What follows here are some notes about the infrastructure to this story. For the fun of it, I tried to set the plot of the story on the major arcana of the tarot deck. Obviously, considerations of pacing, plot and character development meant that it didn't always work perfectly, but this is a rough outline to my intentions in that arena. I've also provided some quick info on the various mythological and literary elements I incorporated. If they help you enjoy the story more, read on. If they don't, no harm in skipping.
Chapter One: The Magician
Riddick is the Magician, in control, creating his own reality. This card can also represent the abuse of power, which Riddick is clearly engaged in. Like a magician, he harnesses dark forces to contravene nature, using his powers to defy death and bring Jack back to life.
Mythological: Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, the Greek goddess of fertility. Hades, the god of the Underworld, saw Persephone and fell in love with her. Knowing she would never accept him willingly, he kidnapped her and raped her. To mark his claim on her, to make her his. He kept her prisoner, while Demeter tried to find her. The earth fell dormant while Demeter mourned, until an arrangement was made for Persephone to spend part of the year with Demeter and part of the year with Hades. Of course, Jack doesn't have a mother to come looking for her. Riddick subsumes the role of mother, giving birth to Jack in order to possess her. In a little twist, Riddick actually drags Jack out of death into life to do it, as opposed to Hades stealing Persephone from life and taking her into death.
Chapter Two: The High Priestess
Jack has hidden knowledge of mysterious things. She intuits truths that Riddick would rather keep secret and uses that knowledge to wield power over him. She is duality: strength and weakness together. She is subject to his whims, but she can see into him or she can "unsee" him. She defies him even while she submits to him.
Chapter Three: The Empress
The Empress is mother, protector, nurturer. In the face of Riddick's destruction, Jack is mother to the whole world. Her tenderness toward humanity gives her strength over him, because she feels more than he does. She is prepared to sacrifice, in the same way she sacrificed herself for him. He forces her to fight him, but ultimately it is her will to save the people on Oburnos, her maternal urge that triumphs, not physical force.
Mythological: Jack as Demeter, trying to rescue Persephone from Hades' clutches.
Chapter Four: The Emperor
Riddick as the Minister of Defense pulls the strings, exerts his power over others, including the Helion Council, including Jack. With absolute power comes absolute corruption. Only from a position of power does Riddick feel like he can be compassionate to Jack.
Chapter Five: The Hierophant
The Hierophant is the mystic in the dark cave. Riddick sees all, watching Jack on surveillance, watching her while she sleeps. He controls her interaction with the doctor, making himself her protector. He gives or takes freedom, returns Jack to the reality that he controls, tearing her away from the lofty reality that Aereon has been creating for her.
Mythological: Persephone dragged back to the Underworld, where Hades attempts to ply her with ice cream after he rapes her.
Chapter Six: The Lovers
Just as the card says, it represents a bond between two people. In this chapter, it is more about what that bond looks like to others. Peering in from the outside, the news readers struggle to evaluate the nature of their bond: lovers, master-slave, siblings, parent-child, violator-violated. All the bonds that Riddick has created between them. The card can be both a positive aspect of a pairing or the pain of a mismatched pairing.
Other: Foucault writes about the concept of the "panopticon" in Discipline and Punish. A system for controlling criminals, a panopticon prison would allow a single jailer to monitor the prisoners at all times. Jeremy Bentham, who invented the idea, described it as "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example." Jack is in the panopticon—constantly watched by the curious public and more importantly by Riddick, who consumes her with his dark-seeing gaze and obtains power over her in that way. The panopticon also has echoes of an omniscient god. The god who watches everything you do. Riddick is Jack's dark god, observing and evaluating her actions.
Chapter Seven: The Chariot
A symbol of progress, movement toward a goal, the Chariot has a negative side as well: the journey toward the wrong goal, overcoming obstacles that exist for a reason. Riddick wants to possess Jack in a way no one else has or can. He is not the first man to rape her, but he's intent that he'll be the last, and the one who blots out all the other rapes. His goal is to make her feel as much for him as he does for her, even if her feelings become the mirror of his. Hatred to match his obsessive love.
Mythological: Jack as Prometheus, chained to the stone, bodily penetrated, like Prometheus having his liver plucked out by Zeus' eagle over and over. Punishment for the crime of defying a wrathful god, of trying to protect humanity. (Prometheus stole fire for them, but Jack's betrayal is that she loves humanity more than she loves Riddick.)
Jack as Jesus Christ, her arms and legs pinned, the spear thrust into her side. Ushering in an age of kindness, so that humanity doesn't have to live in the clutches of the wrathful Old Testament God. Sacrificing herself for the fan club president.
Chapter Eight: Strength
Jack may be physically weak, unable to protect herself from Riddick, but she has strength to defy him. She is strong enough to survive what he does to her. She has shown herself strong for everyone else, but here she also has strength for herself. Riddick's strength is physical and mystical. He is the dragon in the cave, old and dangerous with secretive rituals. I made Jack weak after her trip through death, because it would be easy for Riddick to admire and love someone physically strong, someone with his animal nature. He has to come to grips with her weakness. To see what strength is.
