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Recap / Gunnerkrigg Court Chapter 19 "Power Station"

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Purple: the colour of power.
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Annie and Kat are getting ready to sneak out for an after-hours rendezvous. Kat is nervous because, for the first time, there will be boys present. She was invited because she can get everyone past the security systems, and Annie reassures her there's no problem. She also tells Kat that Rey tried to insist on being a chaperone when he heard there would be boys present, which Kat finds amusing. There's a knock on the door, and the girls pull on their hats and prepare to depart.

The other girls going are Margo and Janet, the headmaster's daughter. Upon arriving at the exit to the dorms, Kat alters the frequency of the motion detectors at the doors so they can leave. They take a carriage drawn by a mechanical horse to their destination. At the top of a tower, waiting inside the door to the roof, they find the boys: John and Winsbury, already familiar to the audience, and Matt and Jack, who are new. John is nervous greeting Margo in the way only someone with a serious crush can be. Jack found the meeting place, and opens the door to the roof to reveal his discovery: a mysterious industrial facility in the middle of a lake, which the tower has an excellent view of. The facility is gearing up for some kind of scientific experiment.

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Kat asks Jack how he found the place, and he tells her he goes exploring all the time because the Court is so huge. Like Kat, he knows how to fiddle with the dorm's motion sensors. Margo is surprised that Janet and Winsbury aren't fighting for once, and they mumble that differences can be set aside for one evening. Winsbury asks Kat if she's going to tell her parents about this, and she says of course not, as she'd get in trouble too. Kat also reminds them not to forget who Janet's dad is, and Janet says they'd all better stay in her good books, while playfully elbowing Winsbury.

Suddenly, the door thumps, and Zimmy and Gamma of all people emerge onto the roof, the former cursing about the door. Zimmy walks to the edge of the roof, leans on the wall and glares at the facility in the lake. Gamma touches Matt's head, then swiftly removes her hand. Zimmy gets angrier, and starts yelling at the boys not to touch Gamma or she'll bust them up. At this point, Annie intervenes. Zimmy is surprised that they're all out at night, as she's allowed, but they aren't, and says she could get them in trouble. Annie tries to calm her down, and asks what they're doing here. Zimmy tells her that the facility in the lake is messing with her head somehow, and she's been looking for it for a while.

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Margo approaches and asks Gamma if she's in Year 9, complimenting her hair. Annie tells her Gamma doesn't speak English. Zimmy snaps at Margo that Gamma's 14, but in Year 8 like them, and asks confrontationally if she has a problem with it. Kat tells Margo not to worry about it, as Zimmy's always like this. Gamma asks in Polish if the others really think she's fat, stupid and ugly. Annie tells her no, asking why she thinks that. Gamma tells her that Zimmy translates for her. Jack interrupts to announce that the experiment is about to begin.

The facility activates, and mist begins to rise from the lake, forming clouds that swirl around the facility's primary tower, which begins to crackle with lightning. As this happens, the water level in the lake goes down. The lightning on the tower zaps off to a point below the horizon that the watching students can't see. As the students babble excitedly about the experiment, and a possible receiving station, Zimmy grabs her head in agony. Jack says there's something else he may not have mentioned, and pulls out an umbrella just in time to avoid being drenched by the rainfall caused by the power station. As everyone else runs and laughs, Jack notes to Annie and Kat that Zimmy doesn't look too well. Zimmy screams that the rainfall isn't working —

— and finds herself in a strange, dark city. Annie asks Zimmy what happened, and Zimmy isn't pleased that there are others present. She says there are probably others trapped in the city, her mindscape, and that they have to go find them. Annie strongly insists that they find Kat first. Zimmy begrudgingly agrees, but tells Annie that she's going to have to take Gamma's place getting rid of the faceless hordes that stalk the nightmare city's streets. Zimmy says it can be hard to tell what's real and what's not, because she sees these people all the time. Annie says they don't have faces, and Zimmy responds that sometimes real people don't either. Annie suggests to Zimmy that she should think about controlling her gift, and Zimmy goes ballistic, yelling "You think I want to be like THIS?!" She then breaks down crying about her uncontrollable abilities, and sobs that Gamma is the only reason she's still alive. She loves Gamma, you see.

