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Penelope Garcia: Manic Pixie Baby Girl

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I love her! I think she goes overboard sometimes, but with a personality as big as hers, that's bound to happen from time to time. If I knew someone like her in real life, I'd want to hang out with her. She's kind, is pretty brill, and loves unconditionally, which I think are qualities that all the best humans have. GO Garcie!

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Penelope used to be one of my top favorite characters, and I still like her from the earlier seasons. But the writers and Kirsten's performance have absolutely ruined this character in recent years. She dresses in a ridiculous, highly unprofessional way. She acts like a flippity child who has no emotional maturity. Her interactions with Morgan and the rest of the time descended into a farcical caricature. If I was actually around a person like Penelope, I would either have to leave the room, or I would say something incredibly mean, because I can't stand people like her (or at least how she has been written the last few years). She is exhausting and has no actual personal boundaries or respect for privacy, and she never stops talking. The writing for her has been better season nine (maybe the writers realized how ridiculous they were making her, or they listened to some fans' complaints), so Penelope has been more tolerable. Small doses of Penelope go a long way, and I actually still like her when she is acting professionally. 

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She's in her 40's, but dresses and acts like she's an over-indulged child.   Morgan is her biggest enabler as far as keeping her immature and childish.  Baby Girl?  Enough said.   "Caricature" is a polite way to put it.   I'm sorry, but it's not brilliant or funny to act like this when you're a grown adult with a serious job in government.   I know Kirsten lays it on thick because she wants to draw attention to herself and get noticed.  Mission accomplished.  We noticed you, but for all the wrong reasons. 

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Funny, that Abby character is the one I dislike. 

One thing I really like about Garcia is that she's just happy with who she is. She's unpretentious, and while I do agree that she acts childish sometimes, to me that's just part of who she is. I can't imagine ever getting angry at her. 

She is able to bring the professionalism when needed, and she helped save Nathan Harris's life. Hope's too. I think she's important, and the show would miss her if she left. 

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I used to like Garcia---emphasis on the "used to" :)  I loved that Garcia added so much energy and attempts at humor to an (understandably!) serious, dark show. And as someone who felt that some of CM's characters seemed bland, undefined, and personality-challenged (JJ, I'm looking at you!), I found her kind of refreshing.

What really started to irk me about Garcia was the juvenile, self-centered way she manages to make some cases all about her own freaking Very Special Heart not being able to deal with the fact that such eeeevil exists in the world and/or sits there engaging in the (for me) forced, cutesy, repetitive-we-get-it-already banter with Morgan when, like, victims' lives depend on her shutting up about herself and delivering a certain piece of information! And I get that this is TV, so we're going to have a cute conversation or two when in real life there might be more urgency, but she's just so childishly All About Her-ish. And I find it really irksome how she calls attention to her own alleged awesomeness all the time, 'jokingly' or otherwise. 

Despite all this ranting, though, I'd still keep her over JJ in a heartbeat. I probably wouldn't in 'real' life, but I would as a viewer. At least Garcia's got a shred of personality, however annoying said personality may be! 

Edited by mstaken
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Here is the thing for me. At heart, Criminal Minds is a workplace drama. It is a show about professional people doing deadly serious work. And it's real work in the real world, not some fantasy, made-up job for a TV show. There are actual people out there right now doing this sort of thing for the FBI. And you can bet none of them are acting like Penelope, not even close.  So while occasional bits of humor are called for (and were used quite effectively in the past) to lighten the mood, people should still be acting professionally. And that is where Penelope currently falls short. She doesn't dress in any way professionally, and she works for a rigidly hierarchical organization with a dress code. I get some allowances, because of the nature of her work and how she was recruited, but she crossed those boundaries years ago. She doesn't act in ways that are professional. I was so glad that The Black Queen actually addressed those concerns at the beginning of the episode, but by the end, when they knew Shane made the anonymous complaint, they were back to their same old thing, like the writers were thumbing their noses at those of us with concerns. But they would not be able to get away with that sort of behavior on the job in a real organization with sexual harassment concerns. And after 10 years doing this work, she would not be acting so over the top when it comes to some of these cases. Again, it becomes more about her and her reaction, rather than her ability to do her job. 

As for the rest of her personality, it is just the sort of thing I personally would not respond to. In earlier years, she showed she was there with quiet empathy and support. I particularly liked her how she supported Reid during The Fisher King and Sex, Birth, and Death. She showed she was there for him and cared about him, but she didn't force her way into his life, nor did she make his problems about her.  Now she is butting her way into their personal lives and violating privacy, and frankly making other person's crises more about her (witness her egregious behavior in The Company, Magnificent Light, and many others). It's just that everything about Penelope has become outsized, and she doesn't seem like a real, professional person anymore. 

