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SilverStormm

Cassandra Cillian: Math Girl

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I don't want her to go into a shame spiral, but I wish she'd recognize that the impact of her choices was big enough that she should acknowledge it.

 

I'm struggling not to dislike this character, because I loved Leverage immoderately, and they dealt with characters who weren't upright really beautifully. I don't think they're dealing with Cassandra beautifully.

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Moved from the episode thread:

But she also did apologize and then used her one chance to save herself to save someone else and yet no one is acknowledging that.  Cassandra did a bad thing and is trying to make up for it but bringing it up over and over again is tacky. in my opinion at least.   Now if she still showed that behavior which she isn't that's another matter.  She isn't Ezekiel Jones who hasn't shown any character growth at all and is showing the same behavior since episode one.  He is still the same selfish ass he always was.  Cassandra made a mistake a horrible terrible bad mistake but it was just a mistake.  

 

I feel this is partly due to the episodes being out of order.  It's jarring to have them okay with her one episode and then the next have her whining to Stone about when he'll trust her.  I could see them being angry and bringing it up over and over again when the anger was still fresh and slowly letting it go throughout the season but since we've been jumping around so have their moods.  It would be interesting to watch the season in the correct order and see how the relationships were supposed to evolve.  

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I'm interested that people are remembering it that way, because I remember her saying that the serpent brotherhood offered to help her, and she didn't realize they were evil (which, if true, makes her a bit slow), but I don't remember her saying that even if both of those things were true, neither was anything approaching an excuse and she was sorry.

 

I guess I'll have to rewatch when work slows down.

Edited by Julia

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I'm interested that people are remembering it that way, because I remember her saying that the serpent brotherhood offered to help her, and she didn't realize they were evil (which, if true, makes her a bit slow), but I don't remember her saying that even if both of those things were true, neither was anything approaching an excuse and she was sorry.

I guess I'll have to rewatch when work slows down.

The apology might not have been said in words. I don't know. But when you have a terminal illness and get handed the magic cure and still use it to save a friend I say whatever you did before gets a pass.

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If Dulaque or Lamia had walked up to Cassandra and said, "Hi, we're with the Serpent Brotherhood; we want to bring magic back to destroy technology and by the way, we'll be controlling the magic, wanna help?  We'll fix your brain" then Cassandra would have to be pretty slow to go along with them.  I doubt they mentioned the Serpent Brotherhood name, their stated goal was to return magic to the world and Cassandra saw for herself that the Library was hiding magic away.  It's one thing to say she shouldn't have trusted Dulaque, but why then should she trust Flynn and Baird?  She didn't see "hero" stamped on their foreheads.

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If, perhaps, they hadn't been twirling their mustaches quite so hard, or if she hadn't seen Lamia stab Flynn when she could have knocked him out.

 

I mean, it's possible for someone to be that dumb, but it doesn't seem to fit the rest of the character.

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if she hadn't seen Lamia stab Flynn when she could have knocked him out

 

By that time, she had already let the Serpent Brotherhood into the library.  And Lamia stabbing Flynn was excessive, but she stopped short of killing him outright.  So there's room to believe that the Serpent Brotherhood isn't evil, if you're so inclined.

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By that time, she had already let the Serpent Brotherhood into the library.  And Lamia stabbing Flynn was excessive, but she stopped short of killing him outright.  So there's room to believe that the Serpent Brotherhood isn't evil, if you're so inclined.

Precisely. And since she continued to cooperate with them past that point, I'd say that it's unreasonable to ask anyone to rely on either her moral compass or her insight into human nature when she has a personal interest in the outcome.

Edited by Julia
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I finally realized why I don't like her character. She reminds me of Angel's Fred.

 

I've been thinking of her as Amy Acker "lite".

 

My people!  I realized the same thing, and yes, it's a lot of the reason I don't like Cassandra.

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I had no idea Lindy was 35--I thought she was much younger.  Maybe that's why they dress her like that?  To make her character appear younger?

 

I definitely warmed up to Cassandra by the finale.  Either they dialed down the Fredness (for lack of a better word) or I got used to it.  Either way, it's been few weeks since I yelled at her through the TV.  And I was fully prepared to be annoyed by alternate-timeline Cassandra because judging by the promos I thought she'd be full-on evil complete with mustache twirling (or whatever the female version of that is).  I'm glad they didn't go that route.

