Amy R. (brightknightie) wrote,
Amy R.

To Join the Living

In the LJ conversation on a previous post, the subject of whether or not FK vampires can starve to death came up and, in that context, so did the interpretation that Lacroix treated Nick as he did throughout Forever Knight "because Nick was very suicidal."

That is Lacroix's view, and it's not an uncommon view in the fandom.  Lacroix thinks that Nick is suicidal for desiring and pursuing mortality, for preferring humanity to vampirism.  If Lacroix's premise of the futility of humanity is accepted, the interpretation that Nick is suicidal follows.

I disagree with that premise.  I hold that pursuing humanity should not be construed as pursuing death.  In the baseline metaphor of FK as I see it, personally, Nick is Everyman and humanity is salvation; Nick will never get it in this life, but that doesn't make it the wrong goal.  Regardless of metaphors, the hero's fictional desire to escape vampirism by returning to humanity should not be taken as equivalent to a real human desiring to end his/her life.  That's grotesque.  Nick, undead, is striving to rejoin life, not to join death.  That death comes to all living things does not void the life lived.

I interpret that Nick is not suicidal except at two distinct, somewhat bizarre, points in the series.  TPTB suddenly crammed Nick's assisted suicide down our throats in "Last Knight," the final episode of third season, and there's a gesture in the direction of suicide for Nick with "Near Death," which originally aired near the end of second season (not in the order now on the DVDs), but before and aside from those two episodes, the guiding text is "Last Act," from near the start of first season, in which Nick forcefully, explicitly rejects suicide. 
Nick:  I still find life exciting. And I think I've got more to give.
Erica: I always loved the romantic in you. But the time will come--
Nick:  No. Not by my own hand.
Erica: By whose, then? You don't really think that you can become mortal? That's no more than a fantasy, Nicholas.
Nick:  Well, I believe it. ... There are only two ways to escape eternity. One way is to join the dead. The other, to join the living.

In "Last Act," Nick declares that he will never commit suicide, that he thinks he is still contributing to the world, and that he still enjoys life.  "Last Act" draws a distinction between Erica, who commits suicide after falling behind, as shown not only by her ghost's dialogue but by her manual typewriter, and Nick, who is actively engaged in the world, and is surrounded in his "high-tech dungeon of doom," as Schanke calls it, with the latest gadgets.

First-season Nick, having slain his demon (Lacroix), is full of hope and life and striving.  There is nothing suicidal about first-season Nick.  In his utmost depths of disappointment and despair ("Feeding the Beast"), what he turns to is vampirism ("re-vamping myself"), not suicide.

In second-season, with Lacroix back from the dead, there is "Near Death," the episode with the machine that supposedly stimulates near-death experiences.  Until speaking with the Guide, Nick thinks he may be able to short-cut straight to heaven, perhaps, by returning to and remaking his eight-centuries-old choice to live as a vampire rather than die as a human.  So that does meet the definition of suicidal: he is pursuing a course of action that he believes will lead to his death.  However, it's a fantasy universe, so is it really that simple?  In a sense, Nick is already dead; the disposition of his immortal soul is a more pressing concern than dying, as, to this way of thinking, he died long ago.  Importantly, Nick's primary goal in ND isn't his death; it's his salvation.  He's trying to find a shortcut not around living, but around his burden of sin, as if he could go back in time to before those sins were committed.  (His idea is clever.  Many of us could have told him it doesn't work that way, of course, and ND has oodles of theological problems, but still, he's on the clever side there, I think, seizing this unexpected opportunity.)  So because Nick's primary goal is not death, his move in the direction of death will not apply again (he accepts an interpretation of the Guide's words that requires him to keep on living, case closed, bring down the curtain on the episode).  I think that ND does not show Nick to be suicidal in any ordinary or long-term way, but only in a very extraordinary one-time-only way.

Granted, third-season's "Last Knight" is what it is.  No need to touch that.

It's so very, very easy for FK vampires to commit suicide, as exemplified by Erica in "Last Act."  No need to trouble with more elaborate methods (and there are several ways to die available, as listed by Lacroix in "Dark Knight").  Just sit outside and wait for the sun.  Just be a little late getting in before sunrise, a little early going out before sunset.  No effort at all.  If Nick were indeed death-seeking, surely he would have just let the sun catch him at some point in the past eight centuries.

Instead, Nick fights to survive, and keeps on growing and changing and finding life exciting through the years.

Embracing mortality does impose an acceptance of eventual death.  As Joan says in "For I Have Sinned," "those who live forever in the night live in constant fear of death."  This is both psychological and spiritual, and I think there are lots of good stories to be had in it.  That Nick can come to terms with death as a consequence of life, and Lacroix cannot, exemplifies Joan's insight, without getting into the theology that she and Nick both know behind it.  With this in mind, the Nightcrawler's monologue in "Fever" about the three ages of man suggests that Nick has a maturity Lacroix does not.  Lacroix thinks that any vampire who dies is "taken out of turn."  Nick knows that every vampire's "turn" has already come and gone.

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Tags: character:foreverknight:nick, chat, foreverknight:canon

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