It starts with, of all things, a pair of old jeans and a t-shirt.
Logically, he knows it doesn’t make sense. She comes to work in form-fitted jackets that go tight about her waist. She’s been foregoing the baggy slacks in favor of skirts that stop just below the knees, with nylons clinging to the defined musculature of her calves; he’s pretty sure he can count on one hand the number of times he’s seen her wear shoes other than heels, excluding the clinical, white shoes she wears with her scrubs during autopsies.
He’s seen the looks she gets. Sometimes, it’s during an interview, when a witness’s gaze will linger just a little too long on her bustline, and her hand will go up and fiddle with her necklace, her arm blocking her chest in subtle defiance. Other times, it’s men on the streets of the city, shouting out obscenities to her, having the audacity to call her “baby,” and “sweetheart,” and he fights the urge to yell right back, brandishing his badge and his gun, wanting to scare the misogyny right out of the bones of anyone who thinks they’re entitled to her body, but he knows that she would find it condescending. “Thank you, but I can handle myself, Mulder,” she’d say, and it’s not that he thinks she can’t—he just doesn’t want her to have to.
And still other times, the looks come not from strangers on the sidewalk, or from people he can reduce to photos in a casefile, but from their peers. Educated, talented men who transform themselves into slobbery, teenage boys when sitting adjacent to her in meetings, eyeing her with an inappropriate hunger while she jots down notes in the margins of her agenda sheet. More than once, Mulder has found himself in the elevator with a man who will look down at Scully, and then catch Mulder’s eye over the top of her head, just so that he can wink, including him in some inside joke he has no interest being a part of.
He supposes that he empirically knows that Scully is attractive—it’s more or less objective fact—but he’s never allowed himself to notice. He’s trained himself to observe her through a filter. He considers her appearance through what he aptly names the Sexual Harassment Video Gaze. He quickly shuts down any thought that could be used as an example in a training tape on inappropriate office behavior.
Alcyone was the daughter to Aeolus (God of Wind) and Aegiale or Enarete. She was the wife to Ceyx, King of Trachis (in Central Greece). Gods and Mortals admired them for their love for each other. They made the unfortunate mistake by jokingly comparing themselves to Zeus and Hera. Zeus was infuriated that they dared to compare themselves to the Gods, so he waited for the proper time to get punish them.
While Ceyx was mourning the death of his brother, he also kept received terrible signs for the future. He decided to travel off land to consult the Oracle of Apollo. Alcyone begged him not to go, saying even her father could not control the winds of the sea and warned him of the danger. When he would not change his mind she asked to go with him. But he would not put her in that sort of danger, so he went off alone.
Zeus took this opportunity to punish the couple, he launched a thunderbolt that caused a hurricane. The boat began to sink. As Ceyx was dying he prayed to the Gods to wash his body to the shore so Alcyone could find his body and give him his funeral rites.
Alcyone waited for her husband, she cried and prayed to Hera to bring him back to her. Hera felt sorrow for this woman and contacted Isis (Goddess of Rainbows) to look for Hypnos (God of Sleep) so he could comfort Alcyone and let her know of her husbands fate. Hypnos entrusted his son Morpheus to give her the message, as he was an expert at forming apparitions. Morpheus created a life-like apparition of Ceyx and told her of the tragedy. In her grief, Alcyone ran to the shore beating at her breasts and tearing her garments. That was when she found the body of Ceyx that had washed to the shore.
She performed the funeral rites and then killed herself by throwing herself into the sea so she could drown like her husband. The Gods were deeply affected by this tragic event. They knew that death could not separate this couple because they loved each other so much. So they made Zeus atone for his rash decision. Zeus turned them into Halcyon birds so they could spend the rest of their days together.
On this day in music history: February 24, 1973 - “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Roberta Flack hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, it is the second chart topping single for the North Carolina born singer, songwriter and musician. Originally recorded by singer Lori Leiberman, the song is inspired by a poem she writes after seeing singer Don McLean (“American Pie”) perform at The Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood. Flack sees a picture of Leiberman in a magazine article about her and the song while flying from LA to New York. After hearing Leiberman’s version, Flack decides that she wants to record it herself. Her belief in the songs hit potential is confirmed when she performs it live for the first time. In September of 1972 while appearing as Marvin Gaye’s opening act at the Greek Theater, she performs “Killing Me Softly” during her encore and crowds reaction is wildly enthusiastic. After her set, Gaye tells her not to perform the song again live until after she records it. Once in the studio, Flack spends nearly three months fine tuning the song before feeling that it’s ready for release. Released as a single in January of 1973, it is an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #54 on January 27, 1973, it rockets to the top of the chart four weeks later. “Killing Me Softly With His Song” wins three Grammy Awards, including Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female and her second consecutive win for Record Of The Year. Gimbel And Fox also win the award for Song Of The Year. In 1996, The Fugees revive “Killing Me Softly”, reaching #2 (for 3 weeks) on the Billboard Airplay Chart on June 22, 1996, and winning two Grammy Awards for their album “The Score”. Flack’s version of “Killing Me Softly With His Song” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
Entirely by coincidence, I re-read the novel in November last year, before I knew about the BBC show. My impression of the novel and the character was therefore entirely unfettered by the BBC’s adaptation of the characters. The more I read, the more I realised that I was rooting for Milady - not because she was the “bad girl”, but because, as a character, she was very much ambiguous. The thing is, if you disregard what the characters (mainly Athos, later Lord de Winter and d'Artagnan) say about her, and disregard the authorial ex cathedra voice that keeps telling (not showing!) that she was a demon, Milady does absolutely nothing on the pages of the book that is in any way worse than what the musketeers do.
