Karen Thorson

The last character seen in the trailer for I Kill Giants is another adult, but strictly connected to the young protagonist: Karen Thorson, portrayed by Imogen Poots. In both the comics and the movie, Karen is Barbara‘s older sister, and the one who desperately tries to take care of her despite the growing detachment of the girl from a reality that hurts her as much as it hurts everybody else in the family. As usual I will try to avoid major spoilers, but it’s not always possible, so be careful with the following.

Karen Thorson was the first daughter of an unnamed couple, and she lived by the sea in Long Island, New York. Quite some years after she was born came Dave, her little brother, and soon after another sister, Barbara. Karen was much older than her siblings, so she mainly acted as a “second mother” to them… until she was forced to act like an actual mother, when the real one got sick. Karen’s mother, in fact, got cancer, and her father, not able and not willing to take care of his family, simply walked away, leaving Karen to look after both her dying mother and her little siblings. Luckily, she had a good job, and she earned enough to keep the house going even by herself. The only thing she had to endure was the presence of an unpleasant colleague, whom she nicknamed Stinky for obvious reasons, and who she was forced to share her cubicle and computer with. Quite a hard-worker, however, Karen managed to impress her boss, Mr. Guggenheim, and she was eyed upon as a new executive assistant (a promotion that would have allowed her to earn more to take care of her family, and to finally get rid of Stinky). As much as she committed herself to it, however, nothing was easy, and her brother and sister, back home, weren’t exactly helpful. Among Karen’s many talents, cooking most certainly wasn’t one of these, something that neither Dave nor Barbara failed to make her notice, mocking her meals ever night at dinner. Plus, the situation with Barbara was becoming increasingly harder, especially from the moment the girl refused to set foot in her mother’s bedroom.

Unable to cope with her mother’s situation, in fact, Barbara had locked herself into a world of fantasy, in which the woman’s disease was an approaching giant, and she was the only one able to stop it. Karen did her best to reach her, and even tolerated that her little sister transformed her bedroom in some sort of little fortress, but it surely wasn’t an easy situation. The tension obviously affected the family’s relationships, and even Dave often snapped, forcing Karen to mediate between him and Barbara, who was usually the target of his anger. Even on the talking side, however, there wasn’t much Karen was able to do, and she found herself totally unable to manage either Dave’s outbursts and Barbara’s evasions. She knew that Barbara was scared to death by her mother and by her illness, but she simply didn’t know how to speak to her. Plus, things started going bad at school also: Karen knew that from time to time Barbara talked back to teachers, but she surely wasn’t expecting a call at work from the school psychologist, Mrs. Molle, who told her she had just been slapped by the girl during one of their meetings. When she tried to confront Barbara about it at dinner, she only had her sister talking back to her as usual, and, in rage, she ended up putting her own hand in the frying pan by mistake, burning herself. That pain channeled all her pain, and Karen, for the first time since it all began, said it out loud that she couldn’t do everything alone, that she needed her siblings’ help, that she would have wanted her father to be there, that she was scared and sad for what was happening to her mother… but once again, as she started talking about mom, Barbara turned deaf ears, and went out, setting traps on the beach for the giant. Maybe she really was unable to reach her, after all…

Karen Thorson is a very young woman in a very bad situation, forced to grow up before time and to be a mother for her little brother and little sister. Not exactly a good housewife nor a good talker, Karen does her best with what she has, and hopes that all her remarkable efforts eventually lead to something, albeit, with no result to be accounted for, she’s feeling all the pain, the fatigue and the sadness of an impossible condition.

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Mrs. Molle

Another character seen in the trailer for I Kill Giants is Mrs. Molle, the school psychologist portrayed by Zoe Saldana. In the comics, Molle is the school counselor who tries to break through Barbara Thorson‘s armor and to make her face her suppressed emotions, but apparently in the movie her role will be quite expanded, as she’ll have a sub-plot involving her husband (not even mentioned in the comics), and she’s seen a lot outside the school, while originally she’s mostly seen in her office, with a couple of exceptions. As usual, watch out for some spoilers following.

