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  1. I think that was the first proposed system, which they intended as a non-ideal compromise that would allow them to save at least a good chunk of humanity. Once Shawn rejected even that, they decided to try to propose something they actually believed in, which was a system in which everyone who didn't qualify for TGP right off the bat (so, in effect, everyone) would get endless chances to improve.
  2. I agree that they're kind of ducking the question of what ultimately happens to the worst of the worst, though they at least obliquely addressed it by suggesting that the punishment would be targeted to severity of crime; presumably, Hitler's going to get something a lot closer to conventional torture than Chidi, who would get something closer to the original neighborhood. But I think the problem with your solution is that it is still too blunt an instrument: Brent is an ass who has caused genuine harm to people, but even if he hadn't had his eleventh-hour maybe revelation in that single year, it seems disproportionate to punish him with horrific physical tortures for eternity.
  3. I take your point on torture vs. non-Existence vs. torture vs. life, but as we saw when Shawn rejected that compromise, the team still had more moves in their arsenal. They proposed this option before the "if he's going to reject a reasonable compromise, let's go for actual justice." Which means they were offering themselves for eternal torment before they had exhausted all other options. In S2, are you referring to when the four of them decided to be judged together (which was, as the Judge said, frankly insane)? If so, I think that was different, because though it was indeed an insane risk on any objective terms, that was a matter of excessive optimism and/or human sentimentality. There was still the chance they'd all pass - just less of one. This was certain torture. Which Eleanor had agreed to before, namely in the season one episodes before she knew they were in the Bad Place. But in that case, I think it was presented differently: Eleanor was dealing with a one to one tradeoff where she could only avoid the punishment that was actually supposed to be hers by foisting it off on an innocent person. Far more concrete than this situation, and a case in which greater moral logic applies. Eleanor "knows" she is less deserving than real Eleanor, whereas here, none of them think they deserve the punishment or that they are any less valuable than any random other person one could name.
  4. Honestly, after loving the last few episodes, I was a little disappointed with this one. Still loved the small touches - including, of course, Timothy Olyphant, though as a non-watcher of Justified I know I couldn't fully appreciate it -- but had serious issues with the big picture. First, and probably most significantly, I really don't buy Sean's about-face. Sean and Michael existed for a long, long time before they became best enemies. And now we're supposed to believe he'll agree to essentially ending the bad place--meaning that Michael wins--because he's bored? Absent a real change of heart, I don't see it, and while an individual bad Janet, or a hapless demon henchman like Glenn having a moral crisis is one thing; we really haven't seen evidence of a softer side for Sean. Even on a show about redemption, this seems like a step too far. I'd rather they just had the judge go with Chidi's plan without needing Sean's agreement, which didn't make much sense anyway. She's supposed to be deciding between them, not brokering a compromise. Another issue is that as much as the gang has changed, I'm not sure that I find it authentic that all four would offer themselves up for a lifetime of torture in return for the rest of humanity -- and at the very least, that if they were going to go that route, the offer needed to be treated with a lot more gravity, and with less of a sense that this was simply the logical and natural thing for good, redeemed people to do. I guess what bothers me is that I like this show best when it is about ordinary, flawed people becoming better. Having these four offer this kind of sacrifice would put them up there with (if not beyond, given that we're talking eternity here) the most selfless people in the history of humanity. And for me, half the point of this show is that you shouldn't have to be that in order to be entitled to, if not the good place, than something a lot closer to it than Sean's domain. This ties into a problem I had with the show's treatment of Simone. Chidi's willingness to risk himself for Brent was undoubtedly noble. But...I don't think Simone deserves to be dismissed, let alone vilified, for refusing to risk her eternal existence for an admittedly pretty lousy person who brought a lot of his problems on himself. In the end, Chidi broke up with a woman he supposedly loved because she wasn't capable of rising to what would have been an extraordinary standard of heroism. That's pretty harsh. Again, I'm not saying that what Chidi did in going to save Brent- and what the whole gang was doing in this episode -- wasn't the right decision, ethically speaking. I think it was. But it isn't actually one I think most people are capable of making, and it isn't one I necessarily want all four members of the Soul Squad to be capable of making either. The transformation of an Arizona trashbag to a girl from Arizona was sublime enough without having her to also be St. Eleanor of Phoenix.
