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Nits and comments on "Birthday" (SPOILERS!) -- Earl Allison, 03:36:25 01/15/02 Tue

Okay, first off, I DIDN'T hate the episode. My comments might sound like it, but I didn't.

So, Cordy's part-demon now? Wow. How con-veeen-ient ...

First the nits. There are ALWAYS problems with alternate realities and justifying the "normal" cast being there. The only two shows I can think of that made it really work were the Original Star Trek ("Mirror, Mirror") and Buffy ("The Wish") -- especially Buffy, since without her, most all of the cast was native to the area, and would have been there anyway.

Okay, enough rambles, here I go:

Cordy eventually dying of the visions. Why, aside from dramatic tension (and the fact that they've been beating us over the head with this since Season One)? I can't accept that TPTB just let it go. They KNOW how much Cordelia means to Angel, one of their champions -- and yet they let it happen anyway? I mean, this is ANGEL we're talking about, someone who couldn't be bothered (not fair, really, but accurate) to really do some good until he saw, and fell in love with, Buffy. So, let's take another link to humanity away from him? Not sure I'm seeing the wisdom there :)

If Cordy just never joined the Angel crew, and the visions were driving Angel insane, where did Gunn come from? Wasn't he brought into the group, indeed, made AWARE of the group by Angel? Maybe the insanity was gradual, which could explain it.

Wesley lost his arm "a couple years ago"? Talk about unlucky, that would be pretty much to the episode (off one or two) when he joined -- since by my reckoning the only variance, the shift in reality, was Cordy not meeting Angel.

Angel being insane at all. Didn't the "Glitter Twins," or Oracles, pretty much SAY that Angel was a champion of the light, that he NEEDED a link to the Powers (which was why Cordy originally GOT the visions, as I recall)? If so, WHY give them to Angel directly? I know, it's dramatic, and let Cordy make a selfless decision -- but it doesn't seem to jive with what came before. Surely there was another "Doyle"-like character they could have brought in (which would have changed the case, etc. I know, I know).

Cordelia opting to become part-demon. Maybe it'll lead to something better (I hope so), but right now, all I see is a really anti-climatic plot contrivance. What KIND of demon is she (partly)? Why tell us? That would take away from allowing the writers to do whatever they wanted -- to give her new powers (levitation, anyone?), physical attributes (loved her GREAT line, "No horns, and no tail!"), whatever. It just looks like a lazy way out, and so "simple," too. Wesley must feel like an idiot for not thinking of it :) It might be something I can warm up to, but for the moment, it seems to be sloppy writing.

What did I like?

Loved the intro to "Cordy!" Funny and pretty spot-on.

As always, watching Charisma Carpenter figures in pretty highly. We got to see her tattoo a couple times, too.

Nice to see Skip make a return.

If I had to rate it, maybe 5 out of 10.

Just my opinion.

Take it and run.

[> Re: "Birthday" (SPOILERS!) -- Brian, 04:25:12 01/15/02 Tue

What I liked about this episode is that Cordy became like Buffy in "Gone" - on the outside looking in, speaking and no one hearing her. Another example of how the two shows run parallel to each other, reflecting themes and choices. When Cordy got all her dreams made real, she realized that it wasn't her anymore. She's no longer that self-absorbed, uncaring person she once pretended to be (allowed herself to be). She realized that she too is a champion of the light, and she is willing to sacrifice herself to continue that role. And talk about Anglo-Saxon brevity, "Demonize Me!" Finally, that kiss with Angel, woo, woo! What was Spike's line about two people in the work place? Ah, romance!

[> Re: Nits and comments on "Birthday" (SPOILERS!) -- Solitude1056, 06:57:09 01/15/02 Tue

Angel being insane at all. Didn't the "Glitter Twins," or Oracles, pretty much SAY that Angel was a champion of the light, that he NEEDED a link to the Powers (which was why Cordy originally GOT the visions, as I recall)? If so, WHY give them to Angel directly? I know, it's dramatic, and let Cordy make a selfless decision -- but it doesn't seem to jive with what came before. Surely there was another "Doyle"-like character they could have brought in (which would have changed the case, etc. I know, I know).

The logic is internally consistent, even if it comes out pretty convenient. Skip explained (at length) that Cordy's reception of the Vision Thang was purely an accident, based on Doyle's love for her, and had completely caught them off-guard. If you remove Cordy from the scene where Doyle and Angel argue over who's to turn off the bomb, then it makes sense that Doyle's action of punching Angel could be a corrollary for a gesture of deep love, thus letting the Visions jump to Angel, instead. (Hence the reason that Wesley specified that Angel had lost one of his closest and truest friends, implying that there was a deep level of love between Angel and Doyle.)

The only nit I had to pick, really, was the quick jump-cut to Cordy waking up with a half-scream. Skip warned her that the pain of being demonized would be a hundred times worse than the average vision, so her sudden scream and then jump-cut felt awfully easy to me. Perhaps they just didn't want Charisma screaming for five minutes, but it still felt awfully... 'easy' compared to the length of time they used to give her to thrash about and scream during visions.

[> [> Re: Nits and comments on "Birthday" (SPOILERS!) -- CW, 07:07:01 01/15/02 Tue

Just maybe the pain WAS a hundred times worse, but being part demon she's a lot less sensitive... Have to admit I was more concerned at that moment that Cordy was going to scream for the rest of the ep. and we wouldn't get even a hint of what she'd become. ;o)

[> [> [> Not quite what I meant ... and some speculation that just occurred to me... -- Solitude1056, 08:31:26 01/15/02 Tue

My understanding of Skip's message was that while being demon might make the visions less painful - remembering that Doyle still got a head-thunk and post-vision migraine and he was half-demon - the process of becoming a demon would be really really really painful, etc. However, the short duration, compared to the other "examples of pain" we've seen Cordy experience, made the demonizing process seem relatively painless compared to her two years of extended agony moments. That's what I meant - the lack of pain during the vision seemed most appropriate, but I was still trying to register whether she'd actually "finished" the demonizing or if she was, uh, just imagining the return. Or something. I dunno, just felt awfully easy in comparison to her many vision-throes in previous episodes.

And as an aside, I'm wondering... if Cordy's a demon now (ignoring the question of "what kind?"), then would Angel still lose his soul if he had another moment of happiness, or does that work independent of who he's with? Hmmm. Just wondering where the writers are going with the Cordy-a-Demon thing, when it's lined up against the whole rumblings of Cordy/Angel as a relationship.

[> [> [> [> Re: Not quite what I meant ... and some speculation that just occurred to me... -- Rattletrap, 09:28:33 01/15/02 Tue

"And as an aside, I'm wondering... if Cordy's a demon now (ignoring the question of "what kind?"), then would Angel still lose his soul if he had another moment of happiness, or does that work independent of who he's with? Hmmm. Just wondering where the writers are going with the Cordy-a-Demon thing, when it's lined up against the whole rumblings of Cordy/Angel as a relationship."

I'd been thinking along those same lines, Sol. I was also a bit disappointed in the ease of the transition to demonhood, but it also strikes me that the pain of being a demon may be as much emotional as physical, and it may take us a while to see that.

[> [> [> [> Re: Not quite what I meant ... and some speculation that just occurred to me... -- CW, 11:29:08 01/15/02 Tue

Actually, I figured by the time she woke up screaming she was already part-demon. We didn't see the worst of what Cordy went through physically. Would we really want to see a woman in 100 times that agony? The scream we heard (assuming that line of thinking) was from the memory of the pain (in a person rapidly recovering from agony) not from the pain of the transition itself. But, luminescence makes a good point below. :o)

As for the moment-o-happiness, I just go with flow. I don't see any structural necessity in the storyline for Cordy and Angel to become a couple. But, obviously, that door is wide open.

[> [> [> [> Re: Not quite what I meant ... and some speculation that just occurred to me... -- maddog, 12:25:59 01/16/02 Wed

Angel's curse with the soul(to which I'm still convinced shouldn't be there...I don't remember anyone "recursing" him, just restoring his soul) only gets broken with a moment of true happiness...there were no specifics on anything else. And it's not like Darla's being part demon is why he didn't get his soul back...he didn't love her and that was pretty obvious from the beginning(though I seem to remember the commercial trying to fool us into believing he had turned back). So if he had a moment with Cordy now...demon or not....and he really thought he loved her I could see that becoming a problem.

[> [> [> Re: Nits and comments on "Birthday" (SPOILERS!) -- luminesce, 10:49:16 01/15/02 Tue

I'm not sure it's safe to assume that she's *done* becoming part demon yet. The screams may have just been a small taste of what's to come. Perhaps each new physical/mental alteration will come with its own agony.

Also, let's not forget there's plenty of non-physical pain in this universe. Angel knows all about that. His emotional anguish probably outweighs nearly any actual physical pain he's experienced. The PTB didn't really specify what *kind* of pain Cordelia would be experiencing.

[> [> [> [> Re: Nits and comments on "Birthday" (SPOILERS!) -- LoriAnn, 12:02:17 01/15/02 Tue

I just remembered that someone posted a spoiler that the Grusalug will return this season. Grue's part demon, Cordy's part demon, and they were obviously attracted to each other last season, so how might this affect the possible Cordelia/Angel pairing that has been written about in the spoilers so much?

