Have you ever had one of those dreams? No, not the one where you show up at work or in class naked…I mean, that one’s stressful, too. I mean the other one…the one where you’re doing something that you know you’re not supposed to be doing, but it’s like you’re watching yourself from the outside and can’t stop yourself? Or else there’s some ridiculous series of events that has led up to what you’re doing, and you know that you don’t have a choice, but you’re scared of what’s going to happen because you’re doing it? You keep thinking, maybe I’ll get away with this, and I’ll never do it again!
You know…that dream.
I have it periodically, usually after I’ve made a mistake for which I feel really stupid. Like my recent traffic infraction that involved my driving a bit more hastily than the sign said I could, much to the nearby officer’s chagrin. After, I had the dream. The dream is always ridiculous and blown completely out of proportion. One time I dreamed I was tossed into prison for something, but couldn’t even remember what it was for, and I was trying to come to grips with how I would make it through a year of incarceration.
Okay, maybe you’ve never had that dream, but…for those of you who have, you feel my pain.
I thought it was interesting that a recent episode of Sanctuary played on that. In the episode, the team is forced to make a snap decision because they have to keep everyone in a bank inside because an alien life form has escaped the bank vault and gotten into one of them, but they aren’t sure who yet. They can’t tell the people what happened, but they have to keep them inside to figure out who is hosting the alien that will prove fatal to its host. So they fake a bank robbery. Of course, that leads to complications with the police. And the whole time, even though you know it will turn out well by the end of the hour, you’re jumpy, because you just know that the door is going to get blown and they’re going to end up in prison for something that they were doing to actually save someone’s life.
I’m not sure if that dream has ever taken the form a bank robbery in my troubled sleep before…I actually think that it may have. For a science fiction serial, though, I thought this was great conceptualization to play on that fear and feeling that you’re spinning out of control for something you’ve done, but had no choice but to do. Or, more innocently, that you did something for a noble cause with the best of intentions that you know will be perceived as wrong.
I think what’s interesting about this is that it plays on a concept of situational ethics. You remember debating those in school: it’s against the law to speed, but what if you’re taking someone who is having a baby to the hospital and they’re about to give birth? Or someone in your car is having a heart attack? Does that make it okay to break the law by speeding to get to the hospital?
I think it’s also interesting because it plays on a trust in providence. If you know you’re doing the right thing, do you trust that it will turn out for good? Or do you trust that the people you’re following are doing the right thing? Or the people following you? In the episode, Magnus and Kate begin to solidify an interesting trust relationship.
I imagine that those lines of thought would bring about some fascinating conversation in anyone’s life. And that sort of conversation is exactly what good storytelling of any genre should bring about, don’t you think?