01 March 2015

+JMJ+

Early Edition: Mob Activity

During one of my recent Twitter chats, a fellow blogger said that she doesn't want to commit to a series because she will feel too pressured to finish it. By way of encouragement, I told her that I had committed to writing twenty-three posts, one for each episode of a TV series, last year, and I'm still not finished! =P In fact, Early Edition was supposed to be a project for Lent 2014 . . . and I didn't even get halfway through until Lent 2015! Basically, in blogging, the only one who can put any real pressure on you is yourself.

But all the pressure that bloggers feel is nothing next to the pressure that Gary Hobson feels. 

Would you save this woman?

Are there ever some people who aren't worth saving? Not in the sense that their lives aren't worth much, but in the sense that it would be far too much trouble to save them, and your time and effort would be better spent on something else? An earlier episode asks a version of this question when Gary is forced to choose between a six-year-old girl and a plane filled with 190 people (including at least one child traveling alone). But this story makes the issue less about choice than about risk: Gary and Chuck come dangerously close to losing their lives to the Mob (not to mention their freedom to the Feds!), all for the sake of a woman who has been making bad romantic choices since high school. If they had lost big on either gamble, would she have been worth it?

No good deed . . .

Did you notice that I wrote "Gary and Chuck"? I've been tossing around the theory that we are called to particular service not just because of who we are as individuals, but also because of whom we've got around us. People don't live and act in a vacuum, so why do we think that we receive our vocations in one? It's plausible to say that if Gary hadn't been best friends with Chuck, The Paper might not have come to him them--and this episode totally has my back on that.

For although Chuck at first tries to talk Gary out of getting tangled up with mobsters ("You have to draw the line somewhere!"), he soon becomes instrumental to the mission--his role turning out to be the more significant one! And frankly, Chuck is great here. I'll swear that we've never seen him wear that trench coat before--because he's never reminded us of Humphrey Bogart before!

It obviously all works out, but the moral dilemma remains for the rest of us. Is it ever worth it to meddle in the business of hardened criminals and the people who choose to profit by association with them? Gary would say yes--and not just because he believed it was the right thing to do long before The Paper started coming to him. As we saw in the previous episode, he has also learned to trust The Paper's authority in these matters. But perhaps the most mundane reason is that he doesn't have much to lose: no family, no job, no home.

Chuck eventually says yes, too--but only after things get really personal. Which is perfectly fine, of course! When a good deed needs to be done, let's not quibble over what ultimately tipped the balance in favour of doing it.


Your Turn to Be the Hero: Is there ever a good reason not to steer clear of people who've made a whole lifestyle out of choosing the bad?

6 comments:

Jenny said...

Interesting question. I'm not sure what I'd do but I always admired Gary for doing his best even with those who weren't deserving.

Brandon said...

It's interesting that, at least in the first season, Chuck does the voiceovers at the beginning and end of the episode.

I think a difficulty in dealing with people who have made bad lifestyle choices is that there's always a danger of actually making everything worse.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Jenny -- I think I would have also tried to warn the girlfriend, but after the first complication, I would have given up. Perhaps Gary would have, too, if Chuck hadn't been involved and also put in danger.

Brandon -- I've also found that curious! Chuck the philosophical narrator and Chuck the goofball character don't seem to have much in common. Since he seems to be the storyteller (sharing his memories of an unusual year in his best friend's life), it's odd that he would portray himself as mostly the comic relief. Perhaps he wanted "to decrease" that Gary might "increase"?

Brandon said...

They're different enough that one would be tempted to say that they are not the same character, just the same voice -- but then there are cases like this episode where it does make some sort of sense that the narrator would be Chuck, and at least some other voiceovers, later, clearly are done by the character that goes with the voice.

It certainly puts some of the stories in a different light. For instance, perhaps part of what we are getting with Gary's nobility is actually Chuck's admiration for him (or sympathy with him). And the stories take a bit of a different tone if we do think of them as Gary (who will do a few voiceovers) and his friends reminiscing. But I suspect it's like a few things that we've noted about the series -- a lot of good things about the series seem to be very promising ideas full of potential that they stumbled onto by accident and never completely followed through on, so that one wonders if they even realized what they had. We get enough good ideas that the series itself is still good -- but they so often could have done much more than they did.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

To be honest, when I first started thinking about it, I wondered whether Chuck was doing the narration because Gary had died and there was no one else to tell the story! But given what we've already seen, it's more plausible to say again that the writers either decided not to follow through on a great idea or had no idea that they had that great idea. Besides, my theory is complicated by Fisher Stevens' leaving the show in a later season. (At least the writers don't have to be accountable for a cast member's decision to go!)

And I'll have to watch this again when I get home, because I don't remember Chuck doing a closing voiceover in this one after the big twist in the ending. And if I'm right that he doesn't close the episode, that makes sense in the light that he never figured out what happened to Teresa in the end.

Brandon said...

I think he does do a closing voiceover, although it's very brief -- as they're leaving the funeral the voiceover says something about if you trust the people you love, or something like that, it will all turn out all right. But you may be right in the sense that unlike other voiceovers, the episode doesn't actually end with the voiceover. (I'd have to re-watch the ending myself.)