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I recently mentioned on another thread that I thought Amanda had a dark side to her, which I wanted to better understand so that I could write from her POV. One person on that thread agreed, another disagreed.

I'd like to puzzle through this "out loud", as it were. This is stream-of-conciousness, rather than an organized essay. Feel free to jump in. A modicum of fruit throwing is allowed, as long as it's fresh and tasty fruit. Grapes might be nice.

Amanda is introduced as a light-hearted trickster and thief. But I see hints of something darker below the surface. She certainly freely manipulates MacLeod, Zachary, and the men at the circus to guarantee her safety and profits. Then, at the end of "Lady and the Tiger", Amanda interferes in a Challenge to take Zachary Blaine's head herself. Unless she has a greedy desire for Quickenings (unlikely), it would seem like some type of personal vengeance. But rather than let MacLeod know that, she shrugs it off with a mischevious little shrug.

In Season 2 Amanda becomes an on-going love interest. She runs to MacLeod for help with some FBI agents chasing her in "The Return of Amanda". Light-hearted trickster, okay. She's not directly causing any deaths. In "Legacy", she shows up in the barge. MacLeod assumes that she's in trouble, and eventually convinces her to tell him that Rebecca has been killed. This could have been a true desire for comfort, or a slightly slicker manipulation for help then usual, I'm not sure. Amanda DOES try to take Luther on alone, in retribution for Rebecca's death. She's unable to kill him, and MacLeod takes Luther's head.

Season 3 - Amanda helps MacLeod recover the "Cross of St. Antoine" and helps Joe get some payback against the Immortal that killed his lover Lauren. MacLeod calls on her later to take on Michelle Webster as a student. The assumption seems to be that a female Immortal would be a better teacher for her. Is that just because of her crush on MacLeod, or is it a general rule?

Now we get to the juicy part - her breakout of Kalas. Amanda likes MacLeod and maybe owes him a favor. What better way to pay it off then to break his enemy out of prison and take his head while he's helpless? Sadly, she doesn't succeed. The sceen that really gets to me in "Finale" is the one where she's imprisoned. The woman's tied to a chair by 2 men. It's not really the combination of seduction and deadly unarmed skill that allowed her to kill the men that bothered me. Somehow, it seemed almost FAMILIAR to her. As if she's done this enough times that it really wasn't worth mentioning.

Enough reprising of seasons for now. Let's talk history.

I have trouble understanding female Immortals. New ones are fine. But the old to ancient ones? How did they survive? Set aside the Immortals that would automatically take their head on meeting them. Axel Whitaker's approach of using them as bait, or the Horsemen's view of them as unusually hardy slaves, seems far more likely than someone actually teaching them who they are and how to fight. And they NEED someone to teach them. Because the number of cultures in which women were taught to fight with swords is vanishingly small. Joan of Arc and Bodeicca (sp?) were the exceptions that proved the rule.

Let's assume that you somehow have mangaged to find a female Immortal teacher, or a male Immortal who IS willing to teach you to fight. (Charles of Strausbourg and Duncan were the only 2 I could find when I looked through the records.) Now how do you survive? Holy Ground is a possibility, but there are enough female Martyrs in the Catholic church who didn't go looking for trouble to convince me that it's not necessarily a real long-term solution. Some cultures have the virgin-mother-whore choice going on. No Immortal will be a mother, so will you live as a virgin or a whore? Which would Amanda choose, if she COULD choose?

Then again, in many cultures you are either a particular man's property, or any man's meat. For a taste of that, try walking through a public market in Azerbaijan, alone. *shudders* I suspect that most female Immortals have tried placing themselves under a male's protection at various times in their lives. Grace had MacLeod and Carlos (until Carlos himself became a danger). Amanda occasionally runs back under Mac's shield. Manipulation, fear, or just an old reflex? I don't see any evidence that Rebecca ever did so, which is interesting.

