Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beacons of Light

(Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof as Wesley and Willow
in Season 4 of Angel's "Orpheus")

In my last post, "Orpheus Ascending", I touched on the idea that Wesley seemed to be reaching for Willow in Season 4 of Angel's "Orpheus" to help lead him out of the darkness. I just want to develop that concept (or push the obvious) a little bit further here.

I had written:
Besides the humor of Wesley's darkness not quite matching up to Willow's, I was struck by how this was the first time Wesley opened up to anyone about what he was going through in his life. I thought this aspect was quite significant, and I was delighted that his dialogue addressed some of the dichotomy that always fascinates me about his character. He seemed to acknowledge (in what I had often suspected) that dark, bad-ass Wesley was not the real Wesley, and that he wanted to change. In other words, he considered Dark Wesley to be the product of a phase he was going through, and he didn't seem to know how to snap out his funk and get on with his life.
(Wesley's dialogue with Willow is here.)

Wesley had sunk to his lowest depths when Lilah Morgan came into his life in late Season 3. As he so eloquently explained to Fred in Season 4's "Players", "
Things happen, Fred. When you're alienated from the people who care about you, you start to look other places." Although, from our perspective, Wesley became a much more interesting character after he turned all Dark and Bad-Ass, it simply wasn't a place he wanted to stay in for very long.

Wesley definitely started turning towards Fred after Lilah tricked him into luring the Angel Investigations team away from the Hyperion so her team could "extract" part of Lorne's brain. However, now I'm thinking that Wesley's wandering interest was more than him smarting from Lilah's betrayal. He was tired of being dark and broody and instead wanted to revert back to his more carefree and innocent ways. He could never be the "real" Wesley as long as he was with Lilah. Whereas Lilah represented the darkness, Fred represented the light. I had touched on this aspect before in a recent post, "Lost Opportunities" when I wrote:
Commenter Lisa (who I might add is an excellent writer) brought up an excellent point in this recent comment when she said that Fred ".... represented all the innocence that he had lost." I really believe that underneath that calloused, tough-guy exterior there still existed a sweeter and more idealistic Wesley. He couldn't turn back the clock and regain all of that lost innocence, but he seemed to hope that he could find a way to reconnect with his old self again some day.
There didn't seem to be any officially sanctioned erotic attraction between Wesley and Faith. (There was enough going on to excite me and scores of fanfic writers, but I digress.) However, Faith definitely represented the Dark Side as far as Wesley was concerned. Although his failure as her Watcher in Sunnydale didn't push him over the edge, his failure certainly weighed heavily on him as one of the factors that finally led to his breaking point. Even at her best, Faith was all about Death and the struggle with powerful dark and demonic forces. No matter how successfully Wes and Faith redeemed themselves for their past failures, the darkness would always be hanging over and between the two of them.

So, while Faith was lying in bed and hovering at the edge of death, Wesley once again went towards the light, this time towards the lovely Willow Rosenberg who just happened to arrive at the hotel at just the right time. Although Wes and Willow were not strangers, it was still remarkable how quickly he opened up to her and unburdened himself. Wesley wasn't too much unlike the sad drunk who spills his guts to you at the bar. Ultimately, his gravitation towards sweetness and light as a means to pull himself out of the darkness probably doomed any sort of romantic relationship with Faith from ever occurring.

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