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Metamorphosis is a play based upon the franz kafka novella of the same name and is a story of transformation both of gregor from travelling salesman to insectoid creature, but also of the transformation of his family and their behaviour and attitudes towards him and their family roles as they all cope and adapt around his transformations as they progress.

The Old Rep Theatre

This was my first time visiting the old rep theatre and it’s located in the area’s behind Birmingham new street central, whilst previously in a part of the city rarely visited due to the layout of the town it now benefits from the newly opened nature of the train station and perhaps might become a bigger venue as this side of the town gets regenerated with businesses taking advantage of the expansion to this area.

Inside the venue itself it is essentially a single production establishment with a small side café, the view of the stage is ensured through the chair layout so you’re able to take in the show without distractions. The lighting and fog effects of the venue made it a very atmospheric show, and if it wasn’t for the occasional eye contact with the actors on stage you could compare it to a close up experience of a movie at the cinema, except with true 3D because actually it’s a stage show for those who have never been to a play themselves.

The Metamorphosis


The show opens with a little transitional white noise and flickering of lights as the actors scurry into position, this is both a moody way of establishing time passing but also a convenient way of masking scenery and actor changing transitions as well as maybe establishing something isn’t quite right and this effect is used throughout the show to great effect. I do believe there’s one point later where perhaps the transition was missed or should have been there during the performance I saw however that’s probably the only gripe I would have with the show as overall the actors put on a great performance and it was a very enjoyable show.

All of the actors portrayed their character roles very well putting across suitable emotional levels for each stage of the performance in both their voices and mannerisms and in particular the main character of gregor was well performed throughout his transitions from self sacrificing brother through to his insectoid nature and inner thoughts grasping onto his humanity until the end all of which were acted out expertly from his insect like slight buzzing and struggling to his voice through to his final transformation with shoulder blades sticking out in very insect like manners and creeping around cautiously like an insect trying not to get spotted as he desired to hear his sister sing one last time, something he always loved as a human and had actively sacrificed his life to ensure he could afford to send her to the conservatoire; a famous and renowned school for the performing arts. Clearly showing that even at the end he was still grasping onto his humanity and simply wanted to hear her singing voice closer and be closer to what was the core part of his humanity.

Transformation is a key part of this play and whilst you might presume that the show alone is about gregor and his transition into an insectoid creature there are many more transformations to consider throughout the show. Whilst initially I presumed he was transforming into some sort of corporate individual as the actor who portrayed the face of many roles wore a white face with black eyeliner in a style I would associate with “we happy few” which may indeed be Kafkaesque but I may be unfamiliar with or perhaps even be theatre commonality for someone who would be playing many roles, however this was put to rest pretty soon as the boss with this makeup visited gregor at his home stating he would need to see a doctor about the matter.

During his transformation process gregor loses his job, perhaps as a result of his illness or perhaps resulting from being late to work one single time when he had an illness who is to say for sure, however this leads to his family having to take over his responsibilities to earn money as he had essentially giving his life working non stop to ensure they could live the lives they deserved, wishing to fund his sister to pursue her dreams, and ensuring his parents could enjoy their retirement without worry and providing additional funds for them in case of emergencies all without ever complaining despite only getting 4 hours of sleep per night.

Initially his sister looks after him as he’s stuck in his room making sure he gets enough food to eat, and even ensuring it’s something he can enjoy as his tastes change during his illness. Throughout the play however this changes over time through fear and concern to an unwanted chore looking after what she considers an unwanted monster who has destroyed her brother believing there’s nothing left of him inside and wanting this reminder of what she believes to have killed her brother to just be gone from the house and to stop being a financial burden holding her family back from living the life she desires. Obviously there are a lot of subtle subtexts to read throughout the show from him only wanting the best for her and a lot to watch out for as the relationships between the two evolve.

The father has to take up the mantle of main producer for the family after gregor loses his job and whilst initially he takes up the mantle of gregor’s former position as travelling salesman he quickly becomes bitter about having to work non stop and never having any form of life only going to work and returning home to eat and sleep, and whilst this might fuel his rage towards gregor for letting him down by circumstances outside his control it also shows just how unappreciative his family are for what he had done up until now, having lived this job and life for 5 years prior to this transformation without ever a word of complaint and actually happy that he could ensure his family lived a good and simple life, yet having to do this himself for a short time the father instead blames gregor for what has happened and for not being able to retire and spend time with his family. This leads him to resort to leasing out a spare room to a tenant who demands further transformations to the house, leading to gregor being treated like a locked in animal stored with the unwanted trash of the house.

