Round 1, Match 1
Vic vs. Jo
to start off with, I am comparing Vic to Eponine and Jo to Feuilly.
Vic and Eponine both grew up in a situation that may have at first appeared to favor them, but over time revealed itself to be detrimental to them. For Vic it was Urquhart and and the facilities system in general. For Eponine it was her parents.
Both characters, as they got older, started to long for situations out of their reach.
Vic just wants to be left alone and in no danger of hurting others, ideally without getting yelled at all the time.
Eponine, on the other hand pinned her hopes on Marius saving her. She saw the opportunity for a comfortable life that Marius had available to him and that he was kind and, ya know, the fact that he fuckin SAW her to any degree instead of just letting her be a background figure in his life, and she wanted that.
Now as for Jo and Feuilly, both are people who I have limited knowledge of, but seem like wonderful people.
Feuilly is one of the Friends of the ABC, the revolutionary group looking to improve France and the situation of it's citizens. Feuilly specifically is described on the wiki as having "adopted the world" and being generous.
Jo refused to let a fellow Earl resident live all by her lonsome in an otherwise empty unit, hosted a welcoming party for her new roomie and generally seems like the kind of person who'd fill a sort of "dorm mom" role.
And beyond these bits and pieces I just don't know much about either Jo or Feuilly.Neither have especially stood out among their peers to me and ultimately, I don't have much of an emotional investment in them.
And that is why my vote in today's battle is for Vic rather than Jo. When it comes down to it, I know (and sympathize with) Vic more than I do Jo, and I really hope that we get to see Vic happy one day.
Round 1 Match 2
Dipak vs. Nirav
Alright, so for today's contest, I will be comparing Dipak to Courfeyrac and Nirav to Combeferre.
Now , since this is the second and third times that I'm reaching into the Friends of the ABC, I want to real quick explain the process of these comparisons as it is a little different from those who get compared with more prominent characters from Les Mis.
The first step on these is trying to find someone who I feel is a match (or at least close enough) from the entire cast. If I can't do that, then I think wether I could see the character participating in a revolution. If the answer is yes, then They're gonna be ABC. Now since I'm going by the musical, picking who from the ABC is tricky. With only two notable exceptions (Enjolras and Marius) the members of ABC in the musical mostly act as a group. So I look at the song Red and Black, which has a couple separate parts within the ABC and find which lines I could best see the Inhibit character saying. Then I take a quick jaunt over to Wikipedia to make sure that the two characters aren't super dramatically different. For instance, originally I was going to compare Jo with Grantaire, and then it turned out Grantaire is a drunk and a Cynic who didn't actually believe in the revolution. That seemed like too much of a gap between the two characters.
Basically, what I'm saying is the harder you look at the characters I used to compare these two, the more the comparison will fall apart. Sorry about that.
Without further ado:
Combeferre is second in charge of the Friends of the ABC, right under Enjolras and Courfeyrac is third, which could be considered reflective of how Nate seemed to show a bit of favoritism towards Nirav during retrievals.
Both Combeferre and Courfeyrac are clearly somewhat rowdy boys, considering they helped plan and initiate a rebellion, but the Wiki describes Combeferre as being a bit more bookish, a bit quieter and Courfeyrac as more of a public figure.
Based on what little I know of these two Les Mis characters, I like Courfeyrac a bit better because he seems like he'd be more fun. Similarly, I like Dipak slightly better. Ehen the twins were confronted with the fact that noone could tell them apart, Dipak (without prompting, discussion or hesitation) Punched his own tooth out. Therefore, I think he'd probably be the more exciting twin to be around and read a story about.
Round 1 Match 3
Masha vs. Baby Julia
You've probably been wondering who is going to end up getting compared to Jean Valjean, well Wonder No More! It's Masha!
Both Valjean and Masha grew up in situations that were hostile to them and eventually managed to turn it to their benefit.
In the case of Jean Valjean, he was in poverty, so much so that his sister's child was near death, and he and his sister weren't far behind. And then when he stole a loaf of bread to keep them going for a few days, he ended up going to jail for 19 years. Even once he got out on parole, the system tried to screw him over. In the end, Valjean had to rip up his parole paper and create a new identity for himself, with a donation of silver from a bishop.
Masha's story may not be quite as dramatic, but it has it's similarities. She had to go to Urquhart where she didn't know anyone, got her name mangled, had at least one person be actively beligerant to her, All under the threat of being kicked out with little notice if one specific part of her stopped working. And to top it all off you've got whatever happened when Vic was 11, which based on current indications, I'd guess was him accidentally electrocuting Masha, and possibly several other people, severely.
