Jan. 7th, 2016 10:40 am
osprey_archer: (window)
I watched the first few episodes of Supergirl in the fall, missed an episode while I was on a trip, and then never caught up because the show seemed sweet but not stunningly good.

But then I watched the rest of the first half of the season so I could start watching again in January (and then got the episode time wrong and missed it! Like an idiot!), and it's won me over.

In the first few episodes, Kara is a sweet and slightly bumbling girl who is finding her feet as a superhero. And she remains sweet and slightly bumbling and adorably awkward (I love the moment when Cat Grant is all "What planet are you from?" - rhetorically, of course - and Kara is all, "Um...this one?" OH KARA), but in the later episodes, she also gets angry.

When she was thirteen, her planet was destroyed, her whole family was killed, except for her Aunt Astra who's probably evil - except maybe her aunt was trying to save Krypton, and Kara's mother was partially responsible for its destruction - and Kara's been on earth trying to hide her powers for the past ten years and she's angry.

(Now, I strongly suspect that in the end it will turn out that Kara's mother was right and Aunt Astra is tragically misguided, but at the moment it could go either way, and kudos to the writers for making this seem genuinely uncertain.)

Female characters who are really fucking angry are my jam. Veronica Mars, Peggy Carter, Jaye Tyler from Wonderfalls... I think even Mary from Downton Abbey fits this description, which is rather odd; you would expect Sybil to be the angry sister, as she's the activist in the family.

But I think actually that makes Sybil calmer: she knows she doesn't want this to be her life and she has a plan to get out. Whereas Mary is aware that she's not content with things as they are, but her only real plan of escape is maybe marriage, and she seems uneasily aware that it's not a very good plan. She's trapped.

It makes her bitter and petty and mean, and I can see why people dislike that about her - especially because, from what I've heard, she never really grows out of it? But in the first two seasons, I did believe that eventually she would come to terms with what she wants from the world, and become less petty if not, perhaps, less furious.
osprey_archer: (downton abbey)
I've been watching season 2 of Downton Abbey with my mother, and you know what that means: Downton Abbey fic! In fact, this is a fic that I abandoned half-finished when I quit the show; I believe it is the last of them, although there may be more hiding away in corners of my computer.

Fic: Heart Like a Paper Scrap
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Pairings: Mary/Matthew
Rating: G
Summary: ‘Heart, you are as restless as a paper scrap,
That’s tossed down dusty pavements by the wind…’

Mary and Matthew discuss poetry (and try very hard not to discuss their feelings) as Mary pushes Matthew around the grounds in his wheelchair.
osprey_archer: (window)
Day 29 - Current TV show obsession.

I don’t really have one right now. Whoops?

That is a short and boring entry, so I’m also going to do Day 30: Saddest character death.

ALL CHARACTER DEATHS MAKE ME SAD. ALL OF THEM. I rarely watch the critically acclaimed dark and gritty dramas that everyone else seems so fond of, because I don’t like getting all invested in a character - for seasons and seasons, sometimes - only to have them die all over the screen.

I’m still especially mad at Torchwood for managing to kill Owen twice. That just seems cruel and unusual. And, of course, still irritated at Downton Abbey for Sybil's death.

Oh, but I think the character death that was really saddest for me was Leo McGarry’s death in The West Wing - partly because it was forced on the producers by the actor’s death, so the shock and grief were genuine. But they did a superb job working it into the show, and when I think of the finale of West Wing, I think not of the actual finale but of Leo’s funeral: characters from all the seasons of the show gathering together to pay homage to Leo, because he was just that great.
osprey_archer: (downton abbey)
A couple of fics I have written!

Title: Idyll in Bluebells
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Pairings: none really; sort of pre-OT3ish for Gwen, Sybil, and Branson
Rating: G
Disclaimer: So not mine. :(
Summary: When the Renault breaks on the drive home from one of Gwen's interviews, Sybil, Gwen, and Branson have a picnic in a bluebell grove.

And a ficlet, originally for the Obscure & British Commentfest. I’m hoping to write a ficlet for Emma Peel & Steed from The Avengers (you know, the 1960s version) for this fest too, but I was watching All Creatures Great and Small when the commentfest started and I couldn’t resist.

