ellectrical: (blue moon in your eyes)
ellectrical ([personal profile] ellectrical) wrote2012-12-24 04:02 am
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[OOC] Reference Post

This post exists to keep my tl;dr in one place. It will likely be edited as I... feel the need to talk more.



History

Most of Elle's history isn't very well known aside from a few mentioned details. I'm using these combined with what's been said in a few interviews to create this general outline – I have a more detailed one as well, but I'm only using that as a general context rather than something to specifically base play on.

Elle's known relatives are her father, Robert Bishop, and an unnamed grandmother. I am assuming based on their interaction and decisions made by the writers that Bob is Elle's biological father. As he's described as a Company founder, he was involved in it for a while before Elle was born.

The next known detail of her life, and what I'm assuming was her "manifestation," was that she accidentally set her grandmother's house on fire when she was six. She calls it an accident, and Noah describes her as being normal when she was brought in, so that’s what it was. Elle wasn't a "problem child," she didn't show any sociopathic or sadistic tendencies before whatever the Company did to her. I do think it’s an integral part of her character that she didn't have to be this way.

Noah tells Elle that when she was seven, the Company ran a test on how much wattage she could discharge, pushing her so far that she repeatedly passed out from the strain, and that her father pressed on despite this. This is the only detailed description given of what the Company's experiments on Elle entailed – Noah also makes a comment that "the human brain isn't built to take that much electricity" and Kristen Bell has described her as "broken" and being "worked like an animal." So I am working off the assumption that the lucidity she has at this point was mostly manufactured by having these memories removed by the Haitian, which essentially leaves her with a dim fascination and familiarity with the pain she can cause. Her sadistic tendencies stem from this treatment – her sociopathic ones have more to do with her social isolation.

Elle tells Peter that she caused a blackout in four counties in Ohio when she was eight. Presumably, she would have been in the Company's custody when this happened. I have a story behind this, but it's not at all based in canon.

Elle also tells Peter that she's been in the Hartsdale Facility for sixteen years, "since the shrinks diagnosed me as a sociopath with paranoid delusions." Her age is 24 in canon, 24 – 16 = 8, voila or whatever.

Elle states that she spent her ninth birthday "in a glass room with an IV of lithium in my arm." According to the "Company Man" timeline, she would have been about nine when the Company brought in the Haitian. And no, I don't have anything written about the Haitian wiping her memory on her birthday and having cake with her the next day. Because I don't.

There's a big blank part here until she was 18, and Adam Monroe says he "caved" to her in a moment of weakness and is "still paying the price." [livejournal.com profile] saint4hire's mun and I agreed on backstory involving Adam and Elle sleeping together once, it not being all that great, and them not doing it again.

At 19, based on my adapting the graphic novels "The Man With Too Much Brains" to "The End of Hana and Drucker" into a timeline that... makes a remote amount of sense, Elle's assigned to bring in a boy named Matt, who had eidetic memory (the same ability as Charlie). The Company performed experiments on him and initially kept him in a cell similar to Peter Petrelli's, but they also gave him work which he reluctantly enjoyed, and he spent a lot of time with Elle, whom he had a crush on (the graphic novels are more from his perspective than hers, so it's hard to tell how aware of this she was – it's clear she had some affection for him). He notices someone hacking into the Company's computer mainframe, and Elle 'follows protocol' by having him download everything on the system to into his mind before destroying the mainframe herself. The process stops his heart, but Elle restarts it using her ability. However, the process of downloading the information out of his mind again kills him while Elle watches. There are a few other aspects that are sort of noteworthy – Matt's room at the Company is improved when he successfully identifies the hack and downloads the information (though he still can’t move freely, his window is blocked, and Elle says he can leave the facility with her as long as there’s a guard), Bob praises Matt and ignores Elle.

And... that's pretty much it, up until canon. A graphic novel that I guess is apparently supposed to take place after 2x11 also has Elle mentioning she spent a lot of time with the son of the Company agent Thompson from s1 while growing up.






Behavior

Mental Health

Elle is mentally unstable. This isn't due to a naturally occurring chemical imbalance, and is not a condition such as schizophrenia. She shows many symptoms of severe mania such as impulsive and grandiose behavior, short attention span, and irritability, as well as symptoms that may have been exaggerated when she was younger, such as rage and hyperactivity (lithium is a treatment for mania).

