Sunday, September 16, 2012

Andy and Jimmy

Well, so this is the 100th post. Interesting. It’s been a lot of fun sharing my assorted Perry thoughts here. I hope to keep them rolling for another hundred, and beyond. Thanks to all of you who have shown your interest by reading! I don’t know who many of you are, but I know you’re here, thanks to the private hit counter.

I’ve been thinking a lot about The Hateful Hero lately, due both to seeing it recently and because I’ve been trying to figure out how to do more with Jimmy in my stories.

Jimmy hasn’t played a very large part in any of them, and knowing me with my love of oneshot characters who have strong connections to the main characters, it isn’t like me to leave Jimmy be. The reason is that I was having a difficult time getting into his head and wasn’t sure how to write him. But since I’ve been really focusing on the issue and pondering on him and Andy, a lot of things have started to make sense. And now I’m starting to get enthused.

First, let’s examine the nature of their relationship. Andy and Jimmy are cousins, but they really seem more like brothers—thanks at least in part to the wonderful chemistry between actors Wesley Lau and Richard Davalos. It feels so natural, so perfect, and so believable. Andy is clearly assuming the role of protective older brother, going to see Jimmy off on his first night in a patrol car and feeling very proud of him. Jimmy knows perfectly well why Andy is there, too, and he appreciates it. They have a very comfortable familial relationship. Andy is protective and likes to keep a watchful eye, but he doesn’t smother. Jimmy is relaxed around him.

Andy is increasingly worried about Jimmy as the episode goes on and the disasters unfold. He tries to get to the bottom of what happened at the fake robbery that resulted in Otto being killed and Jimmy being knocked out. As he quizzes Jimmy, trying to get Jimmy’s story straight, Andy is stressed and Jimmy gets a bit stressed too. “I’m just trying to help,” Andy protests.

When Jimmy undergoes the police hearing after being accused of committing the robbery, Andy is right there with him. Jimmy is dismissed from the force, and Andy lays a hand on his shoulder and sincerely tells him he’s sorry. And right on the heels of that, Tragg is forced to serve a warrant on Jimmy for the murder of the security guard who was mixed up in the robbery.

Andy immediately goes to Perry for help, wanting him to defend Jimmy. It’s clear how agonized he is by everything. And he’s so pained when he says that if he finds evidence proving Jimmy’s guilt, he’ll put Jimmy in the gas chamber himself. He’s not trying to be cold or cruel. His heart’s being torn in shreds. But he has to uphold the law. He won’t give anyone special favors, even a family member. It takes a special kind of man to have that kind of courage.

Of course, it’s also possible (even likely) that if Andy had found such evidence that all but damned Jimmy, Andy would consider it a deep-seated betrayal. Being involved in criminal acts and possibly being an accessory to murder, two murders, if not outright committing at least the first one? Yeah, that would hit Andy hard. Caught between a rock and a hard place, with a cousin who may have betrayed him and his dear friend dead. I can’t quite picture Andy being absolutely unforgiving, even if he came to believe Jimmy’s guilt (or if Jimmy had really been guilty), but I do imagine him being so extremely bewildered and confused and unable to understand. I have an image of him exclaiming, “Why, Jimmy, why?!”

Deep down, though, despite having to face the reality of all possibilities in the case, no matter how grim, Andy really, truly seems to believe Jimmy is innocent of all charges. He’s even considering the deceased Otto as being the thief, which seems the only other conceivable possibility for the longest time, in order to exonerate Jimmy. And he tries to rationalize that the security guard’s murder may not have had anything to do with the robbery, and hence, Jimmy. He really knows that it’s more than likely that the two incidents are connected, but he’s so desperate to find a way for Jimmy to not be involved.

When Andy testifies in court for the prosecution, once again it’s obvious how much he hates what he has to do. He would rather do anything else, to be able to focus on proving Jimmy’s innocence, but his testimony is critical and he has to be there to give it.

I think there must have been several levels of tension going on during the episode’s events that we didn’t see. Was Andy’s relationship with Erna “Mama” Norden at all strained, since Otto was her son and she blamed Jimmy for Otto’s death? How did Andy feel about Tragg having to serve the warrant? How did Tragg feel? Gah, there must have been so much heartache all around, even though Andy no doubt understood both Mrs. Norden’s and Tragg’s positions.

The end of the episode, after the real criminals have been exposed and Jimmy and Otto have both been exonerated, is so lovely. Andy and Jimmy go grocery shopping and come to Mrs. Norden’s house for the Thursday get-togethers Andy and Otto always had with her. Now knowing that Jimmy is innocent of everything, Mrs. Norden has forgiven him and welcomes him wholeheartedly. Everyone will heal.

I’ve been wondering how large the age gap is between Andy and Jimmy. That’s been another reason for the lack of Jimmy in my stories. Without knowing how many years separate them, I’m unsure of what to have them connect on.

I always kind of picture Andy in his mid-thirties. Wesley was 39 or 40 when he first took up the role, but I usually think of the characters as being several years younger than the actors, if no age is specified. (Book ages do not count here, as far as I’m concerned. And of course, Andy doesn’t exist in the books to begin with.) I wondered if Jimmy was in his early twenties, around 21 or 22. 21 is the youngest you can become a police officer. Although I was forgetting that Jimmy had been on the force for an indeterminable amount of time already, as a beat cop.

