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What makes you love Archer/Reed?

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What makes you love Archer/Reed?

Postby Honeybee » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:05 pm

So, I recently wrote my first long form Archer/Reed love story for the Valentine's Day fic, and I really enjoyed doing it. The story contained a backstory of Archer/Tucker but it was Archer/Reed who were right for one another. I got a sense that the gulf between them exists because it would be dangerous for them to get too close.
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Re: What makes you love Archer/Reed?

Postby mareel » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:41 pm

I've probably spent more time thinking about this than I'd care to admit, and at one point I put the thoughts together in an essay about them - Anchor and Lodestone. Rather than try to rephrase some of what I wrote there, I'll post a few parts from it here that seem particularly relevant.

I see the two of them as a couple with strong potential for a long-term committed relationship that develops out of friendship and trust. They care deeply for one another and strive to work past the obstacles that might caution both against getting involved in a relationship like this. I see them as needing one another very much, as completing each other. Their physical relationship is important to them both, but doesn't define them. The defining words I'd choose would be constancy, trust, love, and hope.

One of the first hurdles this pair has to get past are the issues related to the rank disparity and the traditional military anti-fraternization regulations. We don’t know explicitly that these are either in place or that they would be appropriate for long-term deep space missions, but Jon has to come to terms with the issue. Pushing past those issues for Malcolm involves choosing a relationship that defies the military customs and traditions that were so much a part of his own military family upbringing. Even if it were permissible, would it be ‘appropriate’ to have a relationship with one’s commanding officer.

Jon has to deal with the isolation that is inherent to his position as captain, especially after his friendship with Trip is damaged (“Cogenitor”) and Trip’s withdrawal into himself after the death of his sister. He’s a man who has focused very heavily on his career, at the expense of personal relationships and romances in his past, including having a marriage proposal turned down. He may very well have given up on ever having a home, a partner, a family. He has the stars after all; he’s living his dream... even if it means settling for a friend and a dog.

Malcolm’s natural deep reserve has, by his own admission, kept him from forming or even expecting to form strong relationships. When he’s facing his death (“Shuttlepod One”) he writes a number of farewell letters to various women, all of which are carbon copies of one another, with the obvious implication that the relationships were similarly unremarkable.

Their's is not a casual relationship or a one-night stand. There is too much at risk for them both, personally and professionally. They are inexorably drawn together, but take things very slowly, letting the relationship develop over time, with love growing from friendship and trust. Both are playing for keeps here.

These two trust one another with their lives over and over again. Both of them face life and death situations all too often, alone or together. Jon trusts Malcolm with his ship, his crew, and his own life. Malcolm returns that trust in full measure, trusting the man even when he cannot agree with the Captain... loving the man when he might not even LIKE the captain at times and certainly disapproves of some of his decisions.

They need one another. Malcolm seems to blossom in the relationship, opening up to Jon, supported by Jon’s love and trust. He gains in self-confidence, Jon being his anchor in a world that had never offered him that kind of love and constancy in relationships. For his part, Jon is deeply touched by winning Malcolm’s trust and by hearing Malcolm use his given name rather than ‘Captain’ or ‘sir.’ And Malcolm is his lodestar, in many ways. He serves as Jon’s moral compass in the Expanse, and Jon looks to him on the bridge at every major decision point... not for approval or permission, but for support, for affirmation.

They are very much equal partners in their relationship. They may have started as the captain and the lieutenant, but they became Jonathan and Malcolm, each bringing so much to the relationship, each completing the other. They know one another’s weaknesses and flaws, and sometimes compensate, sometimes simply accept them. Jon knows he sometimes talks too much; Malcolm knows it means he’s nervous or insecure... or is being an incurable romantic. Malcolm withdraws when he’s hurting; Jon tries to draw him out, provides an ear if he needs one, or a target for his anger to bounce off against harmlessly. But in the end, Jon is simply always there for him... holding him safe.
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Re: What makes you love Archer/Reed?

Postby entkayjay » Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:48 pm

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Re: What makes you love Archer/Reed?

Postby Mr Smith » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:19 am

mareel wrote:I've probably spent more time thinking about this than I'd care to admit, and at one point I put the thoughts together in an essay about them - Anchor and Lodestone. Rather than try to rephrase some of what I wrote there, I'll post a few parts from it here that seem particularly relevant.

This essay is actually what converted me to Archer/Reed from Tucker/Reed a couple years ago and details all the rhyme and reason to their chemistry, though far more articulately and succinctly than I ever could have written (believe me, I tried once).

What entkayjay said about the acting rings particularly true for me, too, and sometimes actors just have a chemistry that vibrates on a higher frequency, so to speak, than the actions and words of the characters in reaction to whatever is going on at the time. It's in these cases more often than not that I find my pairings for fandom because there's a deeper and less explicable link between them, and if I don't sense that chemistry between actors I find it really hard to find a pairing believable, canon or not.

What I also love is how the angle of approach effects the interpretation of the relationship. For example, Malcolm's my favourite character and I approached this pairing from his perspective, but reading and learning from those who approach from a Jonathan perspective really helps one's comprehension of the relationship dynamic and their understanding of Jonathan compliments my understanding of Malcolm in the way they fit together and strike a balance. This continuous exploration of the two of them as characters also helps keep the pairing interesting as I have, in the past, been guilty of having a short attention span when it comes to fandom.

entkayjay wrote:I've always been somewhat convinced that Scott and Dominic played it a bit fast and loose, maybe threw in a dynamic -- unspoken -- that allowed there to be some level of slash/sexual tension to their relationship.

It wouldn't be too hard for me to get behind this idea. I think most good actors know that carefully implying this undertone to a male relationship is some kind of gold dust. But that's another pseudo-psychoanalytical/sociological essay for another time.
"Is that really how you see me? The eternal pessimist? The grim reaper? I don't want to die, what makes you think I want to die?"
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Re: What makes you love Archer/Reed?

Postby Honeybee » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:54 am

These answers are all so wonderful and lovely, they have given me an idea. I am going to pitch to Aquarius that we develop a shipper's encyclopedia that will include these kinds of responses. We could do it for a bunch of different ships, but Archer/Reed would be a centerpiece.
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