We got a little comedy out of Penk’s over-gifting and his deer-in-the-headlights response to rejection on the last page. But really, all things considered, he’s taking this very well. You can barely even tell what just happened between him and Magda. It probably helps that they have strong relationships as teammates and friends to fall back on. It’s not like all his time with her was just spent waiting for a chance to make his move.

I love Penk’s dialogue in panel 5. On the one hand, he is still deferential enough to Harky that he frames their disagreements as failures on his part. He’s not living up to expectations, and it can’t be the expectations’ fault! But on the other, those disagreements are starting to build in him so much that he vents one more of them without even thinking about it.

(I think he and Harky are both right, kinda… Gifts can be threats, but you can’t always assume that’s true. Assuming it of someone like Auraugu is probably being paranoid. But if the Don and Iver are around to criticize your every move, you have to factor them in.)

Okay, I guess the Champions are doing more of a binary “gift-for-gift” thing than a round-robin. Maybe Penk set that up because of how he hoped this exchange with Magda would go.

Goblaurence will never “find out,” of course…it’d be a pretty dark series finale if he did…but let’s just call that scenario one of the Watcher’s What-Ifs.