Monday, 13 October 2008

You Monster! Why Joss Whedon Kills.... Kill #6

He Killed Off Jonathan!

Who Was He?

Jonathan was a semi-recurring character, a student who shared classes with Buffy between series 1-3. Jonathan was portrayed as the stereotypical sort of class outcast who nobody wanted anything to do with. Even Buffy, herself somewhat of an outcast due to her hobby of killing members of the undead, didn’t hang out with him at all. Instead, Jonathan was the recurrent butt of the jokes made by bullies, and wasn’t given any sort of proper role in the show for three seasons apart from as a recognisable member of the school population. In series 3, that changed when he got two episodes in which he played important roles. First, Buffy found him with a gun, and thought he meant to kill the bullies who plagued his life – only to find out he really only planned to kill himself. It was poignant, and afterwards we got this exchange between Buffy and her mentor, Giles.

BUFFY: Well, it's nice to be able to help someone in a non-slaying capacity. Except, he's starting to get that look, you know, like he's gonna ask me to Prom.
GILES :Well, it would probably be good for his self-esteem, if you...
BUFFY: Oh come on! What am I, Saint Buffy? He's like three feet tall!

Always compassionate, that one. Then later, Jonathan gave her an award at the end of her final year on behalf of the school, “Class Protector”, which was another nice moment. Jonathan vanished for a while, before returning for one episode in series 4 where he cast a spell to make the whole world love him – that didn’t end too well – and eventually formed a misguided, sad trio with two other people who attempted to be like super villains in series 6. That also, didn’t end too well. Jonathan then vanished for a while.

How Did He Die?

Jonathan came back with some intention of helping to save the World by finding a magical pentagram which he planned to show to Buffy. She would then see this pentagram, realise that Jonathan was a hero after all, and accept him as one of the team. Instead, his friend Andrew stabbed him in the side with a knife, and Jonathan’s dying body bled all over the aforementioned magical pentagram and activated it. Oops.

Why Did He Die?

From a practical viewpoint, Jonathan died so that Andrew could be integrated into the main cast and start the long road to becoming a heroic character. Andrew was a weak sort of character when he stabbed his only friend, and was manipulated into doing it by the Incarnate Essence Of Evil (of course), so when he killed Jonathan it technically wasn’t a completely evil deed. Although it was. Look, we’re on a bit of shaky ground here, because the show at this point was ruled by the side-characters. Buffy, Xander, Willow had all lost their credibility as voices of reason during season 6 when they shouted and acted irrationally all the time, which meant that when Buffy condemned Andrew for killing Jonathan it didn’t really ring true. So really, the viewer had to decide what they made of it.

Someone had to die in order for the magic pentagram of doom to work, and although the show at this point had introduced a series of ‘potential’ slayers to the cast, any of whom could have been killed off, Joss doesn’t like to work that way. He likes to cause pain. Jonathan, despite his turn as a villain for a while, was a fan-favourite character and doubtless had his name scrabbled on Joss’ little book of likable characters. Joss has this book filled with nice characters that the fans like for one reason: to kill them off. There is nothing the guy likes more than to kill off the characters that everyone likes – and this became more and more prevalent as the years have gone by. So, when faced with a portal that needed blood, and no way of getting that blood from his main cast or supporting cast, Joss turned to his little book and jabbed at a random page. Jonathan. Thus, his character returned so that he could be killed. That’s just how it works.

Joss, You Monster! Rating:
7. Killing off Jonathan was a mean move, but we got the super ‘Storyteller’ episode later on because of Andrew’s actions in this episode.

1 comment:

  1. but he did sometimes appear in later episodes as an avatar of the first evil (or so says wikipedia...i didn't watch buffy much after the fifth fact i don't think i watched the seventh at all, but i did want to comment)