Bold Deserving Rogues

One-Ten: How did you get on with Dragna?
Steed: We got on well. I rather like him.
One-Ten: You would.

In this scene from The Removal Men, Steed and his boss lounge on a beach in the south of France and discuss how to deal with the villian, a character named Dragna whose primary business is arranging assassinations for money.

We learn something important about Steed here. He has met Dragna, been a guest in his home, made a business arrangement with him while posing as a criminal for hire. He knows full well what it is Dragna does for a living. Steed has set himself against Dragna, and will do everything he needs to do in order to bring him to justice, including shoot him, which he ends up doing in Act III.

And yet Steed says he likes the man.

The only thing One-Ten can see about Dragna is the rap sheet and the trail of bodies. And this probably would be true even if One-Ten, like Steed, had actually met him. One-Ten is put off by Steed’s admission that he likes Dragna. But he also isn’t surprised by it: One-Ten already thinks Steed is something of a rogue, so he figures it takes one to know one, and he says as much.

It’s possible that Steed says he likes Dragna because he knows that it will annoy his boss. But I suspect it’s more than that. It’s not any roguishness on Steed’s part, or that Steed is anything like Dragna, that leads him to begin to like his adversary. Rather, Steed sees in Dragna more than just a villain and a murderer. Steed also sees Dragna’s humanity.

Steed sees Dragna’s sense of humor, his hospitality, the way he makes deals with the people he works with—which, considering the business he is in, seems remarkably straightforward and plain dealing. Dragna doesn’t trust Steed (and well he shouldn’t), but even though he’d cheerfully put a bullet in Steed’s head if he thought he had a reason (which he later tries to do), he treats Steed with a certain amount of respect, at least until he finds Steed has double-crossed him. Steed returns that respect, albeit not without a healthy dose of caution and eyes wide open to the kind of man Dragna is.

They each recognize in each other a fellow professional, someone who is good at their job and wants to do it well. Dragna, of course, is completely wrong about what Steed’s job actually is, and Steed wants to make sure Dragna is stopped and brought to justice. But that doesn’t prevent Steed from seeing beyond the crimes to the human being he needs to deal with.


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