Janette DuCharme

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Name: Janette DuCharme
Occupation: Present:
nightclub owner
In life:
prostitute
Title/Rank:
Location: Toronto (at present)
Paris (in life)
Status: vampire
Relationships: Nick Knight (friend/lover)
LaCroix (master)
Robert McDonagh (lover in "The Human Factor")
Fandom: Forever Knight
Other: - brought across c. 1000 A.D., in Paris
- speaks with a French accent


Janette (from "Dark Knight")
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Contents

[1]Janette DuCharme[2] is a fictional character that appeared in the first two seasons of the television series, Forever Knight, and as a guest character in the Season Three episode "The Human Factor". The part was played by Deborah Duchêne. (In the original 1989 pilot for the series, Cec Verrell played Janette.) Janette is a vampire who, like the series protagonist, Nick Knight, was brought across (i.e. turned into a vampire) by LaCroix. The three have had a turbulent connection down the centuries; and, in Toronto, their paths cross once again.

Janette is introduced in the series premiere as the owner of a nightclub, the Raven, which caters to a mixed clientele of vampires and humans. Nick often drops in to see her, and sometimes consults with her about cases in which he suspects the involvement of other vampires. In Season One, in particular, she serves as his liaison with the vampire community.

From the start, Janette is noted for her dress. She prefers a glamorous version of Goth style, and is usually seen with her hair styled high, wearing a long evening dress suitable for her role as nightclub owner. Her clothes are characteristically black, sometimes with touches of red, and are often accessorized with a choker and/or long earrings.

Character Development

It is revealed early in Season One that it was Janette who seduced Nick to the dark side of his nature in 1228, introducing him to her master, LaCroix, who then brought him across.[3] Their relationship is flirtatiously close. Indeed, in the early episode "Cherry Blossoms", it is strongly suggested that the relationship between Nick and Janette might, even today, be more than simply flirtatious.

In the second season, more detail is provided on Janette's relationship with Nick. The flashback to "Partners of the Month" reveals that the two lived as married for almost a century during the Renaissance; and that it was Janette who left, feeling that Nick was too clingy. Towards the end of the season, in "Crazy Love", it is made explicit that Nick occasionally still turns to Janette sexually (at least vampire-style, involving biting).

In early episodes, Janette repeatedly objects to Nick's desire to live among humans and try to regain his mortality, asserting that he should embrace his vampire nature. When she first meets both his partner, Don Schanke[4] and his friend, Natalie Lambert,[5] she is rather condescending towards them. Nevertheless, there are times when she shows herself willing to protect Nick's human associates.[6]

Character History

It was not until early in Season Two that any backstory was provided for Janette. Until then, fans improvised their own histories for her. However, the flashback to "A Fate Worse than Death" revealed that, around 1000 A.D., Janette was a prostitute in Paris. She catches LaCroix's eye when she resists a soldier who tries to rape her, and he offers to turn her into a vampire. She promptly kills her pimp.

Fan Reaction

Fans were immediately attracted to Janette in her roles as nightclub owner and liasion with the vampire community. As an independent-minded woman, she was also an obvious focus for historical fiction exploring women's roles—whether as part of LaCroix's vampire family, or travelling alone. Once Janette's backstory was revealed, fans immediately drew on it, both for insight into the way she runs the Raven and also to elaborate her early history.

Even before it was revealed that the two had once lived together as married, her relationship with Nick was immediately interpreted as sexual, in the past if not still in the present. The pairing Nick/Janette runs a close second to Nick/Natalie in popularity, especially in stories with an historical setting.

Websites

Yahoo!Groups & Fanlistings

Spelling the Character's Name

Given that the character is French (and the actress consistently portrayed her using a French accent), one may assume that her name really is a diminutive of the French personal name "Jeanne", i.e. "Jeannette". There are two ways that this name has been anglicized: "Janette" and "Jeanette". In the scripts and credits for Forever Knight, the spelling used is the former.

Initially, however, few fans had access to scripts; and, even though the character's name appeared in the credits, these went past very quickly in small print. There were no commercially available VHS tapes (and DVDs were far in the future). Furthermore, even when fans taped episodes themselves, it was usually without the credits to save tape. For this reason, many fans could only write the characters' names as they heard them.

Initially, there were many fans who mistakenly used the more common anglicization "Jeanette". That spelling therefore turns up frequently in fan fiction and discussion from the 1990s, and is sometimes seen even today.

Janette-Focused Factions

There are a number of groups within Forever Knight fandom who focus their interest on one character or relationship more than the others. These factions interact on mailing lists and groups, write fan fiction, and play as groups in Forever Knight Wars. One of the earliest factions afflilated themselves with Janette. Though it took them a while to settle firmly on their name, they eventually semi-agreed on Ravenettes (though some people, especially male fans, prefer "Raven" instead).

Janette's relationship with Nick was immediately seized upon as significant; so it is not surprising that one of the first couple factions was the Nick/Janette-focused Immortal Beloveds.

However, Janette has been coupled with many of the other characters in the show. A number of these pairings have been given names. Nevertheless, not all of these factions participate in Wars or have associated mailing loops, e-groups, or Yahoo!Groups. In some instances, the principal function of the name is as a shorthand way to describe fan fiction.

