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#character meta
sparring-spirals · 17 days ago
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Loquatius creating this crystal, a message, a time capsule with a final lie on it, crystallizing Laerryn as a hero, Loquatius as a villain, Loquatius resigning as herald of Avalir. Loquatius creating this doomed message for a doomed city, one last act of protection for a doomed love.
All Laerryn has ever wanted was to leave her mark,
and Loquatius is going to make sure its a beautiful one.
(except he can't, except he can't make sure, except we know the history books don't speak about Laerryn, except this hidden act of love in a falling city seems doomed to only be heard by him,
and us.)
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ghost-pasta · 7 months ago
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Vlad's gotta be one of the funniest bad guys because he's all of them at once.
He's your repressed queer coded
he's the Karen asking for the manager
he's the poor little meow meow
he's got a point
he really doesn't have a point at all
he could do better
he could be better
he's fine as is
he's just a creature
he's a tumblr sexyman
he's a pathetic white boy
- and so on and so forth
He's truly got it all. Amazing.
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runawaymun · 3 months ago
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Sometimes I think about how not all the trauma the Sons of Fëanor have is immediately obvious or visible as trauma they wear on their bodies.
After Angband Maedhros’ brothers keep finding caches of food hidden away in odd places. They promise that there’s plenty. That there will always be plenty. He says “I know, I know” but can’t make himself stop, because when you’re held captive by a minor god food is nothing more than a cute bargaining chip. Maedhros can’t stand on top of towers or climb hills or even trees anymore. It’s not that he’s scared because he’s Maedhros Fëanorion and isn’t afraid of anything— but the second he’s too high up, he feels sick to his stomach.
Maglor still sings. Everyone always compliments his voice. It’s so powerful, ricocheting off mountainsides, loud as thunder. It can stop a blade it it’s tracks. Make a legion of orcs clutch their bleeding ears and scream. But he can’t sing ballads anymore, or lullabies the way he used to. He hates it. He hates it. Each note that’s fashioned to hurt someone else feels like it will rip him in two. Sometimes he wishes he could rip out his own vocal chords just to be free of the responsibility of such Music, from the expectations of how he’ll use it in battle. He just wants to sing like he used to.
Celegorm never replaces Huan. He knows— he knows it’s his fault that he lost him. He lies awake at night and cries into his pillow, wishing it was Huan. Wishing he could bury his hand in his thick fur and feel his steady heartbeat again— because no matter how it ended a childhood pet is a childhood pet, and they will always take a piece of you when they go.
Caranthir talks less and less as the years go on. His brothers used to ask him for advice in Valinor, but a levelheaded temperament isn’t much use in times like these. He withdraws and he withdraws and he withdraws, until he’s so lonely it wears a hole in his chest.
Curufin covers his mirrors. He hates the sound of his name. Loves and hates the forge until he’s sick at heart and wants to throw himself into his own fire. The boundary lines, for him, had always been laid in the shape of his father, and without him he no longer knows who he is. He is only a shadow of him. A reminder of what they’ve lost. And he will never, ever, ever live up to his memory.
Amrod won’t light a fire in his bedroom no matter how cold or dark it gets. He can’t sleep in a room alone. Can’t be left alone for more than a few moments before his mind twists into panic— of “please, please, I’m right here, don’t forget me, don’t leave me—“
Likewise, Amras never lets Amrod out of his sight. The panicked “where’s Amrod?” happens on a biweekly basis. His brothers assure him that Amrod is fine. But their eyes betray their own worry. None of them have forgotten the ships.
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hexadinsandgunslingers · 4 months ago
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Does anyone else ever think about Percy and Keyleth are great mortal analogs to Erathis and Melora despite being the party members who are the least attached to the gods?
They’re the youngest members of Vox Machina, and the ones with the most intense powers of destruction and creation. Keyleth being a raw force of nature, and the duality of Percy’s capacity to introduce guns into the world, but also a plethora of good things (the Clocktower, I remember Tal mentioned in the most recent Q&A Whitestone has actual electricity?).
How it took incredible amounts of power from both nature and civilization to defeat the Briarwoods during the revolution? Keeper Yennen and the rebellion, and (despite the circumstances and certainly not for ultimate good) The List & Bad News. The Sun Tree, and Keyleth’s constant clutch moves to restore the tree, spare civilians, using Sunbeam to obliterate Sylas.
They keep each other in balance like Melora and Erathis too. Keyleth keeping Percy in-check and off of the edge during the Whitestone revolution. Percy doing the same for Keyleth after Raishan almost completely wiped out the Fire Ashari.
Narrative foils man, you gotta love ‘em.
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stillsimpingforaymeric · 13 days ago
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Kaidan Alenko and the importance of visual storytelling
(Since this post was unable to appear in searches on my old blog, simpingforaymeric, I have chosen to repost it here on my new one)
1. Introduction
One of the most prominent criticisms leveled against the character of Mass Effect’s Kaidan Alenko is that he is, in a word, boring. It’s a comment that seemed confusing after first playing the game and falling almost immediately in love with the character, but gaining some distance after ten years and playing the games more critically than before, starts to make more and more sense.
Don’t get me wrong - Kaidan Alenko is perhaps my most favorite character across all Bioware games. He is by far the one I relate to the most. The following… experiment? Thesis? Elaborate soap box? Is therefore not meant to convince anyone that, Actually, He Is Boring, or even criticize the character of Kaidan Alenko in that sense, but aims to explain why “boring” is the gut reaction of so many (often slightly more casual) players. I want to propose a theory of what issues there are, why they appear across all three games and finally propose a range of edits and changes that might alleviate them. And when I say changes, I in no way mean to change anything about the character of Kaidan Alenko - but to change how that character is communicated to the audience. 
I will preface this by saying that this post is roughly ten years in the making and does not reflect just my own personal observations, but relevant input from other fans across social media, from the BSN, to twitter, to tumblr. Many of these people have moved on, many of them have changed blog names so often it is simply impossible for me to look them up. So while I can no longer source any person in particular for any specific observation, I still want to make clear that this is the result of many thoughtful and insightful posts from many thoughtful and insightful people over a span of years. I have no intention of taking the credit for myself, I am just trying to bring it all together in one project. Once we get to the “How to fix it” part, I will only discuss the ideas that I’ve come up with myself over the past few weeks of replaying the trilogy. 
If a post like this already exists and is already in circulation, please let me know. I have not been active in the fandom for some years and would be very interested if anyone has done a write up similar to mine before. 
Also, this will likely include spoilers for most titles in the Dragon Age and Mass Effect game franchises (not books, or comics, though), so if you haven’t quite finished Inquisition, ME3, or any other game, you may want to hold off on reading this. 
You may also want to hold off on reading this because it’s honest to God 19 pages long. I like this character a normal amount. 
2. The core issues
If there is a thesis statement to this, it is that Kaidan Alenko sounds like an incredibly interesting, multifaceted, uniquely skilled and powerful character who you never see fully represented on screen. My own particular love of Kaidan comes, if I am honest, less from the cutscenes the game actually puts him in and can instead quite often be traced back to deep analysis of dialogue, codex entries and tracing and connecting implications of the two. 
To give a concrete example, I know for a fact that Kaidan Alenko is a very powerful biotic. Most companions in the first game can remark upon this fact and all of them seem impressed. His powers don’t just contribute to an ambiguous Coolness Factor, though. They also impact his personality significantly. They weigh heavy on his conscience, something we learn when he states in early ME1 party banter that he has been deliberately holding himself back for fear of hurting someone. He learned the hard way that his powers are a massive responsibility when he accidentally killed Commander Vyrnnus, something he confesses to you in one of his more powerful conversations in the first game. It’s also a physical burden as we hear from Dr. Chakwas that he suffers from chronic migraines. On top of that, his unique power and his suffering both come from the L2 implant he wears, an outdated model that is considered dangerous. Kaidan has debilitating migraines, but he is one of the luckier ones; other children suffered anything ranging from severe mental disabilities to fatal brain tumors. During the timeline of ME1 there is a serious legal battle raging in the background, of the surviving L2 biotics trying to get reparations for what was done to them. And finally, he is one of the first human biotics to even exist, wearing only the second generation of implants that allow him access to manipulating dark energy. Human biotics are essentially space mages and are socially ostracized and feared by much of humanity. 
It’s safe to say that the entire character of Kaidan Alenko hinges on his biotics. His abilities are a fundamental part of him. They have shaped his personality, his ethical code and his sense of personal identity. Kaidan Alenko as a character simply does not make sense without his biotic abilities. 
The problem is that you can count the amount of times Kaidan Alenko, one of the most powerful human biotics in the alliance military, actually uses his biotic abilities, on one hand. In fact, you can count them on one finger, because there is exactly one scene  - a very simple, not particularly impressive use of Throw on two random goons in the Citadel DLC. Not only is this cutscene not particularly reflective of Kaidan’s extensive ability, it only happens for people who have already locked in his romance and therefore made the game prioritize him. The specific scene could theoretically happen with most other characters. That means anyone who isn’t already completely and entirely sold on the character of Kaidan Alenko, to the extent that they ship their personal OC with him, will likely never see this. I’ll get into why he doesn’t have those scenes a little later. 
You can extrapolate this basic issue for most of the other fundamental cornerstones of his character: 
Kaidan’s morality is strongly rooted in the concept of Paragon, that is to say, he is not an “ends justify the means” kind of guy. He will often try and resolve things peacefully, like when he talks down his fellow L2 biotics from committing homicide during UNC: Hostage in ME1. But because of how the game’s companion system works, Kaidan is never afforded the ability to do more than politely disagree with a renegade Shepard who happily commits war crimes. Voluntarily leaving the squad, as companions in a Dragon Age game might, is simply not on the table. In fact, his personality is so malleable in the first game that it takes one conversation to turn him into more of a renegade and, by proxy, a xenophobe. This option likely exists to ensure that players of a renegade Shepard have a choice in surrounding themselves with companions that do not fundamentally disagree with their ethics and choices, but it significantly weakens a character we are told values integrity. 
