I could post many more thoughts on the finale, but I was reading over the AVC and a lot of people were complaining about the story requiring Clara to be "The Most Special of All Companions, EVER!" to work, and that really got me thinking about how their relationship was constructed and the things I thought were interesting about it. So I thought I'd share my response here: [mild spoilers]
I think there's a couple of things going on with the Doctor here, which lays the groundwork for the intensity of their relationship without needing Clara to be the most specialist of all the companions. They have a very solid friendship, and that's the foundation.
But I think the really key factors are the fact that Clara was with him during the Day of the Doctor, and was the catalyst in his redemption (that it could have easily been another companion doesn't matter- it's not that she was the most special, it was that she was the one that was there. She was there, on his worst, and most despairing day, and she was there, and prodded him to find hope).
Considering how much the trauma of having committed double genocide drove the Doctor through three different regenerations, how heavily it weighed on him, what wouldn't he do for her? What wouldn't he give her? It's not unusual for companions to have few lines they wouldn't cross for the Doctor, because he's gifted them with something beyond measure (and the lines they do have frequently are due to the ties they have with others, like with Amy and Rory, but Clara, after Danny died, seems to have given up on those ties).
But this is one of the rare times when the reverse is true, and that's the heart of the problem, I think. Companions are more limited in what they can do. A companion who is willing to go to any extreme, cross any line, sacrifice any thing and anyone is certainly dangerous, but rarely on the same scale as the Doctor would be and is.
So that's half of it: the Doctor's incredible debt and gratitude towards Clara is the seed. The other half of it is that the Doctor just spent 4.5 billion years of physical and psychological torture, in addition to being forced to freshly relive the grief of Clara's death each and every time, and that breaks him, I think. He's beyond caring.
You mix all of those things together, and you can have an incredibly powerful relationship that would lead the Doctor to break all his rules...without needing Clara to be some sort of extra special snowflake.
Which is exactly the way it should be, because it allows for an emotionally powerful story about the relationship between the Doctor and his companion, without marginalizing either his past companions or dismissing the significance and un-interchangeability of his relationship with this one in particular.
So I've been burning through ebooks on my kindle...and some real books too, but the reason for the kindle is that for some reason, it's super easy to read something on a kindle and go on long walks at the same time while still managing to dodge obstacles/other pedestrians. I have more of a tendency to either walk into things or lose my place in the paragragh with paperbacks. Another perk of the kindle is it is much easier to read one handed while on a crowded bus. Anyway. Ebooks! I still owe a massive post on a bunch of actually tolerable Kindle Unlimited books (thanks, once yearly free trial), but I'm going to keep procrastinating on that.
Lately, I've been burning through the San Francisco Library's ebook collection, which is far more massive than any library I've had access to before. Nonetheless, when searching through books immediately available, I came across a Fringe tie-in novel. I usually don't read tie-in novels, they tend to strike me as less sophisticated fanfic (weak character voices, simplistically written, shallow understanding of character dynamics and motivations), but I had a sudden attack of nostalgia and thought I'd give it a shot. Fringe! I still miss the hell out of Fringe.
So I'm only at the very beginning and I expect to be horribly disappointed eventually, but I am enjoying the hell out of this. It's about preseries Olivia. Dr. Bishop kind of being a cold bastard doing experiments on her. Her decision to shoot her stepfather. The death of her mother. And just so...perfectly Olivia, perfectly aligning with the development of the tighter, closed off woman Our!Olivia would grow into. And now, basically, she's just been swept away to join the x-men.
No, I kid, but she's just gotten some mysterious just-in-the-nick-of-time scholarship to some mysterious and isolated boarding school academy for gifted students in upstate new york. (They're totally going to end up being the x-men.)
I just can't wait to see where this goes. (my mindset is pretty close to the experience of watching season 1 Sleepy Hollow).