Title: Caught in the Middle
Fandom: All Creatures Great and Small
Pairings: none
Rating: G
Disclaimer: So not mine. :(
Summary: James plays peacemaker when Siegfried is angry at Tristan again.
osprey_archer: (downton abbey)
Day 05 - A show you hate.

I usually just quit shows if I’m not enjoying them, so I’m not sure I’ve worked up the requisite rage to say I really hate one. I find the popularity of certain shows baffling (why is it that no one else wanted House to end with all House’s coworkers banding together to throw him off a cliff?), but then I am a fan of the failtastic 2 Broke Girls and people who live in glass houses can’t throw stones.

Though I still do feel terribly betrayed by the soap operatic hash that Downton Abbey has become. The first season was so good, and then - !

But nothing can take that first season away from me. Nothing. Someday I will rewatch it and finally finish the super-fluffy pre-OT3 fic where Branson & Sybil & Gwen have an impromptu picnic in the bluebell wood after the Renault breaks down. (Obvs. Branson and Sybil were secretly driving Gwen into town for a job interview. Also obvs. Branson and Gwen planned the picnic ahead of time and made a bet whether Sybil would ever stop to wonder where the sandwiches came from, given that she’s used to things she needs appearing like that.)
osprey_archer: (downton abbey)
Barnes & Nobles has a book compilation of all the scripts of the first season of Downton Abbey, which I should not buy because, after all, I have the DVDs, but nonetheless totally want because it has all this great commentary by Julian Fellowes. It's rejuvenated much of the respect I lost for him during season 3.

He comments that he tried to set up the major conflicts in season one so that the viewer can see both sides, which I admire so much; it's clear from the book that he's really thought about every character, down to page-long footnotes about Mrs. Patmore or Mr. Moseley, Matthew's valet.

One of the things Downton Abbey is really good at, incidentally, is overcoming the viewer’s snobbishness toward the idea of servants. I think we’re trained to rather denigrate the idea of having or needing servants (because we’ve got all these lovely labor-saving devices to replace them), and therefore share Matthew's initial resistance to the idea of valets: we scoff at the idea of having someone whose job it is to dress him and take care of his clothes.

Downton Abbey makes it comprehensible why people would live that way: it’s really good at getting into the mindset of the times. Lord Grantham’s speech to Mary was probably the first time I understood the point of an entail, not just intellectually but on an emotional level.

I think there is a sense that Fellowes finds a kind of beauty in this way of life, without believing it to be perfect: it’s clear that he sympathizes, for instance, with the unfairness of Mary's position after the Kemal Pamuk incident. That affection is what makes the first season so convincing - but it also contributes to the drop-off in quality in the later seasons, because that way of life is changing and there is a sense that he’s mourning that change, which guts Branson’s and Sybil’s stories in particular.
osprey_archer: (musing)
I have been enjoying the miniseries about the pre-Raphaelites, Desperate Romantics so much that I have been contemplating other historical topics that would make good movies/miniseries.

My first thought was the original Romantic poets, particularly the Byron-Shelley-Mary Shelley triptych. Fortunately people who actually make films thought of this one first. Unfortunately, one of these films is a horror movie (and bad, on top of that) and the other is a horrible movie. Not helpful, filmmakers! Just think how dramatic and amazing and beautiful it could be, like Bright Star except a million times more scandalous.

Apparently Shelley and Mary Shelley had an an open relationship, but only Shelley took advantage of it, and eventually he was like, “Mary, the fact that I’m the only one sleeping with other people makes me feel guilty. You should totally sleep with this friend of mine. The friend who is not Byron, because I am keeping him for myself concerned you might fall in love with Byron, with his lustrous raven locks and brawny arms. Mmm. His arms look amazing when we going rowing together.”

Mary Shelley: “But I don’t want to sleep with anyone but you!”

Percy Shelley: “You want to be a good wife, don’t you? A good wife would commit adultery, Mary!”

Percy Shelley: was kind of a jerk.

There’s a miniseries just about Byron starring Jonny Lee Miller, though. That might be worth watching.

