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The doctor and the vampire

Lucy has intrigued me all along, but when all is said and done, I'm still left with a lot of the question of how she came to be such a desperately confused piece of work.

There's the faith vs. science thing, of course, but that's a false dichotomy. Plenty of scientists deal with that one just fine every day, and Lucy seems genuinely not to realize that her book and articles didn't "out" her as a person of faith, but as one who tries to put untestable/unprovable ideas on the table to be considered in a framework that is not designed to deal with them. Which bugs me, because she's smarter than that, and it's such a weird blind spot. (That is, of course, if we deal entirely in-universe, which I prefer to do, rather than take it as evidence of the writers' shortcomings in understanding the nuances of an issue that the news media have reduced to the false dichotomy for years. This story is, after all, being told in the land of Richard Dawkins.)

It's also interesting that she describes the reaction of her colleagues in the same tone and much the same locker-room terms as her early complaints to Mitchell about the crudely sexist culture among the doctors at the hospital.

I wonder how much of her sob story was true? The boyfriend who dumped her? The goldfish (which was perhaps slightly too weird to make up)? How much did she think through what would hook Mitchell in, and how much was making it up as she went along? I'm thinking that there was an extent to which it was designed to make her look vulnerable with the expectation that it would lure the evil deceitful predator to take advantage of her, and she was thrown when it hit every button he has to make him want to make her feel better.

In the flashback where she met Kemp, my sense was that she regretted publishing her speculative thoughts about evil because they were speculative, and too many people were being, well, people, and failing to get that. I can get her from there to practical experimentation on werewolves via, well, the existence of werewolves. That'll shake up pretty much anybody's world, after all.

But from there... she's just such a huge ball of contradictions, it's hard to keep track of them all. By the time we get to this ep, she's not making any more sense than Mitchell, which is obviously an intentional parallel, but (for me at least) it's a lot easier to understand how Mitchell got to this point. I know where his buttons are and how the catastrophic combination of them got pushed; Lucy's remain largely a mystery to me.

In one breath, she states baldly that she used Mitchell to get to George, and claims to regret only that the way she went about it got out of hand. In the next, she admits she loved him. If she truly believes he's not a person, that everything good in him is a lie, shouldn't her answer at least be "I thought I did?" Which of those things -- lying to and using him or falling for him -- was really "adolescent and unprofessional"? ("Both" is also an acceptable answer.) Does she even know as she's saying it?

She clings so desperately to the absolutes that Kemp is peddling -- that a vampire can only be a creature of evil, that the wild thing within a werewolf can only be a separate, invading being -- in what seems to me to be opposition to everything her gut, her heart, and large swathes of her reason are telling her. Why she does that, though, isn't that difficult to understand. Because the moment she stops accepting Kemp's worldview, she loses the last scraps of pretense that the deaths of four werewolves and thirty vampires were justified.

Which places her, again, in all-too-familiar territory for Mitchell. She (and the rest of Kemp's minions too, notably Lloyd, but we see the psychological process most completely in her) hit a point where she had to keep plowing murderously forward -- where pre-ordering body bags seemed to make sense -- in order to not look back at what she'd already done. You couldn't get any more equivalent to what a vampire faces in withdrawal.

Which leads to the big false assumption Mitchell brings into the observation-room argument, because there is no practical difference between them on the question of choice. He has exactly as much of a choice as she does, and he's lying to himself by claiming otherwise. Pretty much every other point he makes is sound, but they're all undermined by that one fallacy, and it's a topic on which we've grown accustomed to his being painfully honest -- just in case we needed more evidence of how far he's strayed from his own most vital beliefs.

On Lucy's side, for all her defensiveness and faltering conviction, her points are not entirely invalid either... right up until "You don't get to be left alone!" Mitchell's critical lie is that he can't control the path his life takes; Lucy's is that she has the right to control it for him. The fallacy underpinning that, again, is that he's not a person, and her next choice of phrasing again reveals how scrambled her reasoning is on that point: "You are wearing other people's clothes." They can't be other people if he isn't a person. And if he is a person, he has the right to his own clothes -- to his own home and his own relationships and his own horrendous mistakes.

And his own opinions about God, which are quite the revelation to hear. Because at that point, I don't think it's the predator persona talking, as has mostly been the case ever since Quinn's office. It's certainly not the parroting of Herrick's pseudo-philosophical bullshit that we've heard on the rare previous occasions when he's voiced any opinion on the nature of the universe. As angry and vicious as it is, it feels like the first time we've heard what Mitchell really believes.

