The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Question and answers, musings and thoughts...

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Zara
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

Pat wrote:I can also see how both Father and Catherine are trying to let him know that they see more in him than violence, that they see Vincent's ability to control that aspect with his intellect and heart, and that these are greater than his 'Other' side.


The funny thing is that Vincent knows that. He knows they see his strength and humanity...

Pat wrote:What they don't address, or acknowledge, is his fears and his struggles with this part of himself.


...And I am wondering if they do not address Vincent's fears because they are having trouble addressing their own fears. Facing fear is definitely a theme of Catherine's character evolution, and she meets with mixed success along her journey. Where Vincent is concerned, Father is better at addressing fear than Catherine by simple virtue of having had years' more practice at it...and Vincent tends to entrust Father with his struggles more than he does Catherine...until after "The Rest is Silence" cave. Maybe, in a way, in the end, Catherine's less-practiced take on dealing with fundamental differences in one she loves ultimately helps her to bridge the gap between herself and Vincent that Father, however much more he comprehends about the situation, cannot himself close. She reaches a point where her ignorance no longer matters to her, where she sets her questions aside and decides to competely trust her heart and obey the deepest imperatives of love.

Pat wrote:Does Vincent not share in this issue, though? He says many times to Catherine, to leave him when he is 'like this' or in a darker mood. Perhaps his aloneness helps him to think that he needs to deal with his problems by himself.


He definitely shares that responsibility...heck, he claims every last shred of his own responsibility, always...and never blames Catherine for his troubles. I'm certain, though, that he believes it is often *easier* and less painful to deal with his problems by himself. Catherine's relentless cheerleading and investigative approach become both hurtful and distracting on many occasions. There are times when Vincent just does not have the energy to work through Catherine's issues on top of his own.

Pat wrote:Both Father and Catherine have direct experience with his Other.


We may have reached the point where "the Other" needs a bit of definition in how we are using the term. My approach to the Other Vincent shifts as I learn and ponder more and more about this character, but I currently think of the Other as the part of himself that Vincent does not yet know how to love, an expression of Vincent's need for mercy from other people. It is the least refined, least civilized, most primal, even most animal part of who he is. An embodiment of helplessness in a larger human-dominated world that has no interest in helping him. I do not like associating the Other exclusively with Vincent's violence, because Vincent seems to maintain a healthy respect overall toward his own rationale for violence...and his own sense of balance with respect to violence. It is when the violence spins out of Vincent's ironclad, rational control that his fear and shame and doubt overwhelm him. It is when external mercy is most distant and cruelty most present that the Other side of Vincent's nature is roused from his internal shadows to take defensive action. Thus, the personified Other is a defensive mechanism, and he is a very frightened, very hungry, very angry creature. This makes him aggressive. But I don't think Vincent's full capacity for aggression is compartmentalized into a Beastly-Other box inside himself. He's a more integrated Beast than that. As Sobi put it, Koslow's vision provides us with the magic balance from the beginning of the story. Martinesque storytelling later directly showed us the Other in light of gross imbalance. But Vincent as we came to love and know him was not insane at the outset. The Other was simply the most vulnerable part of who he is as Beast in our fairy tale.

Aaaand now I'm back to my mythology. :mrgreen:

Pat wrote:If it wouldn't have been to rescue Catherine, they would have turned Vincent into a crime fighter. They wanted action. I'm happier with the former than the latter.


I will say that I very much liked the episodes when Vincent and Catherine are acting together in complementary ways to rescue other characters. "A Children's Story" introduced this tactic (one of many reasons why I feel that episode really sets the tone as the second episode of the series and I'm sad it was not aired so). "Song of Orpheus" and "A Gentle Rain" were perhaps the most beautiful examples in the series of Beast and Beauty teaming up as rescuers of the lost. TPTB never grasped the power and potential of their tale. I think the series very much needed action, especially because of all the violent evil-doers and criminals the heroes oppose. But focusing that action away from plots that weaken, dismiss, and/or usurp Beauty's strength would have vastly and immediately improved the storytelling.

