Some of you may remember a show on SciFi Channel a few years ago called Lexx. I absolutely loved that show and had a real soft spot for the character of Kai played by Michael McManus. Talk about broken, the poor guy was dead, and had spent 2000 years as a mindless slave of the Divine Order. He was a weapon of Destruction a Divine Assassin who killed on the orders of His Divine Shadow until Kai regained his memory. Once he got his memory back he regained his free will and instead became a ‘hero’.
Regaining his memory and free will did not make things right for him, he was still dead, he was still a Divine Assassin and he was an emotional cripple. He never hesitated to say “The dead do not feel.” It had to be tough because he could recognize emotions in others and probably on some level had emotional responses himself but was just unable to deal with the emotions within himself.
Needlessly to say he was wildly popular with female fans, Michael is very easy on the eyes (even while wearing a beehive that would make the girls from the B-52s envious). But what I found appealing was always that ‘broken’ part of Kai. The way Michael played the role just made you want to fix it. He was a hero without ever trying to be the hero.
And now there’s another tragic ‘hero’ gracing my television screen each week, Daryl Dixon. Daryl is quite alive (and hopefully he will stay that way for a long time). But he is just as emotionally stunted as Kai but for different reasons.
Daryl could be a very easy character to hate. A bad tempered redneck riding around on a Nazi motorcyle? What’s not to hate about someone like that? But you don’t hate him. That’s a testament to the way the role is handled by Norman Reedus. Even though you intellectually think you should hate Daryl, there’s this human quality that shows through even when Daryl is at his worst.
Both Kai and Daryl are in some way ‘broken’ but they don’t dwell on it. They are both in their own way ‘heroes’ but more of the quiet type of hero. They aren’t Superman out saving the world in the bright red cape, they are more like Batman hiding behind the mask.
So what is it about these characters that resonate with me? I don’t know maybe they spark my maternal instinct, I can be very ‘mothering’ at times. Maybe it’s just a ‘typical’ female instinct to nurture. But whatever it is, these are two characters that have to power to get fans (female especially) to emotionally invest in them.