[personal profile] adeline
There's a million things I should be doing now, but I also have to post this out before I get fandom burnout, which I'm pretty sure will happen quite soon, and just decide not to bother. Or get lazy, whichever is more likely to hit first.

Re: Nathan Petrelli in Volumes 3 & 4 of Heroes

I should preface this by saying it's all interpretation. I have no authority other than being a fan who probably takes loved shows and characters a tad too seriously. Usually, what I appreciate most in the shows I like is good characterization, continuity (ya rly), and believable intra- and interpersonal dynamics.

I should also say Nathan has been my favorite character on Heroes from pretty much the get-go. In episodes subsequent to Peter's jumping off the roof, where most people saw a self-serving heartless jerk, I saw a moderately high-profile guy mostly trying to suppress embarrassing unwanted qualities and yet still throwing caution to the wind to catch his brother, in the broad daylight and in spite of the stakes at hand. And yes, I know he gave him a good deal of grief over it, but still, that has trumped everything for me. Not that it ever absolved him of his faults (o hai, husband of the year!) but it went a long way to endear him to me. So there's my bias, I'll save you the trouble of looking. ;)

Another observation I have to make is, I've seen far more people in this fandom wanting to like him (because Pasdar is awesome, because Nathan/Peter is lush, because he has amazing hair or handles shotguns beautifully, etc., what-have-you) than genuinely sympathizing with the character in his own right. This is perfectly fine, obviously, but it's obviously going to affect how we each come to view the character. I feel the distinction is fundamental enough that on some points, it's impossible we will all see eye to eye.

I'm merely writing this because I have seen a lot of people disappointed in Nathan, or feeling like recent episodes have done a tremendous disservice to the character, and I feel absolutely differently. It is in no way my intention to offend or invalidate anybody's opinion, but I'm quite bewildered at the vehement range of reactions I have witnessed on various corners of the internet. As I won't have the patience to go around and justify my view all hiatus long, this'll just give me a post to link to when people wonder how on Earth I remain so taken with this much-debated character. And also because I'm a little bit pathetic in my fangirling ways, heh. XD But, please, feel free to pick up the discussion in comments.

LOL AND THIS WAS JUST THE PREFACE, YOU GUISE.

Anyway. I'll start with Villains, and more specifically the rather stirring "Dual", as I'd have to marathon it entirely to reflect on the volume as a whole (which might happen over the Xmas break). I can tell you right now, though, I wasn't entirely sold on the whole finding God thing Nathan had going on for a while. I suppose, I guess, after being brought back from the brink of death twice at such close intervals, the mind would wander down all possible avenues; but since it was never really followed up on, I'm not sure what to make of it.

One other thing I wasn't satisfied with was the lack of mention of his (ex-?)wife and sons. After footage of the assassination attempt was shown on national TV, you'd think he and Heidi would want their children to know their dad's OK - especially after the promise Nathan gave them mere weeks earlier. Here I say, WTF writers.

On these grounds, I would say the character continuity has been a little on the iffy side in the first batch of episodes. From "Villains" onwards, however, I felt this was more or less rightened. And take note, Nathan is portrayed in that episode as a well-regarded District's Attorney about to drag his father to court in the name of justice, despite his deep-seated worship of the man.

But onto "Dual"! Something which has been pleasing me a lot in recent episodes was seeing Nathan carve his own path, away from the influence of his mother, father, or brother. Throughout the first two volumes, it has been a motif that Nathan could only make loaded decisions with the support of mother, mentor, brother, friend, or daughter telling him what he should realize is the right thing. "I don't know who I am without you," indeed! (Quote from 1x19, ".07%") But here, to a lesser extent since accepting the senate seat he was offered, and yet more significantly since the wake-up call that was Haiti in the "Eclipse" episodes, Nathan has decided to follow only what his own conscience tells him is the right thing, and he won't be swayed from it.

