roci: (Default)
User Name/Nick: Ryann/cornichaun
User DW: cornichaun
AIM/IM: cornichaun
E-mail: cornichaun!! @ gmail
Other Characters: Rip Hunter

Character Name: James Holden
Series: The Expanse (TV)
Age: Early 30s; I think 31-32, given that he was 18, served 7 years in the Navy, then 5 years on the Canterbury, then a season and a half of TV happened, but years aren't specified for ages.
From When?: After leaving Ganymede, season 2.

Inmate/Warden: Suuuuuch a warden. Holden is a diehard idealist. Even when he falters, he falters to a place that’s more diehard idealist than most people. In the process of being a diehard idealist, he fucks things up repeatedly, but he’s always genuinely trying to do what’s best and what’s right. It’s really annoying.
Item: A little glass-looking clear handheld computer – basically a smartphone but In The Future.
Arrival: n/a

Abilities/Powers: Human-normal. Holden is educated, combat-trained (mostly long-distance space combat; he was in Earth’s space navy for seven years). He’s passably competent with pretty much everything involving spaceflight, but he’s not a mechanic, not a doctor, not much of anything beyond a low-level navy guy then an asteroid miner. He has a natural charisma, the ability to make people listen to him, a pretty face, and a ridiculous ability to get into trouble, but I’m not sure those count as skills, really.

Personality: Basically, Holden is a space millennial. Raised in idealistic circumstances, told that he was important and gifted, and met with a brutal reality check at the age of 18. Parents who were educated and able to make opportunities work for them. Inherited a system failing on social, economic, political and environmental levels. Distrust of authority and system. Underachiever who never fulfilled the potential he was told he had, and a resulting streak of self-loathing that causes him to sabotage what success he does have. Oh, and his first impulse, in receipt of sensitive information, is to post the damn stuff for everyone to see.

Holden was the sole child of eight polyamorous parents – full genetic mix. And, really, that explains a lot. One child among that many people gave his parents enough tax breaks to get 22 acres in Montana, on Earth, which was really a ridiculous amount of space on that Earth. And his parents used those 22 acres to try and create a kind of environmental preserve. He grew up hearing from them that he was born because the land needed him. That he was necessary, to save it. He followed around his father who filed legal briefs and argued in court on their behalf; he went to protests. He was enmeshed, slowly and thoroughly, in a fight that wasn’t winnable, and one of his mothers – Elise – couldn’t watch it anymore. So when he was eighteen, she told him to get gone. So, this kid, someone who has the subtly aligned worldview of an only child at quadruple the intensity, leaves eight people who love him and goes and joins the personification of what they fought against: the UN Navy.

It’s not rebellion. It’s a hero complex. It’s the desire to push, to do something. Earth, at this point, is complacent; more than half the people on Earth are on what’s called Basic Assistance, a universal basic income. Not that they’re necessarily lazy, but there just aren’t enough jobs and enough opportunities to go around, so the Earth government makes up for it with a standard of living that’s comfortable. You have to really try in order to get educated and work. Jim did that. He went straight for where he’d not only have to work but where he’d have to fight.

This transition creates, in Jim, the streak of self-hatred that he battles with the rest of his life. He was raised for a fight that he found out, abruptly and traumatically, that nobody really believed could be won. He was pushed out of the nest by the mother who loved him the most. Given that he was raised being the center of his own universe, probably never knowing any one parent well enough to realize how flawed and human they could be, it’s inevitable that he would blame himself, at least on some level. Put someone who’s already a mess in this particular way into the Earth navy, which mostly blew up half-scrap-metal pirates and asteroid belt smugglers, and you have that self-loathing taking deep root and blooming real wide.

Jim hated it. The forces of his personality that favored rebellion, individual conscience, distrust of authority, went tooth and nail against his new streak of avoiding responsibility. He was too able to understand the social forces that pitted Earth against Belt against Mars, and he could see that this Navy was used as a tool of oppression. So, at some point, the balance tipped, and Jim took a swing at a superior officer who was ordering him to fire on a Belt smuggler. The superior officer ducked a whole lot faster than Jim expected, and Jim ended up hitting the bulkhead. (It was an expression of self-loathing, he’d tell a Martian interrogator, years later, and it was sheer coincidence that he’d managed to injure the right person.)

