More Civil War triggered thoughts, this time about someone who isn't in it (with a good reason), Pepper Potts. Because the explanation for her absence reminded me of a couple of things, and made some thoughts about Pepper and her characterisation in the movies versus fanon come together.

Pepper ramblings ensue; no Civil War spoilers beyond an early scene dealing with Pepper's whereabouts and the reasons )

On another note, here is a Rolling Stone profile of Chris Evans, in which Steve's actor has this to say about the central conflict of Civil War:

" It's a nice role reversal," says Evans. "You have a company man like Steve who always believed in the hierarchy of the military, but in the last couple of movies has seen the people he was loyal to misuse their power. Whereas Tony, who's always danced to the beat of his own drum, is feeling guilt for the collateral damage they've left. But that's why I like this movie: There's no clear villain in terms of right and wrong. And the truth is, I actually think Tony is right. To see Steve prioritize himself over what other people need is selfish. That's what makes it interesting."
Getting back into Star Wars again has made me aware that some of my character perceptions as well as do's and don'ts have changed since 2005/2006, i.e. the last time I read great amounts of SW fanfiction.

For example: Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Lots of rambling ensues. )
Tags:
selenak: (John Silver by Violateraindrop)
( Feb. 29th, 2016 04:16 pm)
And it's one of those times where the week starts with me being annoyed about People Being Wrong On The Internet, Black Sails edition, brought about by, due to the lack of an lj or dw fandom, my having to resort to the den of evil tumblr to read at least a bit of discussion.

..."Queerbaiting" has joined "Mary Sue" and "Trigger" as one of those terms that once were useful but have become so overused (and abused) by fandom that they now signify nothing more than "I don't like this and want to feel righteous about it", it appears.

In this particular case, used by not just one but two branches of shippers in "if X/Y doesn't become canon this season it's totally homophobic" arguments, and in "omg one half of my pairing is showing emotions for a WOMAN! The writers are selling out!" arguments. Both are even more irritating than usual, because not only does Black Sails have canon same sex relationships, but you know what Black Sails doesn't have? Monogamous, exclusive relationships. Seriously. It just doesn't, in two and a half seasons of canon to look back on.

Rant gets spoilery from here. )

In conclusion: I'm so looking forward to Bates Motel coming back. That one has its share of obsessed shippers as well, but due to the lack of slash ships, none of them is prone to complain that if their favourite ship doesn't get to have sex on screen, it's homophobia. They just complain the writers are mean instead. :)
Still hounded by Darth Real Life, still determined to post the prompt inspired entries on the day they were promised. :)

Rambling about female relationships ensues )

The other days
Return of the January Meme, as best I can in a very rl exhausted state. A canon knowledge preamble: I stopped watching Once upon a Time in the later third of season 4, and am inclined to count solely seasons 1 - 3 as "my" canon, though I'm not iron set on this. Anyway, I don't have knowledge about Emma in season 5, and thus my comparisons can't be based on later canon.

Spoilers about two stoics in two canons )

The other days
Prompt courtesy of [personal profile] zahrawithaz with whom I share these fandoms, in case someone is curious about the combination.

Spoilers for DS9 and Merlin unite! All you have to lose are your chains. )

The other days
The Borgias: love the first two seasons, do not love the third with the exception of a few episodes, to the point where I was relieved when it was cancelled, not least because I could see where this was (likely) going even before Neil Jordan described the ending he had had in mind. That my emotional investment was with the family dynamic (as in the entire family, not just Cesare and Lucrezia – in fact, my favourite character was probably Rodrigo, followed closely by Vannozza) had a big deal to do with this.
I will keep the s3 irritation to a minimum, though, when talking about the family dynamics on the show. The occasional comparison the historical originals will happen, though. But let’s talk about the Borgia family as presented on this show.

which can only be done in a spoilery fashion )

The other days
Necesssary preamble: all of this is extremely subjective. What looks like a good arc for me doesn't have to look like one for you, ditto for chemistry being in the eye of the beholder, etc. And nothing is meant as a disparagement of your own favourites, choices, etc.

Vague spoilers for both DW tv series and Big Finish audios )

The other days
Preamble: I'll be referencing both the novels and the movies, all three and all four respectively, so if you don't want to be spoiled for either, skip this entry. Just to be on the safe side, I shall of course employ a spoiler cut.

Girls on fire, Snow men and Iron ladies )

The other days
In some of the Jessica Jones reviews and comments that I've spotted, I've seen the complaint re: our main villain's lack of ambition. Which to me was one of the refreshing elements of the show. And in this particular case, it made so much sense. After all, why should Kilgrave want to take over the city/country/planet? What could he possibly gain that he doesn't already have?

We're so used to supervillains wanting to rule that we've stopped questioning why they should want to. Jessica Jones has a villain with an ability that already ensures his every whim is catered to. He's not lacking in any material thing he could want, he can use people in any way he wants to, and seriously, governing the city/country/world is work, even if you're doing it badly.

Villains who want to take over usually want to change something. No matter whether they're Evil McEvil villains who want to create a wasteland or Utopians gone wrong who want to create a new, better society with casualties, they're not content with the world as it is. Whereas Kilgrave is fine with the world as it is, minus the part where spoiler for second half of the season ) which isn't something domination of a territory would change.

