Disappointed Dads (Played by Patrick Malahide)

We’ve seen Mr. Malahide play Clergymen, Forties, and Obsessed gentlemen, and Cads (both Classic and Modern), but how about… Disappointed Dads?  Fearless Admin and I thought about it, and we realized that it seems to be a common theme running through some of his characters, so here, without further ado, are some of Mr. Malahide’s best (or most disappointed) father figures.

Balon Greyjoy  |  Rev. Patrick Brontë  |  Lord Glendenning  |  Dr. Forbes  |  Jack Turner  |   Sir John Conroy  |  The Most Disappointed Dad of All

Balon Greyjoy
(Game of Thrones, 2012 – 2013)

Who is He the Father of, and Why is He Disappointed?

"Why am I saddled with this screw-up??"  Disappointed Dads Played by Patrick Malahide

“Why am I saddled with this screw-up??”

RF:  He’s the Lord Reaper of Pyke, King of the Iron Islands, head of House Greyjoy, and ringleader of a failed rebellion against King Robert Baratheon of Westeros.  His two older sons (presumably not screw-ups) perished in that rebellion, so now he’s left with his daughter Yara and youngest son Theon, the latter of whom he had to give up as hostage to Nedd Stark for the previous nine years or so.  When he finally meets Theon again, it would be an understatement to say he’s drastically disappointed with what he gets.  Apparently exposure to the Starks has softened Theon past any usefulness or redeemability.  He’s very pleased with Yara, though, who’s a chip off the old… rock.

Admin:  Theon wore a cape clasp.  That was a terrible idea because Ironborn men should only wear jewelry that they’ve removed from corpses they’ve made.  They aren’t supposed to actually pay for the stuff!  Then he hands over a letter from his buddy Robb Stark asking Balon to pledge fealty to the “wolf pup”.  That was actually pretty great because Patrick Malahide did that super-cute beak motion with his fingers when he mocked Theon as Robb’s “trained raven”.   All-in-all, it made for a terrible homecoming but an awesome scene.

How Does He Show His Disappointment?  Or Does He?

The infamous Greyjoy Slap

The infamous Greyjoy Slap
(Source: snarksquad.com/2013/03/game-of-thrones-s02-e03)

RF:  Oh yes, he does.  First, by giving Yara an affectionate hug while the both of them smirk condescendingly at Theon, telling Theon Yara is his designated heir, then by smacking Theon across the room when he makes Balon uncomfortably aware that he gave up Theon to the Starks with nary a protest.  Perhaps it’s best not to question your dad when he’s a ruthless, self-made pirate lord.

Admin:  That was an epic smack!!  Theon bodily represents everything that went wrong with Balon’s life after the failed rebellion.

Does He, or Would He, Take Drastic Measures to Fix the Situation?

RF:  Not really.  Balon planned to send Theon out with one boat to see if he could handle capturing a fishing village or two, while giving Yara command of his fleet for the next phase of his rebellion.  If Theon had been able to handle a fishing village, Balon might have upped that to one boat and a dinghy.

Admin:  He took his drastic measure years ago when Theon was sent off to be with the Starks.   I think he’s all done in that regard.

What Would His Typical Diary Entry Say?

RF:  “Made further plans for my next rebellion.  Sent Yara out for baby squid food.  Then spent some quality time in my Sulking Chair.  Oh, and still no word from Theon.  Meh.”

Admin:  “Woke up and ordered Yara, my daughter, out to capture a few merchant ships to replenish the cellars.  I told the other one to patch up the rickety part of the bridge.  Let’s hope he doesn’t screw that up.”

Does/Do His Offspring Ever Live Up to His Expectations?

Yara is Daddy's favourite.

Yara is Daddy’s favourite.

RF:  Yara?  Yes, and she exceeds them by reminding her father of his obligations to Theon when he’s ready to write him off.  Theon?  No.  He’s ignominiously captured when he bites off more than he can chew by trying to take Winterfell.  Then some even nastier stuff happens, including mutilation, which means Theon physically can’t be Balon’s heir any more.  We haven’t seen Balon’s reaction since, but he likely considers Theon a lost cause by now.

