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.

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