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reply to frisby, sophist, aquaman, and HONORIFICUS -- jenni, more like buffy..., 17:47:49 02/07/03 Fri

last night, the reruns on cable played the first day of college episode, where buffy was down on herself until she kicked some butt. my dad reminded me that i can kick everyone's butt here (i'm a black belt, 16 years old - like buffy at the beginning!!). so maybe i should not be so timid. yikes!

frisby and sophist - thank you for responding and doing so sincerely, but you both missed my point. you listed as refutation a bunch of things that willow did with help, or in a group, or to reverse others, but that was what i said! believe me, i want you to prove me wrong, that's why i posted. but you didn't. did willow do any magic that, by sophist's breakdown, were successful and of good intent, but also solo, and initiated by her? the stuff with either anya, tara, or amy or rack involved is definitely suspect for me, in light of her solo blunders like tabula rasa. my friends say i just identify with buffy too much and resent willow being powerful in a non-physical way, and i don't want to think so, but maybe i am, so please prove me wrong in a way that convinces me!!

aquaman - i know you think you were siding with me or something, and i appreciate that, but as they say 'with friends like that, who needs vampires...' not that you are a vampire, but you have a way, here and other places, of taking things to an extreme, like you can't seem to get on a road without driving to its dead end. i never wanted someone to agree and say willow is not powerful, i wanted the opposite, so you were the devil's advocate, but not mine. also, 'young lady' is ok i guess, but 'mouths of babes'!!!!!?????? that was pretty bad!!

but to answer your questions, i must remind you that i am here at atp, but i am a 16 year old girl, and a black belt in karate, so the answer to basically all of your questions is : a,b,c, and sometimes e, not mentioned. in other words, i love talking about the meaning of buffy episodes with my friends - is that what i'm doing now, or what? - but i also think spike is a CUTEY, deserving of capitals!! he has a beautiful...well, you are a guy, i think, you wouldn't understand. and since i study karate, i do check out the choreography very closely, and that's actually why i started watching buffy, cause i started karate when i was 11 and someone told me about all the karate in buffy, that it was better than karate movies. I often try to copy buffy's moves - you should try it!

so - a question to you: do you think the answer should have simply been 'a'??

oh- to masquerade - god, it is so nice of you to respond to me, i am flattered that you noticed. but, i'm sorry, i really had no idea what you meant. sorry!! i feel stupid, but i do want to know, not just play like i do and be really stupid!!

[> Oh, fine. You're in. -- Honorificus (She-Who-Must-Control-Everything), 18:09:20 02/07/03 Fri

But only because my Insipid Alter-Ego (that's HonorH, just so you know) has been known to send my best minions on wild goose chases when I persecute newbies. For your information, in my oh-so-humble opinion, the most important thing about BtVS is the clothes. I was yet again attempting to get my Pathetic Alter-Ego to up the balance on her (completely inadequate) MasterCard at the mall today, but in her usual annoying way, she batted me down with the excuse that she has no money to pay the thing off with. Can you believe it?

At any rate, I bid you a cordial, if not enthusiastic welcome. Do you have a Super-Evil Alter-Ego of your own? Being sixteen, you should have developed one by now, unless you're a late bloomer. If you do, she's invited to a book club meeting this weekend. We're eating Anita Shreve's Sea Glass book club. Bring your own sauce.

Also FYI, I do happen to be female, except when I'm not. My Super-Dull Alter-Ego is also female. We both understand the charms of Spike, though I, for one, am very disappointed in the direction he's taken. His becoming blatantly good has been a great let-down for me. Ah, well. If Giles can be good and still rev my engines, perhaps Spike can, too.

[> [> Oh, crap. My Super-Stupid Alter-Ego forgot to close a tag. -- HonorH (the nice one), 18:12:13 02/07/03 Fri

Masq, could you take care of that? Thanks, dearest.

And welcome, jenni. Pay no attention to Honorificus; she comes out to play occasionally, but has never (to my knowledge) caused any permanent harm. Mostly, she just posts BtVS reviews from a super-evil pov. If it makes her happy and keeps her busy for an hour or so, I'm all for it.

[> Re: reply to frisby, sophist, aquaman, and HONORIFICUS -- Sophist, 18:28:09 02/07/03 Fri

Virtually all of the spells I listed were done by Willow herself with no assistance.

[> [> Re: reply to sophist, et. al who are interested in willow's magic -- jenni, the numbskull, but researcher par excellence, 00:30:44 02/08/03 Sat

can you believe i forgot 'jenni' calandar?? i am sooo spaced!!

sophist: i did my research, you can't just claim victory, you have to prove it. i found, from your 'successful and appropriate' list---
passion - 'consent rescinded' - reverse of magic, and done with buffy
doppel - anya did the spell
choices1 - reverse of protector spell
choices2 - never completed
zeppo - giles reads the incantation
hush-done only due to combo with tara - important meeting
i in team - in the index, there is a quote from david fury, calling it 'astute' that someone asked 'since willow's skills are hit or miss, did her having taras crystal help her make the ionizing spell work?'
way0 - first, tara notices the switched slayers
way1 - tara tells willow what to do
way2 - tara and willow, and the index says stuff like 'tara explains' all over
replacement - returns xander to natural state after other spell, and done with giles, who draws the pentacle.
oomm - the light? successful and appropriate are not the word for plain showing off, but ok, there's 1
itw -? i don't read these as success, it was kind of wonky.
tri - ? anya got involved, and then everything was trying to undo what had been done.
crush ?- i forget the spell, and found nothing except that willow gets headaches when she does stuff at this point.
blood - willow and tara
spiral1 - pay phone = 2!
spiral2 - the barrier was weird, and may have messed buffy up, and tara maybe helped, but here's 3.
wotw - psychic connection, ok, but i'm not sure if its all willow, or part buffy
gift1 - brain suck was 'reverse b.s.' and involved tara
gift2 - psychic, ok, but same as above
gift3 - willow and tara

so, when you said 'virtually all..with no assistance,' you meant:
1 incomplete
1 done by anya
1 done by giles
2 psychic connections (not alone)
3 questionable and she is getting headaches
4 reversals, which i noted she was cool with
6 done by tara
3 for sure, including getting a phone to work, and an impressive barrier.

sorry to be a smartass, but you were very very certain about yourself, and i did research!! i still won't conclude anything, but i can look up facts!! thanks for the challenge - can you make it better??

[> [> [> Re: reply to sophist, et. al who are interested in willow's magic -- Malandanza, 04:24:06 02/08/03 Sat

Nice research.

"oomm - the light? successful and appropriate are not the word for plain showing off, but ok, there's 1"

I'd also put this in the successful but inappropriate category based solely on Tara's reaction (which seemed like one of alarm to me) to Willow's cavalier admission that she'd been tinkering with the spell.

I'd add that I don't think Willow actually did anything in The Replacement -- the Xanders were rapidly returning to their original selves on their own. I think Willow just took credit for what was a natural reversal.

Nice catch on Dopplegangland -- Anya is the one who did the returning spell, but maybe we can give Willow partial credit for accidentally summoning VampWillow in the first place. Of course, she had Anya's help with that spell (or rather, Anya had Willow's help).

In IHEOFY Willow's spell (the Magus Tripod) not only requires assistance, but also fails with nearly fatal consequences (fortunately, Giles happened to be wandering by just in time to drag her out of the floor).

I'd also say that any of Willow's "successes" that involve undoing her own spells gone awry shouldn't be counted (Like in Triangle and Something Blue). Nor do I think the fear demon caused Willow's spell to misfire -- she was performing a spell that she referred to as the next level -- hardly something that should have been performed under uncontrolled circumstances.

[> [> [> [> You have the sequence wrong -- Sophist, 10:05:59 02/08/03 Sat

In IOHEFY, Giles pulled Willow out of the quicksand before the Tripod spell was performed.

With respect to The Replacement, your claim that I don't think Willow actually did anything in The Replacement -- the Xanders were rapidly returning to their original selves on their own. I think Willow just took credit for what was a natural reversal.

is not supported by the transcript:

WILLOW: Actually, it's not that hard. Your natural state is to be together. Toth's spell is doing all the work of keeping you apart. I just have to break it.

The situations in Triangle and SB are different. In SB, I agree with you. In Triangle, the first spell went awry because of Anya's interference. Willow's second spell was necessary to solve the problem Anya created.

[> [> [> research and conclusions -- manwitch, 07:53:49 02/08/03 Sat

Hi. Welcome. I like this social history/statistical analysis of Willow the Witch thing.

I would be very interested in seeing the tabulation.

I would offer, however, that there is a certain amount of interpretation already going into the research. You have defined the point of inquiry to a point that necessitates your conclusions that she is a "crappy" witch.

1) She must perform the spell successfully. (But you don't define what that means. You refer to Tabula Rasa as a blunder, but her goal is to erase the memories of Tara and Buffy, and that in fact happens. Successful or un? It seems an open question without clearer definition).

2) She must perform the spell alone. (this one is particularly damaging to any opposing argument because magic in general, whether performed by Tara, Giles, Amy, Monks of all stripes, demons, Anya, etc. seems to be a largely social event. By this same criteria, only Ethan Rayne and maybe Rack would pass. Except that...)

3) You require that the intent of the spell must be good, although you don't define what you mean by good. You seem to mean anything that ends up inconveniencing Buffy is bad intent, which as far as Willow doing Witchcraft, could be a conclusion as much as a starting point. If Buffy or someone else is critical of the intent, it can't possibly be good and therefore Willow is a crappy witch.

In addition, you imply that a spell that acts on someone else, such as Willow entering Buffy's brain, or the brain suck reversal acting on tara, is also not done alone, thereby suggesting that spells she does successfully on someone else who has no obvious reason for being upset about it must in someway involve the other's help. This is not necessarily wrong, but I think you need to support it with direct evidence.

If I was looking at the research, I would want to see simply statements of what happened. I am aware, believe me, of the limits to objectivity, but let's think of it as a standard of style if not content.

So for example:
Doppelgangland: Anya requests Willows help to create a such and such for purposes of xyz. Willow assists but backs out. Necklace does not appear.
Interpretation: Anya's spell is not successful due to Willows lack of cooperation.


Tabula Rasa: Willow attempts to erase the memories of Tara and Buffy. She erases the memories of Tara, Buffy, Spike, Giles, Dawn, Xander, Anya and herself.
Interpretation: Tara's and Buffy's memories are successfully erased. The spell unsuccessfully erases other's memories.

If you see what I'm driving at. Just calling them blunders or someone else's spell hides a lot of the data you are attempting to show.

I don't personally agree with the criteria you've set. I don't think selfish intent makes willow a crappy witch, it makes her a crappy person, at least at the moment she's doing it for herself. I totally disagree with the idea that magic must be done solo, although we have seen Willow do a number of things solo.

In your initial post, you excepted Giles from the list of people that think willow is a powerful witch. Why? The only thing that comes to mind is his calling her a rank meddling amateur, which is not a comment on her power, but on her experience. He recognizes she can do things but lacks confidence in her ability to know whether or not she should. Its the whole nuclear power analogy. Perhaps you would group such things in the "bad intent" category.

In fact, Giles, Anya, Tara, Amy, d'Hoffyn, the Priests of Byzantium, the Coven, Rack, and arguably Spike believe or have stated that she's a very powerful witch. I would also want the research to show why we should be suspicious of these evaluations. There my well be valid reasons why we should be.

If you drop the solo criteria, which you are applying only to Willow and not to anyone else, and we leave intent to the "person" side of willow rather than the bad-ass wicca side, I think we would see that most of Willows blunders come from being too powerful (such as Tabula Rasa, which works "too well"), or simply not being aware of what she has really done (as in Something Blue where again she was wildly successful but didn't realize it). I'm not convinced that makes her "crappy."

We would find, in fact, that either by herself or in a group, Willow has moved objects, restrained objects, created light and fire, restored Angel's soul, tracked demons and essences, restored essences (tara's), deinvited, created powerful energy barriers, read people's minds, entered people's minds, entered the netherrealms, conjured katras, had her will worked, broken the spells of others, transmogrified a rat into a girl and back and back again, created temporal folds, summoned and sent people gods and demons from and to other dimensions, transported herself in particle form like a twister, levitated, teleported herself others and a God from one place to another, killed people, resurrected people, and removed the petals from a rose. This list is nowhere near exhaustive.

So I certainly think, with different parameters, an argument could be made that Willow is quite powerful, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Which is my you would need to establish why your parameters are the necessary or even reasonable parameters to go by.

So my suspicion is that I won't end up agreeing with the conclusions you have already expressed. But I am very willing to be persuaded, and I think what you're doing is delightful. In sum, I would ask you for the following, if you wanted to convince me:

1) Give the spells Willow is involved with as they happened, stating the purpose, willows involvement and the result, while doing your best to refrain from "evaluating" her involvement. Let the research speak for itself.

2) When you get to the evaluation part, state clearly and justify your criteria for evaluating it.

3) Explain why the testimony of others who should be in the know is not reliable.

This is not yet an argument against what you are saying, because I don't think you've said it yet. I am delighted by what you are doing and think it could very well give people, myself included, a number of surprises, as well as just being a lot of fun traipsing our way down memory lane.

Unless Willow's erased it.

[> [> [> [> Wonderful Post -- Dochawk, 08:43:44 02/08/03 Sat

I particularly like the way you were nonjudgmental in your evaluation and supportive of the research. My response would have been no where near as thought out, nor as diplomatic. Congrats.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Wonderful Post -- DEN, 11:23:29 02/08/03 Sat

Manwich--no dirty dig intended, but is it legitimate to consider a spell successful when its consequences include, but far exceed, the caster's original intentions? In TR, erasing everybody's memories of everything, when the original goal was to remove specific memories of Buffy and Tara, "succeeded" in the way obliterating Baghdad with a nuclear strike would "succeed" in establishing a regime change. Similarly, in SB, anything Willow says, casually or even metaphorically ("you don't see")becomes reality. That's a FAR cry from the original intention of a spell to enable willing away emotional pain. (And it's ironic that Willow never does use the spell for its original purpose). It seems to me that these spells in particular suggest Willow is far from a mistress of the craft, however much raw power she may possess at any given time.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Wonderful Post -- Dochawk, 11:30:06 02/08/03 Sat

I think that was the original point. Is Willow really a powerful Wicca? And I think your example demonstrates she is. And her sojourn in England was supposed to give her the ability to control it. yet we haven't really seen that yet. Willow's magical ability will be needed in the great fight yet to come.

[> [> [> [> [> [> I think that's what I mean. -- manwitch, 12:11:31 02/08/03 Sat

"Manwich--no dirty dig intended, but is it legitimate to consider a spell successful when its consequences include, but far exceed, the caster's original intentions?"

I don't know. I guess that's exactly what I'm asking. And I'm simply saying that the answer should be included in the presentation, not assumed.

For example, the argument could be made that in TR Willow left a large amount of magical crystal material near the fire, so that exactly such an accident became possible, suggesting that Willow is sloppy in her witchmanship resulting in unpredictable results. Calling the spell a blunder might be intended to include that, but it assumes a lot. Not that it assumes wrongly, but it leaves room for confusion. Explicitly describing the blunder does not. And it allows for more discrimination of Willow's possible standing as a witch. For example, she clearly had the power to do the TR spell, although one could argue she was careless. The blunder in this case does not reflect on her ability or power, it reflects on technique. Given that we're talking social history of Willow, I would find such distinctions interesting. But maybe I'm a nerd.

In SB, Willow performed a spell to have her will done. It worked. Someone will have to explain to me why it should be thought of as unsuccessful, because it seems plain as day to me that the spell worked. So one could argue that she lacked the expertise to know what the spell really was that she was performing, or how it would work her will, or how to recognize that it had worked, and therefore her use of an otherwise successful spell shows a lack of experience, understanding and control. I'm again saying that it shouldn't be assumed. And it still doesn't reflect on her ability or power to do the spell. It reflects on her understanding and awareness of what the spell is.

You can play the piano beautifully and have lousy technique. Likewise, you can be a phenomenal technician, and simply have no musical insights at all. Or, you can have both. Or you can have neither. Only the latter category can be legitimately considered a "crappy" pianist.

Just as I can make the above argument for why these spells don't work or why they don't reflect well on Willow, I could also make an argument for why they do. So I just think the parameters/criteria should be laid out clearly.

I don't intrinsically disagree with either interpretation.

I think your phrase "far from a mistress of the craft" is quite on point and can be amply defended. I would be more suspicious of jenni's statements in her original archived post that Willow "hadn't done much" and was a "crappy witch." I suspect jenni can defend what she's thinking very well if she tightens that language a little.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Willow has an Uzi & still tryin' to figure out how to use it. -- WickedNRA (bored now), 17:36:43 02/09/03 Sun

ummm or Willow is river rapids trying to become electricity.... errr Willow is a fire trying to warm people but burning them in the process. Willow is raw power working on harnessing it before it consumes her. Willow is a 5 year old behind the wheel of a speeding truck.

All the research is probably correct, but results in different interpretations of what the results mean. To some, it means she's a crappy witch. To others, she's just learning. To me, she's got more power than she knows how to handle, it scares her, and she fears it. So, her fear has power over her and that's never a good thing. She'll never be able to do her best unless she cracks down on it and accepts it and all its implications. I don't think she's mature enough yet to do that. And she should never have been taken out of the Coven so soon - she had so many basics to learn not just about spells, but about the whole philosophies about the use of magic, it's foundation. She's floundering in her own power.

[> [> [> A couple of clarifications and some shameless piggybacking -- Sophist, 09:52:42 02/08/03 Sat

I wanted to make sure we were on the same page regarding 2 of the spells.

In Passion, I think it's clear that Willow performed the "changing the locks" spell. True, Buffy and Cordy accompanied her, but I see no reason to believe they were responsible for the magic. Neither ever showed any magic powers on BtVS (Cordy has on AtS, but for different reasons). Moreover, Buffy asked Willow to perform the same spell in Crush instead of doing it herself. And in Wrecked, when Buffy did not ask Willow to do it, Spike's invitation was not revoked.

In Doppelgangerland, we're talking about 2 different spells. I don't mean the one at the end which returned VampWillow. I mean the one at the beginning. Anya asked Willow to assist her in retrieving a necklace. Anya couldn't do it herself; she needed Willow to perform a "temporal fold". Willow successfully completed her part of the spell, then thwarted Anya's effort to retrieve the necklace.

This ties in to one of manwitch's points. It does appear that there are times when a spell simply can't be performed by one person (another example would be WAY). That doesn't make either participant less powerful; both must perform their respective roles in order for the spell to succeed. We need to take this into account in order to evaluate "success".

manwitch and Shadowkat have, as always, expressed themselves much better than I could have done. I agree with them and shamelessly adopt all their points.

[> What I meant? -- Masq, 22:46:20 02/07/03 Fri

You mean about avoiding a vampire named Angelus? I was teasing you about your name. "jenni". Jenny Calendar? Season 2? Glowy balls to give Angel back his soul.

We could use one of those right about now.


[> [> you are indeed one to be wary of -- aquaman, begging your pardon, 00:51:46 02/08/03 Sat

SORRY SORRY SORRY!!!! I meant to give you a compliment by warning HH, but did so in a cliche that was condescending, and I apologize!! Perhaps an applicable cliche would be 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions.'

However, another appropriate cliche might be : the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. I'll admit i take it too far sometimes, but sometimes i get to an unexpectedly delightful place i never intended to go.

and nobody has answered the question, which i will post separately for all to see:

[> [> [> Challenge: can anyone tell me how amy knew about willow's misdeeds??!! -- aquaman, a la Kennedy, 00:53:40 02/08/03 Sat

[> [> [> [> Re: Challenge: can anyone tell me how amy knew about willow's misdeeds??!! -- grifter, 02:25:58 02/08/03 Sat

Hmm, she could be working for the First (whom I originally suspected of posing as Amy, but she did hold hands with her fellow wiccans, so...).

Or, like the Coven in England, she could have felt Willow's dark power rising and nearly destroying the world.

[> [> [> [> [> Amy really Wiccan? -- WickedDuh, 13:56:35 02/09/03 Sun

I didn't quite understand how Amy could be called Wiccan. The main creed is "Do no harm". But Amy was casting a negative spell on Willow AND throwing Kennedy around the room with magic, while some other so-called Wiccans did nothing. At one point, Kennedy and one of the Wiccans were sitting in the auditorium seats as if they were watching a World Federation Wrestling match.

Then again, can Willow be Wiccan after all she's done? Or maybe she's a born-again Wiccan now that she is trying for good. Or maybe she thinks labels are for jellyjars and not people so she doesn't even care.

Still, the writers did use the words Wicca and indicated it was a Wiccan gathering. It just didn't make sense to me. (OK, wouldn't put it past Amy to lie about it, but what about all those others in the circle?)

That big white crystal around Amy's neck looked odd, though. I wonder if it's some kind of amulet given to her by Big Bad similar to the one that gave Anya
her powers.

