Themed Blog Series

05

A Little Thing About Steed, Emma, Neurodivergence, and Trusting the Process

Recently my fellow tumblr celluloidbroomcloset made some postings about Steed making models to figure out what’s happening in Winged Avenger, and Emma’s responses to that activity. I followed up with one about him making diagrams in Murder Market, and then the following ideas kinda happened:

Sometimes Steed really needs that hands-on, tactile, kinetic way of solving problems. If we accept my headcanon that Steed is ADHD, he probably has so many different ideas blossoming in his head at once that he can’t corral them without creating something concrete that he can latch his ideas onto. Making the model of the building or graphing the murders is a way for him to streamline his thoughts and get them into some semblance of order. Therefore those methods are necessary for him, even if ultimately they don’t provide the key to solving the case.

I think Emma understands this. Yes, she thinks it’s cute that he builds models and makes graphs, but she’s not mocking him for needing to do that just because she doesn’t. She understands that his brain works differently from hers, and that whereas she can just puzzle stuff out logically in her head, Steed sometimes needs to draw pictures or use tools or make models before he can get to the place that Emma already starts from.

Steed doesn’t feel ashamed of having to make graphs or models as part of settling in to a case, and he’s not wasting time by doing those things. Yes, those activities do take time, and they don’t directly lead to the solution to the case, but if he refused to do them at all because he was worried about it seeming weird or stupid or tangential he’d only make himself miserable and the process would take even longer and be even less productive.

Steed probably doesn’t know that he’s ADHD, because that diagnosis didn’t exist back then. But he does know what he needs to do to solve a problem, so that’s what he does. Emma understands that, and accommodates it. She helps him when she can, but mostly she just sits back and waits for him to be ready to go on to the next step, which she does without impatience and with the presumption of Steed’s competence to know what works best for him. In the meantime, Emma pursues her own leads, knowing that Steed will make his own important contributions to the case in his own way.


originally posted on sparklywaistcoat
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Blindness, Ableism, and Models of Disability in “Second Sight”

The first in an occasional series on representations of disability in The Avengers


⊗ Content note for discussion of ableism and disabled-as-villain tropes

Odd and possibly criminal things might happening in connection with an intended corneal transplant involving a live donor and an exclusive eye clinic in the Swiss Alps, so Steed asks Mrs Gale to hop over to the Continent to check things out. Marten Halvarssen, a wealthy, blind recluse who is the owner of the clinic (although he himself lives in London), seems to be one of the possible players in the apparent nefariousness, along with Dr Eve Hawn, who is Halvarssen’s fiancee, and Neil Anstice, who at first appears to be one of the clinic’s surgeons but in fact is a sort of mercenary criminal hired to do the legwork of the scheme.

As the title of the episode and the above brief synopsis indicate, disability—in particular, blindness—plays a very important role in both characterization and plot. Although the blind man is worked up as a suspect and potential villain, his actual role in the criminal doings that drive the plot of the episode is rather less black-and-white, making him something of an outlier in Avengers and New Avengers episodes that feature disabled characters, who nearly universally are unequivocally bad guys. Even so, Halvarssen is no Boy Scout: the elaborate diamond-smuggling plot that leads to the murders of Hilda Brauer and Dr Spender was set in motion by him, although the deaths were not part of his plan and he is furious that Anstice killed those people. In the end, however, Halvarssen shows himself to be on the side of the good guys, at least for the moment, actively helping Steed and Mrs Gale take down the others.

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The Exclusivity Arc

Introduction and Overview

The first extended blog series that I attempted when I started writing about The Avengers had to do with my perceptions of the arc of Steed and Mrs Peel’s relationship over the course of the entirety of Season 4. I’m republishing it here, since bits of it connect with new stuff I’m doing, and other bits of it might do so in future. As with the Medieval Maunderings series, I’m reposting here with some light edits that will remain unacknowledged.