Kaidan is an officer. He held the rank of Staff Lieutenant with over a dozen special commendations in ME1, putting him barely one rung below Shepard. The reason Shepard’s initiating dialogue is “Just trying to get a sense of where the crew’s at. Thoughts?” is that Kaidan handles staffing issues and is for all intents and purposes in charge of the marine detail of the Normandy. This simply does not come up. The only thing that is even peripherally mentioned is that Kaidan was the one who recommended getting Ashley Williams on board after Eden Prime. By ME2, he is Staff Commander and outranks Shepard. By ME3, he’s a Major, which is equivalent to the rank of Captain that Anderson held in the first game. As a Major, Kaidan was specifically put in charge of a spec ops team of human biotics. We will never meet them, never see Kaidan commanding them or even talking to them. Never be able to reflect in any way how this changed or affected Kaidan, who was himself abused in an alliance military project under a bad teacher. The game sometimes even forgets that he holds a significant rank at all and will generally consider Shepard to be his superior officer. And I haven’t even gotten into the Spectre stuff.
Kaidan is a chronic pain patient. You will never see him actively suffer the effects, unless we count an idle animation in the first game.  Kaidan values self-control. He will never be put into a position where that self-control is tested and he either overcomes or lets loose. Or, at the very least, highly emotional scenes that could tempt his self-control, simply don’t.
3. The importance of visual impact 
Kaidan Alenko is a very interesting character. On paper. Anyone who doesn’t spend the extra effort reading codex entries, reading character meta on tumblr and investing a considerable amount of time into wrapping their head around the particulars of his character will likely miss a great deal of his personality, because it’s just not on the screen. It used to be my instinct to argue that, well, reading codex entries is important and putting in a little effort to understand a character is fine and dandy. Anyone who isn’t doing that is simply cheating themselves out of appreciating some wonderful fictional guys. And in some cases, I think it is generally fair that not every aspect of a character need be spoon fed to the player. Fans engaging with the text, rather than passively observing it, is a natural part of media consumption.
However, I have to admit that at the end of the day, video games are a visual medium. Furthermore, the old adage of “show, don’t tell”, still applies. And when a character is fundamentally underrepresented, when even the most basic, core concepts of a character are simply missing from the screen, then I can no longer fault anyone for not immediately connecting to a character who is for all intents and purposes absent.
If you are having trouble wrapping your head around the importance of visual input in video games, let’s contrast Kaidan’s lack with other characters’ plenty.
If you don’t think showing Kaidan’s biotics would contribute much, then think about how Samara’s biotics are serene, precise, beautiful. Picture her sitting on the Normandy carefully meditating, shaping a perfect, beautiful little galaxy between her hands. Now contrast it with Jack, violently and impulsively ripping through three heavy mechs to escape her prison. Biotics aren’t just technically something these characters are capable of - their personalities are reflected in what situations they use them in, how they use them and what they look like. 
If you don’t think it matters if a character is afforded an opportunity to show a strong sense of morality, then think about how most companions in Dragon Age do not follow blindly, how big choices like templars vs. mages can cost you the loyalty of one or more companions, if you didn’t invest enough time into forming strong relationships with them. Think about how even in a romance, even at 100% approval, Alistair will leave the party if you choose to spare Loghain. How he will never even consider making that choice if he is put up for that final duel at the Landsmeet. Sure, you can toughen him up a little, you can give him a different outlook and in so doing have some impact on his potential epilogues, but the player is never afforded the opportunity to fundamentally change him. If Alistair leaves, it’s not just a codex entry or a mention on the side. He will confront you and he will walk out on you. 
If you don’t think seeing Kaidan in command of his troops is important, then think about how Cullen’s leadership in Inquisition is reflected on screen. How, at the temple of sacred ashes, in one of the very first cutscenes you may meet him in, he is shown carrying his own wounded soldier off the battlefield. How he is present in some way for almost every major battle in the game. In practice Cullen is stuck behind a desk for most of the game so the player can talk to him, but you don’t feel like he is a passive observer. You know that when battle rages, Cullen leads from the front because you have seen that happening consistently throughout the story. 
I could even be more concrete and talk about how much Jack manages to develop as a character when you see her interacting with her own gaggle of biotic students in her very own mission. How much care is being depicted in how fiercely she protects those she has come to view as “her own”.
If you don’t think it might be relevant to see Kaidan suffer the migraines we’re told about, think about the gut reaction you have when you see a character like Cullen double over in pain at his desk, how he breaks down, visibly shaking in front of you when he is overwhelmed with the debilitating effects of his condition.
And if you don’t think seeing self-control depicted on screen would be all that impactful, think about how you reacted when you first watched Anders visibly fight to control his power. How his own anger, his own suffering cause him to struggle with his abilities, blue light literally pouring through the cracks in his veneer.  You cannot adapt any of the above mentioned scenes 1:1 to Kaidan. He has neither the perfect asari control of the centuries old Samara, nor do I think he has quite the raw power of a royally pissed off Jack. Kaidan is not afforded the opportunity to walk out on Shepard due to how companions work in the trilogy. Kaidan is not in charge of a whole army like Cullen, nor is he likely ridden with trauma quite as intensely as him, since his pain manifests differently and there are modern treatments available to him. He’s not literally possessed by a spirit, like Anders. But all these characters showcase the potential of how a character can impact an audience. They show what can be visually communicated, when care and resources are spent on portraying a character on screen, rather than purely through dialogue and world building.
4. How did we get here
I promised earlier I’d circle back around to the why of it. For all three games, the causes are slightly different and often the result of what I generally call gameplay or story “technicalities”. That is to say, certain aspects of the game or story are simply constructed in such a way that they do not afford Kaidan (and often by proxy, Ashley) the opportunity to do much of significance, if they get to act at all.
I’ve already mentioned how Kaidan’s morality is entirely malleable in the first game based on a mechanic that has less to do with strong characterization and more to do with affording the player the ability to essentially customize their squad. The same applies to Ashley - though I reckon we see her conversation as a little less glaring since turning Ash into more of a paragon generally aligns her morally more closely with most players, while very few people are likely to enjoy turning Kaidan into a raging xenophobe. 
The first game offers up little opportunity for Kaidan to display either his biotics or his position as Staff Lieutenant of the Normandy. The latter is easier to explain - the marine detail of the Normandy are just NPCs. They aren’t relevant to the story in any meaningful way, so leading them isn’t a particularly relevant job for Kaidan to be doing. In theory it’s incredibly important to keep an entire detail of soldiers in line, especially when the CO decides to mutiny three quarters through the story, but the plot is driven by Shepard and the squadmates, not the marines of the Normandy. Therefore, there is no real opportunity to showcase Kaidan’s abilities as a leader of soldiers. 
The first is a bit more difficult to explain and seems to me like plain oversight. Kaidan doesn’t actually have any character introduction scene. The scene where we first meet him on the Normandy is not his introduction, it’s Joker’s. Joker is being characterized as our snarky, cynical pilot - Kaidan is just the person he is being contrasted against. Every other character on the Normandy has a strong introductory scene. Ashley is seen fleeing the geth, before we see her determinedly reload her rifle and turn back to enact some good old fashioned vengeance. Garrus is first seen arguing with his boss, marking him as a not-by-the-book kind of cop, then established as a crack shot by resolving a hostage crisis with a single precise shot of his pistol. Tali is seen negotiating with shady dealers, shown to be self-sufficient and clever enough to know something is up, characterizing her as intelligent and resourceful. Wrex is hilariously unintimidated by the space cops on the Citadel and thus presented as a certified badass. Finally, Liara is our traditional damsel in distress. And Kaidan… well. Nothing. There isn’t a Kaidan-specific scene in the first game. 
At a guess, Kaidan might have played a bigger role in the cut segments on Eden Prime. For those not in the know, dialogue from the game files indicates that the Eden Prime level used to be longer (look for DanaDuchy’s “party banter” video on youtube and start from around 28 minutes. I had it linked originally, but it seems it prevented this post from showing up). Maybe there was a cutscene somewhere here that introduced new players to the concept of biotics in general and Kaidan’s abilities in particular that eventually ended up on the cutting room floor when the Eden Prime level was shortened. Maybe it’s just a general oversight and it truly never hit anyone that a) new players to the universe might want a crash course in what the heck is up with that space magic thing or b) players might need a strong, effective cutscene establishing Kaidan as a character. 
(Incidentally, that cut dialogue from Eden Prime also states that Kaidan was originally intended to be vegetarian, which is, if nothing else, damn funny in hindsight.)
In ME2 the issue can be summed up summarily as “missing out on content”. Kaidan isn’t really afforded any space to act in the story. The one brief moment of involvement he has in the plot - Horizon - is once again reduced to mere dialogue. The one scripted cutscene he has, he shares with Ashley, in which both are fruitlessly shooting at a swarm of insects, trying to protect colonists, but are immediately and forcefully removed from the plot via convenient sedatives. They only return for yet another dialogue-heavy segment, which a lot of people dislike for understandable reasons, but is to me one of the few moments in which the characters display a firm moral stance. I might hate the scene because I hate Shepard and Kaidan fighting and the dialogue itself leaves a bit to be desired, but I like it in the sense that it provides decent characterization by making both Virmire Survivors stand their ground, even against someone they respect or possibly love. 
To make things worse, thanks to the loyalty mission concept, ME2 was actually the game that best handled its character driven storytelling. Every squadmate is afforded the care and resources of a completely unique mission that tells us something important about them and provides ample characterization through their motivations for the mission as well as its outcome. Liara manages to circumvent the problem of not being there for those loyalty missions by getting her own story-driven DLC, which pushes forward her character development and resolves the lingering tension between her and Shepard, whether in a platonic or romantic sense. Kaidan and Ashley are not afforded the same opportunity. 
