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I really need to finish my reread. Legolas Send a noteboard - 20/10/2021 09:01:38 PM

I really remember very little of the details of the last book, or last three books even really. But then, I've reread all the others one probably three or four times, and those last three not at all after the initial fast read-through...

View original postIn case you have not seen, or had spoiled for you, the new James Bond film, No Time to Die, James Bond dies in the end. He has to operate a control system to open an underground facility so that a missile strike he has called in can blow up the bad guy's doomsday weapon inside the hardened facility. He does all this and is heading out, only to have the villain we thought had left prematurely because that's what Bond villains do (see my review of Spectre this film's predecessor), closes the hatches and fights Bond. He loses, because he's the size of Rami Malek and Bond is the size of Daniel Craig, but not before he manages to inject Bond with a targeted contact poison, that never ever leaves his system, but keeps replicating itself and while it will do no harm to Bond, will be instantly fatal if he ever so much as touches his One True Love and their daughter (yes, he has a kid; I get the impression that's not a Bond thing, but if you're watching these five movies as a solo thing it's a reasonable development). Anyway, wounded and staggering after his fight (the villain sucker-punched him before the fight, with bullets. From a gun), after the villain has gloated about the poison bit, with the missiles already launched and bearing down on the facility, Bond goes back ino the control room and reopens the hatches to expose the target once more. While Q & M are listening and urging him to get away, he points out that it's too late, and asks to be connected to his love interest, so he can say goodbye to her. Then the missiles hit and it's about as certain as you can get without watching his body vaporize in slow motion that he's dead. But he saved whatever was threatened by the bad guy's weapon (villains with accents who mumble their exposition aren't always great at establishing precise stakes) and the Love Interest is telling her kid about a man called Bond. James Bond. and all the MI-6 characters with names gather in M's office to pour one out for Bond and then credits.

The thing is, realistically speaking, he's obviously right that it's way too late by then to even try to escape, even aside from the whole having to spend his life away from his love interest and daughter thing. But 'realistically speaking' is generally not a thing in James Bond movies - it wasn't even a thing earlier in the same movie when he escaped from that sinking ship. It's not so much about Bond making an unusual choice as it is about the writers declining to toss in yet another wildly implausible deus ex machina or have him survive without even bothering with any coherent explanation at all, as they'd normally do. I suppose that by becoming more human in terms of his personal relationships and personality, he's also become more human and less super-human in terms of his ability to survive normally lethal things...

View original postAnd like James Bond, Egwene makes a fatal decision to prevent a danger to, let's say, "others", because as with Bond, the prior writing does not do a bang-up job of establishing the world is actually in danger. In both cases, they say so, but I can't help but notice that what we know of the threat does not exactly add up. In any event, scale does not matter. Giving your life to save or protect another person is just as good as saving the whole world. Quantity is irrelevant. A life is a life.

View original postAnd I can't help up think in both cases the decision to specifically and pointlessly excise the hero's relationship with their love interest somehow cheapens their heroic sacrifice. There is barely time to reflect on the evil of the villain's plan in NTtD, because Bond has to go back and open the hatches. No one liked Gawyn or was all that invested in his relationship with Egwene. He was clearly the stupidest of the main characters or their love interests, some of who are characterized in the text as the sort who would "climb a tree to see the lighting better" and yet are way ahead of Gawyn. I know at least a few Egwene lovers didn't think he was good enough for her, or didn't like her having a boyfriend, so no one gives a crap about his death. Maybe Egwene's death could be unusual and interesting if she makes the conscious choice to die knowing she's killing her husband too. Maybe Gawyn could have redeemed himself in the fandom's eyes, by telling her "do it". Maybe she can only release one Warder, and they agree it has to be Leilwin, because Gawyn is too badly hurt to deliver the message without the benefits of a Warder bond.