All of these transformations are well acted and well portrayed by the cast, and the pacing of the story feels pretty good along with suitable time wipe transitions showing events progressing, as well as the creature like hiding under the bed being used to good effect to allow the actor to escape off stage to apply further makeup and change into his next transition of the illness. Whilst I do believe there may have been more the family could have done throughout the story, from sending him to an uncaring doctor who seemed to care more about observing the novelty of the transformations than actually curing the condition along with his family keeping him locked up and treating him like a caged animal throughout rather than attempting to maintain his humanity. I’m sure that his family only acted this way initially out of fear and refusing to face the truth as they all avoided him as much as possible.

I do feel like the end of the story portrayed the family being quite cold about the whole situation without any residual care that gregor had died, instead being glad that they could move on with life and get out of the place though I am sure this is because in their hearts they felt he had died long ago and they were simply custodians of some form of unwanted creature I do feel like there could have been a little care or remorse there, perhaps some sort of emotional release, though this is down to the way kafka wrote the story as opposed to the portrayal of the actors.

Overall Impressions

From beginning to end the story and portrayal is very intriguing, and though there are some comedic characters like the doctors assistant for the most part it’s a gripping emotional story revolving around how the family cope with this unexpected transformation nobody was prepared for. As I have stated the actors convey this very well behaving as you would expect a family to behave through a range of emotions transitioning from shock and concern into being burdened by a problem everyone including gregor just wishes was over. And while there are deeper seeded subtleties to watch out for like gregor holding onto his humanity as much as possible unnoticed by his sister and family and their desperation for any sign of humanity from him along with not realising just how much he had looked after them and perhaps what was supposed to be a revelation that gregor had been saving up for his sister to study at the conservatoire throughout his job but had never mentioned (even though it was hinted at early and I had already caught on before the transformation even occurred.) the plot and acting are both very good and gripping and I would definitely recommend going to see the performance if you were considering it, and to go see for yourself the story unfold and make your own assumptions and impressions of what is going on and how the family are reacting to the situation unfolding.

Metamorphosis is on now at the old rep theatre in Birmingham and you can find out more about it at https://www.oldreptheatre.co.uk/calendar/?calid=2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10,11,1,12&pid=3&viewid=1&event=97 and beginning a uk theatre tour which may be available in your area soon.

With e3 life is strange before the storm was announced and people are wrongly proclaiming it to be life is strange 2 when we know dontnod entertainment are working on life is strange 2 and it is going to be completely separate in characters and storyline from the original, this is simply what I would refer to as a standalone dlc, made by a Deck Nine and being a prequel to the existing game and trying to match the characters and storyline which itself has it’s own flaws.

In before the storm you play as chloe price, formerly the sidekick of max who entirely selfishly focused upon finding out the fate of rachel amber with no thought or care for anyone else let alone max this game is set in the time when chloe first met rachel and how their bond and friendship grows to fight the challenges of the world around them. The game is set over three episodes with an optional bonus episode where you play once again as max as a child probably without rewind powers and not important to the main story.

You can see some aspects in which they’ve attempted to recreate the original gameplay mechanics, firstly cloning max’s photography ability with chloe now tagging everywhere with graffiti perhaps not understanding that it was most likely nathan prescott dealing with his psychosis tagging everywhere and especially the residence of those who wronged him, and also tagging his beloved vortex club’s logo everywhere as he felt he was all powerful and beyond reproach and wanted everyone to know how he and his family ruled the town, whereas this game makes chloe the tagger, just to replace photography as a gameplay mechanic you can use for achievements and something hidden to look for, and not only that instead of the vortex club logo it’s just an illuminati eye you have to wonder if there was any consultation with the original writers of the game to ensure there was continuity between the two titles.

