Below is recollection of The Speakeasy Society’s The Vow. This is a full spoiler walkthrough. As there were four main faction-driven tracks for this experience, the overall experience will be recollected through a Blue (Revolt) lens, with diverging sections denoted by a colored title. Again, this is a review of ALL tracks in The Vow; please read on and learn what happened to other factions during the royal wedding. For our review only of The Vow, click here.
EVERYONE – BLUE PERSPECTIVE
Blue (Revolt) provided by Cristen Brinkerhoff
I know I need to find General Jinjur even before the reception begins. As a member of Revolt, I’ve long known that The Scarecrow King is a cruel dictator, who’s run Oz under a tyrannical thumb for far too long, a twisted man who’s banished magic from a world born of magic. Tonight we put an end to it—some way, somehow. I came as the invited guest of Special Officer Phoebe Daring and the Scarecrow King to their wedding, but I’m not wearing green as Scarecrow had requested. No, I’m in blue—Revolt colors—so my fellow recruits, and most importantly Jinjur, will know who’s side I’m on. I’m eager to take part in the plot to overthrow Scarecrows, but not yet; first I need to play along, mingle, grab some hors d’oeuvres, and find Jinjur before anyone sees through her disguise.
The church doors open promptly at 8pm and I step into a courtyard that features some of the oddest decor I’ve ever seen at a wedding. Picture frames in trees, bags of rice being thrown in lieu of bean bags in a game of Cornhole (I later learn it’s because us Kansans “love to throw rice at your weddings,”) and an actual children’s book being used as a guest book. I sign, of course, complimenting The Scarecrow on his selection of light refreshments. Obligations done, I scan the crowed and I see her at last; she’s there in a curly black wig and smart white skirt-suit, lace gloves over her delicate fingers, prim, friendly but unmistakably Jinjur.
I step up to her and she shakes my hand violently (another “Kansan” tradition,) and introduces herself as Jelly Jam, wedding planner. She smiles and compliments me on my shirt, “I love this blue, do you mind if I just take a look at it under the light?” She hooks her arm in mine and leads me from the crowd, dropping her voice as soon as we’re far enough away. “I hope you understand what an honor it would be, should you be asked to serve,” she explains, “when the time comes during the ceremony…I’ll need you to raise your voice with me, do you remember the song?” Yes, and we sing it quietly together, “All Hail Gilikin,” the defiant declaration.
Before I leave her, I whisper one last thing, a code I’d uncovered through a series of puzzles Jinjur had laid out for her recruits over the previous months. I am a bluebird. She smiles conspiratorially and hands me a blue clockwork pin and a card with coordinates on it, telling me not to go tonight, but soon. I tell her I’ll see her in church.
I mingle for a little while longer until Jack, the timid prisoner I’d met along with his friend Tick at The Invitation some months ago, pulls me aside and says he hopes that if Revolt has anything planned to ruin the wedding, no harm will come to him. I assure him we’re here to help him as much as anyone else, and he seems relieved. Meanwhile, The Lion slinks through the crowd, eyeing all of us hungrily and with great interest, as does The Wizard, Oscar Diggs, though the way he frequently pulls on his flask and sneers at the crowd seems to betray his true feelings on this “joyous” occasion—apparently Phoebe invited him herself out of spite. Behind the guestbook, Jo Files sets a steely expression, and if expecting trouble at any moment. I’ll learn later that he’s had his fair share of it himself, recently.
Finally, there’s Dorothy Gale, seated in effect as a display piece, smiling sickly whilst flanked by a nervous, restless Phil Daring. The Wizard approaches her, cackling that he was sure she’d be killed and how nice it was to see her, but gets no response. Phoebe Daring, joining the guests at last, commands Dorothy to stand and shake Diggs’ hand and she does, albeit robotically. Diggs whirls on Phoebe, “Is she drugged?” Phoebe laughs through her teeth. “No! She was ill…I’m making her better,” she waves him off and asks Dorothy if she’d like to make a speech. I can almost hear the Old Dorothy struggling to break free of whatever is dulling her—her speech is painful to listen to.
I am honored to be here this evening, and I’m so grateful everyone has been so worried and concerned for me, I’m fine, thank you. The truth is: I was ill when I ran away from Oz…Phoebe has been helping me recover… I am almost back to my old self again. But tonight is not about me; tonight is about Phoebe and his Majesty the Scarecrow King, my good friend. So everyone, please raise your glasses: to Phoebe and the Scarecrow King, my good friend. To a glorious union.
By the time she stiffly lifts her glass to the air, I am seething. I know my purpose here tonight is to help Revolt overthrow Scarecrow, but I hope there’s something that can be done for poor Dorothy by the time all this is over. I return to the reception and continue to wait in dread for the Ceremony.
I decide to chat up Diggs while I have the chance, clinking my glass against his flask. “Cheers,” he says, and leaning in closer “Blue…you’re with Revolt?” I nod. I was a fool to expect solidarity from him, however. He scoffs, says he assumes we’ve got some “demonstration” planned, and insists we leave him out of it. He starts to give me a spiteful message for Glinda, Revolt’s seemingly absent leader, but stops himself “don’t tell her anything. If she’s got any sense whatsoever, she’ll be far away from here.” I suspected this wasn’t the case, and as I learned from a fellow Revolt member, I was quite right.
BLUE – ASIDE
Special thanks to Lia Wollman for this recap of her Revolt track
Lia went to speak with Jinjur just as I had, but Jinjur asked her if she’d met Glinda tonight, to which she, shocked at the question, said no. Why would Glinda be here? Jinjur motioned for Lia to go to a large filagreed door behind the bar and knock three times. As quickly as she did, the door popped open, and there stood the Tin Man, to guide her into the church proper.
They sat for a while, and here he explained the real plan Revolt had for the evening; not just some “demonstration” as Diggs supposed, no—we were going to kill the Scarecrow King. He asked if she was willing to do anything for the cause, and she said yes. Tin Man then led her up a narrow flight of stairs into Phoebe’s dressing room, where Glinda hid, waiting for her moment to strike.
