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30 September 2012 @ 03:45 pm
Writerverse Challenge #10: "The Architect"  
Or, "What I wrote to fill a challenge when I should have been writing fanfic for this fandom instead." *Ahem*

This challenge has you specify either one of your original universes or a fandom that you're working on. I picked the latter.



I've written in a lot of fandoms, but one of the most recent is Justified.

Justified is a character-driven TV show that runs on the FX network. Its main character is Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshall with an itchy trigger finger. After a public shooting incident, Raylan is called back to the Marshall's office near his hometown in Harlan County, Kentucky. The office has a bombing case, and the leads point to a local troublemaker—surely Raylan can work his magic as the "Hillbilly Whisperer" and crack the case?

The suspect in question turns out to be someone Raylan knew while growing up in Harlan, the shrewd and enigmatic Boyd Crowder. Over the course of the show, Raylan and Boyd will have many more dealings, all of them colored by a combination of mutual distrust and the inability to stop liking each other despite how often their goals and motives are in direct opposition.

Raylan's upbringing colors much of his character. His father, a local petty criminal, drank too much, and he beat Raylan's mother. Raylan's choice to be a lawman is a complete rejection of his father, but in marrying Winona (they later divorced), he put himself at the mercy of someone who always disapproved of who he was. Raylan is patient in gathering facts, but he can be very short-tempered when dealing with people. When he fires his gun, he usually shoots to kill. All of his shootings thus far have been considered "justified" (hence the name of the series), but often just barely.

Boyd's father was a career criminal like Raylan's, but far more successful. Boyd alternates between truly wanting to become a better man and slipping right back into the family business (because it's what he knows, and he's good at it). There are times when it seems like he utterly adores Raylan, which is part of what motivates Boyd to change and also what keeps Raylan from completely giving up on him. Raylan can't bring himself to flat-out hate someone who loves him, or (in the case of his father, Arlo) someone who should love him but probably never has.

There's an electricity between Rayland and Boyd that hints at the possibility of them having had a deeper relationship in the past. They might have been close friends, or lovers, or had some kind of sexual fling. Speculating on that past is one of the more popular and open areas of Justified fanfiction.

There are a lot of marvelous minor characters, too. Raylan's boss, Art, is dry and hilarious, and his own patience is often sorely tried by Raylan's antics. Ava Crowder was an abused wife who one day hit her limit and solved her problems with a shotgun, and got to liking that approach very much. Raylan's aunt Helen is a mystery all her own: she knew her sister's husband was an abuser, and yet she married him after her sister died. She might have done it to help raise Raylan, and she certainly seemed to have a much more equal relationship with Arlo than her poor sister. But what brought her to take that first step, and to stay put after Raylan left home? Helen's history offers a rich area for fanfic writers to explore and invent.

I've written a couple of drabbles and a very short story in this universe, but I'm presently finishing out a somewhat longer story for the Hillbilly Remix and also working on a Justified/zombies story that will test my creativity in combining Raylan/Boyd slash with an unexpected uprising of visitors from the grave.

The show holds some of its fact close to the vest. It clearly takes place in a town, which is never named but is too big not to have a name. All we know is that it's part of Harlan County, an area where mining and drug-running live side by side, and where there are neighborhoods and realtors and hair salons and courthouses, and none of that will ever be enough to make certain residents happy.

Raylan Givens, in particular.


-//-

 
 
 
tidal_race: chicken patriotismtidal_race on September 30th, 2012 10:52 pm (UTC)
I thought Raylan and Boyd's history(at least part of it) was shown in the first season. The coal mine flashback?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on September 30th, 2012 10:56 pm (UTC)
It was, but all we got was that they were coal miners together for a bit, and then there was an explosion that nearly killed them both (and Boyd grabbed Raylan's hand and helped him run out to safety).

We don't really get detail before that point, and given that they grew up together and that there's that "something" between them, it's impossible to believe there isn't more.

I think canon states pretty clearly that Boyd's father beat him. We're pretty sure Raylan's father did too, but I'm not sure that's been explicitly detailed. Arlo beat Raylan's mother, but what about Raylan? If so, both Raylan and Boyd were abused sons of criminals. That seems like an opportunity for mutual support and friendship, back in their childhood or teens. But we don't know.

The speculation, though, is VERY entertaining.

You are one mighty fast reader-- I barely got this up and linked before you'd replied to it!
tidal_race: my bottletidal_race on September 30th, 2012 11:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I do read kind of fast. I guess I got the impression that the show was specifically saying they were friends before they went to work in the coal mines together, and Raylan feels like Boyd saved his life that day, and that creates a bond you can't just break even if you want to, but then again, it's been awhile since I saw that ep. I love that fanfic explores all the different avenues of any fandom though.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on September 30th, 2012 11:16 pm (UTC)
I think the show implies all of those things, but doesn't directly state them. I rewatched the Pilot (for fanficcing purposes, so typical), and that moment in the mine is about all you get there-- but because Boyd saved him, you are left with the understanding of some kind of bond and also why Raylan might have decided he was never going to risk his life mining again, after nearly getting killed.

That really was one of the best Pilots I've seen in a long time. I've groaned at parts of the Supernatural Pilot, just a few that feel like, "Ow! Stop hitting me in the head with your exposition anvil!". But the "Justified" Pilot folds in a lot of Raylan's issues, glimpses of how he got that way and why he ran away from Harlan, and the kind of man that could be compelled to shoot an old friend and still regret it. It's really pretty tight storytelling.

One of my other favorites is the Pilot for "Reaper." The setup, the snark, all of the character traits for the whole cast, and the pull in a single episode. Really excellent writing!
n3m3sis43n3m3sis43 on October 4th, 2012 12:36 am (UTC)
This was a great summary because it really made me want to watch the show. You did a good job of describing what makes the characters human and interesting,as well as some of the fun and interesting aspects of the fandom. Now I'd just have to get expanded basic cable back to watch it. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 4th, 2012 12:48 am (UTC)
because it really made me want to watch the show.

Yay! I tried to present the intriguing (and sometimes conflicting) aspects of the main characters, because that richness is often what makes a difference in whether the show appeals or not.

Other people's recommendations to me were "I like it" and "Same producer as 'The Shield'" and the one guy who told me his mancrush was Raylan Givens (which actually was a selling point, because the guy has lived in Portland for years and fits in there perfectly, and assured me that it had broader appeal than to just Country&Western fans).

"The Shield" is another show I'd recommend. There's a lot of violence, and some sexual stuff that occasionally made me cringe, but the characters? The writing? The fact that all of those things were interesting right through to the end of its final season? Outstanding show.

Thanks for taking a moment to read this!