This condition was not present before Elle was brought into the Company – she was, as Noah called her, a "normal girl." It's primarily the product of Elle's psychological issues (social isolation, separation from society, not really being exposed to even basic social norms) and literal brain damage (presumably both damage caused by electric shock and the Haitian's ability). The Haitian's wiping her memory means she doesn't have flashbacks of being experimented on, and isn't overtly psychologically damaged by it, but it also means she has memory problems (especially in terms of short term memory) and does have underlying issues, particularly fascination with physical pain in others and certain reflexive physical responses.

Her sociopathic behavior (e.g. complete lack of concern for others, inability to internalize social norms) has more to do with the environment in which she grew up in two ways: her separation from society, and her treatment as something dangerous since she was very young. The behavior of Company agents isn't really ... the norm for most people – Noah Bennet shoots someone he calls an "old friend" with no hesitation, Bennet and Thompson both speak of the Company as an absolute authority (at... certain points), death is treated without much more than mild interest by just about everyone. For them, of course, this is a choice of behavior – for Elle, it's the only behavior. Relatively unquestioning compliance with authority (that authority – others largely don't matter), and almost no empathy towards others. She defends her father against Noah's accusations, but doesn't even think he'll save her life.

In this sense, Elle isn't really a sociopath or a sadist, in that both of those terms are typically applied to people who have developed this behavior in a different social context. Elle hasn't been consistently exposed to mainstream behavior and simply unable to relate to it – she just hasn't developed as a part of it. (Also, she does lack many traits typically associated with sociopaths and sadists.)



Experience and Behavior

Elle tends to veer off into her childlike behavior particularly in situations she doesn't have much experience with – which, in her case, comes up a lot. For example, she hasn't had an actual birthday party since she was six (though she does usually get cake. Well. When she was stable enough for it.), she didn't go to school, she hasn't gone on a date, she doesn't get out much... pretty much most of the time she's going to behave as she would have the last time she was really exposed to these things, which was when she was a child. She could certainly change this behavior if she assimilated into an older peer group and experienced these sorts of things within that group, but that hasn't happened.

However, there are plenty of things she has had experience with – violence, dealing with people like herself (and that means both people with abilities, and people with very little in terms of morals), and sexuality (which isn't the same as dating or romance). She might slip into her childlike behavior in these situations, but more often than not it will be insincere, usually as a way of getting others to underestimate her.

(And because it's funny.)



Violence

So far over the course of the show, Elle kills one man by incinerating him, and attacks or attempts to attack five others. She and Bob also make reference to her having killed others in the past, and she calmly threatens to torture Noah.

She shows no regret or remorse for these actions, and no moral qualms with committing them, to the point where she doesn't understand that these actions could be considered "a big deal." While her father pulls her off an assignment after one instance of violence, he also purposely assigns her to presumably kill Noah, which suggests he's perfectly willing to encourage her violent behavior when it suits his needs, but doesn't want anything that could be construed as a violent outburst (and seems to expect that from her).

For someone who often displays such childlike behavior, it's notable that Elle rarely displays much emotion when in violent encounters – she doesn't kill Ricky out of rage, and her voice is fairly calm when she taunts Peter before attacking him. She's never really even raised her voice, even when being tortured and taunted by Noah. The only time this really breaks is when she's being scolded by her father, and in the same vein, when she questioned whether her father would save her. Though she's impulsive and immature much of the time, Elle's very restrained emotionally (or isn't really experiencing emotion), especially when it comes to violence. Because she doesn't seem to associate much emotion with violence, she can use it fairly liberally without reservation.

And of course, the nature of her ability and her proficiency in it means that she is extremely dangerous, and that gives her some measure of control in many situations, which is something she likes to assert. Being around people whose abilities she doesn't understand, or whom she simply may not be able to hurt, makes her nervous, because she believes by default that pretty much everyone she meets will care as little about her as she cares about them, and would be just as willing to hurt her if it came up.



Sexual Behavior

The first and most important thing to remember is that Elle simply doesn't associate stigma or provocation or any of these typical societal norms to behavior such as flirting, physical contact, and sexuality. Sometimes she will do something sexually provocative without realizing it, sometimes on purpose, and sometimes with the intention of making someone uncomfortable, but she never really understands that what she's doing is something considered out of bounds or beyond normal behavior. If it bothers someone, it's because they're weird, not her, and she should use that to her full advantage when it comes to dealing with them. If she flirts with someone, it's not necessarily because she's interested in sex – she likes to flirt, and especially likes to be aggressive about it, because it does give her some measure of control over a given situation.

