luxken27: (MotG - Comfort Kiss)
LuxKen27 ([personal profile] luxken27) wrote2015-10-01 07:59 pm

Monarch of the Glen | Oneshot: The Prodigal Son

Title: The Prodigal Son
Fandom: Monarch of the Glen
Universe: Canon (Series 1)
Genre: General
Rating: K+
Word Count: 4,700
Summary: Episode 1x1. Lexie finds herself with more questions than answers when Molly announces that it’s time to bring Archie back to Glenbogle.

Links: DW | | AO3

This was my final fic for the 2015 Summer Mini Challenge, written for the prompt "unsaid."

I have had a couple of lovely, curious people ask me about my latest fandom obsession, the BBC series Monarch of the Glen. I'm glad the idea for this fic came to me, because I consider it sort of an 'introductory' story, of sorts ~ a way to get a feel for the characters, and perhaps decide if it's all interesting enough to plunge into. I didn't write it for that reason, but it does serve that purpose, so we all win, haha =)

So please, allow me to introduce you to the quirky characters that make up the original cast of this adorable BBC Scotland show =)

The series takes its name from a series of novels by Sir Compton Mackenzie, the first of which is named The Monarch of the Glen after the famous painting. It doesn't really have much in common with the Mackenzie books; its more inspired by the madcap/satirical take on life in the Highlands.

Here is the basic synopsis for Series 1:
While trying to carve a living out of the London restaurant he runs with his girlfriend Justine, Archie MacDonald is called back to his Highland home, to the bed of his dying father, Hector. When he arrives, however, he finds that the news of his dying father was just a ploy by his dotty mother, Molly, to get him to Scotland and tell him face-to-face that he has inherited his father's large estate and castle, Glenbogle. Archie faces a tough decision: whether to help the debt-ridden Glenbogle, or to return to Justine in London. Archie meets the local school headteacher, Katrina Finlay, with whom he finds he is set to have a love-hate relationship. The feisty staff of Glenbogle —- Lexie, Golly, and Duncan —- also prove hard to handle, and Archie's eccentric parents are difficult. To please all, Archie faces the challenge to save Glenbogle.

For reference, here is the (entire!) first episode of the series:

This fic takes place during the second scene of this episode, and is basically a missing scene. We see Archie receiving the call to return to his home, and then him taking the sleeper from London and arriving at Glenbogle. I decided to explore what might have happened at Glenbogle to prepare for his return.

I went from Lexie's point of view, because it was her first glimpse of him that inspired the whole story :P She also has the most to potentially lose if a new laird comes in and unseats the old one, because as the housekeeper and cook, she is probably the one estate staffer who could be replaced with little fuss. We learn as the series goes on that she came to Glenbogle to escape a gritty life of neglect with her sociopathic mother, so she has taken to her found home with a vengeance, and is ready and willing to fight for her place in order to stay there.

(I adore Lexie, and foresee at least one attempt to delve into her backstory, because it is precisely what she goes through before the canon starts that makes her so uniquely...Lexie, LOL.)

So we follow Lexie's thoughts from the moment she learns of Molly's decision to recall Archie, to the moment he actually steps foot onto the property. She goes on a little fact-finding mission in order to prepare herself for this sudden, surprising turn of events. She asks her fellow estate staffers about him; Golly the ghillie has been there basically since the beginning of time and follows the philosophy of walking silently but carrying a big stick. Pretty much nothing happens on the estate that he doesn't know about, even if he tends to keep his own counsel. Duncan, by contrast, is probably the newest member of the staff, with the most junior position. He starts out basically as Golly's helper, but he evolves into the head ranger as the series goes on. Duncan and Golly each have their own cottages on the estate, and don't spend much time at "the Big House," as Glenbogle House is lovingly referred to. Lexie on the other hand has a room in the Big House, probably on the highest floor, and spends all of her time there.

In my headcanon, she came to Glenbogle and got a job as a maid, back when the estate had more staff, and basically works her way up the chain to housekeeper. She was never supposed to be the chef, but kinda falls into those duties - it's a running joke on the show that she overcooks practically everything she makes, tho she does appear to be a good baker.

The other main characters are Archie's parents, Hector and Molly. Hector is the typical curmudgeonly sort, quite eccentric and set in his ways, yet at the same time has an impulsive streak. Molly comes off as totally dotty but she is actually incredibly clever, and she very definitely orchestrated Archie's return and all of the things they do to keep him there. She is another wonderfully drawn female character, definitely not your typical run-of-the-mill matriarch.

The household prepares for Archie's return, and yet they manage to keep it a secret not only from Hector but also from the erstwhile estate manager, Robert Fraser. Fraser was a one-off character, the first that Archie sacked as laird, though it was a monumental struggle because of how Fraser had wormed his way into Hector's good graces. It's a great scene, actually, because up until that point Hector had been openly antagonizing his son and heir, so for him to ultimately take Archie's side in the affair says a lot about how he really feels about Archie's return.

This story basically wrote itself, which is a very rare thing for me. I started out with a very distinct scene structure, wanting to alternate scenes of almost all dialogue and then separate bits of contemplation, but I couldn't quite make it so and convey all of the information that I wanted to in a way that wasn't a total info dump. Ultimately, I wanted it to feel like it was an organic process of discovery, and I feel like I did achieve that =)

I also feel like I gave a good accounting of the core cast of characters, with the possible exception of Duncan. He's the madcap/comic relief character, especially in Series 1, and that's something that's difficult for me to feel like I can ever get a grip on. He's not as thick as he sometimes appears to be, but I had to figure out not only how to use him effectively, but how to turn him from an estate worker to a member of the house staff - for someone whose main job duties appear to be working with animals and tending the land, he spends an awful lot of time in the Big House playing bellhop and waiter, LOL.

The description of the house and estate interiors and exteriors were taken directly from this first episode. The number of rooms in the castle and the amount of acreage claimed by the estate seems to change on an episode-by-episode basis, LOL, but it is one of the very few pieces of discontinuity across the series.

If you find yourself intrigued and wanting to know more, the complete series is available on DVD, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube. It consists of 64 45-60 minute episodes spread out over 7 series/seasons, with an average of 8-10 episodes per series/season, so it is very easy to watch without feeling overwhelmed. I have A Lot of Feelings about this show, as evidenced by my outpouring of fic, as well as a 5K piece of meta on the major romantic storyline of Series 2, and lots of gushy posts on my Tumblr.

I am in the process of writing yet another fic, so I don't foresee giving up my squee over this show and these characters anytime soon :P It has gotten under my skin in the most delicious way, and I look forward to exploring every inch of this itch!