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I will make this public.

I am temporarily deleting my livejournal (where I do most of my posting/etc.) for personal reasons. I am okay. The LJ will be back up. I am leaving my DW up so that I can be contacted by PM, but I will not be using it extensively.

Thank anyone for their concern and I apologize for any worries this may have caused.
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So I have been marathoning Breaking Bad and enjoying it.  In particular, I was impressed by how Hank, who I thought was going to be a stereotype, turned out to be both terribly objectifying of those he deals with, and a loving family man and competent professional.  I love Skyler.  I am liking the show a lot.

Anyway I just wanted to talk quickly about this episode -- 2.06 is Peakaboo, in which (spoilers up to this episode, and ONLY up to this episode -- please no spoilers about future episodes)

Read more... )
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Genre: Comedy
Spoilers for: Buffy season seven, Angel season four.
Character: Angel, mostly.
Rating: PG, mild violence and language.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Words: 1,244.
Notes: Inspired partly by a conversation with [livejournal.com profile] angearia.
Summary: Angel arrives at the temple in End of Days and gets ready to make his entrance.

AS HE ENTERS THE CRYPT, ANGEL THINKS: )
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Here is part 2 of my reflections on season 1 of The Simpsons, which covers Call of the Simpsons through the season finale.
Call of the Simpsons through Some Enchanted Evening )
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I have so many posts, either half-written or mostly written, on my hard drive, and I'm never sure if it's worth posting or not.  Still, I guess I'd rather post than not post, even though a) I'm not sure if it's interesting and b) I wrote this last year.

I rewatched The Simpsons seasons 1-9 last year; the show sort of WAS my childhood in some big ways so it was a big experience.  When watching season 1 I included some comments on each episode, but it's hard to sustain a rewatch writing on every episode, so I pretty much stopped after season one.

Without further ado, here are some notes on the first half or so of The Simpsons season 1.

Part 2 tomorrow.

Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire through Moaning Lisa )
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Char: Willow
Warnings: reference to canonical character death
Disclaimer: not mine
Thanks to: [livejournal.com profile] angearia and [livejournal.com profile] somebraveapollo for reading this ahead of time.

Somewhere deep, she probably started believing it the moment the glass broke. )
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TW: long discussion of death and insanity. 

Spoiler warning for BtVS season five.

Notes: Somewhat inspired by an exchange with lostboy_lj yesterday.

However, some of this is somewhat emotional, RL-y stuff which I found out about today.  None of it is specific enough that I feel like I’m sharing anything too personal.  OTOH, it is emotional enough that I am really not guaranteeing I reply to all comments.  It is what it is.  For the record, it’s my grandmother and it’s a long story that I don’t want to get into, thanks (I am mostly saying this so people don't think it's about me or my mother or my non-existent siblings -- there are two generations removed; I'm okay).

Since this is partly actually not about the show, it is very possible that I am wrong.  I’m almost tempted not to allow comments on the entry, but, well, yeah, comments are fine, but keep in mind what I said.

I also didn't edit this or anything, so keep that in mind as well.

Here's the thing about season five. )

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Note: I wrote this a while ago when I didn't have internet access, and then I was going to post it but didn't get around to it.  I figure I might as well post now as any time.

Spoilers. )

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BE is, for whatever reason, not a show I connect to too much emotionally for the most part—I enjoy it, but I am not attached to it to a huge extent, which is part of the reason that I took a long time before getting around to watching the third season despite enjoying the second season.  So I want to state upfront that I do not claim to be an expert on this show or to have special insight into it; nor have I read very much about it.  I’ve occasionally talked about it with beer_good_foamy and sunclouds33, but that’s mostly it.

Spoilers for season three. )

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Just released! 

Warnings: um, you remember what happened in Graduation Day with Buffy, Faith and Angel?  Er.  Sort of, use your imagination.  Weirder.  Discussion of blood play (?). 

Disclaimer: Obviously, since this is a script fragment, none of the characters are mine but belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy.
Disclaimer 2: Obviously, this is not actually a script fragment.

Graduation Day, Part 1 ended a little differently in its original conception. )
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It seems I've been nominated for awards!

First, my s7 Willow fic "Closure" has been nominated for Best Ficlet at the Absence of Light awards.



Also my meta entry "Words of Willow: 'Witch,' Mirrors and Mommy Issues" has been nominated for best meta at the No Rest for the Wicked Awards.



While I haven't read many of the other nominees in the Ficlet except for [livejournal.com profile] beer_good_foamy's typically excellent "Drive It Like You Stole It" (I tend to keep to my flist), I have read all the other meta entries at the NRFTW awards (listed alphabetically by author so I don't seem to be playing favourites!), by "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer" by [livejournal.com profile] beer_good_foamy, "Rules of Engagement: Violence and Hyperreality in the Buffyverse" by [livejournal.com profile] lostboy_lj and "The Mirror Crack'd: Doppelgangers on BtVS, part 1" [livejournal.com profile] red_satin_doll and all three are very much worth your time.  Thanks very much to whoever nominated me for each!
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Based on the movie, not the city.  Spoilers.  Takes place post-film.
It was February 1942 in New York. What time was it in Western Africa? )
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I've basically been behind on all my tv shows this year, and am just now catching up on various things. For interest, an off-the-cuff post about the first two episodes of season three of Boardwalk Empire, with spoilers for all eps up to 3.02.
Spoilers... )
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Char and rating: Willow, Buffy/Angel, PG-13: sexual content, bondage, some Angel mocking.

Genre: Comedy.

Notes: Not my ship usually, but I had this idea I couldn’t resist.  Hopefully you like it.  Happy holiday season!

Takes place: Post-NFA, not comics continuity.

Summary: Buffy and Angel are a couple sometime post-series.  Willow has arranged for what she hopes will be the perfect holiday present.

Words: around 275.

Disclaimer: All character and the like are owned by Mutant Enemy and other organizations, to none of which I belong.



"You've got the chains and everything?" Willow asked. )
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I gave up on Dexter after last season rather dramatically, and was pretty happy to do so.  But like everything, just when I think I'm out...  Anyway, I have had more than one person tell me season seven was a huge, dramatic improvement and the AV Club seems to agree, at least for early in the season.  Sooooooo....well, I am in between tv shows right now and I guess it won't take that much of my time.  Somewhat reluctantly, I started on season seven.  And it is much, much better than s6, though there are still problems.  Here are some thoughts on eps 1-2.
Spoilers and language. )
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Hi gang, this will presumably, though not necessarily, be my last post of the calendar year, so, happy holidays/merry Christmas/etc. to all.  I'll possibly be able to be online more often in the new year, though who knows.

