Sunday, July 30, 2006

SLAYER'S HANDBOOK, 2nd EDITION (part I)

The Metaphysics of Buffy-Earth (Expanded)
Part 1. Data


By "John Jones, the Manhunter from Marathon, IL"

IRL: http://www.angelfire.com/ny3/docnebula/index.html

"The four points of the compass be knowledge, wisdom, truth, and the unknown."
YAMA DHARMA, God of Death and Destruction


FOREWORD

My original intention was to keep things simple.

I'd expected that I could, with little fuss or muss, simply go through the first version of this article, written around seven months ago, posted on the Internet by my good friend and fine human being Steve Tice around that time, and apparently read by nearly three or four people since then, and, when the spirit moved me, write annotated Updates and Expansions to what I'd put here previously, based on the fact that in the past seven months, I've seen not only the 44 new episodes of BUFFY and ANGEL presented as the fifth and second seasons of each show, respectively, but on the fact that I've also seen some 21 earlier episodes of BUFFY, in rerun and on videotape, all of which has shed more light for me on the general shape and structure of the Metaphysics on Buffy-Earth. (Boy, is that sentence out of control.)

However, in going through this thing again, I find I'm really astonished at just how badly organized the first edition of this article was. Things ramble on and on, discussion topics merge and blend into other discussion topics and then, suddenly, veer back onto previous topics with no warning... it's all just rather random and unclear and difficult to follow. Plus, a lot of my previous hypothesizing about just what it is that might be going on on Buffy-Earth, in regards to the true natures and origins of demonkind, and vampires in specific, are just embarrassing now, in light of things I've seen since.

So, apparently, simply adding on to and expanding the previous text isn't going to cut it.

Therefore, I really can't make any promises about what I'm going to do with all the blithering text below... whether I'll keep all of it, or dump all of it and start over, or, most likely, keep some and dump some and modify some extensively. I do know that I plan to try to get this damn thing organized, at least somewhat, but whether I'll have any real success at that I don't know. Given that BUFFY itself, and its spinoff, ANGEL, hardly seem to be particularly well organized, it won't be easy trying to set up a coherent and linear accounting of what we know, what we think we know, and what I therefore hypothesize, about the show.

But I'll try.

The First Edition of SLAYER'S HANDBOOK: Metaphysics On Buffy-Earth, was written and web-published back around Halloween, 2000. Although it's barely been seven months since then, those seven months have seen an entire new season of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and its spin off, ANGEL, come and go. More importantly, those eight months have seen Yr. Humble Author get access to a few more, earlier, episodes of BUFFY... nowhere near as many as I'd like, mind, but I have, at least, bought and perceptually devoured the three six packs of episodes made commercially available on video last year (one simply called "Buffy The Vampire Slayer", containing the first Buffy episode and five other selected eps from the first season, the second called "Buffy and Angel, Eternal Lovers", or some such blither, featuring , basically, six second season eps opening with the one where Buffy finally gives it up to Angel and in response, Angel gives up his soul, seguing through Evil Angel Murdering Jenny Calendar, and ending up with Buffy booting Angel, with his newly restored soul, through a mystic limbo into Hell, in order to sae the universe; and a third called "The Slayer Chronicles" and featuring, well, for the most part, six eps leading up to the climactic Ascension of the Mayor on Graduation Day that ended the third season, all of which more or less featured the fascinating Faith... although it's rather annoying to note that a pack calling itself "The Slayer Chronicles" eschewed Faith's actual debut, so I'm still, as Dr. Peter Venckman might say, fuzzy on the whole good-bad thing, at least, as it applies to where the hell Faith came from and how it is we have two separate Slayers running around at the same time... or did... and will have again, after Buffy gets resurrected once more on UPN at the start of next season).

(And since this, I've found out that there was another Slayer in the mix somewhere as well, a busty, good looking black chick - if only she'd ditch those ugly corn rows - named Kendra, whom I have only seen for about twenty minutes in "Becoming" before she gets killed by Drusilla. Not much of a Slayer, from what I can see; if Buffy had been there, she'd have kicked Drusilla and her three minions all over the place.)

I've also picked up a bootleg copy of the original pilot for the Buffy TV series, featuring an entirely different actress playing Willow (some of my fellow fans rather unkindly refer to her as 'fat Willow', but honestly, while she's not the slender gamin darling so lovingly created week after week by the astonishingly sexy Alyson Hannigan, nonetheless, this particular actress, whose name I don't know, did a terrific job with the part and is, in my opinion, pretty darn cute herself, albeit in an admittedly stockier way), said bootleg tape also containing "The Wish".

So, all told, I'm a bit better informed on the whole BUFFY thing now than I was then, what with having seen a good 43 more episodes of BUFFY by now than I had then... and that's not even counting the ANGEL season that's just come and gone, as well, which would bring the tally up to a good 59 additional episodes reflecting on the peculiar supernatural metaphysics of that particular alternate reality inhabited by one particular version of the Slayer called Buffy Summers. (I have to distinguish this way, because there are certainly other alternate realities with their own versions of a Slayer named Buffy Summers; in one of them that we BUFFY fans know for a fact exists, Buffy looks rather like Kristy Swanson, dates a guy named Pike, and did not burn down her original high school gym... and most likely never showed up in Sunnydale at all... which means it's probably a rather depressing dimension to live in, by now.)

Being better informed, I've decided I may as well go back, take a good hard second look at this thing which was written, for the most part, early on in Buffy's fifth season, and see if, in light of some further exposure to the established history of the series, there are any particular sections that cry out to be adapted and updated.

Of course, there's no guarantee that my most recent musings and pontifications will be any more valid... whatever that means in this context (I guess it means "Joss Whedon agrees with them") than they ever were before, since there are still FAR TOO MANY episodes I haven't seen (would someone PLEASE syndicate BUFFY and put the first three seasons on a network I can pick up without cable? PLEASE?)... and even if (God willing, someday, when) I've seen them all, my conclusions still won't be 'official', and could be undermined and undone with any subsequent episode of ANGEL or BUFFY that contradicts them.

Nonetheless, as noted below, I have the kind of mind that just has to try to figure out how things work. So, without further ado, let's see just I have to add to what has gone before, below:

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I. Introduction

Millions of people every week watch and enjoy the WB show BUFFY THE
VAMPIRE SLAYER, and its somewhat darker, more guy-oriented spin
off, ANGEL. Presumably, they are the lucky ones, who never trouble
themselves to wonder just how the heck it is that vampires turn
into dust when staked, burst into flames in direct sunlight, and
yet, still manage to carry on active sex lives with real live human
beings and/or humanoid robots, just as if they weren't actually necromantically animated walking corpses like they're supposed to be, dammit.

No, these happy little Slayer fans don't speculate as to where Buffy gets her super strength from, or what demons actually are, or why the presence, or lack
thereof, of something called a 'soul' seems to make such a tremendous difference in how certain so called demonic entities behave.

We'll come back to this later, but I may as well note now that this rather bizarre inconsistency on the part of Whedon and other BUFFY creators regarding vampiric metabolism has continued unabated to this day, and in fact, as I've seen many more BUFFY episodes with Angel in them, ANGEL episodes themselves, and BUFFY episodes with Spike in them, this whole vampire/human sexual interaction thing has simply become more and more baffling.

Angel, and those around him, continue to insist that he doesn't breathe, for example, and yet, someone who doesn't breathe shouldn't be able to speak, and certainly shouldn't be able to smoke a cigarette... and the whole 'I don't breathe' thing simply underscores the fact that vampires are DEAD, dammit, and therefore, have no normally functional metabolisms, which certainly includes the reproductive systems involved in normal sexual function. How Angel and Spike manage to have sex with human and/or robot Buffies... honestly, it simply makes no sense. And, well, as I say, we'll get back to this, below... but I'm here to tell you, some 50+ hours of BUFFY and ANGEL later... it still makes no damn sense.

In the past, this grinding itch to figure things out has led me to
produce a previous article on the movie/TV franchise HIGHLANDER, in
which I provided what struck me as a consistent and reasonably
sensible internally coherent explanation for most of the weird
special effects, antisocial behavior, and generally rambunctious
shenanigans that go on in that particular fictional reality. Now,
it seems, that same obscure impulse to de-obfuscate, to explicate,
to pin something to a corkboard and force it to frickin make SENSE,
by God, is leading me into the labyrinth that is BUFFY. So be it.

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

I should note before I go further, though, that unlike HIGHLANDER,
which could perhaps best be described as a thousand immortal
whackos with swords in search of a storyline, the BUFFY franchise
may well not actually need me to provide any such over-arching and
comprehensive analysis and explanation of just how its underlying
metaphysics actually works.

HIGHLANDER, while exciting, intriguing, and occasionally even competently written, always struck me as having little actual art to it. Its creators weren't trying to make a statement or communicate any deeply held truths
through the medium of the movies or the show; they were, in fact,
simply trying to entertain, and by entertaining, make a buck. As
such, it always seemed to me that the various installments in the
franchise were written more with an eye towards box office receipts
than making any sort of consistent sense. That the producers
pretty much made it all up as they went along seems obvious,
especially when one considers such awful, and quickly disallowed,
chapters in the ongoing saga as HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING, which
both audience and production crew seems to have tacitly agreed to
simply ignore (and deservedly so, too).

BUFFY, on the other hand, seems to be in the hands of folks who are somewhat more serious about their creative vehicle. Oh, not that I'd expect solemnity from any show named BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and in fact, the irrepressible sense of whimsical goofiness that permeates the franchise is one of its chief charms. (We have seen the horrors of a modern day vampire soap opera with no sense of humor whatsoever, in the form of KINDRED: THE EMBRACED. And we need not tarry there.) However, Joss Whedon, who seems to be the creative brains behind the program, also seems to actually have something of a handle on exactly what is really going on in Buffy's world, where it all started, why it continues, and most crucially, how it all works... or so I surmise from recent cryptic references dropped in various episodes that hint at new revelations to come regarding the very origin and nature of that weird entity called 'the Slayer'.

On the other hand, I may be giving too much credit simply because I enjoy BUFFY so much. The creative crew on BUFFY and ANGEL may be simply making things up as they go along and have no real, consistent idea of an underlying, consistent metaphysics or even history for the characters and world they inhabit. In fact, as time goes on and more and more flashback episodes are generated providing depth and detail on various character histories that seem to be somewhat in conflict with what those characters, and other characters, had told us previously, or even what we've seen in previous flashback episodes, it seems to become more and more naggingly obvious that either no one high up at BUFFY has the time to keep all the plot details straight and make everything fit into a coherent cosmogony... or no one cares.

(One specific, irritating case in point: flashback episodes have now established that Drusilla was originally the daughter of some sort of Irish or English clergyman before she was fanged by Angel, however, at the same time, we've also seen the human, pre-fanged Dru walk into a church and make confession in a box where Angel had just killed the priest. As a general rule, clergymen who can marry and have children are Protestant; churches with confession boxes are Catholic... and in the 18th Century in Ireland or England, if you were born into one sub-branch of Christianity, you didn't casually wander into a church of the other sub-branch. However, given that Dru's origins seem to be English rather than Irish, it seems probable that her father was a prelate of the Church of England, and I believe they can marry and have children... although I'm not sure. I'm also not sure if the Anglican church has confession. So this may not be a contradiction at all.)

Not that I'm really blaming Mr. Whedon. A television series is, above all other things, an ongoing and open ended enterprise, involving - unless one is David E. Kelley or Aaron Sorkin, apparently - creative input from a lot of different sources. As such, it's simply naïve to expect any one person to manage to keep good coherent track of everything that gets done over the course of 44 episodes a year, especially when one is dealing with strange creatures whose behavior and characteristics do not necessarily conform with the normal laws of reality as we know them.

Consistency is going to suffer, and I suspect it has.

Furthermore, I also suspect that the desire I feel to have everything be consistent and make some sort of understandable sense is not one reflected in Joss Whedon's own psychology, or that of most of his writers. And, well, it's their show, and if they want to treat the BUFFY universe as a piece of arbitrary fiction where the physical and metaphysical laws can be changed and altered from one episode to the next to suit specific plot needs, or even just to allow someone to make an idiotic joke regardless of how much that 'joke' damages any attempt at comprehending just how things actually work on Buffy-Earth... well... they can. Certainly an argument could be made that no one should expect serious, intelligent consistency from a show called BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and if I can't comprehend that the internal continuity of this show need bear no more resemblance to anything anyone could seriously think of as 'reality' than, say, the internal 'continuity' of I LOVE LUCY or FRIENDS or THE SIMPSONS, then the problem is mine, not theirs.

Nonetheless, all I can say to this is what I've said endlessly in other articles about that other form of open ended serial adventure fiction I love, superhero comic books... to my mind, sensible and consistent continuity is no more nor less than the covenant between a creator and his/their audience that they will allow us to continue to believe in the fictional characters and worlds that we love, by doing their utmost to make those worlds seem 'real' to us. Those who produce crap like FRIENDS comprehend no such covenant and happily create 'flashback' episodes filled with inconsistencies and conflicts with other 'flashback' episodes, and populate a supposedly realistic world with idiocies like sentient monkeys... but I expect little from FRIENDS, have never believed any of those characters could possibly be 'real' (or, if they were, that they'd ever hang out together for longer than five minutes) and thus, am not disappointed.

However, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, its world, and its characters, seem to me to have been created and to be consistently written to a much higher standard, and as such, when inconsistencies and even gaping stupidities crop up simply for the sake of plot convenience... it does disappoint me. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER may be a whimsical show, and often a satire, and once in a while even a parody, but treating it, even occasionally, in as brainless a fashion as the 75th episode of I LOVE LUCY where Lucy still can't be part of the show at Ricky's club... well... it annoys me.

Much, I suspect, as articles like this, which try to take the whole thing seriously, probably annoy many of the series creators and ongoing producers.

If my growing suspicions of general cluelessness and apathy on the part of the creative staff towards a central and underlying metaphysics are wrong (and I hope they are) then an explanation for all these whacked out and mysterious goings on may well be in the offing, this season or maybe next... and this whole article may be a waste of time. However, as of right now, no such explanation for the various spectacular special effects, physical capacities, and bizarre behaviors of the Buffy gang has been offered, so I will now attempt to fill that void.

II. What We Know, Maybe

A. In General

What I've discovered is most useful in these things is to set out
what we actually know, or at least, think we know, but do not
actually understand, in some reasonably coherent form. Then we can
start picking, analyzing, dissecting, and hypothesizing as we
search for some sort of previously unseen pattern or coherency
underlying it all.

In general, what we seem to know about Buffy-Earth is:

* There are vampires there, and they have, for at least hundreds and maybe thousands of years, preyed on humanity. Because of this, into each generation a Slayer is born...a human girl endowed with the speed, strength, supernatural perceptions, access to memories and thus, the experience of, past lives, and advanced training, to protect humanity from the vampires. There is also some vague organization of Watchers who keep track of the Slayers, mentor them, record their campaigns, and generally try to support them as they battle the vampiric plague. All that was what we were told in the movie, and as the movie was little more than a comedy, intended to parody more standard horror films, the fact that much of this is utterly ridiculous didn't matter. You weren't expected to take it seriously; if you were, no one would have cast Pee Wee Herman as a vampire.

All of this has been expanded on and modified extensively by the TV show. Buffy Earth-TV is not only afflicted with vampires who prey on humanity, but with the entire gauntlet of historical, literary, and mythological supernatural creatures, all of them apparently fitting into some sort of overarching 'demonic' cosmogony. TV-Buffy is not merely a vampire slayer (although that's still more or less her specific task) but is, in actuality, mankind's bulwark and protector against all inimical supernatural forces. Vampires, in fact, as we're quite often told, are merely a peculiar and eccentric type of demon... a necessary contrivance, to make the rather focused job of Vampire Slayer into a more open ended foe to all evil supernatural entities (a melodramatic convenience, as a show in which Buffy did nothing but fight vampires week after week after week would be fairly limited in scope).

We know, or are told often, that the primary difference between humans and demons (other than that they're really ugly and we aren't) is that humans have souls and demons don't. We know that the vast majority of demons are 'evil' by human standards, and Must Be Stopped. We know that there is an occult, highly organized group called The Watchers that seems to represent humanity's protection from and resistance to demonic aggression, and that the Slayers are more or less the born Champions of humanity in general and the Watchers in specific.

We know that magic exists, and we also know, alas, that 'demon' is a word that seems to get misused and abused quite a lot... or, at the very least, that it covers creatures who are born into demonic races, creatures who inhabit and somewhat transform dead human bodies after killing them, and creatures who voluntarily give up their humanity to become 'demons'. We know that history can be changed (and, thankfully, changed back), that other dimensions, and alternate timelines, exist, that super-science is not only possible but is well within the fairly casual creative capacities of many highly intelligent but otherwise normal humans.

To the best of my knowledge, the possibilities of time travel have not yet been explored in the TV show, although the comic book has seen at least one story in which a past Slayer traveled into the present day to foil a demon who had been sent to kill Buffy.

B. VAMPIRES
(1) Vulnerabilities

One of the first, and most interesting, items to consider in all
this is exactly what vampires on Buffy-Earth actually are. In
order to do this, it's probably worthwhile to set down what they
aren't, which is to say, the ways they differ from more standard,
literary vampires, as depicted in other specific stories.

First, vampires on Buffy-Earth tend to be rather wimpier, for the
most part, than vampires in other fictional milieus. In Steve
King's SALEM'S LOT, for example, Ben Mears winds up killing two
vampires (his dead girlfriend Susan Norton and boss bloodsucker
Barlow) and he has to work a lot harder to do it than any blond
cheerleader or member of the Scooby Gang ever had to on the Planet
o' the Slayers. In the King book, Mears had to just frickin POUND
a goddam big chunk o' sharpened firewood through the chest cavities
of both vamps with a frickin Craftsman hammer, for god's sake, and
he was there doing it for a couple of minutes each time... whack,
whack, WHACK, chest heaving, arms burning with fatigue, blood spattering
everywhere, Barlow whipping and writhing in the coffin underneath
him crying and sniveling like a bloodsucking little sissy-boy... it
was definitely an effort. You're pretty sure that afterwards, when
he and Mark get to the motel in the next town over and finally
relax, Ben suddenly discovers that his shoulders muscles seriously
ache from all that pounding.

