Buffy Character: Caleb | Nathan Fillion

Caleb was played by Nathan Fillion, who appears in season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He is the central antagonist in the seventh season. Caleb was a defrocked preacher and a misogynistic serial killer. He was the leading enforcer of the First Evil, during their crusade. 

Caleb was created by Joss Whedon, who described him as the “creepiest priest” you will ever meet. He had a real hatred against women and sought them out to kill them. While also doing the First Evil’s work.

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Caleb was created so the audience could actually see someone from the First Evil, and who we can follow to see what they are doing. Caleb was seen as the sidekick to the First Evil, so that there was a physical someone we the audience could watch from episode to episode.

This character was inspired by Reverend Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter. Both characters are misogynistic serial killers who pretend to be priests and preachers from the south. 

Biography

Before Sunnydale

Before becoming part of the First Evil, Caleb was a priest. However, he wasn’t a good priest, he was responsible for the deaths of a minimum of two girls, but the chances are that this number is much higher. Caleb lured the girls to him with his masculine charm and his sermons.

The First refers to this cime as ‘all the girls’, which is implied that he lured a lot more than just two girls to their death.The girls that we know about, we are told that one was called Betty. While the other girl was a choir girl from Knoxville in Tennessee. 

Once the First Evil surfaces in Sunnydale, it is by this time that Caleb has made himself a loyal follower of the First Evil. As a loyal follower, he tries to eliminate all and any threats to the First Evil’s return.

Therefore in 2002, it was Caleb who organized and was responsible for the Bringer’s attacks on the Potential Slayers and Watchers. Celeb organized and saw through his plan of bombing the Watcher’s Council Headquarters in England.

This resulted in the deaths of the Watchers Council’s director, Quentin Travers. Other members of the council that were killed include Lydia, Nigel and Phillip. 

It is after Caleb destroys and kills several members of the council that he escapes and makes his way to the United States. Caleb ends up in the small town of Gilroy, where he approaches the Catholic mission.

He is welcomed and is given food, drink and shelter after his long journey. The other members of the mission aren’t very keen on Caleb’s appearance and presence. He makes them feel uncomfortable as he rants about destiny, and what his and everyone else’s destiny is going to be.

It is while he is at the Catholic mission that Caleb uncovers a secret room, which has an inscription on the walls. Translated this inscription says “it is not for thee, it is for her alone to wield”.

This inscription then causes Caleb to turn on the missionaries, who have been extremely welcoming to him. He burns his mark into one of them and then ends up killing the rest of them. 

Alongside this, it is known that Caleb also planned an attack on the women’s prison in Stockton. His plan was for Debbie to kill her inmate, Faith Lehane. However, Debbie couldn’t go through with it and failed. 

Time in Sunnydale

After all of this, Caleb made his way to Sunnydale. Once Caleb enters Sunnydale, he bumps into Shannon, a potential slayer on the highway. Shannon was on her way to town, but a  group of Bringers were targeting her.

As a result, she drives right into the back of Caleb’s truck. Shannon buys into Caleb’s priest act and believes she is safe with him from the Bringer’s. She foolishly tells Caleb that she was on her way to Revello Drive, the place where Buffy lives. 

After one of his sermons, Caleb is back to his old ways. He lures Shannon to him and quickly turns on her. Before hurting her, Caleb tells Shannon to give a message to Buffy Summers, which is “I have something of yours”.

Then, Caleb burns his mark into the side of Shannon’s neck, alongside stabbing her in the stomach. Finally, Caleb throws Shannon’s body onto the highway. Shannon’s body is found by Faith and Willow Rosenburg. Faith and Willow were traveling back from Los Angeles on the same road where they came across Shannon’s body. 

Caleb then sets up base at the Shadow Valley Vineyard. The Bringer’s are beginning to dig. They are in search of the artifact that Caleb was looking for while he was on the Gilroy mission. The artifact is the Slayer Weapon M. The Scooby gang then attacks the vineyard, which then results in a massive fight between the Scooby gang and Caleb.

