Synopsis: Romanoff and Barnes accept Holt’s invitation. It’s time to get some answers.
Review: “The Carrot and the Stick” by Mikki Kendall and L.L. McKinney is another exposition-heavy setup episode. Holt remains elusive, while our heroes struggle to get their bearings.
A chapter like this would take up a few minutes on TV. One of the joys of audio (and one of the reasons I prefer it) is that in audio psychology and place setting must become the narrative to a greater extent. I no longer process stories for plot or allegory, which are simply the coat hangers in these narrative fashion shows. I know the tropes and thematic rationales for them already, which leaves me free to focus on the character and universe building that the structural elements support.
This episode can be divided into two sections: Natasha and Barnes alone and Natasha and Barnes with Holt. Fortunately, Kendall and McKinney don’t dwell on Natasha’s weakened state. They half sketch rather than wholly paint her nightmares and delirium. Instead, they focus on how wrong-footed our heroes feel after interacting with Holt and how that impacts mission assessment.
The second half of this episode is strengthened by the psychological context established in the first. Holt’s personnel and security measures are granted more depth because our heroes contemplate Holt before their arrival. Additionally, every single security measure is almost gleefully cataloged by the authors at the meta-level, as if to say, “Look at all of our friend Chekhov’s guns.”
That aside, though, I’m now primed and ready for the epic action sequence the authors heavily imply. I appreciate that Natasha isn’t at full strength yet, making things more interesting in the remaining episodes.
Sarah Natochenny builds on the vocal work she’s already done establishing Natasha, Barnes, and Holt. Additionally, listeners can almost hear the glint in her eye as she catalogs all of the obstacles between The Black Widow and The Winter Soldier achieving their goals.
Thanks to Mikki Kendall and L.L. McKinney for another engaging installment. They tantalizingly foreshadow what promises to be an epic showdown.
You can purchase Black Widow: Bad Blood here.
- Audio Production10