The next problem they had was the fact that chloe clearly couldn’t rewind time and they needed some mechanic to replace this, of course in the original game chloe had become so focused on finding rachel that she was narrow and focused and willing to do whatever it took to get to her and make those who hurt her pay, this game seems to have taken that but made chloe keep this before ever even meeting rachel. I feel this doesn’t go well as the character progression because I feel under the military father she would have been quite repressed and not so outgoing, she had a secret hideaway with rachel in the scrap yard and clearly she opened up to rachel in ways she couldn’t with anyone else and would not have been the bolshy outgoing selfish individual she because, it was only through losing rachel she was galvanized into that in my opinion.

Regardless of how you see the character chloe before meeting rachel the issue is that the barbed tongue doesn’t replace the external gameplay mechanics added through the time travel abilities, there was a lot that was added through being able to find out facts with someone and go back and then create further narrative and choose how you wanted to progress conversations, and then onto time based puzzles where you used the time travel ability to do things before consequences happened and use this to progress through the game, and it was also integral to the entire plot of the game, whereas a simple choice to use wit or agressive talk to get your way does not add a lot to the gameplay and it could leave it feeling a little bare and boring as a game outside of the conversations and a little too much like a telltale game adventure, with pointless walking around between the conversational aspects and then a few choices which really make little difference whatever you pick.

The game does promise multiple endings, however it remains to be seen just how diverse you could get over three episodes especially without any form of powers to make big differences to the world, and at the end of the day it’s pretty predetermined that rachel is going to go missing in the end even if it isn’t during this storyline, and that is another big problem this developer needs to face, not only is the game only three episodes and such a short time to tell a good story but also what could you do to live up to the grand climax of the escalation of consequences with max’s time travel powers (or in fact just being drugged and overdosed by jefferson and perceiving the world crashing down around her in the final throws of life) They would have to introduce a grand jeapordy and resolve it in such a short period of time whilst also developing the character relationship between chloe and rachel that I just can’t see a big draw at this point for a well written storyline, to me it just feels like a cash grab on the life is strange franchise trying to get a little extra out of it in the gap between the original and a sequel, without playing it I can’t tell you anything for a fact but from the trailer and the teasers on the twitch e3 coverage I don’t feel like there’s going to be a lot to this, yes there’s a little jeapordy in the club and at some mechanic’s place but it doesn’t feel a fraction of the grandiose world ending cataclysm max was facing, and the relationship between chloe and rachel doesn’t feel anywhere near as emotional as kate’s storyline arc. I will play the free first episode and see what I have to say based upon that but the choice of character wasn’t the best for me, any of the other characters even minor ones felt more human than chloe to me, and if they had to persue this relationship I feel rachel would have been the best to have as the main character as it allowed more freedom on a creative perspective and would have felt less intrusive to fans.

I just hope this doesn’t ruin things for a sequel because I can see a lot of fans being let down by this title without any powers or rewind ability, and simply being a storyline perhaps twisting characters out of shape and not understanding the subtleties of telling a great story like the original did, I never was close to chloe as a character as she was a selfish brat but it remains to be seen just how this will go down, I also provide a few theories on what would have made a better choice for this game or even the sequel dontnod stated they were working on if they were to follow the original storyline in some form.

Check out life is strange: before the storm for yourself on steam http://store.steampowered.com/app/554620/agecheck

I was sent a voucher for tesco meat products in order to put up my opinion’s of selected by tesco wine’s but I didn’t receive any discount off the wine perhaps for a variety of reasons, partially from the government changes which have been implemented to “prevent” cheap alcohol being sold, which far from preventing drinking problems just makes alcohol more expensive in the lower quality end of the market and those with drinking problems will still have those issues and spend whatever the cost to maintain the habit. So as always www.drinkaware.co.uk and stay responsible.

In store you wouldn’t get a lot of the information put in the campaign with food suggestions and pairings or any highlight on the selected by tesco wines, and regardless of the sales and promotional side perhaps if the wine section selected food pairings (as part of the responsible theme being portrayed of enjoying with a meal) on the shelves along the wine this might encourage people to try the suggested accompaniments, however in store you would not know anything special about the new range as they are hard to spot on the shelves and hard to spot on the bottles, supposedly to make pricing easier despite clearly not being the case shelf wide as other wines remain on promotion and with money off so only the selected by tesco range of usually cheaper wines avoids being put on further promotion and I do question heavily the true nature of the change.

