Musings

> recent entries
> calendar
> friends
> My fanfiction
> profile
> previous 20 entries

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020
10:18 pm - Collected Fanfiction Post
Links to all fanfiction I've written in various fandoms. That I'm admitting to.

Alias )


Angel the Series )


Babylon 5 )

Battlestar Galactica )

Breaking Bad )

Buffy the Vampire Slayer )


Citizen Kane )

Doctor Who )

Farscape )


Earth: Final Conflict )

Heroes )

Highlander: The Series )

Historical Fiction )

Lost )

Merlin )

Mythology )


Once upon a time )

Rome )

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine )

Star Trek: The Next Generation )


Star Wars )

Sunset Boulevard )

The Beatles )

The Borgias )
The Godfather )


Torchwood )


X-Men )

The West Wing )


Crossovers )

current mood: exhausted

(comment on this)

Sunday, December 21st, 2014
1:51 pm - December Talking Meme: Buffy and Dawn
Disclaimer: I don’t read the comics. The only BTVS canon for me is the tv canon. So whatever issues you may have with the comics aren’t relevant to how I see the characters; pray bring them up elsewhere.

Dawn was controversial from the get go – both as a character and as a concept - , and from what I hear she still gets complained about in some fannish quarters. Now it’s been a while since my last BTVS rewatch, but I still remember Dawn fondly, and a big reason for this is that the Buffy and Dawn relationship spoke to me from the get go.

Spoilery thoughts ensue )

December Talking Meme: The Other Days

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1040338.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

(comment on this)

Saturday, December 20th, 2014
10:37 am - December Talking Meme: The Writing Process
Mine depends somewhat on the length of text I intend to write. But for the most part, it works like this: 1 Glimmer of an idea, 2) research. Not always: very rarely, I've written in direct response to an episode I just watched, and thus there was no lengthy pondering and no research.

But in most cases, I tend to mull over the ideas I have, to do research which sometimes adds new direction - be that research in the sense of canon rewatching/rereading or research in the sense of finding out background facts -, and to let the ideas grow. Sometmes, not often, but sometimes, I talk about these ideas with other people. (This was most recently the case with one of my two Yuletide stories.) Generally I like to work on my own until I've done a first draft, but it can be both necessary and profitable to bounce ideas off someone.

Once I've pondered, let the ideas grow into somthing more, have done my research etc., I write the story. Read it through on my own. And go off in search of that most invaluable of writer's help, a beta-reader. Seriously: whether you're a newbie who has just completed her first story, or a veteran of decades, beta readers always help. (I don't always have them, granted, but that's more an availability and fandom knowledge question.) In the case of my fanfiction, there's an additionional reason, to wit, English isn't my native language, and while I'm reasonably fluent I still make mistakes now and then, especially in the written form.

I have the rough outline of a story in my head before I start to write them - i.e. I know what will happen to the main characters, where I want to go with them. Something I've never experienced was to start writing with no idea of how a story would end. Otoh it does happen that supporting characters (supporting in my story, not nessarily in their original canon) suprise, in the sense that I had no specific ideas about them in mind when starting to write beyond some vague awareness they would show up, and then they suddenly get a key scene or two, if it's a longer story.

Writers' block: also sometimes happens. In which case my usual method of dealing is to write something else, or nothing at all: I can't write half heartedly. But sometimes working on another project clears your head and emotional cluster, I've found.

Writing, technically: I type. My first few stories, as a teenager, were written by hand because I'm that old, and I switched to using computers and type my tales when I was 19-ish. Also: I need quiet. Music can be a good way to relax between writing sessions, but not during, not for me. It distracts me. And speaking of distractions: I don't care much where I'm writing, i.e. at home or in a hotel room, as long as it's quiet and I have any research material I might need to recheck available. But people and phonecalls can be serious distractions wherever I am.

December Talking Meme: the other days

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1040023.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: awake

(comment on this)

Friday, December 19th, 2014
12:19 pm - Elementary 3.08.
Spoilers need to go with the programm )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1039698.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: pensive

(comment on this)

8:06 am - December Talking Meme: The Good Wife: if I were TPTB...
...well, I'd be pretty proud of myself for having a hit show in its sixth season firing on all thrusters, for starters. No, but seriously, I do have some complaints but generally I'm in awere of what The Good Wife pulls off and continues to pull off. Stll, in the spirit of the prompt, and hidden under a spoiler cut so that readers who are one or several seasons behind are safe if they choose to be:

Spoilers have to do with moving in many ways )


December Talking Meme: The Other Days

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1039379.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: chipper

(comment on this)

Thursday, December 18th, 2014
6:53 pm - Meanwhile...
Finished the Yuletide treat as well and sent it off to be beta'd. Phew. I wasn't sure whether I'd manage to finish the story in time this year, and I really wanted to because it's been churning in me for a good long while, and the recipient is a treasure.


Also, post Battle of the Five Armies hurt/comfort fics, because of course yours truly is in the market for them. Just to be on the very safe side, I shall employ a spoiler cut, decades old book or not.

Spoilery recs await )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1039268.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: calm

(comment on this)

2:41 pm - December Talking Meme: Wishlist for character developments in Avengers: Age of Ultron
Firstly: I'm unspoiled, other than having watched the trailers, and would very much like to remain so. I'm not even reading interviews for that reason. So please do not tell me anything.

With that in mind, let's see. In no particular order:

- obviously, Clint needs some fleshing out beyond his relationship with Natasha (which I enjoy!), due to spending most of the last film possessed. Bonus point if this includes at least one chat with Thor, not least because they're bound to have different takes on Loki, given events in Thor: The Dark World and yet Thor knows very well Clint is one of Loki's victims.

