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Vampire Academy: Near Guard, Far Guard

“May I remind you that the will of the Royal Council is absolute?”

As we wade into each episode, we learn Dominion is both deeper and darker than we previously suspected. I worry that this is only the beginning.

Tatiana and the Royal Council are even more insensitive and egotistical than they originally appeared. Dhampirs are little more than intelligent guard dogs to them. Setting a Strigoi loose on the novices may not have been a win-win situation, but at least it was one they couldn't lose. Either the Royals would get their excuse to throw half-trained novices into the Guardian’s ranks or absolve themselves of guilt by claiming they weren’t properly trained.

Tatiana goes even farther. I’ve tried very hard to give her the benefit of the doubt. However, letting Lissa believe Victor is responsible for her grand idea and then claiming the seven deaths are proof of the Strigoi’s threat is irredeemable. As if she and the Council weren’t already well aware of the danger. Between this misadventure and the psi hounds, Tatiana and the rest of the Royal Council are batting a thousand.

Thanks to Royal Moroi selfishness, what should have been a relatively harmless test of the novices’ abilities turned into a bloodbath. Rose may have spent her entire life training to kill Strigoi, but she wasn’t prepared for her first kill to be wearing one of her closest friend’s face. One thing I’ve always admired about Rose was her ability to be a badass and still show her vulnerable side. That said, it was difficult to watch her fall apart over Mikhail’s body.

I must admit, Mikhail’s death shocked me. Or rather, his being turned Strigoi shocked me. Once that happened, I believed his death was a foregone conclusion. I’d assumed his relationship with Sonya would be an ongoing storyline. Although, if I’m being honest may have more to do with the books than the show.

Yet the decision impressed me. If you’re going to sacrifice a major character, it should be one whose death will affect the most people. Mikhail’s death not only affects Sonya and Rose, but all the other Dhampirs at St. Vladimir’s.

Including Alberta. I’m not sure if we’re meant to like her, but Alberta is high on the list of people I feel sorry for. Everyone glossed over the fact she knew of the Council’s plan only 15 minutes before Victor’s announcement. She didn’t knowingly send novices to face a Strigoi. It can’t be easy balancing the Royal Council’s demands, protecting the Moroi, and training novices while having your staff’s back. Given the Dhampir’s belief that “they come first” she probably considers her job an honor, but I imagine there are days, this one included, when she questions that belief.

Dimitri is certainly questioning his beliefs. Despite all his talk of rules, he left his charge and disobeyed orders to fight by Rose’s side. I imagine the only reason he hasn’t been decommissioned is because the Queen ordered an end to the test once she knew actual Royals were in danger.

Unfortunately, killing Mikhail is not Rose’s only problem. Until now, she’s been oblivious to Mason’s true feelings. However, between Eddie’s blunt declaration that she either takes what Mason’s offering or cuts him loose and Mason’s heartbreaking admission, she can no longer claim ignorance. I get that she’s hurting, but not letting him down easy in that moment is only going to make things worse later.

Then there’s Lissa’s Spirit use. On the surface, this ability seems like a good thing. The founder of their religion was a Spirit User. And while compulsion may be questionable, healing is an absolute good. Right? Yet no one talks about it and the only books that mention Spirit use were written by heretics or locked up and hidden from prying eyes.

We now know there’s more to Spirit use than compulsion and healing. The connection between Rose and Lissa goes beyond her seeing through Lissa’s eyes. The more Lissa uses her abilities, the more “emo vibes” she suffers from. And Lissa is now passing that darkness onto Rose.

I find it surprising that Lissa hasn’t made the connection between Sonya’s inability to specialize and Spirit use. She’s manipulating Jesse to find an unknown art collector when one of the best resources is in her godfather’s house. Even more surprising is that Mia witnessed Lissa healing Dean and said nothing. Is Mia unaware of her sister’s abilities?

Then again, Sonya might not be of much help to anyone at the moment. I’m not sure if grief or the darkness that comes from healing people led to her suicide attempt. But I’m hoping Sonya’s past isn’t Lissa’s prologue.

Mia has become the antithesis of Jesse. It’s true they each lash out when they’re feeling insecure. However, she willingly risks her life for the people she cares about. Even if it’s only protecting her Dhampir girlfriend from a jerk. I’m not sure what the consequences are for “attacking” a Royal, but we all know it won’t be good. Jesse, on the other hand, doesn’t understand that relationships can be something other than transactional. On the plus side, since he seems to believe his royal blood makes him invincible, he continues to be bribed into doing all sorts of dangerous things.

And I may have been a bit hasty in denigrating Victor. It appears he’s not interested in maintaining the status quo but improving the lives of both the non-Royals and the Dhampirs. I’m still not clear about how he plans to achieve this, especially considering the death sentence he’s now living under. But it’s a start.

Each episode has improved upon the last. The deepening of Dominion’s political gamesmanship has revealed the true nature of each character and the battle lines that are slowly being drawn. Battle lines that our heroes remain only dimly aware of.

Another strong episode.

4 out of 5 blood patches

Bits and Bites:

Sandovsky’s Syndrome is a chronic disease that destroys a Moroi’s vital organs, eventually causing death.

Can Rose sense Strigoi? It sure looked like it.

Apparently, Rose isn’t the only one with relationship issues. Lissa sleeps with the guy she knows she can’t be with while stringing along the one she has no intention of marrying. I know Jesse’s a jerk, but at least Mason knows where he stands with Rose.

Nice call back. The moves Dimitri and Rose practiced in the last episode are the same as the ones they used to fight Mikhail.


Meredith: “Putting Rosa in charge of protecting anyone not named Lissa isn’t gonna end well.”

Andre: “The darkness will always find you and twist away at your insides until you remember!”

Sonya: “I can heal him.”
Robert: “Heal. Not cure.”
Marie: “They’re not innocents. They’re Dhampirs.”

Victor: “Tatiana, please don’t speak to me as if I haven’t been doing this long before your fangs dropped. Now, if you don’t mind, the adults are talking.”

Mikhail: “Normal is boring.”

Queen: “I will not incite political upheaval, even for you. If you’re so troubled by it, perhaps you should finally consider running for the throne instead of instead of clinging to its coattails.”

Christian: “Rose is going to kick my ass for letting you do this.”
Lissa: “Let’s get her and everyone home safely so she can do just that.”
Jesse: “A wannabe Royal, a Dhamp, and a sad little outcast. That’s as low as a peanut gallery as there ever was.”

Mikhail: “Show them that you’re not Janine Hathaway’s daughter. Show them that she’s Rose Hathaway’s mum.”

Lissa: “OK, so don’t freak out.” (healing Rose’s hand)
Rose: “That’s... um... new.”

Victor: “It’ll be okay. I promise.”
Sonya: “No. It won’t be.”

Dimitri: “I’d like to say it gets easier, but..."
Rose: “It fucking sucks?”
Dimitri: “It fucking sucks.”
Mason: “When you get back, I’ll be here waiting. Like I’ve always been.”

Victor: “I stand before you to officially announce my candidacy for Monarch.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, the supernatural, and anything with a cape.

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