Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Denial

Episodes I've Seen So Far: (Season Two: "Over the Rainbow", "There's No Place Like Plrtz Girb". All of Seasons Three and Four (Except for Peace Out): Season Five Up Through Life of the Party.)

In my last post, What's Love Got To Do With It, I talked about my confusion in "Salvage" as to whether we saw Lilah in ghostly form or if everything we saw was originating in Wesley's "devilishly handsome" head. I also noted a crucial distinction between the two, as it gives us insight as to whether we were being subject to both Wesley and Lilah's true thoughts (Lilah: The only true thing I ever...) or if we were just witnessing Wesley's inner turmoil (Wesley: It wasn't a relationship.)

Although the scene clearly appeared to be a true dialogue between two different characters, (where Wesley was strongly confronting Lilah about her feelings and motivations), upon reviewing the scene a few more times, it became a lot more apparent to me that we were subjected to a purely solo act from Wesley. Indeed, I believed it was an extraordinary plot device the writers used to allow Wesley to work through his emotions and finally confront all of the doubts and questions he had about his relationship, all of which he had been desperately avoiding while Lilah was still living.

I felt reasonably comfortable with my "all of the dialogue emanates with Wesley" point of view, UNTIL I saw Home, when the now-deceased Lilah first walked into the Hyperion Hotel. Wesley firmly told the group, "She's not here. It's not her. It can't be." Lilah replied, "There's a signed dollar in your wallet that says different", which are almost the exact same words used by Lilah in "Salvage" when Wesley firmly denied that they had a relationship.

So, now, I'm really confused. On the bright side, perhaps the distinction as to who gives voice to Lilah's words in "Salvage" is not as crucial as it appears, since the two huge questions are, "Did they love each other?" and "Did they have a relationship?" And I might as well end the suspense (as if there is any) by insisting that the answers to both of these questions are "Yes".

Here are the links to the specific pieces of dialogue mentioned in this post.

"Salvage", http://vrya.net/bdb/clip.php?clip=5168 (just prior to the decapitation)
"Home", http://vrya.net/bdb/clip.php?clip=5594 (Lilah appearing at the Hyperion Hotel)
"Home", http://vrya.net/bdb/clip.php?clip=5596 (conversation between Wesley and Gunn)
"Home", http://vrya.net/bdb/clip.php?clip=5604 (Wolfram & Hart records room)

I'd love to go line-by-line over every piece of dialogue, but that would be taking things to the extreme. I'll just go over some things that stand out to me.

Mutant Enemy writer David Fury stated that he wrote dialogue for Lilah's character for the very first time in the Salvage episode.

"I was actually really proud of "Salvage" especially for the Lilah and Wesley scene, which turned out better than I imagined. This was a scene I was a little bit worried about because I'd never written Lilah before and I didn't want to repeat [what was already done]. They had other conversations like that but I found a nice balance to it. It was a very moving scene and I'm very proud of that. It's the one that is most fresh in my mind right now of the ones I've written."
I certainly agree that this is probably the most moving of all of the Wesley/Lilah scenes. Both the writing and the acting were absolutely superb. I also thought Lilah was talking a bit uncharacteristically, (can you really imagine Lilah saying something like "...no longer encumbered with the secret shame of our relationship"?), though I could think of three main reasons for the dialogue style change. One reason was David Fury writing dialogue for her for the first time (obviously). Two, Lilah was dead, and of course she could be allowed to be a bit more introspective and "not herself" when she was in that condition and three, perhaps Wesley was supplying her with all of the words through his imagination.

I also wondered about the significance of the two Lilahs speaking within the scene. The First Lilah was the one who actually rose from the dead, was wearing less than glamorous clothing, and still had blood smeared on her. The Second Lilah was the glammed-up, power-suited Lilah, perhaps remembered from past encounters? Was the First Lilah the "real" Lilah, with the Second Lilah being, in Lilah's own words, a figment of Wesley's imagination?

I paid close attention to how the two characters touched each other in the scene. Wesley's only attempt to touch Lilah occurred when he pulled a strand of hair away from her face at the beginning, just before the First Lilah opened her eyes and started talking. The fact that he didn't initiate any physical contact with her afterwards possibly symbolized that he didn't think she was really there (except as a silent corpse). Lilah was the one who initiated the contact thereafter, with the first time being shortly after she rose from the table. The two were standing and facing each other at that point, with Lilah putting her hands on his shoulders, then lightly stroking his hair. Wesley was clearly moved by her actions, but he seemed to keep a slight emotional distance from her.

The First Lilah (the real Lilah?) kept comforting Wesley and stressing to him that he should have been relieved that they were through with each other, and that they both knew their doomed relationship would come to a messy end. Wesley, throughout, kept denying any true intimacy between the two of them, which really surprised me the first time I saw the scene. I thought, gee, if there was any opening for him to pour out his true feelings for her, this would be the time. However, Wesley firmly denied that they had a relationship (and this is when Lilah reminded him of the signed $1.00 bill he kept in his wallet, which he obviously didn't keep just because he neglected to spend it).

Wesley's next denial of intimacy was quite vehement. Lilah insisted (correctly) that he knew how she felt, and Wes angrily insisted "You don't feel!" That seemed like a particularly cruel thing to say to her, but Wesley wasn't over. When the First Lilah continued on on with "The only true thing I ever....", Wesley turned his back on the First Lilah, effectively ending their physical contact, and said sharply to the corpse, "You didn't love me." Then, more wistfully, "You couldn't". Wesley was definitely signalling to Lilah that the conversation was over, which she obligingly acknowledged by vanishing. Wesley, who was always busy maintaining a wall around his heart, seemed desperate to build a second layer of defenses in this scene. Admitting any love for Lilah, or even thinking she had any feelings for him, would have been too much for him to bear.

I thought it was really effective how the Second Lilah showed up almost immediately after the First Lilah disappeared. In answering Wesley's accusation that she didn't feel any true feelings for him, the Second Lilah (Wesley?) responded "We'll never know."

The scene temporarily came to an end, only to be continued after a few more action sequences involving the other characters. When the scene resumed, Wesley and Lilah were on opposite sides of the corpse. This Second Lilah seemed a little less introspective and more analytical. The Second Lilah (his imagination?) again pursued her case by starting to talk about Wesley's attempts to save her. This time, Wesley was seated at a chair, gazing down at her corpse. Lilah circled around behind him where he was seated and, while talking about his supposed darkness and "edge of the razor" mystique, leaned over him and again placed her hands on his shoulders. Wesley briefly gazed at her hand on one of his shoulders, and leaned back almost into Lilah, seeming to dissolve into her touch, with an exquisite mixture of love, pain, tenderness and grief etched onto his face.

