Thursday, June 24, 2010

#27: The First Evil

In Season Three's “Amends”, a Christmas episode written by Joss Whedon and the only “Angel episode” of the whole season, Angel is being tortured by a malevolent force of nature called 'the First Evil'. This entity is non-corporeal and can only take the form of people who have died. As such, it's able to taunt people and manipulate them into acting out its will. A truly fascinating concept for a villian, one whose resurrection in Season Seven, where it became the TV show's final Big Bad, should have surprised nobody.

All told, the First Evil speaks 4820 words in “Amends” and throughout Season Seven. These words are spoken in the forms of a rather head-spinning range of characters. All told, the First Evil inhabits the visages of 20 different characters, 10 of whom appear on this top fifty list. The list in full is as follows, appearing in italics if we see the portrayal in “Amends”.
  • As Buffy: 676 words
  • As Jonathan: 607 words
  • As Cassie: 459 words
  • As Warren: 440 words
  • As Mayor Wilkins: 394 words
  • As Drusilla: 356 words
  • As Eve: 350 words
  • As Jenny: 347 words
  • As Spike: 255 words
  • As Joyce: 238 words
  • As Caleb: 132 words
  • As Chloe: 132 words
  • As Nikki: 100 words
  • As the Master: 74 words
  • As Margaret: 63 words
  • As a businessman: 57 words
  • As Glory: 40 words
  • As a helpless girl: 38 words
  • As Daniel: 31 words
  • As Adam: 28 words
  • As 'self': 3 words
Notes about this list: Cassie is the poetry-writing star of “Help”, whose visage The First uses to manipulate Willow in “Conversations with Dead People”. Eve and Chloe are dead Potential Slayers, Nikki is Robin Wood's slayer mother. Margaret, the businessman and Daniel are characters from Angelus's past who we meet in “Amends” but never otherwise see. The helpless girl is one of Caleb's early misogynistic kills, reanimated by the First in discussion with him. Lastly, when I say 'self', I'm referring to the ghostly spectre we see in the picture above, who shrieks only three words: “Dead by sunrise!”

The First totals 501 words in “Amends” (primarily as Jenny), for a #3 finish. All other words spoken by the First occur in Season Seven, where it appears in 15 of the season's 22 episodes, the largest number for any Big Bad, depending on how you determine the Big Bads of Seasons Two and Six. It ranks #8 among characters for the season, though it never gets a #1 ranking. It ranks #2 twice, in “Showtime” (primarily as Eve) and in “First Date” (primarily as Jonathan), the latter's 583 words the First's highest word count. It ranks #3 in “Conversations with Dead People” (in three of the four stories as Cassie, Warren and Joyce), “Bring on the Night” (primarily as Drusilla and Joyce) and “Touched” (as Mayor Wilkins and Buffy), and ranks #4 in “Lessons” (a single monologue where it morphs in succession to each of the previous season's Big Bads before becoming Buffy in the end) and “Never Leave Me” (as four different characters). Its eight minor appearances include a mere 13 words in “Empty Places” (as Buffy).

While a fascinating idea as a character, as a 'Big Bad', the First lacked a certain fear factor, such that 'agents of the First' such as the Bringers, the army of Turok-Hans and Caleb the Preacher had to constantly be brought in to intimidate the Scoobies. This resulted in a rather messy season, and in more of a sense of looming malevolence than a clearly-defined enemy. And in the final episode, “Chosen”, though Buffy and her friends have destroyed Caleb, the Turok-Hans and indeed all of Sunnydale, the First, while in Willow's words 'scrunched', is not exactly defeated, and can be said to 'live' past the end of the TV show, whatever 'live' means in the First's case.
  • Overall ranking: #27
  • Ranking on Buffy: #16
  • Total words spoken on Buffy: 4820
    • Season 3: 501
    • Season 7: 4319 (#8)
  • Total speaking appearances on Buffy: 16
    • Ranking #2: 2
    • Ranking #3: 4
    • Ranking #4: 2
    • Minor: 8
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