RA Challenge ♡ #16: A Character Everybody Hates That I Love

Slightly more scope on this one in the challenge. Mind you, bear with me as I am still trying to keep my typing to the minimum…

From the list of “baddies” from yesterday, one thing is clear – the hateful types seem to be chaRActers which only ever were supporting roles. Which makes the whole thing a bit more difficult. The less we see of a character, the less we know about him – and the less opportunity for RA to add his magic and make us empathise with him, as he is wont to do. However, for the purpose of the challenge, I have settled on a character – whom I don’t exactly love. At least not more than I love Guy. But well, I am putting this out there:

I’m afraid, Mulligan had me at his first smile. Yeah, I am not too fond of the side parting, and his sense of style – oh gawd. Eh, what? There are worse things about him? Drug dealer? Let’s forget that for the moment and focus on this instead (see right):

Ok, ok, the peaches don’t qualify as a redeeming feature. And no, I am not really condoning crime. Chances are, I would’ve given a drug dealer boyfriend the push, too – despite snug bum. I am not going to play the blame game here, criticise Elly (although I think there is something to what Mulligan says to her in the confrontation scene at the end of the episode) and declare Mulligan her victim. He is not – he has had it coming. But by way of explanation why I do not hate Mulligan as much as (probably most) the fandom does: While he is a clever lad who is working to his own advantage, I did believe him that he had genuine interest in and affection for Elly. (I simply don’t believe that a drug dealer would really go so far as have a full-blown relationship with a woman, over time, just to use her as a drug mule.) He comes across as very likeable in some scenes (I love the “morning after” when he turns up in the kitchen and Elly is giving him the cold shoulder because she has mistaken the incoming text message), he is a good flirt. Placing drugs in her luggage and then sending her on a trip to carry the drugs actually seems a little bit unlikely to me – he’s invested too much in her to put her in danger like that. I think the script isn’t up to scratch there. But well, ok, I guess I see conspiracy everywhere when a chaRActer turns bad. Mulligan Protection Mode in full swing.

Maybe it is just his Irish name. How could I resist an Irish lad – especially when equipped with dark hair and blue eyes?

Ok, hit me. Give me all the reasons why I am wrong. I don’t mind. Everyone’s got to have a guilty pleasure, right? Who’s yours?

For eductional purposes – here are the Mulligan scenes in a YT clip by dolphen3:

46 thoughts on “RA Challenge ♡ #16: A Character Everybody Hates That I Love

  1. *hits Guylty with a feather* Feel better now? 😛

    My fave baddie? The man everybody hates but that I love? Dolarhyde.
    Yes, he’s a nightmare.
    No, I wouldn’t *really* want to have someone like this around me. (A serial killer? Are you MAD?!)
    But …
    But.
    But!
    *sigh* Yes, there’s this part of me, that unterstands the reasons … and wants to protect poor Francis.

    *g* That doesn’t mean that I enjoy to see certain details.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like Paul, thought I am the only one, but I’m glad I’m not alone. I’ve seen Mulligan once, I cannot say that I hate him, I’m rather indifferent. Even those sequence with RA are not so outrageous, given the fact that the lady is his wife 🙂

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    • Paul definitely had some redeeming peaches… eh… features. No, seriously, he does come across as a guy with potential. I suppose I would’ve been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Although the way he threatens “Tracy” is absolutely criminal. That’s where he disqualifies himself. Mind you, with a bit of backing from his wife, maybe that could’ve been avoided?

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      • See, this is what drives me nuts about that character — so poorly written. Supposedly that drama was “researched” and up to date on what professionals were saying about sex at the time, but it was not. No professional, even back then, would have said that Paul would have been “okay” if his wife had just been more understanding. Abuse of the kind that Paul perpetrates is not a crime of sex, it’s a crime of power. But it’s not someone else’s responsibility that Paul apparently didn’t feel powerful or autonomous enough at home, even if the show implied that if Alana had just been nicer to him, he would not have gotten involved with Tracy. The show tries to imply there is some kind of miscommunication going on there between Paul and Alanna over power / desire. But if I accept that argument, I’m essentially accepting and legitimating all of Paul’s excuses. I’ve gotten so frustrated over this in the past. Why is Alanna the villain here? Even if she’s not a great partner, she’s not sexually abusing teenagers.

