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Fridge / Skin Game

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Par for the series in general, there were quite a few ridiculously brilliant moments in this installment of The Dresden Files. WARNING: Unmarked spoilers below!

Fridge Brilliance:

  • Harry is 'pregnant,' with a spirit of intellect growing in his head. Pretty weird even for this series - but considering the theme of Greek mythology in this book, it's incredibly appropriate. After all, Zeus was rather well known for having Athena, the goddess of wisdom, burst fully formed out of his head.
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  • Nicodemus always wears a noose around his neck. In this story, he even takes it off once, only to put it back on. What was the gist of Mab's revenge plan against him? cooperate with Hades and Marcone to create a path to the relics he could follow, as long as he sacrificed his daughter. She literally gave him enough rope to hang himself.
  • When Harry visited Bob's skull back in Ghost Story, Bob calls it his "crib" (as in the slang term for a nice house), and asks Harry to make him a backup. Now, in Skin Game, Harry delivers a wooden skull that took him four months to make. But it doesn't end up getting used as a backup home for Bob... but as a wooden crib (infant bed) for his newborn spiritual daughter. Additionally, Harry missed out on all of Maggie's firsts: first words, first steps, doing all of the things that he idealises as what a father should do for his child. In the case of his spiritual daughter, at least, he didn't miss out on one parental rite of passage—assembling your child's first bed by hand with crappy tools.
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  • Fidelacchius failed when Murphy tried to kill Nicodemus not merely because Nicodemus had surrendered, but because Murphy attempted to kill a "helpless" man in anger and hate as well as out of love. In other words, "Good, I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred and your journey to the Dark Side will be complete." This makes Butters' getting a lightsaber even more perfect in hindsight.'
  • If you think about it, a Jewish Knight Of The Cross actually isn't that weird. After all, Jesus himself was Jewish. For that matter, given where the three Nails originated geographically, there were probably several such Knights early in the Swords' history.
    • Besides: If one of his coworkers is a self-proclaimed agnostic, do you really think him being Jewish is an issue?
  • Butters may be Jewish (at least by birth and the way he was raised), but the fact that the sword manifested for him as a LIGHTSABER might mean that his true "religion" (or maybe "belief system") is "Jedi"! And remember, "Jedi" is a genuine, if technical, religion in the UK, with over 700,000 people identifying as such, not to mention that in the Dresdenverse, Your Faith Makes It Real works.
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  • For a single day, Uriel was mortal, meaning Uriel was not bound by his cosmic non-interference clause. This means that for one whole day, he could act with zero restrictions. With just a phone and no cosmic behavioral limitations, just imagine what Uriel could have managed to do that he never would have as a fully-powered archangel...
  • Related to this, in the book Uriel says he could only give help, in this case his Grace of God, to Michael because Michael had already made the Choice to go save Harry and Karrin knowing it would likely be his death. Back in Changes Uriel gives Harry one core bit of information: Maggie is his blood daughter. How could he do this? Because Harry made the Choice, regardless of his doubt if Maggie was his kid or not, to save her. The help he gives Harry in Changes is meant to help keep Harry solidified and tethered to the course of love.
  • Mouse attending school; humorous and awesome, and then you realize: he's as smart as a human, and he's Maggie's age (he's a puppy right around the time Maggie would be born, way back in Blood Rites). It may have taken a few years, but he's finally getting to attend age-appropriate school with his age-mates and (adoptive) sister!
    • Confirmed in the short story "Zoo Day" where we learn Mouse can read better than Maggie can!
  • Butters and Star Wars:
    • Of course Butters' faith in the Star Wars philosophy was sufficient to empower Fidelacchius anew. The central theme of that franchise isn't just battling evil on the large scale, it's about the fall and redemption of its most iconic villain: perfect inspiration for a Knight.
    • Taking this a step farther, Emperor Palpatine is very analogous to the fallen angels. He operates mostly through his knight (Darth Vader), a man he corrupted with the promise of dark power. Vader's redemption is realized by the destruction of Palpatine. Made all the harsher by comparison to how Vader was redeemed. Vader chose to save his son from the Emperor, even at the cost of his own life. Nicodemus sacrificed his own daughter, to further the goals of the Fallen.
    • By sheer popularity of medium, Star Wars isn't a bad choice as a bastion of faith. The Bible is, after all, the best-selling and most widely-read book of all time, and the Star Wars films can fairly claim to be the most widely-viewed movies of all time. If the Bible is the Greatest Story Ever Told, then one of the Greatest Stories Ever Filmed (at least, from its fans' POV) is its new-media counterpart.