Here's the thing, though -- what sounds on the face of it like a bitter, cynical image of God is actually weirdly hopeful. Because he speaks of God's rage and cruelty as part of the whole, and he looks at and accepts the whole. Even if, at this moment, he thinks "God is a bit of a bastard," that's still not a rejection. If God can contain the contradiction, can wreak horrific destruction and still be a God of infinite love and mercy, then the assertion that Mitchell too is made in His image is an assertion that he's never a lost cause. The vampires who died in the fire were not a lost cause -- not Campbell, who, in his very need for Mitchell's support through withdrawal, bolstered Mitchell's resolve that it was the right course. Not even world-weary, cowardly Ivan, who came through when Mitchell needed him most. Those still walking the world are not a lost cause -- not Carl, who killed the man he loved without warning or a clearly identifiable trigger. Not even Daisy, in all her pragmatism and spite and unpredictability.

It's not for Kemp or Lucy or anyone to decide that they don't get to have lives. "You don't get to be left alone" is where the line is crossed between self-defense and hubris.

Even at the point where Lucy has learned that lesson, when it's all over and she seeks sanctuary with those she's wronged, she doesn't grok the utterly human nature of the ties that bind them. Mitchell has to tell her what should be obvious, that what's keeping them from returning to the pink house is not fear but grief. And that he knows he has exactly no room to judge. (For all the truths he denies or fails to understand, he's always been consistently clear on that one, so when he temporarily forgot it, it was a marker of just how fractured his thinking really was.)

So she dies nearly as confused as she's been all along -- she doesn't really know why she's there (even she has to know "I don't have anywhere else to go" is nonsense), she doesn't get why they take her in, and she still isn't sure exactly what she believes about them. The one thing she's sure about is that she has done evil toward them, and she doesn't want to see them harmed any further.

Which leaves one more puzzle to ponder: The door that Annie takes advantage of to pull Kemp through must be Lucy's, but we don't see Lucy go through it. Where is she? Did she go through unseen? After all, as far as we know, the others have only seen doors at all was when Annie was present. There's no indication, for instance, that Mitchell has seen them for all the people he's killed. OTOH, he was the first to notice when Annie's appeared in 1x05. (Tangentially, that raises my curiosity about what he saw of his own. According to the pilot, he at least glimpsed the corridor and the men with sticks and rope, but I'm curious, f'rinstance, whether his experience was of turning his back on the door or of it slamming on him. Did he go into the corridor and come back, or just stand right on the threshold? If he even perceived and/or remembers any image that clearly, of course.)

The door slammed very suddenly and decisively behind Annie and Kemp. Wonder if Lucy missed it? Maybe she'll get a chance to answer some of my lingering questions herself.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
thanatos_kalos
Mar. 28th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
Random thought: I wonder if Mitchell's lack of rejection of the divine might be tied into why he could make love to Lucy under that crucifix?

Which bugs me, because she's smarter than that, and it's such a weird blind spot. (That is, of course, if we deal entirely in-universe, which I prefer to do, rather than take it as evidence of the writers' shortcomings in understanding the nuances of an issue that the news media have reduced to the false dichotomy for years. This story is, after all, being told in the land of Richard Dawkins.)

It could be that she's reflecting the false dichotomy and/or finds it easier to believe that her colleagues turn on her because of her faith, rather than any sort of academic shortcomign?
wiliqueen
Mar. 28th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
I wonder if Mitchell's lack of rejection of the divine might be tied into why he could make love to Lucy under that crucifix?

I can definitely see it as part of the equation. Though, as we saw at the chapel, he remains susceptible to the trappings and substance of faith when they're actively raised as a defense against him.

Ultimately it's probably still more to do with Lucy's intent, and intended by the writers to underscore that she had genuine feelings for him (having previously given us the explanation that specifically cited George's affection for him). But I really like the idea of this being part of it too.

and/or finds it easier to believe that her colleagues turn on her because of her faith, rather than any sort of academic shortcomign?

This feels like we're getting closer (and reflecting the false dichotomy could be part and parcel of it). Certainly I was giving her too much credit when I said she couldn't be thinking that dating was a remotely appropriate context for just studying Mitchell, since it was hardly any more appropriate for using him to get to George or even setting him up for execution.

Expecting to remain objective enough to do any of those things effectively was just delusional.
thanatos_kalos
Mar. 28th, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
Expecting to remain objective enough to do any of those things effectively was just delusional.

