murgatroyd666 (murgatroyd666) wrote in girlgenius_lab,
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Chekhov's Armory


Note: If you have comments, contributions, suggestions, criticisms, updates, or taunts, please post them at http://murgatroyd666.livejournal.com/11584.html ...

If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.
— Anton Chekhov

The Professors have been adhering to the Law of Conservation of Detail. What they've shown us or told us in the narrative has been put in for a reason -- it's there for purposes of world-building, to establish characters' personalities, or because it's important to the plot. Okay, sometimes it's there just to be funny or cool. Some of the details that later turned out to be significant weren't immediately obvious as being important when we first encountered them ... in other words, they were Chekhov's Guns, waiting to be fired.

Sometimes you can spot unfired Chekhov's guns. They tend to be the details of the story that make you pause and ask, "Why was that mentioned?" Think of them as loose threads in the tapestry of the narrative. But they're also a way of playing fair with the reader, to establish in advance that something exists in this universe that will be essential to the plot, instead of the author pulling something out of ... ahem ... thin air.

A good example of a Chekhov's Gun, already fired, would be Lars' fake wedding ring that expanded into a lockpick. When it was first mentioned, it seemed to be merely a humorous detail that told us something about Lars' character ... but the lockpick turned out to be useful later on (although in an unexpected way).

Now, I'm not talking about items and events that the characters themselves know will be important, such as Tarsus Beetle's notes, or Lunevka's command voice. I'm also not including possible instances of foreshadowing, such as the supposed joke about Gil being the Storm King, or Tarvek hoping as a kid that he and Gil would turn out to be related. And I'm not including People with Mysterious Secrets (Who and what is Higgs?! Who and where is Tarvek's mother? Who and what is Jenka?) and ongoing mysteries (Who wanted to kill Gil, and why? How does the Black Squad get around? Who killed Lucrezia's assistants and trashed her lab?) Just things that turned up once, and may turn up again with astonishing consequences.

So here's a list of potential Chekhov's guns, still hanging on the wall ...

1. The message dingbot that got away. Did it reach the Falling Flying Machine I airship? Has it been found? If so, by whom? What was Agatha's message?

2. Moloch von Zinzer's poison pill. Does he still have it? (He seems to still be wearing that same pair of pants.) If so, who will eventually swallow it? Update from williamansley: Will he swallow it and survive due to his apparent immunity to poisons? (Has he already eaten it as a snack?!) Also, it raises the question of why Gil was carrying around an Instant Death pill. He just happened to have it; he didn't expect to meet Moloch von Zinzer. If he had one, does he have more?

3. Madame Olga's reconstructed body. Floating in the tank on Castle Wulfenbach: a young female body with a regrown brain, but with no memories or personality. I have a hunch about this one, but there are many potential targets for this particular gun.

4. Dr. Dimitri Vapnoople's bears. According to Agatha H. and the Airship City, he thinks of them as his "bear army." Are they more than cute toys?

5. The Heterodyne Device. It's a power source! It's an invisibility field generator! It's a floor wax! It's a dessert topping! But it's designed to bolt onto something, so we still don't know what it's intended to do!

6. The gold piece embossed with Zola's image that Zola gave to Agatha outside Castle Heterodyne: "Here, my dear. A little token of our meeting! I'm sure it will come in handy!" Will it come in handy as emergency cash? Will the image of Zola be used to prove some point? Hmm ... with sufficient velocity a large gold coin can also be a lethal projectile ...

7. The other Muses. We've met Otilia, Moxana, and Tinka. Originally there were nine, although over the course of two centuries some have been destroyed by lesser Sparks trying to understand them. Will any more turn up?

8. Gil's sigil. When we first see Gil, he isn't wearing a Wulfenbach sigil. Instead, it's an oval device containing a cross in which the horizontal element is broken or passes behind the vertical part without joining it. Is it the Holzfäller emblem? Does it have something to do with Gil's alternative title of "Your Highness"? Some have wondered whether it's a similar-but-not-identical symbol, the Cross of Odin, which may represent lightning. Is that its significance here?

