Gwen Raiden

Sunday afternoons are oddly slow. There's a dichotomy of emotion as part of me is bored and ready to get back to another week of interesting things and part of me dreads how quickly the weekend has gone by. It's nothing new, since I had the same basic feelings during my school years. Back then I'd break up the afternoon by watching Knight Rider and The A-Team which were both in syndication. With the untimely cancellation of Angel in it's fifth season earlier this year, I began watching reruns of that show, which air at 4PM on Sundays on UPN. Sure, the first four seasons are available on DVD, but there's something about watching a show when it's still on television, an inexplicable sense that it's still on and “current”. I have no other recourse for seeing Knight Rider or A-team besides DVDs(bought the former; have yet to pick up the latter). But in a way, Angel is “still on”. So every week since the show's final airing, I've been reliving the series in order from the beginning.

This afternoon I watched the second episode of the fourth season, entitled Ground State which introduced the sleek and sexy Alexa Davalos as the electrifying Gwen Raiden. Raiden is, of course, Japanese for “thunder”, although most American audiences probably mistake it for a Mortal Kombat reference. The show focuses mainly on Gwen, and feels very much like an origin story. Much like Rogue, Gwen is cursed with the inability to touch another human being without causing them grievous injury. Watching this episode makes me very curious about Joss Whedon's X-men; it has to be as good as I'd heard, if not better. Where Rogue's touch drains another human being's energy, Gwen has a permanent electrical charge which she has no control over. The episode opens with her parents dumping her in a private school, afraid to touch their own child. Inevitably, tragedy strikes when a small boy tries to befriend her and offers her his metal toy car.

Gwen grows up to be a very talented if lonely thief. She still wears gloves at all times but removes them to short out alarm systems and bend laser detectors. She and Angel's team converge on the same facility, both seeking the same artifact for different reasons. In the ensuing battle she kills one of his friends, but quickly uses her abilities to restart his heart, showing that she's not all bad. Later when facing the vampire himself, her touch causes his own heart to beat again for the first time in years.

I was never sure what the plans were with this character. Usually, when an episode is so devoted to a new character who isn't joining the cast as a regular, my spin-off sense tingles. She only returned for two other episodes that season, and wasn't seen in the final one. She would have made a great addition to the show, and I could still potentially see her with a show of her own. Whedon writes such strong characters that any of them could potentially carry a spin-off, no matter how minor their role. Even Angel was never meant to appear in more than a few episodes of Buffy, but eventually became a regular before meriting his own show. Now that neither show is on, there's a wealth of characters that could helm a new series. Eliza Dushku was once the strongest possibility, before taking on Tru Calling, and my fingers are crossed that that series will return for a second season. X-men and Serenity(the theatrical follow-up to the canceled Firefly) are probably keeping Whedon too busy to pursue any other television series at this time, which is something of a shame. I suppose I could rent The Chronicles of Riddick to see more of Alexa, but it doesn't look like we'll be seeing Gwen Raiden again any time soon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't bother with Riddick. That movie has NO story. At least not one with any depth. It was basically "evil army taking over the universe, (supposedly) reluctant hero saves universe". I rented it this weekend, and while some of the effects, ideas and fights were good, it never really pulled together. I just finished it because I couldn't have lived with myself if I hadn't. I HAVE to finish movies. Except for "The Exorcist". That movie was crap.

- Cron

12/14/2004 7:51 PM  

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