Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 6


Bargaining (pt 1)

Bargaining (pt 2)



Life Serial

All the Way

Bargaining, Part 1 and 2 Warning: this page contains info about episodes up through season 6 BtVS/season 3 AtS. If you're in danger of being spoiled, proceed with caution.

| Metaphysics | Evil | Moral ambiguity | Ethical Quandaries |

The Metaphysics of "Bargaining"

| Bargaining | The Buffybot | A new slayer? | Raising the dead | The Key |

...Bargaining is the third in [Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross'] theory about the stages of grieving. ...The first is denial (as in being unable to accept the death); the second, anger, is directed at the Powers that Be, the deceased, the survivor, etc. The third is bargaining -- the bereaved bargains with the heavens, "please, I'll be good, just bring him/her back; please, I'll do anything." The fourth stage is depression (pretty much as it sounds like) and the fifth is acceptance (when life slowly begins to go on -- sort of like Angel in "Heartthrob").

...it was Willow who most painfully refused to accept [Buffy's] death. After she believed the spell to have failed, and howled, "she's really gone" -- it just seemed so clear that until that moment, she had been clinging to the belief that Buffy would come back, had to come back, could not really be dead. And it is Willow, hunched over Buffy's grave in the torment of her "tests," who showed us the literal stage of bargaining: Whatever it takes, whatever I have to endure, I'll do it. Just bring her back (Lunarchickk, 10/04/01, 12:03).

The Buffybot: Buffy is dead. There is no Slayer in Sunnydale. The gang is patrolling as a team, like they did in the summer of 1998. The Buffybot helps give the appearance that Buffy's alive. She slays vampires and joins Dawn for Parent-Teacher Day. But she's no Buffy. She is in constant need of maintenance and reprogramming, and she is a painful reminder to Buffy's sister and friends that the real Buffy is gone. When a vampire attacks a girl outside the coffee house, it's the Buffybot to the rescue--until the vamp breaks a bottle on her forehead ad sends sparks flying. He realizes she's a machine and boasts about besting her to a gang of demon bikers, who head in from the desert to invade Sunnydale.

Why hasn't a new slayer shown up?

Joss Whedon stated a year or so ago that the line now lies with Faith, if Buffy dies there will be no new slayer. In addition, just two days ago, another writer also confirmed that there will be no new slayer (Tensai, 5/27/01 9:41).

"No, a new Slayer will only be called up when Faith dies." (BtVS/AtS writer Steven DeKnight, The Bronze, 5/24/01 23:56).

Successfully Raising the dead is never an easy thing to do. When Dawn attempted to raise her mother, Joyce's body rose, but it was probably a spiritless reanimated corpse, rather than the mother Dawn had loved. That iffy ritual was a piece of cake compared to the ritual Willow performs to raise Buffy. Willow believes Buffy has a better chance than Joyce because while Joyce died of natural causes, Buffy was killed by a mystical energy.

This makes her a good candidate for the supplication to Osiris. This spell must be performed when Mercury is in retrograde. It also requires an Urn of Osiris. Anya locates the last known urn from a desert gnome in Cairo.

...Osiris isn't an evil god -- he's the Egyptian god of the dead. He controls the comings and goings from the underworld. Therefore, Willow's magick was concentrated on exhorting Osiris to release Buffy's soul (Devon, 05:50:16 10/03/01).

They now have all of the ingredients except one, the vino de madre ("wine of the mother"). Willow goes out into a meadow and puts a blanket on the ground. She pours powder from a bottle onto the ground while saying the ritual words to call out a sacrifice:

Adonai, Helomi, Pine
Adonai, Helomi, Pine
Gods do command thee from thy majesty
O Mappa Laman, Adonai, Helomi

Come forward, blessed one, know your calling.
Come forward, blessed one.

A fawn appears from behind a tree. Willow stabs it in the heart and takes its blood for the ritual. She then thanks the sacrifice for its offering:

Child of Elomina, accept our humble gratitude for your offering
In death you give life
May you find wings to the kingdom.

