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Did season 5 ruin Gunn?

Taake

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Gunn first appeared on Angel in season 1, he joined the team in season 2 and so worked with Angel Investigations for three full seasons before the move to Wolfram and Hart in season 5. Meaning, he spent four years on the show contributing without being a lawyer... Now, personally I love Gunn. I know there are people who find him bland or useless, but I think he serves a really function to the group and was an interesting character from the start.

I recently watched the season 5 episode "Smile Time" where Gunn starts to lose the law that the senior partners put into his head in order to make him a lawyer... Gunn starts freaking out, he doesn't want to lose his new knowledge and is desperate to make a deal to keep it.

The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. Like, I understand that they're kind of going for a bit of a deal with the devil here, but Gunn desperately wanting to not be himself anymore was troubling to me and made me sad.

Firstly, because it really struck me how non-Gunn like Gunn was this season. Here they are basically arguing that Gunn shouldn't want to be Gunn, i.e. normal Gunn, an uneducated black man, because they're not at all implying that he should desire to be himself and he's entirely isolated from the group so no one can tell him that he's worthwhile without the knowledge.

In fact, the doctor just hammers home how worthless he is by pointing out that he'd never "do business" with someone like regular Gunn...

So my question to you guys is - did they ruin Gunn in season 5 by making him essentially a new person? By making him devalue himself? By isolating him from the group? Did they just not know what to do with Gunn?

Did you like this plotline or do you feel it could've been improved upon?
 
DeepBlueJoy
DeepBlueJoy
That whole scenario nust shows how lost such a move would make them. I can see this. Going to W&H? No!

GwenRaiden

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I think if was a case of sacrificing character to serve the plot. The Illyria storyline, specifically Fred's demise had to come from someone she (and we) knew and loved. Everyone else in season 5 had their own gimmick already, which only left Gunn to be lawyered-up.
 

Grace

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I felt like they "ruined" Gunn in Season 4, by taking a character who was always intelligent, though not as educated as some of the other characters, and making everyone think he was just brawn so that the two "actually" smart people, Fred and Wesley, would seem like the obvious natural couple. (I hated it, if it's that's not clear. :))

Gunn desperately wanting to not be himself anymore was troubling to me and made me sad.
It is sad. Which is why I liked in Not Fade Away, he went back and reconnected with Anne, who always valued him highly for himself.
 

GraceK

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Gunn’s character derailment never really made sense to me. He never struck me as the type to be okay with changing his brain to fit in at an evil law firm. The last “deal with a devil” he made , he made to help his crew survive and kill vampires, he didn’t even see a future for himself.

He always seemed one of the most uncompromising when it came in to evil, especially after losing Alanna. It took years for him to trust Angel just because Angel was a vampire. And as late as season 4 he still doesn’t really in his heart trust him completely.

So to not only go along with the Wolfram and Hart deal almost immediately , with no qualms, just to get a brain boost seemed wildly OOC.

The only way I can make sense of it in my head is that by losing Fred, he began to feel insecure and inferior, especially to Wesley. Maybe he felt he really was worthless in the sense of compared to Wesley and Fred, he didn’t measure up? That would explain wanting to be more than just “muscle “ suddenly. But I still didn’t buy he would willingly put someone in jeopardy just to stay brilliant...unless he really was corrupted almost with no resistance.
 
I felt like they "ruined" Gunn in Season 4, by taking a character who was always intelligent, though not as educated as some of the other characters, and making everyone think he was just brawn so that the two "actually" smart people, Fred and Wesley, would seem like the obvious natural couple. (I hated it, if it's that's not clear. :))
This is s good point as well. Gunn was always intelligent, I didnt like how they tried to diminish that by reducing him to muscle.
 

EarthLogic

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I really did like the concept of a character from lower-class, low education background making this kind of Faustian pact for more knowledge but I agree that it didn't fit Gunn's character at all. The only instances I can think of where Gunn expresses discomfort with his previous role in the gang is when he protests at being called the 'sidekick'. Other than that I don't recall him having any prevalent inferiority issues, except perhaps, as @GraceK says, when in comparison to Wes, but theat was never prominent enough to appear as a legitimate reason for him choosing the upgrade. When they all agree to the deal and take their tours there's no indication he's doing it with Fred or Wesley in mind either.
 

