Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day Thirty-One: John-Boy

Apparently I've been doing this for a full month now. Woot. One-twelfth of the way done.

******SPOILER WARNING: The rest of this post contains massive spoilers for the children's play The Hero Squad vs. The Princess Snatchers. If you're reading this, you probably already know, but if you don't wanna know, then good night, John-Boy. We'll see ya tomorrow******

So as I was watching my show from a window in the sound booth today (one of my favorite ways to watch a show, especially a show like this, is somewhere where I can clearly see and hear both the actors AND the stage management staff and run crew. It's two shows in one, folks, and sometimes it's hard to tell which is more entertaining) As I watched, I realized that an unexpected thing has happened in me over the last month and a half I've spent with this production.

At some point, the arrogant, self-serving, turncoat Good Knight John-Boy became a tragic character in my mind.

Arthur Miller (he wrote some plays once) said that tragedy works when there's an opportunity for the protagonist not to fall. To Miller, it's just not as interesting if the poor guy or gal is doomed from the start, nothing they can do about it, and then in the end, big surprise, they get screwed and only then do they realize they never had a chance to begin with. Instead, there have to be opportunities for the protagonist to avoid his or her fate, and they just miss them for some reason or another, and that's what makes it tragic.

Thus, I have recently realized, we have the story of the Good Knight John-Boy, Metro Valley's loner superhero/champion, resting comfortably on a career of victories against impossible odds, undoing evildoers to the adoration of the masses. Here comes a bad guy who's finally figured out the secret to taking out the GKJB (at least he claims he has) and who uses that information to blackmail him into cooperating with the evil scheme. In the end, John-Boy realized he can never go back into hero work after what he's done gets out, so he decides to stick with the bad guy (and subsequently is defeated and sent to jail).

The hero falls.

Of course, I've written John-Boy to be a terribly unsympathetic character. From his first appearance, he's a jerk to the Hero Squad, telling them to go home and quit their games, despite the fact that they've just handled themselves quite well against some nasty ninjas. Throughout the show, he demonstrates that he's more concerned with his own image then righting wrongs or saving the day. He taunts the heroes, even before becoming a villain. He's occasionally crude. He's above everyone else.

And yet...

I've been realizing recently how many opportunities arise for John-Boy to do the right thing. He finally faces a threat that he can't handle alone, and he caves totally. He gets caught in the act of attempting to abduct the princess by two of the heroes, and that would be a perfect opportunity to come clean, rally the troops, and take out the bad guy. But to do so would be to admit a weakness, and he can't do that, so instead he makes up some lame excuse and gets away. Then, the princess comes to John-Boy late that night looking for help, and again, the opportunity to tell the truth and ask for help presents itself. Instead, he takes her to Nikolai's lair. Even there, when Nikolai is preoccupied with the princess and John-Boy's got an opportunity to take him out while he's not paying attention, he doesn't do it. He's so sold out at that point that he goes from being powerful superhero to nothing more than a willing lackey.

Of course, he gets what's coming to him, and all is as it should be. That's one of the main points to the story, right? Nevertheless...he had so many opportunities to do the right thing! If the man would only have asked for help, he wouldn't have met the depowering, humiliating fate that befalls him. All he had to do was reach outside of himself for once.

And of course, we're all glad with the way things have turned out. Good wins, evil doesn't, woohoo. That's the point of heroes vs. villains in the Hero Squad universe.

But part of me watches and thinks, "It didn't have to be this way."

So I'm probably thinking too much into this, but hey. I spend 80% of this show with nothing to do, and I've been working on it for over three years in some capacity or other. Detailed character analysis was bound to come at some point.

Lunch is over. Back to work!