Monday, August 27, 2012

Drink Me

Though we hope Renard won't grow to be ten feet tall. He's tall enough, poor Nick doesn't need more of a crick in his neck.

I know, I know, we've been going over and over the first two eps of s2 with a fine toothed comb and one of those teensy archaeological brushes and we still aren't done. Still not done, you say? Why yes.

You see, I was going through the long (very long) list of things that Kitty and I noticed about the first couple of eps when I finally got around to doing the list of conclusions and assorted things that didn't fit neatly into the chronological play-by-play of last week's ep. (Which I realize outs me as the person who wrote second in that analysis, but still doesn't tell you where the switch happened. We're both deeply entertained by the fact that nobody's tried to guess that one.) And I abruptly realized that we forgot the potion.

Kitty and I both have a certain background in herblore, so this was extra fun to go through and parse out the assorted meanings or potential meanings behind each ingredient. Let's take it from the top!

Hemlock root, of course, is a sedative or a paralytic, depending on the dosage. Catherine lists "2 bulbs" here. This is the most poisonous part of the plant, but without knowing the specifics of hexenbiest/half-hexen biology, it's hard to be 100% certain what the intent here is. Certainly its paralytic aspects would help after the potion fully kicks in, while Renard lies on the floor and doesn't move for an unstated length of time. (Based on travel times between the train station and the trailer park, more than 15 minutes, but I'm not sure how much more.) Still, I'm going to go with that much hemlock being poisonous even to a half-Wesen, and presumably the other ingredients help to direct the poison only to the "impure" parts of Renard - whatever those are, for purposes of this potion.

(An interesting note here: the nearest hospital to the station is 10 minutes away, which is about 8 minutes from the approximate location of Renard's condo. A coincidence, perhaps, but if so one of the more useful ones for the bit with Renard and Nick just missing each other at Juliette's bedside.)

Myrrh resin is our next ingredient, used sometimes as a heart and circulatory system remedy. Also as an embalming ointment in essential oil form, or a purifying incense. It's also used in just about every branch of Christianity that engages in, as my mother fondly calls them, "smells and bells," as part of the incense mix. So we have many, many things going on here in this single ingredient. Since the hemlock on its own would probably kill Renard, the myrrh probably helps as a magical set of shock paddles. Since he's potentially dead (or perhaps part of him is? the Wesen part(s)?), the act of embalming and purification will aid him in becoming pure of heart. And finally, the religious symbolism cannot be ignored, what with the strong Grail implications running through these first two episodes. Perhaps this is a chemical process, but it's a chemical process with strong religious ritual significance.

The third ingredient is Lausenschlange oil. Although we don't have a great deal of information on the snake Wesen, it's safe to say that it's also poisonous in some way. I would guess that this is the ingredient - particularly since it's the only ingredient not found in the normal human world - that specifies what the potion's removing/purifying. Specifies and, perhaps, works on the timing aspect of all the other ingredients, since there's a very delicate balancing act going on in these properties. Also, it's snake oil. Which is a terrible pun for which the writers shall be summarily groaned at. Some more.

The fourth ingredient is Pseudomonas Aenginosa - or a type of bacteria found in sepsis. EW. No, seriously, Renard, you should be glad you didn't know what was in this. And I have to go eat dinner after typing this up. Ugh. Best guess, this is killing something and the myrrh, which also has antibacterial properties, nullifies the sepsis bacteria when it's done doing its job.

Next up is mullein, also known as a member of the figwort family. (You will note my restraint in making neither Fezzik nor Fizzgig jokes. This is what happens when Renard turns Darkness-red: the 80s fantasy movies start breeding in my brain.) Mullein is another herb traditionally used for asthma and respiratory disorders, to which I can only say AHAHAHAHAHA, clearly this is about the black smoke. Figwort as a genus, however, is known for efficacy as a painkiller - which Renard surely needs with this potion. If that was him on painkillers, I'd hate to see what the results without them would have been like.

And, finally, we come to gum Arabic. It's a binder, of course, but just as importantly it contributes to the stability of the mixture to a greater degree than modern binders would. It's probably what gave the potion both its milky-white appearance, its incredibly stickiness, and pulled together some or all of the other ingredients to form those mysterious and disgusting lumps.

So, to recap, we have: a sedative/paralytic/poison/dangerous remedy, a heart/embalming/purifying/antibacterial drug, snake oil, sepsis bacteria, pulmonary remedy/painkiller, and binder. On top of that, we have whatever process besides boiling Catherine put the ingredients through, both mundane and magical.

Isn't this FUN? I'm going to go eat dinner now and be very grateful that I know exactly what's in it.

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