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[personal profile] haeceity
Spoilers for Legend of the Seeker and Supernatural.

I've been thinking some on why I ship Dean/Castiel but not Richard/Kahlan. On the surface, there are a lot of similarities. Richard and Dean are both chosen to save the world and decide to do it their own way instead because their respective deities' idea of saving the world involves killing almost everyone in it. They convince Castiel and Kahlan to go along with their new plans even though up to that point Kahlan and Castiel had been big fans of the prophecies. Richard and Dean both like kids and make an effort to talk to them. (I think they're both supposed to be good at it but I'm not that impressed by Horner's acting in his scenes with kids. I also think the LOTS creative team realized it didn't work and that's why almost all scenes with children are done with Bruce Spence.) Kahlan got separated from her empathy and had people killed and mutilated for crimes against her laws. Castiel absorbed a lot of power and killed a lot of people for crimes against his laws.

Part of it is that of these four characters, I strongly dislike Richard. Some of that is my lingering impression from the books. Some of that is that I dislike Craig Horner's acting a lot of the time. Some of it is that Richard reminds me of someone in real life. There's also a chunk that has to do with his relationships to others are handled.

I don't think it's necessary for all characters to be extroverted or make friednships easily. However, Richard is the main character and he's the closest the show has to a POV character. Richard is venturing through the Midlands as a place unlike where he grew up and so the audience sees things for the first time along with him. In contrast, Supernatural starts with both Sam and Dean having grown up in the world behind the world, a world that includes monsters and magic. Sam has been living a life more like the audience's. He's going to college, dating, has friends he sees regularly, and he's worried about a job interview.

As the show progresses, Sam does a lot of research. We're shown Sam doing research, Sam and other characters talk about doing research, and we see them making calls to other people to ask them to do research. Dean uses Sam as a resource but Dean is also shown to be capable of doing his own research. For Richard, research is asking a member of his Team Free Will a question except in the cae of the Book of Counted Shadows where he's magically gifted with knowledge. On some levels the difference makes sense. Sam and Dean have access to telephones and the internet. Kahlan, Zedd, and Cara grew up in the countries Richard has questions about. Tomes of lore are a lot easier to locate in Supernatural than in Legend of the Seeker. Where I see the big difference is in how the writers let it shape the team dynamic. Dean sees himself as the action guy to Sam's nerd and clings to that pretty hard because he doesn't see himself as intelligent enough to switch roles. Richard as the new immigrant listens to his teamates tell him what they think he needs to know. I've said it before, I think the first problem with Richard's team's dynamic is that it frequently relies on people offering up information after he's decided on a plan. With Supernatural, the brothers are rarely in agreement about a course of action but they talk it over and it doesn't always default to Sam's plan or Dean's plan the way LOTS defaults to Richard's plans.

I like the way Supernatural's Team Free Will is written as a tight focus on a few members of a larger community. Bobby, Sam, Dean, and Castiel all have relationships outside the core cast. Bobby has friends from his years a hunter and from having lived in the same small town for decades. Castiel has fellow angels. Sam has friends from college and from hunting. Dean has connections to hunters and more recently, a vampire. Sam and Dean mostly relate to the same people but they relate in different ways. Zedd, like bobby, appears to have outlived a lot of people. He's also shown to have connections and friendships in his past to students, to family, to the Confessors, and to several women. Kahlan is shown to have been part of a community of Confessors and Sorceresses. Cara had her fellow Mord'Sith and her Lord Rahl. Richard lived in Hartland for 23 years and the people we see him express affection for are his father, his brother, his mentor, and his childhood sweetheart who had moved away a couple years beforehand. I'm not saying all characters need a wide array of friends and chosen family. I like Frank from Supernatural. His conspiracy theories are engaging and he has some really good lines. I wouldn't want to watch a show about him because it'd be nothing but him sitting at a computer and snarking at anyone who calls. I could see some good written work about that scenario but in a visual medium, it'd be dull. Similarly, LOTS is in a visual medium where the only way for the audience to know things about Richard is for them to appear on screen. If he rarely relates to anyone, I have trouble finding him likable. Most of his moments of characterization with Kahlan are about wanting to have sex with her and most of his moments with Cara are about trying to turn her from wood into a real girl. His conversations with Zedd are more personal but also pretty rare compared to conversations with Kahlan and Cara. (I'm excluding conversations about solving the problem of the ep because I'm not talking about what he's like in crisis mode.)

