Claire Nuñez: Why She’s Awesome, And Why You Should Care
Perhaps it’s because DreamWorks’ Race To The Edge has left a cold, bitter void in my heart; or perhaps it’s because the writing and characters in Trollhunters are that good; maybe it’s both?
The point is, I need to talk about the deep appreciation I have for Claire Nuñez.
At first—for about 12 episodes or so—I didn’t have much of an opinion of her. She seemed kind of wooden; generic. It actually baffled me why she would keep forgiving Jim for flaking. From an objective point of view, he was being a complete jerk. I couldn’t understand why this smart, self-respecting young lady would keep giving this guy second chances. As the audience, we knew what Jim was dealing with—but Claire didn’t. I was actually glad she got mad, and stayed mad, at him after the first NotEnrique incident. It was about time…but it was even more than that. She knew Jim was lying to her; keeping things from her. She wasn’t just taking his excuses without a reasonable amount of skepticism.
Once her eyes are opened to the whimsical world of trolls, her character really starts to shine—and she never stops.
She’s smart, but not insufferable; self-reliant, but not overpowered; enthusiastic, but not wholly ignorant to the dangers of what they do (maybe a bit optimistic, though). Most importantly, she doesn’t take the boys’ crap. When Toby starts acting like a jealous girlfriend, she calls him out on it. She makes him admit it out loud, even though she forgives him. A vague half-apology or admission of wrongdoing isn’t enough for her. She isn’t just going to take the high road without some humility in return. NotEnrique gives her crap, and she gives it right back. Their dynamic is wonderful.
Can I also just say that she misses her brother terribly. It’s the nightmare that plagues her during Angor Rot’s pixie attack on the school—but she pushes forward with a stiff upper lip, never letting her heartache for her missing baby brother slow her down or distract her (when she isn’t hallucinating, of course). That takes a good deal of inner strength.
Claire is also an accomplished fighter, but she has to train and work at the shadow staff. She isn’t going to be able to flawlessly wield a weapon crafted for nefarious purposes. It responds effectively to her anger, but she’s trying to gain control over it without relying on negative emotions. It is wonderful that we see her try and fail; try and succeed. She’s reliable. Dependable. She isn’t a damsel Jim has to continuously save! With the exception of her first encounter with goblins (which she is understandably unprepared and outmatched for), Claire is not just fodder for Jim’s heroics. That is incredibly refreshing
Now, let’s talk about Jlaire.
Is this your typical teenage romance slow burn? Yes. It is. So, what sets this pairing apart, you ask? Well, besides the aforementioned reason that they fight alongside each other and Jim isn’t always risk life and limb to save Claire, their relationship is a budding romance intermingled with a strengthening friendship and mutual respect.
Not to mention, Claire isn’t a bashful flower around Jim. She knows he likes her. She isn’t obtuse, and that is also a nice change in the teen romance cliche. How many times have we seen the mutually oblivious almost-couple that just cannot see what is so painfully obvious to everyone else? You want to shake the screen because they are so stupidly dense for not other reason but to drag out needless drama?
We don’t get that with Jim and Claire—and that’s because Claire takes initiative. If Jim had his way, they would still be floundering in mutual cluelessness, and we would all be shrieking into our pillows or couch cushions. But Claire isn’t having it. Jim likes her, she knows it. She develops feelings for the wonderful, dorky noodle child in return. She drops him all the major hints to give him the opportunity to step up…and he doesn’t. Now, as thick as Jim is being despite Claire’s hints, we can understand where his head is at: he’s trying to woo the popular girl and he’s not even sure her feelings are the same as his. Jim is not smooth by any means, so he drops the ball in a bad case of nerves. We’ve also seen this kind of thing a thousand times…but this is where Claire steps in. She’s not satisfied letting things just lie where Jim dropped them. She asks him to the dance (we can imply this is a statement of her intent to date Jim, and I will elaborate on this in a moment), and is not shy about calling him out for fumbling his chances.
Claire knows what she wants, and she wants Jim—at least in a vague, loosely-dating sense. She also wants Jim to have every opportunity to make a move, even if she has to prod him along.Bless Claire for taking the lead when her not-boyfriend-but-kinda-is misses a step. After she takes the initiative to ask Jim to the dance, it bolsters his confidence. He feeds off of Claire’s strength and support. He wastes no time in trying to kiss her twice after that (curse those interrupting circumstances). This is why I believe Claire’s intent is to date Jim, because she certainly is not resistant to his advances after that.
We need more leading ladies like Claire: smart, tough, capable, and outspoken, but in a balanced, believable way.