Sailor Moon Crystal Series Recap Part 2

Last time: we met our astoundingly dull heroines, people mostly talked about how they know nothing, and Mamoru Chiba lost his badass card somewhere. And Usagi’s terrible delusions have caused her to see Sailor V in front of her! What happens next? Find out right about now!

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Remember: tiny mask = completely different person.

Picking up where the last episode left off, numero 8 starts off by revealing that Sailor V is Princess Serenity, a twist that most rational, people know isn’t real. Tuxedo Mask leaves, as this time it’s he who couldn’t protect Sailor Moon (sorry buddy, got to start getting used to that).

Sailor V comes down to talk to everyone, including revealing that her arcade game was meant to instruct the Sailor Senshi in combat. Well, considering you just had to save their asses, that didn’t work. Also, skill in video games doesn’t translate to practical real-life skills! Are we still stuck in the nineties? Oh, wait…

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Sailor Moon practicing for her dentist appointment.

Sailor V transforms back into her civilian identity, Minako Aino, and goes back into the underground base to finally reveal some actual plot information. Basically, it boils down to: evil power destroyed Moon Kingdom, power got sealed away, and years later, “Ah! After 10 thousand years I’m free! It’s time to conquer Earth!”, “Luna, Metalia’s escaped! Recruit a team of emotionally stunted teenage girls with attitude!”

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That’s being awfully optimistic about things on Earth.

The next day, Usagi and Luna take a walk, and bump into Mamoru, reading a bunch of books about crystals. I think we’ve long established that no one on the planet actually knows about the Silver Crystal, so any book written by anyone won’t reveal a thing. Usagi and Mamoru flirt for a bit about the objects that they have that belong to the other, which I don’t much mind, as it’s the closest thing we’ve seen so far to genuine romance. Meanwhile, Artemis shows up out of nowhere to once again reveal random exposition! Good to know that that’s what the greatest feline character in all of fiction is reduced to!

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Don’t make me uncross my legs!

Minako is casually strolling with Artemis, when Kunzite contacts her using Lex Luthor telepathy. She has to bring the Silver Crystal to Kunzite or he’ll kill everyone in Tokyo. Mina tries to go to Tokyo Tower, but not before a brief encounter with the other four Sailor Senshi, who she assures that everything is fine.

Her battle with Kunzite goes as well as you’d expect, but the other Senshi show up to assist her, which also goes just as well. However, when Sailor Moon is in danger of falling off of Tokyo Tower, who else saves her but Tuxedo Mask? Oh, and they kiss. Whatever, as long as it’s not creepy (or AS creepy).

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If even Tuxedo Mask can learn to love a girl with a facial paralysis, why can’t you?

Finally, as Kunzite is about to hit Sailor Moon with a huge blast of… Kunzite power, Tuxedo Mask finally faces his destiny as he acts as Sailor Moon’s meat shield for the first, and far from the last, time…

This wasn’t that bad of an episode. Sure it was a bit heavy on the exposition, and the ending felt like the ending of pretty much every other episode, but Minako’s introduction is very well-handled, displaying Minako’s determination and devotion to her work, while not overdoing it. The other Sailor Senshi saying that they will help her with her duties is genuinely satisfying. And Artemis gets to speak, too!

And since all the Senshi are gathered now, as I promised in Part 1:

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

Episode 9 begins with Tuxedo Mask having a dream that finally gets him to remember that he is the reincarnation of Prince Endymion and that the middle school student he has the hots for is Princess Serenity. Usagi remembers too, prompting a flashback involving Endyion getting sworded. Get used to seeing that one again for a while.

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I gotta say, I don’t see that much of a difference.

The flashback expands further with the story of Serenity and Endymion falling in sweet forbidden love. Think the Anakin X Padme romance in Attack of the Clones, only with considerably less Hayden Christenson (that alone makes all the difference). However, due to a nasty war between the Earth and the Moon, Endymion ended up getting on the killed end of the scale. As Sailor Moon is lamenting the parallel between the flashback and what is currently happening, her tear literally turns into the Silver Crystal. Look, I believe that it’s healthy to be open with your emotions and everything, but I’m not entirely sure that that should be rewarded with the powerful object in the universe.

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Crystal ball! I missed you!

The Silver Crystal enters Tuxedo Mask’s body, prompting Kunzite and Beryl to grab ahold of him and leave. Back at the underground base, more exposition is revealed about everyone’s past lives, how Wizard Barza sealed away Witch Bandora, yadda yadda yadda, and Usagi continues to cry about how she just wants to be with her precious Mamo-chan. I actually don’t mind this that much, because honestly, I’m fairly certain that if something like this happened to me, this is pretty much how I’d react.