Another important difference is that Dean expresses doubt. When he's on trial, Richard says he felt doubt but that he's doing what he's doing anyway. Which is fine but we never see him doubting. We never see him hesitate over a plan or turn to one of his teammates and ask if they think he's doing the right thing. Apparently he had them but he never expressed them until someone acted like not having doubts might indicate a problem. Sam and Bobby rage against Fate and I think that's how we're supposed to interpret Richard's behavior. Dean is shown praying and he's shown expressing doubts to his family. Castiel prays to God in a really beautiful monologue that is the best thing in S6. I used to think that this problem was because of time limits but Supernatural has exactly the same time to tell its seasonal arc that LOTS did.

Something that is down to time constraints is how the characters were established to be special. Richard is established as Chosen in the first episode of the first season. The show seems to have decided that since it's told us he's the hero, it doesn't have to do much more to establish him as one. People only doubt the existence of the Seeker for a few eps where he rescues people in distress, kicks sand in the face of the D'Haran Empire, and then walks on without a backward glance. Not that these actions aren't heroic but there's a tonal quality that I feel is missing. Something about the difference between a person who acts heroically and a person who is heroic. It's about why the character is doing what he's doing. Why is Richard saving these people? The answer his behavior suggests to me is some blend of revenge for his father, attempting to impress Kahlan, and his image of himself as someone important. It's not really something I can quantify though I've tried really hard to do so. Something in the way he's willing to say Cara is abused and then abuse her further to prove a point to Kahlan. Something about the way he demands Kahlan do the job she was trained to do his way or face his disapproval. Something about the anger he displayed when an outside observer said his plan to put enormous power in the hands of his enemies was flawed. Something about the way he feels free to comment on Kahlan's personal issues with the Con Dar. Somewhere in those interactions and others, I feel like his brand of heroism comes from anger and arrogance. Of all the characters in Supernatural, I think Richard is most similar to John Winchester, the man who drilled into Sam and Dean that their happiness was nothing compared to saving people.

Sam and Dean are always very clear on why they're traveling around the country saving people. Dean does it for the same reason Bruce Wayne beats up criminals and Sam does it because demonic forces have manipulated him onto that path. Sam has tried more than once to live a normal life. The reason for his status as Chosen isn't really explained until season 2. They have the benefit of having had a whole season to establish what kind of people they are before we see what knowing about Sam's specialness does to them. Dean's status as Chosen doesn't come up until the first episode of S4. The crux of their victory lies in Dean refusing to do as the entities who Chose him say. Richard fulfills some prophecies and ignores others, plays the part for ends he wants and rejects it for those he doesn't.

Beyond personalities, I think why I can ship Dean/Castiel but not Richard/Kahlan is that I understand why Dean and Castiel keep circling each other. Castiel likes Neanderthal poetry and witnessed the evolution of land dwelling organisms, the gulf from his perspective to Dean's is vast. Dean die frequently and one day it will be permanent and probably long before Castiel's death. I interpret Dean to be bisexual. Not because he likes a traditionally feminine role, "kind of liked" wearing pink satin panties, or because he's the butt rape jokes. Sadly, I suspect that last one might be proof the writers intend him to be read as bi. The kind of proof I'd point to are scenes like the one in 8x08 where he looks at Castiel, realizes how he's looking, and quickly looks around for a woman to check out. There are other scenes like that one but there are no scenes where Dean is shown being comfortable with an interest in men. Castiel has also hurt Sam badly and that's something Dean has trouble forgiving. Castiel spent significant portions of S6 and S7 in Heaven or "dead." All of these add up to me feeling like it's reasonable that they wouldn't jump to acknowledging that they have romantic feelings for each other.

