YMMV Animorphs Discussion

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05:36:25 AM Jul 18th 2011
edited by Milbury
Moral Event Horizon, RE: Animorphs Characters

One of the overarching themes of this series is that there is no absolute good or evil, and that the protagonists are just as capable of committing acts of great evil as the antagonists. As noted on the Kick the Dog page: "If a character's Kick the Dog moment is excessively horrible, cruel, or otherwise despicable enough to make an audience lose all sympathy for him, then he's crossed the Moral Event Horizon." Audience opinion, of course, is subjective: some readers will cling to that black-and-white view and forgive the protagonists for their crimes while condemning the antagonists for similar offenses, while others will see the shades of gray for what they are. The fact is, you can't have a Moral Event Horizon page about any Animorphs characters without including most of them, because most of them commit acts that would be condemned as utterly evil under ordinary circumstances. Let's review.

Jake: His slide into Fallen Hero status in the last two books is indisputable, between sending Rachel and the auxiliary Animorphs on a suicide mission, blackmailing Erek by threatening another human being's life (echoing his threat against David in #21 that caused him to rebel), and most chillingly, executing seventeen thousand Yeerks in cold blood. It's no accident that Elfangor was presented with a similar choice in the Andalite Chronicles and refused - this event serves to show that Jake has reached the point where he will do anything to win, and therefore crossed the Moral Event Horizon. The fact that he regrets the consequences afterwards doesn't change it - it's admitted in the books that if Jake hadn't been on the side that won the war, he would be being tried for war crimes just as Esplin 9466 / Visser One was.

Rachel: #22 The Solution is all about showing how Rachel has degenerated into an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight, and her holding a fork to David's ear and threatening his parents is presented as the climax of this. She never exactly regrets the act itself so much as the realization of what it's done to her, and she later goes on to slide further and further into Blood Knight territory, culminating in #32 The Separation and #37 The Weakness, when tries killing her fellow Animorphs and terrorizes the whole city, respectively. Another easy one. It's no wonder Applegrant chose to kill her off at the end - she could never have returned to a peaceful society, so a noble death was given to her rather than have her live and be exposed for the monster she became.

Tobias: Per Megamorphs #02 In The Time of Dinosaurs, Tobias commits genocide on the Mercora in order to 'preserve history'. He exhibits no remorse whatsoever, only fierce determination, and this event is never referred to again, classifying him for Karma Houdini. Megamorphs #02 is canon per Animorphs #19, so this event cannot be ignored.

Cassie: While never openly addressed in the books themselves (given that this event occurred in a Rachel book), Cassie is said to be the 'mastermind' who came up with the plan to trap David as a rat. This was an act of extreme cruelty, calculated not for David's sake but her own and that of the group, to spare them from having to kill their enemy in cold blood. Because her own narratives never address her feelings about this issue, she cannot be said to show remorse, and in #48 The Return she makes no attempt to take responsibility for her actions, preferring to let David blame Rachel instead and at the end, abandons Rachel to let her handle David alone.

Marco: Masterminding an operation that would have resulted in the death of his mother, and carrying it to completion without hesitation. Ironically, Marco (arguably the most ruthless Animorph) has the strongest case for not classifying here, since he both shows remorse and his attempt fails. But the sheer cold-bloodedness of his plan is chilling, and lampshaded even by Marco himself in a monologue.

David: Killing Jake and Rachel's cousin Saddler. Like Marco, this is arguable since David is never actually seen killing Saddler, but he doesn't show remorse (though he has the Cassie problem, since we never see his thoughts, we never know how he feels).

Ax: You know, I never thought of it before, but even Ax classifies, per his actions in #46 The Deception. He breaks his code of honor by knocking out Jake, kidnaps Visser Two and forces him to back down by presenting a doomsday scenario. He shows no remorse for this, though he does exhibit fear at what he would have been 'forced' to do.

Esplin 9466 / Visser Three: Eating Elfangor. Easy. I doubt anyone will dispute this one.

Edriss 562 / Visser One: Murdering Jenny Lines, and going on to murder her other hosts. Another easy one.

Aldrea: In Aldrea's monologues she glories in the fear and suffering of her Yeerk opponents, to the extent of disturbing her partner Dak. Arguably justified with her whole family being slaughtered by the Yeerks, but she still does not feel remorse. Her ixcila in #34 deserves its own mention, since a major source of tension throughout the book is whether or not she will release her hold over Cassie, and at the very end, she does not and Ax must threaten to life of her granddaughter to force her to comply. Again, no remorse is shown, and to the last she rages at the Andalite, even as she sinks back into darkness. Interestingly, for all of Cassie's angst about 'being the one to kill Aldrea again', when the time comes she does not hesitate, and as with her condemning David to his Fate Worse Than Death, this is never touched upon again. Karma Houdini at work again?

Erek King: Played with in #26 The Attack to show us another side of Erek. He realizes halfway through the book that the Howlers are children but chooses not to enlighten Jake and the others about this knowledge, preferring to instead let them destroy the murderers of his creators without hesitation. Like Tobias, Erek is unapologetic when confronted with this, and as it's never addressed again, he's another candidate for Karma Houdini. Arguably, though, Erek's Moral Event Horizon could be said to come as early as his first appearance, when it's revealed he keeps a Yeerk prisoner in his own head in an And I Must Scream state, trapped and unable to see or hear anything, but sustained by Kandrona rays. Chilling behavior, especially for a 'pacifist'.
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