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WMG / Blackbird (2018)

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  • Nina is suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The partial version of the paragon ritual that brought her back to life failed to fully heal the damage caused by the masonry that struck her in the head and killed her during the Verdugo Earthquake, precisely because it was only a partial version. The damage lingered inside her head and got progressively worse over the following decade, forcing her to self-medicate with alcohol and pills as she slipped into ever-increasing isolation, listlessness and depression. As with many CTE sufferers, she suffers chronic anger-management problems and can no longer maintain enough self-control to make new friendships or to hold down a proper job. Her growing alienation from her sister reflects this. Her mother's recent attempts to erase her memory keep failing for the same reason that you cannot fit a key into a broken lock- the neural pathways are now too damaged for the spell to work.
    • Naturally, her mother would not be aware of this, because CTE was largely an unknown condition a decade ago (when Gloria disappeared back into the world of the paragons), and because CTE does not show up on MRI and CAT scans (and of course, thanks to Gloria, Nina and Marisa do not remember that Nina was struck in the head in the first place).
    • So Nina was absolutely correct when she confronted Gloriana and yelled that magic could have saved her life. Without it, she is a dead woman walking. He mother's attempts to erase her memory really are tantamount to a death sentence.
      • Now that Nina has become a full paragon and the damage is finally healed, she may act a lot more intelligent and self-controlled than she did before as a blackbird.
  • Paragons don't go to the afterlife. Instead they enter into a kind of psychic gestalt consciousness for the rest of eternity. This would explain what happened to Gloria's parents (they wanted to move on by having her replace them); why they still have such a hold over her despite her being the apparent head of Iridium Cabal that they can actually force her to make one of her daughters a paragon (i.e. to murder and resurrect her own daughter without her daughter's consent, despite having no desire to do so); and also Gloria's attitude that Nina is better off spiritually lobotomized than being a paragon, regardless of how miserable Nina's life becomes as a result. It would also explain the part of the paragon ritual that states "we stray from the vortex."
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    • And what is that psychic gestalt? Well, how about the Great Beast itself? It clearly acted on its own accord when it grabbed Marisa off the street and dragged her kicking and screaming to meet her mother- almost certainly killing her in the process, leaving Gloriana with the choice of either reviving her as a full paragon or else leaving her eldest daughter as a corpse lying at her feet.
      • If the Great Beast is an amalgamation of paragon souls- including Gloriana's own parents- this would explain why the Great Beast enforces their bargain at Gloriana's expense, regardless of what Gloriana might wish. It is pretty clear at the very least that Gloriana works with the Great Beast, but does not command it. The truth may very well be the other way around.
  • Marisa's idea that the magic-obsessed, desperately lonely Nina would simply give up on searching for her only sister, who is basically her lifeline- after she was kidnapped right in front of her and dragged away screaming by a lionlike spirit the size of a house- directly contradicts everything Marisa should know about Nina's personality, and makes no sense unless Gloria did something to Marisa's mind. Whether such a thing has happened- and whether Marisa first had a chance to tell Gloria that she had to save Nina from OD-ing on pills and that dooming Nina to be alone forever would utterly destroy her, is unknown. By the time they meet again, she has fully embraced her mother's goals and methods (but fortunately is not so good at carrying them out, having been a paragon for all of three days at most).
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  • Gems are derived from human spiritual energy- literally, they are stolen pieces of human souls. This would explain Clint's reference to a "debt we can never repay", and why Adrian (the paragon who attacked Nina with the crazy teeth) becomes so powerful by stabbing her with that snake-knife thing. The knife was a harvesting mechanism, used routinely by the invisible paragons to prey upon the homeless population, prisoners, and the mentally ill. A large number of those deaths alluded to by Detective Alexis are the result of overenthusiastic "harvesting"- or the outright murder of those whom the invisible paragons perceive as sufficiently deserving of being drained to nothing. It would also explain why Gloria, who became responsible for gem distribution as head of Iridium cabal, freely allowed gems to be distributed with names that heavily resemble the names of street drugs. It was a form of self-mortification- her telling the paragons she supplied that "OK, kids, here's your pretty gems. Enjoy them, but don't pretend that they're not drugs, and that we're not all addicts." And on that note...
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  • Paragon gems are addictive- literally. The more you use them, the more they maintain your youth. This would explain why most paragons look so young and act so callous- they use for fun and don't give a shit. It also explains why Gloria herself has visibly aged- she never wanted to be a paragon, does not like the life, and does not dip into her own supply without cause. And her parents got old because they shared a similar sense of responsiblity and wanted her to take over for them.
  • The story of Gloria's fall is going to be one of her trying to reform paragon society while being saddled by her parents with more and more direct responsibility for running its most brutal aspects- for instance, by making her Iridium Cabal's chief executioner, or by showing her overseeing gems being made by harvesting them bit by bit from humans... as opposed to the previous standard practice of simply murdering peoplefor a lot of gems at once. The process makes her ever more hardened, even as she does in fact make her society significantly less unjust. (This would help explain why Gloria is so desperate to stop a war that Nina might provoke, but would threaten such a war to maintain her power). To cope with the brutality of her own actions, she probably winds up casting spells upon her own mind- which in turn lowers her inhibitions against casting such spells on Nina or Marisa. And now she has to figure out the gentlest way to corrupt Marisa into becoming her replacement...
  • Paragons are utterly disconnected from the real world, to the point that they use spells as substitutes for life's basic functions- like walking down the street, doing the laundry, cleaning up a room, turning on the lights, or even going to the bathroom. A newly-paragon Nina will discover (to her delight) that alcoholic drinks are now a staple food source, and that she can no longer properly digest normal food- making the vampire parallels more explicit. Paragon cabals stick together because (unless special arrangements are made like when Gloria became a blackbird) they literally cannot survive alone in the real world.
    • Nah. They can eat food. Carter likes sushi and he and Gloriana once ate at a Mexican restaurant.
      • So they's got a spell for that, then. That would explain how Gloria could eat after leaving Iridium to become a blackbird. Food for paragons could be more or less optional.
    • Likewise paragon Cabals are not just organizations, but communal fortresses where they all live together in groups. The invisible buildings Nina sees are the outward manifestations of an endlessly interconnected network of interiors with a combined floorspace the size of a city.
  • Cahuenga Cabal- the former occupant of the Hollywood Truce Zone- is named after the former Native American settlement of the same name located in San Fernando Valley. As such, it might have been Native-American themed. The one being so far depicted as having any vaguely Native-American visual theme might be Beacon, the light spirit who plays a major role in the Paragon resurrection ritual.
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