Thus followed five years of dicking around. Ambition hadn’t worked for him, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to go back to Earth. He didn’t want to be on Earth’s side, wasn’t a Martian, could never be a Belter, so he stopped picking sides. He tried to stop fighting completely, and he ended up on a long-haul asteroid miner, a water hauler. Jim became aggressively unambitious, avoiding success and failure in equal measures, but always uncomfortably aware that he wasn’t living a life he wanted to life. Nine long trips on the Canterbury brought him to a crossroads, when a distress signal came.

Distress signals, in space, are law: you hear one, you respond to it, because someday you’ll be on the other end. Except that these long-haul freighters don’t like to do that, cause it means lost bonuses, lost profits, and usually, the distress signals are pirate bait anyway. Initially, the Canterbury doesn’t pay attention to the distress signal. But, then, while on night watch, Jim hears the voice of someone calling for help, and, god fucking damn it, he logs the signal and when the next watch comes on, they have to respond.

That, there, is one of the most important decisions James Holden has ever made. Not just because of the consequences, which are numerous and hilariously devastating, but because of what that decision represents. Right there, Jim lets his conscience wake up. And once it’s awake, he can’t get the damn thing to sleep again. From there on out, he makes nearly every decision with a streak of stubborn, ass-backwards idealism and principle. He broadcasts information to the solar system, and becomes a symbol of anti-oppression, of rebellion and freedom of information. He’s on a ship that’s being boarded, coming apart at the seams, and all he does is insist that he needs to rescue his friends first, even if that gets everyone he’s with killed. He sees people being herded into radiation shelters, and knows something’s wrong, and he doesn’t escape, doesn’t get away – he fucking goes after them, and tries to rescue the people inside.

In the book, a character named Miller remarks that if something is safe anywhere, it’s safe with Holden – hell, if someone tries to bribe James Holden, he’d probably just get pissed at them. And Miller’s not wrong. I know your type, says another, in the show -- You’re on a crusade. In the books, a third says, You know that self-righteous indignation you wield like a club against anyone you disagree with? I don’t have to put up with that. When Miller, absolutely necessarily, shoots an unarmed man, Jim rejects him completely. One of Jim’s crew tells Miller, Cap gets twitchy when you kill someone without talking about it first. Jim’s a words-first, guns-hopefully-never kind of guy.

James Holden causes mess after mess after mess, as a matter of principle. And this transformation, from a water hauler who doesn’t even want to be XO of the ship because it’s too much responsibility, to being the captain of a stolen(/salvaged) gunship that keeps getting in the middle of solar-system-wide messes, that all seems kinda sudden. But it’s not. The idealist is someone that keeps pushing to get out, that’s twitched in fits and starts ever since he repressed that side of himself and left Earth. But there’s more to it. After the Canterbury is destroyed, while answering that distress signal, Holden ends up forming a tight, small family – him, a Belter named Naomi, a Martian named Alex, and an Earther named Amos. They’re the four survivors, and they’re a core. They trust each other beyond anyone else. When Jim has a family to protect, and a base of people to lean on, he goes all-out.

Right now, Jim is suffering from a fair dose of post-traumatic stress. He saw some shit on Eros. He saw one hundred thousand people used as, essentially, a science experiment by PhDs who had their consciences removed. (Literally – PhDs turned into sociopaths because it made them more convenient.) He saw an alien protomolecule that colonized people from the inside out, pieced them apart like a grad student disassembling an engine. And it was people, ordinary people, who made it all happen, with guns, herding other people into radioactive chambers and letting them die. It’s started really hitting Jim how much the shit he’s broadcast, the things he’s done, have gotten people killed. He’s started reaching for a gun first, instead of his words, because he’s running scared. He doesn’t know, yet, how to deal with the new dimension his reality has taken on.

