Sometime in the next day or so, I'm going to be posting an update to Reverberations - my "rewrite" of some of S5.
Before I do, I wanted to make some comments on what I'm trying to do in the chapter and why.
Normally, I'm content to let my work stand on its own feet ... but there are so many strong feelings around the fandom about S5 - and particularly about Justin - that I wanted to say something about what I'm trying to "fix", and why I thought it needed fixing in the first place.
Unlike many, I wasn't absolutely gutted by the end of S5.
And the reason for that was both complex, and very simple at the same time.
In the complex view ... it was linked to how I see the two characters; and what I believe that their journey to that point had been about; and how I believe strongly that some people do have a karmic link, and that Brian and Justin have such a link, and that, at the end of S5, they were a long way from working through all the things they have to learn from each other, so the link will remain in place, as strong as ever until they have; and that theirs is truly a story of eternal lovers ... all of that. And that C/L were so busy making their little political statement that they lost sight of the thing that that they had created that made a far greater statement than their petty little "you can bomb us but you can't destroy us" message. They forgot, or didn't see, that dividing the world into "us" and "them" is always counter-productive when you're trying to reach out to the common humanity in all of us and that they had the most powerful means of doing that in their tiny little hands and totally blew it. Because the reason that BBM did so well, and broke through so many barriers, was that it was a damned love story. And they had in their hands an even more beautiful and sweet and real love story that we'd all lived with for five years, and the most powerful statement that they could possibly have made about why gays, and the loving bonds between gay couples, should be treated with the same respect that is given to straight couples would have been to have Brian and Justin and their relationship survive all the shit that's been thrown at them and to have them happy and joyful and together on their own fucking terms. And that, IMO, is what the "statement" should damned well have been, and if it had, then C/L would have done what no one else has been able to do, and establish a gay love story with a happy ending in the heart of popular culture. And the fact that they didn't is due to their fucking incompetence and has absolutely nothing at all to do with the characters or with their future together once the writers stopped fucking them about in their search for Emmy glory (which was damned well doomed to failure because they are such incompetent self-absorbed idiots that they couldn't let the characters be the message - they had to write words, and put speeches in their mouths and they should have listened to Brian all the times that he's said it's not about the words, it's about the actions!). So the ending has, for me, absolutely nothing to say about Brian and Justin, it's all just political posturing and vainglory on the part of two pretentious morons who weren't smart enough to see their real opportunity to make history, make a real statement, when it was right there in front of them.
Anyway, that's the complex bit.
The simple bit, is that, after gradually eroding my confidence at various times all through S4, C/L's Justin lost any resemblance to the character that I understood (and understand) Justin to be when he took that job in LA, and that this got worse all through S5, so by 513 I'd stopped taking any notice of what their Justin did at all.
And this is the thing, and the reason that Reverberations came into being at all.
It wasn't so much that he took the job - but that he did it without even a moment's thought about the fact that his partner was still in recovery from a life-threatening illness, and had not yet been given even a provisional all clear. For all Justin knew, the cancer could have recurred at any time during the six months he was away, and that, in fact, those months could have been the last of Brian's life. But neither that, nor the fact that even common courtesy demanded that he give his partner at least a head's up before accepting the job, weighed with him at all. So I went through the whole of the hiatus between S4 and S5 reconciling this with Justin as I know him, as I see the character, as I believe the Justin of S1 would have evolved, and came to the conclusion that C/L totally had their heads up their asses, especially where Justin was concerned, and I could neither trust nor believe anything they wrote for him from that point on. So, by 513, I no longer felt any impulse to believe anything they were showing me about the character.
That approach stood me in good stead for all of S5, in fact, as their writing for the character for most of the season just eroded the "real" Justin further and further. The head spinning turn abouts they wrote for him that earned him the Sybil!Justin moniker drove me nuts.
But what I hated most about the way that they wrote him, was that there were so few points during the season when Brian's feelings about what was going on seemed to matter to him at all.
The young man who had been so closely attuned to Brian that he had understood Brian's internal battles over the whole parental rights thing in S1 without Brian ever saying a word, the one who had understood enough to stay behind after Mikey's party, the one who had read how unhappy he was without Michael, and had gone out and done something about it ... all gone.
The man who had known how freaked his partner was by his "possession withdrawal" and known just how to deal with it - vanished.
The one who'd practically thrown chicken soup at Brian while telling him what an asshole he was for thinking Justin would leave him - forget him. Gone, deceased, defunct.
Where was any recognition of how hurt Brian must have been by Mikey's attitude towards him?
Any understanding of what the whole battle over JR's custody must have said to the man who'd given up the rights to his son to try to give Gus a stable homelife that had now evaporated into bickering and discord and downright spite?
Any recognition that, no matter how silly Justin might think the cause of it, the crisis with Brandon, the loss of his status as youthful stud, was just that for Brian ... a real crisis? Some glimmer of empathy, of understanding that this was a time when he needed (and deserved) his partner's love and understanding, not mockery and thinly veiled contempt?
These were the points that upset me in S5 far more than the ending.
These were the points at which I felt that Justin (and us) were most betrayed by the writers. Probably in their pathetic attempts to write "politically relevant" material
Or maybe because Randy had them pegged correctly right back at the beginning and they simply had no idea how to write a self aware, confident young gay man for this generation.
These were the things that, for me, meant that I had to tackle Reverberations, because the Justin I was writing in Homecoming could not have behaved the way that Justin did in the first half of canon S5. Just could not.
I'm not trying to turn Justin into a Mary-Sue character. But I am trying to take the character we came to know in S1, and allow him to evolve into someone that can at least recognise when his partner is in real pain and not want to add to it.
And that's all that I really want to say.
Well, except that the Reverb thing is taking longer than I expected to write so I'll be posting it in two or three parts over the next week or so.