That's a lot for a person to go through.
And yet, when we see her in comic, she's completed her training, become proficient with her telekinesis, and based on interactions I'd guess she's currently second in command of her team.
That's some triumph right there. From both of them.
On the other hand, we have Baby Julia. And her comparison is, drum roll please.....
Gavroche is a plucky young street rat and revolutionary in the city of Paris who captured audiences hearts while firmly telling us- and showing us- what "Little people can do." Both clever and cocky, he's maybe a bit big for his britches. But to be fair, Gavroche is the one who quickly got word to the Friends of the ABC when General Lamarque died, Gavroche is the one who revealed Javert to be working for the enemy, and Gavroche is the one who rallied the rest as things looked bleak. Those britches may not be sized for his body, but perhaps they're just right for him.
and Baby Julia shows so much of that same spunk; Exploring her new surroundings once she's at Urquhart, even though she didn't have permission (who cares about permission anyway?). She also goes against the flow, doing what she likes instead of just what she's told, finding a spot to sit and eat some bread rather than running around for laser tag.
Both Gavroche and Julia have a nose for adventure, I for one want to follow where it goes.
And Now it comes down to it, which one to vote for? Valjean or Gavroche? Masha or Baby Julia?
Funny thing about that, Triumph tends to be more of an end point to a story than the meat of it. Adventure on the other hand? Adventure is the whole dang meal.
My vote is for Baby Julia.
Round 1 Match 4
Nate vs. Baby Vic.
It was really tempting to compare Nate with Javert. Man who enforces the law who is a dick to the main character but seems like he could have been a nice guy if he hadn't been steered down this path when he was younger. In fact, that comparison concept in my head is what prompted all this.
But Javert adhered strictly to his beliefs of right and wrong and had faith in the system whereas Nate, well. Nate seems to not really care about the system other than playing it to get what he wants. Maybe even, what he feels is his due?
Which brings us to Nate's actual Les Mis counterpart: Madame Thenardier.
Mme. Thenadier is self centered, clever, conniving, and perfectly happy to cut the legs out from anyone she thinks isn't doing their part, even if they're in the process of helping her. Mme. Thenadier's first lines are:
"I used to dream that I would meet a prince. But God almighty, have you seen what's happened since?"
And it's pretty clear throughout the musical that that sentiment is her driving force. She believes she deserves better than what she got, and she's planning take what she sees as her due while resenting everyone else for putting her in this position.
How does that driving force relate to Nate? Well, that relies a little bit on speculation, but the bit I can point to in comic is back at the beginning of chapter 1. When Nate is explaining how he became Victor's mentor, he says that if his mentorship of Vic goes well, they might make him an actual team member, "so help me out". Saying it like that puts the onus on Vic to do well, rather than on Nate to help him do well. Making someone else responsible for getting Nate what he sees as his due.
I also strongly suspect that is why he is helping Vic get his license, because if Vic ages out of housing with no license, that could be considered a black spot on his mentor's record.
And in the other corner we have Baby Vic. Baby Vic who's adult counterpart I have already compared to Eponine, and I see no reason to adjust that for the child version. Oh sure, he's Eponine before she truly realized the lot life had in store for her (back when her parents owned the inn), but Eponine none the less.
Eponine, daughter of Mme. Thenadier. Eponine, abuse victim of Mme. Thenadier.
Perhaps that is a faulty line to draw on for Nate and Vic's relationship, we haven't seen any definitive proof of how they interacted as the years went by. But neglect is a form of abuse and from the interactions I've seen, I strongly suspect Nate neglected Vic. Probably unintentionally, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.
Do I really need to say more here? We've got a character that the story is designed to engender sympathy for, vs. a character who likely has a hand in why said protag is going to need that sympathy when he's older.
My vote goes to Baby Vic
Round 1 Match 5
Julia vs. Sid
Alright, so today we have Julia vs. Sid. I have already compared Baby Julia to Gavroche and I see no reason to change this for her older version.
After all, Julia is still a firecracker full of energy. Hyper, loud and charismatic through sheer force, Julia frequently says screw the rules and does what she wants. (Only tangenitally relevant to this comparison, but I'd be willing to bet that Julia is the character whose mouth most frequently reshapes and/or escapes their face.) All of this still falls in line with the qualities of Gavroche we previously discussed.
But there is another part of Gavroche that I didn't get to bring up before. A softer, quieter, more observant side which allows his boisterous flashiness to be effective. He knows how to be quiet and how to listen and how to understand people.