Part of what makes this series so good to me is that this doesn't make Kilgrave any less damaging than villains who sic superweapons on people. Throughout the season, we see the lives he's harmed or taken, and that's what's at stake in Jessica's quest to defeat him. It's not solely a matter of Jessica's own life, or that of her immediate circle; we've seen both in cameos and supporting characters taking up more narrative space the wreckage Kilgrave leaves after him. And to me, this meant the emotional stakes as a viewer were higher, not lower, than if the show had presented a conventionally ambitious villain intent on becoming Lord Mcoverlord the Third.
I started my Once upon a Time season 3 rewatch and am four episodes in. Damm but the Neverland arc was good. After reading and watching The Lost Boys and rereading Peter Pan, I appreciate even more how clever and creative the show's adaption of various elements was, bypassing the Disney version entirely and going straight for the Barrie. (In a darkside fashion, yes, but there's considerable darkness in the original already.) And it really fits with Emma's emotional development up to this point. Lost Girl (3.02.) has what is probably my favourite scene between Emma and Snow at its climax. Spoilery quote and analysis follows. )
Rewatching the second season has certainly improved my opinion of it as a whole, except for the last few episodes, where my rewatch opinion is pretty much identical to my original broadcast opinion (I just checked). Though this time around, I'm also ready to offer a theory about why Mycroft, and to a lesser degree Lestrade, didn't work as characters in the same way Kitty would in s3. It's the good old showing over telling.

Let's start with Lestrade - who as a character per se works, also as a take on the ACD original (especially since the existence of Gregson and Bell insures we don't see him as a narrative statement about policemen being unable to do without Sherlock etc.), and the pay off in his last episode - spoilery explanation ensues ) - was well done. Lestrade's attitude towards Joan, a mixture between gratitude (for her help) and jealous resentment (because she's the partner in crime solving now and far better at it than he was), was very believable . Where the problem comes in is that the last episode also has a scene earlier where Joan (in the form of an exasparated pep talk) points out that Sherlock during Bell's arc has gone through a great number of highly competent police detectives whom he couldn't work with, yet worked with Lestrade and only Lestrade for years, therefore must have seen something special in him. You get the feeling this is also an authorial statement. The problem here is that we haven't seen anything on screen to justify believing in a mutual emotional connection. Doesn't matter in the season opener, because there Sherlock's main motivation to help Lestrade is guilt. But in the later half of s2, we're supposed to believe in fondness beneath the exasparation, and the show gives us no reason to believe in fondness scene wise (except for the last one), nor do the actors sell it. This isn't a matter of lacking screentime. The s2 Rhys episode managed to sell me completely with just a few scenes on the idea that Sherlock does care about Rhys, enough to risk having him in his house, and enough to forgive him after their argument. It also helps that John Hannah manages to exude likeability in the role. Sean Pertwee is good as Lestrade, but he's certainly not charming, so this as an explanation for Holmes & Watson letting him stay for weeks is out, let alone for Holmes working with him for years. Moreover, Johnny Lee Miller plays Holmes so consistently cooly disdainful in Lestrade's presence in the later two Lestrade eps that I have a hard time believing in that regard Joan's pep talk implies.

To me, one of the key problems with Mycroft is similar: again, tell versus show. The later relationship with Joan is actually the minor issue here, though it does fall into this category; when Mycroft shows up in New York again at the start of the last quartet of episodes, we're informed that spoilers have progressed ) . But that's a side issue, imo, like I said: the far bigger problem is the Sherlock & Mycroft relationship. Because given how the plot works out, what the show is theoretically going for is the type of dysfunctional brotherliness that's usually described as "can't live with, can't live without", siblings who are rivals and bicker but come through for each other when it counts (which usually is catnip to me). However, if you want to sell that dynamic you have to convey affection underneath the constant verbal digs. And/or the memory of past good times to contrast with the present bad ones. Whereas what we actually see on screen in all the s2 episodes featuring Mycroft is completely one sided; it doesn't come across as a love/hate relationship, it comes across, at best, as Mycroft mysteriously caring despite unrelenting hostility from Sherlock (long before the Paint it Black plot gives him a good reason for Mycroft directed anger). It's especially glaring since this is the same season which has no trouble convincing me during the Bell arc that Sherlock cares very deeply for Bell, even and especially when he's yelling at him (leading at last to Bell voicing his anger), no matter how blustery he gets. Considering the relationship between the brothers Holmes is what's supposed to drive the finale, this is a big black hole sucking believability out of the final four.

Now, the writers evidently learned from this, because with Kitty s3 it's show, not tell. We actually see her relationship with Joan develop on screen from a hostile start to a cautious approaching to a genuine friendship. While the start and foundation of her relationship with Sherlock is withheld until The One Who Got Away (to great effect), we see it in practice throughout her arc. There is no clumsy "This is how Sherlock feels about Kitty" dialogue necessary, because we see it demonstrated. And just compare two reveals: the s2 finale needs to let a minor character (the dead victim's ex wife) inform Joan of a key piece of Mycroft and Sherlock backstory; Joan goes to Mycroft and they exposition the confirming information at each other; later, Joan during an argument tells Sherlock; who in turn brings it up to Mycroft and, verbally going back to the opening episode, reminds us of the seasonal theme of making amends as a step of the recovery program. All via "he/you did it because..." type of dialogue. Meanwhile, the mid s3 climax of the Kitty arc, The One Who Got Away, juxtaposes Kitty in the present (where she's confronting her big backstory trauma and has to decide how far she'll go) with the flashbacks to how she became Sherlock's student. The key information re: why this relationship became so important to him in turn (if you like, the equivalent to what Joan finds out about Mycroft from the murder victim's ex) is conveyed to the audience via a scene with mininum dialogue and via actions (and non-actions) instead, Sherlock's and Kitty's. And because it fits with what we've been before via Sherlock's and Kitty's present day interactions, it feels entirely organic.

