Spoilers for the Wandering Isle starting zone ahoy!
Those of you who have gone through the Pandaren starting zone to any degree are familiar with Aysa Cloudsinger, who is apparently one hell of a master student. In addition, she has totally mastered the fine art of delegating responsibility! She spends about 95% of her time meditating while you do the gruntwork or try to reach whatever ridiculous spot she’s positioned herself in as a “test.”
Is it just me, or is it less meditating for the sake of meditation and more meditating as an outward show of thoughtfulness and SRS BSNIS …?
Aysa is an adherent and paragon of the Tushui method, so she prefers thought first and action second. Ji Firepaw stands in contrast as a Huojin monk (and, not coincidentally, a guy) who would rather act on the moment. In an ideal world, the two would balance each other – one style would prompt the other to action while its own impetuousness would be moderated. On the Wandering Isle, though, Ji and Aysa spend most of their time apart and as a result, the Tushui way yields practical and useful results about … once.
As far as I can tell, the high point of the Tushui methodology comes when you must “locate” the spirit of air, who is dead center in the back of a temple where he was likely to be anyway and not in need of locating whatsoever. Aysa tells you to wait until the killer winds racing through the temple pause so you might race to a protected area in the middle en route to the spirit and thus, you know, not die. Yay for not barging in and dying! Other than that, Tushui style (or Aysa, or the plot line, whichever you prefer) has one major flaw that pretty much renders it useless – she never actually comes up with an idea that solves any damn thing in damn time. Most of the things she does come up with via meditation, like the fact that the fire spirit likes to eat tinder (seriously!?), could probably be discovered without sitting there impassively, impressively and impotently.
Tushui and Huojin monks have no differences in actual fighting technique. To be perfectly honest, for most of my first run through it wasn’t immediately apparent to me why, in fact, the two branches existed – it seemed more an individual personality thing than an actual “school” or way of doing. Ji doesn’t come across as THAT impulsive, thanks to the whole go-get-eight-things-while-I-stand-here-where-you-can-find-me thing that MMORPGS are known for. They split decisively anyway when it comes to removing the thorn (a.k.a. the crashed airship*) from the side of the giant turtle that is the Wandering Isle, Shen-zin Su.
The crashed airship is acting as a scab yet is causing Shen-zin Su immense pain as sharp pokey things are wont to do. Ji, who is feeling a great sense of urgency (and who is possibly inspired by Makael Bay’s artistic vision), elects to blow the thing off (out of?) the turtle using explosives.** Crucially, Aysa fails to come up with another possible solution within the available timeframe (a.k.a., “now”). It’s also important to note that while she isn’t comfortable with the method, she agrees to it, having no other ideas to suggest.
While obviously Not Cool with Ji’s choice, Aysa doesn’t frame her objections in a way that makes a case for not lighting the fuse/waiting. “Let’s wait because we don’t know exactly how long this thing’s been here. While he’s no longer swimming STRAIGHT, he IS still swimming” would have been an improvement on “OMFG THIS IS STUPID STOP,” which, yes, is my paraphrasing at work but is pretty close to her actual meaning. It’s unclear what another alternative would have been. Removing the airship piece by piece, perhaps? How would that have been more
humane pandane? That would be like taking your sweet time pulling a tooth.
(p.s., Aysa, let’s do a real basic comparison between the amount of explosives and Shen-zin Su’s size. It might also help to take into account that the blast is near the surface of his shell and not anywhere near any vital organ.)
The ship is blown away with all the success expected of goblin technology, but of course, Shen-zin Su is now bleeding quite dramatically from the wound, which has probably gotten worse from the ship being bombed out of it. As she was unhappy with the extraction method in the first place, Aysa is pissed and is not shy about letting Ji know that she blames him for Shen-zin Su’s suffering. (How about blaming the crashed ship for the wound in the first place? Anybody? Hello?)
I thought there had been enough of an uproar about sexism in Pandaria thanks to the beta version of Ji Firepaw, but everybody apparently missed this instance of it despite its centrality to the story. We had to have something to fracture the tenuous harmony between Tushui and Houjin schools of thought, so why not an emotional, illogical reaction from a woman? It’s especially ironic since she’s supposed to be the “smart” one of the pair. So much for the whole “think first” school! Blame first, think more later.
Up until this point, I hadn’t really cared much either way about Aysa. It was mostly a “Ok, so she’s a master of something, that’s nice. Ok, so Jin’s got a crush on her or something. That’s nice. Eh, I need to go kill more hozen” type of thing. Then this scene came along and definitely flipped my switch. I mean, jeebus! Aren’t the Tushui supposed to be the reasonable ones?
Simply resisting an idea that seems crazy isn’t reasonable, even if there’s obviously no such thing as a gentle explosion. There comes a point where you need the ability to respond to the here and now with something, even if you were unable to consider each and every last consequence of it. Aysa needed to provide a feasible alternative based on the situation before her, but the questline as given never shows us that she’s even thinking about other options. All we see is her immediate and gut reactions to Ji’s decisions and actions.
As you might expect from the fact that I both write too much and write too damn fancy, I am one of those types who spends a huge amount of time thinking and reflecting about things. I like checklists (see: transmog) and I like to plan ahead (see: transmog). But Tushui, the school of thought as epitomized by Aysa, fails as a system of intellectual and emotional development/guidance. Tushui has allowed the state of “thoughtfulness” to become a goal in itself and as a result handicaps its strongest practitioners. In a moment of pressing need, Aysa is unable to develop or apply unorthodox solutions.
While Ji is the one who comes up with the “OMG GET ALL THE HEALERS HERE STAT” idea and quest, it’s worth noting that Aysa hangs around and fights, defending the healers who are closing the wound. She doesn’t run or abandon the situation (even if she doesn’t have any ideas to fix it, either). I give her credit for that.
It boggled me to discover that Aysa’s still upset about this situation to the point of “I’M NOT FORGIVING YOU EVER!” at the end of the zone, when you’re finally able to leave the island with one side or the other. (Also, when did she becomes BFF with Delora Lionheart? I missed that part.)
It’s clear she’s referring to Ji’s “transgression” with the explosives, since nobody else on the entire island got her dander up this whole time. Okay, sure, Ji acted like a stereotypical guy and went for the biggest guns first when maybe we could’ve used less dynamite. Yeah, it’s upsetting to consider that Shen-zin Su was in increased pain that possibly could have been avoided. But 1.) you agreed, 2.) you had no other ideas to offer, and 3.) he resolved the problem by getting a crapton of healers together and telling them to heal the bejeesus outta that wound. Forgive the guy for coming up with a plan, following through and handling the consequences like a pro, at least!
* Seriously guys, that’s like TWO airships this expansion. Can no one drive these things anymore?
** Upon hearing about this, goblins everywhere nodded sagely and noted that a little explosion fixes everything.