Not much is known about Mrs. Molle, not even her first name. Since her title is “mrs.”, we can assume she was married, but she never mentioned her husband. She studied to become a psychologist, and she possibly specialized in childhood, as she was later hired as a school psychologist/councilor in Birch Elementary School, in Long Island, New York. Her job required her to be of assistance to some “peculiar” children within the school, and certainly the most peculiar one of them all was Barbara Thorson, an extremely smart yet aggressive kid with quite some problem in socialization. Mr. Marx, the school principal, hesitated quite a lot before telling Molle to take care of Barbara, and he did that as it became plain that there was no way to get through the girl in a regular way, as she kept talking back to teachers and adults in general, and appeared to be unable to cope with what was happening to her family. Her mother, in fact, was dying for a cancer, and from that moment Barbara had started living in a fantasy world with no connection to the real one. The two didn’t exactly start with the right foot, as Molle had Barbara called to her office while she was in the dining hall with all her schoolmates. This didn’t exactly help her reputation of being a “weirdo”. The meeting itself didn’t go well either: Molle tried to start a casual conversation about food, asking for advises as she was new in town, but only met a wall of silence. The moment she tried to speak about the bag the girl always carried around, Barbara simply got up and went away, calling a “strike one” for the psychologist.

The second meeting between them seemed to start in a better way, with Barbara telling Molle that she had made a new friend, Sophia, who wasn’t even an imaginary one. The moment Molle asked her if she had many friends, Barbara had to admit she had not, but deemed it on not being nice to dumb people, and on most people being dumb. Molle asked her about her family, about her sister Karen and her brother Dave, if they were dumb too… but Barbara called family “strike two territory” and, after eating the paper she was drawing, she left the office, making even the second meeting a total failure. That very day, Barbara came a third time, as she had snapped during the gym class with a teacher, and with some bullies later in the corridors. This conversation, however, went even worse than the ones before: the moment Molle tried to speak directly of Barbara’s mother, the girl angrily slapped the psychologist, and left the room leaving behind only the drawing she had made, with a giant humanoid shadow lumbering over the sea and a writing: “COMING”. Mrs. Molle started to understand what kind of walls and armors the girl had been putting around her, so she warned the family of the incident, namely Barbara’s older sister Karen, but she didn’t tell anything to Mr. Marx, to avoid any kind of disciplinary punishment. For the following meeting, Molle was fully prepared: instead of asking the girl about her family and her real problems, she entered her world and her way of coping with her tragedies, and asked her about giants, who they were, what they wanted, how they could be stopped. Looking at the world the way Barbara did, Molle understood the metaphors and the images the girl hid her traumas behind: finally, she had built a bridge of communication with her.

Mrs. Molle is an intelligent and determined young woman, a child psychologist who is truly devoted to the children she is responsible of. Versatile and smart, she’s able to think out of schemes to try and reach even the most difficult kids, such as Barbara Thorson, walking down a path that leads her far away from manuals, but definitely closer to the children’s hearts and minds.

Sophia

The second character we’re going to see from the upcoming I Kill Giants is Sophia, portrayed by Sydney Wade. In the trailer, she’s the little girl in the yellow raincoat we see speaking with Barbara, and she’s actually the only one who dares to be the protagonist’s friend (in real life, at least). In the comics, she has pretty much the same role, but her relationship with Barbara has some ups and downs. Let’s see together, but once again, mind some spoilers.

We don’t know much about Sophia at all, actually. She was a perfectly normal girl, and, at least for what we know, from a perfectly normal family. When she was ten years old, she and her family moved house, and they arrived in Long Island, New York. Sophia was included in the fifth grade of the local school, Birch Elementary, and as all newcomers, everything was new and strange to her. With no friends in the new environment, Sophia grew close to the one person that everybody else avoided: Barbara Thorson, a weird girl who always wore impossible hats and carried along a tailored purse. From the very first moment the two spoke together, it was clear that Barbara was something else: she drew giants, she read of giants, she spoke of giants, and did not much else in general. Despite this, she really liked the girl, and she decided to be her friend. Barbara was quite thrilled to have her, since Sophia was the first friend she had in quite a long time. Barbara showed Sophia much of her secret world, including the many traps she had buried on the beach to prepare for the arrival of a particularly evil giant. Along with this, however, she also entered in the worst parts of Barbara’s world, as, since the bully Taylor and her friends saw her in company of the weirdo, they started tormenting Sophia as well.