- continuation of Natasha's old and new friendships (Clint, Steve) and of the what-do-we-call-it relationship with Bruce; given that Natasha has just outed herself (and everyone else) to the world, which is a completely new state for her, I'm curious to learn how it affects her, and whether some of her own debts in that ledger have come to haunt her; scenes with Maria Hill and Wanda would be lovely.

- Tony exited Iron Man III in a very good state, as well adjusted as we've ever seen him. Since well adjusted Tony Stark does not provide drama (or snark), I don't expect it to last, but I hope whatever happens will come across as emotionally logical, and also that it won't negate the things he did learn over the course of four films.

- speaking of Tony, more Science Bros. That was a lovely and unexpected Whedonian invention in the last Avengers, and no matter whether it comes across as Bruce & Tony or Bruce/Tony, I want more of it. Incidentally, this can by all means include arguments on the ethics of inventions. [personal profile] lettered wrote some fantastic stories in which they have very different takes, which makes sense.

- Thor as of The Dark World has decided he never wants to be king, full stop, and has just started a new life on Midgard. Maybe he finds the every day reality not as easy a change from Asgard and being a prince as he thought? (Yes, he had a depowered taste of that in Thor I, but that was only a short while and very different circumstances.) Also, he doesn't really know any of the other Avengers yet, so I'd like some relationships to form.

- The twins: as we don't know yet what Joss' take on Wanda and Pietro will be like, beyond some educated guesses based on favourite Whedonian tropes, I can't wish for specifics there, or which Avengers they'll interact with most. I'm curious to find out, though!

- we need a logical explanation why Steve is interrupting his Quest For Bucky, but actually I don't think that will be too hard to come by; saving the world always comes first with him. As I mentioned with Natasha, I'd like more of their friendship. Also, a scene with Rhodey would be great, since movieverse Rhodey is among other things quite what Steve Rogers, born in another time and without the serum, would be like, and I don't think Tony is aware of the irony.

- please, please, please no dead Maria Hill; the trailer with the scene where she's hanging out with the Avengers was lovely until I remembered Coulson got fleshed out in The Avengers from cypher to person, and look what happened next.


Other than that, I got nothing. Except that I'm very much looking forward to this movie.

December Talking Meme: The Other Days

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1039002.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: bouncy

(comment on this)

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
10:25 am - December Talking Meme: Babylon 5's biggest weaknesses (Doylist, Watsonian or both)
Disclaimer: I love Babylon 5. It's one of my two adored space station shows, it was my first non-Trek sci fi tv fandom, it contains some of my most beloved characters in any fandom of all time, and I think it still holds up as one of the most amazing things pulled off on tv. With all this in mind....

...yes, absolutely, of course it has weaknesses. Tiny ones and big ones. One of them is also one of its strengths: JMS deciding to write all the episodes from mid season 2 onwards. On the plus side, this makes for a consistent vision and even more consistent character voices. If you look at some of the s1 episodes, say, D.C. Fontana's, they're perfectly satifactorly sci fi tv by themselves, but they could take place in any 'verse, the aliens are, that one scene between Londo and Vir in the garden (which was inserted by JMS) aside, pretty generic. Whereas even a weak episode in later seasons couldn't take place anywhere else but B5. However, if you have solely one scriptwriter for three and a half full tv scenes, not only does this cause stuff like Grey 17 is missing, which he later admitted he doesn't even have clear memories of writing in sickness and exhaustion, but, more seriously (because every show, no many how writers are employed, has the occasional weak episode), it means that there are no other "voices", so to speak, to balance issues the main writer has which are not beneficial to the story he's trying to tell.

(Sidenote: it also means JMS' flair for metaphorical speechifying is given full reign, which also can be a virtue and a flaw at the same time. At its best, you get G'Kar. At its worst, you get Byron.)

In Babylon 5's case: JMS' fondness of the Great Man view of history. Which definitely isn't solely to be found in the season 4 finale, though it's spelled out most clearly and textually there. Now from a storytelling pov, I favour extraordinary individuals as well, and remember some history lessons made very dull indeed for teenagers with all the insistence on market forces. (Sorry, Marx.) But it's more than that in the JMS case, and the reason why this becomes increasingly a problem with the human and Minbari storylines is that he's simultanously trying to tell a modern story and a Tolkien-esque epic. If he'd gone for the purely Tolkien approach, it wouldn't be a problem. It would be a very conservative story, but that doesn't say anything about strength or weakness. When Aragon becomes King in Return of the King, the novel, this is not a problem for anyone (except Denethor, and Denethor is about to go mad anyway and certainly not representative of the people). There is never any question will be Aragon would be a good king, a mediocre king or a bad king, whether the people of Gondor would agree with his decisions - he's the heir of Isildur who has proven himself in hardship, exile and battle, he's restoring the realm, it's a happy ending for both Aragon and Gondor. Which fits the type of novel we're in. (For the film versions, Jackson, Boyens and Walsh changed this somewhat because their Aragon has an ongoing learning process about kingship, whether he wants it, whether he'll be worthy of it, what the long term consequences are as demonstrated by the rulers he meets like Theoden, etc, which is a reflection of a different narrative approach in a different time.) But Babylon 5 can't simply let Sheridan become king and Delenn queen. Not a story which in its first three seasons shows a democratic human society turning fascist and positions its heroes against this development, which is a story very much born out of the experience of the 20th century. Sheridan isn't anyone's heir. He's a military officer who at some point decides he can't in good conscience continue to serve an increasingly unjust regime, and also can't simply stay apart, but has to act actively against it. Which is a good story to tell. But unfortunately, it doesn't demand Sheridan-as-ruler-of-the-realm at the end of it. This is still where JMS wants to go, though, so Sheridan becomes President, only without the messy bother of campaigns, debates, compromises and elections that go with the democratic process; he becomes President with an offstage sleight of hand.