Also, second-guessing the writers is a thankless and useless waste of time. 'They could have done this or that, that couldn't have happened, why would they do something so stupid.' None of us know what the plans for the future are and how today's events will impact tomorrow's, but the writers do and are certainly in a better place to decide what happens than any of us.

Why does everything have to be taken literaly? Why should we believe what Skip says? Cordy's little trip into the land of what-if didn't have to be absolutely accurate. It was a fantasy to give Cordelia something to choose between besides being a star or dieing.

[> [> [> [> Re: Nits and comments on "Birthday" (SPOILERS!) -- maddog, 12:42:55 01/16/02 Wed

Do demons by definition live longer than humans(supposing they aren't killed)....like is the aging process different? Because part of the pain could be watching most of her friends die around her.

[> Re: Nits and comments on "Birthday" (SPOILERS!) -- skeeve, 08:40:07 01/15/02 Tue

It's nice to know that it was the same Skip. For all I knew, there might have been a lot of demons named Skip.

The premise of the episode was somewhat awful. It suggests that The Powers That Be are more than a bit on the inattentive side.

Given the premise, there weren't a whole lot of ways it could end. Ending the episode meant answering two questions: Does Cordy die? Who, if anyone, gets the visions?

Cordy doesn't die. Duh.

Who's availible for visions? Wesley and Gunn weren't eligible for the same reason that Cordy wasn't. Angel isn't eligible for some reason. If he were, he probably would have already been receiving them. Dennis, being a ghost, probably wasn't eligible. Even if he were eligible, Dennis is a child and communication would be a problem. Lorne is eligible, but likely to refuse. That pretty much leaves looking for loopholes. Skip only mentioned one, but it seems to me that there were one or two others.

Yeah, demonizing Cordy didn't seem painful enough. We should have seen (not heard) Cordy screaming. Wesley with a four-day beard would have been enough of a hint of how long it was painful. Having her huff and puff through the rest of the episode wouldn't have hurt either. She could still be happy about not having horns and a tail.

That said, Cordy's floating actually makes sense. Doyle was part demon and he still got headaches. Why wouldn't Skip pick on the best demon species availible for the purpose? Said species would be picked for its ability to keep its brain from being blasted out the back of its skull. A psycho-kinetic demon would seem to be the best choice. Since it was her brain that needed changing and she only became part demon, she didn't need horns or a tail. I think that Skip was funning her about not being able to go out.

It's interesting that Cordy was alive despite having the PET scan of a cucumber. Apparently The Powers That Be weren't helping her with that.

What did The Powers That Be know and when did they know it?

[> [> Re: Nits and comments on "Birthday" (SPOILERS!) -- RichardX1, 15:07:42 01/16/02 Wed

I wouldn't be surprised if someone hasn't mentioned it earlier, but the PTBs may have been hoping for the outcome that Cordy chose, from the outset. If they left the visions with Cordelia (unaltered), she'd die a very unattractive death. Even if they passed them to Angel now, it would just delay the inevitable (Angel going nuts with his guilt issues). They probably knew the only plausible option was to alter Cordelia, but she had to freely choose for them to do that to her (free will sometimes has qualities not unlike a female canine). Therefore, they had to show her what would happen, and what could have happened, so that she would be receptive to the third option, which, in true "gods give you a chance to change the past" option, they don't reveal initially. Probably because she wouldn't have accepted it at that point.

[> Re: Nits and comments on "Birthday" (SPOILERS!) -- Phlistine, 08:59:27 01/15/02 Tue

"Cordy eventually dying of the visions. Why, aside from dramatic tension (and the fact that they've been beating us over the head with this since Season One)? I can't accept that TPTB just let it go. They KNOW how much Cordelia means to Angel, one of their champions -- and yet they let it happen anyway?"

Because TPTB wanted to? Seriously, I think this was a test - partly of group cohesiveness, but mostly of Cordy. Of course, Skip had to tell Cordy something else, because knowing it was a test would change Cordy's response; but the scene where Skip takes Cordy to eavesdrop on Angel's conversation with the Conduit positively screams "This is a test!" Not telling her that there was a third choice, which didn't involve her dying or Angel going insane, was also part of the test. I suspect the solution Cordy chose was the one TPTB favored from the start (possibly of the episode, possibly from when she first received the visions), but 1) they had to be sure of what she would do with the power, 2) *she* had to be sure of what she would do with the power, and 3) she had to choose it for herself. But the whole thing was a set-up, otherwise why wait so long to administer the test? I believe TPTB were pretty sure of what Cordy would choose - they knew that she wouldn't accept either of the choices they presented her, but they wanted her to think becoming part-demon was her own idea.

[> [> Re: Guess I can't even spell my own name (NT) -- Philistine, 09:04:20 01/15/02 Tue

[> Helpless: Cordy's Cruciamentum -- darrenK, 09:07:18 01/15/02 Tue

My interpretation is different.

It's easy to see this episode as an alternate reality episode á la "The Wish," but it's not.

The correct episode reference is "Helpless" from Buffy season 3. The key clue is the birthday.

This episode is a TEST episode.

The Powers are giving Cordy a choice, tempting her with riches, fame. The alternate reality, complete with Cordy Sitcom, is a choice, a false projection that they are willing to make real if she chooses. But just because she's been placed within this "new world" doesn't mean she's chosen. She has to see the offer before she can make the choice.

The Powers are testing her for the upgrade to Champion status, but they need to know that she's left the rich snob/aspiring actress behind and this falseness--the mall, the sitcom, the assistent, the fame--is what they've created to tempt her

If it were a "true" alternate reality why leave Cordy's message on the hotel wall? Why leave in her mind the intuition to find it ?

And the whole thing is timed so that if she chooses she can go to Angel, but every step back into the life she left is her choice.

Originally, she never chose the visions. Doyle gave them to her and she resisted them.
But last night, when she kissed Angel and received the visions from him, she knew in her heart the choice she was making. And when she did, Skip reappeared--she'd passed the test.
If it were a real alternate reality, the visions might not have passed to her. It's never been shown that the visions pass every time you kiss someone? And, if Skip had permanantly left her in an alternate reality would he really have come back because he realized the choice she'd made? Or would everything have just carried on from that moment?

This sort of test is Hero's Journey all the way..
Buddha who started out at the spoiled Prince Siddhartha Gautama was tested by Maya in the same fashion as he sat below the Bo tree.

Maya is that aspect of God that is the material, the transitory and the glittering.

He resisted and attained enlightenment.

Cordy is the same. She, our most materialist character, has transcended all that she is to become the intercessor between worlds. She is now an enlightened being.

As far as the Cordy becomes Demon thing is concerned, I expected it. I think a lot of fans expected it. They've been throwing the "only demons can withstand the visions" thing at us for 2 years. The only logical conclusions were Cordy becoming a demon; Cordy dying; Cordy losing the visions. Cordy's Pylea arc was the first test, it was about her not wanting to lose the visions. This fall's Cordy arc was about how she was willing to suffer, but didn't want to die. There was ONLY one option left.

And it makes sense for the group dynamic. Last season, Cordy answered the phones, had visions and sent the boys on their way. As someone much funnier than I am wrote on this very board, "she was practically opening hailing frequencies."

Something had to give. I was tired of seeing Fred and Cordy run while Wesley and Gunn fought tandem and Angel worried about them all getting hurt. Angel was having to protect too many people. There had to be another character with physical strength and if you just show Cordy at the gym and learning martial arts, then next thing you know she's as strong as a vamp, it would have been less believable.

The show had to have a female superhero, a Buffy to play against Angel, the same way Buffy now has Spike.

Female empowerment is the raison d'etre of Mutant Enemy productions. Were they really going to have Fred join up so they could have two helpless females?
Nope. They've been prepping Cordy for this for a long time.

As far as things go, I like this turn of events. It was properly built and it makes sense for the situation and the world they're in.

I also want to address this notion that Cordy had to be Angel's link to the Powers That Be. This was true because Cordy was the link, not because she had to be the link. Angel had to have a link, but it didn't have to be Cordy, it could be anyone as long as he was connected. Without Cordy there, Doyle would have had to pass them to Angel.

And the visions have been shown to be progressively debilitating. That was the point of last night's X-ray scene. So, he might have been able to function at first, then gradually gone mad.

[> [> SPOILERS ABOVE and it's long (sorry) -- darrenK, 09:09:06 01/15/02 Tue

[> [> what, you call THAT long? amatuer! ................heheheh -- The Second Evil, 09:14:26 01/15/02 Tue

[> [> Great insight, Darren! : ) -- Dichotomy, 11:31:24 01/15/02 Tue

I really must locate my Joseph Campbell book and start reading!

[> [> Re: Helpless: Cordy's Cruciamentum -- skeeve, 13:01:15 01/15/02 Tue

As a test, the episode makes sense, not that the test made a whole lot of sense. TPTB already knew what Cordy would do with the visions. It makes even more sense as a motivator. TPTB wanted Cordy to keep getting the visions, but were unwilling or unable to force demonhood on her. That TPTB weren't completely honest about what was happening is proven by the handwriting on the wall. I should have noticed. Given the purported change point, it should not have been there. "Bad wallpaper." Considering the situation that TPTB deliberately produced, they seem to have a legalistic definition of force.