Contrast this with fangsters on Buffy-Earth, who turn into tiny
little piles of kitty litter if someone, anyone, even a little
wussy-girl like Willow, jams a pointy popsicle stick into their
thoraxes. Frankly, it makes me wonder why Spike and Angel, at the
very least (both of whom seem smarter than the average ghoul,
anyway) don't wear Kevlar vests, like, constantly. I mean, to bed.
I damned well would, if I knew that the average ten year old could
send me screaming off to hell by jabbing me between my manly
nipples with a freshly sharpened number two pencil.

This point, if anything, is even more emphasized by the some 60 or so additional eps of BUFFY and ANGEL I've seen since first writing this. Vampires can, generally, not only be dispatched by the merest wooden twig, if firmly struck with that twig in the center of the chest, but most vampires are so stupid that they'll attack a stake-armed human being with their arms spread wide to either side, letting even a ditz like Cordelia get in a sound and lethal poke. The only vampires who consistently aren't this stupid are those the show's producers want to keep around for a while, like Angel, Darla, Drusilla, and Spike. Watching the comedy team of Anya, Xander, and Willow nearly get killed by two vampires, yet still manage to stake both of them with little actual difficulty after a few seconds of scuffle, simply underscores the fact that on Buffy-Earth, there's no real need for a Slayer to be born every generation. The Council should just broadcast the fact that vampires exist worldwide. Then everyone could carry a sharpened popsicle stick around with them, and within a fortnight at most, every vampire stupid enough to attack anyone not paralyzed from the neck down, comatose, or in traction, would be rendered into dust by even the feeblest and most spastic resistance of their intended victims.

Obviously, this is simply something that has gotten out of hand. Non-Slayers, with normal human strength, shouldn't be able to take out a vampire with one quick arm movement while holding a sharpened piece of kindling. Normal, non super powered humans should have to pound damn big chunks of wood through the vampire's chest with a hammer, something that would be unlikely to happen if the vampire were actually capable of saying "Hey, stop that" or, you know, movement. Honestly and sincerely; if Willow, Xander, or Anya can stand up to a fully mobile vampire, at night, and kill it without much effort or risk, there's really no need for Slayers. Hell, even Riley should be overmatched in hand to hand with the average vampire, or there's simply no point to having a supernaturally powered champion whose specific purpose is protecting humanity from the ravages of the Undead. If Wesley can take a vampire with his bare hands, we don't need Buffy or Faith.

In my humble opinion, Whedon and crew need to do some work on making vampires scary and threatening again. The Scooby Gang should be terrified to go into a graveyard after dark without Buffy, hell, if I lived in Sunnydale and knew what any member of the Scooby Gang knows, I'd move... but if I had to keep living there, I'd never set foot outside my house after dark. However, as things currently have been established to be, vampires are no more dangerous than big, mean dogs... considerably less so, if you carry a cross and a stake with you.

In addition to being terrifyingly vulnerable to chest splinters, Buffy-vamps also share many of the usual vampiric weaknesses: sunlight, crosses, and an inability to enter a private dwelling unless invited by a legitimate resident. Sunlight causes vampires to smoke and burst into flames, crosses apparently affect them much the same way an extremely hot piece of metal would affect a normal human, causing them to recoil from too close proximity and burning or branding them if brought into contact with them. Holy water seems to effect them like acid, although exactly what water has to do in order to become 'holy' I myself have no idea... is it only the Catholic version that works, or can anyone do a sincere blessing over a cup of Perrier and have it turn into vampire repellent? In addition, decapitation, like a poke in the heart with a piece of wood, immediately turns vamps into dust, and they can also be burned to death by conventional flames. These last are not typical mythical vampire weaknesses, although Stephen King apparently also made his bloodsuckers susceptible to fire in SALEM'S LOT.

(2) Biology

Buffy-vampires also have sex lives. Now, this isn't exactly new to
vampire lore, I grant you . The legend of the nosferatu has always
been a sexually charged one, what with the penetration and the
drinking of the bodily fluids and all that nifty stuff, yet when literary and mythological
vampires have been depicted as having 'sex', it's usually been
implied, or even overtly stated, that what they were doing was not
'sex' the way we humans think of it.

I mean, come on now, they're dead. Presumably, the only way most male vampires get wood is when someone punches it through their clavicle, especially since a
normal human male erection is a function of blood flow, which it
seems reasonable to assume the average 'male' vampire has little or
none of .

Logically, 'female' vampires could have almost normal sexual function, assuming they carried around a little KY to help with what would have to be fairly severe lubrication issues... yet one has to wonder how even the horniest and most desperate male (that would be me, actually) could ignore the fact that this
bitch's body is as cold as a sno-cone and her breath, such as it is, and given what she normally consumes as food, has to be about four times nastier than your chain smoking second cousin's after he or she has just killed half a keg of Old Milwaukee. Plus kissing someone who's salivary glands haven't actually worked in years, decades, or centuries would have to be a special taste and textural
treat I don't even want to try to imagine, but can best sum up with the phrase 'oh EW'.

In short, you'd think that any human who experienced anything more than the most fleeting, casual body contact with a vampire would pretty quickly realize there was something badly wrong with this picture. It seems equally obvious
that even if a living mortal knew their potential lover was a vampire, and didn't actually mind (a level of trust that frankly boggles my mind, especially when one considers the combination of razor sharp fangs and vampiric arousal, with, say, fellatio), the pleasures of even just snuggling or making out with a centuries cold corpus would be minimal, without even trying to get past
second base.

In much vampire literature, there are ways of getting around this. Mythological vampires are often attributed with the ability to cast glamours on themselves to deceive their chosen victims, making said humanoid buffet table see, feel, and otherwise perceive whatever the ghoul in question wants them to. There are even specifically sexual forms of vampires, succubi and incubi, that are said to
drink human reproductive fluids rather than actual blood, the actual details of which I don't care to dwell on myself, at least, from the incubatory point of view. Yeeeeuch.

However, such explanations simply aren't available to us on Buffy-Earth. Of all the vampires we've seen on Buffy-Earth, only Drusilla and Dracula have demonstrated any psychic abilities... and in Dru's case, she had them when she was human, so clearly, they're not part of the vampire heritage. In fact, vampires on Buffy-Earth, like most demons, seem to eschew any and all mental powers in favor of super strength, enhanced agility, and martial arts prowess.

Given that, it seems safe to assume that any sex a human being might be having with a vampire on Buffy-Earth is real, actual sex, or at least, a reasonable facsimile thereof. At the very least, we have not seen any of the various mortal women that Angel has locked lips with over the last few seasons pull away with disgust gasping 'hemoglobin breath, ick!', nor has Angel ever tried to rebuff unwanted advances, even from women who knew he was a vampire, by
explaining "Um, you know, I'm dead".

And it's also been made pretty clear that the reason Angel actually abstains from sex is not because he can't do it; in fact, we're pretty sure he did do it, at least once, with Buffy, even if the actual act had to be committed under cover and off camera. Angel can have sex, real sex, sex with a real, live, human woman... which makes him a pretty strange walking corpse, in my opinion.

Of course, in various flashback eps this season, we have had it very well established that Angel and Darla had an incredibly active love life. However, in theory, vampires having 'sex' with other vampires is something that doesn't trouble me, since the nature of TV will pretty much always keep us from seeing actual details, and therefore, we're free to conjecture that whatever they do, it doesn't involve the same physical and metabolic details as when people do it. But when vampires and humans have sex, well, presumably, they're doing it the old fashioned way... or you'd think at some point one of the humans would comment on it, at least.

Given that apparently vampires do have normal sex with humans, it seems safe to assume that they have normal sex with each other, as well. It simply makes no sense, given their anatomical limitations. However, we'll get to all this later.

Other evidence for vampire sexuality is somewhat less overt, but still, it's there. Spike and Harmony pretty clearly carry on something erotic and physical whenever they're together, awake, and not hitting each other with the furniture, and I can recall an episode early in the fourth season where Harmony was doing something to the old Spikester that looked a whole lot like your standard fraternity little sister initiation suck-off to me.

Add it all up and it looks like, on Buffy-Earth, vampiric sexual function is pretty indistinguishable from human. Which would tend to argue that, other than the oversensitivity to chest splinters and the explosively photosensitive skin, Buffy vamps are, in most functional terms, as human as you or I.

And, occasionally, there are simply things that we would be inclined, at first, to flatly dismiss as mistakes, such as Angel recently walking into a darkened room full of milling, bleating goats, and turning on the lights. He doesn't have to turn on the lights, he's a vampire and he can see in the dark... and yet, when you think about it, he always has lights on, even in his private quarters, even when he's alone.

Still, perhaps this isn't simply a mistake, perhaps it reflects a preference on Angel's part. Whatever a vampire 'sees' in total darkness, it can't be what a normal human 'sees' with their eyes, and most likely, there is no color involved. Angel may simply like color, and therefore, when he walks into a darkened room where there is a light switch handy, he turns on the lights. When he's alone in his own quarters, he keeps a light turned on, or he lights candles. He doesn't have to, he just prefers to.

Another interesting point about vampires has come out in a recent episode of ANGEL. Unaware (as were we all, it was the episode's big plot twist) that Angel's former vampire paramour and sire, Darla, had been resurrected by evil law firm Wolfram & Hart as a mortal, and thus, thinking (as we all did) that she was a vampire, Angel confronted her in a hotel. He refuted her claim that he'd
made a mistake and she was someone else by saying "I know your scent, Darla". This tells us pretty irrefutably that vampires smell like living human beings, since, if they didn't, you'd imagine Angel would have been a little puzzled as to why his Undead ex smelled all warm and sweaty.

Now, human scent arises from a combination of many factors, not least of which being, perspiration, but also, the exuding of pheremones, and, to a great extent, the constant deterioration and break down of skin and hair cells into tiny, almost microscopic flakes that impinge only on our olfactory sensory apparatus.

Classical vampires, being walking corpses, don't have functional sweat glands, nor, really, should they have anything much to sweat. It's doubtful they produce chemical pheremones, and last but not least, as they are immortal, and biologically inactive, their skin and hair should neither grow nor decay. Therefore, a vampire should have little or no scent, not even the usual prosaically Victorian moldering stench of the grave, since they shouldn't rot,
either. They actually shouldn't smell like anything, although, as noted, those literary vampires with the ability to throw glamours on themselves should be able to make their victims perceive whatever they choose.

It's just now occurring to me that as the human body is some varying percentage - but it's always around 80% -- water, vampires, who really shouldn't retain any water in their systems as they are, you know, dead, should all be stick thin, dusty dry, walking mummies. Maybe they'd puff up and look 'normal' for a while after draining someone's blood, but they should flatten out again, like a leaky tire losing air, fairly quickly. Given that this clearly doesn't happen, it's must more evidence for the theory that vampires not only don't have a normal human metabolism, but that they don't have anything that even works remotely according to normal physical laws.

(3) Spirituality

However, we do know of one very specific difference between vampires and the rest of humanity, if only because the dialogue emphasizes it over and over again: vampires don't have souls.

Given that Angel was pretty much an evil prick when he was running around without his soul, and suddenly got all weepy and guilted out when a gypsy curse jammed one back into his Undead torso, it would seem that whatever else a 'soul' might be or do, one of its primary functions is to provide a being with a conscience.

This doesn't seem to happen all at once, though. In a recent flashback episode, we've seen Angel in the 1950s, and he wasn't the weepy, compassionate, Rod McKuen-esque crusader for justice and protector of the innocent he is now. In fact, he was pretty damn surly. He may have had a soul, and his conscience may have been slowly regenerating, but it was still capable of being set aside fairly easily when he lost his temper.

And, of course, in 'Becoming', we saw Angel get his soul on two separate occasions, and on both, it was as if an entirely separate personality had re-emerged from a long hibernation... one that, at least initially, had no recollection of the acts performed by Angelus during the soul's absence. Gradually, apparently, the memories seeped back, and just as gradually, human guilt and psychic torment over the evil of these acts built up... but it doesn't seem to be instantaneous. In fact, when Angel's soul was returned to him at the end of 'Becoming' and Buffy was forced to kill him in order to close the portal to hell that Angelus had, a minute or so previously, opened, Angel doubtless had no idea why Buffy had just stabbed him with a blessed sword.

(4) Vampiric Skills

In addition to all this, there is another aspect of vampiredom on Buffy-Earth that sets bloodsuckers there apart from bloodsuckers in other literary realms... virtually all the Buffy vampires seem to be reasonably adept at martial arts. Now, look, I'm not stupid. I realize that the reason most older vampires Buffy encounters actually do that kung fu fighting thing is because it looks spiffy
on camera, and kids like it. Hell, I like it, too. Nonetheless, we can't just ignore it because there is a pragmatic visual reason for it; the fact remains, on Buffy-Earth, nearly all the older vampires and demons and such have apparently made an effort to gain some degree of mastery in the martial arts.

Dracula seems to have largely been an exception to this. However, given his mental powers, and the fact that he's the only vampire we've ever seen who can regenerate at will after being staked and turned to dust, I suspect 'Dracula' wasn't a vampire at all, just a demon... probably a very powerful one... who gets off on celebrity impersonation. Or one sent by Higher or Lower Powers to corrupt Buffy rather than kill her, and thus, who deliberately chose a persona she'd find extremely impressive in order to influence her better. Of course, he'd have done better to pick, say, Rob Thomas, or maybe Ben Affleck, but you can't expect demons to be up on their pop stars.

There could be many reasons for this martial prowess, with the simplest being that, since demons apparently spend most of their time fighting each other and humans, it's only sensible that the older a demon or vampire gets, the more general fighting acumen they will pick up, which would naturally include unarmed combat abilities.

To my mind, however, this notion doesn't quite hold water, for two reasons:

First, one simply doesn't 'pick up' various martial arts katas and forms, one has to be trained. Spider-Man, after ten years or so engaged in hand to hand combat with various other Marvel Universe superhumans, has doubtless picked up a lot of moves that are very effective in combat and with them, in combination with his natural superhuman powers, become a formidable fighter; nonetheless, if he goes up against Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu, he's not going to be trading side-hand mantis strikes with the Son of Fu Manchu, he's just going to punch the guy's lights out.

Second, there's something strange, in and of itself, in all this unarmed kung fu haaiii yaaiiing between demons, Slayers, and Undead, in that, if I were a vampire and I was worried about the Slayer showing up and jamming a piton through my breastbone, I would damn well forego the Bruce Lee nonsense and simply haul out a Glock-9 and blow the bitch away.

Given that vampires on Buffy-Earth, at least to my knowledge, have never been known to carry firearms, one assumes there is some pressing reason for this, and for the near universal presence of advanced martial arts skills in the sharp toothed little bastards, as well.

I have to date seen two examples of vampires packing iron: In the early episode where Angel first killed Darla, she blasted Angel initially across the room Shadow-style with a .45 automatic in each hand, commenting that bullets might not kill vampires, but they hurt like hell. Second, when Buffy finally pissed Spike off to the point of driving him into a murderous rage, he set off to kill her with a loaded shotgun... only to stop when he found her crying over her mother's failing health on her back steps. All of which simply underscores the fact that firearms seem basically foreign to a vampire's fundamental experience and their use seems to go against a vampire's 'natural' inclinations, and they only resort to them in extremes of anger or frustration.

(4) Vampiric Supernatural Powers

It's here, perhaps, that Whedon's vampires suffer the most in comparison to other literary bloodsuckers.

Where even Stephen King's nosferatu can somehow slip between the smallest cracks to enter a room and exert an undue mental influence at a distance whereby they can apparently compel even the reluctant and unwilling to invite them inside, the vampires on Buffy-Earth seem to have little going for them except unnatural levels of super strength and, apparently, increased levels of martial arts ability. Of course, they can't really be hurt by most normal forms of damage, but where King's vampires are, apparently, untouched by most 'normal' physical attacks (a shotgun blast, at one point, seems to pass through one vampire in SALEM'S LOT as if the creature weren't even there), Whedon's apparently feel nearly normal physical pain when shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, or kicked smartly in the head, stomach and/or jahoobies by incensed Slayers.

Although the vampires shown in the original movie are capable of defying gravity, we've never, to my knowledge, seen vampires do so in the TV show. This may simply be because, if other vampires could do it, then Angel could do it, and Whedon & Co. don't want Angel to be able to fly. In fact, the limitation of vampiric super powers to, basically, strength, toughness, speed, and martial arts prowess may all stem from not wanting to give Angel too many powers... although I'm sure that the primary purpose was to make it credible for a young girl with relatively minor levels of superstrength, as well as well developed acrobatic and martial arts skills, to successfully combat them.

Oh, and I almost forgot a minor but perhaps pertinent point... vampires seem to share with demons and lycanthropes some shapeshifting ability, if only in their limited capacity to shift their facial features back and forth from Evil Vampire Look to Kodak Moment Happy Face.

While they're not specifically 'powers', we may as well note here a few other supernatural aspects of vampirism on Buffy-Earth, since they come under consideration later, in the section where I try to actually explain things.

First, vampires turn to dust when they get staked, generally immediately, but occasionally, with minor delays ranging from half a second up to a good six seconds or so (the deft, menacing, and impressively malevolent Mr. Trick had time to gasp out "Oh, no... this is no good... this is no good at ALL..." after Faith jammed a stake into his back while he was busy trying to chow down on a hurt and weakened Buffy). This is pretty weird, and we've seen fairly often since that this trait does not seem to be shared by most, if any, other demon-forms.

