November 22nd, 2008
|09:18 pm - Fannish disappointment: a study and a retrospective|
You all know I am a canon-first and canon-foremost fangirl. It's rare that I object strenuously enough to a plot twist to go looking for fix-it fic instead of creating elaborate theories about why said plot twist or character revelation actually fits in completely with previous canon, and isn't it awesome when you think about it that way?!
Part of this is because I have few illusions about who is in control of the story. I have no problem pointing out shoddy workmanship in a novel, because the author has control there, but I'm also highly unlikely to judge an unpleasant ending or oddball twist if there's any way of squaring it with the rest of story, because I feel that the author probably had a good reason for writing it the way he or she did.
When it comes to television, I make greater allowances, because of the collaborative nature of television writing and production. Smaller stuff I may just shrug off, or I may gleefully construct far-fetched meta to explain it away. Larger stuff, even if I disagree with it personally, as long as it doesn't radically conflict with established canon, I also give great leeway to.
So when a show I adore does something so egregious that I feel like I got punched in the face, it's kind of a new experience for me.
I'm actually not going to talk about that much, maybe not till the end. I'm more interested in the fact that I've never reacted this strongly before, and am going to look at past instances where show canon really upset me.
WARNING: specific spoilers for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5, Alias, Stargate SG-1, and Doctor Who.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
This is the first time I can recall being furious with a show for the way a plot twist--in this case, a character death--was handled. When Jadzia was killed by Dukat at the end of "Tears of the Prophets," I flipped out. Partly I was grieving for the character, one of my favorites, and the loss of the romance with Worf (a hard sell to me, one which I had finally gotten very, very attached to). But mostly? I couldn't believe they'd killed her in such a mundane way. She didn't even have time to draw her weapon, she was just shot down like a dog. Jadzia Dax, warrior and scientist, murdered because she was in the way.
Even taking into account that Trek never knows how to handle character deaths....
I'm still kinda pissed, actually.
I kept watching the show, and even grew to like Ezri Dax, but it was a very near thing.
I fell for this show so hard it's not funny. My first major fandom after Trek, and it told me that yes, television shows could do all the stuff I loved in fiction, and do it well. I rolled with most of their plot twists, trusting that JMS had a plan and would work it out. I even rolled with the wrap-up of the major Shadow arc in early season 4, which struck me as a bit of a humanistic copout in a show that had played the good vs. evil card so strongly.
I hung on through that, and was glad, because season 4 was an awesome ride.
Season 5, though? Maybe 2 good episodes (which would be "Day of the Dead," aka Gaiman's episode; and the Psi Corps ep, because Bester is made of win). *facepalm* I really should've stopped watching before the character assassination of Lennier. *sigh* I was young and optimistic. That is my only excuse.
I am an absolute sucker for undercover stuff (which also explains my addiction to Miami Vice), so this show was pure gold. *g* Not to mention the fantastic characters.
The first two seasons I loved. Season 3 started out with a lot of promise. But instead of doing the patented Alias misdirect and twist, they went for the obvious and petty ending for the Vaughn/Lauren storyline, leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
For that disappointment, I stopped watching. It was good while it lasted, Alias.
This show gets cut a lot of slack, because of the kind of show it is. I can suck up a lot of weirdness, a lot of continuity shredding, and be just fine.
So "Full Circle," while it annoyed the heck out of me and I will rant about why at the drop of a hat, did not actually do anything to mess with my appreciation of the show as a whole. Sporking the whole idea of the Ascended Ancients is a fandom pastime, so I'm in good company.
But the end of that episode was one of the biggest copouts in the history of all my fandoms. Show, if you're going to do something as tragic as allow Anubis to destroy Abydos and kill Daniel's adopted people, just effing go there. Don't have Oma-frakkin'-Desala ascend the entire planet!!! *primal scream*
I loved the episode, but I hated what they did to Donna. I am attempting to cut the show a lot of slack, because I know part of this is because I have a massive squick to do with memory tampering of any kind. But on the other hand...this was just a shameful way to treat a character who was so awesome and grew so much over the course of the season. *siiiigh*
I'm still watching, but mostly because Doctor Who gets even more free passes than Stargate: I expect it to be on crack, and behave accordingly. And as the old school fen like to tell me, they don't really have "canon" as much as "suggestions." But I did go stuff my brain with fix-it fic over this one.