His plan, as he explained it to Peter in "The Eclipse, Part II" has the idealistic long-term aim of achieving world peace. Oh, for crying out loud! As an informed audience, we've already accepted that he's GOING THE WRONG WAY(!!!) about it, but I could hardly call his intent nefarious. He has to go and follow through on the plan his father designed because it is what he genuinely believes will make a lasting positive impact on the world he knows. It could be argued throughout Genesis that his motives were less noble, that he was driven mostly by hubris and hunger for power (of the political variety) (and also, lol ~~hunger~~), but I think we can all agree Generations lay any such concerns to rest. At the end of Villains, Nathan is solely working for what he perceives as a great, valid cause - much like Peter aided Adam's efforts in Generations, if you will -- Adam who casually slayed Primatech orderlies left and right on his way to the vault, lest anybody forget.

Which leads me onto the subject of violence, of which there has been a lot lately, and a lot of talk about as well. Generally, I feel this volume has been a fiercely violent one, from its inception with Future!Peter shooting Nathan and zapping Matt away to rot ~Somewhere In Africa~. But let's face it, it's Nathan's violence that is causing the biggest uproar, which I find rather understandable. The uproar, I mean. Err, wait. No, see, I get where people are coming from, really, I do. Where does Nathan get off beating a powerless Peter with a frakkin' lead pipe? Right? But I, as is my wont, try to get past my reaction as a viewer to uncover character motivations. Call it subtext-substituting, fanwanking, or whatever, but here's what I see.

The violence was evidently two-fold here, verbal and physical. In the scene with Knox where Nathan keeps putting down Peter, I think there was a mix of brash honesty - for many years Nathan has felt superior to Peter, and in his current predicament, I can see him backtracking on his recent acknowledgement that he's always admired Peter; heartbreak talking - as Nathan may in fact be hurt by Peter's staunch opposal to his mission (poor bb); and calculation - to get Knox to come within punching range.

The infamous lead pipe sequence, if you ask me, was fueled by panic and fear with a side order of rage. Go back to the first scene, Nathan does not believe that Sylar killed Arthur. He sees Peter with a gun, now aimed at him, and is reminded that a version of Peter shot him twice before, and aimed to kill. What's more, I'm not sure Nathan at this point can even conceive of Peter putting so much effort in thwarting him. And sure enough, Peter is standing in his way - he has to get past him somehow. (If you watch closely the scene, which I know is uncomfortable for many, you'd notice Nathan first punches Peter in the ribs and then swipes the pipe at his legs to shove him off-balance, but I won't extoll on the choreography right now - y'all already think I'm crazy enough. ;) But make of this what you will.)

The last, heartbreaking scene where Nathan throws Peter's puppy love back in his face, was perhaps my favorite in the entire episode (or possibly volume). Not because I'm a sadist - though I do love my angst, not gonna lie - but particularly because I think it speaks... volumes (haha) about Nathan. He is angry as they land, infuriated that Peter went back on his own principles so quickly only to rescue one person, and one who opposed him at that. One of the things he respected most about Peter - his integrity - is now more than ever in question, and he can't accept that. So he is clearly saying, had their roles been reversed, he would've carried on fighting for the cause he believes in, no matter the cost. That he would - and did - sacrifice his own blood for what he perceives as the greater good. And he's disappointed that Peter would act differently. That's, somehow, tragically compelling to me.

So, yes, Nathan is flawed. Gravely flawed, even. But he has ideals that he will uphold, and uphold them he will, perhaps even more dexterously now that he's so alone in his fight.

All of which should make for an interesting Fugitives volume, if handled right. I know most fans feel it's a leap, from wanting to militarize powers to seeking the ostracization of those who have them, but it's not so much of a stretch if you recall Nathan's original reasoning. ~Good people~ with powers, in his plan, would put an end to the harmful power abusers (such as Baron Samedi and Sylar). That plan having fallen to the wayside, he's still looking to keep the dangerous ones in-check through a legal process. No doubt that he's doing it awfully wrong, and some of those files he provided for evidence ticked me off as well. But again, I have to recognize that he's putting the cause above anything else, which is as noble as it can be dastardly. I believe we have morally liquid Nathan back, people. Only this time around, he thinks he knows where he's going and what he's doing it for.

