Friday, April 30, 2010

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce Agency

Season 4 of Angel gave us several more glimpses of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce's secret life away from Angel Investigations. Although the creators gave us a few hints here and there in earlier seasons that he had something resembling a social life, Season 4's "Ground State" gave us a good look at Wesley's new demon-hunting business.

In this scene, he was mixing it up with a demon with the aid of two big mugs going by the names of Jones and Hawkins. Naturally, since he's performing in front of Angel, Wes is the one who decapitates the demon, which is an image that unfortunately appears in all of the Season 4 opening credits. He deduced from the key he found on the demon that "Mr. O'Leary" was being held in a motel somewhere. In somewhat of a borderline dismissively arrogant tone of voice, Wesley ordered Jones to rescue O'Leary. Then, with that same hard-ass style, he ordered Hawkins to get his briefcase holding Cordelia's file out of the back of his car. Jones and Hawkins dutifully did what they were told, presumably without muttering profanities under their breaths.

In one of the more interesting dialogue pieces, Wesley, after ordering his men to free Mr. O'Leary, tells them " to base. Have Diana close out the file."

It's obvious that Wesley was running his own operations. Again, I'll let my imagination run wild as I try to ferret out some of the hidden details.

Tough Guy Wesley. We figured out by then that Wesley was all dark and dangerous. From the way he ordered his men around, from the way he spoke with Emil's middleman in "The House Always Wins", and from the way he spoke to his own employee on the phone in the same scene, at best Wesley was an intense, no-nonsense man who was 100% focused on his work, similar to Harvey Keitel's famous "cleaner" role in Pulp Fiction. ("If I'm curt with you, it's because time is a factor. I think fast, I talk fast, and I need you guys to act fast....") At his worst, he was a complete SOB who was reverting back to his bullying ways as a Watcher back in Sunnydale. Wesley definitely had a different leadership style with his own crew in contrast to how he treated his underlings at Angel Investigations.

I'll go into this a little bit further below, but one thing to consider is that his own employees might have been a bit on the morally ambivalent side themselves. Wesley might have had some compelling reasons to constantly assert his alpha male status.

I also wonder if there was an element of showing off in front of Angel, who had arrived to try to sweet-talk Wesley into helping him find Cordelia. (As a side note, I think Angel was sincere in wanting to resume their friendship. Wesley, however, was not quite ready to take that step.) Regardless, this was one of the few scenes in the entire series where I wasn't thrilled with Alexis Denisof's acting. He seemed a little too measured in his performance and could have used a little more spontaneity. Perhaps he needed a few more takes? Also, I didn't like what Denisof was wearing. As one astute commenter posted on a message board somewhere, "Wesley wasn't sexy enough" in that scene.

Capitalizing the Start-Up. It's almost prohibitively expensive for most people to start their own businesses. Although Wesley had a nice apartment, presumably he wasn't making a huge salary at Angel Investigations. I'm beginning to wonder if Wesley could have been making a little money from side jobs, like, translating a document here and performing a little magic spell there? Would that have been ethical for him to take on freelance work outside of Angel Investigations, particularly since he was their group leader for a while? Actually I'm not losing too much sleep over this, since mundane things like money never seems to be an issue on TV shows. Regardless, with the right clients, cash flow might not have been as much of a problem after he completed a few cases.

I also wonder how above-board Wesley's operations were, as in, was he paying taxes? As Wolfram & Hart taught everyone, you can get away with a lot more stuff if you've set yourself up as a legitimate business. I figure Wesley followed the law for the most part. I just can't imagine him filling out 1099's for his independent contractors.

"Report to Base". Where was "base"? (And what a stilted piece of dialogue that was! It almost lends credence to my theory that Wesley was trying too hard to impress Angel.) I had assumed, based on Wesley's scene with Emil's messenger, that "base" was Wesley's apartment. However, the mysterious "Diana" needed a place where she could administer her "case files". Was "base" a storefront office somewhere, similar to what Wes, Cordy and Gunn operated out of in Season 2? Or was "base" someone else's apartment, perhaps even Diana's?

Lilah did ask Wesley in this scene if he had a "Hard day at the office?" However, that was clearly a figure of speech pertaining to where the actual work site was, so I don't think we can jump to the conclusion that he had an actual office.

Wesley's Hired Help. This is the most intriguing aspect of his whole operation, since you couldn't go out and hire just anybody to work for a supernatural detective agency. You had to have people who were already somewhat intimately aware of the shadowy world of vampires and demons.

In a previous post I did, "Through the Looking Glass; or, Welcome to My Nightmare", I speculated that the majority of people in Los Angeles were unaware of supernatural forces within their city. People within the Buffyverse could probably be divided into four main categories: those who were completely unaware of the supernatural world; those who should have known but were in strong denial mode; those who suspected or even accepted this alternate reality but never actually witnessed it; and those who had witnessed or even been a part of this alternate reality. Of course it would be impossible to figure out the percentages of how many people belonged to each category, but Wesley would have had to limit his recruiting to experienced fighters in the last two groupings. I'm also making the leap that the world of vampires and demons was common knowledge amongst the criminal elements, a large portion of the business class, and other people who had frequent dealings with the underworld.

When I looked at "Jones and Hawkins" in that fight scene in "Ground State", my first thought was that they were played by stuntmen extras. It also occurred to me that in Wesley's "reality", these guys could have also been Hollywood stuntmen. At least in my genteel little world, it's not that easy to find experienced fighters unless they're boxers, police officers or ex-Army Rangers. I doubt if Wesley could have afforded to pay these guys a regular salary, so I'm assuming he was paying them on an ad hoc basis. If these guys were professional bodyguards (to either legitimate businessmen or mobsters) they could have easily been pulling down higher wages in other places. Therefore, the idea that these were stuntmen who were in-between gigs is starting to sound pretty good to me. By extension, if these guys were working for Wesley, they could have easily been working some pretty hairy temporary assignments for other people, giving them all of the experience that they needed to kill off Wesley's demons.

It's also a possibility these guys were freelancers who blew away kneecaps for a living. If Wesley wanted to start his own agency, he might have been somewhat forced to take what he could get as far as hired muscle. From what we know about this scene with Emil the weapons man (as noted in Season 5's "Lineage" ) Wesley seemed like he was quite experienced in dealing with underworld figures. Hence, the bad-ass posturing with his own men.

Diana the Case File Closer. Diana was obviously his agency's version of Cordelia. She might not have needed any special Ninja skills, but she at least needed to be aware of the supernatural world before she started working for Wesley. He could have hardly hired just anyone who was sent at random by the temp agency. Diana could have been a former client, or a girlfriend of one of his freelancers or underworld friends, a friend of his old girlfriend Virginia, one of his old girlfriends, or even a female demon who could reasonably pass for human!

I personally don't think Wes and Diana had anything going on between them since he was preoccupied with Lilah at the time. Diana could have been a nice grandma for all I know. I'm at least curious about what their working relationship was like, and I look to Season 5 for clues. In his dealings with Harmony and his seldom-seen administrative assistant Jennifer, he was correct in every way, and somewhat condescending and dismissive. In other words, a "bring me my coffee and the Penske file" type of boss. I have no reason to think he was any different with Diana. I probably would have not worked very long for Wes if he had ever hired me.

Underworld Contacts. We already know that Wesley was adept at cultivating underworld contacts. Think of how he introduced demons Lorne and Merl to Angel in Season 2, and how he purchased the crime scene photos in Season 3's "Billy". Also think of that intriguing "inside man" he had at Wolfram & Hart who tipped him off to the Beast's rampage in Season 4's "Habeas Corpses". Actually, his exact words were "I have a man on the inside", which to me implies he infiltrated one of his own people inside of Wolfram & Hart, as opposed to simply bribing someone who already worked there to feed him information. Regardless, that must have cost him a pretty penny, and makes me wonder what he had hoped to gain by having someone inside Wolfram & Hart. Whatever he was up to it sounded pretty ambitious. Perhaps someone hired him to do all of this?

In the Season 3 episode commentary for "Billy", Tim Minear and Jeffrey Bell mentioned that they had originally intended to have Wesley meet with a bunch of demons in a diner in order to obtain the police photos. I believe that idea was nixed either because of costs or time constraints. However, added with Wesley's cultivation of Lorne and Merl, it helps give me the impression that Wesley was supposed to be seen as having a lot more contacts with the demon world than what we might have imagined. Particularly in Season 3's "That Old Gang of Mine", Wes spent quite a bit of time defending demons in conversations he had with Charles, and emphasized that not all demons were evil. Perhaps Wes felt this way because of personal familiarity with the demons rather than strictly from his Watcher training?

Clients. The big question was, who were Wesley's clients? Quite frankly, judging from Angel's run-of-the-mill clients and from little glimpses of Wesley's caseload, it seemed that both agencies were mostly demon exterminator services. I doubt if Wesley was into shameless self-promotion, but with his underground connections, he was probably able to get the word out pretty quickly that he was open for business. It probably didn't even take him too long to snag his first clients! I base all of that on the fact that he went from having his throat slit to running his own operation with at least three hired hands in well less than a year.

Wesley's agency might have ultimately been a lot more successful than Angel's, since Angel had the added complication of doing a lot of unpaid "saving the world" type of work. Also, Angel and his crew came across as a bunch of bright eager kids with a lot of expensive overhead in the form of an ancient hotel. If you were a wealthy client trying to get rid of a vampire nest in your warehouse, who would you hire, Angel and his Junior Detectives? Or Wesley with his tough-looking crew and lean-and-mean operations?