Some people have pointed out that it is a positive thing, that Kaidan and Ashley do not need a loyalty mission, that their loyalty is gained organically and through actions throughout the trilogy rather than in one specifically scripted mission. I agree with that interpretation, but it does gloss over the fact that loyalty missions are not just a sign that a character is struggling and needs or wants something from Shepard, but an opportunity to spend time with a character on a mission tailored completely to them. Resources and time are dedicated to their portrayal and in so doing communicate what the character is all about to the audience. And Kaidan and Ashley lacking that kind of content is not a net positive. 
In ME3, the preceding issues are not addressed and compounded by new decisions. The lack of a strong, initial cutscene remains unsolved. Kaidan’s introduction in 3 is short and dialogue-heavy, before he is once again forcefully removed from the plot, so Shepard and Anderson can shoot their way through the combat tutorial. When he reappears to effectively save Shepard with the Normandy, he doesn’t do much more than fire a standard assault rifle at a bunch of husks. He briefly returns for the segment on Mars, where the dialogue begins to meaningfully address the tension that was resolved for Liara in the preceding game, but he is then forcefully removed from the plot a third time, getting punched straight into hospital. Even the Citadel standoff, one of the few scenes the VS gets with some general plot-relevance, is undercut by the fact that it has to accommodate both Kaidan and Ashley - two characters who are very different. This is where the problem with the biotics really kicks off.
You see, the reason Kaidan is never using his biotics prominently during cutscenes is because he shares a majority of his cutscenes with Ashley, who isn’t a biotic. Outside of the few romance and friendship scenes, such as the Citadel dates, cutscenes for the Virmire Survivor have to accommodate two characters who are fundamentally different. Ashley is more renegade, Kaidan is more paragon, Kaidan has biotic abilities, Ashley does not. Their personalities and skills are almost at opposite ends of a spectrum, but because any one player of the series will only ever be able to keep one of them alive, fewer resources seem to have been spent on each character individually and their biggest, most important scenes have to operate on an ambiguous middle ground. Ashley is impulsive, a renegade and only has her gun at her disposal, so if Shepard hesitates to shoot Udina during the Citadel standoff, Ashley will shoot him for them, same as she did with Wrex in the first game. For her, this is a fine scene. But Kaidan in contrast is supposed to be calm and controlled, has a strong paragon personality and a range of abilities at his disposal. If the cutscene reflected him truthfully, this scene could diverge significantly for Kaidan. He might choose not to kill Udina and instead wrap him in a stasis field, both to spare his life and so he can be interrogated. These are options Ashley does not have, so the cutscene can’t go there.
In general ME3 gave me the distinct feeling that a majority of cutscenes are written with Ashley in mind first and then dialogue is adapted for Kaidan. Liara’s comment about the Virmire Survivor becoming “very capable” makes some sense for Ashley, who started out as gunnery chief and was new to serving aboard a ship, alongside aliens and operating in deep space. Ashley was a bit of a rookie in some sense. Kaidan starts the series as an officer, already in charge of a significant number of soldiers. He already had over a dozen special commendations. I’m certainly not offended on behalf of the character, but this commentary doesn’t make sense unless you ignore everything the world building and codex establishes about Kaidan and just see him as any other soldier, some kind of raw recruit who was looking up to Shepard. Instead, it is Shepard who is afforded several opportunities to ask Kaidan, three years their senior, for advice on both tactics and politics in the first game - and Kaidan who looks out for Shepard in turn. Liara’s commentary is simply not reflective of Kaidan’s role in the story up to this point, or his relationship with Shepard. 
His role as Major is undercut on several occasions. After the Citadel standoff, the game briefly forgets that Kaidan outranks Shepard by now, as Joker complains that Kaidan “almost shot a superior officer”. His leadership of the spec ops squad is mentioned and party banter even indicates he finds at least one squad during the game, but we will never meet them. This time I really don’t understand it. I can easily see that you can’t rewrite the entire structure of ME1 to give the marine detail of the Normandy a more active role to play in the story just to better reflect Kaidan’s rank - but I honestly don’t know why there isn’t even a small cutscene involving Kaidan in the Normady’s communications center just talking to his spec ops squad. It’s a huge wasted opportunity to not put names and faces to his students (like we do for Jack). If we don’t have the time or money for a full loyalty mission (which at this point may be sorely needed) that’s one thing. But to choose to ignore the one, cool new thing that is unique to Kaidan, to not spend five minutes on exploring that aspect of his character? It feels like such an obvious problem in hindsight.
His chronic pain barely comes up, which again just feels a bit odd. If you ask me, ME3 is the perfect opportunity to showcase some vulnerability, to display your companions cracking under the pressure of the end of the world. The game does that quite admirably with Shepard, in fact. It doesn’t have to be a scene where he breaks down the way Cullen does, but it wouldn’t take that much to show some of the facade starting to crack. 
You can easily add the issue of self-control to that. It might have been interesting for Kaidan to be put into a situation where that self-control could be on display, where a difficult decision might make or break him. It could intensify his romance, to really portray the emotional difficulty of finally reuniting with the person he watched die after two long years.  
If you ever catch me complaining about the date at Apollo’s or even the scene in the Citadel DLC, this is why. I don’t hate the idea of Kaidan cracking jokes about his Canadian-ness or his fondness for steak and beer. It’s that these are the things the game chooses to spend time on, to spend money on, when the more fundamental parts of his character are left either entirely on the cutting room floor or restricted to off-handed mentions. There isn’t anything fundamentally wrong with having a cutesy home cooked dinner scene. I could and would even argue for the fact that this kind of normalcy is a great contrast for a character who didn’t have much normalcy in his life. What bugs me about it is the knowledge that money and time were devoted to a custom beer clink animation when the character of Kaidan Alenko, after several years of game development and an entire trilogy, does not have a single cutscene where he prominently displays the extent of his biotic abilities. What bugs me is that the lighthearted and fun stuff ends up taking precedence over the deeper, more meaningful cornerstones of his character, rather than flesh out the strong foundation that could already be there. 
Even the fans who really enjoy Kaidan in ME3 seem to be at least tacitly aware that Canadian in-jokes and memes about Kaidan’s fondness for steak and beer feel like a little much. They don’t technically take up that much time - it’s only two cutscenes - but because the character lacks so much on every other front, they become overwhelming. They don’t become a cute contrast of normalcy to a character who has lived a life that was anything but - they become the fundamental cornerstones of his character. They become the thing that people take away from the story. They displace and overshadow everything else that was not prominently featured on screen. And even those of us who have dissected his character to hell and back, who know that a strong foundation is there if you dig deep enough into every codex entry, every smidgeon of dialogue - even we are not immune to the impact of visual storytelling. And even we can end up feeling like there’s a bit too much memeing about Canada, too many discussions of steak and flavors of alcohol. 
In the end - what about Kaidan was visually presented on the screen?
That he’ll spend a disconcerting amount of time aimlessly shooting at insects. That he’ll shoot Udina if you won’t. That he really likes steak and alcohol. Anything else, we just don’t see.
If you take all of this together, is it any wonder the main takeaway from a more casual observer is that Kaidan is some relatively uninteresting, painfully average kind of guy?
5. So what?
It’s one thing to identify the issues and even how we got to those issues, but another thing entirely to provide actual, constructive feedback on how to do things better. So I want to spend the next and longest part of this cry for help thought excercise by finding ways to address the issues identified earlier. I’ve already alluded to a few ideas but I want to bring some structure into it. 
As such, I want to outline a script, an editor’s note of the existing franchise. I want to brainstorm some basic ideas for cutscenes and interactions that untangle Kaidan from Ashley, that give Kaidan a bit of a space to breathe and develop as a character and in so doing, create better contrast for Ashley, making the choice between the two seem a bit more meaningful. 
What I want to avoid is airing my own personal grievances with the way Kaidan was portrayed in ME3. I do not intend to win any arguments over who the “real” Kaidan is. Kaidan is a fictional character who was originally conceived by one writer and then adapted for the third game by another. Small inconsistencies, differences in creative decisions and focus are often unavoidable, so I am uninterested in fostering some kind of bizarre fan civil war. Some people prefer Kaidan in ME3. Some people prefer Kaidan in ME1. I cannot objectively prove which version of the character is better - some fans might never even have felt a tangible difference - so I won’t. And I won’t try and change anything about ME3’s Kaidan that I believe to be my entirely subjective preferences, or result from the kind of differences in style of writing that are inevitable under a new character writer. 
Instead, I aim to limit myself to critiquing only those scenes which I believe don’t so much portray Kaidan as “ooc”, because that can mean something different to every single person, but instead simply fail to portray him at all. The scenes that do not provide strong characterization either way, the scenes where I feel like time and money could have been allocated more wisely. I will try and explain my reasoning for why these scenes are often not bad, but achieve less than they could. 
I also limit myself in what can feasibly be displayed on screen, if we consider that games are made under time and budget constraints. I will not do anything that would require large rewrites of any of the games. I will try to achieve as much as possible with as little as possible and won’t replace quiet, dialogue-heavy scenes with busy, animation-heavy scenes. I will try to think as a game dev and writer might, with the caveat that a) I am not actually in game dev and might over- or underestimate certain issues and b) I’ve had the past 10 years to think about this in hindsight with the input of an active fanbase, which is a very different environment to be in, than a game dev who’s been given a certain number of months to come up with or adapt someone else’s fictional guy. 
This is why I am also uninterested in discussing questions of writing competency, or talk about things in terms of “bad writing”, because I do not feel comfortable rendering that kind of judgment on people working in a field I have no tangible experience in and who worked under conditions so very different from the ones under which I am able to comfortably analyze and critique their choices with a decade of hindsight. 
