From Bumbling Comic To Tragic Hero

Today I watched episode 14 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Season 3 (let me state it here that I have already seen the series, missing perhaps a few episodes, when it came out on cable here in India but I am now downloading the series from then net to re-watch it) called “Bad Girls”, which marks the debut of the character Wesley Wyndham-Price in the Buffyverse. Portrayed by American actor Alexis Denisoff, who mastered an English accent and mannerisms for the role, Wesley is one of the best characters & perhaps most tragic and beloved that series creator Joss Whedon has created.

Wesley’s debut is that of an irritating foil to & a replacement for Buffy’s watcher Giles, who was fired from the Watcher’s Council for his fatherly affections towards his ward and for failing a test (which Giles thought was unfair). His pompous attitude & slight arrogance is lost on Buffy, who will only accept Giles as her watcher and when Faith comes even she rejects him. He fails to get any respect from Giles or the slayers and soon is to nurture a crush for Cordelia, who flirts with him and uses him to elicit jealousy from her ex Xander. Soon Wesley becomes a comic foil and leaves Sunnydale.

Initially the character was meant to be killed off and only last part of the 3rd season but he became popular among the creators of the show and they wrote him into the spin off series Angel, where he would be a regular leading character. The evolution of Wesley is amazingly done well; from bumbling comic relief character in 9 episodes of Buffy’s season 3 and the first 2 of seasons of Angel, he becomes a worthy fighter, source of knowledge against the dark forces and for a while even the leader of Angel Investigations, surprisingly successful. It’s in the 3rd season that we see the character blossom even more; as he nurtures his love for Winnifred Burkle, who is in a relationship with Gunn.

Fiercely loyal to his friends, Wesley keeps a respectful distance. When a false prophecy causes Wesley, who has only good intentions, to betray his friends, which leads to Angel’s son being kidnapped by his nemesis Holz. Banished from being with his friends, Wesley forms his own evil fighting team and begins a sexual relationship with the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart’s laywer Laila. As he begins to feel genuine affections for her, she is killed. Later as he rejoins Angel and co as the leaders of  Wolfram & Hart, he finally realizes his greatest wish. He & Winnifred become lovers and within a few short weeks that happiness turns to despair, as Fred dies and her body is taken over by an ancient demon, who becomes part of the team. In the last episode, Wesley is killed and dies in the arms of the demon who is in body of Winnifred.

Wesley Wyndham-Price is that tragic hero, fallen, betrayer but with good intentions. He also suffers from series creator Joss Wheedon’s obsession with not allowing couples to last long within his series, adding more tragedy & heart-break along the way. Oh and one little anecdote: Denisoff was in the running for getting the role of James Bond that eventually went to Daniel Craig!

2 thoughts on “From Bumbling Comic To Tragic Hero

  1. Hey! Very well written. You got it in one. I thought Wesley was a good character and wasn’t given much of a chance by Buffy. I liked him a lot in Angel. Now you’ve gone and done it – I’m going to have to watch Buffy again. I have the whole series of Buffy and Angel on DVD. Wonder what I’ll be doing this afternoon…..

  2. He was initially only meant for an episode or 2. But I guess the creators liked what they saw and though, hey we can use him in Angel.

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