y’all ever think about the parallels of these two scenes?
in the bench scene they're sitting out in the public in the sunlight, happily talking to each other and facing each other bc they're more open to each other. there's some tension between them but only because they're strangers and their body language suggests that they want to get to know each other more. willie especially looks like he's in his element, with his hair down and his skateboard leaning against the bench, his posture slouching but not because of exhaustion, more because that’s how he sits comfortably. alex looks eager to continue the conversation, not at all anxious like he was before.
in the orpheum scene they're sitting in the dark in privacy (even though it doesn’t matter, because they’re both ghosts so they can’t be seen). they're both wearing hats/baggy clothing (alex's hat, willie's sweater covering his hands) as if they're trying to hide from themselves and each other, and they're not fully facing each other because there's that layer of tension between them as if they're now SCARED of opening up fully. not to mention that willie's hair is tied back, which is interesting bc he's more of a carefree, laid back person and so seeing his hair neatly taken care of is unusual and out of character. alex is clutching onto his drumsticks, all of the anxiety of dying back in full force. here we're in alex's element more than willie's, but this is pretty much where alex's hopes and dreams died and so he's terrified. and alex is also definitely slouching more, but this isn’t how he normally sits. he’s pretty much closing into himself (and so is willie, tbh)
and the major parallel of these scenes is that they’re both confronting death. in the first scene, willie’s talking about how being a ghost isn’t so bad, and it’s telling that it doesn’t freak willie out to be dead like it freaks alex out because dying isn’t a fear for willie. being zapped out by caleb isn't a fear for him. because he lives through death as he lived through life, carefree and happy.
in the second scene, they’re now talking about alex’s death, and the permanence of how once he’s zapped out, he’ll be gone. alex is so terrified because he wants to cling to things he cares about. he needs people like his family and friends and willie and he doesn't know what to do without that, and he’s not ready to face the next stage of his life alone, like willie is.
willie isn’t scared of his own death like alex is, because willie's death didn't change how he lived. alex's did, completely.
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head empty no thoughts except for willie so. here’s a discussion of his character based on his relationships in the show.
content warning: nothing explicit, but i do briefly mention the possibility of abuse
willie’s relationship with his family
we don’t really know much about willie’s past, so i’m gonna keep this brief, but i do have a few thoughts. the main thing i want to mention is willie’s face when we first see alex and willie interact.
in this moment, the first thing willie says is “oh man, you dinged my board!” it isn’t meant to be rude, simply a statement made in surprise. but when alex doesn’t immediately accept this and instead gets defensive, willie’s face changes. he goes from looking apologetic to surprised, and almost scared, like he wasn’t expecting alex to retaliate and now he’s afraid of what’s coming. this is probably me reading too much into it, but i definitely think willie didn’t have a good relationship with his family. the minute alex retaliates, saying “you’re lucky i didn’t-” willie is prepping himself for the next part. he’s lucky alex didn’t what? hit him back? it seems like a reaction willie knows all too well how to prepare for when he sees it.
willie’s relationship with caleb
willie’s relationship with caleb is so interesting to me. i often see people talk about it from caleb’s point of view, where he sees willie as a tool, but it’s important to notice that willie sees caleb as some sort of father figure. he looks up to caleb and genuinely trusts him, until the moment caleb breaks that trust by ‘cursing’ the boys.
before we even get into caleb and willie’s first scene together, i want to talk about this moment in the park. the way willie brings up caleb to the boys (without mentioning his name) shows that (a) willie trusts caleb enough to believe caleb will help them without anything in return, and (b) that willie wants to help alex more than anything else. we’ll get into (b) when we talk about willie’s relationship with alex, so for now let’s talk about (a). willie legitimately thinks caleb will help the boys. this must mean that whatever caleb and willie’s relationship was in the past, caleb has treated willie with a certain level of kindness and respect and has given willie anything he wanted (like allowing him to skate the streets of hollywood).
now we move to the first interaction between caleb and willie. i’ll be honest - i don’t know a single thing about camerawork or framing or anything. but i was still intrigued to notice that willie is quite literally looking up to caleb, as caleb is positioned towards the top of the stars and willie at the bottom. willie hesitantly asks if it’s still okay that he brought the boys, unsure of whether or not he did the right thing. this also ties into how i believe willie didn’t have a great relationship with his parents, because he probably reacted to his parents the same way he reacts to caleb - tentatively, and seeking approval to know he’s doing what they want. when caleb confirms that yes, of course it’s fine that the boys are here, willie becomes visibly happier, reveling in the validation caleb gives him.
just a really quick side note here: the only time caleb ever calls willie by his nickname is in front of the boys. otherwise, he always calls him ‘william.’ i wonder if it’s to show how caleb controls willie, or if willie came up with his nickname afterwards to create a distinction between his relationship with caleb and the other people in his life.
