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*impatiently pokes the East Coast*

Seriously, guys. Totally slipping with the torrenting, here. o.O

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( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
timeblind
Sep. 21st, 2008 01:44 am (UTC)
OH RIGHT. that reminds me. I have to download it tooooo
artemisiabrisol
Sep. 22nd, 2008 04:55 am (UTC)
All right.

Deep breath.

The kettle’s on, SG -1’s on the telly box and sweaters are on.

Let us begin.

So, welcome chandri to the Q&A of your epic and let me stress the epic part, of your BigBang: “Mother Country.”
chandri
Sep. 22nd, 2008 04:57 am (UTC)
You love it. :)
(no subject) - chandri - Sep. 22nd, 2008 04:59 am (UTC) - Expand
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artemisiabrisol
Sep. 22nd, 2008 07:08 am (UTC)
In the story, Atlantis becomes to represent to the rest of the Pegasus galaxy, hope and home and safety.

It's sort of a benevolent colonial experience.

And the IOA wants to stop all this.

Why do you think the characters in the story don't rebel against this (well... other than the fact that it would take up many, many more pages)? Why was John so well behaved during this entire investigation despite having seen a future where this behaviour led to that disgusting sweater/old man pants combo on Bad!Future!Rodney?



Edited at 2008-09-22 07:29 am (UTC)
chandri
Sep. 22nd, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
I did it again...
Well, different people in this story have different reactions to the bureaucratic invasion. But let's restrict this to the Team, Radek, and Sam, because otherwise we'll be here all year. :)

Okay. Ronon thinks its ridiculous, full stop. He sets the Plan on fire. This does not apply to him. Actually I think it's interesting how Ronon and Rodney's reactions mirror each other - Rodney wants to set the damned thing on fire, but John stops him. They all think it doesn't apply to them, but Ronon's the only one free to express the sentiment. I think he represents the general feeling of the city's populace when the orders come down.

Teyla. Teyla is careful. It's what she does. She watches, she waits, she does what's necessary until it's time to make a move. And in this, she's looking to her team, she's looking to Sam, becaus Teyla understands, probably the best of all of them, that none of them is alone in this.

Rodney. Oh, Rodney. Rodney doesn't think it applies to him. In fact he all but ignores it until he's forced to deal with it - there are, quite rightly, bigger, more important things to be worrying about. He reacts this way because otherwise he can't ignore that he's panicking. And when Radek sits him down and makes him admit that this does, in fact, affect him, that's when Rodney starts losing his cool. Well, as cool as Rodney ever gets.

And Radek. Yes, Radek keeps his head down. I imagine Radek putting himself in charge of double-checking everybody's reports to make sure the wording is favourable and doesn't get anybody in trouble - I imagine Radek's been doing this for years, and is best-prepared of all of them to live under scrutiny. But Radek's not doing nothing, either. He's working on alternatives, on contingencies - the second Sam gives the word, he's ready to stage a mutiny. He just needed to be sure it would work.

Sam's been through this before. She probably expected something like it since not too long after her arrival. She knew Atlantis was weird, was permissive, was primed for being poked at by myopic bureaucrats. She tells John this - that she's used to it, that she was prepared for it, that she knows he's not handling it well. She starts planning how to get around it from the moment it happens, and she knows how, and she's good at it.



Edited at 2008-09-22 06:35 pm (UTC)
Re: I did it again... - chandri - Sep. 22nd, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
artemisiabrisol
Sep. 22nd, 2008 07:09 am (UTC)
Much of the actions of "Mother Country" are done in Elizabeth and Carson's shadow (Michael, the trade links that Elizabeth brokered, etc.) How important to you was keeping the dearly departed in the minds of the characters?
chandri
Sep. 25th, 2008 05:59 am (UTC)
The dearly departed (1)
Okay, this right here is one of my flaws as a writer - kind of like how these responses keep getting longer and longer and longer - and conversely I think it's one of the things I'm best at, too. I get way, way too involved with my characters. I've had people compliment me on this (except mik100, who by now has probably deduced it as the reason I don't dislike anybody on SGA, even characters I possibly should, because I can construct a justification for any behaviour or trait in five seconds flat; people who know me IRL doubtless find this tendency hilarious), because it lets me (apparently) write people with, y’know, nuance and stuff. I don’t actually do this deliberately - I can’t help it. Sometimes (often) it causes me to give way too much detail.

