Tag Archives: character

Needing Better Reasons

This is not something I normally do, but this past weekend, I watched all of Longmire on Netflix. I had been a fan of the show and with the Netflix pick up I went  back and watched from the pilot through to season five for two reasons: one, I wanted to make sure I had all my plot threads and character growth issues firmly in hand, and two, I was watching off the regular channels and there was no possibility of watching any political news–a decided plus. Yes, sigh. A win win.

So here’s the basic story: Longmire is a throw-back to the hard-bitten outside, well-educated inside, taciturn and nonjudgmental sheriff cowboy of myth.  Yes, myth because I was raised in the west. I have always been uneasy with this character because the west is hard and unforgiving. But to the series….

The series starts a year after the murder of Longmire’s wife who was dying of cancer. There is a lot of misdirection in the beginning about who actually murdered the murderer of Martha Longmire. While the show centers on Walt Longmire, there are ongoing side threads–Vic Morretti and her husband, Branch Connolly and his dad, Jacob Nighthorse and his casino and there is Henry and his native american spirituality to name just a few.

I liked the ongoing mysteries-although, damn, a lot of people are murdered in a small county in Wyoming–but that is the nature of a series, so…. And, in truth, the scenery is amazing. As I watched the series unfold, I was okay with the handling of Longmire’s supposed guilt in the death of the murderer and the fact that the suspicion rocked back and forth between Walt and Henry. Detective Failes was a red-herring leading us to another clue and so was [is] Jacob Nighthorse. I think.

A lot of the initial storyline centers on the death of Martha and the fact that only Walt and Henry know. And therein is my problem. I don’t think I have ever understood the idea of not telling someone something because it will protect them, but it seems to be a standard theme, especially on television. I think protecting is the absolute worse reason to lie or not tell. Lie because you can’t deal with the truth. Lie because you are ashamed of the truth. Lie because you don’t really know. But to tell yourself that you are lying to protect someone else, I’m going with just plain stupid. So when Walt doesn’t tell Cady about the murder to protect her I’m asking from what exactly is he protecting her?  And, really, how very banal of the writers! What a cheap trick. It reminds me of Avatar, the movie. James Cameron? Seriously, the guy spends seven years developing the technology and the story line is almost not there…unobtanium? That’s the metal that is on this far off planet? Ah, but I digress….

And, on the flip side, I don’t really get the idea of someone being totally indignant because they were protected. Someone loved them. Don’t we all want to be protected, kept from harm, why are we not grateful that we are saved from the bad stuff?

So there is the insipid reason for lying and then, there is a new thing for me, character growth. This has been coming slowly, very,  as I’ve been writing. It’s strange that I say that because that’s not what I think expected as a kid. My hero character was one who solved the mystery. Or went on  an adventure. I didn’t expect the character to be a better person or a changed person and I don’t really remember if they did or they didn’t–that wasn’t the point. The point was the plot.

So,  between the on-going stoic behavior, the lying issue and the lack of change, and while I liked Walt in the beginning of the series, by the end of season five I was getting very tired of how we saw Robert Taylor’s square jawed face in some kind of agony. Add to that,  I find I have little sympathy for a character who makes his own misery. And it seems we get a lot of that in television. Is that the only kind of drama writers can come up with? Seriously?

So, now we are done with season five. Walt has decided, finally, that he wants to resolve all his issues and just move on. He’s let go of Martha’s ashes, he’s in a new-sort of- relationship. Cady is doing her own thing and he recognizes he’s spun out of control and he needs to get balance. He wants to put the lawsuit behind him. So, what do the writers do? They give us the supposed reason for the lawsuit from Barlow Connolly’s estate–that Barlow wants to turn Walt’s spread into a premier golf course. Yep, that’s right…oh, the indignity.

The only problem is, at no time that I can find in the first five seasons, do we get any clue as to the reasons for Barlow’s loathing of Walt, nowhere. Which leaves me, with all of this emoting, asking do I really care enough to stay around and find out.

grown

Grown. Growing up. Some have it difficult, maybe not enough food, or not a stable home, maybe an insane parent or guardian, maybe there’s a war going on outside your door. I get that, and not for the first time think that if we have to be licensed for cars, and guns and maybe even to vote, we should be licensed to have kids. Maybe pass a test or take a course, or something so that when a child is brought into the world they are loved and cared for, treasured for the future they promise and to, somehow, make good on that promise. I’m also talking about the angst, the Catcher In The Rye angst, the disaffected, totally egocentric angst. Did I not have it, or, was I not allowed to have it, which seems all the more likely. Not that my parents were strict, they were and they weren’t, but I was brought up in a stiff upper lip and stand tall, be tall kind of world.

I’m writing about a girl, her brothers and a stranger. First off, I didn’t have brothers, just sisters, two very alike sisters, and I was the odd one out. Sometimes more odd. But, siblings are siblings. Are girls more wicked than boys? I have no idea, but I know that the stereotype is not what I want to write. I wonder how much I knew about my sisters. I look at them now, what they are as adults. It’s a strange world out there. I’ve said before, I was an unconscious person, more interested in plot, setting and voice than character. Strange when I write that, because in the history I studied, it was the main characters on stage; Elizabeth I, Charlemagne,  St. Thomas More, that fascinated me the most, that I couldn’t get enough of those characters that actually made a difference in the world.

Ha! An epiphany and maybe a help. It’s not the character that fascinates me, it’s the relationship the character had with the world. Elizabeth defining her age, much like her successor Victoria. Or Charlemagne defining what it meant to rule an empire. How a Twyla Tharp changed the world of dance, or Ayn Rand changed our view, maybe, of corporations and communism.

Hmm…I’m going to have to think about this. So, maybe it’s not that growing up is tough. It’s that growing up is a constant in the world.