On another note, how the HELL does a woman get away with walking around with a sword, through most of human history? Perhaps they perfected the "magic sword pocket" long before trench coats were invented. Remember that charming scene where young Dunkie meets up with Rebecca and Amanda for the first time? They were wearing men's clothing, and openly carrying swords. My first thought was how incredibly DANGEROUS that was for them. A woman dressing as a man and going armed in public was probably an abomination! If you were lucky, you might just get a branding, a stoning, or a hanging. Unlucky females could get burned at the stake or lose some important piece of their body. Why should Amanda worry about getting caught stealing from the Sultan's harem? I'm sure the penalty for carrying a sword would be worse. I'm guessing that Grace wasn't carrying a sword when MacLeod first met her because a chance-met Immortal was less dangerous than a lynch mob. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Charles of Strausbourg just never taught her to use one.

Enough about survival. How many times do you think Amanda has been raped in the past 1200 years? These days it is considered both illegal and immoral, and most women I know have been raped. We're talking about times when it was a lord's right, a victorious soldier's prize, and a slave-master's pleasure. How has that affected her, over time?

All Immortals are killers. But I'm coming to the conclusion that old female Immortals have got to be either cowering under someones protection, or really scary, in their own unique way. Amanda probably has a lot more in common with Methos's ruthless pragmatism than she would appear to at first glance.

MacLeod seems annoyed by the way that Amanda flings herself into dangerous situations. But I would say that 1,200 years as a female Immortal have taught Amanda that there is no such thing as safety. She'll dance on thin ice, because that's the only surface life has to offer. She's playful, she's joyful, she's sexy. Life is a game, with points for once-untouchable loot, pretty boys, and blood vengeance. And she hates to lose.

Does this sound like your Amanda? Do tell.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 28th, 2006 04:11 am (UTC)
None of this is logical mind you - just feelings I have had for a while about Amanda in Hl universe. I totally see Amanda as a pragmatic in the vein of Methos. I think she and Methos are sort of kindred spirits that way. Amanda to me is very cheerful, and completely ruthless at the same time. How has she survived for so long? Ruthlessness, her beauty being a weapon and a distraction, and men always underestimate the skills of females - that must have come in handy many times too.
Mar. 28th, 2006 01:41 pm (UTC)
Ohh, it gets tricky when you try to bring logic and actual history into it all. ;-) Much like with Richie, who always struck me as far too innocent and naive for his supposed past, Amanda as she's potrayed on the show is tricky to reconcile with the reality of what life would have been like for a female Immortal in certain times and places. We have to practice a certain amount of disbelief suspension.

I think, maybe, it's what you mean by "dark side" that's not fully clear to me. I really didn't disagree with anything you said here. When you guys were talking about Amanda having a dark side in the other thread, I was thinking of something more along the lines of Ceirdwyn going out into the night to get revenge for her husband's death, painting herself and becoming an earlier, darker incarnation of herself to go commit murder. I was thinking of certain stories I've read, where Amanda has "needs Duncan can't fulfill," and goes to Methos (or sometimes even Kronos) for punishment. I was thinking of Amanda in a context like we see Duncan in Obsession, where he's out of control and hurting people because of his possessiveness. That's what I don't see in Amanda, particularly not if you take Raven as canon, but even within the context of the series, I don't see it.

However, do I think she's tough and resilient? Do I think she's capable of being totally selfish? Do I think she's capable of being ruthless in the right situation? Yes. I don't think she's actually ruthless very often, but I see that in Reunion, in Legacy.

Especially after watching Raven, with all the fbs, I think Amanda's main technique for survival in a man's world is manipulation. She does it without thinking, any more, because she's been doing it so long. She's never had any compunction about using her best assets to find protection or to get what she wants. There are a few Raven fbs where we see her being tough and sticking up for herself like a man would (Birthright, for example), similar to how she acts against Kalas, against Luther. But mostly, she looks cute and flirts and acts like she expects men to give her what she wants. I don't know that she really does expect it, but she's learned long ago that you can get a long way on confidence and sex, and it's better to apologize after than to ask permission before. I don't think she puts a very high price on her body. The interesting thing is, I think she does put more of a premium on her skills as a thief. She's much pickier about how and by whom she lets those get used.