One thing that might have eventually led to Wesley's downfall if he hadn't have closed up shop fairly quickly was the fact that he probably had to accept work from anyone who paid him, sort of like how the Angel Investigations crew worked for a lot of shady people in Season 5. I don't even think it's a stretch to think he might have accepted work from well-paying demons! In the demon fight scene in "Ground State", I'm guessing a businessman paid the demon to kidnap his rival. The rival, Wesley's client, probably did something dodgy himself to get himself into that predicament. Anyone who starts off with clients like these runs a high risk of going down that slippery slope of eventually just catering to wealthy thugs. Pretty soon Wesley would have been asked to do something against his own moral code (which admittedly might have been a bit shaky at the time), and he would have been a lot worse off for the wear.

Stealing Angel's Clients. What's fascinating about Wesley's famous phone sex scene with Lilah was that there was a lot of other stuff going on at the same time. He was not only dealing with Emil's messenger, he was also running his agency when he said,"Yes, we'll bloody well take Angel's clients if he's out of town. Call me back with the details in twenty minutes."

I had always assumed that Wesley was talking to one of his brutish-looking thugs in this scene, but it could have been Diana for all I know. Regardless, I'm wondering how the situation even came up? I'm somehow under the impression that a client approached one of Wesley's employees (Diana?) because they needed some work done and Angel was out of town. I highly doubt if they got a hold of Angel's client list and started cold-calling.

I'm also under the impression that this bit of dialogue might have been added so viewers would think, "Gee, Wesley's kind of turning into a bad guy". However, Joss Whedon himself wrote the scene, and I don't think he would have come up with a message as clumsy as that. I think Whedon might have just been wanting to show that there was still no love lost between Wesley and Angel.

I also don't put much stock into this "code" of not stealing each other's clients (and this could equally apply to stealing employees) unless there is some sort of collusion and/or gentlemen's agreement going on to begin with. Otherwise, it's anybody's game. Customers are kings, and if you can convince someone that he or she can get better service or a better deal with you, so be it. Otherwise we'd all be locked into long-term service contracts for everything we do. It would be absurd to be bound to cell-phone type contracts with our hair stylists.

The End of the Agency. Not surprisingly, we never saw a formal winding down of Wesley's independent operations. He rejoined his buddies at Angel Investigations in "Apocalypse Nowish", and was still known to be running his own business in the next episode "Habeas Corpses". I honestly can't remember if the subject of his own business ever came up again after that. However, for at least several episodes following "Habeas Corpses", Wesley seemed like more of an independent contractor than a full-fledged member of the group. His complete re-integration took a little while, and it almost happened below the radar. Ironically, I think it took Jasmine's brainwashing to finally accomplish that goal.

Did Wesley regret disbanding his business? I personally don't think he worried about it too much, since I always thought he was simply biding his time until he could get back with Fred. Also, it might not have been that much of a money-making operation.

Idle Thoughts About Ground State. The character of electric-thief Gwen Raiden was introduced in "Ground State". As I wrote in one of my After the Fall posts,
Gwen was always a giant puzzle for me. The Angel creators introduced her to audience members with great fanfare in Season 4, only to have her fizzle out after three (albeit substantial) appearances. Not only did her personal story arc fizzle out, each individual appearance in each episode left me feeling that there was some sort of giant buildup for her that led absolutely nowhere.
The one thing that makes her character notable in my mind is that the actress who played the role, Alexa Davalos, was one of the few women in the entire series who experienced what I considered to be a bona fide convincingly hot love scene with David Boreanaz. (Though I admit their encounter didn't make much sense to me, beyond the oh-so-obvious his heart is beating and he grabs the first female he can find). It's astonishing how David Boreanaz, (in contrast to Alexis Denisof, who exuded eroticism with just about every female character in the series) seemed unable to establish any sort of sexual chemistry with anyone in the Buffyverse outside of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Stephanie Romanov, and to a lesser extent, Julie Benz. Just think of his disastrous encounters with Bai Ling (Jheira) in Season 1's "She" and with Sarah Thompson (Eve) throughout Season 5. (I can't find it, but I know I wrote a post saying that I couldn't figure out if Angel was supposed to be attracted to Eve or repulsed by her.)

I thought Amy Acker was absolutely adorable in this scene where Fred was giving her first planning presentation to Angel and Gunn. She felt that her stick figure illustrations on her flip charts were upstaged by Angel's more professional sketch work.

This was the first I noticed that Wesley's demeanor with his own employees hearkened back to his bullying days at Sunnydale. In other words, his evolving leadership style was a bit more complex than just getting darker and tougher. Although in many ways Wesley, with his easy-going ways, seemed to be at the top of his game regarding his leadership abilities in early Season 3, he may have felt that he was being taken advantage of. Wesley probably felt it was necessary to revert back to the "my way or the highway" approach in order to get things done, which he carried over into Season 5.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Early Season 4 At Random

I sometimes regret that I've never sat down and worked on a genuine series of episode reviews for Angel. I'd like to say I'm not doing it because there's already a great body of work out there and I don't have anything to add. That's actually quite true, but misleading. If I really wanted to review each episode I'd be doing it. It's closer to the truth that I don't have the discipline to write up formal reviews for each and every episode. It would feel more like a daily chore, and I blog so I can get away from the normal humdrum of everyday life. So instead, I've just been putting some random thoughts down on somewhat of a hit-and-miss basis.

One challenge is that I've already written an awful lot about the series, and I don't like to repeat myself too much. I don't want to bore my regular readers, but I also acknowledge that the majority of people reading my posts don't read everything that I publish. So I wrestle with the problem that if I'm writing about a particular episode and I leave out something because I already wrote about it six months ago, the post may seem incomplete. I don't know if I'll come up with any solutions, but it's at least something I keep in the back of my head.

Regardless, I'm still working through my complete Angel DVD set and I've now seen all of the episodes up through Season 4's "Apocalypse Nowish". My last (sort of) reviews were way back in early March when I did some write-ups for episodes from roughly the later part of Season 3. So I've got some catching up to do.

Season 3. The only thing I care to add about Season 3 is that I found the only scene in the entire series so far that I felt compelled to fast-forward through (Season 5's "The Girl in Question" will be my ultimate test). It was a scene in "Benediction" where Holtz was telling Connor he needed to be with Angel. Unfortunately, when I looked through their written dialogue a few minutes ago I couldn't remember the exact scene that bugged me so much! I'd have to look at it through the context of seeing what happened immediately prior to it. All I know is that I was thinking that Holtz was full of shit and I was upset that he was destroying Angel and Connor's relationship.

Early Season 4 Overview. It's revealed somewhere in the Season 4 commentary (by Joss Whedon in "Spin the Bottle"?) that most of Season 4 is compacted into a few short weeks, since most of the episodes pick up immediately where the preceding episode left off. I might have eventually figured that out on my own. However, I did notice at times that Season 4 must have created quite a challenge for fanfic writers, since there didn't seem to be a lot of "off" time where the characters could go out and have their own adventures.

This is another piece that I can be filing under the "I'm repeating myself" category, but I'm noticing again that Season 4 really started off with a lot of promise. So much seemed possible at that point, and it was too bad the season had to degenerate into the "let's turn Cordelia into the cheesy villainess" mode. Co-executive producer David Greenwalt had left the series around this time (though he did make a few brief return appearances later on), and Angel possibly suffered from his absence. I've also read in more than a few places that Charisma Carpenter considered David Greenwalt to be somewhat of a champion of Cordelia Chase's character (as hinted in a Charisma Carpenter interview here), and I wonder if the whole Cordelia/Jasmine arc would have happened if Greenwalt was still around.

I hadn't noticed yet that Tim Minear had also left the series somewhere around Season 4 until I re-read Carpenter's interview in the last link above. He was a staple of the Season 3 episode commentaries and was a lot of fun to listen to. Minear was also an excellent writer for Angel. If I can believe his own commentaries (hah!), Minear also seemed to have a lot of input into the overall shape of the story arcs as well. There was always a noticeable change between seasons, but the differences between Seasons 3 and 4 seemed particularly disturbing since there seemed to be an overall air that something was missing from Season 4.

Even the opening credits weren't as good in Season 4, since they just seemed to be a bunch of random images strung together. Unfortunately I don't know enough about television and editing to be able to put my finger on why I liked the opening credits from Seasons 1 - 3 better than the ones from Season 4. (Maybe the Season 4 credits were missing some of the playfulness that was featured in the other seasons' credits?)

Deep Down. I did not like Amy Acker's "Fred" at all in "Deep Down". I hated her hair (two thin strands around her face braided and pulled back), and I hated the way she treated Connor. It seemed ridiculous for a quavering little-girl figure to be bossing him around like she was his mother. It might not have worked for me since the two actors were very close together in age in real life. (Vincent Kartheiser was born in 1979 and Amy Acker was born in 1976).

It still bothers me that in this delicious Wesley/Lilah scene, Stephanie Romanov's hair fell down and covered up their final kiss. It kind of ruined the whole exciting Wesley-grabbing-Lilah-for-one-more-quickie vibe thing that was going on.

I didn't realize until recently that I actually liked John Rubinstein's Linwood character in this episode since it seemed like he was finally growing a brain. (His comment to Lilah about Wesley taking advantage of her was quite Holland Mannerish). Trust the creators to kill off a character just when he's starting to get interesting.

Speaking of Lilah, how did she manage to meet with the Senior Partner Mr. Suvarta? (I'm assuming that it happened sometime after Linwood gave Lilah the veiled threat in their previous scene.) Judging from Season 2's "Reprise" it would seem that a whole lot of black magic would have been involved, or at least a trip to the White Room for a talk with the evil little girl conduit. I don't think something like that could have been arranged on the spur of the moment, so it makes me think Lilah had already had some direct dealings with the Senior Partners. Also, I believe this scene marked the only time a Senior Partner was given a name.

