Part Four: A Good Person
I’m sure I’m like most people in that I just want to be a good person. This is something universal amongst everyone no matter what the religions are; being good. But how to we be ‘good’? What constitutes a good act when there are so many shades of grey in the world? As usual, I turn to TV for guidance and found two examples of men doing good even when they didn’t want to.
One of my favourite scenes in all of Firefly is at the end of the episode The Train Job. Mal and the gang are hired to steal something from a train and they are away scot free when they learn that the items they are stealing is not gold or jewels but much needed medicine. They decide to give it to the original recipients and this exchange takes place:
You were truthful back in town. These are tough times. If a man can get a job, he might not look too close at what that job is. But a man learns all the details of a situation like ours, well, then he has a choice.
(looking angry and upset)
I don't believe he does.
Mal is angry and upset at the end because he doesn't think that a man has a choice in this situation: of course the medicine has to go to those who need it. This is one of my favourite scenes because Mal knows that he couldn't have taken the medicine from the needy because he is a good man and he hates himself for it. He hates that he is a good man who does these things for other people.
This is similar to the scene at the end of End of Time, Tennant’s last episode of Doctor Who. Deadly radiation (as opposed to the non-deadly kind… who am I?) is being contained by a dead mans switch: one person has to be in a secure room at all times. Things have gone to the south and when letting the original monitor out, Wilf has gotten himself stuck in the booth. Radiation is about to leak in and he needs someone to get in the other room and let him out.
OK, right, then, I will. Because you just had to go in there, didn't you? You had to go and get stuck, oh yes! Because that's who you are, Wilfred! You were always this. Waiting for me all this time!
Oh, really, just leave me. I'm an old man, Doctor, I've had my time.
Well, exactly, look at you? Not remotely important. But me... I could do so much more! So much more! But this is what I get, my reward. And it's not fair! Oh... lived too long.
I know a lot of people were really annoyed but this scene, how far the Doctor has fallen that he is yelling at the person who needs help, but I liked it because it showed more about the Doctor than we’ve ever seen before. Like Mal in the Firefly episode, the Doctor knows that he has to save Wilf because he wouldn’t be a good man if he didn’t, but right now he hates that he is a good person.
In both of these scenarios, these good men have come to a point in their lives when they know what’s right and what’s wrong and it pains them when the right thing hurts them. But these good men will do whatever the right thing is, to the detriment of themselves.
And yes, sometimes good men get pissed off. Sometimes they get annoyed that they have to get themselves or their friends into dangerous situations because the outcome will be good overall but, not for them. For Mal and the crew on Serenity it meant loosing a lot of money, for the Doctor it meant a lot of pain and essentially death.
So what do you think constitutes a good person? What did you think about these scenes? Let me know what you think in the comments.
Themes: Doctor Who, Firefly, The Doctor's Wife, Mal, good person, hero, Wilf, End of Time, Train Job