So, anyway, on Skyfall.  The basic gist of my reaction is: I liked it visually and found it entertaining, but I found it very unsatisfying and frustrating.  Whining to follow under the cut.
Spoilers and negativity to follow. )

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Hey guys.  So, while I've been commenting here and there occasionally, I think I'm still on my break/hiatus for now.  Life continues to be hectic.  But I thought I might check in.  Things are mostly okay, and some things are getting better..  My grandmother is really ill right now, so I'm going back home to visit her shortly.  In general, I'm still only half here, if that.

I hope that everyone who was hit by the storm is safe and doing well.  Fond wishes to everyone.

Now, the meme a few people have done, which sounds nice because, you know, validation is good:




"Inspired by Leslie Knope and knowing than the last part of the year can be rough on us... because when we don't believe in ourselves, there's always someone believing in us..."

The idea is that, well, quoting the rules:

"Rules: Comment with your username and then people comment anonymously with reasons why you can do whatever you want to do. Anonymously because it's nice sometimes to be surprised and not know who's the face behind the lovely comment. After you comment with your username, go and find the names of other people you might know and leave some love (you can do it because...).
Anyone is welcome to participate and feel free to pimp and share the love and the cheer leader spirit as well."


And lastly, a drabble.  Starring Amy Madison from BtVS, because I know that everyone has been desperately waiting for one. 


Life with Father (BtVS drabble) )
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More so than any of the four previous finales, The Phantom resolves very little, especially after the world-spinning, show-upending changes in the past two episodes.  Betty and Sally make no appearances, and the material for Joan, Roger and Peggy is slight.  The main focus here is on Don, Megan and Peter.

I don’t dislike Don Draper per se (I mean, I don’t dislike his character, even though I sometimes dislike him as a person), but he’s not my favourite character.  Still, sometimes his plight does strike an emotional chord with me.  He’s fake, all the way down: “Don Draper” is a constructed persona on top of Dick Whitman whom he regards with disdain.  At the beginning of the series, two people knew his secret (his brother and Anna), and both of them are now dead.  Two more people know now, Betty and Megan (Sally knows bits of it); Betty divorced him for it (though it’s part of a much larger problem).  Whatever he accomplishes, whatever he gets, is unreal, meaningless, because that’s not really him.  But Dick Whitman is long gone and buried, too.  The tooth pain in the episode felt a bit too on-the-nose as a metaphor, at first, until the episode showed the bloody extracted molar, and I realized how much the episode’s title and apparent themes were reversed by it.  Somehow I just imagined the whole time it was phantom pain, and Don probably did too—but it had a specific physical referent, even if the emotional pain which tied into it doesn’t.

Somehow, Megan in that silly, bulky dress for the Beauty and the Beast commercial hit hard.  Megan was so good at everything, at the end of last season and at the beginning of this one, that she seemed unreal, maybe even a characterization mistake.  A far better wife than Betty, accomplished as both a secretary ala Joan and copywriter ala Peggy, with sexy dances and a great singing voice.  Betty and Peggy’s jealousy was highlighted this year, though both rose “above” it, sort of (rather, Peggy rose above it pretty quickly; and Betty sunk deeper into ridiculous behaviour until her daughter needed her and she could feel validated again).  Eventually she left copywriting because it wasn’t her dream, which frustrated the main cast intensely, because the fact that someone with genuine talent and a future with every advantage would give up the job suddenly makes their tenuous belief that what they are doing matters shatter.  She had—well, she had spine; she had talent; she had integrity.

Now all three are gone.  She may or may not be a talented actress.  But while she got the copywriting job because Don gave it to her, she quickly started showing actual skills there.  We haven’t seen any confirmation that she has strengths as an actress.  I don’t know how to read the film reel that Don looks at in the episode (I don’t know how audition reels are supposed to be).  It’s not to say I think she’s not good.  In fact, it doesn’t really matter whether she’s good or not.  After half a year in which she simply was good at everything and got immediate feedback, it’s devastating for her, and for Don, to see her continuing to wallow unable to find any roles, knowing that she gave up (and could probably, if she really wanted to, return to) SCDP right away.  (With the loss of Peggy and clients angry they are sans female copywriters, I don’t think that anyone besides maybe Don and maybe Ginsberg would really object if Megan wanted to come back?)  When you are used to being good at things, the temptation to give up when suddenly it seems as if you aren’t is overwhelming.  And so she gets a part that’s not art through her husband’s job, despite trying to make it on her own.  And she does it on the back of her friend.  Megan’s not European, she’s Canadian (though who knows the difference—I love the joke about Roger not knowing what “Regina” is), and she is surely going to hurt or lose that friendship in order to get the part.

Don tried, earlier in the season, to stave off an ex while in a fever dream.  Finally, at the end of the episode, he seems closer to accepting again.  “You Only Live Twice” (the theme therefrom) on the soundtrack, Don’s too-cool James Bond-ism comes back, and, well, how can he not cheat on Megan?  The Don Draper persona is all Don has—and the purpose of the persona is to be attractive and powerful and to get lots of women.  It’s not a side effect of the persona, it’s its raison d’être.  Of course he only gets to that point after his wife has “fallen.”  The quotes are not because Megan hasn’t fallen—I think her disingenuousness to her friend sucked, if nothing else—but because even fallen, Megan’s still several rungs above Don on a reasonable moral scale.  But Megan has just used whatever resources to do what she needs to do to feel better about herself, which includes using her beauty and her husband.  The idealism of Tomorrowland is gone, as we all knew it would be.

Lane’s shadow on the episode is rather long.  I could have done without the empty chair in the meeting, or at least Joan’s fixating on it.  Joan’s trying to fill Lane’s role as the responsible one is a measure both of the positive impact he had while he was present that no one besides Joan ever particularly appreciated, and Joan’s idealization of the man who secretly embezzled.  Her conversation with Don was interesting, because of course Don projects his brother’s death onto Lane’s (I guess it’s kind of hard not to make connections between hangings) and so insists that suicide is meaningless and not understandable.  But still.  Joan is sitting there, thinking that maybe he died because of her not “giving him what he wanted,” while Don knows rather more why Lane killed himself and won’t say.  One could spin this as being for Lane’s benefit—no need to tell Joan that he embezzled.  But mostly, the fact that Don dealt with the embezzling the way he did will probably look bad on Don right now.  Don fired Lane for embezzling a small part of the collateral he put into the company, and now in his death Don and the company benefits.  It’s not an easy thing to deal with.

