Thursday, September 12, 2013

View from a thinking playpen: Dorothy Catalonia

Cross-posted from my Gundam Wing/fandom tumblr: In which I blather more about her character and her Machiavellian chess games in the Eve Wars

Dorothy Catalonia

Dorothy Catalonia. If some people didn’t categorize her readily as a nutcase that popped in the middle of Gundam Wing for perhaps no other reason than to add a bit of color to the plot, they viewed her either as a poor excuse for a Relena Peacecraft antithesis or an obnoxious extra.

Once upon a time I thought the creators didn’t pay Dorothy any substantial attention, which might explain her lack of growth and dimensional weight as a character. I was constantly wondering why they’d let her open up so late in the series—it’s almost like it dawned on them that the audience will consider her presence a hairsbreadth away from being a total waste of space if they will not give her “war hobbies” at least an inch of depth. So they did, even if it’s on the penultimate episode (Ep.48: Take Off into Confusion).

One rewatch later, when I’m old enough to understand things in the show, I realized that the creators didn’t really write her off as an insignificant minor character.

For one, she was responsible for moving big pawns in AC 195’s one chess game of a war. She’s the whisper in Duke Dermail’s ear about leading the space forces and leaving Romafeller open to Relena’s voice. She somehow had a hand in Relena reign as a Queen and the subsequent birth of a unified world nation. But more importantly to her—important as in a deeply personal level—it was her suggestion that killed her grandfather in space. 

Now, Dorothy might be a vastly manipulative force with Romafeller blood in her veins, but she’s still a girl. Remember her terrified expression before she replaced it with a smirk. She’s good at putting up a tough face to the world since her father died (at least that’s what we can construe from her sparring with Quatre). Losing another father figure, this time because of her own Machiavellian schemes, must have made her crumble a little more inside. But with everything throwing itself at a chaos at that time, Dorothy would have no time to allot for grieving.

Then we see her siding with White Fang—being in the thick of things, not only getting on the front seat but hopping onstage as well. She had somehow involved herself in this war anyway, why not go all the way? But everything she planned went awry. Her mobile doll assault against the gundams was thwarted, Treize Khushrenada died, and—surprise, surprise!—she didn’t die. I’ve always thought she’d chosen the broken battleship Libra as her grave (see this pseudo-meta).

She’s a survivor. Aside from Milliardo, she’s one of the few people who held the “battle that would end all battles” belief who lived through the Eve Wars. Many people didn’t know Milliardo was actually alive. Wouldn’t it be a bit harder for her than anyone else there? Pondering about all the things she’d lost and in the end being proved a loser? You’d think that would be enough for her to just to decide to give it all up. To die.
But she’s there in episode 49. “I’m tired of living in the past,” she says in front of Milliardo’s and Treize’s graves. If there’s a major lesson Gundam Wing taught me as a kid, it’s that sometimes, being a survivor is equivalent to having to fight a longer, harder battle—the one in your head, the one in your memories. The true victors are those who chose not to be defeated by the ghosts of their past. Along with the others who started anew, Dorothy emerged and continued to live.

Oh, and it doesn’t end there. Dorothy appeared in Endless Waltz too. She’s her usual self, but this time she’s using her tactics to goad the people to go against Mariemaia in the most peaceful way they can. If she wasn’t there to provoke the mob, it would have ended a bit differently, more violently. 

I kind of loathe to know that her growth—as a character and as an individual—happened off-screen…but then again, there are massive chunks of important stuff the creators couldn’t cram into the animated medium, so I guess their little hints through Dorothy’s short scenes are enough. :)

Um, let’s not talk about Frozen Teardrop, okay? She has become the President of the Earth Sphere Unified Nation there, but I refuse to talk about it. JUST NO.

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