I can't bring myself to write a character unless I feel I know them inside-out, and so I think about who they are, and why they're like that. In Rodney's case, for instance, this means thinking way, way too much about what might have contributed to him being, say, a hypochondriac. In my personal history of Meredith Rodney McKay this is because he was neglected in his formative years, to the point where he internalized the certainty that nothing is ever safe (there's a lot more on Rodney's backstory in another story I will, at some point in the near future, actually finish). Like that.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Grief. (I swear that's where I was going. Bear with me.)

We don't dwell much on grief in SGA canon. Or, hey, emotional fallout of any kind. There are reasons for this, time constraints being chief amongst them. Much as we would sometimes enjoy it, the writers can't spend entire episodes on the airing out of personal issues. Such things must take place in the context of action and plot, because not all of us want to watch TV shows that are extended therapy sessions.

chandri
Sep. 25th, 2008 05:59 am (UTC)
The dearly departed (2)
This is a primary difference between the visual and the written media. On TV, there are no internal monologues, and in fic, there are lots of them. In the written medium we get to see inside the characters’ heads - writing tells, television shows.

So I suppose I think I wasn’t creating anything that I didn’t already imagine being there. Carson and Elizabeth were a big part of their lives for a long time, and when someone significant is suddenly gone, it leaves an impact - an absence that makes itself felt. I think that Atlantis always feels the absence of Elizabeth and Carson, but it’s not always relevant to the plot of a given episode to talk about it all the time - nevertheless, the grief is there. It’s just that in fic, where we are privy to every thought that passes through our characters’ heads, we get to see it when something triggers it from the unconscious into the conscious, briefly transforms it from a constant sense of loss to the actual thought of “I miss them.”

And as you point out, many of the specific things happening around them (e.g. Michael, discussions with their allies) bring Carson and Elizabeth explicitly to mind. They were family, and since Atlantis (or at least, the Team) was basing most of its new identity on the wants and needs of this dysfunctional family they’ve formed way out here at the ass-end of beyond, it made sense that they would be remembering people who had had such a hand in defining the parameters of that familial relationship at its outset. Though I very much doubt that was a conscious motivator on anyone’s part (except maybe Teyla’s, because she is Smart), it was certainly a significant one, and probably had greater influence than any of the very good reasons they kept giving themselves. A lot about this story was silent processes, things realised as opposed to things said, little things contributing to major avalanches leading to explosions visible from space.


Edited at 2008-09-25 06:01 am (UTC)
artemisiabrisol
Sep. 22nd, 2008 07:10 am (UTC)
So... Michael.

Why did you chose to blow him up off-stage rather than having the shoot-em up bar room brawl with a hugh emotional payoff for Teyla?
chandri
Sep. 25th, 2008 06:15 am (UTC)
I don’t think Teyla’s all that interested in revenge.

No, hear me out!

What’s one of the first things we learn about Teyla? That she would like, one day, to live in peace. What does she tell Sora, who’s determined to gut Teyla over her father’s death? That vengeance is destructive and wasteful. Who’s always defusing tense situations? Who cons her team-mates into meditation practice? We could look at these as coping mechanisms - Elizabeth used to, if you recall her reaction to Halling’s attempt to perform that little bid-goodbye-to-life-ceremony in 38 Minutes. Or we could look at them as indicative of something deeper.

Teyla’s antagonism towards Michael has never been personal - at least, it isn’t hatred, or blame. In fact, she blames her own people for his situation. The first several times they encounter one another, after his escape, she tries to reason with him. She sympathises with him. She doesn’t hate him. She has nothing against him until he, well, abducts and tortures her people and then experiments on her unborn child, which I think we can agree would tip the serenity-meter on even the most forgiving person. But even then, she is very reasonable about the whole thing. She’s angry, yes, over what Michael did, but not for herself - she’s angry because Michael upset the balance of her world, including herself and the people she loves. Which means he’s dangerous, certainly. Means he needs to die, absolutely.

