Just in time for Halloween, Fearless Admin and I thought it was only appropriate to finish off our discussion of Mr. Malahide’s characters in terms of D&D alignments (the first and second parts are here and here, respectively) with what could arguably be our favourite group, the Evils! Despite their role as the villains and antagonists of the story, these guys remain compelling and fascinating to watch – and usually manage to generate some sympathy as well. And now, the Evils!
A lawful evil character sees a well-ordered system as being easier to exploit and shows a combination of desirable and undesirable traits. Examples of this alignment include tyrants, devils, and undiscriminating mercenary types who have a strict code of conduct. [Source: Wikipedia]
RF: Well, when it comes to a character who likes a well-ordered system with his own strict code of conduct – and his own ability to exploit that system (or at least know all the loopholes), the first one to spring to my mind is the mysterious magician and role-playing gaming guru Magnus from “The One Game“. As a matter of fact, he prides himself on knowing all the rules better than anyone else, even if those rules are entirely of his own making. He’s also a bit of a tyrant when it comes to insisting that others play his real-life role-playing games, even when they don’t want to, because Magnus is also somewhat ruthless and doesn’t worry too much about collateral damage happening to NPCs. But Magnus also seems to have difficulty understanding why everyone else doesn’t see life in gaming terms like he does.
Admin: A hardcore gaming man would certainly be equally hardcore about the rules, and none are more hardcore than Magnus. Interesting that Lawful Evil shows desirable traits in addition to the undesirable. There is no doubt that Magnus shows desirable traits. His intelligence, innovation, principles, and devotion to those he loves are all admirable qualities.
My choice is none other than Inspector Carson of “A Man of No Importance”. As the area bus inspector he literally enjoys making Alfie Byrnes’ (Albert Finney) life as unpleasant as possible. Carson clearly hates Alfie for being homosexual and also seems to hate him for his generosity and kindness of spirit. When Alfie helps a poor mother who could not afford her ticket, Carson cruelly refers to people like her as “wasters” and “tinkers” even though she is within hearing distance. He gets a real charge out of greeting Alfie with surprise inspections along his bus route with the grim determination of a wild west gunslinger. When Alfie’s sexuality is exposed as public knowledge, Carson can only show ghoulish pleasure by laughing at and mocking Alfie.
Fortunately, Inspector Carson is also a very funny character, so his wickedness is a lot easier to tolerate than it should be. You get the feeling that he’s actually kind of jealous of Alfie and Robbie Fay (Rufus Sewell) for having a proper friendship and actually daring to enjoy their lives on their own terms. And we still want to know why those school girls chased him down.
RF: That’s right, those schoolgirls all seemed to be lying in wait for Carson and they were organized, so they must have had a very good reason (or reasons!) for chasing him down. If only we could’ve seen what happened after they mobbed him!
Admin: I presume Robbie got them to do it, but I’d have loved to have seen more of that scene. It was so funny, like something from St. Trinian’s.
RF: Another character who might fall under Lawful Evil would be everyone’s favourite Lord Reaper of Pyke, Balon Greyjoy from “Game of Thrones“. He definitely embodies a combination of desirable and undesirable traits: he’s a pirate lord who lives by pillaging and killing, but he’s also bucking Pyke’s system by declaring his daughter Yara (Gemma Whelan) as his heir. He disliked Robert Baratheon’s rule enough to attempt rebellion, but he insists that all Ironborn (including himself) follow the practice of paying the Iron Price for everything they own (read: killing the original owner and taking whatever it is while their body is still warm). So he definitely adheres to his own code of conduct and insists that others do the same, and he doesn’t hesitate when it comes to sweeping opponents out of his way – unless they’re holding his only surviving son, Theon (Alfie Allen), as hostage. That forced him to be peaceful for a few years.
Admin: Balon is a good choice. His strict adherence to the Iron Price has got to be one of the more twisted character traits in “Game of Thrones” (and GoT is chock-a-block with twisted character traits, you see), yet Balon sees it as strictly honorable. And, you know, with his commanding voice and kingly presence, I almost believe him.
A neutral evil character is typically selfish and has no qualms about turning on its allies-of-the-moment, and usually makes allies primarily to further their own goals. A neutral evil character has no compunctions about harming others to get what they want, but neither will they go out of their way to cause carnage or mayhem when they see no direct benefit for themselves. Another valid interpretation of neutral evil holds up evil as an ideal, doing evil for evil’s sake and trying to spread its influence. Examples of the first type are an assassin who has little regard for formal laws but does not needlessly kill, a henchman who plots behind their superior’s back, or a mercenary who switches sides if made a better offer. An example of the second type would be a masked killer who strikes only for the sake of causing fear and distrust in the community. [Source: Wikipedia]
RF: This one’s a bit trickier as most of the Neutrals are, but I’d say that an example of the first type – the guy who doesn’t go out of his way to cause mayhem, but has no compunctions about causing mayhem if he’s following orders – would be the enigmatic Mr. Green from the “Fall Girl” episode of “The Professionals“. He does what he’s assigned to do (hunting down and killing people) and does it to the best of his ability (in this case, chasing Bodie (Lewis Collins) over half of London), but you get the distinct impression that there’s nothing personal about it – he’s just doing his job. The fact that he seems to really like his job is besides the point. He can be hellbent on killing Bodie one moment, then abandon the chase instantly the next because he’s been called off. Sure, his job involves killing, but he’s got his own version of situational ethics and won’t go beyond them.
