She Did This for Me

Are there such things as life debts? In the movie, Brokedown Palace (1999), Claire Danes’ character, Alice Moreno, takes the rap for close friend and soul sister, Darlene Davis, played by Kate Beckinsale, ending up serving a lifelong sentence in a Thai prison. What struck me as potentially interesting, is that there is ambiguity as to whether Moreno was actually guilty. When asked by Darlene whether she “did it,” Moreno responds only that it was “the right thing to do,” her setting Darlene free of a life encumbered by cockroaches and shared prison cells. “Be happy,” she entreats, “I need you to.” There are three possibilities: a random man they met by the poolside smuggled the drugs, Alice did it and owned up, or Darlene did it and Alice took the blame for her.

I tend to think that in the first and third cases, Darlene would have a karmic debt to repay, especially for the way she treated Alice during the course of their incarceration and trial. The Universe sees us all as exactly equal, so the fact that Darlene was sweet and sensitive, while Alice was bold, even wild, would not really count in the way we tend to think. The string of behaviors leading up to the event, however, with Alice daring Darlene to flaunt the rules and then landing them both in trouble, would have played a part. But the most important thing is whether Alice actually did it and why she took the rap for Darlene. If it was because she was, in fact, guilty and had a change of heart or a tug of conscience, we’d be inclined to think it really was the “right thing” and everything would have been square with her admission, maybe even not quite, with everything Darlene had to go through for her friend’s choice.

It’s interesting to consider what the knock-on effects might be in a future life, when the scales are balanced again. You’d never know if Alice and Darlene would be in a sibling rivalry, spousal inequality or another form of relationship that seemed like it was unbalanced, in the context of one life.


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