I don't understand why Richard and Kahlan don't just be together. Being together doesn't have to mean sex with each other. Besides, the problem is her containing her powers during orgasm. If the issue is that he needs sexual gratification in a relationship, Kahlan can do that. If the issue is the Kahlan needs sexual gratification in a relationship, Richard might have to dress like a beekeeper but it's doable. We've seen ceramic in the show so there do exist objects to aid with that. If it's that Richard needs children of his DNA, I'm sure there are women who'd be happy to be surrogates for the Seeker. If Kahlan needs to make another generation of Confessors, she can carry out her Confessor tradition. If they absolutely need to have each other's children, the logistics on that are more difficult but not insurmountable. So why aren't they surmounting? I conclude that they prefer the safety of their we-aren't-in-a-relationship.

Date: 2013-03-06 10:03 am (UTC)
meridian_rose: pen on letter background  with text  saying 'writer' (castle: ryan thinking)
From: [personal profile] meridian_rose
This is really interesting meta!

I agree that Richard is supposed to be our POV character and we learn about the world along with him. It's interesting that Supernatural has the heroes aware of the "world behind the world" – "Buffy" and "Grimm" also both have their heroes thrust into the supernatural world without proper training, making SPN somewhat different in approach. Having Sam as the 'regular guy' seems to be a way to give us, the audience, more of an insight, someone to identify with.

"Dean sees himself as the action guy to Sam's nerd and clings to that pretty hard because he doesn't see himself as intelligent enough to switch roles. Richard as the new immigrant listens to his teamates tell him what they think he needs to know." And overrides them whenever he wants to! Whatever Richard's good points are, I don't think wisdom is one of them. He doesn't seem that smart, he's never served in combat, has no idea of tactics. He was a woodsguide, so tracking and hunting, identifying plants (where they're the same species as at home) should be his main qualities, but surely you don't suddenly gain knowledge of military manoeuvres or political strategies along the Sword of Truth!

"I've said it before, I think the first problem with Richard's team's dynamic is that it frequently relies on people offering up information after he's decided on a plan." I never thought of it this way, but yes. Richard says "OMG, this is wrong, this is what we will do" and Kahlan stares adoringly at him and rejoins with "Oh, yes, because of this thing from one hundred years ago. You're so smart!"

"Which is fine but we never see him doubting. We never see him hesitate over a plan or turn to one of his teammates and ask if they think he's doing the right thing." I can't think of any example where he does either. But I think season two Richard seems to consider things somewhat more carefully. Season one Richard never doubts anything.

"I feel like his brand of heroism comes from anger and arrogance." That's a very good interpretation. If we compare Richard to someone like Clark Kent/Kal-El, we see that Richard just assumes he can do what he wants to Because Prophecy, while Clark spends his entire series negotiating the boundaries between being a hero and tyrant, between protecting and ruling over.

"Being together doesn't have to mean sex with each other" Agreed! But asexuality deniers disagree. It's not a real marriage without sex, it's not real love without sex, you're not a normal person if you're not having sex – hell, you're not a person at all if you're not using your genitals.
On the Dean/Castiel side you outline some good reasons for them not consummating but that they're both in male bodies is probably the overriding reason (and I'd be happy for that to become a non issue)

"Richard might have to dress like a beekeeper but it's doable." LOL! Men complain about condoms, try this costume for protection! But yes, if it's just sex there are ways around it.
Plus Kahlan's only true purpose seems to be to breed more Confessors, so she can't afford to not take a mate – and sleeping with someone else would be cheating on Richard.
I don't know how they'd manage to impregnate Kahlan with Richard's DNA without him being Confessed (I've seen suggestions that orgasm is necessary for her to conceive but I don't know if that's bookverse or fanon) but given Richard's ridiculous over protectiveness of pregnant!Kahaln in the AU she'd probably be confined to a room in a tower every time he impregnated her. And while she says it's her duty to provide Confessor children, it's also her duty to look after the Seeker, who definitely needs her and Zedd's help despite what he seems to think. So they ought to concentrate on having a non-sexual relationship for the time being anyway.