Instead of talking about the intimacy of their relationship, Lilah stressed how Wesley was trying to save her from her evil ways and offer her redemption. "Redemption?" asked Wesley, as if he's thinking, "Oh, yeah. That's the ticket! Redemption." Lilah exhorted Wesley to get it over with, and Wesley, filled with his new purpose in life, confidently raised his ax. It was as though the Second Lilah was letting Wesley off the hook by allowing him to channel his emotions to the more noble cause of saving her from a miserable existence of being a vampire. Wesley then tenderly told her he was sorry, in a moment that was just as emotionally searing as his apology to Fred in the Billy episode.

The Second Lilah was about to say that the word "sorry" did not appear in their vocabulary. While she was in mid-sentence, (to me, further symbolizing her words were his own), Wesley delivered the blow, with his final look of grief and anguish betraying all of his prior attempts to stamp away any feelings he might have had for her.

When Lilah appeared at the Hyperion Hotel in Home, and mentioned the signed $1 bill out of the blue after Wesley denied the reality of her existence, Lilah seemed to be gently admonishing him for falsely denying his feelings for her while refusing to acknowledge her feelings for him. A little bit later on, Gunn seemed to quietly relish catching Wesley in a "gotcha" moment when Wesley mentioned the awkwardness of a "loved one" returning after being decapitated. I actually found it quite touching how both Angel and Gunn understood Wesley's grief, with Angel even going so far as to say that, although Lilah was a mortal enemy, he felt badly about her death because it hurt Wesley so badly. Both Angel and Gunn knew Wesley loved Lilah!

Then, we get to Wesley's final act of love, when he unsuccessfully tried to burn Lilah's contract in the Wolfram & Hart records room. "But it means something that you tried", was Lilah's response. Again, like all of Wesley's other heartbreaking scenes, where I thought it would be almost too painful for me to watch, I found the scene incredibly moving, although perhaps a little less moving than Wesley's goodbye to Lilah in "Salvage". (And really, anything occurring after "Salvage" would have been a tough act to follow.)

Wesley seemed less lost in his grief, possibly because he was starting to become an old hand at seeing Lilah's ghost. And really, when Lilah appeared with Angel and the rest of the group, I was puzzled that there was very little energy sizzling from her toward Wesley even when she addressed him, although I thought there was clear tension emanating from Wesley. When they were finally alone in the records room, again, I felt more erotic energy from Wesley than Lilah, although I was still convinced she loved him. Lilah had served some of her time in her own personal hell (and appeared to be getting along quite nicely), and seemed to relish her return as an agent for the Senior Partners. Although I'm convinced Lilah still loved Wesley, I really felt as though she was wisely moving on and was able to start putting that part of her existence behind her.

Some of the after death scenes with Lilah seemed to be somewhat of a throwback to some of the earlier scenes in their relationship, where there was an undercurrent of erotic attraction in their mutual sniping. In my next post I'll be focusing more on the "burning the contract" sequence from "Home", along with the sexual energy that manifested throughout their relationship, which I must admit I'm rather looking forward to exploring.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What's Love Got To Do With It?



Episodes I've Seen So Far: (Season Two: "Over the Rainbow", "There's No Place Like Plrtz Girb". All of Season Three. Season Four: Up through "Orpheus".)

I didn't realize how difficult it would be for me to write about the whole Wesley/Lilah relationship. I thought the words would just come pouring out of me. After viewing all of their episodes together, I hoped I would come up with one grand post and be done with it. What an overwhelming task that turned out to be!

I'm not embarrassed to say that the scenes with Wesley and Lilah were hands-down my favorite television scenes I've ever seen in my life! I must have done some unremembered good deed to be rewarded in such a way, where I was able to see the sexiest actor alive (in my opinion) bed down day-after-day with a luscious villainous. What a couple Alexis Denisof and Stephanie Romanov made! Every scene they appeared in positively crackled with erotic energy. Oddly enough, I thought the scenes they appeared in where they weren't being romantic were hotter than the scenes where they were in bed or otherwise engaging in steamy foreplay. I wish their "relationship" could have lasted forever, but like all good things, it had to come to an end. As much as I miss Lilah, it's almost a relief for me that the character of Wesley can continue on without her so I can enjoy the rest of the series with less distraction.

In the excellent YouTube video above, Alexis Denisof tells an audience in Oakland, California that the difference between the relationship between Wesley and Lilah and Wesley and Fred was the difference between sex and love. The audience took delight with his answer, as they should have. Everyone knew what he meant, and there was no reason to explain it any further. However, even Alexis tacitly admitted that the difference between "sex and love" was too simplistic of an answer.

Advice boards are filled with threads where people debate the meanings between love and lust. Love is considered to be "good" while lust is considered to be, not perhaps bad, but somewhat ignoble. Why is it so hard for so many people, including Wesley, and even Alexis himself, to admit that Wesley and Lilah were deeply in love with each other? Why is it that "love" seems to be limited to relationships where people might eventually end up being married to each other? Why is a relationship based on sex almost always considered to be unfulfilling and empty? Is there anything terribly wrong with two people being absolutely crazy about each other having a relationship that will fizzle out in a matter of months?

I realize that the term "relationship" has just as many landmines as the term "love". In Alexis' video, he preferred to use the word "connection" rather than "relationship". Remember how Lilah made a big deal out of Wesley being the first one to use the word "relationship", and made him sign his name on a $1.00 bill to mark the occasion?

Let's say you have two people who call each other up to arrange times to meet, seem to miss each other when they're apart, can relax in each other's company, and experience a deep soulful connection while having sex. What part of this description doesn't imply a loving relationship?

There certainly are some hang-ups surrounding the words "love" and "relationship". The first is that the words seem to imply there will be a commitment to a long-term monogamous relationship that could possibly result in marriage. Someone who is not ready for commitment or marriage may be reluctant to admit he or she is in a loving relationship, even if it's true.

The second hang-up could involve the fact that a relationship could be highly unconventional. A good example would be a rather kinky relationship involving two people representing opposite sides in the war between good and evil. If we admit that these people love each other and are in a relationship, it threatens to destroy all of our societal norms about love, marriage, and perhaps even family. If people can just go around and have relationships with just about anybody they choose, why bother to get married and have children? Wouldn't we be forced to reshape our whole society as a result?

The third hang-up is a matter of semantics. "Love" and "relationship" imply stability. A case can be made that if we start talking about Wesley and Lilah being in a loving relationship, and do not offer much in the way of further explanation, we tend to get a distorted or even inaccurate description of what they went through. The English language certainly cannot describe the complicated relationship Wes and Lilah enjoyed. Perhaps I'm saying this too late, but I'm not criticizing Alexis' answers in the YouTube video. He is simply trying to explain things to an audience in words that will give a more accurate picture of what was really going on between the two characters.

