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Recap / Gunnerkrigg Court Chapter 22 "Ties"

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Time for a trip down memory lane ...
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It's picture day at Gunnerkrigg Court, and six students have just had a group photo taken. The photographer tells them to be off, and put their names on the form, as he calls for the next group. Surma thinks she'll look stupid, that she had on her "serious face", because she always looks serious in photos. Anja says it's nice to have a picture of friends, and Brinnie tells her she means "picture of Donny", to Anja's embarrassment. Across the room, James is saying the same thing to Donny, only it's "picture of Anja" instead. Donny is also embarrassed, and James tells him not to worry about it. He does wish Jones could have been in the photo, but Donny says that Surma can't stand her. They ask Tony if he wants to come to lunch, but he has "matters to attend to." Donny says they'll see him later, and James wonders who talks like that.

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Brinnie has to go, too, because the "old man" gets angry when she skips a lesson. She's not too thrilled, because she can't even eat lunch with them anymore, but what can she do? She asks them to tell her how the photo turns out, as she departs via a glowing, blue triangular portal. Some students, like the obnoxious Hyland, think that Brinnie's a "freak" for so doing, and they should have been left in Chester House with the other weirdos. Surma dares him to say it to her face. As Hyland attempts to do so, he is promptly decked by James. Shortly after they start fighting, the two boys are swiftly separated by Mr. Thorn, who orders Hyland out of his sight and James to his office.

Surma tells Anja she should have zapped Hyland. Anja asks Donald to please excuse them, as she shoves Surma into the ladies' room. Surma asks Anja what the problem is, and she explains that people don't like it when they use their magic, since she's in Queslett now. They get angry. Surma doesn't care if the Court's decided that they have a "predetermination towards etheric sciences", since they were told the Court made a mistake when they were sorted into Chester House. Besides, it was a long time ago. Anja protests that people still won't forget. Surma figures that Anja's concern is about Donny, and reassures Anja that he's their friend and he won't care. As she tells Anja, one day she'll realize she won't have to hide who she is just to fit in. They leave the bathroom to find Donny waiting for them, and Surma says it's just the three of them for lunch, then. She then arranges for Anja and Donny to be linking arms, much to their embarrassment.

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James defends himself to Mr. Thorn by explaining that Hyland started it, because he's a jackass. Thorn replies that he's not blind or stupid. He knows how people are around here, but that doesn't excuse what James did. If he'd been stopped by any other teacher, he might be facing expulsion. However, Thorn cannot dismiss the noble act of standing up for a friend. He tells James that he needs to keep his temper in check, as he loses it too easily. Thorn unveils a set of armour with a familiar symbol on the breastplate from under a sheet, as he tells James he has a future at the Court. He asks James if he's ever heard of the Rogat Orjak.

Outside the cafeteria, Surma, Anja and Donny hear an alarm sound, and a trio of robots run up to announce that one exit is currently closed due to a "situation", and that everyone should go about their business. As the three friends walk through a hallway, a giant wooden dog bursts through the windows on one side and out the ones on the other, landing in a courtyard. Surma decides they need to get a better look, and, accompanied by Donny and Anja, runs for the roof. At the door, they find another group of the sign-headed robots, who order them to stop. So Donny breaks out his disruptor, which temporarily shuts them off, and the trio turn the robots the other way. When the robots reactivate, Donny cheerfully tells them they're leaving now, as the three students head onto the roof.

From the roof, they get a better look at the wooden dog, being faced down by a group of Court security robots. Surma and Donny point out the obvious: it's some kind of wooden dog. The Court robots, armed with chainsaws, go on the attack, cutting off one of its limbs. Anja can tell that the creature is some kind of puppet, being called back to the forest. Donny asks how she can tell that, and as Anja refuses to answer, Donny wonders if it's like a drone. Alerted by some leaves, Surma turns around to discover another wooden dog crouching on the roof behind them. As it leaps toward them, Anja is forced to use her magic to protect the trio by casting a shield around them. Donny thinks it was incredible. Surma asks them to save it for later. Suddenly, the beast is impaled by a glowing sword thrown from above. An armoured figure, the Dragon Slayer, retrieves the weapon, and a trio of Glass-Eyed Men flee the scene. James leans over the edge of the roof, saying hi to his friends, and jumps down. Sir Thorn tells him not to forget double cross country tomorrow, and leaps off toward a flying creature above. The other wooden dog, down in the courtyard, jumps up onto a wall. As Thorn, riding the Rogat Orjak, flies off in pursuit of the remaining creature:

Surma: Jimmy?! What's going on?
James: You guys aren't going to believe this... but that guy is our games teacher.