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I liked that since in the alt timeline she'd been fighting the bad guys for 10 years she seemed older.  I think the character in her regular timeline is supposed to be grad student age so I don't have a real problem with her dressing young.  I also like to think they chose to write Cassandra as Prince Charming becuase she secretly likes women as emplied by the way she told Eve she never thought of her as a mother. It is probably just tongue in cheek but hey you never know. 

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I guess if she had gotten the letter inviting her to the library ten years ago she would have been old enough to accept a job--at least 18--making her around 28 now.  Unless her being a genius made her appropriate for the job at a younger age.  I'm not sure if they ever explained how the library chooses the potential librarians.  Can a smart-enough high school student be a candidate?

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Apparently Ezekiel Jones got the letter when still a teenager, although it wasn't his brains that made him interesting.  So it seems possible.

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I started watching the show for her, since I was told in the Unpopular Opinions topic that she is "Amy Acker-lite" and that I will like her if I like Root. Ok, this latter was totally false advertising, since Cassandra is an annoying, infantile Quirky Girl twit. And then I realized it: it's not that the show runners were going for the Amy Acker type with the casting or acting, that was just a coincidence via Angel's Fred.

 

Cassandra was supposed to be the Whedon character type. Blatantly. She is like Fred, but also exactly like Willow Rosenberg, and even a bit like River Tam, as much as it was possible to cram in 10 episodes. I am rewatching the early seasons of BtVS and the forum comments about Cassandra's wardrobe? Willow's early style, just updated for 20 years later. Like Willow, she is the genki genius geek girl who gets the magic upgrade, and, like Willow, we see 2 other versions of her: under the influence of the Apple (Dark Willow-lite, very lite) and alt-Universe Cassandra (seemingly bisexual, like VampWillow, but so, so boring). I like Willow a lot, even in these early seasons, but Cassandra really, really annoys me pretty much all the time. Now, Whedon's writing is simply better, but it's not just that: Cassandra is the high school Willow; season 4 Willow, just a college freshman, is no longer like this. Cassandra must be older, but still acts 16. Just. no.

 

On second thought, the deal breaker with Cassandra is actually how exaggerated she is: she doesn't just have a quirky mind, a quirky perception of the world (literally, due to her tumor), a quirky way of socially interacting, quirky voice... she also has the quirky (and inexplicable) clothes and extremely quirky, cutesy, hyper, off-putting gestures and she speaks very quickly! Everything is dialed all the way up in most of her scenes. Except when she acts comparatively normal in more serious scenes where her shtick doesn't fit the mood. But that's not really how it works, it is? People don't flip a switch to change their behavior unless they are assuming a different persona, which obviously the actress is, but Cassandra is not supposed to. I found it really grating.

Edited by Crim
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Excellent analysis, Crim.  I can't think of anything to add.

 

I just wish she'd go away and take Ezekiel with her.  I hate grown women acting all cutesy-wootsy.  The show would be much better without them.

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I'm not holding out for her acknowledging with her big girl words that she was responsible for even the damage she did to the world after she saw her cool new friends gut stab an unarmed man. I just want the clouds of faerie dust to stop obscuring the other characters

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Exactly! I hate the way she acted all hurt because those big fat meanieheads didn't immediately wuv her. Then they all forgot what she did. If I'd been there, I'd have taken her out to the woods and put a bullet in her brain.

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What I find funny is the same actress played a ditsy but occasionally insightful secretary in the show Relic Hunter which, as per the title, was about tracking down magical artifacts. 

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I hated how she acted all hurt after what she did, I do like Stone's response when she asked what she was

suppose to do and he answers 'Not sell us out' although I like to think he added a few cuss words and other

things. Yes, she sold them out, got Flynn stabbed, is the reason magic was released into the world. But no

somehow in her big brain she can't figure out why they were mad at her. If she had tried to make up for

it the episodes that follow it would be something. But nope she was all sad for her. No more acknowledgement

that she is the reason things are bad. I just can't get passed that. There's also a weird part before the library

got breached when she was the one who asked Flynn what happens when he died.  