Preview. In my next posts I'll talk briefly about "Ground State", a little bit more about Wesley's intriguing life away from Angel Investigations, Lorne's adventures in Las Vegas, Amy Acker's and Vincent Kartheiser's screen tests, and Cordelia during her early Jasmine arc days.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Charisma and Sly

Via Whedonesque, I came across an interview with Charisma Carpenter at's Popwatch, "Charisma Carpenter on How Cordelia Chase Landed Her in Sylvester Stallone's 'Expendables' (and the Butterfingers Defense League)". I had read the story someplace else about how Charisma landed her role in "The Expendables" in part by showing Stallone her performance from Season 5 of Angel's "You're Welcome", but it's certainly worth reading about it again. My only question is that it seems that Charisma had to actually read for the role, but I honestly couldn't tell from the narrative exactly when the audition took place. Not that it matters any, since it appears they've finished shooting the movie and it should be released in August. HOORAY FOR CHARISMA!

I loved how Sly said they were looking for someone who could convey softness in the role. Apparently, all of the other women who auditioned played it too tough. From what I'm reading Charisma must have been perfectly cast. I just hope the movie also takes advantage of her comedic skills.

As far as her Butterfinger gig, Carpenter claims to be a big fan of the candy bar. I can take or leave Butterfingers. I never buy them for myself or my family. However, back in the day when my kids still went trick-or-treating, they'd sort out the candy which they knew they wouldn't be eating. My husband and I would eat what we wanted from the leftovers (ahem) and throw out the rest. Butterfingers landed in the "Candy That My Husband and I Would Eat" category.

I don't usually buy a product just because a favorite celebrity endorses it. However, I might pick up an occasional Butterfinger bar from now on if I see it as an impulse item. I just won't be buying them at the theater when I'm watching "The Expendables" because they're WAY too expensive there.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Someone to Look Out For Me - Los Angeles

Alexis Denisof and Charisma Carpenter
as Wes and Cordy

This is the second and final blog post where I discuss how Cordelia Chase found a safe environment to explore her sexuality when she became friends with ex-Watcher Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. In my last post, I talked about their relationship in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where it was revealed that the romantic feelings they felt for each other turned out to be fleeting infatuations.

Their first encounter in Angel, (a deeply passionate kiss between Cordelia and rogue demon-hunter Wesley in "Parting Gifts") was really quite successful, at least from Wesley's point of view. Unfortunately they never followed up on it, mostly because Cordelia didn't realize she was kissing Wesley at the time. From then on, their interactions in Season 1 (and, to a lesser extent Season 2), mostly consisted of Cordelia being bitchy and sarcastic with Wesley, with Wesley alternating between being extremely irritated to being genuinely hurt by her behavior.

Expecting. Someone made a convincing case on a forum somewhere that Cordelia lost her virginity to Xander. I certainly didn't find any evidence of that in my limited viewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so if anyone cares to enlighten me, please do so. Regardless, if Cordelia wasn't a virgin when she had sex with the handsome photographer-turned demon surrogate in Season 1's "Expecting", she was close enough to being one for our purposes.

It was therefore quite a shock for Cordelia to wake up from her evening with the romantic photographer and find herself nine months pregnant! From this scene, it was clear that, although it was bad enough that she was pregnant, what was almost worse for Cordelia was the fact that she might as well have rented a huge billboard that said "I HAD SEX LAST NIGHT!"

When Cordelia didn't show up for work on time, Angel and Wesley showed up at her apartment to find out what happened to her. Wesley started sniping a bit about her work ethics, but the sight of Cordelia softened him up considerably. Cordy, the ultra-confident Bitch Queen, had all of a sudden revealed that she was a badly frightened young woman.

Angel was magnificent as he went out to interrogate and terrorize the bad guys, but Wesley had an important part to play as well. He was so sweet to Cordelia when he reassured her that she was not being punished for her behavior. There was also a nice element of "let's pretend we're married" when Wes and Cordy were masquerading as Mr. and Mrs. Pangborn at the hospital while she was getting her ultrasound. For most of the rest of the episode Wes tenderly cared for an increasingly unstable Cordelia as she started getting taken over by her little demon babies. (And, Wesley being Wesley, had to of course get knocked out cold by Cordy while she escaped from Angel's apartment.)

The final scene of the episode is well-known for Cordy's cute little fib about agreeing to allow a producer to impregnate her with demon seed and her equally famous "sex is bad" statement. But my favorite part marked a rare occasion where Cordelia was actually able to acknowledge her appreciation for everything her good friends Angel and Wesley had done for her. When she said "Okay. I learned that I have two people I trust absolutely with my life. And that part's new.", I almost needed a tissue for my "allergies".

David Nabbit. From the point of her maternity on forward, Cordy almost literally had nothing more to hide from Wes (and Angel, of course). For her, sharing a big intimate secret was a liberating moment. Cordy knew she could rely on Wesley as a trusted sounding board as she continued on with her exploration of her own sexuality.

Nabbit, or course, was the Bill Gates-like nerdy multi-millionaire (billionaire?) in "War Zone" who made his money in the software industry. Nabbit was everything Cordelia normally hated. It took Cordelia a distressingly long time to stop her golddigger ways, since it was love at first sight for Nabbit's money. For her, it was not a matter of "could I learn to love this rich man", but more like "could I ever have sex with this geek?"

In this scene Cordelia's Freudian slip was showing in a huge way when she informed Nabbit "I like David. It's such a strong, masculine name. It just feels good in your mouth." Thankfully, gallant Wesley was there to rescue her when he firmly took hold of her arms and gently guided her away while simultaneously hissing "Feels good in your mouth?"

And what about this scene where she babbled inartfully about "prostituting" herself in order to get closer to Nabbit's money? I've often said that Wesley was non-judgmental of Cordelia as she explored her sexuality. Of course Wesley was mildly disapproving of Cordelia's talk of prostituting herself, but it was interesting to see how she dropped the idea almost immediately afterwards. Cordy could bring up the subject with Wesley, safely knowing that she couldn't possibly say anything that would drive him away. Wes wouldn't let her get too carried away, and would eventually put her back on the safe path. It almost seemed like it wasn't so much that Cordy was testing her boundaries, but taking satisfaction from affirming that Wesley still cared enough to keep providing her with the strong boundaries. Similar to my last post where I guessed Cordelia would have been dismayed if Wesley had actively chased after her in Sunnydale, she might have been equally disappointed if Wes advised her to go all out in hooking up with Nabbit.

Wesley had sex? I always make a big deal about this scene in Season 2's "Dear Boy" where it was revealed that Wesley had sex with a bleached blonde. There are a number of ways you can interpret Cordelia's reaction when she told Wes, "That's unbelievable. I didn't think you ever had sex." Angel probably couldn't have cared less what Wesley was up to since he probably knew every time Wes slept with a girl. Was Wesley trying to keep his lifestyle hidden from Cordelia, since it might have brought up issues of double standards? (I go into more detail about his presumed secret life here.)

Angel was pretty much in the open about his desire to vet all of Cordelia's dates ahead of time. Wesley wasn't as up front as Angel, but still let it be known that he didn't want Cordelia running with a fast crowd, particularly if it meant they would be running into each other! (Though admittedly Wes would have been hanging out at English-style pubs while Cordelia would have been hitting the clubs.) I'm not sure if I'm convinced of this myself, but I'd like to think that it might have been important to Wesley that Cordelia look up to him, or that he have the appearance of being somewhat faithful to Cordelia even though they didn't have a romantic relationship. For all of her bluntness about sexuality, Cordelia still seemed to have a few hangups (particularly concerning Angel and his sex life). Wesley might have also feared that she would have been stunned at some of his more adventurous revelations.

Regardless, it's probably closer to the truth that Wesley went out with women from time to time, and he just didn't want Cordelia to make it a steady topic of conversation at the Hotel. Also, let's not forget the obvious: Cordelia couldn't believe someone as dorky as Wesley was getting some while someone as beautiful as Cordelia was sitting home dateless on a Saturday night.

Cordelia again made kind of a big deal out of it when she found out that Wesley had slept with Virginia in "Guise Will Be Guise". She was certainly sending out mixed messages about the tabloid pictures of Wesley where he was "all over" Virginia, which Cordy and Angel both explained away as jealousy that Cordelia wasn't the one in the spotlight. I'd often wondered if Wesley was the neglected toy that Little Girl Cordelia didn't even think about until another Little Girl (Virginia) came along and took him away.

Couplet. I laugh at certain drama queens in my life (both male and female) who can't seem to do anything without informing the entire world of their every move. By the time Groo showed up at the Hyperion Hotel in Season 3's "Couplet", Cordelia was not only ready for sex, she was eager to share it all with her two cherished friends. Notice how Cordelia didn't share her intimacies with Lorne, Fred and Gunn. For better or worse, Angel and Wesley were the two trusted loved ones whom she could come to with her most intimate details, like her dilemmas about possibly losing her "visionity" and obtaining the supernatural prophylactic so she could have "comshuk" with the Groosalugg.

Angel and Wes were a bit flustered by her sex talk, but they allowed Cordelia to babble on. In a way, kind of how parents feel, there's something deeply rewarding about being trusted enough to be taken advantage of by someone who knows you'll always be there. However, even Angel had his breaking point, as he sent Cordelia and Groo away for a few weeks so he wouldn't have the privilege of hearing all about her personal triumphs with her brand new sex life.

Closing Thoughts. As far as I can remember, "Couplet" marked the last of Cordy sharing her intimacies with Wes. When she and Groo came back from their vacation, Wesley was estranged from the group. By the time he worked his way back into the group, Cordy had been taken over by Jasmine.

I debated about putting this in the main body of my post, and I even debated about including this in my post at all. But I did want to at least mention Wes and Cordy's conversation about the sexual "vibe" Cordelia was picking up from Bethany in Season 2's "Untouched". Wes, with Cordy's help, figured out that telekinetic Bethany had been abused by her father. There was no "Cordelia exploring her sexuality with Wesley" thing going on, but they were able to comfortably talk about the subject on a somewhat clinical level. I can't decide if Cordy would have been able to talk to Gunn about her suspicions if Wesley hadn't been around.