[> [> [> [> [> [> ME and the word Wicca..... A twisted History. -- Briar Rose, 01:44:28 02/10/03 Mon

I think you could safely say that the majority of the College Wiccans that did see the acts of Amy in that ep will not let her back into their Circle.*L

Of course the way we met the Wiccan Group, they were certainly Wiccan. No spells, just "Woman Power, Ghia, Love the Earth and blah, blah, blah..."

Willow was never a Wiccan. Giles was never a Wiccan. Amy was never a Wiccan and Tara was basing her beliefs on Wicca while not precisely following all the tenants.

ME has a long history of not getting what is Wicca and what is Witch Craft and where the differences are. Unfortunately, so do a lot of people who call themselves "Wiccans" and don't know what it means or where it comes from, so ME is not alone in this.

Wicca is a specific religion based on the teachings of Gerald Gardner and a couple of other, later religious teachers who then based their teachings on his teachings.

Witch Craft is a more realistic term for what we've seen over the years on BtVS and Angel with almost every "Witch" character portrayed. Willow was never a Wiccan (and barely a Witch in some people's definition, more of a Magician/Sorceress) because she never bothered with a theology until the Coven got ahold of her. And even at that - it is not completely defined as "Wiccan." ME never says that the Coven follows Gardner's tenents, they could be Celt or Welsh Tradition of the Red Garters or Voodoo-ienes for all we know.*L

Witch Craft is a catch all term for Earth/Pagan religions that covers all types of different religions and forms and many times has NOTHING to do with Wicca at all.

The joke among people like myself (I'm Family Tradition: Mixture of Cheyenne and Celt with VouDou accents to the works) who practice Witch Craft and aren't remotely interested in Gardner or his acolytes is that Wiccans are the Woosies of the Magickal World.*L

When you understand the tenants of Gardner's "Wicca" you see readily why we laugh at Wiccans... "First Harm None" is a ridiculous notion if you are going to do any actual spells. A "Good Witch" is ethical while being honest and seeing that all things are connected. And a "Bad Witch" doesn't give a hang anyway.

I use this example of what constitutes magickal ethics for my new Circle members:

Say I do a spell to procure a job.

If I get that job, someone else doesn't get that job.

Maybe that person needed that job much more than I did, maybe they didn't. Either way it's NOT my problem! I worked for what I needed and got it.

So should I not work for the job? No. In my theology, I work for what I need.

But in the truest form of the "Wiccan Reed", you shouldn't work for something that might harm another, EVER.
Well, realistically EVERYTHING you do magickally is going to "harm" or affect another in some way. So to follow the "Reed" as it's laid out? You have no business doing magick at all, ever.

And as for the "Three Fold Law".... Has anyone ever done a love spell and had a person fall in love with them THREE TIMES as much as they love the person they did the spell on? Has anyone ever done a spell for jobs and gotten THREE TIMES as many jobs as they worked for?*L

Three fold law is a farce. If anything POSITIVE isn't going to come back three fold, why would anything negative do so? Balance is what is sought in the Universal Flow. "Three Fold" is meant to make a Wiccan think that whatever they do has to impact no one and nothing. So basically, all they can do is tiny glamours and healing spells and floating pencils and such. Gardner would have made a great Christian Priest. His religion is based on people NOT being empowered where all the other Earth Religions are based on personal empowerment.

I have met wonderful people who are truly Wiccan. I respect the fact that Wiccans are very peaceful and believe entirely in what their religion is about. But they are not in any way the Witches that ME and other writers on other shows are talking about at all.

The normal "Witch" on TV is a sorceress or magician at best. If you aren't seeing a belief system at work in their spells and rituals, the character ain't any "Religion" that encompasses Witch Craft and what that entails and they sure aren't Wiccan either.

[> [> [> [> It takes an assumption -- Tyreseus, 20:56:59 02/08/03 Sat

We've seen in various episodes that witches can "sense" other magic happening. For example, when Ethan Rayne turned Giles into a demon in "A New Man," Willow and Tara felt the magic interfere with their rose petal plucking spell.

Willow: (quickly) The chem lab, by myself. (a beat) I-I was trying this new spell; floating a rose, when all of a sudden (motions with fork) zing, zing, zing! Like all over the room. It was like a rose-based missile.
Buffy: Yikes.
Willow: I know. I think there's something out there. I-I felt this presence.. This dark majiks energy blocking the spell. It's new.

And as Grifter pointed out, the coven in England could sense what was happening with Willow's magic.

Also, Amy knew Rack, Willow killed Rack. It probably didn't take a lot of asking around the witch underworld to find out what happened.

So I'm operating under the assumption that any true witch could have felt Willow trying to destroy the world. Since Amy knew Willow and how her magic "felt" she probably paid extra close attention.

[> Style suggestion -- tomfool, 07:57:24 02/08/03 Sat

As a lurker/very occasional poster I probably don't have any standing to be making any suggestions, but I'll wade into murky waters and do it anyway. First, I'd like to say welcome and that I enjoy reading your posts and hearing things from your point of view. Now for the suggestion . . . I think your posts would be much better if you used proper capitalization. I understand that it's considered in vogue in the younger set to use all lower case all the time. I do! On lots of Buffy boards, it seems to be the standard. Unfortunately, on those same boards, the general level of discussion tends to be, "i just luv spike. he's so kewl!!"

I don't think your posts are on that level. On the contrary you appear to be a very intelligent and articulate young woman. But as you get to know this amazing and diverse community (thank you Masq), I think you'll find that your ideas may be better received if you make the extra effort to use proper capitalization. It makes it so much easier for us to read your posts and is a sign of respect to fellow posters.

Masq is pretty forgiving and not big with the formal rules. But another well-known board has a formal policy about writing posts that puts it very succinctly:

"Please use proper grammar, capitalization and spelling. We find it makes posts so much easier to read, and it makes us respect you more."

Please take this with a grain of salt and realize that this is just the opinion of a grumpy old (well, almost) man who hasn't had his first cuppa yet. And once again, welcome! I look forward to hearing more from you.

[> Sort of butting in on Willow &welcome -- shadowkat, 08:17:15 02/08/03 Sat

Welcome jenni.

Regarding Willow - she actually has done tons of magic unassisted. Good magic, important magic, and bad magic. The good magic has in some cases won the day for Buffy. So I will give a little more detailed list.

Becoming II = Willow curses Angelus with a soul, surrounded by OZ and Cordelia who have no mystical power whatsoever.

Dead Man's Party - Faith Hope and Tricks = Willow mentions practicing several spells on her own. One cut off the electricity in her entire block. The next set her bed-spread on fire.

Dopplegangland - she has Anya's assistance, but Anya has 0 magic ability. Willow brings her evil doppleganger back from the Wish.

Choices(Season 3) - Willow floats a pencil, not once but twice. She comes up with the spells to free the box so that Buffy and Angel can extricate it from the Mayor's force field. And saves herself from a vampire.

(Not a magic reference but: Graduation Day Part I - if it weren't for Willow and her research, Angel would be dead. So give poor Willow a break.)

Season 4

Willow does the Primeval Spell - Tara is NOT there at all.
Giles really isn't the magic one. And Xander certainly can't do it. This is Willow who provides the magic and provided the bullets turning into Dove's. Willow is mentioned as Spiritus = which can be both dark and light.

Season 5

After Tara is incapacitated Willow in Tough Love - goes after Glory and is the only one who hurts her. She manages to ruin Glory's outfit, keeps Glory from running after them with a barrier field. Willow in Tough Love proves to be more powerful than Buffy. It is NOT Buffy who saves Willow so much in this episode as Willow who saves Buffy - they save each other.

Spiral - Willow puts up a barrier when Glory finds Buffy/Dawn in Tara and Willow's dorm room. Willow puts up a barrier to keep out the Knights of Byz and it also is hard for Glory to break through.

Weight of The World - Willow enters Buffy's mind and pulls Buffy out of her catatonic state. Willow pushes Spike and Xander apart with her magic.

The Gift - Willow switches Tara's essence back from Glory - into Tara again. Making Tara hole, and causing Glory a critical weakness. Willow communicates telepathically with Spike and pushes apart the crazy people so Spike can climb the steps to save Dawn.

All of these are majorly good things she did. And there is 0 evidence Tara helped in ANY way. Also the writers go out of their way in Tough Love and other episodes to mention that Willow has surpassed Tara in magic.

Theories on Willow's power?
1. She stole it from Tara? Sorry doesn't hold up. Since Willow was doing some serious magic prior to ever meeting Tara. All Tara did was ground her. Willow's magic blew Tara away. Also upon first meeting Willow, Tara tells her that she senses Willow has more power than she does and it reminds her of her mother.

2. Willow's magic comes from Catherine? Nope doesn't hold up logically. Catherine is imprisoned in a trophy while Will is practicing serious magic at end of Season 2 and in Season 3. Also we have no evidence Catherine ever got out of that trophy.

3. Willow has Amy's magic? Nope doesn't hold up - if we consider she was doing magic prior to Amy becoming a rat and had surpassed Amy. Also unlike Amy, Willow researched and worked hard for it - she didn't go to Rack all the time. In Wrecked, Rack mentions that Amy was going to him as far back as Gingerbread. Amy was siphoning magic from Rack - Willow only got magic from Rack three times that we are aware of. Also Amy had nothing to do with Willow's magic up to Amy being de-ratted and Will was doing some serious stuff prior to that.

4. Willow got all her magic when she did the gypsy curse in Becoming and became the techwizard? This actually might make some sense - if they decide to do it. Not sure.

Something to keep in mind regarding Willow - we are seeing her mainly through Buffy's eyes, which means it is not always a clear vision. Now if the series were Willow the Amazing Witch - we may be seeing something completely different.

Willow in many ways symbolizes Buffy's spirit. And right now it's out of wack.

Hope that helps. If you want to read more of my views on Willow - go to www.geocities.com/shadowkatbtvs

[> [> Ugh typos...whole not hole...sorry. -- s'kat, 08:20:12 02/08/03 Sat

[> [> One point and a message to Jenni -- manwitch, 12:23:07 02/08/03 Sat

I agree with everything in spirit. Just as a technical point, it is clearly implied that tara helps with the separation of the crazy people as spike runs off to help Dawn.

I don't see that in anyway weakening what you are saying.

I would like to say to Jenni, however, that I hope you remain undaunted by what we are saying and present your research anyways, as I think we would all be thrilled to go over a compilation of Willow's magic usage. I find that the discussions we've had already have me reconsidering the "short cuts" idea that I previously opposed, not because I don't think Willow worked to know what she knows or to have the skills she does, but because you may well be on to something as regards a distinction between ability and maturity, between power and experience. And it may well be that the whole point of magic is the maturity and the experience, not the ability and the power. In which case, it seems that a very strong argument could be made questioning Willow's development in that direction.

[> [> [> echoing manwitch's suggestion, here's a few more -- s'kat, 17:10:56 02/08/03 Sat

To show how magic can be used maturely as opposed to immaturely, or expand on Mutant Enemy's growing up theme:

Look at the following episodes:

Witch = Catherine Madison/Amy switcheroo, Catherine uses her power to relive her glory years as a teen - compare to Joyce who has no desire to do it.

Bewitched/Bothered & Bewildered = Amy tries to talk Xander out of the love spell

Gingerbread = Willow and her mother, Willow uses magic to rebel against her mother, even states it in a long speech. It is telling this is the only time in the series we meet Willow's mother.

Something Blue and Wild at Heart = demonstrations of immature uses of magic to attempt to hurt someone or wipe away pain.

Fear, Itself = a demonstration of Willow's belief she has control over her power, but her emotions get in the way.
Compare this episode to Tara's spell in Bargaining to find Willow.

Another comparison you can make to show the difference:
Jenny in how she uses magic or discusses magic in Innocence with her Uncle. And Willow's attempt to break the curse.
Jenny was going to do it alone - gets killed by Angelus.
Willow works with others and curses him. Jenny vs her Uncle - who sees it only for vengeance, a theme later revisited with Anya, who only has been able to use magic for vengeance, when she attempts to do it for other reasons she can't figure out how.

You can also compare Willow's use of magic in Primeval to her use in Bargaining - which is the more mature and better use? How do they differ for Willow?

How does Tara help Willow? How is Tara's magic different?
See New Moon Rising, Who Are You, and BloodTies for examples of Tara/Willow unity. Also Hush and The Gift show this. Tara alone? Family - Tara's immature use of magic and Willow's mature response to it. Normal Again - Tara's mature use. OAFA - how magic can backfire no matter who does it, again a Tara example. If you look carefully - Tara's magic alone hasn't always been mature or useful.

Immature uses: Willow in Wrecked, Smashed, Tabula Rasa, All The Way. Compare to mature uses: Afterlife (make it solid with Tara), Choices, coming up with the spell to bring back Tara in The Gift, and of course Primeval.

While you're at it : compare Giles and Ethan and what they did in The Dark Age, A New Man, Band Candy and Halloween.
Giles also went through an immature Willow stage. Ethan stayed there. Ethan may very well be to Giles what Amy is to Willow, while Jenny is to Giles what Tara is to Willow.
In fact if you look at Giles - you may see more facets to Willow's use of magic than you currently see now.

Just some suggestions. SK

[> [> A few nitpicky corrections -- Valheru, 00:48:05 02/09/03 Sun

Becoming II = Willow curses Angelus with a soul, surrounded by OZ and Cordelia who have no mystical power whatsoever.

Oz does have mystical power at that time, having been lycanthropized sometime before "Phases." Also, even though it's not a full moon, Veruca (and later, "New Moon Rising") confirmed that the werewolf power is inside Oz at all times. Not that I think Oz's little amount of mystical energy had anything to do with the success of the curse, but I just wanted to clarify the point.

Dopplegangerland - she has Anya's assistance, but Anya has 0 magic ability. Willow brings her evil doppleganger back from the Wish.

Anya does have magic ability. In "Selfless," we learn that Anya turned Olaf into a troll before she became a vengeance demon (IIRC, she mentioned it in an earlier episode as well, maybe "Triangle?"). So even without the power of the Wish, Anya is still a somewhat capable witch. Of course, that assumes that she still has any power, or is even able to remember how to do non-Wish spells, after 1100+ years.

Choices(Season 3) - Willow floats a pencil, not once but twice. She comes up with the spells to free the box so that Buffy and Angel can extricate it from the Mayor's force field. And saves herself from a vampire.

"Choices" is an interesting episode. To destroy the Box of Gavrock, they were going to perform the ritual "Breath of the Atropyx." Willow figured out how to perform the ritual and which ingredients to use. However, before the point became moot when Oz broke the pot, neither Willow, Giles, or Wesley were going to actually perform it--Xander and Oz were. Strange.

[> [> [> Re: A few nitpicky corrections -- s'kat, 06:56:52 02/09/03 Sun

Regarding pts. two and three:

We see in Something Blue and later Triangle - Anya has no power sans demon. So it is unlikely she has any in Dopplegangerland. Also she needed Willow to do the spell.
Curious about the rules regarding vengeance demons powers here.

Regarding point three - Willow was going to do the spell, Oz and Xander had to get the materials together while Willow helped them break the box out. They weren't actually going to do it. Just were putting the materials together.

[> [> [> [> Re: A few nitpicky corrections -- WickedBored, 12:40:45 02/09/03 Sun

It seems like you don't really need to be a card-carrying witch to do spells, etc - you just need the book and the ingredients. Like the time in 7x4 when Peter and his pals conjured up a demon for a get rich quick scheme.

Maybe everyone who grew up in Sunnydale, near the Hellmouth underwent some genetic change that may or may not give them the potential to be able to do magic. So it's hard to tell if it's just the materials or if you need to also have the "talent".

[> [> [> [> [> sorry, slight spoiler for 7x4 in above post. -- WickedStupid, 12:45:43 02/09/03 Sun

[> Re: reply to frisby, -- reply back to jenni -- frisby, 08:53:42 02/08/03 Sat

hi jenni -- welcome to the forum again.

i assume (having read this thread) that you now understand you were indeed "dead wrong"

of course, if not, then we can turn the discussion to Nietzsche's praise of the power of stupidity, the capacity to close one minds to even the best counter-argument, a faculty that is sometimes one's best option

but surely, as a student of karate, you've internalized the discipline to never become a simple killing machine but to always keep an eye open to the possibility of stopping the conflict and lessening any further harm -- meaning remaining open always to honest argument?

the character of willow the witch is indeed immensely powerful!


[> Chiming in with some relativism -- Darby, 09:03:17 02/08/03 Sat

Let's come at this from another angle.

Sometimes we judge the Buffyverse as if it were the universe of superheroes, where powers are...well, powerful. But the Buffyverse is full of beings whose powers are subtle enough for the populace at large to be unaware of them (it's one of the continuity problems as the shows up the Big Bad ante season after season).

So you can't judge Willow's power on some absolute viewer scale, you have to let the inhabitants of Willow's world tell us how she rates. Tara, Giles, Anya, Rack, the British coven, even Amy and new-and-improved-Riley are each in their own ways experts on this stuff, and they all believe that Willow is one of the world's most powerful witches - that pretty much means she is, limitations and mistakes be damned.

[> [> agreeing, and yet... -- manwitch, 12:33:28 02/08/03 Sat


I totally agree with you, Darby, that any characterization of Willow as powerless or "crappy" demands addressing the fact that these very knowledgeable people say otherwise. But can it, perhaps, be addressed?

I don't want to argue jenni's point for her, and I don't want her to think I'm a vampire, either, and I'm not saying I would agree with this idea anyway, but I believe, whether or not anyone wants to make it, that a sensible argument could be made to give us reasons to be suspicious of the testimony of at least some of the people on this list. Would it be enough to convince?

As I said before, hmmm.

[> [> [> Thank You so much!! I must try to repay by taking some good advice: -- Jenni, 14:59:33 02/08/03 Sat

First - thank you all, even and especially those who disagree. I will show respect with proper punctuation, and more focus, I hope. And a special thanks to Manwitch - I don't know if you agree with anything I say or if you just want to see me be wrong more respectably, but either way you are my role model here, I think, and I will take your advice seriously....

Oh, before I start, I have to say, my dad is very cool but very protective, and he checked you all out before ok'ing me to talk here unsupervised. He said you were totally ok for me to hang out here with, but that I shouldn't expect any pulled punches. He thought you all were the "go in punching and come out kicking" type - oh, by the way, he is my karate teacher. He read this thread and told me, as coach not dad, that I was swinging wild and bobbing and weaving so much that I left myself open for all-too-easy knock-out blows. We talk in fight metaphors too much, but we understand things that way. He was saying the same thing as Manwitch, so if 2 of my mentors say it, I will try... So pardon me if I seem over confident due to this wonderful response to my first posting, but I'm not being cocky, I'm just emulating the great minds here!!!

OK - Here's my plan of attack -
I think that my friends are wrong, because I really want Willow to be a masterful witch. That is the word I've not said plainly - 'masterful.' I think she is powerful. I think she has potential. But she is like a lot of muscular boys who join karate class and want to be ninjas tomorrow, but they don't have the patience (or the dad/teacher!) to train, and the first time they spar they just swing wildly with all their power, and usually aren't allowed to spar anymore because they might hurt someone. Or else my dad spars them and shows them that wild, uncontrolled power is not a plus when fighting an aikido master. After they end up on their butts a few times, they either quit or, usually, get the point and work harder.

That is precisely my trouble with Willow. I guess I am seeing that her spells are - not (un)successful, or
(in)appropriate, or (un)powerful or any words I've been wildly swinging. What I am trying to say is that her actual intent, when she has one other than just the magic itself, like the tinkerbell light, rarely comes close to the actual effect of the spell. She generally has a specific goal for her spells, and the outcome is just not often in sync with the goal. She either causes too much, or a little wonky, or has strange side-effects, etc. ***except*** when she is reversing other people's spells, which I have concluded, separate from the current debate, is a far different thing than initiating a spell from nothing.

So my point, I think, isn't that Willow isn't powerful, but that she did a lot of weird, arguably effective magic, but never ever seemed to think "Hey, I screwed that one up - maybe I better get some training, or start smaller, or something to hone my skills before I do something really destructive." Instead, she just kind of got an ego, or else blindly blundered ( in doppel, i.e., Anya asks her if she wants to do a spell, and though Willow had just lectured someone about carelessness, she just says "OK!!" and goes with Anya without asking what the goal is. This is a perfect example of how aikido works. Willow's power was used by an unfriendly person to do magic that Willow never intended, nor even conceived. She went in swinging, and she got knocked on her butt. But then she never quite admitted it was her doing, took credit for sending vamp Willow back, and everyone thought she was a powerful witch, and she let them think it. Right then, she should have said, "That was really really bad. I need to cool the magic stuff. What was I (not!) thinking??!!"

