When I first discussed the idea of the series with Michael Sullivan, President of UPN, he posed a couple of provocative questions. "Is Tom the 'perfect' hero, being 'humbled' by 'Them?'" or "Is Tom the imperfect human being who needs these life lessons to 'grow?'"
Not the talk of conspiracies and breaking glass, but a conversation about just who Tom is and why he might be being put through this experience. There's no doubt in my mind that Tom possesses heroic qualities. Despite evidence to the contrary and a battering, the likes of which most of us have never experienced, Tom persists in holding on to what he believes. He clings tenaciously to his identity and to the belief that he will and can, someday, prevail. He has been given the opportunity to "fold" or to "cash in his cards" and go home, but he has refused the deal. Even Gus pointed out to him that "You [can] go home an empty man, but you do go home."
Tom's courage and his fortitude are part and parcel of the reason that I admire him so much. But it raises a question. Is there a downside to this kind of drive and committment? Can this type of "perserverence" be indicative of a character flaw?
On first look, it might appear that "The Enemy Within" is a sweet, pastoral withdrawal from the usual "Nowhere Mania." It's true that "Them" makes an appearance in their most benign form here (a corporate farming conglomerate) but they have no interest in Tom this week, nor do they even seem to know where he is.
That said, Tom is given an opportunity to "give up the fight" and "rejoin the human race." (I suppose one could argue that "they're out there and would find him eventually" but -- .) Given the world that's been created for Tom in this episode it becomes interesting to speculate on just how Tom will handle the situation. I doubt many of us will wonder for long.
Ironically, Gus ("You Really Got A Hold On Me") warned Tom that eventually, "all you end up living for is the game." Is this already true for Tom? When Tom complains to Emily that his whole life has been lost, she responds, "people lose things - they recover - they go on - yesterday is where it belongs."
But can Tom "give up the game?" He has ample reason to believe that Alyson and the life he left behind are gone. And now, he's got the very real possibility of a new one staring him in the face.
I'm not sure that we've answered the question (I'm not sure that I know the answer) but it seemed like one worth asking. Is Tom's incredible determination, in part, a flaw in his character? Should he consider "giving up the game?" Should he consider a new life? Can he?
And, finally, is this component of Tom's personality somehow partly responsible for why Tom is in this predicament in the first place?
While "The Enemy Within" appears to be a soft, gentle "departure" show, I hope that we successfully posed these issues. I believe that we did and I also believe that it poses questions worth thinking about.
Hoping that I survive "Them" for another week ---
vidiot at vidiot dot com