9. The Assistant's sigil. When we first meet the Assistant, in the coffee house and on the Mechanicsburg city wall, she's wearing a cloak fastened with a sigil we haven't seen anywhere else in the comic: a square device containing a lightning bolt. Is it some kind of Storm King emblem? Does it indicate an otherwise-hidden affiliation?

10. The MechaMole. Grantz delivered Othar to the Great Hospital in a Mecha Mole subterrene. An interesting, colorful detail -- but is it important? We don't know yet what happened to Lunevka and Zola after the attack on the hospital (although I suspect that Lunevka is unharmed and on Castle Wulfenbach). If they're still among the missing, could the subterrene have been their getaway vehicle? Or will it be used at some point in the future? And if so, where will it go?
Update from claudeng: The MechaMole also is equipped witha "3-D sonar compass" for pinpoint navigation. An interesting thing to mention.

11. The Lackya. An interesting group of constructs, but ... why are they in the story? Just to provide background color and an air of verisimilitude? Or will they become important to the plot? Are they really "zuper-engineered sqvirrels"? Or zumting else? They hiss when they're angry, their eyes have vertical slit pupils, and they don't get along well with Jägers. Snakes? Weasels? Cats? Klaus "inherited" them from the Gilded Duke -- the Duke D'Omas? The same Duke that von Zinzer served? Hmmm ...

12. Van Rijn's notes. Moxana had them, Agatha read them, Tarvek took them. I think they were left behind in Castle Sturmvoraus, but they might have been found and brought to Castle Wulfenbach. In addition to their obvious importance for repairing the Muses, I can think of other reasons that they might be significant. The creator of Otilia and Moxana somehow knew what was going to happen two centuries later, and he seems to have given his creations both knowledge of future events and explicit instructions on what to do in certain situations. If he had foreknowledge of events, then perhaps there are messages or warnings in the notes. (They might be encrypted, but we know that Gil and Tarvek are both good with codes!) Also ... the notes are handwritten. Will someone eventually recognize the handwriting? I can think of several "current" characters who could have written those notes a couple of centuries ago. (I call this my "The Shadow Out of Time" scenario.)

13. The secret passageway in Castle Heterodyne. Krosp remarks: "Amazing! This passage must connect to secret doors through half the castle! And it just keeps going down, too. What's down there, anyway?" Good question! They'd already visited the Great Movement Chamber, so I don't think that's the answer. What else is still waiting to be discovered in the bowels of Castle Heterodyne?

14. The Summoning Engine. When last seen, it was being taken by the Geisterdamen into the depths of the catacombs below Sturmhalten. Lucrezia-in-Agatha has mentioned that she improved its operation, and now it's possible for other young women to be imprinted with the Other's personality. Has that happened? Are there other copies of the Other running around loose that we don't know about yet?

15. Queenie, the über-dingbot. The whole sequence of the rivalry and battle between Dingbot Prime and Dingbot Alpha (AKA Deuce Dingbot) was amusing, but it went on for rather a long time and it didn't advance the story. That is very unlike the Professors! Will that battle, or its resolution, become important? Queenie established her supremacy with her crown and her ability to heterodyne. Does Queenie have some role to play later? Will she suppress a later attempt by Lucrezia's personality to control Agatha?

16. The "Three-Light Device" in Castle Heterodyne, seen here and here. Whether or not you want to consider it a Chekhov's gun, it would seem that since the Professors showed what appears to be the same device with first the top and then the middle light lit, they owe it to us to show it to us when the bottom light is lit ... and why. Let's hope we see the final light of the Three-Light Device in Volume 12.
[Contributed by williamansley]
FIRED! The third light has been lit! Consequences to follow ...

