In Chapter 8, we get a montage!
Montages are a little harder to pull off in written form. In a movie, all you need is a bunch of scenes and some cool music and you’re ready to go. In writing, you need a little more: reference to time passing, connecting tissue to link the scenes together somehow, a way to signal that we are skipping over many other things. Here, present tense is used as one such signal, which is interesting since present tense is generally used to create the effect of immediacy and immersion. This is the opposite of that—the tense helps us to zoom out and makes the scenes flash by a little faster. The return to past tense hits like a return to real time.
Of course, in both written and visual montages, choosing what scenes to show can be incredibly important.
There are moments that change everything, and once things have been changed, they do not change back. The butterfly may never again become a caterpillar. The vampire’s daughter, the mad scientist’s apprentice, they will never again be the innocent, untouched children who wandered down a stairway, who went through a door.
Since this is a prequel, it is meant to explain the whys and wherefores, not just to tell a story. Therefore the moments it covers are the ones that answer the question: How did Jack and Jill become who they were?
One answer is that they were influenced by the people around them. Jill’s guardian and role model is a vampire who makes no bones about what he is. He also makes it plain what he can give her: a chance to be his daughter, a chance to be like him, to live forever in this world and be forever pampered and looked up to. Jack’s watershed moment is seeing Alexis coming to life, and falling in love. Both are confronted by an escape from death, but Jill is offered it for herself, and Jack gives it to another. A key difference.
Jack and Jill were a story becoming real in front of him, and he didn’t know how to stop it.
There are other forces at play. The Moors, it seems, writes its own stories, or tries to. Dr. Bleak reflects on the inevitability of Jack and Jill being placed in opposing roles in this world. He can attempt to stop this process, but he has very little control here. It all depends on Jack and Jill and their choices. Even here, it is their choices that change them. Jill’s choice to accept the Master. Jack’s choice to help in raising Alexis. Unfortunately, Jack and Jill are what they are and now that they’ve grown, they are unlikely to change. Jack cannot be coaxed out of her aversion to dirt, Jill cannot see another’s point of view, who dubs anyone who thinks different to her, chooses what she would not, as ‘a fool, or worse.’
This story is not going to stop.