Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 6


Seeing Red


Two to Go/Grave


The Metaphysics of "Entropy"

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.

Inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society (dictionary.com*) Entropy "Things fall apart, they fall so hard. You can't ever put them back the way they were." - Tara

... the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics ...states that a closed system will always tend toward chaos. This can be reversed by introducing energy from an outside source into the system, but the withdrawal of that energy will always cause the system to drift back into chaos (Rattletrap, 5/02/02 8:03).

...Tara's statement in the end - not just the "things fall apart" bit, but the part where she says it will take a lot of work to re-establish their relationship, and that even then things will never be the same as they were. (entropy ALWAYS increases) Her little speech is clearly meant to apply to all the relationships that were examined in this episode - the obvious ones of X/A and B/S, but also Dawn and Buffy who are trying to rebuild trust (lulabel, 5/01/02 23:10).

The locator spell: The Trio retrieve a round metal talisman covered with runic icons in concentric circles, an essential ingredient in their latest spell, a spell to locate magic orbs they will need to carry out their new plan. Jonathan lights a candle. The talisman has been placed on top of a wooden pole like a lollipop. Jonathan sprinkles dusty ingredients on the disk and says, "Uncover." Candle light reflects on the disk and is focused and beamed onto a specific spot on a map of Sunnydale. "That's it," says Jonathan. "That's where we have to go."

The cameras: Xander finds a hidden camera in Buffy's front yard. Willow hacks into the fiber-optic network to use the feedback relay to see where the camera's signal is being sent to. In the process, she discovers hidden cameras at Buffy's work, the Bronze, Willow's classrooms, Xander's construction site, and the Magic Box. Someone has put the entire Scooby Gang under surveillance. Willow taps into the feed at the Magic Box. The gang are too distracted by what they see to finish tracing the signal, but they conclude the Trio is responsible, and now they have a way to locate their lair.

Anyanka: After being left at the alter by Xander, Anya chose to return to her demon form. Unfortunately, vengeance demons can't curse victims on behalf of themselves. Anyanka must find someone else to make a wish about Xander that she can then enact.

Unanswered question: Does Anya still have a soul? Anya was human once. Then she was a demon. Then she was human again. Now she's a demon again. Is her soul coming and going as well? I have theorized elsewhere that the best explanation for Anya's 1,100-year situation is that she kept her human soul while she was a demon. She had it during her three years as a human, and she hasn't lost it now.

Evil in "Entropy"

The Trio: Jonathan is nervous around Warren these days. He's wanted out of the Trio since Katrina's death. But he is willing work on one more scheme if it means he can make enough money to go. But Warren has other plans for Jonathan. And Andrew is in cahoots with him.

Moral Ambiguity and Ethical Quandaries in "Entropy"

He did, she did: Xander and Anya

"What if all you dreamed about was that magical day? The day when the one person you loved with all your soul would promise to cherish and protect your heart for the rest of his life? But instead he shatters it into a million jagged pieces."

Anya was so hurt after Xander left her at the alter that she chose to take on her demon powers again. But vengeance demons can't curse on behalf of themselves. She tries to get the women she knows to make a wish about Xander, but all the women she knows are all Xander's friends. Then Spike comes along. Surely she can get Spike to make a wish! Instead, the two of them get drunk and end up having sex--a moment of comfort in the midst of hurt. But the gang witnesses their moment of passion. Xander comes to Magic Box to confront Anya and kill Spike. When Anya sees Xander's devastated reaction to what she's done, she realizes that hurting the one you love isn't as satisfying after all. When Spike begins to make a wish about Xander, Anya tells him not to.

Xander's belated self-awareness is too little, too late. As far as Anya is concerned, there is nothing he can do to make up for leaving her at the alter, even if he loves her and wants to marry her some day. In her mind, he is a scared, insecure little boy. That doesn't change Xander's feelings, though. When he sees Spike and Anya together on camera, he goes after Spike with an ax. Buffy stops him. Then Xander confronts Anya. He can't believe she slept "an evil, soulless thing". Then he discovers Buffy has as well. Unable to deal with this wrinkle in his reality, Xander storms away.

Xander did Anya wrong. He openly admits that to anyone who will listen, and no one can disagree. He is a bit foolish and naive to believe things can ever revert to the way they were, but that is hardly surprising considering he really has no past experience to draw on in this situation. To his credit, he doesn't try to lie his way out of it or tell her what she wants to hear, he attempts to answer her question honestly, albeit bluntly. Does he fully comprehend the pain he inflicted on her, no, and this is perhaps his most crucial mistake.