Glinda repeated the Tin Man’s question: “Are you willing to do anything for this cause?” and added “Why would you do this for me?” Lia responded that she wanted change in Oz, and that she saw it in Glinda.
“That means more than you can ever know,” the once-good witch responded, leading her to a thin window that overlooked the pulpit of the church. She asked Lia if she really knew why she was here, and then lifted a burlap sack to reveal an ornate clockwork gun, enormous and beautiful. She said The Lion stole this for Revolt from Jo Files’ Gun Tree (there’s that trouble he found himself in), and showed Lia how to aim it.
“After the vows, The Scarecrow King will be standing there in a white tuxedo, and I want you to shoot him when I count to three,” she instructed, “you may not be chosen, but I want you to know how to do this.” She sent Lia away with a message for Jinjur: Glinda can fly.
The Tin Man led her back to the large door to mingle back into the reception, telling her she could alternately let Jinjur know the Axe is ready—perhaps meaning he’d prefer to do the deed himself. Lia found Jinjur outside and was ushered back into the crowd to wait for the coming, and soon to be fateful vows. Scarecrow would die by gunshot tonight, and she had just been trained to pull the trigger.
GREEN – ASIDE
Green (Scarecrow’s Militia) provided by Taylor Winters
I find Jo Files nestled behind the guestbook. I grab a pen and write a congratulatory message to my king, the Scarecrow, a man I’ve followed for the past two years despite never meeting in person. But today is his wedding to Phoebe Daring, and I’ve worn my best green suit in support.
“Hmm. You’re wearing green. Why don’t you come with me?”
Files wastes no time and leads me back to a church antechamber. The room is quaint but royal. Two plush couches sit opposite each other with a large, impressive desk at the room’s head. On the back of the desk’s chair is a white tuxedo jacket—the Scarecrow King’s tuxedo jacket.
I see him for the first time: slender and tall, regal and composed, sunken eyes and an unmistakable scar across his forehead from where he earned his intelligence. He wears all white: white shirt, white vest, white pants, and white shoes. He looks almost innocent.
“At ease, everyone.”
His voice is commanding and firm. He hands each of us a glass of champagne, a reward for our loyalty.
“I know the groom is not supposed to be seen until the ceremony…,” he begins to say, but we interrupt him. “It’s the bride, your highness; the bride isn’t supposed to be seen until the ceremony.” He eyes shift back and forth, confused. Maybe his brain isn’t perfectly intact after all—or maybe he just sees himself as the bride. Either way, he accepts his mistake. “Well, Phoebe was adamant about it. We’re trying so hard to do this the Kansas way. The right way. Let’s keep this between us. Our little secret.”
He expresses his pleasure in meeting us and how much our loyalty means to him in these troubled times. We cheers our champagne and drink. Bubbly, yet dry.
He asks another solider and I to help him with his coat. As the other buttons his sleeves, I grab his elegant coat and slip each arm into it. His all-white tuxedo is complete.
“May I ask you all a question?” he asks us. We nod, and he responds, “Why did you join my militia?”
We each respond in turn. With answers ranging from his ability to restore peace to his strength and intelligence as a leader. A familiar voice is heard outside—it’s Dorothy, more monotone than the last time I met her. But I don’t concentrate on her, the Scarecrow is still talking.
“Did you know I never wanted to be king?”
Well, that’s not exactly true.
He tells us a story. A story of a time before he was the Scarecrow, a time when he was a farmer in Munchkin, a time when The Wizard first landed in Oz and was looking for new recruits for his militia. The Scarecrow, tired of his mundane life, wanted to join. His father wouldn’t stand for it. He called the Scarecrow a fool. No, wait, his father said more:
“I swear on your mother’s grave, I would have bashed your head in if I knew you’d grow up to be such a fool.”
“I thought the world ended when I heard those words.” With nothing left to lose, The Scarecrow walked the entire way from Munchkin to the Emerald City and joined the Armed Militia. He swore an oath to The Wizard.
Some choices are mistakes.
The Wizard’s Armed Militia was at war with the Wicked Witch of the West. The Scarecrow found himself at Lake Orizon, a thick mist hanging in the air. Soon a Quiberon was upon his unit. For those of you unfamiliar with a Quiberon, it’s a ferocious aquatic sea-dragon that breathed flame and sulfurous black smoke. Within seconds, half of his men were incinerated. Several more were crushed to death by the weight of the monster. With three men left out of a hundred, they were able to kill the beast.
Another voice is heard outside, shouting. It’s Mr. Diggs, the very Wizard the Scarecrow is talking about, shouting drunkenly at the crowd outside. But the Scarecrow continues his story.
“They left me for dead. But I didn’t die. My recovery was slow and painful. It changed me.”
He returned to his farm, but it was all burnt down. For his father, no burial, no grave—nothing but ash. Ash and corn.
Then came Dorothy. She gave him a purpose: to dismantle and rebuild the world as he rebuilt himself as the Scarecrow.
Together with the Tin Man, the Lion, and Dorothy, he was able to overthrow The Wizard, the man he’d sworn his life to. The people wanted her to be queen, but she just wanted to go home. So, he took the throne. He banned magic to end the suffering—and even Glinda showed support, before she threatened war. But then Dorothy left.
Enemies approached from all sides, so he did what he had to; he ordered the Ozoplane strike on Glinda’s castle. How was he to know her people were hiding inside?
“The king can’t feel pain or doubt his choices!!” he screams. It’s the first time I hear any emotion from him all night. A crack in his emotionless façade.
He admits that it was wrong to ask us to bring Dorothy to him, dead or alive. He considered abdicating the throne and giving it to her, but all that made her special is now gone. Now she’s just a lit match.
The anger shifts to a new emotion. “Phoebe told me not to tell anyone,” he says, a little more hopeful, excited now. “We were in the palace garden, and she told me ‘I’m with child.’”
