Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 5


Fool For Love


Listening To Fear

Into The Woods

Fool For Love

The Metaphysics of "Fool For Love"

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.

Vampires and their human predecessors

"What can I tell you, baby? I've always been bad."

When we meet mortalSpike in 1880 London, the bespacled, bookish romantic is composing some of the "bloody awful poetry" that had already earned him the name "William the Bloody". After his unrequited love interest Cecily rejects him, he stalks off into the streets, where he bumps into Drusilla, Angelus, and Darla.

The dark-haired beauty Drusilla seduces the awkward young man with his intense desire to be recognized--William saw himself as more sensitive, insightful, and deeper than those around him, but he was an object of fun to his peers. Drusilla seemed to understand him. When she asks if he wants "it", William agrees enthusiastically, but it is likely he thought "it" was an alley-way tryst.

"Becoming a vampire is a profound and powerful experience. I could feel this new strength coursing through me. Getting killed made me feel alive for the very first time. I was through living by society's rules. Decided to make a few of my own." --Spike on his siring

The vampire Spike tried to distance himself as much as possible from his human predecessor (no wonder he was so mean to his ex-minion, Dalton. Remind you of anyone, William?). But Spike didn't move "up the food chain" just by becoming a vampire. He was low-man in the pecking order in Darla's little clan. But family life was less important to him than building a different reputation for "William the Bloody". Spike's style, mannerisms, and language went from upper class to cockney. He sought out fights and confrontations with humans. And when Angelus taught him about about the slayer, facing one and killing her became his ultimate goal.

...The transformation from Poetry-Boy into Danger-Boy is not unprecedented. Owen, from the first season, was a brooding poet who only felt alive when the adrenaline was coursing through his veins and his life was at risk. Spike is just Owen taken to an extreme. ...Spike wants to get to close to death as he can -- when he tells Buffy that she has a death wish, he could have been talking about himself. This philosophy of killing also helps explain why he didn't kill Buffy at the end of the episode -- there would have been no sport in finishing the broken and helpless slayer (Malandanza, 15-Nov-00 13:06).

Slayers we have known: Spike's first slayer-kill was an unnamed Chinese girl he fought in a Buddhist temple during the Boxer Rebellion (c. 1900). She was adept at martial arts and swordsmanship. Her blade split the skin over his left eyebrow, a scar he still wears. Naughty wicked Spike knocked the stake from her hand, and when she bent to retrieve it, he wrenched her arm behind her back and sunk his fangs into her neck.

...During the 19th century, European countries and Japan were carving up niches along China's coast. The Boxer Rebellion was a series of uprisings against them. It's also possible that some of the fighters might have been attacking the Emperor for not being effective in keeping out the barbarians (wolfguard, Nov 15 15:36 2000).

Spike's second slayer-kill was a African-American girl (named "Nikki" in the shooting script) in New York City in 1977. Spike calls her "cunning, resourceful... [and] hot." Despite her deft moves, Spike tells Buffy that Nikki gave into the "death wish" he claims every slayer has.

He argues that a slayer lives with non-stop fear and uncertainty. Her job also gives her an intimate acquaintance with death. So she cannot help but wonder what it must be like to be killed, especially since death is the only real escape from her calling. A Sid-Vicious punk Spike managed to get the upper hand with Nikki in a subway car and, he implies, in that moment, she surrendered. He snapped her neck and took her leather duster as a trophy. Does Buffy have a death wish?

I've no quarrel with Spike's revealed wisdom on why the Slayers died; however, think "Death Wish," while emotionally laden, misleads. It's a loss of drive caused by a loss of perspective. Why am I doing this, what's the point? The Slayer who has ties to a family knows the point. The challenge is to find a reason to take each night with gusto. Here Buffy's humor might help her. As Sherman is said to have said, "War's hell, but it's a living" (wolfguard, Nov 15 16:47 2000)

Slayers and family ties: more on Nikki the vampire slayer

Spike's chip

Things that kill vamps: Just how did Riley think a grenade would help him make good his escape from the crypt?

