We're the ones your mother warned your about...No, seriously. We are.

Scene: Barnes & Noble - Salem NH, Spring of 2002

Fan : Is Tara really dead?
Christopher Golden : Yes. She's really dead.
Fan : But, but I heard she was supposed to be in more episodes!
Christopher Golden : Yeah, the one where she's a corpse.

If you think I laughed - you're right. Tara's dead guys. That's it! Poof! Gone! Buh-bye. Tears are shed, the writers have wiped her off the list of characters they can mutilate next season, and imdb has updated Amber Benson's profile to have her Buffy stint end at 2002.

Give. It. Up. I mean, hello? Tara was doomed, baby. Doomed from the start. After all, she's just one more in the long line of Sacrificial Jesses.

And what, you might ask, is a Sacrificial Jesse? Gather 'round children, & I shall commence with the Clarisficiaton for today.

The Sacrificial Jesse is the character that's brought in to help you "identify" with or feel sympathy for one of the main characters....rah rah rah.... they're around for a bit, you get to know them just enough to give a damn, and then boom! they're gone. The first, of course, being Jesse in Welcome to the Hellmouth.This, of course, being why I call it a Sacrificial Jesse, as opposed to, oh, say, Sacrificial Jim-Bob. Logic is a wacky thing, I tell ya. Ford from Lie to Me was another, and Jenny Calendar was a major one as well. And that's just in Buffy. On Angel, some characters have been converted into Sacrificial Jesses - just look at Doyle. or Merle (even though we allknow he was really fired 'cause he was an ass, but that's not applicable to the plotline of the series itself other than that he got dead-ed...please stop hitting on me, and hey! try lookin' at my face, thanks.)

Sometimes, thier stint is short. In fact, I believe it was Fury who started calling these hapless hopelesses "schmuck bait", a term which I fully embrace & congratuate Big Daddy for. I'm not gonna have his name tattooed on my breast or anything, let's not get crazy, but hey. I laughed. You want some schmuck bait? Theresa from Phases - got hit on by mean ol' Scary Jock Larry (although later, we found out he was Big Gay Larry) and was saved by our dear Slayer only to get killed on by Angelus later in the episode. But hey! Xander staked her asshes, and Theresa's white tights & tacky neck scarf death let us once again see Buffy showing remorse over the fact that she's not superhuman except oh! Wait! Buffy is! She just has bad taste in men. *cough*Seasonsex,much?*cough*
I'd just like to take a sidebar & mention that Theresa kinda deserved to die if she accepted the escort of a guy wearing as much goth makeup as Angelus was in that ep. Overkill much?

Other times, they hang around for a whole ep...Gunn's sister, for example. You knew she was a goner as soon as she started reminiscing about how "he never let her fall"....yup. No forshadowing there kids. Not. At. All. But, like Theresa, she got her ass staked good too. And, really, other than a mention in First Impressions, when was the last time Gunn referred to his darling baby sister? Feel free to toss that one out & help....


Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Yeah. That's what I thought. Because, you see, that's the other fun thing about Sacrificial Jesses. For the most part - they're never mentioned again. Maybe once in passing, or if it's a point that will help drive home the pain (i.e., Jenny Calendar, whose name hasn't been uttered since Amends, I believe....) I mean, hell. Once Willow got really into her vengeance thing & stripped off Warren's skin like Wile E. Coyote used to zip off his fur, did we really hear anything about Tara? Suddenly, it was all about Willow's pain, and the mourning for Tara? Not so much. For proof, cut to the scene where the fifteen year old former mystical ball of energy sat with Tara's corpse while Willow went gallavanting off to destroy police stations & harrass Greyhound passengers while looking like a reject from the Beatles' Yellow Submarine that had fallen into the clutches of Beyonce & Colorvive. See? Golden was right. Tara was there as a corpse!

But, you say, Tara will be different. Tara was special. She's no fly-by-night Sacrificial Jesse cliche, right? According to some of you, she's in fact a whole 'nother cliche, but really? Let's not start with that. Back to topic, yes?

So, tell me. When was the last time Buffy referred to, oh, say......Joyce? Other than to give the token mention to financial troubles, really - when was the last episode in which Buffy talked about her mother in a reminiscent way? Think back. Not that I'm belitting Joyce's death - it was a major episode in the series. But if Buffy doesn't really talk about her mother in retrospective...what makes you think that Tara's going to have a starring role in the meander down Memory Lane?

The point? All a' y'all need to just calm the heck down. In reality, Tara wasn't a statement, she wasn't a cliche...she was the continuation of a plot manipulation technique that ME has been using from the very beginning of the series, starting with Jesse. Nothing more, nothing less. She was a way to deepen Willow's character (or, attempt to, based on the last season)...and she served her purpose, then died. Oh well.

When I see that happen to characters, I'm often reminded of the Mr. Wizard spoof they did on that Disney show Dinosaurs...they would do some weird ass experiment where the kid that was the assistant, whose name was Timmy (always Timmy, always the same kid) would get killed, blown up, electrified - basically, it was South Park's Kenny in Jim Henson form. When that happened, the Scientist Dude would yell, "We need another Timmy!" Except, in the case of Jossverse, it's kinda like, "Killed off the sympathy character! Someone call Casting! We need another Sacrificial Jesse!"

So here we go, with Season Seven looming on the horizon. Take a look around, but don't get too attached to 'em if they don't already have a contract for next season. 'cause death, dismemberment & mayhem? That's pretty much the fun here, kids. Just look at Minear - "I killed - and I'll do it again." In his world, it's not just a motto, it's a t-shirt Line 'em up, knock 'em down, and hey. Keep those Sacrificial Jesses rollin'... you know there's always plenty more where the last came from.

~ July, 2002
~ Claris' Archives