  5. I don't actually think there's a single jump the shark moment on this show, because the issue wasn't the show going seriously OTT, it was the lack of emotional continuity. Even most of the "poor Regina" moments wouldn't have been so bad in isolation - the problem was that accepting the character and emotional logic the show was trying to sell required ignoring tons of previous context, occasionally context provided within the very same episode. I actually think the reason the show was able to remain so relatively successful for so long is that casual or new viewers, who weren't well-versed in things like just how very awful Regina had been or all of the passages in the Belle/Rumple relationship, could simply accept the narrative the show was pushing at any given moment. It was only the die-hards who couldn't get over pesky little details like that time when Regina massacred a village who couldn't buy it - and we were too invested in certain characters to quit!
  6. I don't think it makes you a horrible person, or, frankly, different from anyone else on this forum, since what you're describing is very human. Where I part from you is in thinking that this creates a parallel between you and Regina. Past a certain point, differences that might on their face be seen as just differences in scale, in my opinion, become differences in kind as well. Let's take the example of theft. I think it is reasonable to draw an analogy between fairly petty theft - or even things like illegal streaming -- and theft of more expensive items. Yes, you're going to be punished more harshly for grand theft auto than for shoplifting but conceptually, both involve disregard for the property rights of another. The person who shoplifts might well be willing to steal the Ferrari if he thought he could get away with it. On the other hand, I don't think we can draw a line between theft and someone who bilks loads of people out of their fortunes by running a Ponzi Scheme. Sure, it is arguably just theft on an even grander scale, but I don't think the logic of "Hey, I like that watch so I'm going to take it. It isn't fair that some people have so much more money than I do anyway" is comparable to the logic of "I'm building up relationships of trust with people over the course of years, while knowing that my actions will eventually bankrupt them." One requires selfishness and maybe some resentment, the other has passed into what I would consider sociopathy. Yup, when people are hurting, it is natural, if ugly, to sometimes take it out on others, and even to want others to experience some of your own pain. And yes, part of the reason Regina is more destructive than the average person with these feelings is simply that she has the power to be more destructive. But first of all, most of us - except in petty and perhaps subconscious ways like maybe being rude to other people -- stop short of actually taking steps to actively harm others, even to the small extent we are capable. Yes, if a person loses her job, she might actually be kind of glad when a friend loses hers as well. If a new employer calls her as a reference, she might even wind up being less generous than she otherwise might, if not subtly undermining. Maybe she does this subconsciously, and maybe she does it consciously, but finds a way of justifying it to herself: "Well, I have to be honest. Julie really is late to work occasionally, and though she was good enough at her job, I don't know that I'd call her an excellent employee. It isn't like I said anything that wasn't true, or said anything so bad that she might not still get the job. And if not, I can't be blamed for honesty." And that isn't attractive, or kind, but you can do it and still be a generally compassionate and decent human being. That's qualitatively different from, say, calling Julie's boss to falsely accuse her of financial malfeasance because you want everyone to be as unhappy as you are. Especially if, you know, she winds up being criminally prosecuted for it. Doing that is well beyond ordinary human fallibility, even allowing for the corrosive effects of power. I'd also point out that a) Regina didn't just do this for a while after Daniel's death, she lashed out for years and b) that she did this even when she had a lot of objective advantages and privilege in life. I'm not saying that any of them negate the pain of Daniel's death, or growing up with Cora, but a morally normal person is able to maintain at least a modicum of perspective in assessing her situation in comparative terms. First of all, in the context of the world Regina lives in, while her mother killing her fiancé is still horrible, it isn't any kind of singular tragedy; as depicted, life in the EF is pretty grim for most people. Extreme poverty, violent deaths, unjust imprisonment - these are facts of life in the EF. Secondly, Regina has tons of other things going for her. Maybe her marriage with Leo - freely entered into, I might add -- wasn't a love match, but she was queen, living in a palace. Once she had killed Leo, she was solely in charge of a kingdom. That's a position that gave her a lot of agency in bettering her life in productive ways; instead, she continues acting as if - and presumably feeling as if - she is the most unfortunate and injured person in the history of humankind. After the curse, her behavior becomes even less understandable. Regina has gotten literally everything she has been working for. It is understandable that that doesn't make her instantly happy and fulfilled. But she has a comfortable life, tons of power and, eventually, a son to love and raise. Even if she wasn't going to give up on the curse, you'd think this would be a moment to acknowledge "I've won; I've gotten my revenge; now I can work for my own happiness rather than sadistically hurting others." But from what we can see, she remains just as committed to causing pain as ever, even when it isn't necessary to maintaining her design. We don't know much of what she's been doing before Emma comes to town, but everything we see suggests that, in this reduced context, she's still finding ways of exerting petty power over everyone, including her own son. This isn't a relatable extension of normal feelings.