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Then logically, he can’t have the Silver Crystal on him.

The other Senshi want to cheer Usagi up, so they go see her, discovering that her hair has grown longer because of her memories of being Princess Serenity. Because that’s how it works. After some consoling and assurance that Usagi is ultimately Usagi, and not Princess Serenity, the Sailor Senshi resolve to travel to the Moon for answers.

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That’s an awfully pointy ball.

This episode has a lot of exposition inserted into random places, some more “romance” scenes between Usagi and Mamoru, and Usagi getting the series Macguffin for basically no real reason. And it’s a REALLY good episode. One of my biggest complaints about the overall series is how much less prominence is placed on Usagi’s friends and the impact they have on her. Well, this episode shows them being supportive, encouraging, and all around good friends, with Tuxedo Mask largely out of the way to get in the way of that. Usagi’s fears of losing her identity are genuinely heartfelt, and the scene at the end in which the plan to go to the Moon is hatched really feels like the good old days.

Episode 10 begins with some scenes of Usagi feeling generally better than before, which again, I don’t mind much besides the Dull Surprise, which isn’t nearly as distracting as it usually is. When the night of a full moon arrives, the five girls transform and use their powers to create a transport shield-like ball to travel to the moon.

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NOW you say that?

On the moon, the Sailor Senshi and Luna find the surprisingly small Silver Millenium, which apparently no astronomer or anyone else has ever detected, and no historian has ever recorded about. After pulling a sword out from a stone (yeah…), a sentient hologram of the physically deceased Queen Serenity reveals some more exposition. And by “some”, I mean that the rest of the episode is exposition.

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Sailor Venus: putting the fabulous in fabulous secret powers.

Most of the exposition is stuff we already know anyway, about how Serenity fell in love, there was a war with a brainwashed Earth, Endymion got killed, Serenity committed suicide, and this was all apparently before Earth’s current recorded history, which I call bullshit on. Also, this is apparently why the Moon is a barren, crater-infested wasteland. I’m sure Neil DeGrasse Tyson would a like a word with this show.

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Don’t tempt fate like than, Queen!

Before the queen takes her leave, she tells Sailor Moon not to forget that in addition to being a Sailor Senshi of Truth, Justice, and the Japanese Way, she is also a normal girl. This reminds me of Hannah Montana. You know, if Miley was a superheroine. And with that, the Queen just disappears, having not revealed much about where the Silver Crystal is beyond being sure that Tuxedo Mask is still alive.

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Thundershock is not very effective when it comes to inducing facial reactions.

Back at Metalia’s lair, more exposition revealed, this time that Queen Beryl’s four generals were actually Prince Endymion’s guardians back in the day, and they are being brainwashed. So Beryl continues to strengthen her hold on them, and forces them to take the Silver Crystal from Princess Serenity, because apparently there is no sign of it in Tuedo Mask.

When the four generals attack Tokyo again by covering it in ice (Kunzite says that this is so that Metalia can take over. Can she only thrive on sub-zero temperature, or what?), the Sailor Senshi are there to fight them. Kunzite taunts Sailor Moon by saying that in return for the Silver Crystal, he’ll return Tuxedo Mask’s corpse. Which kinda defeats the purpose of this sort of bargain and guarantees that you’ll have to get the Crystal by force.

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There it is!

After some brief fighting, Venus reveals another incredibly important piece of exposition: that the four generals were actually the other Sailor Senshi’s boyfriends back in the day. So suddenly they can’t fight them. Damn, wish you hadn’t nearly toasted Jadeite back in episode 3 now, don’t you Sailor Mars? However, Sailor Moon is there to use her all powerful Moon Healing Escalation to save everyone and everything. Actual conflict, what’s that? Oh, sure, the other Senshi have Sailor Planet Attack, but that doesn’t really do anything except annoy the generals a little.

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That’s a dramatic way of saying you need a coffee.

Finally, Queen Beryl places Mamoru under her control as well, and she orders him to take the Silver Crystal. So Mamoru is evil now. Probably for the first of many times.

