Thursday, April 18, 2013

Top 10: Buffy/Angel Characters

       One thing Joss Whedon is exceptionally good at is character development and writing.  So to celebrate that I wanted to dive into his characters, so I broke it down to his longest running series, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and its spin-off Angel.  Before we begin I want to start with a Spoiler Warning, since these characters developed over years and some are tied to major plot points I don't want to ruin the series for anyone.

10) Xander Harris

       Xander barely made it onto this list, and he did so for one reason, he lived longer than my number 11, and they both had the same role.  Xander was the only normal human with the Scoobies by season 7.  Which meant as the show developed he watched as everyone he knew became more and he was helpless to change it.  Xander was the heart of the team, the one who kept them where they needed to be and despite his limitations he was willing to lay down his life over and over again to save his friends.  By the end of season 7 he lost an eye fighting against someone who clearly outmatched him, yet he still returned for the final battle against evil to save the world.  He was also the only one who was skeptical of Angel and Spike joining the group.

9) Illyria

       Illyria is the only pure blood demon to fight on the side of good.  However this is because of a mutual understanding rather than her being a good guy.  Illyria is stuck in the body of Fred, a girl everyone liked, thus adding tension between Illyria and everyone else.  The twist is Illyria doesn't want to be, she was summoned by one of her followers and is now unable to return home.  She also has almost Godlike powers, but again these are restrained due to the body she is stuck in.  Then there is how she understands the world around her, in short she doesn't.  She has only been in the mortal realm for a few months by the end of the show and has to discover everything that everyone else already knows.  This all adds up to make a character the viewer feels sorry for.

8) Faith

       If someone were to ask you to describe a female vampire slayer, Faith is probably what you come up with.  Faith's watcher was killed by a vampire early in her career, leaving her all alone.  She is ruthless, violent, and lives each day as though it were her last.  In season four she suffers a minor psychotic break and goes evil, but again this is what you would expect from a girl who was bred to hunt monsters and doesn't have the support group Buffy has.  She later saw the errors of her way and Angel rehabilitated her, she now is a part of the Slayer organization.

7) Fred

       There's no getting around it, Fred is awesome.  When she is introduced she is a wild girl living in a cave in a parallel universe.  When she returns to civilization she is still insane and living in the hotel owned by Angel.  Eventually she regains her mind and becomes the head science person.  This is when she is murdered, but not just regular murdered, her soul is destroyed to make room for the demon Illyria.  The only thing I didn't like about her is the period of time she dated Gunn, not because I disliked him, but I just felt they were a bad pairing, she eventually realizes this and ends up with Wesley before she dies.

6) Wesley

       Speaking of Wesley, when this guy was first introduced he was Watchers' Council's replacement for Giles.  However he allows Giles to remain because he sees the benefit of his experience, making it impossible to hate him.  Then when Angel started he got far more development as a comic relief character who acted as the researcher for Team Angel.  But then around season four he falls apart.  After doing what he believed was the right thing with Angel's Son Conner, he was kicked out of the group and he became a far darker person.  Even when he returned to Angel Investigation he wasn't the same man, but he did resemble himself again.  Wesley is the only person in this series to ever kill a demon with a gun, seriously nobody else pulled it off.  Wesley died in the last episode of Angel during the final assault on the Council of Black Thorn and was avenged by Illyria, as the only one who treated her like a person she felt a connection, and as Wesley died in her arms she took the form of Fred.

5) Lorne

       Lorne is a unique character, he's a demon from another dimension who left because he discovered music.  Lorne has the power to read people's fortunes after hearing them sing to him, and for a while he owned a karaoke bar that as a running gag kept getting destroyed because of Angel.  He acts as a sort of guide to the team and the conscience in the last season.  In the after the fall series he was one of the Demon Lords of LA and turned his domain into a sanctuary.  Lorne is the only member of Angel Investigation who never compromised his values for a goal.

4) Anya

       Anya was once jokingly described as the perfect woman, well to be honest I have to agree.  Anya is a former vengeance demon who lost her powers at the hands of the Scoobies.  She then started a relationship with with Xander that resulted in a near marriage.  Anya is blunt, which is the best part about her, she speaks her mind at all times and no topic is off limit.  She also has a crippling fear of bunnies that is introduced in a Halloween episode where she dresses as one as the scariest thing she can think of.  After Xander leaves her at the alter she is given her powers back and acts as a vengeance demon until she realizes she doesn't like it anymore.  She dies in the last episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer saving Andrew from the Bringers.

3) Cordelia

       Cordelia is the embodiment of the series.  The original idea for the show is that the least likely person fights evil, Buffy started out doing it whereas Cordy had to ease into it more.  When she was introduced she was the stereotypical popular girl, air-headed and self involved with a following of other girls.  But once she learns there is a such thing as monsters she joins the Scoobies uninvited and even loses all her old friends in the process.  Fast forward to Angel season 1 and she is the founder of Angel Investigation and secretary until she decides to take up a sword herself.  She then inherits the visions that Doyle had, and due to her human physiology is forced to choose between the life she always wanted, or becoming part demon to continue saving the people of LA.  Then after that even she ascends and becomes a higher being where she remains the rest of the series.  That is except for one episode in the last season where she returns for the sole purpose of showing Angel he was headed down the wrong path and she corrected him.  Her body then dies and she hasn't been seen since.

2) Angel

       Angel wouldn't make the list if it wasn't for his spin-off show, and when he turned evil.  Whenever he was with Buffy he was boring, as was everyone else when they were with her.  However once he got out on his own he was funny, a badass, and all around awesome.  He makes offhand remarks about knowing celebrities in his past that are hilarious.  However Angel does have his complexities.  He was the most feared vampire of all time, terrorizing Europe for almost 200 years, but he was cursed by a Gypsy who put his soul back.  But if he ever has a moment of true happiness he will lose his soul again and become the monster he once was.  There is another prophecy introduced in Angel that stated a vampire with a soul would become human again once his destiny was fulfilled, and it's automatically assumed to be him.  He loses out to my number one choice simply because of how one dimensional he was the whole first season of Buffy.

1) Spike

       Spike in a word is amazing.  He starts as a villain who's first act is to kill the previous big bad's legacy.  He and his girlfriend Dru go about simply causing mayhem for the sake of it.  After he is defeated he returns periodically to cause problems with some hair brained scheme.  He was captured by a government agency during one of these plans and implanted with a chip that makes him unable to harm humans, so he joins the Scoobies.  He starts a secret relationship with Buffy where she treats him horribly until he finally leaves for a while, returning with his soul returned.  This makes him the only vampire to chose to have his soul returned.  As he puts it "He knows he's love's bitch, but he's man enough to admit it."  At the end of Buffy he sacrifices himself to save the world by closing the Hellmouth for good.  But he then is resurrected in the final season of Angel acting as the antagonistic rival of Angel within the group.  Spike was the comic relief character who could kick most anyone's ass, even Angel on an occasion.  And that is why he earns the number one spot on my list.

       You may have noticed Buffy didn't make the list, its because I think she is a boring character that was done better with other characters in the series.  So do you agree or disagree with my list?  Feel free to post a comment below.