A mind palace snapshot. In response to VJ’s question.
On the agenda for this special meeting of the Committee was one item. To wit: Professor VJ Duke’s question regarding favorite villains.
Once the anecdotes surrounding the recently-completed work on Breaking Point had died down, and everybody was settled, there was a long pause as we each mulled over the question in our own minds. Finally Ben broke the silence.
“I know it’s a valid question, but I’m not sure I know exactly what it means.”
Helena, sitting at my desk taking notes, had been waiting for this. She rose briskly and crossed the thick deep-brown carpet of the library to the convenient shelf just above the fireplace, where my excellent collection of reference books is stored. (Needless to say, in mid-summer with the sun slanting through the high windows at each end of the library, I do not have a fire. The grate is filled with red roses.)
As Helena returned with a neat stack of dictionaries, various members of the Committee rose from their places to assist in the conveyance and comprehension of this lexical abundance.
“Favorite,” Obi-Wan read out, having flicked through the pages of my personal favorite dictionary. “It means: ‘Preferred to all others of the same kind’.” He paused. “But if all are of the same kind it would be impossible to establish preference. For instance, if history were of the same kind as math -”
“Mine,” interrupted Sprite, the local teenage superhero who had tagged along with his father, “defines favorite as: ‘Most liked, or, regarded with special preference or liking’.”
Moriarty, defining himself – I don’t know why he was there, for he has never been welcome in the library – read, “Villain: ‘A wicked or malevolent person. The main evil character or antagonist’.”
“Right!” I exclaimed. “You – out! Go tell the younglings a story!”
When the Irishman had muttered his way out, Kijé read quietly from the OED, “Villain: ‘A fictional character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot. The person or thing responsible for specified problems, harm, or damage’. So, most recently, Suri Whitewall.”
“May he rest in peace,” whispered someone.
Sam, outside in the rose garden, leaned his elbows on the windowsill. “You can’t prefer someone evil! That ain’t right!”
On the other side of the informal committee circle, Gandalf could not reach to pull him in, but nodded admittance. Sam scrambled inside and squeezed in between Ann Narshall and Ben on the windowseat.
“He makes a good point,” I said. “Really, your favorite villain should be the least villainous villain – the villain who causes you and your loved ones the least harm.”
“Then I’m sure I can’t be Anakin’s favorite villain,” Obi-Wan noted sadly.
Anakin really did jump right out of his chair at that. “Don’t say that, Master!” he begged. “I know you only do it for my own good. Whatever I say at the time.”
“What year is he on, Rosalie?”
I checked my watch. “Late 20 BBY.”
“Ah. Get back to me on that in a year, Anakin.”
“Right.” I rapidly changed the topic back. As Doc Brown said, nobody should know too much about their own future. The last thing we needed in the mind palace was Anakin getting spoilers. “Vote, please. Can you have a favorite villain? Yes or no, secret ballot.”
Five minutes later, I counted up. “Four no. Two yes. A handful of abstentions. And one Irene Adler, the perfect woman.” I sighed. “Doctor Watson, would you please go and get Sherlock readmitted to rehab? This is getting tiresome.”
“I’ll confiscate his syringes and lock the property room to him,” the doctor promised.
“Excuse me.” Pythia held up her laptop. She never moves without it. “The question was actually, ‘Should Jedi have favorite villains?’ Perhaps the non-Jedi had better leave?”
“Not at all,” Obi-Wan objected. “If it’s wrong for ordinary people – pardon me, I don’t mean to insult anybody – ordinary people, it’s wrong for Jedi as well.”
“Ask John, he’s ordinary,” was Sherlock’s parting shot on his way to his room, through the double doors midway down the library.
“Good idea.” Helena spared the doctor one of her rare smiles. “Doctor Watson? You abstained.”
“Secret ballot?” queried Watson, resuming his seat by the fireplace.
“Helena,” half-a-dozen voices pointed out. “No such thing as secret.”
“Oh. Well… perhaps favorite isn’t really a good word to use? Favoring the bad guys? Little bit not good.”
After everybody else had had their say, we voted again. Most people said, Qualified No.
As Obi-Wan put it, “Really, the favorite villain should be the unwitting one. The one who doesn’t mean to cause a problem, and probably suffers as much from his actions as the heroes do.”
So. In summary, a Jedi may have favorite villains, on the condition that the Jedi’s favoritism is in reverse proportion to the villain’s villainy and evilness of motive. This is the decision of the Committee. We ran it past Mace Windu and Yoda later, and they concurred.
Thanks for reading.