Admin:  In a way, he did acknowledge some disappointment with Yara when he said his daughter had taken “an axe for a lover”.  I really, really hope we get to see his reaction to her failed rescue mission.  She and all her amazing super fighters went to get her little brother back, but by the time they got there he’d turned into Reek and she and her men where then chased off by Ramsay and his dogs.  I want to know if Balon ever finds out about this; and I want to see his reaction if he does.

RF:  That’s right, it’s highly disappointing for a bunch of tough-as-nails Ironborn to be run off by a couple of Bolton henchmen and some dogs.  I would really hope that Yara and her men were far more accomplished fighters than that.  Agreed that Balon would no doubt have a thing or two to say about it!

What’s His Ideal Father’s Day?

A nice, quiet evening in the Sulking Chair

A nice, quiet evening in the Sulking Chair

RF:  A nice, quiet evening in his Sulking Chair in front of a roaring fire, with no surprise presents from the Boltons, or anyone bugging him about when he’s going to get that new rebellion started.

Admin:  I reckon he’d love it if his son could have presented him with a few fishing villages.  I hear their nets are something to watch out for. 😉


The Reverend Patrick Brontë
(In Search of the Brontës, 2003)

Who is He the Father of, and Why is He Disappointed?

Awaiting Branwell's disgraceful return

Awaiting Branwell’s disgraceful return

RF:  He’s the father of literary greats Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë… and Branwell, their brother.  Branwell’s a failed painter and author who only just barely makes a living as a railway clerk, until he blows that job, too, when he’s accused of losing (or possibly stealing) £11.  Then he becomes a tutor to the Robinson family and all goes more or less well… until he has an affair with the lady of the house, and is discovered by the master.  Oops.  He returns home in disgrace and turns to alcohol for consolation.

Admin:  He also finds Charlotte’s taste in men less than stellar.  That is a bit unfortunate as Arthur Bell Nicholls was alright.

RF:  Well, Charlotte didn’t have much selection, what with being stuck in Haworth and all, but you’re right that Arthur Bell Nicholls did turn out to be a good husband.

How Does He Show His Disappointment?  Or Does He?

Lecturing Charlotte about the danger of fantasies

Lecturing Charlotte about the danger of fantasies

RF:  The Rev. Brontë is actually remarkably supportive and patient with Branwell in his disgrace, welcoming him back into the family home with a warm hug.  Despite all of this support, Branwell still goes into a decline, developing a problem with drink and never quite getting his life back on track.  And while Rev. Brontë took extreme care to give his children a thorough, progressive education in literature, current events, and the classics, he’s decidedly not in favour of Charlotte and her sisters creating “imaginary world[s] which [they] can never inhabit”.  He would far rather see their “womanly virtues” taking precedence.

Admin:  He is certainly more progressive than traditional.  And he is extremely supportive of them finding their happiness.  When the girls find their careers as governesses very unrewarding, he is rather understanding.

Does He, or Would He, Take Drastic Measures to Fix the Situation?

RF:  Rev. Brontë mostly tries to support Branwell by continuing to offer him a home and a roof over his head.  Presumably, he also prods him to get a job, but to no avail.  He also decides that it’s not such a bad thing for his daughters to be successful authors (especially Charlotte) when their pseudonymous novels are well received by the public.

Admin:  Considering he is father to several literary greats, he must have been doing something right.  As for Branwell, he did all he could and loved him until the end.

What Would His Typical Diary Entry Say?

A typical start to the morning

A typical start to the morning

RF:  “Fired my pistol out the window into the graveyard in the morning.  Queried the children on their readings of Sir Walter Scott and Byron.  Placed the usual ad in the lonely hearts column; still no takers.  Caught Arthur Bell Nicholls staring at Charlotte again… Memo to self:  Ask Bell Nicholls if he enjoys target practice.”

Admin:  “Stood on another toy soldier today.  I wish those kids would pick up after themselves.  Branwell showed me his latest drawing.  I look forward to the day he becomes a renowned artist.”

