Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Favorite TV Characters of 2010, Part 4

10. John Locke (Terry O’Quinn), Lost - ABC

John Locke is another character that was dead for the entire season this year, but reliving his journey as a wheelchair-bound man lusting for life had greater impact after we had gotten to know him for four (or five?) seasons. When he landed at LAX after skipping his conference, only to be refused a walkabout because of his condition, then to have his luggage lost, and ultimately fired for missing the conference was heartbreaking. Then he gets to come home to the wonderful Katey Sagal, who loves him no matter what and rekindles hope within him, enough to follow the possibility that Jack might be able to make him whole again, only to be ready to pass on to the other side. Wonderful acting by Terry O'Quinn in a most unique role.

9. Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford), Friday Night Lights - NBC

This year Matt decided to follow his artistic dreams, which meant quite literally abandoning his longtime girlfriend and finding himself in Chicago. By the time he realized it wasn't all it was cracked up to be without her and went back to Texas to invite her along, she had moved on. While he was home, he got the news that his father was killed overseas, bringing up all the issues he had over his own abandonment, coupled with the pressure of seeing his father as a hero, contrary to his own personal experience.

8. Clarice Willow (Polly Walker), Caprica - SciFi

Clarice was the leader of a secret monotheistic sect, the Soldiers of the One, existing on Caprica. Constantly doing battle with the militaristic arm of the sect over the hearts and minds of the youth, her aim was to convert them with the power of words. But her focus changed once she was introduced to Zoe Graystone, from whom she learned about virtual reality and the possibility of transferring consciousness beyond life expectancy, without end. She called this The Apotheosis and saw it as a way of guaranteeing life after death with monotheism, giving people the ability to not only see Heaven, but to pick their own form when they're gone, essentially eliminating faith and replacing it with a timeshare sales pitch. A fascinating exploration of just how far religion can be sold as a commodity.

7. Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond James), Terriers - FX

Britt was the younger and lighter of the pair of unlicensed detectives at the center of Terriers. Even still, he was the burglar trying to make good, not only by allowing himself to be taken under the wing of an ex-cop in order to do right, but also by committing himself to his veterinarian-student girlfriend Katie. The trouble with trying to do good is that life is inherently contrary, and will throw bad at you no matter what you do. So even as his investigations lead him to break the law again, have his life threatened and get thrown in jail, he maintains his optimism. His rooftop proposal to Katie was the most romantic moment of the year, especially considering that we knew what Katie had done. The heartbreak was felt even deeper because we had been complicit in keeping Katie's secret, and when she told Britt, it was too much for him, and he pushed everything away. Even though the series ended with a question, we get the feeling that Britt maintains his optimism and will make the right choice for everyone.

6. Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), Justified - FX

Raylan is the Elmore Leonard-based character at the center of Justified. A US Marshall with a clear moral code and enough violence inside him to back it up, he's gotten in more than a little trouble with those higher up. As punishment, he was assigned to Kentucky, from whence he came. The theme of the show is less "You can't go home again" than "Who would want to?" Raylan left behind an ex-wife and a life intimately connected with crime, including a father who always had a crooked angle and friends who now blow up churches with rocket launchers, primarily as distraction for bank jobs. His wife has a new man and his new woman shot her old man. Raylan gets intimately involved in stopping the drug trade as he puts his old friend in jail, a local sheriff turns out to be corrupt, and the drug dealer he shot in Miami has friends with long arms. The long, patient road to the violent finale made us wonder where he would draw the line to protect the two women he had brought into this world.

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