“Are you crazy, OP? I don’t wanna love Nex! I hate him! He’s ________!” Insert your own reasons: “He’s rude! He’s like Riven! He’s boring!” Etc., etc.
Here’s another way to look at it. You do wanna love Nex, but those reasons are the barriers to your love. If they weren’t there, why couldn’t you love him?
This quote explains it well: “Hatred is a disguised form of love. You can only hate someone whom you really wish to love, because if you were totally indifferent to that person, you could not even get up enough energy to hate him.”
Both love and hate are forms of caring about someone — i.e., being invested in them. They both take a lot of time and energy. If you didn’t care about that person, you wouldn’t waste your time on them. You only spend it on people who matter to you in some way.
Why does Nex matter to the fandom? Because he’s dating Aisha. If you love her, you wanna share her happiness. You wanna cheer for her and look forward to her future as much as she does.
It’s hard to do that if you hate the person she might spend her future with. That’s why you wish you could love him. If only he wasn’t…insert that list of reasons again.
If we were talking about a real person, chances are you’d never get your wish. People can change, of course, but you can tell when it’s unlikely they will. But a fictional character can always change. It all depends on how his story unfolds. Those annoying traits that keep you from loving him could be gone by the end of next season.
There’s a lot we don’t know about Nex yet. Where is he from? What’s his family life like? What’s his social status? Why did he become a Paladin instead of a Specialist? Heck, what is a Paladin?
I bet Rainbow won’t answer all of these questions, but even a couple answers could change how we interpret his character. Nex is a work-in-progress. That’s what character development is all about.
With that in mind, let’s look at a few reasons the fandom hates him — and how Rainbow can make those reasons disappear.
1. Nex is a jerk. (Variations: He’s mean/a bad person/etc.; He’s like Riven.)
This is easy to fix. Rainbow just needs to show his kindness more. Some fans felt the writers did that in season seven, but others dismissed it as a lame attempt to pretend he’s nice.
I’ve said this a million times: Rainbow didn’t mean for Nex to seem like a jerk. They gave him flaws, of course, but they weren’t supposed to be the entirety of his character. If he’s supposed to be a mean, grouchy guy, why did they call him “friendly” and “nice?” Yes, those are both words they’ve used to describe him.
The “nicer” Nex from season seven was in season six, too. He’s also in the book The Legend of Eraklyon and in the Winx comics. Bottom line: what the fandom thinks of Nex doesn’t match Rainbow’s depictions of him.
How can they clean up this mess and show his real character? Here are a few ways:
- Keep showing him being kind.
Give him a character arc where he admits to his flaws and tries to change himself.
Tell us his back story to give context for his behavior.
Have him “save the cat” a few times.
I’ll explain the last one. “Save the cat,” a term coined by the late author Blake Synder, is when a character does a good deed that shows the audience he’s a good person or he’s redeemable. The cliché is saving a cat that’s stuck in a tree, but it can be anything good. A true “save the cat” scene should happen not long after the character is introduced.
Nex actually had a “save the cat” scene. In “Bloomix Power” (6X04), he threw himself in front of a basilisk to save Roy and Aisha, but he ended up getting turned to stone. In fact, I think everything Nex did at the Lynphea College was meant to be him saving a whole litter of cats!
Why didn’t the fandom care? Maybe it wasn’t memorable enough. The basilisk scene only lasted a few seconds, and it didn’t feel like a serious moment. I also think the love triangle got in the way. We weren’t really trying to get to know Nex because we thought he might be a temporary character. Instead, we cherry-picked traits to weigh against Roy’s so we could choose a side.
It’s too late for Nex to have another “save the cat” scene, but Rainbow should still have him do a few significant good deeds.
2. Nex is weird/strange. (Variations: Nex is a freak.)
Oh, a compliment! 😛
“Weird” just means different than what we’re used to. Just like with real people, being different isn’t a bad thing. The last thing this show needs is a bunch of characters who act the same, right? 😉
If Nex is “weird,” that means he stands out in the group. Good! Of course, since the fandom isn’t used to him, we need to see more of him being his “weird” self. After a while, it’ll feel normal to us. A back story could help here, too, because it might help explain his “weirdness.”
I’ve heard the opposite complaint, too: “Nex is boring. There’s nothing interesting about him.” That’s easy to fix, too. Remember how I said we don’t know much about him? Something as simple as what realm he’s from could make him more interesting. (Or Rainbow could just make him weirder. 😛 )
3. Nex isn’t right for Aisha. (Variations: Aisha and Nex are a bad couple.)
I’ll ignore the bias around this issue and focus on Aisha and Nex. How can Rainbow make them feel like a “better” couple? Based on what I’ve seen in this fandom, “better” just means “cuter.” They want plenty of sweet moments they can tweet, share, like, and scream, “Awwwwwwwwwww!” at over and over again. It’s part of what I mentioned earlier: sharing the characters’ happiness. (Literally.)
Again, that’s easy to fix. Season eight is the perfect time for Rainbow to amp up the romance between these two. They’ll have been a couple for more than a year, so we’d expect them to have deeper feelings for each other by then. Love grows, after all. 🙂
By the end of season seven, they already seemed closer. They were more affectionate towards each other, and Nex’s goodbye in ep. 25 — “I’ll come and see you soon, Aisha” — was setting up another date, so they clearly like spending time with each other. The Italian dub was more obvious: “I’ll come back and meet with you soon, Aisha” (my translation).
I’m sure Rainbow will develop Aisha and Nex’s relationship more in season eight. But I don’t wanna see just plain old, classic romance. That’s empty and cliché. I wanna see a test that forces them to confront their differences and learn to accept them — even appreciate them. That’s what separates true love from infatuation.
Notice all these “deal-breakers” about Nex that the fandom brings up a lot are easy to fix. None of them is set in stone. Like I said, Nex is a work-in-progress, not a finished product. He’s like a clay sculpture — Rainbow’s still molding and shaping him.
Here’s my point. Nex isn’t the kind of guy we expected, and you may hate him right now. But if you’re willing to be patient and open, you might start to love him one day.
Don’t believe me? It’s happened with many characters before him, even the most popular ones in this show. A single episode — even a single scene — can change everything.