Does/Do His Offspring Ever Live Up to His Expectations?

Reminiscing about the old days

Reminiscing about the old days

RF:  Branwell? No, but Rev. Brontë doesn’t seem to condemn him for it.  And as mentioned, he becomes quite proud of his daughters as authors.  After Charlotte’s death, he and her widower, Arthur Bell Nicholls, work to keep her legacy alive.  He even gets into a bit of a tussle with author and biographer Elizabeth Gaskell over the accuracy of her The Life of Charlotte Brontë, which Mrs. Gaskell seems to have thought could use some spicing up.

Admin:  Poor Rev. Bronte.  It was very depressing to learn that Mrs. Gaskell took such liberties with the truth.  I’m glad that there has finally been some reexamination of the truth about his nature as a father and a man.

What’s His Ideal Father’s Day?

RF:  No one dying of consumption.  Branwell gainfully employed, his daughters all at home and Arthur Bell Nicholls nowhere to be seen, while his children take turns reading news stories to him and each other.

Admin:  And with Mrs. Gaskell far, far away.  If she wants to bum anyone out, let her do it with Cranford.


Lord Glendenning
(The Paradise, 2012)

Who is He the Father of, and Why is He Disappointed?

He's cursed with a headstrong daughter.

He’s cursed with a headstrong daughter.

RF:  Lord Glendenning (hereafter called “Lord G.”)  is a wealthy banker and member of the gentry whose only daughter, Katherine, he’d really like to marry off to someone suitable.  Unfortunately for Lord G., Katherine’s taste in men sucks.  She tends to go for breathy-voiced, bearded, short shopkeepers (*cough*Moray*cough*) who have no interest in her besides her financial assets, while ignoring the nice guy millionaire, Peter Adler (no seriously, he’s really nice!), who would doubtless be a much better match.

Admin:  Anyone who would pick Moray over Adler is bound to be a disappointment.  Mark Bonnar (who played Adler) is a really good-looking guy, IMO, so I was totally dumbfounded when she threw him over.  Not to mention majorly disappointed, since Lord G. and Adler would have made a fantastic father/son in-law pairing.  Just imagine the scenes they could have had together.

RF:  Between the two of them, they could’ve built a formidable financial empire.  😉

How Does He Show His Disappointment?  Or Does He?

Acknowledging his parenting failures

Acknowledging his parenting failures

RF:  Aside from a mild rebuke or two to Katherine about her manipulation of him (which he’s well aware of), Lord G. doesn’t express any disappointment to Katherine at first.  But after she rejects Peter Adler’s marriage proposal,  Lord G. forces her to do her own dirty work by turning down Adler herself, in person, indicating that even his patience isn’t infinite.  He also later expresses his disappointment to Moray, then Katherine’s fiancé, acknowledging that he indulged Katherine too much as a child and allowed her to become willful and headstrong, resulting in the stubborn, obsessive, and somewhat destructive woman she is as an adult.

Admin:  The scene where he talks to Moray about indulging Katherine is a really sad one.  I felt a lot of pity for him, especially as it was obvious things were only going to get worse.

Does He, or Would He, Take Drastic Measures to Fix the Situation?

RF:  In fact, he does!  First by actively encouraging Katherine to consider Peter Adler as a suitor – even begging her not to see Moray any more, at one point – then when that doesn’t work, by arranging to buy up the fee simple so that he retains a controlling interest (a very controlling interest) in Moray’s business ventures.  If Lord G. can’t convince Katherine to change, he’ll simply control the environment around her.

Admin:  The only problem is that he can’t control Moray.  I suppose in the end he did come up with the most drastic measure possible by taking Katherine to continental Europe.  🙁

What Would His Typical Diary Entry Say?

"How many times do I have to say I want my bread toasted?"<br>Proper toast preparation is <i>extremely</i> important.

“How many times do I have to say I want my bread toasted?”
Proper toast preparation is extremely important.

