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Focus on the Family: The Anointed One

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  • Focus on the Family: The Anointed One

    "She was weak. You don't need her."
    --the Anointed One, "Angel"
    The Anointed One is not a favorite character to many people. A substantial number of fans regard him the way Spike does--as the "Annoying One". That's fair enough; Colin is something of a holdover from the first season, which was not all that it could have been. He represents a type of vampire that largely faded away after that season: a quasi-religious organized group consciously devoted to "evil". As such, he's easy to snigger at; such an attitude can easily fade into pretentiousness and mustache-twirling (at least, if you're old enough for facial hair). But then, we do see a fair amount of reverence for abstract evil in vampires post-S1, just in a more individualist form; in fact, the highly-popular Angelus demonstrates this trait from time to time. The real difference is more that later vampires prefer "fun" (random acts of violence, mostly) to chanting and ritual, and let's face it--so do most tv-watchers. Let's also face, though, that Colin isn't in much of a position to hand out ass-kickings; we don't really get to see his strength compared to that of a normal human being, but Spike easily manhandles him into a cage, so he's probably nothing next to Buffy. (Just as Holtz easily tosses his vamped daughter into the sun; most likely child vampires in general are not as strong as human adults, from what we've seen.) That raises an interesting question--what does he think about being the Anointed One?

    Colin isn't just a random siring. He was chosen specifically by the Master to become a vampire, and we really don't know what criteria the Master had. There isn't much to the portion of the prophecy quoted onscreen, and the only thing that might speak to the Anointed One's pre-siring qualifications is that "the Slayer will not know him". A child does make sense in that context, but so might any number of other people. We don't know much of anything about his personality as a human. He does seem to be just a touch precocious--he knows words like "annihilate", and he has some grasp of strategy and practical psychology. (The Master may have taught him strategy, but he's still very young to understand a subject like that.) Whatever motivation the Master may have had to choose Colin, the role of Anointed One must be laid out clearly either in the prophecy or in Aurelian tradition. Every vampire we see interact with him, until Spike appears, defers to him--even the Master, to some extent. Except when he goes to fetch Buffy, he never seems to leave the underground tunnels where the Order resides. Curiously, though there seems to be some sort of unspoken rule that the Order appear in game face, at least in the Master's presence, Colin never once assumes it. (Some fans have gone so far as to speculate that he's not a vampire at all--but he burns up when Spike hoists him into the sun, and we've never seen any other kind of demon do that.) We can only assume this has something to do with his special role, perhaps as a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    One might expect a child vampire to spend its time "playing"--indeed, to be devoted to precisely the sort of "fun" Spike arrives to bring. But the only time we ever see him playing, he's tossing rocks into a pool. Having been a young boy myself, I can attest that this can be fun, though I'm not entirely sure why. But eventually it does tend to pall, and it's not as though he's skipping them easily or tossing in huge ones to make a splash. As a bookish sort, I tended to return to the house to read or watch tv; a more active child might prefer tree-climbing or some such. A vampire kid? Spot of torture, maybe, or "trick the concerned adult". As far as we know, Colin spends most of his time chatting with the Master or, later, ordering minions around. Maybe Colin is simply unusual; there's no telling how his personality might be warped by the siring even if he was a typical child. But considering that he's a figure of prophecy, there's an obvious alternative: the Order has expectations of him. They may not be telling him what to do, but they are undoubtedly crowding around, waiting for him to lead or dole out wisdom, or in the Master's case doling out wisdom to him. In that case, perhaps Colin has no time to play; he's a celebrity, continually surrounded by admiring fans or coaches who have no interest in the rules of the Hollywood Screen Guild concerning child actors.

    In Colin's place, I'd be getting pretty frustrated, and I don't have a vampire's temper. If Colin was pleased to be sired, he probably expected more freedom--perhaps the unlife of a blood-sucking Peter Pan, an eternal child with no responsibilities of any kind. And we don't really know that he was pleased--occasionally we see a vampire who isn't happy to rise. The main example, Darla, knows what she's getting into and has rejected it, but Harmony tires of her existence pretty quickly, and we've seen the occasional cemetery fledge who seems irritated by his fate. Colin has been plucked from his family, and even if he no longer cares about them, he's under the guardianship of beings who are much less predictable, yet more restrictive, than Mommy and Daddy ever were. Even if he were to escape, he'd be out on his own, still with essentially a child's knowledge of the world and not nearly as much power as an adult vampire. If he's as smart as he appears, he could very well resent not having the chance to grow up, too--he may be able to extort some adult pleasures, but even without a conscience he will undoubtedly enjoy most of them much less. (And let's not linger too long on that image, anyway....)