Then, because season 4 and season 5 have the problem of being written first with the fear there would not be a fifth season in the case of the former and then with the need to produce fillers to stretch out what was originally planend to fill only half a season in the case of the later, we actually get to see him being President. And he's not a good one, which would be less of a problem if the narrative didn't claim he was. Now, rebels are always easier to write as sympathetic than people in power, which probably is why Sheridan wasn't originally planned to get the presidential job until mid season 5. But leaving the s4/s5 network caused writing problem aside, he was always supposed to be President, and a good one; the closest thing to the fantasy ending of the hero becoming king and restoring the realm. Except any head of a democratic government has to put up with opposition, arguing and the need for compromises. And this is where JMS' fondness for the great man theory of history becomes problematic. Anyone criticial to Sheridan-as-President is written as just plain wrong, egotastic or unworthy, like the historians in The Deconstruction of Falling Stars. Why? Because "John Sheridan was a good man" and a great one, as an aged Delenn says. Yes, but what has that to do with him being a good President, or not? Sorry, but history is full of people with personal virtues who really sucked at governning. And the thing is, Sheridan doesn't come across as an effective politician at all during the year the show has where it has to show him in office. His decision to offer Byron's telepaths sanctuary backfires badly, and he's telling Lochley to fix it without offering any solutions himself. He's unable to keep the Alliance from going after the Centauri after the succesful Drakh framing. (He's also mysteriously unable what he learned from his trip into the future re: Londo and Centauri Prime, but that's a plot hole which has nothing to do with him as President.) The rueful observation he makes about war and peace in late s5 lampshades this a bit ("fight evil space dictators" simply is a far easier narrative to sell than "attempt to keep the peace"), but that doesn't help the basic problem of Sheridan being an uneffective leader while the narrative insists he's a great one, and has him being fanboyed in the worst tell not show way.

This, mind you, did not come out of nowhere. It's simply more glaringly obvious because Sheridan can no longer claim underdog/rebel status. The s2 episode where ISN (still the democratic ISN, not the Clark controlled one of later season 3) does a special on Babylon 5 is a case in point, because we're clearly meant to sympathize with Delenn crying and not with the reporter making her cry who dares to ask whether Delenn had considered that her turning half human could be perceived as an insult by a humanity who very nearly got wiped out in the Earth/Minbari war. Why? Because Delenn is a Great Woman Of History, the way Sheridan is a Great Man. We the audience know Delenn meant her physical alteration to act as a bridge between two enemies (and we later learn also about the atonment aspect there, given her culpability in the war), we know she keeps working for peace because we've seen her do it. But the reporter hasn't, and her question is absolutely valid. If you were a human and had lost people in the war, why would you perceive one of your former enemies becoming physically like you as something that "acts as a bridge"? Wouldn't it look rather patronizing at best? (As it implies becoming human is a sacrifice.) Insulting at worst? (As a perpetrator, claiming belonging to who you very nearly genocided is... leaving real life examples aside because I so do not want to go there, well, just imagine how G'Kar would have taken it with Londo for some reason had decided to dress up as a Narn.) And yet the reporter is positioned as ignorant and insulting here, while Delenn is the Wronged Heroine.

Now, there are several narrative alternatives I could think of to fix this, but they all involve ditching the idea of Sheridan as a peacetime leader altogether, and definitely ditching the idea of him and Delenn alternating as Presidents and leader of the Rangers in the twenty years following Objects at Rest and before Sleeping in Light. (This works in dressed up current day dictatorships, not democracies.) . The most radical would be to leave him dead after Z'ha'dum - as I've mentioned before, this is where his personal development stops anyway, and Delenn and Ivanova could have divided his narrative functions between them for the reminder of the show. But alternate suggestions isn't what the prompt is really about.

Because Babylon 5 is an ensemble story, a rich tapestry woven of several storylines, it doesn't stand or fall on the success of the Sheridan tale. (As mentioned many a time before, I'm a Centauri and Narn fangirl here, though I do like most of the other storylines as well.) But it is telling that while a part of B5 online fandom made Bush/President Clark comparisons during the Dubya years, JMS was stunned to learn that Bush himself was supposedly a Babylon 5 fan. Identifying himself with of course not with Clark, but with Sheridan. A great man's gotta do what a great man's gotta do, and if some idiots can't see it... Well.

December Talking Meme: The Other Days

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1038714.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: pensive

(comment on this)

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
1:59 pm - December Talking Meme: DS9 and AtS: Compare and Contrast
This was a prompt by [personal profile] endeni; a comparison which wouldn't have occured to me. Though when I think about it, I can see some parallels. To start with some technical trivia: DS9's key writers - Ira Behr, Ron Moore, Hans Beimler - had all started out and graduated, so to speak, on TNG, but became far more influential in the spin-off. AtS similarly started out with several Buffy writers - David Greenwalt being the most important one for the first three seasons, after which he left, but also David Fury and later Steven DeKnight -, though it's important to note that the writer who in retrospect, taking all five seasons into account, had been the most crucial one, Tim Minear, had never worked on BTVS. (I'm open for a Greenwalt versus Minear debate, of course, as to who was more responsible for sharping AtS.) Both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Angel: The Series were spin-offs, and their "mother shows", so to speak (TNG as well as TOS here for DS9), were more widely watched and popular at the time, while the spin-offs were generally regarded as darker and more serialized.