17. Glowy monsters. First seen in the catacombs under Castle Sturmvoraus, then on board the Wulfenbach airship that was attacked over Castle Sturmvoraus. They look sort of like Shmoos with tails and the heads of sea lampreys, and they are very, very deadly. Will we meet them again? Who made them? How did they get on board the airship?
[Contributed by lightningnettle]

18. Agatha's Perfect Coffee. It was ... perfect! It clearly had long-lasting effects on Vanamonde, and it even affected Vole. I can see the Perfect Coffee becoming important in a crisis. Remember, Agatha has never tasted it. Perhaps she'll need some huge boost in creativity in the future, or perhaps it's so powerful that it will enable Agatha to suppress Lucrezia even without her locket.
[Contributed by lightningnettle]

19. The Falling Flying Machines. Apparently they're both in working condition, ready for someone to use them. We don't know what happened to the Falling Flying Machine Mark I after Wooster flew it to Sturmhalten. The Falling Flying Machine Mark II is handily parked right there in Mechanicsburg.
[Contributed by lightningnettle]

20. The Cathedral. Why did Vanamonde hope the bad guys would try to invade there? What makes it such a safe place to hold the children? (My hunch is that what makes it dangerous for invaders is either the Crypt Masters ... or the Mechanicsburg children themselves. Snotulous little buggers.)
[Contributed by lightningnettle]
Update: The action has shifted to the Cathedral, where subterranean Mecha-Narwhals and a subterranean squid from the old kraken works are battling it out.
Update: The fighting seems to be over, the invaders have been driven out of town, and there's going to be a ceremony in the Cathedral; we can see its exterior here
Update: The Cathedral is a small sanctuary from the Castle, should Agatha need it. Will she need it?
Update: Not only are the Sanctuary's systems not under the control of the Castle, but the Sanctuary contains what seems to be a Portal! Stay tuned!

21. Tarvek's rescued weasel kits. First seen in the crashed airship, they shouldn't exist -- the wasp weasels aren't supposed to have babies. What's become of them since then? Why do they seem so attached to Tarvek?
[Contributed by geekhyena]
Oh, and what happened to the Big Mama Weasel?
[Contributed by lightningnettle]

22. Klaus's surgical scars. They have been shown several times in the webcomic, but they haven't been explicitly discussed there. Word of God is that Klaus is a construct, patched together from the parts of three brothers after a catastrophic lab accident. But why throw in this detail? Is it significant? Has it been included only to demonstrate that Klaus ignores the Fifty Families' rule that constructs aren't eligible to be rulers? Or is there some other reason? My hunch is that the two hemispheres of Klaus' brain came from different brothers, and the Spark Wasp has infected only one of them, leaving the other one free to resist commands from the Other.

23. Klaus' sword. It looks Skifandrian. Will the origin of the sword prove to be significant? Is it a perquisite of royalty? We have good reason to believe that Zeetha is is Klaus' daughter, one result of his temporary exile to Skifander. Will Zeetha or someone else recognize it?
[Contributed by geekhyena]

24. Anevka's head. Tarvek tucked it away in a cabinet in Sturmhalten. We don't know whether it's in the part that got blown up, or whether Klaus's forces found it. Will Anevka be reactivated? As an ally? As an antagonist? As a witness? [Contributed by lightningnettle]

25. The pink airship. Pinky flew in on it. It was attacked by the Torchmen and escaped, but we don't know what happened to it after that. Was it taken by Wulfenbach troops? Is it still flying around out there somewhere? Will someone in the main cast use it in the future? We know (via Vanamonde) that it's brand new and high-tech -- a "flash ship," out of the Stockholm yards -- and Van's statement might indicate that it can change color. If so, why was that detail mentioned?
[Contributed by claudeng]

26. The tunnels under Mechanicsburg. There was a comment that if the rest of Europa was as extensively tunneled under as Mechanicsburg, the continent would collapse in the next rain (raising the question of why Mechanicsburg hasn't done so). So there is a whole network of tunnels that we've only seen bits of; plus that entrance/exit we saw on the war table in Castle Wulfenbach. And we also have learned that the catacombs under the Cathedral connect to the caverns at the old kraken works. Do the secret passages in Castle Heterodyne connect, too? All those tunnels could be an important part of the story.
[Contributed by lightningnettle]

27. Professor Tiktoffen's nasty little device. It can prevent Castle Heterodyne from harming the user, overriding any intentions the Castle may have. Revealed here, damaged rather badly, then put away for safe keeping, eventual analysis, and possible future use here. Will it be used again?