In a way, though, that's a reflection of medicine generally-- staying objective = staying sane/protected, but it's impossible to stay uninvolved AND stay reasonably human. Much like the vampires, I guess-- to eat humans requires objectivity/de-humanising, but to do that successfully = becoming a monster.
wiliqueen
Mar. 28th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
*nods* Which brings us back to compartmentalization as both a necessity and a hazard, and the fine line between them.
diannelamerc
Mar. 28th, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
The door slammed very suddently and decisively behind Annie and Kemp. Wonder if Lucy missed it? Maybe she'll get a chance to answer some of my lingering questions herself.

You're definitely not the only one to have had that thought.
wiliqueen
Mar. 28th, 2010 10:05 pm (UTC)
I didn't imagine that I could be! :-) Though there's so insanely much going on in those last few minutes, it took a little bit to process what we hadn't seen!
djarum99
Apr. 17th, 2010 01:01 am (UTC)
Bless you for the thinky thoughts.

I'd wondered about Lucy going through her door as well, and I'd love to see her ghost return in season three - she's certainly got some unfinished business. Your questions about her perspective and motivations are spot on. The characters in this show, even the ones that appear briefly, tend to be so well drawn. Lucy was a conundrum, a paradox, and I kept expecting some satisfying reveal and ended by simply not liking her much. Not just for the obvious reasons, her betrayal and the arrogance (I think it was arrogance) behind it, but because I didn't believe any of the reasons presented for her actions. I can accept that human beings tie themselves up in knots with guilt and judgment and self-imposed blindness - but I couldn't see how she did, what path she followed.

Then again, my experience with the medical profession tends to make me think its particular brand of hubris and tunnel vision might have crossed paths with something from Lucy's past in a way that led her down that twisty road. I want to know, dang it.
wiliqueen
Apr. 17th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
because I didn't believe any of the reasons presented for her actions.

I'm in much the same place, and I don't even think she believes them.

I've been ruminating on it some more, and thinking maybe part of it is that she doesn't want to look at or admit the extent to which she gave over her choices to Kemp, gave up her scientist's questioning and critical voice. Her response to doubt should have been to question more, but instead she stopped almost entirely and seized on the illusion of certainty Kemp gave her.

Classic cult psychology there, certainly, and I see some of the points of vulnerability that it worked on in her, but others remain a mystery.

The scene with Kemp in her kitchen is one of the keys, I think. They're having two different conversations there -- Kemp is talking about defense, but strongly implying that he expects her to spring the trap and kill Mitchell outright; while Lucy seems to miss that implication (willfully or otherwise), and reluctantly accepts the stake for the sake of Kemp's peace of mind, while remaining confident that she won't need it... until Mitchell turns up on her doorstep covered in blood and demolishes her tidy mental image of what it means that he's "changed."

Which I can't entirely blame her for, since Mitchell himself got complacent. Carl shook up that false sense of security to some extent, but then Mitchell was immediately caught up in managing the escalating string of crises, so I don't even know when he'll get a chance to really process the lesson of Carl and Dan's tragedy, that the line between control and catastrophe is just as fine when there isn't a crisis.

Lucy doesn't know any of this, doesn't have any context for what he means when he says he's done it before, certainly doesn't know how many attempts and failures he's had or for how long. She doesn't realize that he "changed" at least a decade before she was born. Or that believing he shouldn't kill is one thing, but choosing not to from one moment to the next is something entirely.

In any case, one thing I'm sure of is that that night is the crisis point for Lucy, when she has so many conflicting things to consider -- the fact that he's killed again, the fact that he was honest with her, the gaping holes in his reasoning, his desperate "fix me save me" plea, and her own emotional response to all of the above -- and instead of making her own difficult choice, abdicates responsibility and lets Kemp tell her what to do. (Which of course parallels Mitchell again, since he's doing the exact same thing with her.)

From that point on, she listens to Kemp and ignores her conscience, even when it gets REALLY loud and wears Amy McBride's ravaged face.

So yeah, I get some of it. But not all. Which is, as you note, frustrating.

its particular brand of hubris and tunnel vision might have crossed paths with something from Lucy's past in a way that led her down that twisty road. I want to know, dang it.

Have you watched the CenSSA viral videos? They mostly flesh out Lloyd, but #11 also has an exposition dump with background on both Lucy and Kemp that provides some interesting stuff to chew on.
djarum99
Apr. 17th, 2010 09:17 pm (UTC)
I knew about the coma but not the CenSSA videos - thanks so much for the links!