Yeah, I really don't remember most of Memory of Light, clearly... as for Gawyn as a whole, I remember really only three things about his character and its arc. His inexplicable love for Egwene, or perhaps I should say 'Jegwene Bal'Vere' (that was absolute genius by the way!). His not explicable but entirely misguided and hence annoying hatred for Rand because of the whole 'you can never know everything and part of what you know is always wrong' theme of the series. And lastly, the only thing that didn't get on my nerves, him actually being a good friend to Min for all of, uh, half a chapter? If you're being generous and don't blame him for the massively wrong call on Rand, you could squint and say he's basically a good and not all that dumb guy who just happens to fall in love with the wrong woman... plus, his sister, whose judgement is actually worth something, does think rather highly of him.
View original postA sacrifice is kind of less meaningful if you don't have anything to live for. In Season Two of 24, Jack Bauer is flying a small plane with a nuclear bomb on board that can't be disarmed on board, but he has to fly it over a mountain range to shield the city of Los Angeles from the blast, and some technobabble means autopilot won't be good enough, there has to be someone's hands on the controls right up to the end, so Jack has to die. But his supervisor, George Mason, whom he has often clashed with, and derided as a coward and a political weasel who puts his ambitions over the mission, has stowed away on the plane. See, earlier in the season, his cowardice indirectly led to him getting a lethal dose of radiation poisoning. He got a bunch of humanizing scenes after that as he comes to terms with his mortality, and says heartwarming good byes to a bunch of the colleagues he has previously butted heads with, and started taking an interest in doing the job again, though he's failing fast and ends up being relieved of duty. And now he's in the cockpit with Jack, and as he points out, he's got enough in the tank to fly a plane straight for a few more minutes, so Jack can parachute to safety. Which he does. THAT is how you use a character as a sacrifice who has nothing left to live for, or is going to die anyway. You do it in place of another person, because it's a specific recognition of how you can help and go out well. Larger than life characters like James Bond or Jack Bauer or Jason Bourne or the imaginary awesome version of Egwene that exists in a lot of fans' heads (we'll call that version Jegwene Bal'Vere to keep them straight) are a whole other thing. That's why Bourne can seem to die at the end of Bourne Ultimatum, only for a little thing to pop up so the female lead can suddenly grin knowing it means he survived. When Bond was making his escape, right before things went to shit, he noticed out of the corner of his eye and went back to get, the stuffed animal his daughter had been carrying around and mentioned that she lost, before she was taken to safety. So I was pretty sure that was going to be the same thing in this movie, especially after the villain revealed the poison and then explained the ramifications for the slow viewers, that the facility would blow and everyone would think Bond died because his tracking device went dark or whatever, but in the coda at the end, the Love Interest would take her kid home and look sadly at something that reminds her of Bond, and the kid comes out of her room saying "Mommy, Doo Doo was on my bed!" And we last saw Doo Doo being tucked into Bond's belt, so we know he's alive and looking after them, even if they can't be together. But then a missile lands, like, RIGHT IN FRONT of his face. So we're pretty sure Doo Doo was fucked, too.

It would've been... interesting, to have that scene, immediately followed by Madeleine and Mathilde dying of the DNA-targeted poison... also a way to mark the end of an era, but probably a little dark for a mainstream movie.
View original postEgwene and Bond are supposed to be heroes. They should not need to have things taken away from them to appreciate what is important and then act to prove their lack of selfishness by laying everything on the line. Instead, their writers gave them a selfish motivation for being willing to die, or stripped them of motivations to go on afterwards, or pandered to make fans not feel as bad about their losses. Maybe it's just me, but I can't help but feel it cheapens the characters and their ends somehow.

Was either one ever really the noble hero archetype at earlier points in their respective stories, though? Heroes in one sense, yes, but not really the exceptionally noble, self-sacrificing type, at any point... in Bond's case because it would've clashed with his humour and inflappable cynicism, in Egwene's case because, well, she's always been selfish and egocentric. I'm not saying you don't have a point about the motivations detracting from what might otherwise have been a more selfless and noble, more heroic sacrifice... but I'm not convinced that type of sacrifice would've made much sense for either one anyway.
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A thing I am wondering about with regard to characterization (Spoilers for No Time to Die & WoT) - 14/10/2021 07:51:46 AM 349 Views
I see what you did there - 14/10/2021 04:29:27 PM 171 Views
have not watched, yet I think the Craig era is a mistake - 14/10/2021 10:59:57 PM 128 Views
I am looking to see if the sky turned purple because I agree with you - 14/10/2021 11:42:46 PM 188 Views
hey - 15/10/2021 12:01:10 AM 124 Views
It is not a James Bond movie - 15/10/2021 03:13:52 AM 179 Views
Re: A thing I am wondering about with regard to characterization (Spoilers for No Time to Die & WoT) - 15/10/2021 05:11:22 PM 171 Views
But Egwene's act was altruistic - 15/10/2021 05:31:31 PM 159 Views
Re: But Egwene's act was altruistic - 18/10/2021 09:32:49 PM 152 Views
I really need to finish my reread. - 20/10/2021 09:01:38 PM 113 Views

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