Holden, outwardly, is extremely genuine. He’s an absolutely beyond shitty liar, shows his emotions on his face. He’s a good listener; he was always able to defuse tensions with a joke or a quiet remark, or by spending a few minutes letting someone air their concerns with him. He really is a natural leader, and he’s good at it because he cares, and because people can tell he cares, even when he’s trying not to.

Real quick, I’m going to touch on the difference between book and tv Holden. In the book, he moves very quickly into leadership, and very fluidly; he’s also more self-righteous and he gets one or two more big news-bombs to drop on the system than tv-Holden (since tv-Holden has to give the other tv stars something to do, presumably). I like tv a little better, because he really has to work to get himself into that leadership position – he earns it, by fighting for his people. He struggles with his idealism a little more. I think that version is going to be more interesting on the Barge, but I’m still going to be drawing pretty heavily on book Holden to kinda fill in the gaps, the things we don’t see tv-Holden do.

Barge Reactions: The Barge is going to be keen, keen torture for this guy. First, in terms of principle, he’s going to really, really hate that there are so many people there who never had a trial, who aren’t even told what they did wrong in order to get locked up. The injustice of how it works will get to him. Second, he’s going to be an intense advocate of we’re all in this together. Yeah, maybe inmates didn’t pick this place, but they’re all surviving, and they’re all being subjected to the same breaches and floods, and they need to stick together. His struggle to not pick a side is going to be absolutely amazing because it’s going to be absolutely futile. Third, he’s going to be solid-convinced that the suffering of the inmates on the Barge means nothing against what he’s trying to do, which means that he’s making the right choice, even if it’s torture. Add to that the fact that Jim has an unfortunate canonical tendency to make dramatic posts that throw a match into an already volatile situation, and what you have is a Grade-A, 200-proof, whole-fat, 24-karat recipe for complete fucking disaster.

As far as breaches, floods, and magic go? Jim won’t really know what to do with himself. He’s gonna get snarky about things that can’t be explained, and he’s never going to be comfortable letting his self be affected. There could be a few very volatile sparks that happen if something rubs along one of his psychic fault lines. Mostly, he’s going to try and accept what’s in front of him and keep pushing forward.

Path to Redemption: n/a

Deal: So, this protomolecule really fucked up the solar system. Some people started a war to cover up their science experiment about it. Sociopaths killed a lot of people. People with consciences killed even more. Jim doesn’t know what exactly he’s going to do yet, but he wants to stop all of that from happening. He just knows – and hates the idea – that he’s going to lose his little fledgling family in the process.

History: http://expanse.wikia.com/wiki/Jim_Holden_(Books)
http://expanse.wikia.com/wiki/Jim_Holden_(TV)

I link both versions because they essentially match up, in background; the book version is just more detailed.

Sample Journal Entry: http://tlvgreatesthitsdw.dreamwidth.org/82296.html?thread=19238776#cmt19238776

Sample RP: James Holden sits alone, in the fake, hollow, empty shell of his ship.

First glance, it’s perfect. Every divot, every scratch, every bolt. The fabric on the bunks is the right kind of machine-smooth. The ship smells like coffee and ozone, metal-and-oil, dust.

But there’s something else. A… spice. A sparkle, like the after-tingle of carbonation.

And the sound is wrong. Spaceflight – outside the shell of a ship, it’s silent, it’s unimaginable, endless distance and black. But, inside, it’s never silent. Silence is death. There’s the soft breath of air, the hum/murmur of the systems. There’s footfalls, in thrust under gravity, and there’s the sensation of distant voices, too muffled to make out.

This is so fucking quiet!

Fuck.

Fuck.

He’s sitting here, staring at the bunk that he usually shares with Naomi, in this silence, with this little, weird dimension to the smell that’s wrong. That is, he strongly suspects, given what he now knows about the Barge, magic.

He rubs his face.

This isn’t home. It feels wrong, but he can’t imagine trying to live in any other surroundings while he’s here. It’s not home, Naomi’s not coming, Amos isn’t coming, Alex isn’t coming, and, if he succeeds, he won’t be going back to them, either. They’ll be different. Unless he can figure something out.

“Fuck,” he whispers, to himself.

And then he gets up, and walks out the door.

Special Notes:

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james holden

August 2017

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