Ultimately, my proposed edits are just my own personal thoughts, though. The idea behind this is to analyze how you visually represent certain characteristics. If you don’t end up liking any of my proposed solutions, if they don’t really match up your interpretation of Kaidan, I hope they at least provide a decent framework for you to come up with your own. 
With all this in mind, let’s see what we could do to address the existing problems.
6. How to fix it:
I will be writing this segment mostly with a paragon Shepard in mind. Renegade dialogue options are often confrontational or shut down a conversation, rather than extend it, so for now I am uninterested to also include an “and you can tell him to shut up too!” option at every turn. In a realistic scenario I would of course need to script a full dialogue wheel including diverging paths, but this is already embarrassingly long for a thought exercise. When actions, rather than dialogue, are supposed to reflect a specific morality, I’ll accommodate both paragon and renegade options, but for conversations I will outline a simple click-top-right-on-the-dialogue-wheel path.
ME1:
All we really need in the first game is a Kaidan-specific cutscene during Eden Prime, affording him the minimum amount of time and resources that are afforded to every other squadmate in the game. I propose the following: As the team encounters the husks for the first time, during the cutscene where they slowly descend from the dragon’s teeth, Shepard, Ash and Kaidan almost get swarmed. Kaidan manages to pull a barrier around them all, pushing the husks out and smashing some of them against the prefab homes. Combat starts after that. Dialogue back on the Normandy will reference this and Shepard can comment on Kaidan’s extensive abilities. 
I would also plainly cut both the conversations for Ashley and Kaidan that allow a player to modify their morality. This change is not really reflected in later characterization of either VS, so it has become redundant in retrospect. Removing it makes both characters seem less malleable and more firm. Any character development or change they might go through would be on their own terms.
ME2:
I suggest altering the Horizon segment and extending it by a little bit. A lot of this comes down to extending dialogue and adding concrete consequences. 
In the initial cutscene, neither Kaidan nor Ash stand around firing pointlessly at a bug swarm. Both of them attempt to cover the colonists, but upon realizing their shooting doesn’t accomplish much, they follow the colonists, shooting at the swarm once or twice (Kaidan maybe even remembering to use those biotics that he has), but ultimately run with them to the nearest prefab house and hunkering down.  Shepard, partway through the colony, breaks into that exact house and finds themselves face to face and gun to gun with the Virmire Survivor. They are disbelieving, but there is not much time to ask questions, similar to how we first encounter Tali. To gain their trust, Shepard can share the swarm-countermeasure with the VS, at which point the path diverges depending on which VS is alive and if they have been given the countermeasure:
If Kaidan is alive:
If given Mordin’s countermeasure, Kaidan decides to head back out and try to find as many survivors as he can. He has figured out by now that his biotics can slow the swarm down and barriers hold them off effectively (as we see in the suicide mission later on), so he focuses on protecting people. A paragon Shepard will agree with him, a renegade Shepard may try to get him to focus on killing Collectors instead, but ultimately Kaidan is immune to their influence right now and will move forward with his plan.
Later, when hitting the Collector ship, more of the pods will be empty, but the ship is almost fully staffed. Companion banter indicates that Kaidan protecting the colonists has saved more lives than initially thought. More paragon inclined characters will note their approval, more renegade inclined characters will bemoan that it’s a hollow victory if they don’t finish the rest of the Collectors off. Shepard’s agreement or disagreement depends on their own alignment. 
If Ashley is alive:
If given Mordin’s countermeasure, Ashley decides to head back out and shoot as many Collectors as she can. She has enough explosives to blow a decent amount of them to hell and wants to slow them down, so they can’t hit the next colony like they hit Horizon. She lacks the biotic abilities that would let her meaningfully protect the colonists. A renegade Shepard will agree with her, a paragon Shepard may try to get her to focus on protecting colonists instead, but ultimately Ashley is immune to their influence right now and will move forward with her plan.
Later, when hitting the Collector ship, more of the pods will be filled, but the ship is running only a skeleton crew. Companion banter indicates that Ashley going after them has taken out more Collectors than initially thought. More renegade inclined characters will note their approval, more paragon inclined characters will lament that a lot of colonists are dead now to give them this advantage. Shepard’s agreement or disagreement depends on their own alignment. 
After the final battle on Horizon, if Shepard gave the VS the countermeasure, they are slightly more amicable in the ensuing dialogue, but ultimately do not join Shepard, still citing distrust of Cerberus and still not fully convinced Shepard isn’t just a clone or a particularly clever VI. They will say that they will share the countermeasure with the Alliance and bolster other human colonies against the seeker swarms. In the debrief, the Illusive Man will be pretty ticked off for sharing such useful tools with the Alliance, but ultimately agrees since this saves human lives. This will also count favorably towards the Citadel stand-off in ME3. 
If Shepard did not give the VS the countermeasure, they were unable to participate in the fight, forced to remain locked down with the colonists. They are even more distrustful in the ensuing dialogue and do not join Shepard, still citing distrust of Cerberus and still not fully convinced Shepard isn’t just a clone or a particularly clever VI. Without the countermeasure, human colonies will remain vulnerable to Collector attacks, but a renegade Shepard’s reasoning is that they will put a stop to the attacks themselves. The Illusive Man will compliment Shepard on being discreet and sticking to the mission plan, revealing perhaps in some sense that his care for humanity only goes so far. This will count negatively towards the Citadel stand-off in ME3. 
ME3: 
Vancouver
To provide one more, at least marginally stronger initial cutscene for the VS, I would involve them a bit more in the flight from Earth. I would have most of it play out as is but modify the touchdown of the Normandy, giving Kaidan and Ashley something more interesting to do than providing broad, unfocused cover fire.
If Kaidan is alive, he could use his biotics to protect Shepard, raising a barrier and pushing away husks similar to how Jack/Samara can push out the seeker swarms in ME2’s suicide run. This is not just to use the same idea twice - if my proposed scene from ME1 is added, this could be an effective callback. 
If Ashley is alive, she could use her marksman ability (her tactical scores are, according to dialogue in ME1, exemplary!) and protect Shepard from husks with a few well-aimed headshots, similar to how Legion protects Shepard during the derelict Reaper mission in ME2. 
The important thing is to visually portray both characters as distinct, with unique abilities all to themselves.
Mars
I am fine with a majority of the dialogue on Mars (barring earlier criticism of the “very capable” conversation as it applies to Kaidan). 
The main change I propose on Mars is that during the final cutscene where the VS is attacked and almost killed by Dr. Eva Core, rather than shoving Liara out of the way, the VS should be shown visibly protecting and saving Shepard. Dialogue later in the game seems to indicate that this is the scene’s intent. Shepard is later portrayed as concerned, possibly guilty over the VS’ injuries and in some dialogue outright states that the VS “got hurt protecting me”, but this is just not what is reflected on screen. Sure, it sounds like pedantry to even bring this up, but players identify strongly with their avatar and a scene in which a character visibly gives their life for the player’s avatar has a very different impact than a scene in which a squadmate visibly protects another. 
So, in my opinion, it should be Vega helping Liara away from the fire, while Shepard and the VS approach the shuttle. When Dr. Eva Core turns out to be alive and tries to attack Shepard, the VS pushes Shepard out of the way, after which the VS gets grabbed, affording Shepard enough time to get up and into position to fire at Dr. Eva Core. The rest plays out as is. 
This has the added advantage of turning the scene into a more obvious parallel for the events on Eden Prime that kick off the first game. Where once Shepard pushed Kaidan or Ashley out of the way and they had to carry their commander’s unconscious body back to the Normandy, the VS finally gets the opportunity to save Shepard at the risk of their own life in turn. 
(Optional: None of the scenes on Mars can be adapted to truly reflect Kaidan’s biotic abilities without fundamentally altering how they play out. For example, the encounter with the turret would have to be amended considerably if Kaidan could meaningfully impact this scene with a biotic barrier, since it’s a tutorial on how to move from cover to cover. Therefore, I am omitting this. If we want to really be sure that no one shouts “plot hole!” just because, dialogue later in the game can posit how Kaidan was tapped out biotically after the fighting in Vancouver and on Mars and therefore was unable to construct a strong barrier when facing the turret or Dr. Eva Core. But that is rationalization of scenes via dialogue and those things missing are not the games’ most glaring issues. Not when contrasted against the missing visual impact of certain cutscenes. This scene is made impactful by Kaidan being severely injured, being pedantic about how he got put into that position isn’t helpful in this case, provided he has ample opportunity elsewhere to show off his abilities.)
Priority: Citadel
I suggest adjusting the Citadel standoff as noted in one of the earlier sections, with one additional change. The Citadel standoff primarily works for Ashley and in my opinion requires no great adjustment. But I would enable Kaidan to make a different choice. Since the standoff is a big emotional scene I would have it test Kaidan’s self-control and show Kaidan’s biotics flaring slightly when confronted by Shepard, then once again more dangerously when Udina pulls out a gun. In a twist, Kaidan, instead of attacking, uses his biotics to trap Udina in a stasis field, allowing Udina to be taken in alive. Maybe that achieves nothing in gameplay terms, maybe Udina is just not high enough up the chain of Cerberus to carry valuable intel, but it would still show that if pushed, Kaidan will remain calm and controlled, take charge of a difficult situation and try to preserve what life he can as a Paragon would. 
A renegade Shepard can still choose to shoot Udina anyways. This gives the resulting recruitment dialogue more possibilities too. Kaidan can be grateful that Shepard extended the same trust to him that he has extended to them, enabling them to resolve the standoff peacefully. He might butt heads with a renegade Shepard who shot Udina, as his current dialogue reflects. 
By contrast, Ash might butt heads with a paragon Shepard who was hesitant, but might approve of the quick reaction time and decisive action of a renegade Shepard, who shot Udina themselves. 