At midnight, Willow, Xander, Anya and Tara kneel in a circle around Buffy's grave. Willow holds the urn of Osiris. The other have burning candles. Willow incants,

Osiris, keeper of the gate,
Master of all fate
Hear us

She pours the vino de madre in the urn and then reaches in the urn and marks her forehead and cheeks with blood.

Before time, and after
Before knowing and nothing

She spreads the rest of the vino de madre on Buffy's grave.

Accept our offering,
Know our prayer.

After she puts the urn down, knife wounds appear on her outspread arms. Tara tells the others it is a test Willow must endure as the invoker of the ritual.

Osiris, here lies a warrior of the people.
Let her cross over

Several round egg-shaped objects appear under her skin and crawl from her wounds to her neck.

Osiris, let her cross over!

The objects fuse together and travel up her throat. Willow regurgitates a snake. Red and gold mystical energy starts to swirl around her.

Osiris, release her!

At this point, a motorcycle charges in and breaks the urn. The mystical energy leaves Willow. She collapses, and Xander carries her to safety. The energy sinks under the ground and into Buffy's grave where it makes contact with her body and reconstitutes her rotting corpse. Buffy wakes up to one of her worst nightmares made real--she is buried alive.

Is Dawn still the key? She is in this sense--she is still the human being who was created out of the key energy. She may also still be able to open the portal between dimensions with her blood (even though she says, "I don't open anything anymore"). Who knows this besides her friends?

Where was Buffy's spirit?

Vampires and fire

Evil in "Bargaining"

The Hellions are a group of violent, pointy-eared, nostril-less demons who live on the open road as a motorcycle gang. When they hear that there is no Slayer in Sunnydale, they decide to have a little fun on the Hellmouth and invade the city--vandalizing property, looting, and setting cars on fire. When the Buffybot appears to stop them, they take her prisoner and chain her to their motorcycles. Driving in different directions, they rip the bot into pieces (technically, the draw and quarter her).

The Bikers ...were rapists, thieves, and murderers but the disturbing aspect is that they were able to get away with it and were ENJOYING THEMSELVES. Not many people are ready to face the idea of what it would be like for "evil" to have the upper hand and be able to do whatever it wants to you and leave you without too much trouble (Charlemagne20, 10/02/01, 21:17)

Good and Moral Ambiguity in"Bargaining"

Willow's witchy powers have continued to develop. She can communicate telepathically and perform a ritual to raise Buffy from the dead. In the course of gathering ingredients, she kills a deer for its blood, then tells her friends she got the ingredient on the black market. After the ritual, Xander confronts her, wanting to know exactly what they were into with that spell. Does he suspect there's dark magic involved?

...Willow's full speed ahead pursuit of power is not the mindset of one is seeks to be in tune with nature and the universe. Her attitude towards magic reminds me of the scientists who are throwing themselves so whole-heartedly into cloning research without waiting to see what the ethical considerations of that technology will be. For Tara, magic is as natural as breathing, it's a part of life and the cycles of life. For Willow, it's knowledge. I can foresee this causing them more problems... What it comes down to is a difference in philosophy (celticross, 10/03/01 7:50)

Buffy uses her slayer strength to break out of her wood and earth prison. The world she sees upon rising is dark and full of demons. It looks like Sunnydale, with familiar landmarks and people, but it's a Sunnydale of destruction and fire. Demons chase and attack her. Only her slayer instincts keep Buffy alive.

She eventually returns to the top of the tower where her life ended. Dawn finds her there. "Is this hell?" Buffy asks. She stares down as if ready to take the plunge again. Then the tower starts to creak and sway. Dawn screams. This galvanizes Buffy into action again. She gets her sister safely to the ground and out of the way of falling debris. The tower crumbles to the ground in a billow of dust.

Buffy finally realizes it's not hell when her sister embraces her.

