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Even in the little pink house where the monsters live, George is sometimes set apart.

The show does an amazing job of balancing the trio, and George does have his own individual bonds with both Mitchell and Annie, as well as what they all share. But, purely as a function of what each of them is, he's outside of two very clearly-defined things that the others have in common.

One, of course, is that he's never died. (In fact, as we learn in the voiceover opening episode 2, he survives a heart attack every month.) Mitchell and Annie have both stood on that threshold and seen something so disturbing that they fear even mentioning it will damage George's faith -- such that, in the pilot, Annie point-blank lied to his face about her experience, and Mitchell told her she was right to do so.

The other is that Mitchell and Annie are always what they are. Which -- despite Mitchell's heat-of-argument crack about "days off" -- is not an unmixed advantage for George. After ninety-odd years, it's doubtful Mitchell has any clear memory of what living in a human body felt like. Even Annie's must be starting to fade. But George is forced to feel it slipping away from him over and over again.

That's a function of what he is. It's because of who he is that he can almost never put the wolf entirely out of his mind, even when it's entirely dormant. Even when he's happiest and most comfortable, with his friends or with Nina. He's always fighting it, and always letting it hold him back.

Nina recognizes exactly what that ever-present anxiety does to him, even though she can't begin to guess at its cause. Though she does pin down one ingredient that George isn't ready to see clearly, with that blunt "Who was she? Who messed up your head?" Knowing absolutely nothing of what happened with Julia, she recognizes that George is pushing her away because he blames himself for someone else's actions. (And she'd really whap him upside the head if she knew that Julia said to him, in all honesty, that she wasn't strong enough to deal with George's reality -- and that she was in awe of his strength in doing so.)

He goes on and on about how the wolf is something separate, something that happens to him... and then tells Nina in half a dozen different phrasings that he is the problem. He doesn't blame the wolf, some separate entity, for driving Julia away. He blames himself. Even before he gets to the point of trying to back out of his just-starting-to-be-a-relationship with Nina, he flips out rather spectacularly when he processes that his imminent transformation had more than a little influence on the launch of their sex life. Which is a moment where the wolf is back to being separate in his mind -- as a full-fledged rival. Suddenly he's afraid Nina might want it and not him at all.

Annie and Mitchell are both completely boggled by how much sense that doesn't make. Except it does, sort of, if you can keep track of when George thinks of the wolf as separate and when it's him. Which is... pretty much whichever is most to his disadvantage in any given situation.

Until he chooses to claim the wolf as his own. To direct its fury at the threat to his chosen family, his home, and the very heart of humanity that he values. He doesn't know he's going to have no difficulty shredding Herrick like tissue paper (thus illuminating the roots of the vampires' collective werewolf issues!), only that barely-healed Mitchell doesn't stand a chance.

He claims it, and Nina sees... and his world doesn't end. Then he calls the wolf "I" without thinking about it. Doesn't so much as blink when Mitchell points that out. Seems to be not repressing but honestly at peace with the choice and with taking a sentient, if not human, life. The leap forward is stunning.

That's... going to be a long way to get knocked back the moment he finds out he scratched Nina. *wince* It's hard to tell how that's going to play out -- she's worried, sure, but seems pretty damn calm about it on balance. George is pretty much guaranteed to freak the freakiest of freakouts, but how he deals with it past that initial reflex is going to be influenced a lot by how Nina deals with it. I'm not sure how I think that's going to be, partly because there's a wild card in her secret. We have no real clues as to the story of her scars, but whatever it is, it's likely to have bearing.

(As an aside, I really hope her "people can be bastards" comment doesn't translate as another abusive relationship. The fact that we've already had two irrationally and violently possessive men -- Julia's fiancé and Owen -- wouldn't be so problematic in and of itself, but I'd kind of like to see some evidence that there are some non-abusive non-supernatural guys out there in the show's world, y'know?)

In the meantime, though, George gets to feel whole in a way he hasn't imagined possible. It's a pretty darn awesome thing to see.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
diannelamerc
Feb. 10th, 2010 05:59 am (UTC)
George is pretty much guaranteed to freak the freakiest of freakouts

Unfortunately, I think you may be understating the situation there. *wince*

I love your takes on the guys, they're so well told.

And I feel for Nina. I agree, her take on it is going to have a massive bearing on how well George recovers from his freak. I suspect she knows this as well.

