Matt Crower

Tarnished Little Teapot Trying to Shine

by natalie (little n)

Well, it's better then man of a thousand hair colours. :-)

This kind of long and a bit rambling. Sorry. I'm not totally sure where to start. Matt was a complicated character and the information about him was spread out all over the place and there were holes left in his character profile so it's sometimes difficult to analyze his character in chronological order of episodes.

From The Pilot, I think our first impression is of a young, cute outsider, or, for guys, a young outsider, who seems to constantly run on one large cup of coffee. He seems to be the only one not under the Sheriff's thumb and he's either oblivious to the Sheriff's 'standing' in the community or doesn't care. We probably also see the best 'mix' of his character in the pilot as well: compassionate and understanding - with Caleb, a child he doesn't even know but who has just lost his sister; confident and a little cocky - with Lucas; curious and investigative - going through the Temple family medical files; smooth and quick thinking in confrontational situations - again with Lucas; gentlemanly and non-judgmental - with the contradictory Gail; and mixed in to all that was a sadness that hovered nearby.

His character was sort of a walking contradiction in terms at times and maybe that's why I liked him, I'm like that.

Anyway, we're given that he was, what Lucas called a 'Yankee Blue Blood'. This suggests that he came from a well-heeled family. He went to Harvard - a prestigious school and for those who know about med school - a competitive one. He had an alcohol problem which resulted in his car accident that took the lives of his wife and daughter. We don't know if he did jail time or not but he isn't allowed a driver's license [that's a supposition because he doesn't drive] and he's been "clean" for 3 years. [However, he had a bottle somewhere in his office. Now that was something that was rather interesting but nothing much came of it.] And the drinking problem was so bad that he'd throw up on his daughter's Christmas present. It was unclear why he'd miss his daughter's school plays - work or alcohol - in any event, he'd miss them.

He considers himself a workaholic or, at least one who puts in too much time at the office, in his confessional to Rev. Coombs, (Potato Boy) {I consider it more symptomatic of the particular area of medicine that he just happens to like to practice - critical care or ER}. He also recognizes that he can have a temper as he also mentioned promising himself that he wouldn't be 'peevish'. (His temper displayed itself earlier at the dinner table where he was improperly reading at the table which resulted in his precious magazine getting milk all over it. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black re table manners.} He also admits to unfulfilled lust, a term that, absent the confessional, one wouldn't really associate with him. He also reveals that he hates himself for these flaws.

The confession, in turn, suggests that Matt is "religious" to the extent that he acknowledges that there is a God, feels the need to confess and, as we see many episodes later, he has his own bible. What was also interesting about the confessional was that the Reverend seemed more sympathetic to Matt then he was his own daughter.

He came to Trinity, in his own words, "to make a difference." [DDTH] He also couldn't go back to his old haunts. Was working in a small town hospital his idea or part of his 'program'? And could he not go back because he couldn't take it emotionally or because he was a pariah in the entire state of Massachusetts?

Back to compassion. Matt seems to have a "rapport" with children in that he bends down to look at Caleb the first time he met him and then puts his arm around him to take him out of the room where Merlyn was. He tries to cheer Caleb up with a gumball and he makes a point of telling Caleb that nothing that happened was his fault. He's also considerate enough to later bring Caleb Merlyn's locket. He also bends down to talk to the Coroner's daughter, Taylor. He was more loving to her then her own father. His 'dream scenes' with Claire are also a delight. If there was any validity to them [and there were some parts that just seemed to be Lucas twisting things] father and daughter adored each other. However, she was aware of his failings as well but accepted them.

He was also concerned enough to talk to Ben about his ex-wife being beaten and the harm that could come to his son. It might be that personal interest which later led Ben to seek some assurances from him after the cigarette bomb incident in 'The Beast Within.'

And for all of the above, was he a good parent? He didn't appear to be. He tried, in his own peculiar way, but parenting doesn't come naturally just because you have a kid. He left books for his daughter to read [according to her note] and he did the same with Caleb and the science project. With Caleb, you can maybe understand, because Caleb is a stranger and seemed hesitant about the whole idea so it's less confrontational to leave a book rather then push the issue. [And going back through the script I have, that bit about him leaving the book was an afterthought. Originally, he actually talked to Caleb about the Bernoulli Principle.] But your own daughter? What about handing it to her and then sharing some time together about what she read and if she liked it and tell her why he gave it to her in the first place? He even had her writing notes to him! Dysfunctional. I suppose, if one wanted to be positive, at least he made the effort.

He also let Caleb make his own "decisions" as if a 10 year old has sufficient experience or knowledge to do such a thing. And the one time where he did draw the line, he went a bit overboard. So Matt definitely could have used some parenting classes.

