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18 February 2012 @ 11:22 pm
rodney mckay [meta]  
I was talking to honeybearbee about Rodney. We were talking about fic where Rodney is insecure and surprised that John would want someone like him. After going into this long-winded spiel about how I relate to Rodney and other thoughts and feelings, I said this:


Rodney's confidence is in his intelligence. He isn't good with people, he knows he isn't. When Rodney boasts, it's about how smart he is. Rodney may occasionally say, "I am a handsome man," but it always seemed to me that it was more that Rodney was trying to convince himself and others that he is desirable.

I think it started in childhood - Rodney canonically says that his parents fought and blamed him. I imagine that means he wasn't shown a lot of love during his childhood. Especially when you consider his allergy to citrus (how inconvenient his parents must have found it, always needing to check the ingredients and so on). Plus, how difficult a child Rodney must have been. And then he grew up, and someone told him that he wasn't hot, wasn't sexy or desirable. And Rodney sort of took that to heart. "I may not be sexy, but at least I'm intelligent." So Rodney shoves his intelligence down people's throats, because he feels that his intelligence is his only redeeming feature. He's not likeable or good-looking, but he's smart and useful. People need his expertise.

It fits. When Rodney was dying in Tao of Rodney, he was surprised (and so pleased) when Elizabeth said, "We love you." His thoughts probably went something like: You love me? You love me even though I'm sarcastic and impatient, often dismissive. You love me, even though I blew up a solar system. You love me rude and petty and often terrified.

It's why episodes where people so clearly care for Rodney are my favorite. Grace Under Pressure, Tao of Rodney, The Shrine...it makes me feel good that Rodney has found people that love him, that humor him and roll their eyes, smack him upside his head and tease him. Rodney's a difficult person, but he has that unconditional acceptance - they don't want him to change. He's their grumpy, sarcastic Rodney. Anything else would be weird.
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sgamadison: hotdhsgamadison on February 19th, 2012 02:25 pm (UTC)
You've reminded me of that scene in Firefly when some townspeople want to burn River at the stake for witchcraft.

When Mal comes in with the demand for her freedom, the leader of the town yells out, "She's a witch!"

Mal says, "Yeah, but she's *our* witch."

I've always loved that line.

I love too, when Rodney is accepted for being *Rodney*. I enjoyed watching his character mature on its own through his experiences in Atlantis, and that was one of the reasons that I found the pressures that Jennifer put on him to be someone else hard to take.

Hmmmm. Now you have me thinking thinky thoughts on a snowy day. I think I'm going to have to ruminate a bit on this myself. My head canon for John is pretty solid--Rodny's is a bit more vague. I agree with you that he wears his intelligence as a shield--it's the one area in which he has no self-doubt. Discovering that he could be wrong, that he could make mistakes--that had to have rocked his foundations. :-)
popkin16: ☂  here comes troublepopkin16 on February 20th, 2012 12:41 am (UTC)
I LOVE THAT SCENE! Oh, Mal ♥

Rodney changes so much from the person we first meet in SG1. I wish they would have given Sam a line or two about it. Jennifer's pressure for him to be more socially aware/acceptable hurts. It bothers me, the idea that he has to change so Jennifer will be happy, will love him and stay with him. That doesn't seem like love to me.

Discovering that he could be wrong, that he could make mistakes--that had to have rocked his foundations. :-)

Plus, his mistake nearly led to the death of John, who is (at the very least in canon) a very good friend. Wrong *and* nearly killed someone he cares about. Ouch. And John was so very not happy with him - a triple whammy. My poor bb *hugs him*

I think John would be good for Rodney. He likes Rodney as he is, and they're both not good with emotions. Rodney knows John well enough when to back off and when to be persistent. John's very self-contained, and I imagine any woman who tries to get close would probably be bewildered by seemingly innocent topics that make him shut down. They see a good-looking, charming, brave man and don't realize there's an awkward, very private dork under all that :)
sgamadison: Sexysgamadison on February 20th, 2012 12:54 am (UTC)
*draws hearts all around your reply*

This is why I think John and Rodney are so right for each other! I used to pull my hair out when I would read people saying that Jennifer was just trying to 'bring out the best' in Rodney. Ack, no.

There's a big difference in nagging some one to stop a bad habit because you love them (say, for example, smoking) and trying to change them on a fundamental nature on your very first date! Seriously, date the man you have in front of you, not the man you hope he can be. That, plus Keller's obvious impatience with Rodney's hypochondria makes their relationship doomed in my book.