Bullies didn’t worry Sophia much, especially after seeing Barbara in action against them: for being such a skinny and small girl, she was incredibly proficient in dealing with a huge girl like Taylor. Barbara, in fact, didn’t seem to be scared of anyone: she even offended Miss Lakey, the gymnastics teacher, as the woman tried to look into her purse after Sophia inadvertently said it was named “Copelski” as a baseball player, after Barbara had just declared that she didn’t like baseball at all. Believing she had been the cause of yet another suspension for her friend, Sophia tried to amend, and even sent her a note, asking her whether they were still friends or not. As much as she was prepared for Taylor, however, Sophia wasn’t prepared at all for Barbara herself: one day, as the bully tormented her, Barbara reacted violently, even more than usual, and Sophia tried to separate them. This didn’t turn out to be a great idea, as Barbara, in the middle of the fight, reacted instinctively, and punched her in the face. Hurt and scared, Sophia ran away. That punch was much to process for a young girl, and Sophia simply wasn’t ready to move over: the following days she tried to avoid Barbara, and everyone noticed it… including Taylor. The bully approached Sophia in the bathroom, and offered her a deal: she would have told her a secret about Barbara if she told her one too. Distrustful, Sophia was quite shocked in learning from her that Barbara’s mother was dying of cancer, something that could actually explain much of her weirdness. Now, however, she owed one to Taylor, so she told her about the traps on the seaside… hoping that her friend would have forgiven her this betrayal.

Sophia is a cheerful and happy ten-years old girl, always happy to meet new people and to make friends. Despite their personalities are quite different one from the other, Sophia is Barbara’s best friend, and she demonstrates quite a tenacity in being by her side even when it’s definitely not easy to. The yin to Barbara’s yang, Sophia is the one tiny bridge that connects the Giant Slayer to the real world.

Barbara Thorson

Surely we’re not lacking comicbook adaptations lately. This year we will also have I Kill Giants, a movie based on the beautiful limited series by Joe Kelly, drawn manga-style by J. M. Ken Nimura. The protagonist is Barbara Thorson, portrayed by Madison Wolfe, a little girl who’s convinced that giants, monsters and fairies do exist, and that she’s protecting her house from an incoming attack. The movie version of the character looks definitely older than her comicbook counterpart, and judging from the first trailer the story doesn’t follow precisely the comics, but the main part seems to be there, and that’s not a bad thing at all. Read the following at your own peril, as there are mild spoilers on the story.

Barbara Thorson was born in a perfectly normal family in Long Island, New York. She lived in her house by the sea with her parents, with her older sister Karen, and with her older brother Dave. Her world was a simple one: she attended Birch Elementary School, she was a smart student and a bit of a loner, she spent her time playing Dungeons & Dragons with Dave and his friends, and always was the Dungeon Master due to her intelligence, her boundless fantasy and her sharp sense of humor. She was also taught a lot about baseball by Dave, a huge fan of the Philadelphia Phillies. Then, her entire world crumbled down. Her mother got cancer, and when it became terminal, her father simply walked away, abandoning his family. Karen did her best to take care of the entire family by herself, but of course she had limits. On her part, Barbara locked herself away in a fantasy world, one inhabited by fairies and pixies… and giants, of course. She learnt everything about giants and their different kinds: she knew the Swamp Giants, that killed an entire village and replaced its inhabitants with rag dolls, the singing Mountain Giants, that bathed in the blood of children, the Frost Giants, that ate human kidneys using them as garnish on reindeer meat. And, of course, she knew Titans, ancient horrors that the world itself trembled upon, unstoppable monsters who always got what they wanted and destroyed anything in their wake, abominations so terrible that history itself refused to record them… horrors like the one that was killing her mother. Barbara’s way to cope (or not to cope) with her mother’s illness was the one of turning everything into a fable, one she was the heroine of: she was the only one who knew about giants, the one who could see them, the one who would have protected her family from them.

