These days, writers for TV shows don’t come up with “original” characters anymore. That was in the early days of episodic storytelling. Today, every character is a stereotype to a degree because everything has already been done one way or another. Writers come up with “good”, “bad” or “medicore” characters now. That said, this article is about the quality that makes Pope a “good” character – maybe even with the potential to become “great” over time.
We live in the age of shades of grey, where heroes may have flaws and villains may have valid points. Yet it is still rare to find characters who truly sit on the fence and possess the quality of being unpredictable. Rick Grimes, of Walking Dead fame, makes certainly a lot of weird choices, but in the end, you can expect him to do what’s best for the group. Dr. Rush, of Stargate Universe fame, shrouds his motives in mystery, but in the end, you can expect him to do what’s best for his own, mysterious goal, even at the expanse of the group. Not Pope. He is neither altruistic nor selfish – he’s somewhere inbetween; does the “right thing for the wrong reasons” one day and the “right kind of wrong” the next day.
Pope carries large parts of the burden to provide the one thing that makes a group interesting enough to gain a following of watchers: conflict. Yes, there is Ben and the question where he stands between humans and skitters, but that is a whole different thing. Ben provides plot conflict, Pope provides character conflict. Ben’s fate is directly tied to the Big Bad: the aliens. Pope brings the conflict between characters, challenges them to take a stand in a different matter – how far are they personally willing to go, what risks are they willing to take, what price are they willing to pay for their freedom? He’s the radical who directs the view of others to their own moral event horizon, as humans in a pretty bad place, faced with pretty tough choices. He is the mirror telling the queen that Snow White is prettier, metaphorically speaking, and demands an answer how she is going to deal with it.
Combined with his status as a wildcard, that makes Pope essential to the success of Falling Skies. Without him, the core of storytelling – conflict – is limited and focussed on the enemy. But to make characters memorable – and likable – they also need to make personal choices and show the viewer “this is who I am and what I stand for; this is how far I would go – and no step further”. And that’s exactly what Pope brings out of others.
Last but not least, someone on imdb.com claimed there’s no reason Pope needs to return soon because “he has no relationship potential”. This may be a really stupid reason, especially if many people are already unhappy about the ridicilous amount of screen time dedicated to (romantic) relationships in the last episodes, but still, let me deal with that. Because, y’know, I strongly disagree. Pope has a damn lot “relationship potential”. With me, the viewer. He’s the frienemy that makes my life exciting. The annoying little brother who can’t keep his mouth shut when he should, but is still my little brother at the end of the day, and I still love him despite his shortcomings because blood is thicker than water, if nothing else. The best friend who gets us in trouble – and out of it – on a daily basis and then says something so funny that I just can’t be mad at him. Falling Skies doesn’t need any more romance. But there’s nothing wrong with a little bromance and fire forged friendship, and for that, Pope sure has a lot potential.
Originally written for fallingskiesblog