Once upon a time I labeled the character of John Mulligan as a cad.
but also defended him with the opinion that he was a former bad boy just trying to get by.
John confused me with the way he seduced the emotionally vulnerable Ellie by playing on her confidence issues. he’d talk down to her, reinforce how down on her luck she currently was–how far she had fallen from his previous conceptions of her– then flirt and build her back up again in the same conversation. that kind of manipulation never sat well with me but, ironically, I felt manipulated by the way the story was told through Ellie’s eyes, and so I fought against it.
I was adamant that the pivotal scene when the drugs were found in her luggage, was not a set-up by John: he may have been hiding the drugs from her but he wasn’t using her to transport them….I was riding high on Mulligan charm.
somehow I misunderstood when Ellie said they should just use one suitcase for their trip instead of two. I was under the impression that they were sharing the same suitcase and thus the drugs she found were not intended to be transported by her alone.
I must have also missed the part where John urged Ellie to go check and see if she had enough gas in the car, leaving him alone with the luggage–which was in actuality two separate suitcases–giving him the opportunity to either switch the drugs from his case to hers or to purposely place the drugs in her case as he intended to do all along.
so, my opinion regarding John’s intentions has changed. I feel better about it now because I was fighting the creepiness before, the mental abuse John was exhibiting through his emotional manipulation of Ellie. I didn’t like it but I overlooked it because it didn’t fit in with what I wanted to see. but before you let out that breath you were holding in fear for my sanity, I must confess: I find prison John the more enticing of the two.
once he’s caught and gives his speech to Ellie, knocking her down a few pegs by pointing out that all the nice things she currently owns was bought with his money; the difference between the two personas is more apparent. it’s clear to me that prison John is the real him, and I dig his confidence. even though the jig is up, he’s resigned to his fate. he’s not blaming anyone for putting him there, he got caught and that is that.
before, I thought the look in John’s eyes at the end was regret because he really did like Ellie and he was sad that he lost what might have been.
but now I don’t see that look as loneliness or disappointment, but rather irrelevance: he just doesn’t care. I can respect that more than the smooth talker I thought he was before.
truth, even if it’s not the good kind, is preferable to a lie.