I've written a lot about Wes and Cordy's constant bickering. I've also discussed how it might have been a way to relieve some of the tension between the two of them. I like to focus on this scene in Season 1's "Five by Five" where Cordelia announced to Phantom Dennis (when he was stopping Wes and Cordy from entering her apartment), "Don't worry. Hell will freeze over before I have sex with him." (This was a reference to how the last time she had sex in her apartment she was impregnated with demon spawn). Wesley of course responded with "Thank goodness for small favors". I'm convinced that Wesley would not have minded resuming his Sunnydale relationship with Cordy, but Cordy probably had a "been there, done that" attitude towards Wes. Still, if I had been in her shoes and I was working with someone whom I had absolutely no romantic or sexual interests in, I would have behaved quite differently. We often talk about physical or romantic attractions in terms of fire and flames. I can't help but compare Cordelia's feelings for Wesley to a fire that's been mostly extinguished, but still smolders with a few glowing embers.

Wesley was obviously talking about Fred when he scolded Angel in Season 5's "Smile Time" by telling him "..... if there's a woman out there... who you find truly attractive, who you think about, let's say, most of the time, who represents even part of what you think makes the world worth fighting for and who doesn't view you as an entirely sexless shoulder to lean have to do something about it." However, Wesley could have just as easily been talking about Cordelia. He must have felt like her gay hairdresser at times.

It's hard to talk about the sexual aspect of Wes and Cordy's relationship without making it sound like Big Brother Wesley looking out for Little Sister Cordelia. He was not her boss and he was not controlling her behaviors. More than anything, I think their relationship was about security, with the two of them always knowing they could rely on each other. I didn't include any discussion of Wesley looking to Cordelia for guidance as described in these scenes here and here, mostly because I've blogged about the scenes before and because they didn't fit in the overall theme of this post. However, Wesley was just as capable of leaning on Cordelia for moral support, which is a subject I wish was explored more thoroughly on Angel. In some ways Season 3 marked the zenith of their relationship. We can only imagine how their friendship could have become even deeper if the writers hadn't felt compelled to split up the group.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Someone To Look Out For Me - Sunnydale

I never feel like I can find the right words to describe the unique relationship Wesley Wyndam-Pryce and Cordelia Chase enjoyed in the Buffyverse. To say that they were "good friends" doesn't even come close to describing what they meant to each other. I try to cover up for my lack of quality in being able to express myself by going for pure quantity instead, as you can tell from the fact that, at this time, I now have 23 posts tagged as "Wes and Cordy".

As I hinted at in a recent post, there is one intriguing little recurring theme that keeps popping up, and that's Cordelia's sexuality. In "Wesley and His Women", I wrote,
I believe I might have posted something weird in the past like "Cordelia felt she was safe to experiment with her sexuality" around Wesley. A person could get kind of a wild picture of what I was trying to say without a more complete explanation.
I then realized that even though the very beginning of the relationship ended in, if we can stretch the definition a bit, sexual failure, it hardly ended Cordelia's exploration of her own sexuality.

From the very beginning, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Season 3's "Consequences", Cordelia came on to Wesley in a huge way, which shook him up immensely. From then on out, until the Season 3 finale "Graduation Day", their relationship consisted of a series of encounters where Cordelia flirted outrageously with Wesley, and he mostly reacted like a bumbling fool. I wrote this post, "Wes & Cordy: Not Quite a Love Story" fairly recently about how Wes and Cordy's days at Sunnydale affected their relationship throughout Angel. The post was quite long, but there were a few points I think I should have pushed a bit further.

One point I made in my previous post was how Cordelia was obviously on the rebound from her relationship with Xander. I also figured there may have been an element of coming onto Wesley as a way to get back at Xander, but I also thought Cordelia was still genuinely attracted to Wesley. I should have went on to say that she was more attracted to what Wesley represented rather than to Wesley as a person. Xander was a "loser" in her mind, and she wanted her next boyfriend to be as far away from Xander in personality and background as possible. Xander was an adolescent dork, where (we can laugh about it now) Wesley was supposedly a cultured, more sophisticated grown man. Cordelia was willing to overlook all evidence to the contrary.

Cordelia, as a teenage girl, from a wealthy family at that, was firmly caught in society's double standards. She couldn't have a sex life since she risked having all of her intimate details scribbled on the bathroom walls. However, she had to somehow find a way to develop her femme fatale skills so she could land and retain a wealthy husband, keep him sexually interested in her, and live the lifestyle she had become accustomed to and felt she deserved. We were only starting to learn at this time that her parents had been sent to prison for tax evasion and that Cordelia suddenly found herself in a much lower station in life.

It's hard to believe that the gorgeous Cordelia Chase could possibly be unlucky in love, but that's one of the things that made her appealing. Just because she had looks and (presumably) money didn't mean that everything came easily to her. I have not seen her in Season 1 of Buffy at all, and only caught sight of her a few times in Season 2. As a result, I've only really seen her in light of how she related to Xander. What I do know is that she probably sacrificed a lot of her social status by deciding to hang out with Xander and the rest of the Scoobies, and sacrificed even more when she and Xander broke up. What a humiliation to give it all up (relatively speaking) for Xander, only to have Xander cheat on her. His "cheating" on her was relatively mild (he and long-time friend Willow were caught kissing), and there was no reason why they shouldn't have been able to patch up their differences just like Willow and Oz. However, Cordelia was much more fragile than anyone realized, which she constantly tried to hide with her Bitch Queen persona. Having Xander cheat on someone as lovely as herself was just too much for Cordelia to handle.

So in came Wesley at just the right time for her, and perhaps the wrong time for him. What Cordelia got out of the relationship was a chance to repair her ego by flirting with Wesley and practicing some ideas she had in how she could turn a man into a complete bowl of Jello every time she said something mildly suggestive (with "mildly" being the key word.) Wesley was tormented by his impure thoughts of what he wanted to be doing with this luscious underage cheerleader, but it was a sweet kind of torment for him nonetheless. After a bit of gruff counseling from Giles, Wesley finally worked up the courage to ask the newly-turned 18-year old Cordelia to dance with him at the Graduation Ball.

I was disappointed that the audience really couldn't get a good glimpse of Wesley and Cordelia while they were dancing, but it appeared that, after a bit of awkwardness in the beginning, they were starting to nestle in quite nicely together. Presumably they broke apart and went their separate ways immediately after the dance, but both of them had achieved their important short-term objectives. Cordelia found that she could lure someone in to asking her to dance after she had waged a successful campaign, and Wesley was able to hold a beautifully winsome girl in his arms, if only for a little while. The next day, (I think), when they kissed in the library, the spell was broken. Wesley wasn't the sophisticated handsome prince; he was a bumbling twit. Cordelia wasn't the sexual enchantress of his fantasies; she was just an immature schoolgirl. That was why they gave up on each other so easily, since there was nothing of substance between them to fall back on.

One good thing that came out of their Sunnydale experiences is that, even though Wesley was obviously Cordelia's patsy, he provided a safe outlet for her romantic explorations. He was a perfect gentleman who would never betray her trust. I think Cordelia realized that deep down, and probably would have been quite shocked and dismayed if Wesley actually acted on his impulses with her right away. It would be a bit of a stretch to say that Wesley learned his lesson regarding the differences between infatuation and love. However, he still managed to mature a bit from his encounter, and gained a wonderful friend in Cordelia as a pleasant side benefit.

In my next post I'll focus on how Wesley's status in Cordelia's life changed from being the object of her infatuation to her protector.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Catching Up With Season 3 of Buffy: Amends

Regular readers know that I'm approaching the Buffyverse completely backwards, having seen all of the episodes of Angel last year and catching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on a hit or miss basis this year. I've seen all of Season 3 now of Buffy, three episodes of Season 2, and one episode from Season 4.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was heartbroken to have missed Season 3's "Amends" the first time around when MTV was briefly broadcasting Buffy episodes earlier this year. As I watch Buffy, my primary focus is to key in on elements that may give me a better understanding of what happened in Angel. So far I don't think I've had any huge "Eureka" moments, but at least I'm confirming that I did a fairly decent job of putting two and two together when I was trying to figure out the storylines in Angel.

For me, the big attraction for "Amends" was the implication that the yet-unnamed Powers That Be had performed a miracle and saved Angel's life by preventing him from immolating himself when the sun rose up on Christmas Day. (Angel was continuously being urged to kill Buffy and others through hallucinations that were conjured up by The First Evil, and Angel was afraid he wouldn't be able to resist much longer.) As you may remember, it snowed that day in Sunnydale, California for the first time time since who-knows-when, which prevented the sun from coming out at dawn and burning Angel to a crisp. Another attraction for me was how I wanted to see yet one more example of how writer, director and renowned humanist Joss Whedon approached the subject of Christian symbolism. Far from being a complete religion-basher, Whedon regularly embraced elements of Christianity and other religions and included them into his shows.

Joss Whedon routinely wrote those wonderful episodes for both Buffy and Angel that can make me melt into a sentimental puddle of water. "Amends" was one of his best efforts. I can technically see that some people might be put off by all of the weepiness between Tragic Lovers Buffy and Angel, but I adored every moment of those encounters. Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz were sensational together, and I hope to some day put together a list of their Top 5 or 10 Favorite Romantic Scenes. The scene where she exhorted him to keep up the faith while he was waiting for the sun to rise was one of their best.

I also appreciated all of the other nice touches in this episode that, put together, made "Amends" start to look a lot like a heartwarming Christmas special. I saw how Willow and Oz got back together after he saw her smooching with Xander in a prior episode. I also adored the scene where Willow tried to seduce Oz (and therefore lose her virginity) in order to prove her love for him, only to have him reassure her that "I want it to be because we both need it to for the same reason. You don't have to prove anything to me." Awwww! How sweet!!!!!

