“No one can stop me. I hope this would have made you proud.”
Changes, resolutions, and cliffhangers power The Rook finale as Myfanwy and Farrier discover just how brutal life outside the purview of the Checquy can be and Conrad goes all-in on his new role as ‘King’, making a powerful enemy in the process.
Throughout an impressive first season, a major part of The Rook’s intrigue centered on the unending questions surrounding Myfanwy’s mind wipe. For every questioned answered, the writers presented us with two more, not to mention surgical use of misdirection to hide the true motivations behind certain characters. While “Chapter 8” is a sharp departure from the subtleties that have been the foundational blocks of the first season, and instead focuses on a more direct narrative, it’s a necessary change that, if the series is picked up for a second season, fundamentally alters Myfanwy Thomas’s world and that of her allies in the Checquy.
Still not sure if running away to begin a new life is right for her, Myfanwy’s doubts and anxiety are at the forefront during the opening scene with Bronwyn. It’s no surprise then when those doubts manifest when she’s captured by the Lugat and put into an EVA auction. Not wholly unexpected, considering the vile nature of Lorik and those who partake in EVA trafficking, the biggest surprise becomes Myfanwy’s own reaction to her unfortunate circumstances.
Though she’s initially fearful and anxious (who wouldn’t be?), that evolves into marked determination. This resolve is on full display when, after being rescued by a resistance member, Myfanwy refuses to abandon the also-captured Farrier and re-enters the arena, putting herself at risk.
Without this decision, there would be no final confrontation with Lorik that, as the Gestalt systematically neutralize the guards to extricate Linda Farrier, solidifies Myfanwy’s long and winding character arc. What better way to show Myfanwy’s acceptance of her new reality—that she can’t stay on the sidelines as people like her are bought and sold like chattel—than for her to finally grasp control of her unlimited potential? As she faces the smug head of the Lugat, Myfanwy takes her time in deconstructing him from the inside; it’s a horrible death for Lorik, but one befitting a monster who has no compunction selling people for his own profit.
As much as “Chapter 8” is about Myfanwy coming full circle, Conrad Grandchester has an enlightening arc of his own. In light of the British government’s move to abolish the Checquy and absorb its EVAs into various governmental agencies, Conrad realizes that his idealist convictions won’t be enough to save him, the Checquy or the countless EVAs protected under its umbrella from bureaucracy. “The Checquy,” Farrier tells him early on, “is the only family that some of our assets will ever have, and it’s up to you to keep it together.” Farrier’s motivational words spark Conrad into action. Shady deal with Lorik to table the review aside, Conrad’s daring leadership to rescue Farrier, despite the fact that they very well may cause an international incident with Russia, is what truly makes him worthy of being the new ‘King’ of the Checquy.
Conrad’s satisfactory decision-making and the escalated tensions with Russia (and his own government) aside, in the end, it all comes back around to Myfanwy Thomas. No longer shackled by drugs or indecision, the new Myfanwy writes a letter to her old self, a letter saying goodbye to who she was and heartily accepting the person she has become. For the vast majority of the season, Myfanwy was stuck in the wavering portion of her hero’s journey; unsure of her role in the bigger picture, fighting the uncertainty of falling back into her old life or selfishly escaping her calling and putting the Checquy behind her. But like the true heroes, Myfanwy realizes she cannot escape her calling and, more to the point, doing so would be an affront to the strength and values she’s discovered within herself. She’s ready to stand on the front line and fight, not just for herself, but also for those who don’t have the resources to defend themselves from the evil bastards looking to profit on their powers. It’s this final acceptance of her purpose that makes Myfanwy a hero and, despite a straight-forward narrative, this revelation is what makes “Chapter 8” the perfect capstone to an exceptional first season.
Up/Down the Exchange
- Talk about flipping things on its head. Not only has Myfanwy come into her powers, but the entire world of the Checquy has changed. Conrad’s decision to send Gestalt into the home of Viktor Danilov, a Russian consulate with diplomatic immunity, is ballsy. It’s the right thing to do on a human/moral level, but sadly, that doesn’t make it right from a political standpoint. To a lesser extent, it puts him under an even greater level of scrutiny with his own government but the much bigger picture is where it leaves UK-Russia relations. Never mind the fact that Danilov was housing an illegal human trafficking operation, it’s all about the optics and his precious immunity. Should The Rook return for a second season (fingers crossed) this will play a major role in the series narrative going forward.
- One of the more surprising revelations of the episode is the Bronwyn/Farrier partnership glimpsed at the very end. For much of the season, I was almost convinced that Linda Farrier was just as culpable in the EVA trade as Lorik. Kudos to the writers for such an intelligent misdirection. Come to find out, Farrier is truly a mother-figure, to both Myfanwy and the dozens of EVAs the Checquy and its resources have come to protect and provide a stable life for. Now that she’s fully embracing the resistance and their mission, I’m excited to see where her arc is headed.
- From a character perspective, the most disappointing outcome of the finale was Monica’s decision to ask Nazim to erase all traces Marcus from her memories. In a way, this is a sabotage of her character, undercutting the strength and determination she’s shown throughout the season. Wiping out such vital memories—unless she was only trying to erase her emotional attachments—was both reckless and unprofessional in her role as BVA agent. Sadly, Monica may pay a heavy price for her decision, victim to her own selfish need to forget and Nazim’s EVA inexperience.
The Rook – “Chapter 8”: 8.5 out of 10
The Rook – Season 1: 8 out of 10