Mind you: the cliché that TNG was the fluffy reset button show to DS9's serialized and serious storytelling is as wrong as claiming Angel was darker than Buffy in general. Point in question: AtS' third season ran in tandem to Buffy's sixth. If you watched both, you know what I'm getting at here. AtS at least until Wesley got his throat cut looked downright frivolous by comparison to season 6 of BtVS. And TNG started to ongoing relationships and actual consequences in a Trek show thing; they didn't do it as consequently as DS9 was to do later, but pioneers rarely do. Still, as with every cliché that in its exaggaration is wrong, there's also a part that's true.

DS9, even in its early seasons where there were far more one shot episodes than later, was by the very nature of its set up different and darker. The Enterprise could come and go and was elsewhere the next week. DS9 was a space station next to a planet which had been suffering through a brutal occupation for 60 years, which was a forming influence to one of the regulars - who'd turn out to be in many way the key regular of the show, Kira Nerys -, which meant an ongoing situation even before new problems showed up. Its leading character, Benjamin Sisko, started out as a grieving widower and as a father with his son. (Picard had had tragedies in his life pre show, like the loss of the Stargazer and Jack Crusher's death, but they weren't something as defining the character from the get go as Sisko's losses and his relationship to his son were.) Kira's struggle to reconcile her freedom fighter/terrorist (this pre 9/11 show used both terms) past with her present were as ongoing as her relationships with various Cardassians, her former mortal enemies. Dax was a centuries old symbiotic being. O'Brien's past with Cardassians influences him in the present, even Bashir, the archetypical young freshman type among the regulars, turns out to have had a past and a secret. Among the recurring characeters, there's notably Garak, and Garak's gradually revealed past, the reasons for his exile on DS9 and the ways in which he did and didn't try to end it - you could say DS9, from the outset, had among other themes the way its characters past formed, burdened and even partially broke them in varying degrees, and how this influenced their present.

Angel from the beginning wanted to be something other than BTVS, version II, and succeeded (in season 1 there is still a sense of the writers trying to find their feet, but from the get go, the show does have its own voice), and one of the ways in which it did this was by a similar past/present situation. Of course, it had at its main character a centuries old vampire with an extremely bloody past and not a teenager trying to have a future, but this thematic treatment was true not just for Angel himself. "The past, she doesn't let go, does she?"' asks the short lived Doyle in the first half of the first season, and no, it doesn't. Doyle has something to atone for and does so promptly since he's quickly written out for, forgive the pun, Doylist reasons. But so does his successor, Wesley, who becomes as key to what AtS became as Kira does on DS9. Wesley on BTVS had been primarily used as a comic relief character in season 3 where he was introduced, but what happened to him then - failing his first assignment as a Watcher, falling out with the Council - is what he carries with him into AtS where it has far more long term results. When Wesley first shows up mid s1 he's still prone to comic relief scenes. But before the season is over, he'll have been tortured by Faith and then offered the choice of handing her over and getting his Watcher status back, which he refuses. Which is still but a prologue given that the show overall has in store for Wesley. Even Cordelia, the youngest of the original regulars, has her past as a reigning and very skillfully cruel high school queen as something to make up for. Of the later regular additions, Gunn is forced to stake his sister who has been turned in to a vampire in his introduction, and Fred has spent years in an alternate dimension that caused her to go ever so slightly mad. Again, as with DS9, the very nature of the set up means that dealing with your past (or running away from it, but even then it usually shows up to haunt you) is something ingrained in the regulars.

Another shared trait: while the "mother shows" , TNG and BTVS, do keep their basic set up formula, the spin-offs don't as a shift happens. By which I mean: yes, Buffy & Co. leave high school after season 3, and, say, season 1 and season 6 are very, very different. But Buffy being the Slayer, needing the save the world, struggling to unite this with living in it as a teenager and then young woman, that stays. TNG at the end has put its regulars through some significant changes - Picard and his Borg experience, also Picard's changing relationship to his crew, Worf and fatherhood, plus he's in a new relationship with Deanna Troi as the show ends, the difference between Data in the pilot and Data at the end is highlighted by the three eras nature of the show finale - but the "Enterprise encounters problem, solves problem, moves on" set up did not change. Meanwhile, DS9's last three seasons are about the building and then erupting Dominion War (while there had been wars in the backstory of TOS and TNG characters, present day war for longer than an episode, at the end of which it was successfully stopped, was unheard of and hugely controversial at the time because it touched on a core ST premise, that the Federation Utopia was strong enough to prevent things from escalating this far). As for the original stated goal, Sisko, who in the pilot was charged with bringing Bajor into the Federation, not only ended up outright rejecting this (for prophecy reasons) but ended the dilemma betwen being the Emissary and a Starfleet officer by ending to be the later and becoming a sort of divine entity. (This wasn't Sisko's idea, I hasten to add, there were plot reasons, I know. Still: miles away from what he started out to do.) With AtS, the "redemption through saving people" premise from the start gradually drew in the background; not that the character stopped helping people, but season 4, the most serialized of the AtS seasons where one episode was directly followed by the next, had at its core a father/son tragedy where saving ended up only possible through a massive deception/selling out, while season 5 had altered the original format so radically that the characters started by running the chief antagonist's business and ended up triggering another apocalypse.

