Some people don’t like Thomas Rymour, the protagonist of the Fair Folk series.
“a weak and selfish man” [Spoiler alerts for this particular review!]
Yeah, some people really don’t like Thomas Rymour. And it’s all Captain Scarlet’s fault.
For those of you who don’t know, Captain Scarlet was a British TV series created by Gerry Anderson (of Thunderbirds fame). I won’t go into the details, but the title character was immortal. Each week, Captain Scarlet would find himself in peril, and I was bored because, each week, he would die, only to come back to life moments later.
There was no dramatic tension. No sense of potential failure. Scarlet was always going to win, because he couldn’t lose.
The same principle applies to a person’s character. If someone is presented with a difficult choice, and we know they’ll unfailingly do the right thing, it’s boring. They can’t lose, because they always win.
But people aren’t like that. We try to do what we think is right, but sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we’re selfish, or cowardly, or cruel. And sometimes we rationalise our behaviour, sometimes we despise it, sometimes it drives us to do better next time. But there’s always the risk we’ll fail the test again. That, presented with the choice, we’ll choose cruelty over kindness, fear over bravery, or selfishness over selflessness.
That’s why Thomas Rymour isn’t perfect. He tries to do the right thing. But he’s also weak and selfish and, yes, an asshole. When he’s presented with a difficult choice, you won’t always know what he’ll do next. Will he serve his own ends? Or will he rise above his selfish desires and act like a hero? Because, without those questions, his character would be as boring as waiting for Captain Scarlet to snuff it once again.
So if you’re looking for a hero who is stalwart and true, who sees the world in black and white and is unerringly selfless, Tom isn’t going to be your favourite. But if you like a guy who makes a mess of things and isn’t always right, you might like Thomas Rymour. I do.