Tuesday, 9 December 2008

You Monster! Why Joss Whedon Kills.... Kill #7

He Killed Off Anya!

Who Was She?

Anya was the hottest of all the girls on Buffy. Seriously! Now, let’s not get bogged down in a long diatribe about which of the girls on the show was the most attractive, but it’s commonly known that Buffy was not the one everyone fancied most. No, because Buffy was pretty up herself, and she couldn’t pronounce the phrase “ok” without doing this weird tic thing with her throat, and also – she suffered from main character syndrome. The main character in any show is rarely the most interesting one (for an exception to this rule, watch Dexter), and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s increasing distinterest in the role is quite a large reason for why the show went downhill after a few seasons. Many would claim that Willow was the most attractive girl, because she had a sexy nerd vibe going on and became a lesbian as the series progressed. I can see this, and I accept that Alyson Hannigan is a fine, fine lady. And then there are the people who proclaim victory for Cordelia, which is another good choice. But Anya was the one who was hottest.

Anya was the girl who ended up with Xander, who was the guy all the boys were supposed to empathise with. She was pretty and silly and didn’t mind the idea of sleeping with the emotional man-child that was Xander Harris. She was pretty well perfect, and on top of everything else? She recognised the importance of financial security. There’s nothing hotter than a woman with a sense of economics. But hey – let’s not be drooling fanboys here. We’ve got more important things to talk about. Anya was the girlfriend to the main male character for the majority of the show, and was comic relief most of the time (which made her scenes of drama – like her heartbreaking monologue in ‘The Body’ all the more upsetting). She was an ex-vengeance demon, also, but… well, you can’t have everything.

How Did She Die?

Anya made it to the final fight, in the last episode, but was chopped in half by a demon who attacked her from behind. Her death scene lasted all of a second, before the cameras left her and focused on the rest of the cast instead. It was irritating.

Why Did She Die?

Of course, this is what Joss wanted. Joss still wasn’t famous for being a murderer (he arguably has only become famous for this since his movie ‘Serenity’), but was still plain old multimillionaire TV Writer and Creator Joss Whedon. Buffy was his most famous TV show, and it was about to end, so he put all his attention onto making the finale the most perfect wrap-up of seven years’ work that he could. We had Buffy and her friends, as well as several returning appearances from important characters such as Faith and Angel. We had a massive fight between good and evil, and everything ended with the town the show had been set in getting sucked into Hell. We were expecting big stuff, and we certainly got it! But on top of all the violence, Joss Whedon managed to kill off/severely main quite a few of the characters. Spike exploded into dust (yay); Principal Wood got stabbed, as did Buffy; and a few of the potentials slayers also died – but nobody cared about any of them so it didn’t matter any.

Anya was the only big death of the episode, and the reason why Joss killed her seems simple. I’m not going to suggest something funny here – I’m going to tell you the legitimate reason why I think that Joss Whedon killed her off.

It’s because she was critical of Buffy.

That’s nothing new – during the seventh series much of the plot revolved around the idea that Buffy was an awful, awful leader. But most of the characters who criticised her did so without seeming like human beings. When the rest of her friends all turned against her, it made no sense at all. When Faith took over control of the team, it didn’t seem logical. Giles got in a few good words against our blonde heroine, but he was mostly ignored. Spike shouted at her, but at this point Spike had become a neutered, horrific character who was a black mark in the history of the show. Anya was the only main character to coherently attack Buffy, and that’s why Joss killed her. For all his talk about female equality, he seems awfully eager to have his female leads be morally perfect – you can see this with Cordelia Chase from Angel, or River Tam from Firefly, and you’ll probably see it with Echo in Dollhouse. None of his women seem to have any flaws, and if they do have flaws then they tend to conveniently erase themselves at some point so the women can be tops. Anya didn’t realise this.

There had to be one character who died so that the rest could all seem more fallible, so it could feel more believable that anyone will die. But by picking Anya instead of one of the more likely fall-guys (there were five or six untrained characters in this last fight, and none of them took a hit) Joss showed off his lack of interest in a broken female lead. Buffy was right, Anya was wrong, and before y’know it there’s a sword cutting Emma Caulfield in half. Is any of this making sense?

There was, as well, the fact that Emma Caulfield had stated that she didn’t want to appear in any spin-offs or continuations of the show after series 7. So that might have had something to do with it too.

Joss, You Monster! Rating:
9. This was quite an awful and unloving death for a character we'd known for over four years.

1 comment:

  1. Something never sat right for me with Anya's death and you've just nailed it. Good analysis.

    I always got the feeling Anya kind of crept up on Joss. She was a one-note character in season 3, then suddenly she's a recurring character, then a regular, then topping polls of viewer's favourite characters and getting the best lines. Clearly she had to die.