To be honest, I thought I had things pretty much figured out between Wesley and Lilah until "Salvage", where Lilah's ghostly image started talking to him just before he chopped her head off. I understand the beauties of mysteries and ambiguities, but I was still somewhat disappointed with that scene because it seemed to destroy everything I had carefully crafted together in my own mind up to that point. (In a nutshell, I believed that Wesley and Lilah loved and deeply cared for each other.)

Was it a ghostly Lilah who appeared in front of Wesley, or was it simply Wesley's imagination? The differentiation is crucial, because if it really was Lilah in ghostly form, the audience could give a lot more credence to what she said. Even at that, she clearly stated that she was just a figment of Wesley's imagination, but was it true? Even if everything was all simply occurring in Wesley's head, (and the thought of Wesley thinking of himself as being "devilishly handsome" makes me smile), would it necessarily mean that everything the two of them said to each other was really the truth? Or was he still trying to sort things out and think through different scenarios?

I'll write more about "Salvage" in my next post.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Baby Satyana

I didn't intend to turn this into a "Let's keep up with all of the latest developments on Alexis Denisof" blog, but I can't help but link to this beautiful picture of the happy family at Celebrity Baby Blog. (h/t to Whedonesque.) The fact that Alexis snapped the photo just makes it that much more charming.

Satyana is adorable! Actually, all three of them are adorable!

Per the Celebrity Baby site, Alyson now has a Twitter account. It's understandable that she hasn't had time to do much tweeting, and she should be spending as much time as she can with her little bundle of joy.

Isn't Satyana one lucky baby girl to have such wonderful loving parents?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Lone Wolf

Episodes I've Seen So Far: (Season Two: "Over the Rainbow", "There's No Place Like Plrtz Girb". All of Season Three. Season Four: Up through Slouching Toward Bethlehem".)

Despite what I complained about in my previous post, I've accepted that Wesley Wyndam-Pryce underwent a huge character transformation towards the end of Season Three. Gone was the lovably inept boyish scholar whom I fell in love with, to be replaced forever by what I'll call the Lone Wolf, a character who had sunk into the darkness and depths of his soul, who looked to no one for support or solace. Wesley finally turned into a true "rogue demon hunter" referred to in one of his earliest Angel appearances.

Alexis Denisof is quoted as saying that in Season Four, Wesley is

"...flirting with and investigating the dark side of himself. He's looking at his relationships with all the people and with Angel, and he's definitely looking at his whole purpose and trying to figure out how he wants to be...."
I'm trying to find parallels to Wes' character, both as the lovable twit and as the Lone Wolf, and I'm unable to find any good ones. The closest parallel I can find to the bookish scholarly Wesley is Indiana Jones, where, in the classroom, Indy was a pedantic instructor at best, while out in the field he was as macho as the best of the superheroes. Out of the classroom, Jones became an almost completely different person when he donned his dusty old hat and traveled off to his next round of exotic adventures. Wesley always seemed to retain his complete personality regardless of the setting. In his case, different characteristics simply came to the forefront as necessary in different situations. When Wesley acted quickly and forcefully in battle situations, often leading the charge, I never forgot for a moment that he was primarily the cute, cuddly scholar.

As far as his Lone Wolf persona, like I hinted at in my last post, I immediately thought of Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name character who appeared in those marvelous Sergio Leone westerns. The Man with No Name, (who could also be known as "The Man of Few Words") had a murky past and was known for his moral ambiguity. We could only guess at some of the motivations for his actions. There was no overt tragedy in his life that we know of that set him off on a road to revenge, where there was a clear delineation (in his own mind only) between Good and Evil. The Man With No Name was not out to be the avenging angel. He was apparently only out for himself. This is in opposition to other stock Hollywood Lone Wolf characters whose previous lives were images of perfect bliss until bandits swarmed and raped and/or killed the wives and murdered the children. (Examples include Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales, Charles Bronson in Death Wish, and Mad Max in his own trilogy of films.) Even Justine in the Angel series followed this outline, where she performed almost unspeakable acts in the name of Good while avenging her sister's brutal death at the hand of vampires.

In a way, when Wesley took on his dark persona, he didn't become a completely different person than he was before. He still exhibited flashes of humor, although it was a deep sense of irony he exhibited more than anything else. The steely resolve and the ruthlessness we had seen in earlier episodes, along with the darkness that was always within him, came out front and center. What intrigues me is that Wesley didn't need an extreme personal tragedy, like the murder of close family members, to set him down his dark path. It was more like his own Series of Unfortunate Events; his unhappy childhood, being the butt of cruel taunts for his inept ways, the loss of a soul mate (Fred) before he even had a chance to be able to call her "his girlfriend", his excruciating feeling of guilt for losing Angel's son Connor despite his honest intentions of doing the right thing, having his throat slit by Justine, and being left to die a cruel, slow and lonely death.

I'm convinced that Wesley could understand Angel's extreme hatred for him for losing Connor, and not be surprised that Angel would try to kill him in a fit of anger. However, the timing for the attempted murder was horrible, seeing as how Wesley was fighting for his own life in the hospital at the time. Perhaps the worst part for Wes was when Fred showed up in the hospital room, told him she understood the situation, yet told Wesley in no uncertain terms that he betrayed the group and would never be welcomed back. Angel Investigations was the only family Wes had, and was a wonderful, loving family at that. The time he spent with Angel, Cordelia, Charles, Fred and Lorne were probably the best times of his life. From what I had seen of the series so far, around the time Connor was born, Angel and Wesley were probably at their closest period of friendship, particularly in their mutual commiseration at the loss of their girls. (Fred to Charles, and Cordelia to Groo).Tragically, Wesley lost everything he loved dearly in almost a blink of an eye.

During times of abandonment, intense physiological changes can happen in a person's body. Stress hormones are released while the body drastically cuts back on the production of the opioids that give us a calmer, more serene state of mind. These hormonal changes affect our cardiopulmonary functions and manifest themselves in feelings of terrifyingly real gut-wrenching pain. Any one who has every experienced a breakup knows it hurts. The physiological stress suffered by baby animals who have been taken away from their mothers in lab settings has also been well-documented.

Wesley wasn't cruelly abandoned once, but three times in rapid succession. The first time occurred in "Waiting in the Wings", where we witnessed Wesley literally falling to his knees when he found out he lost Fred after he saw her embracing Charles backstage at the ballet after they all fought off a particularly vicious band of demons.

The second period of abandonment occurred in "Forgiving" when Angel tried to strangle him in the hospital. Finally, the third time was in "Double or Nothing", when his muse, his idee fixe, the girl of his dreams, angrily told him to never return to the hotel.

