Life is infinitely more pleasurable when there are people in it who care about you. That is ultimately the hidden meaning in Murder Rooms, the subtle emphasis that lies just under the surface, and even pervades many of the scripts. In the downtrodden streets, among forgotten photographers, abused prostitutes, and melancholic museum curators, is a desperate need to be cared about by another human being. Souls cry out for it, for a friend, for a hand in the darkness to pull them into the light, for someone, anyone, to care. And it echoes most strongly in Doyle, the lead protagonist; a struggling but compassionate young doctor reeling from feelings of inadequacy, through the forced abandonment of his father into a mental institution. The guilt, and the misery of seeing his father thus, eats Doyle up inside, leaving him alone in his sadness and desperately in need of guidance. And then, miraculously, through his own sharp tongue and moral outrage at others who dismiss the plight of those weaker than themselves, he finds Dr. Bell. Imagine, the glory of it. An opinionated, indignant, even angry young medical student, who catches the compassionate, guiding attention of one of Edinburgh’s most respected professors. Bell could have him expelled for impertinence; instead, he makes Doyle his clerk. He takes him under his wing. He becomes, either intentionally or unintentionally, the father figure that Doyle so desperately needs. He is the rock in the storm, a source of stability and guiding light, a voice of reason in the chaotic darkness of Doyle’s misery. In later years, as Doyle struggles to build a practice and to rein in his sensitive heart, Bell is there to provide for him, to spend time with him, to abandon a prestigious practice and responsibilities in his own town, to help Doyle out. Though somewhat critical of Doyle’s fanciful stories, Bell is his greatest supporter, a friend in his darkest hours, and sometimes a brutal voice of truth amid the screaming of Doyle’s own mental imaginings.
Where the threat of insanity looms, Bell is there to remind him of the truth of life; where a problem arises, he is there to point out solutions. Without him, Doyle would survive but not do so happily; Bell sensed a need and stepped into it. He became the father Doyle would have never had otherwise. He became an instigator of truth, a mentor, a father, a friend… someone who cared. In life, that is all most of us search desperately for: someone who cares. Not the false pretense of friendship, not a smile when things are good and absence in our darkest hour, but someone who earnestly thinks of us as a friend, who goes out of their way to care about us, who lets us into their heart. Without it, we founder, we are miserable, we seek respite in whatever we think will make us happy… but it often doesn’t. Some are fortunate to have parents that fill this role, that align alongside us and walk with us along life’s journey toward our greater purpose. Others must struggle to find the path on their own. Some get to sit in lit windows with warmth all around them, safe and secure in the knowledge that they are loved; other stare from dark street corners, standing alone in the cold. If we can only learn one thing from Dr. Bell, in all his wondrous mental capacity, it is the ability to see a need in someone else and the kindness to go out of his way to fill it.
ETA: Totally spaced this earlier, but The Dark Beginnings is Streaming an episode of MR tonight (7PM UTC time).