All that said, the punishment Anya tries to inflict simply does not fit the crime. Being left at the altar caused public embarrassment and will probably result in some lifelong emotional scars--these are not trivial things and should not be taken lightly. These things also do not merit mass murder, which is essentially the punishment Anya tries to inflict. Her initial wish is that Xander had never been born, and the fact that she takes on her vengeance demon visage suggests that she had every intention of following through with it. If Xander's existence had been completely erased, it is unlikely Buffy would have survived her fight with the Master in PG, leading to a rash of other related deaths ....

I am entirely willing to believe that Anya was still deeply hurt and taking action without stopping to evaluate the possible consequences. The same could be said for Xander's treatment of Spike, however. The statement on NB's face as Xander walked to the Magic Box was one of someone motivated only by murderous rage. Both characters behaved in ways understandable given the situation, but neither was morally right (Rattletrap, 5/01/02 21:21).

One of the sad things about Xander and Anya is that their problem could have been solved by a little conversation. Xander needn't worry about turning into his father. Anya would never tolerate his father (skeeve, 5/01/02 11:48).

How much humanity is still in Spike? The debate rages on. On the one hand, he has a genuine need to be numbed after Buffy once again rejects his declarations of love. And he has helped the Scoobies many times, although his motives for doing so are never made clear. But he also tells Anya that she's the only one of Buffy's friends he wouldn't bite if he had the chance. Is this just talk? And how can we tell when Spike is "just talking"?

Buffy is making progress reconnecting with Dawn, and things seem back to the usual brand of abnormal in her world. She tells Spike she doesn't care if he tells her friends about them. She trusts that her friends will deal. And when Dawn and Willow see Buffy's reaction to Spike sleeping with Anya and figure it out for themselves, things are O.K. But when Spike implies that Buffy slept with him in front of Xander, Xander isn't O.K.

Willow and Tara: Tara and Willow's relationship has been on the upswing ever since Tara defended Willow's choice to keep her abstinence. Now they're back in courting mode again. But you can't just expect to have coffee and.... Tara goes to Willow's. She talks about how it will take time to mend the things that broke between them. But she doesn't want to wait. She wants Willow. They kiss passionately.

*Rufus, 5/02/02 00:40

Seeing Red

The Metaphysics of "Seeing Red"

Nezzla demons are large muscular demons with skeletal armor. The two Nezzla demons in possession of the Orbs of Nezzla'khan live in an underground chamber carved out of solid rock. The Trio electrocute one of the demons, skin it, and use the skin to create a "demon suit".

The Orbs of Nezzla'khan are two red handball-sized crystal orbs etched with the same symbols that tattoo the Nezzla. The orbs will make a human strong and invulnerable, if you can get your hands on them. But to do that, you must get through the mystical barrier that guards the orbs. This barrier vaporizes anything that is not a Nezzla demon on contact. Jonathan puts on a suit made from the skin of a Nezzla demon. Warren pushes him into the barrier. Jonathan passes through safely. He gets the orbs and gives them to Warren. Warren holds the orbs in his fists. Their power courses up his body. He tests his new power by killing the second Nezzla demon.

Glamor spells

Slayer skills: Willow traces the camera feeds to the Trio's lair. But all Buffy finds there are abandoned papers and a lot of moving buzz saws. Buffy ducks one blade and dives between two perpendicular blades spinning in mid-air. Then she takes what papers she can grab and runs.

Good and Evil in "Seeing Red"

Tara and Willow are back together and happy, making love all night and spending all day in bed doing Trio research with the papers Buffy found at the Trio's lair. Included in the papers is a data CD. On it, Willow finds blueprints and schematics for the Trio's latest plans. They are going on a robbery spree, and the first job is holding up an armored car with receipts from an amusement park, scheduled for that night.