Have you ever seen the phrase 'dubious consent' outside fandom ever? Because I just came across an ebook through the library where the description just screams fandom- seriously, it's an A/B/O AU. Which are all basically original fiction anyway, so it wouldn't be a stretch to adapt it, since a great many of those kind of AUs, especially in the RPF department, share little in common with their source material but looks and names. It could be any big fandom, I suppose. Although TBH my head goes straight to SPN...or rather, J2. Possibly just because of familiarity. Anyway. This has to be fandom. The dubcon warning just clinches it.
"Trans-Global IT director Connor Witt is a rare and prized anomaly: the aggression centers in his brain have been suppressed rather than stimulated by the mutated crops that so recently took over the world's food supply. Bewildered by his physical changes and terrified of a world growing more and more predatory, Connor risks harassment and worse until Trans-Global CEO David Martin collars Connor to protect him against men like security consultant Emmett Drake. Men who stalk Connor as sweet, sexy prey. Men to whom the newly submissive Connor feels irresistibly drawn.
But David can't be Connor's master; David's straight. He promises to find a worthy man, though. One willing to court and appreciate Connor as more than just some rich man's toy.
While the world adapts to the biological disaster and new laws strip away Connor's rights, David's resolve to protect his boy slowly grows into something more. But can his new desires keep pace with Emmett's determination to claim Connor?
One man offers safety; the other is a safer bet. Problem is, Connor's never sure which is which. The one thing he does know? He wants them both.
Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: dubious consent."
I've been watching TV! a lot of tv. So I'm doing a reaction post.
The things I've been watching:
Killjoys (the show that everyone else seems to be marathoning as well), and Dark Matter (the show that always was being advertised during the credits of Killjoys). These shows are actually paired pretty well, as they're both variations on the Space Western, with a LOT of Firefly in their DNA (and maybe a bit of Cowboy Bebop too. Space westerns all aroud.) Which make them an interesting thing to discuss together! So, some of the basic similarities: on the most general level, they're all sci-fi shows set in human-only universes, and they've got some wild west themes- exploitation (you know, the settlers vs the big mining interests/railroad/whatever type of thing) and the lawelss frontier, and the tyrants who rise up. The characters are all running from dark pasts, they're all exiles and outcasts, and they operate outside or on the margins of civilization, unwilling or unable to give over entirely to the anarchy of outlaws or the rules, obligations, and conventions of civilization. So, you know: Space Westerns.
Short descriptions for those who have no idea what I'm talking about:
Killyjoys is a show about a pair of space bounty hunters who live and work in a nightmare of a corporate dystopia that makes the Alliance in Firefly look like the very model of good and just government. The bounty hunters' organization is very vaguely reminscent of the Peacekeepers in Farscape...in that they're big, and powerful (if not as powerful, and not a ruling body), but are also law enforcement for hire.. actually, since this is a Space Western, the way to say is that in this universe, they're the Pinkertons, if the Pinkertons were never superceded by state and federal law enforcement. Back to the characters, Dutch, the badass with a dark past she's running from, is the senior partner, and Johnny, the endearing one with family issues, is the junior partner. They soon hook up with Johnny's estranged older brother, who has his own problems.[too generic to count as actual spoilers, but hidden just for the spoiler-phobic]Dutch's dark past and the ominous but vague plans for her she's tried to escape from form the largest seasonal arc (and presumably will be front and center in the next season as well), but the other continuing story lines involve Davin's...everything, and the growing tension between the oligarchy and the oppressed masses.
Dark Matter is a show about six people who wake up on a spaceship with no idea who they are or what they're doing there. Oh, and the ship is having major life support issues. Luckily, they only memories they're missing are the ones related to their personal lives, so they're able to fix the ship (Well, the ones who knew how in the first place). They also find an android. Who they name Android. But that's okay, because they weren't terribly creative in naming themselves, either, choosing to go with numbers based on the order in which they woke up.
