liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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FIC Commentary: Orpheus in the Underground (Dark Minuet)

Yes, I'm going to start with the easy one to write commentary for:  Orpheus in the Underground (Dark Minuet)

Let me start off with this admission:  I've been dying to write a remix for Eurydice by [ profile] thistlerose  since I first read it a couple of years ago.  Not because I think it's a bad story (it's really not), but because it hits all of my kinks:  prickly and not necessarily nice Faith and Xander, a tentative offer of friendship despite a problematic history, and allusions to mythology (in this case, the mythology around Orpheus descending to Hades to rescue his dead wife Eurydice.

Needless to say, I've always been disappointed that I never got [ profile] thistlerose in the Remix, so when the Mods decided to throw open Remix Madness for the first time this year, and I saw that [ profile] thistlerose had volunteered, I was on this story like a shot.

Obviously, this remix was a bit of a gimme. Simply tell the story from Xander's point of view, while maintaining the allusion to the Orpheus myth.

As for why I tackled Xander's characterization the way I did, I admit this is where my fandom bias kind of comes into play and dovetails with Xander's characterization in the original story.

In Eurydice, Xander from Faith's point of view comes across (to me) as a bit too put together. To be honest, I also think this is a legitimate characterization, although it's one I wouldn't have gone with (obviously). Xander, of all the Scoobs, really has no emotional tie to or investment in Angel. Buffy's and Faith's ties are obvious.  Willow's resouled Angel twice, so I figure there's at least a tie there. Giles...well, I'm sure he'd be like Xander in viewing Angel from a non-emotional distance, but since he's not addressed in the original story I didn't spare Giles's feelings on the matter a whole lot of thought.

In any case, what I'm trying to say in my own clumsy way is that the Xander characterized in Eurydice is certainly a very real possibility:  neutral, distant, and noncomital when it comes on the subject of Angel himself and the events of "Not Fade Away".  I could also see Xander — with forethought — playing the game in Eurydice that he plays, which is:  Xander sees emotional turmoil in a member of the team; Xander does something about it because everyone else is too busy, or too emotionally wrecked to try; Xander shows up and cajoles the object of his aid to come around and try something a little more healthy than self-destruction. He's played this role a couple of times in canon, so certainly I can see him playing it here.

The reason I changed Xander's characterization from the original is, I admit, because of my own biases. My stance has always been that, yeah, Xander's normal only by the standards of the people he hangs out with. Other people? Non-Scooby people? He is not normal. Lord knows I've played with the trope enough times that people who don't know Xander would look at him and see a lot of things — ranging anywhere from dangerous to very competent. Meanwhile, in Xander's head, he's walking around with a shape of an L on his forehead and freaking the ever-loving fuck out.

I love playing with the dichotomy. I love playing with it a lot.

So, I pretty much do the same thing here.

From Faith's point of view in Eurydice, Xander's being unemotional and sensible, to the point of being incredibly fucking irritating. Worse, he won't go away.

From Xander's point of view in Orpheus in the Underground, he's had a very bad, no good week of PTSD slapping him around like a cheap cat toy. He's at the end of this rope. And frankly, he's quite literally running away because he can't take the emotional shitstorm any more. Okay, it's not a permanent running away, but frankly he wants a break (and I can't blame him there).

In a lot of ways, Faith saves Xander as much as Xander saves Faith in Orpheus. Yes, he was already coming back around to sanity-ville by the time he crosses paths with Faith, but (I hope) that it's clear that Xander wasn't doing all that hot (emotionally) even before the events of "Not Fade Away" in that he was keeping himself distant from the action. All the images on television did was force him into a bit of a crisis point. Had he not run into Faith and had followed his original plan to chill at a Starbucks for awhile and had it gone off without a hitch, at best he would've returned to his original subdued status quo of staying in the background. Running into Faith eventually forces him to step out of his shell and actually do something beyond the basics.

As for whether or not he finds the Meaning of It All or At Least Some of It or At Least One Thing (something he admits to wanting at the beginning of Orpheus), I'm not sure. But at least he's heading in the right direction by reaching out to Faith after recognizing that they're both in the same boat — even if her wounds are fresh and his are a year old. I should also add that I got this idea in my head thanks to Eurydice, since Faith offers her sympathies about Anya to Xander in the original as wel.

The one big thing that I changed (aside from some of the dialogue), is that Orpheus makes reference to Angel's original reaching out to the Scoobs to get help for Fred when Illyria was in the midst of taking over her body and Eurydice does not. Since Giles's refusal to help Angel was specifically given as the reason for Angel's failure to contact the Scoobs when the Fang Gang were gearing up for their Alamo, I figured I'd play it up a little bit — if only to give Faith (and by extension, Buffy) a little extra kick of guilt. After all, from the Scoobs' limited knowledge in Orpheus, maybe Angel was speaking in code because him asking them to help him save "one of his evil employees" doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

[Side note:  Yes, I'm one of those who thought fans were being too hard on the Scoobs during Angel's original run when Giles categorically refused to help Angel save Fred. From their point of view, Angel had switched sides. Not only that, based on "The Girl in Question" Angel was using Wolfram & Hart resources to keep tabs on Buffy while she was in Rome. In addition, both Angel and Spike never bothered to inform the Scoobs that Spike was still unbreathing. Add it all up, and it looks really, really bad for the Fang Gang. Hate to say it, but refusing Angel's request to save Fred was a reasonable response. For all Giles (and the Scoobs) knew, Angel was setting a trap for them. Angel's the one who screwed up by not at least trying to get a message to Giles (or going around Giles and contacting one of the Scoobs directly) about the whole plan to attack the Circle of the Black Thorne because he assumed that he wouldn't get help. He should've thrown the ball in their court, and if they refused it was on them.]

In any case, let me just say that I rather like Eurydice, so none of the above is meant to be a criticism of the story itself or of [ profile] thistlerose 's skills as a writer.  In fact, it's a rather good story. Good enough that it stuck with me for a couple of years. Orpheus was straight up a case of: "If I wrote this story, this is how I would've done it." Which is really want the remix is all about.

So, there you have it. It's a pretty straight-forward process Orpheus in the Underground, and not terribly interesting to boot.

Feel free to throw any questions you might have in the comments. (Assuming anyone is still reading this journal. Since it's been awhile since I posted, that part is somewhat in doubt.)

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