Now, none of this means that the spin-offs were Frank Miller style grimdark. They had comedy epsiodes, they had their regulars fond of banter and bickering throughout. (AtS wasn't afraid to put something like The Girl in Question, which made relentless fun of two of its male regulars, Angel and Spike, and included an affectionate dig at one of the mother show's most famous tragic scenes beside, only three episodes before the apocalyptic finale and after one of the regulars had already died.) (Meanwhile, the less said about DS9's THe Emperor's New Cloak in season 7, the better. Love s7, but not that episode.) But there was certainly a general darker streak and pessimisim about happy endings at work than the mother shows, by and large, subscribed to. None of this makes one better than the other. That was just the glory of them: that they could coexist in their fictional verses, offering the viewers not an either/or, but a both/and to watch.


December Talking Meme: The Other Days

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1038552.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: contemplative

(comment on this)

8:22 am - Once upon a Time 4.12.
In which the show comes through with the pay-off for a long term build up, and then some.

Pay off indeed! )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1038258.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: excited

(comment on this)

Monday, December 15th, 2014
3:11 pm - December Talking Meme: Kitty Winter (Elementary)
(B)eside him on the settee was a brand which he had brought up in the shape of a slim, flame-like young woman with a pale, intense face, youthful, and yet so worn with sin and sorrow that one read the terrible years which had left their leprous mark upon her.

This is Arthur Conan Doyle's Kitty Winter, from the story The Adventure of the Illustrious Client. Kitty Winter in Elementary retains some of these elements - the intensity, her backstory containing the traumatic abuse by a man -, but since she's not living in Victorian times (or in our times surrounded by jerks), she's not regarded as "ruined" because of this. And so far, the way she deals with her backstory does not include vigilantism. Instead, she's channeling her anger and energy by being a detective in training.

Spoilers for the third season so far beneath the cut )

December Talking Meme: The Other Days

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1037924.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: cheerful

(comment on this)

10:07 am - The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (Film Review)
You know, sometimes there are works of fiction (books, films, tv shows) which you know are flawed, where there's totally valid criticism to be had, where you even can understand someone dismissing them entirely, but you love them anyway and feel ridiculously protective? This is me with the Hobbit film trilogy, which is why I'm not up for reading other reviews yet after this last installment. I saw it last night and came back full of love and grief and what not, so what follows isn't a critical review. Oh, and it also contains some bits about the Extended Edition of The Desolation of Smaug, which I finished watching with all the extras on dvd a few days ago.

I'm very fond of you, Mr. Baggins )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1037810.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: grateful

(comment on this)

Sunday, December 14th, 2014
3:35 pm - December Talking Meme: Sir Malcolm Murray
In a show with a premise that's essentially a fanfiction multicrossover and gleeful celebration of tropes and archetypes, both Victorian and current day, (Sir) Malcolm Murray (the show never says, but I'm assuming he got knighted for his explorations, as opposed to being born a baronet) owes his existence to several sources. For starters, he's Mina Murray's of Dracula fame OC father - I think both of Mina's parents are mentioned as dead in the novel, but it's been a while since I've read it so could be wrong. In any event, they don't show up. Like the most frowned upon OCs, Malcolm partially ursurps a canon character's role (gathering the vampire-fighting gang together is canonically Van Helsing's job), but for all that his family connection is with Dracula, the character himself is actually far more connected to another type of late Victorian sensational novel and reality. Think Allan Quatermain and Henry Rider Haggard. Malcolm is, among other things, a deconstruction/variation of the White Explorer, hero in Victorian times and mostly cast as villain in current day eyes.



Now, there's one more precedent which show creator John Logan evidently has to be familiar with. I have no idea whether he's said as much or denies it, but he has to have read Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the first two volumes at least because afterwards the series goes down the drain. Not just because the multicrossover premise is very similar to Penny Dreadful, but also because Moore's comic series already stars a deconstructed Allan Quatermain in his old age (opium addicted, out of shape and at odds with the present), and the prickly dynamic between him and Mina Murray (divorced Mina Harker, post Dracula, and one of the very few Minas who have the determination, drive and cleverness of the Stoker character as opposed to the damsels who bear her name in movies and tv incarnations elsewhere) is one of the key relationships in the story. (Sidenote: there is also a film version which I haven't seen. They lost me before even a trailer was out there when I read an interview with the director where he said that they changed the story from Mina as the leader of the League to Quatermain as the leader because Sean Connery was cast as AQ and "can you imagine Sean Connery taking orders from a woman?" Okay then. I never watched that movie.)

Penny Dreadful's Mina is (mostly) of the damsely variation, but she's only a minor character, if of tremendous importance to two of the main characters. Instead, it's variation of the Deconstructed Exporer/Young Sharp Woman combination offers as the woman in question another OC, Vanessa Ives. Vanessa - who is something of a combination of a Wilkie Collins antiheroine with a 1970s horror movie, archetype wise - is in many ways the center of the show, and as opposed to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Mina/Allan Quatermain combination, which turns romantic in the second volume, her relationship with Malcolm refuses definition because it's messed up to a degree even Alan Moore might envy.

They start out as a mystery both to the first pov character the show offers, Ethan Chandler (American Abroad, werewolf and increasingly the Guy With Ethics in the developing team) and the watchers, and after hints and fragmentary revelations, it's not until episode 5 that we get the backstory for Vanessa, which includes the explanation of just how she and Malcolm are connected. In the best Victorian sensational novel tradition, it starts as a tale of two families. We never learn much about Malcolm's wife other than that she grew opium addicted in her later days or about Vanessa's father other than that he's Catholic (like the rest of his family): the families seem to have been dominated by Malcolm and Claire (Vanessa's mother), who had a long term affair. (This begs the question as to whether Vanessa could be Malcolm's biological daughter, but I'm tending towards "no" because if she were, it would take away from the emotional power of the season ending.) It's interesting that when Malcolm later tells Vanessa that he always expected/feared his family would be destroyed by himself, he names his absences and neglect, not the affair, at what he thought would be the cause. (Did he and Claire think it would simply never be discovered, or did they count on their spouses' silent toleration?)

