Zane’s true potential was so important it still affects he and the others’ relationship to this day, and I know im probably the 1000th person to talk about the meaning of his true potential, but still I dunno, I think there’s more stuff that hasn’t particularly been said.
Im watching decoded right now and its made me realise something about their true potentials. The other ninja still don’t understand Zane’s true potential in its entirety, and didn’t listen to Zane when he tried to explain it. Everyone else’s fits a pattern of learning how to not pretend to be someone you’re not; the other’s try to put Zane’s into the same category, saying that Zane unlocked his true potential because he unlocked his memories and knew who he was, he didnt have to pretend to be human anymore if he’s a nindroid. Although that’s most likely particularly true, Zane himself then said something that made me realise that that’s definitely not all.
He said ‘To be more precise, I unlocked my true potential when I realised our differences cannot push us appart, they hold us together’
Which, first of all, beautiful statement, screaming and crying as i write this, i love him
Now, pair that with the fact that about 30 seconds prior, when asked about his true potential, Zane showed everyone a montage of his issues learning understand the others sense of humour (x). It seems like Zane has a very different perception of why he reached his true potential than the others do, and they aren’t trying to understand it, considering that they just brushed off both of his responses.
So what do his responses actually seem to point to?
We know that they all reached their true potential when something stopped holding him back, and nothing held Zane back more than communication issues with the others. He didn’t initially understand them, and they didn’t understand him. He couldn’t remember any other relationships he’d had before, so he assumed that this level of understanding was normal, explaining why he didn’t seem to care when he came back in episode 2 after he had been blamed for burning down the monastery, though wether or not he did care, im not sure; i’d like to think he did but just didn’t say.
Episode 8 and his memories gave him an example of a healthy relationship, it was then that he was able to see that things hadn’t been going particularly going well with him and the ninja, it kinda broke him at first, which is why part of why he was so sad (other than ofc the bit where he found out he’s not human and his dad is seemingly dead, that could probably make someone sad too 😳)
But all this why he got to his true potential, otherwise he would’ve just started glowing/flying/whatnot right there and then when he turned on his memory switch.
So y’know what I think the true potentials came from? Hope that things are going to get better. It sounds really fucking cheesy but bare with me, its another pattern of the true potentials that this time *everyone* fits into
-Cole got hope that his relationship with his father would finally improve
-Jay got hope that he’d become more comfortable being himself around everyone
-Kai got hope that even if he wasn’t the green ninja, he’d still be considered a valuable member of the team
Now Zane’s. Zane got hope that he and the others could have just as much of a fulfilling life together as what he’d had with his dad, not just in spite of but because of their differences. He decided then and there he’d make an effort to learning to getting along with them, and hope that they’d do the same for him. Right before the ninja left him to have some alone time after finding out he was a nindroid, they all told him that they accepted and thought it was really cool that he was a nindroid. For the first time, something about him that made him different was seen as a strength, rather than a weakness. Sure, people had commented on his other strengths before, like his abilities to stay underwater for a long time or his cooking expertise, but those were all things he’d practiced to get good at, those were his skills, not who he was.
Zane was still trying to figure out who exactly he was, having only just remembered it and all. But being a nindroid seemed like a big part of it, so the fact that everyone was so accepting of it made him feel like things really were going to get better for him, and that the others were good people who needed protecting, nothing was going to hold him back from trying to be happy alongside them.
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Can't Catch A Break
Possessive AU by Emily aka @urlocalllama
Despite all the fun they've had while staying at the Sun family home, the ninjas were due to head home soon. However, they tragically are dragged into one last horrible thing before they go.
"Three days!" Lloyd announced, "How do we only have three days left?!"
"I know!" Jay's eyes brimmed with tears, "It all went by so fast!"
"I'm certain we'll see these wonderful people another day," Misako smiled as she helped the ninja gather their scattered belongings, "While we'll only intrude upon the Sun family presence if permitted, the Long family is already planning on inviting us to stay with them in the next few months."
"I have grown to adore you guys," Wukong sighed, "But unless it's an emergency, I don't think we'll be having more guests staying overnight. For any length of time."
"But you're so outgoing," Cole asked, "How?"
"I can socialize with people, but I sure do like my personal space. Plenty of time to relax, recharge, and prepare for the next time I interact with people."
"Weirdly enough," Macaque said from the kitchen, drying off the dishes, "I'm technically an extrovert. But my personality doesn't play nice with others, so I seem introverted. It doesn't happen often, but I love being social with people I get along with!"
"Aw, so you two were made for each other!" Kai said as he fished up one of his uniquely-patterned from between the couch cushions, "Now if only I could keep my socks as tightly-knit as that..."
"What is with you and always losing your socks?" Nya asked, "Like, you haven't been able to keep track of them since we were little! And mom was keeping track of all our clothes then!"