Back to season 2. With the negative out of the way, here's why my opinion of the season as a whole still has improved via the rewatch, second half as well as first half. There's development and good continuity here; early in the season, you have Sherlock solving a case one of the NYPD detectives has given Joan unasked and, after she pointed out to him how patronising unhelpful that was, made up for it by giving her his own cold cases, the crimes he could never solve. Later in the season, you have Joan solving just such a case. Moreover, Joan's surgeon past continues to matter; the episode where she thinks that a former superior may have let a patient die deliberately because it was a murderer also turns into a look at Joan's psyche; spoilers about the solution ensue ). S2 offered us also more about Joan's background familywise - the information about her biological father being a homeless man suffering from schizophrenia. (The episode in question also contains some favourite Joan and Sherlock friendship scenes while avoiding a cheap pay off like Joan finding her father and getting him back on medication.) The Mafia episode may end the Holmes and Bell enstrangement, but the real emotional pay off comes a few episodes later, when Marcus can't bring himself to enter the pub where his fully restored shooting ability is celebrated yet, and Sherlock keeps him company outside (and then in a coffee shop). Randy the sponsee shows up on only one more episode after he got introduced (and I still wish there'd been a line in s3 about what became of him), but in terms of later events it's significant that he does a spoilery thing ) And then there's the Alistair/Philip Seymour Hofmann episode. Which still breaks my heart. And is another opposite to the Mycroft eps in that we learn a great deal about Alistair - and about Sherlock's relationship with him - in a short screen time, and have no trouble believing it. Including a rare instance of Elementary letting Sherlock use a certain term. ) The episode doesn't lose its power during rewatch, i.e. when you already know what's going on with Alistair the first time we hear his voice, on the teaching tape Sherlock listens to in the teaser scene. Checking the Elementary section at A03 tells me no one seems to have written a big Alistair story yet, despite all the new information the story offered. (Ian, Jeremy...) I wish someone would. (And while we're at s2 inspired fanfiction wish lists, I wish someone would bring back Graham and/or Abigail/Ann.) (Oh, and C, the fabulous old lady who is Sherlock's erotic letters correspondant.) (Sidenote: when Joan in episode 2.20 says re: her having kept in touch with Mycroft, in reply to Sherlock's "so you corresponded" question "we exchanged emails - nobody corresponds these days", she's ignoring her partner, who seems to be into old fashioned letter writing big time, between Moriarty, Alistair (their relationship started as a fan letter after a BBC radio drama), Abigail (they become pen pals at age 15) and C (see above.)

One annoyance the s2 finale originally left me with - the fear we'd next get a plot about Sherlock the spy, which is so not what I want from this show - was immediately settled by s3's opener (which made it clear we wouldn't), so upon rewatch I could appreciate more the way the final four episodes handled something spoilery. )

In conclusion: its flaws not withstanding, the rewatch has left me considerably fonder of s2 than I used to be. How many more months till season 4?
Being so much in an Elementary mood lately, I continued with my rewatch and am now marathoning season 2. Which I remembered as the one with the sophomore slump, but upon rewatching find it to be good, definitely better than I remembered. Which might be because rewatching, I'm not waiting for things to happen which won't, and also I'm able to see more patterns during a marathon than on a week to week basis.

Oh, and I skipped episode 2.03, because the mere thought of that one still pushes all my rage buttons. (Other viewers got upset about Mycroft in s2; I was fine with Mycroft, but the shameless US government propaganda and Snowden & Laura Poitras vilification still makes me want to yell "that episode came directly from the Ministery for Truth" at the Elementary writers.) Which means I could go directly from 2.02. to 2.04., both strong character episodes, and presto the "wow, s2, I slandered you in my memory" impression was there. :) Rewatching so so shortly after rewatching s1, I spotted some structural parallels as well; s1 gave us Joan's backstory trauma - the loss of her patient, with the revelation that it was her own choice, not some institutional punishment, which made her abandon her career as a surgeon - early on (Sherlock spots she's been visiting a cemetary in the pilot), and s2 reminds us of it again, complete with cemetary visit, this time shown, as soon as our heroes are back in NY. One reason why I love this show is demonstrated by the way it handles the plot with Joan and Joey, her dead patient's son. Which is spoilery. ) It's a lovely example of Elementary type friendship at its best.

Mind you, it doesn't always go so well - this is the season which will end in a split, after all. How to balance friendship with boundaries, various contradictory obligations - to the individual versus to society, or to different people - strikes me as a far more consistent theme than I remembered. The opening episode's title, Step 9, refers to the step in the recovery program that includes making amends to people we've wronged. As I said, 2.02. is an example of Joan navigating her way through a very difficult attempt to do this. With Sherlock, it's more of a multi episode thing, not always in the way he thinks. 2.01 introduces this show's versions of Mycroft and Lestrade. Lestrade, among other things, is another example of Elementary taking up one of Doyle's premises and treating it with the benefit of looking at it more than a century later. Obviously, Elementary does this with Sherlock Holmes as a drug user (and it's not the first version to do so - I think that credit goes to The 7 Percent Solution), something that looks far differently to a present day viewer/reader than it did in the 1890s to Doyle's readers). But it also does it with Lestrade, whom Doyle's A Study in Scarlet introduces as someone who gets the public acclaim for Holmes' deductions on a regular basis. Elementary's Lestrade has gotten addicted to this. The show makes it clear he's not a bad or incompetent cop ( he's right about the case of the week and the identity of the killer), but he's not a genius, either, nor, unlike Joan or later Kitty, willing to put in the extra work of trying to learn Sherlock's methods, and unlike Gregson and Bell, he's after the spotlight because he needs the public admiration by now. Sherlock draws a parallel to his own drug addiction, sees himself as an enabler and feels guilty about it, but that very parallel should have told him that his solution - helping one last time - won't work, not to mention that their situation is far more due to Lestrade's choices than his, and thus the guilt factor is mitigated. But probably because it puts him in a positive role, he's willing to acknowledge it; whereas with Mycroft, he's willing to do anything but, and as a consequence Sherlock's behavior when around Mycroft is a pre-run for his initial reaction after a spoilery event in Tremors that happens to another character ) He's at his most childish, immature and "but it's everyone else's fault"-like.

