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Wesley - the first three years

The Bronze

Rogue Demon Hunter
Joined
Jul 11, 2013
Messages
3,508
Age
35
Location
Essex
Black Thorn
So we all know that Wesley's biggest transformation comes after the Connor/prophecy debacle at the back end of Season 3. I'm interested in what people think of his changes before this happens though. I've just finished Couplet on my re-watch and Wes is already miles apart from how we first meet him in Buffy. I've got two theories that could both be part of it.

1. The try hard watcher persona is put on as almost a self defence mechanism. He's always wanted to impress his father and be the best, so the version we see of him on Buffy is a projection of sorts. Once he's left that position and been around Angel and working independently for a few years he relaxes more and becomes more confident in himself.

2. He's hardened a lot having spent time in the real world. He's been shot and tortured since we first met him. He's made tough calls and seen a lot of people in pain or dying. Maybe it's this that leads to a loss of some of that youthful enthusiasm.

Could be a little bit of both and maybe some other things. Interested to hear some more ideas from everyone.
 

thetopher

Member of the Church Of Faith
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
10,802
Location
The Moot, England
Sineya
1. The try hard watcher persona is put on as almost a self defence mechanism. He's always wanted to impress his father and be the best, so the version we see of him on Buffy is a projection of sorts. Once he's left that position and been around Angel and working independently for a few years he relaxes more and becomes more confident in himself.

I think this theory works best. Wesley was given a prestigious role of Wattcher due to, I'm assuming, being very smart and dilligent (teacher's pet) but that doesn't go well with him in Sunnydale. Giles is arguably smarter at this point and Wesley's fragile respect (due to his 'station') is ignored/torn down by everybody- Buffy, Giles, Faith, Xander.
But not Angel or Cordelia. Angel, for the most part, ignores him and Cordelia practically gushes over him. After being stripped of his Watcher role he comes to LA- hiding the fact that he's fired- with a 'cool' new role as rogue demon hunter, all gritty and tough.
It's only when this fails and Angel takes him on to his staff that his confidence begins to build again. Angel's a big part of that (Cordy's content to mock him by now) and so Wesley's self-respect grows. He becomes a valued member of the team due to his impressive research skills (he seems to clearly be a better investigator than Giles) and (slowly) growing fighting ability.
There are outside forces that influence him besides Angel.
Wesley standing up to Angel about Faith. Later Faith's horrific and prolonged torture of him reveals true bravery and grit (compare that weith the quivering he'd done because Balthazar threatened him). Wesley chooses Angel over the temptations laid out by the Watcher's council- seemingly wanting to welcome him back into the fold in exchange for a simple betrayal.

In S2 Wesley (and his position) feels threatened by the arrival of Gunn- a confident, competent natural leader- who Wesley bristles against until they learn to work together. Later they become friends when Angel goes rogue.
And I think that's the key to Wesley's growth before the whole Connor episode- Angel fires them all and so they have to fend for themselves. Wesley drifts into the natural leader role of their little group, he bonds with Gunn, finds a girlfriend in Virginia, has a near death experience at the hands of a zombie-cop, and so on.

Finally in Pylea he has to make proper command decisions that will undoubtable cost people their lives, but his growing belief in himself sees him through this. Although I think when he states- 'you try not to get anybody killed, you get everybody killed'- echoes right back to his pov in 'Choices'- his refusal to exchanging Willow for the Box was exactly the sort of thing he'd been taught as a watcher. You have to be slightly heartless to be willing to sacrifice for the greater good.
 
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