Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4


New Moon Rising

The Yoko Factor




New Moon Rising

The Metaphysics of "New Moon Rising"

Warning: this page contains info about episodes up through season 5 BtVS/season 1 AtS. If you're in danger of being spoiled, proceed with caution.

The spell to control the werewolf condition: A very human Oz takes Willow out for a walk on a full-moonlit night. He tells her how he traveled the world looking for a cure. Monks in Tibet taught him meditation techniques that combined with herbs, chanting and charms, allow him to control, but not cure, his transformation into a werewolf.

It is not a cure because, as the Initiative doctors discover (while torturing Oz with an electric zapper), "negative stimulation" can still elicit the transformation. Later, Oz is standing in a university hallway and thinks he smells Willow, when it is in fact Tara. Tara becomes unhappy while wishing Oz and Willow well, and Oz puts two and two together--he realizes he has a rival he didn't know about. This upsetting news triggers his complete transformation into a werewolf--in the harsh light of day.

Good and Evil in "New Moon Rising"

Oz: As upsetting as it is to find out about Tara the way that he did, Oz does not want to hurt her. He tells her to run as soon as he realizes he is wolfing out.

Tara: The Initiative soldiers find Tara after she has disabled an attacking Oz-wolf with a chair. They hypothesize that Oz-wolf is the hairy demon that killed their comrade, and take him away. Tara tries to tell them that it is Oz, but they don't give her the chance.

To Tara's credit, there was no delay in her finding Willow and telling her that Oz had been captured. The thought that Oz being out of the picture might be to her advantage never crossed her mind (T. Warin, May 3, 2000, 08:28 am).

She made a heroic and admirable effort to get out of Willow's way when Oz came back into the picture. She was in pain like she was walking on knives. ...we hurt for [Willow], Oz and Tara. We wanted them all to be happy (Frank M, May 3, 2000, 10:16 am).

Riley is all for killing the hairy beast the Initiative soldiers have captured until it transforms into Oz while his gun is trained on it. When he realizes what he almost did, Riley tries to defend Oz against the experiments of the lab coats. In the minds of Forrest and Colonel Haviland, Oz is nothing more than a lethal HST. Riley must side with the Initiative or be convicted as a traitor. Later, he sneaks to Oz's cell, where Oz is naked and bruised. Riley is caught trying to help a clothed Oz escape and is thrown into a holding cell of his own.

Moral Ambiguity in "New Moon Rising"

Oz isn't as cured as he hoped. And it's ironic, he says, that the one thing that brings out the wolf in him is the person he most wants to be with in his new non-wolfy life. He transforms completely due to his jealousy of Tara, and later begins to wolf out at the sight of Willow. He controls the transformation, but decides once again not to put Willow in danger by staying in Sunnydale.

Buffy intended to tell Riley about Angel, she just wanted to do it when there was plenty of time to deal with the fall out--and that wasn't when Faith was running around town. After Riley is forced to save Oz from the Initiative, he is finally out of that "black and white space" of "humans good, demons bad", and Buffy tells him about Angel.

Ethical Quandaries in "New Moon Rising"

The logic of love

"Don't what? Don't love you? I'm sorry. You know what? I didn't know that I got a choice in that." -- Buffy, The Prom

"It wasn't something I looking for. It's just powerful." -- Willow

...NEW MOON RISING ...was Willow, Oz, Tara, Buffy, and Riley's struggles to understand how to love and be loved, that love is illogical, that love cannot be controlled or tamed, that there is nothing black and white when it comes to who we love and desire, that above all honesty and truth must be at the center of love (DSP, May 4 12:06 2000).

When Riley argues that Willow should not have been dating a werewolf, his reasons are rational enough--Oz turns into a mindless predator three nights a month. Willow is putting herself in danger by being intimate with him. Add in the fact that the werewolf condition is passed by a bite, even while the werewolf is in human form, and you have a good case.

Buffy responds that love isn't logical. She has made this argument before (to Angel, in The Prom)--you don't decide who you fall in love with. It is not a matter of weighing the pros and cons of a person and then "deciding to fall"--it is simply an emotional reaction to a particular person, and is the result of their looks, personality, actions, or some mysterious quality you can't put your finger on.

