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S̶v̶l̶a̶d̶ ̶C̶j̶e̶l̶l̶i̶ Dirk Gently ([personal profile] cacoethical) wrote2017-05-26 12:55 pm
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app -- the pines


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NAME: Dirk Gently (born Svlad Cjelli)
CANON: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (BBCA) with very vague backstory filled in partly by the novel series by Douglas Adams on which it is based.
CANON-POINT: The end of s1.


Dirk's earliest background is not explicitly elaborated upon in the series, though it is implied in the show bible that he was born in Romania, and furthermore strongly implied in the show itself that he spent a good portion of his childhood and youth in the custody of the CIA's project Black Wing division. Black Wing's stated goal was to seek out, catalogue, contain, and study individuals with sensory perceptive abilities beyond the normal human scale. At some point roughly 16 years before the events of the show, he escaped along with roughly 30 other Black Wing subjects, none of whom have yet been contained. What Dirk did between then and the events of the show is only hinted at, but it seems that during this time he develops the yen to use his unusual ability to solve equally unusual cases, to use his hunches -- which he says never help him -- to help other people. It is implied that in this timeframe, the events of the novels do take place in some fashion, which implies -- though it is not confirmed -- that before the events of the show, he attended the fictional St. Cedd's College at Cambridge University, and that the cases outlined in the novels do, eventually, occur, albeit over a condensed time period. At the outset of the series, a new case takes him to Seattle, where he has been hired to investigate the death of billionaire Patrick Spring... by the victim, roughly six weeks before the fatal events take place. From there he is set off on a pinball course, ricocheting off of events and characters drawn into one another's gravity, orbiting in frenetic spirals and eventually, finally, falling all together to solve the case, save the girl, and maybe sort of kind of make a friend.

The actual chain of events is somewhat difficult to explain, and arguably not terribly important anyway. All that one really needs to know is that it involves a cadre of body-swapping cultists, a dog with the soul of a girl, a girl with the soul of a dog, several ex-Black Wing subjects, a kitten, a shark explosion, a trap-riddled, underground death-maze, a holistic assassin, an electrician, a bellboy, an 80s pop icon, time travel, fur coats, the CIA, the FBI, the Seattle police, and an astonishing amount of violent death.

All told, the events of the show cover about a week's worth of time, and while the case unfolds around them, Dirk and his new best friend/assistant Todd Brotzmann, along with Todd's sister Amanda and Patrick Spring's ex-bodyguard Farah Black find themselves attempting to navigate the impossible tangle of causality, as well as their burgeoning, equally improbable friendships with one another.

The end of the first season sees Dirk and co. for a moment safe and happy, celebrating the successful outcome of their first case together -- until Dirk's past catches up with all of them in the form of a murderous, dangerously vapid Black Wing triggerman. Fade to black.

Dirk's primary strength is his resilience. His experience with the CIA and Black Wing, not to mention with his own dubious 'ability', have made him adaptable in the extreme. He's usually capable of sensing or at least expressing the bright side of any situation. He bounces back from surprise and trauma alike very quickly, even if he hardly comes away unscathed. This is the underlying quality which, I feel, informs all of his other strengths -- his kindness, his openness, his curiosity, his empathy; all rely primarily on his capacity to take what comes to him with, if not equanimity, then some practical approximation thereof.

Dirk's adaptability, on the other hand, also lends itself to a number of his weaknesses. He can be as fickle as he can be faithful. He's prone to flightiness and panic -- when his curious brand of pragmatism can't get him out of trouble, or when he's faced with the sort of problem he can't breeze past, he's prone to freezing or breaking down. Similarly, the events that have necessitated the flexibility he exhibits have also damaged him irreparably: his emotional neuroses are numerous and deep, and life on the run has lead to him bottling up those emotions, refusing to address his traumas. Whenever pushed into addressing them, to confronting the experiences of his past -- his youth in captivity with Black Wing, from which he's been running all his life, and the undefined but clearly impactful experiences of his previous cases he tends to panic, and therefore to react inadvisably. He is shown to shut down when faced with a real chance of significant bodily harm or death, and prefers flippancy or avoidance to discussing his past, Project Black Wing, or his ability.

Dirk's capacity to engage in meaningful relationships is also hampered somewhat by his fear of abandonment. This doesn't manifest as powerfully as it could because although he fears abandonment he also expects it -- in one conversation, he explains that he's never had a friend, that nobody before Todd has stuck around to help him with a case. His insistence upon remaining in Todd's life, though integral to the current case, therefore takes on a different note. There's a certain amount of desperation in it, and therefore a certain lack of concern for Todd's wishes on the matter, though again, a certain amount of this due to what he perceives as the inevitability of their association, which ultimately turns out to be true. This fear of abandonment and desperation arise, as much of his fear arises, from his experience with Black Wing -- particularly with Scott Riggins, who it is implied came to stand in as something of a father figure for Dirk while he was still in CIA custody. Given that Riggins was in charge of the collection, cataloguing, and study of subjects like Dirk, this relationship was deeply unbalanced and largely one-sided, but nonetheless clearly had a profound impact on Dirk, who reacts with visible fear, anger, and hurt when crossing paths with Riggins once again. Overall, in fact, the experience of having been an unwilling experimental subject for so long and starting from such a young age appears to have informed, very much for the worse, Dirk's expectations of the people around him, and informs to some degree his means of seeking attention and affection.