...maybe it was an incendiary grenade? ...Just where did Riley get that I wonder? A secret Initiative arsenal hidden somewhere in Sunnydale? (NuPhalanx, Nov 14 22:41 2000)

...explosions tend to dismember and a vamp with his head blown off is dead (LenS, Nov 14 22:16 2000).

Vampires and choking

The chaos demon is a bar fly with antlers dripping slime. Dru must have been pretty pissed to give up Spike for that dork. Drusilla implies that she took up with the chaos demon and others not just because Spike took sides with the slayer against Angelus, but because Spike has a thing for the slayer. In "Crush" she makes it clear that this knowledge is clairvoyant--she "saw" that Spike would develop romantic feelings for Buffy two years before he did.

Slayer healing powers

Good, Evil, and Moral Ambiguity in "Fool For Love"

Riley tackles the vampire who staked Buffy and tries to subdue him with a stun-gun, but the vamp escapes. Instead of giving chase, Riley rushes to the aid of his girlfriend. The next night, he strides to the crypt where he located the vampire, stakes him, and destroys the crypt and the vampire's buddies with a hand grenade. Brave or really, really obsessively stupid?

...The trend with Riley as I've observed it is that he longs for his 'action' days with the Initiative, and would be content to help Buffy with the slaying duties, but she keeps pushing him away. Thus, an ever increasing need to do more and more dangerous things to prove to himself that he's still 'got it' (OnM, 23-Nov-00 00:33).

Spike's got a taste for slayer blood but the romantic streak he inherited from human William informs his predatory lust. When Buffy rebuffs Spike's advances with words that echo a rejection William endured 120 years before, Spike decides to do away with this slayer once and for all, chip or no chip. But instead of aiming his double-barreled shotgun at her, he puts it down and comforts Buffy, who is in tears over her mother's uncertain health.

Is Spike capable of real love and compassion?


Spike/William had deep passions.... When he was rejected by his peers and his inamorata, then turned undead, he reversed most of his passions. Spike rejected his class, his name, his poetry... but he just transferred his capacity for romantic love to two sources. The first is Drusilla, the second is his love/hate obsession with slayers. It seems as though... Spike was a more complete emotional being before he was turned than Angel was. He somehow carried more of that over with him when he turned. We've had plenty of hints of this, going back to second season when the Judge says he and Drusilla share "love and jealousy" (Matthew2, 16-Nov-00 00:09).

"Spike's feeling's for Buffy are very real, very sincere," [co-executive producer Marti] Noxon acknowledges. "The whole notion that, because Buffy can kind of beat him up like nobody else, he's madly in love with her, just sort of fit Spike's character," she says. "He needs this kind of abuse from a woman. And after Drusilla (Juliet Landau) left, he couldn't get it from anybody but Buffy" (Michael Ausiello, TV Guide Online, December 19, 2000).


...let us not mistake obsession and lust with love. The only reason Buffy/Angel could become a couple was because he had a soul, and even then, the inherent conflict between slayer and vampire could never really be resolved. Spike is a demon without a soul and without any remorse for the suffering he's caused. Quite the opposite, Spike revels in informing Buffy about the murder and mayhem of his past . I believe that part of the reason he's so fixated on Buffy is because she represents the true vampire life he is being deprived of because of the chip (Nov 15 12:44 2000) ..The one thing that has been constant in the Buffyverse is that Vampires are killers, demons with traces of their host's prior lives and identities. This accounts for Spike's bouts of sensitivity. ...in order for Spike to love Buffy, he would actually have to renounce who he truly is. And although we have encountered demons who are not evil, there has never been one case of a vampire renouncing his true nature, except for Angel (dml, Nov 15 13:21 2000).

Was Buffy wrong to reject Spike so emphatically? Spike had been regaling her with the deaths of the slayers -- he clearly "got off" on the stories. For Buffy to have done other than reject him as forcibly as possible would have been too perverse (Malandanza, 16-Nov-00 11:06).


