Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rory Williams, Stay Out Of My Territory


See? Even the .png name is "not OK". I'm meta like that.

Now, as you can probably tell from the above screencap of my pictures folder, I'm actually a pretty big fan of the show Doctor Who. (Top row? Third picture in from the left? That's a parody of the title screen of one of my other favorite shows, Mad Men, with the silhouetted figure wearing a fez and holding a sonic screwdriver instead of a cigarette. Bottom right corner? That's a still from an episode called The Stolen Earth in which the Earth gets--well, in which the Earth gets stolen. The show's not big on subtlety.)

So why, then, is the fact that Rory Williams, "Doctor Who", is currently leading Walter White, "Breaking Bad", in round two of RedEye's 2011 Best TV Character Tournament not okay?

Because I am capable of objective, evaluative judgment, that's why.

Does this look like a Greatest TV Character to you? Didn't think so.

There is simply no way that Rory Williams is a better character than Walter White. By no conceivable definition of that word could it be used to accurately describe the former in relation to the latter. The Doctor himself, maybe, but Rory? He's just the companion! Even worse, he's the companion to the companion! A pet! A mascot! A cheap knockoff of The Office's Jim Halpert who exists only to provide the actual companion with a reliably submissive romantic foil, someone loyal, deferential, affectionate, and comically emasculated enough to provide girls 15-24 in the audience with a sufficient number of "squee!" moments to keep them going when the sci-fi stuff becomes overly esoteric or starts to drag.

Plus he dies, like, all the time. Seriously. It's ridiculous. They even joke about it on the show.

If by better you mean morally superior, then okay, sure, maybe. More likable? Absolutely. But that's exactly my point. Rory Williams is nothing but likable. And "nothing but likable" is just another way of saying boring.

Walter White, on the other hand, is complex! And not just complex, one of the most juicily complex characters in the history of television! Maybe the most juicily complex! Sure, that means he's not always likable, but that also means he keeps you guessing! Sometimes he impresses you, sometimes he endears you, sometimes he disappoints you, and sometimes he even horrifies you, but you never stop rooting for him. That's the genius of the show, and of Bryan Cranston's performance in particular. No matter how many atrocities he commits or how much cowardice he displays--no matter how contemptible or paranoid or petty or sniveling or narcissistic he seems at his lowest--you never stop cheering at his highest. You never stop wanting to see him succeed. Even when you yourself aren't sure whether that means seeing him crush his enemies beneath him and ascend to the top of the drug trade or renounce his life of crime and achieve redemption. Whatever he wants, you want. However he feels, you feel. And if that sometimes means you feel like a prideful, vengeful, resentful opportunist with an inferiority complex who wants to kick in the teeth of every smug asshole you imagine ever slighted you, condescended to you or challenged your masculinity, so be it. That's the magic of television!

And just look at that hat! And those badass sunglasses!

So I call upon you, proud denizens of the internet, to combat this injustice. Redress the balance. Go to, cast your vote for Walter White, and ensure that this masterpiece of television writing and acting doesn't go down in the second round to a neutered, one-note, plagiaristic cliche of female wish-fulfillment like Rory Williams.

Or he might just come to your house and murder you while you sleep.

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