I can think of a few movies where the (anti)hero tries to seek revenge on the people who abandon him, but Wesley chose not to take that route. Much has been written about Wesley sinking down into the depths, (as though that was a character deficiency), and perhaps even flirting with Evil, but that's not quite how I see it. Darkness doesn't necessarily equate with Evil. Wesley's life had been turned completely around, which he even recognized in "Billy" where he told Fred he didn't know what kind of man he was anymore.

In my mind, Wesley took the only intelligent route that was possible. The only way you can really face and reflect on your grief and misery is by plunging into the depths of darkness and staying there for a while. When you're alone, you have plenty of time to sort out what has happened, your relationships, and how you fit into the new life patterns that are emerging. While being hidden away in the darkness, there is no better time to re-examine some of your long-held cherished notions about love, fairness, and the gray areas between Good and Evil. Wesley's experiences had changed him permanently and there was no going back to his old way of life. It have been a mistake for him to have plunged back into the world without fully understanding who he was and how everything around him had changed. There certainly is something to be said about not being able to go back up until you've hit rock-bottom.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Man With No Name

Episodes I've Seen So Far: (Season Two: "Over the Rainbow", "There's No Place Like Plrtz Girb". All of Season Three. Season Four: Deep Down and Ground State.)

I stumbled across a post recently at Keith Topping's highly entertaining From the North, where he mentions a couple of Angel favorites; David Boreanaz in the Bones series (not by name) and Alexis (of course, otherwise I wouldn't even be mentioning this.)

About Boreanaz, "The Big Hunky One Who Can't Act", I was happy to see that Keith feels
"...he actually can act (and very nicely, thank-you-very-much), putting in another great straight-man performance in a hilarious tale of high achievement versus good old common sense".
I agree. I think David's a wonderful actor who might not have been shown off to his best advantage in Angel. I have more to say about Boreanaz in a future post, but suffice it to say that as I watch more episodes of the series, the more impressed I am with his performances.

And what does Topping say about Alexis Denisof?
I should also offer this blog's collective and sincere congratulations to Alyson and her husband, Alexis Denisof - see, there's another one - on the recent birth of their first child. It's to be hoped that a TV producer somewhere spots this item in the papers and thinks 'Ah, Alexis Denisof. He was pure-dead brilliant in Angel. Why isn't he on TV more often? I think I'll hire him.' It could happen.
"...pure-dead brilliant...." Here, here! I can't think of a more fitting way to describe Denisof's performance as the (sometimes) rogue demon-slayer Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. I've often thought the movie industry needed some sort of benevolent dictator who makes sure great actors are not only working, but performing in roles that they truly deserve.

I'm now in the beginning of Season 4, as you can tell by my post opening, and what a trying season it's turning out to be! Let's see. The Angel producers took the lovable Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, slit his throat, alienated him from all of his friends, turned him into a bitter Clint Eastwood "Man With No Name" clone, relegated his part to a few brief scenes in each episode, demoted him in the opening credits, introduced the annoying Connor the Perpetually Evil Son, pushed aside the valuable comic-relief character of Groo, refused to get rid of the "Why is She Here?" Justine, then took away the Cordelia whom we knew and loved (and, as far as I know, never allowed her to fully return as her old character for very long).

The only consolation for me (and I admit it's a great consolation prize) is the chance to enjoy Wesley's naked torso at regular intervals as he performs his steamy love scenes with Lilah. Which brings me to my biggest problem. With the Angel Investigations team being in so much turmoil, I have little to look forward to in the show except for Wes and Lilah's love scenes. It's a tremendous burden for me to watch two hours of programming every day, so what do I end up doing? On the initial screening, I scan through most of the episodes, stopping only to watch Wes and Lilah make out. Only afterwards will I watch the complete episodes, which are pretty anticlimactic for me since I've already seen them at double speed. I try not to, but I find that even during my formal screenings, I can't seem to keep my thumb off of the "Fast Forward" button.

Don't get me wrong on my thoughts of Wes and his Lone Wolf "Man With No Name" persona. Alexis of course pulls off each scene brilliantly, always subtly and coolly staying in control despite any cracks of vulnerably we might be able to spot. I just hope I'll get a chance to see him expand his acting range a little bit more in future episodes.

I can only compliment the producers and other creators of the Angel series for creating so many characters that I truly care about, allowing me to continue watching the show even in these trying times.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Two Women in Wesley's Life

Episodes I've Seen So Far: (Season Two: "Over the Rainbow", "There's No Place Like Plrtz Girb". Season Three: "That Vision Thing" through "Sleep Tight".)

Cordelia
Charisma Carpenter is positively radiant! I cannot believe how the whole screen lights up whenever she appears. Carpenter seemed to really grow into her Cordelia character after she turned into a half-demon, and I'm not really sure of the reason. Was it because the writing and/or direction was getting better in these episodes? Was she overall getting more comfortable with her character? Or was she improving as an actress?

Charisma's performances seemed quite uneven through most of the episodes that I've seen so far. Charisma could be warm, funny, lovably giggly, and strong, confident and dramatic when necessary. It just didn't work for me when she reverted back to what I guess was her ditzy cheerleader persona. There were also times when Carpenter just could not seem to successfully pull off some of her lines. In her defense, these were scenes where the writing was supposed to be either light-hearted and humorous, or dark and profound, but came off instead as sounding wooden and clunky. All of the actors on the Angel series have had problems with these clunky moments, except for Alexis Denisof. Of course I might be horribly biased, but I really do think that Denisof has been the most consistent actor on the series so far.

Charisma was at her best when she was given what I call the "Cordelia" arcs, where the plots seemed to revolve mostly around her. The Pylean arc, and the episodes "Birthday" through "Couplet" are good examples. Normally, I'm not moved by a pretty face (in a girl, that is), but when she's on, I think Charisma is absolutely spell-binding.

I've read how Cordelia has traditionally been a bitchy character, and there have been a few times where she made some cutting wisecrack remarks that really bothered me. Thankfully, those moments passed quickly and I was quickly able to get back to enjoying her performances.

I understand that Cordelia's character became a little less bitchy and perhaps a little warmer just before the Pylean arc. Indeed, in the Pylean arc, I was tremendously impressed with how Cordelia stood up to her captors and how she tried to comfort and protect Fred. It's too bad I absolutely hated her character when she was turned into a princess! All of her warmth and softness vanished as she reverted back to her spacey cheerleader persona. I particularly didn't like how annoyingly goofy she acted around the handsome and masculine (and humorous) warrior Groosalug. "Is Cordelia going to be the character that completely turns me off from the series?" I wondered. Thankfully, just in the nick of time, she became her more mature, bold, decisive self.