This is the basis for my hypothesis, but I will condense before going on.
1. Willow's magic, up until Tara's arrival at least, was generally hit or miss, and often the hits were a bit too hard for the situation, or hit the wrong object, or etc.
2. This does not include reversing spells, which, like split-Xander, is a returning of things to their natural state, and therefore, it seems, a different type of magic.
3. Because she is naive, trusting, curious to the point of obsession, gets a self-esteem boost, and is unfocused, and too powerful for her unbalanced fighting stances, she is easily used, abused, mislead, and otherwise thrown off balance by others who have ill designs for her power.
4. Because of the identity she likes as a witch that everyone admires, she is unwilling to admit or even acknowledge her mistakes and flubs.

Some of those boys in karate quit, and say, 'I can fight better without karate.' but some quit after a month and say, 'now, I am powerful AND a karate man.' They like the image of the martial artist, so even though they never get past the beginner's class, they keep letting everyone think they learned a bunch of cool moves. They probably never tell anyone they got in trouble for swinging too hard in sparring. They think harder=better. But it is not always the case, especially if you don't want to hurt anyone. My dad says that boys like this are easy to provoke, because they want to prove something, so they get into fights all the time even if they don't want to, or don't know what the fight is about. And they neglect more important things, like studies and training.

Now, given 1 thru 4 above, and given that they are pretty much true up until Tara, who inarguably was a boost to Willow, and the more focused and masterful of the two; and given that Amy returned from ratville just as Willow and Tara were having issues about Willow's magic that was getting out of hand; and given that Tara seemed to actually know what was happening with the spells, whereas Willow was vague at best (such as Buffy's resurrection, which Willow was hard-pressed to understand, yet Tara seemed quite knowledgeable about the details when asked by Buffy...); and given that one of Amy's first acts as a human was to "gift" Willow with that really bad magic day, which resulted in Amy being excluded and thought of as a bad person....

I hypothesize that, at least until she went to England to be re-trained (at the Shao-Lin temple of Wicca??), Willow was still the unfocused "arrogant amateur" that she always was, and

She seemed more masterful than she was when Tara was around, because Tara was, sort of, a grounding, balancing influence, if not the actual spell-inducer, perhaps using Willow's power but focussing it so that it was closer to surgically effective, rather than Willow's usual "drop a nuke and hope it hits the target" style. This is why Tara was getting worried, in part, I think. Tara knew they were a team, but Willow got an ego and thought she could do better alone, and then even imposed upon Tara!!! and

Amy got rejected by her only real friends, of sorts, after spending three years as a rat (which she became not out of conceit, but because she was being unjustly executed!), they didn't give her much of a chance after all the trauma she'd been thru - no pep-talk, no 'we want you, but you have to chill...', just 'Yo, you gotta go, see ya!!.' No Mom, weird Dad relationship, no friends, a rat for three years after being burned alive almost, and, to top it off, Willow is a powerful witch and so is her girlfriend. So if I'm Amy, I say to myself...

"If Buffy or Xander or Tara were a rat, Willow wouldn't sleep, eat, or shower until they were restored. Even if it took three years, it would be three years of anguish and hard work. But they never gave me a thought. Here's Willow, creating light and moving mountains, and her girlfriend who is also very masterful, and she never thinks about me until she gets into a break-up and is lonely and bored and looking for an object to magically manipulate. Then she has the nerve to tell me that my magic is inappropriate!!! Well, I'll show her some inappropriate magic......!!!"

Which is my final hypothesis: That Amy cursed Willow with the hex that became known last week in 'Killer in Me' all the way back at this point. Before Tara died!! And I propose that the whole Rack/Drug addiction scene was the beginning of the curse, and maybe all Amy intended...but the Tara is killed. If Amy hexed her with a spell that cursed her to do bad magic (just like what she accused and outcast Amy for!!), especially if it was linked to emotions like guilt and shame and rejection, and then, by chance, her lover is soon after killed by an act of violence just as Willow and her are re-bonding, such a spell would have very hard-core repercussions, possibly not totally intended by Amy.

We know Amy hexed her, and the result is that she becomes what she hates - 'chooses her own punishment,' i think Amy said. We know that Amy hasn't really been around at all since the gift episode, and was already messing with Willow via the magic. And we know that Willow-the -evil-one used phrases like Amy, such as "it's about the power." So:

I conclude that Willow was not really responsible for Warren's death, or hurting her friends, or wanting to destroy the world. She was under the influence of a spell, albeit a spell that fed on her own self-importance and need for empowerment. I think that is why ME brought Amy back now, when the show is about to come to its denouement - I think one of the 'loose ends' they'll tie up is to reveal this, so that we understand that the scoobies don't just forgive their own while convicting all others; instead, they forgive Willow because they intuitively knew that Willow wasn't really Willow. Willow can then go on, without the horrid guilt, but with the knowledge that she was weak and easily manipulated because of her arrogance. This will be Willow's springboard for becoming a well-balance, self-aware, strong individual ----- and then, ......."THE WILLOW SHOW....."?????????

I also think Giles knew. I think he knew that breaking the spell would give Willow a total denial tool, but letting her take it as far as she could would open her eyes to her arrogance, and compel her to train herself. I think he knew she couldn't hurt anyone if she had empathy, so he gave her just that instead of blocking the spell. Metaphorically, if you have a friend with a gun who intends, he says, to shoot someone(s), and you know the gun is loaded with blanks, do you wrestle it away from him (and he gets another with real bullets tomorrow??) or do you let him get the target in his sites but try to instill empathy, trusting that your friend will decide himself to not fire, and thus dissipate the anger instead of delaying it??

That is my hypothesis, and I hope lots of people consider it way way out and unarguably dead wrong. Because you will end up like those muscle boys in class who are really REALLY annoying to my dad - you know what he does if he really thinks they need to be taught a lesson?? He makes them spar ME!! That way, they either quit because a little girl beat them, or they get serious because a little girl beat them. I hate that we will know for sure very soon - I don't want Buffy to end!!! But it does mean that any disagreements that will be settled will be settled very soon. And if I'm wrong, I have a recipe for crow fricassee!!

[> [> [> [> Re: Thank You so much!! I must try to repay by taking some good advice: -- aquaman, with aqua metaphors, 16:33:05 02/08/03 Sat

ok - i concede. I did take it too far. I was thinking i was thinking the same as you, but I was extreme, as you said, and was thinking that Willow was nothing but a conduit for others of real power. But I think I like your take better, and it fits the facts. That some witches of great skill but little power would see Willow's little skill but great power as a tool to be used, or a gift to be resented, or, as with Tara, a compliment to bond with, is very logical, realistic in metaphor, and very 'buffyverse realistic.' And I like the karate metaphors, A LOT!! On the boat, we talk in dive metaphors constantly. We would say that Willow went too deep and stayed too long, and could not re-surface without several decompression stops along the way. Of course, she wasn't carrying enough air for those stops, so her buddies had to drop tanks to her. And perhaps the split with Tara will be a lifelong reminder to Willow of why we always dive with a buddy, never alone!!! And always check your own equipment, and do a buddy check, and plan the dive depths and times BEFORE you jump into the water!!!!! (and it helps navigation to at least have a map of the dive site!!) Willow, basically, threw some gear on a tank, put the regulator in her mouth, and descended into the deep blue in an alien environment, with no idea how to get back to the boat, what kinds of sharks, etc., there were, whether her depth gauge was calibrated, how much air she had, didn't have a watch, a dive plan, or a buddy, much less any formal training, which I personally take offense to! She is lucky a search and rescue operation brought her up, or she would have drowned...or worse.
(In normal diving, people are usually afraid of 'the bends,' which is caused by staying too deep and/or too long, then ascending quickly enough that the compressed gas in your bloodstream bubbles out of solution and gets lodges in body tissue. But you will likely survive this if it happens. The worst thing you can do is take a breathe at depth, hold the breathe, and ascend. This will cause the compressed gas in your lungs to over-expand, and causes anything from emphysema to an air embolism, which means you probably are dead. The first thing panicky new students usually do, of course, is what they've always done in the water when scared - hold their breathe, spit out the regulator, and bolt to the surface. My job in this situation is to immobilize them and hold the regulator in their mouth while they thrash, until they wear themselves out. Then I try to get them to continue, which they often do, and often succeed. Perhaps this was Giles' role when he gave Willow the empathic magic, rather than de-magicking her??)

[> [> [> [> Well done, jenni -- Scroll, 17:04:32 02/08/03 Sat

I haven't posted to your thread yet, but I've been following along. Your hypothesis is very interesting and I think you can make a strong argument that Willow, prior to witchcraft summer school in Devon, did do "a lot of weird, arguably effective magic, but never ever seemed to think "Hey, I screwed that one up - maybe I better get some training, or start smaller, or something to hone my skills before I do something really destructive."

I'm not so sure about how you're going to prove your point about Amy, but it is a daring stance and quite interesting, nonetheless. I wish I had the guts (or time!) to really sit down and examine a piece of the ol' Buffy puzzle the way you're doing. Good luck with your research!

[> [> [> [> Now we're getting much closer to agreement -- Sophist, 17:17:48 02/08/03 Sat

Let me re-state the essence of your point and see if we're in agreement:

Willow is a very powerful witch whose power exceeds her understanding and ability to use it.

If this is what you mean, even I agree. And I'm usually the biggest defender of Willow around.

Your theory about Amy may well be true, and several people will agree with you. Malandanza has suggested that Amy cast the spell after Willow rejected her in DmP. Your theory takes it back a little further. Either one could well be true and would have very interesting consequences.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Now we're getting much closer to agreement -- Malandanza, 21:10:06 02/08/03 Sat

I looked back at IOHEFY and you were right about the sequence of the spell and quicksand being reversed. I'd still put the Mangus Tripod squarely in the failure column, however, since they tried to exorcise a ghost and got chased out by a horde of wasps instead.

"Willow is a very powerful witch whose power exceeds her understanding and ability to use it."

I agree, although I thought we argued about this in our roads debate -- and you were against it :) I do disagree with Darby (below) when he says:

"Keep in mind, though, that the training you advise was largely unavailable to early-seasons Willow, although your position that she might not have thought it necessary is supportable as well."

I don't think that Willow was at all interested in learning restraint or respect for the forces she was using. She could have gone to Giles (who was hiding books from her he thought she was not yet ready for) in the earliest seasons, but by Season Four she couldn't have asked for a better role model for responsible use of magic than Tara. Also, we now know that the campus Wiccans actually did evolve into a coven that appears to have the proper respect for magic (and should make real life Wiccans much happier than they did the first time around). So she had three avenues for gaining training in addition to the possibility that she could have educated herself by choosing the right literature. She was research girl for so long (and she always knew where the restricted books were kept -- whether hidden by Giles or locked in the Magic Box) that I cannot believe that the training was unavailable -- all she had to do was look.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Now we're getting much closer to agreement -- Sophist, 08:58:15 02/09/03 Sun

The spell in IOHEFY is very interesting and hard to evaluate. According to Willow, the purpose of the spell was:

It's supposed to bind the bad spirit and keep it from doing any more harm.

In one sense, the events afterwards support the success of the spell. The spirit was confined within the school and no actual harm ensued. However, this may have been coincidence and it may have been that the spell was as ambitious as you suggest. In any case, I can't tell if it was Willow's spell or a joint production, so I didn't count it either way.

I agree, although I thought we argued about this in our roads debate -- and you were against it :)

I understood our previous debate to be about how Willow got her power, not her responsibility in using it. I stand by my previous position that she took no shortcuts in attaining her power per se.

As far as responsibility goes, my willingness to state the proposition as I did is entirely due to the radical change in Willow's character which the writers accomplished in S6. Prior to S6, I believe that Willow used her power wisely and responsibly (with two exceptions: The Wish and Tough Love. Both cases are understandable, but she was wrong.).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> ACK! Doppelgangerland, not The Wish. And add SB and Forever to my last point. -- Sophist, 11:34:37 02/09/03 Sun

[> [> [> [> Ohhhh....never mind. -- Darby, 17:22:50 02/08/03 Sat

Your Dad appears to have been right, because I saw you as presenting a pretty different thesis up to this clarification. And this one I mostly agree with.

Keep in mind, though, that the training you advise was largely unavailable to early-seasons Willow, although your position that she might not have thought it necessary is supportable as well.

Gotta disagree that the influence of the spell absolves her of the responsibility of torturing and killing Warren, trying to destroy the world and (most unforgivably from my view) recklessly endangering her friends, who could easily have been killed by her direct and purposeful actions.

Don't understand your point about Giles and the spell, but I think he took credit for something that he kind of allowed to happen spontaneously (and he couldn't stop it) and which worked more through luck than through design.

- Darby, trying to avoid integrating fencing metaphors (okay, I'm just too tired, I really wanted to do it)...

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Ohhhh....never mind. -- Dochawk, 20:53:13 02/08/03 Sat


its interesting to me that you feel that putting her friends in danger is willow's most unforgivable sin. I definitely think that the murders of Warren and Rack, both of whom deserved punishment are far worse crimes. More importantly, I think that if her friends have forgiven her, which is certainly implied if not outright shown (by Buffy's willingness to share her power), I find it wrong of us to hold that against her. Willow has much to atone for, especially with herself, but I believe in the story so I don't follow that path (anymore). If the Scoobs have forgiven her and the writers have made it believable to most of us, I will accept the story and forgive her too.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ohhhh....never mind. -- Darby, 14:23:54 02/09/03 Sun

It's kind of in line with those who say that Warren's most heinous crime (in terms of intent and culpability) is quite deliberately trying to kill Buffy, rather than accidentally killing Tara. It's an inexact comparison, of course, but I hope it gets across where I'm coming from.

If Willow had succeeded in killing Giles at the Magic Box, or Xander or Dawn in the cemetery, these would be the crimes we'd be unprepared to forgive. Does it matter that much that she didn't quite kill her friends, when she was completely prepared to do so? There was no revenge, or justice, or possible demonness to muddy those waters.

[> [> [> [> Anyone else absurdly pleased by being labeled... -- Haecceity, welcoming Jenni as a fun new sparring partner, 20:50:48 02/08/03 Sat

..."go in punching and come out kicking" types?

I'm not even certain it's a compliment, but I like the sound of it. Very much a "If we don't get you with *this* metaphor, we'll try out a bit of esoteric knowledge on your ass. And now for the Flying Jung Quote! Here come the Whirligigs of Pun! How 'bout the Pop-Culture Reference of Death!"

Yep, totally fun. Thanks for hopping on board, Jenni. It's always nice to find new folks to wrassle with. And those who bring new views/topics to the party are especially welcome.

Guilty on more than one occasion of abusing the rules of punctuation. But I've got a note from Rah who says it's okay as it makes the board nice and "crunchy".

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Anyone else absurdly pleased by being labeled... -- jenni - not labeled..., 23:50:45 02/08/03 Sat

seriously, he wasn't labeling you, I wouldn't have said it if he was! But I think you're pulling my leg, anyway, but I still have to say that he was, well, we were assessing you. Different from labeling, because a fighter knows that he is making instant deductions and assumptions and generalizations, and you always have to be ready to change your tactic without hesitation. But you do have to go into a situation with some general idea of what you'll face.

And in that definition, it was totally a compliment. It means that if you (anyone here, pretty much) believe something, you had thought long and hard about it, and were not going to give up any ground for anything less than a total show of equal or greater force of will; going out kicking means that the best I should ever even want is, of course, a draw. And a draw with an equal is the best feeling - most of my best friends that take karate are people who beat the crap out of me, half the time....!!!

[> [> [> [> [> [> Of course I was pulling your leg--we're sparring, remember? -- Haecceity, 00:31:44 02/09/03 Sun

Ha! I *knew* it was a compliment! We like those here. Just ask Honorificus:)

But seriously, I think you'll find that as in karate every match here ends with a bow and respect for the opponent. You are most heartily welcome to the circle. And props to your dad for watching out for your surfing as well as teaching you to take care of yourself.

whose own style tends to be Spike-ish--lots of dirty street fighting at first, then Ow!Ow!Ow!s and holding my nose or passing out:)

[> We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz's... -- Valheru, 16:49:03 02/08/03 Sat

Can I just say, before I begin, that this is a great discussion, with so many well-thought posts. I'm hesitant to reply outside of the specific threads because I don't want anyone to think I haven't read and considered their arguments, but replying to each individual post would just take too long.

One point I'd like to bring up is the idea of "solo" spells. Willow's spellcasting history primarily focuses on other people, even when she is conducting the spell alone. In this regard, how can we know when Willow is 100% in charge of the spell? For instance, how do we know that Giles, Xander, Spike, and Buffy didn't participate in the actual spellcasting in "Something Blue"? Perhaps the reason the spell went wild was not because of Willow, but because the Scoobies willed it themselves, as though she had dug a hole to put a tree in but the Scoobies all stumbled in it. Does that mean that she unsuccessfully planted a tree?

From what I can remember, the only spell Willow ever did without outside influence from anyone, caster or target, was the pencil-floating spell. Everything else has had a human target who may or may not have contributed to the success (or lack thereof) of the spell. So unless a spell obviously doesn't work, we mustn't immediately conclude that Willow is to blame.

What is success? I'm watching previews for this weekend's NBA All-Star Game. Michael Jordan has the second-highest scoring average in NBA history. But many of his points were scored on flashy slam-dunks, over-executed drives, and elaborate lay-ups--sometimes, Jordan did too much to score two points, where only a simple shot was required. And yes, sometimes even Michael Jordan wasn't able to score on some of those Jordan-esque shots. Is he a failure, then? Do we criticize him, saying, "Well, he could have been a whole lot better had he just played the game and stopped being so flashy?" I guess we could criticize him for that, but what's the use? He was great, maybe the greatest (FWIW, Wilt Chamberlain is #1 in career scoring average), but nobody's perfect, so why not just embrace the greatness?

Willow isn't a perfect witch. She never will be. Heck, even the First Evil, an entity we can probably assume as being in the uppermost echelon of power and ability, hasn't been entirely successful in its goals. Just because Spike didn't kill Buffy in "School Hard" (and he would have, without Joyce) doesn't mean he's a failure of a Slayer slayer (he's killed more Slayers than anyone else we know of). Just because Drusilla killed a Slayer and Glory didn't doesn't mean Glory is less powerful.

All we have to go on considering Willow's power and skill is what other characters have said. The general consensus is that Willow is a successful witch. For all we know, no one has even been able to attempt some of the spells Willow has done, much less get the chance to over-do them. Maybe Willow is the only person to ever survive the "Tabula Rasa" spell, in which case, can we label her a failure because it worked too well?

[> [> Re: We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz's... -- jenni, 19:23:02 02/08/03 Sat

Let's give this one more try, and see if I can quit swinging wild!

I think that Willow is powerful. But I think that she was never masterful, but may be on the verge of that now.

She was not just or always making spells not quite right, but she did it often enough that she should have been more reticent to experiment without more training, or at least serious study if no training was available.

This was especially the case when she either tried to go solo, or especially if she was unilateral - she even hexed her friends and Tara to make them see her in a dishonest, rose-colored light. This should have shown her that she needs the balance, or help, or focus of a partner, and she never should have been doing magic alone. It maybe should be shared in general, but in Willow's case, it should have been mandatory, by her own decision. (That is, if she's so powerful, why didn't she see her own demise on the horizon?)

She also had seen people misuse magic for personal aggrandizement (Amy's mom) Revenge (Anya) sexual control (Xander) power (the zookeeper), etc., so she had witnessed abuses, but refused to see the same in herself when she hexed her friends, i.e.

She also had been taken advantage of way too easily at least once (Anya), in a way that should have made her take note that, living on the hellmouth, one is likely to encounter all kinds of creatures, including people, who might see a use for a very powerful witch who is easily led into blunder. She also got kidnapped by Spike, along with Xander, in order to do a spell for him, and she had no clue how to deal with him except comply, then die. In Spike's vernacular, she was just asking to be made somebody's b****.

She wanted to be like Buffy, and fight evil and be powerful, but without working as hard as Buffy, who is the chosen one, yet still trains and seeks guidance, etc.,

I think Amy was treated badly/inconsiderately by the gang, who did share a history with her, including her being extorted into magic unwillingly by Xander! She also helped them stop her mother, who was terrorizing the cheerleaders, and killing Buffy. She was being burned, and escaped in a panicked way, as a rat who couldn't free herself, and they didn't do any research that I'm aware of to try to bring her back, even though she was becoming a 'powerful witch.' So I still feel for Amy even though I think she cursed Willow prior to Tara's death, and that this curse was the reason Willow went evil and killed Warren, etc.
Heck, I might have done the same in her paws, I mean shoes.

But, this doesn't mean I absolve Willow of responsibility! Rather, I hold her very responsible for what she actually did wrong. I don't think the murder and evil came from Willow, I think it was directly caused by the curse, and therefore Willow is not really responsible for the act as a single act. That is, she is not a murderer. But she is certainly careless and negligent, 'depravedly indifferent,' (yes, I watch Law & Order). Willow wasn't waiting, she was an accident intent on happening.

