Zen And The Art Of A TV Show

“I want a peaceful soul.” – Charlie Crews

Last week, we – my wife and I –  finished Life, a show lasting only two seasons. Charlie Crews (Damien Lewis, Maj. Winters in Band of Brothers) is the central character. He is a police officer. But he is unlike any police officer in any television drama. He – as a cop – was accused of killing his friend and his friend’s family. He spent 12 years in prison and when the show starts he has been made a detective and is living in the lap of luxury after receiving a sizable settlement for being wrongly convicted and receiving a life sentence.. All of this made me very interested in the show. All of this makes the show interesting. But not all that distinctive.

What makes the show different is his interest in Zen.
He listens to cassette tapes of a very peaceful voice whispering Zen teachings through the speakers of his Mazaratti squad car. Every episode is filled with his learning of Zen and the case they are working on somehow represents the teaching he is learning. Throughout he’s working out and working himself into the contradictions of what he is learning and his ‘life.’
A cop learning Zen.
(I wish someone would write about fifty detective novels with Charlie Crews as the principal character. I would read them all. Every one.)
But his partner, Reese, is not all that interested in his Zen. She is jaded. She rarely smiles. She is yin to his yang. Not only in being female. But in every disposition.
Crews: It’s all connected, Reese.
Reese: What is?
Crews: It is.
It’s a serial drama. So every episode is connected. He is trying to find the killer who is responsible for the killings he spent time in prison for and lost his now re-married wife for. Every episode is connected. And it all culminates in the final episode of season two. I won’t give you all the details in case you want to watch it. But there is one scene I cannot get out of my head.
He is in a prison to see a prisoner and get some info. He is severely disappointed in his quest. His friend asks him, “Charlie, what do you want?” Charlie turns away from the prisoner he has been talking to and is now maniacally laughing at him. He stands up. He closes his eyes. He breathes deeply. And he says:
I want a peaceful soul.
Justice. Revenge. Love. Loss. Mercy. Life. Death. Loyalty. Power. Greed. Fear. Hate. Disappointment. 
All of it is converging in the moment. And he has the wherewithal to desire such a thing. It was so foreign and refreshing, I have yet to get out of that scene. Why? I want a peaceful soul. I don’t even comprehend what that means. But I want it more than anything right now. For myself. My family. The souls of my family. I want a peaceful soul.
Maybe I will stop wanting it. Maybe in a few days. But as of now, I want it more than anything, even though I have no idea what it will require. But I assume it will be the convergence of peace and my own soul. Two things, as follower of Jesus I should always be thoughtful of.
So If you ask me why I am doing something. Be prepared to hear me answer, “I want a peaceful soul.”

One thought on “Zen And The Art Of A TV Show

  1. C-Dub Collins April 4, 2011 / 3:32 pm

    Easily one of my favorite shows. I wish they'd make more seasons. What's your assessment of the scene in which Charlie throws his Zen tape out the window while on his way to rescue the girl and then picks up the tape on his way back?

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