Ok here we go! Seat belts, everyone! *seatbelt buckle noises* I know there's a lot of different feelings about Buck Oliver as a character and his development or how often he is/isn't in stories etc etc, but I've got some THOUGHTS on a lot of what's going on currently.
A lot of Odyssey characters, prolly most noticably Whit, have been acting kind of out of character recently and, from what I've read, the fans are all noticing and very confused. I hold that not only has Whit been acting out of character, but Buck has been too--for awhile!
Since the beginning it's been established that Buck is incredibly loyal, kind (despite his... mmm... less than desirable upbringing ), incredibly charismatic/charming, and fairly moral (again, despite being raised in a pretty amoral environment, he's always had a strong sense of doing what's "right" even if that "right" is sometimes misguided). Basically, he's kinda like a puppy . He's showed with pretty much any of his relationships that he's dedicated and once you have his love and trust, he'll always give you the benefit of the doubt, fight for you, and do pretty much anything for you--even if it puts him in a bad situation. Now, you could reasonably argue that this is perhaps partly due to being raised by Skint who required that kind of loyalty or you were out, but I think that at this point anyway, a lot of it is truly genuine on Buck's part. I think from the start this is who Buck was established to be, and that's only been more deeply established since he moved to Odyssey. It's seen in pretty much all of his current relationships (Eugene, Katrina, Jules, Connie, etc).
Alright, now that we've established where I'm coming from, let's get to what is wrong with Buck currently: personally, I was let down by The Long End (TLE). I thought that Buck, and Skint, were out of character and that the ending was horrible. Skint is smart--he taught Buck everything that he knows about the art of the con. Sure, they kinda imply that Buck is a protegé of sorts, so maybe he surpasses even Skint? But it seems rather unlikely to me. In Friend or Foe, Jules comes to Buck and asks him to con Valerie to get back at her for what she's doing to Jules. Buck responds by saying that you can't ever con a con because they know and will get you back. Then, a few albums later, he takes down Skint by conning him???????? Huhhhh??? Why would Skint believe that? Why would he fall for it?? Yes, I understand the argument that Skint still loves Buck, in his own way, and still misses him, but would that be enough for him to make such a massive blunder as to fall for the old "oh you walk into the vault before me" trick?! It felt really unbelievable to me. So that was the beginning. Second, a HUGE part of TLE was Buck (and Jules a bit) struggling with the idea of can I/do I ever change? They seemed to imply that his end conclusion was that he CAN change and has and will continue to. However, since then, he's been still resorting to cons as a way of solving problems. Again, I understand that TLE isn't necessarily gonna be the end all be all of any of Buck's problems or tendencies towards The Life™, but even for something as simple as a football playbook, he immediately resorted back to conning and tricks. Then, in LCTWTO, he steals a bunch of cell phones and starts a whole thing to get a journal.
Which, I suppose, could bring us to the case of Buck's relationship with Jules. I've seen a lot of posts of fans saying they don't like Buck with Jules (platonically or otherwise) because she's a bad influence on him and he regularly gets into trouble for her. While I agree that that seems to happen, I'd argue that, again, that kind of comes from a place of sincere affection (again, platonic or otherwise, we really don't know) and puppy-like loyalty. With the Valerie situation, he wouldn't do a con, but he did return all the purchases and try to kind of make restitution on Jules's behalf. He flew to California despite being in the middle of a fight and being ignored for at LEAST 6 weeks just to make up and try to keep her from making a decision she'd regret. He pulled together a cell phone thing in like idk 20 minutes or whatever just to get back her journal (don't get me started on what must be inside that journal... I NEED to know but have 0 faith that Odyssey will tell us and give us the wrap up to that that we need). He used a free period to go all the way out to the Riley-Clemens farm to get her reeds for her clarinet. I think that they have a really interesting relationship and I'm looking forward to seeing how Jules FINALLY starts changing as a result.
Now, the clarinet reeds brings us to my next point. Eugene and Katrina have always showed Buck their love and appreciation. They've never given him any reason to doubt their love and he's really never struggled with feelings of idk abandonment or feeling unloved etc. Then suddenly out of nowhere, he steals Connie's car to see if the people of Odyssey actually love him??? Huuuhhhh??? I feel like there would've had to have been a LOT going on inside for him to get to that point. But we don't know any of it. The story was more Polehaus-centric and REALLY left me wondering what in the world had driven Buck to that point. Last I knew he was fine. Then suddenly he's stealing cars!