So, maybe we're just talking about different things when you say "dark side."
Apr. 1st, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
Perhaps "dark side" is a bit of a misnomer. What we see of Amanda in the HL series is very .... blond. She's light-hearted, tricksy but almost innocent. And I think, at this point, that is a mask she wears. The person underneath is more clever and ruthless than the ditzy Amanda she displays.

Amanda's main technique for survival in a man's world is manipulation
That makes all kinds of sense, and wew see that behavior from her consistently.

The funny thing is how MacLeod lets her get away with it over and over again. It's almost like their relationship has reached a point where he's saying, "You are a good friend and I trust you. I will help you in any way you need me to. If it makes you more comfortable to pretend that you are tricking me into it, go right ahead."
Apr. 2nd, 2006 02:37 am (UTC)
What we see of Amanda in the HL series is very .... blond. She's light-hearted, tricksy but almost innocent. And I think, at this point, that is a mask she wears. The person underneath is more clever and ruthless than the ditzy Amanda she displays.

Hmm. I'm really honestly not sure. I mean, I think she does show those sides of herself. She's certainly clever in Finale (after her initial screw-up, which was pretty boneheaded), and she doesn't really seem to hide her cleverness in eps like Money No Object or Methuselah's Gift. I don't think she's wearing a mask, really. She seems to put on her little girl act out of habit, but I don't get the feeling that she thinks Duncan's actually falling for it. She seems very straightforward and honestly herself in eps like MNO and MG and Immortal Cimoli. As for ruthlessness, I think she shows that side of herself when someone she loves is in danger or has been hurt (Reunion, Legacy). She obviously can take care of herself in a lot of sticky situations (Finale FB, lots of Raven eps) but I don't know that she's trying to keep that a secret.

The funny thing is how MacLeod lets her get away with it over and over again. It's almost like their relationship has reached a point where he's saying, "You are a good friend and I trust you. I will help you in any way you need me to. If it makes you more comfortable to pretend that you are tricking me into it, go right ahead."

I can definitely see that in the earlier episodes, when they were getting to know each other again after a long time apart. Zachary was, IMO, not good for her, and when she feels trapped, she reverts to the guttersnipe. I guess, if I'd say Amanda has a "dark side" at all, it's that. The starving guttersnipe who steals to live, and who looks out for herself first because she has to. I think she might revert to that if things got bad, like they seemed to with Zachary. But I guess I'm feeling like she really is kind of "blond" a lot of the time. *g* Her not-so-smooth attack on Stephen Keane, ditto for Kalas (twice), getting Duncan arrested, waking up Methos in the middle of the night (snrk)... etc. I don't really see the "mask" thing, though. (Sorry!) It's interesting to me that you see her that way.

There's a vid by Jenny Shipp to the song "She's Every Woman," and I think that's sort of how I interpret the mercurial nature of her personality. She has all of these facets, and she shifts between them all, but very little of it is really an act, not in any significant sense. I see Methos as a character who creates masks for himself like crazy, but not Amanda. She seems very genuine to me most of the time, once we get past Return of Amanda. It's only those first two episodes where she seemed to be playing games with Duncan with any seriousness.
Mar. 30th, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC)
I think women have been resourceful enough through history at protecting themselves and finding ingenious ways to do what they had to do for the tiny number of Immortal women in the general public to be able to survive.

We're talking about aberrations to begin with. Yes, Immie women would have had a harder time than men. Yes, they'd have had to violate or bend societal norms. Yes, it would have been, and would always be harder for them than for men. But learning to fight, carrying a sword, and disguising oneself as a man was far from impossible in the past. Easier, probably, than carrying a sword around would be today. If you want examples of warrior women or women who dressed and fought as men, see Jessica Amanda Salmonson's Encyclopedia of Amazons or Women Warriors by David Jones, for two sources, or Women Warriors Throughout History with its lists and links. These sources are not talking about entire cultures of fighting women or even trends -- just documenting that it's been possible across the ages for a few individuals to exist outside the boundaries.

If you have to do it, you find out how to do it. Otherwise, you die.