Barbara didn’t enter her mother’s room again, seeing her as some sort of Ghoul who was already corrupted and in need of saving, a saving that would have come only with the death of the giant coming for her. She started studying everything she could find on giants (that is: reading a lot of fantasy and epic books, even and especially during class at school), and she trained herself to be the perfect Giant Slayer. She even found a mystic weapon to accompany her into her quest: a magic war hammer that imbued the power of thunder and lightning, and that she always kept by her side in a purse she personally tailored. She named her hammer (every hero’s weapon needs a name) Coveleski, after Harry Coveleski, the rookie that defeated the New York Giants three times, and was therefore nicknamed The Giant Killer. Everything was ready for her personal war against giants… but the world around her kept spinning, and she wasn’t making it any easier for anybody, first and foremost her sister Karen, who had more and more difficulties in dealing with her. Extremely smart and not the least impressed by authority, she always talked back to her teachers when scolded, and this made her end up in the principal’s office nearly on a daily basis, with Mr. Marx, the headmaster, first admonishing her, then punishing her as Barbara talked back to him too. Plus, she lost all her friends, as everybody saw her as a weirdo, with all those heavy books always around, her crazy talks about giants and titans, and her way to speak with adults. One girl in particular, the brutish Taylor, elected herself to be Barbara’s personal bully, and she always tried to break her smirk with her punches, finding in her a tougher opponent than she expected from such a scrawny girl. Everybody, understandably, got worried for Barbara’s situation, and it didn’t pass much time before Marx suggested the intervention of the school’s psychologist, Mrs. Molle… but Barbara Thorson had more important things to do: the signs were pointing to an imminent arrival of a giant like no others, and she had to be prepared for the battle ahead.

Barbara Thorson is a brave warrior, molded by battles and conflicts, the solitary hero in a war nobody even knows is occurring. She’s trained to perfection in battle, and she wields a magic hammer, Coveleski, that grants her the enormous power of the raging storm in dealing with her enemies. This is, however, the self-depiction of Barbara, who’s actually a highly intelligent but scared girl, who lost herself in her fantasy world, unable to cope with a cancer that’s slowly killing her mother and destroying her world. A ten-years old girl who already suffered much for her age, Barbara may in her mind be a Giant Slayer, but she’s just a misanthropic, lonely and aggressive kid who invented a world in which she could actually do something to affect a situation she has absolutely no control over.

Dufus P. Ratchet (Big Sir)

Let’s get back to The Flash, as the last episode, The Elongated Knight Rises, introduced yet another classic character, always from the same story line that has been heavy referred to in this second part of the season, The Trial of The Flash. In prison, Barry finds he has not many friends, actually only one: the Big Sir, real name Dave, a huge brute portrayed by Bill Goldberg who owns his own life to Henry Allen, and aims to repay his debt by protecting Henry’s kid. In the comics, Big Sir is not named Dave, but he does have a curious relationship with Barry (with The Flash, at least), as he’s some sort of golden-hearted supervillain… definitely not as smart as his live action counterpart. Let’s see together.

Dufus P. Ratchet was born in Central City from an unknown family. Since his birth, it was clear that something was wrong with him, as his body grew much faster than the other babies’. His parents ran some analysis on him, and found out that Dufus’ pituitary gland was damaged, and caused his body to keep growing: Dufus reached monstrous proportions as a young man, but his intellect, always because of his malformation, remained the one of an 8-years old boy. For his and other’s safety, Dufus was entrusted to Breedmore Mental Hospital, where he was kept under surveillance, so that he didn’t hurt anybody by mistake, being unable to control his own enormous strength. The only true friend Ratchet had in the mental hospital was a mouse that he kept in his cell. Being so strong and so susceptible to other people’s influence, Ratchet became the perfect target for the Rogues, who were as usual bent on destroying The Flash. The Rogues broke into Breedmore, and freed Ratchet from his cell: they told him that they had all been beaten by The Flash, a bad guy who pretended to be good, and they even killed Ratchet’s mouse, blaming The Flash for it. Outraged that a hero could hurt a defenseless creature like a mouse, Dufus went berserk, and armed with a high-tech armor built by the Monitor, he started creating havoc in Central City, wanting to lure The Flash out. The two actually battled each other, with Dufus, called Big Sir, destroyed the hero’s face, but The Flash eventually managed to convince him that he had done nothing of the things he had been accused of. Wanting to avoid Ratchet being manipulated ever again, the hero brought him to Gorilla City, where Solovar and his highly intelligent gorillas cured his mental state with the same process that had made them evolve. When he came back to Central City, Dufus P. Ratchet had the I.Q. of a genius.