Same for his visit to Mrs. Pryce.  It’s amusing and heartwrenching that Don makes no bones, at all, about cutting a cheque for more than the kind of money Lane had to sneak around for: the company is doing better in the spring than in the winter, but still.  (Had Joan been a partner at the time, would Lane have been able to convince her to cut him a cheque?  Would he have been able to swallow his pride and ask?)   He gives her back the money that the company actually owes to Lane a few years early, and acts as if this gesture will somehow make things better.  It’s good that he did it: it’s better than keeping the $50K.  And the solution actually is what would be good for Lane, in the end: Lane killed himself over money.  But Don, the brilliant ad man and copywriter (though rusty of late) can’t think of anything to say but to repeat “I’m sorry for your loss” in the face of accusations that they killed Lane by putting him into a position and life of ambition and lust and decadence.  There’s probably nothing else he could say, but he has that deer-in-the-headlights look he always gets when people don’t bow at his generosity. 

Peggy’s departure from SCDP was triumphant.  So far though, her new job doesn’t look too promising.  Don was often (usually?) harsh on her, and she was sometimes harsh on Ginsberg and Stan, but there were other things to balance it out; here at her new job the hierarchy seems to be harshly imposed, where she’s ordered to take up smoking and she yells at her inferiors.  What was it that Peggy and Don were seeing at the movie theatre?  (Ah, Jim Emerson identified it as Casino Royale, the Bond parody.)  I love how the Don/Peggy mild reunion, with Don’s dreary ruminations on how people always leave you after you help them (like Trudy to Pete, I wished Peggy could tell him to dispense with all this doom and gloom), undercuts the seeming finality of their encounter two episodes ago.  In life, you rarely get perfect endings, and changes that seem to be life-altering don’t fundamentally change the daily grind.  Life goes on, and that sometimes just means dogs screwing.  Back at SCDP, the Peggy-less dynamic is already settled into a dull clash that Stan meta-comments on by saying that he’s already bored with the dynamic as viewers must be.  How we’ll miss Peggy.

Roger’s first acid trip was remarkable in that it gave the guy with nearly no self-awareness some degree of it.  But it was almost immediately undercut: Roger’s Wise Man act by Don early on (with one of my favourite exchanges of the season, paraphrased: “You know, sometimes people seem to be looking at you, but their mind is actually elsewhere.” “You know, some people have figured that out without taking acid”), and by last episode, it’s worn off.  Now he finds Megan’s mother and tries to combine his two drugs of choice, sexy ladies with LSD.  That life-changing experiences can only change your life for so long before you revert to form.  I love Megan’s mother simply saying she’s not going to be his mother.  The image of Roger naked staring out the window is funny in its clichéd nature: he’s living the acid dream as closely to the actual stereotyped experience as he can.  This is a guy whose entire identity was handed to him by his father of the same name, after all; it shouldn’t surprise us, or him.  The idea of experience

The darkest story in the episode is of course Peter’s.  Oh, Beth.  My gf pointed out to me the connection between Peter’s recent fantasy (“I forgot you and then I saw your name in the Sunday Times”) and the actual story here, wherein Beth allows her connection to Peter happen again because she knows it will disappear.  It pays off the image at the end of Lady Lazarus in which Beth traced a heart in the perspiration on her windshield and the immediately erased it, wiped it clean.  A blank slate.  Love as a phantom.  Rather like Don’s role in Lane’s death, Pete feels, and should feel, guilt: Pete pressured Beth into an affair, into continuing to see him.  She made those choices herself, too.  But the consequences are something Pete was never all that interested in.  He never really tried to find out what it actually meant for Beth to deal with her asshole husband.  The idea that the relationship, their unhappiness, is partly what is the proximate cause of Beth’s “blue”-ness puts Pete’s awakening that sadness and want in her as part of the cause of her agreeing to the memory erasure, to cutting herself off from the source of that pain.  Or rather, a source of that pain.  It’s a partial suicide following Lane’s literal suicide last week; it parallels Don having the tooth that is hurting him torn out of him.  Peter as something becoming an abscess for her.  But Pete also identifies that emotions don’t work the same way as the dental surgery, that fundamentally everything he does in life to be happy is just a band-aid over the deeper wound.  Like Roger, repeating his LSD experience to reset himself to a prior state of enlightenment and bliss, Beth is doomed to repeat electroshock therapy again and again, cutting months out of her life, never addressing the central wound.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Dollhouse in the 1960’s. 

The erasing parallels the erasure of history with Lane's death.  Lane's wife shows Don the picture of the girl -- Delores, right, like Delores "Lolita" Haze, one of the most famous literary phantoms lodged in memory, whose last name refers to the same fog that Beth talks about -- that meant so much to Lane, and who we in the audience know about.  But now the path is untraceable: with Lane's death, the history of that photograph is erased, permanently.  Pete may reveal some of his history to the husband, but otherwise it's all in his memory, and when he dies, that will be gone too.

It’s easy to say that it’s the asshole husband who is that central wound, or society identifying blueness as something that needs to be confronted and solved with electricity is.  And surely the husband is a monster.  He even knows that he’s doing, erasing any other men from his wife’s mind.  She feels she has no choice because he forces her into it, and has no real options to escape it.  And he wants her quiet and “happy” at home so that he can go on screwing people in the city without having to deal with her whiny self at home.  Maybe there is some lighter lining to his character, some genuine interest in his wife’s welfare, but the story is Pete POV and there’s no way it’s going to find it.  But meanwhile, the husband’s behaviour of course parallels Pete’s, keeping his wife in the dark in order to keep her sedate and happy while he has affairs in the city.  Like Lane’s death benefiting SCDP, Pete’s bloody confrontation with the husband of the woman he’s cheating on Trudy with ends up getting him his “wish” to have a life in the city, because Trudy genuinely wants to cure Pete of his blueness through any means necessary while respecting his agency.  In the end, Pete benefits from Beth’s memory erasure, too, with his own cheating erased as if it never happened, and a chance to start over with more advantages than he had at the season’s start, his bad actions erased from history entirely.  He only lives twice.



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More so than any of the four previous finales, The Phantom resolves very little, especially after the world-spinning, show-upending changes in the past two episodes.  Betty and Sally make no appearances, and the material for Joan, Roger and Peggy is slight.  The main focus here is on Don, Megan and Peter.

