A continuation of yesterday’s post, Predictions on Redemption on Agents of SHIELD, Through the Lens of Whedon-Verse Shows, Part I. This is a look at redemption archs in Joss Whedon shows.
Spoilers for Agents of SHIELD, Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Adelle DeWitt (Dollhouse)
How bad was she? Despite being a protagonist, Adelle is the head of this Dollhouse, an organization which erases the memories and personalities of “dolls” and imprints them with new personalities as requested for by clients, who then rent out these imprinted “dolls”. Technically, all of the staff of her Dollhouse are complicit, but since that would be half the main cast, let’s just focus on her as the boss.
What did she do to the main cast? Recruited or coerced half into being dolls. Employed the other half. She sent Dominic to the Attic after she found out he was a spy for the NSA (the biggest jerk on the show turns out to be a good guy all along–figures). Also, she sends people to the Attic, where they are put in a sleep-like state with constantly induced nightmares to serve as part of a computer-like system. She also gives Dollhouse Executives Topher’s plans for a technology that could just imprint new personalities on people, wherever, whenever.
How long was she bad for? No clue. She must have been working at this corporation for a while, to attain such a high position.
Why she chose to redeem herself? Despite being in a seriously unethical organization and ambitious enough to want to rise through its ranks, Adelle does seem to think that the wellbeing of the dolls in her house is her responsibility. At some point, though it’s unclear which, the organization must have gone further than even she could tolerate.
How did she redeem herself? By turning against the organization, then trying to put the world back together after she broke it.
How long did it take to achieve redemption? It’s unclear whether her initial alliance with the dolls comes out of forgiveness or necessity. Probably the latter. But she continues to work with them for the next decade, so presumably they would have forgiven her, or at least put it behind them, sometime in that timeframe.
How bad was he? Prior to becoming a doll, he was found guilty of abducting and torturing a woman he intended to kill. After he became a doll, he experienced a kind of breakdown where every personality he’d ever been imprinted with came back at once. Then he attacked and killed many dolls and staff.
What did he do to the main cast? He cut up Claire and Victor’s faces, stalked and threatened Echo, and fried Paul’s brain.
How long was he bad for? Depends on how you count. His life?
Why he chose to redeem himself? No idea, it happened off-screen. Yes, redemptions are so common place in the Whedon-verse that they can happen off-screen.
How did he redeem himself? He runs Safe Haven, a refuge for dolls, and he helps the main cast in their efforts against the organization that created the Dollhouses.
How long did it take to achieve redemption? No idea. Sometime within the ten year gap.
How bad was she? After the death of her girlfriend, Willow went full-blown villain. She skinned the murderer alive, then went after his two friends, who had nothing to do with it.
What did she do to the main cast? She attacked Buffy and Giles, and tried to end the world.
How long was she bad for? Two episodes
Why she chose to redeem herself? She was supposed to be on the side of good, she just fell off the having-too-much-power wagon in combination with her grief.
How did she redeem herself? By not ending the world, and getting therapy. And by using her power for good again.
How long did it take to achieve redemption? Her friends forgave her, but she continued to struggle with her fear of what she was capable of.
How bad was she? As a vengeance demon, Anya granted wishes to women romantically hurt by men, and didn’t usually carry them out in the spirit of the actual wish–the punishments were rather disproportionate to the crime, and liable to result in collateral damage. At one point she even caused a revolution. After becoming good, she relapsed into evil for a while. She summoned a demon to tear apart a bunch of frat boys for a mean prank they played on a girl. Not all of the people killed were responsible, and the girl in question was found hiding in a closet, crying about how she takes it back.
What did she do to the main cast? Her introduction to Buffy consisted of her granting a wish that caused Buffy to have never come to Sunnydale, changing reality in a way that led to the deaths of main characters. This was ultimately reversed, but it wouldn’t have been if Anya had her way.
How long was she bad for? About a thousand years.
Why she chose to redeem herself? Actually, I don’t think she did. She lost her powers, and had to live as a human teenager. Gradually, she started to care about people and got into a relationship with Xander. Her redemption just kind of happened, as she was put in circumstances that forced her to change, then organically changed in such a way that led her (slowly) towards becoming a better person.
How did she redeem herself? The first time, it wasn’t any one thing. First she wanted to get Xander out of danger, then she became willing to endanger herself for him, then she became willing to endanger herself for others. The second time, she wanted to take back what she’d done, and was willing to sacrifice her life to magically reverse it. Lucky for her, that it could be magically reversed. Most people don’t get to take back their mistakes.
How long did it take to achieve redemption? Maybe about a season, the first time. Different characters come to trust her at different times.
So let’s speculate on how Ward fits into this line-up.
Grant Ward (Agents of SHIELD)
How bad was he? He works for HYDRA, and has killed many SHIELD agents in this capacity.
What did he do to the main cast? He spied on them and lied to them. He tried to kill May, probably twice.
How long was he bad for? Looks like it may have been since he was a teenager, if working for HYDRA started when Garrett found him.
Why he chose to redeem himself? Theory: He’s loyal to Garrett, so who knows what will happen if Garrett is out of the picture? Of course, he might just want revenge on whoever kills Garrett. Alternatively, he currently views himself as a survivor. If he starts realizing that the positive spin he’s put on his self-image isn’t true, then that gives him plenty of motivation to want to be someone else.
Regardless, like I stated in the post for the first part of this topic, I doubt they’re going to kill him off anytime soon. Way too much potential for emotional conflict, whether he’s good, bad, or undecided.
Agree/disagree? Other theories?