This episode is just bland as hell. Again, most of it is exposition, some of which was already revealed in previous episodes, and the new stuff doesn’t really affect anything at all. I mean, does it really matter that the four generals and the other Sailor Senshi were lovers at one point? The climactic fight is way too short, and once again Sailor Moon is the one who solves everything. It’s only going to get worse from here…

Episode 11 begins with a fairly heartfelt moment between Usagi and Luna. On the way to… school I guess, Usagi bumps into evil Mamoru, concluding that it’s not him because there’s no way he’s capable of rescuing himself. Evil Mamoru first uses his powers to mentally take the place of Motoki Furuhata’s best friend Endo, a move that will not lead to any confusion later whatsoever.

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Actually, never mind. The two look exactly the same anyway.

In a meeting at Ami’s place, Ami uses her supreme deductive skills to demonstrate that the Moon Kingdom is no longer alive and that it is definitely pretty dead. Also, apparently the moon is poisonous now, too, so Neil Armstrong and all those other guys probably jipped a few people back in the day. Usagi falls asleep solely so that she can wake up later and sneak out to the arcade, where she meets “Endo”.

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What, a blond teenage girl? Not a chance.

Usagi’s friends, Luna, and Usagi herself know that Endo is not Mamoru, but she has to go see him anyway because forced conflict! Also, Usagi being a selfish brat under the guise of “true love”. Her meeting with Endo is cut short anyway by him asking too many questions about Sailor Moon, resulting in Usagi leaving as fast as she came, as well as anyone still watching this show.

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Pictured: every Sailor Moon fanfiction ever written.

Ami and Mako are also present, and their suspicions of “Endo” grow when talking to Motoki’s girlfriend Reika Nishimura, whose knowledge of Motoki’s connections and social circle reveal exactly why taking on the identity of Motoki’s friend Endo was a massively stupid idea.

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Though the image of a grown man playing video games to try and infiltrate a bunch of little girls’ hangout is almost worth everything else.

Mako-chan tries to pry Endo directly for information, but she gets put under his control. The other Senshi talk to her before the charade is pretty much instantly revealed by the sound of an intruder alarm. Even though apparently only the cats and the Senshi can enter the command center at all, calling into question the need for an alarm system, other than to make this scene look more dramatic.

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I’d say the show jumped the shark here, but it really just landed.

Once again, the other four Sailor Senshi do actual fighting while Usagi cries off to the side about how she can’t fight Tuxedo Mask, etc. But fortunately, her will to fight returns in connection to the resolution of the forced conflict with Luna earlier, as Luna and Usagi make up. So Sailor Moon surprisingly doesn’t solve everything as Queen Beryl interferes, telling the Senshi that the brainwashed Endymion will destroy them now that she has the Silver Crystal.

Dear Lord, this episode was BAD. Usagi spends even more time than usual whining about her true love and neglects the people she supposedly cares about, while her friends and Luna are the only ones who do anything of actual value. Usagi’s sheer stupidity practically becomes lethal in this episode, and no, it’s not romantic or charming in any way. Her brief annoyance at Luna just highlights even more that she’s a selfish brat who doesn’t deserve to be the leader of the Sailor Senshi.

Episode 12 starts off with Queen Beryl talking about how Prince Endymion is under control and everything. However, Usagi, naturally, can’t bring herself to fight her true love or whatever, and the battle is taken elsewhere. Beryl captures all of the Senshi, and what follows is another few minutes of exposition, which feels even more relentlessly boring than usual, because it keeps cutting to the same shot of Beryl’s wide-eyed grin, which doesn’t make her evil intentions seem any more legit. Anyway, it’s revealed that Beryl is under the control of the demon Metalia, and that she killed Endymion way back when.

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This was taken from one of the Generals’ plots to make Dark Shampoo.

So after Venus breaks everyone free, Sailor Moon takes the holy sword and goes to destroy the necklace which is what Metalia is using to control Queen Beryl. She does this by directly stabbing the necklace behind Beryl’s neck, which means that in reality Beryl would probably choke to death before the necklace shatters. Anyway, because of Usagi’s “true love” for Mamoru, or whatever, and her unwillingness to give up as long as there’s steaming hot Tuxedo Mask involved, Moon manages to destroy the necklace.

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Can’t say I disagree with that.

So Queen Beryl’s dead. Too bad Mamoru is still under Metalia’s control. He takes the holy sword from Sailor Moon, and he leaves through a random portal thing, with Moon following suit. The others are too late to follow, of course, because why would Sailor Moon do anything surrounded by her important precious friends?

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I swear this is where they filmed the original opening in the 90’s.

Sailor Moon and Mamoru are in the North Pole now, because that’s where Metalia resides. So no, kids, no jolly old bearded guy with elves here, only an ancient demon that’s trying to rule the damn universe. Meanwhile, the other Senshi have found their way to the entrance to the Dark Kingdom, where they meet the four Kings of the Dark Kingdom, their former lovers.