He pauses. “That was the day I wanted to be king.”
Oz is made of straw—ready to burn at any moment. “All I fear is a lit match. I have to keep that match, and those who start fires, far from my legacy. Those are your orders.”
We stand, shake our king’s hand, and exit back into the courtyard.
EVERYONE – BLUE PERSPECTIVE
As Lia blends back in and Taylor takes his first pass at the dessert table, Phoebe begins to gather everyone to her for a re-Ceremony speech. She welcomes us all to her wedding day, congratulating us on a job well done as “recruits” to her and Scarecrow’s cause. They’ve chosen to have the wedding here in Kansas as a reward to us all, though our job is far from done.
She points out The Wizard, insisting that she’d invited him to “leave the past in the past,” her apparent joy coming off not so much infectious as pretentious. I find myself sure that Diggs had only been invited for Phoebe’s amusement, to rub her victory in his face. Why he accepted is more of a mystery—though he did say he’d come for the free booze.
Once inside the church, we sit in color coordinated rows as the wedding party enters. Files, frantically waving the flag of Oz; Phil and Dorothy, his nervous demeanor offset by the wooden way she launches flower petals down the aisle; Lyman, the well-loved gatekeeper to the world of Oz and officiant for this evening; and finally Scarecrow himself, resplendent in the promised white tuxedo and crown, his sunken eyes dragging across his constituents.
Scarecrow’s words to Phoebe are surprisingly earnest—perhaps there is a genuine affection there—while Phoebe merely seconds him without sharing her own feelings. Likewise, when tradition calls for words from the relatives of the newlyweds, Scarecrow admits he has no family save his bride, and Phoebe cuts woefully short what promised to be a heartfelt speech from Phil in her favor. Only Lyman’s excitement is a bright spot in an awkward ceremony, though he’s eventually rushed along by the couple, eager to get to the next step.
That next step is a church-wide rendition of the Hymn “There’s a Jewel in the City,” a song many of us have heard sung in video missives and “recruitment” materials sent our way from Oz this past year.
There’s a jewel in the city/and it shines with beauty bright/It has to be protected/so we all must join the fight…
The vows themselves are simple, pledges of love, devotion, and honor. They kiss chastely as we burst into applause…
And then the shot rings out.
Scarecrow crumples to the ground and Jelly Jam, ripping her wig off to reveal the red hair we’ve always know was there, jumps onto the pew, inciting all of Revolt to raise their voices with her. “For Gilikin” she screams, and we burst into a new song as one.
Red (Patchwork Resistance) provided by Lisa Peters.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife”.
The next thing I hear is the thunder-crack of a single gunshot. The sound echoes throughout the church and I see the groom, the Scarecrow King, fall to the ground. I have little time to take in more of the scene because the congregation is in commotion. People are shouting and running for cover. There is panic all around me. I hear Phil Daring shouting to us, members of the Patchwork Resistance, that we must hide and protect Dorothy. Tick and Jack join us and we quickly move to the front of the church and cross the sanctuary, staying low in case the shooter decides to pick a second target. We make our way down a hallway and, as I run, I hear the anthem of Oz playing softly somewhere, as if in a dream, or another time.
We reach an open doorway and push through it to find ourselves in the church kitchen. We crouch low to the ground, crowded together behind the metal prep tables in an effort to remain unseen. Looking around the room, I catch a glimpse of Jack. His gentle eyes are wide with fear and confusion. Tick is also clearly terrified. Phil pulls something from his pocket and frantically instructs Jack to administer it to Dorothy. Jack is unsure, but manages to get Dorothy, shaken as she is, to swallow the pill.
Phil begins to pace, his eyes frantic and searching.
Tick nervously asks Phil, “What should we do?”
Tick asks again, more desperately, “What’s the plan, Phil?”
Phil stammers, “I… I’m thinking!”
“Well, think faster!”, Tick urges.
Phil pleads, “I’m doing the best I can!”.
“THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!”, Tick shouts, pounding the table with his fist, his voice reverberating against the metal surfaces.
The impact of Tick’s words hit Phil like a gut-punch. He collapses to the ground in a broken heap and huddles, sobbing in a fetal position, as the consequence of his incompetent leadership sinks in.
Suddenly, we are aware of a firm yet soothing female voice in the room. It’s Dorothy, who has awakened from her trance and is attempting to calm Tick. Once Tick has begun to breathe normally and gather his wits, Dorothy helps Phil up off the floor. She takes a breath assesses the situation.
“Phil, What’s the Plan?”
Phil tells her “The whole building is in lockdown and there’s no way we can all escape now. I shouldn’t have told us to run. That was stupid.”
Dorothy looks around at us. “Is this is? Is this all that’s left of Patchwork?”
When this elicits more arguing from Tick & Jack, she decides to take a different, more stoic approach.
“Problems are best solved on your feet. I’ve run away from mine for too long, and now I’m going to be ready for when they come. So I’m trying to remember something and I need your help.” She exhales. “Right before I was drugged I was holding onto the thread of an idea and I don’t know…I seem to have let go of it…it was about the old prophecies.”
She asks if any us recall what those prophecies foretold of the rightful ruler of Oz. As she speaks, Tick grows anxious again. He clearly has something to share but hesitates. Dorothy encourages him to speak and he tells a story:
A long time ago, before Mombi and the witches, people of the old religion they had these quilts. The patterns of them were made from the ancient texts. Then the winds changed and Oz became unsafe and so they took apart these quilts. They took them apart and then they hid them in these patches. My family, they were true believers of the old religion and once they found out that the religion had been corrupted by the government, they went searching for these patches for answers. My great grandmother, my grandmother, they passed down these patches in order to… people died looking for these. People died. Oz is forgotten but they remain.
He fidgets, guilt in his voice.
“I was supposed to take my vows. I was going to join the orders of the ring. She said that she couldn’t think of anyone else to protect the past and future of Oz…my family died protecting these.”