And since Abby from NCIS was mentioned, I have the exact same problem about her. She went from a smart and quirky forensics scientist, to a joke and a cartoon. She also doesn't seem like much of a real person anymore, and I am relieved when the show doesn't show her much. It's my personal issue with loud, extroverted personalities that I find emotionally exhausting. But it's also about the fact that both of them work in government jobs, and yet act like they are on the playground at times. 

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I used to like Garcia also. Back in the day she was snippy and original, she dressed a little quirky but not the full blown cartoony way she does now and the banter with Morgan was not too over the top. Now I find her an overdrawn joke and she irritates me almost as much as JJ does. I especially hate this sudden thing about keeping telling us she is a genius - she really comes over as brash and boastful. People often talk on the forums about how we must expect people to grow and change - for me, Garcia is going backwards and changing. Instead of developing her as a senior techie with the FBI they are making her into a teenager again and she just gets more and more unbelievable and more and more cartoon-like. That stupid fitness bit with Reid and Morgan exemplifies how silly the writers have made both her and Reid. If I had to work with someone like her in real life I'd have to tell her to grow up - a lot!

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I don't think I'd ever feel as though I'd have the right to tell someone else how to be, personality-wise, even if their behavior irritated me, unless they were abusive in some way.

The thing is, with all her blowsyness, she gets the job done. She's a huge asset to the team, whether some people think she's overused isn't the point - she still shows up every day and works her little ass off to get the team what they need. It would be simple to find someone for her position that was robotic and repetitive, and I think her brightness is how she and the show counteract that. As others have noted, she can be extremely professional at times, and Hotch himself has told her he'd never want her to change. I disagree that she's regressed, she's extremely confident and capable, and I don't think that the occasional cringe at the horrific crime photos is an indicator of that. She's always done that.  

Also I'd KILL for that purple outfit she was wearing when she touched Morgan's hurt ribs and got busted by JJ.

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Here are some examples of why I think the current writers can be irritating or silly.

1. They highlight stupid fanservice things, like the excessive amounts of time Morgan is pictured shirtless. And then they push such extraneous crap as to why we should watch an episode. That whole B story in "Snake Eyes" was the definition of silly. The infantilization of some of the characters (e.g. Reid, Penelope) where they have regressed from mature, professional individuals to be more comic relief. 

2. Those cloying family setpieces that grate my teeth to no end. Examples of worst offenders: the dinner party scene at the end of Proof, the dinner party scene at the end of Bully, the bar scene at the end of 200. I know there are more out there, but I seem to be blocking them from my memory. 

3. The personal scenes have nothing to do with the story at hand, and are just there for whatever reason. Examples of worst offenders are the horrible Caroline arc in season seven, the B story in "The Road Home", Penelope acting liked it was some revelation when Morgan said you have to be direct with men, that horrible meet cute Valentine's Day double date at the end of "Mr. and Mrs. Anderson", the fact that more time seemed to be spent on Penelope's ukele date at the end of "The Gathering" rather than having a good heart to heart talk between Hotch and Reid about Maeve. I wasn't particularly a fan of the whole subplot in "Magnificent Light" when Morgan had to give a speech, but that was mainly because I was angry at Penelope's complete disrespect for personal boundaries yet again. In earlier episodes, those personal scenes were often my favorite part of an episode, but they just felt more authentic, like real people interacting. Plus most of those scenes took place at work, which is completely understandable for a workplace drama. 

4. Their Morgan and Penelope dialogue has been covered at length

5. There has been ample talk about how the unsub is shown to a ridiculous amount and we actually have to praise an episode that chooses to hide the unsub until the end. That used to be the expectation. Now it is the exception it seems. 

6. The fact that most of the writers even admit to not knowing much about profiling, which after working on a show about profiling for a few years, just shows how uninterested they are in focusing on the psychological profiling, which is supposed to be the entire reason for the show's existence. 

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Agree with your number 5 - that is a huge irritant! 

To be fair, they have given us 'more team - less UnSub!!' (our twitter chant), this season, and some of last, too.

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I absolutely agree with all you say Forever Alone! That dreadful "family" get together at the end of Bully where Garcia flew out to join in?? All the family moments come across as so false and saccharin. The pasta party!!! Awful - and yet some people seem to like it. For me, the lighter moments used to be so artfully done - just a touch and a highlight here and there and always tied into the case that was happening. Now we get these heavy handed slabs of cheese lumped in and Garcia often seems to be at the heart of them.