If we can't turn love off and on on the strength of a rational argument, does that make falling for whomever we fall for justified, in and of itself? Is it always right to give in to the feelings and relationships born of them, or should we sometimes act against our feelings when logic dictates another course? Should the gang date vampires, werewolves, and ex-demons just because they have feelings for them? Love is a mystery, not a choice. The only choices are:

Sex in the Buffyverse

...there are things the network will not allow us to show. As for example [same sex] kissing. Restrictions ...force [a writer] to be creative. The spell scene in [Who Are You] was on one level a sex scene, on another level not... Part of what made Buffy and Angel so hot was what they couldn't do, because frustration is sexy and the imagination is sexier than anything (joss, May 4 18:12 2000).

Philosophies Represented in "New Moon Rising"

Anarchism "You're a dead man, Finn," Colonel Haviland threatens when he finds out where Riley's loyalties lay. "No sir," Riley replies, "I'm an anarchist." What exactly is Riley saying?

The term anarchy is often used to mean "chaos." Understood this way, anarchism is the desire for social chaos and a return to "the laws of the jungle." The argument then goes that authority and control of some people over others (whether in families, societies, or the fight against demons) is necessary, or at least inevitable. Colonel Haviland calls the Slayer and her friends "anarchists" to imply that they are rebels whose independent actions will lead to chaos in the human/demon struggle.

In reality, anarchists are people who are against government and other hierarchical social relationships:

"The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; The theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary" --Emma Goldman

Anarchists advocate a society where individuals freely co-operate together as equals. The debate over anarchism then becomes a debate over human nature and whether it is (1) necessary for some people to control others to protect society as a whole, or (2) inevitable that some people will try to control others (in either case, making an ideal anarchist state implausible).

Riley's actions certainly reject the authority of the Initiative, and assert his right to make his own choices about what to believe about "HST"s. His actions are not an acceptance of chaos nor are they a rejection of all the beliefs of the Initiative--he will not take an HST's side in every instance.

But are Riley and the gang anarchists? The fight against demons has been a hierarchically-structured struggle, at least up until the events of Graduation, pt. 2. At that point, Buffy rejected the authority of the Council. One can argue that Buffy's role as decision-maker in slaying activities from Season 1 onward, and Giles' recognition of it, actually makes the slaying game a limited matriarchy. For their own individual reasons, the gang has had some trouble since graduation developing a collective team based on the relative equality of widely varying talents. But it might be where they're headed.Willow's statement in Fear, Itself, "Being the Slayer doesn't automatically make you boss" is evidence of this.

Buffy also tried to work cooperatively with the Initiative at first, until she disagreed with their policies. In fact, many of the events of the 1999-2000 season on BtVS and Angel can be seen as signs of the struggle for authority in the demon-slaying biz--conflicts with the Initiative, the attempts of the Watcher's Council to take custody of Faith, even Buffy and Angel's argument over Faith's fate in Sanctuary.

It remains to be seen how cooperation and authority will work out between Buffy and other evil fighters. One thing is for sure, though. Buffy and her friends are not working towards a society in which demon interests will be put on a par with human interests. If an individual demon wants to live in harmony with humans, that is another matter; but the Buffyverse continues to be more black and white than gray.

The Yoko Factor

The Metaphysics of "The Yoko Factor"

The Invitation to Vampires: Angel insists on being invited into Buffy's dorm room. Why? Sunday's gang never had any trouble entering rooms occupied by still-living victims (e.g., Buffy) and dead victim's roommates. Maybe Angel was just being polite. Maybe he just assumes he needs to be invited. Either way, invite not necessary for dorm rooms.

Angel's cure: For the record, Willow cured Angel, not Buffy. OK, I feel better now.

Evil in "The Yoko Factor"

Spike is motivated by one thing--his vampiric self-interest. He wants his chip out. He wants to kill again. Helping Adam will get that for him, or so Adam says. Adam wants to create a demon-human hybrid race. He needs dead bodies. He wants Buffy at his planned massacre to even out the kill ratio. Spike can infiltrate the slayer's circle. He sends Spike to entice Buffy to the Initiative with a disk that contains his plans.