He tentatively pulls a small stack of red calico squares from his jacket pocket and gently hands them to Dorothy. As Dorothy lays the squares upon the metal table, I see that each one is embroidered in beautiful and ornate script. The words on the patchwork tell a story: war, wake, princess, protect, peace.
Phil’s memory returns to him and he recalls the story of the Lost Princess, who was prophesied to be the rightful and true ruler who would bring peace to the land of Oz.
“King Pastoria…had a daughter: Ozma, the Princess of Oz. He wanted to keep her safe.The king, he hid his only daughter, the rightful heir to the throne, inside a fold of time. He adds: ‘Ozma was lost but the Lost Princess will return again.”
Tick confirms the prophecy: “The Lost Princess will return, and peace will follow in her wake.”
Phil asserts that, yes, Dorothy is the Lost Princess, and this is why we must protect her. Dorothy isn’t convinced.
Dorothy says: “Phil, I am a girl from Kansas and that’s it. I stumbled into your world and nothing more. I’m not the Lost Princess, I never was and I never will be.”
Then, Dorothy has a revelation: “Oh Phil, you are. The Lost Princess, she came to me in a dream She came to me and she said ‘I thought you might be the one but we can’t both exist in the same body.’” She recalls both Phoebe and Phil returning her to Oz, separately, as if two different versions of the story had happened at once.
She continues, insistent now, “I remember seeing Ozma in both of you. I’m saying that Ozma split herself. She split herself and put herself in two people, two twins already joined by a deeper connection.”
Ozma is split in two, the Good, in Phil, and the Evil, in Phoebe. Dorothy looks around at the distraught remnants of Patchwork. But she’s Queen now. We’ve lost, our gazes say. She puffs herself up and tries again. “Evil always wins right up until the end remember. Right up until the end or it doesn’t feel worth it.”
She reaches towards Phil, “Phil I see it in you. I see Ozma, the real Ozma, the rightful heir.” Phil balks, “my sister— he starts, but Dorothy keeps at him. “Phoebe is still in there somewhere, I can feel it. But Phil, if you have any chance of saving her… Phil you’re our only hope for Oz and for Kansas.”
She tells Phil and that he must flee for his life and hide until a plan can be made for him to emerge as the rightful ruler. “Go and find Glinda. Tell her Dorothy sent you. She can teach you magic and she can teach you Good.” Phil protests and dismisses the idea as ridiculous. But, Dorothy is insistent, and Phil is reluctantly convinced. He agrees to leave his fellow Resistance members to seek safety away from the soon-to-be-coronated Phoebe. He bids farewell to Dorothy, and warily walks out the door and out of our sight.
Dorothy continues, “Jack. Tick. It’s not safe for either of you anymore. You must find a place to hide until the time is right for Patchwork to make its move.”
The men both protest and plead to be allowed to stay and protect Dorothy.
Tick blurts, “Plus, Jack can’t take care of himself! He’s a moron!”
“No!”, Dorothy exclaims. “Don’t you ever call him that again! You must promise to take care of each other. Can you promise that?”
Tick looks down, resentfully.
“Promise me!”, says Dorothy.
Reluctantly, Tick agrees, “I promise.”
“And, you, Jack? Will you promise to look after Tick?”
Jack nods sadly.
Jack and Tick move toward the door. As Tick passes the table, he reaches for the patchwork squares.
Dorothy gently stops his hand. “No, Tick. You aren’t able to protect them anymore. You must leave them.”
Tick nods and wraps his arms around Dorothy. Jack does likewise, adding a strained “I don’t know how to say goodbye,” and within seconds they’ve fled.
We are now alone with Dorothy. As she pulls her gaze away from the door, Dorothy calls us all close to her, around the table on which the patchwork squares are scattered. She hands us each a piece of the quilt, looks each of us straight in the eye and asks our names. She holds our gaze with commanding kindness as we speak in turn. As I look back at her, I glimpse the strength and resolve of a natural leader.
Dorothy says that when she first returned from Oz, her mother tried for months to convince her that Oz wasn’t real. But, Dorothy knew then as she knows now. Oz is real, and it needs our help. She tells us that the time for hiding in the shadows is over. It is time for action. We must actively recruit all those who would fight for good, and justice, and for the freedom and peace of Oz and Kansas alike. She implores us to hold these pieces of the patchwork close to our hearts as a reminder of what we are fighting for and of those who have given their lives for the cause.
She speaks the words, “My mother was a quilter.”
We answer, “And, now, we thread the needle.”
She repeats, and we answer, louder and with stronger resolve each time.
Dorothy instructs us to return to the coronation room and behave as if we know nothing of what has transpired, to act as though we are loyal subjects of the new Queen of Oz. Dorothy will pretend that she is still under Phoebe’s control.
We are led out to the coronation room and seated in the front pew. I notice Mr. Diggs sitting across from us. There’s also a young woman kneeling at the altar, sobbing uncontrollably. I see that it’s Lavender, the sweet Munchkin girl who poured me a glass of “Peanut Greegio” at the reception. We all sit in uncomfortable silence, unsure of what to do. In the stillness I recall the phrase, “No where else but here. No when else but now. No one else but you.”
I stand up and walk toward Lavender. When my hand softly touches her shoulder she turns to me, her eyes wet with tears.
“We have suffered a great tragedy here, today!” She sobs.
Looking back at her, I realize I’m at a loss for what to do or say to comfort her. I lamely nod in sympathy and return to my seat.
As I sit, I become aware of a not-so-hushed exchange concerning the Resistance happening between Dorothy and Mr. Diggs. Diggs argues that what we’re doing is madness. Nothing will ever change and we’re all going to get ourselves killed.
But, we’ve got to at least try.
“Welcome to Patchwork, Diggs”, Dorothy says wryly.
Diggs settles back into his seat, arms crossed and eyes wary, as the rest of the congregation enter and take their seats for the coronation.