  7. I agree with your psychological reasoning, except for the fact - as is often the case with Regina and her supposed redemption -- that the response was just so severe and prolonged. Regina lashing out at Snow in preference to blaming herself? Sure. Regina is actually more culpable for being manipulated by Cora than a ten-year old child, but Regina can't own up to that so she takes out her rage at herself at Snow. But...that simply can't account for literally decades of gleeful violence directed at many, many more people than Snow, in many, many different situations and contexts. Or, to the extent that it can, it at least can't do so while making Regina a remotely sympathetic character. A relatively well-adjusted young woman, even one with some very real mommy issues, does not become a total psychopathic killer because of a single tragedy, no matter how horrific. Frankly, I'm not sure if any backstory would have been enough to credibly make Regina sympathetic to me given the extent of her crimes. They would have had to dial down the pure evil by at least 30 % or so to have a chance; this is a woman who sent children to their deaths on the off-chance that one of them might prove useful to her in her revenge campaign against Snow, and raped a subordinate for years before killing him out of jealousy. This is also the woman who was a severe and emotionally distant mother to Henry even apart from her gaslighting of him, and who was miserable to Emma even when she simply thought she was a random Muggle and not Snow's daughter the Savior. But for there to be a chance, she would have to have had a truly horrific backstory to come close to explaining the sheer breadth and extent of her actions. I mean, there are, sadly, tons of real life people who have experienced atrocities - the murder of their entire families in a genocide, being sold into sex slavery --, and very few of them have wound up becoming remorseless mass murderers.
  8. Since Paradise Lost came up last season, I've been wondering if the show wasn't inspired by another famous quote from the poem: "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, or a hell of heaven." Now, I don't think that's quite true in TGP universe -- penis flatteners would make it difficult to make The Bad Place into a heaven -- but I wouldn't be surprised with an ending where, essentially, almost everyone wound up in some version of The Medium Place, with the understanding that people who proved capable of improvement would wind up making a good life for themselves there, whereas the less redeemable would wind up making life in TMP its own kind of hell. I've also wondered, since the revelation about TGP, whether Mindy St. Clair and her situation are what they appear to be. Because Mindy being a special case made sense when we still believed people were actually being admitted to the Good Place, but if no one has gotten in in 500 years, Mindy's Medium Place compromise would imply Mindy has been the best person in centuries, which doesn't track. Maybe this is just a case of the show not having known exactly where it was going when Mindy was invented, but it seems at least worth considering that there's something else afoot. Was Mindy someone else's experiment as to whether or not a generally lousy person with some good impulses could improve? Does Mindy exist at all, or is she a suit for some demon/angel/deity who has adopted the Medium Place ruse for the purpose of keeping a closer eye on...someone or something?
