"A Means to an End" Review
by Mike Helba
In "A Means to an End" Markus invites three local leaders to visit Thunder Mountain. Unfortunately he does this behind the back of the Thunder Mountain council, and even more unfortunately one of the leaders is Theo.
This is contradictory to Markus' behavior in Thieves' Honor. In that episode, Markus relinquishes control by forcing the council to pass judgement on a prisoner instead of doing it himself. Perhaps Markus feels he should control foreign policy while the council controls internal policy. This is a reasonable approach since it is easier for a single leader to show strength to foreign representatives. In fact, Thunder Mountain seriously falls down in this department in "A Means to an End". The bickering between the council and Markus is evident to the visiting representatives. Markus goes out of his way to let the teams bringing the delegates know that there is currently a power struggle in Thunder Mountain. This just isn't a wise move while forming alliances.
Markus' next mistake is covertly encouraging Jeremiah and Kurdy to bring Theo into Thunder Mountain despite the official orders. He knows what Theo is like, and the knows what will probably happen. Sure she was set up, but she still clobbered a guy in the neck from behind with a lamp. Why did he want to bring a loose cannon in to make his point? Furthermore, Theo is out of power. Markus wants to help her regain control of Clarefield, but Theo should have made a separate visit to Thunder Mountain rather than coming with the other delegates. Discussions about restoring her to power will only distract from the point of the larger meeting and may also leave the other local leaders with uneasy feelings.
In my review of "Out of the Ashes" I discussed the place of handicapped people in the harsh world of Jeremiah. "A Means to an End" leaves one man completely paralyzed with his brother pledging to take care of him for the rest of his life. How can Thunder Mountain rationalize devoting resources to support two people when the one able-bodied person will now contribute less to the community than he did before? It's a sad reality of a post-apocalyptic world that isn't addressed in this episode. Thunder Mountain wants to build a world in which people can care for each other in this way, but they're not there yet.
"A Means to an End" provides some positive character development. Andrew, Markus' foil on the council, is honestly trying to do what he thinks is best, and when he decides that he is wrong he is humble enough to put things right. Theo explains that the residents of Thunder Mountain demonstrate their difference from people on the outside by using their last names. Most people in the world don't have time for luxuries like family history. Theo's last name, by the way, is Coleridge, not Drake as the official Jeremiah web site states.
This episode shows its importance to the story arc by opening up Thunder Mountain to a few outsiders before they begin contacting more. The two-part season finale promises many changes for the residents of Thunder Mountain.