Willow can't yet 'move on' because she is not moving from the right place. She can't transform because she doesn't know what she is right now. Everybody always thinks that the hard part of getting somewhere like enlightenment or masterfulness in an art, or Japan (my hope, soon!) is the arrival. At my age, I know that the hard part is getting started. Money. 18 years old - not! etc. You really have to know what airport you're leaving from, and what gate, at what time, and have a ticket and passport and if you don't you will never arrive at the destination.

Willow is trying to come to terms with being a murderer, and she never will, because she's not. She needs to come to terms with the fact that she was careless, easily manipulated, mistreated Tara by imposing the spells and by doing spells alone at all, except as necessary to save lives, etc. If I had a guy, and when we first held hands we were able to move a soda machine when a pencil was all I could before, why would I ever want to think, this is my gift, he's got his gift, I want to develop my gift so I can save the world with Buffy alone? Why not save the world together? Especially if we know we were stronger by far together, how much stronger still could we get if we developed together?? Tara and Willow could have been one heck of a duo (the 'un-ambiguously gay duo'??). Instead, she wasted so much precious time of Tara's life alienating her, trying to get away and get her 'personal' power. And then, when Tara left her, doing more and weirder magic, with another pretty girl witch. (Now that I mention it, Willow was Cheating on Tara!!! Magically cheating, like she was saying, 'well, if you don't like my magic style, she does.' And then she dumped Amy when she was done with that game. We all look at this from an omniscient pov, but how did Amy see that whole experience with Willow upon re-humanizing? And why didn't Willow consider any of the consequences of keeping, neglecting, and then bringing Amy back when and how she did?)

Willow, to me then, cannot get over Tara until she respects Tara enough to admit how much she wasted with Tara, how coldly she had treated her soul mate, trying to be something she was not. She will likely need to resolve something with Amy, who I can't classify as just evil, even though I think her curse on Willow was far worse than anyone else seems to think.

And Willow cannot become the woman she is destined to become until she admits the actual weaknesses she must overcome, and sees that all or most of her ideas about her own power and her own self are self-deceptions that she believed because she wanted to be like Buffy, but she is not Buffy, and can't be powerful the way Buffy is. Her nature is something else entirely, and equally beautiful - if she'd let it happen.

[> [> [> Re: We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz's... -- manwitch, 22:08:34 02/08/03 Sat

I still hope to see the research.

But I must say, this is a fantastic post and I am fully convinced by what you say here.

I think your characterization of the problems Willow has as a witch are much more complex and hence more accurate than the "she's really powerful"/"No she cuts corners" dichotomy that crops up (and that I participate in) every now and again. I think you are saying more than that her power exceeds her ability to control. You are placing a huge level of culpability on her for wielding it like Daddy's gun, and for failing to recognize the menace she is without grounding. I think that is far more significant than training, which you argue persuasively, I think, that she should be seeking out. I resisted the short cuts idea because Willow did work, she did practice, she did study. But you point out that she is being almost consciously oblivious to her weaknesses, to the potential consequences of those weaknesses, and to the resources available around her to assist her. I have more often supported the yes she's very powerful line, which is true but isn't really saying much that's interesting. Of course she has talent and power. But there should be a recognition on her part, comparable to Dawn's, that the power was not hers. (What's with all the insightful 16 yr olds?) Willow's surest, if not greatest, power came when working with Giles, with Tara. Her most dubious efforts were reckless solo acts, or as you point out, hijackings.

Even though I'm not sure I let Willow off the murder hook, I think your characterization of what Willow really has to come to terms with is dead on. Its not just that she murdered, but the underlying causes of her response to Tara and to Tara's death. "She needs to come to terms with the fact that she was careless, easily manipulated, and mistreated Tara."

Your final paragraph is brilliant and certainly plays into my own beliefs/interpretations of Season 7, even if one considers Willow as not just Willow, but also a metaphor for Buffy's spirituality. One of the things I actually like about Kennedy, is that she is not interested in the magic, she simply likes Willow. I expect this will give Willow the chance to recognize what she has denied all along, namely that being Willow is more than enough.

I am not on board yet with the whole Amy thing, but I'm going to consider it very carefully. I don't see it fully, but there are aspects of it I'm not prepared to dismiss.

I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge your overly generous compliment in your earlier post. You have very rapidly displayed a skill with language and self-expression that I would expect to be uncommon for 16 yr olds, especially ones that spend all their time kicking muscular boy's asses. In addition, you have, in a very short span of time, responded with minimal defensiveness to suggestions and rebuttals and transformed your argument, without surrendering your position, into one that is both insightful and easy to embrace. And that's not particularly common for people of any age. We'll let you be my mentor, there.

Again, great post, and I still hope you share the research.

[> [> [> [> Re: ONLY MANWITCH READ -- Jenni, 00:01:48 02/09/03 Sun

That made me cry. The good kind of cry. Thank you. No need to respond.

[> [> [> [> [> Everyone - I'm taking notes, cable reruns are at the Tara meets Willow point. -- Jenni, 00:38:49 02/09/03 Sun

[> [> [> [> What he said -- tomfool, 11:48:04 02/10/03 Mon

I'd just like to agree with everything that Manwitch so eloquently said. You are indeed a fun new voice here and I'm loving the fight metaphors. Well done. And I too will be watching the rest of the Amy story with a new perspective.

[> [> [> Re: We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz's... -- fresne, 09:08:05 02/10/03 Mon

"Willow can't yet 'move on' because she is not moving from the right place."

Okay, I have to say, I really like this metaphor. The center cannot hold, because Willow does not know where it is. I'd almost posit that Willow has at various times made others her center. Xander, Buffy, Oz, Tara. The person around whom she gravitic orbits. That person to remove, then Willow's compass doesn't just bend, the pencil spins and embeds in trees.

Because it's also (I'm guessing primarily) a martial arts metaphor. We all have a center of balance and if you don't figure out where it is and make every action spin round the center. Splat. Okay that's the sum total of my knowledge there, so moving along.

I'd like to posit that any attempt to graph Willow's magical success is a fairly 3-D grid of factors. Okay, I'm in a Requirements Doc frame of mind. Anyway, what exactly are we trying to rate? Magic in general or Willow in relation to magic?

If Willow and if successful magical spells performed by Willow, then what are magical Willow's success factors.
I've always been fond of repeatability myself. A result which is achieved not once as if by (errr) magic, but is repeatable over a period of time.
The relative similarity (on a scale of incarnadine one to cerulean ten) between the intent, as stated in the text/design doc to the result.
Does it control costs (oh, come on I had to say it). Does the price of the magic outstrip the expected benefits. (e.g., if floating something is an effort, perhaps the better choice would be to just go pick the thing up versus, eeppp Gentleman, move large obstructive object.) Unfortunately, the coin in which the characters pay seems to be nose bleeds and angst, so this is hard to rate.

Oh, and we need a control. I'd like to propose Ethan Rayne, who though sleazy finds ready work as a contractor in his field, his magic results appear to follow his intent, offers us a range of examples, and the sampling is untainted by co-Willow magic efforts.

Good luck with the research.

[> What is a spell? -- Valheru, 01:20:41 02/09/03 Sun

I think it might be beneficial here to define what a spell actually is. The reason I bring it up is because of "Choices." In that episode, the crucial ritual required to destroy the Box of Gavrock, the "Breath of the Atropyx," was not going to be performed by any of the magically-inclined Scoobies. Rather, Xander and Oz were supposed to have performed it. Now, it could be that the guys were just "warming up" the spell for Willow or Giles when they arrived with the Box, but the inference of Willow going to the trouble to draw the whole thing makes me think that Oz and Xander were the intended casters.

Initially, I thought, "Are they crazy? They're going to this incredible risk to steal an assumedly-immensely-powerful box from their enemy's stronghold, only to have the Scooby the least accustomed to magic and the Scooby with the worst luck with magic attempt to destroy it?" I thought that there must be something I'm overlooking. And there might be. It was a ritual, not a spell.

Is there a difference, in the Buffyverse? Can anyone perform a ritual? Can only adept witches perform spells? I think back to "Revelations," when Angel was going to destroy the Glove of Myhnegon with the Living Flame. GILES: "It involves transforming fire into Living Flame and
immolating the glove." Did Angel turn fire into Living Flame via spell or ritual? Does it matter? Am I just confusing the issue?

Oh, and another sub-topic for the group: can anyone wield the power of the Wish, or only vengeance demons? Could Wish-Giles have used Anyanka's amulet to restore the Buffyverse, rather than destroy it? If so, does that mean vengeance demons are witches, or are they tapping into wholly different energies? I guess the whole maxi-question I'm asking here is: Is every instance of supernatural phenomenon a spell?

[> [> Re: What is a spell? -- Celebaelin, 07:50:34 02/09/03 Sun

From an FRP (better clarify that just in case - Fantasy Role Playing) perspective I'd say that a protection on a box/chest/door etc. is probably best described as a ward. That ward may be the result of a moderately well known spell or it may be the result of an obscure spell requiring extremely exotic material components and/or special circumstances and that is what is meant by a ritual (similarly the unlocking or removal of the ward may be accomplished by means of a spell or it may itself, in the latter case, require a ritual if the consequences of breaking the ward are not to be felt). Having spent some time as a Capuchin monkey (a Capuchin is a Franciscan friar or a female garment consisting of a cloak and hood) as a result of transgressing against an undetected ward on a chest (AD&D I Series for aficionados) I can testify both to the implicit necessity for caution and to the frustration that may result from activating protective spells in ignorance.

Have I drifted somewhat? Skip the origin, get to the substance - Amy. The significance her polymorph to a rat. At the time that seemed to me a pretty impressive piece of magic for a Scoob contemporary, and indeed it was (Polymorph Self - 3rd Level MU spell, 5th Level MU to cast, vegetable vegetable PHB on legs - private joke) but she did it, and without any material components! (Hah! as if!), she must have been invoking a higher power (again) and indeed she was, Hecate, the Ancient Greek goddess of magic.

My theory is this, whilst being a 'chosen' of Hecate Amy was too open, too free, with her knowledge so whilst Hecate helped her in her time of need the goddess also decided to punish her for 'ratting out' Hecate's cult by turning her into...a rat. Very apt and remarkably effective, I don't think I've heard Amy call upon Hecate since (anyone?). On the other hand her powers do seem to have grown, possibly as a result of her enforced time of contemplation, perhaps in combination with listening to Willow's arcane progress in the light of a better overview from Amy's previous experience (goodness knows what she witnessed passing between Willow and Tara incidentally). The intervention of Hecate would also explain why de-ratting was not a possibility for some time.

On the whole I think magical lessons are to be learned, not simply to be maligned as cruel tricks of fate.

[> [> [> Re: What is a spell? - GREAT QUESTION!!! THANKS!!!! -- Jenni, 12:43:40 02/09/03 Sun

I never thought of this, but i think it is going to really help with my thoughts on Willow. For instance, with some type of classifying system for magic that explains why restoring natural states by reversing a spell is a different act than casting the spell originally.
I know it's kind of weird to always be asking my parents, and maybe people in college might think that I'm not really forming my own opinions if I go to Mom and Dad all the time (not here, but those words have been said to me!!!!). But those people didn't have parents who watch BtVS with them and philosophize and stuff - my dad was the one who started the whole BtVS philosophy thing for me - up to then, I watched for the fight scenes!!
Anyway, you might think my dad is a conservative since he checked this place out before letting me chat, but he and mom are actually, well, hippies. They used to travel with the Grateful Dead back in the 80s!! My mom apparently knows (never mentioned it before, really) lots of people who are seriously into wicca, so she emailed several of them. I got back one small response so far, more hopefully on the way. That one said:

All magic draws energy either from the Earth, or directly from the sun, the source of the Earth's energy. Sun magic is incredibly advanced, not possible for most.

Earth energy can be manifest as magic via:

Trance - which raises (in anger, guilt, might lower - what we call dark side) the vibrating frequencies of one's own mind/body/soul.

Spell - Raises, or dark side lowers, the frequencies of other-than-self, either human or otherwise. Wicca does not distinguish between the animate and inanimate except in complexity - after all, the energy comes from dirt and molten rock, does it not? Heated and spun by rays of energy from a star? Remember what you are made of!

Spells are accomplished by various means - 'enchantments' use language, hence 'chant.' Check out the Tibetan Throat Singers if you get the chance. 'Rituals' might involve language, but often involve movements, objects, etc., and the point is the repetition of a sequence of events. Most rituals are suppose to be handed down, and tried and true, but many modern wicca has had to invent, as the old rituals are largely lost to us.

Spells are usually broken by either a tried-and-true ritual, which would be evident in the nature of the spell, once the spell is recognized. If no ritual exists, one must 'solve the equation' oneself, once the spell is recognized. Often, to break a dark spell, recognition is enough, as it raises the frequency of your mind/body/soul.

That was all. I asked if she watched BtVS, but she didn't say in her mail. I'll ask again. What do you think? I'm still processing this.

[> [> [> [> Not to end Jenni's thread, but this taxonomy of spells deserves a new thread. Anyone second this?? -- Very thought-provoked and curious, 13:00:52 02/09/03 Sun

[> [> [> [> Categorizing magic -- Valheru, 13:50:37 02/09/03 Sun

Not to tell you how to do your own research, but a bit of advice: Stay true to the source material. The rules of Buffyverse magic may be similar to real-world magic, but it isn't necessarily the same thing. It's a fictional construct, after all. I don't think you're assuming anything, which is great, but considering the huge amount of research you're doing, it can be difficult to keep things straight. A few months ago, in the midst of a read-a-thon of the Buffy novels, I made the mistake of confusing one of Anya's quotes in a book as though it happened on the show, destroying the whole premise of my essay. I had to re-watch all six seasons to set my mind right again.

I think, in response to my own question, that while rituals, spells, enchantments, etc. all fall under the category of "magic," the methods of each are distinctly different. For instance, a witch can do the same thing with a spell as a layperson can do with a ritual, they just get there differently.

Magical objects - The magic is inherent in the object, all one needs to do is use it. Examples include: the crystals in "Helpless," the knight's sword in "Becoming," the Glove of Mhynegon in "Revelations," and the Dagon sphere to repel Glory.

Chemistry - (Sorry, I know there's a better term for this, but my mind is blanking) By putting two or more components together, one can make a magical object. The best example is Willow's scapulas.

Rituals - Can be done two ways. The first is to use chemistry to create an object, then speak or dance to make it magical. Examples: the Living Flame Angel makes to destroy the Glove of Mhynegon in "Revelations," and the Breath of the Atropyx intended to destroy the Box of Gavrock in "Choices." The second way is to use one or more magical objects in conjunction with speaking or dancing to perform a spell. Examples: the Magus Tripod of "IOHEFY," the de-invites of "Passion," Willow and Tara's Early Glory Detection System in "Blood Ties," Ethan Rayne's costume spell in "Halloween," the re-souling spell in "Becoming," the resurrection spell in "Bargaining"...geez, there's a lot of these.

Sorceries - A broad category. Anything done without the help of a magical object is a sorcery. Examples: Amy's ratting spells in "BB&B" and "Gingerbread," the spells of Rack and Willow in "Wrecked," and pretty much everything done by Dark Willow.

I'm probably painting in too broad strokes here. But the reason I would go to the trouble is to distinguish between sorcerer abilities and witchcraft abilities. Willow, for instance, has far greater problems performing rituals than she does sorceries, although she is pretty good with magical chemistry, which could indicate that she is careless but not unfocused. Giles, OTOH, is very good at rituals, which indicates that he is very careful yet scatter-brained (his personality in a nutshell, really).

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Categorizing magic -- Darby, 14:44:39 02/09/03 Sun

This connects to an earlier discussion here...


[> [> [> [> [> [> If you enter the thread Darby mentioned -- Sophist, 18:10:34 02/09/03 Sun

be afraid. Be very afraid. There are memes in that thread.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> They're EVERYWHERE! -- Darby, 18:38:43 02/09/03 Sun

Umm, literally.

Actually, I hadn't noticed. Sorry, everybody.

Darby, deserving a good Xander-Anya style spanking.

[> [> [> [> [> Possibly focuses, a common element of so called primitive (totemistic) magic -- Celebaelin, 16:27:47 02/09/03 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Categorizing magic -- research demon - asking, where did ME get their ideas...., 22:57:11 02/09/03 Sun

Actually, this is a valid line of research, if you look at it in the context of 'What was in ME's mind when they designed the magic in BtVS?' I want to believe, and I think we all intuit this, that the magic in BtVS has what you might call an "internal logic." And it must, or it would get unbelievable, yes, even in the context of fantasy, some things can get unbelievable - I'm sure we've all experienced this, somewhere, and felt unsatisfied.

So if we accept that ME has an internal logic for the magic in BtVS, then we have to assume that they had some source material, possibly consulted real-world wiccans, so that it might be more attractive and compelling of a dramatic device and communicator of metaphor and philosophy. Perhaps if we want to understand Willow's magic career, we should indeed look beyond the info the show itself has provided us,

as we so often do....to such magical philosophical mastery, at times.

[> [> [> [> [> Does Willow have too much power? -- Valheru, 00:00:50 02/10/03 Mon

I've been pondering this all day, and one idea really strikes me as very possibly valid. To quote myself:

"Willow, for instance, has far greater problems performing rituals than she does sorceries, although she is pretty good with magical chemistry, which could indicate that she is careless but not unfocused. Giles, OTOH, is very good at rituals, which indicates that he is very careful yet scatter-brained."

I got to thinking about Amy, who in the little time we know her, seems to have the same problem as Willow: great with sorcery, horrible when it comes to rituals. Amy also represents, by her often invocations of Hecate, another form of magic:

Invokation - The step between ritual and sorcery, where one calls upon another, much higher being to perform the spell.

Anyway, that's getting me somewhat off-track. Willow and Amy represent an interesting paradox: they're very good with very powerful sorcerous spells, but very bad with rather simplistic rituals. Why is this? I have a theory...

Rituals require two things: 1) magical objects, or a combination of ingredients that create a magical object, and 2) a spoken or acted incantation. As long as both are used correctly and without impurity, then anyone can perform rituals successfully.

My theory is that Amy and Willow are too powerful to perform rituals. They are human storage-cells of magical energies. When Willow performs a ritual, her own magical essence is drawn into it as if she were a magical object herself. It's as though Willow is a sixth candle in a spell that only requires five, or an added line in an incantation. Her own presence sabotages the spell. So you end up with three possible outcomes: 1) The spell doesn't work at all; 2) The spell works incorrectly; or 3) The spell works too well.

This could also explain why they are superbly successful at invocations. In an invocation, the god/goddess/demon theoretically stands in for the ritual. For example, let's say that the ritual for turning a person into a rat requires a live rat, three drops of human blood, and an essence of a were-creature, all contained in a Jar of Mickey while the witch says, "Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me?" Well, by invoking Hecate, the goddess (essentially) acts as a substitute for all of that. But as we learned from Osiris, the invokee doesn't have to do the spell if he/she/it doesn't want to. However, in Amy and Willow's case, they're the ones who supply all the power, leaving the goddess to simply say, "Who's the leader of the club..." and the spell is cast. I'd wager that a goddess would be much more obliged to do a spell for someone if it requires less work.

The natural progression for this, of course, is for Willow and Amy to say, "Y'know what? We don't need to invoke any gods, we can do this on our own." This leads to the full-blown sorcerous magic they employ in Season 6.

Anyway, it's just a theory. Or maybe midgets...

[> [> [> [> [> [> research daemon and Valheru.... -- Briar Rose, 02:26:28 02/10/03 Mon

Well, you both have interesting takes, but from a Witch's point of view?

I honestly can say that ME can't have ever talked to actual witches of any faith, and forget Wiccans altogether.*L

No self respecting Wiccan would have worked with any of ME's writers with ME abusing the definition of Wiccan as they have time and again. The spells and rituals they are showing are movie magick and if they are based on anything - it's some role playing game's idea of magick and nothing in the real world of magick.

There IS no such thing as "too much power" - there are only irresponsible Power Wielders.

As a Witch myself, I saw where Amy, Amy's Mother, Giles and finally Willow all had their works go wonky. Not one of them had a THEOLOGY to base their work on. Without the back ground theology needed to make the belief a reality, most magick is going to be one of three things: Void. Impossible to control. Unbalanced. (Unbalanced is different from uncontrolled, BTW.)

The very existence of religion/theology is there to create BALANCE and DIRECTION in the work that will be done within it's tenants. Prayer to a Catholic Saint ain't normally gonna work for someone who doesn't believe in that Saint in their own religion. So why would calling on a God/Goddess of a religion that isn't your own going to work?*L It's not "in your belief system" therefore the energy it is aligned with is not at your disposal because you are off it's wave length.

Most of what you see in BtVS and Angel is unable to be categorized in the real metaphysical world. Alchemical works, rituals and spells, as well as focused visual meditations/manifestations and healing are all part of magick, but they all just get there in different ways. I do think it is interesting to read over their spells, incantations and rituals and identify the ideas that ME thinks they are drawing on.... It makes for many laughs if you are in the know and do your research well. Some of the ingredients that Willow and Giles use for certain works are hysterical to me.

