This is no more a spoiler than a trailer for the next episode of Dirk Gently. Unless you haven’t finished season 1, in which case you may hesitate to read what I have to say.
The season 1 finale of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency has everything falling apart for basically everyone who survived to the end of the season. One of the biggest things to happen, though, was that Todd Brotzman got Pararibulitis. This is a fictional nerve disease that causes hallucinations that feel real and causes an immense amount of pain for the person suffering from it. It’s a disease that runs in Todd’s family, in fact his sister Amanda already had it before he did. A lot of people have talked about this ending as seeing Todd getting the disease as punishment, namely because of the song that plays at the end. First Things First by Neon Trees.
You are never gonna get
Everything you want in this world
First things first
Get what you deserve
I mean someone gets a disease and then a song goes on to say “Get what you deserve” that definitely sounds like a punishment. But I don’t at all believe this was true. Even before seeing season 2, it just didn’t make sense. First off, it runs in his family, so the odds are he would get it eventually anyway. Secondly, he gets this after he’s righted all his wrong. By the end he has come clean and told the truth to Amanda about having previously faked having the disease to get money. He has saved the world and Lydia by stopping the soul swapping bad guys. He has even come to believe in Dirk and is choosing to follow him and help him solve future cases. Why, after everything, would he then be punished?
It is true that Todd himself sees it as a punishment, but as we go further into season 2 it’s obvious that it isn’t. If Todd didn’t have Pararibulitis then he wouldn’t have had that episode right in front of Sheriff Hobbs, who then wouldn’t have found the pill bottle left behind with his info, which then wouldn’t have led to Todd, Dirk, and Farah getting arrested. This is ultimately a good thing, because that keeps them in this town where the weird stuff starts happening, and it gives them a new set of people who are now willing to help, and not turn them in to Black Wing, who is hunting them.
If Todd didn’t have the disease he wouldn’t have had an episode at the same time as Amanda, who is now showing that the disease in connection with the Rowdy 3 actually gives her powers. Them both having an attack at the same time allows Todd to figure out where Amanda actually is.
Todd didn’t deserve to be punished. He deserved to have help, he deserved to find his sister, and he deserves to be part of the team that stops the terrible things that are happening in this town. Pararibulitis is making that happen. It’s all connected.
More than that though, in real world terms, when real diseases are contracted it’s hard to see the silver lining. Sometimes maybe there just isn’t one. But sometimes there is. I recently read an article about Michael J. Fox, and he talked about how he wasn’t exactly happy to have Parkinson’s disease, but that his having it has been a good thing. He’s been able to bring attention to the disease in ways others haven’t. He’s been able to help raise money and get awareness to where they’re working on a cure for it. Because of who he is, having this disease has brought about a lot of good.
Nobody wants something bad to happen to them. It’s hard to see how it could be good given that we call it “something bad”. But sometimes those bad things do actually happen so other good can come of it. Instead of looking at it as a punishment, maybe we should look at it as we deserve to have this obstacle to overcome so we can come out stronger and more capable than ever.