The process, unfortunately, wasn’t permanent, and soon Dufus’ intellect came back to what it used to be. Once again, he ended up being manipulated by villains, and he was recruited by Major Disaster in his incarnation of the Injustice League. This particular version of the team proved to be quite a disaster, with its members managing at most to escape justice with more sheer luck than talent, and accomplishing pretty much nothing. The first huge clash with Justice League Europe happened by chance, as the two teams found themselves in the same class trying to learn French, an occasion in which Big Sir met for the first time the new Flash. Then, Big Sir and Major Disaster attacked by themselves the (unofficial) Justice League Club, but even such a simple mission was complicated by the fact that the club was built on a sentient island, Kooey Kooey Kooey, who started moving when the two villains arrived. Despite the embarrassing number of failures and the disproportionate chaos and confusion that their actions caused, Maxwell Lord became quite intrigued by Major Disaster’s team, and recruited them all to be his Justice League Antarctica, believing they wouldn’t have done much damage there. Of course, he was wrong. While wandering the ice continent, Big Sir met carnivorous penguins that immediately attacked him. The flesh-eating birds followed Big Sir back to the base, and in a matter of hours the Justice League Antarctica was vanquished by the evil penguins, with only Green Lantern G’Nort saving them from a certain end. Much to Lord’s shame, his team ended up being saved by Justice League of America, the one he wanted to replace. Needless to say, there was no chance that Big Sir would have continued to work for Lord, after this debacle…

Dufus P. Ratchet is a good, but mentally retarded man, ready to fall for everything, easily manipulable by anyone. As Big Sir, he naturally possesses an enormous strength, even augmented by his alien armor; the suit also grants him the ability to fly, and is armed with an electronic flail emitting spikes of pure energy; the suit is also equipped with an antenna that makes Big Sir even more susceptible to telepathic control, as with Abra Kadabra‘s hypnosis. A man with the intellect of a child, Big Sir will protect puppies and animals, and maybe even the people he doesn’t hurt by mistake while trying to save them.

Joseph Toledo

Finally, we reached the last character debuting in The Resurrection, the first episode of Black Lightning. At the end of the episode, Lala is kidnapped by two of Tobias Whale‘s henchmen, one of them being Joseph “Joey” Toledo, portrayed by Eric Mendenhall. Quite sadistic and dangerous looking at him, Toledo is actually a minor villain in the comics, surely related to Whale, but mostly to the very first adventure of Black Lightning. Let’s see together.

Joey Toledo was born and raised in the slums of Metropolis, in the dark alleys of one of the brightest and wealthiest cities in the world. Far from the lights and the money, Joey grew up in a very different world from the usual citizens of Metropolis, and had to learn to survive on his own in streets lethal as jungles. As most of the people in his situation, he turned to criminality, and soon became the leader of a small gang on his own. Then, a new crime boss arrived in the city: Tobias Whale, a charismatic and powerful gangster who offered the other crime lords the chance to join him, or be vanquished. Not one to fight battles he couldn’t possibly win, Joey joined Whale’s group, The 100, and maintained the leadership over his gang, that became a faction of The 100 in turn. Business was going as well as it possibly could, and Toledo and his men specialized in selling drugs, obtaining the monopoly of said activity within the group. In a matter of months, Joey Toledo became the most wanted pusher in Metropolis, with his power pretty much unchallenged. Of course, he had to check his clients and remind them who was in charge: when some students from Garfield High School started questioning him, he had no problems in leading a bunch of his men to the school and to start a massive shoot-out. But there was a new teacher, former star athlete Jefferson Pierce, who beat some of his men helped by a student, Earl Clifford, and then escaped the punishment. This was an insult.

Joey Toledo spoke with Whale about what had happened, and the crime boss suggested him not to make a martyr out of Pierce… but encouraged him to punish Clifford. Joey and his men ambushed the student in an alley, and started to beat him to death, but the young man escaped… while running away, however, he was hit by a vehicle and died on the spot. Wanting to make an example out of him, Joey had Earl’s corpse hanged in the basketball field at the school. This, however, brought to him some unwanted attention. A new vigilante, Black Lightning, went after Toledo and his gang, and easily vanquished them all. Then he directly threatened Joey, telling him that he wanted to know everything he could of The 100, and that Toledo would have told him, unless he wanted to face his wrath. Black Lightning gave Joey an appointment at Garfield High, in the same spot where he had crucified Earl Clifford, at midnight. Realizing this Black Lightning was a serious threat to business, Toledo asked some backup from Tobias Whale, aiming to set a trap for the hero wannabe. Whale agreed with him that Black Lightning needed to be put down as soon as possible, and he granted to Joey the help of one of his finest mercenaries, Merlyn. Black Lightning arrived to the appointment, but Joey Toledo and Merlyn ambushed him… unfortunately, things became much more complicated when The 100 were in turn ambushed by Talia al Ghul and her League of Assassins, furious at Merlyn for failing to kill Batman. The resulting fight was much more than a simple thug like Joey Toledo could ever manage…

