Friday, July 10, 2015

Villain Spotlight: Zuko and Jaime Lannister

Hello and welcome to the last villain spotlight! We’ve looked at a wide range of villains over these past few months and today we’re going to look at two of the most complex baddies out there. Ones who went from villain to hero. Or sort of hero in the case of the second.

First, a look at Zuko, the exiled prince of the fire nation in Avatar the Last Airbender. Zuko starts out with a bad haircut and an equally bad attitude. 

Yes... you do.
For the first season, he’s the main antagonist for our group of heroes, trying to capture Aang to regain his honor. By the second season, he becomes more of an antihero as his sister Azula, who we’ve already talked about on this series, takes on the role of main antagonist. From then on out Zuko struggles between his light and dark side, his desire to break free of his family and his desire to be loved by them. He has a few major slip ups along the way, even throwing away a few chances at redemption before he finally becomes a full on good guy. But eventually, he gets there, and the whole world cheers.

Awkward Zuko is adorable
Zuko’s character arc is masterful. From the very beginning we feel sympathy for him because, even though he is clearly an antagonist, he’s also just a kid trying to please his father and regain his honor. He’s a teenager trying to be bad when he actually has a soft heart. From season one, Zuko has the support of the audience, rooting for him to make the right decision and shouting at the screen when he slips up. But we never give up on him

The transformation is all very slow going, which is the brilliant thing about this show. Zuko’s shift to a good guy feels organic and he faces many obstacles along the way. Its not easy to change from antagonist to protagonist, so its essential to take baby steps.

Also his hair got better. Which is important.

With Zuko, the audience feels sympathy for him early on and there are well placed hints that he will make the transition. As such, its hard to ever hate him. Jaime Lannister on the other hand…

Okay, yeah, he's pretty, but when you push a kid out a window in the first episode, you garner the hate of every raging audience member. Who does that? Also incest is gross. Jaime Lannister is not a character you start off liking. Though there are hints of a complex character beneath the surface, through season one and season two, he’s pretty terrible. I was totally fine with hating him for the duration of the show.

But then… suddenly… season three happens. 

You said it.
Before I knew it, I went from hating to adoring Jaime’s character. Mostly because of his interaction with my girl Brienne. By the Bear episode (you know the one I’m talking about), I committed Jaime to my dangerous list of favorite characters.

How did this work so well? I think it helps that Game of Thrones is a morally grey world. Most of the characters have done bad things at one time. Plenty of villains are not as they seem. And some villains are so bad that everyone else seems fine in comparison. Jaime Lannister is a human being. He’s done bad things but he’s also done VERY good things that he gets no recognition for because of vows. He also, unlike most of the players in Game of Thrones, has no interest in the throne itself. Even Tyrion has ambitions for power but Jaime recognizes that its not his scene. There’s something pretty respectable about that.

Going back to watch the first two seasons of Game of Thrones, its easy to see the signs of Jaime’s arc. It happened so smoothly you didn’t even realize it was happening until it was too late. And now you have an OTP in Game of Thrones which is super dangerous because everything you love dies but they’re still alive but separated and you want them together again and I SWEAR, DAVE AND DAN, IF YOU KILL THEM BEFORE THEY MEET AGAIN I WILL END YOU!

Sorry. Got of track. What were we talking about?

Right. Well-constructed arcs. The transition is everything with these characters. If there’s a poor transition, the character won’t be as convincing or endearing. Make it gradual. Take your time.
That’s it for the last villain spotlight. Next week we’ll be starting a new series on types of heroes. Because those are pretty important too.

Also, in other news, the cover reveal of HOUR OF MISCHIEF is marked for July 20th. Mark your calendars because that’s also when the book goes up for preorder! *squeals and flails*

Until next time, have a great weekend!

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