And it completely unfair for her to be dealing with this horrific, terrifying, life-altering change in herself--while being conscious that her reaction will affect him. :(

Edited at 2010-02-10 06:03 am (UTC)
wiliqueen
Feb. 10th, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC)
I love your takes on the guys, they're so well told.

Thank you! *beam* This one was trickiest for me -- I don't have as instinctive a handle on George as on the other two, for whatever reason. Which is probably why it ended up being the longest.

And it is completely unfair to Nina. Of course, so much of the show is about how life is frequently and drastically unfair, but we can find ways to make it worthwhile anyway. And Nina seems far better-equipped than most people to do that -- not least, unfortunately, because she's clearly had more than her share of practice already. :-/
studiesinlight
Feb. 10th, 2010 06:27 am (UTC)
It's so very nice to get to come home from work to an essay like this. Thank you.

I do not have a memory of all this information about a "Julia" that you keep citing. It's been over six months since I loaned my copies to someone. Remind me? I shall be embarrassed, doubtless, but informed...
wiliqueen
Feb. 10th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
I doubt you'll be embarrassed, because I've been suspecting you hadn't seen the original pilot. (I've been meaning to ask you about that -- I'll include it when I send you Desperate Romantics.)

The events summarized in the opening montage of episode 1 -- notably Mitchell and Lauren's ill-fated date (including the "machinery of the universe" rambling she mentions to Becca in the first ep) and the boys moving in and discovering Annie -- play out in detail there. George's primary plotline in it couldn't be conveyed clearly in a montage: Julia was his girlfriend before the werewolf. She appears at work one day as a patient, is shocked because his family and friends believe he's dead, and ends up seeing him transform.

[ETA: One important thing the pilot tells us is that making excuses to back out of relationships may not have started with the werewolf. Unless he's retconning the excuse when he argues that Julia would have dumped him eventually anyway, because "People like you don't end up with people like me. I'm the friend guy, the one you look back on and say 'Oh, he was sweet.'"]

It's a bit disorienting to watch, as Russell Tovey is the only cast member who carried over to the series (the entire tone of anything to do with the vampires is very different -- that was very much a conscious adjustment when they went to series), but definitely illuminating.

I think they handled things the right way -- there are lines that refer to things that happened in the pilot scattered throughout the series, so it's clearly canon from the creators' viewpoint, but nothing that fails to make sense without the more detailed context. That only happens when I start making specific references to it in babbly meta. ;-)

Edited at 2010-02-10 04:28 pm (UTC)
studiesinlight
Feb. 10th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
No, I did not see the pilot. I hadn't worried about it; I'd figured that if it were canon, they would have re-filmed it. But your description conveys that at least its outlines and major incidents remain canon in the minds of the creators, even if they're free to reimagine any un-refilmed details they need to as time goes on.

I agree with your opinion that they handled things the right way; I think that it was good for the series to start in medias res with the boys and Annie, so I'll regret the missing data just for my own fannishness, not for their storytelling choice. :-)

>""People like you don't end up with people like me. I'm the friend guy, the one you look back on and say 'Oh, he was sweet.'""

I suspect, then, that George had experienced stinging rejections before Julia, or perhaps had watched rejections inflicted on someone with whom he identifies. A statement like that does not come out of nowhere. Even if it comes out of just adolescence, it builds from some seed.

What about this Julia puts in her a "people like you" category? Was it visible? Is she particularly beautiful, successful, popular, rich, adventurous, overtly of another regligion, culture, class?
wiliqueen
Feb. 10th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
I think if the pilot hadn't actually aired, I wouldn't be so quick to consider it full canon. But since it did -- in fact, its success with viewers surprised everyone, and led to the entirely unexpected greenlighting of the series -- I think of it as continuous despite the casting incongruities. (Though Herrick's speech about "tectonic plates shifting blah-blah-blah" was recycled wholesale from the closing minutes of the pilot. Which allows for a very interesting direct contrast between Adrian Lester and Jason Watkins, but does put a slight crimp in the full-canon theory.)

I suspect, then, that George had experienced stinging rejections before Julia,

That seems most likely, and is why I find the moment valuable. It says he had that pre-emptive anxiety before he could blame it on the wolf.

Julia's definitely beautiful, though of course even on British telly it's not always easy to tell whether someone is supposed to be exceptionally so. Context would indicate that she is, however, and implies a possible class discrepancy as well, though that's not explicit.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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