During the fight, Caleb manages to kill two potential slayers. One of the potential slayers he kills is Molly, who is one of the first potential slayers to appear in the series. The other potential he kills is Rona. After that he effortlessly defeats Spike.

Buffy and Faith who underestimate Caleb’s fighting abilities. Buffy managed to knock Caleb down temporarily to give the group time to escape. Yet before the group have time to escape, Caleb manages to gough Alexander Harris’s left eye out with just his bare hands.

He forces his thumb into his left eye socket and blinds Xander in his left eye. Finally, Spike manages to properly knock Caleb down so he can rescue Xander. This also gave the Scooby gang enough time to escape.

The End

Caleb is revived by the First Evil, which gave him his own powers. With these powers, Caleb and Buffy had one final duel. This duel took place in the Guardian’s crypt. Caleb killed the Last Guardian, while she was talking to Buffy.

However, Buffy was ready for him, she had the Slayer Weapon M, which Celeb had been looking for. However, he couldn’t use the weapon on her.

Caleb attempted to kill Buffy with the scythe when suddenly Angel appears and knocks Caleb out. This gave time for Buffy to recover from their fight. Buffy didn’t want any more help from Angel, as she wanted to finish this herself.

Which then led to Caleb and Buffy resuming their fight. Yet this time, Buffy had the upper hand and managed to slice Caleb across the stomach with the weapon, which apparently killed him. 

Although, due to Caleb’s newfound abilities and powers, he has great endurance. Which is why he rose once more and knocked Angel out. This then led to the final fight between Caleb and Buffy.

This final battle was a lot more even between both characters, as Caleb’s injuries weakened him. Buffy uses the scythe to cut Caleb from the groin up.

When Angel regains consciousness, he is aware that Buffy has killed Caleb, but he is ready in case that he does come back to life again. To which, Buffy replies that Caleb split. The First Evil later confirms that Buffy did in fact in that final battle kill Caleb when he split him in half using the scythe.

After Death

A while later, Caleb appears again to Buffy. This time the First Evil are using the body of the deceased Caleb. The night before Buffy went to battle against the army of Turok-Hans. The First Evil felt like this was a pointless mission and there was no need for it.

Buffy’s meeting with the First Evil through Caleb’s body, then led Buffy to activate multiple potentials to full slayer titles all over the world. She did this by using the essence of the Scythe. 

Alongside this, when Buffy was at the Slayer Organization, she kept having a recurring nightmare. This nightmare was that Caleb was alive and was living in the home of the Seed of Wonder.

During these nightmares, Caleb would lecture Buffy while she watched Angel and Spike kiss one another. Then the nightmare would change to Caleb conducting a wedding ceremony between Buffy and a skinless Warren Mears. 

Caleb was believed to be the red herring that was behind the mask of Twilight. Buffy tried to cut Twight in half, starting at the groin, just like she had with Caleb. To which, Twilight responded with ‘I know that move, Slayer’.

It is then revealed that Twilight is in fact Angel. Therefore, as Angel was present when Buffy killed Caleb with this move, Twilight/Angel knows this move too. 

Personality/Traits

Caleb was a brutal and heartless character. He may have once been a priest, but under that collar he was misogynistic and he had pleasure from causing pain or humiliation towards other people. Caleb was very single minded and all he did was follow the First Evil’s bidding.

Due to his unforgiving and brutal nature, Caleb was made the commander of mayhem and carnage by the First Evil. Caleb enjoyed reenacting his kills, so he would ask the First Evil to take on the form of girls he had already killed, so that he could kill them again. 

Caleb takes the form/disguise of a priest throughout his appearances. Now he isn’t a traditional priest, as the religion/faith he follows is the First Evil. At times, Caleb does mention that he believes that the First Evil is actually God. the First Evil even asked Caleb if he thought that they were God, to which Caleb replied that the First Evil are beyond any such definition. 

Caleb was devoted and obsessed with the First Evil. The First Evil told Caleb, how much it envied humans as they can feel lust and partake in sexual acts and voilence. To which Caleb said that those who partake in such acts are sinners and that the First Evil is far above that and anyone.