[minor spoilers]They also find a bunch of weapons in the cargo hold, which all makes sense when they reach their original destination, a small mining colony that's been eagerly awaiting such a shipment as they've heard that the giant corporation they've been negotiating with has tired of negotiating and has decided to unleash a band of fearsome and infamous mercenaries upon them. The group members have different reactions to this, and there's a lot of debate about how much aid they should render, especially considering the amnesia and the imminent attack by corporate-backed mercenaries, but they find themselves pulled into events by circumstance.
The show reminded me of LOST in some ways- the good ways. While there are plenty of mysteries to be had, they aren't driving or compusive like they were on LOST. (Like the characters, you are curious to know who they were and how they ended up together, but it's not a huge priority. The viewer wants to know about the trouble they've gotten themselves in THIS episode...and the characters are more focused on the future than the past). No, the thing that really reminded me of LOST, even though it avoided the format, is the way that you watch characters and the relationships between characters develop, but now and again you get glimpses into how they ended up on the ship (or in LOST's case, the island) which have a way of shifting your perspective on those characters and those relationships. And considering the amnesia twist, they tend to be quite interesting perspective shifts.[Somewhat spoilerific, but probably no more than the commercials]
If you guessed that they turned out to be the fearsome mercenaries, you are both genre savvy and right! (this is the detail that drew me in enough to try the show). Their dark and murderous pasts are a big reason they're not too eager to learn their life stories or recover their memories. It's a bit farscape-y in that they're criminals on the run, and they're also not terribly cohesive. Unlike the Moya crew, they don't really have massively different agendas or plans, because of the whole amnesia thing, but their personalities are different enough that they all react to the same circumstances very differently, and all have different takes on what should come next. Also interesting is the fact that the relationships they build with each other are prone to suddenly be toppled or rearranged as bits of their past come to light. (CHARACTER VAGUE BUT SPOILER EXAMPLE:
one of them turns out to have been an imposter. Who now has amnesia, so while the discovery effectively changes little, it definitely changes perceptions and reactions). (Also cool: there's a fair number of SG:A alums who have been rotating through guest starring roles. So far there's been David Hewitt, Torri Higginson, Amanda Tapping, and probably others I'm blanking on at this moment. )
So the funny thing is that everyone seems to be marathoning (and loving) Killjoys, and I have't heard a thing about Dark Matter...but my feelings on Killjoy are well, warmer than indifferent, but let's say I'm just not feeling it as strongly as everyone else? And my feelings on Dark Matter are much stronger and more unreservedly positive.
On Killjoys: I like Johnny, I like Dutch, Davin is okay in theory but is just...so wooden, maybe it's the actor (or maybe the writing for him is a bit wooden. Or both. I'm pretty sure Jensen Ackles or someone like him could add the level of transcendent nuance, but as it is, I'm just not feeling it.) The world building has some potential, but it's so out of focus. Granted, I was maybe not paying as absolute close attention as I could have, but... I don't need the world building spoon-fed to me - I mean, I completely think Fury Road is a masterpiece of world building without exposition (or at least, very, very little of it)- this show, it just doesn't carry the weight it should. Everything feels very abstract. I could do with a little info dumping just to shore things up a bit.
As I said before, there's a fair amount of Firefly that can be felt in Killjoys, which brings me to my next point. I kept feeling that Killjoys was just missing something that'd help it gel together a lot mre for me. And it was thinking about firefly that clinched it. it was funny to realize that my main feeling about Killjoys was that it either needed a bigger main cast or a smaller one. That's less of a contradiction that it sounds- I realized it felt like it'd work better if it were about Dutch and Johnny, the bounty hunter duo...or if it were about Dutch and Johnny and Davin and at least two other people to change up the dynamic. Like, maybe if the doctor and some other supporting character had slightly bigger roles and were part of the ship/team more formally, rather than just "hey, I guess we're sort of allies/friends," because it allows for more interesting dynamics. Some of the best episodes were the ones that pushed supporting characters to more prominent roles, just because it made the whole thing that much more...kinetic, character wise (like when Johnny and the doctor are in the bar, or when they were all having to deal with Fancy dude). Certainly, the larger cast on Dark Matter really allows for some interesting dynamics. Because it's bigger, it can (like firefly) rotate through bouncing sets of people off of each other without it getting stale, especially as it's usually bringing into focus only two sets of relationships at a time. Granted, certain sets turn up more often than not- One and Two, Two and Three, One and Three, but rotations through the rarer sets (e.g. One and Four, Five, or Six) really help keep things feeling fresh and interesting. (And man, thinking of that, I need to check out the fandom, if it exists, because it'd be pretty cool if the pairings looked like math problems.)