Spike worries that Buffy will interfere in Adam's plans, and wants to weaken her infamous resolve. Spike is beginning to realize Angelus' sinister wisdom:

"To kill this girl, you gotta love her."

So said his grand-sire when Spike asked Angelus why he didn't just kill Buffy. The key to defeating Buffy was killing her friends. But he can't kill the slayerettes anymore, so he sets out to use the psychological weapons he's refined in the past year.

Old Spike has been observing carefully during his time around the Scooby Gang. What's more, the Gang has relaxed its vigilance entirely too much, having come to regard him as cute (if somewhat irascible) and harmless. Huge mistake (REL, May 10 22:00 2000).

Who is the Big Bad of Season 4?

Moral Ambiguity in "The Yoko Factor"

With the Initiative holding cells full to the bursting point, you'd think Colonel Haviland would get a clue. But he tells his superiors it's due to his "exceptional boys'" HST-capture skills. The Initiative's fatal flaw from day one has been its arrogance, and Colonel Haviland's misogynistic underestimation of the slayer is yet another example of this. In his defense, he's been kept in the dark about Dr. Walsh's secret lab by his superiors. But the Colonel should have been doing everything in his power to understand Adam's design, capture him, and subdue him. In the end, Haviland is a predictable victim of his arrogance.

Riley vs. Angel: After a nice chat with Xander about Angel and his de-souled period and a bit of aloofness from the LA-rebounded Buffy, Riley comes upon Angel and four unconscious commandos and assumes the worst. Angel recognizes Riley immediately from being stealth-guy in Pangs. He is irritated by the not-so-nice greeting from the boys in green, especially the one who gets to have the one thing he wants the most in his unnaturally long life and had to give up. And Riley is ready to kill the vamp in black rather than let him find Buffy. Riley confronts him again in Buffy's dorm room. The gun wouldn't have done more than fueled their little testosterone tiff, but Riley's Xanderesque attempt to protect the vampire slayer from him must have been ouchy to Angel's ego. Love to see another cat fight in the future, boys (when Buffy's not around to referee). Meow.

Xander's crisis reaches a head when Spike claims to have heard Xander's friends suggesting that he should join the army. Spike is lying, of course, but what Buffy and Willow think doesn't matter anyway--its what Xander thinks of himself that is important. What is the purpose of his life? What does he want to do with it? The fight with the gang helps him realize that he himself is unhappy with the way things have been since graduation.

The gang didn't need Spike to divide them. They had already done most of it themselves. A few simple words, i.e., "Spike said that you said--" might have derailed their fight. But everybody was too busy having their buttons pushed to invoke the evil Spike demon.



| Metaphysics | Moral ambiguity | Good and Evil | Ethical Quandaries |

The Metaphysics of "Primeval"

| The 314 Project | The limits of behavior modification | Demon hybrids | Zombies | Rituals and Spells |

The limits of behavior modification: Let's not give it up for American chipmanship. Riley is summoned to Adam's lair by a chip embedded in his chest. "Your will belongs to us now," Adam says, but that's not true, as Riley points out. Even though he cannot act on his own will (very easily), he still has his own will. A command from Adam to "sit" might cause Riley to sit down, but in typical Initiative fashion, his body is controlled, his mind is not. He is still free to think his own thoughts in his head, as Spike is. Riley's chip (his "behavior modifier") sends signals to his central nervous system via the thoracic nerve. When Riley hears a command, a signal is sent to the chip from the speech centers of his brain. The chip processes the signal and sends a command to the appropriate muscle group--his vocal chords, legs, etc.

What Adam fails to realize is that if he could overcome the Initiative's plans for him, Riley can overcome Adam's plans as well. The signal is strong, but since Riley's thoughts retain their free will, he can attempt to override the signals sent by the chip with increased effort on the part of his normal voluntary muscle system.

Demon Hybrids:

God has nothing to do with it.

