Deceptive Cuteness – Chapter 8, Act 3, Strip 7

There’s another advantage to having the Queen flash back to Latho’s arrival on her planet at some length: it gives me the opportunity to portray a proper initial reaction to Latho’s appearance.

I mean, it clearly has chosen that overly cutesy appearance for a reason and wouldn’t be using it if it didn’t have the desired effect. And the effect it has on the Queen is clearly as desired – at least, it’s clear in the visuals. The verbal version, intended by the Queen to be recorded for posterity, skirts the truth a bit…or rather, pants the truth. Before stuffing it into its own locker. But, as the Queen says herself, she has to act in a proper way, or at least hide all of the evidence for the opposite from the history books. Young queens get that drummed into them until it becomes habitual.

But yeah, hers is exactly the kind of reaction Latho is building on, but didn’t quite get when it revealed itself to Mopey and friends. Mostly because Gregory is the only member of the team who wouldn’t be constitutionally opposed to having any sense of cuteness – and even he would be more likely to indulge in it in a covert manner, rather than going against the team spirit. Therefore Latho only achieved shock and awe, in their case, with the emphasis more on shock than awe. It worked out for Latho, but it wasn’t what it had hoped for.

And Latho knows why it invests thought into this – you never get a second chance to make a first impression, after all, and the first impression is crucial to selling the kind of deal Latho is going for. It needs to gloss over some of the otherwise more noticeable cracks in the deal’s facade – like the one that didn’t fully escape the Queen’s notice: the overly convenient simultaneous occurrence of an unprecedented problem and an unprecedented solution custom-tailored to it. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, of course, but relying on such an abstract concept for camouflage is a stretch – just reducing your opponents’ mental capacity via brain-rotting cuteness seems like a much safer bet.

More on Thursday.

P.S.: As for the episode’s title, I could write a whole volume on deceptive cuteness! But that would only make me sound bitter, I guess. I mean, I am bitter, of course… but I still don’t like to sound like it.

5 Replies to “Deceptive Cuteness – Chapter 8, Act 3, Strip 7”

  1. “It worked out for Latho, but it wasn’t what it had hoped for.”
    Just replace “Latho” with the director’s name and it feels like this is a blanket statement for amateur B-movie makers: You had to cut a bunch of corners and make substitutions to solve various problems during production but at least you finished the movie.

    As for convenient solutions to convenient problems, I feel it’s 50-50 whether it’s an obvious setup for a later plot twist/reveal OR just lazy writing. I’d cite for example the Ace Attorney series. I think it was the 3rd (maybe 4th) videogame where (I don’t count this as a spoiler because it’s introduced near the beginning and there HAD to be a reason you’re no longer playing as the series’ protagonist anymore) the ace attorney himself gets disgraced for obliviously using planted evidence during a trial and he says he should have known it was a trap for how convenient it was.
    Then I’m personally like, what? NO! You have literally won entire cases by finding critical evidence the police missed and that you didn’t submit to them because the cops AND the defending attorneys are ALL crooked! For 2 full games at that!

  2. The best reaction to a cute alien was in Excel Saga by the titular heroine:
    “It’s so cute! But WTF is that?” (kills on sight).

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