The standoff can largely function as it currently does because it’s not a bad scene in theory - it’s one of the most meaningful the VS ever gets - it simply needs to provide stronger and more distinct characterization for either VS. Two fundamentally different characters should not be making identical choices. 
The Normandy
To better display the impact of the war on Kaidan and his chronic pain, I would add visible pain to the very first conversation on the ship, the one about his parents. The scene is already suitably heavy and Kaidan is already voiced to be deep in thought and in emotional turmoil, so it wouldn’t take much. Slap in the idle animation from ME1 of him rubbing his head, add a line of Shepard asking him if he’s doing ok and bam! - players can see the stress of the war getting to him. 
There are a number of ways to diversify how this plays out. Maybe a romanced Kaidan puts in more effort to hide his pain, maybe Shepard is shown to quickly cut through his bullshit. Perhaps an opportunity could be offered for a Shepard to reach out and attempt to comfort him in the form of a paragon interrupt, falling into familiar motions from before the Normandy went down. It can be a little tense, a little awkward, a little emotionally fraught. 
Most of those ideas hit better than the very general “there’s strength in camaraderie, in empathy” line. This is the first interaction for Kaidan back on the Normandy. It should be a little more personal than that. 
(Re-) Initiating Romance
In a more controversial decision, I would toss out the dinner date at Apollo’s entirely and replace it. I’ve said that I would not remove scenes based on personal preference and this is one of those cases where I just don’t think the scene provides adequate characterization. 
The basic idea of the Citadel date is a sanity check - a break for Shepard and Kaidan. The restaurant, the food and the drinks are vectors to communicate that idea, but the vector is not the important part, the message is. 
Moreover, while a date is cute, this is the scene that potentially reunites Shepard and Kaidan. Whether we’re talking about a female Shepard who romanced Kaidan in ME1, a male Shepard who was never afforded that possibility but for whom the lingering romantic tension can finally blossom into a real relationship in ME3, or a new player who is trying to make sense of two characters who, romantically or platonically, clearly have a history - this scene is pretty significant. Does a romantic dinner date provide useful contrast or does it undercut the potential emotional intensity of what actually happens? Your mileage may vary, but for me, it is the latter. 
And that is why I propose a change. Kaidan’s love for steak and beer will a) return in the Citadel DLC anyhow, where food and drink are not just a vector of a message but part of a message. Namely they set the backdrop for a moment of domesticity and normalcy, providing a valuable contrast to the rest of the games and their more emotionally heavy, serious scenes. And b) it returns at least one more time as a throwaway line, which is better suited for that. Food preferences are almost always communicated in small mentions at the periphery of a character. Fandom made a big deal about Alistair’s love for cheese, but that’s one, maybe two off-handed lines in the first game. 
(Maybe Kaidan’s original writer was somewhat aware of that idea when he wrote that “I’m glad I’m a vegetarian.” line to play on the sidelines, rather than devote an entire cutscene to it. Maybe it’s entirely incidental. But either way, I think it was the right idea.)
My proposition would be to take that break at a location that is significant to Kaidan and Shepard from the first game. My mind almost immediately went to the scenic view from the wards where Shepard, Kaidan and Ashley first have their moment to just talk. It is the first instance of flirting between Kaidan and a female Shepard, symbolically turning it into the place where their relationship kicked off and making it an emotionally significant location from which to pick that same relationship back up. The locale presents some difficulty from an animation standpoint - the wards weren’t put into the game for ME3 - but the game already reuses assets from the first game when talking to the Council and I see no reason why we can’t do the same here. The location can be polished up with new assets and the view over the ward arms exists in the game, in ME3 you just see it from the docking bay. 
With refugees pouring into the docks and shortly after the coup on the Citadel, this part of the wards could be comparatively quiet, empty streets reflecting a Citadel during war time, with people either spending time with their loved ones or letting loose in clubs. Dialogue could clarify this to set a scene of quiet reminiscing and establish that, just as the Citadel’s residents, Kaidan and Shepard take a moment to spend time with the people that are important to them, platonically or romantically - each other. 
The conversation would be nostalgic, looking back to their first day on the Citadel, reminiscing about Ashley and bonding in their shared grief. Regardless of specific lines, I think a nostalgic, contemplative mood a) reflects Kaidan as a character better, b) has a heavier, emotional impact on the player (esp. with that incredibly sad music that suddenly overshadows the cozy mood of Apollo’s) and therefore better fits into the narrative arc of ME3, c) better communicates the characters’ shared history, both to returning and new players.
The confession can play out rather similar to the original date, but I would support the emotional tone a bit more with animations. Rather than the calm hand kiss we see, I want to showcase Kaidan’s self-control one last time - this time, by breaking, rather than maintaining it. Regardless of whether this is a returning or a new romance, I think I can justify an impulsive, sudden kiss between the two, initiated by either Shepard with an interrupt, or, if missed, by Kaidan, finally and symbolically giving in (possibly once again) to his feelings for Shepard. If Shepard initiates the kiss, it mirrors the kiss in ME1 on the flight to Ilos. If Kaidan initiates it, it becomes a parallel that maybe indicates some measure of character development on his part has taken place - here, at the end of the world, he’s finally, truly letting go. (Can you tell I like parallels?) A harmless flare of his biotic corona underlines this idea and could give rise to a bit of jokey flirting. 
Animation-wise, think Solas’ first kiss in the Fade or Cullen’s first kiss on the battlements. If that’s not in the budget, maybe they can reuse it from the first game? This is where it probably shows that I am not in game dev and therefore cannot properly estimate how easily animations are converted from one game to another, so it’s entirely possible that this kiss is a bigger challenge than I think it is. But a hand kiss is a unique animation too, costs money and time to make too, so I like to think a regular kiss would not be completely out of the question or out of the budget.
One criticism that can be leveled at this idea is that this isn’t as much of a break - not as much of a sanity check as the original date at Apollo’s, but for me, creating strong characterization is more important than sticking to any one writer’s original plan for a scene, even if their original idea was good on paper. If you feel very strongly about the date at Apollo’s, if you have an emotional connection to it, I understand if this seems like an unnecessary and unwelcome change. I hope it’s at least understandable why I think changes like this are valuable, even if any one person does not agree. 
Biotics Division
The only thing we’re missing now is something that adequately portrays Kaidan as an officer, teacher, leader of people. I’ve already said I won’t script additional, animation-heavy content like, say, an entire mission (loyalty or otherwise) and want to come out under or within the current scope. So I am replacing another scene that isn’t fundamentally wrong or “bad writing”, but underutilizing the character. 
I’m specifically talking about the Cerberus debrief after Jacob’s mission. While I think it’s a decent portrayal of Kaidan’s character - he is shown to be introspective, thoughtful and empathetic - I don’t think it adds enough to really justify its existence. Kaidan reflects on Cerberus and comes to the realization that some people in Cerberus might have been “good” people. Which doesn’t seem like the kind of epiphany he needed to have. 
This kind of dialogue implies we’re supposed to believe Kaidan had an extremely simplistic “evil bad people” view of Cerberus as an organization, which undercuts his intelligence. He was already pretty insightful about politics, especially when it came to the distinction of “pro human” and “human supremacy”. Dialogue about Udina, about humanity and its place in the galaxy and his responses to the presidential candidate from Terra Firma already establish Kaidan as savvy enough that he probably shouldn’t be so completely blindsided by the idea that some people working for Cerberus might have been doing so for the right reasons. Several of those people are already on the Normandy, including Kenneth and Gabby, Joker, Dr. Chakwas - and the person he is literally talking to right now. For Kaidan to have this epiphany only now and in such simplistic terms, visibly stumped by a morally complex situation, seems almost condescending. 
In short - ideas are being communicated that a) don’t need to be communicated from a player’s perspective, who is already submersed in the moral complexity of working with Cerberus in ME2, b) wouldn’t be particularly useful in providing context for the new players and c) doesn’t communicate an idea that Kaidan would really be struggling with at this point. And if it doesn’t do any of that, then it seems arbitrary to have it and I feel no great sense of loss by replacing it with a scene that is absolutely sorely needed - an introduction to Kaidan’s spec ops squad. 
With the upgraded communications room and the fancy new blue holographic imaging, the choice feels rather obvious. Shepard gets a message to join Kaidan for a call when they can. Biotics division has made contact with Anderson as they are currently fighting on Earth, who put them through to Kaidan and Shepard.
Shepard walks in mid-conversation as Kaidan is talking to the holographic images of his XOs; maybe Anderson makes an appearance too, bringing them all together. The particulars of the dialogue are once again not that important. I would simply include something that reflects Kaidan’s intelligence and tactical know-how, giving his people advice on things - maybe how to secure rations, maybe how to approach a specific mission. The important thing is - you are seeing Kaidan leading. Some informal banter between him and his squad can cement an emotional connection Kaidan has with his people. 
There’s probably space here for both light-hearted banter/flirting, or other more emotionally heavy conversations about hope, tough calls and the end of the world. Kaidan could reflect on his position and how he feels about it after everything Vyrnnus once put him through. I don’t want to settle in favor of any specific idea because like I said, I don’t want to script out the exact dialogue wheel, but rather set the stage for a general scene that can go a variety of ways, be used in any manner to communicate something fundamental about the character. The important thing is seeing Kaidan having a relationship with his squad and Shepard, not me dictating what that relationship looks like exactly. 
Aaaaand that’s it! There’s nothing else I think is in desperate need of extensive editing. The Citadel DLC scene can remain happily as it is - because now it has become a bit more stand-out, a bit of a better contrast to the rest of the games’ content. Anything else I might note would be based on my own personal preference, rather than meaningfully contribute to visual characterization.
7. The core issues: resolved? 
After all that, let’s do a recap and see what original issues we have addressed and how we’ve addressed them. 