A sampling of other possibilities:

1. The World War I poets from Britain. I don’t think most of them met so you’d have to pick one (though this being fiction, we could totally change that...), and probably a biopic would be a more appropriate length than a miniseries for that. I’m gunning for Rupert Brooke, because I read a biography of him while I was in England, and oh man, the boy was a hot mess. Emphasis on hot. Have you seen photographs of this man?

Also he spent most of the prewar years struggling with his sexuality and having sex with everyone, like a guilt-ridden, poetry-writing Jack Harkness. Tell me that wouldn’t be amazing on the silver screen.

On a completely different note, I kind of want Lady Mary of Downton Abbey and Rupert Brooke to meet. Possibly with Matthew in tow? Rupert Brooke could flirt with them both! This was a tragical missed opportunity, Julian Fellowes!

2. The making of the Treaty of Versailles, because it would be so great watching the big three players bounce off each other. Lloyd George’s comment when someone asked how he’d done at the conference was, “Not badly, considering I was seated between Jesus Christ and Napoleon” - meaning of course Woodrow Wilson and Clemenceau - doesn’t that sound like an entertainingly terrible character dynamic? You have to be in this one for the trainwreck potential.

For extra fun, I think there should be a subplot about one of the smaller countries battling for recognition at the conference: maybe the Czechs? It would give the audience an underdog hero, so they’ll have someone to root for as well as the big three to facepalm about.

What else? What other awesome entertainment could we mine from history?
osprey_archer: (Default)
You all asked some great questions for the Five Favorite Things Meme! I am so verbose in response (really, does this surprise anyone?) that I’m going to have to break it up

First, [ profile] entwashian, who cheated and asked two. First: Top Five TV shows That Would Make Great Movies.

Man, this is hard. I usually like TV shows because they do things that movies can’t, with their long drifting character arcs. But I tried!

Bewitched, Garrow’s Law, Downton Abbey, The Avengers (the 1960s TV show), NCIS. )

And then, she asked: Top Five Movies That Would Make Good TV Shows. This was way easier.

Prince Valiant, The Hobbit (2x), The Devil Wears Prada, Song of Love )
osprey_archer: (downton abbey)
I read the spoilers for Downton Abbey’s Christmas special, and you know what, I am done. I stopped watching midway through episode 5, when it became clear that something horribly horrible was about to happen, but I figured I would go on eventually...but no. No, I think I’m done. It’s gotten to the point where I start each episode in a state of dread, and really, why do that to myself?

Oh well. The first season is still one of the most sublime seasons of television I have ever seen, season one of Veronica Mars not excepted. We will always have season one, Downton Abbey! I will cling to it and pretend that Sybil/Branson went totally differently than it did in season 2 & 3.

One of the things I loved about Downton Abbey is that it presented Sybil and Branson’s activism seriously. They aren’t the focal point of the show, and I think it’s pretty clear that the writers didn’t particularly think through Branson’s political opinions - but they’re not presented as a punchline - the joke being, of course, “activists,” because caring intensely about something is obviously hilarious. (Think Arrested Development.) That’s just so rare: of course I cling to the pairing.

I have a couple of fics, actually, that I still want to finish, my disaffection with season 3 notwithstanding. First: Sybil & Gwen & Branson have a picnic when the car breaks down (or I should say “breaks down”: Gwen & Branson have been scheming). There will be cuteness! cocoa! and class tensions! I am saving this for when I need to write something to cheer myself up.

Also one about Sybil sort of accidentally watching Branson take off his uniform, because I have a thing about Branson’s uniform. (One rather hopes Sybil doesn't, because I'm pretty sure "So could you wear your old chauffeur uniform sometimes, Tom? It's so sexy!" would go over like a lead balloon. No, wait, there goes another fic bunny. No.) I am saving that one for a day when I feel incapable of shame.
osprey_archer: (downton abbey)
As promised - threatened? - the story about Sybil bringing Gwen tea. It did succor me in this dark time, though not quite enough that I feel up to the next episode of Downton Abbey.

Instead I am writing Black Swan fic. I have 2500 words and counting. Because I am a crazy person.