The Metaphysics of "Shadow"

CT scans (computed axial tomography scans, also called "CAT scans") use a series of X-ray beams passed through the body to create cross-sectional images of the structure of the soft tissue. The images can be put on photographic paper and examined by doctors to make rough diagnoses of brain tumors and other conditions. These images are highly interpretive, however, and only point to the need for other tests, such as the biopsy, a surgical procedure in which a small sample of tissue is taken from the body and examined by a pathologist for disease. Joyce's CAT scan shows a fuzzy anomaly--a "shadow"--on the left hemisphere of her cerebrum (the upper cortex of the brain which controls higher brain function). The biopsy reveals that Joyce has a low grade brain tumor (an oligodendroglioma), cancer of the glial cells (connecting tissues) of the brain.

As far as Dawn causing Joyce's tumor. Didn't the spell Buffy did eliminate that possibility? If there was anything mystical about it wouldn't it have shown up in [Joyce's] "aura"? I thought the whole point of the tumor was to have Buffy up against something over which her Slayer powers are useless. Against which magic is useless (janni, Nov 22 9:49 2000).

Dreg and his demonic order are devotees of Glorificus. They give her a gift--an ancient ritual to locate the key, the one thing she wants more than anything.

The unintended consequences of Magic-store ownership: Giles has some pretty dangerous stuff in the Magic Box. He knows this better than anyone. But the point isn't really driven home until he accidentally sells a Khul's amulet and a Sobekian Blood Stone, powerful ingredients in an ancient ritual, to the deceptively sweet-looking Big Bad, Glory.

The transmogrification ritual: The temple of Sobek (the "Sobekites") was an ancient Egyptian cult who worshiped the reptile demon, Sobek. Their high priest, Khul, forged an amulet with a "transmogrifying" crystal--a conduit that in the hands of someone with great mystical powers can channel magicks that will change a living creature into some other kind of thing. From the markings on the Blood Stone, Giles deduces that Glory is going to perform a ritual to transform a common cobra into a reptile monster. Though the gang does not realize it until later, the snake monster has special powers of sight that allow it "to see what is unseen, to find what is shrouded in shadow." In other words, to locate the Key for Glory.

Dreg chants from an ancient scroll in a demonic tongue:

The form is vessel, rendered new.
The base is stone, bathed in blood.
The gem is fire, and elements rarefied.

Glory holds the cobra in her hands and incants:

Sobek, grant the power,
that it may mold this wretched creature,
that it may be reborn,
that it may serve!

She puts the cobra in a stone jar.

arise, Arise, ARISE!

The cobra transforms into a large (though not Mayor-sized) snake monster, breaks the jar, and is ready to do Glory's bidding. When it finally searches the magic shop, it disables Buffy under a table and looms over Dawn, then turns and leaves rather than attacking her.

The invitation to vampires: Spike's invitation in B2 was not revoked, even after he entered the house to hang with Joyce in Lover's Walk and tried to kill Buffy in THLOD. Spike did not become harmless until The Initiative. Even after that, he proved to be a nuisance. Still not uninvited from Buffy's, though.

Good and Moral Ambiguity in "Shadow"

Without waiting for back-up, Riley blows up the nest o' vamps where Buffy's would-be-slayer is hanging out, and Xander suspects that Riley has something to prove. It was Xander whom Riley confided in about Buffy not loving him, and Xander isn't a stranger to a little bravado in the name of impressing the Slayer. But Riley is just a bit more crazed in his Buffy-doesn't-love-me blues.

When Spike gives Riley a line about Buffy liking her men "dangerous, rough, and occasionally bumpy in the forehead region," and Dawn tells Riley how Angel could engender passionate feelings in Buffy that Riley never has, Riley's jealousy flares up. We've seen this before--when he met Angel, when Dracula cast his dark, penetrating eyes on Buffy, and when Riley's own Initiative powers started to wane. Riley goes to Willy's pub where he meets up with Sandy the vampire again. Sandy takes him some place private for a bite. Riley allows it for a moment, then stakes her.