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        • Grah. You are right, and I stepped right into the trap. Blaming the woman, typical. Correct – the action was Paul’s. Whatever he did (was it ever proven beyond doubt that he actually did have sexual relations with Tracy? I couldn’t quite make out, but I only watched fan cuts, and they often leave out the whole truth), it was certainly abusing a position of power. Whether it went all the way or not – a young girl obviously fell for him, and he either abused her misguided feelings, or he let it go on too long before he transferred her to another social worker. (The fact that she commits suicide is not really conclusive, I think – it’s a word-against-word scenario.) In any case, Alona and Paul’s problems are separate from that, and to mix that in with the issue of a) sexual abuse of an underage girl and b) sexual abuse of a person in his care is really misleading.

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          • I think it’s kind of to Armitage’s credit as an actor that even though I in general tend to believe allegations like this (not least because studies of the US show they are overwhelmingly true, at a rate approaching 90%), that against my inclinations, I was willing to consider for so long that Paul wasn’t guilty. That may be my own implicit fan bias, though.

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            • This is where it really gets to be a disadvantage that I never watched the whole thing. THe scene early on where he bumps into Tracy after work (and abandons his colleagues) to me looked as if he did the right thing – told her off, then next day made sure she was switched to another social worker. What they didn’t show is whether he took her home in his car that night, and what happened there. (I think it gets implied later on that something happened that night…) I certainly fell for the ruse.

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  3. I have a soft spot for Mulligan. It’s hard to explain but Richard looked different in that role. I too believe John truly cared about Ellie in his own way. Otherwise, why bother getting in a relationship with her. After all, he did save her from financial ruin. If he had simply wanted to shag her, he could have had his fun and walked away. Like he says to her in jail, it was easy for her to judge him and stay on her high horse. I’m not condoning his drug dealing. However, I do understand why he turned to crime. It’s not like he had a loving home and security growing up. So, yes, I can feel a measure of compassion for him. Oh, and I too thought it was out of character for him to place drugs in her suitcase. Why in the world would he do that? Drug dealers usually have a territory. It would be crazy to want to pass drugs at the airport. Please!

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      • I actually think watching fan cuts is what gets us into this situation of always finding the best in an Armitage character even when the character doesn’t deserve our sympathy. That’s especially true for BTS, but also true for this show. If you just watch the fan cut, Elly comes off even worse than she does if you watch the whole episode.

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        • Good point. I watched the whole BTS show. I thought it was good. I don’t remember the implication that Alanna was partly to blame. I was rooting for it not to be true about Paul, but ultimately it was a choice that he alone made.

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          • All of the sex therapy sessions seem to move in the direction of making it her fault — she’s too controlling, she won’t move out of the house, which she bought with her late husband, she won’t coparent Kieran, etc., the problems in their relationship are all about her, and she’s wounded because her husband died so suddenly, so that she thinks she can protect herself by controlling everything. Her slightly manic behavior over a lot of things also exemplifies this point (the vitamins, the health food, etc.) And if you listen to his confessions on the issue, he more or less says it was her fault, Tracy gave him something Alanna (Alona?) didn’t.

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            • I can’t remember all the details at this point. But I remember that my general impression was that this guy did a really creepy thing and hid it and tried to shift blame also on the girl for coming on to him. A lot of blame shifting going on.

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                • I know by the end of it i was horrified, come to think of it he probably is the worst of the lot, at least the ones i have seen. Dolarhyde is mad, not that that would be a reason to forgive his crimes, but you know, it was OTT and fictional, not a story meant to mimic real life in any way. Where as BTS could have been real and he abused a position of power most horribly, if the women had been underage it would have been classed as something very different but ultimately the nature of the crime was the same. Nevertheless i clung until the end to hope he hadn’t done it. Not pleasant to remember and not one i will watch again. I think i’d take the drug dealer over him any day!

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                  • Eh, I actually do think that Tracy was meant to be underage. My take on it was that he had engaged in sexual activity not only with his ward, but also with an underage ward.
                    BTW, I watched BTS the first time via a fan cut; and crucially, that fan cut left out the very last scene, at the party, where he admits to his misconduct. So I completely misinterpreted Paul for a while, believing he was innocent… But yes, unpleasant, despicable. Also: disappointing to have been taken in by his innocent eyes and not seen the truth for the peaches…

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Aha i was in doubt about that, even worse, evil schmuck! I do believe however that the misleading was intentional and well done by the writers. They played that card of doubt until the end and he played it very well i thought. Makes you shudder because in real life it’s likely this is how such people would operate, justifying their so called ‘slippages’ or spontaneous mistakes by general misfortune and bad luck or suffering on their part. I can see the challenge in playing a part like that but i hope we don’t have to watch something similar ever again.

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                    • I think it’s pretty clear from the script that he is a social worker, she is a part of his caseload, and that she is underage and qualifies for family services because she’s gotten in trouble of some kind and her mother is an addict. At the very latest this is clear when his coworker asks him why he behaved the way he did and why he hid his behavior. Had she not been underage, there would have been no reason for him to conceal anything.

