||This television-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer character|
Danny Strong as Jonathan Levinson
|First appearance||"Inca Mummy Girl"|
|Created by||Joss Whedon, Matt Kiene, Joe Reinkemeyer|
|Portrayed by||Danny Strong|
|Notable powers||Powerful magical abilities|
Jonathan was born in 1981 and raised in Sunnydale, California. He attended Sunnydale High School where he was often bullied, ridiculed, and ignored by his more popular peers, thereby developing low self-esteem.
In 1997, while attending the World Culture Dance, Jonathan is singled out by Ampata Gutierrez, a resurrected Incan princess, who wants to kiss him and transfer his life-force to her own. Not knowing her true nature, he does not resist, believing his luck in love has changed; he is only saved when Xander Harris shows up and, feeling uncomfortable because of Xander's attitude towards Ampata, Jonathan leaves them alone. A week later, Jonathan is picked by Cordelia Chase to accompany her to The Bronze after she has a bad date. The relationship does not last though, and Cordelia soon moves on to Xander. Soon after, he is used momentarily as a hostage by a member of the Order of Turaka, but is quickly let go.
The following year, like many others in the school, Jonathan becomes possessed by a Bezoar that has been given to the class by Mr. Whitmore. As soon as Buffy Summers kills the mother Bezoar, he is freed from the Bezoar's control, believing himself to have been caught in a gas leak, as did Buffy's mother, Giles, Willow, Cordelia and others. Jonathan's self-esteem is dealt another crushing blow later that year when he tries out for the school's swim team and does not make it only to be picked on by Dodd McAlvy, who repeatedly dunks his head in a bucket of ice cold water to see how long he is able to hold his breath. Buffy saves him, but she also further bashes his esteem, and he goes on to urinate in the swimming pool, which he later confesses to Willow Rosenberg under duress.
The following academic year, Jonathan becomes a senior and he is invited to a "welcome back" party for Buffy at her house. Zombies raised by Ovu Mobani crash the party and Jonathan is one of the few guests who make it out alive. Prior to the Homecoming Dance, both Cordelia and Buffy are campaigning to become Homecoming Queen, allowing Jonathan to show his mercenary side by trying to get as much out of both of them as he can in exchange for his vote. Towards the end of that year, while minding his own business, he is singled out by socialite Harmony Kendall and the Cordettes as a possible boyfriend for Cordelia, who has just broken up with Xander. The incident is humiliating for Jonathan and is yet another incident that contributes to his ever-decreasing confidence.
Having had enough, Jonathan takes steps to commit suicide atop a bell tower at the high school, leaving a suicide note for Freddy Iverson to publish in the Sunnydale High Sentinel, the school newspaper. Buffy soon tracks Jonathan down, mistakenly believing that he plans to kill other students with his rifle, and informing him that everyone in the school is dealing with just as much pain as he is, but then discovers he was actually going to kill himself. For bringing a gun into the school, Jonathan is suspended for a couple of weeks and ordered to attend counseling.
Upon returning to the school, Jonathan's confidence has marginally increased and at the senior prom, he has a date with a girl much taller than he is. At the prom, he also finds the confidence to present Buffy with a Class Protector award. On graduation day, Jonathan joins the rest of the Class of 1999 in fighting against Mayor Richard Wilkins III who has completed his Ascension to become the demon Olvikan. During the battle, he aggressively pounces on many vampires and survives to see the school be blown up and catch a jumpy Cordelia in his arms.
After trying to kill himself, Jonathan enters into counseling where he meets another suicidal person who teaches him an augmentation spell. The spell revises history, making some of Buffy's accomplishments into Jonathan's (including the destruction of the Master's skeleton, receiving the Class Protector Award, and blowing up Sunnydale High), and enhancing Jonathan's fame and popularity. The spell creates a monster (metaphorically and literally) as though to contrast with the ideal image that Jonathan has created for himself. He is also believed to have starred in The Matrix despite never having left Sunnydale, which is one of a few things that tips off Buffy, whom he has supposedly led in fighting vampires, to discover the spell he has cast. Jonathan reluctantly assists Buffy in killing the monster and thus breaking the illusion; he apologizes to Buffy the following day after the Swedish twins Ilsa and Inga leave him at his mansion and he loses his job as tactical consultant at the Initiative.
Over a year later, Jonathan, in a moment of boredom, joins Warren Mears and Andrew Wells, and they agree to take over Sunnydale, with Jonathan using his expertise in magic to help them; within the Trio, Jonathan often suggests non-violent plans and is the most reluctant to hurt anyone or kill Buffy, whom he has a soft spot for due to his history with her. A month later, Andrew summons a M'Fashnik Demon to cause a distraction in the Sunnydale Securities Bank while they rob it. Buffy interferes and almost ruins the plan. Over Jonathan's objections, Warren steers the demon into a fight with Buffy, who kills it. Soon afterward, the Trio spend some time harassing Buffy with mystical and technological tests of her abilities, making it a competition among themselves for ingenuity; Jonathan uses a magic bone to put Buffy in a time loop which can only be broken if she performs a seemingly impossible task for a customer at the Magic Box. On escaping the loop, Buffy suspects that she was being tested and nearly succeeds in tracking down the Trio; to shake her, Jonathan uses magic to impersonate a horned demon. It doesn't give Jonathan any increased abilities and he is forced to take a blow from the Slayer, a difficult thing to do.
