Making the case for Illyria
As a show, Buffy explored youth, friendship, optimism, a girl coming to terms with her power and womanhood; Angel explored adulthood, repentance, sacrifice, the beauty and pain of relationships. Illyria could go where none of them have been before. People grow from childhood to adulthood, vampires grow from life to undead – all of their stories are inextricably bound to their human past. Illyria, however, was supernatural before she was human, she came onto the scene as a being who is immensely powerful, proud, scoffs at the smallness of Wolfram & Hart – yet knows nothing of walking in the human world. But she wants to understand it. In order to have power in this world, she needs to understand it. Much like Anya, who was endearing, enlightening and funny in her childlike lack of understanding of human ways, Illyria can speak about humanity from a completely new angle because she is unlike anyone before her. She doesn’t understand feelings, she doesn’t understand morals, she doesn’t have a mission or purpose, all she knows is that she must exist. In order to exist, she must understand and she must find how she fits in.
In some ways, this seems the perfect setup for bringing closure to Wesley’s tragic life. As a watcher, teaching Illyria to walk in this world would be the ultimate challenge. He is dead (and can stay dead!) but spirits can linger for a while when they have an unfulfilled mission … Wesley never got to fulfill his duties as a watcher – perhaps this is the mission that he was meant to complete before his work on earth is done? The fact that he is a ghost means that there can be no physical fulfillment of the romantic tension between them. This allows Illyria to experience the edifying fire of selfless love, whether or not she understands the sanctity of such a bond.
The presence and grace that Amy Acker brought to the character blew me away. Alexis Denisof could revisit the mystique of Dark Wesley, with his listful words and smoldering eyes. Perhaps his story could eventually end when Illyria is ready to walk on her own (learns to connect with other characters and has her own team to draw from), and Wesley realizes that he can find his way to heaven, where he can be with Fred forever … as she is alive in his memories. While on the topic of actors, its impossible not to mention James Marsters – isn’t it about time Spike got to explore what he wants to be when he grows up? After Illyria escapes the mob of demons in the Angel finale with her “pet” in tow, he wouldn’t just leave her to fend on her own, could he?
Oh, the possibilities!
Images adapted from WB, Mutant Enemy. Written by greyspacesATagnibirdDOTcom. Last edited Jan. 6th 2006