Cordelia's reaction to Fred back on Earth really interested me. At that time, Fred was still pretty crazy and quite frankly, got on my nerves. Cordelia was nice enough to Fred, but I could tell she wished Fred would just disappear somewhere, and even admitted as much on-screen. I could even empathize with Cordelia, since I know what it's like to be enjoying your status as a queen bee around a bunch of men, only to have some other woman, and in this case, a sniveling, quavery neurotic little girl, barge in on the arrangement. It was particularly bothersome for Cordelia when Angel kept asking her to have little "talks" with Fred, simply because a woman-to-woman's touch was needed. Luckily for everyone, Cordelia was able to pull off these "talks" with all of her usual aplomb.

I love Cordelia's relationship with Wesley. There was a lot of tension between them, but in a nice sort of way. Cordelia was very supportive as the sister/confidant when she was advising Wesley on how he could and should approach Fred - right away. In "Couplet", the depth of their friendly affection for each other came to full fruition, particularly when Wesley asked Cordelia, "Why can't you have sex?" (With Groosalug.) When Cordelia mentioned she didn't want to lose her "virginity", Alexis Denisof pulled off probably the best line of the series so far when he said with controlled bemusement, "Well, if that's how you want to play it." (Or course Cordelia answered right away that she didn't say "virginity", she said "visionity", or her vision thing.)

Almost painfully for me, (since it truly marked the end of a beautiful era where the Angel Investigations team enjoyed a warm, loving, family atmosphere), the "Couplet" episode has turned into my favorite show of the series so far, all because of Charisma Carpenter's acting. Well, no, that's not true. David Boreanaz was equally funny and lovable as the jilted and slowly seething lover, while Alexis Denisof was excellent as the disappointed lover (having lost Fred) attempting to cope the best he could with something approaching humor and grace. There's no denying that Charisma's performance was definitely the catalyst for the whole glow surrounding "Couplet". She could have potentially turned everyone off with her insensitivity to Angel's hurt feelings. However, she was insensitive only because she was radiantly and blindingly in love with Groosalug, not because of any malice towards Angel. Carpenter pulled off the perfect acting performance. Instead of acting like a ditzy young cheerleader losing her head over Groosalug's muscle-bound body, she became a confident mature young woman losing her head over Groosalug's muscle-bound body.

Fred
I wish I had seen the episodes where Wesley had a relationship with the character of Virginia Bryce. I shouldn't even speculate as to how the ending of the relationship affected him, except to say that it probably would have given me some insight as to how he reacted to Fred's character.

I'm not completely cold-hearted about what a wretched experience it must have been for a very young girl to be forced to hide in a cave for five years. It's too bad I still found the early Fred to be a particularly annoying character. And that was even before I did all of my reading and found out she would choose Charles over Wesley. I know Fred was supposed to act all quirky and socially inept and psychotic and all of those other psychological terms, but I didn't think actress Amy Acker was up to the challenge. I know Acker had extensive dance training in ballet, jazz, etc. before turning to acting, as if that had anything to do with anything. I've just noticed that ballerinas don't as a rule make particularly good actresses.

Rather than putting Acker through her paces through her rough early episodes, the producers should have either casted a slightly stronger actress in the role, or re-written the part to make Fred's character less rainmanesque. Fortunately, after the first few episodes, Fred started to become more "normal", much to my relief.

Amy Acker actually did quite well in several scenes, particularly when she was being sweet and vulnerable in order to allow Alexis Denisof to be able to gaze on her with his unparalleled love and tenderness. Acker's character of Fred certainly brought out the best in Wesley during her early episodes.

In my "Misogyny" post, I mentioned Fred's childlike qualities. "Childlike" is the key word in this context, in both her behavior and Wesley's (and even Angel's, and heck, even Cordelia's and Charles') parental reactions to her. I'll give an analogy. A small child will babble about this and that all day long and not give a mother a moment's rest. By the end of the day, it can start getting on a mother's nerves, no matter how adorable the child is. The father can come home from a rough day at the office and look forward to a quiet peaceful evening. Instead of being able to sit back and read his paper, he is continuously interrupted by the child who needs his undivided attention at all times. The behavior that can set the mother completely on edge by the end of the day can have the completely opposite effect on the father. You can actually see the tension gradually easing from the father as the evening wears on, even after he's been forced to read "The Pokey Little Puppy" for the tenth time in a row.

That's how I observed the characters treating Fred in her early episodes.The behavior that creaped out Cordelia, such as when Fred started talking to a bush, had the completely opposite effect on the men, particularly with Wesley. Paternal is not the word I'm looking for, because of its negative connotations of incest. However, with Wesley, he certainly did seem to be looking on Fred with something akin to paternal pride whenever she solved a particularly difficult math or computer problem. Wesley definitely gazed at Fred with loving patience and paternal indulgence whenever she went on one of her long, rambling verbal sprees where it took her forever to get at the heart of what she was trying to say. Fred was the sweet, lovely, innocent little girl whom Wesley instinctively wanted to cherish and protect.

Fred's last scene in "Billy", where she was attempting to comfort Wesley and talk him into coming back to work, was particularly effective for me, and marked the high part of the whole series for me so far. Amy or Alexis could not have possibly played that scene any better. Acker hit the perfect notes with her gentleness, her vulnerability, and her slight awkwardness in being a little unsure as to what to do next.

That scene marked a personal turning point (pardon the pun) for Fred's character, where I believe she matured tremendously in that scene alone. And, am I imagining things, or did Fred start to get somewhat of the upper hand over Wesley from that point forward? Before the attack, Fred was a dutiful student striving to please her mentor. After the attack, Fred forgave Wesley out of the goodness of her heart for what he did to her. She showed genuine tenderness and compassion for Wesley while she was trying to console him. Yet she definitely had the power to give or refuse forgiveness, which could possibly be used as a bargaining chip later on. (Though I haven't seen any real evidence of Fred holding that over Wesley's head.)

I thought Fred could have been falling in love with Wesley in that scene, but perhaps it was just sheer sympathy?

There are so many things going on in the Angel series, I just can't keep track of it all. However, I can't wrap my mind around how and if and when Fred and Charles ever got a clue as to how their affectionate behavior towards each other was hurting Wesley quite badly. In the last few episodes I've seen, the two of them were acting more like kids sneaking around their parent's back than two adults trying to be discrete in front of their boss. Truthfully, by the time "Sleep Tight" rolled around, they weren't even bothering to be sneaky anymore, but were being the rebellious teens showing their parent (Wesley) that he can't order them around.