A lot has been said about how the show made a good job at presenting complex female character, as opposed to the one-dimensional novel ones. But: Milady in the novel is not one-dimensional at all. The way she is treated by the author and the other characters is one-dimensional. You could tell book Milady’s story just as it is in the book, leaving out the ongoing commentary of how evil a demon she is, and you would end up with a highly sympathetic portrait of a woman who is driven to more and more desperate actions by the limits of the world in which she lives, and by the men surrounding her. Pretty much like on the BBC show, only with more ambiguity, not less. (BBC Milady is presented as the Dark Action Girl and assassin from the get-go. Book Milady… isn’t. Not if you go by what she actually does.)
Milady is only the cardboard-cutout evil villainess in the novel, because we are repeatedly told by unreliable narrators that she is. As to what she does, the information provided are:
She was in a convent as a young girl (age unclear due to Dumas’ handwave-y approach), let’s say around 14-16. As the executioner tells the musketeers during the farce of a trial: “A young priest, with a simple and trustful heart, performed the duties of the church of that convent. She undertook his seduction, and succeeded; she would have seduced a saint”, and then: “The young priest was condemned to ten years of imprisonment, and to be branded. I was executioner of the city of Lille, as this woman has said. I was obliged to brand the guilty one; and he, gentlemen, was my brother!”
This pretty much sets the tone for how Milady is treated throughout the book: her characterisation is “evil”, and everything she does is interpreted through that lens. She is supposedly driven by the desire to do evil; but this is not how humans work. Dumas obviously wants us to agree with the executioner’s assessment of Milady, but I find it impossible to not find this backstory highly ambiguous. Just about every piece of information he provides, if you go by pure facts and disregard the speaker’s (and author’s) misogynic opinion, allows you to come to an entirely different conclusion than the characters. You could read it as a young nun genuinely falling in love with a priest. You could read it as a young nun being seduced/coerced/raped by a priest. The executioner clearly hates her for what she did to his - entirely innocent, I’m sure – brother; he wants revenge for the dishonour she, and in his opinion she alone, caused his family and hardly qualifies as an impartial witness.
Athos tells d'Artagnan: “My friend, who was seigneur of the country, might have seduced her, or taken her by force, at his will–for he was master. Who would have come to the assistance of two strangers, two unknown persons? Unfortunately he was an honourable man…”
Yes, Athos, well done on not raping a teenage girl. Again, the “honourable” action is entirely due to the spin put on it by the speaker and the author. We know nothing about Milady at this point, apart from the fact that she was “lovely” and lived with her “brother” - quite possibly the only choice that had been open to her after she was forced to leave the convent. Again, the situation is more than ambiguous and could be interpreted any way you like, if you didn’t take the speaker’s and the author’s opinion as gospel.
D'Artagnan’s reaction to Athos’ acting as judge, jury, and executioner is (at least in the English translation, emphasis mine) as follows: “Heavens, Athos, a murder?” cried d'Artagnan. - “No less,” said Athos, as pale as a corpse. Again, the ambiguity is right there: Athos admits that what he did was commit murder – not fulfil his duty as the feudal lord. BBC Athos was given a much nobler reason, namely “doing his duty”, to make him more relatable for the modern viewer. (Personally, I much prefer the darker Athos from the book, the BBC version has been too thoroughly whitewashed for my taste, but that’s not the point here.)
Then we have Lord de Winter, who lives happily side by side with his sister-in-law, a man whom [d'Artagnan] had seen load her with kindnesses. He never suspects her of anything, until the designated heroes tell him she’s evil. Then, he suddenly remembers, all those years later, that she poisoned his brother. There is no shred of evidence, no proof is ever presented, nor do I find his sudden epiphany particularly believable. It’s blatantly the narrative imperative at work: Lord de Winter has to believe that Milady killed his brother for the purpose of the Buckingham subplot.