And since I'm really bored and can't sleep - I have to say... INVOCATION is when you take a Higher Being (usually a God or Goddess) INSIDE oneself. EVOCATION is when you call on them to attend the work you are doing, but do not take them inside yourself. And both are dependant on the Power of the Witch, as are all magickal works.

The Power is always inside the Witch. The HELPERS are the outside Spirits, they have their own Powers, and their energy is beyond human Power energy. Power is given to each person before birth and passes back and forth between that person and the Universe.

Gods and Goddesses are Powerful, yes. All the Energy of the Universe is Powerful, from the stars to the trees to the Sun and Earth and Spirits. But in such a way that their energy is also the Witch's Power. It's not "all about Power", in the real world it's "All about Energy." Nothing more and nothing less. The Witch creates their own reality. They are the Power that creates change. The Higher Power is just there to help direct the outcome of that Witch's work - this goes to Universal Laws of Order and Chaos. The Universe will always seek balance in all things.

And now that I've bored everyone, I think I'll shut up now.*L

[> [> A Whole Other Can of Worms -- Lucifer_Sponge, 18:05:30 02/09/03 Sun

Categorizing magical operations (spells/rituals) is tricky enough, but I was wondering if anyone had given any thought to the categorization of the -practitioners- of magic? What's the difference between witches, wizards, and shamans in the Buffyverse?

Was anyone else disappointed Angelus? (spoiler for Soulless) -- Yu Yu Hakusho, 05:49:49 02/08/03 Sat

Was anyone else disappointed with the Beast and Angelus's first meeting? From the vision Cordy had of the encounter I thought it was going to be some kind of vicious fight, with Angelus barely holding his own against the beast while others around him died. The beast would be impressed with Angelus' strength and skill, and then tell him, "We need not be enemies." Instead, it turns out the Beast did all the killing to lure Angelus too him, and then knocked him out with once punch.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I mean, Angel and Angelus are basically the same when it comes to fighting. Still, Angelus is so much more vicious and nasty, that I guess I just assumed he would have an "easier" time fighting the beast.

What do you all think?

[> Should be with Angelus, sorry ;) -- Yu Yu Hakusho, 05:51:24 02/08/03 Sat

[> Re: Was anyone else disappointed Angelus? (spoiler for Soulless) -- Matlack73, 06:33:26 02/08/03 Sat

I was disappointed with the Beast/Angelus scene. I guess it will be revealed, but that scene doesn't really leave you with a reason why the Beast would even bother with Angelus (assuming Angelus is telling the truth). I liked the episode, though.

[> Not the fight, but--yes -- luna, 10:26:40 02/08/03 Sat

I didn't miss the fight (we get enough of those for my taste!) but I didn't think he was nearly as evil as he had been before. Of course, when we first saw him in BtVS, he had such a great situation for being nasty, with Buffy at one of her most emotionally vulnerable moments. But still, if I'd never seen him before, I think I'd be wondering why everybody thought he was so bad. It wasn't just the writing, either--I thought it was the acting.

[> [> Re: Not the fight, but--yes -- Utopia, 18:50:15 02/08/03 Sat

Lorne said that in his head Angelus wasn't trapped in a cage, and that kinda made me believe that Angelus was playing the wuss. Like he was acting a little bit evil but he was holding back at the same time. Probably to mislead the gang, make them think that he was being as bad as he could be and that he was really truly trapped. I mean he wasn't acting worried about them returning his soul, he must of known that it would go missing.

Also in Buffy season 2, it was actions that made him so threatening. Watching people while they slept. Leaving Buffy dead flowers. Placing Jenny in Giles' bed. He did say some nasty things, but it was always the threat of what he would do and the suspense of when the hell he would do it that made him scary. He can't really do much but tease when he's stuck in a cage.

He *so* has a way to get free all planned out. After that I bet he won't hold back.

[> [> [> Re: -- Angela, 05:43:18 02/09/03 Sun

I think he was about two steps away from getting free with Conner and I guess I had a slightly different take than Luna on maybe not his scariness but his effectiveness. His "well, that was quick" reinforced that he achieved pretty much what he was looking for and with Cordy's taunt and the end... I also differed from some others in my take on Cordy in that scene. She didn't seem like Queen C at all to me but something new. I'm also liking the dichotomy of Angelus in the steel cage but free to pull the strings of the gang while Angel is imprisoned in the muo-ping and not safe in the safe. Very much looking forward to him getting free though!

[> [> [> [> The Evil in Angelus -- luna, 07:52:19 02/09/03 Sun

Well, what struck me in Buffy, esp. What's My Line (I think) was how he used the knowledge of her weakness and vulnerability to hurt her when he saw her for the first time--just knowing that she would be expecting tenderness and respect, he treated her the same way Parker did later, but the shift was so totally unexpected. Maybe that's why it had such an impact (on the viewers as well as Buffy).

I was expecting some of that from him this time--he did use some of it on Gunn, Fred, and Wes, but it didn't seem to have the same punch. Oh, well, probably just personal reaction.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: The Evil in Angelus -- Angela, 08:37:48 02/09/03 Sun

And equally as likely to be right as mine...maybe moreso, I tend to fall in the minority on first impressions! ;-)

[> [> [> [> [> Re: The Evil in Angelus -- Tess, 09:27:09 02/09/03 Sun

""he used the knowledge of her weakness and vulnerability to hurt her when he saw her for the first time--just knowing that she would be expecting tenderness and respect,""

That was an intense scene, but it only worked because Buffy didn't know he'd lost his soul. Even though Angelus tried to taunt Buffy some more at the mall, it didn't have the same impact because she knew he wasn't Angel. If Angelus had reared his evil head without the Fang Gang knowing he'd lost his soul, than their first interactions would have been just as traumatic.

Angelus had only two goals that I can see...build on the brewing trouble within the gang until it exploded and escape. His plan was to split the group apart which would increase his chance at escape. He saw Wes and Cordy as hot buttons that would splinter the group. Gunn and Conner were the hot heads that could be taunted or threatened into opening the cage. If he'd done a better job at stirring up the trouble than maybe Wes and Cordy wouldn't have been around to stop them from opening the cage.

Fab Four: Xander's mouth (spoiler to 7.12) -- Tchaikovsky, 06:22:31 02/08/03 Sat

I was thinking about Xander's heart status within the group again the other day, and his famous line of motivational speeches. They're used for a much more varied and wide-ranging selection of purposes than Buffy's militaristic speeches to the proto-Slayers this Season, going from saving an apocalypse to reassurance of inner strength.

It's interesting that (at least in my memory), Xander's most heartfelt understanding words are always given to females. I think it is almost possible to dismiss this due to the specifics of the situation, but perhaps not quite. Giles is always the mentor, and, at least for the first few seasons) has a very low regard for Xander, ('why would they make you see me?' in Becoming). Oz tends to be stoic enough to resist moments of crisis- and Xander is too busy being judgmental or jealous about Spike and Angel to offer them any serious words of comfort.

Xander is also a consequence of the original subversion of the show. Buffy is the strong female heroine, who is both physically strong and has emotional understanding. As the show develops, Willow's intellect and burgeoning self-confidence transform her into a powerful rich. Xander, the terminal demon-magnet, falls in love with the knowledgeable and savvy ex-vengeance demon. All three of these characters are portrayed as strong, but also often action-oriented. As a result of this, the space of emotional reasoning coupled with physical weakness, the traditionally feminine territory, is left to Xander.

The heart is not always a plus-point. He is impulsive, and often acts on personal grudges and black-and-white attitudes, (The Lie in 'Becoming', as raised in 'Selfless'). He sometimes sees ulterior motives when they are not there, (Spike in 'Forever', genuinely laying flowers for Joyce, someone who enjoyed his company). Most often, however, Xander's intolerances and misjudgments arise from misguided love. In 'Becoming', Xander wants Buffy to be happy, but wrongly believes he has the authority to decide how best that would happen. Similarly, in 'Forever', Xander does not want a fragile Buffy hurt, and genuinely but wrongly believes Spike to be angling only for Buffy's love. Recently, though, we have started to see the other side of the coin. In 'Him', Xander puts his pre-conceptions about Spike aside, and purely out of trust and respect for Buffy, lives with him, to the point where they work as a successful team in finding out about the jacket.

'Potential' has barely left anyone unmoved, and in six months time, or however long it is I must wait to see it, I'm sure I'll be crying once again, (it really doesn't take much- trust me). So for the sake of me having nothing to do and wanting to be uplifted, I thought I'd search for Xander's finest moments to other people. Of course, an episode like 'The Zeppo', which is about his own personal empowerment, has some excellent moments too. But here I'm trying to compare fruit with fruit, and so have these four contenders from Seasons 4-7:

Season Four- Buffy in 'The Freshmen

[All quotes courtesy of Psyche]:

It's just... it's this vampire. She took
me down, and I'm not sure how to
stop her.

Then where's the gang? Avengers
assemble, let's get it going.

I don't want to bug them... just starting
school, they don't need this...

Okay, Buff. What's the what here.

I don't know, I just... what if I can't cut it.

Can't cut what? Slaying?

Slaying... everything.

Buffy, this is all about fear. It's
understandable, but you can't let it
control you. Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to
anger... no wait... Fear leads to hate,
hate leads to the dark side... hold on...
Hate... no First you get the women,
then you get the money, then you
get... okay forget that.

Well, thanks for the dada-ist pep
talk. I feel much more abstract.

The point is, you're Buffy!

Yeah, sure, in high school I was Buffy...

And what, in college you're Betty

Yes, I'm Betty Louise Plotnik of
Blue Falls Missouri. Or I might
as well be.

Buffy, I've been through some fairly
dark times in my life. Faced some scary
things, among them the kitchen of the
fabulous "Ladies Night" club. Let me
tell you something. When it's dark and
I'm all alone, and I'm scared or
freaking out or whatever, I always
think, "What would Buffy do?"
You're my hero.

Buffy soaks this in, looks at him.

XANDER (cont'd)
Okay, sometimes when it's dark and
I'm alone I think, "What is Buffy

Can that be one of those things you
never ever tell me about?

It's a deal.

He stands, all momentum.

XANDER (cont'd)
Let's put this bitch in the ground,
what do you say?

I think I say thank you.

And nothing says "thank you" like
dollars in the waistband. Okay. What
do we do first?

Lets get something straight from the outset here. I love all four of these speeches. There is nothing more powerful than somebody speaking emotionally without any restraint of what it is appropriate to say or what is expected. Here Xander takes that step. He tells Buffy something which she has never, despite all her heroics, been told. From Xander, it is entirely true. Buffy and Xander have the eternal brother-sister relationship from early in Season Two. Sometimes Buffy is the big sister. Sometimes Xander is the big brother. Here, both are true. Xander is the one who allows Buffy to believe in herself again. I have been through the experience of starting University in the last two years, and it is deeply disconcerting. All the things you consider you know about yourself- and even all the things that you consider yourself good at, are called into question. Suddenly there's 20 better mathematicians and 4 more beautiful clarinetists and your housemate can do the crossword in half the time you can. The things that defined you as special are swept away. Except that, truthfully, they're not at all. There are few people who can claim to be the best in the world at something. For the rest of us, it's the combination of skills, talents and experiences that makes us special.

Here, Buffy is facing diffidence even from the people she thought she could always turn to- Joyce and Giles. The one thing that she IS best at, that defines her, appears to be ripped from her as she sees someone as feminine, as pretty and yet better at fighting. She is going through the classic experience of the beginning of University, and Sunday is just another part of that. The person who is slightly better at everything you can do. The impostor. Of course, part of the reason the impostor IS better than you is that she's the one with the self-confidence. You let her win because your sense of disorientation robs you of the self-assurance you had at home.

In this speech, Xander is genuinely emotionally honest. But he's also Xander. The long section where he is trying to work out just what leads to what is endearingly awkward. It's not a perfectly cadenced, wonderfully polished Winston Churchill speech, [there's no Henley for one thing]. But Xander's speech is spoken from such a deep and heartfelt place that it doesn't matter. Buffy is special- but here we are not seeing a superhero with a tiny problem. We're seeing a vulnerable young woman on the cusp of adulthood, beginning the journey, as Manwitch has contended, into the spiritual life. Xander's influence is so important and so great, that it may not be a stretch to say that the people leaving messages in their campus flats really could be Buffy without his influence.

Of course, as the show is All About Buffy, this is perhaps the Xander speech which feels most central and important to the Hero's journey, and thus the plot's development. But perhaps there are other contenders...

Season Five- Anya, 'Into the Woods'

Xander comes through the front door, already talking as he moves toward Anya - who stands, sleepy in her PJ's at the other end of the room. His manner is urgent and heartfelt-

I need to say something to you.
I should have said it a long time
ago. I mean, you may not even
know... I love you, Anya, more
every day. I love the way you see
things. I love the way you work a
cash register and how beautiful
you are - and how amazingly sweet
and crazy you can be at the same

He's at her side now, and she's crying joyful tears. He takes her face in his hands...

I can't imagine my days without
you - and I wouldn't want to.

...and kisses her deeply. It grows quickly passionate and loving.

This is perhaps the least immediately obvious of the four. Here the situation is somewhat different to the other three. Xander's speech here is something that is actually more of a reaction to a plot twist than a catalyst for a later one. Xander has seen how Buffy's mistake in not making things between herself and Riley clearer earlier has slowly torn the relationship apart. It is worth remembering that Xander is told by Riley as early as 'The Replacement', that '[Buffy] doesn't love me'. Whether he truly believes this is true of Buffy, or whether he sees it as symptomatic of the lack of understanding between the two of them is moot, but certainly he has seen the relationship decay slowly, insidiously and almost imperceptibly. He is deeply worried that the same thing could happen with him and Anya.

Unlike the other three speeches- this is a romantic one. It's about what Anya and Xander have together as a couple. But it stays as fundamentally on the same line as the rest of Xander's words in that he is talking about the other person's qualities. It's Anya who is amazingly sweet, and who has transformed his life. This is also a transformative moment for the audience, (if I can be that pompously general). Up until now, Xander and Anya's relationship has been a funny one, and one seemingly based on sex and little else. The relationship is ever developing, but it's here that we really see Xander realizing what he has in his relationship. It makes the proposal in 'The Gift', and the superlative song 'I'll Never Tell', (my favorite of 'Once More, With Feeling') a believable organic growth.

Here, Anya is made comfortable and able to value herself, just as Buffy is in 'The Freshman'. It's less important to the series as a whole- Xander and Anya's happiness plays in parallel to the main story- of Buffy losing Riley. For this reason, from the series' point of view, I like a little less. If this series was All About Xander, however, and this scene was the climax of the episode, rather than the counterpoint, the story might be different.

Season Six- Willow 'Grave'

XANDER, on the ground, stirs, holding his chest, as he's no-doubt cracked a couple of ribs.
But he rises, breaking the connection between Willow and the effigy once again.
You can't stop this.
Yeah, I get that. It's just - where
else am I going to go? You've been
my best friend my whole life. World
gonna end - where else would I want
to be?
Is this the master plan? You're
going to stop me by telling me you
love me?
Well, I was going to walk you off a
cliff and hand you an anvil, but it
seemed kinda cartoony.
Still making jokes.
I'm not joking. I know you're in
pain. I can't imagine the pain
you're in. I know you're about to do
something apocalyptically evil and
stupid and hey, still want to hang.
You're Willow.
Don't call me th-
First day of kindergarten you cried
'cause you broke the yellow crayon
and you were too afraid to tell
anyone. You've come pretty far,
ending the world, not a terrific
notion but the thing is, yeah. I
love you. I loved crayon-breaky
Willow and I love scary veiny Willow.
So if I'm going out, it's here. You
wanna kill the world you start with
me. I've earned that.
You think I won't?
It doesn't matter. I'll still love
This makes Willow furious.
Shut up.
WILLOW makes a slashing motion in the air.
XANDER stops as THREE LARGE CUTS open on his face, as if he scratched them there. He winces, touches the blood on his face and looks at it. Then, at her.
I love you.
She slashes at him again.
XANDER's shirt tears at the shoulder as larger, deeper wounds appear. He almost doubles over from the pain. But, again, he looks at her.
XANDER (cont'd)
I love--
She BLASTS him with a bolt of ENERGY, knocking him down. She looks at him, her face etched with sorrow.
ON XANDER, as he picks himself up. He catches his breath, stares up at her again. Then begins to stagger toward her.
XANDER (cont'd)
(through the pain)
I... love you.
Shut up.
She BLASTS him again. He GRUNTS at the impact, but this time, he doesn't go down. As if her assault has lost some of its strength.
I love you, Willow.
(tears starting to flow)
She sends another BLAST, but he barely registers it when it hits him. He keeps coming.
I love you.
He reaches her and she starts to hit him, with her fists, shaking her head. He withstands her blows, but on his injured body, they do inflict pain.
Willow falls to her knees, sobbing. Her hands over her eyes, her black hair suddenly MORPHS back to its normal red. Xander gently puts a hand on her shoulder.
XANDER (cont'd)
I love you.
ON THE EFFIGY - AS THE GLOW burns out, a flame extinguished.

This is the most obviously brave of the four speeches. As in 'The Zeppo', Xander puts his life on the line to save the world, and, for him just as importantly, to save Willow, the best friend he has ever had. It means more to Xander here than the pain. It doesn't really matter whether he is someone who understands Willow's journey. Whether he can ever comprehend just how she's gone from being the shy girl who is deeply scared of the consequences of her actions to the assertive anarchist who is being apocalyptically evil. It is a neat irony, (and just how many of these do ME cram into each episode? I never stop noticing them), that Willow wants to end the pretext of the pain and suffering of people. Xander saves Willow and the world by showing that the one thing more powerful than pain and suffering is love. Willow tries to show Xander just why the world should not be saved. The pain she inflicts is her analogue to the struggle and suffering that billions of people go through, like Buffy heard in 'Earshot'. But Xander knows why they do. 'Grave' echoes 'The Gift', but in a much more positive way. The hardest thing in this world is to live in it, and all the major characters are able to, thanks to the events of the episode, and with renewed wonder and fear.

The speech itself is once again a speech that is not clever or polished or full of elegant language. It has the Xander quip in dire circumstances of the cartoon anvil. But it has possibly the most powerful thing anybody can be told repeated seven times. As Ian McEwan stated in the aftermath of 11th September, it is a phrase 'that no amount of bad art or bad literature can ever quite cheapen'. Because it's about valuing someone else, and in doing so, valuing life as a precious and beautiful thing. It's about the idea that congress contains shards of beauty which make live worth living through the pain. Ultimately, Willow represents an attempt to become powerful and happy through violence and confrontation. Xander represents an attempt to feel powerful and happy through diplomacy and interaction. Xander's victory is a victory for life, and for love. And his victory, in this case, saves the world. This undoubtedly makes it more important on a surface level than any of the other words he ever utters. But once again, this particular speech is only part of the jigsaw, with Dawn simultaneously re-initiating Buffy's desire to enjoy life. I cried at this one as I usually do at these things, but I think I personally still prefer 'The Freshman'. Which leaves us with...

Season Seven- Dawn 'Potential'

Dawn watches them go, then crosses to the table. Opening a book, she realizes Xander is standing behind her. Turns.
What's up?
Ah, I was just thinking about the
girls. That's a harsh gig, being a
Potential. Just picked out of a
crowd, danger and destiny plus if you
act now, death.
They can handle it.
Well, they're special. No doubt.
And the amazing thing is, not one of
them will ever know. Not even Buffy.
Know what?
How much harder it is for the rest of
She feels it, but she's still brave-face gal...
DAWN No way, they've got the --
Seven years, Dawn. Working with the
Slayer, watching my friends become
more and more powerful... a witch, a
demon, hell, I could fit Oz in my
shaving kit but come the full moon he
had wolfy mojo not to be messed with.
Powerful, all of them. And I'm the
guy fixing the windows.
He stands, looking at the windows as he says it.
You had that sexy army training for
a little while, and, and the windows
really do need --
(not turning around)
I saw what you did last night.
She's busted.
I guess I sorta lost my head when I
thought I was a Slayer.
He turns to her again.
Thought you were all special. Miss
Sunnydale, 2003. And the minute you
found out you weren't, you handed the
crown over to Amanda without a
moment's pause. You gave her your
Power wasn't mine.
They'll never know how tough it is,
Dawnie. To be the one who isn't
chosen; to live so near the spotlight
and never step in it. But I know.
I see more than anybody realizes,
'cause nobody's watching me. I saw
you last night, I see you working
here today... You're not special.
You're extraordinary.
She's shyly welling up. He goes to her and kisses her on the forehead, heads out toward the front. She stops him.
Maybe that's your power.
Seeing. Knowing.
Maybe it is.
(quietly jesting)
Maybe I should get a cape.
Cape is good.
Their smiles are as sad as they are strong. He exits, leaving Dawn to think a moment, then to start her work again.