Black (Ozma) provided by Chris Wollman.
“Come quickly, hurry!”
We dash headlong through the twisting corridors, darkness as black as my suit like a pall over our eyes as the mournful peal of the chapel bell chases us further into the heart of the church’s inner sanctum. My racing thoughts are still a step or two behind my feet— could the Scarecrow King truly be dead? Had one of us killed him, or someone else? Were we in danger? Was She?
As I make my way past a seemingly endless gallery of closed doors, one pulls my focus away from my frantic reverie. I peer through a glass porthole into what looks like a kitchen. At least a dozen ghostly figures, faces I remember from the wedding floating in darkness except for a strange red glow, appearing to listen intently to a mysterious figure whose back was to me and my door. That coat looks familiar—
I only have a split second to wonder before Her voice spurs me along to keep the pace of our escape. That voice… one beautiful, melodic voice, shared these many months by two minds. Which one, I wondered, was controlling it now, choking the melody with the sound of dread.
I wince as light floods the hall, set free as She at last flings open the correct door and waves us hurriedly in. One by one we stream into the well-appointed sitting room, all chic green walls and fine wood fixtures, with enough sleek, jet-black leather chairs for each of us. But none of us are sitting. None of us are celebrating. None of us are breathing until we know Her mind. Our heads turn, our eyes trained on Her as She turns from us, collapsing piteously against the door as She slams it shut. Her shoulders slump as a strangled whimper issues from somewhere deep within Her and I start to worry. I know who I follow, but who have we been following? Are we actually watching a newly widowed Ozian commander wracked with grief? Could this really be Phoe—
Then something shifts. Gradually but powerfully, like the color of the sky at dusk or the wind as it gathers before the storm. It’s not a whimper… it’s a laugh. A beautiful, rapturous laugh that crescendos into a joyous cry as She wheels around to face us at last as She truly is. Her arms raised in triumph, eyes burning, smile gleaming— and oh, how we laugh with her. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. And we meet it with thundering applause.
This. Is. OZMA.
“Did you see his face? That’s not how you die!” she cackles, obviously referring to our dearly departed King, his head now even emptier than usual, “Please! No, die a hero to yourself, and a villain to everyone! Hang on to your last possible moment, die in action, yes? Take everything you can, from as many people as possible, for as much of your life as possible! Yes, when you die, make sure you’ve won! And don’t for a moment think about anyone else. I would kill any one of you if I thought you were a threat to my power.”
For a moment her voice drops to a haunted whisper as her mind’s eye seems to stray in the direction of some far away pain.
“I’ve watched so many people die. I watched my father die. You could say I was an expert.”
The moment is fleeting, as she quickly resumes her incandescence and bids us all to sit.
“I must say, I was quite caught off guard,” she muses dryly as drapes herself across the arm of one of the black leather chairs, “I knew that REVOLT would do away with the Scarecrow, but I didn’t know when. But wasn’t it perfect? Just after the Vows, just after— I’m Queen! I’ve done it!”
The excitement proves too much to contain as she springs up from her chair and we follow suit.
“Yes, yes! Let’s take a moment to celebrate, please! We should be so excited, what this means for Oz. What this means for Kansas! Congratulations are in order. To me. But also, to you! Yes! Oh, I know what I want to do. When I was little, I grew up in Gillikin. And I loved the Gillikin people. They had this strange music and this dance… Would you do it with me? Let me teach you!”
We all nod and murmur our agreement, honored beyond words to be invited to in some small way share in Her moment. We all rise and commence to dancing, echoing her movements as she leads us through the strange, flowing gestures of the long since departed Gillikin people. Although we were meant to be celebrating, the ritual feels strangely hallow, almost macabre, devoid of music, devoid of real joy. With each sweep of our arms and reach of our hands She seems more desperate to enjoy it, grasping higher and higher towards… I don’t know what. Eventually, perhaps inevitably, she deflates.
“They’re all dead, you know,” she intones frankly, “Sit down.”
We resume our seats, the time for celebration past. She eyes us appraisingly, grave and focused.
“We have far to go. Farther than you could imagine. I have ascended the throne, yes, and you have stood by my side. And for that I am grateful. But I need you to understand what your loyalty means. You will swear I am the rightful Queen of Oz and have complete control over all its inhabitants. But I want this oath to mean something, yes? So swear it on something important to you. A religious text, a person, or yes, your life? What will you swear it on?”
She addresses each of us individually, approaching in turn, asking each of us to invoke some vital piece of ourselves as we pledge our fealty anew. Some swear on their lives, others on the lives of loved ones, pets, possessions, dreams for the future, and she meets each tribute with various levels of approval. When it falls to me to swear my oath, I can think of only one option. The only gift she ever gave me. The token of my devotion. Carried always close to my heart. I reach into my coat pocket and produce a small, silver Key. “Will this do?”
“Oooh, that is very important to all of us,” she coos, her eyes lighting up, “And you never know when that might come in handy… Please stand! Are you all prepared to take the oath?”
We rise and affirm together.
“Do you swear to support me, Ozma, the rightful queen of Oz?”
“Do you promise to perform my commands without question, no matter how awful they may seem to you?”
Ozma is the rightful Queen of Oz.
I will perform her commands to the end of time and existence.
Without her I am nothing.
No place else but here. No when else but now. No one else but I.
“Good,” she nods, “I thank you for your trust. And your commitment. I chose you all for a reason. Some choices are mistakes. This choice… was not.”
Then, without warning, the door swings violently open, revealing the haggard, smoldering countenance of the Tin Man, with a stoic, lantern-bearing member of the Scarecrow’s Militia in tow. Our Queen is unfazed.
“Well, hello!” Her voice is all honey as she greets him warmly.
“Where is Dorothy?” He grunts, no time for pleasantries.
She scoffs. “Like I would give her to you just like that.”
“It was a beautiful wedding, wasn’t it?” He remarks with import.
“It was…” she intones coyly, “Up until the end.”
