Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The One You'd Never Suspect

First, I want to thank Laura Josephsen for giving me the Liebster blog award. I've already gotten this one, and I'm busy right now getting ready to head back up to school (going there today!) so I'm passing on the rest of it. But check out Laura's blog and follow! Thanks again Laura!

My mom and I have really been getting into 24. We never watched it when it was on TV, so we've been renting it. We've gotten through the second season and holy cow is it intense!

Warning: I will now start spoiling 24, and Harry Potter. Just in case anyone still cares.

In the second season, there is a jaw-dropping, oh-my-gosh-did-that-really-happen moment that pointed out something really obvious to me that's used when crafting a story. It's something that's done so much, you don't really even think about it anymore. Or, at least, I'd never thought about it.

First, for background on the story, there has been a discovery of a nuclear bomb planted in LA by a terrorist organizations called Second Wave. The audience is introduced to the Warners. Kate's little sister Marie is getting married that day to Reza Naiyeer, a English man of middle eastern descent that works for their father. Mr. Warner is a financial consultant of some kind. Kate is suspicious of Reza, and has a P.I. investigate him. It turns out, money from Mr. Warner's company went through to Second Wave by Reza. Kate hides this from Marie, wanting to protect her baby sister. But then the federal agency CTU (made up for the show) comes and investigates Reza, who swears he has nothing to do with it. Marie is furious with the agents for suspecting her fiance, and even more mad at Kate for investigating him without her knowledge. Reza comes to the conclusion that Mr. Warner must have sent the money. They are both questioned, brought into CTU, and in the end, Reza realizes it wasn't Mr. Warner who sent the money.

It was Marie.

Turns out, she's the one helping the bad guys plant a nuclear bomb in LA. She's presented as someone who has no idea what's going on, and while not stupid, just not really intelligent. At one point, my mom suggested that Marie might take a gun and find a way to help her fiance escape from questioning. I laughed and asked, "Do you really think that Marie could shoot?"

She can.

Under these observations, I examined Harry Potter and some of those who ended up being the person that caused the madness.
Quirrell: P-poor, st-tuttering Professor Quirrell. He's hardly there, and when he is, he's so weak and pitiful Harry and the readers would never guessed he could attempt to steal the Stone.
Ginny: While Voldemort was behind it the whole time, no one (that I know of, at least) guessed that Ron's sweet, crushing-on-Harry sister could open the Chamber and do something so horrible (even though she didn't mean to).
Peter Pettigrew: All right, so we think he's dead most of the book, and who would blame the rat? But still, no one saw it coming that Wormtail betrayed the Potters. No one thought maybe Sirius killed him because Wormtail was the one who gave the location of their friends. By McGonagall's description, he was a inept little thing who could have never done it, and on top of that, he was fiercely loyal to James and Sirius, always following them around as a school boy.

Catch any similarities here? They all seem (or are) weak. Quirrell let people believe he's more weak than he was with his stuttering and fainting. Ginny was only eleven and naive. And why do you think Peter blamed Sirius? Because with how bold Sirius was, and how unhinged he became after Lily and James' death, people easily believed he betrayed the Potters. Then we have Marie, who drags you through the first few episodes of 24 with a clueless, happy bride-to-be facade.

The person you'd never suspect seems weak, or at least, not threatening. There are times in 24 where you could see in Marie a hint of the mad woman, like when she gets furious at the government agents interrogating her fiance and father, and demanding her sister not be part of the wedding for being suspicious of the fiance. Before, I thought she was just being a brat. Overall, she seemed inept and unable to help terrorists. But boy, did her other side come out!

For whatever reason, the "bad" people or the more outgoing are always suspected. Malfoy, Snape, Sirius, Reza, and Mr. Warner. And in real life, it's oftentimes true that these type of people would be the ones to do it. But in stories, we don't want it to be obvious. We want to surprise them with the Marie. And I think part of that is the disguise of weakness and inability to do the horrible crime.

Now that I look at it, it's obvious that this is what you need to do. Call me slow, but I'm glad I've got it now.


  1. I think the weak character who may not be so weak after all is one of the cooler plot twists in literature. :) It's what mystery writers have been doing for decades - the murderer is almost always the least likely suspect. :)

  2. Great point! For some reason, even when I knew J.K. had done that with Quirrell and Ginny, the Wormtail thing still threw me for a loop. I guess there's the whole "Scabbers" thing, though. 24 sounds interesting, too.

  3. It takes very skillful writing to pull off a character that comes out of left field.

    Love your blog, hope the Creative Writing major is going well.