If there has been one consistent theme within Cullen Bunn’s fantastic Harrow County series, it is that every time Emmy thinks she has a grasp on things, the world shifts ever so slightly, revealing she knows nothing. Which might be what makes Emmy such a fantastic character to follow: she takes almost every new challenge in stride, always searching for her place within her topsy-turvy world.
This issue finally sheds a little more light on this supposed “family” that has appeared to her. Emmy has been wise to take their claims skeptically, but as Odessa reveals certain truths to her, it becomes clear that while the verdict is still out on whether or not they are family, Emmy’s assumptions about them are at least partially true: these are not nice people. It’s testament to the series that, considering one of the main characters is a boy without any skin, we instantly recognize the man without a face to be dangerous. This is Harrow County, folks.
The series has long foretold that Emmy may be destined to walk down the dark road that Hester previously trod. Emmy herself seems adamant to prove her good-natured innocence, but events within the series seem to be continually backing her into a corner. It’s only a matter of time before she is forced to dig deeper into her own powers, and, through no real fault of her own, may lead her down the road.
Think of it: If the “family” attempts to destroy Harrow County, Emmy will be forced to save it. In doing so, she make accidentally lift herself onto the same pedestal that Hester purposefully erected. If the family decides to attack her, instead, she may be forced to not only plunge into the depths of her own powers, she may use them in a darker way than she ever intended. To paraphrase a famous quote, once you start down a dark path, it’s impossible to come back.
What is most unique in this particular crossroad is that, for the first time, there is no clear right or wrong choice. Bear with me, here. Emmy has within her a tremendous power, and while she is using it for good, she’s certainly in constant danger of slipping through her own clumsy understanding. It would behoove her to get more training and understanding of these powers, and this family, Odessa specifically, might be the only people who can give her that. Though this tutelage comes at the cost of a town.
On the other hand, if she foregoes their offer, she may end up causing more harm than good. Not only would she bring down the wrath of the family — and potentially the scenario laid out above — she might end up falling into Hester’s pitfalls regardless, thus dooming the town to a different fate.
Bunn has had us worried about Emmy, plenty of times, over the course of the series, but this feels like the most dangerous trap into which she has fallen. The family is increasingly backing her into a corner, and I see no way in which she escapes unscathed.