Characterization through biotic abilities: 
Added the display of biotics in all three games, mostly focusing on defensive abilities (barrier, one of his core abilities), showing us a more protective, caring Kaidan. When he uses offensive abilities, it is ultimately in service of protection, which is fitting for a sentinel - the resident tank class. The use of his biotics displays a character who is calm and in control of himself and the battlefield.
Cementing Kaidan’s morality: 
No opportunity to change Kaidan fundamentally. He is his own person.
Paragon morality is depicted in both the main interactions in which Kaidan is presented with a choice - Horizon and the Citadel standoff. When Kaidan is permitted to act, he acts like a Paragon.
Displaying Kaidan’s leadership: 
In ME2, Kaidan is shown doing his utmost to protect the residents of Horizon. That may not be leadership in a military sense, but it does show that he can take responsibility for other people’s lives and take charge of a situation.
In ME3, Kaidan is shown interacting with his students. While we still can’t see him in action without more extensive changes, we can get a glimpse of what he might be like as a leader based on how his troops interact with him. 
Empathizing via pain: 
Kaidan is now shown at least once to visibly strain under his migraines. It also affords Shepard the opportunity to emotionally connect with him in this moment of pain. 
Maintaining self-control: 
Kaidan now showcases strong self-control even in a very tense, high stakes situation during the Citadel standoff, using his abilities to pacify and control the situation, to avoid harm. It becomes an inversion of his original fight with Vyrnnus. Kaidan’s an adult now and he chooses to use his abilities to prevent harm, not cause it.
On the flipside, because he manages to resist the loss of control here, it makes it feel more significant when he finally loses it in the romance scene. It underlines how strongly he feels about Shepard and how liberating their relationship is for him. 
8. I think we might finally be done here
In the end, your mileage may vary on how much you like my proposed changes. I am not the original writer of Kaidan Alenko, I can only give my interpretation of the character and at best speculate about narrative intent. Other fans might interpret characters differently, might prioritize different things. The things that I see, value and love in Kaidan Alenko might not be the things you see, value and love in Kaidan Alenko. The scenes I suggest removing might be so important to you that you can’t get behind the idea of changing anything about them. And that’s ok.
My goal with this… whatever the fuck this is, is not to prove what Kaidan’s characterization is or should be, but to illustrate how characters in video games are characterized and use that technique to construct a characterization for Kaidan. You can use the same thought exercise to come up with scenes that better reflect your Kaidan Alenko. Maybe you really just enjoy the character as he is and don’t think anything needs fixing, in which case, boy I hope you didn’t put yourself through reading this entire thing. 
In the end, I made this mostly for myself, because I enjoyed it as a creative exercise and because in a way it allowed me to exorcize (get it? Exorcize, exercise? ) a lot of the things that have been itching in my brain for the past decade. 
I may in the future fully script the proposed dialogue scenes, as another creative exercise and will happily post them here as well. If anyone else manages to get a kick out of it, that’s fine and dandy. 
And with that, I rest my case. 
TL;DR
Kaidan Alenko is one of the most interesting characters in the Mass Effect universe on paper. Because he lacks a number of character-specific cutscenes, misses large parts of the plot and ultimately shares a large part of his scripted animations with another character, players cannot pick up much of that character while playing the game. Seemingly small parts of his personality, like food preferences, do get screen time and become almost overwhelming, rather than provide additional detail to a well-defined character. The result is a character that requires a not-inconsiderable amount of time and effort spent dissecting dialogue and connecting codex entries to find the real personality underneath. 
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kaizokuou-ni-naru · 4 months ago
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im not sure if you've ever made a post on this, but do u think zoro was right in telling luffy he couldnt just accept usopp back ? i feel like the main message he was trying to get through was lost in how fucking dominant and aggressive he was acting so to me it jst felt like he was policing luffy and the crew despite him harping on nd on about how important it is to respect the captains decisions. WHY DIDNT HE LET THEM JUST WORK IT OUT ??!! sorry but i would like to hear ur thoughts thank you !
i disagree! let me explain.
see, the thing is that water 7 is in large part about the responsibilities and burdens of being a captain, which is not really something luffy has had to reckon with before that point. being a captain does mean being in a position of authority and having to make decisions that are hard for the sake of keeping the whole crew safe. @opbackgrounds i believe pointed out in a recent post that iceberg scolds luffy about this- not acting as a captain should when he initially refuses to accept merry's irreparable state- and luffy actually takes it to heart.
if the conflict between usopp and luffy had just been between two friends over an interpersonal disagreement, then yeah! that's totally something they can work out between themselves. but it's not! it's a dispute between a crewmember and a captain, and one in which usopp is clearly and explicitly in the wrong for not going along with luffy's decision, which was the mature and correct one to make for the sake of the crew's safety.
this is real maritime practice! there can't be any question about the chain of command. the entire crew has to be willing to follow the captain's commands when it comes down to it, or else everyone can be placed in danger. luffy doesn't recognize this, but zoro does (and so does sanji!). at this point, there's no real reason for zoro to think usopp won't be insubordinate again at a potentially even more pivotal moment if he's welcomed back onto the crew without issue. i think it's a perfectly reasonable demand to make.
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nothingwithdignity · 3 months ago
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Fearne has this knack for loving people in exactly the way that will throw them entirely off kilter without actually pushing them away. She flirts with Chetney in a way that may or may not be a joke. She listens to Dorian but only acts on the morals he’s trying to steer her away from. She teases Imogen and gushes unabashedly over Laudna. She says things to FCG that they cannot process or rationalize just to see them react. She pushes people’s buttons just often enough to remind them that she’s been paying enough attention to know where their buttons are. And I think if anybody understands the way she loves, it’s Ashton. He pushes buttons as a form of affection too.
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ichayalovesyou · 9 days ago
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Spock In A Box
I’m noticing a really ironic pattern in the ways people are getting mad and complaining about the way Spock is characterized in Strange New Worlds.
Frequently, people seem absolutely CONVINCED he has to be a certain way, a or b, him leaning more heavily into one or the other, or god forbid, neither. Has people up in arms
He has to be gay! Spock interacting with women he cares about or loves, nevermind that the female characters he has relationships with (and their actresses) have their own complex opinions about the matter, or that he might be a different sexuality than you assume he is, that’s NOT MY SPOCK
This version of Spock is too Vulcan/monotone when he speaks, he’s not Human enough, NOT MY SPOCK
This version of Spock is too human/emotional, he’s not Vulcan enough, NOT MY SPOCK
Spock doesn’t punch bullies he is an no-exceptions pacifist (no he isn’t and yes he does, see: Where No Man Has Gone Before, This Side of Paradise, Yesteryear and many more), NOT MY SPOCK
Spock doesn’t make jokes he’s too Serious to be a goofball (no he isn’t and yes he does, see: A Piece of The Action, I, Mudd or pretty much anytime he messes with McCoy), NOT MY SPOCK
Have y’all considered how a decade is a long ass time, and that chances are you are not at all the same person you were ten years ago (I know I’m not, I was a middle schooler!) and that maybe that’s neither a good or bad thing?
Have y’all considered that you’re putting Spock into the exact same boxes he puts himself into that is deliberately framed as a bad thing because it is? That Spock’s whole journey is teaching himself (and us, the audience) not to do that?
Have y’all considered that Spock contains multitudes that will come out in different degrees depending on circumstances, like, idk, most people?
Have y’all maybe even considered, that Spock being able to contain these multitudes is the reason why he’s such a unique and beloved character that many minorities can project onto? And that it’s kinda soul crushing to watch people who love that character get offended when he tries to be more than he is?
Have y’all considered? Considering?
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crypt1dcorv1dae · 5 months ago
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honestly i think the reason why gar and raven are so appealing to many people is bc like... yes they are very different people, they express themselves very very differently, but when it comes to the IMPORTANT things, they are actually very similar.
they have both lost their families, they have both been betrayed by those they love, they have both been hurt so much by life, fate, circumstances, etc, but never stop TRYING to do good and BE good despite the pain.
they both love and respect life and living things, especially animals.
they both put on masks to protect themselves and hide the pain they feel (though the masks may be very different, the reasons are the same), they both have had to hide or put aside their true selves, their own wants and needs, for the sake of others or the greater good.
i just think that.... surface level things dont matter anywhere near as much as who people are at their cores. and at their cores they're kindred spirits, and i think thats why they CAN and SHOULD work (if done right)
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leverage-ot3 · 11 months ago
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agent mcsweeten was the perfect example of a nonthreatening male expressing interest in a female main character. 
all his efforts were respectful and kind. it was kind of a puppy love for sure. but unlike some portrayals of male interest in women in current media, he never was overbearing, forceful, or even just annoying. everything he did was nothing if not respectful. he gets her a smoothie. he writes her a haiku. he goes to her for help with his father’s case because he trusts her, wanting or expecting nothing from her other than maybe the help of a friend.
he never expects anything from her. ever.
it’s puppy love, but it’s respectful. it’s sweet, but never overbearing.
and she cares for him, truly. she thinks the haiku is sweet and she smiles. when he is in an hour of need, she helps him. asks nate to make it into a case because after all these years of knowing him, she knows he’s good, and maybe even a friend.
nothing would ever happen between them. but that didn’t matter to mcsweeten, because he never expected anything from her to begin with.
he still thinks she’s beautiful, smart, and tough. stunning. but more than that, she’s a friend that he trusts and respects above all else, even his feelings.
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stellaluna33 · a month ago
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I want to start this by emphasizing that I LOVE Lorelai! I love her! But I've never subscribed to the Stan/Shun false dichotomy. With me, it's NOT "all or nothing" (Lorelai would appreciate the musical reference there. 😉). People are complicated, and these characters are complicated, and I want to be able to explore their strengths and weaknesses fully! So... I want to dig more into what I see as Lorelai's jealousy of Jess taking Luke, specifically, "away from her." The timing is significant, because Lorelai JUST told Luke that he is one of the few people in her life that she can count on to be there for her no matter what. And the implication was that she told him this as an explanation for why she didn't want to risk trying a romantic relationship with him. She was afraid of losing him.