Anya is waiting--in an impatient, rude way--for the day that Giles will leave and she can take over the day-to-day business of the Magic Box. Anya's also eager to tell the gang about her engagement to Xander, news she's convinced will cheer up everyone's somber mood, but Xander thinks they should wait until things get better. "Things getting better" means, for Xander, after they all adjust to Buffy's death.

Giles has decided to return to England, but he is lingering in Sunnydale even though he knows that, in the end, most slayer-watcher relationships end in a Slayer's death in the line of duty. It's not that simple for Giles. He had a relationship with Buffy that was closer than most Watchers have with their slayers. He is also feeling guilty for Buffy's death, even though it was her choice, not his. When he finally leaves, he slips off to the airport to avoid an emotional scene. The gang finds him there and say their goodbyes just as he's leaving. Giles heads off to England with an admonishment for them to be careful.

Dawn has become emotionally attached to the Buffybot in Buffy's absence, calling it "Buffy" and cuddling with it at night. When Dawn finds the bot torn to pieces, it's almost as if she's lost her sister again. Luckily, she soon finds her real sister, inexplicably alive, if not well.

Hank Summers seems willing to let his adult offspring care for his younger child. But what if he discovers his oldest is dead? (The evolution of Hank)

The good of Tara and Xander

The moral ambiguity of Spike

Ethical Quandaries in "Bargaining"

Should Buffy's friends raise her from the dead?

Willow is adamant about bringing Buffy back, and tells gang the time has come for the ritual.

Xander is the first to take the cautious "let's step back and think about this," line. This leads to a short debate between Xander, Willow, Anya, and Tara about the ethics of raising the dead.

Tara backs up Xander's "It feels wrong" with Wiccan reasoning. "It is wrong," she says. "It's against all the laws of nature." However, the fact that it's "practically impossible to do" isn't an argument against its morality, just as "we all agreed to do it" isn't an argument for its morality. What is interesting, though, is Tara ever agreeing to this in the first place, given her adamant views against raising the dead in "Forever". And indeed, after it appears that the ritual has failed, Tara points out that perhaps that was what was meant to happen. Since they were invoking forces they had no right to, the "fates" stepped in and stopped them with the chaos of the demon invasion.

Willow argues that Buffy's spirit could have ended up in a hell dimension as a result of the way she died (as a result of dying by mystical energy), although she doesn't have much evidence for this. She finally appeals to the emotions of friendship, arguing simply, "it's Buffy".

Did Willow cross the line?


"An it harm none, do what ye will." - The Wiccan Rede

...Magic continually presents ethical choices. These choices are akin to the ethical principle of the golden rule, which underlies a multitude of philosophies and religions. I see Willow now as having placed herself in opposition to that ethical principle. She has, without Buffy's consent, resurrected her. She has substituted her judgment for Buffy's own. Clearly, she rationalizes this as an act that may save Buffy from torment. It's wrapped in good intentions. ...Willow's motives appear better on the surface. But underneath, it's the same assumption of power over the life and death of another person. ...Willow's path to a darker side seems marked by her desire to be helpful and to make things right when her emotions are touched. But she is also placing herself in the position of judging what is right when she does these things (rowan, 10/03/01 7:15).


Willow is being corrupted by her excessive use of magic and Joss is bringing that out. It's ...a sign of just how twisted and depraved the type of magic that thrives on the Hellmouth in the Buffyverse is.... Think of the world Willow lives in. Think of the horrors that ran amuck even when Buffy -was- alive. Now that she's gone, those horrors have quadrupled. Willow and Tara -can't- prance around in flowy little robes and sing badly written faux-folk songs about the Great Peaceful and Wise All Caring-Never-Hurts-A-Fly-Even-Though-She-Embodies-The-Forces-of-Nature-Which-Aren't-
They have to be edgier. And, in relation to things like raising the dead, they need to do some things that no one should ever have to do. The sacrifice was necessary (Lucifer_Sponge, 10/03/01 6:53)


The Metaphysics of "Afterlife"

"The thing about magic... there's always consequences. Always!" --Spike

Thaumogenesis: The spell to bring Buffy back had an unexpected side effect. Willow asked that a human being be brought back from death--no small request. A price must be paid, and so a demon is created by the very magicks Willow invoked. This demon does not have a physical existence in our dimension. It is "out of phase"--its consciousness is here, its body is not. The book Willow consults describes the demon as being "caught in the ether between existence and non-existence." This could very well be the "ether" where Angel's soul was during Angelus' reign.