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No more acknowledgement that she is the reason things are bad. I just can't get passed that.

This is a writing failing more than a character one though. IMO there was very little follow-up on the Cassandra situation because the show is too light and comedic to dwell on serious matters. For example, I found the Apple episode another case of "wtf, this is it? they just move on?" because, except for Stone, their dark side was something that would give me pause in a team - yeah, Cassandra again, but also Ezekiel being "already the worst version of himself" was treated as a fun punchline, and then they let him work as a Librarian unsupervised. That's just this show. That's all it wants to be, so yeah.

I just wish she'd go away and take Ezekiel with her.

Yes! Sadly, if only Cassandra were gone, the show would still be unwatchable for me, but add Ezekiel and we might be getting somewhere.

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She didn't see that -- she was escorted from the room before it happened.

 

Not how I remember it, but I'm not going to rewatch. Change my objection to she was still happy to work with her mustache-twirling friends after their stormtroopers looted and trashed a library, and she's still never said anything to suggest that she did anything worse than have her innocence betrayed.

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You say looted, they say liberated.  Since Cassandra's next scene showed her seeking assurance from Dulac that he would share magic with the world, and she was pretty much under guard the rest of the time, I'm not convinced "happy" is the right word for her attitude toward them.

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You say looted, they say liberated. Since Cassandra's next scene showed her seeking assurance from Dulac that he would share magic with the world, and she was pretty much under guard the rest of the time, I'm not convinced "happy" is the right word for her attitude toward them.

I also say trashed :)

Do I think she chose to ignore consequences? Yeah. Do I think she tried for a little ex post facto cosmetic reassurance before she moved on to the next step in selling knowledge (which, you'll recall, she's bitter about, because it failed her) out to evil? Sure.

Has she shown any meaningful remorse, to the point of acknowledging that she was not merely the abused victim of her coconspirators, other than changing sides specifically because her partners in crime didn't pay off? Not so much, really. Does she have self-righteous rationalizations for that in which her actions were reasonable and obvious and morally upright? Sure.

Is there an argument for trusting that person? Not really, JMO. Did the show really try to make one, other than that it hurt her fee-fees not to be trusted? There again, not really, although they showed the hardboiled national security ninja of the team being surprisingly open to the fee-fee argument.

I'm agnostic on whether she's darling. I don't think so, but even if made well, it's not an argument I find compelling. And the tower of improbable virtues didn't help.

I'd be open to her as someone who needed to pull her head out of wherever she keeps it and grow some empathy and a conscience. But Sophie Devereaux, who was a career criminal and a bit of a sociopath (and much as I loved her, also dressed a little freakishly), managed to admit that she had no good defence and hint that she was s-s-s-orr... for selling her crew out in season one of Leverage. Cassandra the sparklewoob could have done the same for selling out the entire world.

All reactions JMO, obviously.

Edited by Julia
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After seeing so many comments about Cassandra's wardrobe, it cracked me up to see a young colleague show up at holiday party dressed just like her. It's not just an affectation of the character, it's a real thing. Especially the tights and shorts. 

 

I'm so distracted by the incongruity in her age. To my eye, Cassandra physically looks like Lindy Booth's age (mid-30s), but her mannerisms and dress look 10 years younger. I can't tell what age we're supposed to read her as, if she's supposed to be improbably young or if the brain grape stunted her emotional growth or what.

 

Have we ever been told her age definitively? I assume the character is supposed to be late 20s, going on 30 if she got the Library's invitation 10 years ago. If I recall correctly (no promises!) she said in the pilot she didn't show for her interview because that's when the brain grape appeared. And she just said in the college episode that she didn't get to do college because of the brain grape. So my best guess is that happened around 18 and she was called then. Which doesn't seem realistic, but ok. (Yes, AGE is what I can't handwave in a show about magic...)

 

Ezekiel has the opposite problem. We assume at least mid-20s for him if he was called as a teen, but the actor was only 20 when the show started. Ezekiel definitely reads like a 22 year old, not a day older.

 

Not sure why this distracts me so much! 