Title: The Red Queen's Race
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Rating: G
Disclaimer: Not mine. Season 3 would be infinitely less evil if it were mine.
Summary: It was only that if Sybil were ill there would have been an endless stream of cups of tea, and Doctor Clarkson called, and Edith endlessly dropping by – Edith was always excellent when one was ill, really. It was a pity they hadn’t an invalid great aunt who could appreciate her properly.

Gwen has a cold, and Sybil brings her tea.

Also at AO3, here.

The Red Queen's Race )
osprey_archer: (downton abbey)
I have, through nefarious means, been watching Downton Abbey season 3, and have been duly punished for this nefarity, because Downton Abbey season 3 is full of pain. It's the kind of pain you can only feel when a really good show is being really, really mean, and while I like angst as much as - indeed perhaps more than - the next person, THERE IS A LIMIT, AND OH GOD, DOWNTON ABBEY HAS SURPASSED IT.

Spoilers to episode three )

I'm going to go lick my wounds and finish that story where Sybil brings Gwen tea while she is ill. It is fluffy and light and very very fluffy and will hopefully succor me in this dark time.

(I will discuss later Sybil & Branson in season 3. I thought Branson in season 3, episode 1 was mortifying enough to spawn a post, but it has been trampled in the dust by SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER DIE DIE DIE BAD CHARACTER DIE.)
osprey_archer: (downton abbey)
Title: Bruises
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Pairing: Sybil/Branson
Rating: PG
Beta: [ profile] asakiyume
Disclaimer: So not mine. :(
Prompt: [ profile] hc_bingo, bruises
Summary: “Branson, what happened to your wrist?”

Branson drew back his hand as if bitten, and rolled down his sleeve. Motor oil streaked the clean white cotton. “I didn’t mean for you to see it,” he said, grabbing for a rag to wipe his shirt. No, that would just smudge the oil more.

Also at AO3, here

Bruises )
osprey_archer: (Default)
Title: Blackmail
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Pairings: Branson/Sybil, (oh God please forgive me) Branson/Thomas
Rating: PG
Beta: [ profile] asakiyume
Disclaimer: If it were mine, it would probably be the Sybil 'n' Branson ('n' Gwen) show.
Prompt: [ profile] hc_bingo, blackmail.
Summary: Thomas needs a ride into Ripon to take advantage of a business opportunity. And he knows just how to get Branson to drive him there...

Thomas unfolded the paper, eyes on Branson – watching for a reaction – but Branson, puzzled, didn’t react till Thomas read, “My dearest Sybil – ”

Then Branson flinched.

Also on AO3, here.

Blackmail )
osprey_archer: (fandom!!!!)
I'm putting the last few touches on the Eagle of the Ninth Marcus/Esca/Cottia fic! It will be some point soon.

This is the first time I've written fic not for an exchange in, um, a while, so I'm pretty excited about it.

Next up on the plate:

1. Another Eot9 fic, about Cottia's arrival in Calleva and Aunt Valaria's program of forced acculturation. Aunt Valaria is clearly the kind of person who can destroy your life while smiling sweetly and saying "Camilla dear."

2. Downton Abbey fic, on the theme of blackmail: Branson/Sybil (Sybil is Sir Not Appearing in this Fic, though she's very much on Branson's mind), and...Branson/Thomas. I saw a story with this pairing on AO3 and it stuck in my mind, in a "how the heck would you make that work?" way. (And by "work" I of course mean "How do you make it believable that this train wreck pairing would occur?")

In my defense! The sex is way less non-consensual than you would except given that it's a story about blackmail! Thomas is blackmailing Branson (with, naturally, a letter Branson wrote to Sybil) because he needs to be driven somewhere in furtherance of his evil schemes, not for...other reasons.

I'm thinking Thomas is going to buy porn to sell under the table to the convalescing soldiers, though I'm not quite sure why he'd need a car for that. Maybe he just didn't want to let this golden blackmailing opportunity go to waste?

I'm hoping to finish one or the other this weekend. Anyone want to beta either one?
osprey_archer: (art)
Because nothing says "This is a super time to begin a fic challenge!" like starting grad school...I got a card for hurt/comfort bingo. I've always liked the bingo part of kink bingo, without being interesting in writing almost any of the kinks...but hurt/comfort bingo! I am all over that.