Second, and rather annoyingly, vampires don't cast a reflection in mirrors. This is stressed, over and over again, to a point where we can't ignore it, say that it's a mistake, that it's something that only applies to certain vampires, or only occurs with certain types of mirror. Angel has mentioned this so often, and recently went into such paroxysms of joy upon traveling to a demon dominated dimension where he could see his reflection, that we have to face up to the fact that this isn't merely a case of silver not reflecting a vampiric image, which I could vaguely sort of bullshit my way around. No, apparently, vampires cast no reflection in any reflective surface, be it polished metal, a still pool of water, plastic, or what have you. They. Just. Don't.

Compounding this weirdness is the fact that vampires DO cast shadows, and they DO show up on videotape.

One of the most interesting of vampiric limitations on Buffy-Earth is the fact that vampires can't enter a dwelling without being invited. Over the course of the TV show, this has gone from being a general and vague limitation (the Three, when they pursued Angel and Buffy to her house, were shoving their clawlike hands uninvited around the edges of the front door as Buffy and Angel tried to slam it closed on them) to being something along the lines of the supernatural equivalent of an invisible force field (Spike has, on at least one occasion, reached out and knocked on the barrier around Buffy's house). In fact, the limitation is so palpable and solid that vampires can, apparently, lean on the no-invitation barrier as if it were a wall (as demonstrated simply for the sake of physical comedy in an episode of ANGEL this season, when such a barrier collapsed while Angel was actually leaning on it, sending him sprawling).

So, to sum up... on Buffy-Earth, we have vampires who are similar to other literary vampires in that they drink blood, have superhuman strength, and suffer from a wide range of the traditional literary vampiric vulnerabilities and limitations. On the other hand, they differ from other literary vampires in that they have almost none of the traditional vampires' supernatural powers other than those listed above, they appear to have at least some normal metabolic function even though they're technically 'dead', and, well, supposedly, they're supposed to be some sort of 'demon', and fit into some over-arching demonic history and supernatural zoology.

We know they sleep and dream, since we've seen both Spike and Angel do so, although I should note that this is not necessarily compelling evidence, since Angel has a soul (whatever that is) and Spike has a chip in his head that in some ways seems to simulate the presence of a soul.

They don't reflect in mirrors, but do, apparently, show up on videotape, and they also cast shadows.

They're all reasonably adept at unarmed martial arts disciplines, and they're all extraordinarily susceptible to not just dying, but actually turning into little heaps of dust, if they take even a shallow jab in the middle of the chest from any pointy object made of wood.

Last but not least, they all seem to absolutely revel in malevolence and depravity, mostly, we're told quite often by Giles and Wesley and other scholarly sorts, because they don't have souls.

C. DEMONS

We know way too much about demons, and, ironically, way too little.

First, back in the very first episode, we were told by Giles that demons had occupied Earth before mankind, but had gradually and mysteriously 'lost their hold' on this world, and wound up banished to the outer dimensions. Apparently, demons are always trying to regain a foothold on Earth. Also, vampires are just a specific type of demon, one that has no bodies of its own, and therefore, kills humans in order to take over their bodies for its own use.

Sometime in the second season, we discovered that a demon could be turned into a human by having its powers stripped away, although it may be worth noting here that 'Anyanka' was originally referred to as a 'patron spirit', not a demon. Subsequently, however, everyone has taken to referring to her as an 'ex demon' and we found out this season that apparently, she didn't simply turn into a human, but she actually started out as one, and became a demon. This fits in with a fourth season episode in which Willow was extended an invitation to become a demon herself, because of her potential psychic abilities.

At the end of the third season, Anya informed the gang and the viewers that they'd never actually seen a demon; all the demons that they had encountered up until now had been 'tainted'. The point of the Mayor's Ascension was to become a TRUE demon, or, if you will, a Demon with a capital D, which were, well, rather large, and not at all humanoid, and, just generally, ickie.

First season episodes of ANGEL taught us that there were large populations of demons living quietly in secret in various human cities, apparently more or less peacefully and non violently; we were also told that Angel's original medium, the astonishingly annoying Doyle, was, in fact, one quarter demon.

Most demons seem to be rather sturdier than humans, and can only be killed by extensive bodily damage, often only by being chopped to pieces. Some are all but indestructible and have to be killed in very specific ways, like The Gentlemen, who have the magical ability to steal the voices of everyone in a certain area, and who can only be killed by the scream of a princess. (I'm assuming the Gentlemen are demons, since everything supernatural and bad in the Buffy universe is a 'demon', although Giles indicated that they were, in fact, 'storybook monsters'.)

We've seen demons show up from space, demons from other dimensions, demons with strange demonic abilities, demons who, apparently, couldn't beat up a half lame and elderly dwarf. We've seen demons who can shapeshift at will from demonic features to a more human appearance, demons that aren't even vaguely humanoid, demons who, apparently, keep their hearts in their asses, demons who reproduce by planting eye-like spores in human heads that eventually erupt into full grown exact copies of the engendering demon, and even demons who want to marry human women. We've seen fat demons, skinny demons, demons that climb on rocks. There are apparently as many different kinds of demon as there are different kinds of bacteria, insect, or mold colony in the universe... and apparently, most of them are inclined to violence and none of them are overly fond of humans... to say the least.

We know there are entire alternate dimensions populated entirely by demons, or where demons are a majority and dominate a human minority.

'Demon' is, to say the least, a rather overused word in the BUFFY lexicon.

The question still remains: what are demons? Is there any one defining aspect to the many creatures labeled as 'demonic' on Buffy-Earth that we can use to set them off from other beings, like, well, humans?

Many demons, especially the nastier, more malevolent and powerful ones, come from other dimensions, and are usually brought to Earth in response to summonses by their followers, or mages seeking favors from them, or foolishly activated mystical artifacts, or various and sundry other plot devices. However, there are many other demons who are apparently native to Earth, born into large, if secretive, demon communities or 'ghettoes' that dwell unobtrusively among the humans here.

And, most interesting of all, Angel's previous (highly annoying) medium, Doyle, was eventually revealed (right before he heroically sacrificed himself in what had to be his only likeable moment) to be a demon/human hybrid... which would seem to indicate a level of genetic consanguinity between at least some races of demons and humans far closer than that between, say, horses and donkeys, which can only produce infertile offspring. (Doyle, I think, was a quarter-breed, indicating that one of his parents was a fertile demon/human half-breed.)

This last seems to imply one of two hypotheses - either (a) demons and humans actually share a significant amount of racial DNA (more so than a human and a Rhesus monkey, or a horse and a donkey, the first of which pairs cannot interbreed, and the second of which produces only sterile offspring), or, (b) Joss Whedon is even more astonishingly ignorant of basic genetics than Gene Roddenberry, in an era where such basic knowledge has been far more widely disseminated. Since I don't believe Whedon is either stupid or ignorant, I'm betting on (a).

(Admittedly, we can't rule out ( c ), demons and humans can interbreed and produce fertile offspring because of magic, probably inherent in nearly any demon that can so interbreed. But that's the boring solution, although ultimately, it may be the one we have to fall back on.)

'Demons'... real Demons, pure Demons, with a capital D... seem to be an entirely alien species. The creatures the Scooby Gang thinks of as being 'demons' are apparently mixtures of human and demon DNA. Perhaps the original, pure Demons created the human-tinged sub-demon races for purposes of their own, or perhaps some loonie human shaman back in prehistory stole some Demon DNA and crossed it with human DNA just to see what would happen. Whatever the case, biologically and genetically, 'demons' would seem to be little more than particularly ugly, and often supernaturally endowed, humans, for all practical purposes... except, for some reason, they don't have souls.

If demons and humans are, physically, genetically, and biologically, for the most part identical, and vampires are demons which happen to inhabit reanimated human bodies, this would seem to indicate that the primary dichotomy between demon and human is not physical, but rather, for lack of a better word, spiritual.

More specifically, with what we know now, 'demons' are actually a mixture of human and inhuman DNA. Still, the primary difference, as far as behavior goes, would seem to come from the non-physical differences between human and demon... namely, again, humans have souls, and demons don't. Although the inhuman DNA probably allows demons to do things that pure humans couldn't, like shapeshift.

Exactly what is a 'demon', as opposed to a 'Demon', as opposed to a 'human', as opposed to a vampire, or a lycanthrope?

To date, we have only speculation, and speculation is not to be listed under 'What We Know', but will most likely be gotten to under 'Analysis & Speculation', a bit later.

D. GODS

Actual theology on Buffy-Earth is vague. Apparently, something called the "Higher Powers" exist, whom, at the very least, Angel is generally considered to be working for (more or less) and whom he receives guidance from (which he sometimes listens to, sometimes doesn't) through the agency of his assigned mediums (at first, the ever annoying Doyle, and later, when Doyle was given the boot, Cordelia inherited his visionary gift).

I myself am unsure at what point the "Higher Powers" were first mentioned in the Buffy cosmogony. What the Higher Powers are is vague at best, but they seem to generally be Good (if that term has any meaning). If they have an opposite number, it seems to be a vague group of elder demon sorts whom to date have only been referred to by Wolfram & Hart as the 'senior partners'.

Whether these 'senior partners' have anything to do with the recently discovered "Hellgods", of which the recently defeated Glory was one, is entirely unclear, as, exactly, what a 'Hellgod' is... except that when incarnate in roughly human form, as Glory was, they are immensely strong, utterly invulnerable to nearly all harm, capable of moving at incredible speed, possessed of astonishing perceptions, unfettered by any normal sense of morality or ethics, really good looking, and generally, very annoying. Apparently, they also need to eat some sort of psychic energy generated by humans from time to time, too.

Glory had earthly minions, worshippers, and followers who were mostly demons, but she also seemed to form a psychic link with all the humans whose brains she had drained of their 'cohesive energies'. The Higher Powers have, or had, at least two minions, called Oracles, and for all I know may have more.

Various demons, like humans, have their own strange religions, none of which, to date, have been shown as being any more valid than any other.

There are various religious writings and prophecies, many of which these days seem to concern themselves with Buffy and Angel, which are fairly often consulted by both the forces of good and evil. Exactly where these prophetic writings came from is, generally, vague.

E. MAGIC

Magic seems to be a mish-mash on Buffy-Earth, a catch all that includes psychic manifestations (as when Willow and Tara join hands to psychokinetically shift a soda machine across the room), various forms of spell (nearly all of which seem to require reading out of books and audible chanting, and some of which require material components, as well), invocations, summonses, enchanted objects, potions, necromancy, living supernatural creatures, and I don't know what all.

As with nearly any supernaturally based popular fiction, 'magic' is a catch all phrase used to explain pretty much anything that doesn't fit into natural physical law as we understand it. (I say 'pretty much anything' because we've also seen super-science used to explain things like mechanisms that freeze time and female androids so lifelike that not only do they have functional artificial self awareness, but they can also be sexually intimate with both human and vampire males.)

Apparently, nearly anyone can work 'magic' if they have the right information and the correct material components... Giles worked a fairly powerful enchantment straight from a book in "The Witch", claiming that was his first casting ever, and at the end of the fourth season, Giles, Xander and Willow all joined together with Buffy in working a very powerful psychic bonding spell. Perhaps the weirdest example of an utter novice casting an amazingly powerful spell came when Jonathan altered reality on a fundamental level to transform himself from nerdy nobody to a universally beloved superstar, media god, and general all around superhero.

However, there do also seem to be those who have a natural talent for magic, like Willow, Tara, Amy's evil mother the Super Cheerleader, and various other magical 'specialists'... wizards like Ethan Rain, etc.

Magic, apparently, has few if any limits to its power, as Buffy's little sister Dawn recently and apparently successfully did a spell to resurrect their dead mother Joyce... and as far as that goes, Dawn's very existence is living testimony to the vast powers of magic, as she herself did not exist prior to the start of the fifth season, when some monks molded an ancient, mystic energy talisman called the Key into the shape of a younger sister for Buffy, to guarantee that Buffy would protect it from Glory... and in so doing, reshaped reality so that everyone 'remembers' Dawn as having always existed, although, apparently, these memories are false, and in fact, Dawn's current form as a human teenage girl is only a bit over six months old at the time of this writing.

I should note here that one of the few actual limits on magic, as noted in the last season during the recurring illness of Buffy's mother Joyce, is that it's no good for healing. This seems a strange departure from the thaumaturgical traditions of most historical magical mythology and supernatural fictions, where healing magics are usually one of the most common applications of any sorcery. However, it's a wise and farsighted one, since I know from my own experiences as a roleplaying referee that once healing magic becomes common in a particular fictional reality, fear of injury and even death tends to quickly vanish.

With magic apparently being incapable of helping anyone heal from natural injury or disease on Buffy-Earth, Slayers and their helpers still have to worry about the consequences of being smacked around by demons... which is, all in all, a good thing. If Willow could simply wave a magic wand whenever a troll throws someone through a window and make it all better, there would be little realistic sense of violence having actual consequences in the show.

What 'magic' actually is, other than a constantly recurring plot device, remains unclear.

F. LYCANTHROPY

Otherwise known as the curse that turns certain people into really stupid looking fuzzy padded wolf-like entities under a full moon. Having not yet seen the episode in which Oz's werewolf nature is revealed, I don't know if lycanthropy in the BUFFY universe is a genetic condition passed along from parent to child (as in some werewolf legends) or is spread by contagion (as in others). However, apparently, under a full moon, something happens that causes certain people to transform into bestial creatures that ravage around murderously until the moon goes down, at which point, they turn back into their more normal human form and awaken, with little or no memories of what transpired while they were wolfed up.

In fact, it's almost as if the full moon acts as a gateway or activator that allows some extradimensional, normally disembodied, entity to possess certain people who are afflicted with some kind of natural condition that makes them receptive to such possession and transformation.

To an extent, lycanthropes seem to be 'demons' along the same lines as vampires... which is to say, they are humans who have their bodies taken over by an inhuman force, and transformed in such ways as to gain superhuman powers. They also seem to lose their 'souls' during the transformation, at least to the extent that the soul provides any sort of moral guidance or higher ethical judgement capacity.

I myself don't know much more about lycanthropy on BUFFY-Earth. Apparently, werewolves can be caused pain and even knocked unconscious by conventional assaults (Slayers punches and kicks, the Initiatives' electrical blasters). Whether it takes silver to kill them, or decapitation would do it as well, or a stake to the heart, I have no idea. Interestingly, while the standard trigger for lycanthropy is the full moon, the episode where Oz returned briefly to Sunnydale (only to leave again hastily after being captured and tortured by the Initiative for a little while) established that the full moon isn't necessary for the transformation, as Oz turned into a werewolf simply from the stress of finding out that his ex girlfriend Willow was now carrying on a romantic relationship with Tara. (Finding out that you were apparently so lousy in bed you drove your beloved ex into the arms of a woman would have to be stressful.) Therefore, it would seem that someone afflicted with lycanthropy could conceivably learn to make the change whenever they desired... although whether they could also learn to maintain some sort of intelligent control over themselves while in their stupid-looking, dog-suited, werewolf forms remains at this point speculative.

G. THE UNIVERSE

As briefly mentioned prior to this under 'In General', we know by now that Buffy and her merry crew dwell in a universe that is actually a multiverse, which is to say, that is comprised of sheafs of different dimensions or realities, including various 'alternate timelines' in which the events that take place in the normal, TV reality of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER occurred differently, thus creating apparently an entirely different worldline.

We know (or have been told) that demons inhabited the Earth before humans did.

We know that the physical laws of reality as we understand them are not consistent or entirely binding and can be/often are circumvented by magic and the supernatural.

We know that history can be altered, and, thankfully, it can also be altered back, which at least implies that time travel is possible (although, honestly, given how time travel is normally abused in nearly every TV show and movie that uses it, I hope BUFFY and ANGEL both stay away from it as a story theme for the foreseeable future). We also know, as proved by Jonathan, that reality can similarly be altered by magical invocations, although his spell seemed to be more along the lines of the spell which created Dawn, and the attendant false memories of her past, than the wish granted by Anyanka to Cordelia, which actually altered history.

We know that death is not as final in the Buffy universe as it is in ours, as both Buffy and Angel have, in the past, 'died' and been resurrected, as, more recently, has Darla and, to a limited extent, Buffy's mother Joyce. (We can also take for granted that Buffy will fairly soon be resurrected once again in some way, since her 'death' at the end of the fifth season seems little more than a cheap and vindictive way for the WB to try to keep some of Buffy's stupider fans from realizing that she is actually simply moving over to UPN for the next two years.)

We know that souls exist, that reincarnation is apparently a valid phenomenon in at least some cases, and that there are, apparently, many different kinds of afterlife and several different Hells.

H. THE ORGANIZATIONS

Any attempt by me to list the various specific organizations apparently unique to Buffy-Earth in this Handbook is doomed to failure, at least, as far as the notion of such a list being complete and exhaustive, because I just haven't seen all the episodes, and doubtless, I won't be able to remember all the ones from the episodes I have seen. Still, I'll do what I can here.

THE WATCHERS - As far as I can figure it out, these guys are apparently a secret society of human occultists devoted in general to the accruing of supernatural power to humanity through the mastery of occult knowledge, the protection of humanity from aggression by demonic and other supernatural forces, and the general defense of the Earth, as humanity's residence and home, from incursions by demons. They specifically seem to have a hard on for vampires, and they seem to have appointed themselves as the managers of, bosses to, chroniclers of, and support apparatus for the current Slayer. Whether the Watchers had anything to do with the actual creation of the Slayer is still unknown (at least, to me).

