Portrait of a Character – Doug Beckett

A lot about this character is, truly,  Reversal spoilers. Avert your eyes if you haven’t read Reversal and want to maintain the mystery of the first couple of chapters.

Origins

For me, Doug was, in part, every guy who’s ever been romantic around me. This includes my husband. But he’s also a typical resident of the Mirror Universe. So that means that there’s violence in his past, and ambitions and twisted behaviors. But I wanted him to be a person who could, eventually and with help, rise above it.

Symbolism

Doug’s name was a particularly serendipitous find. Douglas means dark stranger, and that is precisely what he is. For Lili, who meets him in a pitch-black dream, he is the ultimate stranger. But he’s also what she needs. He shakes up her world.

His surname is changed when he comes to our side of the pond. Much like an immigrant, he wants to leave his old life behind him, and become the man that Lili wants and needs – the man she can see is lurking under the surface. The surname Beckett is a shoutout to Quantum Leap.

Doug is also, in many ways, meant to be the opposite side of her coin. She’s somewhat distant with people. He is, too, but it’s not because he truly wants to be. It’s more that the Mirror has made him that way (see his origins story, Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions), due to its insistence that weakness be rooted out and punished or excised or, at least, well-hidden.

Doug is also action and movement – he is something of an air element. As Leonora is communication, Lili is fire, Malcolm is water and Melissa is the earth, Doug is the air.

Portrayal

Steven Culp

Steven Culp

Because (eek, spoilers!) Doug is Major Jay Hayes‘s Mirror Universe counterpart, he is of course portrayed by Steven Culp. Culp is a consummate actor, perfect for the role. I have read a number of interviews with him, and he has said that he treated Hayes as almost a David Mamet character. That is, he was more action than talk. Notice, too, that in the series, Jay Hayes rarely smiles. Instead, he is all business.

The name Jay is not canon. Culp has said he thought the character was named Jay or Jeremiah. There are also trading cards showing the name as being Joss. I have used all three names, giving Jeremiah as the name of both Doug’s father and his first-born son (nicknamed Joss), with Jay as being the name of the canon character and Doug’s own middle name. Jay worked out perfectly in this way, as it works as both a first and a middle name in a way that Jeremiah would not have.

Personality

Much like canon character Jay Hayes, Doug is not much of a talker. In Reversal, he has few ways of complimenting Lili, mainly calling her beautiful rather than use synonyms that he is either uncomfortable with or, perhaps, doesn’t even know. That book is also loaded with hesitation speech. Doug is nervous in the mirror, in particular around the Empress, although that’s to be expected. With Lili, he’s also nervous, because he’s a bit tongue-tied and he wants, desperately, for her to like him. He often doesn’t know what to say, but he always seems to know what to do.

Once they are together in our universe, Doug’s demeanor softens considerably. He tries very hard to please Lili and make their life together as good as it can possibly be. Their early life together is documented in A Kind of Blue, Friday Visit, Pacing and The Gift.

When his relationship with Lili is tested in Together, Doug has few communications strategies at his disposal. When they argue, he very quickly hits below the belt. This, I feel, makes some sense, as Doug hasn’t really been taught to be sensitive to others’ feelings. He knows that he loves her, and he wants for everything to work itself out, but he can’t really see the pathway to that.

In Temper, he even refers to himself as “the action guy”. Hence he is the one chosen for the mission by Daniels (also because of his twenty centimeter radiation band), for he will get things done. Malcolm has to stay behind because his place is to step in and lead.

By the time Fortune has come around, Doug has been hiding his past rather effectively. Lili knows some of it. She is well aware that he has committed some monstrous deeds in the Mirror Universe, but she wants to believe that he’s done with that. She’s in some denial herself, in that she’d rather not hear about things. It isn’t until she is pushed to ask about his crimes does Doug finally come clean. Furthermore, for Doug, who is inarticulate at best, having him handle a hostage situation by talking instead of shooting was, to me, a fitting full circle behavior. Life here is, after all, very different from the mirror.

Their later life together is documented in The Facts and his death and its aftermath is shown in Equinox.

Mirror Universe

Since Doug is a counterpart character, his life begins in the Mirror. He is the only child of Jeremiah and Lena Hayes, and lives with them on Ganymede. Because of a late birth date (December third, same as Steven Culp’s), he is forced into schooling at too young an age. Doug’s education is such that he is pushed to become a bully and a fighter.

After his eventual graduation, he goes to Cambodia for basic training, and then to freighter defense and other small assignments, essentially acting as a mercenary. He spends time on Andoria, the Klingon home world and other locales, fighting and working as a soldier, molding himself from an untrained, arrogant lummox until, eventually, a disciplined fighting man.

He gets onto the ISS Enterprise by knifing Geming Sulu. His elevation to Lieutenant Commander, as a replacement for the deceased Mirror Universe Malcolm Reed (called Ian Reed in my fanfiction), is documented in Paving Stones. While on the Defiant, he meets Lili.

Relationships

His times with Lili and Melissa are the most important for him. However, prior to the crossing over, he did have some relationships. His first main girlfriend (if she could be called that) in the Mirror was Darareaksmey Preap. She was a Cambodian bar girl who he plied with gifts and false “I love yous” until he was able to lose his virginity to her.

Another Mirror relationship – if it could be referred to as that – was with Christine Chalmers. The name is a shoutout to canon character Christine Chapel. Chalmers is meant to be a cheap girl who he, at the time, thought was very hot. One of the crimes that Doug commits was to be with her, and his guilt about that consumes him.

His first true relationship is with alcoholic schoolteacher Susan Cheshire. Susan is an important person to him, although he insists to Lili that he didn’t love her. But he’s certainly memorable to her – she recognizes him during Temper.

Doug also has an on-again, off-again thing with Shelby Pike who, in the Mirror, is a pilot who used to be a hooker. Once he knew Shelby, he would cheat on other girlfriends with her.

Doug’s final relationship in the Mirror, which ends after he’s known Lili for less than a week, is with Jennifer Crossman. Jenn is a poor choice for a girlfriend, mainly selected for her looks rather than any sort of compatibility. While they’re breaking up, she claims that he can’t live alone. Doug refuses to admit it, but she’s right about that.

Music

Lili's first view of Doug

Lili’s first view of Doug

Doug has various theme songs.

He begins with Robbie Williams’s Feel and then segues to Snow Patrol’s Shut Your Eyes, and shares John Legend’s Ordinary People with Lili and the Cure’s Let’s Go to Bed with Melissa.

For Temper, his music is Dog’s Eye View’s Everything Falls Apart.

His final music is Billy Joel’s Honesty.

Quote

There are all sorts of quotes I could place here. For a guy who’s not too terribly articulate, I suppose I’ve given him a lot of memorable things to say. Here’s one.

“I thought I could leave it all behind me. Achieve, maybe, some measure of forgiveness. But that’s not the main reason. I came here because of you.” – Doug Hayes

Upshot

Doug is one of the most complex and complete characters I have ever written. I am immensely proud of this character.

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