RF:  “Went riding.  Acquired a couple more estates and deeds at a bargain rate.  Advised Moray again not to cross me, then finished business proceedings for the fee simple.  Went over Katherine’s bills for recent purchases – do we really need six new butter dishes?  Then enjoyed some tea and properly prepared toast.”

Admin:  “I’ve just awoken from the most frightful nightmare and must write it down.  I dreamt that Katherine married some abusive, adulterous cur of an ex-officer who looks exactly like that stupid Duke character in Moulin Rouge.

Does/Do His Offspring Ever Live Up to His Expectations?

RF:  Since he expects Katherine to be willful, stubborn, and make the worst possible decisions regarding her romantic life, perhaps she does.  But he likely wasn’t expecting Moray to jilt her at the altar on their wedding day.

Admin:  Again, it all boils down to his inability to control Moray.  I would have loved to have seen him in action in series 2 sorting Moray and The Paradise out and getting Katherine back on her feet.   Though, I suppose bonding with Flora  showed that Katherine was capable of living up to expectations.

RF:  Lord G’s presence could’ve only improved series 2!  Now, that series sucked.  😛

Admin:  I couldn’t even bring myself to watch the Lord G-less series.  🙁

What’s His Ideal Father’s Day?

Starting the day with the paper

Starting the day with the paper

RF:  Starting the day with properly prepared toast (see above), then reading a news item that Moray is destitute in Paris with no means of ever coming back to England, followed by Katherine saying that she’s changed her mind about Peter Adler, who actually does seem to be the best man for her.

Admin:   He spends the day pheasant hunting and instead of shooting a beater he takes out Moray.


Dr. Forbes
(“Like Minds“, 2006)

Who is He the Father of, and Why is He Disappointed?

He already looks displeased.

He already looks displeased.

RF:  Dr. Forbes is the father of Alex Forbes, who also happens to be a student at the school he’s the headmaster of.  He’s disappointed in Alex because he’s disruptive, doesn’t apply himself, likes to have philosophical arguments with his teachers, moans about being forced to have a roommate (whose father Dr. Forbes is trying to butter up, because they’re in the same secret society), and later, because Alex is charged with murdering his roommate.  So, your typical teenage stuff and then some.  I bet Balon wouldn’t mind the “murdering his roommate” thing.

Admin:  He’s also new to being disappointed.  Up until recently, Alex and his friend Josh were good boys who set a fine example for the others.  Poor Dr. Forbes gets a lot of flack for how he raised Alex, but it seems that during all the years before Alex really did behave himself…outwardly at least.

How Does He Show His Disappointment?  Or Does He?

Calling Alex onto the carpet

Calling Alex onto the carpet

RF:  He does, pretty blatantly.  He calls Alex into his office to tell him to apply himself because his future’s at stake, and refuses to allow Alex to get rid of his creepy new roommate, Nigel – although Dr. Forbes does acknowledge that Nigel is incredibly creepy – even slapping Alex when he won’t stop arguing the point.  Later, he’s even more disappointed, and somewhat desperate, when Alex is arrested for murder and refuses to provide enough information to allow Dr. Forbes to help him.  We’re not shown his reaction, but we can presume he’s even more disappointed by the end of the movie (no spoilers!).

Admin: He’s in the difficult position of being his son’s Headmaster, so I expect that means he has to be extra stern so as to avoid the perception of favoritism.  That said, he did allow his son to go a long time without a roommate.

Does He, or Would He, Take Drastic Measures to Fix the Situation?

Begging McKenzie for help, which will not be forthcoming

Begging McKenzie for help, which will not be forthcoming

RF:  Despite everything, Dr. Forbes does seem to be a caring father, even if he’s not very demonstrative or emotionally available to Alex.  He approaches the lead detective on Alex’s case, Martin McKenzie, and asks him to help Alex for the sake of the secret society they both belong to, which both their fathers belonged to as well.  Unfortunately for Dr. Forbes, McKenzie is more loyal to the law than to their Templar society and refuses to help.

Admin:  He is actually a lot more open and vulnerable to McKenzie than anyone else.  During his final filmed scene with Alex he is a lot more shut off, though considering Alex’s behavior that is understandable.