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In a stunning revelation that I'm sure will surprise nobody - I love the team's family moments. ;)

TBH, I really didn't care for the last two, though. The BBQ at Blake's dad's house, and that ludicrous bar scene in 200. Not even one who's a sucker for those scenes liked either of those. I really have not seen ONE person say they enjoyed those two scenes. 

Guilty on liking the pasta party. And super-guilty on liking the Reid/Garcia fitness challenge. Matthew's legs made up for the cheese. Ha! 

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Let's be honest about what that crappy pasta party was.  The rest of the team used group-shaming to make Reid forgive JJ.   I guess you'd be okay if your co-workers did that to you?  

That scene in particular, and that episode itself, marked the downward slide in the quality of the show that Criminal Minds once was. 

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Families fight, then they make up. That's what they do. Sometimes they throw get-togethers to bring the happy. I had no problem with the pasta party. Also, it's fiction, so doesn't really apply to me.

Disagree with you on the downward slide, though I'm aware others would. 

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Spinner33, I have to agree that it did feel like a group shaming event. I mean, there was definite pressure on Reid to forgive JJ immediately, like he wasn't really entitled to feel what he did. Emily's plea in particular felt like cheap manipulation, and completely wrong to boot. She tried to make the argument that she lost six friends, and he only lost one, but she never thought her six friends were dead and grieved for them. He took Emily's death so hard, from the get go, that it was completely understandable why he felt as angry as he did. It was just a shortcut for completely closing the door on that particular chapter and quickly ending all negative feeling. Looking back now with perspective, that pasta party scene definitely was a harbinger of things to come in terms of personal moments. It was the start of Erica's reign as showrunner and how she saw the show differently than Ed did and was going to manage it differently. It was the start of feel good, cloying moments that doesn't fit the emotional tone of the surrounding episode. It was the start of on the nose dialogue about how they are a family and having it shoved in our faces. It was the start of a new kind of personal scene that was dramatically different than earlier seasons. It was the start of a tone change for the episodes. 

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Yes I agree with most if you regarding Garcia. She has become intolerabke the past few seasons. They have made her out to look like a clown.

I use to like her and thought she was amusing. Now I find her annoying.

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The two standouts for me for Garcia were Mayhem and Exit Wounds. I loved how she was with Morgan and the team in both of them. I really like both of those episodes in general, actually. Being from Alaska, it was a kick to see the show go there, and actually do a pretty good approximation of the look of the place.

Never understood Morgan's "I'm not sleeping with Reid!" proclamation. Yeah, so what Morgan? What, does he fart a lot in his sleep or something? I guess it could've been because they both had those nightmares, but sheesh. Relax, dude, nobody cares. 

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I'm on the used to train with Garcia too. Ever since "Penelope" my husband has been bitter that she didn't die & over the last few seasons I've finally started to agree with him. I desperately wish Kevin would be the full time tech person instead.

Edited by molatte
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As much as I like Kirsten Vangsness, the writing for Garcia has gotten worse. She is now more of a caricature and she has to tell the viewers that she is a genius and she whines far too much. She wasn't so whiny or delicate in the first few seasons. At some point I want to see someone say to her "Suck it up, Buttercup. It's your job!"

I liked Garcia better in the fanfic by robunnybot where she and Reid met at Caltech and were good friends later on.

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I don't think Penelope was adopted, but she might have step siblings. I tend to think the sibling flub was accidental, because continuity wasn't adhered to, rather than some conscious and deliberate choice the writers made that served a coherent backstory. It would not be the first time that happened on this show.

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Her parents were killed in a car accident from a drunk driver when she was 18. That is when she dropped out of Cal Tech and went underground to learn coding and hacking. Or at least that was the version of Penelope's background stated in the episode "Penelope." The episode where Penelope said she had brothers was season two "PS911", and the episode where she said she was an only child was more recent, seasons seven or eight.

Edited by ForeverAlone

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Yeah you may be right. I get so cinfused sometimes. It doesn't help that info changes like Prentiss went to Yale then later on she says she waited on tables why attending Georgetown? Or JJ said she got a sports scholarship to Univ of VA and then tells Rossi his lecture at Georgetown is what made her go into the FBI. And lets not forget that Reid went to CalTech and not MIT. lol

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There are many, many character backstory continuity errors in this show, even from the early days. It's like the writers would write something for the character that suited the episode at hand, but would not take care to build coherent character backgrounds. It is something I have seen on a wide variety of shows, but especially procedurals. We could write pages on the numerous ways the Criminal Minds writers have contradicted themselves over the years.