Riley really is a good boyfriend. He spends time with Dawn while the Summers' handle the details of Joyce's tests, and comforts a worried Buffy before and after she hears about her mother's condition. And Dawn is right that the lack of an emotional roller coaster has probably been good for Buffy, who has been able to put her mind on developing her slayer skills and getting on with life. But the fact remains that Buffy overlooks what Riley can offer her, and Riley is only too well aware of this.

The current Buffy/Riley situation strikes me as the sort of inevitable trainwreck that's nobody's fault. She's preoccupied with Slayerhood and with her mother's illness, he's preoccupied with their relationship, and neither of them has the spare energy to see the other's point of view (B.H Perry, 11:44 am Nov 30, 2000).

Buffy goes into point-me-at-something-to-kill mode when her mom's tumor proves to be something she can't fight with slayer powers or magic. But as usually happens when she's in this state of mind, she gets her ass kicked. Buffy can't stop Glory's dark ritual. However, when she realizes that the snake Glory raised knows Dawn's identity, she sets out to slay it before it can get that information back to Glory. She tries to choke the snake with a chain, but when that doesn't kill it, she plunges her fist into its neck repeatedly until she is sure it is dead.

[Joyce's tumor] would be the very embodiment of what Buffy fears, what she cannot fight. Think again of "Killed by Death." She is so used to being able to transpose her anger or see her fears manifested into disposable, beatable foes that when something like an illness comes up, she goes crazy sitting there and doing nothing. She cannot bear to feel useless (Little Willow, Nov 22 15:36 2000).

Anya's Bunnyphobia

Listening to Fear

The Metaphysics of "Listening to Fear"

The Queller is an insect-like brown demon with a plate covering on its back and no legs. It crawls along the ground with its hands and can also stick upside-down on the ceiling. It does not appear to be of Earthly origin. It comes to Earth via a hurtling meteor. Although ancient beliefs hold that this creature is from the Moon, this is not necessarily the case. It might have its origins anywhere in outer space, or it might be from a demon dimension that enters our reality via a portal in outer space.

The gang's research determines that outbreaks of madness in the middle ages were followed by a meteorite strike. In each of these cases, the Queller was summoned to "quell the madmen". The Queller kills by leaping on its victims and spitting a clear substance on their face which they choke on. The substance then becomes a foul-smelling black protein alkaloid in the corpse's mouth that quickly breaks down, effectively erasing any sign of the cause of death.

The wisdom of insanity: Crazy people with no history of mental problems are becoming a noticeable trend in the Sunnydale Memorial emergency room. But the insane of Sunnydale are not mere lunatics. They see things that rational human beings do not or cannot see. When the security guard that Glory assaulted in NPLH sees Dawn in the hospital corridor, he says, "What is that thing? There's no data. There's no pictures on this one.... There's no one in there."

Joyce's tumor is pressing on her brain and causing her passing moments of confusion and irrationality. During one of these, she says to Dawn, "You... thing... You're nothing. You're a shadow. I don't know what you are." Later, Joyce tells Buffy that she had a flash of "knowledge" that Dawn was not her daughter. "It came to me as truth," she explains. But she also learned that Dawn belonged to them, that she was important to the world, and that she and Buffy need to take care of her. Buffy confirms all of this, and they both acknowledge that they love Dawn as a member of their family. What are the crazy people seeing?

Demon hunters: When the gang invites Riley to investigate the meteor, he becomes the hard-jawed ex-Initiative officer we know, and calls in his old ex-Initiative buddies to help him. Riley, Major Ellis and his troops track the Queller's radiation signature (left over from being in space) to Sunnydale Memorial where they find the dead mental patients. They determine that the beast went to the parking lot where it hitched a ride with someone released that day. Riley knows Joyce was released and is a little wacky, so they head to the Summers' home. But by the time they arrive, though, Riley finds the Queller slain and that pesky vamp Spike helping Buffy back up to her feet.

