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"DVD Commentary" on #201: Loss - The Sword of Heaven [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
the Archangel Gabriel

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"DVD Commentary" on #201: Loss [Aug. 30th, 2008  ~  11:34 pm]
the Archangel Gabriel

sonofgranite wanted to know about this (very very long) prompt. *deep breath*

Well, for starters it's certainly the longest prompt I've written during my several years in TM, clocking in at just under 10,000 words. It did take me quite a while to write, with several stops and false starts before I was satisfied.

To those unfamiliar with Gabriel's canon, he's turned human at the end of the second Prophecy movie, we see a little epilogue five years later where he's living as a bum on the streets of LA, and then there's another ten year gap between that and the start of Prophecy III. That's a lot of character development for Gabriel we simply never see on screen: his transformation from arrogant, unrepentant, and passionate villain to a much more laid back, quiet, and eventually-unfallen hippy angel. I knew that this period of time in Gabriel's existence, particularly the bits immediately after his transformation to humanity, when he's trying to cope with it all, would demand an intensive prompt from me. (I just didn't know how intensive!)

Some years ago I read a Batman comic (can't remember the name/issue right now, unfortunately) in which Bruce Wayne wakes up in a mental institution where he's told he's delusional and that his amazing life as a caped crusader and fighter of crime is all in his head. In reality his 'batsuit' is made out of garbage bags and duct tape and he's been living out of garbage cans, stumbling around Gotham's streets while seeing only his imaginary Gotham City where he's the hero.

It is of course all a plot by a villain who's kidnapped him, but it was an incredibly well-done story, and Batman starts believing the lie, starts believing that, well, of course it makes more sense that he's just a nutso with delusions of grandeur than an actual superhero.

It's hardly an original concept and has been done in various other fictions as well (in Neverwhere, for instance!), but the idea of the doctor or a trusted loved one telling you that you're crazy, and not knowing whether to believe them or not, always freaks me out when it's done well. Given that Gabriel is pretty much crazy for a while, it made sense to me that he'd be institutionalized, told he was nuts, and from there...

(But who needs a Batman villain when your supporting cast includes the Devil! Am I right? I'm so right!) ...on that note, Lucifer, at least the Prophecy version, is a really fun character to stick into Gabe's prompts. I try not to do it too often because he's something of a spotlight-stealer, but oh, he's just so deliciously nasty and petty and spiteful and man does he have a lot of issues with Gabriel's return to grace when he's still stuck down in the basement. (Not that that made it into this particular prompt, but it will possibly show up in future ones.)

The concept of Anne came about because I was imagining Gabriel not just getting de-angeled, but also truly being turned human. All the things about Anne and the life they had are, for the duration of his time as a human, absolutely true. The universe created a life for him as he became a human being. (In hindsight I think this was directly influenced by a scene in Neil Gaiman's Death: The High Cost of Living.) Lucifer might have nudged a thing here or there, but he didn't make up Anne just to screw with Gabriel, much as he'd like to take credit for it. I still have not decided what happened to Anne et al when Gabriel became an angel again; perhaps there will be a prompt about that as well.

Um. Right. What else... I've been to some of the Venice Beach drum circles; they draw some incredible people. I would not be too surprised to run into a fallen archangel at one.

The major thing I was trying to capture in this prompt was just how far he'd fallen, and how vast the gulf between himself as he had been and he was now. (What he'd lost, as the prompt topic itself says.) He goes from being immensely powerful, with knowledge and perception that are beyond imagining, to being very, very human, very weak, very vulnerable. He doesn't get to be a powerful human, a rich human-- he doesn't even get to be dignified. Gabriel has to reach a humbling, humiliating, dependent-on-others, broken rock bottom before he gets to start moving back up again. He has to have every shred of his hubris and arrogance taken away from him by circumstance, in order to learn, in order to start over. The arc of his character development demands this.

And it's necessary narratively as well. Gabriel is a villain in the first two movies: an interesting one to be sure, a tragic one, but when all is said and done he's an evil scary fucker who enjoys hurting people who can't possibly fight back, so that he doesn't have to deal with his own pain. Our sense of narrative justice demands that he, well, suffer. Hell wasn't enough for this guy-- it didn't even phase him-- so this is his punishment. This prompt shows the wages of Gabriel's sins, which we only get glimpses of on-screen. In a story universe that posits the existence of a just God who rewards good and punishes evil, this is also necessary.

Let's see, what else. Um, the parallels to Christ's time in the wilderness are probably pretty obvious, although I sort of lost track of them after the intro bit. My bad.

In my original draft for this, Dr. Heffernan was going to be Lucifer, which accounts for his name; 'Heffernan' is a Gaelic name from a word meaning 'demon'. Other naming fun is Gabriel's surname, which means 'eagle' and brings to mind of course wings and all that jazz. It didn't make it into the final draft, but there was going to be a reference to Gabriel's company being a communications firm. Fitting for a messenger. :D

I... think that might be all I've got for this one. It was a long slog to write but I'm pretty happy with the end results; it's definitely one of my better Gabriel prompts.

[User Picture]From: sonofgranite
2008-08-31 07:16 pm (UTC)
*skwishes joo* YAY. Always love to learn about the background of a beautiful story.
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