Katnyss, however, represents such a departure from my own worldview that I feel as though I have to support every move with an explanatory narrative. Lothar goes to Bleak Falls Barrow because one is supposed to help people in need -- no further explanation required. Katnyss, who does not operate on principle, needs a more finely-tuned rationale -- helping Lucan might in turn help her avenge her sister. Without larger principles to rely on, I feel as though I have to provide Katnyss's personal insight, along with any emotional coloring that might help make sense of her actions.
One side effect is that some of these posts are going to be longer that their mates in the first playthrough. While I certainly indulged in some storytelling my first time through the game, it was usually as a way to document my first reactions to a given moral dilemma. On the second playthrough, however, I already know how most of the quests turn out. Furthermore, I am consciously trying to find a way to do the quests differently than I naturally did the first time. Therefore, I feel as though I need to explain the reasons behind Katnyss's actions in greater detail than I did Lothar's.
The danger, of course, is that some of the posts will sound more like fan fiction than moral reflection. I'm willing to take that risk in order to explore a moral system that differs significantly from my own. I would argue, in fact, that exploring conflicting ethoses is one of the strengths of modern storytelling, and deserves the amount of time that it sometimes requires.
Take, for example, the most recent episodes of AMC's The Walking Dead. Early in the series, we require very little explanation for Rick's moral profile: he is a sheriff with a wife and son, so we are not surprised when he does the right thing. Even when he puts himself at great risk for his fellow survivors, we might marvel at the strength of his character, but we don't need an explanation of why he is so devoted to the principles of justice and service to others. The Governor, on the other hand, requires a multi-episode apologetic for his ethos precisely because he judges everything through personal relationships rather than abstract principles. In order to understand why he does what he does, we have to know much more about him than we need to know about Rick.
What makes the Governor such a compelling character is that even his most horrifying actions, especially in Season 4 (that is, post-Woodbury), are born of a sense of personal loyalty and responsibility to those who depend on him. For the Governor, there is no greater good that the survival of his group. When Pete refuses to raid the small camp of survivors, he places justice and mercy for strangers above the interests of his own group, thereby making him unfit to lead in the Governor’s eyes. When Hershel pleads with him to consider the lives of the people in the prison, the Governor responds that they are not his people. His ethics are based entirely on who “belongs” to him:
You say you want to take this prison as peacefully as possible. That
means you'd be willing to hurt people to get it. My daughters would be
there. That's who you'd be hurting. If you understand what it's like to
have a daughter, then how could you threaten to kill someone else's? |
The Governor: Because they aren't mine.
By allowing the audience to see the Governor’s post-Woodbury journey, the show runners give us the additional information we need in order to fully understand his worldview. Without these episodes, we are in danger of seeing him as a mere megalomaniac who uses the end of the world as a chance to become the tyrant he could never be before. With these episodes, we can see the Governor as a man who knows that he must be prepared to do brutal things in this brutal world in order to protect the people who depend on him. By taking the time to make us understand the Governor, perhaps even agree with him a little, the show creates a far more robust conflict when he makes his move on Rick’s prison.
Similarly, I feel the need to tell Katnyss’s story with greater detail than Lothar’s. While Katnyss is not meant to be a Governor-esque villain, she is definitely a very different kind of protagonist from Lothar, and therefore requires more in-depth explanation. Like the Governor, she believes her actions are right, but because her value system runs contrary to the abstract principle-oriented ethos that we generally espouse in Western society, we need to hear more of her story in order to understand her moral agency.