My hc_bingo card )

So many ideas! So much difficulty getting them to line up into something that will form a bingo! (So much temptation to write All the Sutcliff Fic. Does anyone wish to aid and abet me in this questionable endeavor? I'm already working on a Marcus/Esca/Cottia fic. Working title: In Which Esca Heroically Represses His Feelings All the Time, Because It's Not Like Anyone Would Like Him Back. Oh Esca.)

I also more or less immediately flung myself into a Branson/Sybil story based on the prompt "bruises," but 1) I'd forgotten what a pain it is to write in TV fandoms - there's so much flailing about trying to find the right voice; and 2) I'm not sure it's in character for Sir Richard Carlisle to physically hurt a servant, even for something as vexing as a car breakdown that makes him miss his train.

I mean, personally I'm willing to believe any evil of Sir Richard Carlisle. But is that just my anti-Richard bias talking? I'm thinking more along the line of grabbing Branson's wrist and shaking him, not striking him in the face. Though I suppose striking Branson in the face would play up Sir Richard's absolute caddishness...

And you just know Branson would resent the hell out of it, too. Even more than most people would, I mean. This could spawn an alarming series of fics: In Which Sir Richard Abuses the Chauffeur...

Or! Or! I could write an Ethel fic for the "unexpected pregnancy" square! Maybe Anna could find out about her plight and help her somehow in her time of need? SO MANY POSSIBILITIES.
osprey_archer: (downton abbey)
Another entry in my ongoing quest to make everyone watch Downton Abbey: I present a link to A Downton World, which is Downton Abbey remixed with A Softer World.

It is all awesome, but this one is my favorite:


(Sybil does not of course actually say this in the show, but it totally fits her character. This is why Sybil is my favorite. Except for maybe Branson. And Mary. And Daisy, because she's such an adorable goofball...okay, I totally love them all.)

Also! You know what would make a great Downton crack fic? Thomas Barrow, Vampire Footman. I mean, look at him. So pale and broody and evil! Clearly vampire material!


Aug. 5th, 2012 09:49 am
osprey_archer: (nature)
Rain! Rain! We got UTTERLY SOAKING SOPPING WET yesterday in the delicious, delicious rain, as we attempted to walk from the Field Museum to Navy Pier. We ran for shelter in a parking garage when it started, and perched on an inside wall to watch the rain roar down in sheets, so thick that we couldn't see the Sears Tower two bridges away.

The roaring wind drove the rain to our perch, so it cloaked us in mist. The wind was so loud - only it was hard to tell if it was just the wind outside we heard, or the cars, or the wind swooping, uncanny, through the parking garage.

The drains couldn't keep up with the water: it eddied around the edges of the grates, curling into tiny whirlpools. Across the inlet, it fountained out of a drain into the water, kicking up white froth.

Afterward, we went to see Chicago's Bean - that's the famous mirrored sculpture; but we couldn't get close to it with so much electricity in the air. Two guys walked past with vast leaves twisted over their hair: makeshift umbrella hats.


Then we went back to the apartment, took off our sopping socks, and introduced Maggie to the joys of Downton Abbey. There are few things in life quite as satisfying as showing someone else the first episode of Downton Abbey, then basking blissfully in their desire to watch the whole rest of the series RIGHT THEN, never mind that it's midnight and they have to leave at a reasonable hour the next morning.

It's a pity you guys live at all corners of the globe, because otherwise I would make chocolate chip cookies and throw a Downton Abbey party. Watch it, everyone!
osprey_archer: (downton abbey)
One of the criticisms I've heard leveled against Downton Abbey is that it presents too rosy a view of the British class system: that the Crawleys are far too nice and the servants far too content with their places at the Abbey. I think this is an oversimplification, which I will explain by comparing Downton Abbey to one of its creator's earlier works, the country house murder mystery Gosford Park.