I don’t dislike Don Draper per se (I mean, I don’t dislike his character, even though I sometimes dislike him as a person), but he’s not my favourite character.  Still, sometimes his plight does strike an emotional chord with me.  He’s fake, all the way down: “Don Draper” is a constructed persona on top of Dick Whitman whom he regards with disdain.  At the beginning of the series, two people knew his secret (his brother and Anna), and both of them are now dead.  Two more people know now, Betty and Megan (Sally knows bits of it); Betty divorced him for it (though it’s part of a much larger problem).  Whatever he accomplishes, whatever he gets, is unreal, meaningless, because that’s not really him.  But Dick Whitman is long gone and buried, too.  The tooth pain in the episode felt a bit too on-the-nose as a metaphor, at first, until the episode showed the bloody extracted molar, and I realized how much the episode’s title and apparent themes were reversed by it.  Somehow I just imagined the whole time it was phantom pain, and Don probably did too—but it had a specific physical referent, even if the emotional pain which tied into it doesn’t.

Somehow, Megan in that silly, bulky dress for the Beauty and the Beast commercial hit hard.  Megan was so good at everything, at the end of last season and at the beginning of this one, that she seemed unreal, maybe even a characterization mistake.  A far better wife than Betty, accomplished as both a secretary ala Joan and copywriter ala Peggy, with sexy dances and a great singing voice.  Betty and Peggy’s jealousy was highlighted this year, though both rose “above” it, sort of (rather, Peggy rose above it pretty quickly; and Betty sunk deeper into ridiculous behaviour until her daughter needed her and she could feel validated again).  Eventually she left copywriting because it wasn’t her dream, which frustrated the main cast intensely, because the fact that someone with genuine talent and a future with every advantage would give up the job suddenly makes their tenuous belief that what they are doing matters shatter.  She had—well, she had spine; she had talent; she had integrity.

Now all three are gone.  She may or may not be a talented actress.  But while she got the copywriting job because Don gave it to her, she quickly started showing actual skills there.  We haven’t seen any confirmation that she has strengths as an actress.  I don’t know how to read the film reel that Don looks at in the episode (I don’t know how audition reels are supposed to be).  It’s not to say I think she’s not good.  In fact, it doesn’t really matter whether she’s good or not.  After half a year in which she simply was good at everything and got immediate feedback, it’s devastating for her, and for Don, to see her continuing to wallow unable to find any roles, knowing that she gave up (and could probably, if she really wanted to, return to) SCDP right away.  (With the loss of Peggy and clients angry they are sans female copywriters, I don’t think that anyone besides maybe Don and maybe Ginsberg would really object if Megan wanted to come back?)  When you are used to being good at things, the temptation to give up when suddenly it seems as if you aren’t is overwhelming.  And so she gets a part that’s not art through her husband’s job, despite trying to make it on her own.  And she does it on the back of her friend.  Megan’s not European, she’s Canadian (though who knows the difference—I love the joke about Roger not knowing what “Regina” is), and she is surely going to hurt or lose that friendship in order to get the part.

Don tried, earlier in the season, to stave off an ex while in a fever dream.  Finally, at the end of the episode, he seems closer to accepting again.  “You Only Live Twice” (the theme therefrom) on the soundtrack, Don’s too-cool James Bond-ism comes back, and, well, how can he not cheat on Megan?  The Don Draper persona is all Don has—and the purpose of the persona is to be attractive and powerful and to get lots of women.  It’s not a side effect of the persona, it’s its raison d’être.  Of course he only gets to that point after his wife has “fallen.”  The quotes are not because Megan hasn’t fallen—I think her disingenuousness to her friend sucked, if nothing else—but because even fallen, Megan’s still several rungs above Don on a reasonable moral scale.  But Megan has just used whatever resources to do what she needs to do to feel better about herself, which includes using her beauty and her husband.  The idealism of Tomorrowland is gone, as we all knew it would be.

Lane’s shadow on the episode is rather long.  I could have done without the empty chair in the meeting, or at least Joan’s fixating on it.  Joan’s trying to fill Lane’s role as the responsible one is a measure both of the positive impact he had while he was present that no one besides Joan ever particularly appreciated, and Joan’s idealization of the man who secretly embezzled.  Her conversation with Don was interesting, because of course Don projects his brother’s death onto Lane’s (I guess it’s kind of hard not to make connections between hangings) and so insists that suicide is meaningless and not understandable.  But still.  Joan is sitting there, thinking that maybe he died because of her not “giving him what he wanted,” while Don knows rather more why Lane killed himself and won’t say.  One could spin this as being for Lane’s benefit—no need to tell Joan that he embezzled.  But mostly, the fact that Don dealt with the embezzling the way he did will probably look bad on Don right now.  Don fired Lane for embezzling a small part of the collateral he put into the company, and now in his death Don and the company benefits.  It’s not an easy thing to deal with.

Same for his visit to Mrs. Pryce.  It’s amusing and heartwrenching that Don makes no bones, at all, about cutting a cheque for more than the kind of money Lane had to sneak around for: the company is doing better in the spring than in the winter, but still.  (Had Joan been a partner at the time, would Lane have been able to convince her to cut him a cheque?  Would he have been able to swallow his pride and ask?)   He gives her back the money that the company actually owes to Lane a few years early, and acts as if this gesture will somehow make things better.  It’s good that he did it: it’s better than keeping the $50K.  And the solution actually is what would be good for Lane, in the end: Lane killed himself over money.  But Don, the brilliant ad man and copywriter (though rusty of late) can’t think of anything to say but to repeat “I’m sorry for your loss” in the face of accusations that they killed Lane by putting him into a position and life of ambition and lust and decadence.  There’s probably nothing else he could say, but he has that deer-in-the-headlights look he always gets when people don’t bow at his generosity. 

Peggy’s departure from SCDP was triumphant.  So far though, her new job doesn’t look too promising.  Don was often (usually?) harsh on her, and she was sometimes harsh on Ginsberg and Stan, but there were other things to balance it out; here at her new job the hierarchy seems to be harshly imposed, where she’s ordered to take up smoking and she yells at her inferiors.  What was it that Peggy and Don were seeing at the movie theatre?  (Ah, Jim Emerson identified it as Casino Royale, the Bond parody.)  I love how the Don/Peggy mild reunion, with Don’s dreary ruminations on how people always leave you after you help them (like Trudy to Pete, I wished Peggy could tell him to dispense with all this doom and gloom), undercuts the seeming finality of their encounter two episodes ago.  In life, you rarely get perfect endings, and changes that seem to be life-altering don’t fundamentally change the daily grind.  Life goes on, and that sometimes just means dogs screwing.  Back at SCDP, the Peggy-less dynamic is already settled into a dull clash that Stan meta-comments on by saying that he’s already bored with the dynamic as viewers must be.  How we’ll miss Peggy.

