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So I watched the season finale of Stargate Universe the other day, and I was blown away. I09 has (in a lot of cases rightfully) criticised many points about the series, but it started with a lot of potential, and for all the missed steps it has been slowly marching towards fulfilling that potential. And the final moments of the cliffhanger left me decidedly annoyed that I have to wait however many months for the conclusion. Which is what a season finale, and a cliffhanger, should do. But the defining moment, for me, was the shot of Colonel Young, bloodied up, stood standing whilst the rest of his men knelt for execution.
And this got me to thinking about similar such scenes. There are plenty of them, through film and television. You know the ones; where the bad guys seem to have won, where everything seems like it’s going to ****, and then the hero stands up defiantly, and goes on to win the day. And, most times, said hero is wounded or hurt in some fashion. Bloodied, but still defiant.
I’m thinking the (numerous) moments in Buffy, when she fights the Big Bad, and after getting her arse kicked across the room, stands up (scratches and all) and wins the day. The final battle in Ronald D. Moore’s Battlestar Galactica, where the thumped Galactica and her crew put their wounds aside for one last gambit to escape. And I suppose the ultimate is Doctor Who; the Tenth Doctor, after coming alive but not unhurt, through fighting off both the Master and Timothy Dalton’s deranged Bond-cum-Time Lord, turns and gives his life to save Bernard Cribbins.
So the concept is fairly wide-reaching, but why? I challenged anyone not to be stirred by a well-made example of such a moment. There’s something in it that touches a romantic fondness within the human psyche. It’s part of the reason, I think, that there is such an affection for the Battle of Britain. The great empire, shattered and routed, but rallying itself to defeat the Nazi war machine against the odds.
It shows courage and determination, which are traits that society values and individuals aspire to. But the fact that the hero has brushed the edge of defeat, and come back usually with blood running down his or her face, shows that they’re human. It shows the enormity of their task, and the extend of the bravery required to face it.
Maybe I’m overplaying this, but given the impact that single image of Colonel Young lent to the final moments of Stargate Universe‘s first season, both for the character and as a metaphor for the all the good guys, I think it’s important to appreciate precisely how key such images are. In the end, we all, on some level, want to be heroes. And we all want to think that, in the same situation, we’d be able to stand up once more, with blood running down our faces, and overcome whatever evil is confronting us.
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