On the worldbuilding front, Dark Matter feels a lot more concrete, but that's probably because it needs less world building. It's a lot more standard than Killjoys: it's basically a straight up Space Western without necessarily being as much of a space western as Firefly, and I think that lets them cut a few more corners. Also, it feels more character focused, probably because of the dynamics thing. Watching Killjoys, I really felt I needed a better idea of how the whole thing worked and who all the players were and the background and the histories. In other words, I needed more context for the story I was seeing for it to really solidify in my mind. I didn't feel that need as much on Dark Matter- part of it is that the characters mostly don't know/don't care, and the other part of it is that the stakes are all rooted in the immediate lives of the charaters rather than an oncoming class war or a dark destiny. But mostly I think it's the larger cast.
So I've been job hunting, and what a drag that is, especially as someone whose career started right in time for the great recession- which means I have periods of holding a lot of short-term jobs I was way overqualified for in between holding long-term full-time jobs I was also overqualified for, but less so. Anyway, my inability to get past the filters (or people robotically looking for exact matches) aside, this has given me the opportunity to appreciate how many actually terrible job ads there are out there. Terribly written, terrible jobs, possibly terrible companies- I've seen them all. This one is a particularly amusing example of all three. If job ads could have crazy eyes, this would be the one, and it'd also be breathing right into your face and possibly there would be spittle. Link here, but for your amusement I shall repost it here as well, so it shall never disappear:
"E. Jean Carroll here from Elle magazine and from Tawkify (link) Have you ever matched your friends? Do you like banging people together and watching the sparks? Tawkify is the Birkin Bag of dating sites. We're a hot, smart, witty dating startup. (We were selected by Stanford University as one of thirty-three companies accelerated in their fabled StartX program.) We have amazing technology, yes, but we also employ clever HUMANS instead of algorithms to set people up on Mystery Dates (more exciting than a James Bond movie)!
We are looking to hire EXTREMELY intelligent, empathetic, highly-motivated, ivy-educated, socially-connected, culturally hip matchmakers. If you want to change the world, make people happy, be your own boss, and set your own hours---DO NOT APPLY If you are creative, inventive and sympathetic---- DO NOT APPLY.
BUT if you want to change the world two people at a time, be the boss of people's love lives, set yourself crazy hours, turn a hobby into a career. . ...and if you are creative, inventive, empathetic, funny, optimistic, and impatient----YES! YES! YES! APPLY RIGHT HERE: (link)
Good Luck! And please don't be boring and have at least 2 years of work experience. Again, to apply, fill out the form at (link)."
I went looking through some old posts and old conversations, and you know, I miss being on LJ and talking with you guys. I haven't really abandoned LJ for tumblr, exactly- it's just that the last year and a half have been...well, nothing bad, but for various reasons, I've just not been any kind of writing mindset. Not for LJ, not for fic, not for my PhD thesis. Sometimes I blame the endless rounds of cover letters I've been writing- i mean, worrying about finding a job DOES take up a number of brain cycles that could otherwise be put to good use, but there's no guarantee that if I found a great job tomorrow that I'd suddenly be churning out text.. So as far as tumblr and twitter go, the only reason I stayed active there is because they really are much more passive media.
ANYWAY. So I thought I'd do the post here that I really should have done ages ago (well, several posts) and cover Reactions To Things.