“Especially the end,” he insists, turning now to close the door behind him before continuing, “You don’t have to lie to me.”
“Oh,” She smiles, devilishly, “Then it was beautiful… especially the end, yes!”
As if only just now realizing how many sets of eyes are fixed on him, he turns to us, “What are you all doing here? Speak!”
“We’re celebrating!” She exclaims happily, “Would you like to join us?”
“Why would I do that?”
“Because I can give you Dorothy.”
“I’ve heard that before. I’m not a fool.”
“Of course you’re not,” she soothes, “I’ll have to see if I can find something to sweeten the deal. You know what I like about you? Your soul has such sharp edges. Slicing anyone that comes too close…”
With this she rises, meeting his gaze squarely. Like a Queen.
“Before this is over, you will be working for me,” finished with him for the time being, she turns away, leaving him with a cowed expression and his equally hapless companion. With that business concluded, Her attention once again turns toward her loyal acolytes, “The rest of you, stand up! We have fun to have. Let’s go!”
Demonstration completed, Jo Files promptly arrests us, instructing us to put our hands on our heads and march out of the church and onto the stage of an empty theatre, where our wrists are bound. We continue to sing, to shout “All Hail Gilikin,” over and over to Files’ rising annoyance. He seems unaffected by the King’s death or Jinjur’s bravado, saying instead that Phoebe Daring would just take his place via passage of power.
“Long Live the Queen.”
Jinjur smirks at him, “thank The Winds…such a good little soldier, following orders.” Jo barks back at her: “Yes, I follow orders! That’s the way the world works!”
“It doesn’t have to,” she answers. She has us ask him questions, one by one. “Why didn’t you report the Lion, Jo?” “Why was your farm destroyed?” When it’s my turn, she has me ask “How are your orchards, Jo? And your family?” At this, Jo has had enough.
“They’re dead,” he shouts. Then he asks me my name, which I give reluctantly. He says Glinda won’t escape, they already have agents tracking her, and while he knows Jinjur would die for Glinda, would I? I shrug. He starts to ask for other names but Jinjur speaks over him, saying hers is the only name he needs to know.
He stops and sighs, “We can still kill you, you know, it doesn’t have to happen.” She asks why he’s chosen the side he’s on, and his answer is simple, harsh.
“Because there’s justice in brutality, and only the wicked are punished. So if you’re punished, you must be wicked.”
“You never answered my question. Why didn’t you report The Lion?” she accuses. He starts to stammer an answer but she cuts him off. “Because you weren’t supposed to have a gun tree, were you?” (Here is where Glinda must have gotten her clockwork gun that killed the King, and here is where Jo must have suffered the consequences.) Jo loses his resolve momentarily, angrily blaming Revolt for hiring Lion and revealing his secret tree, for the death of his family. Jinjur seems hurt momentarily, and then quietly says that we, Revolt, will be on the right side of history.
Jo laughs. “The right side”, he sneers. “I kept my word. None of you sitting here can say that.” He reminds us all of that day so many months ago, when we entered his tent and swore our allegiance to The Scarecrow King. And here we sit, our pledges as dead as the King himself. He grew a tree he wasn’t meant to but what are we? We’re liars, that’s all. And Queen Phoebe will be in soon to question us, but as some of us already know, she has a different name for herself in mind.
Jinjur whispers frantically to us that Phoebe will do anything to get a confession from us—especially from her, and we need to be strong. It’s the first time the General seems even slightly afraid. Quieter this time, she sings “All Hail Gilikin,” almost to herself, until we all join in again, shouting over Files as if it it will be the last time.
Finally, Phoebe strides in, followed closely by those guests who came dressed in black—her color…no…Ozma’s color. The haughty confidence she’s shown all night seems multiplied now so that she’s nearly gleaming with pride as she seats her charges in a long black row directly across from us, like a firing squad. Jinjur snaps to her feet, calling Files a traitor, but Phoebe shushes her—she doesn’t care. She re-introduces herself to us. “You can call me Ozma.” The name hangs now like a pallor. Ozma, the Lost Princess, the Good, the one who’s meant to save Oz. How can this be her?
Jinjur is defiant—she has to be—but Phoebe clearly has a show to put on. She turns to her followers “I’m going to show you how questioning works. My favorite past time.” There’s a sick sweetness to her voice; she’s enjoying this. She’s just getting started when The Lion reappears for the first time since the Ceremony. She’s brought two Revolt members with her who’ve been conspicuously missing from our group. I’ll discover later that they were led to believe they’d be working with Lion for Revolt; this explains their shouts of outrage when Lion declares she’s “captured two Revolt escapees,” delighting Ozma as the air seems to rush from Jinjur in a low woosh.
Thanks to the Lion’s unsurprising decision to play both sides, it seems that Jinjur’s last hope for our rescue has been lost. The Lion, having pleased her new benefactor, takes one of Ozma’s acolytes to “find the assassin,” though it’s highly unlikely anything of the sort will go on. Ozma singles out Revolt members for her new friends to question, and we’re peppered with queries about Dorothy’s sister Margaret and Glinda’s whereabouts, which are laughed off in a desperate attempt to feel like we’re still in control. But we’re dealing with a professional in Ozma, and she’s yet to do her real demonstration.
“Questioning at it’s highest level can turn someone against themselves”, she smirks, eyeing Jinjur. She has her stand and begins to go through her “steps.” “Step one: reveal their most embarrassing secret.” She opens her mouth and begins to sing.
There’s a jewel in the city/and it shines with beauty bright/It has to be protected/so we all must join the fight…
Hearing this, Jinjur rapidly agitates, shouting for Ozma to stop. I’m confused—we know this song—we sang it not an hour ago and have heard it’s refrain many times since we first came to Kansas. It’s a call to arms in praise of the Emerald City—a patriot song for the Scarecrow’s brutal victory. Why is Jinjur so troubled by it? Ozma is quick to explain, telling us that Jinjur’s voice is the one we’ve heard so many times in the recording of this song; she was the one who recorded it in the first place. Not by force, by choice.