Forrest's body is not dead. He has become like Adam. He has been joined with a slain demon, a hybridization which has altered not only his behavior but his mind as well. He now has the morality and aggressive instincts of demons, coupled with the intelligence and memories of the human Forrest. This gives him a completely redefined sense of self. "I'm free of my weaknesses, my doubts," he says. He has the "clarity of evil" Angel envies in Blind Date. There is no human conscience weighing him down. Like a vampire, he has been reborn as a demon-human hybrid. It is likely, therefore, that what is called "the human soul" in the Buffyverse is no longer present in Forrest (or Adam, for that matter). RIP, human Forrest.

Zombies: Dr. Walsh and Dr. Angleman are dead. Unlike the dead guys in the Zeppo, though, they do not have free will. They are zombies. Adam is using technology to control their bodies and keep them from deteriorating. Like highly programmed automatons, they can hear instructions and carry out complex scientific tasks without willing to do so. Their "skill knowledge" is still locked in their soulless brains.

Rituals and Spells

Buffy and the gang know how to destroy Adam--remove his power source. Technology can't subdue him, however. He was built with the best human technology there is; he feeds on the Initiative's taser blasts. But the Initiative ignored one thing in Adam's design, and it is something the Scoobs are experts on.

Magic. Adam has no concept of its power because his creators had no concept of it.

When Willow suggests a spell, Giles finds a spell that might subdue Adam, but it is difficult. It must be spoken in Sumerian by an experienced witch who can control the primeval magic forces it uses. It must also be performed within earshot of the target (i.e., by someone who can defend herself against Adam if need be). Well, Xander quips, all they need is to put the gang in one body. Giles realizes that's exactly what they need. To possess Buffy with the spirits of Giles, Xander and Willow.

The joining spell elicits the transmigration. It calls on the power of the Slayers as if that ancient calling were a mystical entity in and of itself. It beseeches this power to allow Buffy's friends to join with her and unite their talents:

  1. Spirit. Willow's mystical power.
  2. Heart. Xander's impetuous courage.
  3. Mind. Giles' esoteric knowledge.
  4. Body. Buffy's physical strength.

Giles, Xander, and Willow sit down in a circle. Four candles burn within their circle around a magic gourd. Willow incants:

The power of the slayer and all who wield it, last to ancient first we invoke thee.
Grant us thy domain of primal strength, accept us and the powers we possess.
Because mind and heart and spirit join, let the hand encompass us, do thy will.

Willow puts Tarot cards in the circle in front of her.

Spiritus... spirit

She hands one to Xander

Xander: Animus... heart

She hands one to Giles

Giles: Sophus... mind

She puts one down representing Buffy, forming a square

Willow: And Manus... the hand.
We enjoin that we may inhabit the vessel. The hand, daughter of Sineya, first of the ones.
We implore thee. Admit us. Bring us to the vessel.

The spirits of Willow, Xander, and Giles join Buffy's in her body to perform the paralyzing spell and defeat Adam.

Who is "Sineya, first of the ones"?

The Uber-Buffy spells: After Buffy is possessed by the spirits of her friends, she rises, eyes glowing, and begins to speak the Sumerian incantation.

sha me-en-dan. Gesh-toog me-en-dan. Zee me-en-den.
Oo-khush-ta me-ool-lee-a ba-ab-tum-mu-do-en.

Translation: We are heart. We are mind.
We are spirit. From the raging storm,
we bring the power of the Primeval One.

Adam has a machine gun trained on her, but she creates a mystical field to block Adam's bullets.

Im-a sheng-ab.
Translation: Boil the air.

She turns the rocket into doves:

Translation: Change.

ComboBuffy uses her new strength to kick Adam against a wall, then thrusts her hand into his chest and retracts his uranium power source. She makes it float into the air and disintegrates it. Adam collapses. The gang return to their bodies.

