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March 16 2011

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce: Joss Whedon's true tragic hero. PopMatters continues its Spotlight on Joss Whedon series.

Opened on the second page of the article which confused me for a bit.

But yes, Wesley's arc on Buffy and Angel was fantastic. Great writing, and why Alexis isn't a huge movie star alongside Brad Pitt or George Clooney I have no idea.
It's always a toss up for me whether Wesley or Spike have the best arc, after reading that it's Wesley (and it'll probably stay that way for, like, the entire day, maybe edging into evening ;).
He doesnít have an invulnerable body or Angelís tortured soul; he has a shotgun and a purpose."

Liked this, 'He had a shotgun and a purpose' wouldn't be a bad epitaph for Wes (although he did like his twin pistols too).

(the typo/proof-reading issue seems to have crept back in with this one though, bit distracting)


ETF: quotage

[ edited by Saje on 2011-03-16 08:46 ]
Great article. I've always considered Wesley's arc to be the most spectacular in the Whedonverse -- and quite possibly in any television show.
It never really occurred to me that Wesley just couldn't catch a damn break.
Good article and Wesley was indeed one of the best, most developed characters. One thing though, I dunno if it's just me but I never thought his relationship with Lilah was about lust and passion, I mean I never got that vibe off them and didn't think they had much chemistry as a couple, I thought it was much more about Wesley taking out his self-loathing on Lilah.
I love Wesley, he's one of my favorite characters. This piece has some great analysis.

I've always thought that Wesley has a whore/madonna complex and that was highlighted by "Billy". He treated Justine and Lilah like crap and worshipped Fred.
Not sure about that, Justine slit his throat and left him to die and Lilah wasn't exactly the poster girl for human goodness either, that he'd treat those two much worse than the (decent, kind) love of his life seems fairly understandable. Seems to me like he treated them pretty much as they deserved.

Still, it's worth noting that in all the talk about his father we know next to nothing about his mother.

(and agreed, Wes/Lilah was about lust for sure IMO but it was mainly about Wes wallowing in his own darkness, giving himself the only relationship that he, in his self-loathing, thought he deserved)
By far my favorite character arc in all of television. I think what most appealed to me about Wes was his complete devotion to the ends justifying the means. It's rarely mentioned in pieces like this, but I found his character development during season two's Pylea episodes to be significant. When he told Gunn, "If you try not to get anybody killed, you end up getting everybody killed," and when he gave Angel his pep-talk about coming back from his pure demon-self, "I need him to believe it," shows just how serious and sacrificing Wes will be to achieve an ultimately good end. Up until those scenes, I don't think the audience had seen Wes so strongly displaying that ideology.
I've never liked Wesley. Because he never owned up and admitted fault when he screwed up. And even with all the other changes he went through, he never quite grew up in that way. Though I admit that the story arc had a lot going for it other than that.
Won't say I agree with the entire synopsis, but must say that the Wesley arc is the most powerful Whedon storyline (spanning two series even!). I don't think any other storyline had the same emotional rollercoaster for me.

Think of his journey
-bumbling fool/comedic reflef
-stalwart friend
-sympythatic soul
-fallen angel
-redeemed hero

We laughed at him, hated him and loved him. Any character that can bring those kind of emotions is truly 'Whedon'.
He might not have admitted his faults, but he decidedly did grow up a lot during the two series. I hated his ending on Angel...didn't want to see him go.

What does get me is that I don't think he would have signed a contract like Lilah's...I don't think he'd have been a W and H lackey in the afterlife.
Very good essay on Wesley and his character arc.

However, I agree with Saje. The typos are very distracting. Especially the misspelling of Lilah's name.
@Cutlass:
I've never liked Wesley. Because he never owned up and admitted fault when he screwed up. And even with all the other changes he went through, he never quite grew up in that way. Though I admit that the story arc had a lot going for it other than that.


Funny, I never felt that about Wesley but it's almost exactly how I always felt about Xander. He's a great character so much of the time and at his best he's absolutely awesome, but other times... Sure, he's only human and everyone gets the right to screw up; Xander just seemed to be the only one who always somehow managed to avoid ever paying any price when he did.

He never ever owned up to his actions at the end of season 2, and everyone just let him get away with that pathetic "I didn't know what was going to happen!" justification at the end of OMWF - when people had died!

For all the flaws in the comics, I'm very grateful for Xander's Season 8 arc for that reason - for once, he didn't get off scot-free. For whatever reason, that makes it easier for me to focus on the awesome when I think about the rest of his story.

(hope this isn't too much of a threadjack)
digupherbones, thanks for that comment about Wesley and Lilah. She seemed like, sort of, interim woman, a person who served his dark side, with some sort of residual "fondness" thrown in on his part. I find it interesting, that in the midst of an excellent essay, the writer didn't mention Wesley's relationship with the gangster's daughter, who while not a major milestone and the storyline abruptly ended with no explanation I can recall, was some measure of sweetness for him, in a life that to my mind was pretty barren and sad, on a personal level.

I can't say Wesley is my favorite character, but his journey for me, is the most poignantly sad.
For me Wesley is the ultimate Whedon character when it comes to development, story and just everything. He is my favorite character. And I think part of it is that he is a very human character in a very supernatural world. He went through a lot of shit and came through the other side tougher for it. I think this article does a justice that I cannot give with my brute wording.

Great job man.

Also, fix your typos.
I do wish the article writers wouldn't make it sound like Joss did all of this by himself.
It takes a village of twisted, genius writers to raise a Wesley.

As for Wesley's time with Lilah, I think Spike had some important insight:

Spike: I had a relationship with her, too.
Angel: Okay, sleeping together is not a relationship.
Spike: It is if you do it enough times.

Lots of interesting points I agree with but I was surprised by this statement: "It is known that Whedon and Denisof have a unique relationship in regards to Whedonís writing of the character. At the end of Buffy Season Three, Whedon asked Denisof whether he would like Wesley to fight courageously or wimp out. Denisof suggested that Wesley be knocked out before he could do any real good.". I wasn't aware that Joss ever asked the actors to help determine the character's fate. Did Boreanaz get to decide that he lost his soul as often as I misplace my keys; did Hannigan suggest it might be fun to 'go gay', etc?

[ edited by baxter on 2011-03-16 23:26 ]
This was an excellent article for the typoes. I know Whedon states that Spike grew the most as a character, but Wes had the best character arc. From bumbling nerd to tragic hero Wes' tale was always wonderful to watch. In my list of favorite Buffyverse characters, he ranks number two, and Angel only gets number one barely.

That's how much I loved Wes, and I bawled like a baby in "Never Fade Away" when he wanted Illyria to lie to him.
baxter: Once in a while Joss will ask someone something. It isn't a habit, but Joss isn't completely inflexible.

I basically like this analysis.

I wish someone more adept in the philosophy of coincidence and metaphor than I am would analyze the hidden meaning behind the twin facts of 1- Wesley-Fred and willow-Tara being the modern tragic (modern sense, not classical sense) love stories in the Buffyverse 2- A principal actor in one portrayal is married to a principal in the other in real-life

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