1. I have been watching Arrow. (cut for length)( Collapse )
2. Poldark I got sucked into watching this because my folks were watching it. Which means I wasn't paying too much attention in the beginning. I need to see the last episode because I missed it due to drama sorting out renting a room in San Francisco. (I've hit the point where I just need to get away from my home town/living with my parents. And while ideally I'd have more money to guarantee me more than a month, I kind of realized that I am never going to get there in my current situation. I had a number in mind, and every time I'd even start to get close, some unexpected but unavoidable expenditure would magically appear would wipe it way back down again. So now I'm just going for it). But back to Poldark : Man. I watched the original Being Human, and damn it all, I forgot how heart-stoppingly gorgeous that man is. Especially when he's being intense about something. And I completely love the way Demelza kind of hijacks the plot. It's like: brooding period drama! and then she's like "regency romance!" and somehow that works and it's all I wanted out of this life.
3.I'm almost to the end of Leverage, but I've kind of hit a point with it where while I like the characters, I've run out of steam with the actual episodes. It's not necessarily that it's more episodic by nature- the x-files was episodic, but like Leverage, really built up great serialized character development. But much like Burn Notice, I just am starting to get a little bored of the CoTW, which feel kind of old hat now.
4. I started watchin the latest season of Teen Wolf, but the charm is wearing off, and I don't think I've watched beyond episode 3 or 4. It's no longer even wacky nonsense puctuated by hilariously gratuitious scenes, and now its kind of devil-may-care approach to plotting and character work is starting to grate on me a little bit. But I did a fist pump of joy when they totally did the thing I'd been joking about back when I caught up on the last season. Which was that with the introduction of Derek-the-Wolf, the fact that the actor who plays Derek wouldn't be around as much wouldn't be a problem, because they could just be like, "hey, here he is! But as a wolf. because he can. Don't mind him." And so I cracked up on seeing an episode where they had the wolf hanging around in various scenes, and then for two seconds, it turrned into human Derek. (which seemed to be framed as a reveal? Except it should have been obvious, I'd think).
5. movies but actually life: (cut for rl moaning) ( Collapse ).
So there's this book series that's aimed so squarely at my id that even the stuff that really I should be critical of (info dumps and all) just slide right on past me. But I read a review of the series recently that complained about the fact that this urban fantasy series went way overboard with the historical characters. They thought it killed the suspension of disbelief to have so many vampires etc turn out to be famous people.
And you know, that never even occurred to me, although it has in other series. And as a criticism, it felt fundamentally misguided in some way. And then it hit me. You know those crossover fics you write that are basically all your favorite characters shoved in a room? You don't really care about the plot, it's pretty much just (as I think bellatemple described it) "Look, I Can Do The Voices"? That what these books are. (And no wonder, the author is a history PhD. Like me. Also probably explains why they hit me right in the id). The whole point of having time travel and vampires is, for these books, to be able to steal interesting people from history and stick them in a room without having to come up with plausible reasons or being limited to people who were actually alive at the same time.
The other sign of it is how often she sticks historical figures in the margins. Not part of the story, not even explicitly stated, but there are a lot of subtle references to characters who in a movie would be extras that imply that they're also historical figures.
Has anyone been watching this? I've been watching it kind of casually with my folks, but damn. For one thing, jesus, whatshisname is heartstoppingly beautiful. It practically hurts to look at him.I remember thinking that back in the original Being Human, but time made me forget. And then you've got the serving wench, who obviously has dreams about living out her own personal regency romance, and damn if she hasn't picked a good one.
I've been rooting for her like it was the world series. I actually started clapping when she asked for him to help her take off her dress.
Anyone who follows me on tumblr will be totally unsurprised to hear that I'm still completely fangirling out over the movie. Which was an absolutely pleasant surprise, because I went in with no expectations and no real interest in the movie (beyond maybe spiting MRAs). It's just so good! And amazing! and practical effects! and the characters, but done so subtly!