    "They're all against you."
    The Anointed One doesn't show any overt signs of rebellion. How could he? Physically, he's the weakest member of the Order, so unless he can enthrall vampires or something, he doesn't have much of a chance. And why should he? They do obey his orders, and they're his best shot at being something other than a red-shirted halfpint. The smart thing to do, if he's dissatisfied, would be to undermine the Master and take over himself. But he doesn't do that....does he?

    The Master, we see, seems to listen to Colin for advice. It's not entirely clear why, since he also gives Colin advice--"We who walk at night share a common bond," or "If I can face my fear, it cannot master me." Perhaps he expects supernatural wisdom from his prophesied assistant. But does Colin give him that? Early in "Angel", the Master asks what he should do about Buffy; Colin answers, "I'd annihilate her," and the Master seems pleased. Perhaps he's taking this advice metaphorically, because we all know by now that Buffy is crucial to his escape from the Hellmouth. If his minions kill her at this point, he's probably in for trouble. Still, we don't know for sure that he knows that yet; he might have realized it as late as Buffy's appearance on his doorstep. ("I still can't leave, but wait! Here's the girl with the special power in her blood! Of course!") If Colin means his advice literally, though, it's bad advice indeed.

    Later in the episode, the Master flies into a distraught rage upon Darla's death. Colin comes up to him, but not with words of comfort. "Forget her," he says. "She was weak. You don't need her." This could be vampiric bravado, of course, but it's not particularly true; Darla is a powerful and clever vampire who could have been a great help later. Then, once the Master has let go of his anger and given way to grief, Colin offers support--but it's a paranoid fantasy. "They're all against you," he tells the leader of a powerful vampire cult, so charismatic that his followers will walk into the sun for him. Once he offers to help "kill them all", the old softie takes the proffered comfort and they walk away hand in hand.

    Eventually Colin does indeed bring Buffy down into the Hellmouth...then promptly disappears back to the surface. Perhaps he would be useless in a fight against the Slayer; Spike takes him out easily. Or perhaps not; Drusilla effuses about the power in him, so perhaps he has some mystical ability that just wasn't effective on another vampire. Either way, when we next see the Anointed One he's running the Order.

    But isn't he behind the plot to resurrect the Master in "When She Was Bad"? Maybe, maybe not. The vampire who actually seems to be doing the leading is a fellow named Absalom, who we've never seen before and who dies in this episode. Colin gives orders, but only to back Absalom up. When Buffy shows up at the ceremony, Absalom shoos him out, and all the vampires who take part in the fight get dusted. Colin does show up afterwards to hold a bone fragment and say, "I hate that girl," but he doesn't show nearly the level of upset that his followers did about the Master being dead, or that the Master did about his servants when they got killed. He'd have motive for hatred no matter what he feels about the old guy; he's just lost a passel of minions for nothing. We really have no reason to think he has much of anything to do with the attempt; the Order is devoted enough they'd have done it with the Anointed One or without. All he needs to do to rid himself of five thorns in his side is play along, and if he doesn't actually want the Master back he can probably slip a monkey wrench into the ceremony at any point without nearly so much loss of unlife as Buffy causes.

    The last episode in which Colin appears is "School Hard," in which the malicious tyke is running the show, waiting for the Night of St. Vigeous to do away with the Slayer for good. He seriously misjudges Spike--who after all is about as unlike his devoted minions as it's possible for a vampire to be--and gets his ass dusted. But until that moment, he's in charge and he clearly enjoys it. If he's going to have to be some kind of vampire messiah-figure, he's not gonna do it as a figurehead; he's going to give the orders and the minions are going to fulfill all his whims. Too bad he forgot he was still pint-size.

    So am I spinning fantasies out of thin air? I don't know. We don't really have a lot to go on. Still, it fits with what we know about vampire society and psychology; nearly every meeting of vampires is a game of one-upsmanship and, where it makes sense, violent combat. We've seen enough dedicated vampire relationships that Colin and the Master might have been one of them...but I wouldn't bet on it.
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