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StephenT [userpic]

29th September 2006 (14:49)

Over on alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer, I recently posted an opinion that I was afraid would put me in a minority of one... and was instead surprised by the number of people replying who agreed with me. I got the distinct impression that some, at least, were equally shocked not to be alone in their opinion. So, for your entertainment, amusement, education or possibly indifference and scorn, I present:

Why Kennedy was possibly the best thing ever to happen to Willow

(Note: this is an edited version of my reply to Arbiter of Quality's review of the episode 'The Killer in Me'. I've left in some of his comments, marked off in a different colour)


I really like Kennedy. I think she's the best possible thing that could happen to Willow at this stage of her life.

Don't get me wrong, Tara was one of my favourite characters on the show... eventually. Once she developed some self-respect and started to stand up to Willow...even if it took her six months to build up the courage. Kennedy makes it clear from day one that she's not going to let Willow push her around. But she also clearly cares about her... when Willow is running off in self-hate and embarrassment and the Scoobies are letting her go, it's Kennedy that takes the initiative and doesn't let her isolate herself from everyone again. (Frankly, I think there are a few other characters in the cast who could do with a Kennedy of their own...).

Yes, she's pushy and tactless, but I've never seen anything malicious in her character... she's very loyal, optimistic and grounded in reality. She comes across as immature sometimes, but the script makes it clear enough that she's 3 years younger than Willow, and has led a fairly sheltered life. (Certainly not sheltered any longer, of course)

So... here we have a new love interest for one of our leading characters, who's full of self-confidence and energy, often rude and pushy and prone to sarcasm,  but also loyal, caring and with a surprisingly sensitive side.  Remind you of anyone else on the show?

>Then in S4, when it was time
>for our Red Witch to get not only a new relationship but a new sexual
>orientation, the show took its time with Tara, formulating not only a
>good character, but one whom the viewer could see Willow gradually and
>convincingly falling for, episode by episode.  "New Moon Rising"
>didn't feel forced, it was inevitable.

  • Willow first meets Kennedy in episode 7.10 and in episode 7.13 they go on their first date.
  • Willow first meets Tara in episode 4.10 and in episode 4.13 she's spending the night in Tara's bedroom.

I'm really not sure you can say that season 7 is rushing things compared to season 4... 

Also, of course, the K/W relationship is certainly not a done deal at the end of 'The Killer in Me': while it's unlikely to be as involved or dramatic as the W/T relationship (after all, all Willow's friends already know that she's gay, so they've told that story) there's still things they need to confront.

>It doesn't help that
>this episode plays her as if she's Jonathan in "Superstar,"
>always in control, an expert on the ways of the ladies, always knowing
>just the right thing to say to instantly win Willow's affections and
>trust.  Skipping out on her responsibilities to hit on someone is fine,
>because it's all cute or whatever.  Even when she's a little lost,
>she's always confident, assertive, and sees to the heart of
>everything the way no one else can.

Huh? I didn't get that at all. She hardly manages to 'instantly win Willow's affections and trust' - for at least half of the episode Willow mostly seems annoyed with her. Many of her attempts at chat-up lines get shot down in flames. I don't see any particular insight. (Or did you take her spiel about "you always turn off Moulin Rouge at  chapter 32" to be a genuine deep insight into Willow's character, rather than a guess?).

What she does have going for her is persistence, and her natural cuteness, and the fact she's genuinely attracted to Willow - who really isn't used to being the centre of attention like that. After all, Oz was practically sexless until he met Veruca, and Tara was much too shy until she and Willow were already in their relationship: when has anybody else ever come on to Willow quite so blatantly? It's got to be flattering for her, as well as uncomfortable.  Which, funnily enough, is how it's shown on screen...

[On a-t-bvs, One Bit Shy had an interesting take on this part, as well:

It's amusing hearing Kennedy toss out the things they have in common - that are anything but.  She doesn't care.  Probably because, to a significant extent, Kennedy really is out for the conquest.  One suspects that's her rich girl heritage.  And by rich, the implication is that she's far richer than Cordelia ever was.  She sees a few things about Willow that intrigue her - and she's used to easily getting whatever intrigues her.

That doesn't necessarily make her bad, or even shallow.  It just means she reaches for things first, and then finds out what they really are.  It's how she's learned to be.  Once she's with Willow we discover that she actually does look and care.  Kind of the point of chasing after her when Willow tries to fix the problem on her own.]

>TKIM seems to want to ascribe a level of
>passion and caring to this relationship that is, to say the least,
>disproportionate to what seems "earned" by basically a pretty face
>and a few flirtatious conversations.

I'm not seeing the romance of the century either, you know. It's a first date, a few sultry glances, a couple of kisses - and a life-and-death crisis situation. Like you get when you're at war.  But you know what they say about wartime romances - a sudden flaring of passion really wouldn't be out of character for people who think they may be dead in a few weeks' time.