Ethan Reigns

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This is a guy who had sold his soul for a pickup truck to be used to fight evil, so while I don't see the continuity between his earlier character and acquiring his status as a senior lawyer by making a deal with the devil, it is not unprecedented. Faustian pacts seem to be a part of his life. Season 5 continued to use Gunn as a character and plot driver (including signing in the artifact that doomed Fred) and although he was underused, where we did see him, he was used well.
 

Mylie

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I felt like they "ruined" Gunn in Season 4, by taking a character who was always intelligent, though not as educated as some of the other characters, and making everyone think he was just brawn so that the two "actually" smart people, Fred and Wesley, would seem like the obvious natural couple. (I hated it, if it's that's not clear. :))

It is sad. Which is why I liked in Not Fade Away, he went back and reconnected with Anne, who always valued him highly for himself.
I agree with this a lot! I think s5 for him was a step up from s4. It's unfortunate that he went through this phase (though it made sense with s5's theme) but I appreciated it compared to s4. And yes, his ending makes up for that at least. He has my favorite ending out of all the regulars on AtS.
 

Fool for Buffy

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In episodes 1-12 and 17-22, I think Gunn the lawyer is awesome, and it's actually Gunn at his best in the whole series for me. Gunn in episodes 13-16 ruined him though. Really unfair to have such a loyal and good hearted man be at all responsible for something like that.
 

The Bronze

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I get why Gunn would want the upgrade. He's always wanted to do as much as possible and this presented an opportunity to do more. However I just can't picture him agreeing to let Wolfram & Hart start messing around inside his head. It's just begging for trouble.

So it leaves me wondering if it had anything to do with the deal Angel struck. The rest of the gang seemed to forget and become more agreeable.
 

Carrie Hopewell

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The way I see it, everyone was a little corrupted by W&H in Home. It's not really certain that Gunn actually knew what would happen to him in the White Room. He's sort of hypnotized by staring into the tiger's (?) eyes. Perhaps the changes happened without his consent? He clearly didn't want to be "the muscle" which was always one of his functions on the team, because the leadership role (that he was a natural at) was taken by Angel. Fred and Wesley were highly educated, Angel was the champion whose long life experience gave him a whole deal of knowledge as well.

Gunn sometimes was a bit of a fish out of water. In seasons 1 and 2, he offered Angel support and advice while maintaining his role as a leader and a mentor to his "kids". He still had plenty of relationships outside of Angel's world. Even when he left that part of him behind, in mid-season 2, Gunn, Wesley and Cordelia had a partnership of equals. They all pitched in with their own brand of expertise, so Gunn was still valued.

I feel like this dynamic held up in the beginning of season 3, primarily when Fred was still shut in her room and Cordelia hadn't been truly sanctified. When you add Fred to the equation and both men start liking her, plus Cordelia is no longer uniting Gunn and Wesley because she's obsessed with Angel... I think the group kind of fell apart and became about individual friendships and relationships. Fred and Gunn getting together, Wesley betraying the team and Connor being kidnapped furthered this rupture in the group.

Season 4 was really just a natural progression. Gunn couldn't compete with Fred and Wesley's knowledge or Lorne's either. Fred and him fell apart. Wesley and Cordelia - his first friendships - were gone. Gunn was very isolated and it makes sense that he would start to question his role in the group. His role in the group at that point was really of the muscle. Watch season 2 and season 4, it's pretty evident. Gunn was expressing something that was happening.

W&H saw this and offered him a chance to contribute with knowledge that no one else in the group had. I think it's okay if he enjoyed it. He had something unique to offer, he liked the excitement of his cases, he liked having a chance he never thought he'd have in his life. Plus, with his isolation from the group in season 5, it was the only thing he had to himself.

The deal he made with the evil doctor was reckless but the consequences far outweighed his mistake. t's sad how the writers imply that he's not good enough as he is, and then punish him for trying to have something Fred and Wesley had the opportunity to have, because they were more privileged.

Anyway, I think the ending of the season restores Gunn almost to what he used to be. He offers to take Lindsey's place, because he's a humble person taking one for the team (which again seems like too big of a punishment, particularly compared to Wesley). And in the last episode, he spends his day with Anne, doing something as simple as moving furniture and boxes. I think it's a fitting end. He realized that he was more than the muscle but also that being the muscle can be a great thing. He was strong enough to help Anne do something for disadvantaged kids - a lot of whom he knew and had protected in the past. He also went back to killing vampires - something he can only do like that because of his strength. I kind of think in the end he made peace with himself.

Is this not a bit of a disappointing arc? Yes. But it makes sense to me considering the evolution of the character.
 