Kat finds that sweet, except for the killing everyone part. Since Kat's found her way here, they can go get Gamma now. She's not far. Annie asks why the rain didn't help, and Zimmy clarifies that it was because the rain was fake, like a shower. Annie says that Zimmy seems fine without Gamma, and Zimmy explains it's because in real life, on the rooftop, Gamma is standing right next to her. Zimmy thinks she's going to die in the mental city some day. They enter an abandoned toy shop, where Zimmy and Gamma used to sneak in at night back when they still lived on the streets. It's where they always meet up when they get separated. Sure enough, there Gamma is, lying on a pile of stuffed toys. Zimmy tells Annie that Gamma is pretty sure none of her other friends wound up in the city, and "Kat" is revealed to be an illusion, getting popped like the "nobodies" outside.

They're all back on the roof, and Kat is trying to get Annie's attention, noting that she looks kind of pale. Annie checks to see if Kat is real, confusing her. Zimmy tells her that the dark city is only as real as you let it be. As they walk off the roof, Jack grabs Zimmy by the arm. "What the HELL?!" He was there, too. Zimmy tells him it sucks to be him, and leaves. Matt and John talk about what a weirdo Zimmy is, and Kat notes they should get back to their dorms. John and Margo bid each other a flustered farewell. Kat says goodbye to Jack. Margo asks where Winsbury and Janet went, and they pop up, claiming they are "HERE" and were "NOT DOING ANYTHING!"

As the girls head back to their dorm, Kat comments on the weird night they had. Annie agrees, but thinks she knows where she can get some answers.


Tropes:

  • Black Bug Room: Zimmy's mental version of Birmingham.
  • Blatant Lies: Winsbury and Janet deny that they were doing anything.
  • The Bus Came Back: John, Margo, Janet and Winsbury. Also, Gamma and Zimmy.
  • Call-Back:
    • Janet and Winsbury are still in a Secret Relationship, and still hiding it by pretending to dislike each other.
    • Just like in "Dobranoc, Gamma", Annie meets Gamma and Zimmy after hours while the latter two are in their school uniforms, when a rainstorm is imminent and the ether is messing with Zimmy's head.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The carriages drawn by mechanical horses return from Chapter 15.
    • Winsbury asks Kat if she'll tell her parents, who are both teachers, about the excursion, echoing the girls at the beginning of "S1", who didn't want to be her friend because they thought she would get them in trouble by ratting to her parents.
    • Zimmy doesn't have a curfew like everyone else, because she doesn't sleep.
    • In Zimmy's Mental World, Annie has the cut on her cheek that Jeanne gave her.
  • The Faceless: The spectres that haunt Zimmy's Mental World have only black gunk formed into shallow reflections of faces.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Zimmy notes that the event that caused her to get pulled into her Mental World was a "big one", and that several others were pulled in as well.
    • Zimmy reveals that people in the real world don't always look the same to her as they do to others.
  • Gotta Get Your Head Together: Zimmy, after the station activates.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Annie suggests that Zimmy learn to control her powers, which makes Zimmy really angry since she's never been able to, and hates them because of it.
  • Love Martyr: Zimmy states that she would kill everyone in the world, and then herself, if it's what Gamma wanted.
  • Mental World: Zimmy's city, which Annie, Gamma and Jack all get pulled into. It's not a nice place.
  • Power Incontinence: Zimmy's uncontrollable etheric powers strike again, this time with the added complication of the effects of the power station.
  • Redemption in the Rain: Subverted. Unlike the last time we saw Zimmy in the rain, it doesn't have a calming effect on her powers, because it isn't natural rain but created by the discharge from the etheric power station.
  • Secret Relationship: Janet and Winsbury, who pretend to dislike each other in public.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Jack was pulled into Zimmy's Mental World, and he doesn't look so good afterwards.
    • Annie knows where she can get some answers about the events of the chapter.
  • Spotting the Thread: Margo is surprised that Janet and Winsbury aren't fighting each other like they usually do. However, she buys their claim that they can set aside their supposed differences for one evening.
  • Translation with an Agenda: Zimmy doesn't translate honestly for Gamma, claiming that all the other students hate her, because she's irrationally terrified that if she doesn't then Gamma will leave her.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Zimmy, Gamma, and Annie's mental trip to Zimmy's Unhappy Place seems to happen at dream speed. Within the dream, enough time passed to wander through a city and get into a fight. But in the real world, it was short enough that only Kat — standing directly next to Annie — noticed her comatose state.


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