Roger’s first acid trip was remarkable in that it gave the guy with nearly no self-awareness some degree of it.  But it was almost immediately undercut: Roger’s Wise Man act by Don early on (with one of my favourite exchanges of the season, paraphrased: “You know, sometimes people seem to be looking at you, but their mind is actually elsewhere.” “You know, some people have figured that out without taking acid”), and by last episode, it’s worn off.  Now he finds Megan’s mother and tries to combine his two drugs of choice, sexy ladies with LSD.  That life-changing experiences can only change your life for so long before you revert to form.  I love Megan’s mother simply saying she’s not going to be his mother.  The image of Roger naked staring out the window is funny in its clichéd nature: he’s living the acid dream as closely to the actual stereotyped experience as he can.  This is a guy whose entire identity was handed to him by his father of the same name, after all; it shouldn’t surprise us, or him.  The idea of experience

The darkest story in the episode is of course Peter’s.  Oh, Beth.  My gf pointed out to me the connection between Peter’s recent fantasy (“I forgot you and then I saw your name in the Sunday Times”) and the actual story here, wherein Beth allows her connection to Peter happen again because she knows it will disappear.  It pays off the image at the end of Lady Lazarus in which Beth traced a heart in the perspiration on her windshield and the immediately erased it, wiped it clean.  A blank slate.  Love as a phantom.  Rather like Don’s role in Lane’s death, Pete feels, and should feel, guilt: Pete pressured Beth into an affair, into continuing to see him.  She made those choices herself, too.  But the consequences are something Pete was never all that interested in.  He never really tried to find out what it actually meant for Beth to deal with her asshole husband.  The idea that the relationship, their unhappiness, is partly what is the proximate cause of Beth’s “blue”-ness puts Pete’s awakening that sadness and want in her as part of the cause of her agreeing to the memory erasure, to cutting herself off from the source of that pain.  Or rather, a source of that pain.  It’s a partial suicide following Lane’s literal suicide last week; it parallels Don having the tooth that is hurting him torn out of him.  Peter as something becoming an abscess for her.  But Pete also identifies that emotions don’t work the same way as the dental surgery, that fundamentally everything he does in life to be happy is just a band-aid over the deeper wound.  Like Roger, repeating his LSD experience to reset himself to a prior state of enlightenment and bliss, Beth is doomed to repeat electroshock therapy again and again, cutting months out of her life, never addressing the central wound.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Dollhouse in the 1960’s. 

The erasing parallels the erasure of history with Lane's death.  Lane's wife shows Don the picture of the girl -- Delores, right, like Delores "Lolita" Haze, one of the most famous literary phantoms lodged in memory, whose last name refers to the same fog that Beth talks about -- that meant so much to Lane, and who we in the audience know about.  But now the path is untraceable: with Lane's death, the history of that photograph is erased, permanently.  Pete may reveal some of his history to the husband, but otherwise it's all in his memory, and when he dies, that will be gone too.

It’s easy to say that it’s the asshole husband who is that central wound, or society identifying blueness as something that needs to be confronted and solved with electricity is.  And surely the husband is a monster.  He even knows that he’s doing, erasing any other men from his wife’s mind.  She feels she has no choice because he forces her into it, and has no real options to escape it.  And he wants her quiet and “happy” at home so that he can go on screwing people in the city without having to deal with her whiny self at home.  Maybe there is some lighter lining to his character, some genuine interest in his wife’s welfare, but the story is Pete POV and there’s no way it’s going to find it.  But meanwhile, the husband’s behaviour of course parallels Pete’s, keeping his wife in the dark in order to keep her sedate and happy while he has affairs in the city.  Like Lane’s death benefiting SCDP, Pete’s bloody confrontation with the husband of the woman he’s cheating on Trudy with ends up getting him his “wish” to have a life in the city, because Trudy genuinely wants to cure Pete of his blueness through any means necessary while respecting his agency.  In the end, Pete benefits from Beth’s memory erasure, too, with his own cheating erased as if it never happened, and a chance to start over with more advantages than he had at the season’s start, his bad actions erased from history entirely.  He only lives twice.



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I waited on seeing this until I finished my thesis, hence the lateness.  The short version: I liked it.  I could see myself growing to love it, even.  But I don’t think I love it now/yet.  It feels scaled back in a lot of ways: obviously, yes, hugeness of story, of cast, but philosophically it’s not as elaborate as it could be, and the plot is fairly predictable and not all that twisty.  Much of the dialogue and some of the character arcs read to me as too on-the-nose and obvious.  But what the movie seems to me, on a first viewing, to lack in subtlety it makes up for in, again, size of the story, and clarity of it.  This is a story that gives genuine dramatic arcs to a series of characters and has a central theme that runs through all of it, and manages to make the big inevitable action blowout fully dramatically satisfying by letting all its characters resolve their own conflicts in the big battle.  It is pretty impressive.


So the protagonist of The Avengers is…“the Avengers.”  The movie is, obviously, about the team first and foremost.  Bracketing the team are, primarily, Loki and Fury, both of whom desire to control the Avengers for their own purposes.  Loki sets up what the movie is “about” at the very beginning (or early on) by both brainwashing Hawkeye and Dr. Selvig, and by declaring to humans that not only are humans going to be ruled, but that they are going to be free from freedom.  This never much goes anywhere plotwise except for the brainwashing of Hawkeye and Selvig, nor is it directly discussed all that much, later on—the question of whether humans would be better off ruled, etc., probably because it's too ridiculous an idea, on its surface, for anyone to take seriously.  But it sets up the central question of the film (arguably), which is about the Avengers themselves.  They are a bunch of people who are all too powerful to control, who are, you know, UNRULY.  And so they represent not only the best of humanity, but have huge character flaws.  They represent what human freedom looks like: a bunch of guys who choose, and can, if they want to, damn the whole Earth, or kill each other, or save it.  As Banner says, “We're not a team! We're a time bomb!”  They are, basically, “humanity,” in its weirdest forms, yes (how non-human Thor fits into this will be discussed later), but humanity, and the question is whether they will let themselves be manipulated by the guys with the institutional power—Loki with his Chitauri army, and Fury with SHIELD, both of whom play on the team’s emotions.

