Happy Ides of March to Roman history fans, and fans of the middle of March alike. Yes, today is the anniversary of the betrayal of Julius Caesar, and the day he was stabbed twenty-three times on the senate floor.
Well, they may not be wearing togas whilst hissing “sic semper tyranus”, but traitors in science fiction are some of the most interesting character the genre has to offer. What better day than today, then, to celebrate the best traitors in science fiction?
1. Ben Linus (Lost, 2004)
Benjamin Linus, the bad guy… I mean good guy… I mean morally questionable guy… tops the list if only because he not only fooled people once (shame on him) but he fooled them twice (shame on them). And then he proceeded to fool/shame them for another four seasons.
Never has a character so universally acknowledged as duplicitous to the other characters in the show itself, as well as the audience, lived so long. Perhaps that’s why Ben Linus is remembered as one of the most powerful bad/good/??? guys of television.
2. Alex Krycek (The X-Files, 1993)
Maybe it’s the ridiculous amount of hair gel he uses, or maybe it’s my little girl crush I STILL have on 90’s-Nicholas Lea’s face, but there was no way I was going to make this list and leave him off it. Though it’s more likely the fact that Krycek is so rogue he doesn’t even know what side he’s on. Now that is an awesome traitor.
I’m not lying, by the way. This guy managed to play every side of every game before he dies only one season shy of the finale! How bad-ass is that? I mean, it’s clearly not a case of writers not knowing what to do with him and putting him in the most random places with the most random motives, right? Right? Right.
My delusions are almost palpable, aren’t they?
Anyway, Krycek is so bad-ass that every time the NUMEROUS –like stars in the sky numerous– amount of people who want him dead try to kill him, they always leave him in situations that don’t guarantee death, though they have clear chances of getting rid of him with a bullet. I mean, he supposedly dies so many times that I think they may have put him on the wrong show.“And then I was actually on the show. I also killed the main character’s father, and was controlled by substance that made my eyes turn black before it was cool.”
3. Gaius Baltar (Battlestar Galactica, 2004)
I think we often get trapped into thinking that a traitor in a show is rather one dimensional, and their motives all too transparent. Sometimes its self-interest, and sometimes for a different understanding of what the greater good is…
…Or, in this case, it was because you really wanted to get jiggy with a girl you would later find out is a robot bent on destroying your race.
And that’s why Gaius Baltar is probably one of the most interesting traitors in all of fiction. He is basically unwittingly thrown into the role of the backstabber, and his only motivation is to keep on surviving is by keeping his oops-I’m-accidentally-a-traitor tracks covered. With that sort of character, you never know which way they are going to go, and that makes for good television.
Well, until Season Four, apparently.
4. Lando Calrissian (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980)
Do you know how long Lando is in the best Star Wars movie ever? Less than 10 minutes. That’s right. In fact, add in Return of the Jedi and he’s still barely eking out a total of fifteen minutes, and yet he is one of the best loved characters despite turning in Han Solo to Lord Vader. That’s how bad-ass he is. He could turn in one of his best friends to one of the most evil men in the galaxy, and he doesn’t even get a guilt trip for doing it. Unless, of course, you count a Wookie trying to chock him for a few seconds.
I often spend time musing on his popularity, and I think that it lies solely in his cape. No man, traitor or no, has ever pulled off a cape with such aplomb.
Newmen Dennis Nedry (Jurassic Park, 1993)
Okay, you probably are wondering why he is on my list since the other four characters are CLEARLY badass and beyond everything in this world that half-way constitutes awesome. Well, my answer is very simple: Without Newman Dennis Nedry, Jurassic Park the movie (or as I like to call it, the best movie ever made EVER in like EVER) would never have happened.
Well, if it did, it would be just a bunch of people discussing the morality of the place while they go on tour, and then go back home safely and still discuss the ethics. Oh, and one of them still wouldn’t like children at the end of the movie. That is seriously no fun. I need tyrannosauruses mauling people and children running away from velociraptors by hiding in a kitchen where they can get nicely seasoned.
So, I say we all give a great big thank you to Newman Dennis Nedry, the best traitor of them all.
Also, bonus points to Wayne Knight, who also played a traitor in Torchwood: Miracle Day.
So Happy Ides of March!
May you not die from a Cylon invasion, or perish in the jaws of Tyrannosaurus Rex, but watch it happen safely on your television at home.