The manifestations: The demon must possess living beings (Anya, Dawn, Xander) to perform any lasting actions in our dimension. This possession is accompanied by the whitening of the person's eyes. The demon also manifests in a number of other ways as well: as a small blob capable of blending with floors and walls and as a ghost-like apparition that can take on forms that look like people (e.g., Buffy).

This apparition appears in Willow and Tara's room. It knows the details of Willow's spell, and reminds Willow of the secrets she has been keeping from her friends:

"Did you cut the throat? Did you pat it's head? The blood dried on your hands, didn't it? You were stained. You still are. I know what you did!"

It appears to throw a heavy object at the picture above the bed, but when Tara checks, the glass that fell is gone.

Destroying the demon: The demon was created by the spell, so its existence is linked to the spell. If Willow uses magic to to reverse the forces that brought the demon into existence, the main effects of the spell (i.e., Buffy's resurrection) will reverse as well. Willow then discovers that the demon is a temporary side effect--it will dissipate on its own. The only way the demon can prevent this is by killing the subject of the original spell (i.e., Buffy). The demon, in possession of Xander, hears this and goes to Buffy's house.

The spell to make the demon corporeal: In order for Buffy to fight the demon, it must be made corporeal (see also Ethros demons and the Thesulac). Willow and Tara sit on the floor facing each other holding hands. They chant together,

Child of words, hear thy makers, child of words, we entreat.
With our actions did we make thee, to our voices wilt thou bend.

With our potions, thou took motive, with our motions, came to pass.
We rescind no past devotions, give thee substance, give thee mass.

Tara repeats the incantation as Willow goes into a trance surrounded by mystical light. Then Willow utters one word, "solid!" The demon is united with its body and Buffy beheads it with an ax.

Heaven: Where was Buffy's spirit during the months after her death? Indications are it was in the Buffyverse equivalent of heaven. The existence of such a place has been hinted at before, but this is the first time we have had direct evidence of the place and what it is like. Buffy tells Spike,

"Wherever I was, I was happy. At peace. I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time didn't' mean anything. Nothing had form. But I was still me, you know? And I was warm... and I was loved. And I was finished. Complete."

Compared to this place, life on Earth is hell--difficult, bright, and violent.

Vampires and sunlight

Good in "Afterlife"

A Buddhist perspective on Buffy's resurrection

Buffy's statement that everyone she cared about was OK (in spite of how they themselves felt) reminded me of a passage in the Flower Garland Sutra wherein the Buddha sitting under the Bodhi Tree right after his enlightenment realizes that all beings are already Buddhas but they do not realize it. So from Buffy's "heavenly" perspective everyone is ultimately ok, but from the perspective of people still in the Saha World (the world of endurance i.e. here) things are harsh and violent and they are still making trouble for themselves.

In fact, if the Scooby Gang had not been working on bringing Buffy back from heaven, they could have solved their own problems themselves. Willow and the others could have evolved into a crack vampire/demon fighting team on their own instead of overly relying on the erratic Buffybot and their hope of bringing Buffy back. In doing that, the Hellmouth would have remained a non-inviting target for the Hellions. ...the reason the vampire was able to get away was because the SG was where they shouldn't have been doing what they shouldn't have been doing instead of patrolling as they should have been. So instead of being empowered by Buffy's sacrifice, they disempowered themselves and ultimately brought on themselves the necessity for Buffy's return. If they had taken a more enlightened perspective - they would have realized that they were ok and not created so many problems for themselves and now for Buffy.