in this moment we once again see the staging where caleb is positioned above willie. this also plays into the concept that caleb controls willie, and therefore is standing over him. but i digress. caleb pretty much talks at willie about how he needs to be able to control the boys before patting him and walking off, almost as if caleb believes this will be comforting enough for willie to accept it and move on. but willie has an attachment to the boys (specifically alex) that he hasn’t really had with anyone else (not that we’ve seen - it is possible, i just don’t think so) and so he looks shocked and scared and not at all comforted. he was just completely betrayed by caleb, who had led willie to believe he’d be helpful, and willie’s not handling it well. (also, i have to add that the instant in this gif where willie reacts to what caleb said looks awfully a lot like how willie reacts to alex in the first gif)
here you can see willie trying to cover for himself. he’s sucking up to caleb, but only to keep himself on caleb’s approval list and not get in trouble. he doesn’t like how caleb treats him when he’s on his bad side, and it’s why he’s so angry and terrified when he skates away.
willie’s relationship with alex
i truly believe that alex and willie both needed to find each other. for alex, we know why - he’s freaking out and he needs some kind of support that luke and reggie are struggling to give him, because they are coping in different ways. for willie, he needed to find alex because he needed to have a relationship outside of caleb to understand who he is as a person and why he needs to get away from caleb asap.
going back to their initial meeting, we see willie excited to have found a new friend and more than eager to teach alex the ropes. i don’t think he’s having his gay panic (tm) moment like alex is, but he’s definitely coming out of his shell here and learning to open up to people.
ah, the adorable museum date. another moment where i think we learn how much willie needs someone he can talk to outside of caleb and his circle. the fact that he enjoys doing illegal things like breaking and entering just to skate shows how willie probably coped with his parents and copes with caleb. he doesn’t have anyone else to talk to, so he lets out his emotions by doing something risky. and he teaches all this to alex to help him calm down, possibly because willie sees a similarity between the two.
lets go back to the scene where willie suggests the boys meet caleb, and point (b), where i mentioned that willie wants to help alex more than anything else. when willie tells alex he can’t help him and the boys, they’re all visibly very disappointed. and so willie pulls out the caleb card because he knows it will work, and perhaps there are warning signs going off in his head about how this could potentially go wrong (which is why he hesitates before offering this as a solution) but he hates seeing alex upset and therefore will do anything for him.
skipping the hollywood ghost club parts because i think we covered everything we needed to in caleb’s section. we get to the aftermath of that night, and i believe this episode (edge of great) is where willie truly realizes his feelings for alex. in this conversation, willie is telling alex they never should’ve met. alex is immediately hurt, and willie backtracks this by saying “you’re a great guy” and implying, “it’s actually me who’s the problem.” willie is trying to be self-preserving in this moment, reminding himself that he could cease to exist if he keeps seeing alex. and so he disappears because he can’t do anything except distance himself so nothing else bad happens.
but despite all of this, willie still comes back to warn the boys and give them the best possible chance at an after-afterlife. willie realizes in between this scene and the last that there’s no way he can’t help alex, even if it risks his own existence, as caleb had already threatened. alex is worth more to willie than his own existence. and we see this confirmed out loud. alex asks, “why should we listen to a word you say?” and willie says “because i care about you, alex.” we see willie finally coming to terms with what his feelings for alex mean. he is so unbelievably in love with this boy that he’s sacrificing his own existence and his dreams to help alex and his friends cross over.
in this scene we see willie react similarly to how he reacts to caleb. he’s hesitant, almost like he’s seeking alex’s approval to even sit next to him. and he immediately takes blame for the entire situation, to make alex feel like he didn’t do anything wrong. but alex doesn’t let willie take the blame for it, because he’s not like caleb - he’s not gonna have willie shoulder the responsibility and subsequently doubt himself. and more importantly, alex isn’t mad at willie. yeah, he’s upset about the situation, but he knows it was out of willie’s hands and he won’t punish him like caleb does.
and so we come to our last scene with willie. alex and willie hug, and boy if it doesn’t get me every time. willie is shown to be hesitant to reciprocate this hug at first, maybe because he’s scared of what this relationship means for his future. but then he holds onto alex just as desperately, and we understand just how important alex has become to him in only a few weeks. he doesn’t want to let go, but obviously they have to. the two part ways, and for the first time we see willie skating without his helmet on. he doesn’t need it, because he’s already dead, but the helmet was so symbolic of willie's character. he seeks protection at all times, because even though he loves doing risky things, he’s still scared of the consequences. here, he isn’t. willie has accepted that caleb will probably punish him badly if he finds out what willie’s done, and yet willie is fine with this because alex will succeed and be able to rest in peace and that’s all that really matters.
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