Rational(ized) Behavior – Chapter 8, Act 2, Strip 130

Since the heroes are already informed about the upcoming crucial confrontation, and even the Professorian can feel it in his (far away) bones, it’s high time the villains became aware of it, as well.

As nice as it would be for the heroes to attack with the advantage of surprise, that’s not how these things work. You can’t surprise villains, at least not when it comes to such a climactic confrontation – dramaturgy requires them to go into the fight with extra helpings of arrogance and smugness, and that would be very hard to muster in a state of shock. So the villains always have foreknowledge and can even use this to surprise the heroes that are trying to surprise them – just by revealing their preparedness in a sufficiently shocking (but elegant) manner.

But we’re not there yet, here the Queen is pretty much only learning how bad things have been going for her side off lately. Apparently she wasn’t kept informed of that in a timely fashion while it was going on. I suppose she relied on the twins to keep her abreast of developments – but the twins are very clever now, so they were obviously way too clever to give their volatile boss such bad news.

All in all, the intellectual upgrade she gave her top-level henchmen didn’t turn out the way the queen had hoped for, at all. She had hoped their effectiveness would skyrocket once their new eyewear had forced them to straighten out their act. Instead of that, they’re carrying on pretty much like before – using their new-found rationality mostly to rationalize doing so.
Their argument runs somewhat like this: morale is important for combat effectiveness, officers cannot inspire high morale in their subordinates if they don’t have high morale themselves, so the best way to ensure victory is for leaders to make sure they enjoy themselves as much as possible. It doesn’t appear entirely illogical at first glance, and these two are far from the first leaders that have stumbled on and employed that argument…but, yeah, it didn’t work out for any of the others, either.

Anyway, the key take-away is that the villains are now magically and properly forewarned of the big fight. A subsidiary take-away is that you don’t win battles just by…uh…“hanging out”…with your twin brother.

More on Thursday.

2 Replies to “Rational(ized) Behavior – Chapter 8, Act 2, Strip 130”

  1. That’s a fate of every evil overlord. Your henchmen are incompetent and you have to do everything yourself.
    Because if they are competent, it’s going to be much worse for you. They’ll stab you in the back at the moment of your triumph, or manipulate you into doing what they want. Or both.

    1. The funny thing being, that’s not only how it works in fiction, but also how it largely works in reality. It’s called the “autocratic dilemma”: unless an autocrat has the kind of overwhelming charisma which can bind highly capable people to him in unshakable loyalty, the choices largely come down to promoting people beyond their capabilities to ensure their dependence on you or distributing posts by merit, which brings with it a considerable risk of back-stabbing. And while in fiction ‘doing everything yourself’ might actually be an (and the best) option, that doesn’t apply in reality, were the volume of tasks exceeds any individual’s capacity by a wide margin.

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