I don't want to write too much about this, because, hey, I haven't even seen it yet. But it tears me up just reading it, I'm afraid to say. So beautiful, and such a wonderful counterpoint to the 'Grave' speech above. In 'Grave', Xander and Dawn are in parallel. Xander saves Willow from herself, in allowing her to see the transformative power of love. Dawn saves Buffy from a season-long diffidence, by allowing her to see hope, growth and beauty. This is not to be seen as a co-incidence, as here they are paralleled again. In 'Grave', Dawn and Xander are the ordinary people who save. In 'Potential', they are ordinary people being largely ignored. But Xander knows how important he is, and how important Dawn is. Xander IS extraordinary. He saved a messianic figure from death, and thus the world from The Master in 'Prophecy Girl'. He saved the school from destruction in 'The Zeppo', and was happy for it to take backseat to the melodrama of another apocalypse for Buffy. And in the same way, Dawn IS extraordinary. She saves Buffy from merely 'going through the motions' several times, from her suicidal tendencies in 'Bargaining' right through to 'Grave'. And in 'Potential', she is able to do what many of this and last century's world leaders have found it impossible to do- relinquish power when they realize the true power is somewhere else. And to continue making a difference without needing to take credit.

Here, Xander's speech is probably the most obviously written of the four. The 'You're not special- you're extraordinary' line is a wonderful piece of prose. But it is once again the sentiment which holds the real power. And for me, because Xander understands viscerally Dawn's situation, and just exactly how she is feeling, it may well topple 'The Freshman' as my personal favorite. I'll just have to wait and see.
Well, that's certainly uplifted me considerably. Just reading the lines is enough. I'd be interested to here other people's favorites.

[> Re: Fab Four: Xander's mouth (spoiler to 7.12) -- Dead Soul, 07:17:07 02/08/03 Sat

Just giving a shout-out for my favorite line in the entire series (to date):

Well, thanks for the dada-ist pep
talk. I feel much more abstract.

And, interestingly, at least one of the lines in the quotes of The Freshman speech you got from Psyche was changed in the final product. On the show as aired, Buffy said she was Betty Louise Plotnik from East Cupcake, Illinois, not Blue Falls, Missouri.

Although both Illinois and Missouri border on Iowa - birthplace of Agent Riley Finn, whom she's just met.

Nothing deep - just stuff I noticed. Thoroughly enjoyed the post.

Dead (and having good reason to know The Freshman particularly well) Soul

[> Great post! Another script discrepancy. -- tomfool, 08:30:42 02/08/03 Sat

I also loved each of Xander's deep soul pep talks. Thanks for stringing them together and making the connection.

Echoing Dead Soul, having recently seen Into the Woods (the last Btvs I had never seen - yea for completism), something seemed off with that speech as presented from Psyche's transcript. Having conveniently downloaded the ep, I checked and it's completely different. Here's the way it played on screen:

"I've got to tell you something, because I don't think I've made it clear.
I'm in love with you. Powerfully, painfully in love.
The things you do, the way you think, the way you move.
I get excited every time I'm about to see you.
You make me feel like I've never felt before in my life. Like a man.
I just thought you might want to know."

As the writers have copped to so many times, lots of the best lines in any given episode are Joss edits to their scripts. The economy and density of the revised phrasing seems like Joss to me. I think it's more powerful in it's simplicity.

Doesn't change anything you said, just interesting. Great post!

[> [> Yes, I prefer this -- Tchaikovsky, 08:45:40 02/08/03 Sat


Somebody, (possibly HonorH?) noted that in 'Passion', the difference between the shooting script and the actual episode is massive, particularly in the Angelus dialogue section. They postulated that Joss had gone over Ty King's original script and replaced trite cliched sentiments with powerful metaphors. The comparison was telling. Here, similarly, the lines towards the end are much more economical and heart-rending. Another triumph for Joss the script doctor.


[> Re: Fab Four: Xander's mouth (spoiler to 7.12) -- manwitch, 13:42:32 02/08/03 Sat

I love the four moments you've chosen. My favorite is probably the Dawnie one because of poor li'l Dawnie's reaction, and everything she's been through. Then probably the Anya one, again because of her response to it. Then The Freshman. Then a whole lot of others. Then the one with Willow.

I would add a couple of runner's up.

I always liked Xander's little speech to Angel in Prophecy Girl. "At the end of the day, I think you've a vampire. But Buffy's got this big yen for you. She thinks you're a real person. And right now, I need you to prove her right."

Its quick compared to the others, and more confrontational, delivered to a male, but the sentiment of love in it, the "I love Buffy so much that I really need to be wrong about you right now," I always found very powerful. He's saying, I need for her to have been right in rejecting me. That's a pretty mature sense of love for that young guy.

I would also add his "I love you," to Willow in Becoming, which I think of as the alignment of the heart with the spirit, and has the effect of awakening Buffy's spirit. Prior to that moment Xander has been fixated on Buffyesque women who lack spiritual commitment (Inca Chick and Cordelia), and Willow, Buffy's spirit, is sick over it. But when the heart is realigned with the spiritual commitment, Buffy's spirit awakens and her virtuous intent (Angel's soul) is restored.

As to the speeches you mentioned, I will also add to the Xander as Heart function. Xander's speech so prominently in Freshman, coupled with his suggestion of the spell in Primeval combine to reinforce for me that this season (four) is the level of the Heart chakra. The power of her heart is being unlocked and is energizing her in Season Four.

The speech to Willow in Grave is again indicative of chakra 6. Willow as Buffy's spirit sees only loss and pain in the world and rejects it. Xander, Buffy's Heart, shows Willow, Buffy's spirit, the all-encompassing all-forgiving divine love that pervades every miserable and painful corner of the world, and allows her to see the spiritual heights of exactly that loss and pain.

The speech to Dawn is interesting for a couple of reasons, related to chakra 7. That the power was not Dawn's, suggests the idea of a power beyond our temporary physical appearance, a power of which we are merely reflections, manifestations, or custodians. The real power, like the rapture of chakra 7, is undifferentiated. Also, Dawn's suggestion of Xander's power, that he sees, he knows, suggests to me that we must see and know with our Heart, not with our eyes, not with our minds. Kinda like the Little Prince. Or at least The Box song: One sees well only with the heart, for what truly matters is invisible to the naked eye.

In each case, Xander isn't just being heartlike, he is being used to tell us something about Buffy. Buffy must open her heart in Season Four, Buffy's spirit must recognize the divinity in this boundless love of the heart in Season 6, and in Season 7, Buffy must see and know with her Heart. However that will play out.

[> [> Restrictions and recalibrations -- Tchaikovsky, 05:34:45 02/10/03 Mon

Yes, I agree with most of this. The moments you add, while full of Xander's characteristic trust based on emotions, don't quite fit together in the same way as the original four for me. While his line to Angel shows, as you say, an impressive maturity, (and is actually a surprisingly complex emotional motivation for the first season of an American network show- go Joss), it must be noted that Xander's affection for the recipient of his speech is not the object of his affection. In essence, Xander does not love Angel in the same way he loves Buffy, Willow and Dawn, or again Anya, and arguably doesn't even trust him. The speech shows an overwhelming outpouring of generosity and maturity by proxy. Xander, having reacted with a sense of despair to Buffy's initial rejection of him as date material, quickly decides that his friendship and nascent hero-worship of Buffy is still more important than his actual opinions. This is pretty selfless. Notably, when the crisis is averted, it is made clear that Xander is still pretty distrustful of Angel in early Season Two, (even if it starts to give way to jealousy before the twist of 'Innocence'.) Here his love is to a person not in the scene, which in some ways makes it more powerful, but also excluded it from my list.

I tend to see Xander's speech to Willow in 'Becoming' as primarily being about Xander himself. Xander's speech to Willow recognizes their really deep bond, but it's interesting to consider whether Xander considered it to be romantic or not. I tend to imagine that this is Xander realizing just what he has often taken for granted in Willow, and all the things that she stands for in his life- camaraderie, solidarity as outsiders, simple friendship. As the speech goes on, one almost wonders whether Xander is trying to renegotiate his conception of his relationship with Willow from friendship to something else, (I deliberately avoid the cliche, 'something more' which I think is deeply misguided). When Willow wakes up, imagining the words to be spoken by Oz, Xander seems to be confused only for a split second. Do the words 'I love you' mean to Xander what they mean to him by the apocalypse of 'Grave', or is he at this point to callow to be able to use that phrase to express philos rather than eros. Joss leaves it ambiguous. I for one see this as a moment when Xander is considering his own perceptions rather than trying to alter someone else's by being truthful and loving.

So that's why I left those two out in linking together. But I love those moments too.

I was trying to search for your chakra posts in the archives, because I wanted to argue that Xander enables Buffy's step on the spiritual journey each Season. I couldn't find it for some reason, (general stupidity most probably) so am doing this off the top of my head, and have probably misunderstood or forgotten at least some of the seasons.

-Season One. It's about Buffy's rejection of the life without rights and without responsibilities- her childhood. In 'Prophecy Girl', she takes up the role of Slayer, and embraces her destiny. However, she never would have been able to leave her childhood Season One ways behind had Xander not brought her back to life at the end of the season. In doing this, Xander both allows Buffy to continue her spiritual journey, and allows the programme itself to thoroughly reject the idea of fate, thus allowing the spiritual journey to become an organic one, not just one rooted in unbreakable prophecies.

Season Two- without Xander's big lie in 'Becoming Part Two', (not telling Buffy about Willow's spell), Buffy, ironically would not have allowed the prioritizing of the spiritual life and transformation to supercede sexual and erotic desire. In killing Angel, she shows that her task to save the world, and thus change herself, transcends simple desires of the body. However, had Xander never deceived Buffy, the necessary choice may never have prevented itself.

Season Three- Buffy rejects the allegory of the Mayor as herself- the figure with power but without the ability to reject personal power, and use it for spiritual communal needs. Xander helps do this. In saving the school from destruction by a bomb in 'The Zeppo', he allows Buffy to thwart another apocalypse. But more importantly, Xander commits his actions without a word about how important they are, without trying to claim any of the success to bask in for himself. His empowerment, (as summed up by his assured smile to Cordelia at the end of the show), shows how he has learnt the lesson that Buffy shortly will, to commit acts of altruism on the road to spiritual enlightenment. Xander's redemptive growth both prefigures and allows for Buffy's similar one.

Season Four- Well, it's 'The Freshman' speech, as I mentioned briefly above. Buffy starts to understand her need to expand into embracing the spiritual life that college, (at some deep and unobvious level), represents. But she may never have even attempted to do that if not for the 'dadaist pep-talk'.

Season Five- the Season of matyrdom. Struggling here.

Season Six- Buffy needs to reintegrate into the world. Her realization that the world is beautiful, and that Dawn represents the youth, the perfection and the growth that is all that is good in the world, is necessarily directly after Xander saves the world from destruction by Willow. In order to save Willow, Xander shows her how much love transcends pain. Buffy realizes this as a result.

In each Season, Xander is a key to Buffy's spiritual journey. He is a tool to the main steps. It is he who is Buffy's heart, the person who keeps her in touch with love, and allows her to grow through his actions, be they impulsive, emotional or correct.

Sorry for almost certainly misconstruing your original post, and twisting it to my own evil desires.


[> [> [> Hmmm. (Spoilers to Selfless) -- Sophist, 20:41:06 02/10/03 Mon

I agree with you about S1. I think you're right about S4 in a very general sense -- without Xander's speech, Buffy might have quit right then and there. I don't see any more proximate causation, though. Same with S3.

I'm having a real problem with your claims about S2 and S6. In S2, you say "without Xander's big lie in 'Becoming Part Two', (not telling Buffy about Willow's spell), Buffy, ironically would not have allowed the prioritizing of the spiritual life and transformation to supercede sexual and erotic desire." But Buffy did give priority to her transformation. That was the tragic irony. Xander didn't believe it, but Buffy was ready to kill Angelus. She proved that a fortiori by sending Angel himself to Hell. Xander's lie was, after all, irrelevant except for the emotional damage to Buffy that she never disclosed until Selfless.

For S6 you say that "In order to save Willow, Xander shows her how much love transcends pain. Buffy realizes this as a result." But Buffy realizes this before she has any idea what Xander did or that he did anything at all. Buffy's reached her understanding without Xander.

[> [> [> [> Well, let me expand slightly -- Tchaikovsky, 03:24:49 02/11/03 Tue


Not quite with you here. I do not deny that Buffy was ready to kill Angelus. My point is that she may not have had to kill any kind of Angel if Xander had not lied. Imagine this slightly changed scene: [courtesy Psyche for the real bits]


Calvary's here. Cavalry's a
frightened guy with a rock,
but it's here.

He shows her his lame rock. She gives him a stake.

This is better.

He loses the rock.

You're not here to fight. You get
Giles out of there and run like Hell,
understood? I can't protect you.
I'm gonna be too busy killing.

That may not be the best idea.

Buffy unwraps the sword for herself, dropping the blanket.

That's a new look for you.

It's a present for Angel. This ends it,
Xander. I'm ready.

Xander looks down, trying to decide what to do.

Willow. . . she said to tell you. . .

Tell me what?

He waits, decides.

She's gonna try to do the spell to get Angel's soul back again. Figures she was close last time before... well, y'know, Kendra. Me, I'm still for the whole Bruce Lee approach, but... Buffy, I've seen how much Angel means to you. When Willow was just lying there I was thinking, what if the surgeons told me they were turning off the machine. If there was any chance- I'd say no. Angel may be all Keyser Soze but we can bring him back.

BUFFY (unsure)

So what do I do?


Try to distract Angel. If you can stop him from opening the portal, Willow may have time to finish her spell.


Sure. And Xander? Thanks.

A classic Buffy-Xander beat.


No problem. Let's charge.

They head off towards the mansion.

Now note that Angel does not pull the sword from Acathla until AFTER Buffy has arrived. If Buffy had managed to stop this action from happening, the portal would never have been open. Then, at the appropriate point in the swordfight, Angel would have returned, Buffy would have known what had happened, and no sacrifice would have been necessary. The horrible tragedy of Buffy's choice would not have happened, but conversely, she would not have been made to choose in a tangible way. The idea that she would have killed Angelus is not enough. Actions speak louder than words.

As for Season Six: I realize that Buffy is not aware of Xander's gift to her at this point. But the same could be said of 'The Zeppo', where he decides to let his heroics by. It is not important, (to me at least), that Buffy knows Xander has helped her on her journey. Just that he has done so.


[> [> [> [> [> Well, but... -- Sophist, 08:54:01 02/11/03 Tue

No matter whether Xander told the truth or a lie in Becoming 2, Buffy had every incentive to stop Angelus from pulling out the sword. She was unable to do that. Once he pulled out the sword, Xander's lie no longer "enabled" her to do anything -- she had no choice either way.

As for S6, the problem I'm having is how Xander "helped" Buffy on her "journey" if she didn't know what he did. I understand that stopping Willow was an essential precondition; otherwise, Buffy would have been dead before she could come to any realization. But you don't seem to mean that narrow sense (though maybe you do, since that's all I see in S4 or S3). Do you mean any more than this?

If you are limiting yourself to the lesser meaning, the same contribution has been made many times by others as well: Willow in WotW, Riley in Doomed, Faith in Choices are just some of the examples.

[> [> [> [> [> [> I suppose so... -- Tchaikovsky, 10:42:40 02/11/03 Tue

I was just thinking that in the initial confrontation, (starting with Buffy's 'Hello Lover'), she only seems to have one ambition in mind- that being to fight and kill Angelus. If instead of that, she had somehow tried to distract him for a moment, then the whole fight scene might never have happened, and those extra few minutes might have given Willow enough time to complete the spell. Xander's revelation might have affected Buffy's strategy. I suppose, for the sake of my argument, it's enough to show that it could have affected her strategy.

However, I admit that the Season Six thing is somewhat tenuous. I would like to have a proper crack at a more comprehensive essay on Xander as aid if I could get my hands on manwitch's initial chakra post and a couple of free hours.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Buffy and Acathla -- Valheru, 13:01:14 02/11/03 Tue

For the longest time, I believed the same as you. By lying to Buffy, Xander took any question of not killing Angelus out of the equation. I think that Buffy went to the mansion with the determination to kill, and then Xander shows up. Xander has a critical choice:

1) Tell Buffy that Willow is retrying the re-souling spell.
2) Or Not

XanderChoice #1 would have then presented Buffy with her own choices to make:

1a) Try to distract Angelus from awakening Acathla long enough for Willow's spell to work
1b) Kill Angelus anyway

XanderChoice #2, the one he chose, denied Buffy of any choice (well, she could still chose not to kill Angelus, but as that would result in End-of-the-world, it's a one-sided choice).

But now, over time, I've come to lean more toward Sophist's side. Why? Because Xander's choice doesn't involve Acathla, who is the real threat of the episode. Buffy's goal in "Becoming," no matter what she decides about Angelus, is to stop Acathla from speaking. As soon as she gets to the mansion and sees Acathla still dormant, all her attentions should be focused on keeping Angelus away from Acathla. Killing Angelus is not the priority.

Instead, Acathla appears to be a side-note to Buffy's goal. Upon Buffy's entrance, Spike grabs the crowbar and wails on Angelus. At this time, Buffy should take advantage of Spike's help to either chain Angelus up, take him away from Acathla, take Acathla away from Angelus, or simply destroy Acathla's statue (if possible). What does Buffy do? She instead spends this time taking out the lesser vamps, as though they were more important than the threat of world-ending, or as if she were clearing the arena for her showdown with Angelus. Then, when Dru attacks Spike, Buffy should rush to prevent Angelus from rising and grabbing the sword. Instead, she keeps her focus on the lesser vamps.

IMO, Xander's lie only affected his relationship with Buffy, not the events of "Becoming." Buffy's goal should have been to save the world from Acathla, not finish off Angelus. Willow's spell wouldn't have saved the world (Angelus was going to pull the sword from Acathla before Willow even began the spell). The only thing Willow's spell would have done was deal with the Angelus situation, something that should have been Buffy's secondary goal, not primary.

Would telling Buffy the truth have led to preventing Acathla's waking and saving Angel? Yeah, probably. But had Buffy done what she was supposed to do, keeping Angelus away from Acathla, then Willow's spell would have restored Angel's soul and saved the world; it wouldn't have mattered what Xander said. It was Buffy's own choices that decided the outcome, not Xander's.

[> More Xander quotes -- Valheru, 15:30:38 02/08/03 Sat

Absolutely wonderful post, Tchai.

The "What would Buffy do?" speech is one of my all-time favorites; makes me cry every time. And I think, once you see "Potential," the full impact of the "extraordinary" speech will make it so much more powerful (Michelle Trachtenberg's reaction is one of her best acting performances on the series).

If I were to rank those four, it'd be 1) "The Freshman," 2) "Potential," 3) "Grave," and 4) "Into the Woods." The "yellow crayon" speech didn't grab me as much as it has other people (though I still thought it was great); I think, on an intellectual level, knowing the characters' backgrounds and emotional states, it is pitch-perfect, but it didn't instill as much as an emotional response with me as many of the other great BtVS speeches. As for Xander's declaration of love in "Into the Woods," my problem with it is three-fold: 1) I've only seen "ItW" once, a long time ago (it's the only ep I don't have recorded), so my memory of it on-screen is foggy. 2) It's a short speech, doesn't have the Xanderisms that his other speeches have, and doesn't have the one-line quotability of the usual BtVS speeches. 3) The declaration was as much a surprise to me as it was to Anya, since not even the audience knew Xander was that deeply in love with her, so it comes off as more of a blurt than a speech. Don't get me wrong, I love the speech, but not as much as some of his others.

Season 5- Buffy, "Into the Woods"

Speaking of "ItW," it's the speech Xander gave to Buffy that sticks in my mind. Again, I haven't seen the episode in years, but it's that speech in particular that makes me ravenous to see it again (anyone have any idea why FX keeps skipping over it?). Here it is, quoted courtesy of Psyche:

Buffy stands there staring down the alley. Someone comes up behind her.

XANDER: So, how'd that work out for ya?

Buffy turns to see Xander emerging from the shadows.

XANDER: Make you feel better?
BUFFY: What are you doing here?
XANDER: I thought you might need to talk. Then I saw the skirmish happen. I was gonna lend a hand, but I noticed you grew a few extra ones.
BUFFY: (angrily) Go home, Xander.

She turns and starts to stride away.

XANDER: Buffy.

BUFFY: (turns back) I'm serious!
XANDER: So am I. Something's up. You're acting like a crazy person.

Buffy turns and begins walking away again. Xander follows.

Buffy pushes aside a large metal door and enters a random building. Xander enters after her.

Cut to interior of another warehouse. Boxes and metal cans are stacked neatly on metal shelving. Buffy walks over to a set of shelves backed by a metal grating and leans her face against it. Xander walks in behind her.