"I dunno! At least I haven't accidentally burned one yet."
"And I'll go ahead and take that." Cole snatched the sock from Kai's hand and paired it with the other and tossed it in his suitcase.
"Okay, that should be everything we left in this room," Zane announced after a quick scan, "We'll tackle the other rooms tomorrow. For now, let's drag these back to our rooms."
"Good plan, good plan," Jay nodded, shoving the mess of God only knows into his suitcase and forcing it shut.
They filed past them, the clunking of suitcase wheels following them as they disappeared into the guest wing.
"What time is it?" Macaque asked.
"Oh, it's about nine-fifty. Not too late in the morning, but still."
"Then I should go get the twins and Yueming up," Macaque said as he put away the last dish.
"No-no, I'll get them-"
"Nuh-uh handsome, you're on relax until further notice. You've been through crazy things in this past two weeks, I want you under as little stress as possible. And yes, that includes getting the kids up."
"Oh, fine! I'd be mad, but I have to agree that it's been crazy. I'm doing much better though! That extracted power essence has been really putting my power levels back up to where they were before. It sure sucked getting it extracted in the first place, but hey, silver linings."
"Silver linings indeed. Well, in that case: if you want to, you ought to pull together a breakfast for Yuyu. And if she tries to claim I promised her sugary cereal for breakfast, remind her I did that yesterday."
"Will do," Wukong laughed, an accepted a quick kiss from him before Macaque headed upstairs.
He started pulling together a small pot of porridge, cutting up some strawberries to put into it along with blueberries. The twins couldn't quite eat fruit yet, but Yueming was ravenous about the stuff. She'd eat ANYTHING if it had tasty fruit in it.
Just as he was separating it into a bowl and dropping the fruit on top, Yueming sleepily clunked downstairs.
"Baba, wassat smell...?" She yawned, crawling into her booster seat and dramatically flopping her head onto the table, "I'm sleepy still..."
"Oh, really?" Wukong smirked, "Guess I'll eat all these berries myself..."
"Berries?! You have berries?!"
"Yes I do," He set the bowl in front of her along with a spoon and she dug in immediately, "Just for you, Snowpea."
"Fank'you!" She got out through a mouthfull of food before she continued chowing down.
He poured the rest of it into two smaller bowls and set them on the counter to cool before hanging out with Yueming. She told him all about her crazy dreams she had, describing things like her plush toys growing gigantic and toppling over buildings and tap-dancing spiders.
After several minutes of this, Wukong noticed that Macaque hadn't come back down yet.
He was just grabbing the twins, he should've been down only moments after Yueming had come...
What was taking him so long?
"Give me a moment, Yuyu, I need to go check on Fuqin."
"Okay! Tell him I love him!"
"I sure will, pumpkin."
He climbed the stairs, expecting to hear the sound of his husband playing with the twins, or maybe one of them crying. Maybe even Mk having a brief heart-to-heart with Macaque.
But it was deadly silent.
He started to get really, really worried when he heard nothing from Mk's room - neither him banging around and getting ready for work or his snoring.
Please, please just be with Macaque...
He quickly opened the door to his bedroom and nearly froze completely.
The babies had been shoved into one cradle behind Macaque, who was desperately trying to fight off four black-clad demon monkeys who were NOT from this mountain. They were trying to strangle him, and he could see that Macaque's eyes were starting to roll back in his head and the weapons he held out to defend himself were starting to drop.
They all turned to see him standing in the doorway, and there was a beat of silence.
Thinking as fast as possible, he made a plan.
Step one, the fastest thing he could do right now: Scream at the top of his lungs to alert the whole house to the trouble.
And scream he did.
Sanzang had been helping the ninja sort through their stuff when he heard the scream.
Specifically, he was socializing with Wu and talking with him about shared experiences training-slash-raising several fighters. While Wu's teachings had leaned on the more tactical side and Sanzang's on the more spiritual, they found there was so many things in common.
One of the funniest things were the parallels they drew between hot-headed Kai and impulsive, fresh from under the mountain, Wukong. Headstrong, overconfident, they both charged into danger head-first and had a hard time playing nice with others.
"Oh, but he's still that way now," Wu laughed, "He's better - way, way better - but he gives me an ulcer every time he doesn't keep his head on."
"Don't worry, he'll grow," Sanzang assured him, "Just be patient, give him more credit than you think he deserves, and one day he may even have Wukong's far more level head. I'm sure you've witnessed it, but he'll just blow you away with how mature he actually is versus how mature he seems. Kai seems to be cut from the same cloth, he should mature the same way with the right guidance."
"Hm, well maybe if he had thousands of years like him," Wu shook his head, "But always aim high!"