Joey Toledo is a cruel and unscrupulous man, a drug dealer who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, as long as he does it with people who cannot defend themselves. Leader of a fraction of The 100, Toledo is a coward and a sadist, a monster in civilian clothes who’s been completely absorbed by a life of criminality and violence.

Syonide

The new episode of Black Lightning just aired, but we’re still taking care of the characters from the first one, The Resurrection. When we meet Tobias Whale for the first time, he’s with a henchwoman, Syonide, portrayed by Charlbi Dean, who watches him with enjoyment as he tosses some poor guy to the piranhas. In the comics, there are three different people going by the name Syonide, but only two of them are women, and of them, only one works for Whale as his personal bodyguard. And she’s pretty lethal on her own. Let’s see together.

Not much is known about Syonide’s early life, not even her true name. She trained herself to perfection to become an extremely proficient and skilled assassin, and she made quite a name for herself in the United States. She adopted the name “Syonide” after the first one, a man in a high tech armor working with The 100, committed suicide, ridden by guilt for his many crimes. The second Syonide also took possession of the equipment of the first one, and promised to her clients a much more ruthless and professional job than her predecessor did… and that she delivered. When a Russian scientist specialized in poisoning food supplies defected from the Soviet Union and crossed the Iron Curtains while escorted by the superheroine Phantom Lady, Syonide was hired by a criminal cartel to take out both the scientist and his protector, aided by another international assassin, Merlyn. The two intercepted their targets in Casablanca, and attacked them in a restaurant, Dick’s All American Diner… but one of the costumers was nobody else than The Flash, on vacation in Morocco. As the hero was quickly overpowering them, Syonide promised the costumers a part of her wages if they helped them, but even so the Scarlet Speedster made quick work of them. Syonide and Merlyn tried to complete their contract once again, this time at the airport, but again Flash vanquished them. This time, both the assassins were arrested and taken away by Yuri, an agent for the Estonian Secret Police.

The extradition treaties had both Syonide and Merlyn back to the United States, where they easily escaped custody. Albeit a failure, her public debut had impressed a number of potential costumers, including Tobias Whale, the boss of the first Syonide. Whale had a number of activities he could use Syonide for, and he employed her as a personal bodyguard and hitman. When two nobodies, Violet Harper and Mark Denninger, stole some precious documents containing the formula of a new drug commissioned by Whale, Syonide was the one sent after the two criminal wannabes, and she tracked them in Europe. First, Syonide found Denninger in Paris, France, where he was already dying of overdose. Before he died, however, the man confessed everything, blaming it all on Violet. The assassin followed the girl in Markovia, where she tortured her to have the formula and, when she failed to obtain anything, killed her. Syonide was pretty sure the girl was dead, so she was quite surprised when, months later, she found her alive and kicking in Gotham City, calling herself Halo. Whale, who had formed an alliance with Jane Denninger, Mark’s vengeful sister, had Syonide kidnap both Violet and her parents, Sam and Margret Harper. Whale and Denninger tried to obtain the information they wanted “peacefully”, talking to the girl, while Syonide was ready to torture her parents in order to make her more willing to cooperate. What they didn’t know, however, was that Halo had already sent a signal to her team, the Outsiders, and that a small army of heroes was just coming to the rescue…

Syonide is a ruthless and pitiless woman, an assassin for hire who shows no mercy nor remorse. She’s a superb athlete and hand-to-hand combatant, and fights with a special whip capable of discharging a huge amount of electricity, as well as with twin guns armed with specially designed bullets (regular ones, poisonous ones and stun capsules). A beautiful killing machine, Syonide never backs down from a contract, nor lets her conscience come in the way like her predecessor did: there’s nothing in her horizon but the next target.