XANDER: Take this, for instance. You don't wanna deal, so you hide? It's not very slayer-like.
BUFFY: Just leave me alone, Xander. You have no idea what's going on.
XANDER: No? Good, so you and Riley *aren't* imploding? (Buffy turns to face him in surprise) It doesn't take a genius. What I can't figure out is how you never saw it coming.
BUFFY: What? Who told you?
XANDER: Nobody told me anything, Buffy. It was right in front of my Xander face. The guy would do anything for you.
BUFFY: The guy got himself bit by a vampire! (Xander is surprised) He lied to me. He ran around behind my back and almost got himself killed! And now he tells me that he's leaving with some covert military operation at midnight unless *I* convince him not to. Now tell me that you understand. Because I sure as hell don't.
XANDER: You gonna let him go?
BUFFY: (sighs) It's not my decision to make.
XANDER: Of course it is.
BUFFY: Well, it's not fair.
XANDER: Who cares if it's fair? In about twenty minutes, Riley's gonna disappear, maybe forever, unless you do something to stop him.
BUFFY: What am I supposed to do? Beg him to stay?
XANDER: (in disbelief) Why wouldn't you? To keep Riley here-
BUFFY: I don't even know who he is any more. I mean, I thought he was ... dependable.
XANDER: Dependable? What is he, State Farm?
BUFFY: You know what I mean.
XANDER: Yeah. I think you mean convenient. I think you took it for granted that he was gonna show up when you wanted him to, and take off when you didn't.
BUFFY: Look who's talking. Look who has Anya following him around like a lovesick puppy.
XANDER: Oh boy, is this *not* about me.
BUFFY: Is she more than a convenience? 'Cause that would kinda be a surprise.
XANDER: (angrily) If you don't wanna hear what I have to say, I'll shut up right now.
BUFFY: Good, 'cause I don't.

She starts to walk off. Xander intercepts her.

XANDER: I lied. See, what I think, you got burned with Angel, then Riley shows up.
BUFFY: I know the story, Xander.
XANDER: But you miss the point. You shut down, Buffy. And you've been treating Riley like the rebound guy. When he's the one that comes along once in a lifetime. (Buffy looks dismayed) He's never held back with you. He's risked everything. And you're about to let him fly because you don't like ultimatums?

Buffy's eyes begin to water as Xander's words finally get through.

XANDER: If he's not the guy, if what he needs from you just isn't there, (shakes head) let him go. Break his heart, and make it a clean break. But if you really think you can love this guy ... I'm talking scary, messy, no-emotions-barred need ... if you're ready for that ... then think about what you're about to lose.

Buffy looks up at him, then looks around anxiously. There are tears in her eyes.
BUFFY: Xander...

The words are powerful. In many ways, this is Xander's most difficult speech, because he knows he must be firm with Buffy to get her to understand, while at the same time be gentle enough to keep her from breaking completely. On the surface, it seems similar to his speech to Willow in "Grave"--the firm-yet-tender approach, the breaking-through-the-emotional-barriers goal. However, with Willow, Xander's role was that of last-ditch-effort-to-save-the-world; if he fails to get through to her, she, he, and the world are toast, so he can afford to be ruthless if need be. In "ItW," Xander's just a guy trying to help a friend. Buffy and Riley's relationship isn't any of his business, but he intervenes anyway. If he goes too far, there's a chance he might push her away from him forever, and if he doesn't go far enough, he might feel a personal regret. It's a really, really delicate situation, yet Xander delivers spectacularly.

The delicacy with which Xander handles it shows remarkable personal growth. In the past, we have seen him be almost too blunt and harsh. His personal feelings for Buffy cloud his judgment of Owen and Angel, causing him to overreact with hatred at the expense of Buffy's own feelings. This leads to his worst moment, in "Becoming," when he betrays everyone with the "kick his ass" line, simply because he allowed himself to believe his opinion was fact, that only he knew best for Buffy. Xander also over-emotionalizes his actions toward Cordy in "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" and post-"Lover's Walk," toward Buffy in "When She Was Bad," and toward himself in "The Zeppo." Unsurprising for a teenager, Xander often responds only to his own feelings and unknowingly steamrolls over other's; he doesn't always think before he acts, which sometimes leads to pain in others. Ironically enough, the best early example of Xander thinking of others before himself is in "BB&B," an episode which begins with him doing obviously the opposite. "Into the Woods," however, is the first indication we have that Xander is indeed growing up into thoughtfully caring person.

"Into the Woods," paradoxically, also signals a step backwards in Xander's personality, though not necessarily in a bad way. It showed us that Xander could still stand up, not only for himself but for what he believes in. The strength Xander showed in his convictions in S1 and S2 disappeared in S3 after "Lover's Walk." He began to spiral into self-doubt because of what he did to Cordelia, to the point where Jack O'Toole, a guy Xander wouldn't have flinched (as much) against in S2, became a terrifying threat. After all, Xander stood up to Angelus. "The Zeppo" wasn't an episode in which Xander discovered self-confidence, but rather re-discovered, and contrary to surface appearances, it wasn't the same confidence he had before. What Xander really got out of "The Zeppo" was self-appreciation.

In S2 and early-S3, Xander was an angry, hormonal, bull-headed individual. He threatened Buffy in "When She Was Bad," he nearly came to blows with her in "Becoming" and "Revelations," he nearly came to blows with Giles in "Becoming." He was weak, but not incompetent, in battle. And he was strong-willed enough to be both incredibly brave (the aforementioned Angelus stare-down in "Killed by Death") and incredibly stupid (the also-aforementioned lie to Buffy in "Becoming"). But because of a number of factors (Cordy, the no-need-for-false-faces influence of the Scoobies, and the calming presence of Oz), Xander cooled down by the middle of Season 3. His break-up with Cordelia, unfortunately, cooled him down too much, so by the time we get to "The Zeppo," he's a mess of confusion. After the colonical experiences of "The Zeppo," Xander was a changed man, one who was much less bitter but much less decisive.

"Into the Woods," while on the one hand showing us a more subdued, introspective Xander, also showed us a more intense, sure-headed Xander. He had learned how to balance his emotions, how to know opinion from fact, and how to stay true to himself, all while trying to help Buffy and Riley.

[> [> Xander's speech to Buffy in ItW -- Sophist, 11:31:31 02/09/03 Sun

I've always viewed this speech as similar in context and effect to Willow's participation in Anya's spell in Doppelgangerland. I think that in both cases, Willow and Xander acted without adequate information, were naive, and their behavior caused very unfortunate consequences. Since there is a Willow thread below, I'll limit my comments here to Xander.

The biggest problem I had with Xander in ItW is that there was so much he didn't know. He didn't know that Riley had slept with Faith in WAY. He didn't know about the vamp trulls. He didn't know about Riley's ultimatum to Buffy earlier in ItW. He didn't know that Buffy told Riley the full Angel story. Because he lacked this critical information, he had no business judging Buffy's behavior towards Riley or her feelings about him.

The second problem I had -- and others may not have -- arises from my view of Riley. Xander thought Riley was "the one" for Buffy. I have no doubt that Xander sincerely thought so; he tended to see Riley as a better version of himself. Since he's always thought of Buffy romantically, he probably thought that Buffy would love him if he were just better, if he were just Riley.

JMHO, but Riley was not "the one" for Buffy. In fact, I never saw him as even as good as Xander. Xander has done much greater things than Riley ever did (PG). He never had the morally ambiguous taint of The Initiative. He never let his feelings for Buffy get in the way as much as Riley did (except where Angel and Spike are concerned, but there are other factors there as well). Most important of all, Xander is capable of inspiring Buffy, as he did in The Freshman. I just can't see Riley in that role -- when they tried it in AYW it was a flat-out disaster, laughable or obnoxious rather than touching and inspiring.

Because of these flaws, Xander's speech in ItW had the effect of adding to Buffy's lack of self-confidence with respect to her romantic relationships. Buffy has always relied on her friends to tell her hard truths. She trusted Xander and took his word for it that Riley's departure was her own fault. It wasn't, it was Riley's fault all the way. By intervening when he shouldn't have, Xander made things worse.

[> [> [> Re: Xander's speech to Buffy in ItW -- Valheru, 12:08:06 02/09/03 Sun

I think you're right on all counts, but you're missing the point. Xander obviously didn't have all the information (he was taken aback when Buffy explained the rough outline to him). Then again, Xander had one piece of information that Buffy didn't know. From "The Replacement":

RILEY: (grinning) Hey, I'm well aware of how lucky I am. Like, lottery lucky. Buffy's like nobody else in the world. When I'm with her it's like ... it's like I'm split in two. Half of me is just ... on fire, going crazy if I'm not touching her. The other half ... is so still and peaceful ... just perfectly content. Just knows: this is the one. (Smiles a little, continues packing for a moment, then looks up at Xander again.) But she doesn't love me.

Xander sees, by the time of "ItW," that Buffy and Riley are imploding. He knows they aren't communicating well, if at all. In the back of his mind, he thinks back to Riley's confession--Riley is deeply in love with her, but he doesn't see the same love in return.

Now, does Xander believe Riley? Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn't matter. All that really matters is that Riley believes it. Xander, rightly so, thinks that it's Riley's feeling of rejection that is tearing them apart. He also rightly thinks that Buffy is in the dark about it. In Xander's mind, he would be letting both his friends down if they broke up without this vital piece of information known to Buffy.

So Xander goes to Buffy. He tells her that Riley is deeply in love with her. That's all he's trying to do. He doesn't convince Buffy to go to Riley so much as he gives her enough information to make the choice. Sure, Xander would like them to stay together, but he knows it's not his decision to make. All he can do is show her things from Riley's POV and leave it up to her.

He's not judging Buffy. He's not saying the break-up is Buffy's fault. He's not saying Riley is right. He's saying Riley thinks he's right, and this is why, and what is Buffy going to do about it? He's presenting her with the question, not the answer.

[> [> [> [> I'd agree if I thought that was all Xander was doing -- Sophist, 13:02:57 02/09/03 Sun

I think he went far beyond just telling her that Riley loved her. Here are some quotes:

XANDER: You gonna let him go?
BUFFY: (sighs) It's not my decision to make.
XANDER: Of course it is.

Buffy's right. It's Riley's decision to go, not hers. "You gonna let him go" is much more than "Riley loves you deeply", much less "Buffy's like nobody else in the world" (hard to square with sleeping with Faith and the vamp trulls). Xander's either blaming Buffy here or telling her to take Riley notwithstanding his faults.

BUFFY: What am I supposed to do? Beg him to stay?
XANDER: (in disbelief) Why wouldn't you? To keep Riley here

If this isn't saying "he's the one", I don't know how to say it. "Beg" him to stay?

I think you mean convenient. I think you took it for granted that he was gonna show up when you wanted him to, and take off when you didn't.

A clear case of Xander's judgmental behavior towards Buffy. And, again, going far beyond "Riley loves you".

You shut down, Buffy. And you've been treating Riley like the rebound guy. When he's the one that comes along once in a lifetime.

This is the key phrase in support of my original point. I can't agree with your suggestion in light of these sentences.

Very little of the speech has to do with Riley's love of Buffy. Very much of it criticizes Buffy for her treatment of Riley (and Xander's lacking the facts). Xander's not just saying that Riley loves her, he's telling her Riley is a "once in a lifetime" guy and that it's her fault he's leaving. Given all the circumstances, including the effect on Buffy's self-esteem, that's cruel rather than inspiring.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: I'd agree if I thought that was all Xander was doing -- Valheru, 14:22:20 02/09/03 Sun

Buffy's right. It's Riley's decision to go, not hers. "You gonna let him go" is much more than "Riley loves you deeply", much less "Buffy's like nobody else in the world" (hard to square with sleeping with Faith and the vamp trulls). Xander's either blaming Buffy here or telling her to take Riley notwithstanding his faults.

That's not the question. Xander isn't asking whether it's Riley's decision to leave, he's saying that it's Buffy's decision to ask him to stay. Riley can do whatever he wants, but that doesn't preclude Buffy from convincing him to change what he wants.

If this isn't saying "he's the one", I don't know how to say it. "Beg" him to stay?

Buffy is the one who asks if she should beg, not Xander. She is arguing from her pride, not her desires. She wants Riley, but she's not willing to give up her high ground to beg. Xander is just telling her to drop the pretense and listen to her heart, whatever it tells her.

A clear case of Xander's judgmental behavior towards Buffy. And, again, going far beyond "Riley loves you".

But he's right. Xander spends the whole argument either telling Buffy how she feels or telling Buffy how Riley feels. I'd agree that that's presumptuous, but not judgmental. The only thing Xander judges is Buffy's stubbornness and pretenses--in order to talk to the part of Buffy who cares for Riley rather than the part that is angry with him.

This is the key phrase in support of my original point. I can't agree with your suggestion in light of these sentences.

Very little of the speech has to do with Riley's love of Buffy. Very much of it criticizes Buffy for her treatment of Riley (and Xander's lacking the facts). Xander's not just saying that Riley loves her, he's telling her Riley is a "once in a lifetime" guy and that it's her fault he's leaving. Given all the circumstances, including the effect on Buffy's self-esteem, that's cruel rather than inspiring.

The "once in a lifetime" thing I agree with you on. But it's really the only time when Xander's personal interpretation is contrary to Buffy's idea. And IMO, it's not an issue of cruel vs. kind. Buffy is blinding herself to her feelings, putting on a face of strength to cover up the hurt and vulnerability Riley caused. Unfortunately, she's letting that face, rather than her emotions, guide her course. In order for Buffy to be honest to herself, the pretense must be dropped, and that's what Xander convinces her to do. In no way does Xander convince Buffy that she loves Riley, but rather he convinces her to ask herself if she does.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I'd agree if I thought that was all Xander was doing -- Celebaelin, 17:07:23 02/09/03 Sun

I'm not going to suggest a reason why Buffy listens to Xander at this point but I will say that I cheered when Xander told Buffy these things. The 'bad things' Riley did (not that I like undercover government agents, especially post-graduate ones - they speak too many languages, know too much generally, are too evasive about their 'business trips' and are entirely too knowledgeable about firearms) he did BECAUSE Buffy was ignoring him and DESPITE his own better instincts, to be WITH Buffy in fact rather than to separate himself from her, and only Xander (and Riley) saw this it seems. You do know Riley is more than twice Buffy's age and holds intelligence rank in the military right? Riley is not a grunt, Riley is Bond (don't let Joss or anybody else kid you otherwise, read You Only Live Twice [OK, maybe three times for Buffy but she's special]).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Riley is more than twice Buffy's age? Where did you get that from? -- Helen, 07:17:48 02/10/03 Mon

I know he's a postgrad student, but I thought he was about 25 tops.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> It's a personal interpretation of the character type -- Celebaelin, 23:20:07 02/10/03 Mon

The way I see it nobody as young as Riley is shown to be has the experience to act effectively in the role he's given in the show. It wouldn't be the first time a younger actor portrayed a more mature part...or is it specifically mentioned somewhere how old Riley is? I can't say I recall having heard it mentioned.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> We're back to the whole Mary Sue thing here -- Helen, 01:38:50 02/11/03 Tue

The way I see it nobody as young as Riley is shown to be has the experience to act effectively in the role he's given in the show.

I always thought that was the point. He was (and is) almost implausibly experienced in a military sense, with massive responsibility and men nearly twice HIS age taking orders from him. But I always thought it was - within the conceit of the Initiative - quite a likely explanation. The Initiative were all frat boys, who joined the university army training corps and then found themselves seduced by the immense responsibility and power she gave them into being Maggie's little stormtroopers. Riley was her favourite and therefore assumed, and was given, the most responsibility.

[> [> [> [> [> [> We'll have to agree to disagree -- Sophist, 18:05:43 02/09/03 Sun

To me, he's not telling Buffy to search out her own feelings, he's telling her what she should feel (based on his own view of what she should feel). That's wrong; one of these days I may forgive him for it. I'm not as good a person as Buffy.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Riley's departure and fourth act problems with ITW -- cjl, 21:08:52 02/09/03 Sun

There was a problem with the fourth act of Into the Woods, but it wasn't Xander or Xander's speech.

For the most part, Sophist is correct here. (Yes, this is cjl agreeing with Sophist about Xander--focus, please.) Xander didn't have all the facts about the Buffy/Riley relationship and didn't see that Riley was not the right man for Buffy. Given his less-than-friendly relationship with Angel, I think Xander automatically assumed that a living, breathing Riley was better for Buffy than undead Angel, and Xander probably romanticized a man he considered a role model.

However (not to let Sophist off the hook completely), Xander was dead on when he described Buffy's emotional state after Angel left. She did shut down. And even though Xander thought Riley deserved far better than a second-place showing as Rebound Guy (and made no bones about his opinion) he acknowledged that Buffy had to make that decision herself. If Buffy didn't love Riley? Fine. No problem. But if she did and was simply too scared to show it, she had to leap some of those emotional barriers and make it to that chopper. It was still a wonderful speech--yes, showing some of Xander's prejudices, but mostly, his almost limitless devotion to Buffy and the Scoobs and their ultimate happiness.

Now, my problem with ITW Act Four wasn't the speech--it was the run to the chopper and Buffy crying for Riley to come back as the chopper arc-ed away into the night. Euccchh. I would have preferred to see Buffy CATCH Riley just before the chopper took off, wrestle with her emotions for a few moments, then tell him she loves him...but he's never going to get what he wants staying in Sunnydale. A bittersweet kiss goodbye, and Riley lifts off for Belize.

Then Xander goes home and gives his speech to Anya, and all's right with the world.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yup! -- Valheru, 22:04:20 02/09/03 Sun

You said it far more succinctly than I did, cjl. I don't disagree with you, Sophist, on Xander's presumptuousness that he knew everything. Clearly, Xander came into the argument only knowing part of the story. He also made a lot of assumptions about both Riley's and Buffy's feelings for each other that simply were not true. As "Becoming" is always reminding us, Xander is the poster-boy for bad judgment and acting on his emotions.

But whatever his background information, Xander was trying to do the right thing. His heart was in the right place, if not his brain. Buffy needed, for her own emotional well-being, to confront her romantic feelings for Riley before she lost him. She was far more in the right when she lost Angel in "Becoming," and look what that did to her fragile emotions. Think of what would have happened had she lost Riley, however right she was in her argument, and then later realized, "But I still loved him!" Hell, look at what did happen. Xander may have been wrong in his argument and assumptions, but he was correct in his intentions.

And yeah, cjl, the helicopter scene almost ruined everything. After an episode of wonderful character study and originality, they wrap it up in a hokey cliche. And a bad hokey cliche. At least the cliche of Xander running to proclaim his love to Anya was written in a compelling, character-revealing way. Riley's departure was...well, at least the walking stereotype that was Riley Finn got a stereotypical send-off.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Yup! -- Malandanza, 07:31:34 02/10/03 Mon

I'm in agreement with Sophist on this -- he convinced me some time ago. Here are a few points (which may or may not be relevant):

First, neither Xander nor Buffy knew the full story. Neither knew about Spike's involvement, giving Riley his own personal Yoko Factor over a period of several episodes -- playing on Riley's insecurities and suggesting that some sort of relationship existed at a time when Buffy barely registered his existence. But whose fault is it that Buffy doesn't know how Riley feels about her? Riley is several years older than Buffy and a grad student in psychology -- he ought to have been more communicative, but was too being a macho, stoic, martyr to tell the one great love of his life that she meant something to him.

Next, Riley wasn't "rebound guy" -- that was Parker. Compare the changes in B/R 4th season with those in 5th season. When the Initiative crumbled, Riley changed. The baggage in Season Five is mostly his. He has issues with being Mr. Summers instead of Riley Finn, Secret Agent and Monster Hunter -- he almost dies as a result of his insecurities when he avoids the Initiative doctors. Was Buffy emotionally distant at a time when Riley was emotionally needy? Well, yes -- but she did have a great deal going on in her life -- an imaginary sister, a dying mother, a hell god to fight. But look back at Season Four -- Buffy was quite happy with her nice guy boyfriend. It wasn't mad, passionate, wailing on the moors love, but comfortable, normal -- everything Buffy wanted.

Riley is the one in the wrong, yet he's the one issuing the ultimatum. He shifts the blame to Buffy. She is too distant. He gives her a couple of hours to decide whether he will walk out of her life forever. I don't think Riley expected Buffy to show up (he would have been looking hopefully out the helicopter window if he had). Instead, I think he believed the relationship was over and was looking for some way he could exit with a shred of dignity. Going back to Buffy and asking for forgiveness would have meant humbling himself before her -- and worse -- what would Buffy's friends think of the overgrown boy scout when they found out about his nocturnal activities? Pride was a big reason he was on the helicopter.

"Buffy needed, for her own emotional well-being, to confront her romantic feelings for Riley before she lost him... Think of what would have happened had she lost Riley, however right she was in her argument, and then later realized, "But I still loved him!" Hell, look at what did happen."