The assassination of Buckingham is the best part of the novel, really, and the moment where I root for Milady the most. It is a political coup, ordered by the Cardinal. This is really important to keep in mind: Milady is an agent of the Cardinal, committing politically motivated killing on his behalf, just like the musketeers kill on behalf of the King. She is sent to England just like they are sent to La Rochelle and has to use the means available to her to carry out her superior’s orders. (Also, she doesn’t perform the act of killing herself, but in an inspired move makes somebody else do it.)
The worst she does on the pages of the book is poisoning Constance by the end of the novel. But I fail to see how her killing Constance is worse than, say, d'Artagnan attacking a complete stranger on his way to Paris for the purpose of taking his passport off him and leaving the injured man lying on the road to die a slow and agonising death. The difference is that a) d'Artagnan is the designated hero and b) injuring/killing a man in a duel is a man’s method and therefore “honourable”, whilst poisoning is a woman’s method and therefore evil. This is something I would have loved to see addressed in a modern adaptation.
I’m not saying Milady is an innocent angel, that’s not the purpose of this meta. I am merely trying to point out that her motives and her character development as presented in canon are open to a wealth of alternative interpretations. We have a young nun (by vocation? by choice? because she had been a disgrace to the family and had to be locked up? because she was an orphan? because she was a Huguenot who had to be “re-educated”?) who for reasons unknown ended up entangled with a priest (love? rape? lust? ignorance of what she was doing? where would a teenage nun have learned what it means to seduce a man and how to go on about it?), and got married to a local nobleman (because she wanted to? because she was after money and status? because – as the text implies – he wanted to have her and she had no other choice? she could’ve been in love with the man she was living with as her brother and could’ve known that marrying the Comte de la Fère was the only way to protect him). By the time she’s in her late teens or her early twenties, three of the seemingly safe niches she had carved out for herself - the convent, the life as the “sister” of a rural curate, her marriage - in an increasingly hostile world had been destroyed. It’s easy to understand why she becomes progressively angrier, more desperate and more ruthless as she gets older.
I do not want to see Milady whitewashed, she makes a wonderful antagonist. And it is certainly possible to believe Dumas’ very one-dimensional opinion of her and her motives and consider her “evil” and nothing else. But I would find it so much more interesting if her character arc was the result of bad choices (starting with falling in love with a priest in the convent and proceeding downhill from there), in combination with her being a wilful and headstrong girl who kept running against walls in a man’s world, rather than the fact that the was a demon from hell, which is the laziest of all lazy explanations.
In conclusion: Nothing about the novel version of Milady is clear-cut and one-dimensional. She is punished for being a woman and for using stereotypically feminine weapons: seduction and poison. But they are the only weapons available to her. I would love a modern adaptation to address the way male characters’ actions are being excused whilst the female character’s actions are being condemned: killing people in duels for fun (!) is fine; poisoning people for revenge is not. Thrashing your valet because he dared speak is the action of the most honourable and noble character in the book; punishing your soubrette for betrayal is not. Seducing a man out of genuine attraction (Milady with de Wardes) is not okay; seducing the maid to get into the mistress’ knickers whilst pretending to be the man she’s in love with (d’Artagnan with Kitty and Milady respectively) are the actions of the designated hero. The characters are morally judged by the authorial voice not for what they do, but for the roles he wants them to play in the narrative. Take the same characters and the same actions and leave out the author’s commentary, and you could be telling a completely different story.
I know I’m supposed to write a review about last night’s ep but this has to come first. I was so freakin’ exhausted last night that decided to hit the sack and watch the replay this morning, as usual I had to take a quick (take note, QUICK) look at Enca’s official twitter page (I don’t hang around their FB page that much since Twitter people makes more sense, lol!) I was kinda expecting that AB was going to make it to the trending topic last night and I’m surprised that it was KyRu and YA who made it to the 8th spot, I scanned the tweets from last night and I am actually kind of not expecting how the fans are reacting with the possible AleBarro come back, guess what? Some are disliking it, most people don’t care, and some really wanted them back together and I couldn’t blame them.
Going back to my post questioning what happened to Encantadia: http://iris-sistibly.tumblr.com/post/159898640644/encantadia-what-happened-to-you (just in case you haven’t read it yet) I haven’t really mentioned what was the root cause of all the mishaps that happened in the show right? As I was re-reading everything that I wrote in that post, I feel like I am being unfair—unfair in the sense that I kept pointing out stuff, ranting about other actor’s performance, shit like that that I failed to point out what really caused all of these. Maybe I was in denial that time, maybe I was just throwing all of my frustrations at Arra way too much because I couldn’t do that to Kylie. Yes, as much as I hate to admit this, I’m not going to be deaf and blind anymore and continuously deny that it was Kylie who really brought the entire show down. I thought by writing that three part response to Kylie’s “The Blue One” I can finally move on and just enjoy the rest of the show, but seeing how everything’s turning right now, I want to take back everything I said in that post. But of course I’m not going to do that. I love Amihan, always and forever, but sometimes I do want to sarcastically thank Kylie for everything she did to Amihan and Encantadia. Now before y’all react violently kindly read the entire post.