One thing you cannot possibly say about Gosford Park is that it has too rosy a view of the British class system. The aristocrats are bitter, brittle, bickering phonies, whose thin veneer of civility barely covers their selfishness. The impetus for the plot is the fact that one of them had a habit of impregnating the girls who worked in his factories, then dumping their babies in a hellish orphanage.

And the misery doesn't stop with the aristocrats. Their poor tempers and incessant demands trickle down to the servants, who take out their frustrations with their employers on each other. Moreover, the atmosphere of constant surveillance creates a feeling of pervasive distrust. Gosford Park is a miserable, miserable place.

This rotten atmosphere makes Gosford Park the perfect setting for a murder mystery - indeed, country house murders are a genre unto themselves, presumably in part because country houses could act as a hothouse for anger and suspicion. But it would make Gosford Park a very bad setting for a television series. Two hours of pervasive distrust and spite make a good murder mystery movie. Hour upon hour of it would make a soul-sucking TV series.

Thus, Downton Abbey is inhabited by a much nicer set of folks than Gosford Park. Rather than taking every opportunity to behave badly, the aristocrats strive (with varying levels of success) to fulfill their duty of being honorable, generous, and responsible - in short, to behave with noblesse oblige. The tone belowstairs is therefore much less distrustful and acrimonious than at Gosford Park; because the atmosphere is relatively open and trusting, Thomas and O'Brien's scheming can basically be contained without too much damage.

So: Downton Abbey, model of the British class system as it was meant to be. How well does it work? When the system is running as it should, does it make the people living in it happy?

Mary and Edith are both very, very angry. Sybil is less angry, but that's because she's been planning her escape from day one and has no intention of remaining trapped in this web. I wonder how much her activism was affected by watching Mary and Edith go away for the London Season and come back each year more brittle, angry, and - in Edith's case - despairing.

Belowstairs, many of the servants are similarly hungry for escape. I really don't know why people feel that the servants in Downton Abbey are too content being servants. Carson, it is true, has clearly found his vocation in the position of butler, and sees the Crawleys as a surrogate family - in particular, he sees Mary as a surrogate daughter. But he has an unusually prestigious, powerful job: of course he, as well as Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Patmore, identify more closely with their high-ranking positions than the lower-ranked workers do.

And most of those lower-ranked workers would clearly rather be elsewhere. William, though he never complains - because who complains about a position as plum as footman? - would really rather be working with horses somewhere. Thomas would clearly be gone in a heartbeat in the unlikely event that an easier, higher-paying, higher status job than footman fell in his lap.

Ethel, Gwen, and Branson all say upfront that they mean to leave Downton for better things, a goal that they all have difficulty completing because of society's rigidity. Ethel, of course, gets destroyed by the system. She breaks the rules, and society gives no second chances.

Gwen probably couldn't have gotten a job as a secretary without Sybil's patronage - she has hardly any time off when she could give interviews. Her despair over whether she'll ever be able to leave Downton is moving - a belowstairs mirror of Edith's similar fear.

And Anna and Bates, the two servant characters with the most extensive storyline? When they plan their glorious future together, they mean to leave Downton and start their own pub. Downton is just a way for them to save up enough money to make that happen. For them, as for most of the characters, service is a job. They aren't overjoyed to be there, but at the same time, there are much worse jobs they could be stuck with.

And then, of course, the vagaries of divorce law wreck their dreams.

It's not just the failure mode of the early twentieth-century British class system that ruins lives. Even when the class system runs as it's ideally supposed to, it leaves lots of its inmates miserable.
osprey_archer: (downton abbey)
Also, the fruits of my labors in the AO3 trenches: some Downton Abbey fic recs!

First, Counterparts, wherein Matthew tells Branson that he hasn't been fired for taking Sybil to the vote count, and they both muse on what it means to be in love with Crawley women. A sharp, funny gen story; it's interesting to see Matthew interact with someone who isn't Mary, for once, and to see the rough edges that the class barrier makes in his conversation with Branson. (As Branson comments, with wry humor and not a bit of sharpness: “I suppose as far as national generalizations go, I'll take, 'Fond of Yeats' over 'Drunk, thieving, potato-eating pig-ignorant scum of the Earth." Matthew is suitably taken aback.)