>Tying it all together with the
>twisted chain of grieving illogic about why Willow = Tara's killer is
>a fine idea.  But the denoument, with her collapsing in tears *again*,
>and Kennedy kissing her back to normal seems like a trite way to
>resolve these issues, especially given that it's so intimately
>wrapped in the hollowness bitched about above.  EVS

I liked this part. In a way, it's a return to the old season 1 - 3 metaphor device... Willow feeling she's betrayed Tara by 'letting her be dead' turns into Willow becoming Tara's literal killer.  (Although it's a far darker and more adult subject for a metaphor than 'I slept with my boyfriend and now he doesn't respect me anymore').

Also, re-enacting 'Seeing Red' like that was wonderful and creepy and scary: I thought Aly's acting as she bought the gun then started threatening Kennedy with it was extremely powerful.

As for her grief... she's faced the immediate shock of losing Tara; she's lived with the pain of having to get through each day without her. The horrifying and scary thing she's now learned is that she *can* get through the day without Tara... that she can be happy not thinking about her. That she's moved on, and Tara is now past tense.

The fact that this realisation is so devastating might seem like over-indulgence in grief (especially if you're secretly British) but to me it's very well-observed. The kind of thing I'd expect from a show that also gave us 'The Body'.

Kennedy kissing her might be 'fairy-tale', but that's because she sees it that way. It's the symbolism that Willow can move on, can accept that there's more to life than death. That reflects on her own strength of course... but I like the symmetry of Kennedy offering to make Willow some tea in the final scene. It shows that this is going to be a relationship of equals.

Emotional equals anyway. Unless Kennedy reveals hitherto-unknown superpowers in the next episode she's never going to be Willow's equal in terms of raw power.  (Edit - even by the time she becomes a Slayer, Willow has graduated to Goddess...) Crucially, though - and unlike Tara - she refuses to let this intimidate her or change the way she treats Willow.

It may be 'about power' - but the question season 7 poses is how do we interact with power? How should we?




Posted by: spuffyduds (spuffyduds)
Posted at: 23rd October 2006 23:18 (UTC)

Neat! You make me want to fic Kennedy.

I always quite liked TKim--Adam Busch is terrific in it, for one thing. And huge bonus points for the Galaxy Quest reference!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 24th October 2006 00:28 (UTC)

I've not read a huge amount of fanfic (yet...) but I've noticed that even the (very few) people who portray Kennedy in a sympathetic light still need to have her breaking up with Willow within half a chapter of the start. It would be nice to read just one with them being happy together for once...

(I know, I know. "Then write it myself!")

Having seen American Pie 2 shortly before watching TKIM, my main thought at the time was that Alyson Hannigan shows a truly noble willingness to allow her fellow-actors to grope her for the sake of compelling drama. ;)

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 9th December 2006 22:00 (UTC)

(feeling marginally better, headache still there in the background in this vague fuzzy kinda way)

I've read more fanfic than I can think of, and there's actually quite a bit of positive Kennedy stuff, and a lesser but still significant amount of positive Kennedy-Willow stuff. So to you and the above poster, have courage, keep searching, and ask around for recs. Like you might know this already but beer_good_foamy did a very nice W/K short, Shooting Star...but if I start looking for more links I'll exceed my monitor time limit!

I posted thoughts on The Killer In Me a while back, and it's interesting (well, to me :) to see the evolution of my perspective on Kennedy as expressed through my fic -- from the cynical, off-camera dismissal of "Six Faith and Willow Vignettes", to a more realistic and gracious yet still off-camera role in "Maps", to an on-camera, mostly-canon but expanded and even more positive image in "Life During Wartime", and most recently the *very* different, very positive and very fun to write friendship of "Honey Moon Shine". And now that I'm engaged in a mapped out series, I look forward to including Kennedy in more than a few episodes to come.

(Of course, there is the eternal difficulty of coming up with a last name for her that doesn't blow chunks. I still haven't fully accepted Joss's supposed post-canon canon last name for Faith.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th December 2006 23:44 (UTC)

Thanks for the recs; as well as the one you linked me to before ('Maps') I've now read 'Honey Moon Shine' too, and while I note that you also fall into the category of "still need to have her breaking up with Willow within half a chapter of the start", ;) you're right that it is a very positive portrayal of Kennedy - and the way you separated them also felt very natural. Now I need to read your earlier work to get the comparison. :)
(I'd already seen 'Shooting Star').

As for the surname thing: Faith needs a surname, Joss says it's 'Lehane', *shrug*, it's as good a name as any other. Someone needs to sit him down and force him to come up with surnames for all the other characters too... (Maybe the comic will do that?)

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