...the Buddha knew that all beings are Buddha, [but] he also realized that they need help figuring that out. This is why the Buddha didn't just stay seated under the Bodhi Tree but got up and began teaching so people could realize for themselves what the Buddha knew they were all along. The bodhisattvas of the Flower Garland Sutra go even further and make vows to be reborn in all the realms of suffering in order to save all sentient beings. Though Buffy did not volunteer for this duty on her own initiative, it would seem that she is in the same position. Though she has merited a heavenly reward, she has returned to the Saha World to save her friends. In telling Spike not to tell the SG what they had done, it seems as though she has, albeit after the fact, accepted this mission and volunteered to reenter the fray and take the suffering on herself in order to spare her friends - and ultimately this season she will probably have to save them from themselves - just as the classic bodhisattva does (Ryuei, 10:35 10/10/01).

The good of Dawn

Moral Ambiguity in "Afterlife"

Willow: In her need to justify bringing Buffy back, Willow convinces her friends that Buffy was in a hell dimension. She has no evidence for this claim, and unbeknownst to her, it is quite wrong. When the apparition appears in their bedroom and makes reference to aspects of the spell that Willow has kept secret, Willow lies and tells Tara she doesn't know what the apparition is talking about.

The Scooby Gang: Everybody wants the best for Buffy--they only want her to be happy. This puts Buffy under enormous pressure to pretend that she is. She tells Spike the truth--that she was in heaven, not hell--then tells him he must never let her friends know the reality of what they did to her.

...Instead of being the light of her life, the Scoobies have become a constant reminder of the darkness that colors a Slayer's daily existence: the dreadful burden of being responsible for so many lives. In these terms, how selfish it was for the Scoobies to bring her back! (Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly, 10/10/01)

Spike's joy at Buffy's resurrection is muted when it becomes a painful reminder that he is still an outsider with the gang. His attempts to care for Buffy are interrupted by Buffy's friends. He is angry that Willow and the others didn't tell him what they had planned. When Buffy tells him the truth about where she was, though, he becomes the only insider to her secret pain.

The moral ambiguity of Xander


Evil and Good in "Flooded"

M'Fashnik demons are a species of "mercenary" demons who exchange their demon strength and lust for chaos for money and other forms of compensation. A trio of super geeks villains hires a M'Fashnik to distract a security guard while they rob a bank. They all get away clean, but not before Buffy shows up and kicks the demon's ass. The M'Fashnik wants revenge. Warren gives him Buffy's address. When the demon finds Dawn and Giles there instead, he is perfectly willing to take his anger out on them while he waits for the Slayer.

Poetic justice? How do you piss off the Slayer these days? Well, it involves destroying her property and ruining her costly new plumbing. The M'Fashnik demon attempts his revenge by throttling Buffy with a piece of her newly-repaired pipe. A very brassed-off Buffy wrests the pipe from him and beats him to death with it.

Battling the debt demon: Buffy has come back to life to find herself in the red. Her mom's life insurance went to hospital bills and new debts are piling up. Buffy has no income and can't get a loan. Looks like it might be time to pull out a new weapon--gainful employment.

Dawn has been kept from the gang's evil-fighting activities up until now, but she thinks fifteen is old enough to join in. The proof? Dawn locates the Buffy's mercenary demon in a book within minutes. And she doesn't even get too freaked out about it, either.

Moral Ambiguity in "Flooded"

Revenge of the nerds: The new "bads" on the block are a trio of human guys who have each used magic or technology in the past for their own benefit. Jonathan Levinson, of course, had his augmentation spell, Warren Mears was the creator of the sexbots (including the Buffybot), and Andrew, the brother of Tucker Wells, trained flying monkey-demons to attack a school play. The geek-boys fancy themselves "super villains", and have joined together to use their talents to obtain the power that has been denied to them due to their low social status. They have decided to use magic and crime to take over Sunnydale and obtain worldly pleasures without paying for them.