"It's not that high, our journey was only fifteen years. And he did all that growing in what was comparatively a blink in the eye for us immortals! Have a little more hope!"
"Oh, I'm hopeful, but I do try to be realistic so I don't let myself down. However, it seems like I may have room for even more hope, yes?"
"You sure do!"
And that's when they heard the scream.
"What was that?!"
"Oh no - Wukong only screams like that when there's danger."
Everyone bolted towards the source of the noise, Bajie and Wujing abandoning the rooms they were straightening up to join them.
It was in the master bedroom - the doors were flung wide open, and several black-clad demonic assailants were fighting against Wukong and Macaque.
Wukong was barely protecting a nearly passed out Macaque and his twins, using a sword to deflect attacks and try to cut them down.
But these demons were too organized, too flawless, he couldn't cut through their attacks in the state he was in.
The ninja burst inside the room and started fighting them, two for each demon.
Garmadon and Misako dashed through the fight and carefully helped Wukong move himself, Macaque and the twins outside of the room.
The loud thunks and clanks of the fighting woke up the babies, and they started crying with fear.
The demons tried to push towards them again, but Bajie shoved his giant girth between them and swung his rake in a large arc. They dodged backwards, tripping right back into the fiesty ninja.
Sanzang frantically reached into his pockets and pulled out a pen and paper. He had been working on a way to be more helpful in times like these, and after watching a fun cartoon with Mei about a witch who summoned spells using pieces of paper, he had an idea.
He wrote a sutra onto a piece of paper, a spell that would force the ground to become sacred and therefore make it more difficult for malicious demons to be there, and crumpled it into a little ball and tossed it into the room.
As it touched the ground, the spell activated and the room softly lit up.
The demons hissed, starting to scramble towards the windows. Three to the right, one to the left.
The ninja pursued the three while Sanzang and Bajie headed for the one.
Sanzang was faster than Bajie, so he threw his whole body on the assailant with his elbow first.
They yelped with pain, both from being elbowed and having his whole body pressed against the sacred floor, but soon tossed him off and made it out the window.
Sanzang followed him, nearly falling out himself - and then he saw a fifth one.
Holding Mk in their arms, bound and gagged.
"BAJIE! THERE'S ANOTHER!! THEY HAVE MK!!" He shouted, pointing them out.
With some shouting, Kai, Jay, Cole, and Zane (who Wu had revealed to him as his four original students before finding Lloyd and Nya) raced after them, and Sanzang helplessly watched as both demons, Mk, and the four ninja disappeared into thin air. The other three disappeared as well, and Bajie announced that they were gone for real.
Wujing was trying to help Wukong and Macaque. While Wukong had his head on his shoulders, although fearful but enough to care for his fussy twins, Macaque was silently losing it. He was kneeling on all fours, gripping his stomach and rapidly breathing. Misako and Garamdon were trying to calm him down, but it seemed like Macaque's anxieties classified them as 'strangers' so they weren't getting through.
"What's going on!! What's going on!!" Yueming shouted, running upstairs, "Baba!! Fuqin?! Babies?! Oh no, what's wrong Fuqin? WHERE'S XIAOTIAN?!"
"Easy, easy," Sanzang rushed over and started soothing her, "There's some problems, but we can't fix it if someone is freaking out."
"Okay, okay, but Fuqin is freaking out! How to I fix it?!"
"I'll do it, don't worry..."
"Macaque..." He said soothingly, "Macaque it's me. Sanzang... can you hear me?"
It took him a second, but he nodded as tears started to drip down his face.
"Can you tell us what happened?" He asked, gently placing a hand on his shoulder, "Do you know what happened?"
"I remember... something-something I forgot."
"He found out he was missing some memories," Wukong explained hurridly, "That must've triggered a memory to return."
"Those demons. They-they were from my home forest. From when I was a child. As in-as in... a literal child. Less than twenty years old."
"Oh no. You told me once that you had previously killed the king of that forest."
"Yes. I did."
Macaque looked up, a wild look in his eyes, "The monkeys of that forest - Blackmire Forest - never forget. Ever. They're-they're after revenge. They're after me."
Before they could process what he said, a sixth demonic monkey dropped from the ceiling, grabbed Macaque faster than lightning, and ran out the window before anyone could stop them.
Yueming started crying, saying something about 'not again, not again!' through her sobbing. That only prompted the twins to cry even louder.
That's when Wukong quietly handed them to Wujing, pulled his shirt to the side, and revealed a large, fresh cut in his chest and passed out.
Sanzang could only think of the situation in the most eloquent of words, truly capturing how everyone felt:
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Why Skybound's Ending Works
And why it was actually, to contrary belief of some of the fandom, a good season.