A couple of times I noticed that Fred seemed to be smirking at Wesley and even flaunting her relationship with Charles. Was she being totally clueless? Did she realize how much she was hurting Wesley, or did she even care? I tend to think that Fred didn't intend to hurt Wesley per se, she was just exerting her right to express her affection for Charles openly, like any normal person would. In some of the earlier episodes, didn't Fred seem to acknowledge, mostly by her body language and facial expressions, that she was aware of Wesley's feelings toward her, and she was trying to be gentle with him? Ah, the challenges of trying to keep track of everything going on, and sorting out what really happened and what you think had happened.

In general, Fred's character just doesn't quite ring true to me, unlike Cordelia's character. By "ringing true", I don't mean reality versus sheer fantasy. If Fred was part human and part demon, like Cordelia, I could accept that. I have a harder time believing Fred to be a sweet innocent little creature who happens to be a sheer genius in math and the sciences, and isn't afraid to mix it up with the vampires.

But truthfully, couldn't just about the same thing be said about Wesley's character?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Misogyny

I blogged a little bit in my previous post about the "Billy" episode, where Wesley's infection by the misogyny demon seemed to be the beginning of an important new chapter in his character development. This time I want to focus a little more on the misogyny itself.

Since I knew ahead of time roughly what was going to happen, I'm having a hard time imagining when the original audience was supposed to figure out that something wasn't quite right with Wesley. Obviously, in retrospect, it started when Fred leaned into the microscope next to Wesley, and Wesley sniffed her perfume. (Although my misogyny dialogue link above seems to give a slightly different interpretation.) (Update: I didn't go back far enough the first time I re-watched this episode. The part where Wesley asked Fred for the slides was its own little scene. Wesley seemed to be OK until Fred handed him the slides a split second before he finished his request. Wesley gave her the forced smile and the forced "thank you", as though he felt she was acting out of line by proving she was capable of taking the next step without his direction. This was definitely the part the audience was supposed to be clued in on the danger.)

"Speaking of saliva, where is Cordelia?"

Famous quote, but I had no idea what it meant until Cordelia gave me a hint in the "Birthday" episode where she made a reference to her and Wesley kissing at one time (obviously the two "awkward kisses" from the Buffy days). Cordelia also mentioned that he drooled all over her chin. Wesley answered with some sort of reference to the enforced death march along memory lane. Mystery solved for me, I hope?

Anyways, from that point on, Wesley was being quite testy with Fred, but things did not yet look dangerous. Fred's reaction was quite interesting, where she was still being a very young, confused girl, trying to please her elder. I see this reaction in well-behaved children all of the time as they struggle to deal with slightly sadistic older adults who are trying to make them look stupid by engaging them in word games. The game is rigged against the child because she may have no idea what is happening, or where the conversation is leading to.

I might as well give an example. I have a relative (whom I try to see as little as possible) who hates public schools. For some reason, this relative always likes to corner children at extended family gatherings, quiz them on various school subjects, make a big deal out of it when they don't know the answers, and tries to get them to "admit" that they're not getting an adequate education at school, just so he can end finish up with a diatribe against overpaid liberal school teachers. The children will always start politely attempting to answer the questions, and may act a little confused, but don't feel threatened right away. The relative will then start getting bolder and start belittling the children. At some point, the children will start getting anguished and feeling ashamed because they start thinking of themselves as failures.

If this proceeds unchecked, the children will finally realize that the older relative is not being nice at all, but the children are totally powerless to extricate themselves from the situation. The children can't talk back, because they've been taught not to, and they fear the consequences. They also don't have the experience or maturity to engage in a battle of wits either. No matter how the children answer, the relative will quickly be able to find fault in their childlike logic. If the children run away, they'll be mocked. This is obviously not a pleasant situation.

When I saw Fred somewhat going through some of these stages with Wesley, I honestly couldn't get a hold of my feelings at that point. Was I angry with Fred for not being being able to defend herself? Or did I feel sorry for a young girl who lacked the maturity to match Wesley in a battle of wits? Good grief, the poor neurotic girl had been in a cave for five years! Combine that with Wesley humiliating Fred on her sexuality, particularly when, as far as we know, she had never really thought of herself as a sexual creature before. By this time, Fred knew that Wesley had stepped way over the line, and she started the flight response. When Fred finally started to defend herself by shouting out an emphatic "NO!" Wesley struck her to the ground. Thank goodness I have no firsthand experience with domestic violence, but I understand that is why a lot of battered women will not take much action to try to defend themselves. The minute they stand up for themselves, the beatings begin.

And, with that, Wesley started chasing Fred throughout the hotel, with the violence escalating all the way. We of course know that Wesley was infected with Billy's misogynist virus (I'll call it a virus, for lack of a better term), and that there was nothing Fred could have done to diffuse the situation, except by maybe hitting him over the head with a sledge hammer.

What was Wesley's thought process through the beginning of the ordeal? Wesley seems to have a history of being clueless at crucial moments. With the introduction of Fred, there might have possibly been an added plot device of Wesley not coming up with an answer right away just so Fred would have her chance to dazzle everyone with her brilliance. Did he harbor any jealousy because in many respects she was his intellectual equal? Wesley obviously had romantic feelings for Fred, but I would have thought he might have acknowledged some confusion as to what was happening to him very early on in the scene. (Similar to Gunn, when he had the presence of mind to get Fred to hit him in the head before he attacked her.) Had Wesley already completely succumbed to the virus by the time Fred looked through the microscope? Or, perhaps, succumbed to the virus before he figured out that it even existed?

I also thought Fred might have been able to figure out what was happening and fled the room a lot sooner, perhaps when he sharply started quizzing her about Cordelia's whereabouts. I admit I'm totally clueless as to when Fred reasoned it out that Wesley's behavior was caused by the virus. Before he struck her, was she still the bewildered schoolgirl?

It would have been interesting if Cordelia was the object of the attack. She would have started defending herself a lot more quickly, and the two of them would have left his office in shambles within a few minutes of the onset of the virus. Though, on some level, you could say that Cordelia was the object of the attack, with Fred standing in as her proxy. What were the "awkward" kisses like between Cordelia and Wesley? What about when he told Fred upstairs that he was not a downy-faced schoolboy, but a man? I've read a lot of online descriptions about the kisses between Cordelia and Wesley, and I haven't found any evidence that he was particularly traumatized about the event. However, his reference to the "death march down memory lane" certainly leaves one to believe the episode bothered him more than we realized. Add to this his memories of a miserable childhood and his years of humiliation for being the bumbling idiot, we can see there was certainly a lot of potential for rage.