The selected by tesco labeling is rather well hidden on the wine, not highlighted and easily spotted, and amongst other wines on the shelves it can be hard to find the particular bottles in the range, and the price variation is definitely not any different to existing products, so claims it is perhaps somewhere between full retail and discounted for convenience all year round seems incorrect as it is simply full retail all year and never discounted ever again while more expensive wines may be discounted to this price range and give a better quality of wine.

Something else you wouldn’t know by simply purchasing off the shelf is that all the wines are taste tested and selected by the master of wines james davis, however tasting the £4 merlot I purchased heavy in tannin and very inferior it is hard to see how this was “specially selected” amongst merlot’s to be sold on the shelf as the best tesco could offer and specifically selected by tesco to be sold for around £4 when I have tasted much better merlot’s for £4 with no tannin ready to drink and of a good quality.

The recommendations listed in this campaign for a sunday roast are a rioja reserva at £6.50 for red meat and an australian chardonnay for £3.95 for chicken, which may have been reasonable suggestions however with my own studies of wines and spirits with an intermediate WSET wine tasting certification which involved tasting a lot of wines and champagnes both high end and low I can safely identify the qualities of wines as well as know what foods to pair with which wines and I would always recommend a merlot with red meat dishes, whether a roast or a steak even though a rioja is adept and as a reserva and knowing the quality of their merlot perhaps it was a better suggestion out of the two wines, but going in blind I would’ve found a better merlot if I was tesco’s master of wines!

So not receiving a discount on the wine I chose a £5 meat voucher out of the choices, and cooked up a roast dinner with a tesco counter brisket and the making of this will be over at wackykitchen.co.uk The other choices were tesco cheeses, where the wine recommended is a bordeux superior again no mention of this on the shelves near the wine nor the cheese selection. The tesco party food selection suggests an australian shiraz £3.95, and a rose zinfandel £4.50

The blurb that prices are being simplified rather than half price promotions seems a little stale when prices vary so much ranging from £3.95, £4 products to £4.50 £6 etc etc so rather than being simplified it seems that all the wines tend to have their own prices and do not pertain to the quality of the wine, as you will be getting a cheap tasting wine, in the case of the merlot at the very least as this was definitely a bottom of the range wine that needed perhaps another year or two aging to remove the tannin and to open up the flavours as it was very bitter and hard to identify any flavours behind the tannin, perhaps if this was decanted for a week it would be drinkable but freshly opened it lacked the quality I expected for something seemingly “selected” especially for tesco by wine tasting experts, which again you could get a £6-8 merlot often discounted to £4 of significantly better quality than this, there seems to be no noticeable saving and simplification, instead this is a fully retailed £4 wine which really should be discounted to possibly £2.50 to be of any noticeable value and my recommendation would be to look for the wine discounted to £4 from a higher price which will be the good quality ready to drink merlot with good flavour.

It does state that perhaps the selected by tesco wine range will make it easier to make your selection and this may be the case, that you avoid the selected by tesco range and look for a better quality wine discounted, as often the discounted merlot which is reduced to £4 will be noticeably better than the full retail merlot of £4.

The meat counter brisket however was good quality and definitely recommended, I just wish the wine was as the quality is stated to be and not the tannin filled disappointment it turned out to be as anyone unfamiliar with merlot would buy this once taste it and think never again simply because this was released far too soon and utterly bitter with tannin.

Life is strange episode 5 Polarized has been out for a while now and did polarize people in many ways with some hating the whole series as a result of how the game ended and some still loving the overall theme despite how it ended, however many seem to have missed the possible explanations for why and how things have gone as crazy as they did in the final episode through the natural plot progression.

This review will contain heavy spoilers so I would advise simply buying the game and checking it out for yourself if you wish to avoid these spoilers, however if you have played and completed the game or don’t mind spoilers feel free to read on, in the meantime you can find the game at http://store.steampowered.com/sub/56692/

Episode 5 begins in a natural position captured by jefferson waking up from being drugged at the end of the last episode and attempting escape, it is worth noting how jefferson establishes that max has this way of staring blankly into space as though daydreaming perhaps as she always has and how under his drugged state allows her to fall into her daydreams feeling them to be real, and how the entire game has been max’s way of escaping what has really happened to her. There are many points in this episode where she “escapes” the dark room by focusing on photo’s to enter their timeline and enact changes allowing her to escape, however in a drug induced state these could easily be explained away as a daydream especially as in every instance within the game no matter what she ends up back in the dark room with jefferson even when reality had no way to establish her ending up there poorly explained as jefferson burning her photo album, however this was in a halted timeline so having escaped and not been his victim this should never have occurred unless she never escaped the room other than in her mind.