But it isn’t about her. It’s about everybody. And the best thing for everybody is for Michael to get blown thoroughly to smithereens as far away from innocent bystanders as possible. If anybody was upset about the lack of emotional payoff, I think it was probably John. Maybe Sam. But Teyla (and in this case I think Rodney would agree with her wholeheartedly - I imagine them having this conversation some time, as she forces him to drink tea) is practical. He’s dead, the world is safer for it. It’s all good.

Sometimes when someone says “I just want to live in peace,” it means “I can’t face this anymore.” Perhaps for many Athosians, that’s just what it does mean. But I actually believe that Teyla means it. Teyla can forgive, and she’d rather forgive. After all, it’s much easier to forgive a dead man.
(no subject) - artemisiabrisol - Sep. 26th, 2008 07:53 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chandri - Sep. 26th, 2008 08:44 am (UTC) - Expand
artemisiabrisol
Sep. 22nd, 2008 07:13 am (UTC)
Teyla. Rescues. Herself.

I cannot stress how perfect that it.

While I was watching the Season Five premier, I couldn't help but think that canon kinda paled in comparison. Teyla uses her mad Wraith skills and her bond with Kanaan (whom I agree, should have been killed off) and her initiative to escape from Michael on her own and go and rescue her boys.

It was just perfect. Perfect.

Why did you chose Teyla Warrior Princess route instead of having the boys rescues their princess in distress?
chandri
Sep. 25th, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
You mean aside from the fact that they’d proven themselves to be really, really bad at it?

I think I covered a lot of this above when you asked me about culture, and why there was so much of Teyla’s culture in the story: You fight when you have to. You protect those you love. You accept no compromises when compromises are unacceptable. Teyla doesn’t talk about things, she does things, because there’s no point wasting time when you might be eaten by a space vampire any second (the Pegasus Galaxy equivalent of “you could get hit by a bus tomorrow,” I suppose). Teyla rescued herself because she had to rescue her boys - which meant she had to be rescued now, which meant she simply had to find a way to bring it about, even if it meant doing something she found repugnant, like touch Michael’s mind.

So she did. Necessity is the yellow sun to Teyla Emmagan’s superpowers. Like how Rodney breaks the laws of physics at the last second because it’s absolutely necessary that he do so (and because it makes John smile at him).

But there was another reason it was important: Teyla rescues herself. Teyla rescues the boys. Teyla… kind of saves the world. And then they go home and find out that the IOA has ordered them to ignore that example of what Pegasus is making them. It’s insulting. It’s probably the big bang (ha ha) that makes them angry enough to fight back. Teyla does this huge, impossible thing in defence of this great ideal of peace and safety and integrity and the protection of their freaky little family and… and the IOA tells them to take a nap, because they’re being silly. And then carries on to imply they’ve done something wrong by doing the right thing. It’s a premise they simply cannot accept, because it doesn’t fit in the reality they now occupy.

Besides. It was awesome. Wasn’t it? *grins*
(no subject) - artemisiabrisol - Sep. 26th, 2008 07:46 am (UTC) - Expand
artemisiabrisol
Sep. 22nd, 2008 07:44 am (UTC)
The other, other, other, other point that I appreciated about "Mother Country" is that it depicted the fluid nature of power in Atlantis.

The question of "Who is Really in Charge Here Anyways?" really runs through the entire story. Is it Sam? The IOA? The Government? The paper pushers?

And by the end of the story, I would scarily enough have to answer with, gulp, John.

John is a manipulative bastard. Hot. But a manipulative bastard. He's a master at gathering all the right people around him and engineering situations to get the result that he wants. It feels like in "Mother Country" he is just biding his time until someone makes a move to restore the proper order in Atlantis. And the move with Torren in the gate room? Smooth. Bismark would be proud.

But in a way, so is Teyla. Teyla has a hold over many of the characters there. Her approval and acceptance mean a lot. During the climax of the story, I would argue that her finally being able to call Carter "Sam" finally marks Carter's inclusion into the Atlantis family, as it were.

The IOA only thinks that it's in charge. But in "Mother Country" it feels like the IOA is only in charge as long as Teyla and John let it be. Although there's the simmering conspiracy, do you think that a break with Earth is inevitable in the story had it gone on any longer? Do you think that a break is inevitable period? Who do you think is in charge of Atlantis?
chandri
Sep. 25th, 2008 07:01 am (UTC)
Oh, god. “Fluid.” That’s putting it mildly. And a pretty apt description of exactly the kind of thing the IOA is trying, all along, to prevent. Because they’re idiots, but they’re not actually stupid. They may be totally lacking in perspective, but they have a fairly solid idea, in theory, of the kind of mentality that develops when a group of very smart people are given power and little oversight. They saw it happen at the SGC - hell, it’s why the IOA was created. And if it was dangerous and unpredictable, bred unpredictability and dissent, when it existed within a primarily military structure, it’s got to be downright chaotic, in a civilian-run operation like Atlantis, which happens to be safely out of reach in another galaxy.

It’s basically this: The IOA has rules. It likes its rules. Its rules harbour no sympathy for human sympathies, for right and wrong in a moral sense, for instinct, for family. In an industrialised, secure society, that’s lovely. Works great. The problem is, the SGC was never a secure society, and Atlantis is even less so. Atlantis is not an auxiliary of Earth, it is a city in another galaxy that is subject to more and greater pressures than the expectations of its bureaucratic overlords. It occupies a position in Pegasus that demands its citizens think on a human level, as well as a strategic or economic one. And the IOA hates this, because human beings are unpredictable. Luckily, this also means they can’t predict what the Lanteans might do. It’s the main reason they have such an easy time circumventing them.

I… don’t know who’s actually in charge. I don’t think that the members of the conspiracy thought about it in those terms, rather imagining the technicalities would sort themselves out when necessary. You refer to John biding his time until somebody restores the proper order, and I think that’s accurate - I think that by this point, they really do believe there to be a “proper order,” one so deeply ingrained that they may later have difficulty codifying it and giving it structure that outsiders will understand.

At the end of “Mother Country,” I think the Team is in charge, certainly. But of them? I suppose, yes, you’re quite right, it’s John. At least, many years from now when they do become independent (slowly, I hope quietly, awkward but peaceful), I’m quite certain that’s what Teyla, Rodney and Ronon will tell anyone who asks. “Yup, John Sheppard is our leader. That’s him over there with the crazy hair.”

John’s certainly the directing force, the one who connects the rest of them together and directs them as needed, but he’s not exactly the impetus. Like you said, John waits - he bides his time. Without his team, he wouldn’t be very useful, would he? I’d even go one step further, and suggest that John could only be in charge of very particular people, or types of people, and it’s fate or blind freaky luck that he ended up with these people. John’s an excellent manipulator, but he can only work with what he’s given, and his Team knows what to give him, how to contribute themselves. This means that whatever he ultimately does, it’s the right thing. Whoever rules Atlantis in the name of John Sheppard is The Right Person. This does have its creepy aspects, but if John is in charge, so is Teyla (is Teyla ever), and so is Rodney, and so is Ronon, and so are the people they empower, so are Radek and Lorne and the rest of the inmates in the asylum. Ultimately I think maybe Earth will let them go because they’re just not worth the bother. Freaks, the lot of ‘em. :)
(no subject) - artemisiabrisol - Sep. 26th, 2008 07:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chandri - Sep. 26th, 2008 08:25 am (UTC) - Expand
artemisiabrisol
Sep. 26th, 2008 08:41 am (UTC)
Re: The dearly departed (2)
Well, that was intense .

And Epic-al.

Just as expected for something inspired by your brain.

Hope others find it as illuminating as I have and go and read the awesomeness of Sam and Teyla in the story. And the fabulous-ness of John and Rodney, of course. And Ronon's pretty good.

... Everyone except Keller.

In conclusion, go and read "Mother Country."
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