Knowledge, Power and Disaster in Buffyverse, Pt. 2

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Sarah Thompson (Eve) and David Boreanaz (Angel) in Angel S5E5, “Life of the Party.”

No TV program has advocated so much, so constantly, for books and learning as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVs) and its off-shoot, Angel the series (Ats). (That advocacy continues on Buffy producer/writer David Greenwalt’s project Grimm.) The main characters in each series spend long, regular hours with many old and dusty tomes in pursuit of any information that will help them with their crisis du jour. Joss Whedon’s message is continually that the learning done by the generations that have lived before us is a valuable, nearly endless resource that we can utilize to gain wisdom and make living easier to navigate.

Through a myriad of characters, Whedon advocates for learning and knowledge, and often cautions at its addictive nature, the dangers of its power, and the extreme mistake of trying to play God. Whedon uses his characters to further the dialogue with regard to two timeless characters: Eve and Icarus. There is a roster of characters I will talk about, but let’s start with the most obvious statement Whedon makes where knowledge pertains: Eve.

Eve is the liminal character introduced towards the end of Ats. Eve serves as an empowered but reluctant liaison to the Senior Partners (the Senior Partners of Wolfram & Hart Law Firm, being at the very least, forces of extreme evil). We also know Eve doesn’t seem to have a choice in the matter… she is bound in some fashion. She is a “child” of the Senior Partners, though we aren’t entirely sure what the terms or circumstances of that relationship are. Eve seems reluctant, somewhat exhausted. She eventually is forced to sign away her unnatural immortality only to later regain some extended, unnatural life in “Angel: After the Fall” (the graphic novel that continues the story line after series end) where it is revealed she is under the control of the Senior Partners yet again. One gets the idea that Eve, having been created by the Senior Partners for their use in the advocacy of evil, has always been and will always be in their control.

As viewers, we wonder more than once if Eve isn’t *Eve.* The Eve that ate the apple. At one point she is even on screen holding an apple. While there ultimately isn’t enough to entirely support this, it never fades entirely. Eve is nearly always dressed somewhat suggestively and somewhat immaturely, in scarlet red. Of course, red symbolizing the color of sin, the apple, and blood which is presumably on her hands.

If the Eve we see portrayed on Angel had eaten the apple, that would mean she was under the control of evil even while in the garden or that eating the apple brought her under the control of evil. The point of this wondering is to introduce the concept that Joss Whedon loves to punish the Eves and the Icaruses (Icari?) in Buffyverse, often through extreme ruin or intolerable, extended torment. There is a deep history of characters who have sought too much knowledge, too much mastery over nature, with too much meddling due to curiosity, addiction to learning, and desire to control.

Next up: Giles

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