Friday, April 17, 2015

WBI: John Douglas Keller

My best friend hooked me on the show Leverage, and I enjoy it (by enjoy it I mean I weep tears of blood whenever I’m not watching it). In almost every episode there’s a new bad guy to defeat—we have to meet him, hate him, and defeat him in less than forty-five minutes.

Thursday I watched “The King George Job” (3x12), wherein we got the inside look at John Douglas Keller, a smuggler and employee of the show’s main villain, Damien Moreau. Small presence, but WBI principles are still at work, my friends.

Photo Credit: Leverage Wiki

WBI Profile

Classification :: γ457$#
Role :: Body (representative of a larger infrastructure)
Motivation :: Insubordination (Moreau’s employee), lifestyle (art collector, history aficionado), gain (barony)
Bonus :: money, minions

Click Me to Big Me!

A Study

financier—he’s a rich guy, so we could potentially consider him a delta villain

body—for the purpose of the episode, Keller is a step up to a larger villain, Moreau; he essentially personifies a part of a bigger, faceless organization to create the episode’s manageable goal

employee—coincidentally, that relationship to Moreau is the reason the Leverage team is interested in Keller; he is a step up the ladder

smuggler—among other things, Keller using Iraqi children immigrating to America to smuggle goods that are sold; the money is then used to buy arms and men for his employer

cold—Keller is willing to leave a little girl in an immigration cell because she is an acceptable financial loss; the other things he smuggled are enough to cover his costs

collector—he collects trinkets from the Georgian era, not because they have monetary value, but rather their emotional value

expert—he can smell a statue and tell you where it came from; he knows his trade as an art dealer very well

ambitious—he has a slight obsession with royal titles, as in, he wants his own

disinterested in money—he already has money, he doesn’t need more; he opens a deal with the group because they offer him something money can’t buy—a barony

connected—he called up another duchess for tea merely to see if another duchess was for real; he knows people

driven—he was willing to buy a diary for $300,000 to get his barony (with a little neuro-linguistic programming from Sophie)

employer—although working within a large organization, it appears as though he hires men loyal to his own enterprise

colder—he freaking ordered his men to kill Eliot (my favorite character; don’t worry, he beat them all up)

not detail oriented—he didn’t notice that the box the diary was in was made of stolen Russian icons, which are eventually what got him caught

fallible—in the end, he was duped by a fake diary as the Hacker hacked history; his weaknesses brought him down flat

Big Idea

short stories need deep characters—we can wait to learn about the main characters because they’re there the whole show; for one-shot characters, the directors and writers take extra care to emphasize their traits. In general, Keller has fewer motivations and fewer traits, but the traits he did have were emphasized several times to give us the impression of a good, strong character we could hate, even for only one episode.

connect the dots—Keller has a lowercase gamma on this one; he’s a part of the Body, not a villain out on his own. Even though this is only one episode, he has played an important role because it has set us up for the next time we run into Moreau.

children melt hearts—here’s a pro tip: using wartorn families separated from their children as the victims is just going to make some people (*cough*) upset. You’ll win their sympathies and they’ll dislike the antagonist. Hit them where it hurts. Children, puppies, kittens. Don’t hold back.

Have you seen any successful one-episode villains? How did they cement themselves as a hated, but temporary, figure?


  1. Have you ever seen The 100? It's a great apocalyptic drama set 97 years after a nuclear war destroys Earth. They all live in space in a huge shuttle called The Ark, then they get to Earth. That's where everything goes wrong....DUN DUN DUN! :):)

    There was a particular character that pulled on my heartstrings. She was an eleven yr out girl named Charlotte whose parents had been killed by the parents of a teen who was on Earth with her. It shows her struggle to rid herself of plaguing nightmares of her parents death and she finally decodes to 'slay her demons'.

    Long story short, she stabs the guy in the neck.

    But the weird thing? I actually understood her. Is that weird? Afterwards she is so guilty and eventually she can't take it anymore, the guilt and fear of being caught. So she disappears one day and kills herself.

    She was only eleven. I could've cried.

    1. I haven't seen The 100, but based on your description it sounds like a very interesting story.

      I don't think it's weird for us to identify with characters that are vastly different from us. The trick for filmmakers and writers is not to necessarily copy the demons they know the audience has, but make them feel the same way about them. So even though she lives in a different world, I think it's easy to relate.

      That's very sad, though. :( It sounds like a tough story to swallow!


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