That said, some options seem to have gone unconsidered.

Angel could probably have cured Cordy with the same kind of demon-blood that turned him human. If their types match, slayer blood might also do the trick. I wonder how often Buffy would be willing to give blood so Cordy could survive the visions.

Who says one person has to get all the visions? Spreading them out between Cordy, Wesley, and Gunn might have given the recipients enough time to heal. Someone might have asked.

Cordy could have asked for a different change point, say one that involved meeting Angel, but not being kissed by Doyle. TPTB could always send another demon the same way they sent Doyle.

Were Cordy and Fred any more fragile than Xander?

[> [> [> Subverting expectations -- darrenK, 14:43:06 01/15/02 Tue

TPTB knew that Cordy was willing to do good with the visions, but they couldn't be sure that she'd choose the visions and becoming a warrior for good over her more materialistic dreams.

Hence the test.

It could easily be argued, and probably should be argued, that Cordy EARNED the test by the good she was already doing.

I think the Powers also needed her to CHOOSE demonhood. As Skip said the Powers control life and death, most other things are free will. And in this case, taking such a big step had to be Cordy's choice.

As far as "who says one person has to have all the visions," I would say the answer is the writers of the show. They've never shown or brought up the possibility that the power can be shared. Not everyone might even have the potential for it. They've never answered that question and there is no example of it being otherwise. It's like Buffy not being able to share being the Slayer. And throughout mythology Seers were few and far between. There aren't too many stories about teams of seers. Fates, yes. Seers, no.

And the x-ray scene was pretty clear, there was no recovering from the damage the visions were doing. It was doing irreparable brain damage, so sharing would just kill them all slowly rather than one of them quickly.

And as far as other cures, I think they didn't want to attempt anything, e.g. demon blood, that could have unpredictable and/or dangerous results.

Trying to jury rig her into being a demon, something she wasn't, is not the same as Gods transforming her.
I think that ThePowersThatBe had to provide the cure. The damage the visions were doing was too grave, her human body was too inadequate and only they could so alter someone's fate.

Even transfusions from Buffy wouldn't necessarily have positive results. It's an untested treatment and inconvenient considering that they live hours from each other.

I think it's important to note that Angel did ask. Angel asked TPTB for a solution, they provided one. Why ask about a less adequate solution when TPTB are willing to provide a comprehensive one.

No, Cordy and Fred aren't more fragile than Xander, but the point is that Xander has Buffy, Spike, Willow and Tara--all with supernatural powers--to cover him in battle.

And, when you show a weak male being protected by the strong females ("...when things get rough, he just hides behind his Buffy...") you are subverting expectations.

Admittedly, Cordy and Fred occasionally get in a lucky shot with a plate, vase etc., but the two of them are generally dependent on the guys to protect them. This doesn't subvert expectations, it plays to them. Something Joss and Co. have always tried to avoid.

Angel's crew--with only one supernaturally powered member--has to lean on him to do the most fighting. Wesley and Gunn have been shown to be an effective duo, but only when fighting together and they hold their own.

They need some other super player and a woman balances the group.

[> [> [> [> Re: Subverting expectations -- skeeve, 12:56:25 01/16/02 Wed

Slayer blood is an iffy cure. Buffy's blood might even be the wrong type.

The demon blood is pretty much a sure thing. It can even cure a dead body such as Angel's. Getting it might be a problem. One must find the right demon. The blood must be collected by someone supernaturally strong who is not Angel.

Doing a round robin with the visions is iffy. If the damage is linear, it won't work. If there is a threshold effect, it probably would.

If TPTB really wanted to, they could send a time fold with each vision. Cordy gets vision and brain damage. Time fold takes Cordy back to moment before the vision. TPTB don't need to send a vision in the new timeline, because Cordy remembers the other timeline the way Angel did after his time fold.

TPTB new it was Cordy getting the visions. Something was keeping Cordy alive despite having the PET scan of a cucumber. The damage had been going on a long time. Skip's claim that TPTB just noticed a human was getting the visions is patently false.

Skip and TPTB weren't entirely honest with Cordy.

[> [> [> Re: Helpless: Cordy's Cruciamentum -- maddog, 13:09:21 01/16/02 Wed

I disagree...TPTB can't guarantee what she'd do. If they were that smart they would have figured out what Doyle was going to do. This was a true test and Cordy passed it with flying colors.

And I'd say genetically at least Fred is fragile compared to Xander, though with Cordy's latest training with Angel it's possible she could be stronger than Xander now.

[> [> Oh, thank goodness for that, darren -- Wisewoman, 14:49:51 01/15/02 Tue

I must admit I was getting utterly frustrated with the various interpretations of "Birthday" I've been reading, and feeling ticked off at the plotholes such as Star!Cordy finding the address behind the new wallpaper, etc, and then you came along and just made everything seem so clear!

(Well, except I still don't get any Angel/Cordy chemistry, but I'm willing to give it time.)

Thanks ! ;o)

[> [> Re: Helpless: Cordy's Cruciamentum - Symbolism -- Humanitas, 19:25:50 01/15/02 Tue

I agree about this being a test. Notice the symbolism of where Cordy is, physically, at either end of the episode. At the start, she's on the floor, scrubbing away, fulfilling the role of the drudge, not the hero. But by the end, she's not only upright, but floating above the floor. She has literally risen above what she was, and become something more.

[> [> [> ooooh... very good point, I missed that one completely! -- Solitude1056, 19:37:24 01/15/02 Tue

[> [> agreed -- gds, 20:33:41 01/15/02 Tue

Skip said as much when he said it was an honor to be her guide. Besides he didn't have to consult with anyone about options or techniques. When she demanded they find another way - he immediately had the answer. This had been prepared in advance.

As for other comments in this thread about Angel/Cordy. It looked to me like there is everything except romance & sex between them. Not that this is sudden. There were signs in last season.

[> [> [> Re: agreed -- Rufus, 22:07:15 01/15/02 Tue

Skip also mentioned free will in association to love, but I also saw it necessary to the final choice of becoming part demon. Cordy thought of demons as grubby, ugly, creatures. Yet she was able to be accepting of Doyle. To become something she thinks of as ugly, repugnant, is a big step for a girl who has trophys from beauty pagents. Cordy passed a test, one that was less cruel than the one Buffy went through at 18. She passed a test, making the choice to give up her dream to help others. Makes her a hero...who cares the first thing she checked for were horns and a tail, vanity doesn't die easily.

[> [> [> [> Re: agreed -- gds, 19:58:57 01/16/02 Wed

Yes, she has come a long way from someone who would freak about her hair to someone who barely had time to even think about being dead because she was so intent on saving that girl.

She has become the anithesis of Anya who became a demon to destroy people. I believe TPTB would have let her keep her movie star life if she hadn't insisted on saving the girl & being with Angel, but I believe they were hoping she would make the choice she did.

You are so right about the difference of the test - and TPTB didn't do it with the intention of killing someone who didn't meet their goals. They did it to save her. They hadn't chosen to inflict the visions on her, but they appear to have been very impressed with the results.

[> [> A blatantly off-topic and subtly self-serving question -- d'Herblay, 22:47:07 01/16/02 Wed

First of all, your cruciamentum theory is right on. I was thinking along similar yet less fruitful lines myself.

"Last season, Cordy answered the phones, had visions and sent the boys on their way. As someone much funnier than I am wrote on this very board, 'she was practically opening hailing frequencies.'"

Ok, when I read that line I laughed out loud for maybe three minutes. Then I said to myself, "Who wrote that? mundus could have written that. Or maybe Sol. I think I have a faint recollection of reading that in a thread about characters who had exceeded expectations and those who hadn't. There was an indignant post railing against the misuse of Cordelia since the off-spinning. But was that the source of the quote?"

Well, a Google site search revealed no appearances of "hailing frequencies" in the archives. Now, I have some personal knowledge of how posts can disappear somewhere between Voy and IvyWeb (R.I.P. "Prolegomenon"). But I'm still curious, if a little senile: do you happen to recall who wrote that line?

[> [> [> I'm flattered you think it was me, but it wasn't... (at least, I'm pretty sure) -- Solitude1056, 23:02:03 01/16/02 Wed

And I can't recall who did write it, but I'm thinking it was in one of the responses to my character post - since that's when we did a lot of chattering about how much her character had dwindled down to support & comic relief after a great start. I'd suggest a few possibilities, but this board has so many witty people on it, I'm afraid the list of suspects would end up being quite long!

[> A test ... -- Earl Allison, 09:57:42 01/15/02 Tue

Yeah, I saw that it could be a test, too.

But it seemed SO obvious that it was, that I wanted to believe it wasn't ...

Oh well, you pays your money, you takes your chances.

Thanks to all who replied.

Take it and run.