28. Tarvek's voice override for Anevka's clank body. When Tarvek built Anevka's clank body, he neglected to inform her that he could disable it at will with a voice command. Anevka is out of the picture now, but Lunevka is using Anevka's clank body; only the head is new. Lunevka probably doesn't know about the voice override capability. Will Tarvek have occasion to use it on her? I'm betting that he will ...

29. Tarvek's notes. Tarvek gave Gil his book of notes, which included the recipe for Wasp Repellent. The notes were encrypted -- but Gil was able to read them in real time, so the code can't be too difficult to break. Gil used the recipe to brew up a batch and forcibly administered it to Bangladesh DuPree, who in gratitude rendered him unconscious. The notebook is still on Castle Wulfenbach. In addition to that recipe, there may be all sorts of other things of a useful, incriminating, or exculpatory nature in that book! Tarvek has mentioned the notebook twice since Gil used it. He hasn't forgotten about it, and neither should we.

30. Tarvek's Wasp-Immunity Concoction. Gil made up a batch based on the formula in Tarvek's notebook, but as far as we know Bangladesh DuPree is the only person who has taken it. Bang's immunity surely must be important! Is anything left of the batch that Gil made up, and has anyone else taken it? Has anyone read Tarvek's notes and made a new batch?
[Contributed by persephone_kore.]

31. Tweedle's mechanical hand. Awfully unlucky of him to lose his original hand, wasn't it? So why, in terms of storytelling, did this happen? The Laws of Narrative imply that this new mechanical hand will be a plot point in he future, for good or ill.

32. Agatha's smell. As cofacd_60 noted, Tweedle's alteration of Agatha's body chemistry also changed her smell. ("You smell weird," Krosp said.) At some point in the future, will this become a plot point? Will a Jäger not recognize her as a Heterodyne?

33. Agatha's pet wasp-eater weasel. Altered by Agatha as a solution to her physiological need for Tweedle's body chemistry, the little critter has become her constant companion. Its primary purpose, of course, is to keep Agatha healthy. But its original purpose was to sniff out revenants. What do you want to bet that it will do just that at a crucial point in the story?

34. The healing mechanism attached to Gil's leg. Apparently it helped him recover from the wounds he acquired defending Mechanicsburg. Oddly, Mamma Gkika didn't seem to know where it it came from, and attributed it to Klaus' knowledge of Jäger technology. Who put it there? Gil? (If so, how long had Gil been wearing it? He seems familiar with its function.) Mamma, or one of the three fake Jäger gurlz? Dimo, Oggie, and/or Maxim? How about Higgs? (Higgs is my guess.) As far as story exposition goes, why is it there? Will it, or a similar device, play a role in the story in a later volume?

35. Battle-draught and its possible side effects. Such side effects as "blathering! And paranoia! And flying into uncontrollable childish rages!" Was Zeetha simply covering for Gil's outburst? Or do these side effects account for Gil's much later seemingly irrational behavior? "Are you saying that by getting too upset, I could trigger side effects?" Could side effects of taking battle-draught also explain Gil's "bulked-up" appearance when Bang saw him in the Time Window?

(Updated 2012/12/22: Added #28)
(Updated 2012/12/24: #16 has been fired)
(Updated 2013/03/30: Added #29)
(Updated 2013/04/13: Edited #20)
(Updated 2013/04/17: Edited #20)
(Updated 2013/05/06: Edited #20)
(Updated 2013/06/03: Edited #22 - Word of God confirmed)
(Updated 2013/08/25: Added #30)
(Updated 2013/10/03: Added #31, #32, and #33)
(Updated 2013/10/09: Added #34 and #35)
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