Other life-affirming scenes I enjoyed were: Faith pretending to have other plans for Christmas, only to put aside her pride and show up to celebrate a nice-old fashioned Christmas with Buffy and Joyce; Giles deciding (off-screen) to put aside his differences with Angel (who, as Angelus, had killed Giles' girlfriend Jenny) and help him out; and the Scoobies surprising Buffy by showing up at the school library on Christmas Eve to help Giles and Buffy with their research on what was happening to Angel.

Closing Thoughts. I never considered myself to be overly-sentimental, but the Buffyverse seems to draw my hidden marshmallowness out into the open. There's something to be said about the right mixtures of the dramatic highs and the lows in a series to really heighten our emotions. Each change of pace within Buffy and Angel seemed to make everything more extreme, and increased the effectiveness of these individual episodes and scenes tremendously.

I'm always trying to figure out the scope of influence and the limitations of The Powers That Be. I thought maybe Buffy was hinting that perhaps the yet- unnamed Powers That Be were the ones who delivered Angel from Hell when she said, "Some great evil takes credit for bringing you back and you buy it? You just give up?" But I don't think she was really serious. Instead, I think Buffy was just doing everything she could to convince Angel to stay in the game.

If elements of this particular episode had taken place in Angel, there would have been some interesting power plays going on between Wolfram & Hart and The Powers That Be. Angel and his crew might have been convinced that Angel had been rescued by The Powers That Be, but it could have been revealed later on that Wolfram & Hart had retrieved Angel because he was a necessary figure for their Apocalypse.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lynda Carter Must Have Been Unavailable

Per Whedonesque, uh, Charisma Carpenter's latest venture.

Catching up With Season 3 of Buffy: Faith, Hope & Trick

(Eliza Dushku and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy and Faith, from FanPop)

I was bitterly disappointed when I missed two episodes ("Faith, Hope & Trick" and "Amends") from Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer while MTV was broadcasting the series for a brief time a few months ago. As I found out when I was watching Angel for the first time last year on TNT, the episodes I tend to miss are quite crucial to the overall season story arc or have special meaning for me. Fortunately, thanks to my employers' broadband connection, I was able to catch up with these missed Buffy episodes recently on Hulu. I'll focus on "Amends" in my next post.

Faith's Introduction to the Buffyverse. The first episode I missed was "Faith, Hope & Trick", which was obviously significant because it introduced a favorite character of mine, rogue slayer Faith. Right away I was disappointed. For one thing, Faith was pretty unlikeable, which surprised me because I'm a big fan of her Angel crossover appearances. Also, for whatever reason, I didn't realize that Faith and Buffy would have so many conflicts right away. When I first saw them together in later episodes, it was obvious that they were working through a few differences. However, for the most part, I thought they seemed to have a pretty cool Gal Pal thing going on until things started going downhill for them in "Bad Girls". I suppose their personality conflicts were necessary for dramatic tension, and I can imagine it did make their story arc seem that much more complete by the time Faith's character returned in the final season of Buffy.

"Faith, Hope & Trick" also reinforced a suspicion that I've had for quite a while that, believe it or not, Buffy is the female character that I seem to identify with the most inside the Buffyverse. (I wonder if that's by design, since in many ways, she's the most "normal" girl out there?) I could really identify with how Buffy was correctly sharing her frustrations and concerns about Faith's reckless ways, only to have people imply she that she was a spoiled "only child" who didn't like to share the spotlight. They also put the onus on Buffy to change her behavior so she could get along better with Faith and her "different temperament".

When I look through the written dialogue, Faith seemed fairly harmless, but in reality she was disgustingly crude. (Although I did enjoy her "nude slayer" story.) I know I wouldn't appreciate it if someone said I was way too uptight because I wasn't a complete skank, and that same person was horribly insensitive about problems I was having in my personal life.

Buffy ultimately helped Faith through her own personal crisis by helping her kill Kakistos, an ancient vampire who had also killed Faith's Watcher a short time earlier. Presumably, Buffy and Faith patched up their differences off-camera, since they seemed to get along much better the next several times they got together. However, for whatever reason, I didn't have the impression that things were any better between them at the end of "Faith, Hope & Trick" than at the beginning of the show. I'd probably have to watch the episode again to find out for sure.

I've written glowing reviews of Eliza Dushku's performances in Angel. Whenever she made crossover appearances as Faith in Angel, she seemed to upstage everything else around her. In Season 3 of Buffy, Dushku's performances seemed more muted, since she was clearly cast as an ensemble actress rather than one with a starring role. I also wonder if it helped that Dushku had one more year of acting experience by the time she landed on the set of Angel. I had mentioned before that everyone seemed to ratchet their acting performances up a notch whenever Dushku showed up on Angel, but perhaps it was actually the other way around? Maybe all of the actors on Angel inspired Eliza to bring out more energy in her performances? Regardless of whether it was the acting, the script, the story line, the direction or the production, it all seemed to come together in Dushku's Season 1 and Season 4 appearances on Angel. (And of course I can hardly wait to see her Season 7 performances on Buffy.)

The Mystery of Gwendolyn Post. I did get one mystery somewhat solved in this episode. I had wondered in a previous post why Giles accepted faux-Watcher Gwendolyn Post so readily in "Revelations" when she blew into town, and didn't bother to check her credentials. It turned out the Watchers' Council had informed him that a new Watcher would eventually be assigned to Faith. When Gwendolyn arrived Giles naturally assumed she was the official new Watcher. (It was still pretty poor that he didn't double-check right away, since he should have been informed she was heading to Sunnydale ahead of time.)

Faith was lying when she said that her former Watcher was attending an exclusive Watchers' retreat in England. (In fact, her Watcher had been murdered.) I'm assuming that there really was a retreat going on at the time. Giles was smarting from the slight of not getting an invitation. I'm also assuming that when Ms. Post showed up unexpectedly, he just figured that was just one more instance of the Watchers' Council not treating him with the respect he deserved.

Mr. Trick. "Faith, Hope and Trick" also marked the debut of K. Todd Freeman as Mr. Trick. I liked Mr. Trick, since he was sharp and carried out his assigned duties with style and flair. I wouldn't say he was a worthy adversary for Buffy and the Scoobies, since that would imply he had some redeeming qualities. Instead, Mr. Trick was more of a classic villain, someone we appreciated even though we booed and hissed every time he took the screen. Trick was witty and simply just a lot of fun to watch. I liked him a lot better than the other ridiculously simpering villains in town, like Mayor Wilkins and Principal Snyder.

I didn't really want Trick to become a permanent character, but then I wasn't quite ready to have him dusted off so soon either. It was a rather interesting twist that we should have been happy to see Faith kill Mr. Trick in "Consequences", since we always want the Good Guy (Girl) to heroically triumph over Evil. Instead, Faith's actions put her on the path to becoming the Mayor's assistant and working for Evil instead. Trick got his just desserts, but not in the way we would have liked.

Angel had their fair share of strong characters who only stuck around for a few episodes before leaving. However, I'm under the impression that Buffy had a lot more more of these appealing temporary characters than Angel. In fact, it's kind of surprising to me how some of these people who I thought might have been somewhat permanent fixtures on Buffy were actually just around for a few episodes or a few seasons at the most. Mr. Trick was one, and Faith was another. (Heck, I might as well add in Principal Snyder, Mayor Wilkins, Spike, Dawn and Joyce Summers while I'm at it.) I think if I would have gotten more used to this aspect by watching Buffy before Angel, I might not have gotten too overly attached to the temporary characters (like Groo) on Angel.

Willow. I had also written in a previous post that:
Willow sure had a knack for messing things up, didn't she? And she always seemed to get away with it too, (at least in the early seasons) with minimal damage to her self-esteem and credibility, as opposed to what happened to Wesley and some of his "poor" decisions."
I wrote that in the context of how Willow made the tragic decision in "Becoming - Part 2" to carry out her spell to ensoul Angelus, which she succeeded in doing just before Buffy was forced to cast the newly-ensouled Angel into Hell. If Willow had not cast her spell, Buffy would have been shoving the evil Angelus into Hell instead, which would have been a lot easier on her psyche than pushing in her lover Angel. At the time, I wasn't sure how valid that statement was that I made in the previous post, seeing as how I've only really seen one season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I almost immediately felt vindicated when I saw this scene, where Buffy finally explained to Giles and Willow what she was forced to do to Angel in order to save the world. Buffy ended her narrative with "So I, I told him that I loved him... and I kissed him... and I killed him. (pause) I don't know if that helps with your spell or not, Giles", which she said in response to a phony binding spell story Giles came up with in order to coax the truth out of Buffy.

Willow answered with a simple, "I'm sorry", then, after Buffy left, she said matter-of-factly, "Giles, I know you don't like me playing with mystical forces, but I can really help with this binding spell."

Did Willow sound like she was wracked with guilt for doing such a horrible thing to Buffy and Angel? Did it sound like she even acknowledged that it was a tragic event? Of course Willow had no idea what was going on in Buffy's battle when she cast the spell. However, everyone raise your hands if you've ever been held brutally accountable for failures that occurred as a result of good faith actions you had taken.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wesley and His Women

(Photo credit: Wesley and Fred as portrayed by Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker, at TVLoop.)

This is a post I've been wanting to do for a very long time. Now that I've finally seen all of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce's appearances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer I feel I can finally do justice to the subject matter.

When I started this post I was curious to see if his relationships mirrored his own personal growth and development as he worked his way through life. It sounds like a slightly hokey premise, but I guess I'll just let the stories speak for themselves.