[> Re: Nits and comments on "Birthday" (SPOILERS!) -- Sebastian, 12:50:47 01/15/02 Tue

okay. while i enjoyed the humor of the ep - there were also a plothole that kinda bugged me.

the hyperion. in 'are you now or have you ever been' it was established the hotel was haunted by a thesulac demon that had haunted the hotel for decades. the hotel was exorcised only because of the work of angel and the gang. and the only reason they found out about the hotel was because their original offices were destroyed in 'to shanshi in la'.

if angel's had received the visions from doyle in 'hero' and 'parting gifts' (which was well before 'to shanshu...' that meant he probably started to go mad well before 'shanshu' as well. which means that wolfram and hart would not have needed to destroy his HQ in 'shanshu' if angel was already turning into a basketcase.

additionally, the hotel had lain decrepit for a number of years before angel and co had encountered it. but in the 'alternate reality' cordy went to a fully functional hyperion hotel. furthermore, it didn't seem it all haunted.

it was just something that bugged me continuity-wise.

also, i wonder if this episode was a also a way to establish that A:tS is a stand-alone series and no longer a 'spin-off' from 'buffy.' i read somewhere that david greenwalt (or someone) felt that season 3 was more the 'first' season for A:tS in it not being 'son of buffy' (no pun intended).

i wondered if the demonizing of cordy was a way to break off the last ties of 'buffy-ness' to the show. cordy's originally role in the show as to give 'buffy' viewers a familiar face from the original. to give the viewers another character they knew. because the show was really depending on 'buffy' viewers in that first season to be succesful.

but to keep her purpose in the show - they had to do something with her. so they gave her visions. now while cordy are visions were a great way to advance her character, i also felt it was plot device to keep her from being the just 'smarty-pants secretary' or 'damsel in distress'. they had to give her more of a purpose in the show since she is more central than she was on 'buffy' (where she was more of a sideline character/scoobie)

now in season three. they had to take the vision to another level. having cordy writhe and scream in pain was dramatic, sure, but was getting to the point where it was now getting 'used to' . you, as a viewer, expected cordy to get a vision and the boys to go and fight.

which ties into someone's (posted above, but can't remember who wrote it) very cool and dead-on insight about this being a way to make cordy a more bad ass fighter. but it is also a way to break away from the original purpose of bringing cordy to show and making her a more standalone character rather than a buffy 'leftover'. so to speak.

overall, it seems a way to say 'this isn't just a 'buffy-like' show anymore, folks.'

or maybe i'm being a little too pragmatic.

questions? comments?

- S (now using VampWillow's wickedly delivered quote from 'dopplegangland' as his sign-off quote for posts) :-)

[> Re: Nits and comments on "Birthday" (SPOILERS!) -- maddog, 12:05:04 01/16/02 Wed

Conveniant as it may be I think it's cool that they made her demon to make the visions more easily handled...and the fact that she was given the choice, to me, was even better because it shows her maturity.

You think TPTB care about Angel's friends? They have their "champion"...he's the one that's supposed to save the world...nowhere did they say, "oh by the way, you can ha ve friends help and we'll protect them"...as we've seen in previous episodes TPTB have their own agenda, so I could easily see have them have her die and somehow pass them on to someone else.

I wouldn't say he "couldn't be bothered"...I think they saw what a pathetic lump he'd turned into since the curse and decided that his potential power could have great effects on those that Buffy was trying to help.

Gunn was brought in through one of the visions...which means Angel and Wes would have found him...just minus Cordy. Wes could have lost his arm from any point between the graduation and when he meets up with Cordy in the alternate universe. Remember, when he shows up to Angel he has already decided to be a demon hunter. Angel Investigations just gave him friends to do it with.

Well when Doyle dies there's no one else around(supposing there's no Cordy) so I'd say they gave them to the only person left. Yes, slightly unbelievable(I'll give you this one), but a workable storyline none the less. I think Cordy becoming a demon is a major step for her...the decision alone shows tons of maturity. She could have acted like the Cordy of old and had gotten disgusted over the thought...notice she barely even blinked before she said to make her demon. This way, they can keep her with the visions...remember, not all demons are freaks, or ugly, or whatever. Some are normal(though that levation thing could be interesting). It may be the "simple" answer but sometimes the easiest reasoning is the best. And this way they've opened many more storylines. She's not normal bitchy anymore...she's demon bitchy. :)

Today's the day! -- Brian, 06:22:57 01/15/02 Tue

It's Buffy DVD release day!
Hip, Hip, Hip Hooray!
Season One, a fine intro treat,
Monsters for Buffy to defeat,
And hints of deeper stuff
To bedevil our gal Buff.
And hope rises anew
Only a few months 'til Season Two!

[> Mine shipped! -- Vickie, 08:58:58 01/15/02 Tue

I just checked on Amazon, and my copy shipped yesterday! Yay!

[> Happy DVD day to all! -- Rattletrap, 09:13:35 01/15/02 Tue

I bought mine this morning. I've already watched WttH/Harvest with Joss's commentary, and it is truly wonderful--very witty and insightful. The interviews are less great, but still not bad. The picture quality is much better than the DVDfile review led me to believe, so I am overall a very happy camper right now.

The included add for the S2 set coming out this summer also has a web address to www.buffydvd.com which appears to be the official site for series DVD releases. There doesn't appear to be any info about s2 up yet, but its probably not a bad site to keep an eye on.

Anyway, I'm anxious to hear what everyone else thinks.


[> [> Re: Happy DVD day to all! -- neaux, 09:24:54 01/15/02 Tue

I went and bought mine but I'm stuck here at work!! and if I put in the dvd's into my G4 my boss will kill me!!

[> [> [> Shoulda done what Rob's doing and call in sick. -- Deeva, 10:07:31 01/15/02 Tue

I have to wait till tonight to watch it. But heck, never thought this moment would come anyway so I'll stop bitchin'!

[> [> [> [> DVD in hand - Happy, happy, joy, joy! -- Brian, 10:59:15 01/15/02 Tue

I went to Target at lunch and picked up my copy for $29.99 + 6% sales tax. At 1:20 EST, I got the last one in the store. That's right, they are sold out at that location. Makes me hope that they made enough for all the Buffy fans out there.

[> [> Re: Happy DVD day to all! -- Cactus Watcher, 10:54:46 01/15/02 Tue

Got to the store early, so I have mine. Ah, the joy of being retired!

Did a little peeking while the sale was being processed. It looked like only about half a dozen other people preordered at my store. A little disappointing compared to the preorders for other DVDs I saw.

[> [> [> Re: Happy DVD day to all! -- neaux, 11:20:07 01/15/02 Tue

well... at the Suncoast where I got mine, all the Buffy's were reserved.. none for the public.. doh!

and after some massive poor man's negotiations... using my replay $5 coupon and some leftover money on a giftcard.. I got the DVD set for $18 bucks!!!

[> [> [> [> My DVD Day So Far... -- Rob, 11:40:25 01/15/02 Tue

As Deeva pointed out, I am at home today, lounging on the coach and basking in the glory that is the "Buffy" DVD set. I am happy as a vamp at a blood bank! I had read some negative reviews about the picture and audio quality, but I think it looks great. True, there could be more extras. But again I'm not complaining. Just the luxury of having the entire first season on 3 disks is amazing enough for me. After waiting four years since buying my first DVD player for "Buffy" to be out, I am completely happy. I have never been so happy to own a DVD, actually. Any of you who haven't gone out to buy the set yet, do it immediately, because, from what I hear, it's selling out everywhere.

I went to my local Suncoast this morning, where I had preordered it. I arrived there at 10:45 am. They opened at 10:30, and the guy told me that 4 people had already come to pick up their "Buffy" preorders! Further, out of the 60 copies he received to stock the store, 56 of them were pre-reserved! Only 4 on the shelf! That is just amazing! I go to this store every week, and I have never seen such a demand for a set the first day, including "The Phantom Menace."

Also, Amazon.com lists it as their #1 most popular DVD purchase at the time. I'm so glad it's doing so well, so Fox will put out an even better second season set.

Oh, and let me just tell you that, even with not much other extras, the interviews with Joss and Joss' commentary over WttH and Harvest would be worth it if the set cost triple the price!


[> [> [> [> [> Re: My DVD Day So Far... -- maddog, 11:40:32 01/16/02 Wed

I would think that the lack of extras will steadily get better...by the time season 5 gets out I can imagine we're going to see some incredible interviews and extras...for the simple fact that they'll know more what the public wants and may even have a little more time to get them ready.

[> [> Re: Cool sound effects as well! -- Brian, 15:50:56 01/15/02 Tue

[> [> [> Definitely...the sound is excellent. Video' s great, too, on every ep but NKABOTFD. -- Rob, 22:06:14 01/15/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> Re: Definitely...the sound is excellent. Video' s great, too, on every ep but NKABOTFD. -- Rob, 22:13:34 01/15/02 Tue

I finished watching the entire set! 12 hours of the Buffster in one day...Me happy. Anyway, I digress. In NKABOTFD, there was some weird pixellation and pinkish boxes appearing on the screen that was very distracting in some key scenes. I'm not sure if it was a flaw in the digital compression, or if the original source material was flawed, but that was very strange. Luckilly, all the other eps are in very good, if not perfect, quality.

I read that in the first season, they filmed with 6 mm film, but switched to 35 mm film for all other seasons. For those who aren't in the know, 35 mm film is of a much higher quality, so I don't think we should expect any video problems at all in future sets.