Loki wants to get the team angry, so that he can bring them to fight the Chitauri at the end of the movie.  In particular, this means ensuring that the Avengers, as the representatives of human team interaction, the choice to behave as part of a community, will be defeated by his highly regimented army.  In order to manipulate them, Loki goes for personal slights and by playing.  He plays on Natasha's guilt about her past by taunting her, Hawkeye's understandable desire for bodily autonomy by possessing him [plot aside: it's from Hawkeye that Loki learns about the Avengers, right?], Cap's patriotism and the related desire for his death to have definite meaning by playing Hitler in Germany (is this kind of an offensive thing for the movie to do?) and thus indicating that Cap “died” for no reason, Tony’s narcissism by stealing his building of lights, Banner’s shame about his condition by manipulating him into anger and Hulking out, and Thor’s sense of propriety and big brother superiority complex by besting him and locking in him the prison cell.  Of course, with Natasha, Cap and Banner, you can argue that he is playing on some of their unselfish traits (desire to atone, desire to defeat Hitler, and desire to not hurt others with your own rage are all good things), BUT they are still primarily, I think, about their own self-image. Because Loki is obsessed with his own self-image, he can't imagine anything beyond that motivating them.  (Of course it’s Tony who figures it out.)

By contrast, Fury wants the Avengers on board for a good reason: to save the Earth.  That said, he works for the human order, and is secretly working on lots and lots of guns.  And the guns don't make a direct appearance, but the destructive tendency that they represent shows up later in the movie, where the human order up above are about to blow Manhattan up to save the Earth, which Fury is, you know, against, but also can’t himself stop.  Guns have no purpose except to destroy, which is not to say that they can’t be used well, but they end up creating a similar situation to the Chitauri army on Earth, with interchangeable soldiers given weapons to use force under orders from above, as opposed to individuals choosing to use their own remarkable abilities.  The way Fury manipulates them is that he withholds information which is a mechanism of removing their agency, which keeps him in parallel with Loki.  He also appeals to their egos and self-image, rather like Loki: Banner is the best at gamma rays! Thor is the only one who knows Loki! And so on.  But he does build them up rather than tear them down.  And more importantly, his biggest act of manipulation late in the film is to use, crassly but effectively, Agent Coulson’s death to motivate Tony and Cap.  This is, you know, gross: I do tend to think that Coulson wouldn’t have minded, ultimately, but it’s still awful to use someone’s death (and lie about it) to push people’s emotional buttons.  (I hope that Agent Hill is supposed to be a little disgusted with Fury—I need to check Cobie Smulders’ expression more carefully next time—because otherwise that scene has no purpose except to explain what we should already know/be able to figure out, so….)  But this last manipulation is not quite about them, the Avengers, in the same way that Loki’s manipulations are.  I mean…it’s still egotism, in a way (Phil thought of Cap as a hero!), but it’s very much, “Live up to someone else’s idea of you, for them” rather than appealing to, and attacking, their own self-perceptions.  It’s about fostering a community spirit, a world outside them, and about suggesting that the beliefs of others can positively impact them. 

And that is what Loki lacks.  He doesn’t trust or like his community of Chitauri and they don’t trust him.  They can make deals that are mutually beneficial, but that’s as far as it goes.  And indeed, the carefully calibrated deals he makes leaves no room for freedom of choice, obviously, and the lack of freedom of choice means that the actions of sincere, spontaneous friendship/love/heroism/etc. actually mean something, and are inspiring.  So, Loki, because he thinks he’s fully constrained the Avengers and thinks he knows them, is bound to lose.  As Coulson said, it’s in his nature.  This is…well, actually, Buffy season four is pretty much the first time Joss did this plot, and he keeps doing it, but Adam is a good analogy, despite being deeply unpopular.  Adam assumed people would act with self-interest, and be unable to overcome their emotional triggers in order to work with other people, play well with others, etc., and that’s why he couldn’t “understand the source of [Buffy and her friends’] power.”  Similarly, while Loki doesn’t believe the Avengers will ever be able to overcome their problems and work together, Fury assumes they will be able to, because he does basically believe in people.  The Avengers fighting is what Loki expected, but them being able to work together is something he didn’t.  If Loki’s army of Chitauri, who from what we see have total conformity and complete servitude to their leader of the moment, represent the complete subjugation of individuality and individual choice, Loki’s goal to impose, Loki himself, who cares for no one, is the case of total individualism, unable to conceive of emotions beyond the self.  These enemies are, of course, the extremes which the team has to, and does, navigate.

The way that Fury changes his position over the movie is that by having faith in human individual choice, he lets the Avengers deal with the Tesseract and decide to send it with Thor back to Asgard.  This contradicts his orders, of course, but he believes in the Avengers’ rights to do what they think they should, with this power, having been the ones to fight for it.  While he engaged in manipulation throughout, his basic belief in individual choice is paid off at the end of the film.  (There is, or should be, some ambivalence here, I think: isn’t the prince of Asgard the ultimate authority figure?   Isn’t sending the big power off is a way to get remove human choice from the equation?  But I think that it’s a matter of removing the power a) to create impersonal weapons, and b) from the big centralized human institution which is anti-choice.  Maybe Asgard is a stupid monarchy, or maybe it’s a good monarchy, but it has a better chance of making use of the power properly than Earth does as it is.)  Fury gets some, if not total, redemption for his for-the-cause manipulations by siding with the Avengers and the innocent humans against the administration in terms of both the launching of nuclear weapons and the loss of the Tesseract.

On the meta level, we can say that Fury and Loki both stand in for Whedon (and Marvel, but I’ll stick to Whedon).  Manipulator and storyteller, Whedon brings the Avengers in (Fury) and finds ways to make the event personal for all of them individually by hurting them (Loki). He kills Coulson (Loki) and uses his death to further the narrative (Fury).  But of course, Whedon is more Fury than Loki, because at his core, he not only expects the Avengers to win (he will write them winning!), but as he’s said in interviews, he wants them to win.  He doesn’t think Watchmen, the film, is necessary yet, because there have been almost no good superhero movies where we examine why we need superheroes, rather than why we don’t.  The problem with superheroes is huge, and needs to be examined, and I can understand the argument that this movie, while vetting it somewhat (in particular, by reminding us of our main cast’s big character flaws), doesn’t go far enough, and that the “old-fashioned”-ness of the story goes against it.  But I like the idea that good things that superhero stories can do aren’t fully behind us: that we can still find hope in trying times from them. 