Another thing that interests me infinitely about this, is that he's imagined himself in the position of the hunted before. After HRG and the Haitian attempted to snatch him from Linderman's palace, he was unsettled enough that he mentioned it to Peter, and when Simone insisted he go public with his powers, he brushed it off on the grounds that, oh oh, they'd all be rounded-up and experimented upon in some secret location removed from civilization. I find that paradigm extremely interesting, and should Volume Four explore it, I shall be a happy camper. Plus, (CAUTION! SMALL-ISH VOL. 4 SPOILERS AHEAD) ~the Hunter~ is being played by Zeljko Ivanek. Come on, you know that BAMF will catch Senator Petrelli and give him a cosmic taste of medicine sooner than later. XD

Also, (SOME SMALL VOL. 4 SPOILERS STILL) it has surfaced that Janice Parkman will reappear and bring forth the issue of what it means to have children with abilities omg yesss I knew Matt was the babydaddy, which makes me wonder if they'll mention at all the possibility that Nathan's boys Simon and Monty might also have them. Which would MAKE MY LIFE for like a week and half, lols. Though if Villains is any indication, I think their post-its fell off of the proverbial ~background characters whiteboard~ in the proverbial writers' room. Oh well, it can't hurt to hope. (END OF SPOILERS)

So, anyways, in short. This is all why I have no impeding problem with the Nathan characterization of late, why I adored this volume finale, and why I CANNOT WAIT for Fugitives to hit. OMG, it's gonna be awesome.

Talking of awesome, [livejournal.com profile] moosewizard has a brilliantastic theory here that would also rock my socks six ways to Sunday if it happens. In which case, please disregard that big honkin' pile of TL;DR above. :p

zomg, I'm all typed-out, thanks for reading if you've made it thus far. Discuss!

Date: 2008-12-18 02:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malicat.livejournal.com
Wow,I may not agree with everything but they way you wrote this is just brilliant!
Well,I'm extremely biased on this whole thing because Peter is MY favorite character,from the very first scene so everyone who hurts my bb is BAD *lol*
No,seriously.
I was always torn with my opinion about Nathan in season 1. Mostly because he treated Peter like shit (I said it,I'm WAY too biased ^^).Then we saw a different site of him and that he actually loved his baby brother.That made me like Nathan a bit more.Until the whole "blow up NY" thing started and I hated him again. Season 2 changed my opinion completely and he became one of my favorite characters (one of many actually,the list is long *lol*).
Season 3 now was a rollercoaster ride. I kinda could understand that he had this religious motives,I could also understand that he had some issues with his brother,that he was shocked to hear his ability wasn't natural etc. I was still ok with it when he wanted to use the formula and give people abilities.Even though I hated it to see that he turned against Peter (I forgot to mention that I also love the Petrelli brothers relation ^^) I was actually quite pleased with this new development.Nathan was a bit... bla and boring the episodes before (he didn't really have to do anything) but then he became interesting again.
What happened in this last epiosde now was MAYBE the next step and not so extremely out of character but it happened to quick for me. If it was shown for maybe two or three episodes,then I could understand it a bit better but in "Dual" it just seemed to me that he snapped without a reason.
And he was mean to Peter,that's a no-go :P
Idk,maybe my resistance is only because I was so shocked that he hurt Peter so much.Maybe I will be more satisfied with Nathan's development in the new volume.I won't give up on him yet!


Ok,this comment turned out to be longer than I planned *lol*

Date: 2008-12-18 04:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nitro26.livejournal.com
Yay! I'm so glad you posted this! :D

I like the way you've interpreted all of this - keeping Nathan in a positive light. Nathan (along with a few others) has always been my favorite and I really don't want to see him going down the wrong path. I mean, even though we all know what he's doing isn't right, he thinks that it is, and that's what matters here. You can't be a 'bad guy' if you honestly believe that you're doing the right thing and trying to make a difference in the world. So yes, I'm definitely going with your theory up there.

I also like how you talked about Nathan's violent outburst. That that all happened not because he doesn't love Peter anymore, but because he loves Peter. I mean, you see this sort of thing in Supernatural, too (in Metamorphosis, specifically) where Dean will hurt Sam and Sam will hurt Dean because they love each other. It just shows how deep and far that loves goes. Nathan seemed so disappointed and hurt by Peter and I think that's really what caused him to lash out in the way he did.

