Hal Mason of the Future and Other Questions/Theories
So this is kind of a stretch for me. I’m going to attempt to write an article about Hal without too much Hal bashing. Not because I like Hal any more than I did, but because this isn’t about Hal of the past, but who future Hal needs to be to fix his character for me. Because I think this whole eye bug story line, if done correctly, could be a major turning point in returning Hal to Season 1 level of character development. I’ll even TRY to avoid using Ben comparisons in the interest of fairness. This started out as an article about just Hal, but as I was writing a lot of other questions and considerations were brought up and the article kind of morphed.
But, let’s get some of my well known criticisms of Hal out the way first shall we? It is not secret that over the course of Season 2 I oscillated between total apathy and outright dislike of Hal. But from the beginning it was not so. Season 1 Hal and I were pretty cool. In the beginning Hal Mason had real character progression and motivations. He wanted to prove himself as a solider both to his father in particular and the 2nd Mass in general. He wanted to rescue his brother Ben, to the point of irrationality, wrestling with his father in the very first episode in his zeal to damn the torpedoes/mechs and get his brother. Later, he wanted to rescue Karen. Well, sort of. In between her capture and his sighting of her in “What Hides Beneath” he actually didn’t do much to advance or advocate the “Rescue Karen” initiative. But we can give Season 1 Hal the benefit of the doubt and just assume he advocated for it off-screen, during a staff meeting or something.
Then we get to Season 2, and it all goes horribly wrong. Something changed. I’m not sure who came in, looked at Hal’s character and said “Yeah that’s great. But he hasn’t tried to make out with anybody in a while. We need to fix this post-haste.” But I pretty much hate them. Hal goes from a vibrant, full of possibilities and well-rounded character to a one-dimensional stock character. He becomes a well-coiffed piece of eye candy for tweens and shippers throughout the land. He stalks Maggie despite her resistance to his advances. He takes every opportunity to mock, rebuke, and criticize Ben. Though one of Hal’s redeeming acts for me was keeping Ben’s secret about his spikes glowing.
Wow. OK, that was lot of stuff to get out of the way. Anyway, on to the theories and requests for future Hal!
Like I said, this eye bug we see at the very end of Season 2 brings up all sorts of intriguing possibilities. One of the most common theories or predictions circulating the net is the so-called “Evil Hal” plot. Hal, controlled by the eye bug, will be used as a sleeper agent, working against the 2nd Mass and humanity in general. The most oft used evidence used for this theory is the fact that after Hal awakens the eye bug crawls out of his eye and into his brain via his ear (why it didn’t just enter the brain via the optic nerve is a discussion for another day), and Hal grins suspiciously. I rather like the Evil Hal theory; and not just because I tend to root for the bad guys in movies and TV series. A sleeper agent Hal could give us a lot of great scenes. Insights into the background workings of how the 2nd Mass works and functions, and thereby could be sabotaged. It could bring a new level interaction between Hal and characters that are not blonde and named Maggie, or blond and named Ben. It all depends on the nature of control over Hal. Is his entire mind and consciousness completely slaved to the Overlords, every thought, action, and word totally controlled? Is his mind gone now, or is the Hal part just dormant? Or is his consciousness still aware of his body is doing, but trapped and helpless to do anything about it? Is he only controlled at certain times or in certain situations and has no memory of those times but is otherwise still under his own control? For example, when he goes to sleep does the eye bug then take over and wipe his memory of any actions he takes while he thinks he is sleeping? Will people notice his odd behavior? It is the apocalypse, so everybody is entitled to be a little squirrely, but will Evil Hal take to a level where others can’t help but wonder if something is up with him? How will he be discovered or saved (if he can be saved)? One thing I REALLY hope is not the case is the only way to break the control is something about his feelings for Maggie being stronger than the mental link, blah blah etc etc.
An important consideration or obstacle to the Evil Hal theory is the fact that Tom had an eye bug but, as far as we currently know, was never compelled to actions against his own will. One could say that the eye bug on Tom stayed in his optic nerves and thus is different from one that enters through the ear canal. Some sort of a surveillance model versus a control unit.
This brings up a couple of considerations that have been nagging me about skitters, the harnesses, and aliens on the show in general. What kind of relationship do skitters have with the other aliens or equipment under their command? This question has been nagging since “Love and Other Acts and Courage” when we saw the aftermath of the skitter/mech battle between Red Eye’s rebels and other skitters/mechs. The fact that mechs were involved in the battle seems to imply that the relationship between skitter and mech is a lot more individual than previously expected. There was no “Cannot target other mechs, invalid command” response from the mechs, the rebels told their mechs to fire on the other mechs and skitters and the mechs obeyed. What this implies for me is that, despite the Overlord’s seemingly inability to predict a skitter rebellion, that the possibility that it might happen had occurred the Overlords. Otherwise, why didn’t the mechs have a failsafe so they could not be used against other mechs? Is the fact that the eye bug in Tom “belonged” to Red Eye a factor in how it didn’t seem to take control of Tom, but passively observed before returning to Red Eye? I can’t call Red Eye a “good skitter” as it is no secret that I blame Red Eye for Jimmy’s death and shed not one tear at Red Eye’s death.