Can they succeed? Well, they have several weaknesses to overcome first:

[The Trio are] ...all about evading responsibility. ...these guys are steadfastly refusing to grow up. They want to play video games and meet girls and really do little else. They're going to use their smarts to try to figure out ways to get around regular jobs and regular lives (Marti Noxon 'Dreamwatch', March '02).

The continuing repercussions of Buffy's resurrection

Since Buffy got back, she's been holding her feelings inside, trying to convince her friends that she's O.K. when she's not. And while she is dedicated to slaying, she is not overly enthusiastic about it.

Giles is overjoyed to see Buffy alive and calls her presence among the living "a miracle". However, he can sense that not everything is right with her. The "worst" is supposedly over--she's died and been resurrected--yet Buffy continues to be traumatized by something. Giles blames Willow. She risked "primal and ferocious" magicks to bring Buffy back. His trust in Willow's judgment has been shattered.

Xander still hasn't told the gang about he and Anya's engagement. But is Xander waiting until the dust of Buffy's resurrection settles down, or does he have cold feet? Anya believes he is afraid to commit to her, and Xander confesses that the responsibilities of marriage, on top of plain old adulthood, are a bit overwhelming for him. In the meantime, Anya is losing patience with Xander's anxieties.

Benevolent power or "stupid" luck? Giles vs. Willow on harnessing powerful magicks

"Of everyone here, you were the one I trusted most to respect the forces of nature."

When Giles asks Willow about the spell she used to resurrect Buffy, Willow recounts the frightening ordeal with self-congratulatory enthusiasm. Giles responds by calling Willow a "stupid girl" and an "arrogant amateur". In Giles' mind, the spell was successful only because Willow was lucky. She risked her own life, her friend's lives, and perhaps the whole world releasing Buffy from "hell", and Buffy doesn't seem entirely the better for it.

As far as Willow is concerned, though, her success is a sign of her talent. Willow believes that she is in control of the powers she harnesses. Furthermore, she used those powers in what she considers a good deed--bringing her friend back from death. But her confidence quickly slips into arrogance. She tells Giles, "I'm incredibly powerful. And maybe it's not such a good idea for you to piss me off." Is that our Willow threatening Giles? Willow quickly backs off from the threat. She wants her friends to be happy as a result of what she has done. But not all is well in the Scooby Gang.

Life Serial

The Metaphysics of "Life Serial"

The tests

The nerdly trio decide to test their greatest (potential) adversary, the Slayer, to discover her weaknesses. They install surveillance equipment in a black van. Each of them plans his own test for Buffy. They turn it into a contest between themselves.

Time-warp: Warren plants a small silver "inhibitor" bead on Buffy's sweater. The bead causes Buffy to experience time at a speeded-up rate when the "omega pulse sequence" triggers it. Buffy's conversation with Tara jumps ahead a full minute with only an odd ripping sound as warning. She sees the clock hands and then students moving at accelerated pace. Buffy retreats under a table and finds the inhibitor just as it self-destructs in her hand.

Demons: Andrew calls forth three demons with eerie pipe music. The green demons, who have tentacles hanging from the backs of their heads, attack Buffy at her construction job. Buffy fights them off using construction tools as weapons. When they die, the demons melt away, leaving no trace of their existence.

Time-loop: Jonathan produces a piece of parchment with writing on it and sets it on fire. He puts it in a bowl in the center of a circle consisting of himself, Andrew, and Warren. Andrew and Warren must hold hands. Jonathan waves his magic bone over the bowl and says

Opus orbit est
Et ea in medio
Tempus ad calcum intendet!

The burning parchment starts to smoke.

Buffy, now working at the Magic Box, begins to experience the same series of events over and over again--Giles gives her advice about retail; a customer has a question about candles; and a woman enters the Magic Box looking for a mummy hand talisman for a prosperity spell. Only pleasing this customer will end Jonathan's spell. The mummy hand resists Buffy, though, and every time she gives up on her task, the loop reverses back to the beginning and starts over. Eventually Buffy tells the customer she'll special order another hand and have it shipped directly to the customer. She makes the sale and the spell ends.