The show never spells out what exactly the reason for the more long term dysfunctionality between these versions of the brothers Holmes is (unless I've forgotten stuff from the later half of the season). The one reason for his long term anger Sherlock gives to Joan this early on is Mycroft's "indolence" (which is actually an ACD Mycroft trait from ACD's Sherlock perspective), but in light of how the rest of the season plays out, this is questionable. (Joan's own theory seems to be standard sibling rivalry due to the fact Mycroft seems to be getting on better with the unseen Holmes Senior.) In the short term, the season opener reveals that Sherlock did something spoilery ) as opposed to the Lestrade scenario, where accepting guilt makes him look nobly misguided, accepting blame in the Mycroft case would mean admitting to pettiness, and thus he keeps acting out instead. (And acts not so secretly relieved when Mycroft finally does something petty to him.

Speaking of Mycroft, overall, he has the great problem that the BBC's Sherlock included one of the most memorable Mycrofts in adaptional history, and Elementary's version is not just very different but even within the show's own universe not one of the most compelling characters. Then there's the part where his motivations are kept deliberately opaque until the last few episodes of the season, which works for some characters in other stories, but these are usually trickster archetypes (a great counter example of a character for whom the reveal of the true motivation very late in the season works would be Rumplestilskin in season 1 of Once upon a Time), and Mycroft isn't positioned as a trickster in this story, or an antagonist. (Though the show tries a reverse of the big season 1 twist with him, to wit: Spoilers. ) All this being said, what he is does work for me within the story. Making Mycroft's public identity a restauranteur and the Diogenes a restaurant is a clever update of Mycroft's Victorian cover of the gentlemen's club. He's also another example of Sherlock's boundary issues and problem with accepting people within his inner circle to be other than he wants them to be; with hindsight, Sherlock's umbrage at Mycroft's choice of profession, treating this as a personal insult almost, isn't that different from his reaction to Joan's late season decision to do a spoilery thing ) Mycroft's low key demeanour and lack of flamboyance make him, in this day and age, actually more credible as the spoilery obvious ) As to what the most complained about Mycroft issue was in season 2: it's spoilery. )

2.04., Poison Pen, offers another variation of the "what do we owe each other/ different claims/negotiating guilt" theme, via one of the strongest cases of the week/guest characters. It also, which I had forgotten when I wrote in my s1 rewatch post that we never find out for sure whether or not Sherlock was telling the truth to Adam in 1.03, clarifies that yes, he had been telling the truth: i.e. the "getting viciously beaten up on a regular basis at school as a child" is canon. (BTW, 2.01 also prevents another obvious question in this context by letting Sherlock mention he and Mycroft went to different boarding schools.) This is the episode where Sherlock discovers that the main suspect is none other than his former teenage pen pal. And now it gets spoilery. )

The show plays with different possible mentor scenarios for Sherlock in s2 before committing him to one in s3 with Kitty; this offer at the end of 2.04 is one of them, and then later in 2.11. the introduction of Randy as a sponsee. It's a bit frustrating to me that we never find out what became of Randy in s3 and that Graham isn't heard of again, either, but otoh, narratively I understand it, because Sherlock isn't quite there yet in s2, though he makes attempts. The clearest way the show signals him still having a way to go is by setting up the Bell mini arc an episode before it starts via Sherlock alienating yet another copper, which leads to the argument between him and Joan where she says she knows he can be polite, he's been it to her, and it wouldn't cost him anything to be thus with the people they work with, and him insisting on her being exceptional. When I heard this the first time back when, I groaned and muttered, "Sherlock, this is Moriarty thinking". (And of course before long we'll find out they're still in correspondance in more ways than one.) (Incidentally, a good example of him being able to restrain himself for someone other than Joan if he so chooses happens in the Gregson episode of the season, An Unnatural Arrangement, which comes earlier. He figures out Gregson's marital problems and still doesn't blurt them out in front of everyone. He picks up on Gregson being torn about whether or not to make a request and waits until they're alone before he brings this up. And he even manages to be supportive instead of overbearing in his final advice to Gregson.) The narrative promptly brings on the karmic payback via the Bell arc. I seem to recall some complaints about Tremors, the episode which starts it, at the time to the effect that the actual event triggering it isn't really Sherlock's fault. To recapitulate in case you've forgotten. ) But as in the previous examples, guilt isn't always legal. Yes, the incident in question was the criminal's fault, but it happens in an overall context of Sherlock considering himself above any of the rules the NYPD is bound to re: treatment of suspects, being unable to restrain himself from one last disdainful quip, and, something very important to Bell's later reaction, unwilling to face the consequences if they include condemnation by people he actually cares about. Spoilerly example. ) In conclusion: Sherlock Holmes is really, rally bad at feeling guilty if the guilt in question isn't off the type that allows him to take on a heroic role in dealing with it.



