Sunday, September 9, 2012

Amory and Andy

QUICK EDIT: For the last couple of hours I've been playing with this: I'll be posting a lot of random pictures of Perry actors, and some Perry episodic pictures, so it may be of interest to readers here. I do squeal and fangirl a bit, which I try to avoid doing here, but come for the pictures!

This is a problem I’ve been running into repeatedly while working on The Malevolent Mugging. It pertains to episodes as much or more than one fan story, and I thought I might bring some of my ponderings here.

What is Amory Fallon really like?

In The Impatient Partner we see an agonized, highly stressed, and excitable man. He suspects his partner Ned of embezzlement and arson, and worse, trying to murder him in the explosion at the plant. He thinks Ned is having an affair with his wife, Edith. And as his life spirals further out of control, he only becomes more and more upset. Being accused of Ned’s murder does not help.

Well, who wouldn’t be upset under those circumstances?

Most anyone, naturally. But Amory seems to have a knack for making molehills into mountains. Perry points out to him that he could be mistaken on just about every one of his suspicions, which are based around odd coincidences. And his brother-in-law Frank tells Paul that there has never been anything between Edith and Ned, but that it’s a suspicion that keeps building up inside of Amory, tormenting him beyond reason.

The indications are that at least the latter problem has been going on for a long time, only getting worse. We’re never told what triggered it. We only see Amory accusing Edith of the affair while in a highly wound-up state, already stressed from everything else piling on him. Seeing Ned appear on the company building’s back stairs, where Edith came to see Amory, is the last straw. In Amory’s already tortured mind, it’s logical to think that Edith is there for Ned and not him.

Maybe Amory has a bit of an inferiority complex. Maybe he’s just plum paranoid. Maybe it’s a bit of both in addition to the agonies of everything else that’s happening.

In The Malevolent Mugging, I try to explain Amory’s hysteria with the idea that he suspected Ned for a long time of doing shady things with the company, and that his suspicions about Ned and Edith only started after that, while he was already feeling a deep-rooted sense of betrayal. That is possible.

But it’s also equally possible that he suspected the affair first and only later started suspecting Ned of betraying the company. It seems to be hinted at by Frank that the suspicions of the affair have been going on for ages. That could mean it came first, especially if Amory only started suspecting Ned of shady business practices within the past month or two.

We don’t really have a clear picture one way or the other, however, making it fair game for pretty much any idea one wants to come up with.

Edith is frantic to help Amory as everything falls apart around him. She exclaims that his behavior isn’t like him at all. Does that mean that Amory is not generally a high-strung person? Or does it merely mean that it isn’t like him to ignore her and not call her, despite being a high-strung person?

There are some interesting clues in court that may further clarify the matter. Vivian Ames, the secretary to both Amory and Ned, tells in her testimony that Ned wanted her to avoid Amory if she found the file Ned wanted and came to bring it to him. Amory was hanging around the building and had tried to force his way inside Ned’s apartment, Ned said. He had been drinking and was in an ugly mood.

It could be interpreted from that, that Ned knew Amory is not usually like that. Amory rarely drinks, so explaining his especially bad mood as the product of his drinking suggests that it was the only possible explanation. Of course, he was already in a terrible mood before that, but the drinking certainly heightened it. And I wonder if Ned had seen Amory drunk before and was aware that he gets into his worst moods when that happens.

In any case, Amory’s expression when Vivian Ames tells what Ned said is interesting and possibly telling. He looks very mild, very meek, and perhaps somewhat surprised or guilty. He certainly doesn’t look like a high-strung, hysterical person. He looks very sweet and gentle.

Of course, he could be both gentle and anxious, swinging from one persona to the other as his moods change. And he might be realizing in court just how uptight and stressed some of his behavior has been and be feeling guilty over it.

Also, the episode shows us that this is a man descending into desperation and despair. Amory starts the episode much like Andy, in a suit and tie and with his hair perfectly combed. As everything starts to collapse around him and his mood grows worse and worse, we eventually see him drunk and disheveled, with a loosened tie and wild hair (which he later tries to comb at least somewhat to see Perry). By the time he knows Ned has been murdered, he’s taken off his jacket, loosened his tie and his shirt even more, and his hair is a complete mess. Clearly he was running his fingers into it. Would he behave that way if he didn’t have some high-strung tendencies to begin with?

It’s possible, especially if he’s supposed to be a man coming apart at the seams whereas before his life seemed perfectly normal and happy. Everyone reacts differently to high levels of stress; I think each defendant, when their reaction is shown, has a unique way of handling their problems. Amory could either be high-strung in general or just be falling apart in spite of previously showing few to no signs of this. Or he could just become stressed in certain intense situations, rather than being that way much of the time.

Tentatively, I would say that I kind of picture him as being prone to more mild levels of stress in general, but that it becomes intense when things are going extremely wrong. No one other than Edith seems that surprised by Amory’s mood swings, making me conclude that Edith may have been mainly talking about the way Amory treats her and not about him being stressed overall. And she also could have meant that it was unlike him to be stressed to that extreme.

(Also, something interesting and also a bit sad that I noticed. I’m not sure Perry even likes Amory that much. In general, unless I haven’t been paying attention, I thought Perry usually addressed the defendants with their proper titles—Mr., etc.—at least in court. Perry repeatedly refers to Amory as just “Fallon”, both in and out of court. I realize Perry even refers to people he knows and likes on a surname basis, especially Hamilton and Paul, but the key is, he doesn’t do it in more formal situations. And even if on occasion a usage of “Drake” might slip in court, it’s not steady.)