Things for storymakers of the present and future to keep in mind, yes? :wink:

Zara wrote: I could make a list of character-instigated evasions and lost opportunities, if you like, throughout Seasons One and Two...


Pat wrote:By all means, share your list! It helps us see where you notice these things. (and saves us the trouble! :lol: )


Okey-doke. Working on it. :)

~ Zara
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

We may have reached the point where "the Other" needs a bit of definition in how we are using the term. My approach to the Other Vincent shifts as I learn and ponder more and more about this character, but I currently think of the Other as the part of himself that Vincent does not yet know how to love, an expression of Vincent's need for mercy from other people. It is the least refined, least civilized, most primal, even most animal part of who he is. An embodiment of helplessness in a larger human-dominated world that has no interest in helping him.


Yes, the Other. Duality of mind? Genetic parallel? Shadow of the psyche? Good vs evil? Nature vs nurture? When we see Vincent's vision of his Other, he is a more menacing, aggressive aspect of Vincent, an entity who seems to mock Vincent for being the cultivated, intellectual, gentle soul that he is. Ron uses such excellent body language in distinguishing between the two. It could be representative of a war between his two natures. I certainly agree with your statement about it being the least refined, least civilized, most primal, most animal part of who he is. I often consider that in Vincent we have the embodiment for us humans of our better nature/worse nature. The advantage we have is that we are apparently more free from any animalistic contributions to our makeup whereas Vincent is not. So he works harder at keeping that side of himself at bay. Yet, he is reminded of it continually through his own personage, the parts of himself that resemble the animal in him.

Can we love the side of ourselves that is least admirable? With Vincent, he seems to need to call upon it to fulfill his protector role, so he can't relegate to his darkest corner to forget it and never let it out. Many of his other special abilities may be tied to it as well, so it is a part of him that he must learn to assimilate with his better side in a manner that leaves his better side in control. I'm not sure I see the helplessness part, especially with the human world as he has a group of human, and the love of a woman, all trying to help him. But it is hard to know how to help what you don't understand, could not understand. At some point, maybe you are correct about Catherine, all you can do is trust in love and go for it.

I also agree that the Other isn't all about violence. There are a lot of other less desirable emotions or traits that bubble up through our lesser natures, and so it is with Vincent's Other. Lust (or it looked like it at Catherine's apartment as the Other leeringly watches her), greed, even heartlessness could be there. Violence is likely to be a more familiar tool for such a psyche, but not the only one. But all the emotions the Other feels, Vincent is capable of feeling, but in a much more scaled back, controlled, rational way. And he can act on those scaled-back emotions in a more appropriate manner. On a good day. On a bad day, I agree, it becomes a defensive mechanism to call upon that side.

I could have easily lived without Paracelsus and his button-pushing and trying to break Vincent's balance to unleash his darker side. I prefer the integrated Vincent also. :)

Pat
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some thoughts about the Other

Post by 222333 »

Maclurv wrote:Okay, more explanation please for this:

the “extraction/isolation/distancing” of the Other in the Beast.


Actually, if you would explain where the balance is for you regarding not liking the above or the normalization aspect, I would be interested. :)

*
I’ll try. Please bear with my attempt to say all this in English.

There are two opposite dangers, in my opinion. One is the “normalization” of the Beast, and the other is the “extraction” of the Beast. Vincent is a unique creature, no need to elaborate further. BUT he is interesting and fascinating because it is symbolic of “me”. I am also a unique creature. I also have sides in myself that are the Other, and sides of myself that are “the best part of what it means being human”. This wonderful show is about personal, human growth – and its corollary growth, the capacity of building relationships, of any kind. Which means getting to know ourselves, and endeavour to improve ourselves.

The danger of normalization is evident, I think. It’s the tendency to ignore what is “unique” in Vincent (not only this, but we’re speaking of this now), and make of B&B a love story set in the tunnels, with a woman who must convince a recalcitrant man that it’s okay to make love, after which they’ll live happily ever after.