Evil and Moral Ambiguity in "Listening to Fear"

As a scavenger who stalks and kills insane humans to put an end to the chaos they bring, The Queller is an example of both predatory evil and evil-as-order.

Ben: Glory's lackey Dreg is respectful to Ben, but Ben doesn't seem happy with Dreg or Glory. Ben admits to summoning the Queller to kill the crazies that Glory is producing--"I'm cleaning up Glory's mess just like I've done my whole damned life." But he also tells Buffy, Willow, and Dawn about the fact that they exist--that the "mental ward is filled to capacity." Bringing about the deaths of human beings isn't of the good, but Ben is also a compassionate future doctor. What's up with him?

...Maybe Ben is just trying to keep Glory in check. As long as she doesn't have the key, her damage is about average for a Sunnydale baddie. So he's making sure that she doesn't hear about the girl with no data from some crazy person (M. Costello, 3:26 pm Nov 29, 2000).

Riley, voluntary vamp victim

Good in "Listening to Fear"

When Dawn sees the Queller attacking Joyce, her first impulse is not to scream for the Slayer, but to take a coat rack and push the beastie off Joyce and shut the doors. Then she must risk opening one again to summon Buffy. Clear-headed and brave!

Buffy struggles with the Queller and stabs it to death with a little help from Spike (?!). But that's just another day on the job. The big challenge for Buffy now a days isn't death, but that "life stuff" as Tara puts it.

Willow still holds the prize for most multi-talented Scooby Gang member. She's good with the computer research, gathers the gang for meteorite-investigation, plays tiny Jewish Santa for Joyce, Dawn, and Buffy in the hospital, and when the gang fills in for Buffy, Willow manages to stake two EvilAmazon vamps. Yeah on Will!

The good of Xander

Into The Woods

The Metaphysics of "Into The Woods"

Brain surgery: Dr. Keiser reports that the surgery to remove Joyce's tumor was successful. Joyce is still at risk for the usual dangers that follow invasive surgery (e.g., hemorrhaging and infection) and there is a chance that some cancer remains and will continue to grow.

Demon hunters: As Major Ellis explains, his Black Ops squad is not the Initiative. The Initiative was a government research project that recruited soldiers, but the Initiative was terminated. Many of the soldiers that survived are still on demon duty under the authority of the military (Army), but their job is to kill demons, not trap them for experimentation. Now their comrades in Belize, South America have found a demon tribe attacking missionaries and breeding more of their kind, and they are heading down there to stop it. Graham suggests recruiting Riley, and Ellis makes Riley a tempting offer.

There is only one slayer and she can't be everywhere at once. So there is room for extra help in the supernatural department. ...Reilly is a good man in a bad situation. He should be where he can feel valued (Rufus, 30-Nov-00 09:34).

Things that kill vampires: Riley storms into Spike's crypt and stakes him in the heart. But it's plastic wood grain, not wood, and all Spike gets is the severe ouchies.

Good and Moral Ambiguity in "Into The Woods"

Vampire bite dens: As Anya and Giles explain, for centuries humans have paid vampires to feed off them for thrills. In return the vampires get money, an easy supply of blood, and they don't get hunted because they don't kill the humans. Buffy finds Riley in a seedy vampire nest set up for this purpose, urging on the pointy bitey attentions of a used-up vampire "whore".

...it seems that Riley obviously gets some kind of relief from having vampires suck him... it's like self-mutilation, only not. ...Riley is basically cutting himself with a walking ...blade. is it because he's so tripped out about Buffy not loving him? ...maybe, he likes vampires sucking him because he's *trying* to see why Buffy is (was?) SO into Angel... either way, it all comes down to him hurting himself because he's oh so depressed (pocky, 29-Nov-00 01:12).

