Thursday, May 8, 2014

Redemption Stories

Hey everyone! I've been incognito the past few weeks because I've been wanting to finish a strong semester. Now that the semester is over, I can rededicate at least part of my attention to Mormon Geeks.
I've recently been watching a slightly censored version of the TV series Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones is kind of like a Greek tragedy set in a fantasy medieval world. It's like Mad Men but with dragons and swords.

The character development, acting, writing, plot, visual effects, set pieces, and production values are amazing. It's a break world with characters living in the gray between good and evil. My favorite characters are the Stark family for their honor and moral fortitude. They unfortunately are somewhat less skilled in their cunning and it is taken advantage of from other characters.

Even the Starks are human beings. No one is perfect. Because of this, it's normal to become attached to characters you would normally despise and end up cheering them later on.  It's why I found out why people like the show Mad Men. When I first started Mad Men I thought, "Why do people like this show? None of these characters are likable and I keep watching this because I want to see their demise." So I did. I ended up starting to like the characters. Why? Because I began to empathize what was going on in their life and started to connect with them. I stopped focusing on their flaws and started to feel bad for them when bad things happened.

Characters I couldn't think I would possibly like I ended up liking or at least respecting.

In the first season of Game of Thrones my favorite character, Bran, is pushed off a tower to seeming death by another character, Jamie Lannester, who I instantly hated.  (Pushing a little kid off a tower? Yeah, so not cool.) As we get to know Jamie we start to see him as a real jerk and all around awful person.

You can imagine my surprise when I heard friends telling me that they actually root for him in future seasons. "Seriously!? He's a bad guy! How can anyone believe in him after what he's done?"  I haven't gotten to the part where Jaime becomes heroic but it did make me think of other characters who redeem themselves.
In Heroes, there is a villain with serial killer tendencies named Sylar. He's a delightfully complicated and totally evil bad guy. He's obsessive and has the ability to kill people and steal their powers. The first season of Heroes is television gold. Everything after that is crap. (with a few moments of awesomeness in season 3)

However, there is an episode of season 3 where some characters go to the future where a lot more people have powers. Sylar is now married and a hugging stay-at-home father with a cute son. When they go back to the present, Sylar actually starts to make decisions that cause him to fall in love and want to redeem himself.  Sadly, he doesn't follow through and chooses to still be the bad guy.

Guess what? I actually believed it. I came to actually root for this character that I originally was hoping would be killed off.  It amazes me because I can passionately root for a character's demise and then take a 180 turn and root for their redemption.  Not every story makes redemption believable but I find the best stories have common themes that we can even apply to our own lives as we repent, make restitution, and change our hearts.
Edmund was a jerk but then became awesome.

What are your favorite villains turned into Heroes?  What lessons do you think we can learn from their stories and why do you think redemption stories are so great?



  1. My favorite villain turned hero is Professor Severus Snape. For me his turnaround in the last book took the entire book series from a pretty good book series to an excellent one.
    And as someone who is now kind of rooting for Jamie Lannister, I can completely agree that a redemption story is sometimes the best kind of story. :)

  2. Regina on Once Upon a Time is one of my favorites, as of recently :)