Essentially, aaaaalllll of this to say that I feel like the Odyssey team has established and reinforced some particular character points about Buck and who he is and how he thinks and what he values etc. However, recently, I feel like he's been going against everything that's been established about him! They took a character (who in my opinion [and I know a lot of people disagree, that's fine, you do you, boo!] is one of the best characters, and the best current kid character) that they'd established a lot of deep points about and now they're throwing it all out the window and he's doing nothing that they've worked so long on establishing. At first, I had high hopes that this was all leading up to something and that we have some HUGE upcoming reveal that will leave us all SHOOKETH, but I don't know anymore. I'd still LOVE for that to happen, but recently I've been severely disappointed in Odyssey's follow-throughs. They leave a lot of points hanging or sloppily wrap up long-term arcs with stories that I feel still leave a lot of loose ends. So I don't know if Buck will get the continuing arc that he deserves. I think that the character has always had big arcs, he has a big story, he's such a fun character and has a lot of potential! He's been a favorite since he first appeared in Odyssey (like 10 years ago ) and I'm looking forward to seeing the character grow and develop further as the show continues. But as of right now anyway, Buck deserves better.
If you've made it this far, I applaud you ! You absolute champion, you! My sister gets kinda salty whenever I listen to a Buck story (which happens... a LOT ) cause I always come away with a new rant about how they're messing up the character. Do y'all have any thoughts? Anybody else out there feel me???
I would like to defend Buck's writing a little bit because I think there's an explanation, but first, some background about me because I have ADHD and Buck Oliver has been my special interest for the last five years. So I can quote nearly every line he has, I have analyzed, and continue to analyze his scenes and relationships, oh and I write WAY too much fanfiction about him. I'm a bit ashamed to admit that the fanfics I have posted on here aren't even half of the Buck fanfiction I've written. So all this is to say, I know Buck pretty well and usually write from his perspective. So I have some theories.
I want to start by going through his character's presentation album by album, kind of breaking down how he sees the world, not taking too much context from other albums.
The Green Ring Conspiracy:
So what are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Let's only discuss these albums first so that we can be on the same page. I think we can argue that he's at least consistent through these episodes, so it's gonna be easier to judge the writing of his character in later episodes if this is our baseline for him.
P.S. Sorry for any gramatical kinds of errors above. (I did not proof read lol)
Lemme just start by saying, I'm so glad you responded!! I've read a lot of your comments about Buck (and even some of your fanfics on here) and I've always thought Wow, here's somebody who gets it!! Somebody else who over listens to and over analyzes all the Buck stories--I'm not as crazy as my younger sister seems to think! Or, maybe I am, but at least I'm not alone.
Ok, to the analysis! First off, just YES. To everything. Yes. Yes. YES. What a great character! Definitely doesn't get the love he deserves. I 100% agree that up to this point, Without a Hitch, Buck is consistent. We see him growing and developing in all the ways we'd hope and assume based on what'd been established about him so far.
THE scene in Old Tricks gets me every time! That whole story is so underrated. I feel like it's just casually kinda slipped into the album and never really mentioned again and kinda just forgotten but it's SUCH a turning point for Buck and his relationships with Eugene and Katrina (prolly especially Eugene).
I really like the point you bring up about Buck always needing to be in control of a situation! I think that's a really interesting point and I agree. I'd argue that he really didn't have much control over his situation when he was with Skint. But! He was taught that if Skint wasn't there, like he was off on his own for a con or whatever, he had to make sure he was in control of the situation cause it'd be the only way to make things all work out. It's very much a self-preservation technique that he didn't seem to know how to move on without for awhile. It's the consistency of Eugene and Katrina showing love and support that starts drawing him out, as you're saying. Which, then, is why I feel like he's kinda been all over the place recently. Cause, yes, after 14 years of being taught one way, it's not gonna be a one and done for him to let go of all that. But it's kinda feeling like he's just learning that same lesson over and over and over. But not in ... The best ways? Like they're not addressing the changes taking place. Which, is what I hate so much about TLE! Cause we hear that Buck is really struggling and he doesn't know if he's changed or if he can but then the next thing we know he's got it all sorted and doesn't care and ugh. Sorry! I know we're not quite there yet!
I really liked your point too of Buck feeling like he has to save everyone! And then realizing that maybe he can't and that's ok. I've definitely noticed that too and it's a trope that low-key I'm always there for cause I think it's so interesting. I kinda feel like he's still kinda got some of those feelings and stuff going on cause of how he treats Jules??? Idk. I guess you could also argue that he kinda sees her struggling with the same things he's struggled with and is trying to show her the same safety and love (platonic or... otherwise ) that he's experienced in Odyssey. Again, I know we haven't quite delved into the Jules part of Buck's life yet, but I always associate them with each other. I love all the stories just about Buck, but I also feel like Buck's overall arc is, by this point, very much wrapped up in Jules's and vice versa.