Hewlett once said if he'd known McKay was going to be a recurring character, he'd never made him such an ass--but I think it works out perfectly. Rodney *is* an ass when we meet him first and though he matures along the way, he is still an ass a lot of the time. The fact that he is also vulnerable in other areas makes me love him. :-)
popkin16: ☆ here for a moment & then i was gonepopkin16 on February 20th, 2012 01:18 am (UTC)
:D

There's a big difference in nagging some one to stop a bad habit because you love them (say, for example, smoking) and trying to change them on a fundamental nature on your very first date!

THIS. If you have a problem with their fundamental nature, you probably shouldn't be with them. I've often thought that Rodney's efforts to be the man Jennifer wants him to be would put him under enormous amounts of stress. He'd have to constantly monitor what was coming out of his mouth, his facial reactions (a sneer, eye roll, etc.), and when he slipped up he'd have to apologize - and if he didn't seem sincere, he'd probably be scolded for that. It's not easy to change who you essentially are, and I can't see Jennifer having a great deal of patience if Rodney repeatedly slips up.

Hewlett once said if he'd known McKay was going to be a recurring character, he'd never made him such an ass--but I think it works out perfectly.

The fact that he is also vulnerable in other areas makes me love him. :-)

YES. I love how contradictory he is. He's arrogant but vulnerable, an asshole but he *cares*. David Hewlett created a nuanced character, an endearing asshole. Rodney says the things that I bet a lot of people only wish they could say. I know I've been tempted to tell someone off. Besides, I think it's more life-like when you have one character that's an ass - they exist IRL, after all.
sgamadison: geekswithgunssgamadison on February 20th, 2012 02:10 am (UTC)
I've often thought that Rodney's efforts to be the man Jennifer wants him to be would put him under enormous amounts of stress. He'd have to constantly monitor what was coming out of his mouth, his facial reactions (a sneer, eye roll, etc.), and when he slipped up he'd have to apologize - and if he didn't seem sincere, he'd probably be scolded for that. It's not easy to change who you essentially are, and I can't see Jennifer having a great deal of patience if Rodney repeatedly slips up.

It's not a phrase I really care for, but it certainly seemed to apply here: pussy-whipped. I can find no other explanation.

Which still begs the question, what was Jennifer getting out of it if she found so much about Rodney disagreeable to her?


YES. I love how contradictory he is. He's arrogant but vulnerable, an asshole but he *cares*. David Hewlett created a nuanced character, an endearing asshole. Rodney says the things that I bet a lot of people only wish they could say. I know I've been tempted to tell someone off. Besides, I think it's more life-like when you have one character that's an ass - they exist IRL, after all.

David Hewlett did a fantastic job of making Rodney someone we like not in spite of his flaws, but because of them :-)
popkin16: ♥ stuck with mepopkin16 on February 20th, 2012 02:38 am (UTC)
It's not a phrase I really care for, but it certainly seemed to apply here: pussy-whipped. I can find no other explanation.

I hear you. Rodney's so desperate to achieve what he thinks he wants, no matter who it's with, that he's willing to do whatever they want if they'd just stay. Honestly? I don't think Jeannie is helping in that matter. At least, her comments in Miller's Crossing didn't help Rodney with Katie. And perhaps planted the seed that he should be considering marriage, and doing what he can to get what he can.

Which still begs the question, what was Jennifer getting out of it if she found so much about Rodney disagreeable to her?

I have no idea. It's an excellent question, though. Perhaps she defaulted to Rodney when she found she didn't like Ronon's violent nature, and Rodney was the only other one who expressed interest?

David Hewlett did a fantastic job of making Rodney someone we like not in spite of his flaws, but because of them :-)

Exactly! He's a wonderful character.
sgamadison: Outcast Rononsgamadison on February 20th, 2012 03:07 am (UTC)
Honestly? I don't think Jeannie is helping in that matter. At least, her comments in Miller's Crossing didn't help Rodney with Katie. And perhaps planted the seed that he should be considering marriage, and doing what he can to get what he can.


You know, I was thinking about this earlier tonight as well. It seemed like a sisterly thing for Jeanie to say, but somehow not right for Jeanie to say it--because the implication here was that Rodney could do no better than Katie Brown--which doesn't really seem a strong enough basis on which to marry someone. You'd have thought Jeanie would have been encouraging him to find someone he really loved, as opposed to marrying for the sake of marrying because his options were limited.

