Slade and Ebony.
Love them or hate them (and half the time it seems they couldn’t decide which themselves), the one thing you couldn’t call them is boring. Attempting a relationship against a background of brainwashing and guerrilla warfare would be trying for the most compatible of couples, so you would be forgiven for thinking Slebony was doomed before it even began.
But given the numerous obstacles against this budding relationship, why – when it finally comes crashing down early in S5 follow-up book A NEW WORLD – does it all seem so off?
First off, this is not meant to be an anti A NEW WORLD post – even after the initial delight at new Tribe material has faded, there’s still far more good than bad in there – but there are a few moments in the book that just feel out of place or out of character, and one of those for me is Slade and Ebony’s breakup.
In chapter 3 we learn that the couple have had a number of arguments and that Slade just can’t forgive Ebony for certain insensitive comments she has seemingly made about his recently deceased brother Mega. Now, we know Ebony is never going to win any prizes for sensitivity so that’s not really a surprise, but in her defence she does have very valid reasons for hating Mega. He did after all brainwash her into thinking her warlord ex-boyfriend had risen from the grave and wanted her to raise an army to take control of the City ready for his return, just so that he could use her as a threat in order to push through ever more draconian security measures and cement his own power in Tribeworld.
And let’s face it, who’s going to go through all that and come out the other end without serious issues? And that’s without taking into account all that Mega did to everybody else in the City; I’m sure Ebony wasn’t the only one with a few choice words to say about Slade’s brother. And Slade knows full well that his brother wasn’t a saint.
So yes, Slade’s grieving and upset with Ebony’s typically insensitive comments, fair enough. But she has apologised for this – multiple times we’re told, though everything has happened off-screen (off-page?) at this point, and they’ve also been through all this before – in S5E50 Ebony makes it clear that even though he’s Slade’s brother, Mega deserves to pay for his crimes and she’ll be on the side of the prosecution when it comes to the trial. So it’s not like they didn’t know where each other stood on the matter, or understand the reasons behind their different stances.
But as it turns out, Ebony’s views on Mega aren’t actually the main reason for Slade turning against her. No, what he finds most annoying is that after all the crimes Ebony has carried out herself in the past, she is no more than a hypocrite. Which is true of course, but not exactly a secret, and not really a charge you can level at somebody who has made insensitive comments about your dead brother (and apologised for it!) when you then go and accuse her of being an awful sister. Ebony is grieving too, and she had reconciled with Siva before her death (Java not so much, but hey, Java was never going to let that happen), so hypocrisy aside it’s not a completely fair comment as it is.
The worst part for me is that, although the reasons Slade gives are actually fairly plausible, they completely overlook discussions the two have had before in S5, and given this and Ebony’s own mitigating circumstances (her treatment by Mega, her apologies, Slade’s own hypocrisy regarding Java and Siva), they don’t appear to justify Slade’s flirtation with Ruby which really fans the flames and leads to further confrontations with Ebony. Ebony is the one who tries to fight for the relationship, even suggesting that the two of them leave the tribe and set up on their own, while Slade really just comes off as a bit of a jerk. And while he’s always had his faults, that’s not one of them.
Finally there’s the elephant in the room. While Slade is internally hating Ebony for various perceived crimes she was involved in during her time in the Locos, it seems to have been completely forgotten that there is something particularly awful she has done much more recently – namely pushing Ruby in front of a truck during the evacuation from the City so that she would miscarry the baby of Slade’s that Ebony wasn’t even sure she was carrying. Yes she felt bad afterwards but that is pretty major, and a completely valid relationship breaker. More so than rehashing old and flimsy arguments that had already been worked through.
So while I don’t object to Ebony and Slade breaking up, I just don’t think it was done in a particularly convincing way, especially when the most convincing reason for splitting the pair up was completely overlooked.