1st Anniversary Character Posting Board Party - Warren
MPN - September 27, 2001

WARREN: Well, I made it so if she heard me and she didn't answer... it causes this kind of feedback.

BUFFY: If you call her and she doesn't answer, it hurts her. You're one creepy little dweeb, Warren...

-Shooting Script for Episode 5.15, "I Was Made To Love You"

We are first introduced to boy genius Warren Mears in the fifteenth episode of Season 5, not an exceptional installment by any means, but still an enjoyable outing with a nice combination of both comedy and drama. At this point, Buffy is still feeling sorry for herself about Riley's departure, and to add another loop to the Slayer's emotional roller-coaster, we can now throw in the revulsion toward Spike's confession of love. The episode basically revolves around Buffy's despair at the collapse of her recent relationship, and her fear that something is wrong with her. At the end of the story, the Slayer has apparently learned a valuable lesson, deciding that it is more important for her to start loving herself and her life rather than worry about finding someone to love her. The key instructors in this lesson are Warren and his girlfriend-bot April.

I find Warren to be a sort of parallel to Victor Frankenstein. Like the most famous "mad scientist" in all literature, Warren obviously possesses a phenomenal intellect, but he uses it in the wrong ways and for the wrong intentions. Granted, Frankenstein creates the monster in his quest for knowledge, while Warren builds April for selfish reasons, hoping to find emotional completeness through her, yet both of these geniuses end up cruelly abandoning their creations who remain utterly lost and confused without their masters.

The first scene with Warren takes place at the Spring Break party, although we already feel like we know him since April has mentioned his name so many times. The shooting script describes him as " 20-ish, a little nerdy and awkward," and this seems to be an accurate sketch. This scene, which culminates with Spike being thrown through the window by an infuriated April, provides enough evidence for us, the Scoobies, and Buffy to conclude that April is a robot and Warren is her creator. Unusually, but not exactly surprisingly, it is Xander who figures out why she was built, claiming that Warren has created a sex-bot (in one of the funniest moments in the episode that also kind of makes you realize how much you miss Oz)

XANDER: She's a sex bot. I mean, what guy doesn't dream about that? Beautiful girl with no other thought but to please you, willing to do anything...

He looks around the table at all the women... Anya, Tara, Willow, Buffy... all wearing looks ranging between disgust and more disgust.

XANDER: Too many girls. I miss Oz. He'd get it. He wouldn't say anything, but he'd get it.

The argument that ensues between Buffy and the Scoobies over how to judge Warren provides, in my opinion, the perfect outline for discussing him as a character. While Buffy is ready to jump down his throat and label him a sleazebag (which is not completely inaccurate), Willow points out that perhaps genuine loneliness was the backing behind Warren's creating April. It is compassionate and empathic Tara who truly seems to feel for the young robotics expert, however.

TARA: But it's so weird. I mean, everyone wants a nice, normal person to, you know, share with. If this guy, if he couldn't find that... I guess it's kind of sad.

Her words do have some truth to them, and as sorry as we feel for what happens to April, I think it is important that we do not simply label Warren a cowardly pervert. This is of course difficult, as his treatment toward April throughout the episode is nothing short of shameful. As if that were not enough, we see him treating Katrina poorly as well, despite the fact that he claims to love her. He tells her to shut up, pushes her around, and while this may partially be for her protection, it does not reflect very favorably on him as a person. Taking a closer look at his two robotic creations, April and the Buffy-bot, we see that they are subservient and acquiescent: they wear pink, smile all the time to look pretty, and don't possess a shred of genuine intelligence. "Crying is blackmail," April remarks cheerfully, and we can only wonder what other helpful little lessons Warren has programmed his girlfriend with. Buffy's words about "some guys getting it right" at the end of the episode ring true, as Warren truly seems to be hopeless when it comes to understanding how relationships should work.

For all of his unfavorable traits, however, let us not forget what a painful feeling loneliness is. Isolation is something we have all experienced. As children we create imaginary friends for ourselves who we eventually outgrow when we develop stronger ties with other people our own age. As we grow older, however, it's not quite as easy, and as BtVS so outstandingly pointed out time after time in the earlier seasons, loneliness and isolation in the teenage years can truly hurt a person to the point where it becomes an almost physical pain.

Anyway, getting back to Warren, he built April to fill the void in his life, and I think he can genuinely be believed when he says that April was designed for more than sex.

WARREN: No! I mean, I made her to love me. She cares about what I care about and she wants to be with me. She listens to me and supports me. I didn't make a toy, I made a girlfriend.

BUFFY: A girlfriend? Are you saying you two... are you in love with her?

WARREN: I really thought I would be. I mean, she's perfect. But it's just... I don't know. It was too easy and predictable. She got boring. She was exactly what I wanted and I didn't want her. I thought I was going crazy.