The youngest version of Malcolm - the tanned charismatic explorer returning - we see in the show actually isn't a terrible father, though, absences not withstanding. (That comes later.) He's greeted enthusiastically by all three children, his own two, Mina and her brother Peter, and Vanessa, and it's worth noting he hugs and talks to MIna and Vanessa with equal affection. The Murray/Ives dinner where everyone is listening enthralled to his stories furthers the impression that not one but two households are revolving around Malcolm as the star, their emotions shaped by his comings and goings. This is the Victorian pater familias as hero, though very soon shown standing on a questionable pedestal when young Vanessa accidentally finds him and her mother having sex, something she imprints on and can never forget. When the children are teenagers, the view on Malcolm as a father darkens, because his son Peter increasingly feels inadequate to parental expectations, with both Peter and Vanessa aware that the younger generation person who actually would be suitable to join Malcolm in his adventuring, the one who wants to, isn't Peter but Vanessa, something that Victorian gender expectations prevent being acknowledged by Malcolm. The break between both families is triggered by Vanessa's seduction of Mina's fiancee, but it's Malcolm who seals it, in closing the symbolic and actual door between the two households. It's the end of Vanessa's childhood paradise (as perceived by her; Peter might have seen it somewhat differently) and the rejection through Malcolm is a casting out that at the same time is an acknowledgment of the similarities between; he thought he would destroy his family, he tells her, but it was her.

The Malcolm the show offers in its present day, otoh, is aware that he accomplished that destruction quite independently from Vanessa's one youthful tryst. This is the Victorian father as villain. His son is dead, and as the season goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that the reason why Malcolm feels guilty of this is that in fact he is guilty; dragging Peter to Africa, leaving him behind in a camp when he got sick, you name it, Malcolm did it. Whether he ever did anything more directly harmful to Mina than not being there, the show doesn't say. But the impression it gives me is that one major reason for Malcolm's obsession with saving Mina is that he never was there when she needed him, and of course doomed her brother, and that is harm enough.

Malcolm's explorer status is also relentlessy deconstructed. What he wanted to find - the source of the Nile - he didn't, and the mountain he named after himself instead of his son is a monument to his ego. Vanessa - accurately - predicts that no matter what plans he spins, he won't return to Africa. One of the entities possessing Vanessa accuses him of having raped and killed natives galore. Though it's worth noting that if this had been Malcolm's standard mode of behavior, it's hardly believable Sembene would choose to stay with him. Sembene is an underwritten character, but anything but servile, on a first name basis with Malcolm, who doesn't take it for granted that Sembene will do as he says but asks him as well as the main characters whether or not he'll join when Team Fighting Vampires is assembled. When Sembene talks to him about whether Mina might not be irretrievable, Malcolm doesn't agree but also hears him out first, at no point behaving as if Sembene giving his opinion on a key matter is in any way unusual.. The first time we hear them talk to each other, they speak Kishuaeli, i.e. Sembene's language, not Malcolm's which at the very least also shows Malcolm wasn't the type of White Man Abroad who thought everyone should just speak English or that relying on translators would be enough. All of which leaves me with the impression that Malcolm's behavior in Africa must have been something better than a non stop rampage, and must have included some genuine curiosity and appreciation of other countries, but otoh I'm also sure those accusations of the demon didn't come out of thin air, and that there were at least some killings, and probably also rapes. And let's not forget - Victor Frankenstein (plus Creatures) and Ethan (as a Werewolf) and Vanessa (possession) all embody horror tropes. Malcolm is the Victorian explorer as a horror trope.

He's still not a villain, because this show actually believes in redemption. Not of the self justifying kind, which probably would have happened had Malcolm been able to save Mina the way he imagined he would. He's aware of his own sins (half the information about Malcolm's misdeeds comes directly from Malcolm - "so you see, doctor, I have not a shred of decency" - is how he puts it), but that ego is still there, and I don't think he could have resisted rewriting his past in his own eyes in such a case. But instead, the relationships with people he's not related to biologically turn out to give him another shot at being something other than terrible. There is some mutual self punishment in his allegiance with Vanessa - they've seen each other at their worst, and have no hesitation to bring that up when arguing -, but also an instinctive understanding, and even before the finale very rarely an odd tenderness (when he comes home after the seance and finds her sleeping, or when she is about to go on a date with Dorian and twirls joyfully for an openly admiring Malcolm) in the midst of the ruthlessness. There's the quiet comrardery with Sembene, for which we really need the backstory and not just a hint of same. And there are the two young men, Ethan and Victor, far better equipped than poor Peter to call Malcolm on his bullshit if he spouts same but in Victor's case responding to him as a father figure nonetheless. Ethan's a bit more complicated because his allegiance is to Vanessa, and while he has daddy issues about his own father he doesn't cast Malcolm as a second one. So Ethan is more of an emotional son-in-law, from Malcolm's pov. But all of them: damaged members of a new created family. One Malcolm didn't set out to create - he simply needed backup in his attempt to redeem the past/save his daughter - but one which formed, nonetheless.

