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FourLeaf
Dec 2, 2011


I found the first two episodes mediocre because of lame dialogue and annoying editing choices. I don't need frequent slow motion to understand that bad things are happening. I also agree with everyone saying that the pop music choices clash horribly with the intended tone.

The third episode suffered from these issues too, but it was offset by the horror of what was happening and the performances. It was the first really great episode imo. Who knew Alexis Bledel had range?

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precision
May 7, 2006

Would you like to challenge?


Strahovski is the real surprise, she was a highlight of noted bad show Chuck (well, it had two good seasons) but "range" was not something I'd seen from her yet, and she is doing very well here.

JUICY HAMBUGAR
Nov 10, 2010

Eating, America's pastime.

I don't get all this arguing about whether or not The Handmaid's Tale could happen so quickly when Daesh currently exists but with less resources and more enemies than a fictional Gilead.

Daesh declared itself a caliphate in June 2014, its been 3 years and the whole of life has been changed, especially for women, in areas under their control.

The fall of the Soviet Union provides another example of a creeping change and then a destabilizing shock that reformed much of society in very short order.

JUICY HAMBUGAR fucked around with this message at Apr 30, 2017 around 06:39

spite house
Apr 28, 2009





JUICY HAMBUGAR posted:

The fall of the Soviet Union provides another example of a creeping change and then a destabilizing shock that reformed much of society in very short order.
The Russian revolution fits the bill too, come to think of it.

CeeJee
Dec 4, 2001


This sounds like a world where the plan from Utopia was successfully carried out.

Blind Rasputin
Nov 25, 2002


This show is reverse misogyny imho

McSpanky
Jan 16, 2005




The Children of Men angle really solves all of the plausibility problems for me with regards to how quickly things changed and the like. The amplified pressure on reproduction amplifies the extreme measures this society goes to in controlling it. Which is in no way a justification of them, but a pretty good justification of their dramatic rate of change in such a short time frame.

Ardennes
May 12, 2002

It will always be about people.


McSpanky posted:

The Children of Men angle really solves all of the plausibility problems for me with regards to how quickly things changed and the like. The amplified pressure on reproduction amplifies the extreme measures this society goes to in controlling it. Which is in no way a justification of them, but a pretty good justification of their dramatic rate of change in such a short time frame.

The biggest difference if anything is that British Government in the Children of Men (the only one we know of existing) becomes a police state in attempt to keep order in comparison far-right fundamentalists in the US say saw the fertility issue as a prime opportunity for creating their perfect society.

I mean in all honesty we (the West) are already sliding in a more authoritarian direction as it is, what would it take for to push us over the edge?

precision
May 7, 2006

Would you like to challenge?


Ardennes posted:

I mean in all honesty we (the West) are already sliding in a more authoritarian direction as it is, what would it take for to push us over the edge?

If the police started literally just murdering protestors I feel comfortable in estimating that half the adult population of America would want to just run the gently caress away as fast as possible. Especially if they thought it was isolated to big cities or whatever and they could just run to Kansas or Colorado.

Chop Sunni
Aug 13, 2007



Lipstick Apathy

The birthing group in episode two (and I guess the 'fake' one) is directly lifted from traditional FGM rituals right?

whalesteak
May 6, 2013



precision posted:

e: you know just once we could have a thread without devolving into the argument of tactical realism

I'm not a "tactical realism" type, but eventually it does get a little stale that tv and movies always skip that crucial revolutionary period and go straight to post-apocalyptic new order. Obviously this isn't Atwood's fault, but it would be interesting if they picked up the show for another season and did a loose Fargo-style prequel. Or even a Black Mirror-style anthology of episodes from the time "before", showing the discreet steps to full on 19th century prairie bonnets and human slavery.

Plus, there are so many interesting mechanisms of ideological takeover they could explore, I have a hard time understanding why more shows don't write about them.

I could imagine they'd be able to get some mileage out of setting the birth of Gilead in flyover country, where the coasts don't realize until too late how pervasive and how serious the new fundamentalism has become. What if a national school voucher program instituted shortly after modern Black Tuesday or 9/11 meant that poor families were suddenly "homeschooling" children for the meager injection of cash?