One thing I love about Downton Abbey fic is that it so often takes on these class issues head-on - often even moreso than the show itself. That's a palpable force in this sweet Sybil/Gwen story, Five Times Sybil and Gwen Were Alone, wherein Sybil and Gwen's slow bridging of the gap - the chasm, sometimes - that separates them is beautifully portrayed. I particularly like Sybil's subtle growth from impetuous, sweetly spoiled girl to determined (but still sweet) young woman.

And finally, from the WTF-fandom-I-love-you-so, there is thunder in our hearts, which is a...Mary/Lavinia story. Wait, what? Mary and who?

But this story sold me on the pairing, and more important, it sold me on Lavinia. She seemed so anodyne on the show, a pleasant non-entity - which is better, I suppose, than having Matthew affiance himself to a raging virago we were meant to enjoy hating, but rather boring. But this fic convinces me that there's something more to her than pure clinging love of Matthew.

"Please," she says one afternoon, putting a blanket over his lap, letting her fingers rest on one knee for a few thoughtless seconds before she moves them up to his forearm, "don't treat me as some kind of saint. I love you, that's all. For better or for worse."

"Oh, my dear," he says, a testament to her sainthood in the syllables.

Her fingers curl in frustration. He starts, slightly.

"Oh, I'm sorry," she says, shame flooding her. "Did I hurt you?"

There's love there, but also passion and frustration (with their situation; with the way he treats her), tightly reined in. The anodyne Lavinia of the show is someone she's taught herself to be, and works hard at being - because she's ashamed of having negative emotions (or even just emotions that are too strong).

Of course Lady Mary is a one-woman parade of strong negative emotions, and that helps Lavinia admit she has feelings which are not all sweetness and light. I like the sharp edges on this fic - it's not neat, or sweet, and that's just what Lavinia needs: a little chiaroscuro, to give her some depth.
osprey_archer: (downton abbey)
I've been under the weather for the past few days and have therefore been a) rewatching Downton Abbey episodes and b) reading, like, 2/3rds of the Downton Abbey fic at A03. I've come to the conclusion that there's a critical lack of Downton Abbey cuddling fic.

In a way this is not surprising, because I'm pretty sure the early twentieth century British aristocracy are the least cuddly people ever...but that just means they need snuggles more! Is there anyone in the world who would benefit more from cuddling than Lady Mary? (And anyone in the world less likely to allow anyone to cuddle her, ever?) Or Edith! I think we can all agree that Edith is desperately in need of cuddling!

Actually, I've got this vague fic idea wherein Edith holds a soldier's head on her lap. Possibly he's feverish and it calms him? So she's not being cuddled, but cuddling someone else is still a step in the right direction, right?

(I'm actually quite surprised that none of the soldiers proposed to Edith on the show - it's clear they all adore her, and she's nice to them, and "the wounded soldier falls in love with the nurse" is so common as to be a cliche.

Possibly that's why it doesn't happen. But I would be HAPPY to forgive a little cliche if it would give Edith some happiness. Perhaps it happened off screen? But Edith was sure he only proposed out of gratitude for her nursing...and he was mortified to have asked such an impertinent question, when he knew that his war wounds disqualified him from winning the heart of such a wonderful girl...OH THE ANGST.)

But back to calming the delirious soldier through cuddling. I could see Edith having a chat with Sybil - Sybil noting that Edith seems to have a real knack for nursing, and why doesn't Edith go through nurses' training? (I always wondered why she didn't, given she found the work so fulfilling and Sybil had already paved the way, as it were.) It could be an interesting window on Edith's insecurities - and also show Edith starting to overcome those insecurities a bit, so more hopeful than Edith character studies are wont to be.

There are a number of them over on AO3. I thought this one rather splendid: Fair. I can't improve on the author's summary: That you could not make people love you any more than they already did, no matter how you might try - that sometimes, things were simply not fair. That her life, it seemed, was one of those things.

I think it captures Edith perfectly: both the real pathos of her life, and her flaws - her infinite ability to hold grudges, her blinkered self-centeredness. It is of course unfair that Edith is always overlooked, but for goodness' sake she's the daughter of an earl, life has been quite unfair in her favor too.


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