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You sure it’s not a place for people to secretly play Dungeons and Dragons?

The resulting “fights” (AKA the Dark Kingdom members shooting stuff and the Sailor Senshi falling down) are some of the worst in the series, with almost no movement being shown, and most of the attacks happening either off screen or only shown in still frame. Eventually, Luna contacts Usagi and reveals that the holy sword can seal Metalia, but it can only do so with the use of the whole Silver Crystal.

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Um, ew?

So Sailor Moon gathers up her “heart” I guess, and uses Moon Healing Escalation while the other Senshi use Sailor Planet Attack to restore the knights’ Memories. And then one of the most painful scenes (not in the good way), as Metalia destroys the knights. The other Senshi finally decide to pull a Sailor Moon and all start crying. For a franchise that’s normally very good at extracting feels out of me, this was quite emotionally manipulative. What was the point of this? What does it change story-wise? What insight does it bring to any of the characters? Is someone at Toei under the delusion that romance automatically equals compelling subplot? It really doesn’t matter because the four Knights are still alive in spirit or whatever, and the four girls find the strength to continue.

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…FUCK!

The episode ends with Usagi finally proving once an for all why she’s such a shitty heroine. Since she can’t sand seeing Mamoru under Metalia’s control, she uses the holy sword to kill him, and then stab herself, as pictured above. Yup, who gives a damn about all the people who are going to suffer because she can’t be with her one true love or whatever? I mean, even if killing herself somehow prevents Metalia from ever getting the Silver Crystal (which I doubt), what about her friends and family? The people who the real Usagi would never abandon under any circumstances? Does this Usagi even think?

You could make the argument that Usagi’s action was understandable, because she’s 14 years old, and something like this is far more than a teenager would be expected to handle, and you would have a point there… except we JUST CAME FROM WATCHING THE OTHER SENSHI IMMEDIATELY RECOVER FROM LOSING THEIR LOVERS TOO!!! So once again, the other Sailor Senshi have shown that they are emotionally stronger than Usagi ever was, and that Sailor Moon is a terrible leader. So not only was the scene of the Knights’ deaths completely pointless, it actually makes what was already a pretty terrible scene that much worse. What happened to the girl who was able to bring the Sailor Senshi together because of her respect for all life and her unwillingness to give up for the sake of everyone else?

I had always thought that this was the worst episode of the show, but upon rewatch, I was totally unprepared for how terrible this episode truly is. At least Sailor Moon Super S was usually enjoyably bad, but this? Everything is done wrong; any moment that is intended to wring emotion from the audience is hollow, the fight scenes are some of the least dynamic and eventful in SM history, and of course, Usagi’s selfishness peaks out big time. The next few episodes aren’t great by any means either, but nothing could ever top this episode in sheer incompetence.

In episode 13, Sailor Moon’s actions cause the Silver Crystal to grow and emit a powerful light. Which means that had her suicide attempt been successful, everyone would be pretty much fucked. So good job once again, Usagi Tsukino! I shouldn’t even be calling her Usagi anymore, because clearly this is a different person! Anyway, Metalia absorbs Imitiation Usagi and Mamoru into herself, exponentially increasing her power I guess, and the other Senshi try and save her (ie. actually being heroic), while Luna and Artemis return to the moon.

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Just, y’know, without the tombstones.

The Sailor Senshi meet up with Queen Metalia again, and their Sailor Planet Attack is as useful as it normally is. Because in this universe, everyone except Sailor Moon is Mamoru Chiba. So  Metalia takes over the world. It’s difficult to tell if any of Sailor Moon’s attacks would have changed the outcome, but at least the other Sailor Senshi tried! Why is  Usagi the hero again?

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You liked Super S?!!

So the other Sailor Senshi are pondering if there really is nothing they can do, but when they think of Usagi and how awesome she is, they get the will to face Metalia again. That’s a pretty darn strong case of loyalty for someone who basically abandoned all of you and humanity because she couldn’t have her way with a hot guy. Sailor Venus’ determination somehow lands her with the holy sword. And so their new attack… fails completely and they still have accomplished nothing. Why are you guys here again?

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If I actually saw this image in real life, I think I’d shit my pants. Just saying.