And I think, you know, I think Joss has set up the philosophical conflict here of ragtag bunch of misfits vs. homogenous army in the same way that Fury and Loki have.  Fury thinks ragtag misfits will have a better chance than guns; Loki is more or less certain that misfits will lose.  We’re supposed to feel awe at seeing superheroes win by being themselves, absolutely and truly, and by sacrificing the community.  Superheroes are meant to be, in part, identification figures, so that we can identify with one of these heroes and see the possibility of ourselves being extraordinary, not only applying our particular skills at the very best of their ability, but also overcoming, in the moment, our proportionally huge flaws.  And we are in this world together.  Pure selfishness is not the answer (Loki), nor pure conformity and servitude (the Chitauri), nor partial self-annihilation (the nuke sent to Manhattan): we, as individuals and as a species, can believe in ourselves, believe that if we are careful, pay attention to one another, and channel ourselves for good, we can save the world, rather than destroy it.  As a species, we are “super”: we are changing the very face of the planet.  But we get to choose what that face will be, and by seeing fictional people doing that, we can have hope that we might do/be the same.  All that said, that Loki is the villain and Fury, while ultimately a positive force, is still an ambiguous figure, should let us know that ambivalence is coded into the film about the role of the storyteller, and perhaps about the story itself.  But the ambivalence is still dominated by positivity about people, about teams.  This is the movie about triumph of belief and hope over cynicism.

So, before I go on to talk about the individual Avengers, and any other points that remain, let’s talk about the problem with this type of story.  It’s all very well that Loki’s character flaws—primarily his narcissism, lack of faith in community, as well as his God-complex inability to conceive of humans as powerful—lead to his undoing.  But I can’t help but feel that the human forces wiping out Manhattan with nuclear weapons is something he should have thought of.  And more generally, as great as it is that Loki and the alien army’s underestimation of the Avengers follows from the thematics, it still means that the plot requires Loki to arrange his own destruction by bringing the Avengers to the big battle, in a way that blurs the narcissist/idiot boundary that is pretty blurry for mostly all megalomaniacal villains in superhero lore.  And I think it’s too convenient to imply that it’s just impossible for any narcissist or any constrained hierarchy to understand how a group of individuals working together for the community spirit can work much better than expected.  Since the battle scene itself shows the Avengers working very impressively, but not, to me, in a way that absolutely defies reason or prediction, I’d be more comfortable if the movie more clearly established that this really was Loki’s best shot, rather than making him just look stupid for taunting the Avengers into coming after him.  I will have to watch the movie again, but I’d say there are two ways this could work for me, especially in conjunction with each other. 

  1. Loki does hope that some of the Avengers will get killed through his plotting throughout the film—for example, when the Hulk smashes SHIELD—and desires to piss off the remaining Avengers enough to ensure that any remaining ones die in the Ice Giant attack.  This way, he is not deliberately protecting the Avengers until the big night out, but just ensuring that he can manipulate them well enough to ensure that none of them survive the whole plan.
  2. Loki doesn’t really know if his Avengers plan will succeed, but has to try.  If the Avengers are not defeated, then people won’t bow to him; if the Avengers are not defeated, they will come after him.  Basically, it’s not arrogance, exactly—though his constant lack-of-fear is—but desperation.
  3. The Chitauri are pretty much going to kill Loki if he doesn’t succeed at getting the Tesseract, so he has to do the best he can.

I do think it’s worth noting that Loki tried to do the possessing thing on Tony, and it is certain that things would have turned out differently on him.  (And, yeah, this is not dissimilar to the trick that was used with the Operative’s death grip and Mal, in Serenity.  This moment is much quieter than the equivalent moment in Serenity, but it’s…well, it’s nice to know Joss is using his whole bag of tricks here, and probably he doesn’t mind reusing on the thing the most people everywhere will see one of the key moments in his film that a much smaller number have seen.)

Now, onto individual character arcs for the five Avengers who have their own franchises or in Natasha’s case are about to.  Hawkeye probably has reservoirs of awesomeness I’m unaware of, but he spent so much of the movie possessed.  Of the franchise characters, each character’s arc is fairly simple, but is done well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were many hidden depths.

Banner: I start with Banner, because he’s my favourite, and also because his plight is the one that is the closest to representing the team itself.  Banner doesn’t trust himself: he doesn’t want to acknowledge the Hulk as part of him, and he believes that the Hulk is all bad, untrustworthy.  In a way, he wants freedom from “choice”: he wants the Hulk to be totally submerged and controlled, he wants never to be in a situation where he has to use that.  But when he discovers that he can fall from the sky and, as the Hulk, he avoids hurting people, he realizes that losing control isn’t so bad: that it’s possible that his instincts, that the Hulk which is in some senses the most human part of him, is worth saving.  When he Hulks out in the final battle, he even saves Tony, the guy who encouraged him the most to let his inner Hulk out.  In a way, the superego/id metaphor that’s clear about this maps this way: Bruce’s control is social constraints (again, the military as an example; Loki’s plan to rule the whole world is another), the Hulk is the human element, the problem of human irrationality and spontaneity and emotion and choice.  The Hulk is still a monster—he punches Thor out!—and still needs to be harnessed correctly, but he is not intrinsically evil, either, which is moving.   As a more general aside, I love his secret to keeping the Hulk at bay. “I’m always angry,” so he never gets angry; his guard is never down enough for him to be blindsided by anger.  That is, until SHIELD in the middle of the film. Central lesson: willingness to trust his “dark” side, inner nature.

Natasha: I have less to say about her than I’d like, though this is a good piece on her (though yikes, I wouldn’t recommend reading the comments).  She is, of course, amazing: cool professionalism, emotional manipulator in the Nick Fury tradition, but whereas Fury does it with the whole might of SHIELD behind him, Natasha does it with…um, nothing, I guess?  She does it with herself.  If anything, her arc is probably most centrally about realizing that she can have authentic emotional connection to the fight at the end, allowing herself to hope for superheroism as a way to make up for her past.  It’s what Loki taunts her about, and she refuses to let him get to her.  (Let’s note, by the way, how smartly done it is that it’s only Banner that actually scares her; she seems to be rattled by Loki, but it’s part of the interrogation.  She is totally inauthentic in the interrogation at the beginning, but it’s suggested that she calls on real feelings in her interrogation with Loki, and it’s partly the use of those real feelings that gets her through the final battle in which she’s expected not just to get in, get information and get out, but stay for a potentially life-risking operation that requires faith above and beyond professionalism.  This larger arc is reflected in the smaller one with Banner: she mostly needs to play act faith in him at the beginning of the film in order to get him onto the project, but when he’s about to Hulk out later in the movie, she is, I think, genuine in trying to swear on her life for him.  In a movie that is partly about reclaiming old-fashioned hope and wonder from a cynical world, the discovery of finding the truth behind her icy veneer and gaining power from it, rather than making herself more vulnerable as a result, is quite nice and, like Banner’s arc, close to the centre of the film.  Central lesson: world-saving as more than a job, but an emotionally live wire.