Moral Ambiguity in "Primeval"

Adam's identity crisis: Adam clearly recalls things from the life of the human that was part of his make-up. He remembers "scouts honor", but doesn't feel any obligation to it anymore. What he does feel is a sort of perverse attachment to humans he considers his "family." This helps give him a sense of identity as an individual. He called Maggie, the woman who created him, "mother" even though he killed her and now makes disrespectful use of her corpse. And though Riley is not Adam's biological brother, Adam has a psychological need to relate to Riley on that level, since Riley's enhanced abilities came from the tampering of Maggie Walsh as well.

After the Scooby-fight, Buffy heads out on her own and encounters Spike, who knows more than he should about the spat. She finds this odd and asks her friends to meet her at the university, which they reluctantly do. Swapping their Spike stories is not going to make them an instant team again, though. The troubles Spike played on are still there--Buffy's absorption in Riley, Giles' feelings of uselessness, Willow's post-Oz secrets, Xander's outsidedness.

But they realize they must work together to defeat Adam. Although the whole gang has been self-involved, Buffy is the one person who has been the most ignorant of her role in it. Buffy takes her lumps, and it is a good first step. Nevertheless, Buffy, Giles, Xander and Willow still have work to do to become a family again.

Spike's goals are at odds with each other. He can't divide Buffy from her friends and use the disk to entice her to the Initiative, because Willow has the disk. Fouling up Adams's plans for the slayer doesn't make the big cyber-demonoid very happy. And when Spike inadvertently tips off Buffy about his role in dividing the gang, he doesn't make the slayer very happy. When a demon tries to get into magic central, a still-chipped Spike kills it, hoping it will buy him a reprieve from his betrayal of the gang. Seemed to work.

He's calculated the odds and has noticed that Buffy has an uncanny tendency to win. He's also noticed that she kicked his ass a few times. ...Spike will fight on the side that best ensures his own survival, if he can only figure out which side that is. Meantime, he is pretending to be on the side of whomever's company he is in. Kind of like a politician. He has no scruples (B. Kort, May 12, 2000, 8:42 am).

Good and Evil in "Primeval"

The Evil of Adam

Riley: When Adam and his cohorts turn on Buffy, a paralyzed Riley wants to help. With concentrated effort, he reaches for some broken glass, stabs himself in the chest (it is likely that he has some knowledge of anatomy, since he has been trained to disable human beings and vampires, who have human anatomy). His success in extracting his chip with a finger he is not entirely in control of--without severing any really important arteries or nerves--is less likely. But his determination is a sign of his true loyalty to the slayer. Riley disables ZombieWalsh and Angleman. and takes over demonForrest slayage, freeing up Buffy to go after Adam.

Best kills: UberBuffy vs. Adam

The good of Xander and Willow

Ethical Quandaries in "Primeval"

Creating the ultimate defensive weapon

Dr. Angleman and Walsh and others seem to be trying to create a perfect or ultimate creature. ...the issue ...of "do the ends justify the means" is implicit in all of these actions (DSP, Feb 9 14:47 2000).

Behind room 314 where Adam was born is the laboratory where Maggie Walsh's real work was to have taken place. Her vision was to combine human intelligence with demon strength to create a superior soldier to fight the demon and human menace. This was a questionable goal at best, even assuming that the humans and demons involved in the process gave their consent for this hybridization.

The success of the project rested on making sure these "biological weapons" harmed only those the Initiative wanted them to. Dr. Walsh made a critical assumption--that since demons seemed controllable by behavior modification, demon-human hybrids would be controllable as well. This assumption was wrong. The hybrids inherited human adaptability and demonic amorality.

It is unclear what special plans Dr. Walsh had for Riley. She was in the process of enhancing him--creating a superior human soldier through drugs (in his food), special training, and a behavior modification chip that could be used to control his movements. It was Adam's claim that she intended to turn him into a hybrid like himself.

The government officials who funded her project wisely give credit to Buffy and her friends for saving them from Maggie's folly and terminated the 314 project, but they also erased all record of it. The old cliché' "Those who forget the past are condemned to relive it" applies.



The Metaphysics of "Restless"


For as long as there have been vampires, there's been the Slayer. One girl in all the world, a Chosen One. -- Giles, The Harvest

Back when demons lost control of the Earth, a demon fed off the blood of a human and mixed their blood. Vampires were born. Around this time, a warrior was created to fight back against this menace. A girl was endowed with the power of the slayer.

