17 Apr 2015

Unruly - The Great Jennifer Round-Up Chapter 3 - Commentary

Caitlin took her girls into the heart of the Jennifers, a dangerous place to be.  Welcome to the commentary!  Please read the chapter first to avoid spoilers and so that what follows makes sense.  This gets a bit lengthy, so the discussion starts after the break.

The opening paragraphs riff off horror and suspense movies.  All the usual signs that the travellers should turn back right now that get ignored are there - flickering lights, ominous tapping, sudden darkness.  Autumn and Laura have seen horror movies.  Caitlin hasn't, she prefers a good war movie, with the occasional romance hidden away.  Laura has also seen the Pirates of the Carribbean movies.

Jenn returns.  Once I knew there was a Jennifer of Jennifers, I knew I would have her as the Voice of the Jennifers.  Jenn comes fully equipped with sardonic sarcasm, so she's a teenager.  She's also dealing with the disappearance of her classmates.  Given that the rest of the school only cares about the Jennifers to keep the Headmistress from coming down on them, Jenn is justified in her testiness.  The attitude of the seniors is that they had their turn at herding Jennifers the previous year, let the juniors deal with them.

The reference to Union Station and its busy-ness.  Union Station is Toronto's passenger rail hub, the equivalent to Grand Central Station in New York City.  Union Station handles not just VIA, Canada's passenger railway, but also GO Transit (commuter rail to as far out as Oshawa and Niagara Falls), the TTC (station and transfer point for Toronto's subway system and a terminus for the streetcars), and even Amtrak (the Maple Leaf to New York City).  Union Station is busy.

Cassie is fun to inflict on Caitlin.  The blonde girl just gets on the redhead's nerves.  Cassie never gets names right.  "Kitty-Cait" gets under Caitlin's skin.  "Skyescraper" annoys Skye, who can't do anything because of Rule Three, "Support your sisters."  Laura doesn't mind Lorelei; she already has an assumed name, and Lorelei sounds nicer to her ears.  I couldn't think of a decent name for Cassie to use on Autumn, but soon realized that the worst thing that the blonde could do is just not call Autumn anything.  Autumn doesn't have an annoying nickname; Cassie just calls her "the geek", more or less a dismissal.  Cassie's roommates don't escape the nicknames, either.  While Flora and Fawna are used to no one remembering their names, Vamsi gets "Vammie".

Vamsi's dorm is far more personalized than Caitlin's.  The personality of each of her roommates shows up.  I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to match up the different elements to the character responsible, but it should be obvious now that each of Vamsi's roomies have been introduced.  If in doubt, ask yourself this, "What would a girl who specializes in procurement get for herself?"  Vamsi is the girl to go to if an Unruly needs almost anything.  Military gear takes longer, as Caitlin and Laura found out in The New Girl Chapter 7.  Tea and coffee take very little time, though.  Vamsi always has a market for that.  The rooibos tea she mentions exists; it is a South African tea that is naturally decaffeinated.  I discovered it at a tea store, then found other flavours of it, including a red berry rooibos.

Caitlin's reasoning is sound.  Even expected visitors might not get in and out of the Academy's grounds safely, as demonstrated in The New Girl Chapter 1.  People sneaking in wouldn't survive getting to the building.  Think of the Jennifers as the velociraptors in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (aka, Jurassic Park II), in the long grass.  Caitlin believes it has to be someone that the Jennifers recognize as being at the Academy, though even that is tenuous.

The stakes are finally set.  The Unrulies, as much as they may or may not like their fellow students, know that the Academy is a great place to learn what they need in a way that most schools, let alone society, would condone.  The Jennifers need to be found, or the Academy could be closed and the girls sent to someplace far worse.

Down in the Jennifer lair, Laura does her own investigation.  She's still working on her premise, that the Jennifers were drugged.  Laura works to her strengths.  Jenn demonstrates why the premise doesn't work, using Autumn as the test rat.  The demonstration shows Caitlin's point, that whoever took the Jennifers had to be an insider, but makes it harder for Laura's hypothesis.  The Jennifers are too well entrenched to be taken by force.

Rule One, "Always wear your uniform," was inspired by the Geneva Conventions and how they were interpreted in World War II.  The Conventions requires countries who have signed the treaty to treat prisoners-of-war humanely, as opposed to shooting them on sight.  The catch, soldiers need to be wearing uniforms.  When Britain created commando units, the soldiers in them had a different uniform, one meant for camouflage and stealth.  Germany did not recognize the uniforms, though, and treated the commando units as spies, not soldiers.  Spies didn't fall under the Geneva Conventions.  From there, both the Academy and St. Dymphna got their rules on uniforms.  If a girl from either school is caught doing anything and isn't wearing her uniform, woe be unto her.  Headmistress Stone's policy is to send the girl back into her original mess with no assistance.  The threat alone is enough to keep girls like Autumn and Vamsi from ditching their uniforms when it's convenient.

As for the nuns of St. Dymphna, it's not just the Academy that gets staff who were alumni.  Some of St. Dymphna's nuns also admire the Penguin from The Blues Brothers.

Tomorrow, Chapter 3, "We Are All Jennifer".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, continuing the history of adaptations with the early years of film.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

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