Malcolm's choice of Vanessa in the finale isn't simply one to save Vanessa's life over who Mina has become. He could have done that silently. It's also an open acknowledgment of what Ethan told him in the previous episode, and a continuation of something he once said to Vanessa in anger, with a new emphasis. When he told Vanessa during an argument "you're the daughter I deserve" , he said it to hurt her, and to express self loathing. When Ethan told him "you want to save your daughter - well, here she is, not some things with fangs", it's a reproach of Malcolm's willingness to sacrifice Vanessa for Mina. (Also some self loathing, if you like, because Ethan himself is of course a thing with fangs, once a month.) But when Malcolm says "I have a daughter" before shooting Mina to save Vanessa, he's not using Vanessa as a personification of his own sins (something he did from the moment he closed the door on her and between the families in her youth): he's admitting to his feelings for her while choosing the reality of her, neither an idealized Victorian saint (which is what he made the Mina of his imagination into) nor a demonized curse. When Dorian in an incidentally very funny scene tried to find out whether he should treat Malcolm as Vanessa's father figure or lover, Malcolm sidestepped the implicit question by saying Vanessa owned herself. Which is true, but it's also an avoidance of what Dorian wanted to know. Now I don't think "daughter" is all Malcolm sees in Vanessa (and "father" is certainly not all she sees in him, hence the devil coming to her in Malcolm's shape and Vanessa seeing through the trickery and having sex with him anyway), but it's one important element in their complex relationship, and one that he's finally been able to give voice to.

In the last scene showing him in the season, he's taken the maps of Africa down - another acknowledgment of a truth - and he and Vanessa are able to finally mourn together, instead of against each other. But it's not just about the past. Vanessa, only half kidding, brings up Christmas and inviting "the boys", and Malcolm doesn't say no. They're neither of them the son he doomed, Ethan and Victor. They're themselves. And that might be why this new family has a shot at survival. Not with Malcolm as the patriarchal head, the way he was for his first family/families; with him as one of the messed up members who try, nonetheless.

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1037435.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.


current mood: accomplished

(comment on this)

Saturday, December 13th, 2014
2:07 pm - Elementary 3.07
In which we learn what happens to cleaners who don't get hired by Gus in Albuquerque, because this Breaking Bad joke is unavoidable.

Read more... )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1037140.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: calm

(comment on this)

10:59 am - December Talking Meme: Personal wish list for season 3 of Orphan Black
This list will be by necessity influenced by the problems I had with season 2 and thus go under a spoiler cut.

Spoilers want season three to be fabulous )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1036980.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: contemplative

(comment on this)

Friday, December 12th, 2014
9:53 am - December Talking Meme: Snow White and Cora Mills
I first consciously noticed this one during The Miller's Daughter in season 2, but it's impossible to talk about without spoilers, and thus I shall employ the protective cut post haste.

Spoilers, spoilers on the wall )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1036679.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: quixotic

(comment on this)

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
12:15 pm - December Talking Meme: Fannish 2015 Hopefuls
Or, as [personal profile] lonelywalker put it, "what media/fandom things are you looking forward to in 2015"? Let's see which ones I know about....

Penny Dreadful, season 2: yes, please! More Gothic crossover with interestingly messed up people and Victorian costumes. Bring on the Helen McCrory season, I say.

Related through the main writer, John Logan: the next Bond movie, Spectre. Yes, I'm going to miss Dench!M dreadfully, but I do look forward to more Craig!Bond, more Eve, am curious about how the relationship of both to Mallory will be, Lea Seydoux is always good to see and she'll be in it, and I'm sure Christoph Waltz is going to have fun as the main villain. (Given the title of the movie and which organisation it means in Bondlore, will he be Blofeld?) I'd also like to have Felix Leiter back, Mr. Logan, sir.

The Americans, season 3: talking about spies, I just saw the first proper trailer, and yes, so much looking forward to this.

Agent Carter, the miniseries: bring on Peggy in the late 40s and early 50s! Now I suspect canon, while including some moral ambiguities, will avoid the heart of darkness that is the MCU equivalent to the rl Operation Paperclip and we won't get an episode where Peggy rationalizes herself into hiring Armin Zola for SHIELD, but that's what fanfiction is there fore, and mainly I just hope for some female centric spy shenanigans and celebration of the fact that life goes on and no, losing someone you loved doesn't mean angsting for the rest of your life is the only viable option.

Aka Jessica Jones: see earlier entry on Sunday, though I'm not sure they'll have the show ready by 2015, that wasn't mentioned. But hooray for Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones!

Avengers: Age of Ultron: bring on the bickering superheroes, now with not-allowed-to-be-called-mutant dysfunctional and intensely close twins! And may I manage to remain unspoiled until I watch it, which is increasingly difficult.

BBC filmed version of Wolf Hall and Bringing Up The Bodies: I had some nitpicks about the books, but by and large, I found them impressive, and the casting is great, so chances are I'm going to enjoy the miniseries. Also, I'm curious whether the difference in media and thus the fact we're not solely confined to the point of view of him, Cromwell, will make for subtle or not so subtle differences in characterisation. (Doesn't mean I don't think he, Cromwell, makes for a fascinating pov to explore, and that's part of the book's allure because in the gazillion former Tudor fictions, he's never been the pov character before, but I do think Hilary Mantel is a bit too much in love with him, Cromwell, at times.) (And now I'll stop making fun of one of the novel's notorious mannerisms.)

Speaking of Hilary Mantel: I haven't heard whether or not she'll have the third part of the Cromwell saga finished and published in 2015, so I'm not sure whether I can list it, but if it does get published in 2015, I am very much looking forward to it. In a somewhat masochistic way, since she'll have to bring Mr. Supersecretary into that frame of mind who writes "most gracious prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy" from the Tower despite having better reason than most to know Henry won't listen.