Transformation; Later, Buffy sees the trio's van, which she saw earlier at the construction site. Jonathan uses his magic bone to disguise himself in demon form (a spell to disguise or cover up something is known as a "glamor"). Demon-Jonathan tells Buffy that he's been following her and testing her. Buffy kicks him. Since Jonathan only has the strength of his normal human self, he doubles over in pain. He creates a puff of smoke and runs away, faking his own disappearance. Once he is on the other side of the van, he says, "Let the spell be ended" and he is back to human form.

Moral Ambiguity in "Life Serial"

Buffy is having trouble with her new lease on life--specifically, having any actual plans about what to do with it. She joins Willow and Tara in college classes, but finds it over her head. She gets fired from Xander's construction job, and quits Anya's retail job, and heads over to Spike's for a drink or five. Later, she confides to Giles that she's "screwing up"--not facing her duties as Slayer and bread-winner. Giles gives her a check to hold her over. When Buffy tells him she feels safe as long as he is there, though, Giles frowns. He knows she has to learn to take care of herself.

The Trio

None of the three dweebs really think of Buffy as a human being.... Warren is easy to figure out--look at the way he treated April, who was supposed to be his 'perfect' girlfriend. Warren is amoral, and totally self-interested. Therefore, there is no division in his mind between thinking that Buffy is 'hot' and accepting that she should die if necessary to further his own aims.

Andrew... constantly confuses fantasy with reality, as evidenced in his references to events in movies, TV shows etc. in such a way that shows that they are not treated differently from events taking place in the realverse. Therefore, if Buffy were to die, it isn't any different than if she were a character in a video game that can be 'killed' over and over without any consequences.

Jonathan is insecure, despite Buffy's attempts to help him in the past. He doesn't really want to hurt Buffy, he just wants to prove that he is clever enough to 'compete' with her superiority.... Left to himself, it is unlikely that he would ever harm her, but under the influence of the other two members of the troika, he could be swayed to 'not intervene' should she be truly threatened. In other words, he might passively allow harm to come to her, but not actively (OnM, 10/24/01 16:06).

Spike tells Buffy that she will only truly be happy in life when she realizes she is like him--a fighter, a "creature of the darkness." He challenges her to "try on" his world. Does Spike want Buffy to be dark in the way Drac wanted her to be? Maybe, maybe not. Buffy joins Spike at a bar in order to get information about who has been testing her, but the only "action" there is a back-room game of kitten-poker with a group of rather lame demons.

Philosophies represented in "Life Serial"

Social constructivism is a sociological theory about how human beings acquire their beliefs about the world around them. Social constructionists hold that human beings do not perceive the world directly; we perceive it through the lens of a large number of prior assumptions given to us through our social upbringing.

"The social construction of reality" is not to be confused with the "individual construction of reality". Each of us as individuals tends to perceive the world in different ways from other individuals. This is not social constructivism (so some of the responses in Mike's class were technically wrong).

The social construction of reality means that groups of people--particular cultures, sub-cultures, genders, etc. as a group perceive the world in similar ways to each other but differently from other cultures and groups. Therefore, when people as a group come to agreement and consensus about the "facts" and explanations for events in the world, this should not reassure them that what they believe is true. It may very well be false--since as a group they share the same social assumptions, beliefs, and biases.

Even the so-called pinnacle of knowledge, science, is a social endeavor and therefore not immune to social construction. See Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" for examples of the social construction of scientific knowledge.

All the Way

The Metaphysics of "All the Way"

Demons and Halloween: It has been established in Halloween and Fear, Itself that October 31st is the one night that demons "give it a rest". They stay in.

The memory spell: After a hurtful fight with Tara, Willow does a memory spell to make Tara forget the argument. She picks up a sprig of Lethe's Bramble (a flowering plant used for augmenting spells of forgetting and mind control) from the dresser and places it in her palm. "Forget" she says. Then she crawls into bed beside a now-happy Tara.