Cordelia Chase. If you want to take the "growing with each relationship" analogy to heart, Wesley's time with Cordelia Chase would mark a good starting point. It would certainly help if we knew Wesley's exact age when he first arrived in Sunnydale. I've speculated in the past, based on hardly any evidence at all, that he was somewhere between 22 and 32 years old, with my best (or depending on how you look at it, my worst) guesstimate leaning towards the younger age.

Joss Whedon, in his commentary for Season 4's "Spin the Bottle", made it a point to say that the 17-year old Wesley being portrayed in that episode was totally clueless about how to act around Fred and Cordelia. Clearly he did not get an early start in his training. When he arrived in Sunnydale as a young adult, Wesley was a nervous wreck around Cordelia. He could have been totally inexperienced at that time, but I've also conjectured that just about any man would have been transformed into a bumbling idiot if he was being propositioned by such a luscious underage coed. Based on their disastrous kiss in the Sunnydale High School library, it looks like Wesley would have to accept the "blame" since the onus would have been on him to successfully carry it off. If he had much in the way of experience with girls at that point, we certainly weren't seeing any evidence of it on-screen.

Although Wes and Cordy failed to connect (so to speak) as lovers, they did embark on a warm and lovely friendship that survived well into Season 3, with a final acknowledgement of their relationship coming in Season 5's "You're Welcome". Wesley was not quite a father-figure, and not quite a big brother to Cordelia. Instead, he was able to fulfill his need to satisfy what I considered to be his innate Watcher tendencies, where he was able to cherish and nurture a young woman and act as her protective guide.

I believe I might have posted something weird in the past like "Cordelia felt she was safe to experiment with her sexuality" around Wesley. A person could get kind of a wild picture of what I was trying to say without a more complete explanation. I'll have to leave that as a teaser for another post. Suffice it to say, Cordelia could talk about sex with Wesley and indulge in certain behaviors without fear of judgment from him, knowing full well that he'd always be there for her regardless of the circumstances.

During most of their time together on Angel, Wes and Cordy's relationship appeared to be somewhat one-sided, with Wesley clearly doting on Cordelia while she simply lapped up his attention. However, despite her "honesty", it was clear that Cordelia still had a hard time acknowledging her true feelings. Suffice it to say, they clearly adored each other and enjoyed a friendship that, if we played with the semantics a bit, we could also claim was a loving relationship.

Unnamed bleached blonde, Mistress Spanks-a-Lot and handcuffs. There were a lot of hints scattered throughout the series that Wesley had a rather active social life outside of Angel Investigations, which I talked about briefly in this post. As such, it would have been perfectly natural for him to bring a girl to his apartment once in a while. Of course we have no idea how active Wesley's unknown sex life was, but I've chosen in the past to take this quote from Alexis Denisof and run with it.
"... there are allusions made to his sex life from time to time, that he may be more than meets the eye in that department, he’s going out and having a wild time and keeping it quiet."
My best guess is that, in a stereotypical reaction to his repressed upbringing, Wesley probably enjoyed his sex a bit on the kinky side. One can't ignore the "secret" videotape in Season 2's "Blood Money" where he recorded himself performing an outrageously dorky striptease! Being the perfect gentleman, he wasn't going to pressure a girl into doing more than what she was ready for. Wes may have found a willing partner who didn't mind playing with his handcuffs. However, to satisfy his need for kink, he might have been tempted to seek out more formal arrangements through BDSM clubs or similar establishments. (Let's hope Wesley never visited a demon brothel outside of the line of duty!) These visits might have made for thrilling nights on the town once in a while, but he hardly would have been making soulful connections with anyone.

This is as good a place as any to wonder out loud, could Wesley have been gay? I really don't want to address the issue since I don't care one way or another, yet I don't want to look like I'm deliberately ignoring the 2-ton elephant in the room either. I don't see much evidence that he was gay outside of the fact that he liked tea sets and enjoyed reading books. I have seen old forums where people joked that Wesley's "bleached blonde" could have been Spike!

I think the writers liked to routinely sprinkle in a few salacious tidbits either for their own amusement or just to give the fans something to talk about. At some point we have to consider, were these tidbits meant to be taken seriously, or were the writers just messing with us? All of these "allusions" to his sex life could have simply been thrown out there for comic effect, since it seemed so incongruous to think of dry, boring, old academic Wesley whooping it up in his off-duty hours.

Virginia Bryce. In many ways this could have been the perfect relationship for Wesley. Both Wes and Virginia came from comfortable, sheltered backgrounds where they were steeped in magic from very early ages. Virginia was just starting to emerge from her cocoon and needed to learn how to deal with the real world. Wesley would have had the opportunity to do what he loved best, which was jump into his Watcher mode and be a nurturing guide to a beautiful young woman (while charmingly only being a few steps ahead of her out of clueless school himself.) It was an extra bonus for Wesley that Virginia wasn't a total innocent and was eager for sex!

Even though the audience didn't see Wesley with any women from the time he kissed Cordelia in Sunnydale and his hookup with Virginia, it was obvious he had gained a considerable amount of experience in the meantime. (Assuming that you take the view that Cordelia marked his first "relationship".) Although Wes had a somewhat difficult time trying to impersonate Angel in Season 2's "Guise Will Be Guise", one place he wasn't clumsy was in Virginia's bed.

"Guise Will Be Guise" represented Wesley's growth as a character in so many ways. He quickly became a more effective fighter and leader. Virginia helped boost his overall confidence levels, and Wes ended up being much more self-assured throughout the remainder of the series. I've noticed many times that people can be plugging along through life without a whole lot to show for their efforts. Then all of a sudden they get a lucky break. A child can unexpectedly get a good test score, or an athlete can come out of nowhere to put in an outstanding individual performance. A professional can even receive some profuse but slightly undeserved praise for work he did on a minor project. At that point, all of the pressure is taken off of their shoulders, and these people can start to blossom now that they can continue on with a lot more confidence and self-esteem.

Virginia Bryce represented that lucky break for Wesley. She knew nothing about his prior history, so she wasn't burdened by years of viewing Wes as a bumbling fool. Although he started off kind of ragged in his role of Angel the Vampire, Wesley quickly gained Virginia's respect and trust, first by laying down the ground rules (in the same link immediately listed above), and also by driving off her potential kidnappers on two different occasions.

Wesley wasn't as buff as Angel or as debonair as James Bond, but Virginia only saw (and fully appreciated) his best qualities. One of my favorite little "quiet moments" in the entire series occurred when Wesley was telling Virginia about how he and the rest of the crew had been fired by Angel. Virginia, showing her complete lack of understanding of the outside world, naively asked Wesley, ".....can you file a grievance with the union?". I loved that slightly exasperated yet patient tone of voice Wesley used as he explained to Virginia, "Virginia, I'm not in a union..."

When Wesley further explained that he didn't even know his job title, Virginia countered with:
VIRGINIA: You're a renowned specialist in, in supernatural aid and rescue.

WESLEY: No, I'm just...renowned? [Wesley looked quite pleased at the thought.]

VIRGINIA: [In a very sincere and sweet tone of voice]. Well, to me you are. You saved my life!
Everyone deserves to feel like he or she is the center of someone else's universe, if only for a little while. Probably no one had ever looked up to Wesley as an adored hero before he met Virginia, and he was clearly enjoying the occasion. Unfortunately, in what I think could have been the fatal flaw in their relationship, Virginia could have been a little too confident about Wesley's abilities. She could have potentially turned into the nagging spouse who was always pushing Wes to try to do things outside of his capabilities and comfort zone. Neither of them needed that type of relationship, where she would always be a little dissatisfied and he would always feel like he could never quite live up to her standards. So it was probably for the best that she couldn't handle the dangers that he faced and they ended the relationship later in Season 2.

At its best, the relationship could have been about two crazy-in-love sheltered people setting out to explore a bewildering but exciting new world filled with normal people doing normal things. Although Wes and Virginia didn't last too long together, they both received wonderful benefits from each other that changed their lives for the better.

Lilah Morgan. (As an aside, I wasn't sure where to place Fred Burkle in this post. Each placement presented its own set of challenges. I literally flipped a coin to see who would come first, and Lilah won the coin toss.)

I've mentioned before that it seemed that Wesley enjoyed both his Good Girls and his Bad Girls, but also liked to keep them compartmentalized. Lilah Morgan definitely fell into the Bad Girls camp.

In direct contrast to Wesley's encounters with Fred throughout most of her run on Angel, Wes and Lilah's relationship seemed to crackle with electricity starting with their very first meeting at his apartment in Season 3 when Lilah arrived to offer him a job with Wolfram & Hart. As an aside, I recently read an excerpt from an interview with Alexis Denisof where I thought he gave the definitive answer to how much of Wes and Lilah's relationship was plotted out by the scriptwriters in advance. (Or so I thought, until I couldn't find the interview later on in either my bookmarked pages or search engine results.) However, if my memory is correct, Alexis seemed to imply that the creators were somewhat surprised when they looked at the edited footage to see how much chemistry existed between Wes and Lilah. The writers then went ahead and decided to turn their encounters into a full-fledged relationship. I'm not sure when that happened, but it was probably some time between Seasons 3 and 4. This gives credence to what Stephanie Romanov said in previous interviews about how their relationship grew "organically". I hope I run across Alexis' interview again so I can post the link.

Although I've made some half-hearted guesses that Wes was in his 20's throughout Buffy and Angel, that theory starts to fall apart when we view his relationship with Lilah. Lilah may have been slightly older than Wes (her Mrs. Robinson comment, while ostensibly aimed at Connor, could have almost equally applied to Wesley as well), yet Wes and Lilah seemed to be remarkably evenly matched. They seemed to have the same level of maturity, and were both very intelligent and extremely attractive. Lilah might have had the edge in the worldly sophistication department, but Wesley had other qualities that brought him on an equal footing with her.

