Title: The Review Board
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Characters/Pairing: Sam Cooper, Mick Rawson, Gina LaSelle, Jonathon "Prophet" Simms - gen
Summary: When characters don't meet fan standards, they're subject to the one thing every fictional persona fears the most: The Review Board.
Author's Note: Betaed by Windy City Dreamer. Suggested by jujuberry136.
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The Review Board
Location: Sam Cooper's Warehouse, San Francisco, CA
Status: Edgy as Fuck
Sam Cooper was busy fighting off pirates with his bō stick when the doorbell rang. Why the warehouse had a doorbell, he wasn't quite sure, but he assumed that it was something to do with the system that his team had set up, and the reason why there was presently no less than a dozen laptops scattered around the building.
Straightening his edgy yet mysterious form, he tossed the stick aside before grabbing a towel from the nearby weapons rack.
'Who is it?' Sam called out to Prophet, who was no doubt examining the security footage of the front doorstep.
'Suits, packing nine mils. They look like feds.'
Sam frowned. He didn't often get visits from other federal agents, especially not in this nebulous period between the backdoor pilot and the start of the spinoff. Mostly they just spent their time, bumming around with their leather jackets and making sure their fighting skills were up to scratch for when the inevitable beatdown of the next unsub presented itself.
Sam adjusted his jacket, making sure that he maintained his scruffy appearance. Just because they weren't airing didn't mean he could slack off.
'Can I help you?' he asked, assessing the first fed's appearance for himself. She was about his height, with red hair, and an impatient look on her face. Her partner stood behind her, still and silent. Almost like a mannequin.
'Yes – who are you?'
'Alexandra Von Neumann – Council of Fictional Characters Review Board. Call me Alex. This is John Smith. You were informed of this visit?' She held out a hand for him to shake, but he didn't take it.
'No,' he frowned, unsure of why the Review Board would be visiting his team.
She narrowed her eyes. 'Hmm. Probably a plothole. I'll get Logistics working on it. Unsurprising, really.'
He didn't particularly like that tone of voice. 'What's that supposed to mean?'
'Nothing.' Alex shook her head. 'In light of fan response to your debut episode, I'm here to review your characterization.' She passed over a form for him to sign. He gave it a cursory glance over, but did not sign – he was a Maverick. Mavericks did not submit so easily. They argued.
'Why should I sign this?' he demanded. 'There's nothing wrong with my crew. We don't need a damn review board. I hand-picked this team for their mad skills. They're damn near perfect.'
'They're not perfect,' Alex said bluntly. 'If you'd care to actually read the form I gave you, you'll find that fans are almost unanimously of the opinion that your "crew" is, I quote "two-dimensional and abrasive". If you're aware of the psychological behavior of fandoms, Special Agent Cooper, it is exceedingly rare for them to agree on interpretation of a single line of dialogue. Such solidarity is almost unheard of.'
With an annoyed grunt, he signed the form and stepped back to let Agents Von Neumann and Smith inside the warehouse. Might as well get it over and done with.
'Rest assured I'll be speaking with Agent Hotchner about this,' he told Alex.
'Agent Hotchner's team is undergoing a Continuity Evaluation at this time – he won't be of any help to you.' She didn't look at him as she spoke, instead staring around the warehouse critically, taking note of the various facilities. Smith barely moved, and he still hadn't said a single word.
'I thought you were here about characterization,' he frowned.
'Some people suggest that location is as much of a character as the characters themselves,' was all she said to that. She gave him a smile that was almost certainly forced. 'If you could gather your team, so I can speak to them, it would be much appreciated.'
'Why are you doing this?' Sam asked, making no indication that he was going to follow her request.
'Agent Cooper, I take no pleasure in playing the bad guy. It's simply my desire to ensure that the fans receive the best quality programming possible; something that cannot be achieved when the characters are mere cardboard copies of stereotypes. By counseling your team in this manner, I'm only serving to help you better yourselves.'
With a dramatic sound, he brought the team together, leaning against washing machines in lieu of any other option.
'All this gadgetry, and no-one thought to buy a table and chairs?' Alex asked, a question that Sam dutifully ignored.
'This was for the drinking scene,' Mick countered. 'A table and chairs would be cumbersome.'
'And nothing says "edgy" like washing machines,' Alex muttered under her breath, attempting to find some way of setting up her laptop without a viable surface. Eventually, she gave up and sat on one of the benches, laptop resting on her knees. John stood beside her, and Sam couldn't quite tell where his eyes were going, thanks to the dark sunglasses.
'Oooh, you're feisty,' Mick grinned. 'Fancy a drink sometime?'
'Trust me,' Alex grimaced. 'You won't want a drink after I'm through with you.'
He tipped her a wink, and Sam gave a half sigh. The sniper's attitude certainly wasn't helping the situation.
'To start, I'd like you all to tell me your names, and something personal about yourselves. We'll start with you, Special Agent Cooper.' Alex tapped a few keys, and then stared expectantly at Sam.
"This is ridiculous," he wanted to say, but didn't. Instead, he said, 'My name is Sam Cooper, and I…' He stopped, struggling to think of something to share with the team.
'Anything,' Alex prompted. 'A hobby, a favorite food. What kind of movies you like.'
'I like…playing outside the rules,' he said eventually. Alex raised an eyebrow.
'Is there anything else?' she asked. 'Anything that might encourage fans to care more about you than they might about a complete stranger.'
He didn't have an answer to that – if the spinoff was picked up, there would be gradually reveals of his no doubt shady past, but he was not yet privy to that information. Alex did not seem particularly impressed when he made this argument.
'Ignorance is no excuse, Agent Cooper – It seems clear to me that if you expect that you'll be basing an entire series around your characters, then they need to be strong from the start. People simply don't care about characters they can't relate to.' She paused, before continuing. 'And that's interesting, because the show has proved time and time again that they're capable of writing believable, sympathetic, bit part characters. It seems the ball was only dropped when the characterization actually counted for something beyond the merits of a single episode.'
Her voice sounded more disappointed, than angry, as though their characterization flaws had caused some kind of personal affront.
'I used to be like you,' she revealed. 'I used to be so hung up on being cool that I didn't think about being me.' She gave them a sad smile. 'And now the show is cancelled, and I'm doing freaking Review Board sessions for the Council of Fictional Characters. Trust me – whatever shady past bullshit you have going on, this is much, much worse. Imagine telling Jack Bauer that he isn't allowed to shoot lightning bolts at terrorists, and multiply by a thousand.'
'So that's why you carry?' Gina asked, gesturing towards the gun on the other Agent's hip.
Alex gave them a grim smile. 'Trust me. You guys may be "edgy," but there are some real hardasses out there that do not like being told that they're boring.'
'So what do we do?'
'Well, if you're not picked up, it's a moot point, and you'll probably end up doing menial bureaucracy work, which I'm pretty sure would kill all of you. If you are picked up – focus on the details. What makes you do what you do. Clear up some of those glaring questions, like how a felon or a British expatriate can work for the FBI. Make people care for you. There's still hope.'
'You really think that?' Sam asked, as Alex packed up her gear.
She didn't answer, instead packing her gear and making for the door. John, however, unexpectedly stopped, and whispered in a low voice. 'She's a Mary Sue,' which, apparently, was supposed to explain everything. The agent tipped them a nod before following his partner out the door.