What Would His Typical Diary Entry Say?

RF:  “Had breakfast.  Alex acting furtive and suspicious again; wonder what he’s up to.  Note to self:  Call him into the office later today and find out.  Also, find out why birds and small mammals seem to be disappearing around the school.”

Admin:  “Talked to John Colbie today about admitting his son Nigel.  Seems he’s been a trouble maker in the past, but with a course of regimented discipline he’ll soon reach his full potential.  He’s a studious, inquisitive laddie; he’ll be a positive influence on my boy Alex.”

Does/Do His Offspring Ever Live Up to His Expectations?

Trying to figure out what's going on with his son

Trying to figure out what’s going on with his son

RF:  Nope, not unless Dr. Forbes alters his expectations to be more in line with Balon’s.  But I don’t think Dr. Forbes could’ve foreseen a Templar legend having quite the effect it had on Alex in the first place.

Admin:  Well, Alex *had* been living up to his expectations by setting a good example and excelling academically.  He even reckoned Alex’ upbringing had been impeccable, and I’m actually inclined to agree with him.  I don’t think parents can necessarily be blamed for sociopathic behavior in their children.

What’s His Ideal Father’s Day?

RF:  A nice, quiet day at the school with no students mummifying animals, trying to electrocute each other, taking joyrides on trains, playing weird psychological games, or murdering each other.

Admin:  He meets a nice lady who actually lets him fix her car and doesn’t inquire about his creepy kid.


Jack Turner
(Hunted, 2012)

Who is He the Father of, and Why is He Disappointed?

Jack and Stevie in a rare moment of collaboration

Jack and Stevie in a rare moment of collaboration

RF:   Jack Turner, ex-dock worker and Cockney crime lord extraordinaire, is the father of John Jr. and Stevie.  John Jr., a chip off the old block, was killed by Jack’s enemies in an attempt to send him a warning, so now he’s left with Stevie, who’s a vast disappointment to him.  Stevie is just not cut out for the crimelord business.  He’s too honest, is considered “soft” by his father, has moral objections to murder and other nefarious activities, and probably has an MBA.

Admin:  Stevie also has appalling taste in women.  His wife apparently cheated on Stevie with his best friend Lewis.  Then he brings another one in who hides cameras all over the place and tries to blow Jack up.  How rude!

RF:  That’s true!  Jack wouldn’t have had any problems if Stevie hadn’t brought Sam home.  😉

How Does He Show His Disappointment?  Or Does He?

Drastic disappointment:  "You call yourself a son?  You call yourself <i>my</i> son?"

Drastic disappointment: “You call yourself a son?
You call yourself my son?”

RF:  Jack mostly shows his disappointment by keeping Stevie entirely out of his business, usually with a curt, “I’ll take care of it,” or “Don’t worry about that.”  However, he’s drastically disappointed when Stevie decides to rat him out to the police over the murder of Lewis Conroy, Stevie’s best friend who, unfortunately, Knew Too Much about Jack’s business.  There’s even a brief tussle, although Jack puts an end to it before it becomes too serious.  He can deal with Stevie having no aptitude for the family business, but he draws the line at betrayal of family loyalties.

Admin:  He also let Stevie know that he could go, but he couldn’t bring his son Eddie with him.  Jack might not have the best relationship with Stevie, but he certainly thinks the world of Eddie.

Does He, or Would He, Take Drastic Measures to Fix the Situation?

Trying to warn Stevie that Sam Hunter is a spy

Trying to warn Stevie that Sam Hunter is a spy

RF:  Oh yes, he can and does.  First, Jack has Stevie’s wife Rebecca killed to prevent her from possibly inducing Stevie, along with grandson Eddie, to leave the family nest.  He also has his majordomo/right-hand man, Bingham, spying on Stevie almost all the time.  Then, during the aforementioned tussle at the police station, Jack forcibly tries to warn Stevie that they’re both being spied upon (and Stevie is being seduced) by a paid spy, Sam Hunter.  But all of these measures are mostly in the interest of keeping his business intact and keeping Eddie around, because Jack seems to have written off Stevie a long time ago.  He and Balon would probably sympathize with each other a lot, if they didn’t try to kill each other first.