I had misremembered something about Moriarty in s2, it turns out; in my recollection, the montage where we find out that something spoilery is the case ) Otoh the episode itself did confirm my impression that while Moriarty is by now very interested in Joan, Joan really couldn't care less beyond how this impacts Sherlock. She's also remarkably unfreaked by the large portrait.

Now the near mid s2 episode where Joan is really affected by a guest character from the past is the one where one of the suspects is a former client of hers from her sober companion days, and it's a welcome reminder of how seriously Joan takes her professional ethics. Not to mention that again, the show offers her a dilemma situation. Spoilery dilemma ensues. )

A few more trivia observations:

- the depiction of the police in this show really is very 90s, all being said and done; in the Gregson episode when Sherlock and Joan go through Gregson's file Joan asks "did you know the Captain turned down a promotion because he didn't want to work in Internal Affairs?", which, especially bearing in mind a certain s3 episode, had me groan again, because seriously, writers, Internal Affairs is more than direly necessary given the current day police behavior

- Gregson and his wife mention "the kids", so I'm assuming Hannah has a sibling?

- early s2 isn't as blatant about getting JLM shirtless as early s1, but it does happen.

And lastly: I usually avoid spoilers, but was glad nonetheless about the casting spoiler for s4 which slipped in. Casting spoiler is awesome )
The transition period between the first and the second half of the season re: Joan (sober companion versus graduating detective-in-training) was more transitionary, in lack of a better term, than I had remembered, or rather, it's ironic that at the point where Joan isn't officially Sherlock's sober companion anymore and hasn't yet accepted her new detective identity that we get her at her most sober companionest. By which mean A Gun fully loaded with Drugs, aka the Rhys the (ex?) drug dealer episode. Aside from the obvious reason - i.e. drug dealer, ex or not, in the house of recovering drug addict is about one of the triggeriest situations you can imagine, and that's leaving out what actually happens near the end -, it's also the first time we see Joan in protective friend mode. Given that she's at this point staying around without a salary out of M related concern, this is not surprising: Joan has a far easier time realising "this person has become my friend, and I'm invested in his welfare beyond my professional duty" than she has to admit "I really like being a detective better than being a sober companion, I do want to make that radical life change for good".

The Rhys episode is of course also fascinating in regard to the two s3 Oscar episodes. Spoilery reasons why. )

Given all of this, it's not surprising, really, that Sherlock is able to interact amiably with Rhys - who is an acceptable face of his drug taking past, with virtues as well as flaws, making it look redeamable - but not with Oscar, who is an unbearable mirror and a worst case future (the Gollum to his Frodo, if you will).

Another episode in this transition period with great relevance to the s3 events is The Deductionist, in which we meet FBI profiler Kathryn Drummond. Spoilers are not keen on being profiled and absolutely abhor if this happens in writing. )

It's probably significant we only see Joan's therapist during those transition episodes, though the implication of their conversations is that Joan's been visiting her for a while. After Joan has decided to embrace the detective life fully, the therapist isn't seen again; she's less a character than a plot device to spell out Joan's options and the drawbacks on what she's embarking to do, to give the audience a look at Joan's thought process. Which is probably why the show didn't keep her around. After all, the episode where Joan's friends decide to stage an intervention fulfills much the same purpose and it feels more natural. Ditto, btw, for Gregson's later attempt to get Joan another sober companion job after the pursuit of Moriarty has heated up. This gives Joan the opportunity to argue back (and point out no matter how well motivated, he's behaving patronisingly), but it's a scene between two characters the audience cares about, who both act the way they do for understandable motives, and thus doesn't feel espositionary the way the scenes of Joan and her therapist early in the second half of s1 do. Speaking of Gregson, another shift and transition in retrospect is that for the first half of s1, he's the cop closest to Holmes; post-M and onwards, Bell becomes that (starting with the practical; pre-M, it's Gregson whom Holmes calls when contacting the NYPD for whatever reason, post-M, it's Bell), and for a good reason. I've seen the argument that there aren't real consequences between Gregson and Holmes after the scene in the bar (complete with bunch) post M, but I disagree, because especially with the subsequent show in mind, what Gregson says in that scene - that yes, he'll continue to work with Holmes as a consultant, because this does save lives, but he'll never trust him as he used to again - is just what turns out to be true. Just because Gregson doesn't cold shoulder Sherlock anymore in the later half of s1 doesn't mean they're back to pre-M relations; there's an degree of closeness irrevocably lost. And when Gregson at the start of s3 tells Holmes that it's up to Watson whether or not they'll take him back as a consultant, because Watson has become their go to consultant by then and as opposed to Holmes she's reliable, there's no doubt he means it.

Joan as a learning detective in later s1 gets two subplots, but her "graduating" case, so to speak, is of course Moriarty. This also the first time we see Sherlock hand over the investigation to Joan, and it says something about how well the series has presented Joan's learning process and getting better at the deductive method a la Sherlock while also bringing on her own medical background and emotional insight until this point that as an audience member, you both believe this and share his confidence in her. On a parallel level, of course, the show established Irene Adler's emotional importance to Sherlock throughout the first season to make his decision at the start of the finale two parter understandable from that angle as well. Which brings me to the big s1 twist. Spoilers aren't boring at all. )

Revisiting the first season has been lovely. But now I'm missing the show all over again!
I did more Elementary season 1 rewatching, until and including M. Rewatch thoughts, containing spoilers for all three broadcast seasons:

Are under the cut )
...I've started to rewatch the show from the beginning. Which means the occasional rewatch thought in written form.

