“especially when they have Dan reach a peak of awfulness that no one else in the show has reached“ that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Dan slept with some women and was open about that fact with a woman he’s not in a relationship with. He told that woman he didn’t want to have a kid and that she should get an abortion. How is that the worst thing a character has done? Selina does worse things every other episode. Amy sabotaged Dan’s career and lied about it while he was in a hospital bed
Sure, Selina does worse things in political terms, yes. Ben certainly does worse things, and Tom James actively attempted to subvert the outcome of an election. If we’re considering the macro impact of characters’ actions, a solid two thirds of the cast should be imprisoned.
But that wasn’t what I meant, and I think I’ve been fairly clear about that. Thinking in purely interpersonal terms, find me something worse a character has done than what Dan did in 7.01-7.03, because outside of Selina’s relationship with Catherine, and maybe Andrew’s of Selina, I really think you’re going to struggle.
Besides, spare me the “they’re not in a relationship so Dan can trample all over her feelings whenever he pleases.” Because, sure, they’re not in a committed, monogamous relationship – but they have been friends and colleagues for close to a decade at this point. And even if Amy was some woman he had met for precisely an hour, Dan would still have obligations in this scenario, and they include, at a minimum, not going out of his way to hurt her.
I wouldn’t be complaining if Dan had quietly told Amy that he didn’t want to be a father, so he would make a financial contribution, but that was all she could expect from him, and then shut the fuck up about his sex life. (Well, abandoning his child is still a pretty shitty thing to do, so I would complain, but…less). There are options here between settle down and get married and Amy giving up the child she wants – Dan just didn’t like them.
He had unprotected sex with Amy, he impregnated her, and when she told him about it, he abandoned her. Not only that, but he knows she has feelings for him – if Reid Scott’s interviews are anything to go by – so there’s no excuse for rubbing it in her face that he’s about to have sex with another woman in the very next room, moments after she’s told him she’s thinking about continuing the pregnancy.
That’s not Dan being “open” about the situation, that’s cruel. And he lays on all of that emotional pressure over and over again – right up until he knows that Amy has given in and will give him what he wants, at which point he becomes nice as pie, physically attentive and damn near doting on her.
It’s very, very hard not to read that as a further abusive tactic – a way of ensuring Amy doesn’t dump him entirely. As long as she complies with what he wants, he’ll be sweet to her, but the moment she expresses desires that are inconvenient to him, he’ll withdraw all emotional engagement and deliberately do things he know will hurt her, all as a way of maintaining his control.
Now, what I actually think the show is going for is that Dan is so self-involved and so panicked at the thought of aging and his life changing by becoming a father, that he doesn’t even think about how his behaviour seems to Amy. But this is based largely on the performance, because there is almost nothing in the writing of it that draws that distinction between knowing and unknowing abuse – and it’s a vanishingly thin line to walk to begin with. Especially as we’re not talking about Jonah here – one of Dan’s defining characteristics since the very first episode of the show has been his willingness to manipulate women.
Say what you will about Amy’s actions in London, she didn’t do them with the intent of putting Dan in a hospital bed. (And I would also point out that Selina fired him because he “pimped” her out, a decision which had absolutely nothing to do with Amy, and which she actually advised him against). And she didn’t flaunt her status as campaign manager in his face, or ever use his emotional vulnerabilities (such as they are) against him.
Not to mention, even if she had, there’s such an order of magnitude of difference between coercing someone into a surgery that will have lifelong repercussions that you know they don’t want, and sabotaging their promotion that I don’t for one second think the two are comparable. Neither are great, obviously, and Amy’s manipulation is not something I’m about to depend – but they are not the same.