    • The squires who witnessed Butters's ascent to Knighthood? Nicodemus had surely brainwashed them since birth to consider all conventional religions to be based upon lies, so they'd think of the KotC, the Church, and other holy opposing forces as the bad guys. But we know from Harry's conversation with Rosanna in Small Favor that the veteran Denarians don't follow or recognize modern pop culture. It's entirely possible that the squires do acknowledge that Jedi Knights are good guys, because Nick never bothered to forbid them from going to movies or disavow a religion concocted for a scifi franchise. Seeing Butters wielding a lightsaber may have resonated with their preconceptions about who's the hero and who's the villain in ways that seeing Michael draw a holy blade never could.
  • More Fridge Irony than Fridge Brilliance: there are now two Knights of the Cross who aren't Christians. More proof that the Dresdenverse God isn't biased about who you believe in, so long as you believe in doing what's right.
  • In the same vein of the Jewish/Agnostic/Catholic Knights, made me think what made the Knights... Well Knights. Then it came to me: Each Knight is the personification of the Sword's name. Sanya is constantly Hopeful, always looking on the bright side of life (and personifies the hope that every sinner can be redeemed). Shiro took everything in stride, and refused to break his Faith in their cause being successful. Micheal's Love for his fellow man and family was stronger then the bloody sun. It's the reason Karrin could never take up a Knighthood full time. She doesn't *have* that basis of Faith, she's a cop, she questions everything, her Love life is... Less then stellar, and Sanya's got his meaty Russian paws all over the Hope sword. Butter's Faith in both the ideals of Star Wars and Harry's inadvertent mentor-ship, forged the little bugger into a beacon of Faith. It would also explain all of those "One-time" Knights as well. They were able to channel the sword's power for one mission they truly Believed in.
  • When Harry asks Deirdre about how she'd confronted Tessa, she replies "I went to say... to talk to her, yes." Later events make it clear that the thing Deirdre went to say to her mother was "goodbye", because she knew her father was going to kill her.
  • Bit of Fridge Funny: how many times has Sanya praised Murphy by saying she's "tiny, but fierce"? Looks like he was saying that about the wrong tiny-but-fierce potential Knight of Faith, all along! Indeed, "tiny but fierce" may be Fidelacchius's preferred type of wielder, as it demonstrates far greater faith for a small person like Butters or Murphy, or an elderly one like Shiro, to engage in combat than a physical powerhouse like Michael.
  • In this book, we finally find out the true identity of the Parasite that Mab mentioned at the end of Ghost Story: It's actually Harry’s daughter via Lasciel's Shadow, a spirit of intellect like Bob. This initially puts a bit of a question mark on the headaches that that the Parasite was inflicting on Harry; shouldn't he have been experiencing headaches far earlier than just Cold Days, since it was initially born at the end of White Night? But if one goes back and rereads Turn Coat, we find that Harry was already experiencing increasingly painful migraines, which Butters tells him to get checked out. This is apparently left hanging by the end of the book (and was probably put down by most readers to be stress migraines from dealing with the Gambit Pile Up), but it is in fact quite likely the first signs of the spirit’s growth within Harry’s head, hinting at its existence over four books (and five real-time years) in advance. Talk about Foreshadowing.
  • When Nicodemus is discussing how to fix Binder's problem of who will carry his share of the jewels, he says he should carry it himself, considering he (and maybe Grey) are likely the only ones who will survive. An observant reader would notice that he didn't even bring up his daughter, Deirdre, who would also be going into Hades. Only on a second read would you notice why: he knows for a fact she won't survive.
  • Batman!Butters is very reliant on magical items, and from what we see, uses Hail Mary's in order to deal with entities outside his weight class. This is how Harry operated in the early books.
  • If you look back through the series, there are two HUGE foreshadowings that Fidelacchius could be reborn. First, we know that both Fidelacchius and Esperachius have been reworked in the past, foreshadowing that you can destroy and replace the Sword's physical vessel without breaking the true Power of the Sword. Second, in Grave Peril it is stated that a Sword, even stripped of its protections, can only be unmade by using it to slay an innocent (which Nicodemus did not do).
