Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Lost Land

Why is there a holographic horse in my bathroom?

Oh, I beg your pardon, you're a 'pony'. Because that's so different. Can we focus on the bathroom-related aspects of the situation?

... right, usually these reports get pushed under my door, not hand-delivered by alarming levels of technology. But fine. Message received. I'll read it after my shower.

... fine, before. Now get lost.

Mission: The Lost Land
Agents: Rina Dives, Randa Roan, Marvin Jones, Printworthy
Continuum: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

I'll say one thing right out the door: these agents do an exceptional job of 'introducing' themselves to the readers. Marvin's assumptions about 'the Assassins' strike precisely the right note; it makes me almost nostalgic for the old days, when everyone assumed that the other departments were a bunch of psychopaths. The fact that his preconception survives his initial encounter with Rina and Randa only makes it more effective - his world-weary defence of his fandom being broken by the discovery that both Assassins are also MLP fans (I refuse to write the word... well, you know the word) is a perfect moment of characterisation. I hope he learnt as much from it as he seems to have.

Then the agents entered their fic, and in a storytelling moment that is perhaps too good to be entirely accurate, the roles are reversed: Rina and Randa are caught literally wrong-footed by their disguises, while Marvin plays the consummate expert. It's only Printworthy bringing him back down to earth that suggests there might be some factual reporting involved.

And... the report proceeds at a good clip, with the agents recording both relevant parts of the badfic (though they do sometimes go a little overboard with the multi-paragraph sections) and their own actions; I have to congratulate them there, since so many agents leave out one or (more usually) the other. The break for the magic and flying lessons comes in precisely the right place - suspiciously so; I suspect the hoof of Printworthy lies heavily on the pacing here - and the lessons themselves are both believable and revealing of the agents' characters.

And then, of course, things start to go wrong; this wouldn't be the PPC if they didn't. Marvin's interruption, sudden grimdark, the argument spilling over; it all acts as a perfect setup for the final showdowns. And yes, the Duty is suitably dramatic, without being overwrought.

It's very rare that I write one of these reviews without finding something to complain about, but for once, I'm forced to do exactly that. Except for that ridiculous holographic pony. If whoever is behind this tries something like that again, I swear I'll track you down and papercut you to death.

Now I'm going for my shower.