As to his feistiness, that and his inherent knowledge of what was right, was his primary strength against Lucas. His 'antennae' seemed to sense that there was something not quite right with Lucas' interest in Caleb, and maybe he just sensed that Lucas was an adversary- like other pre-med classmates would be. It was interesting too, in looking back at the earlier episodes, that Matt's questions and comments were more on point then he could ever have imagined. He was disgusted with Lucas when he was calling out the hounds, literally, to find Caleb. And when he asked Ben about working for Lucas [and Ben toes the party line as if he had never seen Merlyn's neck snapped], Matt asked him - No matter what it costs you? While Matt suspected Lucas in the Temple family members' deaths, it's unclear if he thought that Ben really knew anything. And when he and Gail were walking on a pier and talking about Caleb before the custody hearing, he opined that maybe Lucas wanted a protegee. If only the writers had remembered his Sherlock Holmes' impersonation and some of the quips he made off the cuff and had him remember them and then do the logical deduction - if it looks like a duck, smells like a duck, walks and talks like a duck - hey, it's a duck. Oh well.

Matt was always good for a comeback when Lucas was around. It was even enough to rouse him out of his depression during 'To Hell and Back'. A great scene from the Pilot was where he grabs Lucas' arm before Lucas can open the door to Caleb's room. "What part of our earlier conversation didn't you understand?" Very cheeky. Lucas actually gave up and allowed Matt to tell him to drop off his present for Caleb at the desk. I think if the show had continued more in that vein (sp?) then their adversarial positions would have been more dynamic. And another great line was his - it's what separates the men from the boys - line.

Then again, the antennae didn't always work. He didn't suspect anything was out of place with the Flint Boys [in fact, he was in the dark throughout that entire episode]; and he seemed oblivious to Gail's self-centerdness (either that or he just doesn't totally understand women - Chris can say that he really does understand women and that his supportiveness of Gail meant that there was something going for her).

His character hit rock bottom in 'To Hell and Back' where we got Matt's depression full blast. He claimed that after the crash, nothing else mattered. But if that were true, he wouldn't have taken such an interest in Caleb. He certainly wouldn't have expended so much energy trying to thwart Lucas. The most important part of the whole episode, and perhaps the most telling about his character, we never see. We're just supposed to assume that Matt somehow was strong enough to pull himself out from the pit of hell, by himself, and come back with guns a blazing to continue his crusade against Lucas, this time with some personal reasons mixed in. Of course, we can also surmise from his ability to pull himself out on his own that he was really strong, deep down inside. It takes a strong person to admit that they had a drinking problem and to be able to frankly state to a room full of people that he was responsible for killing his wife and daughter in a car crash due to drinking. (Eye of the Beholder). His ability to convey his emotions just through a glance or look was intense. [Hmmm. That's more a Jake observation . :-)]

After that, his character seemed quite fine. There was no more moping. Given his curiosity and the ability to truly research an issue, it would have been nicer to have seen Matt figure out exactly why Lucas wanted Caleb and figure out how to fight him on that front. Or, to figure that battling Lucas might be a losing one and thus concentrate on making Caleb stronger. If he had been given the chance to finally figure out and accept that Lucas was not totally "human" and that Caleb was his son [something that I think he could have and maybe should have worked out with all the information he had], he could have gotten Caleb to acknowledge what he was and work from there. But that would have made his character even more important and God forbid that that should ever have been allowed to happen. As it was, CBS reared its ugly head, and all of a sudden a person who was strong enough to get the lead out even though he'd been without sleep for who knows how many days and was depressed out of his skull and made to watch his family crash and burn again, all of a sudden decides to take some woman's word that she's Lucas Buck's mother and gets sucked in by a book on evil to where he throws all of his earlier personal integrity out the window and takes evidence of a potential crime and tries to kill LB. Riiight.

As for the episode that had Merlyn hitting him with the gotta-highlight-the-entire-Bible illness - she had a lot of gall. Where would Caleb have been by then if Matt had decided that Caleb just wasn't his concern? Matt had everything to lose and nothing to gain by taking Caleb under his wing. He was subjected to Lucas' constant yammering about his alcoholism and his dead family not only in person but to the Trinity public at large. He almost lost his position at the hospital in THAB. That he didn't lose it or wasn't looked upon by the community as a plague unto himself is a testament to the true character that shined through despite all the trials and tribulations that he had to endure.

What we weren't told. We never were told why he started drinking in the first place. We also never know how life with Lily really was. Matt's waxing lyrical about his beloved wife and darling daughter [I don't doubt the darling daughter part] could have been a guilt-ridden person's way of seeing only the good in the deceased.