Mar. 30th, 2006 09:32 pm (UTC)
That was what Mei-Ling said. "I'm one that refused to be refused."
Apr. 1st, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the resources! I'll have to do some research.
Mar. 30th, 2006 09:31 pm (UTC)
I had noticed that many of the really ancient immortals we saw were women -- Amanda, Ceirdwin, Cassandra, Rebecca. (There was also Nefertiti, but she was embalmed for all those years, so although ancient, I don't think she counts.) And we saw very young female immortals - Michelle, the one Axel used as bait, Claudia. There were mid-aged female immies. Kristin. Felicia Martins. Both bad. Who else? There was Grace and Gina. Both good. Annie Devlin, Ingrid. In the grey area. (let's discount all the season 6 tryout girls.)
I thought it was really interesting that they showed so many ancient females. As though if a female immie learned to survive at all, she would survive a long time. Now that I look at the list, of the mid-age immortals that were questionable to bad, Duncan fought them all, but only killed Ingrid. In the case of Kristin, Felicia, and Annie if they were men, he probably would have finished the job. Perhaps he's not the only one out there who doesn't take them as a serious threat.

I had thought there were more ancient females than males. But there were actually about an equal number of ancient male immortals. And maybe I also thought that it's unlikely that women would survive in equal numbers. Actually, it's more interesting that they do and I'm glad David wrote it that way.

I think Amanda is playful, sexy, and manipulative. And I think that is who she is and that works for her survival. The other old female immortals were each unique and used different means of survival.

Much rambling from me, but this is an interesting topic.
Apr. 1st, 2006 06:14 pm (UTC)
interesting observation about the older immortal women.

I think that Amanda isn't "dark" as we'd say DM or Methos are "dark" but that she could easily cause great harm to others through callousness, manipulation or selfishness. She's quite impulsive, and doesn't always think through her actions. I definately don't see her as the "Black Widow" from TB/NTB (that's just silly) but I can see her causing trouble through her desire to get what she wants without paying heed to the consequences. It's a different kind of harm than the kind DM and Methos tend to inflict. Somewhere else I said that Amanda seems more likely to commit sins of omission rather than commission. Failing to act when she should, or failing to take into account the harm her actions might cause others.
Apr. 1st, 2006 06:22 pm (UTC)
that being said, not sure that she'd have any problem killing when she felt she needed to, with the pragmatism of Methos or Joe. She's not always able to carry this through (Kalas, Luther, Keane) but the impulse is there.

Apr. 1st, 2006 07:35 pm (UTC)
I didn't watch Raven, but wasn't one of the eps about just that.
Amanda had stolen some gems from a courier during WW1. But in the same packet were orders for some soldiers to return home or something like that. And since the soldiers never got the orders, they went into a battle that they didn't need to. And of course, wouldn't you know it, one of the solders became immortal from that battle and had a grudge against Amanda. Not to mention all the mortal men who died. This is just what you talk about. She just didn't care about the consequences of her actions. I think it's not that she doesn't know, but she doesn't want to think about it -- so she doesn't. That is her style of callous.
Apr. 1st, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC)
yeah, that's what I was trying to get at. I didn't see Raven either. Maybe will have to rent.
Apr. 1st, 2006 08:26 pm (UTC)
I would agree that she doesn't really care. Like Methos, the circle of things Amanda takes personal responsibility for has shrunk over the years.
Apr. 1st, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC)
The more I think about it, it's not that she doesn't care. When faced with the consequences of her actions, she does get upset. And she does care. But the world is a very grim place. And if she focuses on the grimness and responsibility she will lose her joi de vivre. And she needs that to live. For an immortal they must see so much they've seen before. and so much they know should be different, but they can't change. They must see patterns and just know what will happen and that every action has consequences. It could be potentially paralyzing. So Amanda just doesn't think about it unless she must. And this must be just one of the reasons that she and Methos narrow down their personal responsibility.
Apr. 1st, 2006 08:24 pm (UTC)
Perhaps he's not the only one out there who doesn't take them as a serious threat.
That's a good point. Being under-estimated has it's disadvantages and annoyances, but could make all the difference when it comes to staying alive.

I think it was gryphonrhi's Aidan who said that an Immortal female who makes it past 100 is likely to survive in the long-term. For males it takes 500 years to separate the wheat from the chaff.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )