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Humanity for me but not for thee? (long-spoilers 7.15 and 6.fin) -- Shiraz, 13:18:17 02/19/03 Wed

No question about it, this was a great episode, but for hours after it I couldn't figure out why it left such a bad taste in my mouth after viewing it.

Then it came to me:

In the time I've been watching Buffy (five years now, including re-runs) I've run the gamut of opinions about her character.

I've been exasperated with her, critical of her, unsympathetic to her, and even strongly disagreed with her, but never before have I ever disliked her personally.

All that changed with this episode.

It started, of course with the Generalissimo Buffy speech we were treated to early on. Even ignoring the horse-crap nature of this kind of speechifying, we are left with Buffy chastising everyone on her team (friends, potentials, even acquaintances) for not pulling their own weight. Here's my take on this scene:

Buffy: You lot! You're all a bunch of lazy slobs who don't do a lick of work around here!

Willow: Hey! We're all doing everything we can!

Buffy: Yeah, well it's not enough!

Spike: Well, what else should we be doing?

Buffy: I don't know... more, like more intense or something. Why can't you act more like when we first fought?

Spike: You mean when a forty-year-old woman with a fire-axe beat me senseless?

O.K. that last bit is gratuitous, but I guess my point is that, while Buffy was very adamant about being the leader, she wasn't really acting all that leader - like. She was, in fact just telling them to "do better", which in my opinion is the most useless set of instructions ever. Also, it has to be pointed out that Buffy had a heads ups straight from the first slayer about Chloe, which she did not act upon.

However, at least two of the main characters do take Buffy's orders to heart: Spike and Willow. They, with good reason, feel that much of Buffy's frustration is directed at them. Moreover, at this point both of them base most of their self worth off of Buffy's opinion of them. Therefore, they see Buffy's rants as a clear directive. (Note that Dawn, Xander, and especially Anya, are much less impressed by this.)

Now we come to Wood's puppet show of doom, (Neolithic power-point presentation?). Buffy is once again determined to take any risk to get more information, and, after a great animation scene, she is sucked bodily into the slayer dimension (which I will get to later). Deposited in her place is one typically aggressive demon, which once again trashes the house and runs off into the night. Now with Buffy gone and the Big Ugly running loose, Willow and Spike both come to realization that its time follow Buffy's orders and embrace their full, demony, black magicy power.

Spike grabs his coat, a trophy from his, ahem, lady-killer days, and goes to show this demon how things were done back in the day, offing the bloke after a gratifying bit'o violence, and finishing with a smoke. Spike sits back and relishes the return of his glory days, but in doing so he proves to Wood exactly who he is, and from his cavalier attitude about the coat, Wood now firmly believes that Spike does not have even the slightest bit of regret for what he did to Wood's family. This cannot be good for either of them. (An aside: Was Spike just being profoundly stupid towards Wood, or did Buffy just neglect to mention he's the son of a slayer?) But never mind that, Spike has returned to the monster that Buffy wants him to be.

Meanwhile, Willow, after spending a few hours asking the powers for assistance, finally looses patience and starts demanding. She knows she's powerful, and she'll damn well use it if she has to, which she does. Her eyes go black, and, despite a warning from Xander, she takes power from Kennedy (as well as Anya and Dawn?) and re-opens the portal. In doing this, Willow does something she hasn't done since Grave, taking someone's power against their will, but it does accomplish her goal. The immediate consequence of this is the souring of her relationship with Kennedy (who I will not discuss), but there will almost certainly be further ramifications for her as well. Nevertheless, this is what Buffy told Willow she needed from her.

Now back to the slayer plane, where Buffy meets the three wise men (who are Speaking Swahili, I think). These men tell her that she is the last guardian of the hellmouth and show her how the first slayer got her power, which is essentially a recap of the earlier shadow - puppet theater. The men then attempt to give Buffy a second helping of her Demon super charging, but she resists, breaks the chains which attach her to the earth, and shatters the staff which controls the demon spirit. She defiantly declares that she will not give up her humanity, not even for the strength she needs.

And here is where I cry foul.

Didn't she just ask, no, not ask, DEMAND that her friends make similar sacrifices? Didn't she declare herself the infallible leader of all of them? Didn't she tell them that she would do anything, anything at all to beat the first? WELL THEN WHAT GIVES?

Leaders must lead by example. If Buffy is truly the leader, the most powerful among them, then she has no right to ask others to make sacrifices that she herself is unwilling to make. That, to me is pure moral arrogance. Or, does she truly believe that her humanity is worth more than the others.

Dawn did her job; she read the incantation to open the portal;
Spike did his job; he tracked down and killed the exchange demon, at the cost of a new, powerful enemy;
Anya did her job; she came up with the portal re-summoning ceremony;
Willow did her job; she opened the portal to get Buffy back, at a personal cost to her;
And, when the floor is repaired, Xander will have done his job.
-Everybody did their jobs here-

However it was the slayer's job to bring back the strength from the source of the slayer, the strength they all need to beat the First; without that there was no point to this little exercise. Buffy did not do her job here because she didn't like the cost to her. The very same cost she demanded of her friends.

This is unacceptable in a Slayer, improper in a leader, and unworthy in a friend.


[> The thundering silence is not critical of your points -- Vickie, 14:18:06 02/19/03 Wed

It is us (or, at least, me) trying hard to come up with a reasonable refutation. You make very good sense, and I hate your conclusion.

[> [> Agree, I think it's astute -- Masq, 14:23:20 02/19/03 Wed

But I'm leaving the replies to people who have spent more time analyzing S. 7 Buffy. There are folks on the board who seem to have a bigger picture of what's going on with her, who see beyond the apparent "generalissimo" Buffy to something less black-and-white.

Waiting to hear their responses.

[> [> [> FEROCIOUS DISAGREEMENT HERE - Agree, I think it's astute -- ANGELINA, 08:12:59 02/20/03 Thu

I have to disagree here. Buffy has never once failed to do her duty as The Slayer. Please see "Prophecy Girl" and "The Gift". In Prophecy Girl, Buffy was only 16 years old, yet she walked proud, in her little prom dress, to her certain death. (I still tear up everytime I see her face down in that mud pool). My Goodness, how fast we all forget her sacrifices. Duh, "She Saved The World A Lot". I am very sorry, but Buffy did not force Spike or Willow to avail themselves of evil or demonic power, she simply told them to use what they had within THEM to repel the evil around them. I don't think Buffy would have hesitated for one second to take on the demonic power if she thought for sure it would "save the day". As it is, she questions her decision at the end of the episode, telling Willow she thinks she made a mistake by not accepting more demonic (EVIL) power. WELL EXCUSE ME....OK, so Buffy may have made a mistake (I don't think so - I think Buffy will find the way within herself- she ALWAYS does). So please spare me the vilification of Buffy. Give the Woman Her Due. Buffy's "Generalissimo" attitude is from sheer frustration, and it is not the first time she has given one of these speeches, and of course, it is not the first time she made a decision on her own - that she followed her heart. It may not have been pretty, it may not have been nice, but she certainly did not betray anyone. And, most importantly, she did not betray herself. "Buffy is a Hero, you see".

[> [> [> [> Re: FEROCIOUS DISAGREEMENT HERE - Agree, I think it's astute -- Shiraz, 10:19:41 02/20/03 Thu

"Buffy has never once failed to do her duty as The Slayer. Please see "Prophecy Girl" and "The Gift". In Prophecy Girl, Buffy was only 16 years old, yet she walked proud, in her little prom dress, to her certain death. (I still tear up everytime I see her face down in that mud pool)."

In full agreement here, me too squared. But I did not see the Buffy from the episodes you mentioned here until the very end of this episode. That Buffy was never this cavalier about the death of people around her. Here we saw a Buffy straight out of a war movie.

"I am very sorry, but Buffy did not force Spike or Willow to avail themselves of evil or demonic power, she simply told them to use what they had within THEM to repel the evil around them."

No, she did something just as bad, she GUILTED Spike and Willow into taking the (dangerous) actions they did. As I said in my post, Spike and Willow are currently relying of Buffy for their sense of self - worth. Both are desperately seeking her forgiveness and approval. You can see this from how they react to her speech.

If it weren't for Buffy's talk, they wouldn't have gone all majic sucking, black coat wearing - because they did not trust these aspects of themselves. If it weren't for Buffy, their choices would have been different.

"I don't think Buffy would have hesitated for one second to take on the demonic power if she thought for sure it would "save the day". As it is, she questions her decision at the end of the episode, telling Willow she thinks she made a mistake by not accepting more demonic (EVIL) power. WELL EXCUSE ME....OK, so Buffy may have made a mistake (I don't think so - I think Buffy will find the way within herself- she ALWAYS does)."

As I've said before (and before that, and before that): THE CHOICE SHE MAKES ISN'T THE PROBLEM! Its the choice she makes in conjunction with with THE DIRECTIVES she gives her team.

During the speech she outright tells Spike he needs to be less human:

"What I need is the Spike that tried to kill me."

That Spike was a clever monster, and she tells this souled man to go away and bring on the beast.

Fine, if she really feels that's necessary then that's what Spike needs to do. But logically, if 'the cause' is best served by a more viciously vampiric Spike, wouldn't a souped-up uber-slayer be just as valuable?

How can Buffy ask Spike to become something he now hates, and not be willing to make a similar transformation herself?

"So please spare me the vilification of Buffy."

Beleive me, if you had told me a week ago I'd be writing a post condemning Buffy and defending Spike, I'd have laughed. I universally liked Buffy before, and will undoubtably like her again in future episodes. Here however, she was totally unsympathetic.


[> [> [> [> [> Re: FEROCIOUS DISAGREEMENT HERE - Agree, I think it's astute -- Alison, 12:56:59 02/20/03 Thu

The funny thing is, the more overly harsh Buffy is, the more I feel for her and sympathize with her. She is trying to over compensate for the fact that she is fighting against what seems to be an imsurmountable obstacle. The more she lashes out in fear, the more vunerable she seems.

[> [> [> [> [> [> That's my take too -- MaeveRigan, 13:38:39 02/20/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: FEROCIOUS DISAGREEMENT HERE - Agree, I think it's astute -- Tamara, 15:31:47 02/20/03 Thu

Buffy and Kennedy are not encouraging the young slayers to go with their inner strengths which they should be doing. They are beating the humanity out of them until they're servicable soldiers. The only reason Kennedy is even in charge is because she slept her way to the top. I think Buffy and Kennedy were both out of line. If I were one of the slayers who came to the hellmouth to help Buffy I would be leaving right about now.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Helping Buffy -- Veronica, 16:33:35 02/20/03 Thu

If I were one of the slayers who came to the hellmouth to help Buffy I would be leaving right about now.

I think part of the problem is that none of the Potentials came to the Hellmouth to help Buffy. They came because they were being hunted down and killed. Any of them with Watchers lost their Watchers, too. And we could speculate that some of lost their family (which might explain why no bodies get sent "home"). They were ripped out of comfortable environments under hostile or violent circumstances. They didn't come to Buffy to help her. They came to be protected by her. If they had a choice at all.

The problem, of course, is that Buffy is not capable of protecting them from themselves. She is learning this with great difficulty. I saw her speechifying as a way to help them snap out of their expectations. (I picture the famous scene from Moonstruck: Snap out of it! with a good smack across the face.) This will hopefully be the smack across the face everyone needed to begin seeing their situation in a different light. We can hope.


PS: That said, I felt personally very uncomfortable when Buffy was lecturing... but I imagine that's how they (and perhaps we) were all meant to feel - a bit squirmy in our seats.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Helping Buffy - Addendum to FEROCIOUS DISAGREEMENT HERE -- ANGELINA, 08:13:17 02/21/03 Fri

Yes, Buffy is totally freaking out. I think for once SHE feels (although I don't - I have complete confidence in my Buffy) that she is out of her depth - that she is not going to be able to stop the onslaught this time. And that fear, is making her lash out at everyone. Holy crap, guys, if you had the weight of the world on your shoulders, AGAIN, this time with a bunch a mewling annoying, scared little girls grabbing onto your skirts, annoying, scared little girls that were just dumped in your lap, and you felt totally out of control - I think perhaps the freaking out would be mandatory. In "Showtime" Buffy staged the arena fight to prove to the girls that this evil, this UberVamp, was the same as any other - "dust - just like all the others", but I don't think Buffy believes that anymore - she is facing what she believes to be her fate - the final triumph of evil over good. We are just being shown how truly scared and helpless Buffy feels right now. She is NOT thinking straight. Yes, as Veronica said, we were meant to be uncomfortable with Buffy's harshness - that harshness is the manifestation of her FEAR - without Buffy actually showing anyone how absolutely terrified she really is. Yet she perseveres. Because, "she is a hero, you see" (Giles to Ben, right before he kills him). She is a hero, but she is still that little girl in the prom dress too. Give her a break. She deserves it.

[> [> Just want to clairify (spoilers, as above) -- Shiraz, 14:38:59 02/19/03 Wed

Buffy's problem here isn't that she chose humanity over the demonic power offered to her. (other than the huge waste of time and energy)

Its that she chose humanity directly after ORDERING her friends to choose their demonic power.


[> [> [> Dear Buffy is a host of contradictions -- BD23, 14:57:06 02/19/03 Wed

[> Empathy -- cjl, 14:38:07 02/19/03 Wed

Has Buffy lost her sense of empathy?

Has her superiority complex made her acutely aware of her personal balancing act between power and humanity, and at the same time, rendered her incapable of appreciating the same struggle in others?

In STSP, she gave Willow her strength, and (12 episodes later!) it remains the most positive, giving gesture from the Buffster this season. Each successive episode has seen her drift away from this rare fusion of Slayer strength and empathy. It's more than a little sad and maybe a bit scary that her counseling is seen as a joke by almost everyone.

No answers for you here, Shiraz. Don't think ME has put them out there yet.

[> I add my applause to your statements -- BD23, 14:41:32 02/19/03 Wed

What you have just described has been bothering me ever since Giles left! Buffy has no leadership ability. She is all self-pity with little compassion. If it were not so, she could have figured out ages ago how to manipulate Spike into being the perfect bodyguard. She could have prevented Willow's demise (just as Giles did for years) and she and Dawn would have remained close. Sometimes I think the tension on the show is due to the fact that the actors have figured out that their characters only stay with Buffy because the writers demand it.

I think Buffy has potential, but she's not using it. Yet the writers don't let anyone else step into that position. I don't mean to sound harsh. I identify with the character but I would like to see her learn, grow, and find herself.

[> Agree and disagree. (spoilers 7.15 and 6.fin) -- tomfool, 14:48:14 02/19/03 Wed

I agree with everything you said, but also disagree with everything you said.

I think you're experiencing the exact feelings the writers want you to feel. Buffy's hypocrisy is obvious and is hung right there in front of us. She didn't follow through and do her part. She wasn't willing to make her part of the sacrifice At least that's how it appears on the surface.

The Shadowmen offered power, but it came without knowledge. Buffy has always subverted the accepted slayer paradigm. Alone in the history of the slayer, she has chosen to keep her own counsel and trust her heart and her instincts. Through this, she has become the first slayer to be truly enlightened, i.e., full of knowledge. She was given a choice. Well, actually she wasn't, but she forced a choice. Did she make the right one? According to your argument, she didn't. I think she did. She went with her instincts and I have no doubt that we'll see her proven right in the end. She 'knows' that power isn't the only answer. Power at the expense of her humanity may be just what the First needs to win. She senses that there's something more.

Do I have a compelling argument? No. I've just got faith in Buffy's judgment and think that it will turn out to be the right decision in the end, even though it will cause her lots of pain in the meantime.

[> [> Re: Agree and disagree. (spoilers 7.15 and 6.fin) -- astrid, 16:26:33 02/19/03 Wed

I think you're experiencing the exact feelings the writers want you to feel. Buffy's hypocrisy is obvious and is hung right there in front of us. She didn't follow through
and do her part. She wasn't willing to make her part of the sacrifice At least that's how it appears on the surface.

I too have the vague sense that we're supposed to be uneasy with the attitude which Buffy has taken. A while ago someone suggested that the goal of this season would revolve around Heart - the heart which Buffy seems to have lost somewhere in the struggle between Buffy and Slayer. That seems truer than ever, given what we saw of her here.

I'm hoping that Buffy's apparent lack of empathy is intentional, that it's leading up to some kind of internal or external confrontation that will help her figure out how to integrate all of who and what she is. To me that's what most needs to happen for her to grow as a character. I'm really hoping that we're not supposed to see Buffy's "Shape up or ship out" attitude towards her friends and allies as the right one, because as Shiraz says, it doesn't jive with Buffy's own actions here.

[> [> [> Look to CwDP! And not just 'cause Holden is cute! -- ponygirl, 08:52:51 02/20/03 Thu

It seems to me that most of what Buffy is going through right now was spelled out in CwDP. We have the superiority with her speech, Anya even calls her Miss Superior, we have the inferiority when she regrets her decision, especially in light of what the others did to get her back. As Holden said it all adds up to Buffy feeling alone, and I think we're headed for a Scooby split on a grander scale than season 4. Especially when we-all-know-who arrives.

Buffy may make mistakes, but ultimately I don't think she'll fail. If her heart isn't functioning exactly as it should right now, it will only make her regaining of her empathy and kindness all the more meaningful in the end.

[> [> [> [> Re: Look to CwDP! And not just 'cause Holden is cute! -- WickedBuffy, 14:34:02 02/20/03 Thu

Maybe the mistake Buffy refers to thinking she made was about how she was to everyone before she jumped through the portal - for the very reasons people have already posted.

[> [> Re: Agree and disagree. (spoilers 7.15 and 6.fin) -- Shiraz, 19:35:25 02/19/03 Wed

One thing you need to remember is that she went to the Shadowmen herself, of her own free will. They did not come to her, like the watcher's council did.

She was the one who decided to crack open the slayer Emergency Broadcast System and send out a message across the ages.

She may not have known what exactly she was getting into, but she must have known it was big, and she must have known there would be some kind of sacrifice involved. There always is. She was even shown the bit about being chained to the earth before hand, she could have stopped the ritual if she wanted.

But even beyond this, if Buffy values her humanity so much why does she place so little value on other people's humanity? Why, if trusting her own instinct is so important to her, does she have so little trust in Willow and Spike's instincts?

The only answer I can come up with is that she values the humanity in herself, but not in her friends, and that attitude, for this episode, at least, makes her very unsympathetic.


[> [> [> Respectfully disagree. (*Spoilers 7.15 / 6.02 / 6.22*) -- OnM, 20:45:00 02/19/03 Wed

*** But even beyond this, if Buffy values her humanity so much why does she place so little value on other people's humanity? Why, if trusting her own instinct is so important to her, does she have so little trust in Willow and Spike's instincts? ***

She does value the humanity in her friends. What she does not value is allowing fear to weaken the hearts of those people who have willingly chosen to serve the same cause that Buffy fights for.

The 'humanity' is the spirit that keeps the inner demon/darkness in check. Buffy knows that learning to do this is always painful and difficult, but it is something that she has done herself, many times, and is continuing to do so.

Spike, Willow, Anya and Faith all chose to touch the darkness. Buffy was handed the darkness as a fait accompli and told 'this is your destiny'. Despite this, Buffy has kept the dark/light balance overwhelmingly on the side of light, by any conceivable measure.

Contrast what was required to make Buffy even consider suicide:

She saves the world, sacrificing her life to do so, and does it willingly. She then finds herself in what appears to be some manner of heaven. She is torn out of that heaven, and delivered back into what appears to be a literal hell. She climbs back up to the top of the tower from where she made her sacrifice, and effectively asks, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" Good question.

By contrast, Chloe listens to a being she knows to be an evil spirit, one who lies and seeks destruction and desides that she's had enough, that she'd rather die now than later. Bad idea.

You know, one can on occasion actually be an idiot, without being a bad person. Anyone else here have that kind of situation arise in their own, far more ordinary life? I know I have.

BTW Shiraz, great post, very well reasoned-- wanted to say that, even though it is obvious that I disagree with you.


[> [> [> [> Well said OnM. Agree. -- s'kat, 21:06:27 02/19/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> Re: Respectfully disagree. (*Spoilers 7.15 / 6.02 / 6.22*) -- Rufus, 23:56:22 02/19/03 Wed

You know, one can on occasion actually be an idiot, without being a bad person. Anyone else here have that kind of situation arise in their own, far more ordinary life? I know I have.

You just pointed out the crappy part of being a young hero such as Buffy....she doesn't have all the power or wisdom, she is learning on the job. One thing about people is that we tend to look at a situation judge the person, sometimes harshly, until that person does something that makes us forget for the moment we thought they were a thoughtless jerk just a short while ago. Heroes has a shitty job, they have to not only do the right thing all the time, but so many depend upon them always doing the right thing as if it is an easy thing to do. Heroes do make the hard stuff look easy but that can lead people to making conclusions about the hero based upon things that happen as we see them. I count on the fact that as surely as we can judge someone in the worst way we also tend to change our minds as time and circumstances change. If I were judged for every crappy thing I've ever said when under stress or upset I'd have a toasty spot in hell right now. Buffy isn't perfect and I love that we have a hero with so many human flaws. I guess that our last impression of Buffy will be based upon her last defeat or victory.

[> [> [> [> [> OnM and Rufus, you totally nailed my feelings on the matter! -- Rob, 10:52:26 02/20/03 Thu

[> [> [> Totally disagree, and rambling about it. -- HonorH, 11:52:02 02/20/03 Thu

She may not have known what exactly she was getting into, but she must have known it was big, and she must have known there would be some kind of sacrifice involved. There always is. She was even shown the bit about being chained to the earth before hand, she could have stopped the ritual if she wanted.

This is faulty logic. When Buffy broke out the Emergency Kit, she was looking for knowledge only. She wanted to find out what being the Slayer meant, what the Slayer could do. She threw herself into the portal explicitly looking for knowledge. Once she was there, though, she was knocked cold, chained up, and told essentially to "lie still and enjoy it." That's not making a sacrifice; that's being violated.

This was when she started to rebel, to say, "This isn't the way." She refused the power, realizing it would make her less human.

Also, you're reacting as if Buffy had already made this decision when she asked Willow and Spike to delve into their darkness. She hadn't. A person has the right to change her mind, and Buffy may well be feeling her oats now. She's always--always--valued the humanity in her friends, the humanity they connect her with. Her words after Chloe's death were brought forth out of fear and frustration. She teaches the Potentials, she houses them, she trains them, and still, one of them let the First in. After burying the girl, she lashes out in anger and grief, because it seems like no matter what they do, it's not enough.

So she gets angry at Willow and Spike for holding back. Now, it's debatable what effect this will ultimately have, but the truth is, they have been holding back. Willow hasn't been exploring her power. She's been playing it safe. Spike hasn't had his heart in the fight. Right now, they're the big guns, along with Buffy, and they're holding back.

The big question is: will using their power make Willow and Spike less human? Is Buffy truly asking them to go into the darkness? Can they use their full power and retain the humanity they've gained?

Those questions aren't answered. The one that was answered was what would happen to Buffy if she took in that demonic energy: she would become less human. She would become more like one of the things she fights. I think she made the right choice.

[> [> [> [> Brava! -- Rob, 12:11:57 02/20/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> Re: Totally disagree, and rambling about it. -- Miss Edith, 12:13:07 02/20/03 Thu

If Buffy isn't exploring the potential of her power then how can she expect Willow to? I didn't get the impression that Buffy's power was as seperate from her as others seem to be suggesting. It was part of her slayer roots. I did agree with Buffy's speech, but I do think she was hypocritical in choosing to hold back in the end. Willow knows that her magic is dangerous. In Sefless her control briefly slipped and it wasn't pleasant. Buffy is telling Willow to stop being wussy and just get on with it. Likewise Spike has been trying to embrace his humanity and Buffy is pretty much telling him she needs him to return to the killer he was. I do think Buffy needs to make the same sacrifice she expects from her friends.

[> [> [> [> [> Missing my point, I think. -- HonorH, 12:31:11 02/20/03 Thu

Buffy refused to accept more power *from outside herself*. She's been fully using the power she already has. Spike and Willow, OTOH, haven't been. She doesn't want Killer!Spike; she wants Dangerous!Spike. She's asking him to kill demons, not humans. She doesn't want Darth Rosenberg; she wants Willow to explore the power she has and to stop being so afraid of it. What Buffy refuses in the Shadow World isn't her own power that she already possesses. She refuses an infusion of demonic power that *would* make her less human. Totally different thing.

[> [> [> [> [> [> I most totally agree with you!!!!(some GID spoilage) -- WickedBuffy, 14:55:27 02/20/03 Thu


Buffy showed her power, too - in making that choice. (I still think a key theme here for all of them is "choice". They make choices listening to the FE, or to even listen to FE. They make choices about using their powers or strengths. They choose between fear, death/suicide, good and evil)

It's like Willow - a great example in last nights show. When she was talking to Kennedy about sucking her power out. Willow said, explaining about her magic: "That's how it works..." then she kind of catches herself and says "That's how *I* work" as if finally admitting in some way that maybe all magic doesn't work that way - just taking without asking or giving the other people involved a choice. (choice)

If Willows magic does need to use power from other people, then perhaps it's black because she's taking it without permission. If she gave the people a choice, maybe it wouldn't turn her eyes black - it would become "white" magic.

Then again, following your lead about using the power within yourself as Buffy decided in the caves, if Willow accepted she had the power within herself and used that, perhaps it would become "good" magic. Willow's had that inferority thing going about herself since early shows. (Not counting when she was totally consumed by Bad, talking about everyday normal Willow.)

I still think a true source of power everyone of them has is choice. And that Buffy actually came back more humane than when she left. Maybe having to make the choice about losing it brought her around. The first thing she did when Willow came into her room was apologize. Total difference from General Buffy right before she portal-jumped.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Missing my point, I think. -- Miss Edith, 15:27:41 02/20/03 Thu

Buffy was offered an exchange of power after being told she is the last guardian of the Hellmouth. Seems acceptable to me. What she was offered was the energy of the demon, its spirit and heart, the same power that is already partly responsible for creating slayers. She was told that she would become one with the power and it would make her useful and ready for the fight. Buffy is the only one with a destiny to save the world which is why she was IMO obliged to accept the extra power. It was all connected to her slayer roots after all. Willow accessing her magic was likely to be problematic as last time she got seriously into it she got "so juiced" she tried to end the world. Yet Buffy insisted the risk was worth it and I agree. Again with Spike he didn't want to return to his former self, the demon who tried to kill Buffy, but that was how he could be useful. All valid points. Yet in contrast Buffy was shown to be rejecting the power offered to her when she feared it would corrupt her. I understand your point about the moral being the characters just needed to utilise the power they already had. I still feel Buffy was hypocritical though in not taking the risk in accessing the power that was made available to her as part of her slayer birthright. I guess I don't consider it an outside power as it was all connected to slayers.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yes, but-- -- HonorH, 16:35:21 02/20/03 Thu

1. People have already been complaining that Buffy's too Slayery this year--and now she's supposed to accept another infusion of demonic energy? That may make her more the Slayer, but what will that do to the part of her that's Buffy? She's using all her Slayer power right now, pushing herself harder and harder, the way she did fifth season. That's all she's asking Willow and Spike to do.

2. She was chained. The original Slayer was chained. Held captive and violated by demonic energy. As Buffy stated last ep, "You don't fight evil with evil." Whatever the Wise Guys' motivation was, they did something evil to that girl and meant to do the same thing to Buffy. My gut instinct tells me that this is not the way the fight will be won. What Buffy originally wanted--knowledge and wisdom--is a better route to go before accepting more power.

3. As I've stated before, Buffy's experience may have given her more perspective on what she's asking of Spike and Willow. We'll have to watch that one, but she was certainly more subdued at the end of the ep.

[> [> [> [> Re: Totally disagree, and rambling about it. -- Shiraz, 12:52:37 02/20/03 Thu

"Is Buffy truly asking them to go into the darkness?"

In Spike's case, Hell yes. Remember she states that she wants the Spike that came after her in Season 2. Spike doesn't come any darker than that. Also Buffy was standing right there when the First took possession Willow during a spell earlier this year.

"The one that was answered was what would happen to Buffy if she took in that demonic energy: she would become less human. She would become more like one of the things she fights. I think she made the right choice."

Would it? Or would she have been able to deal with it, like Willow and Spike currently are. Remember, she already has this very same demonic energy inside her, and she seems to have dealt with it just fine. Maybe, just possibly, she could have dealt with this new power the same way.


"Fire-raiser, is he?" said Bravd at last.

"No," said Rincewind. "Not precisely. Let's just say that if complete and utter chaos was lightning, he'd be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting 'All gods are bastards'."

T. Pratchett, The Color of Magic

[> [> [> [> Weakness as a portal -- tomfool, 12:57:11 02/20/03 Thu

Agree on all points. One line caught my interest. You say that Buffy is basically pissed at Chloe for 'letting the First in." I think this is something Buffy instinctively understands. Weakness is the portal for the first. (Maybe not the only one, but a big one.) Look at who has been corrupted by the FE:

Andrew is the epitome of a weak person and so is the perfect vessel for the First. He's the ultimate follower with no backbone. At least he was early in the season. Lately he's been doing overtime at the chiropractor and appears to be effectively repelling the First.

Newly resouled, chip-wonky Spike is also week. The First moves right in. After Buffy gave him a reason to be strong, he appears to be resisting.

Unsure of her magics Willow is weak Willow. The First tried to get her to off herself but didn't succeed. Even in her weakened state, she's still a big gun and could resist. But she needs to be stronger for the final showdown.

Chloe, although we didn't even know her, was weak and susceptible. She was obviously troubled as shown in the dream.

As I proposed in a different thread, Wood is highly suspect as now working for the First. At first glance, he appears to be anything but weak. But the First finds his Achilles heel in his desire for vengeance on his mother's killer. And the First slips in. (Still speculative at this point, I know.)

Buffy recognizes the 'weakness portal' and realizes that if she doesn't help her friends/allies be strong, they'll fall victim to the FE. So her 'everyone sucks but me' speech is actually a gift to them. She's trying to keep them strong and alive. A true friend is someone who will tell you the truth. Buffy may not always be the most likeable person in the room, but she is the truest of friends.

The MN philosopher Garrison Keillor once said, "Take good care of your friends, because there will be times when you are no good to anybody and there'll be no good reason to like you except just out of pure habit." This seems applicable to lots of Scoobie situations in the last two seasons. Buffy has certainly earned a few get out of jail free cards from her friends. I'll let her use one here.

[> Re: Humanity for me but not for thee? (long-spoilers 7.15 and 6.fin) -- Arethusa, 15:25:43 02/19/03 Wed

I think Buffy didn't accept the power because it was the wrong kind of power, from the wrong source. But-isn't Willow using the wrong kind of power for good? Or did they pay the price by having to kill the demon "exchange student"? Perhaps Buffy is afraid that the price she would be called to pay would be one they can't handle.

[> Re: But Buffy is being Active vs. Passivity in the others -- Slay bells, 16:00:54 02/19/03 Wed

I think Buffy's frustration comes from sensing the other's retreat from the risk of wrestling with the good/evil both within and without. ie. Willow avoiding or just 'dabbling' in magic vs. truly struggling to master her power. Spike retreating completely from the vampire part of his nature to become almost entirely William instead of facing the struggle and pain of integrating the two. If this is what she was getting at then she was not hypocritical because she did (literally) dive in and face and struggle with her power and make a decision about it (vs. the passive avoidance on the others.) This is even indicated in her comment to Wood that maybe someone should make Willow mad, because right now she's just a 'wicca that won'ta'.

[> [> But that's not what a leader does.(still spoiled) -- Shiraz, 20:00:49 02/19/03 Wed

When she effectively ordered Spike and Willow to turn the safety's off on their respective powers, she took away their choice. She was essentially saying, "Give me everything you've got or get out of my house!" Neither of them had anywhere else to go.

Now this can be justified, if we accept that Buffy is the General and this is wartime. But as I said, a good leader asks nothing of her troops that she wouldn't be willing to do herself. That is where she failed by turning down the power.

If she had made even the slightest indication that she trusted either Spike or Willow to make the right decisions on their own (like she'd done up til now), her choice wouldn't be an issue. She didn't walk her talk.


[> [> [> Buffy did walk her talk (spoilers) -- Slay bells, 23:59:47 02/19/03 Wed

She asked them to face their power and deal with it then she faced her power and dealt with it. The power is in the choice. Buffy told them to make a choice, she didn't take away their choice. They still had choices: do nothing, leave (Spike even offered to leave in the last episode), or use everything within them to help (or destroy). Willow seemed to get this more than the others. Even in the heat of the debate she acknowleged that Buffy was right, Buffy was using her power, Willow was not.

[> Re: "Humanity" not in the job description before (spoilers 7.15 and 6.fin) -- pr10n, 16:17:41 02/19/03 Wed

I'll take a swing at this, because I (like cjl) trust Buffy.

Big ups to Psyche for the quotes, and I don't mean to insult anybody by referring to canon like I'm the only guy who gets it. Loving the board, BTW.

My basic points: 1. Leadership is not a quality possessed by Slayers until Buffy, who is (because of her destiny) more than a Slayer, and 2. She didn't accept the spirity mojo because it was contradictory to her destiny -- starting the Slayer line again won't solve her major evil problems.

(I promise to not rehash the "Buffy: Slayer or Not?" argument, even though she died in that S1 puddle and came back the Goddess of Space and Time, and everybody knows it... oops)

Why should a Slayer be need leadership skills? The drift of ME's descriptions of past Slayers is that they were loners, destined to fight and die alone, just Slayer and Watcher until the Slayer dies at minus-25.

In S1 Nightmares Giles mourns the fallen Buffy -- it's his nightmare to see her dead. He should have protected her, "I should have been more c... cautious. Taken more time to train you. But you were so gifted. And the evil was so great." Um, English -- you're handsome and all, but I've seen you fight and you ain't so much. Also, Buffy could kick your ass in bunny slippers.

Still, the Watcher/Slayer --> Dead Slayer/Watcher Emeritus timeline is awfully well established.

Also, in S2 School Hard Spike says, "A Slayer with family and friends. That sure as hell wasn't in the brochure." Buffy has family, friends, estranged family, friends from other cities, a sister who winked into the story midstream, boyfriends in other cities, a fellow Slayer in prison...

She pretty much skews the curve.

"Lone-wolf Slayer" is as canon as it gets (with the obvious exception of Buffy and possibly of Faith [but look what happened to her]), until this season when we learn about Wood's mother. Suddenly anything's possible: If Slayers can have children, can they have pets? Tuba recitals?

Well, no. Kendra got a little soft and friendly, started borrowing clothes and stuff, and had her throat scratched out. Faith started hanging with the Scoobies and became the Master's lap dog and a stone-cold killer. The jury's still out on her.

Buffy has already died and lived to tell about it, seen her Watcher move on, and dismissed the Council not once but twice, or maybe three times since she kicked the prehistorical butts in Get it Done.

They wanted to make her into a really powerful Slayer -- haven't they been watching the show? She's already the Queen of Slayer City! Power Handupme was only a short term solution -- "It's all we have to give."

But the First Slayer warned her: [cue growly voice] "It's not enough!"

Buffy's self-doubt is why she looks bizarre to us lately. Buffy is feeling her way along in the dark this season. Her speeches sound hollow because her strength has always been in herself, and now she's trying to whip the team into Ramming Speed. And granted, ScoobiesPlus are uncomfortable with the whipping. But they aren't the super-human Chosen One, are they?

Maybe a little guilt and derision is what everyone needed, or maybe Buffy's a hamfisted non-counselor, but what did she ask of everyone except to be themselves, their true selves, even if it was hard or scary?

Buffy refused the chance to become anything other than what she has become through her own force of will, and that in the end will be what defeats the First.

[> Sauce for the goose -- Sophist, 17:16:32 02/19/03 Wed

I had the same problem, but I've decided there's a distinction between Buffy's case and those of Willow and Spike (at least).

Buffy first. I have no doubt that we were meant to see her rejection of additional demonic power as the right choice. The metaphorical attempted rape was barely metaphor. No larger purpose could justify this original version of droit du seigneur.

For this reason, I can't agree with your suggestion that "it was the slayer's job to bring back the strength from the source of the slayer, the strength they all need to beat the First; without that there was no point to this little exercise." Her obligation ended when they chained her to the rock.

Moreover, I doubt that the supercharging would have been effective. I don't see the FE as being defeated by Buffy having SuperSlayer strength. If I'm wrong about this, I'll revisit your point.

Now to Willow and Spike. The issue is whether their situations are symmetrical to Buffy's. After much thought, I don't believe so. Buffy did not ask them to gain more power. She didn't ask Willow to go drain another Rack, she didn't ask Spike to become an UberVamp.

What she did was demand that they use the power they already have. This was no different than what Buffy demands of herself. Yes, Willow and Spike have powers rooted in darkness; we now know that Buffy does too. She controls that power in order to use it for good. She demanded that Willow and Spike do the same.

Whether she was wise to do so is a different question. I see Willow and Spike as both barely in control. Whether they are ready to use their power remains to be seen. OTOH, Buffy doesn't have much choice -- if they don't or won't use it, the battle may be over before it even begins.

[> [> Sorry -- Spoilers for 7.15 above -- Sophist, 17:30:44 02/19/03 Wed

[> [> Adding my voice to Sophist's, and also: -- HonorH, 17:55:21 02/19/03 Wed

Buffy returns much subdued, saying she was "hard on you guys" to Willow. Might it also be that her experience has led her to reconsider her words to Willow and Spike, especially?

And there is, too, the fact that Spike *hasn't* been putting his heart into the fight. He gets thrashed every time, which isn't like him. Though the soul is a good thing, it's robbed him of a lot of his fire. He needs to get that fire back if he's to be an effective fighter for good rather than bad.

Willow has also been timid about her power to the point of uselessness. She implicitly admits it. If she's to fight the First with her power, she needs to get over her fear and learn how to use that power to its fullest. To put a capper on it, although the magic-using got pretty dark, Willow *didn't* go long-term evil. She pressed her limits, but she returned to herself quickly. That's good.

[> [> [> Yeah, but... -- luna, 18:04:54 02/19/03 Wed

Buffy may be noticing the same thing in herself. She saw some evil tendencies in herself with Spike before he got his soul and wisely withdrew--but here she may be withdrawing inappropriately.

[> [> [> [> Also very true. -- HonorH, 18:51:58 02/19/03 Wed

One can hardly disagree with her decision to withdraw from her relationship with Spike (unless you're such a fanatical B/S 'shipper that you can't see straight). However, you're right in that she may be pulling back too far from her own inner darkness. Not because it gives her strength, necessarily, but because it gives her knowledge. Knowledge of the darkness may be what saves her in the end.

[> [> [> glad you said this, hh -- anom, 21:51:35 02/19/03 Wed

"Buffy returns much subdued, saying she was 'hard on you guys' to Willow. Might it also be that her experience has led her to reconsider her words to Willow and Spike, especially?"

She also said she might have made the wrong decision. Maybe the whole point was for her to face something like what she was demanding of the others & see that she wasn't willing to do the same. She probably thought she was willing when she jumped into the portal--after all, she went w/out knowing what the "exchange" would be--& then she found out willingness had nothing to do w/it. (Let me just put in a word for informed consent here.) We'll have to see whether it leads her to question the tack she's been taking w/the Scoobies & the Potentials.

[> [> [> [> Re: glad you said this, hh -- Miss Edith, 11:25:39 02/20/03 Thu

That was what I thought too. It seemed intentional. Buffy rants about being the one with the power, and the others need to listen to her and get it done. And then when given the choice to take in more power Buffy holds back. I felt it was about Buffy learning the lesson that she was just as scared and fallible as everyone else.

I did agree with most of Buffy's speech because it was time everyone started to toughen up. Buffy had been gentle with Spike and it got her nowhere. She got frustrated, and kicked him into shape and we see a positive effect. Buffy was on the right track but I did feel there was a lesson about Buffy needing to remember to embrace her humanity and not become too harsh, otherwise she might end up like Kennedy. And I did think she should have accepted the extra power. JMO.

[> [> Maybe the power wasn't physical -- luna, 18:02:12 02/19/03 Wed

Moreover, I doubt that the supercharging would have been effective. I don't see the FE as being defeated by Buffy having SuperSlayer strength. If I'm wrong about this, I'll revisit your point.

But maybe they were offering not more power but a different kind, to fight a different kind of demon. After all, why wouldn't they have give the Slayer line all the physical power they could when they made the First Slayer?

[> [> [> We'll never know for sure, -- Sophist, 19:05:33 02/19/03 Wed

but it seemed to me that the Shadowmen tried to do to Buffy the same thing they had done to the First Slayer. I saw that as dosing her with more of her original power.

[> [> [> For all we know.... -- WickedBuffy, 15:44:40 02/20/03 Thu

I agree - power is a tool. It's not necessarily physical. There are all types of power. How it's used, the decisions made regarding it, its what colors it as "good" or as "evil". And we already know that the FE probably has no butt to kick. (R.Wood)

For all we know the Shadowmen aren't child defilers but are actually wise.

For all we know, that was a test Buffy went through - realizing she could make a choice, and claiming that power WAS the power.

For all we know, when Buffy dreamed the First Slayer threw her down the stairs and growled "blahblah not enough" it was the FE playing with her mind, as the FE so lovingly does. Or, it was the spirit of the First Slayer and in HER (First Slayers perception, it's not enough. Not the solid truth, but the First SLayers perception. Remember, FS did accept the demon strength and was fairly pre-verbal in evolutionary development. Then brute strength was the only way you survived. Has the First Slayers intelligence or wisdom ever been questioned?

For all we know Andrew is the screen everyone else's ego's are truly being portrayed on.

For all we know, Buffy wasn't shown that final clip we saw.

For all we know, Buffy WAS shown that final clip, and it was false. (Because, for all we know, these Shadowmen *are* manipulative, little girl corrupters forcing demon juice on people so they don't have to fight their own fights against demons)

For all we know, the Shadowmen were projections from The Powers That Be and this whole Hellmouth thing is a huge lesson to humans about their own nature.

For all we know, Chloe's character was offed because she didn't show up for the previous episode and ME was mad at her.

I'm trying to figure out why some things are taken at face value in BtVS and others aren't. Some are clearcut, not talking about those (Willow has witch power). Some are borderline and discussed (Was that the FE or really Buffys moms ghost?) but what about the rest?

and for all I know, no one is reading any of my posts today and I don't care, I'm just having fun writing them. :p

[> [> Agreeing with Sophist and HonorH... (spoilers GID) -- Ixchel, 19:03:46 02/19/03 Wed

In addition, I believe Willow and Spike understood _why_ Buffy had to "ask" this of them. Willow knew how upset (and _scared_) Buffy was at the beginning of her tirade and knew that her (Willow's) power is needed. Spike seemed to understand also when he left to go get the demon (maybe getting thrown through the ceiling made it clearer ;). He didn't seem angry with Buffy, just determined. IMHO, he also encouraged Willow with his statement about Buffy counting on her (them).

And Buffy did seem regretful at the end, while Willow was understanding.


[> [> [> Re: Agreeing with Sophist and HonorH... (spoilers GID) -- Shiraz, 21:38:24 02/19/03 Wed

You're right, Willow and Spike did agree with Buffy's assessment of their abilities, and they immediately changed their behavior to better match what Buffy expected from them, and it cost both of them dearly.

The problem is that Buffy does not rise to the occasion the way her friends do. It's Buffy that chooses not to take the power offered to her, even though all of her friends are counting on her.

There! I think that's my point, (for now, at least ;)


[> [> [> [> Shiraz, at the risk of being egotistical I've reposted... (spoilers) -- Ixchel, 09:07:22 02/20/03 Thu

Something I posted below regarding my perception that Buffy perhaps has reached her limit for demon essence (edited for clarity, well, sort of):

I suppose it's debatable (for now anyway) whether Buffy made the correct decision to refuse the additional power. And, I suppose, it's possible Willow could send her back later should she change her mind. But, maybe Buffy knew (intuitively) that she had the maximum power she could sustain without loosing herself (ceasing to be "Buffy")? After all, in being called she has _already_ been infused with demon power (just as Willow and Spike are). Perhaps, Willow (with support from Anya and anchoring from Xander?) and Spike (with the soul and anchoring from Buffy) are at that point as well? They just hadn't truly used their power for fear of loss of control (and who can blame them?). But time is running out. So, to use Xander's hammer analogy (Help), Buffy taking in additional power would be like holding the end of the hammer (plenty of power, no control), as Willow has done with magic (S6) and Spike has done being a vampire (without the soul)? Also, this would mean that up until GID, Willow and Spike have been holding the hammer too close to the head (plenty of control, no power). If this applies, then Buffy made the correct decision, and Willow and Spike have now (hopefully) put aside their fear (bravery is, IMHO, being afraid and doing what needs to be done anyway), and found the balance between power and control or are at least finding this balance?

Also, though I agree it cost Willow and Spike to do this, I don't believe they have lost themselves. Willow's hair and eyes did turn black and she did take "power" from Anya and Kennedy without asking, but I don't think the damage is irreparable. IMHO, Anya will understand, even if she complains later (though I'd like to see Willow apologize to her too). And Willow was honest with Kennedy afterwards. Hopefully, if this is necessary again, it can be discussed first and Willow will only use willing "power-boosters". Also, the second Xander grabbed Willow after the portal was created her hair and eyes changed back. I believe Xander is her anchor to her humanity and helps her maintain control (much as the SG has been for Buffy and Buffy is for Spike now). As to Spike, IMHO Traveler may have a valid point about the fight in the alley (that Spike needed to force the "fighting spirit" just a bit). Also, Buffy herself finds "satisfaction" in slaying. She just can't let it control her, and so Spike can learn similar balance. And at the end of the fight he seemed more thoughtful than anything else. I think the coat and smoking are misleadingly ominous as Willow's hair and eye color change are, along with taking "power". This is not to say I don't believe Willow and Spike won't struggle in coming episodes, but (IMHO) they won't "fall".

So as to your primary point that Buffy didn't "step up", I believe that she somehow knew that she was at her limit for "demon power" and to take more might upset her balance, cause her to loose herself like Willow when her worst aspect is enhanced by channeling too much "dark" magic or Spike with his worst aspect enhanced by the "demon" and without the counterbalance of the soul. That she might go the way of Faith (pre-Sanctuary) at a time when she's most needed.

Of course this is all JMHO, I could be terribly mistaken and you could be completely correct. ;)


[> [> [> [> [> Spoilers only for GID above. -- Ixchel, 09:38:29 02/20/03 Thu

[> [> Re: Sauce for the goose -- Shiraz, 21:14:18 02/19/03 Wed

Then why open the box to begin with? What did she expect to find in there?

A handy little device labled "IN CASE OF FIRST EVIL BREAK GLASS"?

This was the slayer's doomsday device, she knew that from the moment saw it. She should have known that the costs of using it would be high. Xander even told her so!

But not only did she open the box, but she put the none-too-subtle pieces together and began the ritual. What's more, the Shadowmen were completely honest with her from the moment she arrived. They told her that this was the end, and she needed more power. They told her things Dracula had hinted about, and the first slayer had waltzed around.

And I would agree that Buffy did not ask Willow and Spike to gain more power; she out and out demanded it of them. True she wasn't asking them to do anything they hadn't done before, but considering that Willow nearly destroyed the world and Spike was the terror of three conitnents, that's not really saying much.

Who knows Willow better, Willow or Buffy? I'm voting for Willow. Ditto for Spike. Neither one of them would have taken the actions they did if Buffy hadn't told them she needed them this way. They both were worried that pushing themselves to far would be dangerous. Their control might have been overwhelmed, their controll could still be overwhelmed. Buffy had no right to manipulate them the way she did. Especially if she had no intention of taking this road herself.

Now you're probably right that the power the Shadowmen were going to give her won't be necessary in the final fight. Why? Because she turned the power down, and and I don't think the season going to end with everybody dead. (Heck, Buffy even made it so that Faith couldn't get at this power)

But that's not really the point. Buffy can't possibly know whats to come. That's why she starts the ritual to begin with. But she did know that being chained to a rock was a distinct possibility. (Always listen to puppets, just ask Sid.)

And frankly, the Shadowmen in the Box are part of the Power a Slayer already has, and should be willing to use if the situation calls for it.


[> [> [> Re: Sauce for the goose -- Sophist, 10:15:38 02/20/03 Thu

Then why open the box to begin with? What did she expect to find in there?

She couldn't have known anything at all. She opened it to find out.

But not only did she open the box, but she put the none-too-subtle pieces together and began the ritual.

I don't see how merely looking at the puzzle pieces could have told her what to expect. She used the pieces for the same reason she opened the box: to find out what was there.

What's more, the Shadowmen were completely honest with her from the moment she arrived.

Hardly. They knocked her out and chained her while she was unconscious. At no time did they tell her what they intended; she herself realized it from the shadow figures she had seen in her living room (and the story Dawn read).

Buffy did not ask Willow and Spike to gain more power; she out and out demanded it of them.

This is my biggest disagreement. I do not believe she asked them (or demanded) to gain more power. To the contrary, she asked them to use the power they already had. For this reason, Buffy's refusal of additional power was not inconsistent with her demands on Spike and Willow -- Buffy does use her existing power, they were not.

the Shadowmen in the Box are part of the Power a Slayer already has, and should be willing to use if the situation calls for it.

I think Buffy is willing to use the power she already has; I think she uses it nearly every day. Adding more power isn't necessarily good -- look at Willow in Villains and Grave.

To move back to metaphor, Buffy's power -- like Willow's, like Spike's, like Xander's -- is a metaphor for the gifts we all have within us. We have no obligation to seek outside enhancements of those gifts, our obligation is to use what we do have as best we can. Buffy has been doing this, Willow and Spike have let fear prevent them from doing so.

Whether Buffy was wise in forcing the issue with those 2, or in the way she did, are certainly debatable.

[> [> [> [> Perfect summary -- tomfool, 10:51:08 02/20/03 Thu

"To move back to metaphor, Buffy's power -- like Willow's, like Spike's, like Xander's -- is a metaphor for the gifts we all have within us. We have no obligation to seek outside enhancements of those gifts, our obligation is to use what we do have as best we can."

This is the best short summary of the philosophy of BtVS that I've ever read.

[> [> [> [> I can't believe it -- JBone, 22:08:14 02/20/03 Thu

I can't believe that I've read every post (okay, maybe I gave up after 4 hours) in this thread and agree with damn near everything that Sophist said. I don't know which one of us has "come around", but it was a pleasant surprise. Maybe there is hope...

[> [> [> [> [> LOL -- Sophist, 09:06:34 02/21/03 Fri

Even a blind pig finds an acorn sometimes, JB. Don't lose your faith in the universe -- I'm sure it'll never happen again. :)

And tomfool: Thanks.

[> [> Agreeing with Sophist -- Malandanza, 22:52:12 02/19/03 Wed

I would add that there's one big difference between Buffy's choice and the choices made by Willow and Spike -- Willow and Spike made informed choices. They both know the consequences of giving in to the evil inside and forewarned is forearmed. Buffy had no idea why the Shadowmen wanted to imbue her with a demon soul -- they made a few cryptic remarks about power, but didn't give Buffy any information on what the demon soul would do to her or why it was important. After she rejects them, they show her the demon army, but, apparently, it's too late to change her mind (maybe Faith will make the sacrifice). I don't think it's fair to judge Buffy for not being willing to sacrifice her humanity when so much information was being withheld. Had she been shown the army ahead of time and told of the consequences of not making the sacrifice, her choice may well have been different.

But I think that Buffy's angry comments about Spike and Willow were really more about gunnysacking than anything else. She had just buried a potential who died in her charge. I can see her getting angrier and more frustrated with every shovel of dirt -- and that frustration culminated in her "eulogy." Then Kennedy and Xander started in on her and everything she'd been keeping inside started coming out. She wasn't there to berate Anya for not helping, or Spike or Willow for holding back, but she is doing her best to keep everyone alive and isn't receiving as much help as she might. She was sick of baby-sitting Spike and Willow -- she doesn't have time to hold their hands and murmur appreciatively as they complain about how bad their lives are -- and that's what her comments reflected.

[> [> [> Marching orders -- Shiraz, 08:45:05 02/20/03 Thu

You're most likely right about Buffy's state of mind when she gave that speech, but, as leader of the group she must have realized how her words would have been taken.

And really the point is that Spike and Willow took Buffy's blunt critique of them to heart, and because of it did things that will have serious repercussions for them in the very near future.

Also, how was Buffy not getting support? She's been living in a clean, structurally sound house. Research is going on there 24/7. She's got spells to find new potentials, and a real, unlive vamp to train them on. She's always got someone to patrol with, and someone to drive her to work in the morning. Hell just last week that "Wicca that won'ta" (with help) thwarted an attack by the First Evil. I don't see anybody slacking here.

If Buffy needs people to do more in this fight, then she needs lead by example and take on more herself.


[> [> [> [> Complete disagreement -- Malandanza, 12:02:17 02/20/03 Thu

"If Buffy needs people to do more in this fight, then she needs lead by example and take on more herself."

I can't think of any statement with which I disagree more -- not even the "Spike is so dreamy" remarks from previous seasons. Buffy takes everything on herself. She does lead by example. Buffy has been doing everything and the Scoobies (and Giles) have been floundering around behind her, waiting for her to make the hard decisions. And Buffy is willing to make those decisions and live by the consequences -- her friends are not. Buffy is not Generalisima Summers, a benevolent dictator who is obeyed unquestioningly. If Buffy says "jump" the Scoobies don't ask "how high?" they argue about who's going to jump, question whether they should be jumping at all and wonder why Buffy gets to tell them all to jump. In the end, if any jumping needs to be done, it is done by Buffy. It is rule by committee where no member but Buffy is willing to make a decision -- she is leader because she's operating in a leadership vacuum. She has power because she uses it. Buffy doesn't need to take on more burdens -- her friends need to either offer to share the burdens or, at least, stop forcing Buffy to carry their burdens as well. Buffy didn't turn Willow evil and she didn't ask Spike to get a soul -- these were their own choices.

Keep in mind that Buffy is trying her hardest to keep the potentials alive and avert yet another apocalypse. She has plenty of responsibilities. But the people she's trying to protect are making it harder for her -- Chloe is just the latest to let the First in -- we've seen Willow, Spike and the Principal all let the FE get a hold over them even though they know it's evil.

Actually, Dawn and Andrew follow her unquestioningly. They show initiative (Dawn's research and Andrew's board). The rest could take some pointers.

"And really the point is that Spike and Willow took Buffy's blunt critique of them to heart, and because of it did things that will have serious repercussions for them in the very near future."

Ultimately, the choice is Willow's or Spike's. Andrew doesn't get off the hook for killing Jonathan because the FE told him to -- Spike and Willow won't get off the hook if they go too far into darkness because Buffy was sick of the whining -- a Something Blue moment when Willow's friends got tired of the self-pity. She needed them uselful, not moping about the mistakes of past years -- turning completely to darkness makes them less useful than just sitting around and weeping out of self pity. Buffy doesn't want them evil -- she just wants them to be less of a burden.

[> [> Re: Sauce for the goose (spoilers to 7.15) -- Traveler, 04:52:28 02/20/03 Thu

I agree that Buffy probably did the right thing by rejecting the Shadowmen's offer. After all, love is suppose to be her power, not demonic energy. Still if it was the right move for her to reject her dark heritage, how can it be right for Spike and Willow to embrace theirs? I really don't see how using power rooted in evil is all that better than gaining new demonic power.

[> [> [> Re: Sauce for the goose (spoilers to 7.15) -- chasingthemews, 07:41:40 02/20/03 Thu

The labels seem to matter here. I thought Sophist's distinction between power that comes from within vs. power that is drawn from others, which is (arguably very) different than "power with an evil source" vs. "power from a good source" (or "power of darkness" vs. "power of light") was right on target for untangling this episode.

Among many possible ways, Buffy's nasty speech can be read as saying "You all aren't pulling your weight, go out and get back in touch with your dark powers," or as "You're all letting yourself succumb to despair and fear, and infecting even me with it, so get back in touch with the deepest source of your power"- with a perhaps unconscious focus on "look within!" I favor the latter, especially since one of Buffy's killer power sources has been her optimism and focus on getting it done. When she lets despair take over...

My take- Buffy got it done in this episode. Willow and Spike evaded this thing that's being asked of them again, these last coupla seasons. Instead of just getting in touch with his deep desire to kick ass, Spike grabs a thing- his black leather security blanket- the symbol of his wringing that other Slayer's neck, how wonderful. He gets past the fear, but doesn't break on through to the other side without an ugly crutch from the past.

On the one hand, Willow also broke through the fear barrier, but then Willow doesn't draw on herself, or the earth she manages to pull lovely flowers out of when she's feeling confident. She "sucks the life out of" the one Slayer-wannabe who's trying to draw on her own inner resources (even if she's got a serious pride/ego problem) and the ex-demon whose contribution to the whole spell-casting project come from her own personal knowledge (from before her demon era?).

There's still a huge fear barrier Willow's gotta break through to make the leap from relying on "dark magic"- the crutches- to makin' her own kind of magic. They're not letting the real Spike and Willow hang out, yet.

Buffy, on the other hand, is more 'herself' than ever. She breaks the chains and resists the lure of power-from-outside-herself. Like Parsifal, she asks the question, refusing to just follow the rules of etiquette (follow what your elders say/do what the men in charge say). Her question about the power is Parsifal's, "Whom does it serve?"

IIRC, the shadow dude said something like "We can not offer you power, only knowledge." It seemed like the demon could offer power, but not knowledge (self-knowledge being far more difficult when you're relying on the demon-imbedded-within to do all the dirty work). Buffy refused the "power" that wasn't much of an offer, or much to offer, and demanded and received knowledge. Who was it said "knowledge is power"? What is Girl Power anyway? Ass-kicking boots, or bubblegum comics?

[> Ooooooo. Really good.(And another thing...) -- SingedCat, 17:27:48 02/19/03 Wed

Personally I would have liked a little more drama leading up to Buffy's realization that her power is inherently demonic, maybe a little more trauma from the Buffster. (I do not fault SMG here-- I wasn't big on the direction, it felt rushed.)

Actually what's been ticking me off is the serious overcrowding of cool things in these past few episodes, when the Christmas Hiatus eps were so slow and dragging I could hardly keep watching. I can see saving the really cool plot points for later, but almost all the changes are coming so thick and fast now one hardly has the time to appreciate them. Slow down, sheesh! It's not like the show has lost its power to amaze, certainly. But this has been a case of flood after famine (I actually the 'famine' part is an annual complaint, but this flood makes the famine look positively contrived.)

OK, done now.

[> Completely, totally disagree -- Caroline, 18:20:17 02/19/03 Wed

I really disagree. There have been times I have been exasperated with Buffy, but tonight is not one of them. The pressure on her has been building. In the last scene of First Date, Giles tells them all off when they were being quippy to release the tension. Instead of rolling his eyes as he would have done several years ago, he gets downright mad and chastises them for being so lighthearted.

Buffy takes this to heart - he is her mentor, her watcher and her father figure. I think that she is really trying to please him - and in this way she is not acting according to her internal values but trying to please an authority figure.

She is the slayer but even though she has been the main 'fighter' there have been many occasions when she has shared the burden of her vocation with them - against the Mayor, against Adam, against Glory and numerous mini-apocali(??) inbetween. The people that she needs are the people fighting at their full strength and they have not been. Willow and Spike have been tentative with the magic and fighting respectively and Xander has been just following orders. She needs the Xander who was the Zeppo, she needs the Willow who could teleport Glory and restore Angel's soul and she needs the Spike who can kill her. Much like Buffy, Spike seems to need his emotions aroused to fight well. We know that Buffy has sucked at giving the big motivational speeches and how it must have truly sucked for her to have the first cajole one of the potentials to kill herself.

As for Buffy's rejection of the demon mist - I saw that differently. Spike and Willow's darkness are there. They have explored them and now need to integrate them in a sane, moral way. Buffy already has a power that is part demon, he strength is rooted in darkness. Buffy has shown herself a hero time and time again by not succumbing - why should she start now? She rejected dark power that would have been imposed on her by unknown men, who violated the original slayer. Buffy cannot do anything about the original violation and her own mystical choosing as the slayer but she can now exert her free will and define herself as she sees fit (and I think that in future episodes we will see her exert her independence from Giles as her father figure as well as she did with the Shadow Men). She has already stated that you can't beat evil by doing evil. She is fighting an intangible evil - she needs to find that intangible good to fight it. She cannot do that by accepting more demons power - which will allow her to do what, precisely? Kick demon ass? When that demon is non-corporeal?. A non-corporeal evil needs a non-corporeal adversary to neutralize or balance it.

I've been noting the consistent use of the themes brought up in Help. If you remember, Cassie is reading Slaughterhouse-5. The main theme that I get from that book is that whatever life brings crashing down on you, you have the free will and the responsibility to be the best human being that you can be. That's what Cassie's life was and tha's what Buffy must strive to be. This is not a case of it takes a thief to catch a thief. Buffy can't be the stuff that the first evil needs. She has to be beyond it or above it. Hopefully to avoid being devoured from beneath.

As for Buffy not doing her job properly - she is the only one who consistently has. She has died twice, gone through different and unknown dimensions, beat back many end-of-the-world scenarios and saved ass multiple times. And that's exactly what she's trying to do here.

I respect your right to interpret the episode your way but I do feel that you have not taken these factors into account.

[> [> Also... -- Caroline, 18:34:55 02/19/03 Wed

We know that the different members of the SG symbolize different aspects of Buffy. When they are not at full strength, we know that Buffy in not at full strength herself. This speech may be similar to what she said to Spike in Dead Things while she was beating him up - she was really talking to herself 'cos the First is giving her a whipping.

Willow defended Buffy when someone (Kennedy?) spoke up against Buffy but Willow realized that Buffy was right. Spike himself acknowledged that since he got his soul back he hasn't relished the struggle as much. Buffy was right in her assessment of them and they knew it. Willow and Spike now have to find that accomodation within themselves but not at Buffy's behest. They have to understand, acknowledge and guide their darkness so that it serves them, not the other way around, integrating wholly a new set of values that comes from Self and does not need to be prodded by another.

[> [> The Problem I'm Seeing...(spoilers for 7.15) -- Rhys, 20:18:00 02/19/03 Wed

...is the complete change in Buffy. I'm getting the impression this season that she doesn't particularly like the Scoobies OR herself, that she is clinically depressed and that she is not so much accepting of her role as Slayer as she is bleakly resigned to it.

All right--I could deal with a depressed Buffy (though I really had enough of Depressed Buffy in the sixth season). But season seven Buffy is more than depressed. She seems to be withdrawing emotionally from everyone. Her reactions to most of the events this season have been distinctly off.

Buffy was still trying a little in "Lessons"; in "Get It Done," she seems to have been taking sensitivity lessons from Cordelia. Unless I'm very much mistaken, she called Chloe, the SIT who killed herself, "weak" and "an idiot" in front of Chloe's friends and companions. That harkens me back to the bad old days at my high school when a suicide occurred. (One month we had four suicides. Trust me, suicide wasn't that unusual.) Now, the administration at my old school didn't go in for grief counseling when a student died. No, we got lectures in religion class about how evil and cowardly it was to kill yourself, no matter how much pain you were in, and that these miserable troubled kids who had killed themselves to be free of pain were now being barbecued in the deepest pit of Hell. Buffy's words about Chloe strike me as being similarly sensitive. I didn't like that attitude in high school, and I sure don't like it in a character who is supposed to be heroic and noble. Buffy may not have liked Chloe much and she may not like the fact that Chloe killed herself at all, but Chloe was a person and she mattered.

I don't have a problem with Buffy turning down the demonic power. That's less of an issue for me than Buffy's demand that her friends hurry up and embrace their inner demons. Buffy wants Willow casting spells again. Forget the fact that Willow became addicted to magical highs, that she damned near destroyed the world in a fit of rage and depression after her lover's death, and that magic has been ruling her this season instead of the other way around--involuntary invisibility (shades of Marcie Ross), the enchanted jacket that inspired her to cast a spell that was intended to turn a young man into a woman, and the curse that transformed her into Tara's killer, Warren Mears. Willow doesn't seem to be in control of her magic this season, and she's afraid of reactivating the addiction and/or turning evil again if she does use dark magic. So what does Buffy want her to do? Start using dark magic again. Way to be a supportive friend there, Chosen One.

The same problem exists with Spike. Now, I'll admit it--I don't like seventh season Spike. If I want to watch a vampire-with-a-soul who is in love with Buffy brooding over all the people he has killed, I'll watch Angel. One vampire like that, though, is more than enough.

That said, Spike has been trying to deal with the pain and guilt involved with possessing a soul. He's gone nuts more than once, and the deteriorating chip in his head and the FE tormenting him didn't help. However, he seems to have been making an effort to be something other than a demon in a dead human shell--even though he doesn't trust himself not to hurt somebody. Granted, I liked evil Spike better than this one, but for a vampire, the realization that other people can be hurt or killed by his actions and that this is wrong...well, it's a huge leap forward.

And yet Buffy wants Spike to embrace his inner demon. Strange.

Buffy is making a grave error , in my opinion. Power will defeat the FE.. but it won't be demonic strength or Slayer agility or black magic that lays it low. The FE knows all about power and the things people will do to gain it and to maintain it.

The things that will defeat the FE will be love, friendship,
loyalty and compassion. These are thing that Buffy and the Scoobies have focused on from the beginning. It seems sad to me that any of them, especially Buffy, should have to re-learn a lesson this fundamental.

[> [> [> Re: The Problem I'm Seeing...(spoilers for 7.15) -- Caroline, 06:55:33 02/20/03 Thu

I think it's a contradiction for Buffy to accept the demonic power offered to her and then think that love and friendship will defeat the FE.

[> [> [> [> No more a problem.... -- Doug, 15:49:31 02/20/03 Thu

...than ordering her friends/followers to do just that while refusing to take the same risks herself. There is no clearer mark of a bad general, or a bad friend.

[> [> Agree with caroline and Rhys here -- s'kat, 21:01:23 02/19/03 Wed

I'm sure it seems contradictory but I find myself agreeing with both of you on this one. Maybe a tad more with Caroline but Rhys makes some very good points regarding Field Marshall von Buffy (tm cjl) as well. I think Buffy is truly and utterly torn on what to do. She may have been willing to take on the additional power when she stepped through the portal, assuming she knew about it or even if they had asked, but they didn't ask - they knocked her out and chained her to a rock. And she realizes while chained there why the First Slayer became what she did, more demon than human - all about the kill.

In a way this is what Nikki is in the subway, All about the Kill - to the extent that she is ready for the vampire she meets, Spike or whomever to kill her. No innocent girl or lady, Nikki, this is a battle honed slayer whose lived past her prime with a four year old kid, tired of the rigors.
Heck she had the upperhand on Spike, but for some reason gave up, perhaps tired of the kill? (Disagree? Rewatch Fool for Love - she's on top of him about to stake him, lights go out he's flipped them and snaps her neck instead - reminded me a great deal of the Kiss vamp who almost killed Buffy in same episode...not necessarily for same reasons.)

These poor girls - taught by their watchers to do nothing but be a killer. Imbued with the demonic urge to kill - as described by Dracula in Buffy vs. Dracula, the First Slayer in Restless and the ShadowMen. To have a child - floors Buffy. To save her sister - she had to go against Giles.

Now she's facing an evil she can't comprehend. She has allies, two of which are supernaturally imbued with demonic power as she is - and they aren't accessing it. They are afraid. And she needs their help. Spike may be useful - but he's been the damsel in the last few episodes, she's had to save him - sort of like Angel in S3. Why can't he fight the demons, access a little bloodlust? Angel does. It doesn't mean he'll lose his soul to do it. And Willow - powerful witch here - who can grow her own skin back with magic and heck even make herself disappear into another dimension - time she used some of that to help out here, Willow has been helping, but often seems to retreat backwards.

Yep - Buff went a tad overboard, but I still don't see it as that out of character. Maybe because I've never been a Buffyshipper? I have and always have had a love/hate relationship with her. She's always seemed bitchy and mean at times to me. Human. And kind and loving as well. Field Marshall von Buffy doesn't surprise me. And to be honest she didn't bug me as much as I expected in this episode. I wanted to smack her more in some of the episodes in the early part of the season.

But hey as Caroline states, we all view the show through our own lense.


[> [> [> Lensing, nodding, juggling -- fresne, 12:53:55 02/20/03 Thu

No, not contradictory at all.

The problem is that Buffy is lousy at motivational speaking. I can sympathize in a I nearly gave the same speech at last weeks team meeting, which I like to think was less "How I'm better than you lazy bums." and more "Can we stop having the same meeting over and over and over again?" I was getting Ground Hog Day and not the part where he makes good use of his time.

There now you know from which cube country I derive.

Any-who-ish-way, the Buffy's problem is the paradigms "seems" broken. This is a shiny new (well, so old it's new) brand of evil and it won't respond to getting the un-holy crud being beaten out of it. The house is cheek to jowl faceless, nameless girls and there's one freaking bathroom. Giles has no advice. The Watcher's Journals aren't helpful. Her friends all want her to guide them and be a leader. The source of ancient Slayer wisdom just wants to add more speed and power to her hard drive. Okay, nice, but at what cost? At what return on investment?

Buffy knows FE wants the end of the world, because that would seem to be evil's break out hit song, but she doesn't know the how or the where or the, ah hell, a child, her charge, just committed suicide.

Buffy spent last season in a state of non-grace. Disconnection. Shadowed. Uncertain. Longing for release. A release she once had. But here we go again, time for the annual May percolation of evil. Do you take your evil straight or with cream and sugar?

And now the weeping child who liked Tigger is dead and Buffy didn't even know her. The second one to break under the FE. I wonder if Buffy buried Chloe anywhere near her own grave? And there are these girls looking at her, her friends looking at her, where do we go from here? Whether Buffy's speech is right or wrong or right with the following codicils, appendices and addendum or spiraling second guessing or, it's all the sign of a creaking storm tossed ship.

Buffy is so desperate for some kind of direction, any kind of direction that she jumps through a crack. Goes to see the primal source of her power and finds out what she already knew. That to be the Chosen One, the one with the destiny, is the result of the violation of childhood. That long lost girl who slept on a bed of bones. Did she have a name?

We speak of generalissimo Buffy or Field Marshal von Buffy (well, I call her Buffy von Clauswitz, same dif). The sense of un-ease from a person urging children, friends to go face the objective unclear. In a poetry thread kind of way, it makes me think of WWI generals, very few of whom were children, sending a generation of youth to be lost in the trenches. Shadowmen with an emphasis on power and weapons stock piles and decisive battles. Just keep slugging till someone wins.

I mean Buffy's right, Willow and Spike do need to get their mojo on because, well, there's only so many episodes left this season, this series, and we need some resolution. I mean Buffy's wrong, that was a pretty harsh speech. Even if I'm daily tempted to give the same one for rather less strident reasons. I mean, I'm not really liking Buffy at the moment, but I profoundly sympathize with her.

[> A rambling but not entirely unrelated response -- manwitch, 21:41:00 02/19/03 Wed

I think the FE is meant to be literally the FE. As in both the beginning of evil and the primary evil. If you think of it in biblical terms, prior to eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, there was no evil. It simply didn't exist as a concept. What cast the human race from Eden was the conceptualization of good vs. evil. The FE is that conceptualization. Its not physical. Its not tangible. Its a thought, a belief, that is the result of living in the world and identifying with the forms of the world, specifically your form, rather than the consciousness that animates them all.

This can be translated into a more Eastern thought. Undifferentiated consciousness, which is the goal of Kundalini Yoga, for example, and which is essentially buddha consciousness or nirvana in Buddhism, is pure consicousness, indifferent to form, to polarities, to good or evil. Its the reality behind reality. When one leaves undifferentiated consciousness for differentiated consciousnesses, one is entering the world of differentiated forms, differentiated concepts, polarities, binary oppositions like good and evil. So in this sense, the first evil is again a purely conceptual thing, the belief that the forms themselves, and their opinions of right and wrong, are the reality. The first evil is the belief in its existence.

In some buddhist and hindu art, you will see a face, facing out, and emerging from the sides, from the ears if you will, will be two other faces in profile, one male and one female. The face in the middle is representative of the undifferentiated consciousness, the two outward facing profiles are the differentiated. Male/female. Buffy can be seen in this way, as the middle face (at least it is my belief that the middle way is her ultimate goal), and Xander and Willow are the two profiles that make her up. Its not unlike how Spock and McCoy were the logical and emotional halves respectively that were merged in Kirk, making Kirk and only Kirk the one capable of running the ship. Buffy is made up of this female and male aspect, this spirit and heart. But the "Buffy Way" will be neither male nor female, but both and neither.

I think Buffy's task is to overcome the world of binary oppositions, most explicitly rendered in the conflict of good vs. evil. And again, I can't help but mention the quote from Nietzsche, "That which is done out of love takes place already beyond good and evil."

Spike has been set up for some time to be the FE's bitch. It uses him. Spike dwelt on the Hellmouth speaking in tongues. He was clearly intended to be associated with the FE. Spike has also been set up to be Buffy's opposite. In her own words, "He's everything I hate, everything I'm supposed to be against." He's what she isn't. He's her oppostion. Couple with that the number of ways in which they make up pairs of opposites: good/bad, male/female, alive/dead, light/dark. There are probably others that escape me. Spike is being made a representative figure of the "binary opposition" that is differentiated consciousness.

But there's more to him than that. I have mentioned before that I think Angel is meant to be Kantian. Since no one has yet told me I'm an idiot for it, I will continue to believe it. Angel's pre vamp name is Liam. Spike's pre-vamp name is William. It seems unlikely that this is accidental. We are being asked to compare them. Spike is Liam with a Will. Angel was vamped during the time of Kant, whose thought he seems to embody. Spike was vamped during the time of Nietzsche, and there are certainly some implications that he embodies aspects of that thought. Spike lives by his own values. He seeks out that which elevates his own stature, namely Slayers. While others fear them, Spike measures himself by them. One again thinks of Nietzsche's claim that there is no better adversary than one in whome there is much to esteem and little to despise. The fact that Spike ultimately gets chipped and souled in a way that is just uncannily Foucauldian, again makes one think of Nietzsche. Foucault was explicitly elaborating on Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals when he wrote about this formation of the soul that seems so applicable to Spike. And Foucault's argument, like Nietzsche's, was that this soul must be overcome. It is not the glorious godly soul of Kant's thought, but a human creation that narrows experience and possibility.

Moreover, in Beyond Good and Evil, which takes its name from the quote I have previously mentioned, Nietzsche spends the first umpteen pages doing one of Western Culture's first true "deconstructions." And it seems to be aimed pretty squarely at Kant. Kant had described his a priori soul in grammatical terms. As any predicate requires a subject, so an action requires an actor behind it. The "I" of "I think." We can see this reflected in Angel's soul. His soul exists behind the actions of his body, and at least in terms of moral responsibility, is free to intend and culpable for its intentions. Nietzsche attacks this idea head on, claiming that it is only due to the constraints of grammar that we have belief in this "actor" behind the "act." To Neitzsche, no such actor exists. There is no doer behind the doing, free to pretend it could have acted differently. The doing is everything. This seems much more akin to Spike, who requires no soul for his actions, whether good or ill, and who lives very much in the immediacy of expression rather than in brooding intent.

So I suspect that we are intended to recognize this contrast, not to validate one claim over the other, but to help in recognizing what is going on in the larger story, which is of course Buffy's. Spike is representative of the binary oppositions. We have been set up to know that Buffy will tell him, one day she'll tell him. And we recall from Nietzsche "that which is done out of love takes place already beyond good and evil."

Undifferentiated consciousness is sometimes described as pure love. So I think Buffy needs to find, through an act of love, a way to overcome or cease to recognize the dualities that Spike represents.

So what does this have to do with your post? We have all noticed with a certain revulsion, generalissimo Buffy's self-obsession. What we are seeing is an adherance to a form, a differentiated form, that Buffy must overcome in order to get past the FE. So we are supposed to be a little uncomfortable with her current ego. Because its gonna have to go.

If the good/evil opposition is really just a psychological handicap, then we should expect to see the integration of the dark and light powers of the other characters. Nietzsche says, "Be careful, lest in casting out your demons, you cast out the best thing that's in you." This seems to apply to Anya, Spike, and possibly Willow. It was suggested about all of them in the episode. Maybe Buffy, too. If Spike or Willow or even Anya simply casts out their dark side and become good to defeat evil, I think that would be a bit of let-down. The season has thusfar implied a much more sophisticated approach to the conflict of good and evil.

I don't think its at all clear yet whether or not Buffy made the right choice. Part of me thought that in the symbolic unchaining of herself from the world there was a foreshadowing of this Buddha consciousness that she is seeking. In early buddhist art, the buddha is not depicted, because as the buddha, he's no longer there. That crossed my mind as I saw Buffy release herself.

But while I'm sure she doesn't need to be strapped down by a bunch of Shadowmen, I am not sure that she doesn't need a more explicit recognition and acceptance of her demon power. I'm not convinced that having demon in you is a reflection on your humanity. She may need to accept it under different circumstances.

You may be right that she expressed moral arrogance in rejecting for herself what she demanded of others. But it may be that it was the learning experience she needed.

I urge you to have sympathy for Buffy. She is human and overwhelmed and clinging desperately to what she knows, and that is her identity as the Slayer, the kicker of asses. That's not, I think, what is going to win it for her this time. But its hard to hold her frustration or her generalissimo speeches against her, when none of them have even the slightest inkling of what to do against the FE. I suspect that it is exactly what is bothering you about her that she will ultimately overcome.

[> [> Re: A rambling but not entirely unrelated response -- Shiraz, 22:10:44 02/19/03 Wed

I have sympathy for people who show symapthy to other people.

Buffy said Chloe was weak and stupid only hours after her death.

Buffy called Willow a "Won'ta" for not accessing all of her powers.

Buffy called Spike a "Wimpire" because he no longer took the same thrill from destruction that he did when he was a remorseless killer.

She's scoffed at Anya, disregarded Xander and ignored Dawn.

Well then, she has given me the right to judge her by these very same standards.

She's been found wanting.


[> [> Excellent post. Agree completely. Thanks for clarifying this. -- s'kat, 22:29:33 02/19/03 Wed

Oh and not rambling at all, actually very succint and clear and to the point.

Also I've been reading a published version of Buffy essays, and this post above? Out does any of the essays I've read in it so far.

Agree with your points and thank you for crystallizing my own feelings on the topic.

If you don't mind - just a quick summary of your points in my own words to make certain I grokked or understood them as well as I think I did and didn't misunderstand or misread anything. (The reason I'm doing this, is I really feel in my gut that you hit what ME is doing this year. But I'm not sure my head is making the same connections my gut is, they have a tendency to be out of sync at times):

1.FE is literally the belief in evil or the actual conception of it, right? The thing, Adam and Eve concieved of when they ate the apple.

2. Binary oppositions - is the view of the world as dark and light, male/female, good/evil, right and wrong, seeing things as split in half as opposed to integrated. The idea that you have to be one or the other? But with pure love - you go beyond this and the two become one?

3. Spike is Liam with Will, he must rise above his chipped state to assert his own will, and now is working to rise above his binary opposition which the FE is using against him or just merely using to work it's will- ie either being weak souled William or evil powerful Spike with jacket. He is both and should not throw out one or other. While Angel throws out Angelus to be Angel and throws out Angel to be Angelus.

4. Buffy is the middle way between the two oppositions: Xander/male/sidekick/normal boy/muscel/heart (McCoy in Trek) and Willow/female/bestfriend/supernatural/mental/spirit (Spock in Trek). The middle way is the balance between both sides.
The one that is integrated.

This season she's been flipping between the two, dealing with the oppositions, falling into bad behavior practices.
But she has to in order to move past them...its a journey through stages of development.

Have I understood what you said? Or am I totally off?

SK (whose hoping she's better at understanding this philosophy stuff than she thinks.)

PS: any misunderstanding on my part is not your fault, but my own lack of knowledge on the subject. Don't really know much philosophy, I'm afraid, just bits and pieces here and there. Thanks again!

[> [> manwitch - I could definitely develop a crush on your posts.*L -- Briar Rose, 00:15:29 02/20/03 Thu

What I have been posting (and losing the posts to the archives~s~) is a similar take if not exactly framed in Nietzsche's allegory.... The ENERGY/POWER itself, is not colored anything. It's there to be used for whatever purpose the person using it gives to it. If a person uses it to harm, then it's evil work done with the energy, But the energy itself is still not "evil" it is neutral and vis' a vis. The Shaman sees Slayer power as deamonic, so it is - to him and to Buffy when it's offered. But really it isn't... because it provides a defense against the deamonic - so the energy itself is again in it's natural state of neutral because it's balanced by the use of it for good. To understand this you have to look to the Laws of Physics and Metaphysics.

In those sciences the Law is simple - The Universe is created of energy. All energy is Neutral until it is given concious direction, intent if you will.

Additionally - the Universal Flow of Energy is hinged on balance, an action will produce an equal and opposite reaction. What that action is intended as being; Right/Wrong, Up/Down, Light/Dark, Love/Hate... these are only concepts of Human Logic. There is no such logic in the Universal Flow of Energy.

Human Logic versus Universal Law appears to be one very possible ME direction this year in the story line. What is "good" and what is "evil." Ultimatly, it comes down to how all that neutral energy is used by these our actors.

I agree that Buffy was a little rough on the Scoobs and the SITS. But she's also being rough on herself most of all. I agree that it's a case of "I did the best I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I can do better."

What I keep seeing alluded to is that BALANCING the energies (balance = find the neutral) within each of themselves is one of the lessons that Spike, Willow, Buffy, Xander, Dawn, the SITS and Anya all need to discover before they can face the FE.

Spike needs to realize that just because he's killing something does not mean he's evil even though he uses his Vampism to do so, using his deamon energy for the cause of good is just using the tools at his disposal. Finding Balance.

Willow needs to realize that her power is based in connectedness to energies outside of human. That she doesn't need to use other PEOPLE's energy when there's a whole wide world of it if she'd just remember what the Coven taught her and allow herself to use what's already there without worrying it to death logically with what is "evil" and what is "good." She is facing the most crippling aspect of the entire FE's arsenal: Fear of the Power. All Power, her's and any of the Universal Power. Fear of Power equals Loss of Power. Unbalanced.

Buffy is learning the most obvious lesson, IMO. It doesn't surprise me that the Source of the Slayer's Power is a "deamonic" power. But it isn't so much deamonic, IMO as it is Primeval. (ME seems to have a problem with laws of physics in the subject of energies, they always use Deamon in place of Primordial - or maybe it's just me and I am still completely clueless as to how ME thinks.*L) It's a Universal Power. Buffy already experienced Primeval Power. It was the most pure Power she'd ever experienced and weilded. And it was basically the same type of experience that the Shamans offered, but it was done with Buffy's FREE WILL when Willow, Giles and Xander brought it to her. So in "Get it Done" Buffy denounced the idea of being forced to take in evil without willing INTENT. You see where I'm going with this? *LOL

Robin Wood... Well, Robin gave us the most direct and usable theory as to how to defeat the FE... Refuse to acknowledge it and it goes away. His refusal to give it energy was almost strong enough to return the FE's energy source to neutral. No energy given, none returned. That is until he blew it by allowing it to give him information and giving it Power over him again.*L

Wow! I might have finally found a season of BtVS when I can handle ME's theology without wanting to spit.*L I guess they'll now pull a fast one on me and change all that to Bad Buffy and All Energy is Deamonic and Power is a drug that should be shunned at all costs, even personal power, before the end of the show.

[> [> [> Get in line sister! Or maybe we could form a group "manwitch's Minions" -- ponygirl, 08:25:10 02/20/03 Thu

[> [> [> Very good analysis. Thanks. Agree. -- s'kat, 13:16:14 02/20/03 Thu

You clarified some of things confusing me, thank you.