Lucy seemed very much in denial, I got that, but sometimes it only takes us so far. She ran into contradictory barriers to her twists and turns of logic repeatedly - ran into them hard, and I just wasn't able to see what kept her clinging to Kemp's malignant vision. She's an odd combination of passion and passivity.

I do hope they bring her back.
studiesinlight
Aug. 6th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
BH S2 E8 - the Lucy stuff
As I mentioned on a previous post, I gave a lot of thought to the pseudo-science here, located Lucy in contemporary "bubbling on the top of pop culture" science catch phrases like "the God gene," and yet continually found her coming up short. I suspect that she was out of her depth -- as, I'm afraid, any junior genetic researcher who actually publishes a book on "intelligent design" today is likely to be; if she didn't realize that was throwing her career in the toilet politically, that's ample evidence that she's extraordinarily unperceptive.

(Which is obviously not to say that there aren't famous and respected genetic scientists who are people of faith, including a Jesuit priest and scientist whom I read quoted the other day. It's just saying that so-called "intelligent design" as marketed is straight down the chute of scientific respectability at this time, for reasons I won't get into here.)

>"Which bugs me, because she's smarter than that..."

Actually, I don't think that we have any evidence for Lucy being smart.

She is an MD, granted, and that takes some brains. But we saw her in a lab that processes paternity tests, and then moving to what she says she considers an inferior rural hospital where people treat her poorly; that makes her look average, not extraordinary. Apparently the lycanthropy-cure pressure chamber is her idea; well, it doesn't work, so that's not very smart, and it has nothing to do with her scientific background (supposedly genetics), so that's not smart, either. She got a book about "intelligent design" published; we don't have any evidence of its relative quality. She told people about her "gene for evil" theory and apparently got laughed out of wherever she was; that's not evidence that she is smarter than her colleagues who laughed, though she may be nicer. She doesn't know her own faith traditions well enough to stand up to Kemp. She's deeply confused about personal and professional behaviors.

>"I wonder how much of her sob story was true?"

Good question. When she yelled "You don't get to be left alone!" and opened herself to Mitchell's charge of genocide, I decided that I interpret that there are much worse things in Lucy's past than the ordinary unhappy story she shared. I imagine that there is a significant trauma, whether it was caused by supernatural creatures or not.

>"because there is no practical difference between them on the question of choice. He has exactly as much of a choice as she does, and he's lying to himself by claiming otherwise."

Yes. Her temptation should be smaller, but it is the same temptation and the same choice.

>"If God can contain the contradiction ... then the assertion that Mitchell too is made in His image is an assertion that he's never a lost cause..."

Yes. Perhaps strangely, what I saw as this longing on Mitchell's part for a place in creation felt to me like a step to reintegrating him into the story.

>"The door slammed very suddenly and decisively behind Annie and Kemp. Wonder if Lucy missed it? "

I find that I would be content never to see Lucy again; I think that she is the rare instance of a poorly-constructed, unluckily-crafted BH character. We've got enough nonsense with Herrick pulling a Lacroix, yeeesh. Ick. Whyyy? ~sigh~

That said, regarding that door? I'm not opposed to the other side being Purgatory, but I am increasingly distressed at suggestions that it is actually Hell. There is something wrong here, and it needs to be fixed. I'm not sure that Mitchell, George and Nina are the people to storm the gates and restore mercy at this point... nor that BH as a conceptual TV series can support that, either.
wiliqueen
Aug. 7th, 2010 12:57 pm (UTC)
Re: BH S2 E8 - the Lucy stuff
Actually, I don't think that we have any evidence for Lucy being smart.

True, and your analysis is accurate. Not that I thought she was exceptionally smart in any case -- a better way to put it, perhaps, would have been that her logical capabilities are better than that -- but that's certainly not always true either. They're riddled with bizarre blind spots.

I interpret that there are much worse things in Lucy's past than the ordinary unhappy story she shared. I imagine that there is a significant trauma, whether it was caused by supernatural creatures or not.

This makes excellent sense.

Perhaps strangely, what I saw as this longing on Mitchell's part for a place in creation felt to me like a step to reintegrating him into the story.

I'm strange right along with you, then. :-) That was when I was sure there was a possibility for him to be recognizably Mitchell again within my lifetime, let alone in another TV season. "Where do I belong? Who are my people?" He had a tribe of three at the time of that voiceover, four now, but that just leads him to the question of where they fit as a unit.