In conclusion, I've gotten less forgiving as the years go on. *g* Also, the more brilliant a show has seemed to me, the more I have respected the creators and the show itself, the harder I take it when said show disappoints me.
Regarding the reference above to a show I adore, I don't know what I'm going to do with its latest episode. I'm a talented fanwanker, meta-constructor, hand-waver. And this is still sticking in my craw. I must rewatch the episode and see what happens.
Current Mood: pensive
|Date:||November 23rd, 2008 09:10 am (UTC)|| |
I can't talk... it took me eighteen years to forgive everyone concerned for the last episode of Blakes 7.
(Of course, now I see it as brilliant, but then...AAARRRGGGHH!! was hardly the word for it)
|Date:||November 23rd, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)|| |
Yeah, I've heard a lot of talk about that episode. From what little I know, I'm not shocked it took some people a long time to get over it!
|Date:||November 23rd, 2008 09:42 am (UTC)|| |
Rewatch. I like it. It's not the point for you to like it but maybe telling about parts you don't like and trying to get what they wanted to say with them helps?
|Date:||November 23rd, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)|| |
That's normally what I do, even while I'm watching--the fact that I *could not* do it with this one is scaring me, that's all. I'll be rewatching...but I can't guarantee my reaction.
|Date:||November 24th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)|| |
Of course you can guaranty nothing - it's your feelings. But among the other parts i love Dean's part of this ep (maybe excluding couple of minutes with Ruby though) cos i think it's very srong line there, maybe you need to concentrate on it? *hints*
|Date:||November 24th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)|| |
Jensen's acting is one of the only things in the episode I found really worthwhile on the first watch. :)
|Date:||November 26th, 2008 10:21 am (UTC)|| |
I somehow think they were counting on it... but the whole Dean's story i find very interesting - his r-ship aith Anna and what she did to him - it all has deep meaning and i'm glad they bring this theme to the show. Other than that? I think they just didn't know how to show parts that can't be shown so it's not that painful to watch.
Show, if you're going to do something as tragic as allow Anubis to destroy Abydos and kill Daniel's adopted people, just effing go there. Don't have Oma-frakkin'-Desala ascend the entire planet!!! *primal scream*
Agreed. Total cop-out.
I loved the episode, but I hated what they did to Donna.
Look, I cried in the mindwipe scene. And then I cried again when I saw it the second time.
And I wrote fix-it fic of my own. Mind you, I feel the best fix-it fic tries to be as canon-compliant as possible, because that makes it more plausible, which makes it more satisfying.
I loved the episode, but I hated what they did to Donna.
Look, I cried in the mindwipe scene. And then I cried again when I saw it the second time.
You and me both. I didn't cry so hard when I was actually watching it. But it stunned me into a mourning silence for 20 minutes, after which I found myself weeping.
And I still haven't been able to bring myself to watch it a second time. I haven't been able to bring myself to re-watch the season, period.
I needed to soothe my soul by reading heaps of fix-it fic before I could come back to it, or, indeed, read any Rose-fic, because I was so angry about the unfairness of Rose's ending as compared to Donna's.
|Date:||November 23rd, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC)|| |
Look, I cried in the mindwipe scene.
I was so shocked I couldn't cry (very unusual for me). Who knows, I may when I rewatch the episode. But...yeah.
I feel the best fix-it fic tries to be as canon-compliant as possible, because that makes it more plausible, which makes it more satisfying.
Please do re-watch and post your thoughts. It affected you more than it did me, it seems, but I've said that I've been jaded by previous experiences. (I remember what my third show was).
QL: I remember thinking that it was taking a downward turn when Sam leapt into . . . the chimp on the first space capsule launch, I think it was. Then he was leaping into famous people. And they started the evil leaper storyline (which apparently impressed me so much that I didn't recall it at all until I saw it on a Sci-Fi re-run . . . and honestly? I still don't actually remember it). And though I don't remember much of anything about the series finale, I do remember disliking it intensely.
ST:TNG . . . when they did an evolution storyline that effectively eliminated my hypothetical inclusion in the 'verse. One of the things I liked about TNG is that up until that point they dealt with The Big Issues is a reasonably believable, evenhanded way, and I felt comfortable (and included, if that makes sense) in that 'verse. I was so upset I wrote the execs. At that point, I lost interest and stopped watching soon after.