Additionally, his ability -- if it can be referred to as such -- and his own somewhat hazy understanding thereof has instilled in him some peculiar notions about the nature of personal responsibility and his own capacity to influence what happens to him, which contributes both to his ability to take what happens to him in stride and also his tendency to get into trouble that could perhaps have been avoided. He wavers, for instance, between accepting a sort of responsibility for his actions and pinning the fault for his misfortunes on the universe, describing himself as 'a leaf in the stream of creation', but owning that 'just because you know you're playing a game, doesn't mean you don't get to choose your moves'. In the few instances in which he's pushed into accepting fault for something, he's reluctant to do so and sullen, though ultimately gives only token resistance.

His experience with Project Black Wing had probably the most profound impact on Dirk as a person. The fact that it encompassed almost the whole of his developmental period -- from roughly age 6, per the prequel comics, to 16 years before the events of canon, per the show, and therefore roughly age 17 or 18 -- means that it is, along with his extrasensory abilities, probably the underlying causal factor that informs most of his personality traits, most of his conceptions and his decisions. Many of his explicit personality traits can be seen as either directly resulting from his treatment by the CIA -- being held captive, being used for experiments, and so on -- or can be interpreted as persistent coping methods which were themselves developed as a direct result of this experience.

The universe. Dirk doesn't see his life as being under his control, to a far greater degree even than most people. Specifically, he believes himself to be an instrument of the will of the universe, always where he needs to be when he needs to be there, regardless of his own feelings on the matter. The fact that he's not entirely incorrect in this assumption, and that the result of this leads to him frequently being "terrorised, tortured, and maimed" has, rather than giving him delusions of grandeur, mostly just traumatized him -- his motivations are, therefore, largely avoidant, and his primary motivation is, arguably, fear. Staying out of trouble was never a possibility and he's ceased to try, but he does aim to avoid the worst possible outcome. Seeing, furthermore, that he has no choice in what happens to him, and that his hunches and extrasensory feelings never seem to help him personally, he's opted for the next best thing -- to help other people, if he can. All else comes secondary because again, he feels he has no choice in the matter. He strives, therefore, to do the best he can and have the most fun he can possibly have while doing it. It has also left him desperate for friendship, for human contact, for kindness and a quantum of understanding, and these in their own way have lead to his making some rather questionable decisions.

Primarily that he's strange and irritating, an impression he's not very good at dispelling, particularly given that it's not entirely inaccurate. Similarly, he's not very good at dispelling the suspicion that people are wont to get that he's psychic -- which he isn't, exactly, though he is in his own words 'something'. Something which is occasionally functionally indistinguishable from being psychic.

At the outset of the series, we see Dirk trying very hard to be impressive, and as a result coming across as particularly brash and manic, somewhat unconcerned for the feelings of others -- Todd, particularly -- as he pursues the path he feels both necessary to the outcome of the case and most personally satisfying. He puts them both in danger on more than one occasion, and though he may be following what is in his own estimation the will of the universe, he does so with a certain lack of concern for the risks. It takes a bit of time, in fact, for him to settle in to showing vulnerability, to being honest about himself, rather than trying too hard to appear cool, in control, and competent.

Well, he's a lot nicer and a lot more fragile than he initially appears, but otherwise it's pretty accurate.


No, more specifically, while he's able to breeze past a whole lot, as soon as things start to get really hairy, he's prone to panic. Any real risk of death or significant bodily harm is not something he's very good at brushing off, but it's also not something he's very good at avoiding or defusing. On the other hand, his resignation to the high strangeness of his own life has equipped him to handle adversity... reasonably well, or at least has rendered him reasonably bull-headed when he thinks he knows what it is that he's meant to be doing.

-The phrase "everything is connected", but without explicit context, i.e. he won't remember directly the series of connections he made to come to this conclusion.
-The fact that he has an incredible story to tell about a horse named Puffles, but not what that story is.
-Being shot in the shoulder with a crossbow, but without context.
-Being shot in the shoulder with a crossbow a second time, but without context.
-General but generally formless impressions about the nature of his ability, the universe, and his place in it, all very confusing. They would not be much less confusing if he could remember them clearly. Subconscious impressions that would allow me to keep his character more or less intact.

As for the why: because it's either necessary to his character or because it's funny. Sometimes both.

Improbable -- or frequently simply impossible -- things happen around him on a regular basis. Because the universe uses him to set things in motion, what needs to happen to him will happen regardless of how absolutely bizarre that something may be. That being said, I have no intentions of using him as a deus ex machina... unless you want me to.

When it comes to abilities, Dirk is in most senses a completely normal human being. Actually, probably below-average in terms of competency and physical prowess. Nonetheless, he is also cursed with a (hazily-defined) extrasensory ability. In his own words, he gets "hunches about the way the world works", but they too are hazily-defined, "like reading in a language you don't understand". They manifest essentially as a series of strong impressions -- primarily of the sort that manifest in the strong feeling that he ought to go somewhere or do something in particular, though he is also occasionally shown to know things he couldn't possibly have known, simply because he feels them to be true.

It is at very least strongly implied that Dirk a tool the universe uses to set things in motion, or to ensure that they resolve as they need to. He's not the only person in his universe with a cosmic role to play, and it's hard to classify this as an ability exactly, as it's more something that happens to him than something he actively manifests, but it is nonetheless somewhat integral to his character and explicitly tied to his 'hunches'. The will of the universe is, however, frequently inscrutable, so that isn't to say he's always acting on a grand, world-altering scale. On the contrary: it frequently only means that he's very good at accidentally finding people's lost cats.

Just his clothing. Wallet and contents thereof, presumably picked through. He'd have had his phone on him at the specific canon point I have in mind but I'm guessing it'd have been confiscated.