Warren leads Andrew and Jonathan in the armored car hold-up, but he doesn't get far before Buffy arrives. Still, no matter how hard Buffy hits him, Warren recovers. The man who refuses to let a woman get the best of him has found the key to beating the strongest woman alive. Andrew cheers on Warren's destruction of the Slayer, but Jonathan is horrified. He leaps onto Buffy's back, pretending to attack her, and tells Buffy to smash the Nezzla'kahn orbs. Warren hits Buffy in the stomach, throwing her to the ground. He looms over her. Buffy sees the orb pouch, rips it off, and smashes it on the asphalt. But Warren's life of crime isn't over. He is wearing a jet-pack and escapes up into the air. Andrew tries to escape the same way, but hits an overhanging roof and falls to the ground. Jonathan realizes that Andrew and Warren were going to let him take the fall for their crimes. The police arrive and lead Andrew and Jonathan away in handcuffs.

The next day, a humiliated Warren shows up at Buffy's house with a gun. He opens fire and then runs, shooting back at the house again haphazardly. He hits Buffy in the chest. Another bullet flies through an upstairs window where it pierces Tara through the heart. Willow kneels down beside Tara and pulls her lover into her arms. Tara is dead. Willow raises her head. Her eyes go black.

I killed Tara. Some of you may have been hurt by that. It very unlikely it was more painful to you than it was to me. I couldn't even discuss it in story meetings without getting upset, physically. Which is why I knew it was the right thing to do. Because stories, as I have so often said, are not about what we WANT. And I knew some people would be angry with me for destroying the only gay couple on the show, but the idea that I COULDN'T kill Tara because she was gay is as offensive to me as the idea that I DID kill her because she was gay. Willow's story was not about being gay. It was about weakness, addiction, loss... the way life hits you in the gut right when you think you're back on your feet. The course of true love never did run smooth, not on my show. ... I love Amber and she knows it. Eventually, this story will end for all of them. Hers ended sooner (Joss, May 22, 2002, 2:27).

...we've known ... From the beginning of this season. ...it's a Joss decision. ...[if Willow] had never turned gay or realized that she was gay her boyfriend would have gotten killed. It's about Willow. And to be completely honest it worked better as a story that the one good, sweet, level-headed person on the show gets it. Willow is still gay, at some point I assume she may want to, I don't know, go out with another girl. I mean, you know, obviously, I don't want to offend anyone that thinks she should mourn Tara forever but it's not like you're going to turn back in and oh my god, she's gone back to being straight (Steven DeKnight [episode writer], The Succubus Club, May 9th, 2002).

Counter-point: The Kitten board's Evil-dead lesbian cliche' FAQ

RIP, Tara

Moral Ambiguity in "Seeing Red"

Anya is doing her vengeance demon thing--talking up scorned women--but she's not doing the job very well. She'd rather dwell on her her own heart break than carry out other women's wishes.

Buffy goes to see Xander, who stormed away after he found out that Buffy was sleeping with Spike. But Xander isn't very communicative. He has come to understand why Anya did what she did, but he still can't understand why Buffy did it. Buffy tells Xander about the difficulties she had adjusting to life after she was brought back from the dead. Her friends, embroiled in their own problems, weren't there for her the way she needed them to be. So she turned to Spike.

Later, Xander tells her that while Buffy's dishonesty hurt him, he wants to keep her friendship. And he apologizes for the judgmentalness about Spike that made Buffy keep silent--mostly.

Dawn has grown attached to Spike, and when she finds out that Buffy no longer considers Spike part of the group, she goes to see him. She scolds him for sleeping with Anya. Then she tells him that what he did he hurt Buffy. A regretful, hopeful Spike heads to Buffy's.

Spike's identity crisis

"It's the chip.... It won't let me be a monster. And I can't be a man."

Buffy returns to her house after some vamp-slayage, hurting where her back hit a tombstone. She runs a bath. Spike appears in the bathroom, apologetic about what happened with Anya and hoping for the confession of love from Buffy that he's longed to hear. But Buffy only tells him that she doesn't trust him enough to love him. Spike is unconvinced. He moves in on her, desperate to bring out the feelings in her he wants her to have, if not verbally, then with her answering passion. Buffy struggles against him, weakened and in pain. She manages to shove Spike across the room.

Spike is aghast at what happened--he almost raped the woman he loves. Then his own regret stops him cold: the vampire who still fancies himself the "Big Bad" is feeling human guilt! Why did he try to do it? Why didn't he go through it? He knows he's not acting like a demon, but he also knows he's not human. Anger, humiliation, and regret war within him. There seems to be only one way to resolve the identity crisis, as far as he can see. Spike blames the chip. He heads off down the highway to take care of some business that he hopes will change things between him and the Slayer--and bury his regret forever.