  • The Dark Trinity is focused on the relationship between Janette, Nick, and their master, LaCroix. All three travelled together for centuries. The relationship between the three of them is not necessarily interpreted as a sexual threesome, though it can be.
  • The Seducers (also known as the "Immortal Seducers") is the couple faction for Janette's relationship with LaCroix. In a Seducer story, this is usually interpreted as sexualized, though not necessarily overtly sexual.
  • A Nanettes story focuses on the relationship between Janette and Natalie. Although this need not be overtly sexual, most Nanettes stories tend at least to introduce some sexual tension between the two.
  • The Vachonettas focus on a Janette/Vachon pairing. As the two never appear together, there is obviously no subtext powering the faction (which is a very minor one).

Departure and Return

Although fans expected Janette to return for Season Three, the move to a new company meant changes. The USA Network wanted to replace Deborah Duchêne; and, although they were willing for Janette to become a recurring guest, the actress demurred. She did, however, agree to return for one episode.

Janette was therefore written out in the Season Three premiere, "Black Buddha", her character ostensibly having sold her nightclub to LaCroix. Fans were upset. On hearing that the USA Network had decided that Duchêne was not adequately attractive looking, they were outraged—male fans included.

Janette returned towards the end of Season Three in the episode "The Human Factor". In the controversial story line, she reveals that she has been in Montreal, having moved there with the intention of reconnecting with her vampire nature because she has started to wonder if Nick is right in his quest for mortality. In Montreal, however, she falls in love with a firefighter named Robert McDonagh; and, when he is murdered, she mysteriously reverts to mortal. She has returned to Toronto on a quest for revenge on his killers. This ultimately results in her being fatally shot. Nick offers to save her by bringing her back across and she refuses—but does he do so anyway?

The conclusion of the episode was ambiguous, the more so since (at least in some markets) the tag was cut on the first run. Initially, many fans assumed that Janette was dead. Subsequently, they discovered that the rather vague dialogue in the tag was intended to suggest the opposite.

Regardless of Janette's survival, though, fan reaction to the episode tended to the negative. Throughout the first two seasons, Janette had never exhibited any interest in becoming mortal. Quite the contrary. Furthermore, she had always been depicted as glamorous and exotic, especially in her dress and hairstyle. In "The Human Factor", she was dressed conservatively, with her hair tidily shoulder-length. To many fans, this was character rape.

Fan comments include the following:

The reason I hated Human Factor was because of the injustice it did to Janette herself. She's always managed to be strong, classy, and smooth without coming off as a brat. Now she finally returns for an episode most Ravenette's were looking forward to since December a completely different person, almost like Nick. She comes off as a vulnerable woman needing protection, when Janette's always prided herself on being able to take care of herself. Janette simply isn't Janette in Human Factor, in my opinion. [...] — comment by Janette92 on Our Dark Lady of Forever Knight[7]
I feel that the destruction of the character of Janette in this episode was a huge mistake. Janette has always been the one sure, stable vampire character in the entire series, more stable than LaCroix, even, and to take that away from her was unnecessary and in my opinion weakened the series as a whole.

Janette was the epitome of the integrated vampire: strong, powerful, secure and content in what she was. That contrast was a necessary counterpoint to Nick's leanings toward mortality and LaCroix's penchance for control over them both. To have Janette lose so much in becoming mortal was both cruel and unbelievable. She might as well have been staked. And the "method" by which she became mortal was so flimsily explained that it's an insult to the watchers to be asked to believe it." — comment by Marcia T. on Our Dark Lady of Forever Knight[8]

References

  1. Much of the information in this article has been drawn from the Forever Knight Wiki, especially their article "Janette DuCharme".
  2. "Janette" is the name consistently used by the character in all eras. Initially, no surname was known for her. Later, in some episodes, she called herself by the surname "DuCharme"; furthermore, she did so not only in scenes set in the present day, but also in the past. Indeed, in "Be My Valentine", she used it in a scene set in 1228. It is generally taken to be her real surname. However, when she moved to Montreal she called herself "Janette de Brabant" (which is probably Nick's real name).
  3. Specifically, it is in the fourth episode of Season One, "Dance by the Light of the Moon", that the flashback provides the first installment of the multi-part revelation of Nick's transformation into a vampire. That story is continued later, particularly in Season Two's "Near Death".
  4. Janette first met Schanke in the Season One episode "For I Have Sinned".
  5. Janette first met Natalie in the Season One episode "Cherry Blossoms".
  6. Specifically, in Season One, Janette saved Schanke from being killed by another vampire in "For I Have Sinned" and provided him with temporary refuge in "Hunters" when he was being stalked; and, in Season Two, she tried to protect Natalie in "A More Permanent Hell".
  7. These comments on "The Human Factor" come from the website, Our Dark Lady of Forever Knight, which devotes this webpage (archived) to them. (Accessed 6 July 2011)
  8. These comments on "The Human Factor" come from the website, Our Dark Lady of Forever Knight, which devotes this webpage (archived) to them. (Accessed 6 July 2011)
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