From The Writers' Room Featuring Bookburners

Mur Lafferty on writing Bookburners S3E5: “Time Capsule”

Note to our Serial Box publishers: “Time Capsule” was a story where I really would have benefitted from a trip to Vatican City.

Through research for this episode, I learned that instead of “the Vatican museum”, the Vatican hosts MANY museums, placed all around the city. I got to research everything from what was in each museum to what was under them to how the queues typically go. Also the guards are Swiss and they wear bright colored pantaloons.

In America, it’s really weird to think of an important security force being supplied by a whole other country. But the EU is different, and Vatican City serves many countries’ spiritual needs.

It was fun research.

But Serial Box really should send us to Vatican City for Season Four. I’m just saying.

The big thing here was of course Sal’s parents visiting and her desperation to get Perry/Aaron (or Paaron, as we call him) past their keen eyes. Then her friends are attacked and she has to protect pretty much everybody.

I was thinking a lot about the TV show Angel when writing this. The beloved character Fred had been devoured by the (god? Demon? I can’t remember) Illyria, who took up residency in her body. When her parents visit, Illyria does such a good job pretending to be Fred she emotionally destroys everyone who knew the truth.

Aside: Incidentally the “death” of Fred was what killed that show for me. After that it was just one kick to the stomach after another, and I hated the ending. And then when the comic continuation of the story brought back Connor… oh Lordy, comics do not sail across the room as satisfyingly as books do! But I digress.

Of course, Perry isn’t gone, so I didn’t have to go as emotionally gut wrenching as Angel did, but our “problem” was that Perry wasn’t an evil demon mimicking a sweet genius. Perry and Aaron are both shades of gray, just differing kinds. Sure, Perry’s clean now, if you consider forever carrying around another being inside him “clean.” He’s not using anymore, anyway. And Aaron is an “angel” so far as he’s really powerful and knows a lot more than he’s telling our team. So the situation had to be handled carefully.

Another point I needed to hit here is stating Sal’s bisexuality, and I decided to make it as unsubtle as parents asking about your sex life can be. I dislike the trope of the conservative, disapproving parents (LGBTQ people deal with that enough in real life), and instead wanted to make Sal’s so accepting that she’s embarrassed by their interest. At least I didn’t go as far as to have her mom suggest a new brand of dental dam.

One of the most interesting things about Season Three is turning the tables on our existing relationships. Whereas we saw Menchu as the solid, do-no-wrong father figure and Asanti as the rogue, untrustworthy one in season Two, now Menchu is the one with things to hide, and when his secrets come out, he’s now the untrustworthy one.

Thanks for reading, hope you are enjoying Season Three! See you in a few episodes, when we discuss Liam’s exploration of the 12 Step Program in “Making Amends.”

 

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