Buffy is devastated. Riley is not only venting his hidden feelings with another "woman", he's putting himself in danger in the process. Because, like a drug, being voluntary vamp food can be addictive, and dangerous. Humans have died accidentally and been killed by vampires who didn't play "by the rules". Riley admits that he did it at first as a childish response to Dracula and Angel. But then it became more. He began to feel "needed"--desired, hungered for--in a way he didn't get from Buffy.

When Spike reveals Riley's dirty little secret to Buffy, he sets in motion a chain of events that lead to the exit of the rival he envies and loathes. Spike, master of psychological manipulation, plays on the insecurity apparent in Riley's behavior. "You're not the long haul guy and you know it," he taunts. "Girl needs some monster in her man, and it's not in your nature."

... is Spike right? Does Buffy want her men dark? On a surface level she has always said that she wanted a "normal" boyfriend, but now that she has one (well relatively normal - no superpowers or anything like that) she pulls away (Anonymous, 24-Nov-00 14:00).

It doesn't matter if Spike's claims are true or not--Riley believes they're the reason for his troubles.

Buffy has been doing the loner-hero thing for months, and pushing Riley away in the process.

Riley's poor response to her behavior has left Buffy feeling angry and betrayed. She torches the vamp nest, and when Riley tries to explain himself, offering her a choice--love me or let me go--all she hears is "forgive me tonight, or I'll leave." Later, she wastes the vamp pimp and his stable of blood-suckers in a matter of seconds. All except the junkie vampire girl who bit Riley. Buffy lets her take off down the alley, then hurtles her wood javelin at the retreating vampire, impaling her.

...Buffy let her go at first ...because she was angry at the Vampire. But as she left she did what she had to do as the Slayer. ...someone else ...mentioned a story about a warrior who didn't kill someone who spit at him because he didn't kill when he was angry as then it would be personal and he would consider it an act of murder. So Buffy didn't slay the Vamp while she was looking at it's face because if she had it would have been personal, but as the Vamp was running away it would be more like killing any other Vampire (James, 22-Dec-00 21:33).

Buffy is usually shown actively fighting vamp who are fighting back; she fights them and then kills them. This seemed more like a sacrifice or an execution. ...only Buffy's hurt feelings and hurt pride guided the missile she threw and if I interpret Xander's subsequent reaction correctly, he thought the same thing (Aquitaine, 23-Dec-00 2:35).

Xander finds Buffy in the land of not dealing. Although Xander isn't exactly honest about how he knows so much, he uses Riley's confidence to him about Buffy to confront her. Xander reminds Buffy that Riley has been there for her, even though lately Buffy has refused his help. He concludes that Buffy is probably afraid to give anyone too much of her heart after all that happened with Angel. And Xander acknowledges that Buffy is under no obligation to love Riley if she doesn't have those feelings for him.

But Riley's ultimatum, he points out, isn't about forgiving Riley for what he did. It's asking her to address the larger issue behind why he did what he did. Does Buffy need Riley enough to ask him to stay? Buffy decides that she does, and goes after Riley. She makes it to the helicopter pad before the helicopter is gone completely, but Riley isn't looking for her anymore. He has shut down his feelings completely.

On the up side, the little talk makes Xander realize he needs to tell Anya the same things, and does.

Ethical Quandaries in "Into The Woods"

[Do] vampires who suck on people without the intention of killing them... deserve to meet the sharp end of Mr. Pointy? (spotjon, 20-Dec-00 12:18)

Giles tells Buffy that even if he'd known there were voluntary vamp-sucking dens in Sunnydale, he might not have informed her about it because it would divert her energies away from defending unwilling victims of Hellmouthy badness. Anya points out that even if Buffy does shut down the den, she'll only find another one popping up in its place--demand feuls supply.

Buffy is determined to destroy the vamp den anyway, but it's not clear that she's concerned about saving the humans from their own stupidity, so much as getting revenge.

It's no vicimless crime here as some of the vamps only pretend to play by the rules...people can accidentally die...being stupid doesn't mean we can just shrug our shoulders and walk away (Rufus, 20-Dec-00 13:35).