Usagi’s alive of course, in Metalia’s body, as Mamoru’s watch caught the sword. So Usagi killed her boyfriend for nothing in addition to leaving the rest of the world to be taken over. Why do you piss me off so much?! As Metalia uses the darkness of humans or whatever to taunt Sailor Moon, Moon gets ahold of the Silver Crystal, and it magically solves everything for her, as usual. I keep forgetting that actual integrity and loyalty isn’t what gets rewarded in this show.

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So the darkest desire of humanity is to do the YMCA dance for eternity? I knew it!

Mamoru’s alive too, because Usagi has shown that she deserves more than anyone to have her love fulfilled. It turns out that he was also protected by the spirits of the four knights. So he is able to give Sailor Moon strength to defeat Metalia. This episode is even shameless enough to show the rest of the Sailor Senshi still beaten on the ground, not even doing anything. You know? The ones who actually tried to defeat Metalia even when their boyfriends were dead? Wait, so the moral of Crystal is that having a boyfriend makes you stronger? My brain hurts!

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Pictured: Sailor Moon not giving a fuck.

This episode is boring as hell. That’s really all there is to it. I can’t add any more to that. Moving on.

The first several minutes of episode 14 are… also boring as shit. It’s basically Sailor Moon shooting stuff at Queen Metalia. Everyone else starts “praying” or whatever, there’s like 5 minutes of people just standing there, and finally Metalia gets sealed off or something. After that whole thing, the Silver Millennium is also restored because “Yay, Happy End!”

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This works less effectively when Usagi is taking tests.

So after some more confirmation that Usagi and Mamoru are totally in love with each other, Usagi panics because she has decided to care about her friends again. Fortunately, Mamoru has the power to find stuff with his hand. However, before they can rescue the other Sailor Senshi, Luna calls them to the moon. So the two oblige, even though it really should wait until AFTER the other Senshi are safe (so forget about what I said about Usagi actually caring thing).

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Silver Millennium was clearly ahead of its time artistically.

Usagi is supposed to be the new Queen Serenity, but Usagi declines, because, well, what is there actually to DO in Silver Millennium? There don’t seem to be any people around, and the Earth has cooler stuff anyway! Usagi basically says that, but frames it more like that she loves everyone and stuff. So she gets new powers. Like that’s anything new. She uses her new Crystal Power to heal up all damage that Metalia caused and save everyone, and everything is happy once more (except me).

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But if that happens, Toei loses money, and that’s a big no-no!

So everything is back to normal: Usagi and Minako still suck at school, Mako and Ami are still the best characters by a landslide, and Rei is still getting bad omens about shit that will go down in future seasons. The final scene takes place in the park, where Mamoru and Usagi have another “romantic” meeting. However, it is interrupted by…

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An image that I am quite glad is still allowed on Japanese children’s media.

Yeah, this is where Chibiusa first comes in. She’s voiced by Misato Fukuen, AKA Miyuki Hoshizora/Cure Happy, once again from Smile Precure. That would make this her second role voicing an annoying pink-haired girl with the mental age of a six-year-old. This is how the episode ends, with Chibiusa demanding the Silver Crystal from Usagi at gunpoint. Too bad I already know what’s going to happen. But that’s another story for another time.

And that was Sailor Moon Crystal. It wasn’t very good. The characters don’t get enough focus, the romance is forced, Usagi herself does a lot of morally questionable things and usually gets rewarded for it, and the animation and art style isn’t very pleasant to look at. To be fair, more than a few of the storyline issues were present in the original manga, but the manga came out back when Naoko Takeuchi was still an inexperienced kid, and the premise of a Sentai-like magical girl team was still fresh enough that these were more forgivable. But this show came out in 2014, so there’s no excuse.

Any “modernizations” that this show made are superficial, and no attempt was made really update the material for a new time and generation in which magical girls are a dime a dozen. I love Sailor Moon, but I am not one to deny that it’s dated as hell, and watching these characters spout dialogue that may have sounded better inked on paper only reinforced that for me. The other adaptations of Sailor Moon worked because they interpreted the Dark Kingdom arc in different ways, focused on different things, and tried to explore ideas that previous adaptations hadn’t really delved into. None of that is found here. The only thing I feel from this is a lifeless , soulless cash grab. Which is what it is.

Next time: We do NOT find out what happens with Chibiusa, because I’m not watching the second season of Crystal again. At least, not right now. Instead, I continue my futile quest to catch up on the Ultra Series before the new season comes out (yeah, right). Until then, have a good day, and remember that thinking isn’t so bad once in a while.

PS. Yes, I am following the third season of Crystal. And yes, I am very much enjoying it.

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