 In a way to support what he was saying, Caleb would quote the Old Testament, a lot more than the New Testament. His views on women being evil and a reason why he should kill them, come from his views on Eve, from the creation story of Adam and Eve in the Christian book of Genesis.

He believes women are evil, due to Eve giving Adam, who is the first created man and human, the forbidden fruit. 

Caleb was a devout preacher of the First Evil. Yet for other characters, he came off as insane, due to his devotion to the First Evil. Caleb would go on extended and long sermons about the First Evil and why they were so great.

He would even manipulate the bible so it would fit his views about the First Evil. Caleb was a brutal and harsh character, who enjoyed hurting and killing women, as he felt they were so far beneath him and worthless. He would enjoy killing women he has already hurt and killed for the thrill of it. He had no empathy for anyone and looked out for himself and the First Evil.

Appearance

Celeb was portrayed by Nathan Fillion. He was always seen wearing traditional priest clothes, which included a black buttoned up shirt and a white collar. He always wore his black skirt and white collar, which gave him the best disguise of being a priest, even though he was defrocked for his beliefs to the First Evil.

He was a handsome young man, with a friendly face which made it very easy for him to lure girls to their deaths.

Celeb always had short to medium length brown hair. As a human he had browneyes, but after the merger, when the First Evil brought him back, his eyes temporarily turned solid black.

After he was attacked by Buffy and Angel, this black substance that seemed to be covering his eyes, started to leak all over his face. This black substance also changed his blood to a similar substance, which looked like thick black oil. This substance stayed on Caleb’s face and in his blood until he was finally filled by Buffy, when he was cut from his groin up. 

Powers/Abilities

For a while Caleb was an average human. However, at one point Caleb’s body became a vessel for some of the powers of the First Evil. This then results in Caleb gaining great strength and endurance, as can be seen with his final duel with Buffy. However, these powers that Caleb has are only temporary and require periodical mergers with the First Evil for him to keep his powers continually.

  • Strength – Caleb was able to send his oppenten flying across the room with ease. He could shatter concrete with just his hands and even snap someone’s neck effortlessly. 
  • Endurance – Caleb could survive very lethal injuries that anyone else would just die from. This is why he kept getting up and carrying on his fight with Buffy. Really, Caleb had superhuman durability and so it took literally Buffy cutting him in half to be able to kill him completely. Otherwise, he would have just kept getting back up and attacking.
  • Combat – Caleb is a great combat fighter. When Caleb first meets the Scooby gang and the potentials, he manages to defeat them all, even though he is hugly outnumbered. Caleb also managed to defeat Buffy, Spike and Faith, who are all known great fighters as well. By being against more experienced fighters, his fighting abilities were a lot more evenly matched, but he was still an experienced fighter and a lot stronger than the Scooby gang were prepared for.
  • Psychic – Caleb could detect the aura and powers of his opponents, and was even able to read their minds. 

Relationships

Celeb was the main antagonist in season 7 and so he didn’t have any friendships or relationships, because he was fighting everyone instead. Everyone was really his enemy and especially the woman who was despised. 

  • First Evil – Caleb didn’t have many relationships or friendships as he was the main antagonist. The only relationship he really has is with the First Evil, as he was devoted to them. He was one of their most loyal followers and sometimes referred to as The Second. This is because he was the loyal follower of the First Evil and seen as second in command. He would do anything for the First Evil and conducted many plans to serve them and destroy any threats that would try to take them down. 

Appearances

Caleb mainly appears during season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yet, this character briefly comes back for a couple of episodes in season 8 as a vision and during flashbacks. You can find Caleb in the following episodes:

  • Season 7, Episode 18 – Dirty Girls.
  • Season 7, Episode 19 – Empty Places.
  • Season 7, Episode 20 – Touched.
  • Season 7, Episode 21 – End of Days.
  • Season 7, Episode 22 – Chosen.
  • Season 8, Episode 3 – The Long Way Home Part 3 (Vision).
  • Season 8, Episode 11 – A Beautiful Sunset (Flashback).
  • Season 8, Episode 44 – Always Darkest (Vision). 

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Marianne LeBlanc
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