We've got enough nonsense with Herrick pulling a Lacroix, yeeesh. Ick. Whyyy? ~sigh~


Yeah, I'm coming to terms with that, but it doesn't please me. The way Cara and Daisy brought him back is firmly rooted in Hammer conventions, and thus a quintessentially British strand of the genre. (It's also present in Ultraviolet, which Whithouse has declared himself a fan of in several interviews.) So I have no problem with its being conceptually feasible. I have a huge problem, however, with Herrick himself being back in action. (I have a slightly bigger problem with the fact that he left bones and the bombing victims left bodies, after they paid dramatic visual attention to Lauren dusting. I've reconciled it in my head that she's the only one we've seen die of staking, with a side of "she was ready to go," but it bugs.)

brainiacfive said, "It's like saying 'the postman's back.' I just can't see him as that big a threat." And I'm going "BUT THAT'S WHY HE'S A THREAT!" He's all about influencing and using others.

Granted, he's starting off with one devoted acolyte and one unpredictable quantity who... I'm not even sure why she's there. And his meticulously trained poster boy for How Cool It Is To Be A Vampire is hiding out in Wales in a state unlikely to appeal to anyone. But I Do Not Want his influence in operation anywhere in this story's world.

I'm not sure that Mitchell, George and Nina are the people to storm the gates and restore mercy at this point... nor that BH as a conceptual TV series can support that, either.

Nor am I. What I'm hoping is that they'll find a way to rescue Annie by the traditional skin of their teeth, and perhaps inspire others met along the way to keep the momentum going and change what's wrong.

That said, in classical terms, what Annie describe does fall more on the Purgatory side of the line. "We wait," and the waiting is perceived by her twenty-first-century British mind as endless pointless bureaucracy.
studiesinlight
Aug. 7th, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC)
Re: BH S2 E8 - the Lucy stuff
Yes, I have no issue with the method of reviving Herrick for this story universe; I just can't see why reviving him would lead to a story I want to experience.

I already have Nick and Lacroix. Tell me a new story! One about a ghost, two werewolves and a vampire making a family...

I had assumed that the vampires in the explosion dusted, and that Herrick differed because he was killed by a werewolf and, you know, "far too old and powerful" stuff. I must have missed a reference to their leaving bodies behind! Was it on the radio, with the broadcasts about the train victims? Or was it shown on screen when I was wincing my eyes closed?
wiliqueen
Aug. 8th, 2010 03:46 am (UTC)
Re: BH S2 E8 - the Lucy stuff
I must have missed a reference to their leaving bodies behind!

Mitchell and Daisy discuss the news reports there were 31 bodies found, and how the explanation being given is that they must have been already-dead bodies being prepared for services. "Because there was no air in the lungs," which is a weird reason to give, but the coverups have been weird all along any way.

When they question Quinn about it, he says he had to improvise an explanation because he had no warning. So he definitely really did have bodies to explain.
studiesinlight
Aug. 8th, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
Re: BH S2 E8 - the Lucy stuff
Thank you for the information on what Mitchell and Daisy said in that scene. Without captions (and with accents), I'm afraid that I miss dialogue sometimes, and don't always remember that other people could understand it and I need to go back and puzzle it out, that it wasn't actually supposed to be mumbled. :-)

I wonder if the poor human girl in the basement was among the bodies to explain.

"Because there was no air in the lungs" does indeed seem like a strange reason, not that I know anything about pathology I didn't pick up on detective shows. Surely there is some air in any deceased lungs, unless it has been pumped out or replaced with something? And surely BH vamps need air in their lungs to talk? And surely a hot-burning fire resulting from an explosion could have an effect on where air is, as it uses it all up, or produces smoke to suffocate lungs? But, then, the establishment of this city has learned not to look too closely at these things. If I recall correctly, Evil Police Guy as well as Kemp's goons actually articulated the Sunnydale excuse of gas leaks, for crying out loud (crossover via villains! professional seminar for corrupt officials with vampire infestations in their towns!).
wiliqueen
Aug. 10th, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
Re: BH S2 E8 - the Lucy stuff
I need to go back and puzzle it out, that it wasn't actually supposed to be mumbled. :-)

While I forget that most people have at least some trouble with it. *g*

I wonder if the poor human girl in the basement was among the bodies to explain.

Good point. I was curious about her, but then lost track of her, as I think the writers did. There were too many other questions I wanted to demand of Mitchell while shaking him thoroughly.

(crossover via villains! professional seminar for corrupt officials with vampire infestations in their towns!).

This made me laugh a LOT. And want to read it.
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