*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. From the outside looking in, fighting in a war is heroic and glamorous. But anyone who has looked death in the eye knows that it is not as glamorous or heroic as it appears to be. Those who come home, if they come home in one piece, face internal battles that will last for the rest of their lives.
In World on Fire, widower Douglas Bennett (Sean Bean) is veteran of World War I. Dealing with the lingering effects of PTSD, he would do anything to avoid Britain getting involved in another war. But his attempts are unfortunately futile. Watching both his son Tom (Ewan Mitchell) and daughter Lois (Julia Brown) getting involved what would ultimately become World War II, brings back memories that Douglas would rather forget. They are made worse when Tom, who has joined the Navy, is briefly MIA.
But in spite of this darkness, there is still a little bit of light in his life. An unexpected friendship with a young refugee who is staying with his daughter’s ex-boyfriend’s mother, Robina Chase (Lesley Manville) and the news that Lois is pregnant allows Douglas to realize that it is still possible to hope that the future is bright.
To sum it up: Douglas is a man who has seen enough to know that war is not what it seems to be. But he lives in a world that for any number of reasons, does not see what he sees. It is not a surprise that given his circumstances, his PTSD is exacerbated. But to his surprise, he is able to find something to make him feel good. That gives him the opportunity to believe in the future and more importantly, believe in hope and humanity.
Which is why he is a memorable character.
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