The Watchers all, at least so far, appear to be British and, for the most part, have all to date seemed fairly ineffective at anything except doing research. At worst arrogant, pompous, violent, amoral, lawless, stupid, bullying, fascist, and incompetent, and at best reasonably useful in terms of digging out useful, obscure occult information pertinent to a specific supernatural situation or manifestation, the Watchers are, for the most part, colossal pains in the ass. Giles is obviously the best of the lot, and is generally and quite clearly a competent and formidable fighter, scholar, mentor, teacher, and even, to some limited extent, amateur mage... and for all that, his usual contribution to any battle is getting knocked unconscious in the first ten seconds. The rest of the Watchers are either comedy relief, obstacles, or active enemies, depending on the context within which they show up during any given episode.

Whether the Watchers consider themselves to be agents of the Higher Powers, as Angel for the most part thinks of himself, I don't know (although, now that I think of it, it seems doubtful, since the Higher Powers clearly regard both the Slayer and the Vampire With A Soul as their own personal earthly paladins, while the Watchers think of Angel as something vaguely annoying and unpleasant they'd happily drive a stake through if opportunity would only present itself). As a general rule, the Watchers seem to be Good Guys, which may be one of Joss Whedon's more subtle statements on the dangers of trying to apply too many black and white standards to an entirely grey world.

THE INITIATIVE - a top secret military project created by the American government to address the 'demon problem'. These guys were pretty much the backdrop for Buffy's fourth season and were never remarkably competent at anything except creating Adam, a sort of Frankenstein monster built of mingled human and demon body parts who wound up being the major bad guy for the fourth season. The Initiative represents the interesting concept that the American government knows about the presence of the supernatural on Buffy-Earth and is trying to do something about it, both in terms of studying it and actively combating it. The Initiative was dissolved after Adam attacked and nearly destroyed it at the end of the fourth season, although Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles did manage to destroy Adam. Riley was originally one of the Initiative's super soldiers who went renegade when he saw them torturing and otherwise mistreating Oz, one of Buffy's friends who happens to be a lycanthrope. The Initiative may be yet another of Whedon's subtle parables on exactly how difficult it is to actually define Good and Evil in a non-objective universe.

WOLFRAM & HART - take every 'evil lawyer' joke you've ever heard and distill them down to a black, bubbling, and bilious essence and you have this particular L.A. law firm. Recurring enemies to Angel, Wolfram & Hart seem to be composed mainly of humans on the lower levels (although they employ demons of all sorts to do various different illegal and violent jobs), but are apparently run from 'on high' (or Down Below) by mysterious Senior Partners who are either very powerful demons or some other form of evil, nefarious supernatural entity that seems to revel in evil and chaos for its own sake. Wolfram & Hart, inasmuch as they seem to have any specific agenda besides continually pissing off Angel, apparently live to corrupt as many humans as possible, encouraging and supporting wickedness and depredations large and small, among vicious individual criminals and rapacious corporations. Recent episodes of Angel have implied a connection between Wolfram & Hart and a vicious demonic priesthood that treats human beings as cattle.

THE TRIBUNAL - a plot device that showed up in the first episode of Angel's second season; apparently, they administer interdimensional duels to settle various important matters between demonic and other supernatural forces. Angel's defeat of an unnamed champion won the protection of the Tribunal for a pregnant woman and her unborn child, from the supernatural forces that were trying to kill both of them.

THE GENTLEMEN - 'storybook monsters' who had the power (through mystic devices) of stealing all the voices of everyone within a certain area, which was darned convenient for them, because their only vulnerability was that they'd be killed by the sound of a princess' scream. They all blew up real good when Buffy managed to break the box holding everyone's voice inside it and shortly thereafter shriek like a great big sissygirl. I myself want to note that the Gentlemen, for reasons never explicated, had one of the most subtly creepy groups of minions I've ever seen, an unnamed bunch of hyperactive, hunchbacked dwarves in unfastened straightjackets who endeared themselves to me forever by giving Riley a darned good thumping. In fact, the Gentlemen themselves may be the BUFFY franchise's most successful effort at creating a truly chilling monster... most likely because so much of their background and motivation was left as a complete mystery. Well, they also LOOKED really creepy.

THE KNIGHTHOOD OF BYZANTIUM - a bunch of lunatic refugees from your local Renaissance Fair who run around in the modern day wearing chainmail, riding horses, wielding swords and maces and lances and crossbows, and who seriously expect to make some kind of reasonable showing in the endless battle against the evil of the Hellgod Glory while encumbered by and accoutred in all this obsolete, archaic, and ineffectual crap. Actually, the Knighthood seemed more determined to find and destroy the Key, which of course, makes a great deal more sense given the horses and armor and medieval weaponry and such. (Right.) Without a doubt one of the weakest, dumbest, and most thoroughly surreal plot elements ever introduced into BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER; apparently, their only real purpose was to show up towards the end of the season and explain to Buffy and her friends what the Key was and why they were trying to destroy it... or so I assume, since immediately after their Grandmaster explained all that, Glory showed up and ripped them all limb from limb with her bare hands.

Exactly how the Knighthood managed to find Buffy and friends when the Scooby Gang was desperately and at random fleeing Glory in a stolen recreational vehicle, and how the Knighthood got themselves, their tons of obsolete martial gear, and all their damn horses, to that particular desert back road just in time to ambush our heroes, is something we may never know. As with the Initiative, though, the best thing about the Knighthood of Byzantium is that they're all dead.

THE SCOOBY GANG - stupid name for Buffy and her friends, a group whose membership fluctuates, but whose core members remain, to date, Buffy, Giles, Xander, and Willow, which also currently includes Willow's current girlfriend and powerful witch Tara, former vengeance demon Anya, former enemy Spike, and Buffy's brand new kid sister and former Key Dawn. Past Scooby Gang members include Angel, the Vampire With A Soul, Cordelia (currently acting as Angel's medium), Wesley (currently acting more or less as Angel's Watcher, not that Angel really has one, or that Wesley still is one, but he fills the role of the guy who does all the occult research), Oz (lycanthrope, former boyfriend to Willow, and generally the coolest of all the Scoobies past and present, if only for his dry ironic wit) and Riley, great big strong dumb shallow former Initiative soldier and ex boyfriend of Buffy's, who is hopefully by now thoroughly dead somewhere down in South America. Honorary Scooby membership should probably go to nerdy Jonathan (who briefly managed to cast a spell transforming himself into a universally adored superstar and near media deity) and, I suppose, to Faith, although she'd probably beat me up for saying so. I suppose it's very anti-pop culture of me, but I'd almost actually prefer Willow's facetiously suggested group name of "the Slayerettes".

ANGEL INVESTIGATIONS - Angel's merry crew. Includes himself, Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn. Doyle, Angel's first medium, is now (thankfully) dead.

Various vampire groups - Vampires seem to have a tendency to join goofy societies and gangs. This seems very weird to me, but nonetheless, it happens a lot on BUFFY and ANGEL. If they're not stalking around in samurai outfits worshipping a huge fat demon, they're signing up with some weird pyramid scheme/ self-help cult or running errands for the Master or I don't know what all. As a general rule, however long these groups may have been around for, they only seem to ever run into Buffy or Angel once, said encounter which these organizations do not seem to survive.

DINGOES ATE MY BABIES - Oz's one time garage band. Once described by Sunnydale High's snotty newspaper editor as 'playing their instruments as if they had plump Polish sausages taped to their fingers' (to which Oz responded, "that's fair").

I. THE CHARACTERS - The basis of all good, interesting, and entertaining fiction is now, always has been, and always will be, characterization. Our immortal tales in any medium, be it television, film, radio, comic books, or prose fiction, are always most notable and memorable for the characters that inhabit them. The Death Star blowing up wouldn't have mattered if Lucas hadn't made us care about Luke Skywalker and his group of friends; Victor Lazlo getting the letters of transit and escaping Casablanca, with or without his wife along, wouldn't have meant a damn thing to us if we didn't care about all the characters involved; nobody would ever have watched THE MUPPET SHOW if the little styrofoam creatures hadn't seemed like real and interesting people; and if the cast and characters of HILL STREET BLUES had been as consistently boring and two dimensional as those in TOMB RAIDER, that show wouldn't have run for seven seasons and been hailed universally as the greatest serial police drama of all time.

When it comes to characterization, BUFFY has it covered. Oh, sure, the internal continuity may occasionally suffer from some inconsistencies, but every regular character in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is a fully fleshed out, three dimensional, and interesting person in their own right, wonderfully written and brilliantly portrayed by an ensemble of the most talented writers and actors in the business.

Because I'm just a darned geek and you're going to have to deal with it, the following entries on each character are set up to an extent in actual RPG Player's Handbook type fashion. My fellow nerds in the audience should enjoy this, or at least, be able to tolerate it; if you don't and/or can't, and yet, somehow, claim to be a BUFFY fan (otherwise, why would you be reading this?) then... get over yourself.

The framework I'm going to use to discuss and define the various characters below is as follows:

AGE: The actual age, where known, of the character. I'll often approximate.
PHYSICALITY: In general description, not numbers. I'll use words like 'below average', 'average', 'above average', 'athletic', 'very athletic', 'Olympic level athlete', 'superhuman', etc.

APPEARANCE: This will be denoted in 'Hunk' or 'Babe' levels, with additional description as necessary. Generally on a scale of 1 to 10, with 5 being average looking, 1 being exceptionally monstrous and gross (like the Gentlemen), and 10 being damned near godlike in mortal form. A 6 to 7 is cute to very cute, so nobody reading this should get all upset if their favorite sexual fantasy on either BUFFY or ANGEL only gets a 7. If I don't judge your favorite guy the way you do, chalk it up to me being mostly straight. Beyond 7, we're getting into media star territory.

MENTALITY: No numbers, will deal with intellect, knowledge, and the capacity to use both effectively.

GENDER: Obvious

ORIENTATION: Sexual orientation, which is important in BUFFY and ANGEL so be quiet

SEXUAL HISTORY: As a general rule, I'll just use 'experienced' and 'inexperienced', with occasional modifiers when necessary

RACE: Generally, what a character is, biologically and ethnically. I'll tend to mostly use this to define whether a character is human or demon, and if so, whether they deviate substantially from those racial norms.

AFFILIATION: Any groups they belong to

MORAL ALIGNMENT: Their general moral behavior. Will generally range from 'goodie goodie' (people like Buffy and Willow, who will Never Do Wrong) to Good (Xander, Oz; more normal folk with well developed morals but who aren't nuts about it) through Neutral to Evil to extremes of Evil as noted.

CHARACTER TYPE: In as much as I can make it up. Often used for laughs.

COMBAT VALUE: Ranging from 0 - 20, with '0' being the combat value of a comatose paraplegic, and 20 being the combat value of Glory or something like the Mayor's giant snake form. 10 is around the normal human limit; beyond that, we get into supernatural creatures and other superhuman beings.
NOTES: Extensive commentary on things I find to be of interest about the characters. Will usually include any employment, extraneous skills or abilities, family connections, etc.

BUFFY SUMMERS -
AGE: Young Adult. While dead at present, Buffy was 16 when she first showed up at Sunnydale High (we assume, she had her 17th birthday party in the second season) and therefore, should have just turned 20.
PHYSICALITY: As a Slayer, Buffy has superhuman physical abilities, including strength, coordination, agility, health, endurance, resilience, and recovery from damage. She has snapped police handcuff chains that were securing her wrists behind her back, and most recently demonstrated strength substantially superior to that of Spike, a very strong vampire, when she easily manipulated a mystic troll hammer in combat that Spike could barely lift a few inches off the floor.
APPEARANCE: Babe level 10 or so (hey, it's her show.)
MENTALITY: Buffy is quick witted, resourceful, much more intelligent than she gives herself credit for, and she has an indomitable and relentless will and enormous mental resilience. As a Slayer she has a limited clairvoyant capacity that she cannot consciously control, and at least the potential for enhanced senses to help her detect the presence of Undead.
GENDER: Female ORIENTATION: Straight SEXUAL HISTORY: Experienced
RACE: Mystically Altered (Super) Human / Caucasian (WASP)
AFFILIATION: Serves the Higher Powers, works for the Watcher's Council, Slayer.
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Goodie goodie
CHARACTER TYPE: Fighter.
COMBAT VALUE: 15 - the equal of any single or small group of human or normal, competent, or expert vampire warriors. Has beaten in combat every other character roughly in her power level, like Angel, Spike, or Faith.
NOTES:
Number one with a bullet, Buffy is the current Slayer. (Well, as of this writing, she's currently and presently dead, but it seems safe to assume that she is, in fact, just resting, and will get better once her show starts up again this fall on UPN.) Buffy started out shallow and subliterate and, god knows, is still not exactly someone you'd ever expect to hear discourse eruditely on the stylistic differences between Henry James and Thomas Pynchon. (Not that I could do so myself, or would want to hear her or anyone else do so.) Nonetheless, watching Buffy's evolution from wannabe cheerleader who fought accepting her destiny as Slayer into an introspective, charismatic, and truly noble hero who is finally starting to realize her full potential as mankind's supernaturally empowered protector against evil has been one of the most fascinating aspects of the series.

Like all active Slayers, Buffy possesses various superhuman capacities, including enhanced strength, agility, speed, durability, and regeneration from injuries. The parameters of Buffy's powers seem capable of expansion to a degree not yet known, as she continues to train and gain experience in her role as humanity's protector from supernatural evil.

Buffy possesses extensive, and steadily increasing, levels of martial skills, both unarmed and in various forms of basic pre-Industrial weaponry, with an emphasis on that which is most effective against vampires (crossbows, wooden impalement weapons, and edged weapons which can decapitate). She has also picked up over the years quite a bit of supernatural lore without really seeming to be aware of it, although she still is frequently forced to resort to Giles' greater knowledge and his extensive occult library. She is also a highly skilled acrobat.

Buffy's innate nobility and heroic nature have more and more come to the fore in the past five years of her campaigns against unnatural evil, as her intrinsic ferocious loyalty to friends and family has subtly begun to evolve into a general devotion to the welfare of all innocent humans everywhere. Although Buffy constantly complained about and actively resisted her destiny as Slayer early in her career, and still occasionally evinces a wistful desire to be 'just a girl', she has more and more come to accept the duties and responsibilities of her office and as she has, has become increasingly capable with and confident of her skills and abilities as a Slayer.

One particular Slayer power apparently lost between original movie and TV series is the ability of Slayers to detect the presence of vampires through sudden stomach cramps. Perhaps Whedon felt this was too vaguely unsettling for a TV audience, but the jettisoning of this particular aspect of the Slayer's superhuman capacities is regrettable if only because without it, there seems no particular reason why the Slayer must always be female. In the first episode of the TV show, Giles stated explicitly that as a Slayer, Buffy should be able to tell when vampires are present in her proximity simply through her own superhuman perceptions... a sort of 'vampire sense', if you will... but clearly, this is a capacity Buffy didn't develop in the first season (otherwise, she would never have been surprised by the eventual revelation of Angel's true nature). If she has evolved this particular perceptual power since, we've seen no indication of it, but it's been quite some time since Buffy actually faced a serious vampire threat or enemy. (Not counting Dracula, whom I think most likely wasn't actually a vampire, regardless of what he claimed.) So, she may very well have learned simply to sense vampires and just never had cause to mention it as yet.

Buffy has demonstrated the typical Slayer ability of clairvoyant dreams on several occasions.

Buffy's romantic/sexual history prior to Sunnydale is murky. Movie-Buffy, as portrayed by Kristy Swanson, seemed pretty clearly to be sexually active with her football player boyfriend, and by the end of the film seemed to be romantically involved with the ruffianish Pike, but how much of that applies to TV-Buffy remains unclear. TV-Buffy, in the first episode, took out of her closet and briefly wore the same leather jacket Pike gave Movie-Buffie at the end of the original film, but what that specifically means I have no idea. Whatever the case, since moving to Sunnydale, TV-Buffy has been romantically/sexually involved with Angel and Riley, been the subject of an intense unrequited crush by Xander, and gone out on casual dates with a few other random guys like Owen. It should be noted that Buffy told her mother Joyce that Angel had been 'the first time', and many may, if they wish, take that as definitive. For myself, I merely note that everyone lies about sex, and you can multiply the likelihood of a 16 year old girl lying to her mother about when her first time was by any factor you care to.

Buffy's mother, Joyce, is dead (well, to be fair, so is Buffy, currently). Buffy's surviving family now consists of her estranged father (whom we have only seen briefly once, as far as I know, in a flashback that never really happened, although we also heard his voice yelling at Buffy's mom in another flashback in 'Becoming') and her younger sister Dawn, who isn't really her younger sister, but never mind that right now. If Buffy has aunts, uncles, cousins, or living grandparents, I've never heard of them.

It's worth noting that since Buffy's parents were apparently still together at the point where she first became a Vampire Slayer (as noted, again, in a flashback in "Becoming"), and her mother was clearly alone by the time they arrived in Sunnydale, Buffy may blame herself for them breaking up. (Perhaps this has been explicated in an episode I haven't yet seen.) It's also worth noting that if, indeed, Buffy's dad disappeared from the scene shortly after the first outbreak of mass vampirism that caused Buffy to be activated as a Vampire Slayer, and hasn't been seen since, but is supposedly "in Spain with his secretary", he might be scheduled to show up again sometime soon... as a vampire. It's the wannabe comic book scripter in me that loves melodrama that suspects this.

Buffy was a full time student at Sunnydale College. How she's buying groceries at this point I have no idea. (Well, I do; she's dead. How she was doing it prior to her death, but after her mother's death, remains a mystery. I suppose Joyce had life insurance, or maybe Buffy sued the ass off the hospital that let her mother go home too soon. Or maybe Giles and Buffy both have a big secret stash of gold and gems they've taken off the bodies and out of the lairs of various deceased monsters over the years. Hey, it's what fantasy roleplaying characters live off.)

Sarah Michelle Gellar has done such a superlative job portraying the nuanced and complex character of Buffy that she's managed to overcome the insane prejudice against fantasy shows that those who pass out awards have held for all eternity, and while BUFFY hasn't won anything prestigious yet, Sarah herself keeps getting nominated. This is doubtless simply because as the star, she gets the most camera time and interesting scenes; BUFFY as a show is blessed by one of the most consistently talented repertoires on television.