I had forgotten some details, such as the fact we don't meet Marcus Bell until episode 2, whereas in the pilot Gregson's Faithful Lieutenant with identical initial attitude towards Holmes is another character. I suppose given the time that passes between pilot making and series proper on American tv, the actor wasn't available anymore or was this more a case like the B5 pilot where the network objected to several actors? Anyway. One can't imagine the show without Bell, so I'm glad, whatever happened.

Something else I had forgotten: that the pilot establishes Joan's parents only just got together again after her father had had an affair. No wonder that in season 3 Mary Watson comes to a spoilery conclusion )

The first few episodes establish quite a lot about these versions of Holmes and Watson that holds up well three seasons later, which isn't always the case in shows with an evolving canon. Even something which I thought was one of the few things where Elementary contradicts itself later: does their Sherlock Holmes have friends pre-Watson, or doesn't he? Because actually it's Joan who comes to the conclusion he doesn't in episode 2, and that Gregson is the closest thing to a friend in his life right then. He doesn't refute her assumption, but neither does he confirm it. (They're still very early in their relationship, after all, when he regards her presence in his life as a paternally ordered intrusion.) When Alistair is introduced in episode 6 and during his second, honest conversation with Joan refers to himself and Sherlock as friends, she automatically says "Sherlock doesn't have friends". What Alistair says in reply basically, I think points to the difference betweeen pre-Watson and Watson era friends for this Sherlock Holmes.

Alistair says you can't expect Sherlock to relate to you and behave like a normal person does. Basically that you have to allow Sherlock to set the parameters for the relationship. And if you think about it, not just in Alistair's case but with all the pre-Watson friends we meet through the course of the series, this is certainly what he does. What's so new about Joan Watson is that she doesn't accept this, and does her own parameter-settings. And out of the negotiations between the two grows the Holmes & Watson relationship. (It's one of the things he learns from her that also transfers, not without complications and the occasional fallback, to the other new friendships he makes, as with Bell and Alfredo.

Something else that struck me as I rewatched those early episodes: Joan at the start of the show shares something with Joan mid s3 when spoilery things happen ) Because Sherlock's damage is so obvious, it's sometimes easy to overlook Joan starts the show damaged as well, and I think one reason why they work so well together is that they both at this point need someone to challenge them out of what they think their lives should be like.

You can tell Joan is interested in and intrigued by the detecting from the pilot onwards (and Sherlock does notice it). She's a problem solver by nature. What the three jobs she's chosen during the course of her life - surgeon, sober companion, detective - have in common is this, in connection with helping people, but they also allow her (usually) to keep her emotional distance from the people she helps. She's empathic, but up to a point. This prevents her from getting obsessive the way Sherlock occasionally does.

Elementary has been pretty consistent in having their Sherlock Holmes do the usual abrasive genius thing, but also have him show a particular distaste/deep-seated anger against villains who exploit the weak and powerless from the pilot onwards. (When he pulls that car stunt in the pilot, it's because he has just figured out something spoilery ) Which is important when it comes the careful growth of the Holmes and Watson friendship, and the "why does Joan Watson not quit early on before they become friends?" question. He does have a code of ethics when she meets him. There is a lot he learns from her, but not this basic drive for justice.
Other than "to write meta and fanfiction for me", of course.

What's it about?: Pirates and their fences, both fictional and historical. It's nominally set around 1715, so it should fit right into Age of Sails fandom. Alternative accurate descriptions would be: Treasure Island/Historical RPF crossover, or "Deadwood on water".

But I haven't watched DEADWOOD and I haven't read TREASURE ISLAND, either. And/or I don't even like pirates. What's the allure?: Emsemble-tasticness. World building. Character growth. People don't stay static, they change. Ditto for relationships. Of which there are a lot of interesting ones, between women and men, men and men, women and women. Lots of shade of grey and moral ambiguity, but no cheap cynicism or grimdark gratitiousness.

When you say relationships, you mean...: All kinds. Lethal feuds, practical business partnerships, friendships, sexual affairs, platonic love, mentor/protegé.

But the sex is heteronormative, right?: Wrong. Four of the main characters in present day are bisexual. Another important character who so far has been only seen in flashbacks is also bi. Actually, for all we know, other characters are bi as well; nobody's said "just the opposite sex for me!" yet, and in this show, you can't assume just because it's the tv default.

Fine, but what about the plot? I take it it's not about who gets together with whom.: There are some red threads - the gold of the Spanish ship Urca, for example, who controls the trade in Nassau, whether or not it's every pirate for themselves or something united, whether or not British control over New Providence gets reestablished - which touch in different ways on everyone's lives, depending on their take on those issues. Also, I wasn't kidding about the "all kinds of relationships", I mean, all the canon bi is nice, but several of the non-romantic relationships are just as key. Those shifting allegiances sometimes come without and sometimes with sex. One of the key partnerships pushing the "who rules Nassau and how?" plot forward is between a man and a woman whom neither the show nor the fandom ships. They're both involved with other people was far as romance/sex is concerned.

Are they all white, despite the historical likelihood?: No, though most of the main characters are. There are two important pocs among the regulars, Max (female) and Mr. Scott. The other pocs in the cast are background and supporting.

If it's Age of Sails and TREASURE ISLAND is somehow involved, doesn't that point to mainly male characters? Are there more than one or two women around for more than set decoration?: I'm glad you asked. Why don't I tell you about the characters?


Important characters of Black Sails:


Captain James Flint: The closest thing the show has to a leading man. Played by Toby Stephens. (Which means he's not Tall, Dark And Brooding but Medium, Ginger And Brooding.) Has a gigantic chip on his shoulder because of his Mysterious Past, which gets hinted at in season one and more thoroughly revealed via flashbacks in season 2. Is very good at manipulation and lying; this, not surprisingly, doesn't encourage trust in his crew. (Let alone among characters not in his crew.) Is a big picture type swinging wildly between megalomania and soured idealism. Good at planning, though the capacity for obsession can be somewhat counterproductive.

