Ok, I’m going to wax philosophical for a bit about pop culture. The following contains massive spoilers for both Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and The Dark Knight, so don’t read if you don’t want to know.
Both of this last weekend’s entertainments revolve around the death of the love interest. Rachel is killed in The Dark Knight and Penny is killed in Dr. Horrible. Some of the people I recommended Dr. Horrible to have been complaining about that whole kill Penny thing. Christopher Orr in fact, complains about Joss Whedon’s tendency to kill the cutie in all his work. I’ve bitched a bit myself about TV’s tendency to kill the well-liked for the sake of drama. Prison Break is dead to me after Sara Tancredi’s death, for example. But I’m going to defend both deaths this weekend as needed for the sake of arc, character, and story. Rachel’s death in The Dark Knight is a key step in the transformation of the noble Harvey Dent into the evil Two-Face. Dent is shown as a paragon of virtue, or as close as we get in the cynical world of Dark Knight (Batman is an Anti-Hero, and gets more Anti- each time) Such a man is not going to brought into darkness with small tragedies or little autocracies. Major tragedy is the only way to go, and the death of love is the tragedy we get. Notice how while Dent falls into darkness and madness, Batman, who also loves Rachel, does not. He even holds to his code and spares the Joker. That’s because Batman is already half in shadow and madness. It’s where he lives.
I think the bad reaction people are having to the end of Dr. Horrible is that they think they are being served up a romantic-comedy when in fact; Joss and company have cooked up a tragedy. I was thrown off too, what with the singing, “My hammer is my penis” and “Bad Horse.” The rom-com/ tragedy split goes as follows: Dr. Horrible can either end up with the girl, or in the Evil League of Evil, but not both. Penny is literally too good for him, with her homeless shelter and her frozen yogurt. In the rom-com ending, Penny steps out from under cover to stop Dr. Horrible from zapping Captain Hammer and Dr. Horrible stops, because he realizes that he loves Penny more than he loves his Super-Villainy. It ends with a big kiss with a line of dancing extras behind them. Of course, in the tragic ending we actually get, Dr. Horrible still realizes that he loves Penny more than Super-Villainy. Just too late.
That’s how tragedies go.
But in the tragic ending we get to see Bad Horse. And guess what, Bad Horse turned out to be a real horse! How great is that?
Oh and the title line come from the TV Without Pity recap and is about the most perfect reaction line I ever read over there.