Steven Moffat’s Jekyll (BBC1 Saturday 9.00pm), does seem to be taking the story into new and interesting places, incorporating new aspects, ones that have been presented in the werewolf mythology, and re-telling the story for a contemporary audience. It looks as if there is an institution, sinister in intent, with whom the individual must battle. Rather than be a posse, representing civil law abiding citizenship, intent on destroying the “monster” they represent an institution that can not be trusted who desire to capture, contain and exploit him for their own nefarious and greed/power driven ends: The corrupt officialdom. This concept is a new departure in the Jekyll and Hyde story.
It is also fascinating to follow the way Steven Moffat is developing both aspects of the persona, allowing them to, increasingly, dialogue with each other, a crossing over of memories, thoughts and ideals, almost to the point of some integration of the two distinct aspects of character and personality. It could almost be seen as some bi-polar dysfunction, a purely split personality, were it not for the actual visible and physical changes, more subtle than in most portrayals, but enough to signal to the audience that it is not, merely, a mental aberration, played with a fine balance of nuance by James Nesbitt. So we still have the conflict of inner archetypal personalities but presented in a contemporary framework of reference.
Another aspect to this is the fact that both personalities are necessary. The separated and extreme aspect of Hyde is immoral, a murderer (though not without provocation). He does seem to represent all that is taboo in civilised society, but he alone has protected the family unit. One feels that Jackman left to his own devices would be reasonably ineffectual at combating the evil corporation that seeks to harm and exploit him. He will do “the right thing” in the eyes of society, go to the police, turn himself in…to the very powers who are his enemy.
For more about Jekyll & Hyde and werewolf analogies please click here