The Metaphysics of "Villains"

Demons: Willow calls upon Osiris, trying unsuccessfully to bring Tara back from death. Suddenly, the room is filled with the enormous projection of a man's head. Is it the god Osiris? Or just his spokes-demon? This is unclear. The demon (and it is a demon, according to the shooting script) tells Willow that unlike Buffy, Tara died a natural death--"a human death, by human means". Buffy could be brought back because she was killed by mystical forces. Tara cannot. Willow engulfs the demon in the energy of her rage and pain.

Dark magicks: Willow goes to the Magic Box to get the power she needs for her revenge. She paralyzes Anya in her tracks and levitates the books on dark magicks down to a table. Then she thrusts her hands inside the books and absorbs all the knowledge and power the books contain.

Healing Buffy: Willow enters the operating room where a medical team is working to save Buffy's life. Willow tells them to leave. Then she focuses mystical energy on Buffy's chest. The bullet from Warren's gun slowly rises out of Buffy's chest and the wound closes.

The spell to locate Warren: Willow goes to Tara's dorm room with the shirt that is covered with Tara's blood. She lays it on the floor and says,

Blood of the slain, hear me. Guide me to Tara's killer.

Mystical energy gathers around Willow and the shirt. The blood on the shirt shifts to form a map of Sunnydale. The point on the map where Warren is starts to glow.

Good, Evil and Moral Ambiguity in "Villains"

When Buffy comes home to find Dawn holding vigil over Tara's body, she gathers her sister into her arms and they comfort each other. But Buffy has resolved not to lose Willow to the rage that is possessing her, and she wants Dawn out of the way. Buffy takes Dawn to Spike's over Xander's protest, but they only find Clem the demon there. Clem agrees to do the sitting in Spike's stead.

Although Anya couldn't stop Willow from absorbing black magics, she does have the power to find her without a locator spell. Xander and Buffy realize that Anya is once again a vengeance demon, and therefore someone who might be perfectly willing to let Willow have her way. Xander tells Anya she has a choice: let Willow have her vengeance, or help them stop her. Anya says she will help, but only for Willow's sake.

Warren thinks he's pretty hot stuff for shooting the Slayer, but when a group of demons inform him Buffy isn't dead, he runs to Rack the hard magic supplier to get some extra protection. Rack tells him that it is Willow he should fear, not Buffy. Rack helps Warren imbue a Warren-bot with his "essence" to throw Willow off the trail, but Willow isn't thrown for long. She finds Warren in the woods. Warren keeps her at bay for a while with an ax and and a bomb and an ectoplastic trap, but soon Willow has Warren tied spread-eagle between two trees.

She tries to torment him with an appearance by Katrina--his other victim--but Warren's capacity for remorse (if he ever had one) has long been buried under bravado and arrogance. Killing has made him feel a power with women he never had before. All he cares about now is saving his own life.

"Bored now," Willow replies.

She rips open his shirt and sends the bullet from Buffy's body into his chest... slowly. When he cries out in pain, she seals his mouth shut. She lets him speak again for a moment, but his pleas to be sent to jail fall on deaf ears. Willow sends a bolt of energy towards him. Warren is flayed alive. "One down," she tells her friends before she disappears.

Has Willow gone "evil"?

If we construct our self image around the idea that we are 'sweet' and 'good', as Willow used to - 'I'm very seldom naughty' - we will forever confuse actions as a substitute for who we are. Yes, we should be judged by our actions. But we all contain the volatile possibility within ourselves both for greater, and baser actions. ...Willow's anger at Warren is all the more cutting because she treated Tara badly. She comes face to face with someone else who tried to use magic to control their partner. She comes face to face with someone else who thinks they ought to have untrammeled agency in this world.

We hate most in other people, what we fear we ourselves contain within. And her anger grows all the more because of her guilt. Because she's sweet Willow, kind Willow. If she can't be good, then she'll be evil, thoroughly evil. If she has one evil thought, one awful action, what does it say about her? She might be no better than anyone else! Her self -identity, (her weakest point) shatters. She traverses the moral spectrum because * she * has such a strong investment in the construction of her identity.

...No more altar egos. No more dichotomies between good and evil. ...The Willow who tortured another human being is the same Willow who was so loyal and supportive and sweet to her for years and years (Rahael, 5/15/02 3:39).

