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Two Problems with Normandy
sanctuary. helen/nikola. {emily_reich}
palmaceae wrote in dear_damian

I came away from Normandy cold. Now, to be fair it could be attributed to the fact that I was under stress and not feeling so great at the moment, but I also think that while it was nice for once to see a story that actually did move, it moved too fast sometimes. I found myself yearning for a lingering shot here or there for emotional impact. The episode will probably get better upon my second viewing and it was definitely better than the last couple of episodes. But the two biggest problems for me are ones that will not change upon obsessive rewatches: John's removal and Nikola's isolation.

1) Helen is captured, they drag her into the room where John and James are being held. They shoot John and drag him out. John's had his scene with James, Helen's had two seconds on screen with John, and leaving the three of them together locked in the room would have been fantastic. Not having John and Helen interact was a huge missing piece for me. Especially with Helen both angry and worried about John at the same time, as demonstrated by her gasp when he was shot. I would have loved to see them working together, not John showing up at the last second to save the day. This is not the first time I've been pissed off by John's sudden removal from screen only for him to return at the last second to save the day - it happened as well in Pax Romana and it was a pretty poor move on... oh what a surprise, Damian Kindler's (who also wrote Normandy) part. Unless these disappearances are due to Heyerdahl having time issues and not being able to be part of the filming, I find them problematic, a lame fix it for the story and a waste of Heyerdahl's talent.

2) Nikola's isolation. Nikola spends the entire episode isolated from the rest of The Five both geographically and plot-wise. If they had cut all of Nikola's scenes, it wouldn't have made much of a difference in terms of plot - he spent the whole time pacing the room basically. Again, Nikola's isolation may be due to time restrictions on the part of Jonathon Young. Even if that is true, there's no reason why Nikola couldn't have been a more integral part of the plot. Why wasn't he allowed to meet with Eisenhower at the very least? Why didn't they have Eisenhower on the show talking to Nikola, which would have been cool? Fire elemental, blah blah I understand why they needed to use an abnormal - the show *is* about abnormals - but what about Nikola being kidnapped by the Nazis in order to build a machine to contain this fire elemental? He could have spent that time pacing yet another room alone with just one character if necessary. Also, *if* I remember correctly, didn't real!Tesla make claims that he could invent something to control the weather? Four of the Five reuniting once again to rescue one of their own in addition to saving the world (so to speak) and disabling the fire elemental would have been more emotionally compelling than just the world saving and fire elemental.

It's always like this though - give the show a relatively good idea and they will never quite manage to take it to the emotional and plotty heights they can go.

Side note: who totally thinks that the French Resistance lady is going to turn out to be Nigel's wife later? IDK, maybe?

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It certainly wasn't as good an episode as it might have been, and I agree with most of your reasons. I don't feel the loss of a Helen-John scene as much as you do, because I think the shape of Helen and John's relationship is pretty well established whereas John and James's is not, and including a strongly emotional scene between them would have cut down the impact of the John-James scenes, which I loved.

My feelings about Normandy are sort of mixed, or inconsistent. It really did drag in everything from the Big Book of WWII Clichés for Screenwriters; on the other hand, it had some great character moments and I was so relieved at its not being terrible, and so delighted at seeing James again, that I liked it more than it probably deserved.

the impact of the John-James scenes, which I loved. OMG INTENSE. Like, wow, do all of their encounters end up with one of them grabbing the other by the shoulders and looking at each other with smoldering angry eyes?

It really did drag in everything from the Big Book of WWII Clichés for Screenwriters oh god, yes, when Robin Dunne showed up I was like, WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY PLEASE NO ANCESTOR OF A CHARACTER JUST HAPPENS TO SHOW UP. Did he die? I lost track of his character because I just did not care.

do all of their encounters end up with one of them grabbing the other by the shoulders and looking at each other with smoldering angry eyes?

No. Some of them end, or have ended, with the two of them having smoldering angry sex. We just haven't seen it onscreen yet.

I rolled my eyes at ancestor!Zimmerman, but I'm trying to console myself that it sort of explains why Helen was there when Will's mother was killed; she'd been keeping track of the family since 1944.

I'm trying to console myself that it sort of explains why Helen was there when Will's mother was killed; she'd been keeping track of the family since 1944.

That's the only way that makes this cliché that I absoluetly HATE somewhat palatable. No, wait, still hate it.