Jinjur tries to protest, “it was a different time,” she starts, but Ozma cuts her off. “It wasn’t a different time in history; history just repeats itself.” She lists all the Ozian dictators who’ve come before her, accusing Jinjur of choosing a side out of convenience every time. Jinjur is desperate, saying she thought Scarecrow would do good, that he’d freed us all from the Wizard, from magic. But the Wizard was a fraud, Ozma says, Glinda had real magic, and now what?
At this, Jinjur is the quietest I think she’s ever been.
“I was just trying to help.” She turns to us, searching our faces. “I was trying to do the right thing.”
Now Ozma twists the knife, asking if it was the “right” thing when Jinjur led the Scarecrow’s Death Squads, when she delighted in the deaths of those who fought against the King in the early days. Not to worry, of course, even years later Jinjur is still well remembered, she continues; her song still plays at every prisoner execution.
Just when this all seems at it’s most petty, clearly designed to turn us against the path we’ve chosen, Ozma tries a different approach. Stepping up to one of the Revolt prisoners, Lia, she gently presses an index finger against her forehead, turning back to Jinjur.
“Sing the song,” she demands.
Jinjur refuses, “what’s that supposed to do?” she scoffs.
Ozma shrugs, “Nothing…if I’m Phoebe.”
“You’re not Ozma…she isn’t real!” Jinjur exclaims, and she’s shouted down by Ozma, who’s still pressing a slender finger into Lia’s skin. She suggests we find out, and then she starts to count. Five. Four. Three. Two—
There’s a jewel in the city…
It’s so soft, coming from Jinjur, and yet it speaks the loudest of anything we’ve heard since we were captured. She chokes out the words with tears in her eyes.
You must hearken to its plea…The call to arms has sounded…And the jewel belongs..to me.
Ozma steps away from us and faces Jinjur once again. Jinjur bitterly congratulates her on her successful questioning, but there’s that sick-sweet laugh again. That was just Step One, she says, crooking her fingers suddenly towards Jinjur, who reacts as if she’s been electrocuted. She’s wrenched around by an unseen force as Ozma continues: “Step Two: You cower at my coronation. Step Three: You destroy Revolt.” Jinjur collapses to her knees, stunned.
The Lion has silently rejoined us as Ozma thanks Revolt for getting the Scarecrow out of her way—of course she knew we’d kill him—she used Glinda’s rage to her advantage. With that, she pardons all of us, except Jinjur of course, and The Lion releases us from our bonds leading the whole group of Blue and Black guests back into the Church for the coronation while Jinjur wilts on the theatre floor.
“Get down, get down,” The Wizard yells at us. “We don’t know who they’re firing at.” But it’s clear—it’s our King, the Scarecrow King. Screams, shouts, and “All Hail Gilikin” fill the air. But this begins to quiet as people leave the main chamber, leaving only The Wizard and us.
“I came here tonight thinking this would be the end of it, but this is not what I had in mind.” The Wizard still has his humor, just moments after witnessing a murder.
Lavender, a resident of Munchkin, is sprawled across the body of our late King, weeping openly.
The Wizard scoffs at the dead man, suggesting that he’s lucky that people don’t know how much of a shithead he was.
“NO! He’s twice the ruler you ever were!! He should have killed you when he had the chance,” Lavender screams back at the drunk. “She’s not wrong,” he mumbles.
We move past his dead body, past the altar, and up to a small stage-like area. “It’s true, they’re surrounded by deserts on all sides. So they can’t conceive of oceans.” He laughs, “Imagine that, a land where monkeys fly through the skies and they can’t imagine oceans. I used to laugh at how ignorant they were—but we’re all in the same boat.” His jovial nature is in stark contrast to the heavy air. Is he happy the Scarecrow is dead, or is he simply mourning in his own way?
We all take a seat. “What you see is what you get.” He starts with the saying, and then: “What do you see when you look at me? A drunk? A bum? A con man? All of the above?”
He tells us people used to believe in him. But that was before the smoke and mirrors. But even though people know he’s a fraud, people still want to know their futures. Because they want to know there’s a reason for all the pain, a divine order.
He pulls a deck of playing cards from his dingy jacket pocket. “How about you?” He turns to the girl seated closest to him. “Pick a card,” he offers. This act is eerily reminiscent to his fortune telling in Dorothy’s home during The Door.
She pulls a card. “The seven of hearts! The card of abandonment,” he proclaims. “This was me when I was younger. I used to drink so something would happen; now I drink to forget what I did.”
He turns to the man seated next to her. “What about you? Care to know what the future has in store?” he asks. The man draws a card, and in turn, the Wizard says, “The nine of diamonds! The card of perception.” He tells of us his flying balloon, the only place he felt free, looking down from the clouds.
Then to the next person. She picks a card. “The two of diamonds! The card of change; the card of rebirth.” He continues his story. He thought he had time but the minute he cast off the ropes, the winds changed, and lightning erupted in the distance. Darkness enveloped him and he sat cowering in his basket, crying like a child. Then as quickly as the storm started, it stopped. And when he looked down upon the earth, as he had so many times in the past, everything was different.
I had landed right in the center of the Emerald City. “They thought I was a gift from The Winds. Pretty soon I was in control of a vast army.”
Another card, another fortune. “The four of spades. The card of dreams.” He tells us Ozma came to him in a dream. He asks us if we know who she is and he explains that she’s the one true ruler of Oz, the Lost Princess. He tells us he did not believe she existed, until he met her.
“She came to me when I was at the height of my power. She was gentle when she approached me. I don’t mean in how she moved. I mean, she was sad somehow.”
She accused him of corrupting Oz. “Why are you doing this to Oz?” she asked him.
“Violence, murder, and death has always been here,” he responded.
“You’re destroying people’s faith in magic. People won’t trust in magic anymore. And they will destroy what they don’t trust.”
