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Annie: "You can see me?"

Annie's journey is a curious, contradictory thing. It's all about learning to define herself on her own terms instead of by what she is to others, yet it's most obviously measured by her ability to interact with the living.

Or maybe not so contradictory. The typical approach to empowering a character like Annie is to put the emphasis on her standing on her own. Annie does her share of that, but more important is that she has an active impact on others. From being figuratively invisible in life, then literally invisible as a ghost, she learns to be seen and heard and acknowledged.

First, of course, she has to acknowledge herself. One of her most telling and heartbreaking moments comes when Gilbert asks her to tell him about herself, and she launches instantly into gushing about Owen. It's that much more unnerving that it's pure bubbly Annie, and that she doesn't even notice she's doing it, though Gilbert clearly does. And of course by then I was cringing at every mention of Owen, just waiting for confirmation of the truth that was telegraphed so clearly in his first conversation with Mitchell (who, lacking the perspective of a TV screen, can be forgiven for missing the implication) with the simple words "And she was mine."

Once she learns the truth of her death, and more, that her fairy tale was a lie, her rejection of her former life seems an overreaction. "I was dead before I ever met Owen," she rails, berating herself for a life "wasted on trivia and routine." It's bewildering to the boys, who up until then have understood routine to be her lifeline, and who have come to rely on it themselves as a touchstone of normalcy.

And it's a manifestation of another aspect of Being Annie that's so fascinating to watch: how intensely she feels everything. Even when they're playing it for laughs on the face of it -- case in point, her phantom-hormonal meltdown over kitchen gadgets -- it builds into the sense that she struggles to deal with the emotional rollercoaster because it really is all new to her. That she was insulated from it by living in the image of others' expectations.

We initially assume the exuberant Annie of the first couple eps to be pretty much who she's always been, but in hindsight it reads as another extreme. And of course it's the rebound from the desperate loneliness of her existence between her death and the boys' arrival, bubbling over when she starts to be able to interact with ordinary people too. The same energy she pours into grinning and bouncing and gleeing about everything (and, of course, making tea), when fueled by a storm of emotions she doesn't even know how to name, bursts out in poltergeist manifestations.

By the time she chooses her friends over the portal to the next world -- chooses to act rather than to follow the path expected of her -- the emotions are just as strong, but she's learned to keep her balance in the face of them. And suddenly the energy she's been flinging haphazardly -- that's always been in plain sight -- is power she can focus and direct. I didn't see it coming, but it makes perfect sense, and the sight of her calmly blowing a lair full of vampires out of her way is just... so much awesome.

Back on a smaller scale, it's endlessly interesting to observe when people can or can't see/hear her. There are a couple times when it almost seems to happen because she isn't thinking about it. Notably Nina in the finale, but I'm also intrigued by the unnamed woman who answers her when she comes out the front door to see what's happening with the crowd gathered after the car hits Bernie. Is it a manifestation of the resolve she's just demonstrated by burning her mementos of Owen? Or is the strange woman more than she seems? I kinda love that we don't know. When it's important for plot reasons to know why someone can see her, it's made very clear, but sometimes it's just left a mystery. Which is exactly what it is to Annie, and what it therefore should be to us.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
sabaceanbabe
Feb. 6th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC)
I love reading your BH meta. :D

Meta is a mystery to me. It's very rare that I even attempt to write it; my thoughts on these things usually take the form of fic.

Annie is just amazing and hers is the journey I'm most interested in, for the very reasons you've summed up here.
wiliqueen
Feb. 6th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
Whether something comes out in meta or fic for me is a coin toss, but meta is easier, because I can just babble. I agonize over fic, and gaze in awe at my prolific friends.
maidm
Feb. 7th, 2010 12:40 am (UTC)
I saw an interview with Lenora in which she said that she likes Annie because she feels that actresses are often afraid of playing overly 'feminine' characters, for fear of appearing weak or stereotypical. Annie manages to be an extremely traditional woman (she cooks, wants kids, wants to look after her husband) without falling into a stereotype, and I love that about her.
wiliqueen
Feb. 7th, 2010 02:54 pm (UTC)
I think I saw that same one, or one where she said something similar. And she also included Annie's being very emotional in the list of "feminine" attributes, then pointed out how it becomes a strength for her.

I love that they show both sides of it -- I just ache for her when she decides that her reason for remaining in this world is to take care of Owen, which basically translates into her covering for his carelessness and his not even batting an eye but taking it for granted. Even though he later mentions to Janey (since he thinks she's doing it) that it's appreciated, there's not a flicker while it's actually happening that says he doesn't just think it's his due.

It's also notable that, in all the times she talked about how much she loved Owen, it was always about his endearing little quirks or whatever -- never a word that he did anything for her.

It's still important to her to take care of the people she cares about, but (a) George and Mitchell make it clear how much they value her, and give back to her; and (b) they're not her only reason for being.

Even with her existence literally bound to the house, she escapes the stereotype, which is pretty amazing.
diannelamerc
Feb. 8th, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
This.

You've summed it up beautifully... and now I have to out and dig up the start of second season... like *now*.
wiliqueen
Feb. 8th, 2010 09:40 pm (UTC)
brainiacfive has anticipated that I'm going to run out of patience and not be able to wait until all eight are available, and has *ahem*med the first three. I'm going to savor the anticipation a little longer (probably long enough to write a George post, and maybe one more, before giving my brain and heart more to digest), but I suspect that won't last through this week. *g*

I heart this show SO MUCH.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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