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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Songs can hurt like a fist."
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May 05 2016

The Path of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. This essay is from "Five Seasons of Angel" anthology.

It may be have been discussed here back in 2004 as well.

Good essay and insight into Wesley's character.
Wesley's journey was fascinating. The events of Billy seemed to set off a chain-reaction in him. After Billy his confidence in himself is badly shaken, alienating himself from the group; and when he witnessed Fred and Gunn's blossoming romance in Waiting in the Wings, he was crestfallen. All this rejection and isolationism resulted in no small part to his betrayal of Angel, which led to his outright exile. Fred probably chose Gunn over Wes initially because of both her Pylea trauma and her experiences in Billy, seeing in Gunn someone who would protect her, a bulwark over the natural flow she had with Wes. This probably contributed to Wes's repudiation of his old self, every delayed-action governed by manners and etiquette and the textbook inculcated in him since childhood.

His relationship with Lilah the ultimate manifestation of his self-loathing. Her death was a strange affair, or rather the aftermath of it. The group offered their requisite condolences, thinking he cared for her, thinking he grieved her loss like a loved one. They didn't know obviously the extent of his self-loathing, that it would extend to using others to intensify his own erasure. A funny thing then happens: in reluctantly playing the role of the grieving party, in somewhat ashamedly accepting their pity, and suffering under this act like some cruelly ironic punishment for his treatment of her, he then begins to truly grieve for Lilah, even love her in some unclear, pitiable way.

Season 5 represents a bit of a recovery for Wesley but it's tenuous and probably artificial too, given how his memories of Connor and his own perfidy were annulled from his conscience. Fred's death was his own cold funeral, liquidating the last of his hopes and dreams, his last purity. The extant Fred data rippling in Illyria a bitter phantom. I wouldn't have been surprised if he had a death wish at the end but I doubt his impulses were entirely suicidal. Not just because Fred's soul was apparently extirpated in begetting Illyria into the world but because he was helplessly falling in love with the Fred simulacrum lurking within her.

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