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I think my problem with the clothes isn't so much that the style is really silly (even when it's my twenty year old college student, which it frequently is) as that she's supposed to have been dropped like a hot rock by her parents when she couldn't reflect well on them any more,* and she's been working crappy minimum wage jobs for the insurance for the decade since. Even if she had the money to buy an endless supply of two hundred dollar outfits at Anthropologie, where on earth would she have worn them?

And my experience of crappy subsistence jobs is that they don't tend to leave you as innocent as when you took them.

*although the ADA was already in place ten years ago so it's not as if they could have kept her out of college.

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I didn't remember that her family booted her, good to know! Her entire manner -- not just wardrobe -- is that of someone coddled and moneyed, not someone who's been scraping by for a decade. And since I overlooked that crucial detail, I read her youthfulness as having been sheltered from the real world due to the brain grape. Since that's not the case, this is a big disconnect in characterization. 

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Cassandra was probably ready for college before she turned 18.

 

I don't think her parents necessarily disowned her so much as they lost interest in her, and her symptoms made her unreliable for other kinds of work.  It's only this season that she's had conscious control over her synesthesia, and that only after working with the team on managing it last season.

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Cassandra was probably ready for college before she turned 18.

 

I don't think her parents necessarily disowned her so much as they lost interest in her, and her symptoms made her unreliable for other kinds of work.  It's only this season that she's had conscious control over her synesthesia, and that only after working with the team on managing it last season.

You could be right, although I think if she was sporadically unable to function, they wouldn't have had her working around patients in a hospital. The impression I got, though, was that they dumped her, and I don't remember her saying otherwise specifically.

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I think the clothing Cassandra wears is Lindsay Booth's style, not the other way around. She live tweets the episodes and always mentions where she gets the clothes and shows her nail polish that she paints to match each outfit. People are always tweeting her about her clothing and she responds. In one of these last few episodes, someone asked her if it was earrings on the lapel of her shirt, and she said yes, because her ears aren't pierced. I never even notice things like that.

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I think the clothing Cassandra wears is Lindsay Booth's style, not the other way around. She live tweets the episodes and always mentions where she gets the clothes and shows her nail polish that she paints to match each outfit. People are always tweeting her about her clothing and she responds. In one of these last few episodes, someone asked her if it was earrings on the lapel of her shirt, and she said yes, because her ears aren't pierced. I never even notice things like that.

Interesting. In the Jake Stone thread there's supposition Jake basically wears what Christian Kane wears. Certainly efficient from a wardrobe perspective, but less than ideal for character building and visual storytelling.

Edited by snarktini

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But it could possibly go a long way to explaining Sophie's consistently unusual wardrobe choices in Leverage.

Still, if they're going to dress the character like a woman in her thirties trying to hold on to the first flush of youth by dressing like a teenager, shouldn't they write to that? Because the only thing it's really telling me about the character they're writing is that she's a big bow away from cosplaying Sailor Moon, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me for someone who's spent a third of her life on hold working as a janitor and waiting for death full time.

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Lindy Booth is playing younger, so Cassandra's probably in her mid-to-late 20s.  Her wardrobe is controversial but deliberate, and the work of their costume designer, Critter Pierce.  (Leverage also had a costume designer -- the awesome Nadine Haders.)

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They ruined her character for me from the first episode. 'Oh, I'm sorry I was secretly working for the bad guys, after you welcomed me into your little club & made me feel like I belonged. It's only a little thing that I almost killed Flynn & did kill Cal. I mean, you can understand right? I was dying and they could help me.' 

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Really? I don't think so. I would react like Jake did. I would work with her, but I would NEVER trust her again. And her pushing herself to get him to do so was beyond annoying. 

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And the way she freakin' dresses...oh..my...god. Thigh high socks/stockings? She is not a 19 year old anime school girl. She is a 30 year old woman. They can dress her in cute, vibrant outfits without making her look like a woman going through her mid life crises trying to look & act younger than she really is. 

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I saw someone on here compare her to Fred from Angel. Fred was likable to me. She was the way she was because she was stranded on an alien world for years where they treated humans like cows and she hid herself in solitary for most of that time. Fred was technically borderline insane/crazy at first. I'm not sure what Cassandra's excuse is. 