GraceK
GraceK
I missed your posts :)
thetopher
thetopher
This is great analysis. I can't anything to it. :)

Anyanka Bunny Slayer

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I never liked S5 Gunn. His transformation into "lawyer dude" didn't feel right. He was always a man of principle, with the heart of a lion; it just seemed out of character for him to suddenly want to be something he was not. I mean, if it were up to me, he would've remained just as he was.
 

DeepBlueJoy

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Ruined? No. But going to W&H is ooc - and not just for him!
 
I think if was a case of sacrificing character to serve the plot. The Illyria storyline, specifically Fred's demise had to come from someone she (and we) knew and loved. Everyone else in season 5 had their own gimmick already, which only left Gunn to be lawyered-up.
I don't agree.
In my story, it is Angel who unwittingly signs the paper - it is just a customs form, after all. Angel is busy. He might not read everything knox gives him while he's chatting up Nina...
 

thetopher

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I just think Gunn was overwhelmed a bit by the events of S4; he had his doubts about his abilities a little bit before then but I think it had nothing to do with education or smarts, it was the fact that he increasingly felt out of his league because he only had 'so much' to give and nothing else. When the sky is falling and there's rock demons and pod people and higher powers and all you've got is a home-made axe...well, I kinda understand his perspective a bit.

W&H offered him to upgrade him and give him a new purpose and yes, he was seduced by it. But I think his seduction to the 'dark side' was much better foreshadowed than say, Lorne or Fred (why would sweet little Fred want to work for Evil Law Firm? Because of big science budget? Seriously?) Gunn, Wesley and Angel are the only 'conversions' that make sense, for different reasons

So I don't actually mind Gunn's upgrade (so no, I don't think it 'ruined' him) because well, its really just a morality story. In the end Gunn finally realizes that he's 'enough' without the upgrade and ends the season killing dem vamps (plus a politician!)
 

DeepBlueJoy

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Season 5 ruined everybody. There is no reason it would have spared Gunn.
Heheh. Yeah, well, personally I think the way season 4 twisted, that set up a no win season. There really wasn't any coming back from that. Even forcing Spike to come in and be pretty and funny (and act contrary to his instincts -- even if he didn't go to Buffy, Spike wasn't someone to let himself get tied to something like W&H, even peripherally) - it just wasn't enough. The series really died when Cordy came back possessed. The heart just kept beating a while longer.
 

Taake

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So I don't actually mind Gunn's upgrade (so no, I don't think it 'ruined' him) because well, its really just a morality story. In the end Gunn finally realizes that he's 'enough' without the upgrade and ends the season killing dem vamps (plus a politician!)
But did he though?
That's where I feel like I got robbed. He got like five minutes with Anne going like, let's unload some boxes, but I don't feel like we really get to see that he comes to terms with himself... how could he, with the added kick in the gut that he essentially helped kill Fred? When do we get to see him deal. I want to see the process, not the result (much like with the end of season 6 and Buffy's "I'm not depressed anymore" speech, it's a cop-out!)
 
NeonSlayer
NeonSlayer
The entirety of BtVS s6 was Buffy dealing with her depression. We saw a 7 month process.

thetopher

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That's where I feel like I got robbed. He got like five minutes with Anne going like, let's unload some boxes, but I don't feel like we really get to see that he comes to terms with himself... how could he, with the added kick in the gut that he essentially helped kill Fred? When do we get to see him deal. I want to see the process, not the result (much like with the end of season 6 and Buffy's "I'm not depressed anymore" speech, it's a cop-out!)
In essence I agree; we don't see Gunn processing his 'I'm fine as I am' thought process, but I figure it happened sometime during his 'surburban hell' torment. He did a bad thing because he didn't think of the consequences, he was then made to suffer (Buffyverse version on penance) and then he gets to 'make the right choice' and go out on a high note.
I understand the narrative shortcut, even if I think it could've been done better.

But I don't think its bad enough to justify any 'Gunn's character is ruined' narrative because he does return to his roots and to the reason so many fans like him.

Oh, and I agree with the Buffy depression' comparison, even if I think it isn't quite that bad; Buffy's 'happy now' speech gets less convincing every time I see it, especially given the season that comes after.
 

Mr Trick

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Given where Gunn starts on the show I like the writers going to the extreme with his character come S5. It worked for me, even if the writing was a bit up and down.
 

DeepBlueJoy

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I don't mind the lawyer power up. Just where it happened. Gunn was smart. He made a fun legal eagle. Less thrilling was the W&H.
 
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