The whole misogyny episode, from where it started in the office, to where it ended upstairs in the hotel rooms, was filled with an incredibly intense erotic energy. If we had been able to see the scene without knowing about the demon infection, and probably if the scene had occurred with any girl besides Fred, we could have been led to believe that the encounter would have turned to passionate wild sex at any minute. (Although I will admit it would have been a pretty wild stretch of the imagination after Wesley hit the girl or grabbed the ax.) The writers could have written the scene in such a way where Wesley could have gone completely out of his mind in his office, called Fred a bitch, and started knocking her around a lot more quickly, just like Gunn was about to do upstairs before Fred hit him in the head. However, the writers chose not to write the scene that way. Raw violence without the eroticism would have just been remembered as an unpleasant experience brought on simply because of the demon's touch. The introduction of sexuality into the scene, to me, at least, brings the question out into the open: how much of the violence sprang from the demon, and how much from Wesley himself?

From a previous post, readers will know how much I love dichotomy, where a person has to figure out how to make two completely different sides of his character live in harmony. As disturbing as Wesley's attack on Fred was for me, his sweetness and tenderness after the incident made it all the more heartwarming for me. Again, I understand this is another manifestation of spousal abuse, where the violent spouse is racked with remorse after the incident and begs for forgiveness.

Fred tried to tell Wesley he was a good man, and it wasn't him attacking her. Wesley was suffering serious doubts about his own character and motivations, and feared that some sort of evil primordial instinct had come to the surface. I tend to think Wesley was right, in that the evilness that came from the demon was not only the end-result violence, but the unleashing of all of our inner demons we spend a lifetime repressing, suppressing and controlling. My husband has certainly seen the worst of me after I've spent multiple nights walking the floor with a crying infant. Certain vile things would start spilling out of my mouth at the slightest pretext, like if he mentioned something I cooked needed more seasoning. I would of course apologize profusely after the incident and say I didn't mean it. Except, I did mean it. I didn't have time to think up any horrible lies to say to him. Everything that remained completely buried while I was getting a good eight hours of rest every night came bubbling up to the surface in my sleep-deprived state.

I wish Wesley and Fred would have gotten together at the end of the "Billy" episode, but I agree, the story was much better because they remained separate. My instinct would have been to fuss over Wesley, give him chicken soup and try to treat his wounds. However, as my husband needs to remind me once in a while, a lot of men hate to be treated that way. If Fred had tried to offer any more comfort or solace, Wesley probably would have reacted by withdrawing even more from her. I think Fred's reaction showed a certain amount of maturity on her part that I hadn't previously suspected. Fred ultimately ended up with Gunn.

Even though Fred was good and full of forgiveness, could she possibly ever give herself to Wesley after the way he treated her, even if it supposedly wasn't his fault? Even though the violence itself might have easy to pin on the demon, would she have been able to get past her sexual humiliation in Wesley's office and been able to become intimate with him later on? Probably not.

I could go on with this post about sadomasochism and the sadist's errant belief that the victim is getting masochistic pleasure out of the events, but I think I've written enough for now. Rest assured, I'm certainly looking forward to a more complete exploration of this theme after Wesley hooks up with Lilah.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Character Turning Point

To be honest, the first time I ever saw Angel was about three years ago, when I turned on the TV to see if Charmed was on. (Charmed is another show I didn't discover until it was well into syndication.) I didn't see the whole Angel episode, but looking back, it appeared to have been one of the episodes where the crew goes to Pylea to rescue Cordelia, and, ultimately, also rescues Fred. Regardless, I really loved what I saw of my brief glimpse of the show. The series struck me as light-hearted and funny, while still being a show with a gloriously dark premise about vampires and demons, and the struggles between good and evil.

It wasn't the right time in my life to take up following another TV series, so I let the episode pass by. I didn't even bother to find out the name of the series back then. However, I never forgot the show, and I hoped I would re-discover it again later on.

It doesn't surprise me that the first time I really saw the show a few weeks ago, (meaning, I took notice of the show and became hooked on it), happened to be from the same episode arc, if not the exact same episode ("Over the Rainbow") as I had seen several years earlier. It always happens to me where it seems I can only catch the same few episodes over and over again in syndication. Because of my past history, I didn't attach a whole lot of importance to the coincidence, but I did note it as one more sign that I could give myself permission to sit back and really enjoy (or become obsessed) with the Angel series.

What about Wesley? The Pylea arc appeared to be a major turning point in his character development, and I regret that I only saw two of the episodes. I know from my research that Wesley must have been a bumbling idiot in the Buffy the Vampire series, which continued on into the Angel series. I loved his boyish ineptitude in "Over the Rainbow", but I also loved the apparent dichotomy in how he also exhibited great bravery, became a warrior, and was ready to take charge at a moment's notice. I recognized that the idea of taking a leadership role was still a new concept for Wesley, but I admired how he took to the task right away and became the defacto hero of the entire rescue operation.

I'll digress a bit. If I had first seen Wesley in Buffy the Vampire series, would I have liked his character? I know he was supposed to be an annoying irritant, but it is precisely that type of character that can completely turn me away from a TV series. (Kramer in Seinfeld, Latka in Taxi , Chrissy in Three's Company, are examples.) The idiotic, or very idiosyncratic, character is a stock character for TV shows. This device seems to work for a lot of viewers, and seems to inspire audience high ratings. However, if the character isn't portrayed absolutely perfectly, like how Larry Linville was able to pull off being Major Burns in M*A*S*H, it becomes enough to drive me completely drive away from a series. So, if I would have caught Wesley in Buffy, or during the "wrong" time in the Angel series, would I have ever given him a second look?

Back to the present, which for me, is the Pylea arc through the very early days of Connor's life. I missed Wesley's early days as a group leader, but it sounds like his character has matured very rapidly since then. I also see that the Pylea arc, particularly the introduction of Fred in his life, has moved his character development along that much more rapidly. In particular, the "Billy" episode, where he was affected by the misogynist demon and tried to kill Fred, seemed to have left a huge impact on his psyche, where he maybe started to experience doubts as to what type of person he really was. He expressed his doubts quite clearly at the end of "Billy", but I haven't seen any overt signs since then in the early part of Season Three.

I've noticed that since "Billy" and up through "Dad" (the last episode I've seen), Wesley's role, though still quite prominent, isn't quite as front and center as the other episodes I've seen. Particularly in an ensemble show like Angel, a character can have face time onscreen that does not necessarily translate into quality time. In that regard, I've been a bit disappointed in "Lullaby" and "Dad", though rest assured, I'm more disappointed in the fact Wesley's part necessarily needs to recede once in a while than with Alexis Denisof's acting. Indeed, if Wesley played an important part in every episode, I'd probably be too emotionally exhausted to keep up with the series! It's bad enough that I have to try to watch two episodes almost every single day of the week.

