The purifier is one of the secondary characters we meet in The Chronicles of Riddick. In that respect, he is unique among our anti-heroes. All the others are protagonists, first-tier characters in their movies. When he makes an entrance he is just one of the many Necromonger dignitaries – and not particularly likable either!
Yet as the movie progresses his character deepens. This has mostly to do with his penchant for dropping probing comments which imply more than they explain. By the end of the movie he grows on us and we may even come to like him. (I certainly did!)
His role in the Necromonger power structure is that of a proselytizer.
He converts prisoners to the Necromonger faith. Ascetic and zealot-like (the traits that come across admirably in Linus Roache’s intensely personal take), he goes about the job relying on his rhetoric and fervor. He addresses the crowd – call it a captive audience – in the words which give us a glimpse into his mindset.
“In this world life is antagonistic to the natural state. Here humans in all their various races are a spontaneous outbreak. An unguided mistake. Our purpose is to correct that mistake. Because there is another verse, a verse where life is welcomed, cherished. A ravishing ever new place called Underverse. But the road to that verse crosses over the threshold.”
What strikes me the most about this guy is that he is a traitor. He betrayed his people and his faith and wound up a tormented soul.
Despite the first impression of him as your basic soap-box preacher we soon find out there is more to him than meets the eye. Besides, among all those imposing Necromonger jocks he cuts a rather frail nerdy figure. Which is something I could absolutely relate to?
He also comes across as someone constantly thinking, brooding, and generally being a gadfly among his more down-to-earth buddies. Sometimes you get the distinct feeling nobody takes him seriously and yet everybody feels uncomfortable in his company. Plus, his insights are uncanny. That can’t make you very popular with your cagey friends.
Finally, Purifier’s big moment comes on the planet Crematoria. He and Lord Vaaco and the search party finally catch up to Riddick in the hellish wastes of Crematoria. The vista is more than an apt backdrop for a tragedy. The sunrise. Over the scorched plains of the desolate planet.
His ordeal ensues and at that point, I was sold on him.