Xena: Where to start with that one? First, they head off to India, totally abandoning the Greek mythology that the show was based on. Then they brought in a thinly veiled faux-Christian storyline and "Christ" character. Then they take one of the best villainesses ever in the history to TV and turn her into . . . an angel. I tell you, Lilith can only hope to reach Callisto levels of evil. (Okay, actually, Lilith and Villain!Callisto would probably get along really well.) I'd stopped watching the show prior to that, but when we were channel surfing one night and came across Angel!Callisto, I . . . couldn't believe it. (And now I'm picturing Hudson Leick as Ruby . . . and that has potential.)
So, yeah, I was kind of figuring that things on SPN would take a turn I didn't like. I'm impressed it didn't come sooner.
|Date:||November 23rd, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)|| |
It affected you more than it did me, it seems, but I've said that I've been jaded by previous experiences.
See, as long as the stories fit with the show's canon, I will usually roll with it. (Exception: I stopped watching L&O:SVU because the cases were giving me nightmares.) ST:TNG, for example, I still love, and the evolution thing never bothered me at all because it was clear that the Trek universe contains random (or not-so-random, given the aliens who seeded planets and what not) evolution.
This ep is failing me on two levels: internal consistency and establishing things in the show that just turn me off completely on a personal/spiritual level. We'll see how I feel after a rewatch. I don't know how much of a reaction post I'll want to make, yet.
(And now I'm picturing Hudson Leick as Ruby . . . and that has potential.)
*dies and iz ded*
|Date:||November 23rd, 2008 12:39 pm (UTC)|| |
I don't think I've ever been really shaken by a show, though if I'd been watching The Sentinel during its first run, and had been around for the cancellation announcement after Sentinel Too (was it called Part 1 at the time?), I might have been pretty upset.
With me, it's usually a gradual drifting apart - the show changes, or *I* change.
A classic case of me changing was with the X-Files... Scully had her baby about a month before I had my younger daughter, and my ability to watch the show ended. For a while my husband would tell me what happened each episode so that I could keep up, but, eventually, we just stopped doing that. And it wasn't the show's fault - I just couldn't handle a baby-related storyline in a show like XF with all the new-mommy hormones going strong.
I drifted away from SG-1 not for any one show, but because I'd gotten into it when it was the Jack-and-Daniel show, and when it stopped being that - when their relationship went backwards - I just stopped making the time.
TNG I remember watching when I was in college, with my now-husband and friends. Then, in 1988, I graduated and for a couple of years I lived in group apartments in the DC area near my family and childhood friends and the church I grew up in, and I think I just ended up spending more time doing non-TV-related things. I see TNG ended in 1994, and by that time I was back up in Boston, in grad school, and married, and I think my TV energy was going into Northern Exposure and B5 (which we took over a large lecture hall to watch... someone had a friend in England who would record and mail the episodes, so we got them early. So imagine a hall at MIT full of hundreds of the devoted watching grainy episodes of pirated B5. It was wonderful.)
I remember loving DS9, but I don't remember Jadzia's death. I have no clue why not.
Huh, other shows. I remember being disappointed, but I can't really remember what series, even. I'm giving the Doctor-Donna thing a pass, because I'm betting the show will fix it later.
I'm interested in what is vexing you. I haven't posted many thoughts on the last ep simply because what I'm stuck on about it has to do with it crossing something I'm not okay watching in terms of how it confounds things that have nothing to do with the show integrity, characters, or canon. If that makes sense. Which to you, I suspect it will.
But I tried to explain to my husband why an episode I "enjoyed" as TV bothered me on a non-TV level in ways not many shows have ever accomplished. But this episode did. And for the first time ever, I actually wondered if, given Jensen's spiritual beliefs, it was problematic for him as well. I've never felt like SPN crossed any lines that might, as an actor, make him think, "Huh, wonder if I should be doing this?" But the last ep? Crossed a couple that would have made me feel that way I think.
Which is to say ... yeah. I'm cooking on it, too; and haven't decided how to respond yet. Or whether to respond at all. The good thing, for me? Put me back into Skin Deep if only to take on angelic lore in a way that doesn't make me twitchy (in a bad way) on a spiritual level.
|Date:||November 23rd, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)|| |
*sees your faith icon and raises you a hand of god*
I haven't posted many thoughts on the last ep simply because what I'm stuck on about it has to do with it crossing something I'm not okay watching in terms of how it confounds things that have nothing to do with the show integrity, characters, or canon.