RUPERT GILES -
AGE: Mid-Age Adult. Giles is a healthy forty-ish.
PHYSICALITY: Above average/athletic.
APPEARANCE: Hunk level 7 (I suppose) in a mature, competent Older Man kind of way.
MENTALITY: Well and widely educated, formidably intelligent, well disciplined.
GENDER: Male ORIENTATION: Straight SEXUAL HISTORY: Experienced
RACE: Human / Caucasian (WASP)
AFFILIATION: Watcher
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Good to Neutral (able to do bad stuff to accomplish good ends)
CHARACTER TYPE: Scholar/fighter/mage/stuck up Brit
COMBAT VALUE: 6 to 8, depending on whether he's had time to equip himself, and how pissed off he is. Good against normal humans and up to competent vampires, needs rescuing or at least back up when up against a serious villain.
NOTES:
I didn't intend to list characters in the order of their appearance (and if I did, I'm stiffing Sunnydale High's first principal, but who cares), but in point of fact, I just think Giles is second only to the Slayer herself in importance in the ongoing saga. Even in the first three seasons, where apparently Giles tended to get knocked unconscious by the bad guys at least once per episode, he was still an utterly cool character: intelligent, erudite, enormously knowledgeable, coolly competent in virtually any crisis, and the absolute bulwark for Buffy and her friends without which all of them would be entirely lost. Over the last five seasons Giles has emerged as not only quite a good fighter (when he doesn't immediately get punched into oblivion) and master magical merchant, but also as an astonishingly good guitarist and vocalist (although, as he ruefully admitted to an infrequent love interest who came and went in the fourth season, he was not really a founding member of Pink Floyd). Clearly Buffy's father figure and the crusty patriarchal center of the whole Scooby Gang, the relentlessly British, eternally pompous, and ever admirable Giles is one of the mainstays of the show.

In addition to his command of occult lore and mastery of the art of fast and thorough research, Giles apparently was at one time (during his 'Ripper' period) a vampire fighter of remarkable ferocity. Giles' formidability and competence in combat has been shown only rarely, but when given the opportunity, he seems to be quite adequate in battle. Giles also, as mentioned, has a high level of skill at singing and playing the guitar, in addition to laudable musical taste.

Giles has no known living relatives I'm aware of, and has been romantically linked in the past to the late, in cuh RED ibly hot Jenny Calendar, as well as a good looking British black 'orgasm friend' whose name I can't remember, and who dropped Rupert like a hot rocket after discovering that all that pretentious crap he'd been spewing for years about the supernatural forces of evil was actually true, when she nearly got killed by the Gentlemen during a stateside visit. (What Giles was doing allowing a girlfriend to visit him on the Hellmouth I have no idea; I wouldn't encourage anyone I cared about to vacation there.) He also slept with Buffy's mother Joyce repeatedly (on one occasion) when they were under the influence of a magic spell. Few would deny that he seriously needs to have his ashes hauled again by now.

Giles used to be employed as Sunnydale High School librarian, a job which presumably ended when the school blew up real good, and has recently been reinstated as a Watcher, with retroactive salary. He also owns and operates the Magic Shop, although where he got the money to buy it, as the school was blown up and he was fired from the Watchers at that point, I have no idea. (It must be nice to be a TV character. They have huge apartments and rarely seem to have or need any discernible source of income.) (On the other hand, they occasionally come home and find the dead bodies of their romantic interests artistically arranged in their beds by Angel, so never mind.)

Anthony Stewart Head gives us a remarkable characterization every episode, and the only reason I don't wax more rhapsodic about his amazing performances as Giles is that every other member of the BUFFY ensemble is just as good.

XANDER HARRIS
AGE: Young Adult, same general age as Buffy.
PHYSICALITY: Above average/athletic.
APPEARANCE: Hunk level 6 (I suppose).
MENTALITY: Average/above average intelligence, little discipline, reliable and resourceful.
GENDER: Male ORIENTATION: Straight SEXUAL HISTORY: Experienced
RACE: Human / Caucasian
AFFILIATION: Scoobie Gang.
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Good.
CHARACTER TYPE: Thief/fighter.
COMBAT VALUE: 6 to 7. Initially a buffoon, but quickly picked up enough combat experience to be effective in many situations. Can handle most human opponents or a somewhat competent vamp. Trolls and expert vampire warriors are out of his league. Swings a mean wrecking ball.
NOTES:
- from his start as being pretty much Buffy's comical bumbling sidekick, Xander has evolved into a three dimensional character in his own right, due to a combination of BUFFY's generally superior scripts and Nicholas Brendan's always deft acting. While Xander hardly ever gets to do anything that displays actual competence on screen (at least, in the action scenes, where anyone being competent but Buffy would kind of detract from Buffy's purpose in existence), his insurmountable courage and unquestionable loyalty, as well as his geekish sensibilities and constant comic book references, endeared him to me early and often. Xander has grown slowly but surely over the five years we've been watching him, from being at the center of a rather trite and predictable unrequited love triangle in the first season (Xander had a crush on Buffy which Buffy was utterly unaware of and apathetic about, Willow had a seriously desperate crush on Xander that Xander himself was blithely unaware of) to being a staunch and invaluable friend and comrade to both Buffy and Willow, while entering into one of the most enjoyable and believable (if unlikely) romances in television with ex-vengeance demon Anya.

Despite the fact that Xander has no explicit special supernatural abilities at all, he has proven himself so thoroughly that Buffy no longer even hesitates to rely on him in dangerous situations, telling the Watcher's Council earlier this season that he was an essential part of her team. However, I think Xander does have a specific superhuman ability that no one, not even he, is aware of.

I myself posit that, although no one articulates it fully, the rest of the Scooby Gang realizes instinctively that Xander's primary attribute is, in fact, staggeringly good luck, so adding him into the mix at any given time certainly can't hurt. I mean, think about it... Xander is, if not a bumbling idiot, then certainly the surrogate Normal Guy for everyone in the audience. He is obviously written into and kept in the show at least partially as comic relief, and yet, he also hangs around with the Slayer, on top of a Hellmouth, maladroitly involving himself in supernatural conflicts and demonic warfare often on a near-apocalyptic level... and he always, somehow, survives.

While I've been pleased to see Xander being occasionally depicted as having a bit more depth than a bumbling stooge, and the successes in his personal life have met with applause here, I still must say that if he weren't the flat out luckiest human being on the face of the planet, he'd be dead forty or fifty times over by now. When was the last time Xander even got HURT in a pitched fight? Wracking my brains, I have to think it was the broken arm he suffered during "Becoming", when Drusilla and her minions raided the library to kill Kendra and put the snatch on Giles... and just the fact that Xander survived that attack at all has to go down in the 'staggeringly lucky' column. Plus, if we're going to even remotely take seriously Xander's wrecking ball strike on Glory in the Season Finale, the only explanation for it is simply phenomenal luck.

Let's remember that when the Watcher's Council asks Buffy exactly what the hell she's doing letting Xander run around having adventures with her... unlike Willow, Tara, or Anya, he brings no special powers, experience, or knowledge to the mix... Buffy can't even remotely explain it, either. She tosses off some bit of dialogue about how Xander has more field time than the Watcher's Council combined, but that's simply a factual description of a ridiculous phenomenon, not an explanation of it. Xander's survival after five years of being the Slayer's near constant companion and sidekick through hundreds of adventures and half a dozen Apocalypses can only be explained by astonishing, superhuman levels of good fortune... and that's what he brings to the Scooby Gang.

Well, that, and a lot of invaluable tactical and strategic training gained directly from reading X-MEN comics.

Actually, in one of the weirder, and frankly, more ridiculous, plot developments of the BUFFY franchise, it turns out Xander does have a great deal of useful tactical and strategic military training... all stemming from the third season Halloween episode, when an evil enchantment cast by Ethan Rain caused everyone in a specific area of Sunnydale to be transformed into whatever costume they were wearing. As Xander was dressed as a soldier, he became an archetypical combat soldier... and apparently, he remembers being that archetypical soldier, and can now draw on that training at will. It's weird and stupid, and to me seems a pretty obvious and pathetic attempt to find some way to make Xander more pragmatically useful to the gang. However, it's been demonstrated several times that he does have these skills, so it seems we're stuck with it.

Xander has also turned out to be an apparently expert carpenter, bricklayer and all around small construction contractor, and wields a mean wrecking ball. At the close of this last season, Xander proposed to his girlfriend of the last two seasons, former 'patron spirit of scorned women' Anya.

According to Anya, Xander is a 'Viking in the sack', although she may have simply been trying to build up his ego (Faith certainly didn't seem overly impressed with Xander's one time performance with her). In addition to Anya and Faith, Xander has been romantically linked in the past to Cordelia Chase (I have no idea if they slept together), at one time had a monstrous unrequited crush on Buffy, and was the subject of an equally huge and unrequited crush by Willow.

Xander's parents are apparently perpetually squabbling and reconciling lushes he doesn't care for overly. He has no siblings or other relatives I am aware of.

Xander works for a construction contractor in a supervisory position, and apparently is well thought of by his employer, and well paid.

Nicholas Brendan, I should note, is with the departure of Seth Green probably the most accomplished comedic actor in the BUFFY repertoire. While everyone in the cast has shown a remarkable penchant for doing both subtle and obvious wit and physical comedy, Xander's buffoon is the member of the retinue most consistently tasked with getting the laughs, and Brendan does an extraordinary job bringing his character to three dimensional, interesting, and entertaining life every week.

WILLOW ROSENBERG -
AGE: Young Adult, same general age as Buffy.
PHYSICALITY: Average.
APPEARANCE: Babe level 6 to standard tastes, 9 to 10 to those of us who like smart chicks or when playing her own evil twin from an alternate dimension.
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, great discipline, well educated, well developed minor psychic abilities, above average occult scholar and powerful magical practitioner.
GENDER: Female ORIENTATION: Bi (confused)
SEXUAL HISTORY: Experienced w. both genders
RACE: Mystically Altered (Super) Human (witch) / Jewish
AFFILIATION: Scoobie Gang.
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Goodie goodie.
CHARACTER TYPE: Mage.
COMBAT VALUE: 1 physically, 10 to 18 or so mystically (she'll kick your ASS, dude). The only known mortal to even mildly hurt Glory with her bare hands.
NOTES:
Willow was obviously early on conceived to be the team's computer geek, but in the second season developed a strong talent for witchcraft and magic after casting a powerful spell that, in Giles words, opened a door in her that she can't close. At this point, her powers have developed to a level where she can telekinetically manipulate small objects pretty much at will, and she was the only member of the Scooby Gang who managed to hurt Glory even slightly.

While most effective magical spells require long incantations, Willow's powers have developed to a point where she can cause the air to thicken and set up mystic barriers simply by concentrating and muttering a word.

What Willow brings to the Scooby Gang is frankly the highest level of supernatural power possessed by anyone in that particular group other than Buffy herself, and of an entirely different order. Willow is a powerful witch with vast 'natural' psychic powers and a huge potential for mastering magic who has already made enormous progress in her studies of sorcery and the various 'black' arts. As mentioned above, she has demonstrated a capacity to casually and deftly manipulate small objects with psychokinesis, even when she is not actually looking at them, and apparently, after making some sort of preparations, is capable of at least temporarily tapping into enough power to actually cause Glory pain. We've seen her create magical vipers, levitate herself and others, manifest really cool looking energy bolts from her hands that were powerful enough to make Glory scream, put up mystic barriers sufficient to hold out hordes of armed attackers, raise mystical wards around fixed locations to keep out specific sorts of supernatural creatures or to warn of the approach of such creatures, enter into the conscious and subconscious mind of a comatose person, and even perform a teleportation spell, although she collapsed for a few days afterward and ruefully admitted she had no idea where she had sent the target of the spell (Glory) to. Oh, she also got Angel's soul back for him once, right before Buffy stabbed him through the heart and booted him through a mystical limbo into Hell. (Dating Slayers is ever a rocky road.)

Willow apparently has a fairly unpleasant dark side she is normally at pains to keep well buried, even (or especially) from herself, which we have only seen evidence of in alternate versions of herself (in an altered timeline where Buffy never came to Sunnydale, a vampiric version of Willow was startlingly vicious) and this last season, when Willow finally went berserk after Glory had attacked and sucked the sanity out of her current love interest, Tara. Willow has also manifested a great deal of authority, personal strength, and natural leadership during several periods when Buffy has been unable to take charge of the Scoobies.

Willow is currently romantically/sexually involved with Tara. In the past, she has been romantically/sexually involved with Oz, and had an unrequited crush on Xander.

Willow apparently has living parents, but I've never seen either of them. She has no other relatives I know of. As with the rest of Buffy's friends, she is apparently an only child.

Willow is a full time student at Sunnydale College. I have no idea what her major is, but given the talent she displayed in taking over Sunnydale High's computer class after Jenny Calendar died, I'd imagine it's probably education.

Probably the most controversially sexually confused of all the members of the Scooby Gang, Willow spent her first season on the show pining for Xander, then hooked up with Oz for much of the second and all of the third season in what seemed to be a very fulfilling relationship for both of them, only to shock everyone (including herself) by falling in love with Tara in the fourth season, after Oz left to find a way to deal with his werewolf problem. Willow and Tara currently seem quite happy, but happy relationships never last in TV Land, and I personally have a hard time accepting that Willow is actually 'gay', given her background. However, Willow's ongoing struggles to define her own sexuality are grist for future character development, and for now, I'll just say that Alison Hannigan's portrayal of Willow is not only up to the very high par set by all the other actors on this show, it's also one of the most demurely sexy renditions of a self proclaimed female nerd/geek I've ever seen.

CORDELIA CHASE
AGE: Young Adult, same general age as Buffy.
PHYSICALITY: Average.
APPEARANCE: Babe level 9, although her personality makes her considerably less attractive to me.
MENTALITY: Average/above average intelligence, little discipline, ditzy, reliable in a crunch, has uncontrollable clairvoyance as a 'gift' from the Higher Powers.
GENDER: Female ORIENTATION: Straight SEXUAL HISTORY: Experienced
RACE: Mystically Altered (Super) Human (medium)
AFFILIATION: formerly Scoobie Gang, now Angel Investigations, serves the Higher Powers as Angel's medium.
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Neutral to Good.
CHARACTER TYPE: Medium/Ditz
COMBAT VALUE: 1. Needs rescuing. Adequate battering weapon. Can kill a really incompetent vampire if given special dispensation from God.
NOTES:
- In the beginning, Cordelia was just an annoyance, and obviously intended to be little more than a foil for Buffy and a constant reminder of the sort of shallow, silly, nasty, cruel, and egocentric girl that Buffy herself most likely would have happily been if she hadn't been forcibly deepened and evolved by her somewhat involuntary experiences as Slayer. Cordie (as everyone calls her) went through the same arduous character evolution as every other regular character on BUFFY has, and although her essentially shallow and frivolous nature resisted change and maturity better and for longer than anyone else's, still, in the end, she pretty much had to grow up at least a little.

I never liked Cordelia much, and still don't, although Charisma Carpenter is both a babe and, as far as I can tell, is pretty much as good an actress as anyone else in the ensemble (which is a very high standard to maintain). Cordelia has in the past had a romantic relationship with Xander (which ended badly) and a brief mutual infatuation with Wesley which didn't survive their first kiss (apparently, one or both of them are actually lousy kissers, judging from the looks on both their faces after they stopped).

While a regular on BUFFY, Cordie had no special powers or skills at all and was mostly just irritating, although she was frequently the catalyst for various adventures, as when her spiteful wish that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale was granted by Anyanka, the vengeance demon and patron spirit of scorned women, resulting in a truly horrific altered timeline in which Cordie herself was killed fairly early on by Undead versions of Xander and Willow, and later on, virtually everyone but Giles was killed at the hands of the Master.

Cordelia became a regular on ANGEL early on in that show's first season and, once Doyle died, apparently had his role as Angel's 'medium' passed along to her. She now gets irregular and unpredictable clairvoyant visions from the Higher Powers meant to guide Angel to the tasks he is supposed to do to 'redeem' himself, and apparently, not being even part demon, is not standing up well to the physical and psychic strain these visions are imposing on her.

From a shallow, selfish, and utterly egocentric beginning, Cordie has evolved considerably (especially since becoming "Vision Girl" for Angel) into a much more compassionate, caring, and altruistic person (although we know this mostly because Wesley tells us so, as Cordie herself rarely does much to display this). Her one-time staggering ignorance of computers has apparently given way to considerable expertise, allowing her to perform the 'cyber geek' function for Angel Investigations as well as provide him with occasional, arbitrary input from a higher plane.

Cordie has gone through a brief romance with a demon that ended up in a vastly accelerated pregnancy, which seems to have put her off men for a while, as she hasn't had any other permanent romantic relationships since. (She did recently have an infatuation with an otherworldly champion in a demon dominated dimension, but it's unlikely she'll be seeing him again soon.) In fact, bad romantic experiences (demonic and otherwise) seem to have converted the one time perpetually flirtatious boychaser into someone who is almost afraid of romance and/or sex.

She lives in an apartment haunted by a ghost named Dennis, who is apparently fond of her. Cordelia has a father and mother that I, at least, have never seen. She works for Angel Investigations, and is trying to break into the acting business. How she manages to pay her rent when Angel apparently never makes any money whatsoever off his various adventures I have no idea.