A few weeks later, Jonathan aids the other two in stealing a large diamond from a local museum. A security guard is hit with their freeze ray during the incident. The three are later confronted by Spike, who wants Warren to examine his defective behavior modification chip that forbids him from harming humans. Warren agrees only after Spike threatens to break their Boba Fett action figure.
In 2002, after accidentally making Buffy invisible with another of Warren's gadgets, Jonathan agrees with Andrew that they should return her to normal before she disintegrates. A confrontation between the two sides leads to the Trio's identities being discovered. With the Scooby Gang now knowing who the Trio are and where they are based, the Trio flee Warren's booby-trapped basement.
Jonathan suggests turning themselves in to the police when Warren accidentally kills his ex-girlfriend Katrina Silber. Warren decides to frame Buffy for the murder. Although Warren's plan fails, Katrina's death is ruled as a suicide. As neither Warren nor Andrew show remorse, Jonathan feels increasingly alienated from them, and soon finds that they are keeping some of Warren's plans from him. He finally betrays Warren by telling Buffy how to defeat an altered, magically enhanced Warren. Ultimately, Warren escapes, betraying the other two.
In jail, Jonathan makes sure that Andrew knows Warren will not be coming to save them, insisting they will be forced to spend time in prison. To make matters worse, while the pair have been in jail, Warren has killed Tara Maclay in an attempt to kill Buffy, causing Willow to go on a homicidal rampage. With Warren dead, Jonathan and Andrew are her next targets. Anya teleports to warn them and Buffy helps them escape, driving them to the Magic Box for protection. Willow eventually tracks them down and the pair accompany Xander and Dawn to safety as Buffy fights Willow. Andrew becomes nervous though and threatens Xander with a sword. Jonathan draws a sword on Andrew, telling him that after Willow is defeated, they will be going back to jail.
On the way to another hiding spot, an attack by Willow leaves the two able to flee. They hitch a ride with a trucker and head for Mexico.
While in Mexico, both Jonathan and Andrew begin having dreams that lead them back to Sunnydale where they know a great power is rising. This is the First Evil. The two return on November 12, with Jonathan having the intention of finding the Seal of Danzalthar and alerting Buffy to it so she can stop the coming evil and allow Jonathan to join the Scooby Gang. As they make their way into the newly rebuilt high school basement to uncover the seal, it is revealed that Andrew is being guided by an ethereal image of Warren. While digging, the two engage in a conversation and Jonathan reveals that he has achieved redemption of a sort: all the pain and hurt associated with his high school years, the pain that shaped his life, has faded away. He wishes the people he spent six years with well, even if they don't care about him (echoing back to "Earshot"). Andrew is not impressed and with a glance at Warren, stabs Jonathan, letting his blood flow on the seal. Jonathan dies, but his blood isn't sufficient to open the seal due to anemia. Robin Wood, the principal of the new Sunnydale High, discovers and subsequently buries Jonathan. In later episodes, Jonathan's form occasionally appears as an avatar of the First Evil.
Writing and acting
Strong described the early development of his character in an interview with the U.K. Buffy the Vampire Slayer magazine. He described his character as the "Kenny of Buffy. Except that he never dies." Strong had initially auditioned for the role of Xander, but lost out to Nicholas Brendon. He first appeared in the Unaired Buffy the Vampire Slayer pilot in a bit part simply named "Student", and subsequently appeared in a number of episodes. He said that often he appeared in scenes that could have been done by other characters but that "They'll have Jonathan do it, to keep the continuity of the world".
Writer/directors David Greenwalt and Marti Noxon both stated in the DVD commentaries for "Reptile Boy" and "What's My Line", respectively, that Danny Strong was the actor that they would call on whenever they needed a good victim, both citing his good "victim face". Eventually the character grew out of this frequent use.
Explaining the potential appeal of the character, he said, "I think everyone is sort of like Jonathan. Either they're like Jonathan or they're trying to cover up their Jonathan qualities. Either they're awkward and shy, or they're doing everything they can not to appear awkward and shy. I'm not really very shy, but I certainly can be awkward at times."
Powers and abilities
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Jonathan appeared as a guest in 28 episodes:
- Season 2 (1997, 1998) - "Inca Mummy Girl"; "Reptile Boy"; "What's My Line, Part Two"; "Bad Eggs"; "Passion"; "Go Fish"
- Season 3 (1998, 1999) - "Dead Man's Party"; "Homecoming"; "The Wish"; "Earshot"; "The Prom"; "Graduation Day, Part Two"
- Season 4 (1999, 2000) - "Superstar"
- Season 6 (2001, 2002) - "Flooded"; "Life Serial"; "Smashed"; "Gone"; "Dead Things"; "Normal Again"; "Entropy"; "Seeing Red"; "Villains"; "Two to Go"; "Grave"
- Season 7 (2002, 2003) - "Conversations with Dead People"; "Never Leave Me" (as the First Evil); "First Date" (as the First Evil); "Storyteller" (flashbacks and dreams)
- Season 1 (1997) - "Unaired Pilot"
Jonathan also appears in Buffy expanded universe. He appears notably in the Buffy comic: Jonathan.
Notes and references
- Springer, Matt, "Big Man on Campus", from Buffy the Vampire Slayer magazine #13 (UK, September 2000), page 20-21.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer second season DVD set. 20th century Fox (region 1, 2002), disc two and three.