Kendra (Buffyverse)

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Character
Name: Kendra Young
Occupation: Slayer
Relationships: Sam Zabuto (Watcher)
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Other:
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Kendra Young, played by Bianca Lawson, was a West Indian Potential Slayer who was activated as a Slayer when Buffy Summers was killed by The Master.

Canon

Buffy was drowned by The Master but revived by Xander; however, she was clinically dead long enough for another Slayer to be Called. Kendra appears to have been a much more traditional Slayer than Buffy; she was taken from her parents at an early age and trained intensively throughout her childhood, and had much more theoretical knowledge than Buffy. She had actually read the Slayer's Handbook, which Giles never showed Buffy because he knew she'd ignore it. Her Watcher was Sam Zabuto. Unfortunately this training does not seem to have served her well, since she survived less than a year as a Slayer.

She visited Sunnydale twice; on her first visit she stowed away aboard an airliner to follow up on a predicted rising of a dark power, spotted Angel as a vampire, attempted to kill him, and then attacked Buffy believing her to be another vampire. Once past this misunderstanding they cooperated to rescue Angel from Spike and Drusilla.

Several months later she returned, following a prediction that the demon Acathala would be activated and destroy the world; this was actually the work of Angel, who had lost his soul and was now Angelus. As Buffy went to stop Angelus, Kendra was left to guard Willow Rosenberg, who was attempting to re-soul him. Drusilla interrupted the ritual, hypnotized Kendra, and cut her throat. As she died Faith was activated as the next Slayer. Buffy was accused of her murder and forced to leave Sunnydale for several weeks. She kept Kendra's favourite stake, "Mr. Pointy", as a memento.

Fandom

This article or section needs expansion.

Fannish Opinion

Many fans believe Kendra served a narrative purpose, with her tendency to follow the rules challenging Buffy's preconceived notions of what it meant to be a slayer. Kendra was killed before she had much character development, leading some fans to call her boring while others were saddened by her early exit from the series.

Kendra was introduced to show the results of a slayer who goes "by the book" and follows the Watchers' Council indoctrination to the letter. This was contrasted with Buffy's "think for yourself" style and Faith's recklessness. Since Kendra dies on her first mission, the idea is to show that training based on a formal set of rules is inferior to the other two styles. The Watchers' Council prefers to get potentials at the earliest possible age and limit parental contact in the same way a cult isolates its membership from the outside world. It is very similar to a religion that depends entirely on "revealed word" (Kendra) as opposed to a philosophy based on fundamental principles (Buffy) or a combination of situational ethics or just doing away with thought entirely (Faith).[1]
Sure, I like her. She's not a character I really care about at all, and she's annoying when she first arrives on the scene, but that's by design. Her character is a vehicle to drive Buffy's ongoing isolation arc, and then to ramp up the stakes in "Becoming", and I thought she served her purpose well.[2]
The general idea among my friends was that she was badass but her accent was ridiculous to the point it was almost racist. Kind of in a funny way.
- yeah it was like she was a caricature and not a character.[3]
Just watched becoming part 1 and it is incredibly sad when Kendra dies. I think Buffy moves on from it so quickly because she has no other option, but the way she dies is quite horrible. You know its going to happen and you just know Buffy isn't going to get there in time to save her. On reflection i'd say it was one of the saddest deaths in the show's history, due to how it occurs.[4]

Still other fans, many of them fans of colour, point to the important representation Kendra provided and the personal impact of her death in the show.

god , i remember when he killed off kendra, and how awful i felt, how none of the scooby gang (or ANY gang outside of like…freakyleaks) was a person of color. this was the part of the 90′s where all the things i loved from sci fi to feminism began to make me feel alienated.

i was so glad that Buffy got a “black friend” who also kicked ass and had amazing fashion sense. then she died the dumbest death on the series. and i was hurt,and i didnt know why. i didnt want to continue watching, but i couldnt explain why.

i was ten.[5]
I was a teenager then, actually I was the ages of the characters on the show which is why I related to it so much. and felt extra hurt by the things that happened, on the show and in the fandom

cuz you know all the awful shit every black female character on mostly white shows gets aimed at her by white fandom? “boring” “bitchy” etc. ignored and never shipped w anybody?

Kendra got that too. I had to read so many vile posts on how she was “ghetto” (????), annoying, a fake Slayer, etc. then she got killed by Dru’s fingernails and ppl rejoiced

I think that was my first real experience w misogynoir in fandom as a black fangirl and I didn’t have the vocabulary or understanding then to know why specifically it made me feel so bad. but it fucked me up[6]

A lot of discussion around Kendra in fandom relates to her being an early example of a character of color in the Whedonverse. Her short life and idiosyncratic accent are generally considered an important contributor to the idea that such characters die young, and/or are underutilised and/or stereotyped. Kendra also informs the wider debate over the popularity of CoCs in fandom (see Race and Fandom). It's indisputable that she's considerably less popular in fanworks than her successor Faith, though the reasons for this are hotly debated.

Shipping

There are no canon ships. In fanfic she is most often paired with Xander Harris or Buffy Summers. She is often mentioned in works set after her death, e.g. as someone to name a Slayer school after.

Example Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Fanfiction

FanArt

Archives and Communities

Links and Resources

References

  1. ^ Kendra discussion on Buffy Boards, (March 2017, accessed 16/03/2018)
  2. ^ Do you like Kendra as a character discussion on Buffy Boards, (August 2013, accessed 16/03/3018)
  3. ^ Kendra discussion on /r/buffy, Reddit, (Nov 2012, accessed 16/03/2018)
  4. ^ What if Kendra never died? discussion on Buffy Boards, (March 2010, accessed 16/03/2018)
  5. ^ ppl asking “what the fuck happened to joss whedon, why is he like this” are missing the fuckin’ point, my friend reblog by Tumblr user saturnineaqua, 2018.
  6. ^ ppl asking “what the fuck happened to joss whedon, why is he like this” are missing the fuckin’ point, my friend reblog by Tumblr user elfyourmother, 2018.