Saturday, May 18, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 15: Favorite Male Villain

Okay, so I got behind again because a) I published my second novella and b) I have been dealing with flea-ridden animals, which is fun, to say the least.

But anyway, on with the Buffy Challenge.
You really outdid yourself with this one, Whedon.
I am not the only person who thinks Mayor Richard Wilkins is the best villain of the entire Buffy universe. The third season by far has one of the most cohesive story arcs of the series (minus the icky that is the Willow-Xander pairing) and gives us the ultimate villain.
No commentary necessary. 
Harry Groener brings his A-game throughout the whole season, effortlessly swinging between a 1950s-ish father-knows-best persona to a sinister evil sorcerer hell-bent on transforming into a demon. The brilliance of it, though, is that he's convincing as both and you never really get the feeling that the character is pretending either way: he is a paradox, one that loves his surrogate daughter (Faith) and wants to rule over the world as a giant snake demon.
In case you were wondering, yes, that does include being able to eat people whenever you want. Ah, to be king of the world. 
In the same way that Faith is a mirror to Buffy, Mayor Wilkins is a mirror to Giles. They both have a violent streak that comes out when someone they care about is harmed in any way (e.g. Giles tries to kill Angelus after he snapped Jenny's neck, Giles beats the absolute shit out of Ethan Rayne - RIP Robin Sachs - because he puts Buffy in danger, the Mayor tries to kill Buffy while she's unconscious at the hospital after he sees what damage she did to Faith, the Mayor tries to kill Buffy again when she taunts him with the knife he gave Faith), and they are extremely paternal to their respective Slayers. Giles even gets fired from the Watcher Council because of his fatherly love for Buffy, and the Mayor turns down a sexual offer from Faith, insisting that he's a family man but also treating her like a daughter he never had by setting her up with an apartment and generally just making her feel wanted and loved.
I adored all his trite adages he spew at Faith, who oddly took it in stride. 
What's sad about the Mayor really stems with how the writing crew kind of peaked with the character. I mean, yeah, Buffy did eventually have to face a hell-god in Season Five, but the followup Big Bad in Season Four seemed to really be just a rehashing of what Three dealt with: authority figures that have and want more power are not to be trusted. And the Initiative and Adam just kinda fell flat, since they weren't even remotely as fleshed out as Wilkins was. We're not even going to get into Six's "life is the Big Bad*" and the First in Seven because ugh. It just pales in comparison that it's almost not even worth mentioning.
Dick is not amused, Six and Seven.
The Mayor is really why Season Three keeps bringing me back to watch it, even though I no longer identify with a lot of the issues that Buffy and crew are going through at the time. He's just so affably evil, and it's absolutely delicious.

*Kind of like how Season Seven could have rocked my socks off, the idea of life being the great evil is such a cool notion, but then it turned into a Willow-is-an-angry-lesbian-world-doomer that didn't go with that theme at all.
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