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To be honest, the only reason I started watching this show was because of Noah Wylie & Christian Kane. They're the only 2 that make it watchable for me. Ezekial is annoying as hell and sooooo freakin' selfish. I ha so hoped that he'd remember everything from the video game episode to grow up. And Rebecca Romijn seems to come off as stiff in her lines, like she's forcing herself to say them a certain way so they don't seem comfortable coming out of her mouth. 

Edited by mfaerie
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I find Cassandra's wardrobe choices confusing at best and creepy at worst. If that's deliberate then I don't know what to think about the character.

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I keep thinking that there's a part of Cassandra's story that's been left out that the show assumes has been told.  She was apparently a brilliant child prodigy who racked up a bunch of science awards and expectations, was told she had a brain tumor at age 15 and was found by first the Serpent Brotherhood and then the Library working as a janitor in a hospital.  I feel like there's something missing like, "When I was 15 I learned I had a brain tumor, dropped out of school then got in a bad car accident that left me in a coma for 20 years.  That's why I was working as a janitor and still dress and act like a teenager despite being a full-grown adult woman in her mid-thirties who's smarter than all of you put together."

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Her synesthesia seemed to overwhelm her a lot, until working with the team helped her learn to channel/control it.  I can see that making it hard to hold down a regular office job.  Also, I think she's supposed to be in her twenties.

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I can see where it feels like in 'developing' the characters and letting them learn the job they've lost some of the initial definition.  I can't remember the last time Cassandra even referenced the other senses coming into play when she starts solving something, she just goes straight to the invisible chalkboard and if someone hadn't watched the first few seasons they might not even know about the brain grape, which was a pretty significant character point. 

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I looked back through the boards about the first season and noted a lot of complaints about Cassandra talking about the "brain grape."  It could be the show-runners decided to de-emphasize discussion about it.  For that matter I don't recall a lot of talk about Stone's family situation or Ezekiel's thieving exploits during this season.  I'd kind of like them to touch base with that stuff some since it does define the characters.

One bit I liked about the Apple of Discord was Cassandra using math to fight really well and the way it made clear that she's sitting on an awful lot of rage about her situation.  I'd like to see that come up again.  Maybe get Cassandra into a romantic relationship where she runs up against the whole "any relationship with me is going to be some kind of short term."

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I think a lot of it had to do with the rage being gone because she has a life now but the fact that she is still dying does need to be touched on again at some point.  Even if it is just a short term storyline where some big bad plays on her fears or she is again given the chance to save her life by betraying her friends but this time she doesn't.  

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I can't believe the rage is gone.  Sublimated into work, pushed to the side, covered over by the wonder and coolness and magic and the Library, sure.  But gone?  No.  The idea that the thing that gives her the abilities that make her a Librarian is also the thing that will take it all away by killing her and the anger at that situation.

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2 hours ago, johntfs said:

I can't believe the rage is gone.  Sublimated into work, pushed to the side, covered over by the wonder and coolness and magic and the Library, sure.  But gone?  No.  The idea that the thing that gives her the abilities that make her a Librarian is also the thing that will take it all away by killing her and the anger at that situation.

I've wondered if its what's behind her wanting to use magic.  She sided with the Brotherhood once in the beginning because they promised they could save her. Does she wonder if there's something in the Library that could save her? Excalibur could have been used to save her. But since that moment she's seen all kinds of unbelievable magic do tons of things and surrounded every day by endless spells and artifacts. While constantly aware that she's going to die one day. She has to wonder if there's something that could save her life and how could that be a bad thing.  She's constantly being warned that using magic is a bad thing, but she has to wonder how bad it could be compared to death?

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The tumor is on hold and has no effect whatsoever on the character I think. I doubt they'll retcon it away. I believe if it ever comes up again it's magical cure will one of the happy endings in the final episode. 

Edited by sjohnson

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4 hours ago, sjohnson said:

The tumor is on hold and has no effect whatsoever on the character I think. I doubt they'll retcon it away. I believe if it ever comes up again it's magical cure will one of the happy endings in the final episode. 

If you're right, that kind of sucks because it ignores some interesting story space.  Cassandra is kind of dull as just another Manic Pixie Dream Girl.  The idea that she's kind of forcing her own optimism and whimsy as a way of dealing with the death sentence in her skull, that she's a Manic Pixie Doomed Girl, would be much cooler.

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