And sometimes she'll just break all the boundaries of normal physical contact because she doesn't understand them, and it'll have nothing to do with flirting or even trying to make the other person uncomfortable. When it came to Peter Petrelli, for instance, she wasn't really coming onto him or even trying to make him uncomfortable (she knew she was making him uncomfortable, but that's not what she cared about) - she just liked having something to poke and prod as much as she wanted.

When it actually comes to sex, a lot of that control she had when it was just flirting isn't there anymore, and she's just not as interested. She's done it, whatever. That doesn't mean she's never going to be open to it, but she just thinks of it as an activity with about the same seriousness and importance as a board game. Sometimes it can be a lot of fun, sometimes it can be dull. (This metaphor does not extend to it being more fun if you have more players.)

What's also important to remember and... kind of complicated to explain is that Elle very strongly associates sexual behavior with violence. No, that doesn't mean she's into bondage or S&M – she probably wouldn't really understand those kinds of things. They're products of mainstream society's conceptualizations of sex and sexual behavior even if they are considered sexually deviant. But in both her sexual and her violent behavior, Elle is in control of the situation, and she does enjoy that, and this means she's likely to act both suggestively and violently toward others.

And when it comes down to it, if it's a question of having sex with a person or killing them, she's more often than not going to get more satisfaction out of killing them.






Ability

Elle's ability is probably most accurately described as electrogenesis. She independently generates electricity, rather than channeling it, absorbing it, or manipulating it from outside sources. I've usually thought of Elle's ability as closer to Ted Sprague's induced radiation than Meredith Gordon's pyrokinesis – the human body does naturally produce electricity, and Elle just takes it… quite a bit further than humans normally do. While most of the time the electricity she generates is produced from her hands and fingers, this is because it's easiest to direct and control through her hands – otherwise she has to be in physical contact with who or what she's attempting to shock (such as when she shocks Peter while kissing him).

Since Elle has had her ability for so long, and has been trained to use it in ways she both does and doesn't remember, she has extensive control over it. I handle this through her essentially varying her use of voltage and amperage – a high volt electric shock can be extremely painful, but isn't as likely to leave any lasting damage. Amperage is what can lead to burns and other damage; an electric current as low as 60-100 mA (milliampere) can cause fatal heart rhythm irregularities. Elle has to show some variation in how she uses it – sometimes she'll just want to put someone in pain and therefore will lean voltage heavy, which is also to some extent how she'd knock people out, while she'd use high amperage to burn or kill. In canon, we've seen her ability cause extreme pain, leave burns, knock someone unconscious, and leave one man a completely charred corpse. I imagine the last is the easiest to do as she wouldn't have to rein herself in, but that she probably doesn't usually leave corpses looking quite that conspicuous. Ricky's body was probably meant as a calling card for Peter. When I write her varying use of voltage and amperage, it will be that the brighter (closer to white than blue) her sparks or electrical arcs are, the higher the voltage, while high amp will be closer to blue, and the electrical arcs she makes thicker.

It's easiest for Elle to simply create a small arc strong enough to catch most things on fire. She can do pretty much anything else, but that takes more control or effort on her part – simply setting something on fire takes less effort than, saying, supplying electricity for a building, and it takes more control to just light a cigarette. Elle has also trained enough that she has very good aim, though she relies a lot on her right.

Elle's issue with water is kind of a contentious point with me and canon, especially since it doesn't really reflect the… scientific reality of it, but it's canon and I can't just ignore it. So the thing is, Elle won't necessarily hurt herself just because she's wet – as long as her feet are in contact with the ground, she can essentially channel out the excess electrons without harming herself. Her ability would still be impaired until she managed to dry off her hands at least, which wouldn't take that long. This was why Noah put Elle's feet in water when he kidnapped her. Still, Elle doesn't like water or being wet, hence why she doesn't like snow or rain.

Also, because hey, it might be relevant someday: An electromagnetic pulse wouldn't affect Elle's ability. What an EMP does is create a power surge that damages electrical equipment so it can't function. It doesn't have anything to do with the generation of electricity itself. If Elle were using her ability when an EMP hit, she might be hurt as the electrical current she was producing would abruptly change from what she meant it to be (and I'm sort of inclined to vague-ing that she might have some sort of nauseous reaction from being more sensitive to changes in electrical current), but that's it.


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