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I also recall that Garcia explained the reason she has that last name and doesn't speak Spanish is because it was her stepfather's last name. Early on she also briefly mentioned to Morgan that her father basically said she wasn't very bright-- this was when Morgan was explaining about bombs and how to recognize a bomber's signature in how the bomb was made.

Was it Garcia then who mentioned a niece or nephew? 

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I've been a fan of CM for a while, but due to my job and scheduling and my really awful access to tv (I live in the middle of nowhere) it was mostly hit or miss when I would get to watch an episode. Now that Netflix has it I have binge watched through the first eight seasons. I've come to this forum now and again to see what people thought about one thing or another... but never felt like writing until now. 

Mostly because I just finished the episode "Brothers Hotchner" and the end had me more irritated with Garcia than anything. She's getting her computers hacked and the best, the absolute best she can do is back away in trembling fear?? She's supposed to be so good she is on the CIA list, she's been hammered for how good she is supposed to be. I'm watching this thinking "Bitch! This is your KINGDOM! Get on the boards and destroy whoever would hack your home." 

But no... she simpers. Like some weak, ineffective amateur. 

Until now I've been able to tune her out. Mostly. As pointed out - her dismal sense of professionalism and her eye-searing choice of wardrobe are enough on its own. But the woman has no sense of respect for the boundaries, space and privacy of others. Ok, she's not supposed to when it comes to whoever they need her to investigate. But her friends? There is no way I'd even get close to someone like that because at the end of the day she doesn't do anything to garner trust. Her saccharine optimism simply isn't enough to outweigh what are some serious personality flaws. 

I really wish she wasn't on this show. I'd take her over super bland superwoman JJ any day. 

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Contrast that simpering with how she reacted when she was hacked in The Fisher King. She got angry and she fought back. She didn't cry, except to show her guilt that her irresponsible (and unprofessional) behavior was why she was able to be hacked in the first place, and that was only after she realized the magnitude of what was going on. But then she got to work. I liked that Penelope.

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"Yeah you may be right. I get so cinfused sometimes. It doesn't help that info changes like Prentiss went to Yale then later on she says she waited on tables why attending Georgetown? Or JJ said she got a sports scholarship to Univ of VA and then tells Rossi his lecture at Georgetown is what made her go into the FBI. And lets not forget that Reid went to CalTech and not MIT. lol"

I just caught a re-run of North Mammon and I could have sworn JJ said ahe went to Pitt on an athletic scholarship.

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Yes, JJ first said she went to University of Pittsburgh (or something like that) on a soccer scholarship. It wasn't until season four when she told Rossi she was at Georgetown. 

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Another incarnation of Penelope I like, and one I wish was developed more, was how she was in "Boogeymen." I loved her when she was talking to Reid when he was alone in the house and she proceeded to scare the crap out of him, and finished it all up with "You're having creepy fun." She had a dark, delicious side to her that episode and that is far different than the one who can't bear any dark aspects to her job. 

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I really wish she wasn't on this show. I'd take her over super bland superwoman JJ any day. 

 

To be fair to Garcia, even though she's never been my favorite character, as you say she didn't used to be a live-action version of an anime character. She was competent at her job and she knew what she was doing, and she didn't wibble at every little thing. Due to bad writing, she's suffered from taking what used to  be one aspect of her personality and ratcheting it up to ten thousand. And like JJ, she's gone from being a background character to getting lots of focus while others (*cough*Reid!*cough*) get pushed into the background. With better writing, she was a lot less annoying than this.

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Zannej, my second favorite was always whatever brunette lady was profiling. Now it's just Hotch, who, I guess is brunette, too...

 

(to stay on topic, I don't like Garcia as a brunette!)

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I don't see why some are saying she's 'incompetent', all of a sudden. If anything, I've seen complaints everywhere that she's TOO competent. "Depending too much on Garcia...", "Garcia's magic computer...", "Garcia has all the answers...".

 

Just because she's freaking out right now doesn't make her less competent all of a sudden. Women are allowed to have emotions, feel weird, act weird, attach importance to things others may find odd, and see things differently than others. She's still Penelope, she's just going to go through something for about 45 minutes. I think we all can handle that, and in my opinion, should be supporting the character instead of tearing her down.

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Nuh-uh-uh. She is acting like an idiot, from what we've seen. She apparently isn't even thinking about the crap this guy has supposedly plead guilty to (BS alert!!) but that his impending execution is something she "never intended." Puhleeze. I never intended that JFK be assassinated, does that mean I caused it to happen because i didn't prevent it? If she had not shot this f***ker, he would have killed Reid, then her if she had protested.