Was his alcoholism purely a response to too much work? What part of the job didn't he like? He appeared to truly enjoy what he was doing. And if he were tired after work, why not go home and unwind? Or was his loving wife perhaps not so loving? And the latter part is hard to figure out because we only see her in the 'dream scene' when she's supposedly finally had it with Matt and leaving him to go be with mother. [Her various states of post-accident grossness don't count.] So she's in major bitch mode and definitely not at her best. She gave one the impression of being semi-socialite - my friends at my party with my boss. So I wondered if he didn't like the pressures that went from being from a wealthy family [his] and being expected to do the 'Yankee' thing of entertaining, shmoozing, etc. [which she obviously liked] but if that were so then he wouldn't have come off so smoothly at the hospital charity auction after Lucas stuck his foot in his mouth over the Chinese dogs. Yes, he was always quick with a retort when it came to Lucas but that was more then that. So I dismissed the - family/social/keep up with the Jones' pressures thing.

That left Lily. And again, suspecting that maybe it wasn't exactly the match made in Heaven comes more from her hostile tone in the car then anything else. And that's really a lop-sided picture of her. The only thing that would suggest that she wasn't really a witch was her one statement - let us go - that could have had a double meaning - quit grieving for us and move on. [Maybe her spirit was able to reach out to tweak Lucas' hallucination. That might explain Claire and the letter. That would mean that Lily did love him.]

It's possible that the alcoholism was something that just crept up on him. I just thought that we could have had a better overall picture of his character if we knew how that had all started.

What did he make out of the 'dream sequence' that he went through during THAB? Even after he snapped out of his -poor-poor-pitiful-me- routine, he still must have considered the 'dream' to have been real enough to have thought to check his jacket pocket for Claire's letter. And that was real. So what did that make Lucas? Obviously something more then just a "man" as he told Mrs. Smith. And with all that went on, I honestly can't fathom how Matt didn't figure out that Lucas probably had raped Caleb's mother, hence his interest in the boy. Again, I think he had the ability, after THAB, to have put together all the pieces of the puzzle that he had been collecting and seen the whole picture. He may have tried to put a more mundane spin on things, although Lucas raping Caleb's mother to have a child isn't exactly mundane.

Rosebuck had mentioned Dr. Matt's bedside manner. Tried to review the times when we saw him with patients. He seemed okay with the guy who went into the seizure under anesthesia [before he was put under]. I thought he was fine with the junk yard owner after his wife was placed in the hospital. He was a little snitty with Selena but that was due more to her lack of a true injury and the fact that he saw her for what she was and knew exactly what she was doing and didn't care for it. [Or he made like he didn't care for it although he admitted that it was interesting on a 'certain level'.] He was to the point with the old man who got roughed up by the Flint Boys but I always saw that as a good thing. Plus, you don't patronize old farts like that guy was. He was a bit technical with the pregnant chick but he was concerned. Maybe he hid his concern behind the technical jargon. Didn't see anything wrong with him and Artie although if he were tense, there was a very good reason to be. Those were the only ones, right?

Hair colour. A character discussion of my beloved Yankee doctor would not be complete without a mention about the numerous changes his hair underwent through out the series. To be semi-fair to him, the change from brownish-blonde sort of longish hair to pale blonde on top short hair between the Pilot and the series, may have had something to do with a play he did during the time between the filming of the pilot and the rest of the series. [He played an FBI agent.] It then went through various stages of a more natural-looking brownish-blonde, got a little darker, and then mysteriously turned . . . fall coloured. It wasn't even really auburn. I can't describe what it was in 'Ring of Fire' and even, in a few scenes of 'The Beast Within'. [And how did that happen in one episode?] He then went back to the blonde melange for Plague Sower and DDTAH. If Liz is still out there, she might have more descriptions about his hair colour. :-)

And lastly, while this has nothing to do with Matt's character, I wanted to comment on Jake's. Unlike Paige, who was intimidated by Gary, I felt that aside from his monologue in THAB, Jake gave some of his best stuff when he was pitted against Lucas [Gary]. I almost got the impression that he enjoyed matching wits and going toe to toe with Gary. I certainly enjoyed his portrayal of Dr. Matt and am actually now glad that AG was never renewed because Jake never, ever would have gone back, even if they had begged him to.

And yes, she's done. <Thank God, they all scream.>

Billy PeeleBen HealySelena CoombsThe Also-RansGail EmoryFloydThe Flint GangGuests 1Merlyn TempleGuests 2Matt CrowerCaleb TempleLucas Buck

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1. August 2002