Yes I think this is it exactly:

The ENERGY/POWER itself, is not colored anything. It's there to be used for whatever purpose the person using it gives to it. If a person uses it to harm, then it's evil work done with the energy, But the energy itself is still not "evil" it is neutral and vis' a vis. The Shaman sees Slayer power as deamonic, so it is - to him and to Buffy when it's offered. But really it isn't... because it provides a defense against the deamonic - so the energy itself is again in it's natural state of neutral because it's balanced by the use of it for good. To understand this you have to look to the Laws of Physics and Metaphysics.

In those sciences the Law is simple - The Universe is created of energy. All energy is Neutral until it is given concious direction, intent if you will.

I agree I think all the characters in the story will only defeat the FE when they realize that the power inside them is neither good nor evil. This is partly symbolized through Andrew - who picks up whatever flavor is nearby. Like a mushroom as Buffy puts it. Andrew is the character symbolizing neutrality - someone who could go either way.
It's the reason of the three Trioka - Andrew is still with us. Jonathan choose good and saw power they were using as evil. Warren choose evil. Andrew doesn't know. He's in between.

Willow sees the power as evil - Kennedy didn't see it that way necessarily. Spike sees the power/the vampire inside as evil as does Wood, but it doesn't have to be as Anya sort of points out.

I think in an odd way the neutral characters who don't have these strong binary oppositions warring inside them or see everything as an either/or - are the ones that may show the others the way: these are Xander (he who fixes Windows),
Dawn (she who opens portals), Anya (she who has been a demon and human and back again twice yet is still Anya), Andrew (he who is neutrality personified).

Giles/Wood are the old way - the way personified by the Shadowmen, the Watcher's Council, the slayers who came before. The men of doom and gloom. The Watcher and The PRincipal and notice both are in charge of Buffy or believe themselves to be in some form or another - both order her around. Both are older men. And we don't see them at the same time nor have they ever met. They represent the fundamentalist path - the good vs. evil concept.

Willow/Spike are the binary opposition - raw power that can go either way. But power that is hooked to the earth. One mental, spiritual (Willow) and one physical/heart (Spike)
If the Shadowmen and Giles/Wood had their way: Willow would be a gun. And Spike would be dust or chained to a wall. Spike = forever evil. Willow = power to be harnassed like the slayer at their will. But there's another way - one that the Shadowmen don't see, but Spike and Willow do as evidenced by their actions in Becoming, The Gift...

Buffy....is the center of it all.

(Whoa...I think it's all beginning to fall into place for me now. I now think I see what the other characters roles are, why they are all there. Before your post and manwitches I didn't really. I think I do now. Thank you for the Epiphany. I think I know where we're headed.)


[> [> [> [> No - thank you s'kat. I really admire your posts and appreciate your nice words.*S* -- Briar Rose, 01:08:59 02/21/03 Fri

[> [> Thanks, manwitch -- luna, 19:14:02 02/20/03 Thu

Every part of this is enlightening, but I especially appreciate the last part, on Buffy's humanity, but also on her possible need to aknowledge and maybe accept her demons. Well, I also will be thinking for a while about the connection between Beyond Good and Evil and Buddha consciousness.

I could almost watch the show just to read these posts, even if I weren't totally overwhelmed by the show itself.

[> the speech, & questions -- anom, 22:29:19 02/19/03 Wed

Yeah, the speech seemed pretty harsh. But we saw her just before then, when she was digging Chloe's grave, & she was crying, or close to it. I think she needed (or felt she did) to distance herself from that reaction, because she believes more of the Potentials will die, & neither she nor the rest of them will be able to afford much time to mourn them, esp. as the big showdown, whatever form it takes, gets closer. She may also be projecting feelings that she hasn't been trying hard enough onto the others, & that if they all do try harder, they might be able to prevent further deaths rather than having to mourn them.

However, it might've helped to set out some new ground rules, like if anyone dead tries to talk to you, alert the others immediately! I also have to wonder if Kennedy might have taken the wrong message from Buffy (or maybe she just watched too many military movies); if someone is doing a move wrong, you tell them how it's wrong & show them how to do it right--doing 20 pushups won't teach them the move. Hmm...then again, maybe that was Kennedy's watcher's approach.

The questions:

"In the time I've been watching Buffy (five years now, including re-runs) I've run the gamut of opinions about her character....I've been exasperated with her, critical of her, unsympathetic to her, and even strongly disagreed with her, but never before have I ever disliked her personally."

Um...that's only 1/2 a gamut. Maybe you only meant to talk about 1 end of the scale--I hope that's it, 'cause if that's how you feel, why've you been watching?

"Also, it has to be pointed out that Buffy had a heads ups straight from the first slayer about Chloe, which she did not act upon."

Maybe I missed this--about Chloe specifically? When?

[> [> About Chloe (spoilers 7.15) -- Traveler, 05:03:38 02/20/03 Thu

In her dream at the beginning of the episode, Buffy saw Chloe crying in the hallway. She asks what's wrong, but then the first slayer tackles her and tells her "it isn't enough." Buffy responds to these words in real life, but she ignores Chloe's sorrow until it is too late. If she had responded to Chloe on a human level instead of going into Slayer Mode, her death could have been avoided. This is part of the reason why Buffy's "everybody sucks but me" speech rankles a lot of viewers. Of all the people in that room, Buffy was the one who was most able to save Chloe, but she didn't even try.

[> [> [> And Dream Chloe couldn't have been a dream metaphor thing? -- Finn Mac Cool, 05:25:44 02/20/03 Thu

Without the knowledge of Chloe's imminent suicide, her crying could be read as symbolic of how all the proto-Slayers feel. While her dreams sometimes show real things, other times they have symbols of real things (like Tara as the voice of the First Slayer). We all realize, and Buffy did as well, that this was an indicator of Chloe kiling herself, but we couldn't know this until after the fact. If Chloe's suicide occurred an episode later, we'd probably all be wondering what Chloe crying in Buffy's dream meant. Buffy couldn't really tell if Chloe was a Freudian subconscious thing or a Slayer prophetic thing. Besides, what's she supposed to do, go up to Chloe and ask "I had a dream with you crying in it? What's up?"

[> [> [> [> Re: And Dream Chloe couldn't have been a dream metaphor thing? -- Rhys, 05:34:27 02/20/03 Thu

"Besides, what's she supposed to do, go up to Chloe and ask "I had a dream with you crying in it? What's up?""

How about going up to Chloe privately and saying, "You know, I have a feeling that you're really unhappy about something. Would you like to talk?"

[> [> [> [> [> Totally she should have done that. But Buff's really not in that space at the mo. -- Helen, 08:09:26 02/20/03 Thu

On another thread someone compared her current lack of compassion to her compassionate responses to others in the past, particularly her anger with Maggie Walsh for dismissing Willow's protests that Oz would be back. And the contrast is striking. But as someone else replied to that thread, she's got dozens of teenaged terrified girls to deal with. She feels (perhaps wrongly) that she doesn't have the luxury of time to be compassionate.

[> [> [> [> [> [> That's exactly what Prof. Walsh would have said -- Shiraz, 12:06:22 02/20/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> mmm. But this isn't a college class. It's life or death. -- Helen, 00:52:18 02/21/03 Fri

[> [> [> [> [> Also... (spoilers 7.15) -- Traveler, 12:34:05 02/20/03 Thu

Buffy decided to take the slayer aspect of her dream very literally, didn't she? She jumped through a portal into another dimension simply because the first slayer said her power was "not enough."

[> [> [> [> [> But another important thing to remember is... (7.15 spoilers) -- Rob, 22:46:18 02/20/03 Thu

...a) Even in the dream, Buffy says, "Chloe, is it?" IMO, that symbolically indicated that Buffy probably, as other posters wrote, thought she was a representation of all the potentials.


b) Buffy doesn't remember about the dream until later in the episode, when the First Slayer is mentioned, and then she remembers her dream. For all we know, she may not even remember the part about Chloe. After all it is a dream. How many of us remember all our dreams in exact detail?

c) If she does remember about the crying potential, it's possible she doesn't remember which one it was, evidenced by the not being positive about her name. There are so many, too many to keep track of. Buffy, if she does remember by morning, may not have remembered which particular potential it was.


[> [> [> Re: About Chloe (spoilers 7.15) -- OnM, 07:53:23 02/20/03 Thu

*** This is part of the reason why Buffy's "everybody sucks but me" speech rankles a lot of viewers. Of all the people in that room, Buffy was the one who was most able to save Chloe, but she didn't even try. ***

While I hadn't thought about it in exactly this way before, this makes sense as to the real reason why Buffy was so angry-- the real anger was directed inwardly, at herself, for failing to save Chloe. Buffy had to realize after the fact that she had a chance to interpret the dream as a cry for help from Chloe, but after all, the damn dreams are always so cryptic.

But allowing herself to be consumed in guilt just plays into the (non-corporeal) hands of the FE, so what else is there to do? The fundamentally unquenchable rage has to be directed somewhere; something positive, even slightly so, has to be gained from it. You need to make the light control the darkness, not feed the darkness with more darkness, as I mentioned in another response above.

There is no win-win outcome from this, after the fact of the suicide. This is Buffy's dilemma, and why her speech is so understandably disturbing to us-- and, no doubt, to Buffy herself-- as witness the emotions she displays at the very end of the show when she is talking to Willow.

[> [> [> [> Re: About Chloe (spoilers 7.15) -- Traveler, 12:27:06 02/20/03 Thu

"There is no win-win outcome from this"

While it's true that Buffy can't bring Chloe back, IMO her reaction caused more harm than good. Rather than trying to heal the damage, she lashed out in frustration and dispair. What truly disturbs me is that in this episode we saw Buffy turn her back on Counselor!Buffy to fully embrace Slayer!Buffy. She didn't even question that decision until she was personally exposed to what a slayer really is. Hopefully she will take that lesson to heart.

[> [> Re: the speech, & questions -- Shiraz, 09:05:01 02/20/03 Thu

Point 1:

Sorry, what I meant by this was that while Buffy's character has *occasionally* frustrated me, I have always loved her. I could always empathize with what she was going through. Even through her entire season 6 depression I could feel for her.

This was the first time I have ever not been able to empathize with her.

Point 2:

In her dream at the beginning of the episode she is shown walking through the house and coming across a visibly upset Chloe just before she gets tackled by the First Slayer.

I took this as a hint.


[> What would Buffy do? -- Valheru, 00:31:27 02/20/03 Thu

To quote from "The Freshman":

XANDER: Let me tell you something, when it's dark and I'm all alone and I'm scared or freaked out or whatever, I always think, 'What would Buffy do?' You're my hero.

Let me get something out of the way first: I mostly approved of Buffy's rant to the Potentials. The Potentials needed a good slap in the face. Sure, they're training now, which is good, but as a general rule, they're still sort of in denial of what's going on in their lives. They all have this "is this really happening?" look on their faces most of the time. The fear of the unknown is still crippling them. Buffy's speech was intended to instill in the Potentials a fear of death to overcome the fear of the unknown, as though she were telling them, "You can be afraid of going through the door or you can be afraid of the monster outside of it: pick one; but I suggest choosing the door because you know full well that the monster will kill you." And that's a lesson I think the Potentials really needed to hear. I don't agree with how Buffy made that point, by calling Chloe an idiot, but that's really beside the point.

No, what infuriated me was the ranting Buffy did at the Scoobies. She basically called Willow a coward, Anya useless, and Spike a wimp. Whether she was right or not, her comments were out of line to people who are her best friends. And worse, she said it all in front of a bunch of strange Potentials.

Willow is Buffy's bestest of friends. And she's also the reason why Buffy is alive at all right now. Willow has done more for Buffy than Buffy probably even realizes. All this, yet Buffy shows her no respect. If Buffy has concerns about Willow holding back, then why doesn't she just ASK HER? "Hey, Will. What's going on? Why aren't you being my Big Gun anymore?" Instead, Buffy brow-beats Willow like a child, then forces her to access the Dark Willow within (with no Slayer around to protect anyone from it, even). Dirty pool, Buff.

Anya did kinda ask for Buffy's wrath, what with the "I'm not [your friend]" remark. Still, Anya is far from useless. If someone else in the Scooby Gang has been around the demon world for 900 years longer than Spike, I'd like to know who. Anya is Buffy's ultimate source of demon knowledge, even more than Giles (who, after all, didn't know what a true demon was until Anya explained it). Anya is also, apparently, the person who does Buffy's laundry, keeps an eye on any hostages while Buffy is outside of the house, and does many of the non-Slayer chores like washing dishes and cooking (and possibly managing the money for twenty-plus people). Anya is being useful where she can, doing things that need to be done. Just because what Anya is doing isn't save-the-world stuff doesn't mean it isn't helping the cause. And as I recall, Buffy asked Anya to be there in the first place.

Spike...yeah, I'd be pissed at the Slayer too. What, Buffy couldn't have talked to Spike privately? "Hey, Spike. Y'know, you've been holding back. I need you to let loose against these demons." Did Buffy have to ridicule him? Did she have to belittle his already significant contributions/breakthroughs? And how close, exactly, was she willing to get to the old Spike with a bunch of non-Slayer girls around? A carefully placed "Early One Morning" tune from the First in the middle of all that might have made Buffy regret some things.

What surprised me the most, however, was Xander. Was he drugged during the whole speech? His "opposition" was about as strong as Andrew's old backbone. Had Buffy spoken like that to a woman Xander loved back in S2 or early-S3, Xander would have gone ballistic. Hell, even the Xander at the beginning of "Seeing Red" or in "Selfless" wouldn't have stood for it.

This isn't the sort of behavior on Buffy's part that Xander would have envied. This isn't a "What would Buffy do?"-worthy speech. Buffy's been acting like she's on a prolonged combination of "When She Was Bad" and "The Gift" for half the season. And I'm just appalled that none of her friends have caught her on it.

Maybe the "it" that "isn't not enough" is Buffy's attitude. It's not enough to be Buffy S. Patton. She has to open up to herself and others to defeat the First Evil.

From "Intervention":

FIRST SLAYER: Love is pain, and the Slayer forges strength from pain. Love ... give ... forgive. Risk the pain. It is your nature. Love will bring you to your gift.

[> One Role to Bind Her -- Buffyboy, 01:26:38 02/20/03 Thu

Ever since the beginning Buffy's identity has been most closely linked with two roles: the role of slayer and the role of friend. The oft times contradictory and sometimes mutually supportive nature of these two roles was a significant part of what drove the narrative, Buffy's story, through season four. Season five added a third role, sister, closely related to the role of friend, but at least for the Buffy of season five even more constitutive of her identity and extremely emotionally powerful. Of course, by the end of season five the role of sister had trumped the role of slayer and Buffy was about to let the world be destroyed rather than kill her sister when her *reinterpretation* of what the first slayer had said to her: "Death is your gift" suddenly resolved the contradiction between her roles as slayer and as sister through Buffy's self-sacrifice. I emphasize reinterpretation because Buffy's ultimate interpretation of what the first slayer said to her was not, I believe, what the first slayer herself meant. For the first slayer as well as the Watcher's Council and most of the slayers we know anything about, the role of the slayer is simple to kill. Her job is to kill vampires and other demons until the day comes when one of these demons kills her. Kendra seem the epitome of this type of slayer; a young woman with no other roles than the role slayer in her life, at least until she met Buffy and her friends, thought she didn't live long enough to see how these new association would have changed her.

Interestingly, season seven Buffy has embraced the role of slayer more seamlessly than ever and both her role as friend and her role as sister have been pushed into the background like never before. How few have been the times in all of season seven, up to and certainly including Get It Done, that we have we seen Buffy in anything approaching a close, warm, friendly conversation with one of her friends. Her conversation with Willow at the end of Same Time Same Place, a few moments here and there with Spike and undoubtedly and couple more, but most of her encounters with her sister and her friends have been harsh, aggressive and razor edged. Her "Get It Done" speech is only an extreme version of what we've been seeing all season. Chloe is an idiot, Willow is the Wicca who won'ta, Anya is useless, only taking up space and Spike has simply become a wimpire. Such an attitude while perhaps understandable and maybe even necessary given the dire situation has at times made Buffy become a rather unsympathetic person. Her near total acceptance of the role of slayer has flattened out the contradictions and tensions of her identity to such a point as to make her nearly one dimensional. Like a general in any military, there's no need to see her as a Nazi here, the Buffy of season seven may be necessary but hard to love. Season seven Buffy seems a long way from the extraordinarily moving Buffy who finally embraces her role of slayer out of her friendship with Willow when the vampires attacked the TV room in Prophecy Girl, but rather someone who has instrumentalized her friendships as means to being a more effective slayer.

Yet her encounter with the Shaddowmen seems to have thrown a monkey wrench into the all slayer all the time Buffy. In their dimension Buffy was starkly confronted with the fact, not that her power had one foot in the demonic (she's known that since the time of Restless/ Buffy vs. Dracula), but also that the power of the slayer comes directly out of patriarchal domination. The mythic story: first there was the earth, then demons, then men and finally that men created the slayer by infusing a woman with demonic power, is a text book example of patriarchal control. When Buffy was first knocked out, then chained up and finally the Shaddowmen began the process of infusing her with greater demonic power and spirit, Buffy realized once again the limitations of her acceptance of the role of the slayer. She was unwilling to give up more of her humanity in order to become more powerful. Here Buffy seems to have realized once again that she is more than the slayer. The slayer was created by men with the thoroughly laudable goal of protecting human being from demons and yet in order to accomplish this goal the Shadowmen and their later day representatives in the Watcher's Council have forced generation after generation of young women to not only sacrifice their lives at very early age but also to give-up their connections with any real people--persons who it was the slayer's destiny to protect but paradoxically never know. Yet Buffy has always known on some level that in order to be an effective slayer, the slayer needed to be more than a slayer. She needed that motley assortment of friends that is the Scooby gang, she needed her sister, she needed those strange relationships with unusual vampires that from the point of view of most slayers, to say nothing of the Watchers Council, were simply incomprehensible if not utterly perverse. These other roles often create obligations for Buffy that are in direct conflict with her obligations as slayer. And up until season seven these non-slayer obligations have not been ridden roughshod over by her slayer obligations. In much of season seven they have been so overridden. Perhaps Get It Done indicates a shift back to Buffy again realizing that her effectiveness as a slayer is dependent upon her not being all the slayer she can be.

[> [> Well said -- Traveler, 05:07:20 02/20/03 Thu

I also think that's where ME is ultimately going with this.

[> [> Good thoughts. -- HonorH, 11:59:03 02/20/03 Thu

And GiD did have two very promising moments regarding Buffy's role as sister/friend. Immediately before finding Chloe's body, Buffy and Dawn were having a cute moment over Dawn's homework-doing (or the lack thereof). Obviously, discovering Chloe's suicide put an end to that.

Then, at the end, Buffy has a nice moment with Willow. Buffy's very vulnerable in this scene, speaking more gently and honestly than she had since Chloe's suicide. Although Buffy's been pushed more and more into the role of Slayer and general this season, she's still got that warmth and love inside her that makes her Buffy, not just the Slayer. I, too, am hoping that the end means Buffy will be rediscovering that side of herself, even in the chaos that surrounds her this season.

[> [> yes, well said--but 1 quibble -- anom, 14:14:24 02/20/03 Thu

"...Buffy's ultimate interpretation of what the first slayer said to her was not, I believe, what the first slayer herself meant. For the first slayer as well as the Watcher's Council and most of the slayers we know anything about, the role of the slayer is simple to kill."

That wasn't actually the 1st Slayer. It was a spirit guide that took on her appearance but neither spoke nor acted like her. The guide also said things the real 1st Slayer never would have, having to do w/love & worries about loss of humanity. And since this was Buffy's vision she appeared in, I think Buffy's interpretation was valid.

[> [> [> I agree, anom -- Dead Soul, 23:25:42 02/20/03 Thu

[> [> [> Re: About the spirit guide in Intervention vs the Shadowmen -- Dyna, 11:14:10 02/21/03 Fri

The spirit guide in Intervention states that her appearance is only a form--this is not the first slayer talking but some other entity. Of course we don't know what entity, but it's interesting to speculate, comparing the scenes in Intervention and GiD--which I think are signficantly related. In each, Buffy journeys into the same desert landscape, in hopes of learning something about her slayerness from some spirit or guide. In Intervention, she is met by a benign, seemingly female spirit, who tells her that being a slayer does not mean losing her humanity--that it is in accepting her humanity and embracing it that she will find her true strength. "Love, give, forgive" she is told--"Risk the pain." This spirit guide has knowledge to give, cryptic though it is. In her words about love, humanity, forgiveness, and pain, she seems to embody Buffy's experience of being a slayer--the experience of a real girl, who loves others and is loved, who does not sleep on a bed of bones.

Contrast with the Shadowmen in GiD--not slayers, but the men who took a girl, chained her to the earth, and "filled her with dark" (the words in Dawn's book that she can't read--"something about darkness"--right before it turns to English and she resumes reading). By gender and by experience, these men know nothing of what it is to be a slayer. They exist in a time and place where nothing of Buffy's life, or the life of any slayer since the first, can reach them, or teach them. They cannot offer knowledge--only power. From such people as these, how can Buffy accept what they are offering? I think time will show she is right to reject it.

The clear contrast between this and Buffy's previous experience with desert-based spirits from the slayer past seems to me very important, and something we're supposed to notice. Note that the potential slayers just two episodes ago went on the same vision quest with Giles that Buffy took in Intervention (and why, really, have we heard nothing about it since? I don't want a whole scene or anything, but this spirit was critical to Buffy in S5--did it do nothing for the potentials? I hate to see such an important plot device wasted to get a few girls out of town for an episode).

Another thing that the recent references and implied comparison do is remind us of what Buffy was struggling with in S5 that drove her on the vision quest to begin with--her fear that being the slayer was robbing her of her humanity, that she was "turning to stone." If S5 Buffy who was so worried about this could look ahead and see herself in GiD, calling a dead child an idiot and stupid, what would she have thought? Maybe that her worries were justified? Buffy at that time was looking at a future where to do what has to be done, she might become unable to love--that love will become a weakness that she can't afford. A lot of Buffy's "pep talks" this season have been about how feelings--i.e. fear--make us weak, and if you're weak, you die. As many others have noted in the thread above, I think we're supposed to feel discomfort at hearing Buffy talk this way.

Going back to the subject of the spirit guide in Intervention and what entity it might be, it occurred to me while writing this that perhaps it is the spirit of the slayer herself--not just the first and not the men who made her, but the collective humanity and knowledge of the girls who have carried this burden throught the generations, speaking to and helping Buffy out of their own wisdom. Perhaps this spirit will yet enter the story to help Buffy find the way.

One last note: Because we've had both the first slayer and the spirit guide appear in this form, I think the meaning of the "first"'s remark to Buffy in her dream--"it's not enough"--still hasn't been unfolded to us. It may have been a warning that everything Buffy is trying to do isn't enough--that's certainly how Buffy takes it. (But how often is Buffy right the first time?) It could also be a warning that Buffy's "General Buffy" approach to the potentials isn't enough, that something else is needed, maybe something more loving and human, if she is to save them. Or it could be a warning about what's to come--that the power of the Shadowmen, held in a "Slayer Emergency Kit" for all these years to be broken out in extreme emergencies, won't turn out to be the cure-all it's supposed to be: it will be power without knowledge, and that's not enough.

This discussion has been so interesting--thanks to you all for so many great insights! I can't wait to see what unfolds from here.

Dyna :)

[> [> [> [> Great post. And good to see you back! -- Rahael, 11:34:13 02/21/03 Fri

[> [> [> [> [> Thank you! I've actually been here, just too busy to post. But delighted with the discussions! -- Dyna, 12:47:39 02/21/03 Fri

[> [> [> [> Burning Brightly (spoilers for Get it Done) -- Rahael, 12:02:21 02/21/03 Fri

I think it was very pointed in Intervention that it wasn't the first slayer, just a form. (Interesting in an episode which had the Buffybot being mistaken for Buffy by her friends).

I've always regarded the spirit guide as an internal part of Buffy, talking to herself, telling her what she's always known. It's also interesting that Marti Noxon explicitly says that Dracula is an outward manifestation of a part of Buffy, that the blood she drinks is her own blood. The darkness is there already, and so is the fire.

When I think of the Slayers, I like to recall the theory of 'The King's Two bodies'. That the monarch consisted both of the mortal, and the eternal. The eternal part was linked to the mystical, the divine. The mortal part was the one that erred. So that's why when the King died, the divinity of monarchy didn't, it simply passed to the next mortal holder.

I like to think that the Shadowmen forgot something when they added the demon essence to 'just a girl'. And what they forgot was the unquantifiable human spirit, which is capable of great things, some dark, some as bright as the fire. They thought the human part needed to be empowered, and what really happens is that the weaker, human part is what gives every slayer her true strength. Because the Tales of a Slayer (thank you Ete, for reminding me!) shows again and again, the true role of a Slayer, not just to kill human beings, but to be the fullest expression of humanity. True strength, even when defeated. Buffy's apotheosis in the Gift happens when she stops fighting.

What makes a true Slayer? What gives her symmetry? Who dares to twist the sinews of her heart, who dares to seize her fire? It's the Slayer herself.

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze thy fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And why thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors grasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake.

[> [> [> [> [> Quick correction -- Rahael, 12:04:47 02/21/03 Fri

"Because the Tales of a Slayer (thank you Ete, for reminding me!) shows again and again, the true role of a Slayer, not just to kill human beings, but to be the fullest expression of humanity. "

I meant to say, "not just to kill Vampires"!!

[> [> [> [> thanks yourself! -- anom, 12:15:51 02/21/03 Fri

One of the great things about this board is how one insight is built on another. And I really like yours in this post.

"It could also be a warning that Buffy's 'General Buffy' approach to the potentials isn't enough, that something else is needed, maybe something more loving and human, if she is to save them."

That might have been exactly what Chloe needed to resist the First's influence; if, as some perceptive posters have suggested, it appeared to her as Buffy, that might have enabled her to recognize that it wasn't really her, just as Tara realized that Faith-in-Buffy's-body wasn't really Buffy. Of course, knowing that the First could appear as Buffy would also have helped (although we don't know for sure that the Potentials weren't told).

As for who it was in the First Slayer's form, I'm leaning toward its really being her, based on her aggressiveness & the way her voice sounded. On the other hand, it's possible Buffy perceived it that way, & we only see her perception. It's hard to know how much in Buffy's dreams is prophetic & how much comes from her own mind.

[> Humanity for me but not for thee? I just have to say thank you. -- morgain, 10:27:26 02/21/03 Fri

You have clearly articulated why I too had a bad taste in my mouth after the episode. And the title sums it up very well.

But double standards are no stranger to the Buffyverse.

Angel Season Finale - Last Scene (Condensed Parody) -- SingedCat, 13:35:17 02/19/03 Wed

(Angel, returned to his soulled state, fights the Beast and defeats him)

Wesley: Ha! You defeated the Beast! But Lilah betrayed me, and the Wolfram & Hart Apolcalypse is imminent!

Angel: Fine with me. I'm actually Angelus-- ha, fooled you again, Wes, you prat.

Wes: Who cares! I actually turned evil and was assisting Lilah under all your noses.

Fred: That's great, Wesley, because I'm not really Fred! I'm actually Fred Mirkle's doppelganger, an evil abomination who ate her face in Pylea and has been wearing it ever since!

Wes: You are? Darling! (the two run into each other's arms)

Gunn: Baby, it's not true!

(Fred turns and shoots Gunn. He falls over, and his rubber mask comes off, revealing himself as a Deathwok Demon. He roars and runs off. Fred stares for a moment.)

All: Huh.

Cordy: Hold everything, Wes, for I am the Evil that is badder than the Beast, hidden cleverly inside your lovely friend!

Wes: Well, I guess one apocalypse is as good as another.

Angelus: You're not Cordy? Well I'll be damned.

Cordy: You bet you are, cutie. Now let's go keep our bargain and I'll let you do whatever you want with this body.

Fred: What will we do after the end of the world?

Wes: Don't worry, darling, we can always overthrow the egalitarian council on Py'lea and despoil the world according to our own depraved appetites.

Fred: I like it. (all kiss)

Created by Joss Whedon & Dave Greenwalt

Wood as an agent of the First (spoilers GID) -- tomfool, 14:02:03 02/19/03 Wed

One of the most significant turns in the episode is one I haven't heard discussed (apologies if I missed it). I think Wood is now an agent of the FE and is spying on the gang. Here's the case against Wood.

Last week's parting shot to his mother/FE, "Thank you."
Wood says to Buffy, "Try saying thank you Principle Wood."

He asks to see 'where Buffy works' and is then given full access, even though Buffy doesn't really know much about him. He is very aggressive in his interest in seeing and accessing the Scoobies' arsenal.

The main indictment is that Wood was the only one with Buffy when she says, "They're not all gonna make it. Some will die and there's nothing I can do that will stop it." No one else heard that.

Chloe/FE then says, "They're not all gonna make it. Some will die and there's nothing I can do that will stop it. - Your words, not mine." How would the FE know the exact words that Buffy had said if FE wasn't working through Wood?

Wood has become an agent kind of like Andrew was. The FE has found Wood's weakness, his desire for vengeance against his mother's killer, and exploited it. I think FE offers Wood his mother's killer in exchange for betraying the Scoobies. Everything else to Wood is secondary. This is illustrated by him going to the school to follow Spike rather than stay around and help bring Buffy back through the portal.

Even his gift of the Slayer Emergency Bag could be read as an attempt by the First to undermine Buffy by getting her to accept the darker demonic power. Maybe Buffy made the right choice in rejecting it, once again thwarting the FE's plans.

So the First once again has an inside agent.

One unrelated nit. Could someone please tell all of the writers that the obvious in-joke phrase, "It's a thing," should never darken another episode of Buffy. God I hate that phrase! It always takes me out of the moment.

[> Re: Wood as an agent of the First (spoilers GID) -- Vickie, 14:25:17 02/19/03 Wed

Well, maybe. tomfool said:

The main indictment is that Wood was the only one with Buffy when she says, "They're not all gonna make it. Some will die and there's nothing I can do that will stop it." No one else heard that.

Chloe/FE then says, "They're not all gonna make it. Some will die and there's nothing I can do that will stop it. - Your words, not mine." How would the FE know the exact words that Buffy had said if FE wasn't working through Wood?

It's possible the FE got this from Wood. However, another possibility is even eerier. We know the FE can take the shape of anyone who has died, even if that person is not currently dead. Like Buffy.

We know that the FE apparently has at least some influence on at least some of those who have died. Even if they are not currently dead. Like Spike.

Like Buffy?

What if FE knows everything Buffy knows, because she's been touched by death?

This doesn't really refute your main point. I agree that Woodie is in serious danger of minion-hood, not because FE knew about Buffy's comment, but because of all the other evidence you mention. FE has a handle on poor Woodie's heart, and it's not likely to remove its claws without a struggle.

[> [> Tending to agree with Vickie here -- s'kat, 14:48:06 02/19/03 Wed

While I not for one minute trust Wood, too many reasons not too - which you listed above, plus he's just a tad too nice and charming for his own good. Personally I see Wood was being one of the ways - ME shows the darkness in ordinary humans, who are essentially good, but do evil things.
Wood is the Btvs' version of Holtz. Heck the names even mean the same thing. And they both have a thing for either training or being vampire hunters, plus lost loved one's to a vampire who later became ensouled, and have a huge chip on their shoulders regarding the whole thing. So no problem there.

That said? I don't think the FE has to just rely on Wood or Andrew for info. Or even spike. I think the FE can get quite a bit from Buffy. Actually I remain unconvinced that
the FE doesn't know what characters are up to - once they do evil acts. If you are thinking evil thoughts or have evil acts in mind? The FE hears you - that's where it lives.
Good acts and thoughts? Not so much.

The line Buffy utters:"They're not all gonna make it. Some will die and there's nothing I can do that will stop it." is one of despair, loss of hope. An evil line. The FE hears it. Just as Wood is there so he can see the vampire - he cares for little else - again this is an act the FE feels in its bones and chortles over - no hope, evil.

Just my two cents.


[> [> [> Could be -- tomfool, 16:57:38 02/19/03 Wed

You're both very possibly right. We may not have been shown all of the First's guises yet. If the First is part of everyone, then giving in to your evil thoughts, or despair may be all the First needs to gain access to your thoughts. Or maybe Buffy's death makes her especially susceptible to mind reading.

The way it's been presented so far, though, I'm betting on Wood being under the influence. But I agree s'kat that he's essentially good will be an ally on the side of good in the final equation. He'll certainly be a catalyst in Spike's final redemption arc.

[> [> [> [> Catalyst -- ponygirl, 11:36:18 02/20/03 Thu

Sorry, going off in completely different direction but your description of Wood as a catalyst made me recall our lesson in magical physics from GID. Willow talks about the transfer of energies, the exchange of a demon for a slayer. Anya points out that they need a catalyst. Was this just a necessary plot point or was there also some foreshadowy goodness? And if it was foreshadowing was it in the literal or the metaphorical sense? Interesting...

[> [> [> Despair--why Buffy turns down the power -- luna, 17:55:23 02/19/03 Wed

Actually I think in some theologies despair is IS the worst evil, if not the first--it's a form of pride (that human sin is greater than divine mercy). And despair and pride are certainly what seemed to be operating tonight.

Couldn't read all the posts so far, so if this has been covered, forgive. It seemed to me in the last scene that Buffy felt that she might have made a mistake in turning down the power. (now I do know the arguments that the Shadowmen were essentially raping her and what's she rejects is their control, but perhaps there's another possibiity).

