and then I think, it's not really 'other than'.
the thing is
Initially I wasn't interested in the 'ship. Like, I noticed early on that I appeared to be crushing on Captain Cold (wtf whyyyy etc), and I concluded early on that Len and Mick were together, but it didn't eat my brain and insist on being fed with fic until Legends of Tomorrow.
because that changed them.
Most human connections are pretty basically 'You're a human? I'm a human! Let's human together!'
But the villain side, or the morally ambiguous anti hero, they look at each other and it's
'You're a monster? I'm a monster! Let's monster together!'
Which, you know, romantic from some angles, but if they actually mean monster then there's that small problem where they find it on occasion as difficult to look at each other as it is to look in the mirror.
I mean, if they're going to celebrate each other's difference, then that's one thing, but if the ways they fit are all the things they think are wrong with themselves... the initial burst of comfort that they're not alone is going to wear thin.
And that's what Len and Mick do when we first see them. Turning up with advanced weaponry and a 'let's supervillain together' pitch. Monster together. But already exactly what makes them fit, the obsessions that make supervillain seem like a perfectly reasonable life choice, they're also what split them up last time. The fire that didn't go so well for Mick, Len saying they're through. But also, Len being the guy that won't walk away from a score once he's started, according to the police anyways; however wrong the initial plan goes, Joe knows how to find Snart, because he'll always keep coming back for the same target again. The way Len tells it Mick needs control from him, or he's a scary guy (who gets bad hurt). But what does Len get out of it? Well he needs someone who won't stab him in the back, and wants someone who will follow the plan as ordered, but we see straight away that's not Mick. Mick will point a gun at him and Mick will get distracted and Mick will definitely complain and probably do his own thing. So why choose Mick? Maybe Len also needs someone to tell him if something is a really bad idea even by his own standards. Don't know as he listens, but still, seems like a need. So we know what pulls them together and drives them apart is their favourite obsessions, Mick playing with fire, tolerant of extremes... but too wild to suit Len's meticulous obsessive weeks or months in the making planning... which is exactly what could stop Len getting trapped in that. So they're partners, but not stable, needing and hating the same parts in each other. Raising each other's game but for that reason raising the stakes way too high.
But then, Legends.
Len sets out to do a thing, Len is going to be obsessed with doing that thing until the thing gets done. So Rip chose him well, for Rip's purposes. People seem to read Mick's choices as wrong because he rejects the team and chooses only his partner. But, you know, the whole mission the Waverider crew set out on? Didn't work. It couldn't work. It was an epic, epic train wreck of a self fulfilling prophecy. The guy who got them into it was a liar with layers of new lies underneath, many told to himself. This was not a good plan, even if the crew were good people. So Mick wanting out? Would be pretty sane. But Len isn't going to listen, just based on his initial characterisation. So, tragedy, high style, they happen because of the people they are.
But they're changing.
Len stays not just for the obsession, but because he starts to believe he can be something better. Something beyond raising his game. Something that gets him not just fear-respect from the dark side but something more solid from the light. That back up he's been needing? He finds it. People who have his back. People who won't leave, even if it would be more sane of them. So Len chooses his new crew, and his new self. And he follows through on that up to and including dying to save others; dying to save Mick even after the mutual screwing over phase of their relationship. It's a whole different level of present than turning up with a heat gun. It's not there to feed Mick's monster, or to get anything out of Mick. It's a present for the Mick that Len tells Sara about, the guy he met first, the one that saves and protects him. It's Len, at the last, deciding Mick is worth it.
So Mick is left staring at the ring and going time travelling just to tell his partner he was always a hero to him.
They start out at 'let's monster together' but they've moved so far on now, the essence of their relationship is seeing the best in each other instead. Beauty and the beast, knowing what's inside. And from one person knowing them, believing in them, they can become better.
But, you know, the 'they' there is somewhat of a problem, given the whole tragic death thing.
But, this is a time travel show, that just did a major reboot of the timeline, so even without casting spoilers we can see there's so much potential to do the next part of the dance.
Because now it can be Mick's turn.
If he can see himself the way Len did, if Len's sacrifice means other people bother to start seeing him, if instead of the downward spiral into literal flames that he always thought he was locked in to he has options... he can do a lot more than up his game. He can raise himself up.
And then, then, if he finds a version of Len in any timeline that hasn't had that influence, that never got the nudge that made him a Legend...
Even if they aren't dating in canon, even if partner means something platonic and conflicted and made of mostly fighting, they were as they were for thirty years. If he meets that other version the old lure is there: let's monster together.
And it'll look like the easier path. The better one, from some angles, with fabulous riches, fun things to burn, and oh yes, a living partner...
Now it can be Mick's turn to make a counter offer.
You're the best guy I ever knew. You may not think you're a hero, but you're a hero to me.
That shouldn't be the final word on them. That should be their future.
... and of course, if canon doesn't give us that, we know what to do. But there remains a slim but shiny chance it could.
I wanted to write a longer version of this with quotes and transcripts and screencaps, but basically, this is why they're so shiny. Who they start as isn't who they're stuck as, and what they do to and for and with each other is super drama but either ends well (if you're one to accept endings) or has potential to go better places.
I'm still frustrate that there's no kissing, but you know, TV.
I'm just drawn in by the thing where they see each other's monster and then see how it doesn't define or limit them, or can be turned and aimed right, or isn't monster at all.
Not so much a redemption arc as a renegotiation of terms.
So now I just need to find other fans who think this is their shiny.
Judging by who is writing the fanfic I know some of them already but they're not where I can see them on LJ or DW any more.
And tumblr is an awful format for meta.
eh, I'm motivated, I'll try...
xposted from Dreamwidth here. comments. Reply there