Then there’s a whole other issue. Amory and Andy have some traits and speech patterns that are similar. How does one successfully contrast the two and make them come across as the very different people they are? Not even Amory’s stress levels can fully help there, if we’re taking Andy’s season 8 behavior into the equation. Andy is very capable of becoming stressed as well, albeit he hasn’t ever been shown going to the extreme levels Amory can attain. But we don’t know if he couldn’t eventually get there.

I’ve been tinkering with this issue as well as trying to more fully flesh out Andy’s personality. Steve is honestly less of a mystery to me than Andy. Steve makes sense to me, while Andy, with his series of odd and contradictory behavior, is an intriguing riddle. Which is the real Andy? He’s easy-going. He’s stressed. He’s friendly. He’s stern. He visits Perry and company in connection with cases. He doesn’t associate with Perry and company in social scenes. He’s been on the force for fifteen years, a seasoned and mature man. He idolizes Lieutenant Tragg. He’s usually very sharp. Sometimes he has very cringe-worthy moments.

Putting it down on paper, so to speak, just makes it sound like Andy is a very multi-faceted person. Actually watching his behavior onscreen is what leaves me scratching my head. It’s one thing to make a character multi-faceted; they did that with Steve very well. All of his various behaviors can be ultimately traced back to traits he showed right from his first episode. But with Andy, I really get the feeling that the writers often didn’t know what to do with him, and that they pretty much had him do whatever they wanted at the time, whether or not it made sense with prior characterization. If so, I wonder if that was also a source of frustration to Wesley. Wesley was so good at playing every type of character imaginable, and he did wonders with Andy too, but it must have been exasperating if the writers couldn’t agree on what the character was like.

So rises the dilemma of exactly how to portray Andy and make him multi-faceted but not absolutely inconsistent. Since I am still confused on what is and what is not out-of-character behavior for Andy, the only way I know how to solve the issue is to try to cram in everything the writers wrote for him and try to somehow make it make sense.

It certainly isn’t easy. I tried writing a private, experimental, extended conversation between Della and Andy, just as an exercise. The thing meandered all over the place as I desperately groped for a lost and forgotten train of thought on what they should talk about and had Andy try to explain why he avoids social scenarios with Perry and company. I’m concerned over whether I was really able to give Andy his own unique voice or if it sounds too much like conversations I’ve written between Della and Hamilton.

Andy is easy to write when just keeping to the ideas the writers had about him at first: that he is an amiable but businesslike introvert, seeking to catch the criminals and not liking Perry and Paul’s law-bending, but not trying to trap them in it. Trying to peel back those layers, as well as to add what the writers threw in around season 8, makes it all very complicated. I’m up to the challenge, though. I want to portray a character befitting Wesley’s wonderful depiction, while connecting the dots in a way the writers didn’t.

Andy as I write him has all of the basic traits. His stress in season 8 is explained as coming into play when Tragg was nearly killed and Andy had to temporarily accept many of his responsibilities. He doesn’t join Perry and company in social scenarios—a particularly baffling thing in light of his friendliness—because he holds them at arm’s length, not wanting to become too close due to his concern over not becoming privy to any law-bending activities. And perhaps also because he fears it would become too awkward and straining on their friendship, were he to have to arrest one of them.

I’m not sure if I’ve strung everything together well, particularly on the latter points. But it’s visible for everyone to see that Andy never has lunch or dinner with Perry and company, whereas Steve and even Tragg often do. There has to be some reason for the omission. All I can do is draw on canonical knowledge of Andy and try to knit something out of it.

In the story, Amory muses to Edith on some of the differences between him and Andy. He feels that he would not have been able to concoct such a complex escape plan as Andy did while being held prisoner. He also thinks that if he had, the vicious dogs would have made him surrender. Amory is not a coward; he simply isn’t trained as a police officer and likely would not think of some of the same things Andy would. Amory is a businessman, which is a world likely foreign to Andy.

Amory is rarely in dangerous situations, while Andy faces them every day. Amory says in the episode that when he was nearly killed in the explosion, he stood by his car, shaking, for a few minutes. He, very likely as a common everyman, doesn’t quite know how to handle it. But he does well, all things considered. Instead of hiding away, he immediately sets out to solve the mystery, despite not having any experience in such a field.

In the story, he is held at gunpoint and, mistaken for Andy, told to get his hands in the air, “Cop”. Amory is too alarmed to spend time saying he isn’t a policeman (probably a smart decision, taking the assailant’s mood into consideration), so he puts up his hands and plans to reveal his true identity at that point—although he isn’t given the chance.

Later on, while recovering from the resulting attack, he is stressed by both that and the realization that he is still in danger. Finding out that Andy was abducted by people really wanting Amory doesn’t help. And he is only thrown further into turmoil and conflict by a surprising letter Andy was given that Ned wrote right before he was killed.

Amory never descends into the extreme stress of The Impatient Partner episode, though. Edith is standing by him, and with his faith in her long restored, he has her to lean on for support.

(. . . And who is “The Impatient Partner”, anyway? I’m not sure it’s ever clear whether they mean Amory or Ned.)

I’m planning that Amory will play an active role in the rest of the fic, helping the police and becoming involved in the various convoluted events. He and Andy have only met once so far, and they’ll have many more meetings before it’s over. I’ve tried to contrast them in every one of the scenes in which one or both of them appear. Hopefully it will be even easier to show their differences, in spite of some similarities in speech patterns, in their scenes together.

No comments:

Post a Comment