The danger of extraction – I mean of personifying and distancing the Other – is that the dark parts of Vincent, and symbolically of myself, are *separated*, are something deeper, basic, whatever, but “apart”. Hence, no ongoing process of looking at them, seeing and making decision about them, be it rejecting, embracing, taming, hating, loving them and so on, according to the infinite nuances and recurrences of such dark places. It’s an attempt of making Black and White what instead is Shades of Gray. And it is a dangerous attempt, in my opinion, and I’m not speaking of just B&B any more. I see it more and more in society, in the attempt to reject responsibility, putting the blame on something else. It’s so ingrained that it’s “normal”. It’s the tendency to put labels and find justifications in such labels. EG – the stupidest I can think of – “as an Italian, I can’t live without pizza”. Well, no. If I want, I can live without pizza, I have willpower besides having an imprinting or a trait of character and so on. It’s the danger of looking at these things as “Others”, untouchable and impervious parts of ourselves, so that we are justified to succumb to them or mechanically act upon them.

Back to Vincent, and with the above in mind: if the underlying idea is that to win his battle he has to accept the Other, or kill the Other, or anyway his problem is the Other with a capital O, it means to reject the beautiful duality that is the inspiring theme of B&B, and the reflection of our lives. That “other” part of him is not “other”. Personifying it is misleading.

S
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

S wrote:Back to Vincent, and with the above in mind: if the underlying idea is that to win his battle he has to accept the Other, or kill the Other, or anyway his problem is the Other with a capital O, it means to reject the beautiful duality that is the inspiring theme of B&B, and the reflection of our lives. That “other” part of him is not “other”. Personifying it is misleading.


So, when the show did personify the duality of Vincent visually, do you believe the storytellers departed from an essential theme of B&B? Did the storytellers reject the very Beast character, the very complete hero they originally created?

~ Zara
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by 222333 »

Zara wrote:
S wrote:Back to Vincent, and with the above in mind: if the underlying idea is that to win his battle he has to accept the Other, or kill the Other, or anyway his problem is the Other with a capital O, it means to reject the beautiful duality that is the inspiring theme of B&B, and the reflection of our lives. That “other” part of him is not “other”. Personifying it is misleading.


So, when the show did personify the duality of Vincent visually, do you believe the storytellers departed from an essential theme of B&B? Did the storytellers reject the very Beast character, the very complete hero they originally created?

~ Zara

*
Yes, I think so. It’s the Koslow vision that becomes something similar to the Beast of the new CW show, from what I hear. But it’s a very personal opinion, rooted in what I tried to explain, and it has the cost of rejecting a considerable part of the show. It’s not something I recommend or I feel like campaigning for. For me it’s inconsistent and unfair, but changes and unfairness do happen in real and fictional lives. In this particular story, and based on the “it’s just a TV show” mantra I earlier mentioned, I feel entitled to choose what I want to believe.

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About Catherine

Post by 222333 »

*
Some catching up…

Zara:
And one thought I just had about Catherine's sacrifice...

The love she expresses toward Vincent in the cave ("The Rest is Silence"/"Though Lovers Be Lost - A") results not in death for either of them, but in life for both of them. The sacrifice she makes there is the sacrifice of releasing the last strongholds of her old life and accepting complete unity with her beloved, come what may. I consider it an extension of the "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tale theme that was so prominent in Season One. Catherine's death at the end of "Though Lovers Be Lost" has nothing to do with Vincent, per se. That was the result of the new story that opened *after* the scenes depicting Vincent's transformation/recovery.

With regards to the Season Three material, I think it important to note where the Dark Turn of "The Hollow Men" through "Though Lovers Be Lost - A" story ends, and "Though Lovers Be Lost - B" begins the new story arc that carries the tale into Vincent's Quest for the Lost Child. There are separate storylines in play there.


*
Exactly. As I already said, the sacrifice is consistent with the Dark Turn. It’s the Dark Turn that, in my opinion, is not consistent with the previous story. To me, it says: Vincent is doomed, the Other is too powerful. Only the sacrifice of the Beauty can bring the happy ending. In that, she’s not the woman of two worlds any more, and the story is not about the miraculous and symbolic balance that they find in the borderland that is their love nest. Vincent has become completely the Beast, and she “follows” him in the darkness to bring him back. Beautiful, but quite another story.

Zara:
That said, I think the storytellers had a stronger concept for their Beast than they did for their original Beauty. Both characters had their moments of flux and strain as opposing positions vyed for prominence in the storytelling. But modern heroines create special challenges for fables and fairy tales, because so many conflicting views of womanhood constantly yank those characters in any number of directions. Catherine stands as a consummate 1980s mainstream career-woman success story, an educated, high-class lady with powerful professional skills who takes up humanitarian causes after getting her first taste of street-level life in NYC...but keeps ending up in situations she cannot get out of without the violent intervention of her Beastly protector. I can sympathize with some of her struggles, but I guess I'm a Tunneldweller at heart. Catherine doesn't offer me much that I wish to emulate. So I will trust the positive insights of you who *can* connect with this character, and hope that my critiques of her flaws remain useful to the conversation.

*
Definitely the initial concept involved a kind of Beauty that needed the violent intervention of the Beast, as if the storytellers had precisely that idea, but the rescue situations slow down in the final part of S1 and almost disappear in S2, following the emerging of what I wish to emulate: the growth of that Beauty, from a consummate 1980s mainstream etc., to a woman completely, hopelessly in love with a “unique”, terribly difficult being, without trying to change a iota of him, rather in struggle with herself and some stubborn and annoying traits of her character and of her upbringing, in order to create with him a special place where to make their worlds meet. I like it SO much…

Zara:
...And I am wondering if they do not address Vincent's fears because they are having trouble addressing their own fears. Facing fear is definitely a theme of Catherine's character evolution, and she meets with mixed success along her journey. Where Vincent is concerned, Father is better at addressing fear than Catherine by simple virtue of having had years' more practice at it...and Vincent tends to entrust Father with his struggles more than he does Catherine...until after "The Rest is Silence" cave. Maybe, in a way, in the end, Catherine's less-practiced take on dealing with fundamental differences in one she loves ultimately helps her to bridge the gap between herself and Vincent that Father, however much more he comprehends about the situation, cannot himself close. She reaches a point where her ignorance no longer matters to her, where she sets her questions aside and decides to competely trust her heart and obey the deepest imperatives of love.

*
Absolutely. This is what I love in Catherine. As I said above, there are traits of her characters that are irritating, but I admire the determination to follow her heart, a feature that in some parts of their story is a problematic, but which in this case is useful and consistent. Once she has chosen Vincent, she is completely and irrevocably his. And she does not love him “despite” what he is, but “because” of what he is. This is the big difference between she and Father, I think. No regrets nor fears about what he “is”, never. Lots about the limitations, but the ongoing struggle with sacrifices is her part of the deal, and it’s absolutely credible – she’s the career-woman etc. you described above when we meet her, she has a long path to travel.

Zara:
He definitely shares that responsibility...heck, he claims every last shred of his own responsibility, always...and never blames Catherine for his troubles. I'm certain, though, that he believes it is often *easier* and less painful to deal with his problems by himself. Catherine's relentless cheerleading and investigative approach become both hurtful and distracting on many occasions. There are times when Vincent just does not have the energy to work through Catherine's issues on top of his own.

*
Certainly it’s often easier, only, probably it’s not the right thing to do, or at least not as a pattern. He’s not supposed to tolerate her: he chose her, he loves her and he has to learn to accept and deal with her and with her issues, like in any healthy relationships, and I like to think that he’s happy to. And probably the cheerleading attitude may have some good effect on him, like his more solemn attitude on her. I am still stubbornly seeing at the story as the tale of a couple.

S
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

when the show did personify the duality of Vincent visually, do you believe the storytellers departed from an essential theme of B&B? Did the storytellers reject the very Beast character, the very complete hero they originally created?


I don't quite agree that the producers 'personified' Vincent's Other as much as used it as a story-telling device. I understand your concern, S, about

no ongoing process of looking at them, seeing and making decision about them, be it rejecting, embracing, taming, hating, loving them and so on, according to the infinite nuances and recurrences of such dark places


Vincent is a Beast, after all, and they needed a way to explore what this could mean in a way that is readily understandable to the audience. And I think Vincent grappled with his other side, as do we all. Whether it be the conscious/unconscious duality, good/evil, etc, we are one individual who must grapple in our understanding of who we are, how we came to be the way we are, and where/how we can grow into the best person we can be. Vincent has such sharply delineated differences from the rest of us that, in some respects, having Vincent hallucinate an Other is a way to see his perspective about the Beast side of himself, and having Vincent and Father discussing what happens when his Beastly self comes to the forefront, or more conscious, is another way for us to learn about the concerns Vincent faces and Father frets about. Vincent never gave himself a 'free pass' for actions he did while his baser nature prevailed; I think he tended to create his limits and barriers based on his Beast to protect everyone else from having to deal with his darker side, whether it be violence or anything else. Others around him tended to be forgiving of him when he was in the 'grip.' And that may speak more directly to your concern of blame being assigned externally.

Did the show do a good job in regard to the above quote? Sometimes yes, sometimes, no. I wish I had access to Koslow and GRR Martin to ask if they had any clear thoughtful plan in mind to show how Vincent would assimilate and live with himself more holistically. They also didn't show this struggle well, if at all, with any of the other characters. Missed opportunities!

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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

Certainly it’s often easier, only, probably it’s not the right thing to do, or at least not as a pattern. ...
And probably the cheerleading attitude may have some good effect on him, like his more solemn attitude on her.


Well said! I think Vincent is so used to thinking in terms of limits that he benefits from Catherine's seeing possibilities; she the more impulsive, needs more of his restraint; and she the more out-going Extravert, balanced with his introspective Introvert.

Yin and Yang!

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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

Two points.

First, I just wanted to mention my theory about the visual representation of the Other that we see at the end of Season Two/beginning of Season Three. I think the images we are given portray the way people who don't know Vincent perceive Vincent as a monster. He is reacting to the collective assumptions about his supposed monstrosity when he sees the Other. It's not an accurate representation of his shadow-self; it's an imported vision, the burden of hatred which his wounded mind can no longer bear.

Second, I think it is dangerous to categorize Vincent's thinking/introversion in terms of limits, and Catherine's thinking/extroversion in terms of possibilities. They are both incredibly creative individuals who exist in completely separate cultures and environments. Their story is about each one learning how to deal with the other's unique limitations and possibilities respectfully and lovingly. The personality types per se do not balance each other. Their personal choices do that. Impulsive introverts exist, as do restrained extroverts, so I cannot associate the balance you describe with specific trends of personality. Also, if Vincent alone gets associated with limits, we're going to start addressing him and his people in terms of destructive stereotypes about the disempowered and disenfranchised, and then the "normalization" process takes over, judging Vincent/Below by dehumanizing mainstream/Above standards. Catherine thinks in terms of limits just as much as any other character in the show. Vincent thinks in terms of possibilities more than most.

I would say that Vincent benefits from Catherine's repeated choice to perceive more and more of who he is, to accept the person she perceives, and to love him more the better she knows him...as she transforms into a true Beauty over time. Catherine benefits from Vincent's complete faith in her growing process, and the unstinting love that always perceives her increasing potential for true Beauty long before she perceives it herself.

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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

S wrote:Certainly it’s often easier, only, probably it’s not the right thing to do, or at least not as a pattern. He’s not supposed to tolerate her: he chose her, he loves her and he has to learn to accept and deal with her and with her issues, like in any healthy relationships, and I like to think that he’s happy to. And probably the cheerleading attitude may have some good effect on him, like his more solemn attitude on her. I am still stubbornly seeing at the story as the tale of a couple.


I'm sorry. I did not mean to imply that Vincent sees Catherine and her life as a chore, or their relationship as something to tolerate. Nor that the story is not one of a couple. I wish only to describe this particular source of pain in Vincent's life. I'm not sure how to explain better. Here's another try.