Giles' "Ripper days"


The Metaphysics of "Triangle"

Trolls are non-human, non-demon horned creatures whose main concern seems to be drinking, pillaging and raping for fun. There is evidence that Buffyverse trolls have origins outside the Earthly plane. Willow sends Olaf to the "Troll dimension", a reality where trolls presumably frolic and live the troll equivalent of the good life. Olaf is a former human transformed into a troll by a spell.

Olaf's hammer: Trolls have that troll-strength going for them, but Olaf's power is enhanced by his Thor-like hammer, a weapon that allows most of the smiting and pillaging he does on his rampage through town. This gives him the upper hand with Buffy until Willow gets the hammer away from him.

The spell that releases Olaf (AKA the spell to create sunshine): Willow wants to enhance a spell that creates light so that it will create simulated sunshine. She mixes incense, hellebore, fleabane, salamander eyes and bindweed together, then speaks an incantation over the ingredients:

Spirits of the light, I invoke thee. Let the gloom of darkness part before you, let the moonlight be made pale by your presence. Spirits of light, grant my wishes--

A green circle of light appears and hovers over the urn. This is as far as Willow gets in this very sensitive spell. When Anya speaks in the middle of the incantation, it angers Willow and they get into a squabble. As the fight heats up, the mystical energy dances, glows red, and gets progressively larger. Eventually, it hits a purple crystal sitting under the counter. At this point, Willow tries to get Anya to state her true feelings and yells,

Let it out!

The non-ritual words disrupt the spell and alter it. There is a flash and the crystal shatters. As Anya explains later, Olaf was trapped in the crystal and released by the spell's wayward energy.

Spell to put Olaf (back) in the crystal: Olaf mentions the original spell, performed by witches after he became a troll. Willow may be doing different spell in the Bronze or perhaps she did the same spell, only wrong. Either way, it didn't work. Willow reads:

Let the conjuring be undone, return the beast to native form. Keep it far from us and ours as long as my voice shall sound.

Spell to release Olaf's hammer: To help Buffy in her fight against Olaf, Willow incants:

Instrumentum ultionis, telum fabuloso, surge, surge, terram pro voca. Vola cum viribus, dominum tuum nega. Vola!
Translation: Tool of vengeance, weapon mythic, arise, arise, defy the earth... Fly with force, deny thy master. Fly!

The hammer glows in Olaf's hand and flies out of his grasp.

Spell to send Olaf to the Troll dimension: The final solution to the Olaf problem is not to kill him, but to send him to a dimension where trolls live. We don't hear much of this spell, but it ends with the words:

...and let the transposition be complete.

Olaf disappears.

Disappearing and reappearing the cash register: Willow scatters some powder on the counter in preparation for her spell and poof, the cash register disappears in a puff of smoke. To get it back (a little worse for wear), she does a reversal spell, waving her hand and saying,

Translation: Revert!

The second time she makes this mistake, she is trying to disappear Olaf and she throws the powder towards him saying,

E conspectu abeat monstrum
Let the monster disappear.

Spell to turn Olaf into a troll: Anya only mentions this spell, but it was the vengeance spell she cast as a human that got the attention of D'Hoffryn, her future demon mentor.

Evil and Philosophies Represented in "Triangle"

On becoming an evil thing

Xander: But you seem to enjoy the... being a troll.
Olaf: I adjusted.

There is ample evidence that Buffyverse humans who are physically transformed into other kinds of creatures (e.g., the sea monsters, Anya[nka], vampHarmony, Giles the Fyarl, demonForest, Olaf the Troll, etc) tend to take on the psychological characteristics of that species of creature, even if they also retain aspects of their human personality and identity.

This implies that the moral nature of a particular kind of creature is predisposed in a certain direction. Individuals who mutate from humans into such creatures go through a psychological transformation in which they gradually become comfortable and even happy with those "evil" personality characteristics no matter how repugnant they would have found them as a human.

