So by 2017, I was out on the streets carrying the sort of signs I’d once gently mocked, and I did so for the next couple of years before deciding I was more temperamentally suited to get-out-the-vote efforts and election work (which might be just as risky in 2020, because I don’t think we’re going to be rid of the ‘rona by November). The experience left its mark.

I’m not ashamed of change or even of self-contradiction: you can’t write good conflicts if you don’t have ideas in your head that clash with each other. I can still see something absurd about it, and I can inhabit Annunziata’s headspace long enough to see the implied threat of a gathered, shouting throng, whether or not they’re carrying weapons (though it’s no accident that everyone, even Frigg, is protesting in civvies, their weapons left at home).

But that’s all kind of the point. “We gather peacefully today, and your response determines whether and how we gather tomorrow.” Phil, I think, understood that better than I did in 2013.

He also understood how such protest could move the needle. Syr’Nj may be briefly embarrassed to be too closely associated with this crowd, but she quickly adapts, using the urgency of their protest to bolster her own voice and authority. The hard work of governing is still necessary, but protest can be the fire that fuels it.