Tropes:

  • Air Quotes: Surma, when she says "predetermination towards etheric sciences".
  • Badass Beard: Mr. Thorn has an impressive beard.
  • Badass Teacher: Mr. Thorn is the Court's Dragon Slayer at the time of this chapter.
  • Call-Forward:
    • The chapter begins with the taking of the photo with Annie's parents, Kat's parents, Mr. Eglamore, and an unidentified girl whose name is revealed here to be Brinnie.
    • Another mention that Chester House seems to be where the students with really powerful abilities go.
    • James Eglamore defends another student from the class bully, and is punished by the gym teacher, Mr. Thorn, who is also the Court's resident Dragon Slayer. Thorn also compliments him on his actions. This is just like what happens between Annie and Eglamore early in "Reynardine", several decades later.
    • Thorn tells James he has a future at the Court, clearly seeing him as a potential Dragon Slayer. He also mentions the Rogat Orjak, and later turns up riding one that he's partnered with, much like how Eglamore was once partnered with Sivo, who was killed by Reynardine.
    • Thorn kills one of the wooden dogs with a similar kind of glowing sword as Eglamore uses in "Of New and Old", because like Robot then, the wooden dogs are animated by Glass-Eyed Men.
  • Captain Obvious: While looking down at the wooden dog from the roof:
    Surma: It's like some kinda dog!
    Donny: A dog made of wood...
  • Chainsaw Good: The security robots that face off against the wooden dog are armed with chainsaws.
  • Continuity Nod: Mr. Thorn occupies the office that Jones will decades later.
  • Curse Cut Short: Hyland, the obnoxious jerk, was about to call Surma and Anja something starting with "C" when James decks him.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The desaturated variant. Because the chapter is a flashback, it has less vibrant, sepia-toned colours than the rest of the comic.
  • Fantastic Racism: Hyland thinks the students in Chester are "freaks" and "weirdos", and they shouldn't mingle with the other students. It's revealed this is a common view among students in Queslett House.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The connection between James Eglamore and the mysterious Jones is mentioned again.
    • This is not the last time we'll see those wooden hounds.
  • Freakiness Shame: Anja doesn't want Donald, her crush, to find out about her magical powers. As Surma predicted, he's not bothered when he does find out, in fact finding them "cool".
  • Jerkass: Hyland.
  • Little Professor Dialogue: Tony Carver does not speak like a normal teenager his age, instead sounding like he's decades older.
  • One-Word Title: "Ties".
  • Photos Lie: When the photo was first seen, back in "Of New and Old", it was noted that Surma looked nearly identical to Annie, down to her serious expression, leading to assumptions that she had a similar personality. As this chapter reveals, she's actually a Fiery Redhead who grouses about how serious she always looks in photos.
    Surma: I bet it looks stupid! I always look so serious in photos! I bet I had on me serious face!
  • Planimal: The wooden dogs from the Forest that attack the Court.
  • Shipper on Deck: Surma has no problem trying to get Anja and Donny to admit they like each other.
  • The Spock: Tony seems to have no emotions, and talks in Little Professor Dialogue. In James' words, "Jeez, who talks like that?"
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: One of the sign robots stating that the situation "does not involve a large monster or two", and being told to shut up, provides the trope image.
  • Take That!: James' wish that Jones could have been in the picture, and Donny's mention that Surma can't stand her, could be a bash at the fan theories prior to this chapter that Brinnie was Jones.
  • Thinking Up Portals: Brinnie can travel via giant glowing portals in the air.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The chapter takes place several decades before, on the day that photo was taken.
  • You No Take Candle:
    • Anja's eastern European accent is much stronger, since she's younger, and she frequently leaves out words that a native-level speaker would use. She's still perfectly comprehensible, though.
    • Brinnie has a bit of this as well, particularly before she leaves via giant glowing portal.


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