[> [> [> [> [> Re: Definitely...the sound is excellent. Video' s great, too, on every ep but NKABOTFD. -- jimbo, 22:55:02 01/15/02 Tue

Umm.. probably just a typo, but that's 16 mm film. And it was for seasons 1 and 2. Sorry, just being anal retentive boy...

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Definitely...the sound is excellent. Video' s great, too, on every ep but NKABOTFD. -- Rattletrap, 07:44:40 01/16/02 Wed

Joss's comments in the WttH commentary about film stock are interesting. He said they shot on 16mm for S1 and S2, but that the lighting crew and the D/P did such a good job that no one realized it until they upgraded to 35mm in S3.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Oops! Yup, that was a typo! And I thought I knew so much...lol -- Rob, 10:41:51 01/16/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Definitely...the sound is excellent. Video' s great, too, on every ep but NKABOTFD. -- jimbo, 11:12:56 01/16/02 Wed

As a photography/cinematography buff, I second Joss's comments - while the first season's lack the crispness and depth of the later eps, it's really astonishing what they were able to get away with on 16mm. It was also interesting hearing his comments about how important the lighting and lens choices were to shifting modds from comedy to drams/horror - how it was even more crucial in this show to get it right from shot to shot, since it shifts so rapidly from one to the other...

[> Re: Today's the day! -- maddog, 11:12:18 01/16/02 Wed

I specifically avoided the board yesterday as I knew I wouldn't be able to purchase the DVD set just yet...but I'm back today...a glutton for punishment I suppose. But the good news for me is that I only have to wait til Friday instead a week from Friday(when I get payed next). Someone's loaning me the money to get it early. :)

Attention Age: reply to your analysis of 'Gone' -- Rahael, 06:29:08 01/15/02 Tue

(I posted this in reply to Age's comparison of Buffy/Cordelia in 'Gone' and the new Angel ep. Since Age's review of Gone was archived in unseemly haste, I thought I would have a go at resurrecting it here. So here are the ramblings of one bored poster at work who hasn't seen any Angel eps this season, nor a new Buffy ep since 'Smashed'!)

I was unable to comment on your analysis of Gone on the board proper, since it got archived way too fast, and I haven't had time to download the episode to view yet.

I think the parallels you have drawn here between Buffy and Cordelia are arresting.Also, the idea of the demon part as a symbol of internal transformation. Almost an integration of the two dichotomies that split Sunnydale (light and dark, human and non-human).

I also enjoyed the star/diamond/pudding analysis of Gone, an episode that I look forward to viewing. One thing to note is that David Fury conciously used the Little Red Riding Hood motif in 'Helpless' (an ep which worked on paradoxes of weakness and strength). Its seems that he has raided fairy stories again, this time to look at the paradox of seeing/non seeing.

Buffy and Willow, in this episode which concentrates on the theme of 'blindness', both physical and mental, come out of the other side more self aware. New conclusions reached, new truths now self-evident. The lesson? sometimes you have to stray from the path to Grandmother's house, dally with the big bad wolf (shades of Spike, anyone?) so that you can get to your goal, understand yourself better.

I like the idea that the different people that Buffy play with are actually aspects of herself, and we have a splitting, a dismembering of parts of her personality, to the point where her body, voice and personality are torn asunder. She has yet to integrate herself from the events of 'Bargaining', where the Buffybot symbolised her physical helplessness, and the fawn her spiritual death. (Everytime I see the Willow scene, I keep hearing "Macbeth has murdered sleep!")

I have watched the debate on the social worker with interest. What Doris reminded me of, more than anything, was the severe, uber-parent Buffy who told Dawn to concentrate on school, and fought with Willow for being too frivolous when Dawn should be doing her schoolwork in Season 5. Thus her conflict with Doris could really be seen as Buffy poking fun at a caricature of her more dutiful, responsible, self-rightous self (Shades of Faith-as-Buffy here "Because it's wrong!")

It strikes met that wheras in previous seasons, where the character of Buffy was always, triumphantly, her unmistakable self, we now have multiple Buffys running around. Her actions are less predictable, she is less sure of her path, less sure of right and wrong. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, and miles to go before she sleeps, but in which direction?

I look forward to your further comments, and also hope to view the ep soon, so that I can be more sure of what I think of this episode.

[> Spoilers for Gone, and the new Angel Ep in above post! -- Rahael, 06:41:10 01/15/02 Tue

[> Spoilers for Gone, and the new Angel Ep in above post! -- Rahael, 06:42:19 01/15/02 Tue

[> Re: reply to your analysis Spoilers for 'Gone' and 'Birthday' and Season. -- Age, 08:40:53 01/15/02 Tue

Hi Rahael,

Thank you for the reply!

In the back of my mind I put out the other posting with the idea of it being fleshed out. And, as you did in the earlier thread, you have brought out aspects/facets that were only only intimated and/or missed completely.

I really do believe that from ep one, season one of 'Angel' the two series have been co-ordinated weekly and seasonally for content. This doesn't mean that the stories have been repetitions, but just that the writers have understood the potential for extra meaning that such co-ordination would afford them.

Your idea of Buffy's self broken into pieces works well with the diamond imagery and the title of the ep in which it first appears, 'Smashed.' It's as if we have broken shards of her working against one another. Those shards have to be integrated, or done away with in a movement towards fluidity. You seemed to get at the heart of my additional comments: it is the co-ordination of the motifs of invisibility and dissolution, coupled with the various allusions of 'Gone' that show us that Buffy is still a question mark. It's something that I missed in the first posting. She has been physically remade using dark magic; and now, whether she's demon or not, angel or not, she has to, now that she's no longer someone's child, define herself. Also, it doesn't matter what she is, but who she is. That's why I made reference to the third season: given that adolescent perspective, the contrast between human and slayer could be made, but experience and taking on adult responsibilities change us. A human being isn't, as we've discussed in earlier threads, a solid static thing, but a process, a process shaped by experience, even shattered by experience, and then remade. It was to this dissolution of self, partly the self defined by being someone's child, that the invisible essense of 'Gone' was referring. That's the impression I got from Buffy's bewildered, 'I guess so' at the end of the episode. Now that she cares again everything that's been left unresolved as Buffy mourned her mother's death and clung to adolescence has to be dealt with in eleven episodes: who am I, what am I, how do I pick up all these pieces of my life and balance them or integrate them or let them go.

The Buffybot as symbol of Buffy's dismembered self is great; I tend to see things only in general thematic terms and am very thankful to have a more character specific reading of the imagery: I saw the dismemberment of the Buffybot as a reiteration of the theme of the deconstruction of the dumb blond myth, and it is, but as always the writers have put more into their work. Watching this show is like reading, and then analysing, a poem.

The demon aspect as a symbol of personal transformation works as a contrast to the more innocent(naive) idea of what human beings are. As I said in my posting, we may retain the eye of the child, but we don't use it to look fully into the rays of the midday sun. To use the analogy of the effects of the sun, just as our skin becomes tougher from years of exposure, we become tougher from experience, more capable of handling life's challenges. And just as the change to the skin is fairly permanent, the metaphorical change to express the effect of experience would be also. Becoming part demon shows how life toughens you, if you accept the transformation, if you are willing to give up denial of what it takes to survive in this world. Of course if you give up the eye of the child, and become cynical, then this is a whole other matter...one that another season's arc could explore, perhaps.

I agree with your comments about Doris. I hadn't seen this aspect, and had concentrated on Buffy's lack of balance. But, indeed, she does remind me of Buffy from last year: on the one hand, the uber-mother and on the other the slayer who may be just a killer, someone who would have to kill Dawn to be rid of the problem. There does seem to be a reiteration of what Buffy's been through, and moreover, what she really hasn't resolved in her life. Joss Whedon gave Buffy an out on the tower. I'm sure he won't do that again. I'm sure from thought, not spoilers.

I liked your comments about 'Helpless' and Little Red Riding Hood because it harkens back to third season in which there was the adolescent point of view based on dichotomy: human and slayer, slayer and undead. Well, Buffy's now really one of the undead. The movement in your comments is from the path, as you said, into the woods('Into the Woods' has more meaning to it) to meet up with the big bad Spike, wolf, who huffed and he puffed(compliment to Buffy's sexual prowess) and blew the house down, and miles to go("Macbeth has murdered sleep!") in the woods with all the relevant symbolism in play. Where does she go from here, moving, as you said, directionless, having strayed from the path, she has to make one for herself: the road not travelled, to paraphrase a cliche from a good poem. The theme of blindness fits in with the woods image also as the trees hide the way and obscure her. Wow! It all fits together.

Your comments about the self rightous Buffy certainly are echoed in the song that Buffy sings in 'Once More with Feeling.'

Thank you, Rahael, for your comments.

[> [> Metamorphosis -- Rahael, 09:55:27 01/15/02 Tue

No, thank you! Now you've gone and fleshed out my thoughts into a more coherent whole. And, inspired me to search out another favourite poem, this time by George Herbert, 17th century country parson, on the theme of dismemberment and renewal.


Broken in pieces all asunder,
Lord, hunt me not,
A thing forgot,
Once a poore creature, now a wonder,
A wonder tortur'd in the space
Betwixt this world and that of grace.

My thoughts are all a case of knives,
Wounding my heart
With scatter'd smart,
As watring pots give flowers their lives.
Nothing their furie can controll,
While they do wound and prick my soul.

