,” and a surprising depiction of the same. In one of the clashes between the Birds and the Wolf, a teen or so girl named Cynthia becomes part of the equation, and the Birds adopt her as well. The Wolf isn’t pleased. The Wolf takes a few tries at corrupting Syd, but she’s too strong and too well-prepared by Melanie and Oliver. Cynthia is easier prey, and they eventually lose her to the darkness. Syd starts having nightmares of her old life, and the Birds discuss what to do.
After the Wolf destroys their home in classic fairy tale style, the family Bird relocates to a city, and the time period is not clear at all. After a few glimpses of their life here, we see Syd run across Cynthia again, now with a few tagalong characters who are clearly not good influences. They try and lure Syd to the Wolf’s place, but she wisely goes home. After a family discussion, Syd insists that they try and rescue Cynthia. Melanie and Oliver give her some good advice and loving counsel as they prepare for the next adventure.
They lure the others away with bait geared to their vices, and get inside the Wolf’s place, which is some kind of nightclub. The rescue mission is part sneaking in and part cult deprogramming. Cynthia doesn’t seem convinced she wants to be saved, and then the Wolf manages to track them down. Throwing aside the sort of fairy tale/Ren Faire clothes he’s been wearing the whole episode, Oliver returns to his look from when we met him, in the 60’s style white suit. At the risk of a minor spoiler, Oliver announces this can only end one way: a rap battle. No, that’s not a typo.
It’s not exactly rap, almost more like 60’s beat poetry, which is more appropriate for Oliver anyway. They have several exchanges, and Oliver pulls some nasty tricks out of his bag. He is clearly winning near the end, when something changes and they lose Cynthia anyway. Melanie explains to the stricken Syd that this was all a test/object lesson for her. Finally, Melanie rejoins Oliver in more modern clothing, Syd looks like herself again, and gets sent back to the real world.
Gasping, Syd sits up back in the real world, on the deck where we last saw her, with various dead cultists around. She finds the door Switch left behind, still spinning and growing and shrinking. Syd tries to get inside, but is about as successful as David the first time he tried. Fortunately, she knows just what to do, and goes to find the resident genius.
Cary is patching up Kerry, who is not looking great after her pitched battle. Both seem unclear on exactly what happened. Kerry wonders what will happen to them if David is successful in changing the past, and Cary has to admit he’s not sure. That must be painful for the brilliant inventor/scientist. Syd finds them, explains what she needs, and has Cary get to work. He also comes up with a troubling theory about what’s going on and, in spite of Syd asking him not to, shares it. Kerry comes to a realization, and a sacrifice is called for. Things get more and more tense as the time demons/eaters/blue cats return. Finally, barely, they get where they need to be, and begin their hunt for David and Switch. As Kerry remarks, the past is a big place.
What I liked: While a lot of the time the show seems to try too hard to be too weird, this episode worked in my opinion. The Birds raising Syd and teaching her what she needs to know is really nicely done, and it makes for a great, more or less stand-alone story. It was good to see Oliver and Melanie again; I’d been wondering what happened to them. The “rap battle” was certainly odd, but it also worked, which I probably would have bet against. With only a few episodes left, I give them points for taking time out to do this kind of story.
What I didn’t: I don’t like what happened with Cary and Kerry near the end. I get the stakes are high, but no one takes a moment to even mention the ones they lost? I’m really not wild about these blue cat demons and their stop motion effect.
I’ll give this a solid 3 out of 5. I guess the last few episodes will be Team Syd confronting Legion and company, and then maybe some kind of epilogue.