“The Pickett Line” really shows why the world needs men like Tom Mason. Good, intelligent men make excellent leaders. They are above the bureaucracy, political intrigue and social misbehavior of lesser men, able to provide stability and strength in a chaotic world. Tom was the bedrock of Charleston. Without him, who can keep Pope in line, stop Peralta from going power hungry, all while keeping the people hopeful and prepared for battle?
“The Pickett Line” also shows the danger of educated men who are out for themselves. Pope riles up the people and begins a strike after the Colonel orders PopeTown to be moved. Pope’s Carpe Diem attitude is threatened by anyone with authority over him, and he’s thrown in jail after organizing a rally concerning a mass halting of work. He recognizes that the democracy under Tom Mason is not the democracy Peralta has in mind. “You have the power,” he spits at the Colonel, “but you do not have the right.” While intelligent (the same character type as Sawyer on LOST, an educated gentleman of fortune), Pope is hindered by his chaotic moral compass.
We also see the problem of people who want to do good but don’t know if they can trust their leader, and those people who follow another leader, committing treasonous acts in order to bring about certain events. When there are few good men, the innocent suffer.
When Tom and his boys are hijacked by a masked gang, he leads the boys back to the gang’s lair and uncovers another family: two brothers and three children. Power is transferred from one family to the other as they fight to survive, but Tom never stops being compassionate. He invites them to Charleston, he tries to show that they are not alone, and he doesn’t harm them.
Meanwhile, the “real” President of the United States shows up in the arms of Cochise. The President and Peralta talk to Cochise about the Volm weapon, but he’s unwilling to share lots of information, since he doesn’t believe that Hal was the only mole. Cochise, like Tom, is intelligent and kind, but he is surrounded by power hungry Peralta, the suspicious Colonel, and the President, who has not been the most trustworthy of individuals, as he took Cochise into custody when they first met.
The Colonel even meets with Pope, admitting that Tom was the one who stuck up for Pope, saying that he might be needed to do something “essential”. Pope gets out of jail and runs into Maggie, taunting her, insinuating that they are the same, that all they want is to survive and that they will both do so at any cost. A great leader does not manipulate or threaten those beneath him, and no matter how hard Pope tries, his shady ways of inciting riots will never reach the heights that Tom’s stirring speeches do.
The only problem with Tom’s leadership is that he trusted Peralta, and after Doctor Delgado murders the “real” President, I’m beginning to suspect Peralta is in cahoots with Doctor Delgado, who is crawling with the “ear bugs” that had plagued Hal. Pope and the Colonel definitely both suspect her, but their plans about her future are still somewhat unclear. However, as a leader, you have to trust someone, and Tom simply put his trust in the wrong person, but he didn’t have very many choices.
With Tom gone from Charleston and the real President dead, Peralta has Cochise and the Colonel under her thumb, as well as the citizens of Charleston. Tom left them in what he thought were capable hands, but without him, they’re done for. I’m afraid the same thing has happened with his sons. They continued on to Anne and Lexi while he returned to warn the Picketts about mega-mechs and skitters at the end of “The Pickett Line”.
Now that Tom has left both Charleston and his boys, will either survive without their great leader?