Wes and Lilah also had a lot in common in their interests and their career fields, which was obviously conducive to talking "shop". More importantly, neither of them were in a relationship at the time of their first meeting. I've chronicled before about how it must have been almost impossible for Lilah to have a relationship with anyone while she was working at Wolfram & Hart, while Wesley was involuntarily alienated from the girl he considered to be the most wonderful creature in the world.

I don't have the luxury of going back in time without the benefit of spoilers and trying to determine if it seemed inevitable that they would hook up. However, even in Wes and Lilah's early encounters, there was a lot of interesting stuff going on between them that made us eagerly look forward to their next scenes together. I also can't help but think that they might have picked up signals during their first meeting that identified each other as potential partners in kink!

I'm highly influenced by Lewis Call's essay "Sounds Like Kinky Business To Me: Subtextual and Textual Representation of Erotic Power in the Buffyverse", which can be found at the Slayage site. He came right out and said in Paragraph 47 that,
Lilah is unsurprisingly kinky. Like many professionals, she switches her toppy professional persona for a submissive one in the bedroom.
Although that wasn't obvious to me early on, I did notice that Lilah enjoyed challenging Wesley to take control over her. She might have ultimately been submissive, but she didn't make it easy for Wesley, which suited both of them just fine.

Lilah might have been a Bad Girl, but Wesley received some enormous benefits from their relationship. Again quoting from Lewis Call,
Lilah turns out to be remarkably service-oriented. She has phone sex with Wes, and he is firmly in dominant mode: he orders her to take her panties off while she's in a meeting ....... She even impersonates Fred to give Wes his ultimate Texas schoolgirl fantasy ...... She teaches Wes how to play safely, sanely and consensually—for somebody who's "evil," she actually gives him a tremendous boon. Does he understand this?
Presumably any repeated contacts Wesley had with a Bad Girl was more like a series of one night stands. Therefore, I think Wesley was quite surprised to find that he was actually falling for Lilah. Although Wes was the first to talk about a "next time" and was the one who lost the bet by calling their affair a "relationship", Lilah was clearly falling for Wesley as well. (I'll be blunt: I think they loved each other.) Lilah could have easily been the one to first talk about a "next time" and a "relationship", but she may have been holding back in order to avoid exposing her emotional vulnerabilities. Lilah's looks of joy and contentment when Wesley made his "mistakes" completely betrayed the feelings that she had for him.

In one of life's cruel jokes, the closer they grew to each other, the more impossible it became for them to stay together. (Alexis Denisof used the beautiful analogy of Icarus flying too close to the sun.) Their entire relationship seemed to be built on mutual betrayals, which they just couldn't seem to get away from. Lilah appeared to suffer the most from their breakup, but it seemed to be equally as brutal for Wesley as witnessed by this ghost scene.

Their lovely burning the contract scene provided some sort of closure to their relationship, yet it hardly provided any comfort seeing as how Lilah was destined to spend the rest of her existence in Hell. Wesley's relationship with Lilah marked a definite advancement in his maturity level, but it does seem that the series' creators dropped the ball on her influences after her last appearance in the Season 4 finale "Home". (Even Lindsey McDonald was referenced quite a bit after he left in Season 2.) I might be asking a bit much since Mutant Enemy did give her a generous sendoff from the series, but I really thought the After the Fall comics would have benefited greatly if the creators had even just acknowledged her presence. Starting with Season 5 and throughout the first four volumes of the comic continuation series, it became All Fred All the Time for Wesley, which left the distressing impression that Lilah didn't leave any sort of lasting mark on him.

Justine Cooper. This is a weird one, to say the least! The quick synopsis: Justine was bitter because her sister was killed by a vampire; she made it her life's ambition to kill Angel while she served as a "soldier" in vampire-killer Holtz' "army"; Wesley seemed to take somewhat of an interest in her in a rather hostile saving-her-soul sort of way; he kidnapped Baby Connor while he was under the mistaken impression that Angel was going to kill the infant; Justine rewarded Wesley for his troubles by slitting his throat, kidnapping Connor, leaving Wesley for dead, and setting up a chain of events which resulted in Connor being raised in a hell dimension; when Wesley found out Angel went missing, he correctly guessed that Justine had something to do with his disappearance, so he kidnapped her and held in bondage in a cage in his bedroom closet; there was nothing erotic whatsoever about their relationship; Wes forced Justine to help him look for Angel on the bottom of the ocean during their periodic "boat rides"; Justine mocked Wesley the entire time she was in captivity; after they rescued Angel, Wesley handcuffed Justine to some sort of dock rail, gave her a pithy little speech about being a "slave" [to her hatreds and her need for revenge] and "living her life", and that was the last we ever saw of her.

Although I wrote "there was nothing erotic whatsoever about their relationship" up above, there was an undeniably sexy scene in Season 4's "Deep Down" where Wesley and Lilah had just finished making love. After Lilah left his apartment, Wesley pulled on his jeans, didn't bother to put on a shirt, walked over to his closet (with the camera focusing on his lower abdominals and belt region the entire time), opened the door to reveal a bound and gagged Justine, and informed her "It's time. Let's go for a boat ride." In fact, that little scene for me is by far the sexiest moment in the entire series! And, why oh why didn't Wesley wear blue jeans more often?

I'm not motivated to pull out my Season 1 DVD's just to get an exact quote. However, in the commentary for the Season 1 series premiere, "City of", Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt explained (in regards to this scene) something to the effect that "when it's not about sex, it's all about sex." I would also add to that a basic "less is more" philosophy that I have about eroticism in general. Although I didn't notice any currents of sexual tension flowing directly between Wesley and Justine, the eroticism was nonetheless still swirling all around them.

I've mentioned before that I thought that the image of a bound-and-gagged Justine was mostly a metaphor for the unseen kink that was occurring between Wesley and Lilah in his bedroom, and, by extension, perhaps had occurred in the past between Wes and some other unknown participants. On a more obvious level, it was certainly a metaphor for the depths Wesley had descended to during his darkest moments. The scene was meant to shock the viewers and, based on fan forum boards, I think it succeeded a little bit too well.

Does the bondage scene leave an opening for viewers to believe that Wesley and Justine were having a sexual relationship? Absolutely! You'd have to blind not to see the almost way-too-obvious signs. However, for me, the signs (bondage, a shirtless Wesley) are little more than visual props, on the level of having an erotic sculpture prominently displayed on a nightstand. I personally don't believe Wesley and Justine were having sex, but I certainly wouldn't order people who disagreed with me to change their minds.

Faith. This is another good illustrative instance of "when it's not about sex, it's all about sex". To steal from a previous post I did about their Season 4 adventures, I wrote,
In these two episodes, Wesley was at the height of his bad-ass days. He was positively dripping with sex! Add an equally bad-ass Faith with her always in-your-face sexuality, and you get explosive results. These two never kissed, never almost-kissed and never even thought about almost-kissing. They didn't have to. Their scenes were hot enough as they were. Anything else would have been overkill.
It's no coincidence that some of the best fanfic in the Buffyverse revolve around the NC-17 adventures of Wesley and Faith. About the only good reason why Joss didn't let the two of them have at it was that it would have been disrespectful to let them overshadow the star of the show, David Boreanaz. I know that for Faith it was all about redemption. It's just too bad that redemption didn't allow the formerly nymphomaniac Faith to have a sex life.

I know I'm repeating myself a lot, but I mentioned recently that, now that I've seen some key earlier Buffy episodes after having seeing the entire Angel series, I'm really not gaining the additional insights from Buffy that I was expecting. Although Eliza Dushku as Faith always exuded a lot of erotic energy even when she was doing something horrible like torturing her victims, there was nothing from Buffy or Season 1 of Angel that explained to me why Wes and Faith got along so famously in Season 4 of Angel. I know she was trying to atone for her past sins , including when she tortured Wesley in Season 1's "Five by Five", while Wesley was trying to redeem himself as a failed Watcher. However I'm still amazed at how they worked together as if they'd been teamed up for years, almost to the point where they seemed to instinctively always know what the other person was going to do. I thought their continuity was a bit off from Season 1 to Season 4, but that's just a minor criticism.

Wesley's teaming up with Faith also brought into focus how much he had changed over the last few seasons of Angel. Wes seemed to now appreciate some of her same behaviors that had irritated him so much in the past. I loved the mutual double entendres in this scene where Wesley tested her out in the field. In response to her past need for hot sex after she dusted a few vampires (BTW, how did Wesley know about that? it takes one to know one, I guess) Wes told her, "Thought you could use a little release. Feel natural?"

Faith, being 100% Faith in her response, answered, "Ah, it's like riding a biker".

I need to abruptly stop this section because I'm currently going through the Season 4 episodes of Angel on my DVD's. Although I've written about Wes and Faith a few times in the past, I don't think I've written my definitive posts about them yet. Suffice it to say, they were hot together as they effectively terrorized LA's demon underworld! (Afterthought: I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention this scene from Season 4's "Release". I happen to think this is one of the more erotic moments in the entire Angel series, where Wesley was tenderly trying to examine her wounds, even though they barely touched each other. I'm sure that his past treatment at her hands was foremost in their thoughts, which brought an appealingly gentle awkwardness to the moment.)

Fred Burkle. I thought I'd have a hard time writing about Fred so late in my post, since she was front and center in Wesley's mind ever since the very end of Season 2. However, it's telling that I found it was actually easier than I thought to put off talking about her, probably because I never felt there was very much depth to their relationship. It's also telling that, in a recent poll I discovered about Fred and Wesley's Best Scenes, some of the top ones listed were: Wesley apologizing to Fred after he almost killed her in "Billy", Wesley protecting Fred from the crossfire shootout in Caritas in "That Old Gang of Mine", and Fred rejecting Wesley in "Waiting in the Wings".