Granted, this isn't much of a vindication, but it is somewhat refreshing that Warren saw more in April than a sexual object. Obviously, things are simply not meant to be between the genius and his robot, and it is no surprise that perfection gets tedious quickly. Relationships are built on both concord and conflict, and being with someone who constantly agreed with everything you said and did would eventually become very mind-numbing. April has no real independent thoughts; she knows what she was programmed to know. Personally, I'm reminded of Spike's impassioned speech to Buffy and Angel in "Lover's Walk," where he states that:

"Real love isn't brains, children, it's blood, it's blood screaming inside you to work its will."

Warren and April's relationship has no real feelings or emotions to it, save perhaps for Warren's initial attachment to the robot (which is hardly analogous to the love between Buffy and Angel, or Spike and Drusilla, etc.) April's own devotion to Warren is the result of a computer's memory function, not of blood, or heart, or soul. Warren obviously has a phenomenal mind, but if Spike is to be believed (and who wants to argue with Spike on the subjects of love and blood?), Warren's intellectual prowess is incapable of replicating true love. It is not very surprising that the robot designer finds himself attracted to Katrina, a girl who is obviously independent, headstrong, and intelligent (and simultaneously unwilling to put up with crap from him). Whereas April presents no contest to be with, pursuing Katrina is a challenge, and what person doesn't enjoy a challenge?

Here is where Warren blows it, however. He thinks he can escape April by simply abandoning her, hoping her batteries will run out, and his actions put all of Sunnydale in peril as his creation does not understand her own strength or her destructive capabilities. By only programming her to love him, she is at a complete loss without him, and the more humane thing to do would have been to give her some kind of back-up function or shut her down altogether. Instead, he tries to escape his problems in a cowardly way and ends up putting other people in danger. When Buffy forces Warren to actually confront his robot, he panics and shifts the blame to her. Granted, he knew Buffy was no ordinary person and stood a much better chance against April than he ever would, but this just further accentuates his worst flaw; his cowardice. Warren is obviously a very jumpy person, and tends to grow nervous quite easily, which in turn leads to cowardly actions on his part. At the end of the episode, he makes no true effort to resist Spike's commands regarding the construction of the Buffy-bot, despite the fact that he knows he shouldn't be making another robot, especially one that looks like Buffy who he owes big time. His second (albeit brief) appearance is two episodes later in "Intervention." When he turns the Buffy-bot over to Spike, we can see how nervous he is in the presence of the vampire. Despite the fact that there was no way that Spike could hurt him, the demon's threats were no doubt more than enough to get Warren working on a new robot, further reflecting his fear. His last spoken words before disappearing reflect his spineless nature:

WARREN: Now, uh, you said I could leave town -

To get out of the room, Warren has to pass right by Spike. He tries to do so as Spike is still staring at the bot. Without taking his eyes off her, Spikes hand shoots out and grabs Warren by the collar.

When Spike is busy playing kissy-face with his new toy, we can hear Warren bolting out the door in the background, and we expect no less from him.

Despite his flaws, however, Warren's actions regarding April allow him to teach Buffy a beneficial lesson. When Tara first offers her sympathetic words regarding the young genius, stating that everybody needs somebody, Buffy's resolve to call Ben is stronger than before and she follows through with this intention. However, by the end of the episode, after seeing how incomplete April was without Warren, she draws a parallel between herself and the robot:

BUFFY: Nah -- people are the strangest people. I mean, I'm not that different from her. I've got so much more than her -- I've got this great life, all this power, all these friends, my family, but still, every time I don't have a boyfriend, I feel like someone took away my arms.

Xander stops fussing with the window and looks at Buffy, concerned.

XANDER: You feel like that? Armless?

BUFFY: Well, kinda. I feel like something real important is missing. But it isn't. I mean, it is missing, but it isn't that important, you know?

In the end, she decides to call things off with Ben.

It's somewhat ironic and amusing that the character we sympathize more with at the end of the episode is the one who wasn't even alive to begin with. Still, despite being rather unlikable, Warren is not an evil person, and he does not want to see other people hurt because of his carelessness (though he probably should have thought of that before he gave April super-strength and defense mechanisms). I'd like to think that we haven't seen the last of Warren, and who knows; his character definitely showed an interesting spark in the two episodes in which he was featured. With a little development he could become quite an enjoyable supporting character: perhaps having learned his lesson he could try building robots for good intentions, or conversely, become selfish once more and use his gift of creation for malevolent purposes. While obviously not Big Bad or Scooby Gang material, I still think there are some interesting stories left to be told with Warren, and hopefully, we'll get to see some of them unfold in the coming season.

All quotes were taken from the shooting scripts on Psyche's site (thanks).

Enjoy the premiere everyone.


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