Although now I'm thinking of Zedd and his magical protections during sex – you'd think he could come up with something to help them out!

Date: 2013-03-07 03:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
Thank you!

In SPN, John is the one who had the rude awakening to a world of monsters. I found it refreshing that the show skips over any argument of whether or not monsters are real and goes straight to characters who know what they're doing. I think it gives better focus to how they relate to people who are outside their secret knowledge. Buffy was generally about Buffy growing up and learning to be a power in her own right. Supernatural starts roughly where Season 5 of Buffy did and I think some things about it work better because it never tried to transition from the high school metaphor. At it's best, Supernatural is about what it means to take responsibility for your life, your actions, your relationships, etc. It's about what it means to have free will.

I have lot of the same problems with Richard that I do with Buffy as a character. They have their good sides and down sides but they'd be more bearable if they shared the spotlight more often. Imagine this: Early on, Richard comes bursting on the scene saying he's The Seeker and here to help. The first few eps, the people respond with scorn and say the Seeker is just a legend. After, Richard stops leading with his identity as the Seeker and just asks, "How can I help?" He learns to listen to people instead of trying to bludgeon them with his prophesied role. Instead, the show had people learn to trust in the prophecy and never made Richard learn to deal with being doubted.

When Richard interacted with the Sisters, I got the feeling that some of his animosity came from them disagreeing with his plans from a position of knowledge. Sister Verna knows more history than Richard and part of her awesomeness is that she doesn't avoid pointing out Richard's flaws. Zedd, Kahlan, and Cara tread carefully around Richard. With things like Dennee's baby, Richard waits until the information is given to him and then acts like it's other people's fault for not telling him stuff when he's rarely shown to ask.

Both being male bodied is probably the main reason but the other stuff is definitely slowing them down. More than one angel has told Dean that his presence in Castiel's life is corrupting. Castiel has also hurt Dean very badly on a couple occasions and I've felt their ability to be angry with each other and forgive each other has been played fairly realistically.

Needing orgasms to conceive is fanon to explain why Confessors have been around for three thousand years and still haven't separated sex for pleasure from sex for procreation. Even with that, I can think of a way for Kahlan to conceive without Richard directly touching her. They've had time and more motivation than I do to think of it. I agree about how obnoxious Richard was about Kahlan when she'd only just conceived.

Date: 2013-03-06 07:56 pm (UTC)
meridian_rose: pen on letter background  with text  saying 'writer' (cute rat)
From: [personal profile] meridian_rose
Also, I follow http://metanews.dreamwidth.org/ which has a weekly roundup of gen and fandom specific meta - if you ever want more audience, you could consider linking them to your posts. What caught my eye in today's post was an SPN meta that suggests "A common complaint about the show is that it's told from Dean's POV.
I think that's false in that we often do get scenes told from Sam's POV, especially when other characters support Sam's ideas and push back when Dean disagrees with him. I think that the real problem for people who claim it's Dean's POV dominant is that Dean has a POV at all.
What's really going on is that people are angry that Dean tries to maintain his own opinions instead of simply being a mirror for Sam, a mirror that only shows the good shiny parts, a reverse of a fun house mirror which distorts in a mocking sense
."
After reading your meta here, I thought you might find it interesting :)

Link: http://spn-heavymeta.livejournal.com/484265.html?format=light

Date: 2013-03-07 04:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
Oooh! Thanks.

I think Dean gets more POV and Sam gets more plot. There is some lop-sidedness. I've also seen fans say that Dean deserved to have the crap beaten out of him when he was considering giving up. Or that when half of Team Free Will was dead and Dean was having trouble coping, someone told Dean that he just needed to decide to be ok and smile, and there were fans who thought this was good advice.

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