That makes complete sense, and is at least half of what is going on with my reaction to this ep. The other half is that I think I would actually have been okay with the general plot and stuff, if the ep had been better written, if it hadn't felt so piecemeal, and if it hadn't basically tracked mud all over the show's own internal consistency. I have yet to rewatch, so I'm unsure exactly how much of my emotional reaction is due to which half.
But I tried to explain to my husband why an episode I "enjoyed" as TV bothered me on a non-TV level in ways not many shows have ever accomplished. But this episode did.
I have a theory on that. The show has been incredibly awesome and circumspect about the spiritual side of the stories, and that's one of the basic things that has delighted me about the show since "Faith." Lose that? And I lose a major portion of my reasons for watching this show.
So....right there with you, Dodger. Jensen = best thing about that ep. I so would love to write a screenplay for him.
Exactly. They've screwed both their own internal consistency when it comes to matters of faith AND walked on ground I'm not sure I can watch them walking at this point. And the cherry on top exactly as you point out: such an elegant balance between reveal and mystery, implication and statement in Faith. So to see everything that made the faith aspects work just thrown out the window like they don't matter? Tres disappointing at the very least. Still working through the rest of it in my head and am hoping to come to a workable resolution, but the disturb is very much there and it doesn't really seem to want to go away.
I think, in large part, I've narrowed it down to 2 really egregious issues that pretty much bother me on all leves.
1) The idea that an angel, created with no right to free will, must have faith in God, even never having seen God, because they have no choice BUT to have faith in God, so if they choose NOT to have faith in God ... wait. They don't have free will. They CAN'T choose not to have faith in God. But if they DO choose, even being created without the capacity to choose (kind of like spontaneously choosing to be invisible when you're born without the capacity to be invisible, right?), then ... God KILLS them? Why? Because they're BROKEN? The entire subliminal context of that setup is this: God is a zealot. Believe in Him because someone tells you to (not even God telling you to, because only 4 angels have ever even SEEN God, so all others have to take it on faith not that God exists, but rather that those 4 special angels who say God requires them to take it on faith that God exists aren't lying out their asses about there actually being a God just to control anyone who isn't one of the special 4) or He destroys you. Period. End of Story. It is the posterchild stance of "there is no God, there are only those who will tell you there is a God to control you by then telling you they speak for God ... and if you don't listen, God will insturct them to destroy you." And they're playing this as angelic DOGMA? Pffft.
And 2) The whole concept of God is that He's all powerful. And the show plays Him as if there are things beyond His capacity to control/stop. Not that He chooses NOT to control/stop them. But that He can't. That it is beyond His capacity to accomplish. Again, the same subliminal context: There is no God. Evil exists beyond God's capacity to control it. God created an angel Lucifer without the capacity for free will, that angel CHOSE to rebel without the capacity to do so, and in making that choice, became ... beyond God's power to control? Huh? That's a bit like hunting down Anna to kill her. If God wants her dead, what? He can't just destroy her with a thought? According to Uriel, HE can do that. But GOD can't? He has to send Castiel and Uriel to destroy her?
So I suppose, in many ways, those 2 issues are at the heart of everything I'm not being able to get past here. And then they spread out from there, pretty much poisioning the whole well retroactively. And I'm finding, much to my dismay, that even considering it as seriously as I must just to type out this response to you is pissing me off all over again, alienating me in ways that make me not want to watch it any more.
I think in some ways, my best bet, unless I just want to stop watching the show (which I don't), is to just stop thinking about it. Turn my mind off about all the implications of everything they put to screen this week, and how much all those implications fly in the face of pretty much everything they've said up until this point. And that's tres unfortunate. Because I can't watch a show I have to turn my brain off in order to accept. Doesn't bode well for my future here. Although yeah, I'm still struggling with it, trying not to let it put me in a mental hole I either can't, or am not willing to, dig my way free of.