Evil in "All the Way"

Justin and Zack are part of a young vampire posse that has "rebelled" against traditional vampire rules like no mayhem on Halloween. Justin sucks an old man dry and Zack steals a car after eating its owner. All the while, the two vamps try to decide whether to kill Dawn and Janice or "go all the way" and turn them into vampires as well.

Moral Ambiguity and Ethical Quandaries in "All the Way"

Anya is her usual partying capitalist self after her big Halloween sale. Xander watches her dance and decides the time has come to tell their friends about the engagement. The gang decides to throw a party in their honor. At the party Xander tries to play it cool, but it is obvious he is still overwhelmed by what he's doing--more so when Giles talks about weddings, houses, and how Xander and Anya will spend the rest of their lives together.

Dawn is at that age where she wants to be an adult, but still has an authority figure bent on keeping her safe. Dawn meets up with Janice, Zack, and Justin--a boy she's "seen around at parties"--for Halloween mischief. When the boys decide to pick on an old man, Dawn volunteers to smash his pumpkin. She later reveals her stealing habit to Justin and makes out with him in a car.

Giles discovers that Dawn has lied about her whereabouts. He searches the graveyard, hears Janice scream and stakes Zack. Then he sees Dawn running from Justin. Dawn is confused because she has come to like Justin and she's known some decent vampires in her day, like Angel and Spike. When Giles tries to save her, he sees that they are surrounded by the vampire posse. Dawn punches Justin in the gut and runs away while Giles, Spike and Buffy take on the vamps. Justin catches up with Dawn and pins her to the ground. He is about to take a bite when she stakes him with her pencil.

Buffy: When Dawn heads out for a "sleep-over" at her friend Janice's, Buffy hesitates. She refused to let Dawn get a tattoo, but she looks to Giles to tell Dawn whether or not she can go to Janice's. Giles rightly responds, "it's really not up to me." Later, Giles tells Buffy they need to discipline Dawn for what she did. Buffy agrees and tells him not to be too hard on her when he does it. Then she heads for bed.

The old man appears sinister, but in fact, he's just a nice old former toy maker who wants to give kids Rice Krispy treats. When Justin the vamp chows down on the guy, the only result is tragedy.

When does the use of magic cross the line?

Willow suggests a cleaning spell for the post-sale Magic Box clutter, pops up decorations for the engagement party with a simple, "kazaritate tame", and wants to send everyone in the Bronze who's not fifteen into an alternate dimension for a second just to see if Dawn is there. Tara stops her.

"What if something went wrong?" Tara argues. Willow is convinced it won't.

"Willow, you're using too much magic," Tara tells her. "What do you want me to do? Just sit back and keep my mouth shut?"
"Well that would be a good start,"
an angry Willow replies.

"Why use magic when you can do something naturally?" Tara asks her. Willow's response is a bad analogy. "Well, you can fight monsters naturally, with sticks and stones. Don't recommend it, though". This misses Tara's point. Using magic to defend against monsters is a very different thing from using magic for any little problem that comes up. "You're protecting people, keeping them from getting hurt." Willow argues her magic couldn't harm a fly--what's the big deal?

The gist of Tara's argument here is that the more Willow uses magic to accomplish everyday things, the greater the chances are that there might be negative consequences. Magic is powerful and has side-effects, even if done correctly. It is something that should be used carefully and reserved for occasions when crucial ends justify the powerful means employed, i.e., to protect people. Rather than thinking about Tara's arguments, Willow performs a spell to make Tara forget she said anything.

...By making Tara forget, she takes away Tara's right to express her opinion, which, as you remember, she (Tara) did because she cares. She's not treating Tara as a person who has a right to speak her mind. Willow thinks that if magic makes things easier, then there's no reason not to use it (the spell she contemplated was risky and they had no inkling that Dawn was in any real danger). She has confidence in her abilities and, after all, she brought someone back from the dead. Now she's venturing into the realm of controlling other people to make her own life more pleasant. Talk about crossing the line; she's way over it (verdantheart, 10/31/01 6:06).

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This page last modified 10/12/03

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