Tony: His narcissism is the one that matches closest to Loki’s; he is so used to being the smartest guy in the room that he basically assumes that he doesn’t have to listen to anyone else. And what’s great about this movie is that it actually takes a Team Movie to deprotagonize this guy; as long as he’s in a movie with Iron Man in the title, he is pretty much still going to be the star, no matter what happens in the movie to humble him or see the value of others are whatever.  Here, he genuinely moves to take orders from others, falls on the grenade at the end of the movie, and confronts the negative mirror of his own narcissism when Loki takes over his tower.  We also see that his flaw is his source of strength: his lack of traditional heart is what makes him invulernable to Loki’s mind control.  Tony also recognizes Phil as a person rather than as “Agent,” and is inspired to die partly because of Coulson’s sacrifice.  Noteworthy: I was surprised by the fact that Tony takes to Bruce so easily, and I realized that he actually is not just an egotist: he genuinely really just nearly always goes for/trusts the smartest guy in the room, and when Bruce is around, that is, well, it’s still Tony, but he gives enormous amount of credit to Bruce and doesn’t really seem to be threatened by having someone who’s his intellectual equal.  On the other hand, while his constant needling of Bruce to Hulk out is partly a genuinely kind act, it’s also an expression of self-centredness.  Tony is constantly “Hulking out” in his own, milder ways, and Banner’s control threatens Tony’s belief that he is living the best life he can live.  So he needs to convert Banner to his life.  Tony, of course, gets the last shot of the movie, along with Pepper; but it’s a shot that reaffirms the group’s centrality, as well as what it requires for someone as self-absorbed as Tony.  His building is partly destroyed, and the monument to his own vanity (“STARK”) has to be partly trashed to make room for Tony’s involvement in the team (“A”), in one of the film’s best visual metaphors.  Central lesson: willingness to acknowledge and sacrifice for others.

Cap: While Tony’s reaction to Coulson’s death is to recognize, finally, the value of people who aren’t geniuses and their own internal lives, Cap didn’t really have that problem.  He already knows the value of human life and doesn’t particularly think he’s better than other people who aren’t Tony Stark. What he had a problem with is the identity of “Captain America,” the propaganda tool, the old fashioned playing card hero.  It’s weird to say that his arc is just about accepting that he is that guy, and accepting that he’s a hero, but in some ways I think that’s what it is.  Which is another version of the central question of Belief in the Avengers: Loki and, early in the movie, Tony, would say that Captain America is a silly nobody; Fury to an extent, and Coulson much more so, would say that he’s a bona fide hero.  The movie is really him starting off with just a lot of physical power and anger, and no bearings in a world that’s completely different from him.  And of course, initially, he’s a soldier, too—more of a follower than a leader, and uncertain what his individual voice is.  Discovering that SHIELD is working for the shadowy supergovernment to make weapons is part of his disillusionment with currently-in-place human structures but also a bigger wake-up call for his inner conscience and moral conviction. In the end, he takes on the mantle of leader, organizing the fight, because he simply is the best soldier of the bunch, the best with people, despite not having other skills (besides super strength, obviously); he uses his skills, gained as a follower of others, to become a leader of others, outside of a clear army hierarchy.  Central lesson: willingness to accept the role thrust on him.

Thor: Like Tony, he has to get used to other people having meaning; but in particular, he has to get used to the idea that humans, whom he intellectually admires, have the same rights to exist, and in particular emotional import, as his own (evil) brother.  He basically assumes that Loki, and protecting the Earth, are his responsibility and duty, but has trouble seeing humans’ concerns as valuable, and has trouble believing that humans are trustworthy to protect themselves or worth listening to about how to deal with their own problems.  His authoritarian attitude, while not submerged at the end of the movie—it’s he who takes Loki and the Tesseract into custody—are still lessened.  He submits to Cap’s leadership in the final battle, is willing to take the slight of Hulk punching him, and though I’m not sure about this one, I’m pretty sure he fights Loki with all he’s got, and doesn’t hold punches on him because he’s closer to him emotionally/power-wise than humans.  Central lesson: willingness to acknowledge human power, authority, and experience.

None of these arcs are stories that couldn’t be done in their own narratives—Cap’s, especially—but I think in all cases, though especially Tony’s and Thor’s, these are enhanced by a narrative that does not prioritize one of them over the others.  Captain America is the organizer of the fight, maybe even the leader, but he doesn’t make the grandest gesture.  Thor walks away with his brother and the power source, but makes fewer decisions in the fight proper than the others.  Bruce is maybe the decisive player in the battle and gets to trash Loki, but he has little rational-mind control over the battle. Tony makes the grandest gesture of them all, so…okay, maybe in Tony’s case there’s not as big a “but,” but I hope you get my point.

I do think that these arcs are streamlined to a point that might be a flaw in the movie.  It’s kind of a concession that is necessary.  And I’m not sure any way around it.  Still, the fact that the Hulk isn’t so bad anyway is a little unavoidable, isn’t it?  Tony’s sacrifice is weakened a bit because we know that won’t be it for him, but it’s still worth noting that he was willing to make it. (I am glad there was no discussion of the earlier wire discussion with Cap, because I think it was already a little too obvious as was.)  Does Captain America actually have any flaws that the story is going to vet besides “lacks confidence,” and is equating old-fashioned with good with Americo-centric patriotism really so hot?  I have trouble actually tracking Thor’s arc in the movie, though maybe the God playing fourth banana was kind of the point.  Anyway, I like all the characters’ stories but am not sure if I quite love them, and we’ll see whether rewatch, more thoughts of my own, or more thoughts from the in-person and online community will move me over to love.  OK guys: fandom is my Avengers.  So, Earth’s Mightiest Meta-Writers, what do you think?



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