Heroes…

(KATA!!!! el ne olvasd… semennyit se. Se te, aki nem akarod tudni, hogyan végződik a Szökés c. sorozat!
YOU who haven’t seen the series finale of Prison break and would NOT like to know how it all ends, will stop reading NOW.)

…are here to remind us of our own potential. They are born to show the way, to set an example. It is a sad fact that TV series (movies, music, art in general etc.) does not necessarily focus on the positive side of heroes. Take the world-famous TV show with the same title: I watched religiously until the third season, where the negativity, the aggression, the blood, the hatred became unbearable. So there is a baddie in all of us. Raise your hands if you’re not aware of it… yet. We get the point: Devil inside, Devil inside, every single one of us, the Devil inside. The world is doing a great job remindig us again, and again, and again. Crime series, crime news, crime reality, crime fiction, wars, wars, hatred, killing, guns, battles, wars, guns… We know about the battle of good and evil, God versus Satan, we live it daily, even though most of us may not be aware of it. I think that reminding us of how evil can strive will not be beneficial in the long run; the more violence we witness, in person or vicariously, the more natural it will feel. The easier it will seem to get a gun, and shoot someone, or talk dirty to our parents. That’s my take, anyway.

I think that heroes portrayed on TV and in art should be more positive. They should be more like… Michael Scofield. He sacrificed his whole life to get incarcerated next to his brother Linc whom he believed innocent, he gave away his freedom to try and save his brother from the death penalty. This is how Prison Break started, and from the first episodes it was obvious that Michael Scofield was no average hero. He had no superpowers, except maybe his extreme intelligence to solve puzzles and find the way out from the darkest mazes. But next to his intellect, his kindness, honesty, and perseverence made him a character to like and love under whatever circumstances. He wasn’t a saint, he made mistakes, he lost his temper not once, he felt anger, and weakness of spirit, but time and time again, he jumped back on his feet and followed his path.

So what if I sound a little sentimental? This show was one of my favourites for sentimental reasons: Michael Scofield. I shared his load and felt his feelings along the way, and prayed he would remain chaste till the end. For me, it was a question of good and evil: would evil succeed in corupting Michael? Would he turn to his dark side that he showed glimpses of, not once? Would he succumb to temptation to solve problems the easy way, the coward way, the evil way? The two-episode finale showed more glimpses of Michael Scofield’s dark side than in all previous seasons: he was a hair’s breadth away from crushing T-Bag’s skull, he was close to shooting two people that he would have done without the intervention of two people he loved, Sara and Sucre. The writers realized what was at stake here, as they had taken good care of Michael so far. They knew that if Michael kills someone, all hope is lost. Because despite Teddy’s dark pilgrimage, Self’s pathetic end,
despite the fact that Michael’s mother dies, and his father, and the brothers lose many loved ones, and many others die along the way during the frantic quest for freedom, Michael Scofield had always represented hope, from the very first episode. He stepped up as the smart, resolute young man who would find a way to save his brother, literally snatch him from death’s claws. He had no doubts, and we had no doubts he would succeed. We believed his heroic endeavours and we watched with anxiety as he continued his struggle even in his darkest moments. When everything else seemed to crumble, we thought No worries, Michael always has a plan. When all seemed to be lost, we knew it was a matter of time and Michael would come up with something miraculous. Were the events plausible? Not always. Were the characters believable? Most of the time. Yes, we were aware that some of the things we saw were part of a modernised fairy-tale, but fairy-tales are one of the most ancient form of our primordial knowledge, manifestations of the collective unconscious of mankind, embodiments of the spirit of good and evil. It is humankind’s ancient, and eternal wish to see good succeed over evil; it is how things started, and it is how things will always be, despite appearances. It’s not how good succeeds, and what shapes it takes in its quest: we recognize it in no matter whar shape and form. We crave fairy-tales, because we long to witness how good defeats evil; this is why we read adventure books, watch action movies, this is why the fantasy-genre is becoming increasingly popular. We cannot mock the fantasy world, we cannot mock Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, we cannot mock Twilight. On different levels and targeting different audiences, each of them (and most in their respective genres) try to (perhaps clumsily) depict the mythical battle of good and evil. If we put content into context, form will be irrelevant, as irrelevant that Michael Scofield breaks out of two prisons, escapes an endless number of perilous situations, escapes death many times, making Prison break look like a ginormous fairy-tale. I have heard people discard the series with a gesture of a hand, claiming that they had no time for this ridiculously implausible TV show. I am not defending form here, I am aware it wasn’t perfect; but for me, as for, I believe, many others who watched the show, what mattered most was that truth always triumphs, that good always prevails, and that heroes, true heroes, will always remain untouchable.

Many question the last minutes of the finale. They say Michael’s death was rushed, added as a frantic endeavour to add meaning to the whole show. To be honest, from the moment his nosebleeds started to happen, we had the feeling this was going to be the best, and only ending. This way, his sacrifice, the one he made at the start, is finished, it comes full circle, his life would have meant something to so many people, and the value of what he gave up is strikingly seen by Alex, Linc, Sucre, C-Note, Sara and her son, Michael junior. A happy ending is not always necessary, and is not always plausible; moreover, it is death that transforms comedy into tragedy, and sometimes, it is tragedy that will leave a deeper mark in our hearts. The writers of Prison break knew this when they sacrificed their hero on the altar of meaning: it was the better way to leave viewers with a lasting effect, and it was the better way to turn Michael Scofield, from a lovable hero, into a myth to be revered, an example to be followed, one of the many fictional characters who personify that side we all struggle to search in ourselves: the good side.

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