Another scene I would add to the Top Fred/Wesley list is this scene from Season 3's "Double or Nothing", where Fred chewed out Wesley for betraying the group. I wrote fairly recently that Fred was absolutely devastated that a man she looked up to and obviously had a few feelings for turned out to be capable of making some very horrible and human mistakes. It's too bad that it didn't hit me until I saw the episode about three times and only figured it out because I was on a mission to watch Season 3 and 4 episodes and look very closely for clues that Fred might have been in love with Wesley.

There is something to be said about the heartbreaking drama of lost loves and missed opportunities. However, the viewer has to be convinced ahead of time that the two characters were destined for each other before the so-called tragedies occur. I always thought the relationship was mostly one-sided, with Wesley obsessing over Fred as being the ideal embodiment of womanhood, while Fred was just floating cluelessly around trying to figure out how she fit into her world after she came back from Pylea.

Don't get me wrong. Even I'm not dense enough to have missed the dozens of little hints sprinkled here and there that Fred liked Wesley. However, in direct contrast to how Wes and Lilah's relationship evolved organically, I thought those moments with Fred looked rather contrived. The audience was being led on a little too much about which direction Fred and Wesley's relationship was supposed to be heading. I'm trying to come up with a more definitive Fred/Wesley post, but it's a tough challenge for me, particularly when their Season 4 encounters devolved into a series of "stop....stare at each other across the room....have awkward conversations with plenty of pregnant and Very Meaningful pauses" moments. Wesley was wonderfully angsty during their entire relationship, but I never felt that Fred was losing much sleep over it.

Probably just because it was the final buildup to their "Smile Time" kiss, Season 5 was the only part of the series where I really thought something remotely interesting was happening between Fred and Wesley. All the time Fred was talking to Wesley about Knox, she was perhaps sending a few vibes toward Wesley? Her feelings for Wesley became a lot more clearer when he saved her life after killing the cyborg replica of his father in "Lineage", and particularly while she cast her goo-goo eyes at Wesley as he was giving the incantation that would reveal Lindsey to the Senior Partners in "You're Welcome". Any lingering doubts that anyone had about Fred's feelings for Wesley disappeared when she came on to him in a big way in "Smile Time" here and here, resulting in the so-obvious-even-Wesley-could-figure-it-out moment here. Fred being obvious about her feelings for a clueless Wesley in Season 5 worked much better than Wesley being obvious about his feelings for a clueless Fred in Seasons 3 and 4.

I made an observation in a recent post that I'm reasonably sure that Fred and Wesley never slept together. To Wesley, Fred was a "Good Girl", or someone he didn't drag into bed with him at the first opportunity. I don't think Wesley had any hangups per se about having sex with sweet Fred, but I think he was savoring the moment and slowly working up to inviting her to stay the night, somewhat like a real courtship. There's nothing wrong with flowers, dinner and a movie first! I think it would have been really cute if their relationship had lasted a little longer and Fred openly seduced Wesley into getting down to business a bit more quickly.

Fred came across as being sweet and innocent, and good mommy material, but there were hints that she might not have minded a little bit of kink herself. It was revealed in "Spin the Bottle" that Fred was somewhat of a pothead in high school (and by that I mean she wasn't afraid to experiment with the wild side), and she didn't exactly shy away from talking about her "disgust" with the idea of alien probes. Plus, there was good evidence that she and Gunn enjoyed a good healthy bedroom relationship in their own right. It might have been even cuter to see Wesley's reaction the first time he was confronted by the sight of Fred brandishing a pair of handcuffs! It might have taken him a little while to get used to the idea that the girl of his dreams was literally making his dreams come true.

Illyria. Whereas Wesley was at his best as a true Watcher in the classical sense when he was working with Faith the Slayer, his brief time with demon-goddess Illyria marked the zenith of his other Wesley the Watcher persona. What I've described about his Wesley the Watcher tendencies in the past, (and as I discussed above regarding his relationship with Cordelia), was that Wesley had an innate ability and need to be able to teach, nurture, guide, cherish and otherwise watch over young women as they set out on their paths through life. He had the knack of being able to mentor these ladies while still giving them a remarkable degree of space and independence. He knew when to step in and when to step away, and was able to do so without suffocating them or leaving them in the lurch.

Illyria wasn't "young" by any stretch of the imagination, but she was hardly a withered crone either. She really brought a lot of Wesley's best qualities out into the open. He could truly take pity on a creature trying to adapt to her new world, even though she unwittingly destroyed the literal love of his life (Fred) by taking over her body. Although After the Fall brought their relationship to a satisfying conclusion, we can only dream about how truly remarkable a bona fide Season 6 of Angel would have been with Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker continuing on with their roles.

It didn't take long to see that Wesley had imprinted himself on Illyria, since he was the first human she interacted with after her "rebirth". She couldn't help but look to him as somewhat of a father figure, which just about literally killed Wesley as he tried to deal with his grief over the loss of Fred. In another one of life's horrible practical jokes, Illyria represented the death of everything he loved about life while simultaneously representing an opportunity for his greatest triumph.

I can't even say Wesley reluctantly took on the role of her Watcher (in my sense of the word) even though he tried to kill her several times in the beginning. Wes didn't have a choice - being a Watcher was what he did and and gave him purpose and meaning in life. Although I wrote above that he took pity on Illyria, he didn't act in a pitying manner towards her. Wesley had a unique ability to adapt his modus operandi to each girl and to each situation. He was incredibly harsh towards Bethany the psycho telekinesis girl in Season 2's "Untouched", to Justine his Season 4 slave girl, and, in a manner of speaking, towards Lilah. In contrast, he was quite loving and supportive with Cordelia, Virginia and Fred. In each case, he acted entirely appropriately.

Wesley had to be careful with Illyria since she could have struck out and killed him at any moment. He was respectful and deferential, but also firm and resolute. At times Wes seemed to challenge her a bit in order to encourage her to give voice to and confront her own feelings of frustration and confusion. Illyria seemed to really appreciate his efforts, leaving us all to conclude that Wesley was the absolute best person in the world for the job.

In a rare twist for Wesley, Illyria generated the lion's share of the erotic energy, but he hardly deflected it. Instead, Wes seemed to absorb the energy and turn it into something even more powerful. Illyria clearly mentioned on more than one occasion that she was willing to sleep with Wesley. Wesley rejected her each time, since he could not possibly sleep with a "lie". One could easily think that Illyria simply wanted to explore the physical side of sex, but I think it went much deeper than that. From almost the moment she took on Fred's "shell", she was bombarded with Fred's memories and emotions that remained inside her body's central nervous system. For Illyria, it would have been almost physically impossible to separate sex from her emotions.

Illyria was undeniably in love with Wesley in her own right (albeit she was highly influenced by Fred's memories). Could Wesley have ever fallen in love with Illyria? There was no indication in either Angel: the Series or After the Fall that he could have ever considered being her lover. For one thing, in his role as mentor and guide, it would have been almost unethical for him to do so. Wesley sleeping with Illyria would have been as wrong as Buffy and Giles having a fling. Wes was highly professional, and he would never allow himself to act in a way that would hurt Illyria. (Which is probably one reason why he kept Faith at arm's length.)

Everything that Wes and Illyria had worked toward could have fallen apart as soon as they started a sexual relationship. Still, she deserved to have some romantic attachment in her life. Perhaps, in a weird but still highly logical way, Wesley could have been the one to guide and comfort her when she suffered her inevitable heartaches if she ever found a partner. In a nutshell, I think the only way Wesley and Illyria could have ever become an item is if she somehow was able to move beyond Fred and become her own person.

Closing Thoughts. Each relationship Wesley had was highly unique in its own way. Even his non-romantic relationships had heavily erotic elements to them. Luckily for him, he was also able to get certain benefits from all of these relationships, though perhaps not the ones he was originally hoping for.

Quite often when we start out in life, we have a certain checklist for what we're looking for in an ideal mate. We're lucky if we can get half of the items crossed off from our lists when we finally find someone that we're willing to marry. In essence, we're hoping for permanent partners who are composites of the best qualities from our previous partners. For example, a girl might want her new partner to have her first boyfriend's looks, her second boyfriend's charm, and her third boyfriend's bank account.

Was Fred that ideal composite drawing that Wesley had sketched out in his brain? After looking at all of the qualities of the young ladies listed above, it's quite possible the answer was yes. Fred was smart, resourceful, courageous, resolute, quick-thinking, intelligent, cheerful, bubbly, nurturing, gentle, kinky (perhaps) and impossibly cute! She was someone he could watch over and guide, but she could also stand on her own two feet as an equal. I'd probably have to watch the series one more time (heaven forbid) to see if Wesley had all of Fred's required qualities, but she certainly didn't seem to make any sort of mistake by choosing him either.

For someone who was considered to be unlucky in love, Wesley certainly had an active social life. I made a crack in my last post about seeing if some sort of Profound Truth would emerge from this post, and I think I found it. Just as I suspected, Wesley's romantic life seemed to mark somewhat of a steady progression through his road to maturity. Just like in real life, Wes didn't grow at a steady pace. Like all of us, he regressed and experienced setbacks. But at the end, we could see that by the the end of the series, he was much farther along, personality-wise and with his relationships, than he was when he first arrived in Sunnydale. I choose to believe that at the end of Volume 4 of After the Fall, Wesley received his reward for a heroic life and ended up with Fred in Heaven. I guess we can't ask for much of a happier ending than that.

I used to think that Wesley didn't love Fred as much as he loved her for being the personification of the Perfect Women. I also wondered if he would become disillusioned the first time he saw her do something awkward, like snort soup out her nose when she started laughing. Now I'm beginning to think that, far from being an idee fixe like Don Quixote's Dulcinea, perhaps Wesley really did recognize her for what she was, for truly being the ideal girl in the world for him.