And we get to see a bit of that side with this Julia. Most obviously, we see it in her scene with Vic and Paulina. Julia took in the situation and said 'ok, here's what we can do right now, so let's do that and I'm going to get some rest so I have the capability and awareness to confront the rest of it in the morning.'
Neither Julia nor Gavroche is stupid, and if you think they are, you've got a rude awakening coming, my friend.
And now we come to Sid. Sid, who's unworried, unruffled demeanor made them hell to pair up. Seriously, there is noone in Les Mis who is that calm.
The closest I could find was Marius, who spent a significant part of the play too lovestruck to get excitable about anything else. I'd love to say they have other qualities that match up with Marius, but I don't know what their other qualities are. I haven't seen them that much.
Sid runs into the same problem Jo did. I just don't have a significant attachment to them, and I do have a very significant attachment to Julia. So Julia gets my vote today
Round 1 Match 6
Holly vs. Ben
Have you made your guesses yet for who these two will get compared to? Here, I'll give you a minute to think on it.
Holly was also tempting to compare Javert. Officer of the law, seems to have a strong sense of duty... and beyond that the comparison kind of fell apart. I can't tell at this point if Holly truly believes in the system she's upholding or if she's just doing the best she can with the hand she was dealt. And other than that, their philosiphies diverged too greatly.
But you know who she matches up with Holly a whole lot better? Bishop Myriel, the guy who didn't care about Valjean's conviction and brought him in out of the cold. When the rest of the world was screwing Valjean over, Myriel treated him like a human being.
And then Valjean stole from him and vanished into the night. Some constables caught him and he tried to say that the silver was a gift. They didn't believe him, and dragged him back to Myriel, to verify the falsity of Valjean's tale.
Even though Valjean was lying, Myriel backed him up. And then once the constables had left, Myriel not only let Valjean keep what he had stolen, but gave him more silver and told him to, basically, get his life together.
Myriel didn't hold Valjean's past against him, didn't act wounded over the theft, and due to Myriel's intervention, Valjean was able to have a life.
Now Holly, upon meeting Vic, did not comment on whatever it is that Vic dd when he was 11, but instead approached him warmly and referred to him as "Nate's little prodigy."
At first, I thought Nate had fed Holly biased information. But the more I see of Holly, the more I realize she probably knows full well what happend, and is instead focusing on the positive. How could Vic be considered a prodigy?
Well, from what I've seen and the little clues here and there, I suspect Vic is unusually strong, which likely contributes to his difficulty controlling it, but this one isn't about Vic. Let's focus back on Holly.
My other example of Holly being like Myriel is actually her encounter with her opponent today, Ben. Oh sure, she placed him under arrest, which, given Myriel and Valjean's interaction, seems opposed to Myriel, but circumstance comes into play with that stuff.
No, I'm talking about the detaills of the interaction. I'm talking about the fact that when Ben caused Holly excruciating pain, she kept her wits about her *and* she refused to retaliate. Holly didn't throttle him or hit him or any of that. Once she'd used a traquilizer on him, she went right back to being happy, smiling Holly. Even though she was still in pain.
And Ben. We've already met Madame Thenadier, now it''s time for Monsieur Thenadier. It isn't an immediately obvious comparison, but the more I look at it the more I like it.
The Ben we currently know is M. Thenadier after he's lost the inn and is operating as a street swindler and an out and out thief. Ben's inn stage would have been while he was at Miller. Though I suspect it isn't true, I wouldn't be overly surprised if, while he was at Miller, Ben was the guy you went to if you wanted to get some contraband.
Now that the Miller fire has happened, it's probably more difficult to use any contacts to smuggle stuff in, and so his "inn" is gone. And in the confusion, an opportunity to get out presented itself, similar to Thenadier's option out from Javert's wrath (by putting him on Valjean's trail.) And he took it. He was even savvy enough to get his chip out, though he screwed the healing afterwards.
And then some people got in his way, and Ben intended to make them pay for it. Again, it didn't quite work out. But it's the thought that counts, eh?
So there you have it. I haven't seen enough redeeming qualities from Ben to like him, and the fact that his comparing companion is Thenadier does him no favors. Holly, on the other hand has been shown as kind and empahetic. I think you know where my vote is going.
Round 1 Match 7
David vs. Baby Nate
Well howdy once again, folks. Today we have a contest between David and Baby Nate. David will be compared to Cosette, and Baby Nate, like his older counterpart, will be compared to Mme. Thenadier.