Max does initially manage to escape to a perfect possible reality in which she has won the everyday heroes competition, where the other entries in the gallery are more heroic themed photo’s like firefighter’s, people training for running, pets etc, however max’s wall of selfies somehow wins the competition perhaps simply for being award winning jefferson’s prize student, or as it is max’s delusion of true happiness of course she won the competition, however a nosebleed quickly reminds her that arcadia bay is doomed and she cannot stay in this reality. These nosebleeds continue in the darkroom with jefferson noting how it must be a result of using too high a dosage of the drugs to incapacitate her and leave her malleable. Don’t forget that in previous episodes in the rewind you can hear voices stating to “stay with me max” as though she is dying and attempted to be coaxed back to life.

To save chloe once more she rips up her prize winning photo, which she had always ripped up in the original timeline before “altering” thing’s with her powers in order to save chloe’s life in the first place, her childhood best friend who she had not had a chance to reconnect with since returning to town, who’s death in the original place may have lead her to investigate the situation in a similar manner to the main game plot but on her own and to investigate why nathan shot her and the unraveling plot from there leading to her inevitable kidnap by jefferson for snooping.

So why do I believe she is still in the dark room and always has been? There have been far too frequent opportunities throughout the entire game to “sit” at every opportunity as though it is a common theme that you’re always sat down in thought, and while jefferson was photographing you he kept the dose rather low, but at this scene just prior to “escaping” he notes how it will be the final time she will have to listen to one of his lectures knowing it will be the last time she is conscious and alive. It is at this point when she has the needle to her neck that miraculously she is saved by chloe’s stepdad cop, and being heavily induced by the sudden drug overdose she enters the storm itself attempting to save the residents of arcadia bay on the way to the diner to see warren in order to be able to save chloe, however altering the timeline on this occasion doesn’t result in escape or reality forming to her will instead she awakes back in the classroom again, with jefferson wanting her to say how chloe deserved to die, how her selfies are shit etc and max’s subconscious states how she doesn’t want to say any of the options provided however her drug induced compliant state means she has to make one of those options before she can leave the classroom which itself has reminders that max is in fact “dead” already, and after getting out of the classroom she enters the corridors of her dorm (and perhaps symbolic of her mind and memories) with kate talking like jefferson’s puppet stating how max was responsible for her death and everything that happened to her as though he is roleplaying her or saying these things to her on the floor as she slips away as jefferson had liked kate as his new muse and felt max’s interfering prevented him taking it further.

After a few crazy corridors with the facts of rachel, haunted memories of victoria and her own life and time’s flashing through as selfies on the wall the drugs overdose really starts to kick in with time flowing backwards while max moves forwards and everything being woozy before everything goes dark and she’s hiding from a plethora of jefferson’s coming to hunt her down and take her back to the dark room, now unfortunately she follows the symbolism that escaping the light is staying alive, perhaps as he flashes a flashlight across her eyes checking if she’s alive or even the possibility that someone has discovered her body perhaps on the side of the road where she begin’s the game attempting to revive her, but rather than go into the light and awake she hides from everyone and everything following the road to the lighthouse at the end of the tunnel, which if she was actually going into the light could be considered holding onto life but she does avoid it at every turn sticking to the dark. There is an optional bottle hunting mission here which can even be accidentally skipped without realizing, perhaps symbolic of your own torture trying to find that fifth bottle in the first place! However you once again return to the familiar seated position, where if you escaped and examined your chair you will note max “still feels the bind’s” as though she never escaped and was still tied up in that chair in that dark room.

Reality begins to unravel further as the drugs take further hold, as you find yourself escaping reality within the snowglobe sat on chloe’s mantelpiece seeing yourself perform the actions you had made in the past, although knocking off the snowglobe and shattering it would have been a fitting snap from this scene transition to the next it’s not essential as max passes onto a room trying to find the combination from a million possibilities carved into the walls. If you find the combination it leads to a diner filled with all of the people significant to max with an etheric reality outside of the diner filled with all of the other meaningless souls which may have passed.

