Good morning, babies! Except I’m writing this at eight p.m. so I guess. . . good evening. As usual we’re looking back at the latest Bad Town chapter and all that went into it. And as usual again there will be spoilers down below, so make sure you’re caught up!
Last week we got to see Eyana kick Wendy’s ass, and this week we rewind a bit to get her side of the story, because how could we not. She’s injured (fractured rib, even if no one says it) and dragged into the safe-house before being thrown into the crawlspace to wait in silence. She’s caught between pain, embarrassment and fandom as — unbeknownst to her — the girls upstairs are opening up her duffel bag and finding some pretty interesting things inside. When it’s time for the gang to get some answers they send down the boss and Eyana, which is an obvious move. It’s choice, too: they’re playing good cop bad cop, but when the good cop’s a calm Jewish lady I think everyone’s instinct (or at least just my own) is to give in immediately. Wendy answers everything to the best of her ability, and as much as she possibly can, and for the first time we get to watch her really interact with others. It’s great for me because we get a real look at her as a character at the same time as we get to watch her meet her idols. This is such a big moment for her!
It’s just not going the way she expected. Eyana keeps screaming at her, they’re accusing her of burning down their apartment which we find she knows nothing about, they think she’s part of an enemy gang and she ends up so overwhelmed that she tears up and can’t even look at the pair. I know it looks cruel, but Astor’s a hugely powerful gang leader and Wendy is currently the enemy, so of course she’s acting fierce: she’s in total Momma Bear Mode™ right now. But throughout all this it’s finally confirmed for the gang that Wendy has been portraying them all, all for their respect, all to show what a big fan she is. It’s not out of malice or mischief, just a bit of a different way to express her fandom to them. The reaction is — initially and understandably — confusion. Then Astor asks Wendy if she’s from Long Island, which I’ve mentioned in these recaps is the suburbs just outside the city (that’s where I’m from!). It’s not really explained in the text how she arrives to that conclusion, but a Staten Islander will recognize a Long Islander, both by accent and mannerisms. I don’t believe her frenetic speech patterns stem from autism alone — she’s a suburbanite, too, and a bubbly young girl. And to me the Long Island accent is distinct: combine classic New York with a stereotypical east coast rich girl and you get a nasal, sometimes snobby tone of voice.
Eyana asks Astor if they can speak alone when Astor asks her age — she’s nineteen, the same as Celeste when she died and, as you’ll later learn but probably have surmised by her mannerisms, the same age as Brienne. To me asking for an age betrays some sympathy, and Eyana seems to recognize that and isn’t exactly thrilled — she’s got a little more beef with Wendy since she was the first person to get copied. She and Astor presumably have an argument outside and when Astor returns it’s with the considerably nicer (in this context) Brienne.
And then comes this joy of a conversation. We’ve seen clear hints that Wendy is autistic, but it’s not been explicitly stated until now because I don’t want it to be too central to the character and her arc. I think she explains what’s happening best in the narrative itself: this is far from the first time she’s been underestimated, talked down to, and otherwise harassed and belittled. She’s got a speech to whip out especially for moments like this, even though she shouldn’t have to defend herself and it can be so demoralizing to do so. And it’s not like she wants to chastise her idols either, but they’re only human and even they can have some accidental insensitive moments.
For what it’s worth, Astor is quick to apologize, though she still wonders who burnt down their apartment. Wendy, curt for the first time, suggests it may be the mysterious strangers watching them at this very moment. Brienne laughs (why does she laugh?) and Astor hangs her head as a bang sounds from the other side of the door — Eyana angrily listening in. There’s some off-screen debate as to what should be done next, but Astor’s the leader and when she says they need to leave, they need to leave. Even if Eyana thinks it’s a trap, even if they’re stuck with an interesting new detainee. But a taxi’s going to attract attention out here in the ‘burbs, especially since that’s how they came here. But Wendy’s old Scion is a lot less likely to be spotted — unless, of course, those strangers were following her following the gang, but what option do they have?
And here’s the most positive part of the chapter: no one murders Wendy! It’s always fun to not be murdered, so she’s pretty excited about that alone, but throw in the fact that she gets to observe the gang in action and low-key hang out with them (it’s the most reluctant hang out ever) and that’s just great! Silver lining! She always manages to find it.
They all get in the car, where Wendy’s not exactly comfortable with the tightness of the space, but she’s got no other choice. For the record, they were never going to put her in the trunk: Eyana might have tried, but Astor’s a little bit soft about this new girl, thorn in their side she may be, so she wouldn’t go in the trunk like an actual enemy. Because now the gang knows, just as you readers know, that the real enemy is out there somewhere, and Wendy’s going to help her idols take them down. But before we get too hype about that, Wendy can’t help but notice that Brienne’s a little different than the rest of them, a little bit more unknown, and that changes the mood instantly. Doesn’t it feel like there could be a wrestle for power now? Doesn’t it feel like Wendy, with all her intelligence, has an edge now, and possibly an edge against our gang? There are some interesting dynamics at play here. If you want to see more, tune in for chapter seven and I’ll see you then!