- “I know what you're thinking: 'Crazy preacher man, spoutin' off about the Whore of Babylon' or some such. That ain't me. I'm not here to lecture you. What's the point? My words just curdle in your ears, you don't take in a thing. So much filth inside your head, ain't no room for the words of truth.”
Caleb was a defrocked preacher and misogynistic serial killer who served the First Evil as its leading enforcer during its crusade to end the Slayer line. In 2002, he was responsible for organizing the Harbingers of Death's systematic attacks on Potential Slayers and Watchers worldwide. In Sunnydale, he sought the Slayer weapon Mʔ, an artifact destined for Buffy Summers to defeat him and the First's plans.
- “All these girls... they followed you willingly.”
- ―First Evil[src]
Prior to becoming the right-hand man of the First Evil, Caleb was responsible for the deaths of at least two girls, whom he lured with his stirring sermons and masculine charm. One of these was Betty; the second girl was apparently a choir girl in Knoxville, Tennessee. However, the First referred as well to "all these girls" who followed him, implying many more were killed.
In 2002, Caleb was responsible for organizing the Bringers' systematic attacks on the Potential Slayers as well as their respective Watchers. He orchestrated the bombing of the Watchers Council headquarters in England, causing the deaths of its director Quentin Travers and many other members of the Watchers Council, such as Phillip, Lydia, and Nigel.
After the destruction of the Council, Caleb traveled to the United States. He presented himself at a Catholic mission in the town of Gilroy, where he was welcomed and given food, though he disturbed the mission's members because of his rantings about destiny. There, he uncovered a secret room, which bore an inscription that translated to "It is not for thee. It is for her alone to wield". Caleb then turned on his benefactors, burning his mark into one of them and killing the rest.
Caleb seemingly orchestrated as well an attack to the women's prison in Stockton, where he tried to have Faith Lehane eliminated by her fellow inmate Debbie, though the would-be-assassin failed in her task.
- “You girls are just burning with righteousness, aren't you? Problem is, you think they're blazing like suns, when really you're matchsticks in the face of the darkness.”
- ―Caleb to Buffy[src]
Caleb eventually made his way to Sunnydale, running into a Potential Slayer named Shannon on a highway. The girl had been on the way to the town as well, but was targeted by a group of Bringers who drove her right to Caleb's truck. Believing herself to be safe, Shannon told Caleb she was on her way to Revello Drive. After a sermon, Caleb quickly turned on Shannon, burning his mark on the side of her neck, stabbing her in the stomach, and throwing her to the highway. She was then found by Willow Rosenberg and Faith, who were travelling from Los Angeles in the same road. Before injuring her, Caleb gave Shannon a message for Buffy Summers: "I have something of yours."
Caleb set up camp at the Shadow Valley Vineyards, where the Bringers began to dig in order to find the artifact Caleb had been seeking in the Gilroy mission: the Slayer weapon Mʔ. Due to Caleb's challenge, the Scooby Gang attacked the Vineyard. In the ensuing fight, Caleb murdered two potential Slayers and defeated Buffy, Faith, and Spike. Buffy was able to knock him down temporarily to allow the group to escape; however, before the group retreated, Caleb also managed to gouge out Alexander Harris's left eye with his bare hands. Spike knocked him down to rescue Xander and the group was allowed to escape.
- “You can't stop me, you don't have the ba—”
- ―Caleb's last words[src]
Empowered by a new transfusion of power from the First, Caleb had a final duel against Buffy in the Guardian's crypt, killing the Last Guardian just as she talked with Buffy. The Slayer was armed with the recently retrieved Mʔ, but still had difficulty fighting him enough for him to use the weapon against her. As Caleb prepared to kill Buffy with the scythe, Angel suddenly arrived and knocked Caleb out for a moment, allowing Buffy to recover. She refused further help from Angel, wanting to finish the job herself, and the two resumed the fight. This time, Buffy managed to slice Caleb across the stomach with the Mʔ, apparently killing him.
However, Caleb's recent transfusion of power apparently granted him great endurance, so he rose again and knocked Angel out for a final confrontation with Buffy. While still incredibly powerful, this time Buffy was able to fight more evenly with Caleb. She killed Caleb by using the scythe to cut him vertically from the groin up. As Angel regained conscious, aware Buffy had killed Caleb and ready for another round, Buffy jokingly confirmed that Caleb "split". The First confirmed that Buffy did in fact kill him that time, then being able to assume his form.
Some time later, the First Evil appeared to Buffy, manifesting under the guise of the slain Caleb. The night before she went on direct battle against his army of Turok-Hans, the First lectured Buffy on the futility of her campaign against it. Although, this meeting that encouraged Buffy to come up with her plan to activate multiple Potentials worldwide to full Slayer using the essence of the Scythe.