What did happen, it seems to me, was a result of Xander's interference. Buffy has always been one to overidentify -- whether she identifies Angel and herself with the teacher/student murder suicide (in IOHEFY) or decides Spike is right and she is addicted to sex with him after a speech from Willow about magic, she has been consistently suggestible. If Riley had left while she was still feeling righteous indignation, I don't think she would have been so upset, but by shifting the responsibility to her (if your boyfriend cheats on you, after all, it must be your fault) the breakup was worse than it needed to be. Buffy did try to talk to Riley before his ultimatum and he wouldn't listen to a word she said -- that was enough of a goodbye.

"But whatever his background information, Xander was trying to do the right thing. His heart was in the right place, if not his brain...Xander may have been wrong in his argument and assumptions, but he was correct in his intentions."

I think good intentions only go so far -- think of Jane Austen's Persuasion. I do think that a bad result coming from good intentions is easier to forgive than bad results from ill intentions, but there is something of a denial of responsibility to say "I meant well" without offering so sort of apology.

But mostly, I think that the Buffy/Riley breakup was due to Riley. He was too needy -- he wanted a baby-sitter, not a girlfriend. I did like that afterwards he took responsibility for some of his actions -- he could have easily blamed Spike; instead, he blamed himself for listening to Spike. Xander made a bad situation even more painful with his interference. He should have been lecturing Riley, not Buffy.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I'd say I was nearly speechless -- Sophist, 09:21:02 02/10/03 Mon

except that no one would believe me anyway.

Malandanza's post says it. Buffy has always had a great deal of insecurity about her relationships with men. Hardly surprising, given what has happened to her. In addition, she was very emotional when Xander spoke to her because Riley had just laid a guilt trip on her. Add to this her complete trust in Xander (she owes him her life, after all), and it's clear that she was very susceptible to what Xander said.

And what did Xander say? He reinforced what Riley had said: that she had shut down; that Riley was a "once in a lifetime guy"; that if she (not Riley, she) was ready for "no holds barred" love, she needed to "beg" Riley to stay. This speech went far beyond telling Buffy to search her heart. It told her what to find there.

Buffy ran to the helicopter because Xander told her to. And she came back, naturally, feeling even more insecure than before about her relations with men.

As I said before, Xander was entirely sincere. He wanted to help. The same was true of Willow in Something Blue. But I'm with Mal: good intentions only get you so far.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Echoes of Xander's speech through S5 (and maybe S7?) -- cjl, 10:14:09 02/10/03 Mon

Hmm...you make good points, guys. Buffy is always very hesitant to trust her heart, and when Xander--a man she trusts and who's (in)famous for trusting his own gut feelings--tells her to go for it, she goes for it and runs her cute little Slayer butt off. If she'd been able to catch Riley though, I don't think anything would have changed. If Buffy tried to force the relationship to continue when it had reached its natural conclusion, I think Riley would have done an Angel and taken off anyway. (Only difference--Buffy wouldn't have had to wait until AYW for closure.)

But go back to the top of this post. Xander's speech highlights a perennial Buffy problem: she doesn't trust her heart. This is not just specific to the Riley situation--we see it time and again with Buffy when she's confronted with emotional situations she can't process. She shuts down and the hardassed Slayer part of her comes to the fore.

Let's look at two specific instances: at the end of S5, Buffy herself wonders if she's "turning to stone" after the emotional trauma of Joyce's death and Riley's departure. The Primitive's speech to Buffy in the desert echoes Xander's ITW speech, telling her to trust her heart, tear down the walls, and love will lead her to her gift. And now, again, in S7, Buffy is confused about her relationship with Spike and unclear about how to lead the Scoobs out of the wilderness after their collective long dark night of the soul in S6. She's got to trust her heart again--and it's interesting to note that the man who symbolizes her heart isn't doing very well himself right now.

Giles, Willow, and Xander have always represented Buffy's mind, spirit and heart. All three aspects of Buffy's gestalt are on the fritz right now, hungover from the events of S6. I get the feeling that when the Xan-Man (along with the Giles and Willow) snaps out of his funk, Buffy's heart will be back on track and she'll successfully complete her spiritual journey.

So did Xander's speech do more harm than good? Debatable in the short-term; but in the long-term, it's a message worth remembering.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Echoes of Xander's speech in S4 -- Sophist, 12:38:11 02/10/03 Mon

It's also interesting to remember Xander's advice to Willow in WaH (quotes from Psyche):

Willow : Hey... I'm sorry if I was weird yesterday with you and Veruca.

Oz : (Looking mildly uncomfortable.) I didn't notice anything.

Willow : Really? 'Cause I felt all spazzy.

Oz : No.

Willow : Oh. Good. So it was just me worrying for nothing again. Me and my busy head always thinking, thinking, thinking.

Oz : Well, now you can stop everything's fine.

Willow : (Getting hinty.) Maybe you could help me...Stop. I'd really, really appreciate anything you could do.

Oz : What? (He's very uncomfortable as she approaches him.)

Willow : What's wrong? [At this point, Willow pulls up Oz's shirt and we see scratches that Veruca left on him from the night before]

Oz : Uh...Sorry. I...

Willow : You don't want to? (She looks hurt.)

Oz :It's not that. I do. I just... I didn't get any sleep, I guess. I'm really beat.


Willow : Well, things with Oz are weird. And I talked to Buffy about it, but I think we're in guyville here. I need a translator from the "y" side of things.

Xander : Well, last time I checked, I had the creds. Hit me.

Willow : What does it mean when a girl wants to... You know.

Xander : If you're doin' it, I think you should be able to say it.

Willow : Make love.

Xander : Wild monkey love or tender Sarah Mclachlan love?

Willow : Any kind. But what if the girl wants to and the guy doesn't? That's a bad sign, right?

Xander : Could be. Or the girl caught the guy in one of the 7 annual minutes he's legitimately too preoccupied to do it.

Willow : Well, say the girl's been noticing--

Xander : Will, I've deciphered your ingenious code.

Willow : Ok. Say I've been noticing Oz notice someone else. A woman.

Xander : And is this chick noticing back?

Willow : Most definitely.

Xander : Well... Have you asked Oz about it?

Willow : Well, I thought about it, but then he'll think I'm all jealous and worry.

Xander : But you are. And odds are, he feels it. I'll bet that's all there is to the weird you're feeling. You guys should talk things out, Wll. You'll both feel better.

Xander put the onus on Willow (he tells her she's jealous and Oz feels it), although we know that Oz was uncomfortable because of his escapades with Veruca and not because he felt anything from Willow. I'd say that's just what he did with Buffy -- telling her she shut down, etc. -- missing entirely Riley's considerable fault.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> "Talk Things Out. You'll both feel better." -- cjl, 13:09:44 02/10/03 Mon

Considering the information he had on hand (mainly, not much), those final few words were probably the best advice he could give in that situation.

(Xander, of course, should have followed his own advice when he bailed out of his own wedding in S6.)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> "Of the two of us, who is the boss of me?" -- Valheru, 16:44:06 02/10/03 Mon

I think you guys are being too harsh on Xander. If Buffy hadn't wanted to run to the helicopter and try to convince Riley to stay, she wouldn't have. No amount of talk, even from Xander, would convince Buffy of something she didn't already believe. Look back at "Becoming": Buffy didn't scrap the re-souling spell because Xander said so, thus Xander felt he had to lie to her to get her to kill Angelus. Xander may be Buffy's metaphorical heart, but she's still a person in charge of her own decisions.

Look at the argument again.

XANDER: You gonna let him go?
BUFFY: (sighs) It's not my decision to make.
XANDER: Of course it is.

It is 100% Riley's decision to leave. It's a choice he makes, and whether it's a good or bad one is irrelevant--we always have a choice. Taken literally, a person cannot "let" another person do anything. "Let" implies that permission is given, but unless a person is being mentally and physically controlled by another, he/she doesn't need permission to do anything. So when we use "let" in out language, what we really mean is "not prevent." And it is 100% Buffy's choice whether she prevents Riley from leaving or not. Xander is reminding Buffy that, if she wants to prevent Riley from leaving, she can always try.

BUFFY: Well, it's not fair.
XANDER: Who cares if it's fair? In about twenty minutes, Riley's gonna disappear, maybe forever, unless you do something to stop him.

The "fair"ness is referring to Buffy's choice. And I agree with her here. By escalating events to the point where Buffy is forced to make this choice, Riley is being extremely unfair. But as Xander says, fairness or not, Buffy still has to make the choice. She can a) go home and forget about Riley, or b) run after him. If Xander hadn't shown up at all, Buffy would probably have done (a), but it was still a choice that she made.

BUFFY: What am I supposed to do? Beg him to stay?
XANDER: (in disbelief) Why wouldn't you? To keep Riley here-

If Buffy wasn't contemplating begging, why would she even bring it up? Xander answers the question, he does not bring it up. There's a difference.

XANDER: [snip] And you're about to let him fly because you don't like ultimatums?

Again, he's not saying that it's Buffy choice whether Riley stays, but rather her choice to go after him. And he's right: Buffy is standing up for her principles in opposition to her desires, which is probably a good thing in Slaying but probably not in romance.

And now it's time for me to take the other side...

Xander is "leading the witness," as it were. He's asking Buffy loaded questions, hoping to direct her to chase after Riley and tell him she loves him. And yeah, Xander is viewing Riley as the "perfect guy" and disregarding the complexities of their relationship in order to present Buffy with a "Love" or "Hate" view by which to make her decision. And that is just plain wrong of him.

So I guess I don't think you guys are wrong, I just think we have differing views, which is great. This has made me re-think my ideas about Xander at that point in Season 5, and hopefully it will add another layer of understanding.

Now for a question: How do you guys view Xander's talks with Buffy in "I Was Made to Love You?" Does he redeem his "ItW" position here, or is he simply ignoring the facts again to steer Buffy in a certain direction?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Can Xander redeem himself? -- Sophist, 19:04:36 02/10/03 Mon

I'm thinking of changing my posting name to Snarkist. Heh heh.

Now for a question: How do you guys view Xander's talks with Buffy in "I Was Made to Love You?" Does he redeem his "ItW" position here, or is he simply ignoring the facts again to steer Buffy in a certain direction?

Redeem himself? I'd say no. I do agree that he was very sweet in IWMTLY. I can't say that he completely undid the harm, though.

Now let me ask you about Xander's speech to Anya in ItW:

Was Xander sincere? In answering, consider 2 points. First, was Buffy's comment accurate in describing X/A before ItW:

XANDER: Yeah. I think you mean convenient. I think you took it for granted that he was gonna show up when you wanted him to, and take off when you didn't.
BUFFY: Look who's talking. Look who has Anya following him around like a lovesick puppy.
XANDER: Oh boy, is this *not* about me.
BUFFY: Is she more than a convenience? 'Cause that would kinda be a surprise.

Second, is Xander's speech to Anya, considered in light of his statements to Buffy about messy, no-holds-barred love consistent with his treatment of Anya in S6, particularly Hells Bells? You might even want to consider his treatment of Willow in S1 and Cordy in S3 (post Lover's Walk) for more perspective (Xander being perspective guy).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Xander doesn't need redemption. -- cjl, 22:11:49 02/10/03 Mon

He needs to finish growing up. He's almost there.

Xander's gift--and his weakness--has always been his heart and his passion, his ability to take a big situation and make it personal.

Getting back to the original post on this thread, Xander's Fab Four speeches, he's snapped Buffy back from despair in the Freshman, erased Anya's doubts about their love in ITW, and saved the world in Grave. He's been able to do what no one else could because he looked into the eyes of a woman he loves and conveyed his absolute belief in their ultimate goodness. There are dozens of less dramatic examples of this all through the series.

His failures stem from the same source. For while he believes in the women around him, he sometimes fails to believe in himself. Because of his lack of self-confidence, of self-assurance, he sometimes allows his passions to overwhelm him and he screws things up for everyone, including himself. In a town like Sunnydale, where minor actions can have apocalyptic consequences, we see Xander's faults magnified to a near-absurd degree. The Not-so-Fab Four for Xander are: the Lie in Becoming, the love spell in BBB, the bailout in Hells Bells, and summoning Sweet in OMWF. There are numerous examples of his failure of nerve throughout the series.

The two sides of Xander have been displayed in all their glory as Suave!Xander and SnoopyDance!Xander in The Replacement. SD!Xander is the Xander Willow has known from childhood. He's the funny Xander, the Xander who makes all the snappy jokes and played with her when she needed a fun and supportive friend. But he's also the insecure side of Xander; SD!Xander is the one who doesn't believe in his abilities on the construction site and he's the one who goes for the gun when things go wrong. Suave!Xander, on the other hand, understands Anya's fears about mortality and comforts her, he's the one who's confident about his abilities on the job, and he's cool and collected when consulting with Buffy and Giles about the "demon" who's stolen his face.

We're slowly seeing Suave!Xander take over this season. He's doing better than ever on the construction site, he's cut down on the geekiness and insecure humor, and he's been cool and collected when dealing with the cursed jacket in "Him," and the Spike situation in "Sleeper."

But we're back to the beginning this year, and deep down, there's still a part of Xander who believes he's a loser, especially with women. His bailout in Hells Bells is a huge, gaping wound, and until he comes to terms with Anya, explains to her exactly what went wrong--that IT WASN'T HER FAULT--he's never going to grow out of it. Just like the rest of the Scoobies, he's come so close to what he's destined to become, and yet so far. Can he take that last, tiny step and reach adulthood, or will he crash and burn?

You already know what I think.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Liking and agreeing, cjl. Well said. -- Ixchel, 15:15:42 02/11/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Was Xander sincere? -- Valheru, 00:33:32 02/11/03 Tue

I really don't know. Frankly, I thought Buffy was right. I never got the feeling that Xander was in love with Anya. I even thought Xander had a deeper love (if you can call it that) for Cordelia. Anya was just his girlfriend, someone he didn't mind (much) being around and he could have sex with.

I see the "ItW" declaration as this: Just as Xander put Riley on a pedestal for Buffy, so did he put Anya for himself. He had just finished telling Buffy that she should go after Riley because he could be the one for her. Is that what he does with Anya? Is he saying to himself, "What if Anya's the one for me? Might I lose her before I find out?" The speech has a two-fold purpose for him: a) to keep Anya in his life, and b) test the waters of his own heart.

I always got the impression, however, that the speech had shown Xander that, yes, he did have strong feelings for Anya. Yet in light of "Hell's Bells," I think it might've done exactly what you think his speech to Buffy did--he talked himself into thinking something he didn't completely feel. He rushed into proposing to Anya before considering what marriage meant. He tried to force himself to go through with the wedding even though he didn't want to. The "ItW" speech could possibly be the turn for the worse, rather than the better, in the Xander/Anya relationship.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Disagree -- Tchaikovsky, 03:49:30 02/11/03 Tue

Very interesting subthread, everyone. I've been basically going along with Valheru's views against Sophist's, but here I kind of disagree with both of you here, so am jumping in.

I personally believe that the 'Into the Woods' speech to Anya is entirely genuine and entirely heartfelt. I believe that his words to Anya are both as true to her as he can be, as well as being emotionally honest to himself.

In 'The Replacement', I think we see Xander's perspective on the Buffy/Riley relationship fairly clearly. He thinks that Riley is basically a great bloke, and that he has a great deal in dating Buffy. He rarely doubts Buffy's judgement, (sometimes with negative consequences), and therefore trusts that Buffy feels Riley is the perfect boyfriend for her. And then he slowly sees the relationship fall apart. And he wonders, if this perfect relationship, [NB it's not portrayed as perfect, this is just what Xander sees], can fall apart mainly because of a lack of communication on BOTH sides, how much easier is it for my relationship [Xander being eternally doubtful of himself], to break up. And, although we perhaps see less of Xander's love towards Anya than might be expected in Season Four, let's not forget that he continues to date this ex-vengeance demon, despite his well-documented black/white stance on vampires and the like.

I believe his speech is genuine, and even by the time of 'Hell's Bells', he deeply loves Anya. It is not his love for Anya that he doubts. It is his anxiety about how HE will ruin their relationship. In the vision sequences, Xander seems to be at fault for all that has happened, (or this is how he sees it). I don't think Xander puts Anya on an unrealistic pedestal. I just think that he truly loves her, but cannot trust himself to commitment. In this light, I see the genuineness of the speech in 'Into the Woods' as being entirely consistent with 'Hell's Bells'.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Agree with TCH here. -- cjl, 07:30:10 02/11/03 Tue

"I believe his speech is genuine, and even by the time of 'Hell's Bells', he deeply loves Anya. It is not his love for Anya that he doubts. It is his anxiety about how HE will ruin their relationship. In the vision sequences, Xander seems to be at fault for all that has happened, (or this is how he sees it). I don't think Xander puts Anya on an unrealistic pedestal. I just think that he truly loves her, but cannot trust himself to commitment. In this light, I see the genuineness of the speech in 'Into the Woods' as being entirely consistent with 'Hell's Bells'."

"True love conquers all" is a concept consistently shot down in BtVS. This is a horror show, after all, and all the fault lines in a relationship, all the flaws in a main character will eventually combine to sabotage even the most powerful connection. Buffy and Angel couldn't come to terms with their radically different (un)lifestyles; Giles and Jenny, Willow and Tara, Xander and Cordy, Willow and Oz (somebody stop me please) all split because of betrayals, small and large, and they never got back together--unless, of course, a horrible painful death or a spinoff was in the offing.

I sincerely believe Xander loved Anya, and what's more, still does. I think Xander believed every word of the ITW speech and STILL DOES. But he was in no way ready for marriage. His self-doubts, his feelings of intrinsic worthlessness run so deep, they were bound to sabotage any run to the altar, no matter who the woman turned out to be. Cordelia. Buffy. Willow. Anybody.

Maybe if Anya and Xander got back together a few years from now, when Xander has finally made the final leap to adulthood, they might be able to make a long-term relationship work. But that's not going to happen.

This is BUFFY, remember?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> A firm maybe. -- Sophist, 09:23:25 02/11/03 Tue

Quick comment about my post above. Of course Xander does not need "redemption", at least not in the sense, say, Spike does. I was just being provocative in the subject line.

I agree with you that he needs to grow up. I think that part of that process requires a recognition by him of his past failings, including the ones you mentioned and his speech to Buffy in ItW. There are a few others too, but you hit the highlights. When he shows that self-awareness, I'll agree that he's "almost there".

As far as his speech to Anya goes, I'm not sure. When Buffy accused him of treating Anya as a "convenience", I agreed. That was how I saw the relationship (and whenever Buffy says something, I tend to take it at face value; I'm like that). Cynicism took hold during his speech; I thought he was trying to live up to the standard he had just given Buffy.

After ItW, I saw some improvement in his behavior and thought maybe he really meant it after all. Then came Hells Bells. Anya, remember, asked him afterward if he ever really loved her at all. The issue was certainly there. I'm now inclined to think you are right that his issues were internal, that he did and does love Anya.

Bottom line: I see Xander as less passionate about Anya than the speech would suggest. I think he overstated his feelings. But there was a sincere kernel of truth there and the expression was what Anya needed to hear and believe. By the same token that very intensity made Hells Bells all the harder for her. If he can ever make that up to her, then his declaration of love in ItW will be justified.

[> Xander's Power -- Wizard, 17:06:23 02/08/03 Sat

I have to agree with Dawn: Seeing, Knowing- those have always been Xander's main powers. He is the Heart of the Scoobies, and the heart always knows. It used to be that Xander's heart has harmed as much as it healed, but that's changed. It's Xander's job to keep the Scoobies grounded, to keep them in touch with their humanity, and to bring them back in touch, if need be. Xander, depending on how he's written, didn't have powers, but after seven years, he can hold his own against all but the biggest bads. But in the end, he needs to be the human of the group. That power is not inferior to Buffy's 'slayerness' or Willow's magic or Giles' knowledge and magic, it's just different. When Dawn finally gets chosen for power- and I have faith that she will, she's still the Key- I hope she takes the example of Xander to heart. Power and heart aren't mutually exclusive- look at Tara. With her gone, the gang needs Xander more than ever. And he will come through for them every time.

[> Fab, indeed. Wonderful post, TCH. -- Haecceity, 20:25:31 02/08/03 Sat

Let's hear it for the Xand-man! Loved your post--spoke to my new-found appreciation of Xander. Although this sort of timing practically guarantees something horrible will happen to him/be done by him in the next couple of weeks.

Really like your choosing the talk to Anya rather than the more obvious Puffy Xander or Go Get Riley Before it's Too Late speeches. I remember that it really did affect my evaluation of their relationship as something more than just comic relief--especially later when they had the whole Big Ticking Bomb Clock conversation.

Now I miss X/A, and I'm so not a 'shipper.

all soggy with nostalgia

[> Will someone just send me a 3 sentence -- WickedEyestrain, 16:54:51 02/11/03 Tue

synopsis of this entire webpage?

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