I have several favorite Wesley episodes so far. "Over the Rainbow" with Wesley's "Eureka" moment is one I've already blogged about. I also enjoyed "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb", where Wesley is "convinced" by the rebels to become the leader of the attack against the fortress. I absolutely adored him when he wailed, "Why do people keep putting me in charge of things?" , (Gunn: "I have no idea".) Wesley still had a lot of vestiges of his old, cowardly, foppish self at that moment, but he quickly progressed into becoming a competent, but ruthless, leader.

I've read a lot about Wesley's "ruthless" streak, but that is not a turn-off for me. In "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb", much is said online about Wesley's willingness to sacrifice Angel and a few of the rebels as evidence of his "ruthlessness". I loved his gentle but firm explanation that sometimes sacrifices need to be made in order to save the majority. A trite line, but pulled off quite nicely by the writers and Denisof. I actually tend to admire qualities like that, where the character, who shoulders enormous responsibilities, must try to put aside all emotions in order to make the right decision. It's almost a relief when the character makes the "ruthless" decision and keeps the plot moving to a satisfying conclusion.

I almost can't emphasize enough that this is part of Wesley's dichotomy that draws me to him. I think my favorite film character is the flawed hero, who is continually faced with situations where he is forced to choose between the lessor of two evils. This is particularly difficult when the consequences of his choices are not readily apparent. Whatever choice he makes will lead to horrible consequences. Sometimes the lessor of two evils will cause the most personal suffering for the hero and perhaps even the people closest to him, particularly when other characters, perhaps falsely, start thinking of the hero as being cold-hearted, and yes, "ruthless".

Another episode I loved was "Billy". I was fearful of how I would react to Wesley being the misogynist trying to kill Fred. I almost had to force myself to watch the show, but I'm glad I did. I thought Alexis Denisof was brilliant in how he managed the transformation from acting mildly irritated with Fred, (Wesley had had a bad day, and Fred was still gratingly neurotic at the time), to becoming more and more hostile towards her, to becoming violent, finally leading up to when he tried to kill her. It's quite a coup when an actor is able to keep a person's sympathy even when his character is at his very worst. That was another point where the potential was there to turn me away from the series forever, but the scene was saved by Denisof's performance. I particularly appreciated how there were obvious parallels to Jack Nicholson's scene in The Shining when Wesley hacked his way through the hotel room door, but the director and writers (and Denisof) chose not to exploit that moment.

The end of the episode featured yet one other possible series killer for me, when Fred sought out Wesley to get him to come back to work. Denisof's portrayal of Wesley's pain, doubts, shame and tenderness was absolutely gut-wrenching. I knew that Wesley, although he had sexual liaisons from time to time throughout the series, would ultimately never get the girl of his dreams. Could I stand to see such a pivotal moment that drives the point home so forcefully? Fred sought out Wes, Wes is full of tenderness, but they do not become of a couple. Would I be able to stand the fact that a character I've fallen in love with is all alone? I survived, and my admiration for Wesley's character and Denisof's acting only became stronger. I just don't know how much more of Wesley's disappointments I can put up with though, and I know things are about to get a hell of a lot worse for him.

Finally, I loved the "Quickening" episode. Again, Wesley needed to navigate the path through ruthlessness and tenderness, particularly where he had to balance his true sympathy for Angel's emotions as the vampire-with-a-soul contemplated fatherhood, with the need to keep the world free from Angel's potentially evil spawn. Really, I'm not a vicious person, but I loved the scene where they were discussing Darla's and the baby's fate, and Wesley, seemingly being sensitive to Angel's tender emotions, in the next sentence declares that they needed to cut the baby's head off as soon as it was born! His ruthlessness is somewhat mitigated when the rest of the team members chime in with their own diabolical responses to the baby's birth. Again, what a great acting moment for Denisof in a truly funny scene.

And the lovely moment during the ultrasound when Wesley tenderly informed Angel the baby was a human, baby boy? Words cannot describe.....except, maybe my heart turned into a big gooey puddle.

Later on, I loved how Wesley took control of the situation when Darla was seemingly about to give birth in the back seat of the convertible. He kept a watchful, paternal eye over the group, while also taking control over the birthing process. It was only a fleeting moment, but I enjoyed how Wesley gently laid Darla back into the seat and was obviously read to take charge of the baby's birth right then and there. It's too bad the scene didn't continue, because I was curious to see if Wesley could have continued through, or if he'd revert back to his old cowardly self and have Cordelia and Fred take over.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Eureka!

I forget the exact wording, but don't they have a term for when a boy and a girl first meet in a movie, and something mildly funny or embarrassing happens to them? Something like "meet cute"? Well, that was how I first met Wesley on TV. In "Over the Rainbow" (which aired on TNT on March 31, 2009, I believe?), I was watching how Cordelia had ended up in the Pylean dimension and she had already met the character Winifred. Her Angel Investigations buddies were hard at work trying to figure out a way to bring her back to Los Angeles, when Wesley came rushing into the room shouting "Eureka!" after he discovered the magical incantation needed to get them through the portal.

Wesley was absolutely adorable! He was so boyishly pleased with himself for making the discovery. And what a sight he was, as if someone conjured up the perfect man for myself. Tall, thin, athletic, bookish, curling hair, and I love those glasses. I always fall for the handsome, serious, yet slightly goofy, intellectual types. Thank goodness the series didn't come out 40-50 years ago, because Alexis Denisof would have been forced to wear tweed.

The scene was complete when Lorne said, "You mean he actually really says 'Eureka'?"

Oh, and by the way, congratulations to Alexis and Alyson on the birth of Satyana, who came into the world on March 24, 2009. What a great birthday present for Alyson! I hope all three of them are doing fine, and I hope Alexis and Alyson are in absolute bliss as they start out their new life together as parents of a wonderful baby girl.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Introduction

I'm still working on setting up this blog, but I wanted to leave my inaugural post right away.

I first noticed Alexis Denisof's portrayal of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce on Angel just a short time ago, and his performance completely blew me away! I'm always late to the party when it comes to pop culture, so forgive me for not being very knowledgeable about the show. I confess I have never seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This blog will just help me on my journey of discovery about the character of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. I'm not an expert, and I'll make mistakes, but I'm looking forward to using this blog as an outlet to verbalize just what the show and the character of Wesley means to me.

I debated about naming the blog "I Heart Alexis", but I chose "Wesley" instead, because, frankly, I've never seen Alexis' other performance. I'll shortly be adding links to some of Alexis' fansites where you'll be able to get a lot better information than I'll be able to provide. I also chose "Wesley" because he is a fascinating character in his own right, and worth a lot of future blog posts, I hope.

In the meantime, if you're a Wesley fan, I'd love to hear from you!