Spike travels to a remote African village to find a demon who lives in a cave there. He tells the demon about how the chip in his head has changed everything in his unlife for the worse. The demon mocks him and his wish to "return to what he used to be". He tells Spike that must endure a series of trials to have his request granted.

Ethical Quandaries in "Villains"

Should Willow carry out her own brand of justice or let the law do it for her?

When Buffy and Xander confront Willow about using magic to bring Warren to justice, Willow tells them she doesn't have a choice--Warren killed Tara. Buffy and Xander are devastated by the news, but they argue that if Willow kills Warren, it will destroy her. She won't come back from the power of the magic she is using.

Willow doesn't disagree, but she still wants to punish Warren herself, and she forcibly stops Xander and Buffy from getting in her way. Buffy argues that the human world has rules for dealing with human criminals. This isn't the kind of situation where the Scoobies can take the authority for punishment into their own hands. Xander counters that Warren is as bad as any vampire Buffy's slain. Does that mean they have a right to kill him?

Buffy brings the argument around full circle. She points out that Willow is using magic to try to control the events around her. But magic won't change things the way Willow wants it to--it won't bring back Tara. It will only change Willow for the worse.

Two To Go/Grave

Evil in and the Metaphysics of "Two To Go/Grave"

Sources of magic

Giles': A powerful coven in Devonshire, England senses the rise of a dangerous magical force in Sunnydale, California--a force fueled by grief. Then a seer in the coven tells Giles about Tara's death. Giles suspects the dark force is Willow. The coven instills him with their powers, powers whose source is the Earth itself. Giles calls this the "true essence of magic". The source of Willow's magic, on the other hand, is her emotional state and her need for power.

Giles now has the ability to cast spells with a single word and hold a witch as powerful as Willow in restraints. He can also teleport and sense events at a distance. This latter ability apparently doesn't fade after Willow absorbs his powers. This was no doubt part of the coven's plan, because it allows Giles to continue to monitor Willow's activities. Giles's powers cannot counter-act Willow's darkness, however. All it can do is reconnect her to her human emotions enough to allow her friends to finally get through to her. When Willow takes Giles' powers, it leaves him weak and dying. His only hope for survival is tied to Willow's own restoration to emotional humanity.

Unanswered question: Is Buffyverse magic innately good, bad, or neutral? It would seem to be a neutral power, one that can be used for good or ill, depending on the motivation of the person using it. Giles' claim that his Earth-centered power is the "true essence of magic", however, would seem to contradict this view. Regardless, there does seem to be at least two sources that magic power can be drawn from:

(1) The Earth. This source of magic appears to be associated with Earth-centered values of nurturing and ecology. This is the type of magic that Tara espoused and presumably followed.

(2) Emotion. In particular, the emotions of pain, desire, and need. This is an easily corruptible source of magic, since it represents an individual's quest for increased levels of agency over the world and others. This is the type of magic Willow pursued (see also Catherine Madison).


"This is still Willow we're dealing with, right?" --Xander

In her grief and rage over Tara's death, Willow heads over to the Magic Box and absorbs the power and knowledge she believes she needs in order to get vengeance on Warren. Willow's emotional state and her need for power over others determine the effect the magics she absorbs has on her. It sends her into a tailspin of ever decreasing humanity. At first, she is focused on her goal of avenging Tara's death. But the act of killing Warren fuels the negative source of her magics, and she soon turns her sights on Jonathan and Andrew. When she goes after them with 18-wheeler truck, her power drains quickly. She loses control of the truck, allowing the truck driver to throw it into a jack knife.

Willow then heads to the dark magician Rack and rapes him of his powers, leaving him dead. At this point, Willow has gone way beyond simple vengeance. She has lost her emotional connection to her closest friends. She threatens Dawn. She no longer seems moved by the mention of Tara. And she takes on Buffy by giving herself Slayer-like strength and fighting skills with a simple Latin incantation:

Translation: Give me Strength.

Then she takes on Giles and ends the fight by absorbing his power. Unlike the other magic she absorbed, this power has its source in the Earth. It makes her aware of the thoughts and feelings of everyone in the world, and the enormity of their pain. But it cannot counter-act her dark path. On the contrary; Giles' magics get perverted by Willow's statement of power into a need to get rid of the world to stop its pain.

Teleporting: A witch at Willow's level cannot, apparently, teleport--move from one place to another instantaneously. But Anya can with her vengeance demon powers. Later, however, Willow teleports herself, Buffy, and Dawn to the Magic Box simultaneously. Must be that extra power she took from Rack.