  9. I hate this episode so much. If the show had actually set up a scenario in which there was actually plausible reason to believe that Snow and Charming raising Emma would put all of Storybrook in real danger, I might have bought them making this painful choice. But that only works if there is - and I can't emphasize this enough - real and credible danger, not a vague and undefined possibility of things having a better chance of working out. We're back to Neal leaving Emma and setting her up because August told him - with no explanation or justification - that it was necessary for breaking the curse. That didn't make sense then, and it doesn't make sense now. Only now, it is worse, because at least Bae was at least sometimes portrayed as in the wrong for that decision, and there's in any case a lot of room for ascribing unconscious ulterior motivations for his choice, i.e, fear of getting drawn back into the magical world and, with it, a confrontation with Rumple. With Snow and Charming, their decision makes as little sense, but their choice is presented unequivocally as the good and noble thing to do. In fact, it makes less sense, because Snow and Charming weren't blindsided by this. They had an original plan for dealing with the curse in which Snow WAS going to raise Emma. That is precisely what would have happened if Snow had gone into labor just a little bit later. Yet ten years later, Charming and Snow, with all of their memories and no reliable new information, except for the unsupported, unexplained assertions of a highly unreliable source, decide that Emma has to be alone to be the savior. I mean...why? What in the prophecy stipulates that Emma has to be separated from her family? Even if the prophecy is contingent -- i.e, Emma is the only one who can save them, but she isn't inevitably destined to save them, if she doesn't rise to the challenge -- there is no reason to think that the scenario in which Emma is a foster-kid who thinks her parents abandoned her is more likely to lead to her becoming the savior than a scenario in which she is reclaimed by her parents at age ten, knows who she is, winds up (likely) better adjusted, and has been prepared for her crucial role. Literally none. A reasonable person would in fact predict that a kid who was, you know, raised to this would be more likely to fulfill her role than someone totally in the dark. This is all especially dumb when we add in the Season 4 mess with Emma and Lily. Snow and Charming were told that Emma was now free of darkness if they made sure to raise her right. So, not only are they abandoning their ten year old, they are abandoning a ten year old that they believe has great capacity for darkness if not given proper care on the logic that this will somehow make her more likely to be the Savior. Just insultingly bad writing. And to add insult to injury, the show doesn't even frame the stakes of the choice fairly, as Snow and Charming glimpse child Emma in what seems to have been a rare moment of relative stability and peace, when we know that isn't at all representative of her childhood. If you're going to have them make the choice, at least acknowledge that they're abandoning their daughter to misery.
  10. Yeah, this episode is bizarre. Like, let's accept the premise that "our" Regina has had a perfectly handled redemption arc. Even so, if we're supposed to believe that the Evil Queen is a manifestation of her darkest impulses - well, then the EQ shouldn't be redeemable, because she is literally Regina with all of the good parts taken out. I mean, this isn't a nature vs. nurture thing; if it were somehow possible to extract only the most negative parts of a personality, you're not going to wind up with a good and functional human being. Some people's dark selves would be worse than others, but if you are selecting for precisely for qualities like anger and removing qualities like compassion, that simply isn't going to add up to someone redeemable. It is going to add up to a sociopath. Which, as y'all know, I think regular Regina, as depicted in many of her scenes, essentially is, but even if I didn't, that's how they're framing the process that produced TEQ redux. And, of course, as usual, this is magnified by the fact that the show is so wildly inconsistent about it. I might side-eye it anyway, but there are shows that could maybe get away with a Polly-annaish message about even the dark self being redeemable. But this is the same show where we spent half a season on "Oh noes, Emma has darkness inside her" and then another half season of "Dark One Emma is the worst person ever," even though Emma, teenage thief backstory notwithstanding, had never shown herself to be anything but a pretty decent and at times incredibly noble person, and even DO Emma's greatest crimes were a)controlling Violet's heart for about a minute to make Henry cry over (temporarily) lost puppy love and b) trying to kill a serial killer for her own and the greater good. And yet, surprise surprise, we did not get a story about how Dark Emma just needed to learn to love herself. And even a show that could theoretically get away with the more Polly-annish path really couldn't do so without being pretty disgusting if the "dark self" - not to mention the integrated prime self -- was a literal, long-unrepentant mass murderer. It is morally outrageous that we're supposed to cheer for the EQ learning to love herself and running merrily off with her boyfriend and not think about her (conservatively) scores of victims. The EQ/Regina shouldn't have loved herself, because she was an awful person who killed countless lives. There might be a path back where you work to atone for your crimes, insofar as it is possible, and eventually get to a place where you can like the person you've become. But forgive me if I can't cheer for the self-actualization of a genocidal maniac. Oh, and it makes no sense that Regina prime manifests no meaningful change despite having removed the darkness. So...the EQ is dark Regina, who is pretty much indistinguishable from past Regina, while "good" Regina is no different from S5 Regina.