OZ -
AGE: Young Adult, one year older than Buffy.
PHYSICALITY: Average in human form, superhuman in wolf form.
APPEARANCE: Hunk level 5, but with a charm and appeal that belies his unprepossessing physicality.
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, great discipline, resourceful and reliable
GENDER: Male ORIENTATION: Straight SEXUAL HISTORY: Experienced
RACE: Mystically Altered Human (Cursed) (Lycanthrope) / Caucasian
AFFILIATION: Scoobie Gang.
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Good/rampaging creature of the night.
CHARACTER TYPE: Van driver/lycanthrope/musician
COMBAT VALUE: 3. Can handle a human opponent or an incompetent vamp, but could use back up. When wolfed up, around a 12.
NOTES:
Gone but not forgotten, the dryly ironic Oz added a certain element of intellectual class to BUFFY that hasn't really been present since the departure of Seth Green, who more than ably portrayed him for two and a quarter seasons. Hooked up in an intermittent but generally intense romantic relationship with Willow, and later cursed with lycanthropy, Oz eventually suffered the fate of all characters whose TV actors feel the beckoning of a big screen movie career, and as such, he is most likely now off sharing a limbo with Detective John Kelly, Dr. Doug Ross, Assistant District Attorney Ben Stone, and various other much missed fictional creations.

Other than his ironic wit and innate sense of class, I've never been sure exactly what Oz brought to the Scooby Gang. His lycanthropy was more an affliction than a power, and other that that, I'm not aware of any special powers or abilities he had, except some unexceptional skills as a bass player in the unexceptional garage band Dingoes Ate My Babies.

Oz was romantically and sexually linked with Willow for most of two seasons. He apparently, like the rest of the Slayer's friends and associates, has no family.

ANYA -
AGE: Around a thousand years old.
PHYSICALITY: Average.
APPEARANCE: Babe level 7, but with an interesting personality that enhances her sex appeal.
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, very knowledgeable in occult fields, reliable and resourceful, often annoyingly cheerful.
GENDER: Female ORIENTATION: Straight (as far as we know)
SEXUAL HISTORY: Experienced
RACE: Mystically Altered (Super) Human / Human (Altered Demon) (she's weird) Caucasian, apparently
AFFILIATION: Scoobie Gang, former patron spirit of scorned women.
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Neutral to good.
CHARACTER TYPE: Scholar/former demon.
COMBAT VALUE: 1, maybe 2.
NOTES:
First introduced in the exceptional second season episode "The Wish" as Anyanka, "a sort of patron spirit of scorned women", Anya became, apparently, a normal human girl at the end of the episode after her power-amulet was destroyed by Giles. (As that destruction took place in an altered timeline generated by a wish Anyanka granted for Cordelia after she broke up with Xander, I have no idea how much of it, if any, is remembered by the other characters, nearly all of whom died in the altered timeline anyway). Apparently Anya's former status as 'vengeance demon' did become reasonably widely known to the characters, as they seem to have pretty much shunned her up through the end of the third season, when she was reluctantly allowed into the ranks of the Scooby Gang after Xander discovered she had actually been present at a previous Ascension.

While Anya was generally referred to, and treated as, an ex-demon for most of the third and all the fourth season, halfway through the fifth we discovered she had once been human, and accepted the job as 'vengeance demon' for scorned women after a bad break up with her own boyfriend, whom she almost immediately turned into a troll.

Other than various weird and interesting experiences as a vengeance demon for several hundred years, Anya brings little to the Scooby Gang in the way of special skills or powers. She seems to have no discernible psychic or magical powers, isn't particularly useful in a fight (except as a potential missile weapon for larger monsters) and contributes little, other than enthusiasm, a rather unique perspective on human experience, and being a love interest/sex object for Xander.

As a nearly thousand year old ex vengeance demon, Anya has no living family we're aware of. (I have no idea where she lives when she's not sleeping with Xander, but she did recently get a job working for Giles in the Magic Shop.) Other than Xander, her only other known romantic/sexual involvement was with Olaf the Troll, who wasn't a troll at the time.

Anya may well be the most challenging character to portray on the show, and for that reason, Emma Caulfield deserves special recognition for the bizarre charm and subtle personality nuances she infuses Anya with in every episode.

ANGEL
AGE: 200+
PHYSICALITY: Vampiric (superhuman in most regards)
APPEARANCE: Hunk level 10 (he has his own show, c'mon, plus chicks love that brooding King of Pain in the flapping black coat thing)
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, great discipline, average occult scholar, artistic talent
GENDER: Male ORIENTATION: Straight vanilla / serious dom/sadist
SEXUAL HISTORY: WAY experienced
RACE: Altered (Super) Human (vampire/demon) (cursed) / Caucasian/Irish
AFFILIATION: Scoobie Gang, Angel Investigations, serves the Higher Powers when in mood.
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Goodie goodie/Embodiment of Utter Evil
CHARACTER TYPE: Fighter.
COMBAT VALUE: 14 to 15. Kicks ass, lots of ass. Has never beaten Buffy in a fight, but that's probably due to his inhibitions.
NOTES:
- This guy is complicated. Probably the biggest success story in the BUFFY crew, as he has been successfully spun off into his own series, The Vampire With A Soul is doubtless the single character through whom we have learned the most about the actual state of vampirism on Buffy-Earth, as well as what a 'soul' actually is.

Still, inconsistencies are nearly Angel's middle name. Now that I've seen several first season episodes featuring Angel, it seems fairly clear that when the character was first conceived, Whedon and crew either didn't know he was a vampire, or, if they had that in mind at the time... and there's really no indication of it... they hadn't thought through the ramifications of his having been 'alive' for hundreds of years. The Angel who cruises modern day L.A. kicking ungodly ass with a style and strength nearly the equal of any Slayer (surpassing, apparently, that of Faith, whom Angel has beaten in combat at least once now) and a truly relentless attitude is a far cry from the wimpy, annoying, rather Doylesque Angel who first showed up as a mysterious informant type back in Buffy's first episode. The Angel from early in Buffy's first season was too scared to go with her to face the Master and his minions, which is hardly consistent with Angel as he is now... and as he must have been for the last two centuries, at the very least.

In fact, Angel grew a fairly large set of cojones between the start of the first season of BTVS and the end of that season, since he went from someone who sniveled about being kicked in the back by Buffy and who was scared to confront the Master to someone who went into hand to hand combat with three ferocious vampire assassins without, apparently, a second thought when Buffy was endangered. Again, while this is readily understandable in technical terms (clearly, the character quickly outgrew the vague initial characterization planned for it by the creative team), it still makes it difficult to reconcile Angel's brief period as an annoying Peter Lorre sort with what we now know of his consistent behavior for the past two centuries.

Explaining away this rather embarrassingly reticent and ineffectual inconsistency in Angel's behavior is, however, in retrospect, not all that difficult. Obviously, he wouldn't want a newly arrived Slayer to know he was a vampire, even if the Higher Powers had made it clear he was supposed to hang around and help her in her tasks. Therefore, assuming a somewhat meeker and more generally obsequious persona would be a good way to keep her from suspecting that he was actually a fiendish nightwalking horror in the shape of a man, Angel deliberately adopted a less assertive, threatening, and competent manner than would have been normal for him. As for his refusal to help her go up against the Master, which he ascribed to fear, well, most likely, what he was afraid of was that he'd run into some of his old buddies from back when he was part of the Master's gang, and they'd blurt out, in front of the Slayer, the truth of Angel's Undead nature.

Angel was, according to what we've been told and shown, an unusually cruel, corrupt, and evil creature even by vampire standards, and thus, seems to feel that no matter how much he now tries, he can never truly achieve redemption for the many vile and vicious things he has done in his long existence. Known as Angelus in those dark days before his soul was restored, Angel first slaughtered his entire family, reveling in their terror, and then embarked on a centuries long career of torment and darkness with Darla, the vampire who had sired him, as his constant companion. Angel and Darla later created Drusilla, who later created Spike. Later, after he lost his soul again, he became a vicious, fearsome, and all but unstoppable enemy to Buffy and her friends, not only casually killing any stray human who crossed his path when he was hungry, but also deliberately murdering Jenny Calendar and contriving some of the cruelest psychological tortures for Buffy and her friends imaginable. In fact, if the various seasons of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER can be defined by one particular arch villain or threat in each season, then Angel (along with Spike and Dru) can almost be seen as the arch villain for the last half of the second season, just as the Mayor is for the third, Adam is for the fourth, and Glory is for the fifth. So pronounced was Angel's villainy during his stint without a soul in the second season that he planned to destroy the Earth, and along the way, he actually engineered the death of Kendra, a second Slayer, and personally tortured Giles.

Angel's soul was restored to him by a Gypsy curse in 1898, after which, although he tried, he could no longer bring himself to kill innocents. Leaving Darla, he traveled the world, gradually coming to be more and more tormented by conscience pangs over what he had done in his days as a soulless demon and creature of darkness. It wasn't until 1996, as a homeless, half crazy Angel was scrabbling to catch a rat in a Manhattan alley to satisfy his raging blood thirst, that he was contacted by the Higher Powers, in the form of the rather nebbishy demon Whistler. Angel was offered the chance to become something more than he was, and took it, agreeing to help the new Slayer, Buffy, in her campaigns against evil. Since then, the Higher Powers have apparently indicated he should move on and transfer his attentions at 'saving the innocent' to Los Angeles, where he lived for quite a while earlier in this century.

Angel has all the powers of a typical vampire on Buffy-Earth - superhuman strength and speed, general invincibility to most normal forms of harm (although physical trauma still causes him pain), to the extent that he recently fell from about thirty stories up onto a cement sidewalk and got up after again after being stunned for a few seconds, enhanced perceptions, limited shapeshifting (by which I mean, he can transform his facial features from Normal Human to Slant Eyed Bumpy Browed Slavering Fanged Undead Horror, a transformation that seems automatic when he gets pissed off, but that he can also apparently do at will). He is apparently a very skilled hand to hand combatant and seems to have some facility with various pre Industrial hand weapons. Presumably he speaks several languages. He is a gifted portrait artist, and during intervals when not burdened with a soul, seems to have a vicious and wicked imagination. He has no other appreciable skills I'm aware of, and no hobbies or interests besides redeeming himself by protecting the innocent and 'saving souls'. He is also afflicted with all the vulnerabilities, limitations, and supernatural attributes of a Buffy-Earth vampire. What sets him apart from all other vampires is that he has a soul, but this does not seem to give him any special abilities; in fact, it substantially limits the parameters of his behavior.

The conditions of the Gypsy curse that originally restored Angel's soul, and that was re-enacted faithfully by Willow at the end of the second season, state that Angel must be miserable and unhappy at all times to retain his soul. If he is ever truly happy, even for a second, his soul departs again, and he reverts to evil. This first happened on the night he and Buffy first slept together, and since then, Angel had avoided any sort of sexual or romantic relationship at all while in possession of his soul. However, a recent, utterly despairing liaison with his ex, Darla, showed him that just having sex isn't enough to strip his soul away, which would certainly seem to reflect well on Angel's chances for at least getting laid a bit more in his show from now on.

Oh, Angel apparently knows how to drive, but I really doubt he has a valid driver's license. He is a terrible singer and has execrable musical taste.

Many ancient prophecies seem to be referring to Angel when they speak of The Vampire With A Soul, a sort of Earthly champion and paladin of the Higher Powers, which would seem to indicate that there is more behind the restoration of Angel's higher spiritual values than a simple Gypsy curse.

Angel has been romantically/sexually involved, to the best of my knowledge, with Darla, Drusilla, and Buffy. He mentioned, at one point, that he had known 'dozens of bad girls... hundreds'... but other than Darla and Drusilla, I have no clue who he could be referring to.

Angel appears to have bonded reasonably well with Wesley and Gunn, even after the difficult time of last season when he fired his entire support staff in order to keep them from being drawn into his obsessive and deliberately ruthless hunt for Darla and Drusilla. He has also managed to build a friendship with Cordelia, and rebuild it again after that same difficult period, but given that Cordelia has extensive experience with Angel in his evil persona, I myself would have expected her to be rather less accepting of Angel in the first place and consistently.

Angel is, as far as I know, an unlicensed private investigator, owner and operator of Angel Investigations (which I doubt has a legitimate business license) and owner or lessor (it's now unclear which) of the old former hotel he lives and operates the business out of. What he does for money I have no idea, as Angel Investigations rarely seems to collect even on the few invoices they actually submit to clients. Angel might have some large stash of illicit cash or other wealth laying around somewhere, but if so, Cordelia doesn't seem to be aware of it, as she has often complained about the company being on the verge of insolvency.

Angel has no known family I'm aware of, which only makes sense, given that he's almost three hundred years old, and he killed his entire family himself back in the 18th Century.

In my opinion, David Boreanaz does an absolutely astonishing job portraying this character, who has, over the course of both shows, run the gauntlet from extremes of evil to extremes of nobility and most subtle shades in between. In fact, Boreanaz is such a good actor, and Angel is such a fascinating character, that I'm actually willing to forgive him for being so goddam good looking.

WESLEY WYNDHAM-PRICE -
AGE: Adult, probably mid to late 20s
PHYSICALITY: Above average/athletic.
APPEARANCE: Hunk level 6 or 7, depending on if you like guys in glasses who talk like a ponce.
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, well educated, above average occult scholar.
GENDER: Male ORIENTATION: Straight, as far as we know SEXUAL HISTORY: Experienced
RACE: Human / Caucasian (WASP)
AFFILIATION: former Watcher, now with Angel Investigations
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Goodie goodie.
CHARACTER TYPE: Scholar/fighter
COMBAT VALUE: 5 - 6 Can handle a human opponent or an incompetent vamp. With help and weapons, can handle big nasty demons.
NOTES:
Originally assigned as a new Watcher for Faith and Buffy after Giles was discharged (I haven't seen that ep yet, so I'm just going on what I've been told), Wesley started out as pretty much little more than comedy relief and a recurring annoyance to Giles, Buffy, and the Scooby Gang. Over time, Wesley has shaped up considerably and proven his worth, as a friend, an occult scholar, and even as a monster fighter. Along with Cordelia, he transferred over from BUFFY to ANGEL about halfway through Angel's first season, after it was decided to get rid of the amazingly obnoxious Doyle.

Wesley is British and, as indicated above, is a moderately competent occult scholar and hand to hand combatant against various demons and monsters. He seems to have the usual Watcher training with pre Industrial hand weapons. He can't sing, and his musical tastes are unknown. He has no known hobbies. He seems reasonably tough for an unenhanced human, as he has to date recovered fully from many injuries requiring hospitalization, including being trampled in a mob melee, being systematically tortured by Faith, and being shot by a zombie police officer.

He and Cordelia once had a huge mutual attraction to each other that they both seem to be quite over. He has been romantically involved with some chick whose name I can't remember, but who was played by the utterly yummy Brigid Walsh, formerly of KINDRED, and who dumped him several episodes back after he got shot by a zombie police officer and nearly died.

Wesley may have some issues with his own sexuality, as he reacts rather violently to being called a ponce.

Wesley apparently has a living father, in England, whose approval he craves but seems unable to attain.

Wesley is currently employed as the nominal acting manager and leader of Angel Investigations.

I can't remember the name of the actor who plays Wesley right now, but he's got a very deft touch for comedy and has done a good job of showing Wesley gradually evolving from his original status as little more than a shallow and annoying cliché to being a full blown, three dimensional, and interesting character in his own right.

RILEY FINN
AGE: Young Adult, a few years older than Buffy.
PHYSICALITY: Naturally an Olympic level athlete, briefly superhuman
APPEARANCE: Hunk level 8 to 9, unless you like your guys intelligent.
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, good physical discipline, well educated
GENDER: Male ORIENTATION: Straight, but kinky (likes vampiric sex)
SEXUAL HISTORY: Experienced
RACE: Technologically Altered (Super) Human / Human - Caucasian
AFFILIATION: Scoobie Gang, the Initiative
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Goodie goodie.
CHARACTER TYPE: Fighter
COMBAT VALUE: 13/9 When superhuman, Riley was formidable against most creatures. At human level, he's still extremely effective as long as he's appropriately armed.
NOTES:
- Big, burly, relentlessly non-intellectual, and generally a doofus, Riley is a former U.S. Army Special Forces trooper once assigned to The Initiative. Apparently subjected to covert superhuman conditioning treatments by the Initiative's brilliant but insane head scientist, Maggie Walsh, Riley for a time period had superhuman levels of strength, coordination, and pain resistance, although his strength was disproportional to the actual toughness of his unenhanced human body.

Riley became and remained romantically and sexually involved with Buffy from early in the fourth season to early in the fifth. Never being overwhelmingly bright, he became dissatisfied with nothing but sex sex constant SEX with a drop dead gorgeous supernaturally powerful cutie who looked exactly like Sarah Michelle Gellar, embarked briefly on a self destructive career as a willing feedbag for vampire hos, and when that didn't kill him fast enough, rejoined the surviving remnants of former Initiative troopers and went traipsing off to Central America to fight demon hordes.

Riley was not without admirable characteristics, including his remarkably straightforward method for dealing with nests of vampires (he blew up their sheltering crypt with hand grenades during broad daylight) and his penchant for torturing Spike by stabbing him in the heart with a plastic stake over and over again. However, Riley's finest hour (in my eyes) came when he picked a fight with Angel and got his camouflage-clad fascist gun-totin' ass kicked all over the Sunnydale College campus.

Riley was a formidably skilled military Special Forces soldier, specifically trained in fighting various types of demons and supernatural creatures, who also worked as a Teacher's Assistant in a freshman psychology course. His interests and hobbies were all manly stuff like basketball, beer drinking, beating up monsters, and banging Buffy. He eventually left the Initiative after they captured and tortured Oz during one of Oz's lycanthropic phases, trashing his military career by attempting to rescue the beleaguered Scooby. He generally demonstrated initiative, resourcefulness, and a certain cold intelligence in combat situations, making efficient use of his equipment, weaponry and surroundings, as when he took out a cybenetically enhanced Initiative soldier by tricking him into blowing up a leaking oxygen tank he was standing underneath.

Riley has no known family, and his only known romantic or sexual liaison to date has been with Buffy, unless you count being willingly bitten by various vampire hos.