I have no idea. It's an excellent question, though. Perhaps she defaulted to Rodney when she found she didn't like Ronon's violent nature, and Rodney was the only other one who expressed interest?

I know other people feel very differently about this, but I would have been very happy for the triangle thing to have gone on for much longer (as long as it didn't create the nasty sort of tension that it did in Tracker). It would have been perfect in many ways. Jennifer had the chemistry with Ronon (we all saw it in the infirmary scene in Quarantine) but Ronon would have represented all the things in Pegasus that unnerved her--the danger, the violence, the alien nature of her being there. Rodney would have represented the safe, the comfortable, the known--but there were things about Rodney that obviously irritated her. I could see her dithering back and forth between the two of them, unable to make up her mind as events would show one in a better light at one moment, and flip their positions the next. I can also see her liking the position of being wanted by two men at the same time--getting off on the power of it a bit. After all, she *is* young and pretty.

It would have had the added benefit of making neither pairing canon--which in terms of television viewing, UST is more interesting to watch. They could have easily stretched that out for a while. Instead they have Ronon behaving like a Neanderthal when they were under attack on the Daedalus and Jennifer rejecting him *during the attack*. I'm sorry, but the guy that has been a successful Runner for 7 years is neither stupid nor eliminates all his options before knowing what they are. And he's the guy I would make sure I stayed close to until the fighting was over. *eyeroll*

The rapidity with which they shucked the Ronon angle shows that the decision to go with Rodney and Jennifer was pushed through a bit last minute, I think.
Cristin Anne: Jeannie's wonderladysorka on February 20th, 2012 05:27 am (UTC)
Just jumping in here (and diverting a little), but a lot of people seem to forget that Jeannie came from the exact same family situation as Rodney did. She's just as fucked up, she just shows her issues in different ways. Honestly, I think a lot of her pushing Rodney to settle down and get married is because she's massively defensive over the fact that that's what she did. (And, honestly, given how much she talks about how Rodney should settle makes me wonder sometimes if she, well, feels like she settled for Kaleb.) Rodney and Jeannie both massively project onto each other, and frankly they both show that their parents weren't, ah, doing their jobs quite right.
sgamadison: rodneyarmssgamadison on February 20th, 2012 05:52 am (UTC)
Oooh, that's a very good point about Kaleb--not in that Jeannie felt like she settled for him personally, because I think they have a strong relationship, but that she did give up some things when she decided having a family was more important to her.

You make a good case too for her wanting Rodney to have some of the good things that she has--but I still think the idea that Rodney should marry Katie because he's certainly not going to do better is an odd way of putting it.

Marry her because he loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her, yes. Marry her because they've been together a certain amount of time and that is the next logical step? I confess, I've never understood that concept (which is probably why I'm in a LT relationship without thinking it's high time I was married. :-)

Edited at 2012-02-20 05:53 am (UTC)
Cristin Anne: Jeannie's wonderladysorka on February 20th, 2012 06:04 am (UTC)
I've always kind of wondered if, where Rodney got that he was unloveable and difficult constantly from his parents, if Jeannie got those "it's a shame you're not as pretty as your friend X/cousin y" types of comments, or the "you'd better hold onto to the first man who shows interest in you" or whatever. Especially given that, if you give them the same age gap as David and Kate, and we assume Rodney went to college at 16ish, Rodney left home when Jeannie was 8. Which means all those offhand comments that Rodney would've (simply by existing) have previously protected her from were now focused on her.

Honestly, my personal theory is the only reason she's as well adjusted as she is compared to Rodney is because Rodney was that much older and therefore almost more of a parental influence when she was really young than anything else - she knew that, if nothing else, her brother Mer loved her. Which is why, despite the fact that Rodney thought they'd "never been close" his turning on her when she decided to leave or postpone Academia to have a family affected her so much.

I mean, I'm not defending her comments to Rodney, because they were really out of line, but I think they're another really fascinating look into what their parents must've been like.
(no subject) - popkin16 on February 20th, 2012 07:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sgamadison on February 20th, 2012 06:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
popkin16: ☆ can see you nowpopkin16 on February 20th, 2012 07:47 am (UTC)
Oh, this is an excellent point! I hadn't considered any of that, and it adds a new and fascinating twist to Jeannie's character!
All I wanted was a pony....: K/S--know your roots! by persephoneflamewanted_a_pony on February 22nd, 2012 05:26 am (UTC)
First, I love your insights into the Jeannie/Mer dynamic, especially your point that they each project their own issues onto the other. How is it that I never thought of their relationship this way before?!?