  11. Oh, this episode. You were doing so well before that last scene. Shanna has detailed why it is dumb from a logistical perspective (Hook flaunts his crimes, rather than hiding them; there's no reason for Hook to be there at all; if he wants Robert dead, he shouldn't have saved him in the first place, etc), but I'm more concerned about how bad it is from an emotional perspective. Yes, I get that "I killed your father/grandfather" isn't generally the kind of thing you just say "my bad" about and move on. So, in emotional terms, it should theoretically work as a conflict. But in the first place, we have the background in which these people are best buddies with Regina, who killed Snow's father, among a host of others. So even if Hook feels terrible about what he did, as he should, it doesn't work for the show to try to wring serious drama out of it, as there's never any doubt that this is something he'll be forgiven for, as every other villain has been repeatedly forgiven. This is especially true when you add in his more recent history of saving Charming and his loved ones one multiple occasions. But more than that, it is an idiotic conflict for the show to raise now. Hook has proven himself again and again. David has gone to pretty much literal hell to save him. He and Emma are confirmed true love. That doesn't mean that a bombshell like this -- at least in a show that didn't feature everyone being besties with Regina -- wouldn't, in real life, still generate real emotional turmoil. But it simply isn't interesting to watch. For comparison, there are occasions in which, tragically, a person suffers multiple losses of loved ones in a short time period. And, naturally, they're going to grieve for each of them. But if I'm writing a family drama, I'm not going to have my character lose his mother in the first half of season 1, and his sister in the second and his father in season 2, because that would be repeating the same emotional beats over and over again. Similarly, Hook did something terrible/we can't trust Hook/actually now he's a hero and a good man is a plot that has been thoroughly played out by now. If the show had to do this plot, they should have made David and Hook together experience the memory of Hook killing his father (ideally in less stupid circumstances). David's immediate, hot-blooded impulse might have been to kill Hook, who wouldn't fight it. Then he calms down, and tells Hook something along the lines of "I know you've changed. And it isn't like I didn't know you had killed before, or that you're the only person in this town with a lot to atone for. That one of the people you killed is my father doesn't change who you were, and who you've become. But Killian, you have to talk to Emma. Not to tell her that you killed one of the grandfathers she never knew, but to really tell her about your past, so that she can confront what it means to be with someone who has done so much bad." Then, while the viewer wouldn't have had to hear most of the confession, we could end with Hook talking to Emma. Emma, in the next episode, forgives him but tells him she needs a little time to process all of this - emphasizing that she is not rejecting him --, but Hook in the interim decides to go off on another quest to prove himself. This would create a dramatic scenario and give pretext for delaying the Captain Swan resolution while staying true to the characters and the show, and without cheap attempts to wring false tension out of more lies and deceit.
  12. For me, the Author/Book plot is way worse, both because of what it did to the characters and the sheer level of world-bending lack of logic. The Savior retcon is dumb, but essentially, it is a baked over but more or less inoffensive Chosen One story. Hero is chosen, hero must sacrifice herself - it's all very paint by numbers. With a little more thought, the writers could even have mitigated some of the inconsistencies (i.e,revealed that there had been a second prophecy about Emma, rather than going with the "in every generation there is a Slayer" nonsense). Or, given the frequency of prophecies in traditional fairytales, it could have been revealed that the "saviors" of various prophecies nearly always met bad ends once their destinies had been fulfilled. I also think that, illogical as it was, given the explanation we did get, the idea of Rumple's mother thwarting his savior destiny was clever and potentially interesting -- had Rumple himself not been so thoroughly ruined as a character by that point. The Author/Book plot, on the other hand, marked the point at which the show reached the true point of no return with Regina's arc, and started warping all the other characters to serve it. The show was already on really thin ice in trying to redeem Regina at all after depicting her consistently as a sociopath in S1 and then having her fall back into genocidal plotting in S2, but with a little forgetfulness and suspension of disbelief, I could accept her as a grudging member of Team Hero in 3A. 3B was worse, as it went heavy on the Regina pity-party, made her improbably chummy with Snowing, and glorified her more than she deserved with the Henry TLK, but it wasn't irreversible. Once she spent a season convinced that some meanie author had prevented her from getting her happy ending by writing the complete and utter truth about her, however, she was past saving. And that all the other "good" characters backed her in her asinine plan just showed how little the show actually cared about any of those people anymore. Plus, the idea of the author raised an existential bombshell that no one seemed interested in addressing. Like, if all of these characters accept that there is an author who might have the power to influence their actions, aren't they a tad concerned about what that means re: free will? Are people in the LWOM also subject to the whims of some other storyteller, or is that just for the fairy-tale folk -- and if it is the latter, are these people in some respects less real than people who weren't being controlled by an author? Yeah, we eventually find out that the author isn't supposed to interfere, but for much of the season, the characters are taking it as a given that the Author is controlling Regina's destiny, and it doesn't seem to bother anyone except on the level of "Oh noes, we must get Regina her happy ending!"