Now earlier she has given quite a bit of grief to the potentials, Willow, and Spike, for not using the power they had. She says they must go beyond what they normally do. Yet here she is offered more power, and like them, turns out not to be willing to use it. Both Willow and Spike know that they may not be able to control the demons of their powers, and Buffy insists that they must, yet when she's offered the same challenge, she too fears that she can't control the power, that if she lets it in it will control her.

This sounds like a mixture of pride and despair to me. And maybe that despair is the First. It certainly was for Chloe.

[> [> [> [> Well, never mind. Shiraz says it better, below -- luna, 17:57:59 02/19/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> Didn't agree with Shiraz below either, for these reasons -- s'kat, 21:38:34 02/19/03 Wed

Now earlier she has given quite a bit of grief to the potentials, Willow, and Spike, for not using the power they had. She says they must go beyond what they normally do. Yet here she is offered more power, and like them, turns out not to be willing to use it. Both Willow and Spike know that they may not be able to control the demons of their powers, and Buffy insists that they must, yet when she's offered the same challenge, she too fears that she can't control the power, that if she lets it in it will control her.

This sounds like a mixture of pride and despair to me. And maybe that despair is the First. It certainly was for Chloe.

You stated this quite well, even if I strongly disagree.;-)

Now this is more of a gut feeling than anything else. I could be wrong in how I'm reading ME on this, but I don't think so. My gut tells me Buffy was right in doing what she did last night:

1. Chastising Willow and Spike - who actually would have accessed their power on their own eventually - once they had no choice. Willow and Spike chose it. They need to find a way of integrating it. Angel has to an extent found a way to be dangerous yet have a soul - he's still struggling on the intergration of personalities though (his is a different story and hard to compare to Spike's). Spike has managed to integrate the personalities to an extent, but is afraid to access the power to kill demons. Afraid it will trigger him. Willow has the SAME problem. She is also afraid of doing this. Fear btw is also an evil emotion and leads to despair and comes from pride. Very good of Buffy to call them on it.

2. Chloe being an idiot for giving into despair and committing suicide. Yes - Buff may have said it wrong. But I agreed with her. Chloe was an idiot. She let the FE win.
She gave into her fear and despair. Expecting Buffy to save her before it happened is a bit much - Buff has over 20 potentials to watch, plus her friends, plus her job at the school (idiot boss, - knows what she's up against and still makes her come to work - that alone makes me think he is untrustworthy),plus a vampire, an ex-vengeance demon, an ex-Trioka member and a ex-dark magic witch. Cut the girl some slack already. LOL! (Now, regarding the whole Chloe thing? I secretly believe that ME was just getting rid of the Disney slayer who kept skipping out to be on the set of some Disney show...and this was the best way to explain her disappearences in future episodes. (See? You don't show up for work? We kill you. Evil laughter. ) This was the slayer we were wondering what happened to in Potential - remember??)

3. Giving up the power. The BIG difference between the power being offered to Buffy in Get it Done and power offered to everyone else. Is Buffy wasn't choosing it. They forced it on her. They knocked her out. Chained her to the wall. And were intending to impregnate her with the black energy. Now if it had been a case of Buffy appearing in the desert as she does in her Restless dream and some shadowmen or someone like Tara coming up to her and offering her the power like a gift - here's the hands, you'll need them.
And Buffy turns it down. I'd say - uh Buff, you gave into evil emotions like fear and pride here. Bad. But that wasn't what we saw. HEre she didn't give into the Shadowmen or her fear of what they showed her or her pride - asking for more power, instead she broke her chains, resisted their fearful proclamations, and asked for knowledge. Not power. She said she wasn't willing to become evil or be possessed by darkness to fight evil. I don't believe That was an evil choice or a weak choice. That I think was supposed to be and felt to me at least to be a very empowering choice. If she'd let them imbue her with the dark power...I would have been very worried about the future of our heroine and her friends.

[> [> [> [> [> Well said. Sums up my reaction perfectly. -- tomfool, 22:53:55 02/19/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Didn't agree with Shiraz below either, for these reasons -- Dariel, 07:05:34 02/20/03 Thu

Thanks for clarifying this. I've sort of been on the fence about the Shadowmen and their "offered" power; wasn't sure if Buffy made the right choice. But, as you've pointed out, when someone tries to force something on you, it's not likely to be a good thing!

Not only have we learned a little more about the origins of the First Slayer, we've learned something about the origins of the Council of Watchers. The Shadowmen had the same arrogance, and the same disregard for the girl/woman they tried to use as their weapon.

[> [> [> [> [> Almost persuaded -- luna, 07:20:26 02/20/03 Thu

Agree strongly on evil boss requirements! Definitely should not work without benefits package including time out for Apocalypse! Need Slayer Union, now!

But for other parts of your argument, not quite yet convinced of Buffy's righteousness. I can see some of your points, but here are two things that I see a little differently:

1.Her own reaction. Once she has the knowledge, she says to Willow that she may have made a mistake in turning down the power. If she thinks so, she's a pretty good judge.

2. Chastising Willow and Spike - who actually would have accessed their power on their own eventually - once they had no choice. Willow and Spike chose it.

Willow chose it, but Spike didn't. Well, maybe. He didn't choose to be a vamp in the first place, as I recall. It seemed to me in Fool for Love that he thought he was getting a little feminine attention, not a soul removal. Now more recently he did choose to get the chip removed, but during most of S5 and S6 he was a pretty good fighter of demons even with the chip, I think (maybe I'm wrong, will try to re-watch some of those to see--but FX is still in S4 right now!). And he went to great lengths to get a soul, which seems to argue that he wanted to get away from his evil powers, making him much more comparable to Willow. So I'm still not convinced that Buffy doesn't ask something of him that she's not willing to do herself.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Almost persuaded -- s'kat, 07:44:57 02/20/03 Thu

Actually I think manwitch's post below Shiraz addresses this far better than I do.

But I'll do it on a less metaphorical philosophical level.

1.Her own reaction. Once she has the knowledge, she says to Willow that she may have made a mistake in turning down the power. If she thinks so, she's a pretty good judge.

But what the Shadowmen gave her wasn't true knowledge, but more shadows - shadows of fear, the fear that lives inside the watchers. They gave her a picture of the hordes of Turok-Han beneath the surface waiting to arise. That's not knowledge of power, or how to defeat. That's knowledge of what's to come. And Buffy's reaction to this is "fear".
She's justifiably afraid she won't have enough power to defeat them. As she tells Willow - they were going to give me more - but I didn't like the loophole. The difference is it wasn't an offer so much as something forced on her.

I think we need to be careful here not to confuse Buffy's moral arrogance towards Willow/Spike and the potentials with how she dealt with the Shadowmen. She apologizes for the arrogance towards the others and the chastising, but she remains uncertain about the shadowmen. It all goes back to the central theme...do we take more and more power to handle fear, uncertainity? What would have happened to Buffy if she had chosen the power? Would she have become the Buffy the FE keeps morphing into? The Buffy - Wood and Giles and the Council seem to be encouraging? The generalismo/Field Marshall von Buffy in this episode? Or would she have been the apologetic counselor Buffy who talks calmly with Willow and helps Spike remove his chip?

Oh almost forgot to address you second point on the chastising of Spike and Willow. While it is most likely true that William did not choose to become a vampire, but was tricked, Spike does in this episode choose to access that power to a degree. I think where we're going with Spike is somewhere different than Will. Spike needs to figure out who he is - he's actually very similar to Anya here, he keeps defining himself by others, hence the reason the writers throw Anya and Andrew up against him as a comparison constantly. What Buffy tells him he is - he accepts. He doesn't challenge it. He doesn't figure out his own route. He lives by her. Defines himself by her. Hence the reason her chastising combined with his inability to help with demon and aided by Wood's snipes at him - sends him off to get the jacket and a little power back. The fact he has to use the jacket to do this and smokes afterwards - should be a sign that Spike is playing a role, a role that in fact is not real. It's almost as if he put on a costume.
If he played that role sans jacket - I would have bought it.
And the performance is made complete with the old over-the-top bravado, the berzerker yell, the quips, etc. That's not the true Spike - that's a performance. The performance he believes inside that he must use to win. He defines himself, I think the way she is with binary opposition: vampire = grrr-arrgh, evil, souled = weak, caring, in pain over who I killed. He has yet to grasp his own definition, what he knows inside to be true. When he does that. What Buffy and the others say should make little difference.
Spike - methinks has to come to grips with some serious Oedipal issues of his own. (Wood, I think, is the writer's way of getting there) Until then Buffy is still in role of mother to "sick" father. Not a good role for either to be in.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Persuaded,but with reservation -- luna, 09:48:56 02/20/03 Thu

Apologies for still repeating the previous thread! Thanks for being patient. AND I still haven't carefully read it all, so please ignore if this is still rerun.

I see the argument about Spike, and about the way power would have been forced on her. But the Slayer power she does have already was forced on her--and in the rest of the ep she makes much of that power, in fact opened the box in the first place looking for some assistance from her heritage. And she got a chance to get what she went to find. So when she rejected the spiral wierdy, was she rejecting the earlier gift, too?

And now I'm going to read that thread and become enlightened.

[> [> [> [> [> It's the *nature* of the power, not the power itself. -- OnM, 07:33:48 02/20/03 Thu

*** Both Willow and Spike know that they may not be able to control the demons of their powers, and Buffy insists that they must, yet when she's offered the same challenge, she too fears that she can't control the power, that if she lets it in it will control her. ***

Buffy: "You can't fight evil with evil."

I didn't see the situation as one where Buffy fears that she couldn't control the power. After all, she willingly took on the role of uber-Slayer in Primeval.

What Buffy fears is the nature of the power itself. To her, it would be using evil to fight evil, a philosophy which she emphatically rejects. To Buffy, the power must come from using Light to control the Darkness, not more Darkness to feed upon itself, even if some (temporary) battle would be won by using such a technique.

The true war would have been lost. Remember that she would not sacrifice Dawn in S5 because of this basic principle.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Agree. Thank you for clarifying. -- s'kat, 07:48:17 02/20/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> Does power have a "nature"? -- WickedBuffy, 13:06:19 02/20/03 Thu

I always considered power as a tool - neutral. It's how it's used that determines if it's evil or good or whatever. How it's viewed and named.A "little" like money - just a tool. It's how you use it that makes the difference. It doesn't take on a personality or nature until it's used and that is given to it by the decisions the person using it chooses. Like love, too.

If so, could Buffy have used the power the Shadowmen offered her for good? Accepted it and transformed it by her choices on how to use it? geez, for all we know the "power" they were showing her was the power of choice. Which she *did* exercise.

But I realize Buffyverse does have some major differences than our world - is this one of them? Is pathetic fallacy the norm there?

ummm did I use that phrase right? :>

[> [> [> [> Did she really turn the power down? -- WickedBuffy, 14:06:49 02/20/03 Thu

.. or did she use it?

What if the Shadowmen are wiser than we think, and not just little girl kidnappers who stuff demonjuice into someone and make them fight evil. Have we underestimated them?

What if the actual power was defined when Buffy made the choice not to have the so-called demon power in her? What if the power is "choice" and not higher kicks or a better crossbow aim? What if it was a test? (Would that mean the First Slayer flunked?)

Everyone has the choice to listen or not listen to the FE. The choice they make about listening to evil shapes their future. When confronted with evil, or the FE, how they choose to handle it is creating what happens.

For Chloe, it was death, for Andrew it was to turn the tables on it, for Spike - well he just chose to stop listening to FE and keep focused on his mumbling mantra that Buffy would save him. (When imprisoned in the cave.)

Choice is a power in Buffyverse and here.

(and I almost think the Shadowman, if he did show Buffy that scene of all the demons, might have been misleading her. It was a lie.)

[> Ah the web we weave... (spoilage warning if you don't watch Angel) -- BD23, 15:53:47 02/19/03 Wed

As any Angel watcher should have learned from Holtz's downfall last season, good guys won't earn good results by asking for help from the wrong sources. Holtz was a good man driven mad by vengeance and, eventually, he even hurt those he loved. All of this because he asked a bad person with power to give him a little justice. Never ask the baddie for advice. It seems so basic. My point is that even if Wood isn't working with the First, he gave him a little bit of power and turned from the light for even a moment. That's the surest way to eventually lose the path.

[> Re: Wood as an agent of the First (spoilers GID) -- Ylang Ylang, 08:39:57 02/20/03 Thu

Just something that struck me:

Principal is a "pal to you and me" (that's a laugh), but it also means First.

Also, there is a researcher who has written on vampires whose name is Robin Wood. In Nina Auerbach's "Our Vampires, Ourselves" he speaks of of the 1970s horror film genre:
. . . [the horror film] is currently the most important of all American genres and perhaps the most progressive, even in its overt nihilism -- in a period of extreme cultural crisis and disintegration, which alone offers the possibility of radical change and rebuilding. (132)

Wood then goes on to compare Stephen King's "Salem's Lot" (1975) town of vampires with Anne Rice's Lastat and Louis from "Interview with the Vampire" (1976). King's vampires are like a disease that can spread to anyone. They are fear running amok. They are "a mindless, moronic evil from which there was no mercy or reprieve" (156). Evil is stupid and victimization is random. Louis and Lastat, however, are disciplined and they discriminate, for their own self-involved reasons, whom to bring into the family (156).

Stephen King is also quoted regarding "Salem's Lot":

" . . . . . the thing that really scares me was not vampires, but the town in the daytime, the town that was empty, knowing that there were things in closets, that there were people tucked under beds, under the concrete pilings of all those tralers. And all the time I was writing that, the Watergate hearings were pouring out of the TV. There were people saying ""at that point in time"" They were saying, ""I can't recall"" . . . Howard Baker kept asking, ""What I want to know is, what did you know and when did you know it?"". . . During that time I was thinking about secrets, things that have been hidden and were being dragged out into the light" (King, 157).

King's take of "Salem's Lot" has to do with the children's, of the 60's and 70's, "Innate affinity with horror" (159) and a fear that everything "watched" or "seen" (Kennedys' and ML King's assasination, Vietname war, nuclear attack drills, Watergate, rioting, etc. etc.) -- viewed over and over again, every day were but "portents of a dreadful new nation (159).

As a child of the 60's and 70's in the U.S., this rings very true for me. Memories are very clear: total horror upon learning that in Vietnam people were killing one another and not gorillas. (I learned this after asking why we would spend time figting with gorillas.); the inescapabiltiy of the coverage of the Vietnam War; the fear of the Russian Communists who were ready to nuke us at any moment, and fear of the Chinese Communists who would send a standing army of 3 million trained killers swarming across the borders at any moment. Fathers being assassinated. In my child's mind the president was the father of our country and a reverend was a father. Fathers protect and "they" were killing fathers. Fathers were lying and doing other "bad" things. Fathers couldn't be relied upon or trusted. Before I was 6 years of age, I knew what death was, and I knew that the only person I could count upon was myself. Principals were always men, and fatherlike then. (At least that is what we were told.) Wood is a principal. Wood is a father figure. Wood lies, keeps secrets, kills, cheats, manipulates, hates and doesn't protect. Wood was a child of the 70's. Wood nourishes the First.

The final scene of the latest Buffy resonnated with my childhood, and teenaged "world-view" perfectly. (Just substitute 3 million Neanders. beating their chests, waving their clubs, and have them all congregated around where your house used to be. : ) The world in intact today, but we better party hardy now so we will be totally stoned tomorrow when the world ends. And we better have sex now or else we all could die virgins, and not *get* it. Kids today kill in schools. When I was in high school, kids who couldn't take it died hushed up deaths by their own hands or ODed in English class. Nobody spoke a word. My driver's ed teacher admonished me for speeding one day. Told me I was going to kill someone. Yelled at me in front of the class just before the final bell. I felt like pond scum. He then went home and shot himself in the head. Everyone knew what happened, but no one spoke about it. I thought I had something to do with it.

I asked my daughter if she knew of many suicides or did I just happen to know a lot of dead people who killed themselves. She told me I knew a lot of dead people who killed themselves. Suicide is a dangerous thing. With the context of what is happening in Sunnydale, Buffy was correct in saying suicide was stupid. (I really wish she had put it that way.) When you know someone who kills themselves, you spend a good deal of time conviencing yourself, inbetween bouts of guilt, that they must have had a very good reason for doing what they did. You justify it, because its difficult to condemn someone you love when you're afraid they might already have condemned themselves. You work very hard at making it OK. The dangerous part in justifying many suicides is that in making it OK for someone else, you make it an option to consider when your life hits bottom. Justifying takes so much energy that you never grieve the suicides, so you never get angry. And everyone else around you is working just as hard at justifying it, so that no one is there saying that it was wrong. There are just a group of people working very hard at not thinking about it or, when the thoughts won't leave, attempting to find scenarios in which it is an appropriate option.

Sorry, got carried away there.

[> [> Chewy -- tomfool, 15:08:15 02/20/03 Thu

Wow. Lots to chew on there. As a fellow child of the 60s and 70s I can relate to the Vietnam references. Nothing to add, just wanted you to know that someone is thinking about what you took the time to express.

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