So I read this book a while ago. It was a good book, an enjoyable read, but I remember being really disappointed in the ending. Today I was looking through my bookshelf and I found it again, which made me start thinking about why, exactly, I didn't like it.
While there were a few different gripes I had with it, the main point came down to the fact that at the end of the book, after the climax had been resolved, the main character still wasn't happy, and she found a way to reverse time so that the whole incident never happened.
Sounds familiar, right?
I've never been a big fan of stories that basically undo everything at the end. I feel like it's a cheap ending and gets the main character out of learning his or her lesson, and often leaves me as a reader (or viewer in the case of a show/movie) with a sense of unfulfillment. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, as this is the biggest complaint I've seen about Skybound in the fandom.
So, if this is true, why don't I feel the same kind of dissatisfaction with Skybound that I do with this book?
My first thoughts were maybe that because the book is a standalone part. Ninjago is a long show, now spanning 15 seasons (12 at the time I first was watching Skybound) and having one season that was a dud wouldn't upset me that much because there were so many. But if this were true, I would feel disappointment when I thought about Skybound in particular, not Ninjago as a whole, right? But I didn't. I still genuinely enjoyed the season, and I didn't feel scammed by the ending at all.
Upon further depth, I realized that it was the execution of this time-reverse.
The way the book I read worked, was that the main conflict had already been resolved, and peace had been declared, but the main character wasn't happy in her situation. She realized this wasn't what she wanted, and then time was reversed. Most media which undoes the plot goes something along this route, in my experience.
As a writer and reader, let me tell you that having another conflict after the main conflict just doesn't work. The main climax is supposed to build tension, put the consumers on the edge of their seats, and then have a short resolution period at the end to satisfy the consumers, but not stretch it out for any longer than necessary, because the climax was what we were all here for. Having another plot afterwards, even if it is internal, like this one was, takes away from the main climax, and suddenly it doesn't feel very engaging anymore. Everything throughout the book/show/movie is building up to the climax, and once that is over, it's time for the story to be done. Additional plots following the climax are what sequels are for.
Skybound doesn't do this. Instead of having more plot after the conclusion (which usually leads into the time reverse), it makes the time reverse INTO the climax.
The plot is building as Jay and the others prepare to kill Nadakhan. But when the plan goes awry, and now Nya is hit with the poison too, Jay's focus switches to her. This isn't a new climax, it's just a switch of focus as suddenly there are larger priorities to fix. A shift of focus, done right, can make things even more intense because now there are two threats- in this case, stopping Nadakhan, and saving Nya from death.
Jay's wish is all he has left. As soon as the venom wears off, Nadakhan will be all-powerful again. They are running out of resources, of ways to fight him. Jay has to end him now, or they lose against Nadakhan, possibly forever.
But he's not going to sacrifice Nya for this either. As we know, Nadakhan twists the wishes in anyway he can to benefit him, so Jay needs to make his wish as simple and straightforward as possible. He can't save Nya and stop Nadakhan.
That is, unless he prevents this whole mess from happening in the first place.
This is wonderfully executed, because Jay isn't actively seeking to do this out of his own selfish wants, or because he wants to fix something he did in the past. He does it out of necessity, because it's the only way he can think of where everyone on his side gets out alive. Like I said before, I feel like reversing time usually makes it so that a character is getting a cheap solution to their problem, one where they override all the lessons they learned throughout the story. But this is not the case with Jay. It's not a cheap ending, it's just an abrupt one, because Jay realized that this was a threat he wasn't strong enough to face. It takes humility, it takes courage- and it greatly improved him as a character.
One of the other main gripes about time-reversal plot is that there's no consequences. The characters spent all this time fighting to defeat some conflict, only for all of that to be undone and putting them right back at square one.
While this is somewhat true for Skybound, they handle it in a way so that the characters still get something out of it. Most people don't remember, but Jay and Nya still do. Those memories are still very much real for them. Skybound technically did happen, it was just reversed. It's not like it never existed. For Jay and Nya, who still remember, those experiences and traumas are still very much real.
I think the main prospect might be Nadakhan's teapot, though. Let's recount the exact wording of Jay's final wish:
"I wish you had taken my hand, and no one ever found that teapot in the first place."
Jay's wish is in past tense. "I wish you HAD," "no one ever FOUND" (instead of finds). Jay didn't wish that no one would find the teapot ever, just that they wouldn't have found it in the past. This means, while, it would fix the past, the future is still uncertain. Nadakhan could still potentially return, because Jay's wish wasn't specific enough.
While I am not super confident that he actually will, just the potential for it makes this a much better ending. Skybound, while erased, still is very much real, and so is Nadakhan. Jay's original plan was to kill him, but now he's just dormant in the teapot.
Skybound's ending wasn't cheap. It was a way for Jay to realize that he wasn't always going to win, and that no mistake could ever be completely erased.
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