September 4, 2020



Commentary for September 4, 2020:

If you totally called it, congrats to you! You win nothing and you will like it. But yes, of course, Timmons becoming GUN Supreme Commander was how this story ended in the original version, too. It was a fairly unceremonious affair, mind you, with Cookirini announcing, “Samanfur called and said you’re in charge of GUN now,” before peacing the heck out. Given the enormous narrative significance of this moment, however, I knew the scene needed more weight, which is why I wrote this first scene.

This second scene, however, grew out of the exchange between Timmons and Smithson during their earlier encounter this chapter. Timmons asked Smithson what she stands for and I knew I needed her to provide an answer. Initially, I tried to cram an answer in while the Ajax was obliterating the Egg Frigate, but it didn’t fit the scene, since Timmons wasn’t there to hear it. So I decided to put it here, instead, where she had more room to talk about what she stands for and what she thinks of Timmons’s appointment as the new Supreme Commander. Now, in the original, Smithson was delighted by the decision. She was also a very shallow and uninteresting character, basically just “good navy woman”, with little to her beyond that. Bringing her into Eon’s World, I knew I wanted her to be more complex, which is why I gave her this little character arc, to make her sort of a foil to Timmons, I guess. And looking back, I guess I also made her a foil to Sally.

Smithson’s contrast with Timmons should be fairly obvious, I hope, whereas her contrast with Sally is a little more obscure; but the way I see it, they are both characters who wanted to follow protocol and do things by the book in this arc. Sally wanted to go through channels to get Blaze freed; similarly, Smithson argued that Timmons should have gone through channels to raise a complaint about Blaze’s treatment. But their reasons for wanting things to be done “properly” are very different. Sally believes in justice and she is more than willing to break the rules to prevent something cruel or unethical from happening, but she feared repercussions for acting against GUN and couldn’t see how that would end well for Sonic, which is why she warned him against it. Smithson, on the other hand believes in order, and that means respecting the rules, even when those rules allow something unethical to happen, which is why she argued that Timmons should have just raised a formal complaint about Blaze’s treatment. In the end, she did break the rules and defied High Command to help Timmons in order to bring down General Davis, but it was against her liking.

And this is where Smithson’s objections to politicians like Sally come into play. Smithson is a moderate centrist. She’s not a conservative per se, but she is very mistrustful of those who call for radical or sudden changes to the status quo. That sort of thing makes her very uneasy. She would much rather see small, gradual changes made incrementally over long periods of time than sweeping changes made rapidly. (The cynic in me would say she wants changes so gradual that she won’t have to notice them happening.)

Smithson would argue that this is the only way positive changes can be made, because society will always resist rapid change. Maybe there’s some truth to that, but some people (notably not Smithson) are being actively hurt by the existing status quo. The poor. The disabled. The unemployed. Queer people. Mobians. All of them face various forms of discrimination or institutional unfairness that makes their lives much harder than someone like Smithson, a human with a good, secure career. Asking them to wait for changes that will make their lives better is deeply unfair, especially if they’re expected to wait so long that the changes may not even come in their lifetime. This is the main source of the disagreement between Sally, a leftist progressive and advocate for social justice, and Smithson, a moderate centrist and supporter of incrementalism. Smithson fears that immediate change to redress societal injustice will lead to a backlash or even destabilise society as a whole, whereas Sally believes that justice delayed is justice denied, and for the sake of full disclosure, I’m on Sally’s side here. If someone is beating someone else with a stick and I take their stick away, they’ll probably be very upset with me, maybe even violently angry, but at least their victim isn’t being beaten anymore.

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