But also, if you accept the headcanon that more than a few years separate Mer & Jeannie, & given that they're of different genders, it's entirely possible that they experienced their parents & childhood very differently. Many parents treat male & female children differently, especially given that each child has a unique basic personality. And speaking as someone who has siblings 13 & 7 years older, I can say that I had a completely different childhood experience than my eldest sibling, & a quite different one than the next-oldest. It wasn't only that the physical & societal environments changed; our parents & family changed markedly as well.

So I'm willing to believe various family backgrounds for Jeannie & Rodney—what really convinces me is internal consistency in fics, in character development & other things. (Prob'ly why I find parts of canon so very unconvincing.... ;-)
popkin16popkin16 on February 22nd, 2012 05:43 am (UTC)
The one good thing about lack of concrete knowledge of various character's pasts is it leaves wiggle room for writers. Although I have a personal headcanon, I'm perfectly capable of going along with another author's in the context of their story.

...it's entirely possible that they experienced their parents & childhood very differently.

This is very true! People are quite capable of change.
popkin16: ☂ asghfk;plpopkin16 on February 20th, 2012 07:39 am (UTC)
You'd have thought Jeanie would have been encouraging him to find someone he really loved, as opposed to marrying for the sake of marrying because his options were limited.

This is what I would have thought. They're siblings, and lord knows being Rodney McKay's sibling was probably never easy, but Jeannie is more in touch with her feelings - I would have thought she would have chosen to encourage Rodney to do what he feels comfortable with, when he's comfortable with it. Not push him toward marriage when he hadn't even thought of it yet.

I could see her dithering back and forth between the two of them, unable to make up her mind as events would show one in a better light at one moment, and flip their positions the next. I can also see her liking the position of being wanted by two men at the same time--getting off on the power of it a bit. After all, she *is* young and pretty.

I can see that very well. She may have gone with Rodney because he's safe and comfortable - everything is so alarming and terrifying in the Pegasus Galaxy, she may have chosen Rodney so she could have some semblance of normal. Which is no basis for a relationship, but understandable given her youth and apparent insecurity.

And he's the guy I would make sure I stayed close to until the fighting was over. *eyeroll* The rapidity with which they shucked the Ronon angle shows that the decision to go with Rodney and Jennifer was pushed through a bit last minute, I think.

I would have stuck close to Ronon too - I'd feel like it was one of the safest places to be. I heard a few fans speculate that they had Rodney win the girl because the men were fulfilling the idea of "the geek gets the girl". I agree, they should have stuck with the UST - it would have provided some great moments, I think. Between John and Rodney, and Rodney and Ronon.
sgamadison: Geniussgamadison on February 20th, 2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
This is what I would have thought. They're siblings, and lord knows being Rodney McKay's sibling was probably never easy, but Jeannie is more in touch with her feelings - I would have thought she would have chosen to encourage Rodney to do what he feels comfortable with, when he's comfortable with it. Not push him toward marriage when he hadn't even thought of it yet.

Exactly! Especially for the tofurkey type!! :-)

I can see that very well. She may have gone with Rodney because he's safe and comfortable - everything is so alarming and terrifying in the Pegasus Galaxy, she may have chosen Rodney so she could have some semblance of normal. Which is no basis for a relationship, but understandable given her youth and apparent insecurity.

This is how I see it too--since I suspect Ronon overwhelmed her on so many levels--physically, emotionally, sexually... especially too, if we start from the standpoint of how Jennifer is originally depicted--socially awkward (by her own admission), doesn't fit in (ditto), lacking in confidence, frightened by much in Pegasus...

Perhaps what she got out of a relationship with Rodney was not only the comfort of the familiar, but also the power out of knowing she was the one calling the shots there. Hah, maybe *that's* why her character did such a turnaround. Though for the Perfect Woman, she did seem to need rescuing an awful lot. :-)
(no subject) - popkin16 on February 22nd, 2012 03:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sgamadison on February 22nd, 2012 03:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - popkin16 on February 22nd, 2012 03:55 am (UTC) (Expand)