So yeah. Jensen. That's the universal winner here. And absolutely, writing a screenplay for him would be a bit like being a kid and having someone set you free in a candy store. Only, you know, less fattening (writing for Jen, not the candy store thing.)
|Date:||November 25th, 2008 06:49 am (UTC)|| |
Yes to pretty much all of that. I've been avoiding doing my rewatch because I'm afraid my response will be the same, and I'll have to make a decision to either not think or not watch, and.... I don't want to. I cried after I watched it, not because of the lovely last scene, but because I want to keep my show and am afraid I won't be able to. (Feels weird to admit that, but...yeah.)
it's interesting to me that we're both writers but have followed exactly opposite tracks with this. The more creative work and writing I do, the more forgiving I've become, because I see more clearly how difficult this all is and how different the views are from "inside" the creative process and "outside." And the more stuff I put out there into the world, flaws and all, the more understanding I am (or try to be) about the flaws in the works of others.
|Date:||November 23rd, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC)|| |
Hmmm. I don't know--I recognize what you're saying, and to a large extent it is true for me as well. The things I posted about here are literally almost the *only* times I've had an issue instead of rolling with the punches and giving a lot of creative leeway to the storytellers, because I do know how different something can look from either side. It takes a heck of a lot for me to flatly say, "Sorry, no. That was not even *close.* Bye."
And I don't know whether my willingness to say that at all is more a function of judging other writers the way I would try to judge my own work, or whether it's the latent English Lit. essayist in me coming out. *g*
I was deeply upset by the Jadzia storyline, though more for the effect on Worf, because while I liked Jadzia well enough, she was never one of my favourite characters (my favourite was always Kira, with Odo, Bashir, Garak, Worf and O'Brian in a massive tie for second place), and even more by Donna's death, because it's not just an idea I find really horrible and upsetting, but because it made little sense in narrative terms, unless you feel that Doctor Who is a story about the Doctor inadvertently ruining everything he touches, and I think that that tells us more about RTD's God-related problems than anything else. But it didn't violate my sense of the characters' integrity - I may share Donna's belief that she would be better off dying, but I can believe that Ten would make that, and he made it under great pressure and for honourable reasons, and that actually both choices were evil.
When a show seems to do something that violates the premises established, though, that's even worse. It's like the difference between my raging at the cruelty and unfairness we seem to meet in life (brilliant writers being struck with Alzheimer's at a young age, for example) and how I would feel if the sun suddenly came up in the wrong place (I mean, fannish discontent is immensely trivial, but I think it is a similar kind of difference.
|Date:||November 23rd, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC)|| |
But it didn't violate my sense of the characters' integrity - I may share Donna's belief that she would be better off dying, but I can believe that Ten would make that, and he made it under great pressure and for honourable reasons, and that actually both choices were evil.
That's true. And probably why I'm not in a hurry to ditch the show, regardless of how I felt about Donna. Because it didn't actually violate the show's integrity, or the characters. Yes.
I love your comparison. The difference between raging at the unfairness of life and having the sun come up in the wrong place--having the integrity of a show violated is just like that, like the world's been twisted out of alignment. Such a shock of cognitive dissonance.
Of course, Who has actually pulled a similar departure before, which in a way was more upsetting - the end of Troughton's tenure as Doctor, when Two was forcibly regenerated and his companions were mind-wiped and sent home - which in Jamie's case meant that he'd probably be killed by the Hannoverians or transported as a slave (which is either no better or nastier), and poor Zoe, who had had a very long and interesting arc of emotional development was sent back to being lonely, rather out of touch with her feelings and no concept of how brave an resourceful she could be (which is a parallel case to Donna, although their difficulties pre-Doctor were diametrically opposed). It was heartbreaking, but I cling to series 6B; it may have been a continuity error, but it allows me to hope that the Doctor managed to save Jamie and reverse the mindwipes...
I'm glad my comparison made sense; I wasn't sure it did, outside my head!
*inexplicably does not have a Two icon*
If you're going to Ascend an entire planet, then let some of those Ascended show up again when there adoptted Son or Brother Ascends again or at least mention them. It is like the Ascended step-son never showing up again.=)
|Date:||November 25th, 2008 06:43 am (UTC)|| |
Not looking at the DW spoilers, not looking, not looking! *resists*
*laughs* I had to go look up "Full Circle" to see which episode it was, per our exchange this past weekend about how SG-1 episode titles are not actually very useful at all. I think it's funny that for the longest time your Team icon was a shot from the end of this episode. I have never heard you rant about this ep. I feel left out. *makes note to provoke ranting during next phone call*
|Date:||November 25th, 2008 06:44 am (UTC)|| |
I think it's funny that for the longest time your Team icon was a shot from the end of this episode.
I know. *g* I would sort of pretend that's Daniel there, not Jonas, and... Yeah.
Feel free to ask for this rant; I pretty much never tire of repeating it, even in my own head, because it made me really mad.