“Well that only matters if they find out,” he said mockingly.
She told him to go home; that Oz and Earth cannot co-exist. Then he woke up, and he was alone.
“Six of spades. The card of new arrivals.” This one referred to Dorothy and her arrival. “I was cast out of my city. An entire city that feared and revered me—I was made a laughing stock all because of a little girl. That is why I sold her out to Phil and Phoebe. She showed me what it was that I didn’t want to see.”
“Have you chosen a card yet.” He approaches the last person and leans in. “You know it doesn’t matter what card you choose—I’m making this all up as I go.”
Jo Files enters, scolds us all for still being here, and berates The Wizard for turning his back on Oz. But The Wizard returns, cutting into Jo for being nothing but an obedient soldier. Files orders us up and marches us out of the room.
“I was a tyrant, the Scarecrow was a degenerate, you think Ozma will be any better?”
We enter a small, side chamber. It’s dark, lit by candles and lanterns. Lyman stands in it’s center, a large book with the word Oz on it held close to his multicolored robes.
“A Kansas version of an Ozian wedding doesn’t take many hands—but a coronation…” he squeals with nervousness. “No, it will be fine. It will be fine. Because you’re here to help me!”
He tells us we need to be ordained first—because we’re not from Oz. He pulls a small box containing dirt from The Deadly Desert from his robes. “I just need to smear a little bit of this on your forehead, and ask you the question: Do you believe that The Winds will take us into The Tomorrow Foretold?” He explains that The Tomorrow Foretold is a place of peace and prosperity; a heaven—if you believe in that sort of thing.
He asks each of us in turn. And we agree. He takes a finger and smears a small circle of dirt on our forehead.
Once we’ve all been ordained, he splits us into twos and gives each of us of us an item and a task for the coronation: the holy vestments, the royal scepter, the crown.
“When you first heard the story of Oz, it was wrapped up in a gingham dress with pigtails. But that costume was insincere. It was the story people wanted you to hear. The real clothes are torn. They have stains here and there that just can’t wash out. I suppose that’s the real story coming through. But you know, no matter what costume you wear, the real story comes out.”
With that, we are brought back into the main chamber, ready to coronate our new queen.
EVERYONE – BLUE PERSPECTIVE
Inside the Church, Lyman seems to be walking a group of guests through the Coronation process, instructing them to carry the scepter, hold a lantern just so, all with that remarkable, immovable positivity we’ve come to know him for. We sit, along the pulpit itself this time, and wait for the rest of the attendees to file in from whence they’d scattered after the shots rang out.
So gathered, Files has us repeat after him. The King is dead. Long live the Queen. We repeat it until Ozma’s now familiar voice joins us, and she moves to the center of the room to take her place. She asks after her brother Phil and, finding him missing, declares him a traitor to the crown. She turns now on Dorothy, ordering her to stand and tell her where Phil is. Dorothy meekly replies that she doesn’t know, and awkwardly blows her a kiss when ordered. This motion is a gleam of hope as I start to think perhaps Dorothy, and the Patchwork Resistance along with her, are not still as hopeless as they’d seemed to be before.
Phoebe calls The Lion and (now General) Files to stand with her and the Coronation begins. Lyman is nervous but professional, going through the traditional motions just as he’d done earlier for the wedding, and again he is rushed along by Ozma’s impatience. She demands he use her “real” name.
“Ok well…presenting Queen Ozma,” Lyman stutters. “Madam, are you willing and ready to take the Vow of the emerald throne?”
“I am willing.” Ozma proclaims. With that, the sacred vestments are brought forward and placed on her shoulders, symbolizing the weight of the responsibility she must bear by sitting on the Emerald throne, a responsibility she has little interest in. Lyman begins to mention the scepter… and she grows impatient, snatching up the scepter and ushering him on to the next vow.
“Do you vow to rule the beings of Oz according to their respective laws and customs?”
“I vow to rule the beings of Oz,” she says with authority.
“Will you vow to execute your judgments according to the law and justice of the land, empowering the Good and punishing the Wicked?”
“I vow to execute my judgements.”
“Will you vow to maintain the laws of The Winds and uphold the prophecies until they are fulfilled”
“I am the fulfillment of the prophecies,” she grins. The room is so quiet, save a low, foreboding, tone emanating from the church organ.
Lyman is unsure how to continue. “Uh… Phoebe—”
“OZMA,” she roars! “By The Winds, call me Ozma! Born again. Born anew” She walks over to the crown, and picks it up, placing it on her own head. “I am the rightful once and future heir to Oz. Vow your allegiance to me! Stand up!”
As we all stand, Files leads us in a series of vows: to follow Ozma, to follow the Lost Princess, and to follow the Queen of Oz. I spy Jinjur, knelt in a corner, staring dreamily into space, repeating along with everyone numbly.
Vows completed, Phoebe stands triumphant, “I will usher Oz into a golden age; a golden age for Oz and worlds beyond! Oz forever!” The room partially erupts to join her last declaration and then, as if an afterthought, she dismisses us, and it’s over.
We trail after The Lion to exit the church; she says she hopes we’re not mad at her for joining Phoebe, like she always says we have to play all sides, and that way you’re always in business. Perhaps this is an indication that Lion won’t live up to the “Cowardly” portion of her name when all is said and done; maybe we can hope. We can also hope that Tin Man, Glinda, Jack, Tick, and Phil all escaped as safely as they seem to have done, and that maybe Good hasn’t lost the war, just this battle. As long as there’s recruits that know what version of Ozma our new Queen really is, Revolt will persist. Good will persist.
I step out onto the street, the church door creaking shut behind me, knowing that The Storm that was foretold has finally arrived to Oz, but also knowing that there are still bluebirds amongst us. And bluebirds can still fly.
The Speakeasy Society’s next installment in The Kansas Collection series The Witch, is on sale now, with tickets available Sep 20-22 and 26, 27, and 29. Tickets are available here.