  • A Jewish Knight of the Cross sounds bizarre until you remember we already have an agnostic Knight and the not-overtly-religious Murphy for a time. The Knights are an inclusive bunch. This may also tie into the idea that faith is power in the Dresden-verse regardless of whether it's in the Christian God. Maybe there's hope for Harry's faith in magic to make him a knight someday too.
  • Kringle called the information he gave to Harry a belated Christmas gift. That means Harry has been good all year! (Not that he'd have had much chance to be naughty while stranded alone on an island, mind you...since it's belated, he would have had to have been good the previous calendar year and a little before, but since Cold Days was on Halloween and Skin Game is in a late spring, it's not clear whether Harry's exile was half a year, or a year and a half, and thus whether that book's events count.
  • Butters points out that if Harry keeps relying on Winter's ability to overclock his body, he'll tear himself apart from the accumulated stress. But Butters is forgetting something: Harry has a wizard's Healing Factor. He can and will heal that overclocking stress. Just has to have the time to do so.
    • Harry says this is the first time the Mantle has passed to a Wizard. If the deterioration of the Knight's body is a failsafe, Harry has bypassed it neatly, in a way never seen before!
    • Further adding to this point, this has been Harry's M.O. for a long time, push himself to the limits, and beyond. How do bodybuilders gain muscle? Tearing muscles so they grow back bigger. If he can make it through a tear/repair cycle for his magical muscles...
  • Anduriel and Mouse:
    • The fact that Mouse terrifies Anduriel makes a lot of sense. Anduriel is not a front line fighter. He is the information gatherer, a master of manipulation and corruption of humans. Mouse is a Foo Dog. He is very much a front line fighter and his ways of thinking make manipulating or corrupting him impossible. You threaten his family, you die.
    • Another reason why Anduriel might be scared of Mouse is because the dog is literally his bane. Anduriel is the spy-master of the Fallen and his most useful and insidious ability is being capable to spy on people through their shadows. Mouse is a Foo Dog, a guardian demi-god of celestial breed whose whole purpose is to sniff out subtle threats and eliminate them. Mouse is not a threat to him physically, but because he was pretty much bred to counter his type of power.
    • Word of God suggests that Mouse might actually be enough of a physical threat to worry Anduriel now, actually. Foo dogs are temple guardians, which Jim has said grow in power in proportion to the strength of the threshold where they live. Mouse was already strong enough to challenge Lea when he was still hanging around Harry's bachelor pad, but now he's been living at the Carpenters' place. Think about it.
  • In the beginning, Harry is afraid that Maggie will become a target, and Michael points out that the last time someone tried to hurt her, things didn't end well for that one, and his family, and friends, and everyone - And that Harry sent an obvious message. In the end, Nicodemus tries to kill Maggie again, and, as a result, loses what last bits of power and reputation he still had.
  • To review a few facts. One, Mouse has undefined Holy Powers. Two, Anduriel is scared of Mouse' power and doesn't like to challenge him. Three, a being of significant enough Power, like Queen Mab, can block Anduriel's spying powers. Now, back in Changes Mouse sat at the entrance to Mac's focusing on the threshold like Mab did here. It makes sense now that he was keeping Anduriel out of the area to help keep Harry safe and secrets secret.
  • When Nicodemus tells Michael to buck up because he's about to be rich, Michael says, "I have a family, I am already richer than you could ever imagine." and Nicodemus looks back with cold, hardened eyes because Nicodemus is about to sacrifice the only member of his family who loves him.
  • The Winter Mantle keeps prompting Harry to do nasty, instinctive things in response to threats and other stimuli, and each time he uses reason and logic to tell himself to calm down, that's a bad idea. If this sort of instinctive reaction is true for ALL Winter Fae, then it explains how they can be such schemers despite seemingly always on the edge of giving in to their desires: each and every one does the EXACT SAME THING. This seems to come in varying degrees, but the more powerful they are in society, the better at reason they're likely to be. It also explains why Mab is both The Spock and so feared: as Queen, her reason is of the highest order.
  • The ultimate retribution for Nicodemus includes one terrible thing: the death of his daughter by his own hand. It is something so terrible that Mab herself was unable to do it, and it is something that she has guided him into doing. It is the most horrifying thing she can conceive of, and that is only the start of her punishment.
    • And that retribution becomes all the harsher when you consider that Harry, not Nick, got the artifact that the Denarians were really after. Which means Nicodemus did what he did for nothing.