Eleanor Guthrie: The local trade boss/ kingpin/fence. Came to the job because of her no-good father but surpassed him and made the business empire her own. Has plans for Nassau that go well with Flint's. (That would be the platonic partnership of season 1.) Also has a tendency to put business & Nassau above both her love interests on the show, which does not sit well with either. Other than said love interests, about which more in a moment, and Flint for business, another important relationship of hers is with her trusted right hand man, Mr. Scott, who practically raised her.

Max: at the start of the show, one of the prostitutes in the local brothel, in love with Eleanor. (By the end of s2, she's in a very different position, power wise. Emotion wise too.) Is also very good at spotting non-sexual business opportunities. Can be manipulative, but is a very loyal partner to have if you've proved you're worth her time.

Captain Charles Vane: also obsessively in love with Eleanor. They have an on/off thing (due to Eleanor; Vane's the obsessive here and would prefer it to be on all the time). Flint's main rival for the "most feared Captain" title. Has a shorter temper and tends to more personal physical violence, but turns out to be not incapable of long term planning as well when the occasion arises. Stars in most of the Mary Sue tales written so far. (He does have a great butt.)

John Silver: at the start of the show, a young guy on bord of a ship Flint's crew captures and really good at talking fast and making himself useful. Cheerfully and openly committed to Looking Out For Number One. Smart, but not always as smart as he thinks (he still has a lot to learn, which he does, he's really good at learning). The best thing about Silver is that if you stick him in a scene with any the driven, serious characters like Eleanor or Flint, you get entertaining dialogue gold. He also is quite good in scenes with Max, with whom he makes a business partnership both at the start of s1 and in later s2.

Anne Bonney: an intense woman of few words (and these likely swear words), a lethal blade and a capacity for total commitment. Originally in Vane's crew, but her one true loyalty is to Jack Rackham, about whom more in a second. During the course of s1 and throughout s2, she also developes a close relationship with Max.

Jack Rackham: at the start of the show, Vane's quartermaster. Fast talking, not a good fighter (that's Anne's job) and somewhat resembling Jack Sparrow of Disney fame if Jack Sparrow were stuck in a more realistic canon with the odds stacked against him. His one true loyalty is to Anne, but that's tested (mutually) in s2.

Billy Bones: The closest thing the show has to a good guy without any shades of grey. Totally committed to the welfare of the crew, whom he sees as his brothers; one constant dilemma of his is whether Flint is more a danger or a possible solution for said brothers. Billy, played by Tom Hopper (if you've watched Merlin, you might remember him as Percival), is a firm fan favourite.

Miranda Barlow: the one person on New Providence who knows all about Flint's Mysterious Past, because it's her Mysterious Past as well. At the start of the show, the few of Flint's crew who know she exists think she has Flint in some kind of sexual thrall, while Eleanor's no good father who has some access to London gossip thinks Miranda and Flint are guilty adulterous lovers who ran away together. They're all wrong. Miranda is a bit enigmatic in s1 when the Mysterious Past is just hinted at, but in s2, where it's revealed, she really comes into her own. There's a quiet fierceness and steely grace to her that's very compelling (and able to cut through everyone's pretenses if she wants to).

Mr. Scott: used to be owned by Eleanor's no-good father and raised her. Very devoted to Eleanor, but no, he's not a Magical Negro; in later s1, when he disagrees with Eleanor on a key point, he also has to reevaluate how he identifies vis a vis other poc who are still slaves. In the end, he finds a way to be his own man without letting the Guthries define him.

Then there's an important character whom I can't describe without giving away one of the big s2 twists, so his entire description shall be hidden behind a spoiler cut: Spoilery character description alert )


Okay, so far, so good. But what about the violence?: Well, these are pirates, so of course, there there is some. There are no freeze frame gore & blood extravaganzas a la Spartacus here. Also, the show tends to do its action set pieces at the start and at the end of each season, with another actiony thing (but not as big as the ones at the start and at the end) happening in the middle. This reliably leads some viewers to complain there's too much talking and negotiating and they want pirates fighting, but this show, see the point about world building as one of its virtues mentioned above, remembers that the pirates had to fence their plunder somewhere, and this is why Eleanor is such an important power player. Also, this is a show that avoids the "soldiers/minions/any type of subordinates do what they're told no matter who their leader is" cliché. The fact that crews can depose their captains, and that their captains can't take their loyality for granted if they don't bother to explain (truthfully) what the hell is going on, is an important plot point in both seasons. Incidentally, s2 shows this is also true for the whores of the local brothel. If they have doubts whether or not the current madam's allegiances are endangering them, they say so. And the show doesn't vilify any of them for disagreeing with their respective leaders. This is a show where you have to earn leadership, and constantly.

Before you get off on a tangent, back to the violence. What about sexual violence? I heard there was rape!: In early season 1, there is indeed rape. It happens in episode 3 and is implied to go on (i.e. we don't see it, but know it happens because we see the aftermath) through the next two episodes until a radical event puts an end to it, to put it mildly. No rape happens in s2.