Lorelai feels like she doesn't have many people in her life who put her first. Her parents didn't, at least not in a way that she needed or could understand. She has Rory, but I think deep down, despite their "best friend" relationship, she knows that Rory is a child, and a child should not have to have their parent "rely on them" for support, but the other way around. And here's the thing: Lorelai is strong, she is Wonder Woman, but she doesn't want to have to be strong all the time. She is fiercely independent, but part of her desperately wants to be taken care of, to at least have the OPTION of being taken care of. She wants "the whole package," as she says later, a partner. And even though she and Luke aren't romantically involved, in many ways she already relies on him, emotionally AND physically (he feeds her! He fixes her house!), the way someone would rely on a husband or partner. He is her Person, and she hopes and believes that she is HIS Person too. She likes to believe that he relies on her the same way she relies on him.
This is the situation when Lorelai finds out that Luke has a sister, and that sister has a son who is coming to live with him. Luke has a sister and a nephew and he never told her.
I don't think people always realize how much that probably hurt Lorelai's feelings. Luke knows pretty much everything about Lorelai's family, because she's told him about it. She vents to him about her personal life every day! So, to find out that there's this whole other side of Luke's life that he never told her about? I think she was really shaken by that, because what does that say about what they are to each other? Luke is probably just the sort of person who doesn't volunteer personal information unless directly asked for it (my husband is that way), but Lorelai might not understand that. She's been thinking of him as her Best Friend, but does this mean that she ISN'T important to HIM? Has she really been just another customer to him the entire time, that he would keep something like this from her?
People usually date Lorelai's hostility to Jess from the moment he responded hostilely to her. But looking at the episode, it's apparent that Lorelai NEVER wanted him there, even before she'd met him. When she first finds out that Luke's troubled nephew is coming to live with him, her first response isn't supportive. She doesn't respond by saying, "That poor kid! And what a tough situation for you! How can I help?" Her FIRST reaction is to try to talk him out of it. She keeps going on about all the reasons why this "isn't his responsibility" and isn't a good idea, and keeps listing all the reasons why he "isn't prepared for this" and "Are you sure you can handle this?" She hasn't even met Jess yet, and she's already trying to convince Luke that he's "more trouble than he's worth." Lorelai DOES offer to help later, but it comes across almost begrudgingly, and more like a desperate attempt to insert herself into Luke's new reality and convince him (and herself) that he still needs her. She needs him to need her. By the time Jess actually arrives, and Lorelai has resigned herself to the fact that this is happening whether she likes it or not, I do think she genuinely WANTS to want Jess to feel welcome, but unfortunately, Jess is pretty good at picking up on the difference.
ASP has stated that one of the reasons they wrote Jess into the show was to keep Luke and Lorelai apart (a bit longer), and it starts happening almost immediately. It's significant that after Lorelai's attempt to welcome Jess blows up in her face, and she goes to Luke to tell him how awful his nephew is, Luke takes Jess's side. Instead of being "grateful for her help," he lambasts Lorelai for "interfering" in a situation he says she doesn't understand. His allegiances have changed. She's being shut out of Luke's life, and it's all Jess's fault.
The fact is, Lorelai doesn't want to think about how much Jess needs Luke (might even need her), because all she can think about is that she needs Luke. And she doesn't want to share him. The big blow-out fight in "Teach Me Tonight" was only the culmination of a resentment that had been building all season, and her terror over Rory being hurt was only the thing that tripped the trigger. From Lorelai's perspective, this kid had come into her life and proceeded to steal first Luke and then Rory away from her, the two most important people in her life, and he didn't even deserve their devotion to him. And that, beyond any personal annoyance, concern for Rory, or being subconsciously reminded of herself, is I think why Lorelai hates Jess so much.
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sparring-spirals · 3 months ago
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Orym, to Laudna: "You're the happiest one in this bunch."
Laudna: "Of course, the worst thing that could happen to me has already happened."
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aniquinade · 12 months ago
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Dick Grayson and Body Image: A Thread
I’ve heard people call Dick Grayson the sex symbol of DC. Ever since the era of DCYou and Rebirth, along with some selective Pre-52 material, he’s been characterized to know how good he looks. He wins over women, he walks around shirtless, he uses his sex appeal to gain info.
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But what these people don’t know is that this is actually a HUGE mischaracterization. Here’s a thread about how Dick’s personality and views of himself have changed to fit a sexualized agenda, rather than staying true to his character.
Let’s begin with the Pre-Crisis era.
Dick first began to show an aversion to the sexualization of his body in Tales of the Teen Titans, which was his primary book at the time. Here Tara’s ‘compliments’ are met with a brief thanks before he reminds her of his modesty.
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This would continue into the edge of Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis, with a sense awkwardness for any sort of joke involving his body or appearance. At this point he and Kory have been dating for a number of years, but Dick still seems embarrassed with a comment such as this one.
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In The New Titans, a disguised Dick says to Kory that he’s “pretty conservative” about nudity, and she replies that he must learn how to accept himself.
“Easier said than done.”
This reveals that Dick actually struggles with an insecurity regarding his body.
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When what’s generally known as the Pre-52 era of Post-Crisis rolls around, Dick never overtly admits his struggles like he did with Kory.
But there are several instances where he is clearly uncomfortable with people sexualizing him or pointing out his appearance.
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Both of these instances fall within Nightwing (1996). Similar comments are made, and both times, his response is exasperated and uninterested.
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Unfortunately, Nightwing (1996) is also tainted by the hand of Devin Grayson, who plays a role in the new wave of sexualizing Dick and portraying him as a womanizer. But this just goes to show that even despite that, there were still hints regarding how he could care less.
Dick Grayson being the sex symbol of DC makes no sense when you consider his character history before the work of Devin Grayson and Tim Seeley, among others. Dick is also an incredibly monogamous person to whom love means a lot. But that’s another thread for the future.
The point here is that he should still be appreciated as a character with his insecurities and struggles meaning something. Tossing that away in order to appeal to the people who truly believe Dick thinks himself all that is a complete disrespect to his development.
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chaoticdean · a year ago
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Sometime it hits me in the face that Dean’s entire character arc was left completely unfinished and basically butchered because they couldn’t complete it without Cas; because Dean’s narrative doesn’t make sense if it doesn’t end with Cas. 
And because for whatever fucking reason (too gay, Covid, network meddling, all of the above) they couldn’t have Cas there, they decided to let their second main character’s arc — the one they spent a decade and half crafting — utterly incomplete. Dean’s left silenced, having never spoken his truth despite everything in the past seasons (season 15 alone) leading to him doing so.
They basically tossed him to the side and said “hey thanks for the past 15 years but we’ve decided you’re just not worth the proper ending. Godspeed, buddy.”
And then I proceed to cry for an hour and a half, approximately. Rinse and repeat. 
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hexadinsandgunslingers · 4 months ago
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I think it’s almost funny how badly Orthax miscalculated by putting Cassandra’s name on Percy’s Pepperbox.
Did Orthax really think Percy was gonna be like “oop guess I have to kill my only living relative now, oh well. Cycle of vengeance and all, doesn’t matter that I know I’m fighting a vampire who is notorious for charm magic who just stole Vax at the same time as Cass, doo dee doo” I mean, really?
Like, he’s angry, he’s vengeful, he’s hurting, but he’s not stupid.
If Percy has proven he has better angels, one of those the ways it shows is through his abiding love for his family, it’s what sparked his quest in the first place.
Percy wouldn’t have questioned Orthax over any other name, especially if it was his own, so long as it wasn’t his family, found or otherwise.
By putting Cass’s name on that barrel, he caused Percy to question the deal, question the validity of it and how comfortable he is with his role in this. Question whether he’s doomed or not, Orthax did the one and only thing that would’ve made Percy uncomfortable with his path.
Makes me wonder what could’ve happened if Orthax wasn’t a damn fool…
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fancyfade · 7 months ago
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tbh I feel like even a well-written bruce is kind of hard to like, like he has a lot of emotional problems that make him kind of jerky (like he’s very emotionally closed off, paranoid, has extremely high standards of self and others, does not often SUCCESSFULLY acknowledge or be sensitive of others feelings)...
But a lot of this should still be based in caring about people.
emotionally closed off: I like to imagine he doesn’t want to burden other people with his problems (even if he rarely succeeds). He also when feeling bad emotions or worry tries not to let them affect him (pretty sure he straight up says this to Ra’s in the plotline where Dick and Talia are kidnapped/”kidnapped”) so he can help people and operate at 100% efficiency, because if he doesn’t, people will die.
paranoid: some of this is just... I don’t know, long term character traits people put in. He has to have a contingency plan for everything, so that’s also including his friends. Some of the paranoia is validated (as an emotion) in text. Creating Brother Eye is unequivocably wrong and leads to like... a bunch of people getting OMAC-i-fied and dying (Brother Eye as batman envisioned it was solely privacy violating tracking every meta human on Earth, then it got modified by I think Maxwell Lord and that’s where hte OMAC and dying came in). But the initial reason to create it is due to finding out people he trusted erased his memories
extremely high standards: This causes him to clash with his kids quite a bit especially I think Dick expresses vocally feeling like nothing he does is good enough for bruce when he was a kid or feeling like he was often the second half of batman and. however, it’s not like he only has high standards for other people -- the high standards he has for other people he also has for himself. the reason the high standards exist is because the goal is to prevent anyone else from dying or getting hurt and to prevent the people working with him from dying. This doesn’t mean he always does it in the right way, but the motive is care/worry for others.
does not successfully acknowledge others emotions: This one is the trait I feel is most variable even among writers I like. Writers will alternately write him not really acknowledging the emotions of other people in batfam at all vs doing really thoughtful things. I feel like even if he tries to acknowledge other people’s emotions, he doesn’t always have it come across right. one example I talked about earlier (link) is that Bruce does stuff that from HIS perspective is including Damian and trying to welcome him in, but cannot successfully engage with Damian when Damian tries to relate back to him.