After the gang return home from defeating Adam, they fall asleep in the Summers' living room and each have a dream. Among the common elements in each is an attack by a lurking, violent figure that is revealed in Buffy's dream to be the first slayer. The gang used "the power of the slayer" to join together to perform the spell that defeated Adam. Whatever the source of this power is, it took offense at being used this way. The primal source of the slayer's power comes from the fact that she fights alone. The spirit wreaks a little of what she considers poetic justice:

Willow was Spirit during the spell and the slayer choked off her breath (i.e., her spirit), and Xander was Heart and the slayer ripped out his heart, while Giles was Mind and the slayer cut off the top of his head (Thoin, May 24 19:59 2000).

Did the gang meet the real "first slayer"? The depiction of the first slayer is at least consistent with this theory.

We're talking quite possibly pre-homo-sapien development here. The most primal development of humanity the first awakening of consciousness pre-language, hunter, bare survival instincts is not only the precursor to society but to an understanding of what is being protected. The first slayer killed vampires because vampires were bad (Lovely Poet, May 24 11:29 2000).

Spirits--whether they are ghosts, apparitions, or a manifestation of a people's vengeance--have usually been able to take physical form in the Buffyverse. Yet the first slayer only appears in dreams. This is an indication that she may not be the spirit of the girl who was the first slayer:

Maybe it all really came out of Buffy. Perhaps when the scoobies called on the power of the first slayer, they didn't release something [external] ...but instead released something from within Buffy. Maybe there's a primal, powerful slayer force that's lain dormant with slayers for centuries until the gang inadvertently unlocked the door. Perhaps the "first slayer" that was haunting the scoobies, was actually something deep within Buffy that was trying to come out. Maybe Buffy vanquishing that "primal force" was not so much defeating her as saying "you may be a part of me, but not a part that I choose to present." Maybe sort of like the id lying buried under the ego and superego? (Suzanne, May 25 11:39 2000).

Binding the First Slayer

...the First Slayer was a dream attacker and I think once Buffy realized that (like near the end when she mocked her), the First Slayer had no power over her (Cosmic Bob, 9:52 2000).

Racist subtext?

It struck me as a surprisingly stereotypical fight ...her ascendancy over this outdated, unevolved figure is a victory of her modern superiority. These are the same images that have been used to argue for the ascendancy of the "civilized, evolved" white race over the "savage" black person for years (zoe, May 24 9:38 2000).

...I think that it coincides perfectly with what we are constantly finding out about the origin of human life. ...the evidence we are finding is leading to life originating in Africa. If mankind was born there then it is concievable that the first slayer was an african (Nightsatyr, 21 Jun 2000 11:08).

Psychic dreams:

Buffy's dream contains imagery from two dreams we've already seen:

(1) The "7-3-0" dream from Graduation, pt. 2. The reference occurs when Buffy is in her bedroom and looks at the clock, which reads 7:30. She says "It's so late." DreamTara replies "Oh, that clock's completely wrong."

About 365 days wrong, I think (MeeB, May 24 9:28 2000).

(2) The "little sis" dream from This Year's Girl. Indications are that this may have been Buffy's dream in that episode instead of Faith's, or a dream of Faith's that Buffy has a psychic awareness of, at least on a subconscious level. There is good evidence that this is a psychic dream.

Moral Ambiguity in "Restless"

The Dreamtime I don't think all things were supposed to be made clear.... I think it was intended to be a cerebral cliffhanger - where the suspense comes not from action but from the characters' relationships and self-acceptance, which they all need to work on (TC, May 24 08:52 2000).


"I'm very seldom naughty."

Willow is having a classic first day of class dream--the kind you have in the summer long before classes start. It is in part about the fear of new endeavors, but the performance anxiety is also a reprise of her Madam Butterfly dream from Nightmares. When Buffy removes her "costume", Willow is dressed in an outfit reminiscent of the mom-bought outfit that Cordelia mocked in WttH.