Admin: That peanut scene was my favorite. He looks so placid and zenful. It totally enhances the “neutral” part of his evilness. My choice is Anders from “Friends and Crocodiles”. Anders is the ultimate evil capitalist. He completely restructures and decimates already thriving businesses, laying off long-term workers with zero compassion. He doesn’t care about the people he hurts whatsoever as he blindly leaps into new telecom ventures he doesn’t even fully understand. When it all goes belly-up, he still doesn’t care. He just leaps out with his golden parachute, leaving his young associate Lizzie (Jodhi May) to handle the ugly backlash.
RF: Yeah, Anders at first appeared to be Lizzie’s dream boss after her previous boss, Paul Reynolds (Damian Lewis), put her through an emotional wringer – although granted, some of that was self-inflicted by Lizzie herself. But I think she quickly realized Anders was ruthless and a bit wackadoo. Maybe the way he was flinging perfectly good light fixtures off an upper floor landing was her first clue. As you say, he made a lot of quick, mostly unthinking short-term decisions with no consideration as to their long-term consequences, especially for his employees.
Admin: Never, ever trust a man who will destroy vintage deco light fixtures for fun. Heck, even if he didn’t want them anymore, he could have sold them on for a good price to someone who would actually appreciate them, but instead he destroys them forever. Grrrr! He is just so evil!
A chaotic evil character tends to have no respect for rules, other people’s lives, or anything but their own desires, which are typically selfish and cruel. They set a high value on personal freedom, but do not have much regard for the lives or freedom of other people. Chaotic evil characters do not work well in groups because they resent being given orders and do not usually behave themselves unless there is no alternative. [Source: Wikipedia]
RF: Mr. Malahide has played more than a few villains in his career, but I can think of no one who better embodies Chaotic Evil than… another of our all-time favourites, Jack Turner from “Hunted“. The funny thing is that even while he was supposed to be the villain of that series, he was so much more interesting and compelling than the protagonists (the “Byzantium” group, which was hunting Jack himself, for a price) that he became the hero, in my opinion. But make no mistake: Jack was entirely motivated by his own desires, had little regard for anyone else (save his immediate family, and even then he was pretty iffy on his own son), and definitely wouldn’t behave himself unless there was no other alternative. He even bought a large chunk of the police force to ensure that he could keep on doing exactly what he wanted to do – which in his case, involved causing mass disasters to make his stocks increase in value. He was entirely ruthless about getting what he wanted and his opponents weren’t that much better, even though the writers wanted us to believe they had the moral high ground. But besides all of that, Jack was also one of the most entertaining villains to watch, ever.
Admin: Engineering mass disasters to improve his stock portfolio puts him close to Bond level villainy. I’m going with Guy de Glastonbury from “The Black Adder”. A full-fledged member of The Six Most Evil Men of the Land makes him a great contender. Like Jack Turner, Guy has a gorgeous sense of style. He looks divine in his highway man duds, and he has impeccable manners. Jack Turner could learn from those manners, actually. 😉 When Guy robs the coach of a wealthy gentleman with the typical “your money or your life” spiel, he politely amends it. “Damn. Always doing that. Sorry, slip of the tongue. Your money and your life,” before shooting the gentleman with his crossbow. He’s chaotic and murderous, but at least he’s well-mannered about it.
When Edmund Black Adder discusses his plan to capture the royal family and exile them, Guy casually interjects “Well, why don’t we just kill them?” That would be the chaotic thing to do, after all.
RF: Guy de Glastonbury was more of an artisanal Chaotic Evil, whereas Jack was more industrial; he made plans on a much larger scale. 😉 And Jack did make some elaborate schemes, whereas Guy was more of a spur-of-the-moment killer. But yes, they both have undeniable style and you wouldn’t want to cross either of them if you could help it!
RF: While we’re on the topic, I think another Chaotic Evil character would be… one of your favourite misers, Ebenezer Balfour of “Kidnapped“. He’s definitely selfish (and greedy to boot!), with little respect for anyone else’s life or freedom, especially that of his innocent nephew, Davy Balfour (Brian McCardie). Unfortunately for Davy, he unwittingly stands between his Uncle Ebenezer and the fortune he’s hoarded over the years. After a couple of failed murder attempts, Ebenezer sells Davy to pirates in the hopes he’ll never see him again – surely the action of a Chaotic Evil character! He’s also kind of a batty hermit who definitely doesn’t play well with others. But despite being threatened with a musket, having his uncle attempt murder and cheating him out of his rightful inheritance, and being sold to pirates, Davy nonetheless finds it in his heart to forgive his Uncle at the end.
Admin: Are you sure he isn’t just misunderstood? I mean you wouldn’t catch him busting up light fixtures for fun, unless he was planning on having one land on Davy’s head. Oh, OK, he’s evil, chaotic, and is as crazy as a bed bug (which he probably considers his pet), but I still adore him. 🙂
RF: I’m sure if you showed up at Ebenezer’s door with a nice, hot, steaming bowl of porridge – free! – he might actually let you in, but I bet he’s hard on trick or treaters. And there we have our choices for the Evils! I think we could say they’re all just misunderstood in one way or another, with their greatness going unappreciated except by the most discerning. 😉