So he is kind of brusque. Probably not the funnest guy to hang out with IRL and i’m not saying “so all the jerky things he does are excused”. but I think it’s important to keep in mind when characterizing him that a lot of his jerky attributes come from what are desirable character traits initially, which works well with the “a character flaw is just a virtue, but not now” writing school of thought. so determined can turn into stubborn or closed-minded, loyal to friends can turn into staying with someone long past when they are good for you... etc.
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kaizokuou-ni-naru · 4 months ago
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Hello! I have a question about Luffy. I’ve always thought that his response to Law in Chapter 759 after they both attack Dofy and Trebol, “You’re in the same generation!”, was interesting, as Luffy generally doesn’t seem to particularly care about or acknowledge titles or groupings that have been thrust upon him in the story before or after this moment, like “Dragon’s son”, “Straw Hat Grand Fleet Boss” or the “Fifth Emperor”. The only way he ever introduces himself is Luffy, the man who will become the Pirate King. Do you think his acknowledgment of the “Worst Generation” moniker shows that he kind of sees these people as kind of comrades with similar levels of will/ambition to his own? (I don’t mean this in a weird powerscaling way)
To make a long ask short, how do you think Luffy feels about being part of the “Worst Generation” and the other people who are in it?
oh, interesting question! honestly, i feel like that particular statement probably has less to do with luffy's feelings about the worst generation and more to do with his feelings about law. by which i mean, luffy likes law, and also recognizes that law is a lot more similar to him than law would probably like to acknowledge; that is, law is also an insufferable fucking troublemaker, and luffy thinks that's the BEST.
i do think his opinions on the worst generation more broadly definitely vary widely on a person-by-person basis; for examine, we've seen he gets along with kidd (in a very noisy competitive way) but that he doesn't have much respect at all for, for example, hawkins. luffy is an intensely individual person- he's not the sort to have broad opinions on people based just on what cohort or organization they're in at all. he judges people solely by themselves.
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doublel27 · 5 months ago
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Carlos Reyes and that line “Typical TK. The first time he wants to talk to me in months and it’s because he’s in the ICU.” - A meta
A few things we know about Carlos:
Acts of service are his particular love language. We see it with all the people that matter to him.
Michelle and Marjan he makes sure he’s the person that arrests them for their causes, tries to keep them safe, advises them to maybe consider not getting arrested but he never gets in their way, not really. He shows up and takes care of them.
With the rest of the 126, who he’s come to love, Carlos hosts the hang outs. First this is a service for TK but it’s clear this becomes something that matters to him. And it’s not just like he lets everybody hang out-he provides food, he makes sure everyone is doing well. He also shows up to be part of the clean up crew for the 126. The only other non-house members to show are Grace (and Judd and Grace are goals) and Izzy and Evie.
We watch Tommy have to go to work in the wake of her husband’s death and Carlos shows up on his day off to go babysit Izzy and Evie. It is going to be a long shift babysitting but he ends up becoming “Carlos!” Above Uncle Judd.
Lastly, with TK, Carlos will drop acts of service at TK’s feet. There’s the dinner that goes horribly awry, that Carlos cooked to be ready at midnight. There is picking up TK’s arrest papers and processing him, and taking the time to clean off his face and make sure he’s alright in the wake of that awful dinner. Carlos hosts the 126 in his house. He shows up every time TK is injured. He waits up for TK in the aftermath of the volcano and Tim’s death and holds TK. He works through TK going missing in what is already a terrible day for Carlos and FINDS him. He sits through an awkward intervention for Owen for Tk. He shows up to tell TK to his face about Gabriel arresting Owen, knowing TK is going to freak out and shoot the messenger (with reason), because Carlos can go tell TK and be there for him (hopefully). He makes dinner after their fight and takes care of TK in the aftermath and then their house burns to the ground.
Carlos Reyes is also very good at hiding/burying his emotions to function and to get his father’s approval. Carlos is a master of appearing calm and collected in the midst of what are horrifying feelings. Does this make him good at his job, sure. Is it healthy, not really.
He does it with Michelle and Marjan where he’s clearly worried and is sarcastic and quippy with Michelle but isn’t going to put his feelings on them.
He spends his time with TK focusing on TK’s emotions and less on his own(again not healthy). He’s having the worst day in Bad Call and he buries every last bit of it to find TK when he’s missing. He buries his feelings when he goes to tell TK about Owen’s arrest and his dad’s part in it. We watch him hold everything in when TK is hurt, aside from love.
The only big slips we get are him yelling at Gabriel after his dad basically says Carlos has shit instincts as a cop and breaking down into silent tears after his house burns down. Neither of these are large emotional moments or particularly demonstrative. Rafa plays Carlos as so tightly
And because of the interaction with Gabriel, we learn that Carlos’s dad has always seen him as too soft. That his own emotions are not valid or wanted if they’re not the right ones. And he also refuses to process them. It strikes me that Carlos wore his heart on his sleeve as a kid and his father was not a fan. He just wants his dad to be proud of him.
Finally, when frustrated, Carlos gets sarcastic and quippy. He does it with Michelle when she’s focused on Iris and he wants to have her be a better friend. He does it with TK in the precinct while processing him. He gets that edge in his voice when he’s trying to figure out where things stand between him and TK in the aftermath of the shooting. He does it again when he and TK argue over the run in with his parents at the farmers market. When Carlos knows he made the right call in Bad Call and Gabriel knifes him in the heart, he gets sarcastic with his father. He pulls it out with Marj in the car after he arrests her and tries to get her to back down.
Care and concern and frustration rise Carlos buries it under sarcasm. He takes that tender heart sleeve and puts a bulletproof sheen over it, so no ones can see it shattering.
So when Nancy calls him to come and see TK in the hospital, his words are covering that big wounded heart. But the actions, his act of service is to stop in the middle of a shift, in the middle of a natural disaster when things are spread incredibly thin, and go see TK. He ignores dispatch calls and heads in because TK asked for him. TK wanted and needed him and Carlos dropped everything because the act of showing up for TK was more important than acts of service for his community that’s in peril. And all of the feelings of care and concern and terror and heartbreak get hidden under a sarcastic joke, because he thinks TK asked for him now, after everything and he doesn’t need anything to see how affected he really is.
His eyes when he realized that TK didn’t ask for him because TK cannot ask for anyone, well, Rafa’s eye acting ability is a whole other meta.
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ichayalovesyou · 26 days ago
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I’m asking. Which Pike trait draws you in the most and why? Feel free to talk about more than one.
I think the biggest things are that he wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s vulnerable without sacrificing his professionalism or command of his crew. He’s humble and nurturing, and has an overactive sense of self sacrifice.
There are captains who bottle things up and act as though they have sacrifice making personal connections (beyond what they already have) as the burden of being captain (Picard, Janeway and Burnham come to mind). While other captains are more emotional and friendly but still struggle being honest with themselves (Kirk and Sisko come to mind). He’s the first captain that feels, if not we’ll adjusted, more in tune with taking responsibility for his emotions.
The primary example that I feel sets him apart from the others being that he doesn’t just sit on the fact he saw his own death and let it fester, at least not once he’s back on duty. He tells both people cares about what he thinks will happen that he’s legally allowed to disclose it to. He didn’t have to do that technically because he outranks them, he also goes beyond even that and voiced his concerns in respect to his own command. A lot of other captains would have waited until they made a poor command decision before feeling compelled to talk about that. Somewhat grim “no one dies” speech aside. He’s an open book beyond the call of duty.
Generally, he’s principled but not so stubborn as to ignore his prejudices and shortcomings (see, learning to trust Ash), he’s open minded and uncritical so long as he’s not given reason to not be.
But it’s not just that, another trait I find extremely refreshing that I don’t think any other captain possesses paired with that self awareness that I don’t think even Sisko (the most paternal of captains aside from him) possesses. He has this sort of, aura of nurturing others that transcends familiar labels like father or older brother or teacher.
He doesn’t just deliver the moral of the episode verbally or tell his subordinates what he thinks they should do, he lives and leads by example. He nudges his crew to reach their own conclusions, not his conclusions, and he’s not afraid to tell people when he’s proud or impressed. He makes people around him want to be better because he’s a good guy, not out of exclusively respect or intimidation, he’s inspiring. He’s a captain with the soul of a teacher, no wonder he ends up instructing cadets once he’s promoted to Fleet Captain.
Which leads me to the third thing, he’s got an enthusiasm for his job and for life that is hard earned and proves resilient even after he comes to terms with a future of extreme disability that he will have to learn to adapt to.The final step that he’s already started to inch toward recognizing it not as a death, but a another, more difficult and unprecedented chapter in his life.
He is selfless and principled where other people may have fled. “You’re a Starfleet Captain, you believe in service, sacrifice, compassion, and love.” “I give my life for you you give your life for me, nobody gets left behind.” He even goes so far as to almost refuse to believe there’s another way. Memorizing the names of the kids he saves. He’s almost overly self sacrificing which is genuinely probably one of my favorite character flaws because I relate to it and produces excellent angst (and also whump low key but I’m not gonna get into that *cough cough*).
These are the biggest reasons why I love this guy and I can’t wait to see how Strange New Worlds continues to evolve him and his dynamics with other characters. It could be boiled down to the word humility but there’s so many facets to it that I couldn’t just say only that. Part of me also wants them to pull out the “evil double/possessed by malevolent space entity” stock episode and see his nature inverted and see him be scary kinda like that one Short Treks but worse, I’d eat that up.
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pentopaperposts · a month ago
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I came across this absolutely amazing lit analysis of LWJ's character in the MDZS novel and it's so beautifully written.
Have a look and give it a read through if you have 5 mins today 😄
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