TV

Thinking Fiction: Why we like characters who work undercover for the ‘good’ side

I’m forever on a quest to discover why I like what I like. This is part of my foray into ‘types’ of fictional characters and why we as readers like them.

Who or what are ‘characters who work undercover for the ‘good’ side’?

I’m not sure if this is a universal ‘like’, but it’s certainly one of mine. I really enjoy reading a book or watching a TV series in which a character has to hide their true allegiances from others.

These characters appear ‘less than’ noble, ‘less than’ dependable, and at times downright villainous to most of the other characters, yet are actually working for the side of ‘good’. If they are the protagonist they are likely striving to ‘help’ society or a faction thereof, if they are not the protagonist, they are often an undercover champion for the protagonist’s cause.

An extreme example of this is when an individual the protagonist believes is ‘evil’ is revealed at the end of a series or novel to have been working for ‘good’ the entire time.

This is an extreme and difficult example to plot for three reasons:

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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (BBC)

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (BBC mini-series 2015; Netflix; my local library) is a regency era alternative history detailing the attempt of two “practical” magicians to bring magic back to England.

“We have channelled all of English magic into a butler and then we have shot him!”

Magic was common place in Britain during the era of the mysterious Raven King but for the last 300 years it has been confined to theoretical study only. The fussy, book-loving Mr. Norrell joins forces with the flamboyant, reckless Jonathan Strange to make English magic “Respectable” once more.

Mr. Norrell is aided, cajoled and protected by his mysterious man-servant Childermass, a former pick-pocket who is looking forward to the return of the Raven King.

#Childermass Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Raven King

Jonathon Strange is determined to make his wife Arabella proud of him, but is hindered by Mr. Norrell’s refusal to dabble in anything too outlandish.

Power hungry politicians, the Faerie realm, and the death of Strange’s wife tear the two apart. As they travel from France to Vienna and from Yorkshire to London in order to undo  As magic returns and the ancient roads of the Raven King are re-opened the two must decide what is most important, and whether they really will sacrifice everything for a future they may never see.

Mr. Norrell: A party? I wish to go home and read a book.

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Why I like… The Adventures of Sam

The Adventures of Sam was  a 1997 animated Australian children’s television serial consisting of 13 consecutive episodes, featuring an escaped convict boy named Sam, his magpie Swoop, and his friend Bridie. Set in the 1850s, it follows his journey around the world to find his lost brother and obtain freedom. Along the way he makes friends, becomes entangled in several ‘historic’ moments and narrowly avoids capture by the Australian authorities. Each episode ends in a cliff-hanger, and the serials tagline was “From Sydney to Singapore and beyond!”

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The Final Problem SHERLOCK review

To all who don’t follow SHERLOCK, this was the final episode of Sherlock for the conceivable future, so you are safe from here on out. Rather than simply skipping this post, head over to Called to Watch for some other reading!

Well, this was an unexpected episode in many respects. Lots of reviewers have slammed it as being extremely unrealistic – and you know what? It was. There were several ‘Oh really?’ moments, not to mentions unlikely escapes and rather gaping plot holes.

But I’m not going to discuss that. Because Sherlock has always been relatively unrealistic, it has always required a suspension of disbelief, and yet we’ve swallowed it hook, line and sinker, because we’ve wanted to. It’s been fun. If we look at the original canon, most of the adventures are rather unlikely, and the deductions require luck as well as genius. And we don’t mind too much, because after all, as Sherlock Holmes himself says, truth is often stranger than fiction.

On a thematic level, this episode asks questions such as:

Does anyone ever have the right to make decisions on behalf of another?

Do emotions affect our morality? Is this right?

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The Lying Detective REVIEW

This is my second review/response to SHERLOCK Season 4. It focuses on the second episode, The Lying Detective, loosely based on Doyle’s original short story, The Dying Detective.

It took me a while to formulate this post. You see, I really, really loved the episode, to the point where I think it might be the best SHERLOCK to date – and yet I couldn’t really pin-point why.

It’s an episode about the aftermath of loss. It asks questions like:

Is there a right way to express grief?

Can you go ‘too far’ to achieve a goal?

What does it mean to be a good man?

And lastly, are any of us really ‘good’? And if not, how do we live in light of that?

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Sherlock: The Six Thatchers REVIEW

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If you signed up to email updates from Gloryafterwards in order to stay in the loop about CALLED TO WATCH – head on over. You can sign up there too to stay in the loop. A new post was published on Monday: “Watching is hard (how do we deal with that?)

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I’m aware that most people following this blog are probably not that fascinated by the latest reincarnation of Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective Sherlock Holmes. But I have to admit… I am.

I am absolutely intrigued by how the BBC has managed to bring a 19th century hero into the 21st century – which aspects they have kept, which they have changed. What follows are my thoughts on The Six Thatchers (Season 4, Episode 1). It’s been three years since the last season, and will probably be at least that until the next one, so bear with me?

Even if you have never seen SHERLOCK, thematically the episode is interesting. It asks questions like:

Do all actions have consequences?

What things should you share with your spouse, and which should you tackle alone?

To what extent can you blame someone for a death?

Can the evil in this world be avoided if you try hard enough, love strongly enough? (spoilers: the answer is ‘no’)

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