The Fugitive in the Mirror
When Richard Kimble embarks on his fateful
odyssey, he steps through the looking glass into a world gone mad ---
instead of a respectable member of society, he is now a hunted
outcast. And like a dazed amusement-park visitor who has eaten too
much cotton candy, Kimble often finds himself staggering through what
seems like a maze of funhouse mirrors, glimpsing distorted reflections
of himself and his predicament wherever he looks.
In episode after episode, Kimble is confronted with strange
Doppelgänger --- some good, some evil. For instance, there
is the suspected killer Bellows in
COME WATCH ME DIE,
who keeps protesting his innocence even though a posse of hostile hicks
wants to lynch him. Kimble surely knows what that feels like, since
being chased by
angry rural lynch mobs is practically an everyday occurrence for
him. As it turns out, though, Bellows is only putting on a
mind-bogglingly good act; in a split second he metamorphoses from a
potential fellow martyr into a psycho with a kitchen knife. Kimble
subdues him and brings him to justice, though not before this
anti-fugitive tries to win Kimble over to the dark side, pointing out
that, objectively, the two of them are really the same before the eyes
of the law.
Echoes of this same theme can be found also in the episode
TUG OF WAR --- the sheriff who
catches Kimble won't be swayed by Kimble's story about a miscarriage
of justice, because, coincidentally enough, just the other day he
caught another fugitive who said the same thing, and was so persuasive
that the sheriff let him go. Big mistake, since that other fugitive
was in fact lying about his membership in the 700 Club.
TEN THOUSAND PIECES OF SILVER and
SEE HOLLYWOOD AND
DIE also feature guest appearances by evil fugitives who serve as
foils to Kimble's goodness.
In SEE HOLLYWOOD AND
DIE, Kimble actually pretends to be a bad fugitive in order to
manipulate the real bad guys into the hands of the law. This amazing
double reversal --- a putative bad guy who is really good but is
pretending to be bad to achieve a good end --- is as convoluted a plot
machination as any espionage ploy from the pen of John Le Carré.
Episodes like A TASTE
OF TOMORROW, though, show the other side of the coin; the
alter-ego Kimble meets up with is just as innocent as Kimble himself.
In this case, the fugitive in the mirror is Fritz Weaver, a
respectable citizen of an Idaho town who was framed for embezzlement
and now is seeking revenge. Kimble teaches him a few things about
fugitive-hood, and in the space of less than an hour, helps Fritz
clear his name --- mere child's play compared with the more daunting
task Kimble faces, namely, to clear his own name.
FLIGHT FROM THE
FINAL DEMON gives yet another twist to a similar theme; here, Ed
Nelson is technically innocent before the law, but unfortunately, he's
tried and convicted himself in the court of his own mind, holding
himself responsible for a death that was ruled an accident.
Not all of the fugitives that Kimble encounters are fleeing from a
criminal charge. The doctor in
THE BLESSINGS OF
LIBERTY is merely trying to duck the immigration authorities, and
Kimble points out that he could simply apply for citizenship. And in
ON LONELY ROADS, Kimble's co-fugitive, a nun who thinks she's
fallen from grace, is only metaphysically guilty.
Even the one-armed man bears a certain distorted resemblance to
Kimble, as the episode NOBODY LOSES ALL
THE TIME demonstrates. Like Kimble, one-armed Fred Johnson
changes his identity, toils at
many jobs, and has to keep running before a
relentless pursuer --- Kimble himself! In this episode the
parallels between the two of them are especially easy to see, since
Fred Johnson borrows a bit from Kimble's bag of tricks in order to
make his escape.
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Created and maintained by Joseph Rosenzweig,