30 June 2010

TV Meme: Day 30 - Saddest Character Death

Here it is, the final day of the TV meme. The final topic of the day: saddest character death. Quite honestly, this was a duh the moment I read the topic. There has been one death - one in the pantheon of TV shows I've watched - that has affected me so profoundly, that it was a no brainer that it needed to be discussed. Be warned, however, what follows is a major spoiler for the Angel series finale that I discussed on Day 22.

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, first introduced in Buffy season 3 as a incompetent Watcher for Faith who basically acted as comic relief, died in the series finale of Angel, "Not Fade Away." Normally, I'm OK with that type of thing, seeing as how it's nearly a given a majority of the cast is going to die or get really, really hurt in a Joss Whedon show. But Wesley? No, damnit! I wasn't a fan of Wesley during his debut season on Buffy, but when his character was brought over to the spin-off series Angel, he just "clicked" for me. Perhaps it was the writing, or the growing maturity of actor Alexis Denisof, but Wesley Wyndam-Pryce quickly became cemented as one of my all-time favorite male characters ever.

The first season and a half of Angel had Wesley continue being a bit of a buffoon, goofing up and making mistakes. It's not until Angel fires everyone at Angel Investigations and becomes obsessed with correcting a wrong that the grown up version of Wesley begins to emerge. But there's also a interesting aspect of Wesley that's introduced here, as well: he has always been the type of guy who can be very tough if need be - like a impenetrable shell, but he is also very vulnerable. Angel firing everyone and abandoning them was a harsh blow, and probably hit home emotionally what with his difficult family history.

[Note: nearly all characters in the Whedonverse have some troubled history with their parents, specifically the father. Wesley's no different, as he has always tried to please him with his accomplishments at the Council, but never to his fathers satisfactions]

The middle portion of season three is about where I began to love Wesley, and where his character arc changed in an entirely unexpected (but dramatically awesome) way. In the wake of a choice he makes that puts him at a crossroads with Angel, Wesley finds himself betrayed and his throat slit, clinging for life. By the end of the season, and the majority of the following one, Wesley becomes dark, physically and emotionally. His clothing reflects his moodier and more adult self, and he feels abandoned by the people he thought were his friends and family. He becomes tough, he becomes lethal, he becomes the best asset next to Angel.

The tragedy of Wesley Wyndam-Price begins here. His choice was made with the best of intentions, but it costs him everything. A chance with Fred, having his best friends be family, being happy. And from there, he goes downhill. Wesley initiates a 'relationship' with a sworn enemy, and stops at no limit to get information necessary to save the day. His tragedy is that once he's the happiest, that very thing gets stripped away. It's one bad blow after another. The final season of Angel brings perhaps the biggest tragedy of them all: the fulfillment of him finally being united with Fred, only to lose her. The thing that has taken over her body - he refuses to acknowledge that it's Fred, because he knows it no longer is.

And cue the reason this is the saddest character death ever. Taking into account all the pain, shit, and suffering this character has endured his entire existence, Wesley decides to spend his last living moments indulging in a fabrication, or "lie" as he said in the episode. He allows the creature inhabiting Fred's body to "lie" to him, to allow him a moment of [fake-ish] happiness. And the dialogue exchanged between the two...

Damn, I'm getting sad just thinking about his arc.

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce was a marvelous character, and his death - buried in the wake of a already jam-packed episode - is perhaps one of the most profound things on the show. Angel was a show about Wesley as much as it was about its title star, and I will always thank it for that. And with his portrayal of this awesome character, Alexis Denisof has received a get-out-of-jail-free card for any potentially bad roles he chooses in the forthcoming years.

One thing I will NOT forgive Denisof for, though, is marrying my girlfriend Alyson Hannigan. How DARE you!!!

The Complete List of the TV Meme (if you're feeling lazy):
Show That Never Should Have Been Canceled: Invasion
Show More People Should Watch: Chuck
Favorite New Season Show: Stargate - Universe
Favorite Show Evah: Doctor Who
Show I Hate: The Secret Life of the American Teenager
Favorite episode of favorite TV show: "The Eleventh Hour", Doctor Who
Least Favorite Episode of Favorite Show: "The Idiot's Lantern", Doctor Who
Show Everyone Should Watch: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Best Scene Ever: Doctor Who, "The End of Time, Part Two"
Show I Ended Up Loving: Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Disappointing Show: Heroes
Episode Watched More than 5 Times: "Revelations", Battlestar Galactica
Favorite Childhood Show: Batman - The Animated Series
Favorite Male Character: Angel, Angel
Favorite Female Character: Veronica Mars, Veronica Mars
Guilty Pleasure Program: One Tree Hill
Favorite Mini-Series: Dune
Favorite Title Sequence: Supernatural/Boston Legal
Favorite TV Cast: The Scooby Gang, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Favorite Kiss: Logan and Veronica, Veronica Mars
Favorite Relationship: Mal & Inara, Firefly
Favorite Series Finale: Angel
Most Annoying Character: Chloe, Claire, Claudette
Best Quote: Angel
Show I Plan on Watching: Fringe, Justified, True Blood, Carnivale
OMG? WTF Season Finale: 24, Day 5
Best "Pilot" Episode: "Serenity", Firefly
First Show Obsession: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Current Show Obsession: Fringe, Justified

Final Thoughts: Well, that was nutty. With the exception of being a bit behind those last few days, I thought I did this quite successfully. I'm a little tad disappointed with the overall lack of diversity in my decisions, but it just so happens that shows I love tend to have really, really strong aspects that I can't help but promote. Also, truth be told, I'm going to miss this meme a little bit. But on the other hand, I'm happy that I can now concentrate on writing a few more editorials that I've had planned for a while. Perhaps another like this will be on the horizon, but with a movie topic of the day like thing. Y'know, "Favorite Sci-Fi Film", "Favorite Romantic Drama", "Favorite Actor", "Favorite Quote", etc. I'd be game for that. But overall, I enjoyed my time.

Here are some other participants:
Jess at Insight into Entertainment
Nick at Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob
Rachel as Rachel Reel Reviews
David at Hoping For Something to Hope For

4 comments:

Jess said...

Good posting! Thanks for the shout-out. Personally, I still cry when Fred dies. That whole episode is awesome, and unexpected. I can't watch the finale anymore, it's too sad.

Andy the Time Lord said...

Thanks, and you're welcome. You got quite a cool blog, yourself.

Fred's death episode, "A Hole in the World", is fantastic television, and I dare anyone in the whole Galaxy not to become moved during her final moments with Wesley in her room.

If you can't watch the finale on its own, listen to Bell's commentary, he basically makes fun of everything. "Ooo, this is a pan in shot; must mean SOMETHING deep!" Y'know, if you like commentaries...

Rachel said...

Congrats on finishing, Andy! It was a difficult task but I feel like I've accomplished something.

Afraid I didn't read the post though, as I'm still in Season 1 of Angel.

Andy the Time Lord said...

Thanks, Rachel, and congratulations yourself as well! And thanks for bringing the Meme to my attention, because it was super fun.

Thank God you didn't read the post - I'd feel rather crappy if I spoiled it.