  • The Parasite is described in appearance as resembling Lash, Kim, Murphy, Elaine, Susan, and Ivy. At first its easy to take this to mean people that were important to Harry, but Kim looks like an outlier at first. But that's where the pieces fit in. They're not all the women that are important to Harry, or that he's loved. They're the women he's failed, and he's felt guilty about them because of the harm that came of it. Molly isn't a part of the group because Harry isn't guilty about her, he's proud.
  • On the other hand, Mab's already had one Lady steal her Knight's loyalty out from under her, and another Winter Lady go rogue. If Harry's spirit-daughter wound up looking like the new Winter Lady, might Mab's suspicions about Harry's own faithfulness been riled up...? Mab has license to peek at her own Knight's mind, and has done so to Harry before; she'd be able to see exactly how his subconscious pictures the baby spirit, and to know that her features reflect those Harry cares deeply for. If Mab thought of Molly as a potential competitor for Harry's obedience, she might well "retire" whichever of the two she considers more expendable, just to head off the potential for yet another Queen/Lady conflict at a time when Winter needs unity. Possibly the new spirit was being very, very smart to avoid raising such a potential point of jealousy.
  • The reason Harry makes it out of Hades in one piece is actually fairly simple. What's one of the most prominent myths about the Spear of Longinus? That whoever holds it is invincible in battle. Harry has it up his sleeve the whole time he's fighting Nicodemus and company. He couldn't lose. Heck, knowing how well-read Harry is, he may have even invoked this on purpose!
  • Maggie says that Molly has been telling her stories about how Harry defends people from "Draculas". This sounds like Maggie is unclear on the terminology, but it's also possible that Molly said "Draculas" on purpose: "Draculas", to a child uninformed about the Black Court, probably sounds like some goofy cartoon Lugosi-knockoff from Scooby Doo, whereas "vampires" is a word she might well associate with her Red Court kidnappers. Molly wants to amuse and impress her foster sister with fun Harry stories, not re-traumatize her.
  • Harry may not be as dependent on Mab as she wants him to believe. When wearing the steel thorn manacles, and as such cut off from both his magic and the Winter Knight's mantle Harry could still walk. Why? Because his Healing Factor has been at work the past two years. Give it another five, ten years or so, and he probably won't have any problems with his spine at all.
  • A minor by subtly brilliant one when Nicodemus corrects Harry when he calls him a "psychopath", substituting "sociopath" instead. This is proven to be painfully accurate: psychopaths are utterly incapable of remorse and empathy, on a biochemical level. They see people quite literally as things. On the other hand, sociopaths are capable (barely) of more tender, compassionate feelings... and Nicodemus proves it in his genuine, broken grief after he kills his own daughter to get into Hades' Vault. Which makes it all the more heartbreaking (fact that they're both mass-murdering, monstrous, evil bastards aside) that he would give up the one thing in his life that he felt any human feeling for.
  • The story opens with Mab backing Harry into a corner, unable to do anything but what she wants, or risk dying to the parasite. At the end of the story, Harry has backed Mab into a corner, unable to do anything but what he wants (remain silent), or risk having her reputation ruined. In essence, Harry balanced the scales with Mab. Not that she liked it overmuch, but since the Fae do that kind of thing all the time, she doesn't have much room to complain.
  • Fidelacchius being reforged as a lightsaber - presumably with an on-off switch - is probably the best way for it to serve Butters. A shorter, wiry guy like him wouldn't have the physical strength to carry around and use a BFS like Amoracchius effectively, but a lightsaber's only real weight is in its hilt, and it could fit in with the rest of his magical gear without throwing him off. On top of that, there's nothing non-magical on Earth that could stop a swing from it, meaning any vampires Butters comes across are in serious trouble. Plus it's probably a lot easier to get on a plane.
  • Funny combined with Fridge: Michael has a bottle opener shaped like Mjolnir, which might imply that he and/or Charity is a Marvel fan. Have Harry's Pop-Cultured Badass tendencies rubbed off on him?
    • Alternately, it might have belonged to Daniel or one of the other kids and was left lying around, but it's still funny.
  • The shades not catching up with Harry and co. in the Underworld could be due to them Travelling at the Speed of Plot. But remember who they're working for. Hades may well have given them orders to scare Harry, Nicodemus, etc away, but also told them to slow down so that they won't actually reach him! Another example of him subtly "not-interfering."