All my attendants are at strife,
Quitting their place
Unto my face:
Nothing performs the task of life:
The elements are let loose to fight,
And while I live, trie out their right.

Oh help, my God! let not their plot
Kill them and me,
And also thee,
Who art my life: dissolve the knot,
As the sunne scatters by his light
All the rebellions of the night.

Then shall those powers, which work for grief,
Enter thy pay,
And day by day
Labour thy praise, and my relief;
With care and courage building me,
Till I reach heav'n, and much more, thee.

Ignoring the more Christian theme of this (and all his other poems), one can derive more secular, and anachronistic readings of this poem. I picked this because Buffy *is* a 'wonder' tortured betwixt two worlds, and she is attempting to reach that 'world of grace'. There is the day/night dichotomy, the 'rebellions of the night'. If there was anyone it could hold a literal meaning for, it's our vampire slayer! Those knives that torture her are her own thoughts, her own conscience.

Your comments on metamorphosis, change, pressure, dissolution are very insightful. I can't stress enough how much ME seem to use paradoxes. The paradox that crushing and metamorphosis produces the hardness of diamonds. The paradox that dissolution, dismemberment, weakness and doubt can lead to greater coherence and wholeness. I too thought that Tara's little light leading Willow and Xander out of the woods in Bargaining was significant. And that it was a terrifically potent image. The Scooby gang do something dangerous and dark. They are then separated, terrorised, and lose themselves in a wood (which has incredible literary as well as emotional resonance - Dante's Divine Comedy, for example, starts with the narrator losing his way from the 'straight and true path', and descending into a dark wood.) So in a way, that little scene from Bargaining could be stretched out to contain the season thus far. Uncertainty, confusion and unpredictability seem to be the hallmarks of Season 6 thus far. A bit like life, really. Though with the added irony that while taxes may be a certainty even in Sunnydale, death isn't!

A little footnote to the Buffybot - as Buffy emerges from her grave, reborn, uncertain, unknowing, (a question mark, as you say), the person who names her, and recognises her, is of course the broken Buffy. As if to say, that metamorphosis and crushing reveals the true nature, allows you to recognise just who you are.

[> [> [> Re: Metamorphosis -- LoriAnn, 11:37:14 01/15/02 Tue

All of this is really neat analysis. I'll only mention one thing; if you'll remember, and this is from memory, when the broken, soon to be dismembered Buffy-bot, sees Buffy, it doesn't exactly name her by name. Doesn't it say,"You're me"? This ties the brokenness and fragmentedness all the closer to flesh and bloody-Buffy.

[> [> [> [> I went from memory too... -- Rahael, 03:32:00 01/16/02 Wed

And I'm not quite sure...perhaps someone could remind us. I thought I remembered a shocked "Buffy!". But never mind. I claim the privilege of the vagueness of 'naming'!

That scene was wonderful...and reminded me most particularly of one my favourite scenes from 19th century literature - Michael Henchard (The Mayor of Casterbridge) gazing down in despair at the river, and confronted by his own discarded effigy. Which had been created as a punishment and humiiliation by the formerly admiring town of Casterbridge. The idea of Henchard starkly confronted by his two, divided, selves (respectable townsman/man who sold his wife and child) is typical Hardy - melodramatic, over the top, and completely arresting.

(And I was doing so well there for a minute - posting about Buffy and everything! lol)

[> [> [> Re: Metamorphosis; Spoilers Season 5,6 to 'Gone'; 'Angel' to 'Birthday.' 'X-files' -- Age, 16:45:21 01/15/02 Tue

Hi Rahael,

Thanks for the poetry. I shall examine it more later.

I've just re-examined the Buffy-bot dismemberment scene; it is wonderfully ironic. Here we have a biker demon talking about symbolism, saying that in one violent act the old will be no more; yet that's not what happens. Resurrected Buffy arrives, as you said, just at the point before the event, in order to have Buffybot transfer the dismemberment symbolism, the shattered self, to Buffy herself. So, instead of the act taking out the old to establish the new order, as biker demon guy states, it's taken most of this part of the season to begin to do that.

I think you are right, the situation of 'Bargaining' has been extended to include the whole season. A poster on another board mentioned the same thing in a different way by showing the difference between this season and the previous ones in that Buffy usually bounces back from the summer within an episode; it has taken eleven episodes this year.

You said:

I too thought that Tara's little light leading Willow and Xander out of the woods in Bargaining was significant. And that it was a terrifically potent image. The Scooby gang do something dangerous and dark. They are then separated, terrorised, and lose themselves in a wood (which has incredible literary as well as emotional resonance. Dante's Divine Comedy, for example, starts with the narrator losing his way from the 'straight and true path', and descending into a dark wood.)

You got at something that I was going to say in anticipation of your reply: it seems that Sunnydale is the woods, and that the two characters, this year, who represent a healthier way of living, Giles and Tara, have left. They got out. Now Tara hasn't really left, but for the sake of symbolism she's not in Buffy's neck of the woods; she's elsewhere. In this way, the two represent the possibility of finding ones way out. This harkens back to the scene in 'Bargaining' with Tara's little light, her little star that guides them through the night. And your reference to Dante's work also harkens back to Tara's role in Buffy's dream as guide.

Reading the quoted passage from your posting, it seemed to me that the idea of dismemberment of Buffybot was reinforced by the separation of the Scooby gang itself.

And, looking back at the smashing of Sunnydale by the bikers, while it did represent the feelings of the Scoobies, it could also represent the breakdown in structure that would later be duplicated in 'Smashed.' Buffy was symbolically dismembered and leveled and left wandering in a dark wood. No wonder she headed back to heaven.

One more thing, my analysis of 'A Christmas Carol' didn't really take into account the simpler idea of Scrooge being so wrapped up in his own pain that he couldn't see the pain of others. This applies to Buffy's blindness to Willow's addiction(and is the opposite of Cordelia's condition in which she was so wrapped up in the pain of others that she numbed herself through drugs to her own), but it's too negative an interpretation given both Scrooge's upbringing and Buffy's recent devestating history. People do get wrapped up in their own pain, not because they are selfish, but because quite frankly the pain can be overwhelming. Strangely enough, getting back to connections, this week's 'X-Files' was similar to both 'Gone' and 'Birthday' in that a character becomes one of the 'disappeared', losing all his memory, in a mistaken attempt to get on with his life. In this sense Buffy, Cordelia and the 'X-Files' character take a holiday from themselves. It's not exactly the same, but there's somewhat of a similarity. No, I'm not suggesting a three way connection. But it's intriguing to mention in passing.

In some sense one could look at the metamorphosis as scarring, in which the events of recent history leave a semi-permanent imprint on the character. In this way, the person becomes semi-demonic. However, in Angel's case, he rejected becoming human again because part of his demon nature gives him the strength to help others as Buffy's slayer does. Thus Angel's own detour into the dark woods have left him with scars that now help him. This idea, of course, was reiterated last year when he went dark warrior, leading to his epiphany. There is thus the recognition of value in being somewhat demon. There's also the question then of what being human really is. It is one thing to espouse human values and quite another thing to live by them. It takes strength.


[> [> [> [> Re: 'Birthday' & 'Earshot' Spoilers Season 5,6 to 'Gone'; 'Angel' to 'Birthday.' -- Rahael, 03:00:40 01/16/02 Wed

I wondered what sounded so familiar when I read the spoilers for 'Birthday'. And then I realised that we are looking at a different version of the Buffy episode, 'Earshot'.

Here, Buffy's 'Aspect of the Demon' allows ME to explore the idea of Buffy's attitude towards her Slayer powers. Is it special? Or abnormal? Is it a gift or a curse? She starts off thinking it's 'cool', as Joan does in Tabula Rasa. She ends up nearly being driven insane, as her power to walk into other people's minds is really revealed as a violation of her own mental space. This is very similar to Cordelia's visions being an invasion of her emotional and mental integrity. She imbibes the pureed brains (?) of the infecting demon in order to be healed, and in a more literal shadowing, Cordelia incorporates a demonic part in order to gain the strength to carry on.

So you're right, it is an exploration of what it is to be human. In a thread in response to Rob's essay on 'Beauty and the Beast', I expressed my unease at what might be seen as a portrayal of the unnatural-ness, the monstrous nature of woman. And now, in 'Birthday' Cordelia, the most 'normal' and attractive woman (imo!) in the Buffyverse, literally becomes demonised. But I much prefer to read it as a depiction of the difficulty of being human, of being alive. As you point out, Angel is also an exploration of the same phenomenon. And going back to 'Earshot', I see Angel/Spike parallels. Angel promises Buffy that he will always love her, 'even if you're covered in slime'. And in Bargaining, Spike makes clear that he would love Buffy even 'if she came back wrong'. I think we have a redefinition, or an exploration of the ideas of 'natural' and 'unnatural', which has echoes of Dawn's struggle to accept herself, the Buffybot's attempt to grapple with her identity, Tara's dilemma in Family, and Buffy's current angst about 'who she is'.