If the human did not choose to become that sort of creature, the human cannot be held morally responsible for their successor's subsequent behavior. And judging other creatures by human moral standards becomes tricky as well. To assume humans or individuals of any other species have absolute free will to choose in any instance what they will or will not do is a naive position that ignores the physical and psychological constraints on our ability to make choices.

Does this excuse Olaf's behavior? He didn't want to become a troll, and was confused and frightened when it first happened. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't kill him; it only means that when we do kill him or banish him to crystals or troll-dimensions, we acknowledge that we are not "punishing" him by some absolute moral standard for his "evil"; we are protecting ourselves from the things he does that clearly go against our own interests.

Good and Moral Ambiguity in "Triangle"

Xander wisely refuses to take sides in the squabble between his girlfriend and his best friend, he does not allow Olaf's bullying and death threats to force him into choosing which one of these women will be killed, and he throws himself heroically but futilely at the troll again and AGAIN even though he is incredibly over-matched. Classic Xand-man.

Anya was a demon for over a thousand years; it stands to reason she forgot the subtleties of human etiquette. But she's been human for two years now. We might wonder, with Willow, when exactly she's going to be a little more... sensitive with people? There's evidence now that she was pretty much just as insensitive the first time she was human. Or so claims her ex, the guy she turned into a troll back in her pre-demon days.

It makes sense, though. Anyanka had to be the sort of person who wanted to become a vengeance demon. We're not talking about one spell to get revenge on the guy who cheated on her, we're talking about a millennium of doing it to guys she didn't even know. And this woman still had the crystal where her ex-boyfriend was trapped sitting under the counter where she works! So Willow worries, not unjustifiably, that Anya might hurt Xander, too. Anya claims she would never do that, and maybe she won't. She certainly offered her life in exchange for Xander's when Olaf threatened him.

Alternate theory on why the crystal was there:

last time she saw [Olaf] he was a free-range troll. A more likely explanation is simple coincidence.... A "magic crystal" would have been kept and passed down through the ages - even after no one knew anymore why the crystal was magic or what it's powers were supposed to be... Giles (or the former shop owner) probably bought the crystal at an estate/garage/rummage sale and put it in the shop thinking to attract New Agers and others who use crystals for focus and meditation, having no idea that said crystal contained a big troll (purplegrrl, 19-Jan-01 15:08).

Willow: Anya takes her responsibility for running the store seriously, but Willow doesn't seem big on responsibility these days. Stealing spell ingredients, carelessly performing fun but dangerous spells with the excuse that she's helping people? What's up with Willow?

Is Spike going through a moral transformation quite uncharacteristic for a vampire? Well, the jury's still out on this question. So far, nothing we've seen Spike do in the name of love contradicts the basic adage that Spike takes the course of action ("good" or "evil") that he determines is in his own best interests. Now, it's certainly possible (and Spike himself may very well believe) that Spike loves Buffy and values her happiness above his own. And maybe he's even doing the things he does because he believes they are the right thing to do (like tending to the wounded Bronze patrons). It's also reasonable to believe that Spike desires Buffy and will do whatever it takes to procure the slayer's esteem and affection for himself. Besides tending to the wounded, Spike:

Spike's "oh so subtle interrogation" reminds me of Harmony: Spike is convinced that Buffy has an implacable hatred for him because of the Vamphooker/Riley situation. Her reactions to Spike were perfect -- he is not public enemy #1 -- he is barely a nuisance (Malandanza, 10-Jan-01 11:58).

On the other hand, there are good demons in the Buffyverse. We'll just have to wait and see what Spike's motives actually are.

The Watcher's Council: When Giles goes to the Council to find out what they may know about Glory, Buffy instructs him to leave out the "Dawn is the key" information. She doesn't trust the Council with Dawn's safety. And knowing Dawn is the key isn't necessary to research Glory's identity, origins, and plans, since Glory herself doesn't have this information. Modern-day monks made the key human to hide her from Glory.

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This page last modified 6/14/10

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