Mythological: Riddick in his bath as Poseidon, the god of the oceans. Remember that—it's coming back in Chapter Seventeen.
Chapter Nine: The Hermit
The Hermit carries the light in the darkness, a lonely figure, one that can either withdraw into isolation or can bring enlightenment to others. Jack is both. She wants to withdraw from people, but when she is forced into their company, she brings insight. She reminds them of the nature of the sacrifice she has made willingly. A reminder that even the loftiest principles often must be built on ugly practicalities.
Other: This is where the story really connects to Ursula K. LeGuin's The Ones Who Walk away from Omelas. If you haven't read it, you need to, but here's a brief synopsis: a perfect society, where everyone is happy and life is good. Except that in the basement of a public building, the people of Omelas keep a child in misery and hunger. The child is the sacrifice upon which their beautiful society is built. Most of the people in Omelas accept this, but some walk away, although it's not clear from the story exactly what this entails. In my opinion all societies are built on this agreement: we agree to be happy knowing our happiness is predicated on the suffering of someone else. We are able to eat steak dinners, because someone else is starving to death.
In this chapter, Jack steps out of her dirty basement to remind the people of Helios that she exists, that their safety and happiness is built on her misery. The ambassador, Tilnos, wants to act as though he would "walk away from Omelas," but in the end, he bows to Riddick, serves Riddick, and so accepts that his happiness depends on Jack's suffering.
Chapter Ten: The Wheel of Fortune
Life is change. We move through cycles. Life becomes death. Pain becomes joy. Even Riddick can be tender. Even Jack can be brutal. Jack expects Riddick to do something cruel or destructive at the opera. Instead, he offers her pleasure. She expects him to abuse her and is surprised to find herself abusing him.
Mythological: Here is Persephone again. Dragged into "life" by her would-be mother figure, Aereon. In the midst of it, however, Hades returns to remind her that he has staked a claim on her. That she can't remain in the light.
Chapter Eleven: Justice
Justice is not the same as the law, but it has to be public to be justice. We have to witness the price paid for a crime. Depending upon who you connect with in this story, this is either the success of justice or the failure of justice. Either Riddick deserves to live, having done what Jack asked, saved Helios, saved the world, having earned the right to enjoy his sacrificial lamb. Or he deserves to die for what he's done to Jack. Riddick, too, considers justice, reflecting on what he wishes he had done to the man who raped him. In that same moment he has to consider what would be a just punishment for doing the same to Jack, even though he walked away from the assassination attempt.
Chapter Twelve: The Hanged Man
On a grand scale, this is all about sacrifice. No need to rehash that: Jack has been a mostly willing sacrifice all along. On a small scale, the Hanged Man is about trading one thing for another. Here, Jack submits to the pregnancy, agrees to bear Riddick's child in exchange for a reprieve from her other sacrifice. If she will have the baby and raise it, she can be free from him. Riddick makes his own rare sacrifice here: to have a son, to have an alter ego who can be loved and be happy, he is giving up Jack.
Mythological: No need for neon signs. Like the Virgin Mary, impregnated by the wrathful Yahweh, she will labor and give birth to her own savior. She is still Persephone, too. Only without Demeter to fight for her, Jack is her own mother figure, drawing herself out of Hades' darkness into light through the generation of life.
Chapter Thirteen: Death
Just one death for this chapter, but an important one. Riddick learns to channel his fury, to use it only for what he wants. Death as change is more prominent. We must get rid of the old to embrace the new. Jack is no longer Riddick's "sex slave," but his "wife." Soon to be a mother. Her body is no longer occupied by Riddick, but by his baby. Her baby. Death of the old, birth of the new.
Mythological: Life triumphs over death. Hades is made to give way to Demeter's grief over her absent daughter. Without Persephone, Demeter refuses to give life to the world, so Hades must give her up, for a time at least.
Chapter Fourteen: Temperance
As the name implies, this about finding balance between extremes. For Jack, it's relearning that there is value in Riddick's lethality, the thing she first admired in him. His evil can be used for good. A little death is better than a lot of death. For Riddick, it's learning to temper his lust. Not merely because he resists the allurement of violent and sexual acts on willing victims, but because he resists the overwhelming temptation to rape Jack yet again.
Mythological: During the battle of Troy, Achilles killed the Amazon warrior Penthesilea, but fell in love with her as they fought. Some literary theories suggest the implication that his love for her was consummated—that he raped her corpse. (As Jack has suggested Riddick should have done, rather than bring her back from the dead.) Here is the echo of that fight/rape in Chapter Three. Jack is terrified that she is about to witness a repeat of that moment, but she's wrong. The female champion is strong, physically a suitable mate for Riddick, but Jack is Penthesilea, the beloved, loved too late. Except that instead of raping her corpse, Riddick has brought her back from death so he can rape her.