As fertility dropped, perhaps red became a fashionable color for pregnant women to advertise their fertility. Or during a civil war, red windbreakers were issued by the Red Cross to pregnant or fertile women to advertise their noncombatant status, and the punishments for improper use of those garments was increasingly harsh, culminating in public hangings. Maybe the handmaidens' origin was a national grant program for surrogates? Or maybe the gov't starts levying fines ("healthcare surcharges"?) against companies that employee fertile women. If the country is in a deep enough depression, maybe it becomes necessary for women to consolidate rations/households and raise a child together. Or maybe households with a child get double rations, and couples bring in any single or potentially childbearing female relatives in hopes of hitting the jackpot.

A flood destroys an entire year's crops and washes away homes in a dozen midwestern states, and the US has to open WWII-style feeding kitchens, run and staffed entirely by widowed sodexo job corps employees in their drab grey uniforms. An episode could follow one of these job corps women back to her dormitory in an old warehouse just in time to learn that there are openings for some of these employees to contract out into homes.

Since one of the biggest themes in the book is how women work so hard to keep one another down in an effort to scrape together a little comfort for themselves, it would be so drat interesting (to me at least) to work on these incremental stories. Whether it's about bottom of the barrel cafeteria employees fighting over a job where they'd still be slaves, but slaves with a door on the toilet, or about how, for a time, fertile women enjoyed a lot of status and lorded it over other women in society, particularly the rich women who couldn't buy a coveted red windbreaker with all the money in the world.

whalesteak fucked around with this message at Apr 30, 2017 around 23:44

Groovelord Neato
Dec 6, 2014



it is interesting that there was criticism of the book on release saying it was hyperbolic and amounting to "it can't happen here" but she was proved right in the end. but the book is an exploration on how such a society negatively affects not only the direct victims like offred, minorities, and other women but also negatively affects the ruling class such as serena joy being treated as less than a person despite being instrumental in the takeover and even commander fred who yearns for an emotional and physical connection beyond just mechnical loving for procreation. not to mention the grunts who don't have normal "access" to women that they would in a free society. it's why reading the reviews from the time the book was released was so baffling to me, the book is actually nuanced in how it deals with the characters being affected by such a society. how gilead came to be in the nitty gritty details (as opposed to just a general "this can happen here") is probably not even a tertiary concern of the work.

i honestly can't think of any dystopia in fiction that's actually realistic in a "tactical realism" sense.

Groovelord Neato fucked around with this message at Apr 30, 2017 around 22:13

whalesteak
May 6, 2013



Groovelord Neato posted:

i honestly can't think of any dystopia in fiction that's actually realistic in a "tactical realism" sense.

I don't really know what tactical realism actually is, but to me, Children of Men is what I'm imagining. Every scene felt so connected to our world and plausible, I had no trouble suspending disbelief.

JUICY HAMBUGAR
Nov 10, 2010

Eating, America's pastime.

RE: Tactical realism

In the book the revolutionary period is still in motion but nearing its end. Certain bits in the story ahead (Jezebels, the Commander's contraband, the discussion of Gilead in the epilogue) show that there are still rifts between the appearance of a uniform new society and the actuality of it.

precision
May 7, 2006

Would you like to challenge?


Oh, to be sure, I would watch the gently caress out of a "prequel season" if for some reason they decided to do that. I'm just saying I don't need to see it to believe (enough) in the premise.

INH5
Dec 17, 2012
Error: file not found.

whalesteak posted:

I could imagine they'd be able to get some mileage out of setting the birth of Gilead in flyover country, where the coasts don't realize until too late how pervasive and how serious the new fundamentalism has become.

Yeah, the biggest problem that I have with the premise is that it is set in New England of all places. In real life, groups like ISIS and the Taliban tend to form in sparsely populated areas where national governments are weaker, and they also tend to form during times of chaos where to many local people they can actually seem to be an improvement over the alternatives at first. See, for example, Wikipedia's description of the Taliban's rise to power:

Wikipedia posted:

In 1991, the Taliban (a movement originating from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-run religious schools for Afghan refugees in Pakistan) also developed in Afghanistan as a politico-religious force. The most often-repeated story and the Taliban's own story of how Mullah Omar first mobilized his followers is that in the spring of 1994, neighbors in Singesar told him that the local governor had abducted two teenage girls, shaved their heads, and taken them to a camp where they were raped. 30 Taliban (with only 16 rifles) freed the girls, and hanged the governor from the barrel of a tank. Later that year, two militia commanders killed civilians while fighting for the right to sodomize a young boy. The Taliban freed him.