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          • I should add — I had the feeling there were editing cuts there. There’s a line very late in the script, when Paul is exonerated and he’s in her office to tell her, where she says something that reflects the outcome of their therapy and he says something like “I’m listening” or “I’m paying attention” that implies that she said to him at some point that he didn’t listen to her or something along those lines. But it’s only a guess on my part.

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  4. I like Mulligan, too. He got me in the last scene in jail when he looks at Ellie with teary eyes…I believe him!
    And Percy is not too bad, either (despithe the funny hairstyle). I always have the feeling he loves that awful woman more than she deserves and cheats her because of desperation.

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    • The jail scene is the strongest acting. So many different emotions – but all come across natural. (Imo he wasn’t matched very well with the actress, though. She only seems to have one facial expression for all of the episode…)
      Same here with Percy. If he only hadn’t physically threatened his wife, you could easily forgive him. But physical abuse? Unforgivable…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel like I’d need a more solid definition of “hate” — which is to say: I never watched a fan cut of this, I’ve only seen the whole episode. It was immediately apparent to me why this was an interesting role and why he’d pick this as an “off season” project during his Spooks days. I find the character basically unsympathetic and what he did to Elly reprehensible (although there was a fair amount of confusion at the time about what exactly he was intending to have happened) and, to some extent, weirdly inexplicable (then again, it was the result of a script writing contest / project, so I suppose we have to make allowances). I also didn’t understand why she’d ever go back to see him in jail, except for the script to give him an opportunity to philosophize. That said, I find what the character says about the meta-quality of life choices (and the way that Armitage performs it) relatively profound (at least for this sort of genre of TV drama).

    I guess I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be “hating” here, in other words.

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    • From the responses (to the challenge as a whole as well as this particular question) so far – including my own – we can take at least one thing: It is hard to judge any of the challenges in such black-and-white terms. “Hate” and “love” are really not particularly applicable to fictional characters imo – I struggle to invest *that much* emotional energy in my RL, never mind fiction… So yeah, “hate” is too strong a word. Dislike would be better.
      Thanks for this background info – I had no idea this was a gap filler between Spooks seasons/episodes. (I am not particularly good with the timeline of RA’s oeuvre.) Sounds and looks as if this was something that was relatively easy to do (no extensive research/prep needed), yet provided that little bit of challenge in the final scene.
      BTW – I am sure it has all been discussed before, but I always come up all surprised at the conclusion of the scene. After his really interesting speech about motivations, guilt and conscience, it seems incongruous to me that Mulligan goes all soft and mushy in facial expression and tone when he asks why Elly has come to see him at all. It seemed like a U turn – after just having asserted himself, rejecting her somewhat, yet suddenly yearning for her love?

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      • If I understand correctly, MO was filmed late in 2008 (Novemberish); he would have made the last series of RH the summer of 2008 and the first series of Spooks the Spring of 2008. It’s sometimes hard for me to keep track of those years, too — his head must have been spinning.

        The end of it didn’t make sense to me, either — but I think that was a potential negative consequence of the decision to use all new writers (people who hadn’t written for TV before) in this series.

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        • Wow, that would’ve been a lot of work that year. But yeah, a one-episode stint was just the thing…
          It really shows that the script isn’t 100% cohesive.

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  6. So where did we start, the drug dealer… i need to watch that and make up my own mind. But just from the onset i don’t think i’ll hate him right out, he’s bad but not the worst 😉 I did find Dolarhyde interesting and didn’t hate him… but also didn’t feel as protective of him as others did. I always felt more protective of Reba and could never really forget when they were together what he was.
    I think i was interested in seeing what was happening with Paul in BTS because i was hoping until the end he hadn’t done it. I don’t think i could take it if he ever played such an abusive role throughout, i sort of hope he never does. Who knows what the future holds…

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  7. I pick Dolly. Yeah, I know lots of people love him. Or rather they want to rescue him. But so many people still hate that RA even played that role. Some people still refuse to watch his episodes (they lose out, it’s one of his best performances ever). I, on the other hand, adore him, dragon and all. I’ve always loved dragons. It’s my sign.

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    • I completely agree with you re. performance of RA as Dolarhyde. I think it is totally up there with Thorin and Proctor. There were so many amazing quirks and tics that he performed extremely convincingly.

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    • A domestic violence survivor who refuses to watch it is not, IMO, “losing out.” Someone who has moral objections to that kind of art is not, IMO, “losing out.” Someone who says “that’s not really my kind of thing” isn’t losing out, either.

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