The protection spell: Anya has a book of protection spells in a locked box behind the counter at the Magic Box. She protects Jonathan and Andrew, and later Buffy, from Willow by chanting low in Sumerian out of eye-shot from Willow:

Translation: Shield around us, never broken, shield surrounds us, keep us from harm.

The binding field: When Willow starts up a spell to attack Giles, he raises his arm and says, "Vincire!". A green energy field leaves his hand and wraps itself around Willow like an innertube. The force field holds her frozen in the air, and also puts her in a semi-conscious state. In this condition, she cannot use her powers. Nevertheless, she is able to get enough clarity of mind to contact Anya telepathically and influence her mentally. How Anya frees Willow from Giles' spell isn't clear, although she likely used magic.

Proserpexa is a powerful female demon devoted, like many other demons, to the destruction of the Earthly plane. Her effigy depicts her as having two mouths with forked tongues and snakes for hair.

The ritual to burn the world: The followers of Proserpexa tried to end the world by funneling the Earth's life force into the effigy of Proserpexa and then using that force to turn the Earth into a cinder. Before they could succeed, however, they were killed in an earthquake (1932 - not the same one that trapped the Master, which was in 1937). Willow raises the temple of Proserpexa out of the ground and begins an incantation:

From the pit of forgotten shadows... Awaken, Sister of the Dark... Awaken and--

Buffy's determination to stop her brings Willow to a halt, but as soon as she has Buffy busy with other things, she continues:

Proserpexa... Let the cleansing fires from the depths burn away the suffering souls... And bring sweet death.

Willow funnels the energy of the Earth into herself and then out towards the the effigy of Proserpexa. The effigy glows red and the Earth shakes. The ground around the temple starts to scorch in an ever-widening circle.

The earth monsters Willow creates to fight Buffy are made up of dirt, rocks and roots and have two sharp bone blades at the ends of their arms. They attack Buffy and Dawn in a pit beneath the graveyard. Both sisters fight valiantly, but new monsters are created for each one they defeat. In the end, the monsters only return to lumps of dirt when Willow's power fades.

Spike is in a cave in a remote African village, the lair of a demon capable of effecting changes in Spike if he passes the required tests. After he passes the tests, Spike demands that the demon "Make me what I was... so Buffy can get what she deserves." With that, the demon puts his hand on Spike's chest and says, "Your soul is returned to you." What is Spike now?

J: He's a vampire with a soul, not human.

Q: Will he lose his soul if they have sex?
J: That was a
specific gypsy curse. That isn't the slightest factor here (Jane Espenson, The Succubus Club, 5/22/02).

Good in "Two To Go/Grave"

Anya the vengeance demon helps two men escape a woman's vengeance, first by warning them that Willow is coming, and later by performing a protection spell and continuing to do so even while her friends and charges make their escape. And Anya gets some lumps from Willow for her trouble. Guess that humanity thing she's been working in the past three years isn't that easy to get rid of.

Buffy helps Jonathan and Andrew escape from jail and then keeps them out of Willow's line of fire. But she's not protecting them from Willow. She's protecting Willow from herself. Willow has already killed the human who murdered Tara. But Buffy doesn't want Willow to cross the line and kill two humans who had nothing to do with Tara's death.

Giles has come to Sunnydale to stop a dark force rising there--Willow. But the strong benevolent magic he has been imbued with is not enough to completely neutralize Willow's dark power, and therein lies the danger. Giles tricks Willow into absorbing his magic by telling her that she is burning herself out with all the energy she is expending fighting him. This leaves him weak and vulnerable, as he knew it would. His only hope for recovery lies in Willow's recovery. But that was the choice he made in taking responsibility for stopping Willow.

Xander: When your friends are all slayers and witches and vengeance demons, what's a Zeppo to do? Angst about your inability to stop Warren from hurting your friends. Help a couple of guys who've been causing trouble hide from your best friend's wrath. Get sick to your stomach at the thought that Willow could ever do the things she's doing. But Xander wasn't given the role of the heart of the Scoobies for nothing. When he hears that Willow has gone up to Kingman's Bluff to try to end the world, he heads after her. He's not sure what he can do, but he's got to try something--it's Willow. It's the world. Willow gives him a cracked rib and scratches, but that doesn't stop Xander from trying to get through to her.