  13. In fairness, in this case, I think Liam really was confronting extraordinary temptation in a no-win situation. I can buy him as a generally good man who did a terrible thing under great pressure, as opposed to certain other killers I've named many other times before. The issue I have is that if Killian and Liam were going to meet, it would have been a lot more interesting for them to have Killian and Liam have to come to terms with Killian's dark past than to reveal a previously unknown crime in Liam's backstory.
  14. This arc is a major reason I just couldn't continue with my rewatch. Because in some respects, season 5 was a return to form after a dreadful 4B. A lot of the ideas are genuinely interesting, both from a character and plot perspective; I think the twist with Hook being a dark one - even if it was a little illogical - really worked. But the moral scales are so woefully unbalanced that I simply can't enjoy it. Emma isn't justified in everything she does. But her "evil" deeds - especially in the context of a world in which so many arch-villains have now been accepted as part of team hero -- aren't nearly as bad as they're being portrayed, and I agree that, if the other characters were being written like actual human beings, other people would have agreed with her. It is one thing for Snowing or Henry to be horrified by DO Emma's Slytherin-esque plotting, but her idea of killing one villain for the greater good should have been taken a lot more seriously than it was. It hearkens back to season 2 and the unanimous horror at her suggestion that just maybe letting mass-murderer Regina die to save the town that she herself had imperiled was a better option than hoping for the best. That's on top of the absolute unfairness of her situation. I get that life can be unfair. But it isn't always, and it screams of manipulation when a show repeatedly punishes its hero for doing heroic things and blames her for acting like a human in impossible situations while simultaneously letting other characters off the hook for egregious crimes. Worse, it simply isn't enjoyable to watch.
  15. The thing is, I often like the move from "Good vs Evil" to "Its Complicated." The issue here is that it wasn't actually complicated at all. EQ era Regina was written as a narcissistic sociopath who actively enjoyed causing people pain whether or not it was necessary to her goals. While she had legitimately suffered in the past (abusive mom, Daniel's murder), that suffering was laughably inadequate as a meaningful explanation for her crimes; there was never a sense of "Well, obviously she's doing terrible things, but I can understand how a fundamentally decent person might be twisted into this under the circumstances." This is especially true given the horror show that is the backstory of most characters on the show. Compounding it is the fact that her life was, for pretty much the entire period of her reign, one of extraordinary power and privilege, and one that left her with tons of agency. Within the "present day" timeframe, Regina is the acknowledged villain of season one, and in that capacity is as sociopathic as she is in her flashbacks. She reverts to form in the second half of season 2, and as late as season 4 is doing things like contemplating murder as a solution to her sads. Inexplicably, we are asked to sympathize with her throughout this. To compensate, the show then has to drag down other characters. But the showrunners consistently demonstrate a warped sense of both context and proportion. Sometimes, they frame legitimate acts of self-defense or moments of righteous anger as atrocity and darkness. In other cases, they have heroes do legitimately bad and sometimes OOC things, but even beyond the character assassination of it all, it doesn't work because even the worst actions by the "heroes" don't hold a candle to Regina's crimes. Like, Snowing were dead wrong to do what they did to Lily, but there's simply no comparison for an isolated, selfish action taken guiltily on behalf of one's own child and a parade of gleefully performed atrocities. The reason, I think, that the show wound up being commercially successful in spite of this is that casual viewers - the vast majority of any audience -- generally accept the narrative being presented on screen at any given moment. They may not even have seen every other episode, and certainly haven't watched them twice or pored over them on internet forums. So, if the show is being written as if Regina is redeemed and has a sympathetic past and is now worthy of being a member of team hero - or, you know, Queen of the world -- the casual viewer isn't going to go "Wait, that's a total retcon." They may question the morals of individual episodes, or sometimes have a "Why are Regina and Snow suddenly besties?" reaction, but it isn't going to become the show-killer it is for more attentive viewers.
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