As Cordelia moves along the spectrum to a less 'human' place, Angel also makes a similar, but opposite movement. Suddenly, here we have a Vampire who not only loves, has a conscience, who doesn't drink blood, but who also does that most human thing - procreate, and care for his offspring. The normal method of procreation for a Vampire, 'turning', is ultimately a destructive, negative action. Here, Angel reverses that - Connor is a metaphor for Angel's fertile, productive and redemptive existence in the world. He has turned himself inside out, just as the birth of Connor turns the existing BtVS canon inside out. Literally, Angel as a father and a Vampire is a bringer of life not death. As you mentioned in an earlier thread, part of the Season 5 Arc of Buffy was the idea of the interconnectedness of Life and Death - as Joyce was taken away, so Dawn was given. Just as night falls, morning must follow. Shades of 'To Shansu in LA' here. The two different paradoxes, death in life and life in death that AtS and BtVS simultaneously present, complement and contrast delightfully.

I like your idea of demonic-ness as a kind of palimpsest of scars. We toughen as we grow up; our skin becomes callused so that we can endure the pain of being alive. But, to remain truly 'alive', truly open, one must be careful not to become too tough. (And, hiding one's pain, or oneself away whether it be through invisibility, or pain killers, is a way of deadning your self) One must remain open to the possibility, as you put it, of seeing with the eyes of a child. (Something Buffy tried to resist in the Dawn-killing fantasies of WOTW). So Buffy's self-sacrifice in the Gift was a moment where she short circuited 'adult' logic, and went for the truth that her heart always knew. And as she decided to die, she affirmed her humanity.

On a side note, regarding your use of 'A Christmas Carol' - d'Herblay pointed out to me that 'Birthday' is a delayed Christmas episode.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Soilers for Birthday, Gone, and Bargaining and 'It's a Wonderful Life.' -- Age, 08:38:14 01/16/02 Wed

A Quick Reply.

Yes, 'Birthday' is really 'It's a Wonderful Life' with the holidays coming up mentioned and a poster stating 'Silent Night' on one of the walls. Just as George Bailey has the last vestige of his desire to have that glamorous travel filled life excised by the intervention of the prayer-invoked angel, Clarence, who shows George what life would be like without him, Cordelia has the last vestige of her desire for a glamorous Hollywood life, as symbolized by her purely human body, excised by the intervention of the demon(demons as experienced individuals motif) Skip, who shows Cordelia what life and the lives of others would be like if she'd neve met Angel in LA. Both George and Cordelia get their wishes made for them: that he was never born and that she was a famous actress. And just as George is made to see the value of the life he has come to live, Cordelia is made to see the value of becoming part demon. Both pick a certain type of living over spiritual and physical death. The Christmas motif in both eps, 'Gone' and 'Birthday' point at the death of the old and resurrection of the new, with the attending Christ, and the old and new years resurrection motifs.

Just a quick reply. I'll reply in more depth later.

I reviewed the tape: Buffybot says 'Buffy.'

[> [> [> [> [> Re: 'Birthday' & 'Earshot' Spoilers Season 2,4,5,6 to 'Gone'; 'Angel' to 'Birthday.' -- Age, 12:25:07 01/16/02 Wed

Now to a more in-depth reply.

From season four of 'Buffy' the connotation of the word 'demon' has gradually been changed. If we look at 'Pangs' there is poor old Spike standing outside the door, looking all the worse for his experience, and garnering our sympathy, or simply our disgusted pity, for not being able to feed off a human being with his vampire brethren. The demons of fourth season were changed to sub-T's, poor dumb animals to be used in experiments by human beings; or on the 'Angel' series, slaves to be used in a gladiator ring by human beings. Who were the demons and who were the human beings?

Part of deconstruction is realizing the potency of words and reclaiming them, changing their meaning because it is through the filter and structure of words and their myths that we see this world and ourselves. So, yes Cordelia may be now part demon, but that's not because she's been demonized, but because she's chosen to be a champion. This is a far, far cry from the role she as a natural beauty would have been forced to play if this had been a series created in the sixties or seventies. She would have been the cheerleader, the screaming victim, not the champion. Champions do what they must to get the job done, sacrificing their lives physically, or metaphorically as Cordelia does in 'Birthday.' 'Demonise me, already' she says. It's not that she as female is being portrayed as demon, which was the idea in 'Alien Resurrection' as resurrected Ripley was half alien(to show how patriarchy views women) but she's accepting a certain way of life, letting go of the denial(as symbolized by the painkillers) of what it takes to do the job.

Whether the original version or Disney, both 'Beauty and the Beast' works are patriarchal: the Disney version still tells women that love will change a man. It reinforces the naive and destructive idea that women can and should start a relationship with a person exhibiting female hating behaviour in order to bring the prince out in him. The beginning of a relationship between men and women is then the start of a therapy session for a man? The woman is still playing the role of support staff in order to get herself a husband? And what of men? Are we all just beasts until we need to procreate? In its favour, from a symbolic point of view, there is the metaphorical portrayal of the feminizing of men, opening to that aspect of themselves that has generally been eschewed.

In the episode, 'Earshot' Buffy is concerned about what Angel is thinking, and wants the barrier to his thoughts broken down. Like Xander in 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered' she has her wish come, well, not true, but wrong. Angel is the only one she can't read. The ep, in a series that focuses on denial and repression, makes the point that healthy boundaries are required in a relationship or else the two people begin to merge into one, as portrayed by all the voices merging together in Buffy's head. These healthy barriers thrive on something any relationship needs: trust. Of course the opposite of the merging is isolation which is portrayed by Jonathon. Both extremes represent the death of the relationship: there needs to be two people to have a relationship, not just one merged personality; and isolation is the death knell for any relationship because by its very definition, a relationship is the maintenance of a point of contact between people, the staying within 'Earshot' of one another.

Having said that, your observation about the ep is quite perceptive because indeed in trying to read another's thoughts, Buffy got the same intense doseful of others' pain and suffering as Cordy got when she became stuck in her visions and gets every time she has a vision.

You wrote:

I think we have a redefinition, or an exploration of the ideas of 'natural' and 'unnatural', which has echoes of Dawn's struggle to accept herself, the Buffybot's attempt to grapple with her identity, Tara's dilemma in Family, and Buffy's current angst about 'who she is'.

I think you are right to create this motif trail. I was thinking about the Dawn connection myself. She says to Spike, a vampire, it doesn't matter where you come from. It doesn't matter what you are. In Tara's case she wasn't prepared (because of the strong influence of her family myth) to fight for her right to be a person had she at that point discovered that she was demon. So what if they are part demon; who are they as people? I mean, Buffy is really, given this changing definition of the word, part demon, ie slayer.(No, this has nothing to do with Buffy coming back wrong and is not a spoiler.) It's simply, in her case, a metaphor for the natural aggression we all have, men and women, that women have had to repress in order to be ladies. It's like another fairy tale: 'The Princess and the Pea.' In order to find a suitable wife/real princess for the prince, a bed with twenty fine feather mattresses is made, and one small hard pea put under the bottom. A line of would-be princesses take their turn sleeping on the bed with the pea under the lowest mattress, but each morning the new would-be queen reports that indeed she had a wonderful sleep and is summarily dismissed for not being delicate and sensitive enough. Finally, one day, a princess, probably anorexic, finds her way to the castle and sleeps on the bed. In the morning she reports that she has trouble sleeping because the mattresses felt lumpy. Joy in the Kingdom! The prince has found his toy bride, which, if he's not careful, he'll break on their wedding night. While I do not disagree with the ideals of perception and sensitivity, there is included in this tale the idea of being delicate. The other extreme may be seen in Klingon women who would rip the poor prince to shreds. Angel's movement as vampire to act in a more feminized way does deliberately coincide with Cordelia's movement towards becoming a demon as men and women deconstruct the line between masculine and feminine taught to them in a patriarchal society. In one way, Cordy's becoming a demon means absolutely nothing; it's just a way for her to get the job done. On the other hand, it's a way for her as a woman to say, hell, I'll be a demon if I want to. Who has the right to say what I do with my body except me(an idea that the episode brings out by the TBTB having to have her choose to become demon.) So, I'm a demon; it's my choice.

In regards to the idea of becoming demon, my idea was to show how linear our lives are. We begin to narrow our lives given the choices we've made; we begin to take on certain characteristics. We are not the same person that we were, and some changes are so drastic that they become permanent aspects of us, defining moments, or long and painful processes that redefine us. We can't go back unless we've just been putting up a facade.

You do however bring up a good point about the definition of what is natural and unnatural. One of the corner stones of my basic metaphorical interpretation of Buffy and the vamps is that she represents the natural balance between men and women reasserting itself over the patriarchal way of life. My only answer to your comment is that perhaps Joss Whedon and his team of writers have come to a different conclusion, and that is, if it exists, it's natural; or, it just wouldn't exist. It may not be healthy, but it exists and therefore is part of nature. The world evolved in such a way as Sunnydale repression reigned in some countries, wide spread famine in another. It's not that this is the best of all possible worlds as Voltaire points out in 'Candide' but it is the world. That isn't to say that patriarchy is good because it's part of the natural world. It means we simply have to face what is, in order to do something about it.

One last thing, if the episode was delayed, then it shows that it was put together(possibly) with the Buffy one because they do have many similarities.

