Saturday, February 18
Villains: Heroes in their own minds
This quote got me thinking about villains in general and a current favorite TV show in particular. In their own minds, every villain believes he/she is the hero of the story. They are convinced that what they are doing is right and correct.
One of my favorite TV shows this year is “Timeless”. IMDb describes it as “An unlikely trio travel through time in order to battle unknown criminals and protect history as we know it.” The Mason Company invents a time travel machine – two of them, actually. Garcia Flynn steals one of them and begins a campaign to change history and rid the world of the mysterious group Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse has been around since the beginning of America, composed of influential people through history. They believe they know best what is right for the country, and they are ruthless in pursuing their goals.
One of the things I like about this show is the complex characters. Most of the characters are neither all good or all bad, and I think that’s what keeps them from becoming cardboard cut-outs. Each is convinced of the rightness of what they’re doing.
Flynn is an interesting character. A former NSA asset, his family was killed by Rittenhouse when he began asking questions about them. His goal is to destroy Rittenhouse in the past so that he can bring back his family in the present. Though his intentions are noble, his methods are not. He will stop at nothing to meet his goal, killing anyone who stands in his way. Sometimes he has his doubts, but in his mind, he’s doing the right thing.
Even Wyatt, one of heroes of the show, falls into the trap of believing the end justifies the means. A few years previously, Wyatt’s wife Jessica was murdered. In a desperate attempt to get her back, he steals the time machine and goes back to 1983. His mission is to prevent the parents of the man who murdered Jessica from ever meeting and conceiving him. If the murderer is never born, then Jessica can’t be killed by him. But nothing goes to plan. Despite vowing that no one would get hurt, a man is accidentally killed, and in the end it doesn’t bring Jessica back.
I love villains because they bring the conflict to a story. But I love them even more when they’re complex and believe they’re the heroes of the story.
Who’s your favorite literary villain? Why do you like him/her?