Doctor Who season 9: definitely. As mentioned before, season 8 was my favourite Moffat season so far, and I look forward to more Twelth Doctor.


Things I might enjoy or might not, so am cautious but hopeful about:

- Better Call Saul. I didn't feel the need for a Breaking Bad spin off, and while Saul was a fun character I'm not burning with curiosity as to his backstory, but Vince Gilligan & creative staff have earned a lot of advance trust from me by now, so who knows?

- Orphan Black, season 3: I thought s2 had some sophomore season problems, but then so did s2 of Elementary. I do love the characters and the concept and the amazing actors, so I'm hoping for a great season 3, but at the same time, a bit concerned it might decline in quality.





December Talking Meme: The Other Days

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1036447.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: excited

(comment on this)

7:54 am - Question for the lawyers on my flist/reading circle...
...American or otherwise. I'm aware the US never agreed to the International Criminal Court, even before 9/11, but it did sign to uphold the Geneva Convention (I remember this being brought up back when the Abu Ghraib news exploded) , and even if you postulate this "only" counts for prisoners of war, this article mentions that Reagan signed and the US ratified the United Nations convention against torture, which covers every human being, pow or not. So, in theory, shouldn't it be possible to sue Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al for authorizing and encouraging torture? Even within the US itself? I mean, I'm aware it would never come to any convictions. I'm not that naive. But it could maybe make it more difficult for a while longer for these guys to rewrite the past.

Also, there's some legal precedent. In 2003, Abu Omar, an Egyptian cleric who had been granted asylum in Italy, was kidnapped in Milan. The CIA then secretly transported him to Egypt. In November 2009, an Italian court convicted 22 CIA agents, one US military official and two Italian intelligence operatives to at least five years imprisonment for their role in the kidnapping. The CIA agents were convicted in absentia and never extradited, but they were convicted, and presumably can't work in Europe anymore for a while. Would it be too much to at least limit Rumsfeld etc.'s ability to travel in the same way?

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1036065.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: indescribable

(comment on this)

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
1:12 pm - Once upon a Time 4.11
Go figure.

Read more... )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1035905.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: amused

(comment on this)

11:30 am - December Talking Meme: Donna Noble
I'm fond of most of the Old and New Who Companions, in varying degrees. But yes, I do have my favourites. And as far as New Who is concerned, Donna Noble is my absolute favourite, still. Which doesn't mean I don't like/love the others as well, or that I'm going for a "best of" title, because I think that's ridiculous. But she was and is the New Who Companion who resonated most with me.

This started during her first appearance, in the Christmas special The Runaway Bride. Now back then, reaction was mixed. Some, like me, liked Donna. Others complained she was too shrill, too shouty. (A commenter once told me this was entirely due to the first ten minutes of the special, one long slap stick and action sequence - during which, yes, both Donna and the Doctor shout. Which is followed by the wonderful quiet rooftop sequence, btw.) In any event, she was only a one time guest star, or so it seemed, until after the end of season 3 world got around Donna would be back. Given how popular she was by the time season 4 ended, and how great the outcry about the manner of her departure, it's worth remembering this was by no means greated by universal cheer (though I certainly cheered). The British SFX even called her "the most controversial companion since Bonnie Langford" (this was not a compliment), which mostly seemed to be biased on Catherine Tate's comedienne persona, and, once again, the idea of Donna in The Runaway Bride as "shrill. In retrospect, I suspect RTD might have anticipated this, because the first two episodes of s4 are showcases of Catherine Tate's range, from the superb comic timing in the season opener (the silent mimic scene between her and the Doctor being but one case in point, and who cares if RTD cribbed from himself in Casanova, where there's also a silent mimic scene between a David Tennant character and the female lead?) to the dramatic chops in Fires of Pompeii where she has to go to a place where she shares the responsibility for thousands of deaths with the Doctor? Mind you, the entire season 4 is a showcase for Catherine Tate's range, and the naysayers quickly grew silent. Today, sharing the Donna love is definitely a majority thing.

And it remains irresistable to me. Donna was the first New Who Companion neither a girl nor a young woman in her 20s, but at least in her 30s, and one with a figure unlike the slender models to come, which she was utterly comfortable with. (Her insecurities were about other things.) She was loud and brash, yes, and tended to voice what she felt immediately, whether it was joy or fear, compassion or dislike. She loved talking. Which didn't mean she wasn't also a good listener (ask Agatha Christie). She could be oblivious, and she could be insightful. While she had never had a steady job - something which definitely did belong in the insecurities department and contributed to the stressful relationship with her mother - , she was really creative in putting all those years as a temp to creative use everywhere in the galaxy.

And she made a wonderful friend. Part of it was the Tate 'n Tennant chemistry and timing with each other - these were definitely actors who just clicked in a best buddies way - but part was also the way the Doctor and Donna relationship was written from their first outing onwards. She wasn't interested in him romantically, or vice versa, which was a welcome first in New Who; whether arguments or hugs, she gave as good as she got. They were mates exploring the univese together, and I wished it would never end while constantly aware that Catherine Tate had only signed on for one season. The manner in wich it did end is its own controversy, which I have absolutely no desire to revive in a post meant to celebrate Donna. So I will only say this: after having watched Donna Noble be her wonderful self through 13 episodes and a special, I had no doubt she would continue to be extraordinary even with missing memories and on earth. I still don't. Because Donna? Is too vivacious, brave, compassionate, funny and too much plain alive to be anything else.


December Talking Meme: The Other Days

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1035547.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: nostalgic

(comment on this)


> previous 20 entries
> top of page
InsaneJournal