I'm voting for Will to be Watson's descendant! Because I feel like the way they were emphasizing his observation skills in the first season were soooo hinting towards him being almost abnormal, and even though they dropped that, I still kind of wish Will would have a storyline where he finds out he's Watson's supersekrit great grandson (not son, that would be too creepy) and that's why Helen's been watching him and it's a total angstfest when Will gets angry about Helen keeping secrets (yet again) snd not taking him in when he was younger thus condemning him to the foster system. This also eliminates the problem of Helen/Will lol.

That sounds a tad cheesy when I write it out.

As per "Metamorphosis", Will has a father so surely he wasn't in foster care? IDK.

I think I'd like some people to remain normal on the show, more than just Kate. But it could be interesting.

why do i totally have this idea he was in foster care? i can't remember, did they ever say anything that would have led me to that conclusion? but having a father doesn't guarantee that you won't end up in foster care if they're a deadbeat, etc.

I think everyone assumed that from the start because we didn't know anything about Will's family beyond his mother getting killed. I don't remember anything they said that might have implied it, but I haven't rewatched season 1 in a while so maybe they did.

Will seems to at least be in contact with his father since he calls him. But yeah, what you said.

Side note: who totally thinks that the French Resistance lady is going to turn out to be Nigel's wife later? IDK, maybe?

Thought so too. Maybe. I'm pretty sure we'll never know.

I don't know about the absence of a Helen/John(/James) scene, but yes John's removal is problematic.

That said, I'm far more annoyed at Nikola's isolation. As awesome as he is (I'm always happy to have him in an ep), his presence felt kinda pointless and a waste that he didn't interact with the rest of the Five.

John's had his scene with James, Helen's had two seconds on screen with John, and leaving the three of them together locked in the room would have been fantastic. Not having John and Helen interact was a huge missing piece for me. Especially with Helen both angry and worried about John at the same time, as demonstrated by her gasp when he was shot.

I feel the exact same way. I find this is how most of their scenes have gone, which is incredibly frustrating for me because I absolutely enjoy their interactions and there's so much there for them to delve into, and they have fantastic actors to do it with. We're missing out. The only time we sort of didn't was in 'Haunted' but even that left me wanting more. They shouldn't have taken John out of that situation. There was so much tension between John/Helen/James, that those scenes with them trapped together and having to work together would have made the episode perfection to me.

There was so much tension between John/Helen/James, that those scenes with them trapped together and having to work together would have made the episode perfection to me.

Yes, same here. I would have absolutely loved that.

The thing is, I think the Helen and John interactions had to be the way they were and as little as they were due to canon constrictions. The way I read their relationship in the first episode, they have barely seen each other since she found out John was the Ripper. Otherwise, the pain wouldn't be so fresh. They interact like two people who have barely seen each other in a long time. So, while I would have loved more interactions, it would have felt wrong to me.

As for Nikola, I do kind of agree with you. I wish he had been part of the action. I adore him. And it wouldn't have felt wrong with him the way it would have with John.

The biggest thing that bugged me was having Robin Dunne play will's ancestor. WTF? I hate when shows do that. Why not have another actor play the part. It would have made a whole lot more sense. I didn't mind the character existing, but just having the name would have been enough. Generally, people don't look exactly like their ancestors. Genetics doesn't work that way. They look like their own unique person who may be very similar to an ancestor, but only rarely do they look close enough to be mistaken for each other.

The way I read their relationship in the first episode, they have barely seen each other since she found out John was the Ripper. I haven't read it that way, especially considering For King and Country, we don't know how much time they spent together during that event. And we have currently two different points in history where they ran into each other, I think there were probably more. Otherwise, the pain wouldn't be so fresh, I'm like, if they HAVEN'T seen each other, then the pain would have dulled, but the fact that they keep on seeing each other is what keeps the pain alive and well.

The biggest thing that bugged me was having Robin Dunne play will's ancestor that kind of thing usually doesn't bug me... except that it was Will, so it really really bugged me.

You get a big HIGH FIVE from me! Practically took the words outta my mouth. ;)

Nikola's isolation actually makes sense plot-wise. If Nikola had been in France, it would have ruined the rest of the episode. He's just to powerful. With his vampiric strength and speed, his ability to electrocute people, and the fact that bullets don't slow him down much, if he had been there when James, Helen and Jeanette were ambushed by the Nazis, he would have just torn through the Nazis. Helen and James might not have found out about the fire elemental in time, and things would have gone foom. The way the episode is now, this almost could have happened, (assuming that abnormals were real) and it wouldn't have changed history much, apart for Nikola being there.

Yeah, this episode isn't perfect. I think they tried to cram in too much, and then didn't have time for emotional development, but I didn't hate it.

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