Character Spotlight ~ Jack Carter

Picture courtesy of sharetv.org

Picture courtesy of sharetv.org

Jack Carter is the average-Joe sheriff in a town where everyone else is a genius. I’m quite used to seeing the opposite of this premise and being terribly unimpressed with it. The TV Genius is often a guy who speaks in sesquipedalian loquaciousness that hides simple but inaccurate formulas that if written in plain English could be disproved by a third grader.

I will admit that they have taken creative liberties in Eureka. However, they did this after showing their work and in cases where the plot hinged on it. They didn’t just throw out a “Reverse the polarity” in every episode to fix the problem.

I will admit, for some geniuses, they come up with some really horrible ideas but their genius is in their ability to execute the idea. Foresight is another area entirely. Foresight doesn’t get you an extra number on the IQ test. But Jack Carter isn’t one of these geniuses, he’s just the guy that cleans up after them, the sheriff.

Obviously, he is an audience stand in. I usually find these irritating. I prefer people just make a character. I’ve never seen an audience stand in I could relate to and it’s not because I’m black and female. It’s because I’m not there for other people to project their logic and opinions on to me which an audience stand in is frequently for. Jack Carter’s got his own opinions and his situation is relatable for me. I’m the below average child of “Mensa qualified” geniuses. Jack is a guy with an IQ score of 111 in a town where everyone else is Mensa level. (The Mensa cut off is 132.)

This is why Jack has trouble getting people to take him seriously as sheriff initially and when some part of their invention has gone wrong. He doesn’t understand their jobs or how most of the stuff works until you explain it to him in layman’s terms so people figure “Well if you don’t understand that much, you probably don’t know how it works,” or “I’m way smarter than you. How could you possibly correct me?” Fortunately, most of the main cast doesn’t act like that or it would make the show unwatchable.

In fact the characters that actually matter don’t see the intelligence difference as some huge divide between them understanding each other or being able to relate. They even treat him like a human being. And eventually they have a great deal of respect for him as he’s saved them from turning the town into a crater on several occasions with surprisingly simple solutions to the complicated problems they create.

My favorite example of this would be the time that Fargo accidentally set a nuclear bomb to head over to Russia via satellite and after spending the whole episode getting the answer out of the inventor who now had Alzheimer’s another one started up with a ten minute countdown. Cue the panicking. Jack might have been panicking himself. He rammed his jeep into it to change its course so it never reached the satellite that would have redirected it to Russia and started a nuclear war.

I probably wouldn’t have done that. I would have been under the impression that a bomb made to withstand exiting and entering the atmosphere before detonating upon its landing would have blown slam up from being rammed with a jeep. Of course, wording it like that might have dispelled the thought for me.

I don’t know the age of Jack Carter but it’s clear that his life didn’t just begin as the show started. He’s been in law enforement before. He’s been married and divorced before and he has a teenage daughter from that marriage who actually has her own character development and is a part of his life.

Even though she is a teenage delinquent in the beginning which must be embarrassing when you’re the sheriff, she’s just doing it for the attention and eventually shapes up. I saw a shift in her character when she refused alcohol from her aunt (the adult in the situation) on the grounds that it was illegal and she’d been taught better. It’s eventually found that she is every bit as smart as the others in Eureka and she gets into Harvard.

Of course the timeline for that may vary. Jack goes through several different timelines yet he always tries to create a safe place of semi-predictability. This safe, normal life is taken from him over and over again as inventions malfunction, people misuse power and their own intelligence and time pushes them in and out of the temporal paradox more than once.

Surely, by the end of the show he knows that he’s never going to find it, that things are never going to be normal that even when he settles down into one life he can wake up at the beginning of those four years or in an alternate timeline where Allison is still married to Stark and his daughter is in jail instead of college. Yet, in spite of this, he always keeps a spark of optimism that pushes him to keep trying even when everything he’e done can be snatched up from under him in an instant. Optimism is a good trait to have in a main character. 

My next character spot light is going to be on Rinoa Heartily from FinalFantasy VIII.

Character Spotlight – Shi-Woon Lee

the-breaker-new-waves-1528537I was disappointed when I started reading the Breaker and found out that Shi Woon was the main character instead of Chun Woo… It’s never a good sign when you think of Shinji Ikari from the original Evangelion anime.  Shi Woon was a wreck. He was beat up in school by a Chang Ho and his group, quite frequently.

His mother was too busy for his problems and his father was out of the picture. His childhood friend, Saehee was also a tad dense and unaware that these people fighting him in a four against one fight were not his friends whom he had a falling out with.

Eventually Chang Ho overplays his hand by demanding Shi Woon pimp out Saehee to him. Shi Woon even optimistically pondered that he might not do anything to her on the same school grounds where he and his group beat him up with no interference. But when it came down to it the answer was no. In fact, that was the last straw.

From that time he decided he was done being stepped on by Chang Ho and his groupies and that he was going to have to do what had to be done and after fighting back and losing, blackmailing His temporary English teacher Chun Woo into teaching him how to fight with some inconvenient footage of him in a bar fight seemed like a great option.

Chun Woo warns him several times that he doesn’t want what he’s asking for. I don’t think he became a substitute teacher at that school just to get in that other lady teacher’s pants.

But despite the obvious red flags Shi Woon follows Chun Woo anyway because he’s at the lowest point of his life he’s ever been in and he’s not thinking like a person in a normal state of mind. He just wants what he wants. This was not an easy process even with “dying will” in the form of a horse pill called the “Illwallsindan.”

Shi Woon has a surprising amount of nerve and he just gets bolder and bolder and he has to be. He has less room to let his guard down even after he learns how to fight.

Chun Woo was really vague about what the Murim was (as in didn’t tell him until after the fact) so Shi Woon got in a lot of trouble in a town that was practically crawling with Murim people. It doesn’t help that some people can’t keep a secret. I mean when your coworkers jump up all “Nine Arts Dragon! How are ya?” and no one wants to say why you’re called that, it gets suspicious… except to Shi Woon because he has to learn the hard way not to be so trusting of people.

But it’s hard to teach him. He has his own will and he is very stubborn. Even with the times he’s told “If you do that, you’re going to die,” or “there’s no way you can…” he does it anyway and even if he loses the dialogue in some variation of the following.

“I’ve been doing martial arts my whole life. This kid who’s been training less than a year and flattened an army of people with more training than him has no chance.”

“He blocked that! How could he with (Insert handicap here?)”

“I can’t believe I must use (Insert secret technique here) against a mere kid. “

“There’s no way he survived…”

“He’s alive?”

“Holy $#!+”

“How did he?”

“Phew! I nearly got my butt handed to me by a novice!”

Now as the reader I don’t even pat attention to the “Warnings” he gets. He’s already weighed his decision of “I know there’s a high probability of death but nobody lives forever and a coward dies a thousand times before their death.”

Besides, he recovers really quickly from injuries that would otherwise be crippling. He seems quite aware of this. What does he have to fear?

I like that they made being the nice guy work for him when he lives in a dog-eat-dog world that steps on people like him. He’s not a character I can relate to or understand well but I respect him as a main character for being out to do the right thing when there are so many easy ways out. Doing the right thing is what a hero needs to be about. If you don’t care what the right thing is, you’re not a hero. You’re just the main character.

~~~~~

This was actually the most difficult one to write. I guess it’s because of how long the series has been running and I’m trying not to spoil anything either. Unlike Zelda where if you click on something about Midna, chances are you know who she is and you beat the game. That’s how us Zelda players are sometimes.

Next week’s character Spotlight is Jack Carter from Eureka. I don’t watch much TV but I liked that show.