There originally were nine parts to this (all of which have titles and subtitles taken from fencing terminology, in honor of the way Mrs Peel is introduced to the audience), to which I tacked on some addenda, and you can get to all of those by following the links below, by scrolling through the posts on my homepage, or by clicking on “Exclusivity Arc” under “Themed Blog Series” in the “Categories” menu.

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The Exclusivity Arc


  Table of Contents 
Introduction and Overview
Part I  ♦  Part II  ♦  Part III 
 Addenda 

Small Hints of Bigger Problems?
Bonus Feature: Structures Across Season 4

PART I

En garde, prêts, allez!

»  The command sequence that begins a fencing match: on guard, ready, go!

exclusivity.01.townofnoreturn.01Steed and Mrs Peel face off with foil and umbrella

When we first meet Mrs Emma Peel (“Town of No Return”), she is in her apartment, practicing her fencing moves. She invites Steed in, and they begin a conversation that is a mixture of an invitation to take coffee, a challenge to a duel, and double entendre. We learn a lot about Mrs. Peel as an individual in her opening scene with Steed. She’s athletic and a skilled fencer who can give Steed a run for his money; she’s intelligent, has scientific training, and is sufficiently active and respected in her field to have publications in journals; she stands up for herself when challenged; and she has a sharp, wry sense of humor.

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The Exclusivity Arc


Table of Contents
Introduction and Overview
Part IPart IIPart III
Addenda

Small Hints of Bigger Problems?
Bonus Feature: Structures Across Season 4

 

PART II

Pas de touche, touché

»  ”No touch” and “touch” respectively. The first means that no point has been scored; the second indicates a scoring attack.

“Too Many Christmas Trees” is is the first episode to deal directly with the question of infidelity vs exclusivity in the relationship between Emma and Steed. It contains several scenes that hint towards Steed’s relationships with other women, and Emma’s first direct expressions of jealousy and mate guarding. As fellow tumblr celluloidbroomcloset has stated elsewhere, “Trees” is a watershed episode in the arc of the relationship between these two characters.

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The Exclusivity Arc


NOTE: As with Part II, this section has also received some substantial revision based on the change in my understanding of what actually happens with the blonde and why in TMCT. If you want to read the original version, please start here and follow the links to the end.

Table of Contents
Introduction and Overview
Part IPart IIPart III
Addenda

Small Hints of Bigger Problems?
Bonus Feature: Structures Across Season 4

 

PART III

Changement d’engagement

»  Eng. change of engagement: often a kind of jockeying for position in which one fencer will attempt to place their blade on the side of the opponent’s that they think will give them the most advantage.

If the first half of Season 4 is the arc that brings Steed and Mrs. Peel from what might be an initially non-exclusive relationship to one with an expectation of mutual fidelity, then the second half of the season shows the growth in that relationship as well as sparring back and forth over fidelity—or at least what seems on the surface to be expressions of jealousy. In the first eight episodes of that part of the season, Steed’s apparent interest in other women will get Emma’s dander up, and Emma will wave her apparent interest in other men at Steed to get back at him for what happened at Storey’s house. Therefore, throughout the second half of Season 4, we have a metaphorical fencing match over sexual matters that is a varied reprise of the literal one in “Town of No Return,” except that the stakes now are whether Steed and Emma will be able to trust one other, not the outcome of friendly swordplay and a cup of coffee with cream.

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Small Hints of Bigger Problems?


Table of Contents
Introduction and Overview
Part IPart IIPart III
Addenda

Small Hints of Bigger Problems?
Bonus Feature: Structures Across Season 4

 

I hadn’t really dealt with “Small Game for Big Hunters” in the original arc, but at fellow tumblr celluloidbroomcloset’s request I took another look at it. Herewith the results of those ruminations.

Part the First

exclusivity.smallgame.01The opening scenes of the episode suggest a certain amount of distance between Steed and Emma. They don’t arrive on the case together. We know Steed is already there, since his Bentley is parked outside. Emma arrives later, presumably after having been summoned by Steed. Her expression is neutral as she parks the car. She seems neither particularly pleased nor particularly displeased to be there.

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