Admin:  Jack is proof that it is best *not* to take drastic measures.  If  he’d just let Stevie and Eddie have their freedom, he could have saved himself a lot of grief.

What Would His Typical Diary Entry Say?

This laptop stuff can get a bit tricky.

This laptop stuff can get a bit tricky.

RF:  He’d probably dictate it and get Bingham to type it into his laptop, because typing doesn’t seem to be one of Jack’s fortes.  But something like:  “Had a healthy breakfast this morning.  Picked out something suitable to wear, then checked on our unscheduled guest in the basement.  Had Bingham apply a little persuasion.  Dropped over to the university later for a night class in Marxism, but the professor wasn’t able to finish it.  Arranged for Everett to clean up afterwards.”

Admin:  “Eddie’s tutor really is rubbish.  I’m sure she sleeps on the floor and she thinks  if she hides in a shadow that I can’t see her.  She can’t even get him to finish that fairy tale of hers, and he’s been reading it for ten days now.”

Does/Do His Offspring Ever Live Up to His Expectations?

Having a nice little moment with grandson Eddie

Having a nice little moment with grandson Eddie

RF:  No, Stevie will always languish in Jack Jr.’s shadow.  However, I bet Jack was a wee bit surprised that Stevie had the gumption to go to the police.  He’d likely prefer that Stevie’s attempts to seize independence don’t coincide with getting him arrested, though.

Admin:  His grandson seems to make him happy.  That is kind of odd considering the boy is just like his father, but grandparents are often easy to please.   He seems like a really fun and loving granddad too.

What’s His Ideal Father’s Day?

RF:  An uninterrupted day at his local, with the only disasters being those that Jack has engineered for himself.  Maybe ice cream with Eddie later.  Or perhaps an impromptu trip to the West Indies.

Admin:  Enjoying the absolute humiliating downfall of evil multinational conglomerate Polyhedrus as he gains control of the world’s water supplies.  Then he could buy up Byzantium and lay the whole lot of them off.


And One (Dis)Honourable Mention:

Sir John Conroy
(“Victoria and Albert“, 2001)

He looks like he means well, doesn't he?

He looks like he means well, doesn’t he?

RF:  Not that anything’s ever been proven, but there were rumours at the time that Sir John Conroy, Comptroller of the Duchess of Kent’s household, was actually Queen Victoria’s father.  If so, I think we can say he was gravely disappointed in how his daughter turned out, especially since once she ascended the throne, she cut off his access to her and, after a substantial pay-off, refused to give him any more money.  Such ingratitude, after he took such care to read all her correspondence, try to influence her choice of spouse, and strictly control her time and education through the Kensington System!  You’d think she could at least send him a card on Father’s Day or something!

Admin:  He certainly meddled enough to be her dad. 😛


Who’s the Most Disappointed Dad of All?

RF's pick:  Jack Turner!

RF’s pick: Jack Turner!

RF:  It’s a close contest between Balon and Jack Turner, but I have to go with… Jack Turner.  Theon was an extremely disappointing son, but he never tried to turn Balon over to the cops and although he screwed it up badly, he was trying to impress Balon when he tried to take Winterfell.  Also, Stevie abandons Jack pretty decisively once things start to get dicey in the series’ conclusion, leaving him to his fate while Bingham continues to fight and exchanging pleasantries afterwards with Sam Hunter, Jack’s killer.  So… my choice is Jack.  He really needed a son who could appreciate his paint factory fire stories.  But I still think he engineered a daring escape to the West Indies.

Left all alone.

Left all alone.

Admin:  I think I’ll go with Headmaster, Dr. Forbes.  He’s a man who has always been used to being in control and believes his system of education will make good, purposeful men out of young boys.   Then he suddenly finds out that his son is nothing like the person he believed he was raising and his essentially told by the criminal justice system that he is a failure as a father.  Poor Dr. Forbes.

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