While at the Slayer Organization, Buffy had a recurring nightmare in which Caleb was again alive, in the home of the Seed of Wonder, with her claiming: "I left you in a smoking crater." In the dream, he lectured Buffy while she was devastated by her two vampire lovers, Angel and Spike, kissing each other. The dream changed to Caleb heading the wedding ceremony of Buffy and a skinless Warren Mears.
At the time, Caleb was also one of the red herrings thought to be behind the mask of Twilight. When Buffy attempted to cut Twilight in half by the crotch, he retorted: "I know that move, Slayer." Twilight was eventually revealed to be Angel, who was present when Buffy defeated Caleb with this same move.
Powers and abilities
- “You're in me. Gave me strength no man can have.”
- ―Caleb to The First[src]
First Evil empowerment
Caleb's body served as a vessel for some of the power of the noncorporeal First Evil and imbued him with immensely powerful strength and endurance.
- Biological mutations: The merger also temporarily turned Caleb's eyes solid black and mutated his blood into a thick oily substance.
- Superhuman strength: Caleb was able to shatter solid concrete with his bare hands, snap people's necks with ease and send an opponent flying dozens of feet with a single blow.
- Superhuman endurance: Caleb's empowerment also allowed him with superhuman durability which borders on near invulnerability. It allows him to survive lethal injuries, as demonstrated when he revived after being severely wounded with the Scythe. Because of how powerful he was, it took cutting him in half to kill him completely.
- Combat prowess: In their first encounter, he effortlessly defeated the entire Scooby Gang and their large numbers of Potentials, even managing to outmatch the combined might of Buffy, Faith, and Spike. However, none of these knew what they were up against and were unprepared. With more experience against him and Caleb's powers starting to wane, his advantages diminished over time in Buffy's case with the two fighting nearly evenly before he is empowered again. Afterwards, even with his strength restored, he wasn't able to win as easily as before. Although Buffy had a somewhat easier time defeating him afterward, he still possessed incredible power.
- “Your strength is waning. It's been a while since we've... merged.”
- ―The First[src]
- Temporary powers: However, Caleb's powers were only temporary, requiring periodical mergers with the First's manifestation in order to sustain it.
- Extreme injuries: By slicing him in half, Buffy was able to finally kill him.
Personality and traits
- “You were born dirty. Born without a soul, born with that gaping maw that wants to open up and suck out a man's marrow. Makes me puke to think too hard on it.”
- ―Caleb's view of women[src]
Behind his priest's collar, Caleb was sadistic and misogynist. Impressed by his body's fortitude as well as his single-minded nature, the First Evil made him the commander of its campaign of carnage and mayhem. He liked to reenact his killings by asking the First to take on the form of the girls he had killed, so that he may "kill them again".
Caleb often delivered quasi-biblical quotes, frequently even making allusions to his belief that the First was actually God. Caleb seemed to quote the Old Testament in order to support his own twisted beliefs. For example, his views on women being evil related to his views on Eve, the biblical first female (in the Jewish and Christian book of Genesis), and how she gave Adam, the first created man and first created human, the forbidden fruit. When the First asked Caleb if he thought the First was God, Caleb replied that he believed the First is beyond such definition.
Caleb also commented further on his admiration of the First, when it (under the guise of Buffy) vocalized its envy of humans' ability to feel lust and engage in primal sexual acts and/or violence. Caleb dismissed them all as "sinners", commenting enthusiastically that the First is miles beyond that, for it is "sin" itself.
Prior to becoming a preacher of the First Evil's "glory", Caleb was a preacher who was defrocked due to his insanity. Despite this, Caleb would often go on to do long sermons to the First Evil, preaching his glory and even manipulating biblical terminology and quotes to suite his own views the First Evil was not just God, but is far beyond such a definition. Even the First Evil found his sermons admirable and enjoyed them to the point where the First Evil eve encouraged him to keep on preaching.
Behind the scenes
- He was portrayed by Nathan Fillion.
- When asked about Caleb's religious connections, Joss Whedon said: "I want to come down against the patriarchy and there was simply no more potent image. At the same time, I'm not coming down against priests. This guy clearly is not one. He's very bad at it." About his denomination being unclear, he explained: "Yeah well, again, it's the image of the thing. I believe that religion has contained within it an enormous amount of misogyny, and that cannot be denied. That's something that I will always bridle against and that image [a priest] is potent because of that."
- Caleb was introduced, according to Joss Whedon, because the mutable, non-corporeal nature of the First Evil "meant that we didn't really have anything to push against. We needed... a sidekick. Somebody physical that we can see from episode to episode." Whedon describes him as "the creepiest priest", adding "he is the most bold-faced misogynist we've had since, well, since last year, with Warren."
- The character was inspired by Rev. Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter. Both are misogynistic serial killers masquerading as preachers from the south.
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