I knew it! Why should I put myself through this?: Well, no one has to, obviously. But here's why I don't think the s1 rape is a reason not to watch the show: a) It's plot relevant, and not in a "man avenges woman" way. One of my criteria for whether or not a rape is gratitious in any fiction is whether the storylines would happen without it the same way. Here, they wouldn't. Because it happens, and happens the way it does to spoilerly details then happen next ). And b) it's not filmed in a tiltillating way, on the contrary. As opposed to the consensual sex scenes, which show plenty of skin and can get lengthy, the rape scene itself is short (just makes it clear what happens) and doesn't expose the actress. Whereas the aftermath, where we see her and other women dealing with what happened to her, gets plenty of screentime. c) The raped character does not lose her own agenda, or becomes defined as The One Who Got Raped.

How about character death? Character death does happen. Your name in the credits does not a safe series life make, in other words. New characters also happen. Next season, i.e. season 3, we're promised Ray Stevenson as Blackbeard!

Most people aren't gen leaning like you. What ships other than the ones you've already listed does this show offer?: Well, Captain Flint's ship is called the Walrus, the one with the Spanish treasure which everyone is after is called the Urca... Okay, okay. Look, why don't I combine a listing of possible ships with some pictures in order to show off the cast?

By all means. Bring on the pretty and interesting and both!

pictures below the cut )


Okay, I'll have a look. Can I skip ahead to when the bi action starts?: No, you can't. This is a continuity heavy show, and you'll be completely lost of you don't start with the pilot. Otoh, the pilot already has some f/f action (Max/Eleanor).

And where can I watch this show?: The first season is out on DVD. No idea whether or not it's also not Netflix. The second season should follow suit soon, now that it's wrapped up.

In conclusion: get thee to a viewscreen!
With spoilers for all the books, so skip if you don't want to know. Having had to write Dumbledore meta during my December posting meme made me reread some Harry Potter - not books, I don't have the time, just a few select passages - and reminded me how much I like the (book) series. I don't actively dislike the movies, but I think they get some important things wrong - Ron comes immediately to mind - and by necessity of the format sometimes cut out some of the most interesting parts, definitely the backstory related ones. Prisoner of Azkaban missing the entire Marauder backstory, the "Snape's worst memory" flashback in Order of the Phoenix not including Lily (and thus missing why this particular encounter with the Marauders is Snape's worst memory), the entire Kreacher-related Regulus story, which makes for one of the most moving chapters in Deathly Hallows. (BTW, I love Snape as a character, but Regulus wins in the Death Eater redemption stakes. Turning against your dastardly Evil Overlord because he abused and tortured your house elf is far less likely than turning against him because he's threatening the love of your life. Mind you, Regulus then coming up with a suicidal plan to foil Voldemort all on his own was both brave and stupid, but no more so than some of the stuff other characters pull off.) Some of Dumbledore's backstory survives, but not all, and Harry has barely time to react to it where the book has him work through the realisation that Dumbledore was flawed and not always wise and right, which is a preparation for the final revelation re: Dumbledore's plans. It's something that works better in book format by its very nature - access to thought process of the pov character - but since they split up the final novel into two movies anyway, they could have tried to work more of this in.

An ongoing theme of the novels as Harry & Co. get older is what tv tropes calls "adults are people", by which I don't just mean "flawed", but complex, with histories, mistakes, and in the case of the villains, also virtues. Snape can be a horrible teacher who never emotionally gets over teenagerdom and an incredibly brave man who lived a lonely, tragic life. Remus Lupin, by contrast, is a wonderful teacher and lovely, nice man, but he also never mastered what Neville Longbottom did already in his first year at Hogwarts, standing up to your friends if your conscience disagrees with them. Sirius, like Snape, never grows out of emotional teenagerdom (unlike Snape, he has the Azkaban excuse), and is an incredibly loyal, loving friend. Narcissa Malfoy is a racist and quite likely murderous racist who at no point shows regrets for any of the victims and a dedicated mother risking it all for her son, in the full knowledge of what Voldemort would do to her if he found out and survived. Dumbledore, see December entry.

And here's one (of several) reason why I really like our chief protagonist: Harry may react with confusion and anger to some of this, but also with kindness and compassion. When he returns to Hogwarts in DH and thinks of Tom Riddle, Snape and himself as "the three lost boys" who found their home there, he doesn't yet know the truth about Snape, and acknowledges the commonality nonetheless; when Snape dies, Harry still doesn't know (though he's about to find out) but is there. And in his last conversation with Dumbledore, when he does know both the good and the bad the man has done, there is this short exchange which I love in how it shows Harry's changed perspective and position - when he tells Dumbledore something he, Harry, knows via his mental link with Voldemort, i.e. that Gellert Grindlewald died defying Voldemort when Voldemort was on the lookout for the Elder Wand. (The movies got that one wrong, too.) The is no reason to tell Dumbledore this but one: Dumbledore has just talked about his own guilt re: falling for Grindlewald in the first place. It's Harry providing comfort without declaring it as such. Whereas at the start of the book, when he reads the first of Dumbledore's obituaries, he finds it impossible to imagine Dumbledore as a youngster his own age, with a family and friendships, he's now responding to someone he can see that way: to the old man with a lifetime of regrets and the young man who fell in love both.
selenak: (Alex (Being Human)  - Arctic Flower)
( Jan. 12th, 2015 10:49 am)
Because the fannish mind sometimes does quirky things and makes you ponder something years later: back when Being Human finished, I had problems with the ending which the additional scene on the dvds largely resolved. To spare you the trouble of looking up the original review, my spoilery problem and why the additional scene mostly fixed it )

Now, ever since watching the scene, I assumed it meant spoilery stuff ). Having rewatched the last episode for the first time since it was originally broadcast, I changed my mind as to the timing and some other stuff. Spoilery musings ensue )

Which is why I'm now revising my theory about the implications of the additional scene. New headcanon: is spoilery as well. )
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