Riley is currently off in Central America somewhere beating up demons with what remains of the US military's response to demonic aggression. Or he could be dead, if I'm really lucky this week.

Mark Blucas seemed to do a pretty good job depicting Riley, and I suppose it's not his fault I utterly detested the character.

TARA -
AGE: Young Adult, same general age as Buffy.
PHYSICALITY: Average.
APPEARANCE: Babe level 6
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence and discipline, well educated, well developed minor psychic abilities, above average occult scholar and powerful magical practitioner, little self esteem
GENDER: Female ORIENTATION: Gay, apparently SEXUAL HISTORY: Experienced
RACE: Apparent Human, or possible Mental Artifact / Caucasian, Hillbilly
AFFILIATION: Scoobie Gang.
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Goodie goodie, apparently.
CHARACTER TYPE: Mage.
COMBAT VALUE: 1. Should be more formidable mystically but lacks confidence and is easily flustered.
NOTES:
Originally introduced as the only member of the campus Wiccan society besides Willow with real power, Tara seemed to be on the verge of being defined as having at least some demon blood before Whedon & Co. decided to simply make her a gifted human witch.

Apparently not quite as powerful as Willow, Tara still seems to be a fairly accomplished and knowledgeable mystic in her own right.

If Tara has any particular skills or abilities outside witchcraft and magic, we haven't seen them yet, or I'm forgetting them. She has proven herself to be loyal, courageous, and reliable in combat situations, but not particularly adept at combat itself. So far, the most impressive things she has ever done have been casting a spell to blind the entire Scooby Gang to the presence of demons, and helping Willow teleport Glory away to some random location.

Tara is singular, and perhaps unique, among Buffy's friends and associates in that she actually has not only a living parent, but also a sibling (a brother) and at least one cousin (female, and darned cute, too). Apparently, the males in her family have controlled the females for years by spreading the false rumor that the women are tainted with demon blood (the genetics of that boggle the mind) and need to be sheltered and protected by their male kin.

Tara is currently romantically and apparently sexually involved with Willow, although the peculiarities of our culture have kept the producers of the show from making the relationship as explicit as any normal heterosexual relationship could be depicted. For example, Buffy and Riley were frequently shown sharing a bed and even depicted engaging in sexual behavior; similar displays are apparently utterly verboten for a same gender couple. In fact, rumor has it that Willow and Tara's one and only clearly sexual kiss to date (both of them were fully clothed and nowhere near a bed at the time) was only televised after heated protest from the network. Such is the world we live in.

Other than her friendship with Willow, Tara has not seemed to bond well with the various other members of the Scooby Gang except for Dawn, whom she seems to get along well with. Buffy's declaration that the Scoobies were Tara's 'family', while facing down Tara's real family who wanted to take her back home and put her to work cookin' and cleanin', came as rather a surprise to me. Still, everyone seems happy to have her around, although Oz probably doesn't like her much (wherever he currently is).

Tara, apparently, is a full time student at Sunnydale College, although what she does for money now that her family is pissed off at her I have no idea.

It's worth noting that Tara's belief, taught her by her family, that she was at least part demon, was only dispelled through the crude mechanism of Spike smacking her a good one in the nose and getting a jolt from the chip in his head when he did it. This was taken as evidence that Tara was human ('there's no demon in there', as Spike put it) because while Spike can't attack humans without causing himself severe pain, he can attack demons all he wants (and enjoys doing so). To my mind, this doesn't prove anything, since I'm of the opinion that Spike's chip somehow detects the presence of a soul, and punishes him with pain if he attacks anyone who has one. Since Doyle was one quarter demon and still, presumably, had a soul (he certainly had a conscience), the presence of a soul does not preclude a certain percentage of demonic DNA. Therefore (at least if my hypothesis is correct about the chip's function) Tara could still be part demon.

There is a distressingly plausible theory in some fan circles that Tara may not actually be 'real', but may, in fact, merely be a three dimensional, solid, independently operating 'imaginary friend' come up with by Willow at her most desperately lonely after being left flat by Oz. While this theory had the wind taken out of it a bit by the episode in which Tara's family showed up, I myself must note that if Willow's subconscious was capable of cooking up Tara in the first place, it should be perfectly capable of cooking up supporting characters. Glory, upon tasting Tara's blood, pronounced her just a normal human, and then brain sucked her for cohesive mental energy just like she would any other human being who came into her grasp, and all of that would seem to indicate Tara is real, not just some imaginary energy construct... but there are simply too many indicators otherwise to be readily ignored.

For one thing, Tara first showed up after an episode in which Willow briefly gained the power to have everything she stated out loud come true. For another, Tara has never, to date, demonstrated any abilities that Willow herself does not have. Buffy's declaration that the Scoobies were Tara's 'family' seemed rather weirded out to me, and if the Slayer were momentarily befuddled by a subconscious enchantment cast by Willow, well, that would make a lot more sense. When Willow tried to move a soda machine across a room psychokinetically to block a door (she and Tara were hiding from the Gentlemen), Tara joined hands with her and the two of them together did it easily... which could simply indicate that they united their powers... but could also indicate that Willow put some of her own power into Tara when she created her, and momentarily needed to take it back. Early on, Tara remarked to Willow "I am, you know... yours", which, again, could simply be a declaration of devotion, but could also be something more. It's also odd that Willow could reverse what Glory did with Tara, but not with any of Glory's other victims, apparently. Last but not least, Willow doesn't think that she, herself, is very attractive; if she were going to create a playmate out of her own essence, and we assume for some reason she'd make that playmate female, it's likely she'd create someone like Tara... bigger, sturdier, and more voluptuous.

All of this may mean nothing, it may mean that Whedon had intended one thing with Tara but has since changed his mind... or the hypothesis could be valid. We'll have to wait and see.

Amber Benson does an excellent job depicting Tara from week to week, although it's hard for me to judge just how good an actress she is, because I don't find Tara, so far, to be a particularly well developed, detailed, or nuanced character. However, she showed an unexpected flair for depicting a loonie over the couple of episodes that Tara spent in a whacked out state after being mind-sucked by Glory, and I've generally enjoyed her work on the series.

SPIKE -
AGE: 100+
PHYSICALITY: Vampiric (superhuman in most regards)
APPEARANCE: Hunk level 7
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, poor discipline, widely experienced, little formal education, some composing and poetic skills
GENDER: Male ORIENTATION: Straight SEXUAL HISTORY: Experienced
RACE: Mystically Altered (Super) Human (vampire/demon)/
Technologically altered Demon / Caucasian (WASP)
AFFILIATION: minion of the Master, now Scoobie Gang, kind of
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Evil to neutral.
CHARACTER TYPE: Fighter.
COMBAT VALUE: 13 against creatures without souls, 0 against creatures with souls. Has killed two Slayers in the past in unarmed combat.
NOTES:
We've seen Spike over the past season show signs of loneliness, of wanting to make friends with the Slayer and her Scooby Gang, of yearning for social and even family ties. All of this is understandable within the context of, again, a creative mandate to make the character of Spike more sympathetic and likeable, and it's also evidence that a vampire is not a demonic entity in a transformed human body, but is, in fact, the same person as before, just mystically altered and without the influence of a soul. Under the influence of his brain chip, which I've hypothesized elsewhere is actually starting to act somewhat as a 'synthetic soul', Spike's more socially oriented human emotions are starting to return... much to his disgust.

At this point, I can't be certain whether Spike's 'evolution' as a character actually reflects some sort of valid plot point, or if it's simply coming out of a desire, perhaps on the part of Marsters, or the scripters, to make Spike a more sympathetic and interesting character. I suppose it could indicate that the Initiative's behavior modification chip was simply more sophisticated than they anticipated, or has, over the past two years, had an evolving and interactive effect on Spike's brain chemistry, to the point where Spike has started to undergo a fundamental change, as if he actually had a soul. In other words, Dawn's flippant "Spike has a chip, same thing" may be closer to the mark than we think, and the Initiative may have inadvertently stumbled on a method for not simply providing aggression-inhibition through brain implants, but for the creation of an actual synthetic 'soul'.

Leaving aside all the fascinating metaphysical implications of Spike's evolution over the past two seasons, what Spike brings to the Scooby Gang (and no matter how hard they try to get rid of him, they do seem to inevitably end up stuck with him, and there were even signs of some vague bonding between him and a few other members in the Season Finale) is, well, vampire powers. Willow and Tara are the resident witches/mages, Giles is the researcher emeritus, Xander brings superhuman luck, Anya has several centuries of accrued and unique demon experience to draw on, and Buffy is the muscle... so Spike is, well, more muscle... with a rather surlier attitude than Angel ever provided.

Spike was, according to several flashback episodes this last season, originally a romance besotted and mostly inept poet in Victorian England. Apparently he was converted to vampirism on a whim by the ever-whimsical Drusilla, to be used as an eternal boy-toy, and as such, made up a vampiric foursome with Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla for a reasonably lengthy period of time... said association which was apparently ended when Angelus was cursed by the Gypsies with the return of his soul. Spike has had an on and off relationship with the recently vampirized Harmony, although Harmony's cameo on ANGEL recently indicates that that relationship seems to be over.

Spike is also distinguished as being the only vampire who has ever killed two Slayers.

(Given that Spike is decidedly Anglo-Saxon/Aryan in appearance, and the Slayers he killed were Chinese and African-American, respectively, one could almost take this as being racially offensive, if one were oversensitive and inclined to look for slights like that. Normally, being about as white a male as one can be without actual membership in a militia, I'm not inclined to look into stuff like that... but I have to say that lately, the vestigial twinges of kneejerk liberal in me have been more and more plucked by the relentlessly Caucasian make up of BUFFY's cast. Buffy is white, all her friends are white, all the recurring characters are white, even the enemy vampires are all white. The only time non-white human characters show up is in roles obviously intended to be non-recurring. Yes, I salute the casting director for making Giles' intermittent British fourth season girlfriend black, and yes, I think it was nice to see that Slayers aren't always WASP girls. However, the fact remains, all the non-white Slayers we've seen to date have died; the two surviving Slayers are both white, and so, too, are all the steadily recurring characters in BUFFY who are portrayed in a consistently positive fashion. If BUFFY is going to add any new characters in its next season, the producers should really think hard about casting someone non-white. Here Endeth The Lecture.)

Spike's characterization over the past two seasons also has provided the series with one of its most fascinating running moral subtexts, but we'll get to that later.

James Marsters clearly has a huge amount of fun playing Spike every episode, he does it well, and his enthusiasm is infectious. I personally hope Spike sticks around for a long time to come.

DAWN
AGE: Teenager (14) in appearance/less than a year as a human actually, uncounted epochs old as The Key.
PHYSICALITY: Average.
APPEARANCE: Let's wait until she's legal before we start oinking, but generally aesthetically pleasing.
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, poor discipline, extraordinary psychological resilience.
GENDER: Female ORIENTATION: Unknown, probably straight
SEXUAL HISTORY: Inexperienced
RACE: Mental Artifact (Human in function) / Energy being / Caucasian (WASP)
AFFILIATION: Scoobie Gang
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Neutral to good
CHARACTER TYPE: Hostage/plot device
COMBAT VALUE: 1.
NOTES:
- Buffy's little sister... kind of.

As all faithful Buffy fans know, Buffy, like the vast majority of her friends and associates, was an only child for her pilot movie and the first four seasons of the show. Not the slightest hint nor merest casual mention had ever been made by Buffy or her mom of a little sister named Dawn, or, really, anything else having to do with their family, other than an absent father/former husband who seemed to be perpetually off in Spain with one of his secretaries.

While lesser creative luminaries, faced with a sudden impulse to abruptly shove a cute 14 year old adolescent chiclet into the midst of a successful TV franchise in order to, hopefully, enhance the show's appeal to a slightly younger and more feminine market share, might well have simply inserted a previously unmentioned kid sister who had been living for years with Buffy's estranged dad and just expect us to get over it, Whedon & Crew were not so complacent. Instead of just patching the new addition in with a few emotionally obtrusive flashbacks establishing that Ross had always had a crush on Rachel despite the fact that when she first showed up he gave every appearance of having no memory of her whatsoever, the creators behind the madness that is BUFFY gave us a fifth season opener in which Buffy was, clearly, and as usual, still an only child, and her mom, clearly and as usual, knew this... and then, in the very last minute of the ep, showed Buffy walking into a room, seeing this little stranger standing there, going "What are YOU doing in here?"... at which point, Joyce called out, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, "Oh, and Buffy, could you take your little sister with you?"... and Buffy and the interloper both, simultaneously, put their hands on their hips, turned towards Joyce, and protested stridently in unison, "MOM!!!"

It was, I must admit and you must concur, brilliant.

As we eventually found out, Dawn was, in fact, The Key, a mysterious mystical artifact composed entirely of shimmering emerald energy from the dawn of Time that an equally enigmatic (but powerful) entity named (at first) the Beast, and later, Glory, was stomping her way through ancient monasteries and torturing lots of people in order to get. At the last second, as Glory had tracked them down, a few surviving monks had hidden the Key... somewhere... and it later turned out, what they'd done was, they had transformed the Key into a fourteen year old girl and, with the same sort of powerful reality transforming spell as Jonathan has previously used to convince everyone he was Rilly Kewl, they had caused everyone concerned to 'remember' the existence of a 14 year old girl named Dawn Summers, daughter to Joyce, younger sister to Buffy, and to feel appropriate emotions for this Little Girl Who Was Not There... all of this, to keep Glory from ever finding The Key, and if somehow she did, to make sure that the most powerful human champion in existence at that time would defend The Key to the death.

Recent revelations, apparently yanked out of his ass at the last minute by Whedon to justify a completely insane sacrifice on the part of Buffy in the WB Series Finale, that Dawn is somehow "made out of" Buffy, would seem to indicate that Dawn should at the very least be a potential Slayer... but how much of this contrived plot fulcrum nonsense Whedon will remember or validate once the series moves to UPN and Buffy somehow comes back to life remains to be seen. While Dawn is in reality an energy construct called the Key, this has so far not allowed her to display any superhuman powers or abilities. To date, she has merely been a normal 14 year old girl, with apparently normal 14 year old girl interests, like boy bands, cute guys her age at school, witchcraft, (well, that's normal, given who she hangs out with), and annoying her older sister nearly all the time. She has no apparent useful skills or abilities, other than plucky courage, an inquisitive mind, and an enormous amount of inherent intransigence. (That last big word means she's obstinate like ze mule.)

Dawn, as noted, is to all intents and purposes Buffy's younger sister. Her mother is currently dead, as is, for that matter, Buffy. She has an estranged father, supposedly in Spain with his secretary, who didn't bother to show up for Joyce's funeral, or even call Buffy back after she tried to get in touch with him. Whether he'll show up now that both Joyce and Buffy are (however temporarily in either case) dead, remains to be seen.

Being a 14 year old girl (and sometime energy entity from the dawn of time), Dawn has no job. What she'll do for money, food, and a place to stay now that both her mother and older sister are dead, as with so many other things, remains to be seen.

Dawn has to date had no romantic or sexual involvements, (something for which I'm more grateful than not, c'mon, she's FOURTEEN) although she at one time at least acknowledged a significant crush on Xander. She seems to be the only member of the Scooby Gang other than Willow who has bonded to any extent with Tara, and she has also apparently inspired protective feelings in Spike, of all people.

Michelle Trachtenberg has done an astonishing job of depicting Dawn as a perfectly normal 14 year old girl facing up to unbelievable levels of stress with a singular, and yet, entirely credible, amount of strength and courage. Dawn clearly relied deeply on her mother and sister and came very near to breaking down upon her discovery of her true origin and nature, and came very close again upon the death of her mother.

GUNN
AGE: Young Adult
PHYSICALITY: Superior Athletic
APPEARANCE: Hunk level 8
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, good discipline, street smart, reliable and resourceful, tough minded.
GENDER: Male ORIENTATION: Apparently straight
SEXUAL HISTORY: Unknown
RACE: Human - African-American (urban)
AFFILIATION: Angel Investigations
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Good
CHARACTER TYPE: Fighter.
COMBAT VALUE: 8

NOTES:
- Notable for the most part only in that he is the first non-white regular character to appear on either of the BUFFY franchise shows, Gunn is a fairly generic urban African-American street wise gangleader type. Gunn originally appeared in ANGEL as the leader of a tightly organized gang of homeless juveniles protecting their 'turf' (generally, the abandoned, condemned slum buildings they lived in) from incursions by urban vampires and demons. After initially battling Angel, he later became persuaded help Angel on several cases and finally joined Angel Investigations full time.

Gunn is a very competent fighter with no known superhuman abilities. He has extensive street contacts in the various slum sections of Los Angeles, which has to date provided his primary usefulness to Angel Investigations. We have not to date been made aware of any past romantic or sexual relationships he may have had, and he does not at present seem to be involved in any. He at one time had a younger sister he was forced to destroy after she was transformed into a vampire.

I suppose the actor playing Gunn does a good job, but honestly, he doesn't seem to have much to work with.

FAITH
AGE: Young Adult
PHYSICALITY: Superhuman (Slayer)
APPEARANCE: Babe level 10 (Shut up, she is)
MENTALITY: Average intelligence, lousy discipline, street smart, resourceful but erratic, emotionally vulnerable. Most likely has the Slayer mental powers of limited clairvoyance and the potential for enhanced perceptions, but I haven't seen her demonstrate them.
GENDER: Female
ORIENTATION: Apparently straight, but keeps asking Buffy to give her a kiss, so...?
SEXUAL HISTORY: Apparently vastly experienced with guys.
RACE: Mystically Altered (Super) Human - Caucasian (WASP)
AFFILIATION: Some women's prison, formerly worked for the Watcher's Council as Slayer
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Evil to neutral, seeking redemption.
CHARACTER TYPE: Fighter.
COMBAT VALUE: 13. Has been beaten by Buffy in unarmed combat.
NOTES:
- While Faith, like Oz, seems unlikely to ever turn up again in either show (Eliza Dushku apparently preferring to concentrate on a busy movie career), she was certainly an important enough character to be worth her own entry here.