The cheerleading, that attitude of "you are noble/good/talented/what-have-you, and ONLY noble, and I won't let you talk about any manner in which you do not feel yourself to be noble," does not have good effects on the person who must receive this approach from others. The clearest example of the harm it does, that I can find in the show, is found in "Chamber Music." What everyone does to Rolley with their relentless praise and manipulation of his musical talent destroys that child. That is the "cheerleading" I speak of. Such cheerleading prevents the "cheered" from being allowed to be merely human. It is just as damaging as derogatory statements that denounce one's humanity, and even more dangerous in some ways, because no one commonly believes "positive thinking" to be hurtful. But it is. It can be very exploitative. And when Father and Catherine in particular behave this way toward Vincent, it demeans him and isolates him. They do not intend for this to happen, no! But it increases his vulnerability to suffering whenever he "fails" in his "nobility."

We talk so much about Vincent's personal high standards of conduct and self-concept, and sometimes we speak disparagingly. Yet the unremitting evaluation of who he is according to the hero everyone else wants him to be certainly adds tremendous pressures to the imperative for moral perfection in Vincent's being. In trying to bolster Vincent's beauty, people so easily dismiss the fact that real beauty is always a balancing act. The cheerleading which does not permit Vincent's honest self-criticism unbalances his identity. And that hurts him badly.

~ Zara
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

I guess my list was not clear in terms of how I meant it. I was speaking to S's idea of how one's difference can help/benefit the other.

So, I saw Vincent and his need of safety etc establishing limits for him, whereas Catherine seems to looks for ways of getting around the limits (ie possibilities). Then I mentioned Catherine's impulsiveness which could benefit from Vincent's ability of restraint. Lastly, I saw her Extraversion (her love for activity, etc) benefitting Vincent the way his introspection (as in Introvert) can help Catherine (inner growth for example).

I did not mean to lump all those under the banner of Intro/extraversion.

Catherine thinks in terms of limits just as much as any other character in the show. Vincent thinks in terms of possibilities more than most.


People deal with what must be dealt with, and in Vincent's life, that means being considerate of his limits. But for Vincent, his life is balanced on those limitations, so he would by necessity think along those lines more naturally. I would say that Vincent dreams more than most, but not that he thinks in terms of possibilities more than most, although by being changed by Catherine's love, I believe he starts to think in possibilities more. :)

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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

*chuckles*

One more occasion which demonstrates the complexities of the communication process. Thank you for explaining your ideas further, and for your patience with me.

Making better sense of things now,

Zara
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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

The cheerleading, that attitude of "you are noble/good/talented/what-have-you, and ONLY noble, and I won't let you talk about any manner in which you do not feel yourself to be noble," does not have good effects on the person who must receive this approach from others.


Interesting. I had not thought of it in this way before. I certainly see your example in Rolley.

I will have to pay closer attention to dialogue for this. I don't think they do this a lot, though. Catherine does answer a lot by saying she loves him, all of him. I guess one could say that this brushes aside his concerns, although usually in these scenes Vincent is not the most forthcoming with explanations or descriptions of what is going on with him. And she is saying she accepts him, whatever the case. Father, I can't recall enough at the moment.

I guess the aspect about your comment that doesn't quite fit the bill in me is that I don't think either Catherine or Father see him in such absolutes, so that they can't listen to anything 'less than' from him. Catherine comes to realize how killing impacts him, the toll it takes on him. She, perhaps more than any other tunnel resident, has seen more of Vincent in his protector mode. She tries to keep his frame of reference for this as necessary action to protect the ones he loves. What she may not do as well, is hear well enough from him how part of him revels in it. In that sense, yes, I can agree with your perspective.

I'll definitely think on this some more.

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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Zara »

...I'm still working on that list...

;)

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Re: The Balancing Act That Is Vincent

Post by Maclurv »

I am watching The Watcher. It popped out to me, right at the beginning, that after the two discover they are being watched, and Vincent returns Below to discuss it with Father, Father reminds Vincent that the tunnelfolk can help protect Catherine as he doesn't think it wise for Vincent to return Above since he's been seen. Vincent responds with, ' This is Catherine. I must protect her.' This strikes me as a bit possessive, or harkening back to age-old views of male-female relationships, which I thought Vincent was more modern about. Also, his absolute refusal to Father for other's help in protecting Catherine flies in the face of one of their prime principles: to ask for help when needed, to accept help when offered.

Anyway, this strikes me as terribly out of balance for Vincent. Thoughts?

Pat
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