Face-Off: A New Beginning Tommy Jarvis vs. Jason Lives Tommy Jarvis

This Friday is a Friday the 13th, so it seemed fitting to make FRIDAY THE 13TH the theme for this week's Face-Off. Past FRIDAY THE 13TH Face-Offs have put movie against movie and given more attention to iconic slasher Jason Voorhees, but one aspect of the series that has been neglected are the heroes and heroines. Many fans consider Tommy Jarvis to be Jason's greatest foe - the character appeared in three movies, each time at a different stage in his life and each time played by a different actor. He ended the reign of human Jason and brought about the zombie Jason era. So who better to be the focus of a Face-Off? With three Tommy Jarvises to choose from, let's take a look at the second and third iterations of the character and see which one comes out as the better version. FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING Tommy or JASON LIVES: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI Tommy?
In FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER, Tommy Jarvis was a bespectacled kid who spent his free time playing video games and customizing monster masks. The glasses and monster masks carry over into A NEW BEGINNING, where we find that Tommy's encounter with Jason Voorhees in the previous film has left him deeply damaged. Newly released into a halfway house after receiving every treatment imaginable at a mental institution, Tommy still suffers from intense hallucinations of Jason and has to take medication to make the visions fade. Following a survivor into a sequel is a rare thing for FRIDAY THE 13TH, and it's interesting to see the impact Jason has had on Tommy's mind; a kid doesn't hack a spree killer to death with a machete and walk away unscathed.
Gone are the glasses and monster masks, the only mask this Tommy Jarvis has in his possession is Jason's hockey mask. Still so traumatized by his encounter with Jason Voorhees, and so irrationally afraid that Jason will come back from the dead somehow, Tommy digs up the killer's grave so he can cremate the corpse himself. Instead, he ends up causing the resurrection that he feared. The events of A NEW BEGINNING aren't directly referenced, only Tommy's "mother and friends" being murdered in THE FINAL CHAPTER, but ANB fills in important gaps in Tommy's life that get him to this point, it makes the grave digging more understandable. Name and references to the back story aside, there isn't a lot to firmly tie the JASON LIVES version of Tommy to FINAL CHAPTER Tommy.
Tommy is preparing to re-enter society, but his people skills still need work. He's very quiet and awkward, and doesn't interact with others very well, barely responding when they speak to him. He only really opens up to one other person, the halfway house cook's grandson Reggie, in one scene. Beyond that, he keeps to himself, and you're much more likely to find him leaning against a tree and kicking dirt or staring at a neon sign than hanging around other people.
Tommy is doing a lot better than he was in A NEW BEGINNING. His people skills have improved so much that he's even able to play the romantic lead in this film, falling for sheriff's daughter Megan Garris over the course of a Friday the 13th. Some people may think he's babbling crazy nonsense, but at least he's able to talk to people now with no sign of the awkward quietness he had before. His time in the mental institutions has successfully made him functional again.
Tommy was a smart kid in THE FINAL CHAPTER, but he doesn't get a chance to demonstrate those smarts in A NEW BEGINNING. He's too busy keeping to himself and dealing with the trauma in his head. However, the fact that he does keep to himself so much could be taken as a sign of intelligence when you consider who his fellow residents are at the halfway house. Locking yourself in your room and avoiding this bunch of knuckleheads may be the smartest thing someone could do in this situation.
THE FINAL CHAPTER Tommy is quickly able to figure out that shaving his head could at least momentarily confuse Jason into thinking he's looking at a younger version of himself. JASON LIVES Tommy doesn't seem too bright when he's causing Jason to come back from the dead, but who expects lightning to resurrect a rotting corpse? In just one evening, with a couple books, Tommy is able to deduce that the way to stop Jason now is to return him to his original resting place. That's some quick thinking.
I like to refer to A NEW BEGINNING Tommy as "Kung Fu Grip Tommy", because it's clear that he has picked up some self defense skills between films. He doesn't like to be scared or picked on, and if anyone messes with him he beats the hell out of them. A fellow halfway house resident gets flipped through a table and receives some punches for pulling a prank on him. An idiot local who tries to start something with him quickly regrets it when Tommy starts pummeling him with fists and feet. This Tommy is kind of a badass.
This is a bit of a disappointment - Tommy seems to have completely forgotten all of those fighting skills he had in the previous movie. He must be out of practice, because one of the coolest elements of ANB Tommy was left out of this sequel. He doesn't kick and punch his way out of trouble, other people take him down and restrain him with ease. The only thing fans of Kung Fu Grip Tommy have to hold on to here is the one punch Tommy manages to get in during his climactic tussle with Jason.
Tommy can handle himself against regular people, but when he comes face to face with hockey masked copycat killer Roy Burns those fighting skills go out the window. Tommy is paralyzed with fear as Roy approaches him and is nearly killed. Luckily he carries a knife, which gets him out of that near death situation. It's really up to Reggie and halfway house employee Pam to handle the heroism in this film, but Tommy does get some redemption when he strikes the blow that sends Roy falling to his death.
This Tommy is clearly a hero, determined to destroy Jason from the moment the film begins. After he accidentally brings Jason back, he's desperate to fix the mistake, even defying authority figures and participating in two car chases in his effort to do so. He knows what moves Jason will make and delves into the occult to find a way to stop him. It must be noted that Megan gives him a strong assist; without her, he wouldn't get the necessary supplies, wouldn't get out of jail, and wouldn't survive the movie.
The Tommy Jarvis trilogy is a fun little saga embedded within the FRIDAY THE 13TH series; it's interesting and entertaining to follow the character through three films, even if he isn't entirely consistent. Each portrayal of Tommy has its merits, but when the A NEW BEGINNING and JASON LIVES versions go head-to-head, JASON LIVES Tommy squeaks out a 3-to-2 win. Romantic Lead Tommy is the better hero, but the result might have been different if Kung Fu Grip Tommy had used those ass-kicking skills on Roy Burns.

Do you agree that JASON LIVES Tommy is the better version of the character, or do you think A NEW BEGINNING Tommy should have won this match-up? Let us know your thoughts on this Face-Off and the Tommy Jarvis trilogy by leaving a comment below. If there are any movie or character pairings you'd like to see in future Face-Off articles, send me an e-mail at [email protected].



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