Sunday, November 8, 2020

Season 15, Episodes 1-2

Sylvie and I have begun a new season of Lady Penelope's Odyssey, starting with a diptych set in 1901 Ireland featuring the visionary poet W.B. Yeats and misguided mystics meddling with the Ancient Powers of the Earth... 

Episode 1: An Otherworldly Lady
Dublin, October 1901. The energy of the new century has reinvigorated the spirit of ancient ages. Enjoying a bit of temporal tourism in a beautiful city brimming with dreams, ideas and visions, Lady Penelope meets the greatest Irish poet of his time, William Butler Yeats, who also happens to believe in Magic, Faeries and the Unseen… Let the play begin!
Episode 2: Sleeping Gods
Samhain draws near. A time where the Gates to the Otherworld open and the Unseelie wreak havoc upon the world of man. Following the events in Dublin, Penelope and Yeats arrive in Coole Park, home of the famous Lady Augusta Gregory on the west coast of Ireland. Can they stop the agents of the Red Twilight before they awake the dark, ancient powers of the land?

As can probably be guessed from the above blurbs, the two episodes were linked by the same overall plotline but each adventure also had its own objectives, making them a diptych rather than a two-parter. They had somewhat contrasting settings (Dublin for episode 1 and Coole Park - that's near Galway, on the west coast of Ireland - for episode 2, with some glorious autumnal woods) but explored the same milieu (the Celtic Revival, in its various aspects - cultural, political and even mystical). 

Episode 1 was centered on a devious scheme hatched by the notorious Aleister Crowley (who had quite a history, to put it mildly, with W.B. Yeats, his "fellow" Golden Dawn member) to destroy Yeats' reputation, involving a certain Rose Doherty, a (fictional) young woman completely enthralled by Crowley's hypnotic powers who would have met a tragic end if Penelope hadn't intervened to thwart the Great Beast's dark designs. Crowley himself was absent from the story (he was travelling abroad at the time and had set the whole thing beforehand, much like switching on a time-bomb before leaving the scene) but his presence was felt throughout the story, as the unseen manipulator and mastermind.  In order to carry out his plans of vengeance, Crowley had allied himself with an Irish (fictional) secret society, the Red Twilight, whose own dangerous dabbling with ancient powers provided the narrative link between the two episodes. Of course, their secret emblem was a radient red sun on a green field - Crowley's own design for the future flag of Ireland (yes, he did that too). 

Episode 2 involved the Lloigor and an undiscovered, very important bit of Tanu lore - two races who have regularly featured in our series (check the previous seasons...) and who really couldn't be left out of a story set in Ireland, since the Tanu are obviously based on the Tuatha dé Danann (or, as far as our series' fictional reality is concerned, the other way around...) and my own version of the Lloigor include quite a few parallels with the mythical Fomorians...

Both episodes were a joy to play, with quite a few beautiful (and even poetic) moments of emotion. Penelope acted as the elusive woman of mystery, with some decidedly fey undertones - an Otherworldly Lady, to quote the title of the first episode - as well as a very responsible, level-headed Time Lord, putting things right, safeguarding History and dropping a few words of wisdom and inspiration before vanishing in her TARDIS...  

We also had some nice comedic moments - such as when the Red Twilight guys realized that Penelope perfectly understood Gaelic (thanks to the TARDIS' translation circuits) or when Yeats narrated the notorious "Battle of Blythe Road" between him and Crowley (just check it out...), turning what had obviously been a somewhat grotesque scuffle into a mystical battle of wills between two mages.

The diptych featured some notable Irish historical personages in addition to Yeats and Lady Gregory: George Moore, Douglas Hyde and Lady Gregory's son William Robert, a future WWI flying ace whose death in 1918 inspired one of Yeats' more moving poems, An Irishman Foresees his Death (which I gave to the player during the epilogue).

Last words: the starting events of our next episode will obviously be dictated by the consequences of episode 2... so perhaps our Irish Diptych will turn out to be a Triptych. 

See you soon! 


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