She's changed a lot since meeting Buffy, she seemed to be afraid that other wouldn't accept those changes or that they'd thilnk that they were just a mask. Also seemed worried that they might be right, that the real her is the very shy good at school, does what's expected of her person that she was not the person she's becoming, who is more confident, and powerful, and also more her own person. Also from the conversation between Oz and Tara, she might be afraid of disappointing people (Kizmet, May 24 09:11 2000).

Here's the translation of the poem by SAPPHO Willow was writing on Tara's lovely back:

Many colored throned immortal Aphrodite,
daughter of Zeus, wile-weaver,
I beg you with reproaches and harms do not beat down O Lady, my soul.

But come here, if ever at another time
My voice hearing, from afar
You have ear, and your father's home leaving
-- golden -- you came.

(DSP, May 23 20:12 2000).


"That's not the way out."

Xander's dream seemed to be saying that he used the Scoobies as a substitute family because his real family was abusive (hints of which we've seen before) and now he's afraid of being left behind by his new "family" (BuffyBuff, May 23 22:15 2000).

Constantly being left behind by the others. Trying to catch up. Stuck in place, always ends up back in the basement. ... just when he was about to get things explained . . . it became incomprehensible. When he started to question whether that *was* the way out, he was attacked by the first slayer, in the form of his father.... So, getting past what his parents are, his fear of being like them, moving beyond what they are and becoming more is his key to a better future. But how? (MeeB, May 24 09:25 2000)

One hint: Giles saying he is training Spike to be a Watcher. Xander replies enigmatically that he used to be into that, but that he has his own thing now. A thing he is clearly unhappy with.


"What am I supposed to do with all this?"

Giles worries about his role. During the first part with the watch, he was hypnotizing Buffy, which is what he did during helpless ...the point where he decided to place Buffy's well being over his role as Watcher. ...in the next part he's clearly more of a father to her. Olivia was his girlfriend who wasn't involved in Slaying or monsters, didn't even believe that they were real, so she could be representative of a normal life, have a family, forget about the demons (Kizmet, May 24 09:11 2000).

Giles musical "gig" in the Bronze is really depicting him in his watcher role--the life he gave up music for. It is also the life he gave up a family for--Buffy is his "child". His Watcher role has strayed from the conventional model set by the Council and has become more complex and unpredictable. But is it enough?


"You think you know. What's to come. What you are. You haven't even begun."

Buffy's dream is not just about searching for her friends and having those efforts blocked by the First Slayer. It is about confronting what being a slayer means in her own life. The power of the primitive vs. the modern has been a theme in her relationship with the Initiative, and it is by no means clear that she's thoroughly modern Buffy:

Remember Riley calling her killer, and being all military guy with the fake technology talk, and then Buffy reaching into her bag and smearing her face with the Primal Goop (nessie, May 23 20:07 2000).

Despite her flippant dismissal of the First Slayer, Buffy hasn't worked through this issue at all. She is only just beginning to.

Whether or not what we saw was a separate entity that originated Buffy's "kind," or a representation of a force within Buffy, we have seen this in Buffy before. When she's rejected the Scooby's, either out of concern or out of contempt ("This is Slayer stuff- could we have a little less from the civilians, please."), she was channeling what we saw on Restless. Maybe she was vanquishing it, or maybe she's on the road to accepting it (little bam bam, May 25 12:44 2000).

Or was she afraid by what she faced? The spirit's primalness, it's power, may have reminded Buffy of a demon. ...Has she never questioned her power, where it came from? Perhaps the spirit was itself a half breed, one with a soul? One that did not accept a life of pillage and hate? One determined to fight it? ...She's afraid that there's something in her that she cannot control. Tara said that she had no real idea of who or what she was, or what was to come. Saying that to someone who's life has already been spun so out of control is sure to provoke some kind of denial (Eiddileg, May 25 11:34 2000).

The cheese man ...is the only thing in the show that means nothing. I needed something like that, something that couldn't be explained, because dreams always have that one element that is just RIDICULOUS (joss, May 23 20:01 2000).

For further insights, Masquerade recommends Sententia's Wrestling with Restless

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