 

If the dude wants to cop to other crimes that the government (miraculously and speedily) holds him responsible for, that has nothing to do with what happened when she shot him. 

 

What he supposedly is being fried for (as Morgan said) has nothing to do with the shooting, hence, if Garcia feels her precious karma is going to be damaged, she's delusional as to how much control anyone has over this world. 

 

I think the death penally is awful, stupid and should not be used except in cases that cannot be addressed by civilized means. Which, to me, is almost NEVER. If this episode is designed to be a screed against the death penalty, I really wish they would not make a canon character act like an idiot to make some writer's political point. 

Edited by normasm
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Ha, well, as is the norm-asm, we disagree, on every single point. You have no idea if Janine is even taking that tack. I love the gigantic leaps in judgment you nearly always make before having seen the show! Tomorrow and tomorrow, my friend. We shall see! :D

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Oh no, like usual you are totally wrong. ;) And like usual you totally think I am. I look forward to the day we can agree! :D

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Whoa - wait. This isn't about "women have a different way of doing things." I have to admit that I resent using the "women are allowed to have emotions, feel weird, act weird, attach importance to things others may find odd, and see things differently than others" card. It's inferring that this is about gender and about controlling women (by giving them allowance to be women). It's not - none of this is about the fact that she is a woman. My compliant is that at the end of the the Brother Hotchner she *WAS* incompetent. If It had been Kevin guess what? Same assessment. Penelope can throw herself fully catered, dj'd house party of a shit fit - on. her. own. time. She has a job - I want to see her actually do it. It's one of the few reasons I can tune her out... because with what must be unusually limber shoulders, I don't mind her patting herself on the back for a job well done - mostly because she get her job done well. 

And sure, maybe she did need to sit down and have herself a good 45 minute cry. In her line of work that is simply not acceptable. We've seen her character save someone by thinking quickly, responding quickly and most of all acting *effectively.* You don't get to sit down a cry whenever you want when someone's life (presumably the life of someone on your team) is on the line. Not if you want to be able to go through your yearly evaluation with a straight face when describing yourself as "professional". 

 

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Oh my point wasn't meant to be that all women act like her, but that her personality is totally that and you can't discount that just because she's a woman. This is extremely upsetting to her for whatever reason and you or I shouldn't impose our ways of coping onto her

 

She's never been a bastion of uber professionalism and Hotch well knows it, and doesn't care. Like he's said many times, 'she gets the job done'. Well, that doesn't mean she has to be a robot in every situation. She's always worn her heart on her flamboyant sleeve and I don't see why she has to be all stoic all of a sudden for this instance. So she takes a few days off and goes to deal with it... I don't see anything wrong with that. 


Also, who's life is on the line in this instance? I didn't pick up on that.

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Also, who's life is on the line in this instance? I didn't pick up on that.

 

At the time it was Strauss.... though Garcia didn't know *who* was in danger, the unsub only contacted them with the "zugzwang" message when someone was being targeted.

 

As to the whole woman thing - no. I have to call you on this. No one but you brought that up. No one was discounting Garcia for any reason but her behavior, certainly not because she is a woman. This show is ripe with strong, capable women so your point doesn't really make sense. I get that you really like this character to the point of defending her - but I don't see any criticisms that aren't valid. Harsh - yes, but valid nonetheless. 

If anyone is really to blame it's the writers and show runner and not a fictional character or the actress who really had no options on this. They wrote her to be a fumbling, mewling mess of a tech analyst. There was a time when this would have pissed her off to the point of taking her room apart to see how this happened. She would have been reverse engineering her way into his computer like the chick from The Ring to crawl out the other side. Her character in the past would have rolled up her sleeves, not tripped over the carpet trying to get out of the room. She may have a lot of superficial annoying traits (which are merely preferential and not substantive)... but those computers and her domain was HERS. And the writers had to take that from her which is a damn shame because they are stripping what used to be a character that had quirky charm into a cartoon that anime would struggle to keep up with. 

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Well, no, what I meant to say was exactly what I said up above. You telling me what I meant to say is dismissive and inaccurate. So I mentioned she's a woman. She is one, and I don't think that I have to leave that out of anything when talking about her. Perfectly fine to have any and all the feelings she's having, and I don't for one second think she won't come out of it stronger. People don't react to different situations in the same way every time. I think it's something that is worth exploring in her character. 

 

You're right about one thing, I do like her. 

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