Caleb Temple

Caleb - Son of Lucas

by Rosebuck

From a previous post by "little n":
<< Caleb was swayed in part because there was a dark side of him to be swayed, if you will. I never saw the episodes with just him and Lucas so I have no idea how the relationship played out. I always thought Caleb took what he wanted, so to speak, from Lucas. >>

Caleb's a hell of a character. And I write that with all admiration.

In many ways, he's a terrific kid. He has a great and deep love for his sister. It couldn't always have been easy to be Merly's brother. She took a lot of care and protection, and from what we see in the Pilot, there wasn't anyone else giving her those things. Merly, in her mortal state, could do very little for herself. Caleb took care of her with a wonderful tenderness. Growing up in that house, Caleb must have been father and mother to both Merly, and himself. What a weight of responsibility for one little boy.

We see several signs of how that responsibility shaped him. He was conscientious, concerned for others, and able to blend well into a world of adults. He had no problems articulating his feelings and desires. He was also superstitious and ritualistic. I think he depended on his rituals because there was so little else in the world he could depend on.

Many times he seemed wise beyond his years. He had an insight into the human heart, probably gained from an equal part of Buck genes and time spent observing some of the worst of human behavior and depths of human frailty, that could surface at unexpected moments and was always dead-on. His assesment of Gail's motives at the end of LTC is a prime example. He knew she wasn't worried about him----he knew she wanted to be with Lucas.

At the same time that he showed maturity, the writers never forgot that he was still a kid. A kid who tells ghost stories, gossips with his friends about the neighbors, tries to burn up cornflakes in a supernatural ritual he doesn't understand, and tries to peek into a bathroom to see a naked lady. His relationship with Boone, where he would rather lose a tournament than hurt his friend, is another example of the blend of adult and child that the writers and Lucas Black maintained so well. The decision itself was mature, but the manner in which he did it was pure ten-year-old. His dealings with Lucas showed a similar quality. He often saw through Lucas's BS, but he could still be swayed by boyish desires. Desires for a cool science project, or a fishing trip.

The truth was, though, that Lucas was the only adult that was really giving him the kind of attention he needed. Matt was busy, so was Loris. Gail, well, was Gail. Caleb went from being a care-giver, the responsible member of that tiny dysfunctional family, to being just a lonely kid that others were supposed to be responsible for. That transition must have left him confused and at loose ends. What to do now that he had only himself to think about? Worry about the alcholic doctor and flighty cousin. And you know what they say about idle hands, don't you? Caleb got himself into a lot of trouble during one season. Dead bodies, burning houses down, roasting ghosts on the bar-b-que, digging up gardens, and taking on the school bully.

Lucas's presence was in many ways Caleb's only constant after that fateful night. Even Merly came and went. She weirded out on him a couple times, too.

For all of his good qualities, Caleb had that darker side that little n mentioned. Lucas tried to tap into it. He tried to buy Caleb, and almost succeeded. He tried to get Caleb to chose the "easy way" and to turn on his friends. He taught Caleb his warped love lessons, and showed him how to manipulate others with words, action and thought. Very powerful thought. natalie says that Caleb took what he wanted from Lucas, but Lucas was handing all of this out. And with Lucasian strings attached.

Caleb's darker side was very clear from the beginning. Possibly my favorite moment in the Pilot, who can forget the look on Caleb's face as he strikes the match to burn down his own house? He was his father's son, no doubt about it. Caleb had his father's stubborness and defiance. He could be very cheeky. I'm sure he would have developed a wit and charm not too unlike Lucas's as he moved into adulthood. His intelligence was obvious, too, from the beginning. I see it as an avenue to his possible fall. That intelligence and his immense curiosity led him into a lot a trouble, and gave Lucas a way to reach him. Lucas doesn't treat him like a child. He treats him with respect, the way a mentor would his protege. That's a hell of a lure for a child like Caleb, one who had played adult most of his life.

At the end of Requiem, when Merly saves his life, there's a bond between him and Lucas that doesn't bode well for the future of his soul. That is, if Merly's sacrifice hasn't already secured it.

I think I'll let you guys at him now. :)

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1. August 2002