I myself have not yet seen the episode where Faith first shows up. I had gathered that apparently, Faith was the next Slayer after Buffy's first death, although I've since learned that in fact, there was another Slayer in there named Kendra who didn't last long, and who is now remembered primarily for having named her favorite stake Mr. Pointy.

For a time, Buffy and Faith acted as a team under the aegis of new Watcher Wesley. However, Faith's darker, less inhibited, and more anti-social nature eventually led to her accidentally killing a human she mistook for a vampire, and after that act, she threw herself headlong into darkness and corruption, committing at least one more cold blooded murder while working for the Mayor and aiding and abetting him in his Ascension.

Beaten and stabbed by Buffy in an effort to obtain Faith's blood to cure Angel of a mystic poison Faith herself had inflicted on him with a bowshot from ambush, Faith wound up in a coma for eight months. Upon finally awakening and finding the Mayor long dead, Faith used a mystic artifact he had left behind for her to exchange bodies with Buffy. At this point she apparently attempted to redeem herself somewhat by fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of a Slayer, but she was foiled when Buffy magically re-transposed their minds. Faith then fled to Los Angeles where she was found and hired by Wolfram & Hart to kill Angel. After capturing and torturing Wesley almost to death, Faith was fought to a standstill by Angel and finally collapsed, crying "I'm bad! Kill me! I'm bad! Kill me!" With Angel's help, she eventually sought redemption by surrendering to the police and confessing to her crimes. When last seen, Faith seemed to be somewhat at peace, in a maximum security prison for women somewhere in the Los Angeles area.

As a Slayer, Faith has superhuman strength, coordination, resistance to damage, and healing capacity. She has not had the same amount of extensive training with pre-Industrial hand weapons, acrobatics, or martial arts as Buffy, but is nevertheless formidable in combat with natural and supernatural enemies. She seems to have a specific fondness for and natural skill with knives and the compound bow. In the past, she has been defeated by Buffy in combat when both were fighting each other with no holds barred and lethal intent, and also by Angel in combat, although in that case it seems like she was merely fighting in order to provoke him to kill her. She has a tendency to be overconfident.

Other than in Slayer related areas, Faith has displayed no particular useful skills or abilities. Her employment of various fetish terms and general attitudes would seem to indicate a fairly extensive and varied sexual background, which may be the closest thing she has to a hobby. She likes loud music, dancing, and has been known to read comic books.

Faith has mentioned an alcoholic mother that I have no idea of the current whereabouts of. Apparently, she was mostly raised in foster care. While working briefly for the demonic and malevolent but ever cheerful Mayor, she formed an apparently sincere father-daughter bond with him. She has in the past displayed a tendency to be casually promiscuous with any reasonably attractive male who happens to be handy when she's in the mood, and one of her casual sexual liaisons was with Xander. She was, at one time, close friends with Buffy, and has apparently bonded to a certain extent with Angel over their mutual desire for redemption.

What is there to say about Eliza Dushku that hasn't been said already forty or fifty other places? Having seen her portray a letter perfect Buffy (during the period when Buffy and Faith had switched bodies) right down to the different physical mannerisms and body language, I'm aware she's as good an actress as anyone else in the generally excellent BUFFY ensemble, and she's also, obviously, utterly hot. While I can't wish her anything bad in her career, I can only say that if she ever wants to do a regular TV show, a FAITH spin off would be more than welcome here. Maybe they could boot her through time into some dark, ROAD WARRIOR meets I AM LEGEND type future in order to keep it from being too much like BUFFY. Hell, I'd watch it if they set it on SESAME STREET.

HARMONY
AGE: Young adult
PHYSICALITY: Vampiric
APPEARANCE: Babe level 8
MENTALITY: average intelligence, no discipline, ditzy, generally clueless
GENDER: Female ORIENTATION: Apparently straight
SEXUAL HISTORY: Experienced
RACE: Mystically Altered (Super) Human (vampire/demon) / Caucasian
AFFILIATION: none at present
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Neutral to evil.
CHARACTER TYPE: Blonde.
COMBAT VALUE: 3, all from vampiric powers, as she's a ditz and a klutz.
NOTES:
- portrayed by the generally delectable Mercedes McNab, the character of Harmony started out as a satellite and sycophant of Cordelia, with all the self absorbed, clique/cool oriented cruelty one would expect. A relatively minor recurring character in BUFFY's first three seasons, she showed up as a vampire early on in the fourth season, after we had last seen her being fanged from behind by a bloodsucker in the big mass melee accompanying the 1999 Sunnydale High graduation and the Mayor's abortive Ascension.

Harmony is also strong evidence for my hypothesis that a vampire is not a separate demonic entity inhabiting a dead transformed human body, but is actually the same person as before, necromantically transformed and without the influence of a soul. While Harmony seems without conscience or higher moral judgement powers, her personality seems mostly unchanged, in that she still seeks validation through the approval and affection of others, and is generally a follower looking for an authority figure, although she did try, disastrously, to lead a pack of even more charisma and intellect challenged vamps against Buffy once. She has continued to see what she thinks of as 'friendship' (validation through the acceptance, approval, and affection of others) as a vampire, as her insecurity is clearly her driving character trait.

When last we saw Harmony, Cordelia had told her to get the hell out of L.A., because next time she saw her, she was going to stake her.

Harmony has been sexually involved with Spike, after both of them were vampires. She appears, at this point, to have no real friends or family. She seems to have normal vampiric powers, but has generally been incompetent and scatter brained.

DARLA
AGE: 300+
PHYSICALITY: Vampiric
APPEARANCE: Babe level 9 - 10
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, good discipline, vastly experienced, resourceful and cunning, extraordinarily gifted at manipulating men
GENDER: Female ORIENTATION: Apparently straight, but who knows what she and Dru get up to when bored
SEXUAL HISTORY: Vastly experienced
RACE: Mystically Altered (super) human (vampire/demon) - Caucasian (WASP)
AFFILIATION: none at present, former minion of the Master
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Deeply evil.
CHARACTER TYPE: Villainess/psychobitch/hellslut.
COMBAT VALUE: While Darla generally doesn't like to fight, she seems to have a CV of around 9 or 10 when she's pushed to personal violence.
NOTES:
- continuing the BUFFY tradition for being an utter babefest, we come next to the totally and utterly hot Darla, who has only gotten even more doable since she gave up that stupid Catholic schoolgirl's outfit she used to wear back in the first season, before Angel originally staked her.

Darla is a very old vampire. Dying of a syphilitic cardiac infection back in the 17th Century, Darla was visited and turned to vampirism by the Master. A century or so later, she met a drunken Angel in the streets of Ireland and, apparently smitten with him, turned him to vampirism as well. Angel later converted Drusilla, who converted Spike.

As mentioned, Darla was staked by Angel early in the first season, when she was threatening Buffy with a pair of loaded .45s. At the end of the the first season of Angel's own show, he failed to prevent Wolfram & Hart from resurrecting some 'great evil'... which turned out to be Darla. As it later turned out, they had resurrected Darla as human. At first she sought out Angel to ask him to turn her back into a vampire. He refused and in fact worked to redeem her soul and get her to morally reform, a goal he had just achieved when both learned that the original syphilitic heart condition was going to kill her within a few weeks. The two of them had fallen in love again, knowing that they would only have a few weeks together before Darla died the true death, when Wolfram & Hart brought in Drusilla to convert Darla to vampirism again. Her soul once more gone and her vampiric nature restored, Darla has once more become an implacable foe to Angel, although she did take time out to have some wild sex with him late in his second season, under the assumption that this would, as it had with Buffy, cause him to lose his soul and revert to Angelus.

Darla has been referred to as a very powerful vampire, although she doesn't seem to have any of Drusilla's innate psychic powers. She is implacable, utterly amoral, and seems to revel in cruelty for cruelty's sake, not only cutting a bloody swathe through downtown L.A. alongside Drusilla after being revived, but also crashing a wine tasting Holland Manners was giving for several Wolfram & Hart lawyers and slaughtering everyone there, with the exception of Lindsay and his partner Lilah. A few episodes later an unusually ruthless Angel lured Darla and Drusilla into an ambush and set them both on fire, a trauma she barely survived and which took her several weeks to recover from. When last we saw her, she'd been warned by Angel that the next time he saw her, he'd kill her.

Darla is a favorite disciple of the Master and former longtime associate of Angel, Drusilla, and Spike. Her current whereabouts are unknown.

Julie Benz, in addition to being the hottest blond in the BUFFY franchise besides Sarah Michelle herself, is also an extraordinary actress, bringing this particularly complex and demanding character to exquisitely three dimensional and terrifying life with each opportunity she's given.

DRUSILLA
AGE: 100+
PHYSICALITY: Vampiric
APPEARANCE: Babe level 6 (hey, I don't like her, sue me)
MENTALITY: Whacked out, with powerful clairvoyance and some well developed telepathic capacities.
GENDER: Female ORIENTATION: Apparently straight, but again, who knows what she and Darla have gotten up to over the centuries?
SEXUAL HISTORY: Very experienced
RACE: Mystically Altered (super) human (vampire/demon) - Caucasian
AFFILIATION: None at the moment
MORAL ALIGNMENT: Vastly evil.
CHARACTER TYPE: Mystic/psychobitch/hellslut.
COMBAT VALUE: Hard to say. Has held her own in hand to hand with Angel. Probably around an 8. Killed a Slayer, but she was a lousy Slayer, and Dru cheated with her mental powers.
NOTES:
- played to a brilliant and psychotic 'T' by the obviously inspired and amazingly talented Juliet Landau, Drusilla is still a character I don't enjoy particularly much, most likely because unlike even the nastiest other vampires on Buffy-Earth, there's nothing remotely likeable or fun about Dru.

She is, however, interesting, in that she is the only vampire I've seen other than Dracula who has shown any of the classic vampiric psychic powers. Drusilla is clairvoyant, and frequently receives psychic visions. She also apparently has developed some limited telepathy, and can invoke glamors on herself (she once posed briefly as Jenny Calendar to get information out of Giles) and can rivet the attention of a victim with a hypnotic stare (she used this to paralyze the Slayer Kendra and kill her). However, Drusilla was psychic before she was turned to vampirism, so it may be that Dracula, even if he is actually a vampire, simply had psychic powers as a human, too.

Unlike Darla, Dru rarely seems charming or seductive (at least to me, I know other guys who think she's totally hot), and in fact, most of the time, she's simply acting utterly demented, even when not engaged in some horrific act of carnage. To an extent Dru may be a more successful vampire character than Darla or Spike, because I find her more consistently frightening than either of the other two... but I don't like her much, and it wouldn't bother me if someone staked her.

JENNY CALENDAR
AGE: Adult (currently dead)
PHYSICALITY: Average
APPEARANCE: Babe level 9 (quiet, you, I'm writing this)
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, good discipline, above average occult scholar
GENDER: Female ORIENTATION: Apparently straight
SEXUAL HISTORY: Unknown
RACE: Human - Gypsy
AFFILIATION: Some Gypsy clan, the one that hates Angel
MORAL ALIGNMENT: neutral to good
CHARACTER TYPE: Scholar/mage
COMBAT VALUE: 1.
NOTES: -
Jenny is still dead, which I didn't care about prior to buying and watching the "Buffy & Angel" set of tapes, but which deeply grieves me now, as she was just SUCH a babe, and a darned interesting character, too. She must be brought back. Pronto.

GLORIFICUS
AGE: Never ask a Hellgod how old she is.
PHYSICALITY: Godlike.
APPEARANCE: Babe level 9 or 10
MENTALITY: Never seemed all that bright, but we can assume she has godlike will.
GENDER: Female ORIENTATION: Apparently straight
SEXUAL HISTORY: Unknown, probably mind boggling and horrific
RACE: Hellgod in human form - Caucasian
AFFILIATION: Some Hellgod pantheon
MORAL ALIGNMENT: horribly evil
CHARACTER TYPE: Hellslut
COMBAT VALUE: 20
NOTES: -
Glory being dead dead DEAD is a both a good and a bad thing. Good because she was darned scary. Bad because it means the utterly drop dead gorgeous and babelicious Clare Kramer won't be on BUFFY any more. And she was so good being a ditzy evil hellbitch, too, not to mention a snappy dresser.

BEN
AGE: Adult (currently dead)
PHYSICALITY: Hard to say. He went from sibling to Glory (and thus, obviously, a god in his own right) to mortal shell meant to trap her divine presence forever over the course of the season. He at least beats up toadie minions well.
APPEARANCE: Hunk level 9 or 10, I gather
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, good discipline
GENDER: Male ORIENTATION: Apparently straight
SEXUAL HISTORY: Unknown
RACE: ::sigh:: Human, apparently - Caucasian
AFFILIATION: worked for Sunnydale Hospital
MORAL ALIGNMENT: neutral to good
CHARACTER TYPE: Medic/Mage
COMBAT VALUE: 2, maybe, if he's not a god; 20 otherwise
NOTES: -
As stated, while Ben was pretty clearly being defined as one thing (a sibling and full partner to Glory, which would have made him a Hellgod in his own right), he got relegated to mere mortalhood by various hasty changes apparently ordained from on high towards the end of the season. Now he's dead, so it doesn't much matter.

JONATHAN -
AGE: Young adult
PHYSICALITY: Below average to godlike
APPEARANCE: Hunk level 3 to 15, depending
MENTALITY: Above average intelligence, good discipline, shaky self esteem
GENDER: Male ORIENTATION: Apparently straight
SEXUAL HISTORY: Er... inexperienced in the real world, see NOTES
RACE: Human - Caucasian
AFFILIATION: none at present
MORAL ALIGNMENT: neutral to good
CHARACTER TYPE: Scholar/Nerd/Mage
COMBAT VALUE: 2 to 17 or so
NOTES: -
Jonathan was introduced as a constantly recurring minor character at Sunnydale High, a highly intelligent nerd who was often used as the butt of jokes by the cruel 'in' clique that Cordelia belonged to. He tried to kill himself with a rifle in the high school bell tower and was stopped by Buffy in the third season, then returned in the fourth season as the central figure in an altered reality resulting from a spell he had cast that made everyone believe he was a universally beloved and vastly successful media superstar, hero, and adventurer. Although it's unlikely Jonathan could have gotten laid prior to casting the spell, we saw him with a couple of cute blond twins in his bedroom while the world was under the influence of his glamor. The events that took place within his spell seemed to be 'real', if mostly forgotten when the spell was broken, so presumably Jonathan is now somewhat sexually experienced.

In the past, similar reality alterations have left their subjects in full possession of the memories gained during those periods, such as Xander's retaining all his military training from a similar episode. While Jonathan professed to have forgotten nearly everything that happened while the spell was in place, he may have simply been faking it, and could very well remember all the skills and abilities he gained as a media star and superhero. He certainly proved himself capable of casting an extremely powerful spell.

ADAM
AGE: less than a year old when destroyed
PHYSICALITY: Superhuman/monstrous
APPEARANCE: Hunk level 8 to -1 or so, as a pastiche of human and demon body parts
MENTALITY: Hugely superhuman intelligence and discipline; astonishing levels of knowledge
GENDER: Male ORIENTATION: N/A
SEXUAL HISTORY: None
RACE: Mystical/Technological Living Artifact (Golem)
AFFILIATION: created by the Initiative
MORAL ALIGNMENT: evil
CHARACTER TYPE: monster
COMBAT VALUE: 18 or so
NOTES: -
Although he's thankfully dead and not likely to come back, Adam was an interesting and effective villain in Buffy's fourth season. Created by the brilliant but clearly deranged Maggie Walsh for the Initiative, Adam was a Frankenstein's monster type golem pieced together from organic body parts both human and demonic. Out of Buffy's league as a physical opponent, Adam did not seem to be able to be hurt by normal attacks, and in the end, Buffy had to have her essence merged with that of Giles, Xander, and Willow in order to defeat him by utilizing a paralysis spell that only Willow could cast and only Giles could read, and that would only work long enough for someone with Buffy's strength and speed to take advantage of. While merged by this spell, the uber-Buffy demonstrated vast supernatural powers which still haven't been explained.

Adam's master plan was to encourage a huge battle between human Initiative solders and demons, to provide him with enough body parts to create an army of minions similar to himself. This was insane golem logic, and thankfully foiled by Buffy and the gang.

OTHERS - There are many other recurring characters in the Buffy/Angel mythic tapestry that are probably worthy of note... bad guys like Lindsay and Lilah, background characters like Jonathan and Amy, even deaders of note like Jenny Calendar and the Mayor and Ben/Glory and Maggie Walsh and Adam and Joyce Summers. And I may get around to giving each of these folks their own entry here, eventually... or I may not.

In the meantime, I think we've finished off the 'Data' section of SLAYER'S HANDBOOK for now, and can move on to Part 2. Analysis & Speculations.

John Jones, the Manhunter from Marathon, IL, no longer dwells in Marathon, IL. He has, since writing this article and its succeeding chapter, seen every episode of both BUFFY and ANGEL, and has most of them on DVD. He could, and probably should, update this thing. But that would be a lot of work, and it’s not like anyone will ever read all the way through the whole damn thing anyway, so screw that noise. Prove him wrong by posting a comprehensive comment on the link below, if you dare.

2 Comments:

Blogger writersherry said...

Well, I read it and thought it insightful.
But the question remains...HOW DID SHE GET HER POWERS? Did any of the shows or books every explain how Buffy got her special gifts?

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vampires do have a blood flow, often from the blood they drink which indeed can warm up a body(when enough is there). On a male can carry some slayer abilities if he has a female twin as shown in "Fray".

8:53 PM  

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