  • Why is Hades' vault #13? Because in the Greek Pantheon, you have 12 major gods, the Olympians...and Hades makes 13.
  • Hannah going absolutely berserk about Harry makes sense when you remember that Lasciel is just as furious about him. According to Lash, no one had ever resisted her for more than a few weeks—it's entirely possible that no one has ever been able to convince any of the Denarians' shadows to pull a Heel–Face Turn like Harry did. It's heavily implied that it was only possible due to the fact that a) his psychic training allowed him to exert a certain amount of control over Lash, b), he's got Captain America levels of stubbornness, and c) despite his Humble Hero Heroic Self-Deprecation shtick, Harry is a truly, genuinely good man. Lasciel is most likely utterly pissed off at Harry for what she perceives as her failure to turn him. She's going to be even angrier given that he survived what should have killed him. Ergo, she doesn't go into the battle with a clear head, and can't stop Hannah from recklessly going full Leeroy Jenkins.
  • Harry mentions that Mab is trying to get him to lean on the Mantle as much as possible. As he notes, no wizard has ever been a Knight before. An ordinary Muggle or even a Badass Normal would have to rely on the Winter Mantle much more to deal with the kinds of threats that exist in the Dresdenverse. Because Harry has his magical powers, he's able to deal with monsters without using the Mantle, therefore lessening the effect it has on him.

Fridge Horror:

  • Molly, holding the mantle of the Winter Lady and not as human as she used to be, played midwife for Harry's spirit-daughter. In the process, she had a nice long chat with his subconscious. A subconscious who has no limits, restraint, or compassion, and who fully embodies all the wants and needs that the mantle of the Winter Knight taps into. Molly was already in love with Harry and has used mind-magic in the past to get what she wants. Yeah. Wonder how that conversation went? Oh, and lest we forget, under the laws of the Winter Court, the Winter Knight and Winter Lady already have certain unspecified (to us, so far) rights and responsibilities to each other.
  • There is also the detail regarding the spirit-daughter's appearance. To be specific, she constructed her appearance in part from her parents - Harry and Lash - as well as a number of women of significance in Harry's life. Karrin, Kim, Susan, Elaine and Ivy all had parts of their appearances incorporated into her...but she took nothing from Molly. Adding onto that, it seemed like Molly finished the delivery sobbing and she was very happy to see Harry awake after the experience, and the first thing he wants to know? Whether or not his spirit-daughter is all right. On the material and subconscious level, she might have seen Harry placing everyone else above her. Given she's now the Winter Lady, who knows what might happen now.
  • The fact that Nicodemus is willing to kill his own daughter in the realm of Hades, most likely knowing full well that she would spend an eternity being punished by the Greek god of the Underworld for her crimes is horrifying in its own right. The fact that she went along willingly and that it's made apparent that Nick believed she was actually being spared from suffering something even worse makes one wonder...Just what did Nicodemus think he was saving her from?
    • Then there's the possibility that he didn't save her from what he believed to be a worse fate. If the enemy he's talking about is God and his lot, then even Deirdre would have a shot at redemption if she truly repented (near-zero chance of that, though). Hades, on the other hand, is not inclined to forgiveness or mercy in the slightest to those he feels deserve their fate. In any event, Deirdre's eternity is looking very unpleasant.
    • What if, just if, the enemy is not God, but The Outsiders? After all, Nicodemus had been pretty dusturbed to know that the Denarian ranks were infiltrated back in Small Favor? And the Outsiders seek to destroy everything in the universe and that is most definitely someone as power hungry as Nicodemus wants. That would also explain Deirdre explaining their desire to save the world, an in their eyes, power is needed to stop them
      • And while pure speculation, what if Lucifer fell to take on the Outsiders more directly? After all, they stir up so many things to further their cause, and the non-interferance policy of the Angels would prevent him from acting directly against it. Or that Lucifer, throwing a temper tantrum, fell and joined up with The Outsiders to destroy the universe to spite God, and is tricking the Denarians, and possibly, The Fallen with them, into doing it for him? Either possibilities are extremely disturbing in their implications.
    • And for that matter, Tessa's behaviour. She's never rational - at all. But she's extra crazy in this book and seems intent to try and stop Nicodemus's plans. When you know what is happening to Deirdre, this makes her anger far more understandable...
  • Here's a big one. NICODEMUS HAS NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE. And he's proven previously he was willing to do drive-by villainy...

Fridge Logic:

On the headscratchers page.


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