Cosette and David's comparison is odd to write about. It seemed like the obvious choice and I stand by it, I'm just not sure how to put it into words.
Neither of them really initiate anything within their respective stories (so far as I've currently seen) and at first I was going to call them passive, but that's not quite right. David is perfectly happy to sneak up onto rooftops and break into the medical(?) building, which aren't the actions of a passive character.
So what is it then? Well, as I was thinking it through I argued with myself that passive might still be the closest word, since I haven't seen either Cosette or David really take any steps to accomplish their goals. And the obvious follow up question to that is "What are their goals?"
I don't have a good answer for that. I know David wants to ask Sid out, but context indicates that that isn't likely to be the conclusion to his character arc within the story.
And sure, we see Cosette happily marry Marius at the end of Les Mis, but was that what she wanted before she met him? To meet a nice guy and settle down? Or did her motivations change during that fraction of time they saw each other on the street?
I can't figure it out from context. And I think that's why they both seem passive to me, because I don't know what goals they're working towards.
As for Baby Nate, we meet him about 9 years earlier than the main body of the story. And unlike his older counterpart, He isn't acting quite as assholish. It's easy to see that the base of his current attitude is there, between his dismissiveness of Vic's concerns and the fact that he sees the mentorship as more to his own benefit than as a way to help Vic.
But he isn't acting out and out mean yet. This Nate is Mme. Thenadier before we ever see her in the musical. This is probably before she even marries M. Thenadier. Still optimistic, but also very self centered.
So our choices here are David, who's motivations I don't know and therefore I don't know what kind of story it'd be with him as rhe main character, or Baby Nate, who I know what he grows into and I don't like it.
And that is the deal breaker for me. I'm very severely not interested in reading a story about the main character descending into assholery.
My vote is for David
Round 1 Match 8
Paulina vs. Baby Masha
And so we come to the last match of round one. Who will continue, and who will fall by the wayside? Which way will the pendulum swing?
Paulina? or Baby Masha?
Only time - and votes - will tell. And I shall continue to argue why you should vote with me, by proxy of Les Miserables characters. At the very least, I hope to entertain you along the way.
Enjolras is the leader of the Friends of the ABC. A visionary, a revolutionary, he fights for a world where everyone truly gets a chance to live, rather than scrounge. He isnt the most intuitive pairing for Paulina, yet my intuition steered me there anyway.
On the surface the two are fairly incompatible. Enjolras certainly has anger going, but it's not the raging inferno that Paulina seems to stoke. Rather, it is a carefully controlled flame, one used to fuel passionate speeches and rally the populace. Enjolras is a leader and highly charismatic. Paulina doesn't know how to people.
But that's all the how, not the what. The what is getting the job done. The what is the upset of the status quo.
Technically, we don't currently have any proof that that's Paulina's goal, but the Miller fire and the intense desire to find Chalice certainly point in that direction.
So maybe, at the core of it, Paulina and Enjolras are comparable after all.
As you probably expect, I will be comparing Baby Masha with Jean Valjean. But while the two characters are comparable, their stories are different enough that I'm having difficulty pointing to a specific part of Valjean's arc, seen or implied, and say that that is what we see when we read Baby Masha's part.
The best I can figure, what we've seen of Baby Masha is a conglomerate of all that happens to Valjean before we see him as mayor, but condensed.
There's elements of his imprisonment because (It's been heavily implied) She was legally required to go to one of the facilities.
Then there's bits of probation, after jail but before Myriel, before ripping up his Ticket of Leave. These bits can be seen as Vic's lack of respect during their first meeting and Anne's intense beligerance.
And then you've got the part where Baby Masha has decided she likes it at Urquhart and doesn't want to leave, but is scared of going dormant and therefore being kicked out. It's like the part of Valjean's life we don't actually see in the musical, where he's starting his life in Montreuil-sur-Mer, where he would eventually become mayor, but is presumably terrified of being found out as Jean Valjean, ex-con.
This one is a close race for me. Which story would I rather read, the struggles and triumphs of Masha within Urquhart or the civil unrest and social challenges of Paulina finding her way?
To some extent, we already know where Masha's story goes, whereas Paulina's results are a mystery, which makes her a bit more intriguing. My vote goes to Paulina.
There was a surprise in one of the Semifinal rounds, David and Julia managed to both get exactly 11 votes. They tied and therefore both passed to the Final Round to face off against each other and Vic.
Despite lobbying by several parties (including myself) to repeat the feat and have all three chracters win, Vic came out on top, with David in second and Julia taking the bronze.