According to Giles, no magic or supernatural force can stop Willow. Giles' dose of benevolent magic only makes it possible to reawaken the human emotions within her. Now someone must reach in and pull them out. Xander puts himself between Willow and the effigy of Proserpexa. He tells her repeatedly that he loves her, even as she cuts him down. Willow weakens. Finally Xander walks right up to her. Willow can no longer fight him off with magic. She falls to her knees and breaks into human tears of grief. Her friend the carpenter is there to comfort her and start her healing.

Xander stops Willow by declaring his powerlessness. This declaration and the possibility of his identification with Jesus Christ is something I didn't go into fully. The son of God saves humanity not by, like Satan and Adam and Eve and Willow, being as if a god, but by being powerless. He accepts the inevitability of his mortality. I'm not arguing here anything about Jesus's resurrection; one can see it as real and literal, and part of a religion offering hope and structure for ones life; or as a metaphor written into the story, symbolizing Jesus's teachings about rebirth into a spiritual way, a way of taking responsibility and growing up. But Jesus the man died as every human being does. Jesus saves humanity by not giving into his divinity, not being as if a god and using his supernatural power, but by being simply the human who dies. Xander is the Scoobie who is simply the human being, the one without any supernatural power. There is then this coincidence between the two, one having supernatural power and not using it, and the other declaring his powerlessness. Power will not save humanity, but being human will (Age, 5/29/02 21:49).

Moral Ambiguity in "Two To Go/Grave"

It looks like Jonathan is ready to accept responsibility for where the Trio's actions have taken them when Willow comes after Andrew and himself. He won't allow Willow to kill the two of them, of course, but he also seems willing to help the Scoobies stop Willow rather trying to escape the whole mess as Andrew suggests. When Andrew aims a sword at Xander, Jonathan aims a sword at Andrew. "We're not leaving Sunnydale," he tells him. "[Y]ou and me are going back to jail and do our time." But when Xander is knocked unconscious after Willow's fire ball hits the cemetery, Jonathan has a change of heart. He and Andrew take off to parts unknown.

Buffy tries to get through to Willow, but Willow isn't listening. The magic Willow has absorbed is clouding her mind. But it's not even clear that Buffy could get through to Willow if it wasn't. Buffy's struggle to come to terms with her return to life on Earth is not exactly a convincing reason for Willow to hear Buffy out on why she should embrace a normal life again. It sure hasn't persuaded Buffy herself. But after Buffy and Dawn defeat the Earth monsters and Buffy realizes the world has not come to an end, she collapses into tears. Life will go on, and she no longer wants to sleep-walk through it like she's been doing.

Dawn: Buffy has spent the past two years (and in her memory, many more) protecting Dawn and keeping her out of harm's way. And rightly so. Dawn was a momma's girl, first clinging to Joyce, then to Buffy, and perpetually getting into trouble just for the attention. Even with the best intentions, Dawn still finds trouble. She gets Clem to help her find Racks', but her attempt to help Willow falls flat when she underestimates how dark Willow has become. Luckily Buffy is there to help her--as usual.

But, Dawn points out, Buffy can't protect her from everything. So Buffy gives Dawn a sword and a chance to prove herself when she realizes she can't fight the Earth monsters alone. The moment of truth arrives when Dawn is cut. She drops her sword and is menaced by a monster. Before Buffy can come to her aid, though, Dawn dives past the monster, retrieves her sword, stabs the monster, and then beheads it. Dawn has gone from annoying younger sister to kleptomaniac "daughter" to sister again--this time one Buffy can respect.


"...I need to take care of the Slayer, give her what's coming to her...."

Spike faces many grueling tests--from a fight with a flaming muscle-bound gladiator to a bodily invasion of skittering insects--to get what he wants. But what exactly does Spike want? His bitter anger would indicate he wants to be returned to the vampire he was, sans chip and ready to create mayhem. But that's not what he gets.

...Spike looked into his ["]soul["] at that moment and saw the demon in him, and that's what made him want to go get a soul ...And when he says "I want Buffy to have what she deserves" -- give the Slayer what she deserves -- he means a lover with a soul (Jane Espenson, The Succubus Club, 5/22/02).

Joss on Season 6: "We wanted to go to the dark place," Whedon said. "A lot of people got pretty scared when we did, but we just wanted to explore the dark side of power and of growing up and responsibility (Joss Whedon, 17-May-02 )

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This page last modified 3/08/03

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