Chapter Fifteen: The Devil
The Devil made me do it. Usually this card shows sinners chained to the Devil in Hell. Addicted to vice and unwilling to unchain themselves. Here, it's Riddick addicted to Jack, in any way he can get her, even a sexual act that might be humiliating to another man. The Devil is also in Jack's submission. She is not an entirely willing party to his sexual overture, but she doesn't resist him. This card is often considered negative in all positions, but I think that's the Puritanical Christian view of vice creeping in. If other cards can be reversed, let the Devil be positive in reversal. Vice is pleasure. Babies are untainted by 'morality' and as a result are very sensual creatures. Their hands are uncalloused, alive to sensation and they love to pet and stroke while they nurse, and don't merely nurse for sustenance but for the physical pleasure of tasting and licking their mothers' breasts. They not infrequently experience infantile arousal at the same time. So Boo-Boo is experiencing what will later be looked on as vice, but is now simply his first experience with physical pleasure. Similarly, Jack and Riddick are experiencing a rare mutual pleasure.
Mythological: In the Bible, after Ruth's husband dies, she promises to go wherever Naomi, her mother-in-law, goes. To be her family. At Naomi's instigation to get Ruth a new husband, she goes to Naomi's kinsman, Boaz. Following her instructions, Ruth uncovers Boaz' feet while he's napping and lies down at them. When Boaz awakes, she asks him to "cover her with his garment." And so, Boaz does. Later he marries her. In Hebrew there are distinct sexual overtones to "uncovering the feet," and my rabbi interprets this as a poetic way of saying that Ruth uncovered Boaz' genitals and lay down with him. Thereby ensuring that he would "cover her with his garment"—take her as his wife, make her part of his community and family, offer protection to Ruth and Naomi. Here, it's reversed, with Riddick uncovering Jack's feet (already a reversal of him putting her shoes on when he finds out she's pregnant), and lying down at them. Not just lying down at them, but pleasuring himself with them. Jack is his Naomi—the one whom he has taken as family, whom he has followed across the universe to be with. Jack is his Boaz—the one who has ushered him into society, made him part of a community, created a family for him.
Chapter Sixteen: The Tower
More chaotic and destructive than even Death, the Tower is upheaval, the end of stasis, radical and violent change, not the natural ending of Death. It often represents a choice to be made. Jack has been living a falsehood, an expectation that she can become someone or something else. Her brush with the Minister of Education's fear reminds her that Riddick has marked her for all time. In the eyes of other people, she will always be his, always be polluted by him. Just as she finds her sexual pleasure polluted by memories of him. When the illusion is torn away, Jack will have to change, even if she doesn't want to.
Mythological: Persephone has come back to earth, brought spring, brought forth life, but Hades is standing at the door of her garden, calling her to return to the Underworld, reminding her of her obligation to him.
Chapter Seventeen: The Star
Hope in the midst of darkness and travail. New possibilities. For Jack, of course, it will never be completely smooth sailing. As she says, she accepts that Riddick is never going to be a nice guy. He is still her monster, and he's going to hurt her again, but there's hope that he will try to be better, will learn to mitigate his darker urges. Hope that she'll find balance with him, even if it's by embracing some of those dark urges. In the tarot deck I use, the Star is represented by Pandora's box. All the evil of the world released, but at the bottom: hope.
Mythological: Persephone eats the pomegranate ice cream of the Underworld, binding herself to Hades. But the red and white of the ice cream is also blood and milk, the two fluids that give women power. So maybe Jack is binding Riddick with her milk and blood, her motherhood and fertility.
Here is also where we go back to Poseidon, who gave a perfect white bull to King Minos, who was supposed to sacrifice the bull, but kept it for himself. As revenge, Poseidon made Minos' queen, Pasiphae, fall in love with the bull. Hidden in a mechanical cow, Pasiphae consummated her lust for the bull. Born out of that union was the Minotaur, whom Pasiphae nursed until he became violent: the animal they all knew he was. Then he was locked in the labyrinth and fed on innocent victims. His sister, Ariadne, was ultimately his downfall. She helped the hero Theseus find his way into the labyrinth to kill the monster, and back out to safety with a ball of thread.
For Jack as Ariadne, there is no conquering hero to slay the Minotaur and rescue her. Her would-be Theseus is a coward (Tilnos and the Minister of Education) or already dead (the soldier who wanted to protect her.) Without Theseus, Jack is alone in the labyrinth with the Minotaur, her brother. She binds Riddick with her thread, so he can find his way back to that moment when he was still human, when he nursed at his mother's/Jack's breast. To save herself from the Minotaur, she has to save him from the labyrinth.
Riddick is correct when he says, "Holy fuck." That sex act is ancient and sacred, goes back to any number of cultures. The Spring Maiden in a position of power, receiving the seed of the Spring Lord, who will be sacrificed to fertilize the fields. Among the Celts, the preferred method for dispatching the willing sacrifice was with a post-coital garrote, close enough to Jack choking Riddick during sex.