Andy, as specified in a season 8 episode, has been on the force for 15 years. Maybe 12 or 13 around season 6. It depends on whether the events of a season take place over a year for the characters. I figured that’s pretty much up to the imagination. But in any case, since Andy did give that specific number, that is semi-restrictive on determining ages and dates. And Jimmy is young enough that both Andy and Perry refer to him as a kid.

(Although that may not be very helpful; just what ages are “kids” in their eyes? Jimmy might always be “the kid” to Andy. Andy calls the impulsive teenage defendant in The Tandem Target “son”, which seems odd considering that Andy really couldn’t be very old. He certainly doesn’t look old enough for the term to make sense, at least. It’s a term I don’t quite picture anyone using unless the person they’re talking to is in an age bracket that could make them the speaker’s son. The fellow in The Tandem Target would probably only barely fall into that bracket, if at all. Unless Andy is older than he looks and is closer to his actor’s age or older.)

So originally I started with a gap between Andy and Jimmy that could potentially be up to 15 years (Jimmy, 21; Andy, 36). But I didn’t really think it was that much, as reflected by Andy’s comments in The Broken Ties about him and Jimmy playing together as children. I definitely got the impression that they were surely a little closer in age. Still, however, I couldn’t quite figure out anything beyond that.

Looking up Richard Davalos’s age this past week, I found that he is nine years younger than Wesley Lau. That excited me, as I had at last wittled the conceivable age gap down to maybe 8 years. And with my feelings that the characters could believably be several years younger than the actors, I decided that as little as 5 years between them could work. Thus, I have now placed Jimmy around 28 and Andy around 33 during The Hateful Hero. In my stories, where two or three years have passed since then, Andy is approximately 35 or 36, making Jimmy 30 or 31. Although this might not be quite static, as I keep finding it hard to picture Jimmy not in his twenties in my stories. I might have to make the age gap closer to 7 years, although I prefer 5.

Another curious question: Where in the world is the rest of the Anderson family? Are they alive? It would seem that even if they were out of town or out of state, they would come running when Jimmy was arrested. Perhaps Andy and Jimmy are the only real family left. That would certainly explain how they bonded, and Andy’s protectiveness, especially if at least some of the parents died while they were still kids.

I’m torn on that issue. I haven’t mentioned anything about the Anderson parents’ current status at all. They could all be perfectly alive, and just weren’t pointed out in the storyline even if they were there, or they weren’t able to get out there as much as they wanted to. And a tragedy like them dying certainly wouldn’t be the only way Andy and Jimmy would end up bonding so closely.

We don’t even know if Andy and Jimmy are native Californians. I kind of picture them as such, but that might or might not be true. Andy could have moved to California from elsewhere and Jimmy could have followed him when he wanted to be a police officer (or earlier). Or they could have moved out together from elsewhere. Who knows.

So many fun speculations!

And you know, curiously enough, I think Andy and Jimmy are the only familial relationship we even see among the main characters. We know next to nothing about the families of Perry, Della, Paul, Hamilton, Tragg, and Steve. We know that Perry once lived in Oregon. Perhaps his family is still there. Della has an aunt whom she visits in season 7, but we never see said aunt. And I think that’s the extent of the information on the television series, where any of their families are concerned! Good grief. That certainly makes Andy and Jimmy even more special.

Jimmy first appeared in The Macabre Mansion, one of my stories last Autumn. With Andy’s prominent role in that, second only to Hamilton in story importance and “screentime”, and with Andy’s serious injuries, it was logical for Jimmy to turn up. I wasn’t sure what to do with him, though, and I wrote him mostly as a hurting and later grieving loved one, perhaps a bit impatient and rash, but certainly no more than might be expected under the circumstances. Jimmy nevertheless didn’t do anything stupid, and stayed within the limits of the law even though he certainly felt like taking revenge on Vivalene for shooting Andy.

Jimmy definitely isn’t overly impulsive in The Hateful Hero, and does not come off as someone who is always rash, but he does occasionally make decisions he probably shouldn’t have, such as going back to the plant on his own to try to figure out what really happened. I could imagine him naturally becoming furious if Andy were hurt, and wanting to seek out the culprits, but somehow managing to restrain himself from what he might like to do at the moment.

Jimmy continued to be mentioned off and on, but didn’t really appear with any further importance until The Malevolent Mugging. Again playing the role of worried and agonized loved one, this time he’s managed to interact more extensively with Andy in later scenes, something that doesn’t really happen in The Macabre Mansion. Developing their comfortable interaction is an enjoyable activity. I’m hoping to include him in more scenes.

I’ve debated with ideas where Jimmy is the one in trouble, but after all the canonical trouble he had in The Hateful Hero, I’m hesitant to write him into any more. Andy has likely been there for him all through the years, so in my stories I’m kind of more interested in exploring him being there for Andy. Maybe sometime I'll write a story where they're both in trouble and have to work together to get out of it.

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