If the story had been set in Mormon country, the Midwest, or the Bible Belt and the backstory involved the infertility plague and other disasters leading to a widespread collapse of civil order, and a Branch Davidians-esque group that had prepared for such a collapse taking advantage of the power vacuum to conquer a sizeable chunk of territory then, yes, I could buy that as a setup for a story about life under an American Taliban.

But some religious militia massacres Congress, declares that it is in charge now, issues crazypants orders to do things like ban women from working, and state and local governments in some of the most liberal parts of the country just nod and go along with it? Come on.

timp
Sep 18, 2007

Everything is in my control


Lipstick Apathy

That one verse from the theme song to Mystery Science Theater 3000 comes to mind. You know the one.

Seriously, why nitpick all this stuff? Is it causing some of you to not enjoy the show as much? Like, I love The Expanse - that's a hard sci fi show that prides itself on scientific realism wrt physics, engineering, biology, etc, so discussing inconsistencies and lapses in realism every now and then makes sense. But that is so NOT the point of this show, imo. It's a "what if" sort of parallel universe that has some uncomfortable similarities to our current American society. Enjoy the show for what it is, and if you can't do that then, I dunno, watch something else I guess?

I don't mean to be so negative, so on a positive note, I'm really enjoying this show so far. I checked to see if someone had made a thread a few days ago and there was none, so thanks to the OP for putting one together. I'm excited so see where things go; hopefully Offred gets to use that cattle prod on the teacher lady at some point.

Pinky Artichoke
Apr 10, 2011

Dinner has blossomed.

Groovelord Neato posted:

i do not like the changes they've made from the book (it's one of my all time favorites) especially straight up telling you her name. i liked figuring it out on a reread. the regime's worse in the book, they've neutered the white supremacy angle which whitewashes (heh) the fact that the "moral majority" irl got into politics not because of abortion etc but because the federal government forced them to integrate their universities or lose federal funding.

I really love the individual black characters in the show thus far...but yes. Removing the white supremacy angle makes it feel less authentic to the US's actual heavily-armed authoritarian rear end in a top hat problem.

neonburzt
Jul 25, 2010


Bifner McDoogle posted:

This is a good joke, but it's also a good example of what I mean. Boston without the Red Socks as an institution is probably more absurd and incredible than a Boston that treats women like cattle, but that doesn't really undercut the point the show is actually making. It's just fun to point out as a way to laugh and relieve some tensions after episode 3 ends with one gay woman being hung as hastily and coldly as a loving Christmas ornament followed and her lover, who is fertile and thus too valuable to kill, undergoes a forced clitorectomy to keep her from experiencing sex as anything but a means to bear children ever again. Goddamn, this show pulls no punches and is all the better for it.

Thanks for the explanation for the end of episode 3. Wasn't sure what they did to her.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.



Pinky Artichoke posted:

I really love the individual black characters in the show thus far...but yes. Removing the white supremacy angle makes it feel less authentic to the US's actual heavily-armed authoritarian rear end in a top hat problem.

Maybe the resettlement will happen in the future since Show Gilead hasn't conquered the Midwest yet?

whalesteak
May 6, 2013



precision posted:

I'm just saying I don't need to see it to believe (enough) in the premise.


I get that. For me it's just an issue of personal taste- I feel like the show keeps referencing the "before" (presumably real life, at some time in the past 5 years) in flashbacks and soundtrack but is failing to really anchor the main story in the present day. It sort of feels like the showrunner is trying to have it both ways. Gilead is so alien, but also it's us, man.

I'm not sure if I wish the show were more dense (a la Children of Men) or slowed down more. It felt like they switched out Ofglen too fast, after only giving lipservice to the resistance. And the particicution felt like it happened too early in the story- I wasn't quite sure if they were trying to demonstrate that in this version, Ofred was attacking the dude because she feared retribution, or was venting frustration, or had internalized her role and presumed feelings as a handmaid.

I get that this may have been left purposefully ambiguous, but it didn't feel that way to me as I watched. I felt more as though the storytelling was just a bit muddy.

I will say, these are small quibbles, I still enjoyed the first episodes, and I've enjoyed some of the other choices the showrunner has made. Casting Serena as a much younger woman adds to both the tension and perverse camaraderie between them. And making the commander plausibly attractive and Nick less so will change the coming dynamic in those relationships as well. I'm sure it's not helping that I haven't read the book in over 15 years, so vague memories might color the impressions I get of some scenes.

whalesteak
May 6, 2013



timp posted:

Enjoy the show for what it is, and if you can't do that then, I dunno, watch something else I guess?

"If you find any part of the show less enjoyable than any other part, don't discuss how it might be better, just stop watching" is a really stupid thing to say on a message board devoted to discussing tv.

timp
Sep 18, 2007

Everything is in my control


Lipstick Apathy

whalesteak posted:

"If you find any part of the show less enjoyable than any other part, don't discuss how it might be better, just stop watching" is a really stupid thing to say on a message board devoted to discussing tv.

What I actually said was if you don't enjoy the show, don't watch it

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

Part of it is just about storytelling. The story that is being told in this, and most post-apocalyptic stories, is about how people living in a situation. The story of how things got that way is a fundamentally different story.

Professor Shark
May 22, 2012



College Slice

whalesteak posted:

"If you find any part of the show less enjoyable than any other part, don't discuss how it might be better, just stop watching" is a really stupid thing to say on a message board devoted to discussing tv.

I call this "TVIV Syndrome", it's how you end up with threads full of people posting !!!!!!!! over and over for bland network hack poo poo and then telling people to just stop watching/ stop posting when they suggest a show could have done something better

Anyway, I enjoyed the first episode. It's been almost a decade since I read the book, I think I'll pick up a copy this summer.

precision
May 7, 2006

Would you like to challenge?


whalesteak posted:

I'm not sure if I wish the show were more dense (a la Children of Men) or slowed down more.

I mean, I get where you're coming from - it's something that I thought as well, especially since it's the biggest deviation from the source material so far (making it seem "closer")

Groovelord Neato
Dec 6, 2014



in the book they don't tell you it's cambridge, mass. you'd only figure it out being a local and recognizing where she goes shopping and where people are hanged.

OhAreThey
Oct 12, 2012


Loving the show so far. I'm interested to see if there will be more flashbacks to the Red Center training. I remember from the book that the women were shown violent pornography and told that this was how women used to be treated and that in Gilead they would be safe and honored as women. Atwood was taking a dig at anti-porn feminists as well as religious zealots and right-wingers in the book. It came out in 1985, which was at the height of the culture war between anti-porn feminists and sex-positive feminists: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femin...graphy_movement

tetrapyloctomy
Feb 18, 2003

Okay -- you talk WAY too fast.

Jesus. This is good but it's so hard to watch.

Ego-bot
Jul 8, 2007


Does the book ever say where these radioactive 'colonies' are?

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.



Ego-bot posted:

Does the book ever say where these radioactive 'colonies' are?

Scattered throughout America, along with other "colonies" for toxic waste spills. Both environmental hazards have contributed to the plummeting viable birth rate.

Ardennes
May 12, 2002

It will always be about people.


INH5 posted:

Yeah, the biggest problem that I have with the premise is that it is set in New England of all places. In real life, groups like ISIS and the Taliban tend to form in sparsely populated areas where national governments are weaker, and they also tend to form during times of chaos where to many local people they can actually seem to be an improvement over the alternatives at first. See, for example, Wikipedia's description of the Taliban's rise to power:


If the story had been set in Mormon country, the Midwest, or the Bible Belt and the backstory involved the infertility plague and other disasters leading to a widespread collapse of civil order, and a Branch Davidians-esque group that had prepared for such a collapse taking advantage of the power vacuum to conquer a sizeable chunk of territory then, yes, I could buy that as a setup for a story about life under an American Taliban.

But some religious militia massacres Congress, declares that it is in charge now, issues crazypants orders to do things like ban women from working, and state and local governments in some of the most liberal parts of the country just nod and go along with it? Come on.

I think the issue is that the Sons of Jacob were able to get a hold of the traditional power structure of the US and use it against the populace. Most of them were probably from more rural areas, but they got in through essentially a coup and once they got control over the US military that is it. It wouldn't be the first time that local governments just completely buckle under a new regime that has a monopoly of force.

Granted, I wouldn't say it is a very realistic scenario, I would say that I could see most our traditional elite buckling under such a scenario especially if they felt they still had a place in the new regime.

Thwomp
Apr 9, 2003

BA-DUHHH

Grimey Drawer

Ardennes posted:

I think the issue is that the Sons of Jacob were able to get a hold of the traditional power structure of the US and use it against the populace. Most of them were probably from more rural areas, but they got in through essentially a coup and once they got control over the US military that is it. It wouldn't be the first time that local governments just completely buckle under a new regime that has a monopoly of force.

Granted, I wouldn't say it is a very realistic scenario, I would say that I could see most our traditional elite buckling under such a scenario especially if they felt they still had a place in the new regime.

I think we can infer the general timeline of what happened.

1) Fertility rates begin dropping, society attempts to find a cause and solution
2) Society is unable to find a cause/solution to the fertility question, people begin to despair/grasp at any solution
3) The Sons of Jacob group begins organizing/recruiting based on their religious solution, capitalizing on people's despair.
4) An attack on Congress occurs, either a legitimate terrorist attack or a secret Sons of Jacob attack. This event triggers a Patriot Act-like response which the Sons of Jacob take advantage of (either directly or indirectly)
5) Sons of Jacob continue to push more "reforms" through under the pretense of security and the recent terror attack.
6) The real societal changes start as women are expelled from the workforce, banned from owning property, etc. Sons of Jacob seize almost complete control over the political sphere.
7) It's probably here that real fighting breaks out, Gilead is formed, the US government retreats to Alaska/Hawaii
8) Society is fully reorganized into what we see in the "present day".


I like that the show hasn't laid all of this out but the pieces are all there. We've seen "ordinary" people reacting to the ongoing fertility issues, how people are already despairing at the time June gives birth to Hannah, mentions of an attack that wiped out Congress, people being caught off guard by how quickly changes are taking place, and then protests being violently broken up.

The one thing that catches me on the portrayal of how things changed was the reactions during June's run. That seemed like a bit of a quick switch to flip on societal norms, given that we hadn't seen much of that kind of misogyny prior to the run scene. Or maybe that's the point (this is the normal, real misogyny women face in today's actual society, it's just indistinguishable from an oncoming theocracy).

Thwomp fucked around with this message at May 2, 2017 around 13:23

precision
May 7, 2006

Would you like to challenge?


I don't recall if this is a point in the book, but the show definitely gave me the vibe that the fertility rate dropping has been gradually turning the world (more) misogynist. Birth rate down, average dumbass is gonna think "well obviously something must be wrong with the women because nothing's wrong with me!"

Anyone know if the new episode goes up at midnight or sometime tomorrow? I have never been so eager to see more horrible dread.

Also, side note, kinda interesting timing for Hulu to debut this show and Harlots at the exact same time (first episode of that show is good, second is pretty bad, doubt I'll keep watching despite lots of good actresses on offer)

Pocket Billiards
Aug 29, 2007
.

As I see it, the book is exploring the backlash against feminism taken to an extreme end. It's suggestive of a lot of real world regimes like Iran, Romania, etc but still seems quite speculative.

By keeping the coup and the location consistent with the book it doesn't change that..

If the show turned the Sons of Jacob into Duck Dynasty types and moved Offred to Alabama or something in the name of 'tactical realism' then people would see it as a story about red vs blue and the culture war instead.

It reminds me of The Road, people complain because the catastrophe is never explained or overanalyse the poo poo out of everything thinking there are clues for people with a wikipedia education in climate science. I have no doubt that it's vague because if you make it explicitly a meteorite/volcano or nuclear war then people can't help but see it as a story that is anti-war or about man's hubris or whatever.

Pocket Billiards
Aug 29, 2007
.

I haven't watched episode 3 yet, just read a synopsis.

If I recall correctly the genital mutilation and taking eyeballs was not in the book, I only recall them using the tazers maybe and caning feet. It seems like any time you remake/adapt something now the nasty stuff has to get turned up.

The pacing seems a little off to me. Most of the major moments in the book have been covered in 3/10 episodes. What's left like the brothel, trysts with the driver, escape, information about her daughter, etc won't fill 7 episodes at the current rate. So we're either getting lots of scrabble games or quite a bit of plot written especially for the show maybe Offred's escape

Loomer
Dec 19, 2007

A Very Special Hell

I don't think the increase in the brutality here is to do with 'gotta ramp it up! Gotta get viewers!', so much as a changing awareness of 'huh, sometimes poo poo is awful'. The original was written with the Iranian Revolution hot in the news. This series comes with daesh having dominated the news for the last few years and an increasing upswell in critical opinion (against and for) and awareness of female genital mutilation. The kind of horror show in the news has already prepared an audience to engage in things like religiously motivated maimings and brought it into awareness in a way it simply wasn't at the time of the book's publication.

Loomer fucked around with this message at May 2, 2017 around 14:40

ManlyGrunting
May 29, 2014


Loomer posted:

I don't think the increase in the brutality here is to do with 'gotta ramp it up! Gotta get viewers!', so much as a changing awareness of 'huh, sometimes poo poo is awful'. The original was written with the Iranian Revolution hot in the news. This series comes with daesh having dominated the news for the last few years and an increasing upswell in critical opinion (against and for) and awareness of female genital mutilation. The kind of horror show in the news has already prepared an audience to engage in things like religiously motivated maimings and brought it into awareness in a way it simply wasn't at the time of the book's publication.

That sounds about right actually. I'm willing to give this show the benefit of the doubt on that front.

Tiggum
Oct 23, 2007

Mary Worth had an illicit affair with Refurb and kidnapped Sophie when she learned the truth. Little did Sophie know, but she was held in Apartment 3G under the watchful eye of The Phantom until Dick Tracy rescued her. Meanwhile, in spite of everything, Working Daze still sucked.


Le Saboteur posted:

The one thing I find totally unbelievable is how quickly they make the modern world fall in this show. Goes from like 0 to religious militia they've never heard of once locking women out of their jobs. I know why they do it because of a lack of time it's just really weird how they chose to do it.
I think the reason it feels this way is because they really haven't sold the flashbacks as being significantly different to reality. We're told that birth rates are down and infant mortality is up, but society looks exactly like modern America until suddenly it doesn't. And the characters seem to be taken as much by surprise as we are. It gives the impression that it's exactly like the real world and then suddenly there's this fundamentalist theocracy out of nowhere.

Snak posted:

Yeah, I think the realism of how the world got from the world we know to how it is isn't really important. She could have set it farther in the future if she wanted it to be more realistic, but it's better to have characters that remember what it was like "before".
The thing is though, they shouldn't remember what it was like when the world was "normal", because their normal wouldn't have been the same as ours to begin with.

Bobbin Threadbare posted:

But like I said before, the point of the book isn't to show how quickly and easily this could happen. It's to show how uncomfortably close we are to it already.
This is definitely true, but I think that's actually undermined by the setting. Using an alien world, an alternate reality, the far future, etc. as a parallel for reality works much better than saying "this could happen if just a few little things were different".

precision posted:

Also, we aren't really been shown a "totality" situation. They have total control over this small area the show takes place in, but we already know there are rebels and whatever is going on in Alaska.
That just raises more problems. If the theocracy only controls a small area and is at war with the rest of America (and presumably America's allies) then how have they not already lost? How is everyone just living their lives like they're not in the middle of a war?

whalesteak posted:

And the particicution felt like it happened too early in the story- I wasn't quite sure if they were trying to demonstrate that in this version, Ofred was attacking the dude because she feared retribution, or was venting frustration, or had internalized her role and presumed feelings as a handmaid.
That's one example of a recurring problem with this show, which is that it seems to expect the audience to already agree with it. Like, they don't explain her actions there, because there's this unspoken understanding that we all know why she's doing that.


Unrelated observation: Yvonne Strahovski looks like a cross between Lena Headey and Portia de Rossi. It keeps distracting me because, when I see her, for a second I think it's one or the other of them.

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Hollismason
Jun 30, 2007

++Threadnaught++


Episode 4 is up now, and it is uh just as loving brutal.

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