The ending still makes me sad. :( But if it really came down to it, I think that that IS what Nathan would've done. He wouldn't have left Peter. So that's comforting. And if you wanna look at it the other way, it just shows that Nathan will not let anything stand in the way of what he believes to be right.

Aaanywho, that was lovely. ♥

Date: 2008-12-18 06:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moosewizard.livejournal.com
I should also say Nathan has been my favorite character on Heroes from pretty much the get-go.

Haha, we're on the same page here. Been a Nathan-girl since episode one. w00t!

I guess, after being brought back from the brink of death twice at such close intervals, the mind would wander down all possible avenues

That's the reason, if anything, I think Nathan's snapped. Being close to death so many times, having seen so much, when lookin at what his life was just two years prior, it really shouldn't surprise anyone that he would lose it. I am actually surprised none of the characters have gone looney yet.

with Future!Peter shooting Nathan and zapping Matt away to rot ~Somewhere In Africa~. But let's face it, it's Nathan's violence that is causing the biggest uproar, which I find rather understandable.

You know, I never did understand why fandom gave future!Peter a free-pass on his utterly despicable behavior. I, for one, couldn't believe what he did. Not at all. Especially to Matt. Seriously. One of the things I dislike about the Heroes fans is the double-standard. I feel like Peter and Sylar can do whatever the hell they want and because they are ~pretty~ they can get away with it. Anyone else? No way. Especially not the female characters. Bah.

The infamous lead pipe sequence, if you ask me, was fueled by panic and fear with a side order of rage. Go back to the first scene, Nathan does not believe that Sylar killed Arthur. He sees Peter with a gun, now aimed at him, and is reminded that a version of Peter shot him twice before, and aimed to kill. What's more, I'm not sure Nathan at this point can even conceive of Peter putting so much effort in thwarting him.

This isn't really something I had thought about before. I mean, that is true. Nathan might think that Peter is fully willing to kill him, which is totally true.
.. you know, why wasn't fandom in an uproar over Peter POINTING A GUN AT HIS BROTHER FOR A GOOD THIRTY SECOND OR WHATEVER? Furthermore, not many people were raging about Peter shooting Nathan *twice* at the beginning of the season; or even SLICING HIS HEAD OPEN. I mean, in all honesty, I think Peter might be just as bad as Nathan at this point.
If Peter had his powers in that scene - what's to say he wouldn't have thrown Nathan up against a wall? Or shot him with electricity? Peter did what he could without his powers -- he decked Nathan in the jaw.

During the course of your post, I realize it's not just Nathan who's been breaking apart the relationship. It's Peter too.

No doubt that he's doing it awfully wrong, and some of those files he provided for evidence ticked me off as well.

My issue with this is that Nathan's playing God, in a sense. He's fully willing to turn in others with powers, but not himself, and all for some demented sense of ~the greater good~. What, does he think flying isn't harmful? Um, it could be, theoretically. If he had turned himself in as well, then that would've been completely different, but he totally turned on old friends like Matt and Hiro. And even little Micah! He had to know this is a very, very bad idea.

~the Hunter~ is being played by Zeljko Ivanek. Come on, you know that BAMF will catch Senator Petrelli and give him a cosmic taste of medicine sooner than later. XD

I sincerely hope so. He needs sense knocked into him.


Thank you for this amazing post. It has made me feel a little better about Nathan's characterization this season, but... I don't know. I guess we shall see. :)

Date: 2008-12-21 06:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miss-miso.livejournal.com
I've lost track of exactly how I found this post (I tend to flit around lj randomly, came across your awesome polls, and lo, here we are at your incredible Nathan meta).

I just wanted to thank you for it. I have my concerns about where Nathan is going, mostly because a) I prefer the brothers being snuggly and gorgeous together and b) I adore the character, and it hurts to hear people writing him (and the show) off, based on these last few episodes. So it's nice to read a sympathetic post, patiently explaining why Nathan is not evil incarnate!

I have nothing to add to your great insights. Ultimately I have no problems with understanding Nathan's motivation - even turning over the files makes sense in the context of what he's seen and experienced. And I think the set up for Fugitives is fantastic. However, the superficial, fangirl-y side of me longs for a sweet reunion between the Petrellis, preferably sooner, rather than later!

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