Firrst up, the show started great, Kylie was at the peak of her career, YA was sailing smoothly and this happened—an unpleasant surprise as it seemed, Kylie’s pregnancy really took a toll on the show, no matter how many times they deny it, no matter how much they shove to everyone’s faces that they are consistently trending and at the top spot, no one can deny how badly the show turned out after Kylie left the show. The prod’s mistake was making Amihan the center of the Enca-verse, maybe the pressure took a toll on her, who knows what was really happening behind the camera? Maybe she was just in-love like she said? As a person, I’m not gonna be one-sided and not listen to the other version of the story, but I am figuratively speaking as a fan, and as a fan who waited ELEVEN FUCKIN’ YEARS, I’m not happy, I am not satisfied, I dread of what’s gonna happen in the next two weeks. Everyone including me were pointing fingers at Arra when clearly the girl is just doing her job, I’m still not impressed with her performance but she wasn’t the first to kill Amihan—it was Kylie, she murdered Amihan so badly, the writers made it worse when they chose to go on with the show instead of listening to the fans’ advices to just end the first book at that, take a break and resume when Kylie is ready to work again, or if that’s not possible, at least take a break so Arra will have more time to study her character and improve her acting, that way, the fans would have been more excited, lastly it was Arra who brought the show down to it’s worst with her unconvincing performance. I hate the prod for not listening to their fans, I badly want to ask DMR why did he take such huge risk of choosing someone who clearly can’t fill in what Kylie left in the show. Is that a way of insulting Kylie? Is that their way to express how disappointed they were because everything they have planned were shelved? Seems like it to me. Recently you may have noticed that I’m not raving or ranting the show a lot like in the previous episodes, because I want the show to just end, I have very little hopes of Kylie returning to the show, I am already predicting who’s gonna end up with whom in the finale and it hurts so much that I just want to fast forward time and get it over with. Marian’s return brought back my enthusiasm, true. But it was only temporary, even if it was a wise decision to bring back Marian in the show, it still didn’t cover up the lacking that only Kylie can fill in, it still didn’t hide the fact that this is no longer the show everyone loved. Why? Come on YA, at he end of the day, it’s all because of Kylie.
I believe Kylie leaving the show wasn’t her decision in the first place, but the decision she made in her personal life prompted the prod to kick her out. I know I have no right to comment anything about her personal life because I know nothing, but for me, you don’t have to “know someone” to distinguish what are the things that’s going to affect another in a negative way, the success of the show relied solely on team work, so when Kylie got pregnant while the show is still airing, it was like a chain reaction, the writers had to come up with a plan B to keep the story going and it’s not an easy task, and it’s hard to come up with a good story in a short amount of time, but then again, going back to number one, this wouldn’t happen if they decided to take a break. For the other side, of course when you’re living in with someone, the possibility of the girl getting knocked up are high, so don’t ever think that it is unexpected because the fact that you’re doing it, whether you are living in or not, well you know the rest…
Fine, let’s not dwell on that and move on they said. This is just a show they said, the story does not only revolve around Amihan, is that so? People gave this whole sarkosi plot a chance, but then again it only angered the fans because Arra is not giving justice to both Ariana and Amihan. This is the very reason why everyone’s demanding for Ariana’s death and Amihan’s return, I’m betting you guys a hundred percent the prod is not satisfied with Arra’s performance and they are probably regretting for choosing her. The YbriAna team up depended solely on Ruru and adding Joross in the picture did not help at all, unfortunately even if they showed hints of a possible AleBarro come back, they still didn’t get the reaction that they were expecting from the fans, people want Amihan, people demand for Kylie and I will be surprised if Kylie did not feel guilty at some point for disappointing her fans, although I believe she mentioned she was in that three-part post, with all honesty, if you ask me—well she should be. Knowing that her fans are still fighting for her even if the chances are extremely low she should be, she should feel responsible for all the chaos that’s happening in the show, I will stand firm on my decision to hold on to the YA ship, I will still hold on to that 0.00001% of Kylie’s return to the show even if it’s just the final episode, y’all know I too fought hard for Kylie, I fought hard for the YA ship, I fought for the entire show, but I’m getting tired see? All I ever want right now is an ending that’s worth the watch, I hope the entire team will not disappoint, because even if the show isn’t over yet, I have already come to this point that I have realized that this show is not worth the wait. Please do take note that I wrote this from an Encantadia fan’s perspective, I did my very best not to stray and hit Kylie personally because that is not my intention, I don’t care about her personal life (or even Ruru’s), but I care about the show because this not just a show to me, it held so many happy memories in the past and I’m just angry that instead of reliving those memories, everything is just so…tainted.