My original plan to discuss over the innovative format of House of Cards, which meant releasing its entire season on a single day, kind of fell apart when The Matinee gave his interesting thoughts on the same topic. Despite of this, I still wrote about it on The Artifice (not yet published) and then still decided to give the Wild Wednesday a new topic – dead characters. It sounds a bit ominous, I know, but the focus is exactly what it sounds but to clarify, I do not mean vampires or zombies, I literally mean regular characters that are dead from the start and only appear to the viewers through flashbacks or imagination.
To be honest, even now I’m not sure where this topic is going to take me but while listing the shows that feature the type of character(s) I have in mind, I came across a pretty long list – if you consider five to be a lot. Of course I’m not saying there aren’t more, I’m quite addicted to TV but even I haven’t seen all the possible shows, so even if I don’t mention all of them, there might be couple of those dead characters still out there. The reason why I’m interested in this topic is because of a familiar term called “character development” which is definitely something that many of us are probably fairly invested in on numerous occasions. More precisely, (most of) these dead characters will never have the opportunity to develop further from their existence, will never be apart of an one true pairing or have a direct emotional connection with the viewer in any of these shows I’m about to mention.
The idea came to me after re-watching Revenge’s first half of the first season (yet again I’m stuck in the same place I became stuck a year ago) – Emily, the girl on a revenge mission, is constantly reminiscing about her father who happens to be dead. In addition to her, another main character, Victoria, a previous lover of the man in question, has some thoughts about him as well – more than often while standing on the balcony. Now, I like Emily’s father David Clarke but my emotions towards him are fairly limited – he is dead, there’s no point in wondering what kind of a relationship he had with Victoria or let alone wonder about his relationship with his daughters. Same emotional distance is with Pretty Little Liars character Alison, Veronica Mars’ Lilly, Dexter’s father and the desperate housewife who committed suicide in the first scene of a show I don’t need to name. All these characters, two of them father figures and three falling into the category of best friend, are important in terms of the plot but yet, the only emotional attachment they seem to possess is in the minds of the characters, not the viewers.
Of course I can’t say that this is the case with everybody, I just happen to be emotionally toned down when it comes to dead characters (not including vampires but definitely including zombies!) but I have a feeling that it is something that can’t be avoided. The characters I mentioned are already not functioning in the present time of the show’s plot, the situation where the viewers tend to place most, if not all of their emotions. Intentionally I’m excluding using any other word except “emotional” in terms of the dead characters because in 4 cases out of 5 the characters have shown very important plot development connections. Fifth one being Desperate Housewives narrator role which is a whole new territory – the story is being narrated by a dead woman, doesn’t that sound nice…
So, I guess my point is that dead characters are a great way of making the current plot more lively (can you taste the irony?) without having to deal with the emotional setbacks a character could have on the viewers. I mean, Pretty Little Liars Alison could do whatever in her flashbacks and I wouldn’t be emotionally upset but I would be intrigued in terms of the plot. On the other hand, that might sound too harsh, I’m sure the crying and the screaming will effect me emotionally some how (I’m not a rock or anything) but I’m not emotionally attached to the dead characters. The last time I was, happened to be a regular character that died and came back as a ghost (One Tree Hill first of many mistakes following its season 3) – but he had the chance to develop. Dead characters are dead from the beginning, they are dead for the characters in the present and they are dead for the viewers but still, they are more than often stirring things up.
Okay, that’s it for the ramble, which ended up being just what it said it was going to be, ramble about dead characters that lead to an almost irrelevant conclusion. But hey, I shoveled snow today and started to knit a hat, so, happy Wednesday!