The diner is a mirror of symbolism for judgement in death, filled with all the people you’ve helped in life and those you’ve wronged to sit in judgement over your eternal soul, and you can hear the voices echo out to you some questioning why you didn’t help them and others thanking you for saving them or helping them resolve issues in their life which leads me to wonder whether there might have been a perfect possible ending to the game hidden away in which you help absolutely everyone there and turn all of the voices positive and perhaps allowing you to leave the diner and escape back into the room and take down jefferson once and for all with him being in shock at you surviving the overdose. However instead you talk to yourself the only true judge over your soul as to whether you are deemed worthy of heaven or deserve eternal damnation in hell, this perhaps is mirrored in your actual decision at the end of the game as you move on from the diner to watch the last moments with chloe you shared flash by as though your life was flashing by in the last moments before death, heading into the lighthouse at the end of the road, of course you return to a reality within the storm with chloe to face the final decision as to who to save.

The end choice here is rather a silly one and does render the entire game pointless as regardless of who you saved and what you did in the game everything is the same if you choose to save arcadia bay, you get the happy ending with everyone alive and happy, even kate regardless of whether you saved her or not. This does fly by in a flash though, with flashes of photographs quickly explaining how jefferson was taken down somehow by simply not saving chloe this resulted in him being arrested and kate never jumping! Ending on chloe’s funeral without a word being uttered as life fades away, and focusing on max’s face looking into the light perhaps happy fading away to heaven, whereas if you choose to save chloe you have doomed arcadia bay and everyone in it to utter destruction and you know that no matter what you will always be fighting to save chloe over and over never learning from your mistake as the world and universe continues to rain down destruction wherever you go hurting the lives of everyone around you and destroying the entire world for the sake of one life who never should’ve lived, truly creating hell on earth and always being in danger and with something to lose which you would always have to protect.

I do feel the ending could have gone better but if it is explained as either passing away peacefully or continuing to defy the reality of the situation as the drugs rage through your system to an inevitable painful death the crazyness at the end can be explained away, and this is the only way it leaves room for a sequel season, as if you are max again following on with the time travel abilities she knows she can’t change anything for fear of causing catastrophe’s or she fights on in a universe falling apart keeping chloe alive and neither would make a good game, however a narrative where jefferson (or someone else) has kidnapped a new victim knowing or not knowing they were kidnapped and drugged trying to come to terms with it (perhaps realizing later and actually having a chance to escape depending upon the choices made and the information gathered) could make for a good second season, and jefferson noted himself he wanted to kidnap kate again, so perhaps season 2 could focus on kate having been retaken by jefferson trying to figure out what is going on and using time travel abilities to gather the facts and attempt to wake up and escape from her inevitable fate. This would make a compelling second season and allow for different narratives and timelines and different effects and influences, as max was influenced by the stormy weather for her dreams perhaps kate or whoever is the new victim would have other thing’s going on around their delusional state.

Those who have played season 1 would also for the most part be unaware of what was going on as they took the time travel ability for granted and didn’t question the possible natures of realities within the game, so a reveal that she is kidnapped later would be a good twist to the plot and this allows for a narrative world to be established without having to be fully influenced by the factors of the first game as for the most part it was all in the delusional state of max’s mind as she slipped away inside jefferson’s dark room. If the victim was kate obviously thing’s could take on a more biblical front as she is very religious and takes influence from her experiences and thought processes, and the game could even begin with her in the hospital recovering and perhaps believing she has been granted these powers by god to change things for the better and that her life was spared for this very purpose.

Of course I am expanding and theorizing heavily on what could be coming for season two as nothing is known but simply following max would not make a compelling game it does need to be a new protagonist and with a reasonable explanation for what is happening, and in my opinion max dying in that dark room from that final overdose is the only thing that explains why the walls of reality collapse as much as they do, and the symbology used within the game at the end fits the theme’s of dying and the end of life far too well for there to be any other explanation. Go play life is strange for yourself and explore the game and experience the plot and the emotions as that is the point of a narrative game such as this, and make up your own mind as to what is going on.

The full season of life is strange is available on steam at http://store.steampowered.com/sub/56692/

After hearing that assassins creed 3 would be set in the american revolution I decided to make this video with my opinions on this and the last title released which was revelations, with how I think the gameplay was and where it seems to be going wrong plotwise.