Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)


It’s interesting what time does to a character. And by that, I don’t just mean what kind of changes authors institute with a character, but also how you come to think about a character after enough time has passed. I admit, I wasn’t a huge Connor fan at first.

The idea of Connor as this kind of miracle baby and the weird Nativity-like imagery it brought to the show seemed very compelling to me. And writing Connor into a feral, father-hating, not-quite-vampire didn’t appeal to me. Connor didn’t seem quite wild enough, but then again the idea that he would just suddenly be a normal teenager didn’t work right either. After two seasons of meandering around and constantly betraying Angel and company, Connor never seemed to quite settle into a place on the show.

Suddenly, there’s just a few really solid moments in season four that set the seeds for Connor to evolve from a character on the show I felt little about to one of my favorite characters in the entire Buffyverse. Up until the end of this season, I had gotten some sense of Connor’s confusion, but maybe not his pain so much. For me, I always find it chilling--but painfully moving--to realize that Connor has in fact seen Jasmine as she is all along. Connor says that he thinks that she is beautiful. And this is what always kills me: for Connor, even the hollow love that Jasmine is inundating the world with is preferable to the emptiness that’s been his life up to this point. He’d rather live a lie than go back to the way things are. That’s how bad things have been for him.

Connor also rescues a man in the middle of that strange fugue state that everyone in LA has been in and out of for the last few days. Connor seems calm and helpful until suddenly the man mentions that he doesn’t know where his family is. Connor proceeds to beat this poor guy senseless, screaming that he has to know. It isn’t hard to figure out just where this is coming from for him.

See, people talk a lot about who they prefer: Spike or Angel. And while I'm a big Angel fan I almost come back to sort of thinking that Connor is the coolest character the Buffyverse has to offer. Why? I’m not saying he does everything right. Connor does quite a lot of wrong. What I'm going to say is that whatever Connor does do, he does it because he’s trying to do right. Maybe he’s misinformed, maybe he’s confused, but Connor is just trying to do right in a way that makes his life make sense, the best way he knows how at any given time. And seeing him keep losing his focus on what exactly he’s trying to accomplish and consequently losing his way of tying his life together hurts. I mean, given all of that it’s amazing that Connor holds it together as well as he does, isn’t it?

Okay, but that’s all about feral Connor. I love the well-adjusted, "I’m just a normal teenager who happens to be the son of a vampire" Connor best. Something about the way Vincent Kartheiser plays the juxtaposition of how Connor was and who he’s become is just perfect. I always want to crack up when Connor seems like he has a fanboy moment over Angel knocking a guy out in front of him: “That was totally AWESOME!”

I like to think that even when Connor was sort of feral and all dark and broody like his dad, there was something really good trying to get out. It got mangled by the events of his life, but when you put Connor in a different environment, this sort of pure, honest streak in him comes out. And I like this idea that there’s something in there that you can see that maybe, just maybe, this kid is going to grow up to be one of the best things that ever happened to the Buffyverse.

I would have loved to have seen Sarah Michelle Gellar make some appearances on a final season of this show. All that being said I love that the show ends with Angel seeing Connor on his last day. It isn’t a lover that he goes and sees; it’s his son. Because the thing about having a good relationship with your kids is: it kind of goes hand in hand with having a good relationship with yourself. And the show doesn’t end with Connor and Angel in some happy father-son state of bliss. True to form, the show only ends with the hope that maybe Connor and Angel can start to have more of a relationship one day. Hope is what this show is about. Even if it’s scant.

So yeah. Basically, that’s why I think Connor is the man. It’s a radical statement, I know, but I sort of see Connor--even when he’s doing something bad--as more unabashedly good than any of the other characters on the show. He means to do good. He just can’t get it clear what good is. But maybe this is the one legacy that Angel could leave behind that would make everything that Angel went through--every mistake--worth something. I still get psyched whenever I see Connor make an appearance in the comics and that little arc of Connor, Angel, Faith and Willow taking a trip to Quoroth fascinated me. I’d love to see Connor and Buffy have a conversation one day and I’d love to see him show up in season 10 even more.

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