Wednesday, June 9, 2010

#38: Drusilla

It may seem surprising to find Drusilla so low on this list. She's kind of a 'big bad', she's been on both series, she's an integral part of the 'four vampires' team that defines pre-soul Angelus's life. Her 21 episode count is the 25th highest among Buffyverse characters. So why so low?

Well, it has a lot to do with the way Drusilla's written. Juliet Landau brings the character a definite presence based often on little more than body language and wordless sounds... her actual words are short, terse sentences, mixing logic and nonsense. Among the many ways she and Spike contrast each other, this is one of the most obvious: Spike talks in long streams, Dru in short outbursts. They both command attention equally when they open their mouths.

Drusilla speaks so little that of 21 episodes, fully 18 are minor, and in each of the three ranking episodes, she ranks #4. Her per-episode average word count of 138 is second-lowest in the whole top 50, behind Ben.

Starting with episode three, David Greenwalt and Joss Whedon's “School Hard” (the début of both Dru and Spike), more than half of Drusilla's appearances occur in Buffy season two, yet none of those twelve episodes feature her in the top five: in six of them, she speaks less than 100 words. The two Spike-centred episodes of Season 5, “Fool for Love” and “Crush”, are the two Buffy episodes where Dru gets a #4 ranking – in the particular case of “Fool for Love”, it's with a meagre 190 words, since Spike and Buffy carry the majority of that episode's dialogue. The only other time we see her in Buffy is in Season 7's “Lies My Parents Told Me”, with a mere 60 words.

On Angel, Dru shows up in four episodes in seasons 2 and 5 for flashbacks only (in season 5's “The Girl in Question”, we see her in Italy in two different eras, yet still she gets only 17 words of dialogue), and only appears in L.A. for a two-episode stretch in order to re-sire Darla. The first of those, “Reunion”, is as close to a “Dru Episode” as we get in the Buffyverse, and is the only real occasion where we see Dru behaving on her own, and not in tandem with Spike or Angelus. Unsurprisingly, it's her highest word count overall. Perhaps just as unsurprisingly, it's still only 334 words, and still only a #4 ranking.

Since the convoluted story of each of the four main vampires is told largely in flashbacks, we see Drusilla in a dizzying array of places and locations. Breaking her word-count into time and place, we get the following stats:
  • London, 1860: 191 words
  • London, 1880: 313 words
  • Yorkshire, 1880: 13 words
  • Italy, 1894: 16 words
  • Romania, 1898: 40 words
  • China, 1900: 51 words
  • Italy, 1950s: 1 word
  • Sunnydale, 1996-97: 1371 words
  • South America, 1998: 57 words
  • Los Angeles, 2001: 529 words
  • Sunnydale, 2001: 318 words
Note that the 96-year stretch between China and Sunnydale is represented with a single word (“Ciao”), and that almost half of her dialogue occurs in Season Two (where three of those words are in a dream of Buffy's and 59 of them are as Jenny in Giles' tortured mind) – she ranks #10 for characters in Season 2 with the most words. Though she appears in three episodes after it, “Crush” is the last we see of Drusilla, in non-flashback real time, and she ends the episode alive and kicking.

  • Overall ranking: #38
  • Ranking on Buffy: #28
  • Ranking on Angel: #42
  • Total words spoken on Buffy: 2095
    • Season 2: 1527 (#10)
    • Season 5: 508
    • Season 7: 60
  • Total words spoken on Angel: 805
    • Season 2: 689
    • Season 5: 116
  • Total words spoken in the Buffyverse: 2900
  • Total speaking appearances on Buffy: 15
    • Ranking #4: 2
    • Minor: 13
  • Total speaking appearances on Angel: 6
    • Ranking #4: 1
    • Minor: 5
  • Total speaking appearances in the Buffyverse: 21
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