Thanks as always, Rahael, for your replies.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Another Comment about 'Gone', 'Birthday' and 'It's a Wonderful Life.' Spoilers. -- Age, 20:50:34 01/16/02 Wed

I have suggested in a posting in this thread and in one on the spoiler trollop board that 'Gone' and 'Birthday' are connected by content. Another connection between the eps beyond invisibility, dissolution, choice, death, seeing the effects of absence on others, star motif, resurrection, "A Christmas Carol' and 'It's a Wonderful Life' is in the motif of uncovering. In 'Gone' Buffy finally uncovers the villains that have remained hidden and uncovers herself so to speak, opening up to Willow. In 'Birthday' Cordelia is covered up by her dream of Hollywood and has to uncover herself, her real self, still under the paper of the Hollywood wish world.

Here's a more in-depth look:

The altered reality isn't exactly real. This is simply a construct, as Skip points out the mall is, in order to get Cordy to see that she has to accept becoming part demon. The life as actress is also a gift from The Powers that Be. I think they are quite sure that having seen her options and having been able to live some of her fantasy, Cordy would allow herself to change.

This ep is really 'It's a Wonderful Life' with Cordy being given the opportunity not only to play out her other life, but to see the effect her absence would have on others, just as George Bailey is shown what life would be like if he'd never been born. Like George, Cordelia gets her wish granted, and like George her lingering desire for that other life of glamour, (for him, great dreams of travel, for her, great dreams of Hollywood stardom) is excised. It is not simply a coincidence that the holidays are coming up or that a poster on the wall states 'Silent Night.' The idea of re-birth day as half human/half demon ties in with the Christ motif as half human/half divine; and the time of the year ties in with the motif of death and resurrection, as the old year ends and the new year begins.

Perhaps the idea of wallpapering over history comes from the scene in 'It's A Wonderful Life' where George and Mary have their wedding night in the old derelict house, wallpapered over with posters of foreign, exotic destinations, wallpapered over then by George's world of big dreams. And isn't George the warm hearted caring visionary who makes the lives of others that much better, but is simply plagued by the lingering notion that somehow he's missing out on some other wonderful life?

While the Cordelia of the wallpapered world is made to forget certain things, she is essentially the same person as before because she too has been wallpapered over and simply needs to revive her feelings from under the paper, so to speak. In other words, the caring Cordy due to the painful visions is still there, just waiting to be uncovered, just as she uncovers the address. This is why the film 'The Matrix' is alluded to: the real world is still there; her 'real' self is still there; she just has to wake up to it.

It is then this motif of uncovering which is also common to 'Gone' and 'Birthday.' As well as a whole slew of other motifs.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Good Points -- Rahael, 05:02:13 01/17/02 Thu

You are right - demons as a metaphor has been used with increasing subtlety by BtVS and AtS. Season 4 did mark a turning point. Your comments bring Maggie Walsh to my mind. We see Forrest say to Riley “They are just animals”, a comment which is totally undercut by the fact that we see Maggie Walsh proceed to poison her own 'sons', and spy on Buffy and Riley having sex. In her world view, viewing demons as animals led to her viewing human beings as animals. That wall of tv screens from which she invaded Riley's privacy reminded me of Foucault's panopticon, a resemblance heightened for me by the work that the Initiative were doing - discipling and punishing, reforming, imprisoning, exploring and categorising 'the [demonic] body'. The invasion of a technological, authoritative force into the world of Sunnydale. I know Season 4 is widely disliked, but I thought it was fascinating.

I like the contrast you set up re the demon-metaphor, between the ideal of delicate femininity and a more real version of womanhood. I'm reminded of the Season 2 episode, 'Halloween', where Buffy tries to ape a more 'feminine' and in her mistaken belief, more pleasing version of herself. She finds that the corseted, constricted and feminine Buffy doesn't have what it takes to get the job done. She reclaims her strong, wisecracking self with relief. Earlier in the episode, we are shown an explicit contrast between the earthy, post-fighty Buffy and the 'embracing personal hygiene and wearing a stunning outfit' Cordelia, in the Bronze. At the end of the episode, Angel confirms his preference for an equal, competent and interesting partner, rather than an idealized, and outdated version of womanhood.

Your comments on Beauty and the Beast are very astute. In this context, I am happy with dark Buffy (whether demon or angel or human) who makes bad choices, or isn't perfect. It disrupts, and prevents the setting up of an 'ideal' of womanhood. Yes, women can be selfish - Buffy doesn't always give everything of herself. Yes, she can be less than perfect, she can be aggressive, or insensitive. She can put herself first, or be self-absorbed. She isn't always compassionate and nurturing, though Buffy can be all of those things. That's because if she was continuously unselfish and self sacrificing, she would set up as false a paradigm of womanhood as the Princess in the Princess and the Pea. She manages to be both self-sacrificing and self-absorbed, both giving, and taking. In that sense, she destroys stereotypes of how 'women should be'. Which is what I love about Cordelia too - even in her early, shallow incarnation, she was allowed to have such good lines, to be shown as honest, self aware and unapologetic about her wants and needs. In any other TV show, such a woman would have got her comeuppance. And yet Cordy always got away with it. There is something characteristically Cordelia-ish, and refreshing about 'Demonise me already!'. As if to say “What's the big deal?”. And I can see what you mean about the 'reclamation' of that word. To be honest Buffy and Cordelia have always been more of a role model for me than meek (previous incarnation) Willow, because they were never afraid to be disliked (Not to mention infinitely better clothing options). There is something exhausting about the portrayal of heroines as 'nice', and moreover, its boring.

So yes, if patriarchy presents a dichotomy between delicate, feminine fragile woman and bitchy, aggressive, selfish 'unnatural' woman, I know which one I'd pick! Though of course, having the fragrant and elegantly dressed Cordelia become part demon, highlights the ability of women to have a multiplicity of identities and characteristics. I think there was a post on the board re the Cordelia/Angel shipper question saying that Cordelia would be needed by Angel, because he would need a mother for Connor. Which I think misses the point completely. Angel is the sole parent for Connor - and he will have to exhibit all the nurturing and love that his child will need. Again, with the refreshing. And if they do proceed to have a relationship, they will both do so as equals. Cordelia in her new incarnation will not need Angel to 'catch' her, or 'rescue' her. He will not need her to 'nurture' Connor. The mind boggles at any version of Cordelia being able to care for an infant at present. And both have been in the process of 'redeeming' themselves through tough choices, difficult decisions and numerous detours from the straight and true path.

I would be interested in your comments on the Spike/chip situation/redemption situation.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Good Points Spoilers for Most Seasons to 'Gone', 'Birthday' and 'The Prisoner ' Series. -- Age, 11:27:22 01/17/02 Thu

Hi Rahael,

I was unable to post my original reply to this, probably due to volume, but it gave me an opportunity to add a statement or two. I hadn't seen the connection between the sub T's as animals and Maggie Walsh's attitude; I'd seen her role as jealous parent, and seen the attitude of the soldiers towards the demons, but I'd never put these together. But, now that your posting has made this clear, it makes sense because Maggie's influence on her boys would promote this.

I particularly liked season four because before 'Buffy' my favourite two shows were 'The Prisoner' and 'Kung Fu,' and I believe that season four was a sort of tribute to 'The Prisoner' series. Coming in the late sixties, the seventeen part series was the exploration of the deconstruction of the old and assimilation of a new view of society in which the old schoolboy idea of having sides is done away with. It was like 'Buffy' completely metaphorical. In the opening ep the Prisoner, a spy, is asked to tell why he resigned, but simply reacts with his usual aggression, 'I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed. briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.' Of course his life is not his own, and he makes the journey from helping others out of a sense of loyalty to an authority to what Angel figures out in his epiphany. It's an excellent series.

You wrote:

So yes, if patriarchy presents a dichotomy between delicate, feminine fragile woman and bitchy, aggressive, selfish 'unnatural' woman, I know which one I'd pick! Though of course, having the fragrant and elegantly dressed Cordelia become part demon, highlights the ability of women to have a multiplicity of identities and characteristics.

I think you hit the nail on the head in regards to 'Birthday.' Cordy doesn't have to give up any part of herself. In fact she needs her whole self to be focused. It's not a matter of choosing between them, but of embracing the value of them all. It's rather a re-focusing of all her energy. This is the comparison with George Bailey: he was still in conflict with himself, and thus couldn't bring his whole focus to the important job at hand. It came to a head, and just as he dies, kills himself by jumping into the river, and is reborn, so is Cordelia.

This is of course an important step in her growing up, and our growing up as a society.

On last thing before I get to my original reply: I get the feeling that the Powers that Be are following a kind of evolutionary model. There seems to be a survival of the fittest regime in place. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. The Powers seem to be acting like the alpha males of the universe, deigning to intervene when the cause is worthy enough. It is also a matter of efficiency, but then the upshot of that is the humans who don't make it get thrown away. But, this then is what happens in real life: if the next generation were able to live forever, managing the universe, making it totally renewable, including dealing with the expansion of space and entropy, then it would survive. Still, I believe that the Powers that Be, and everything else supernatural in the two series, is simply a device or metaphor; so, it doesn't really matter. The series isn't metaphysical, but metaphorical.

Here is my original reply:

Thanks once again for your reply. You have crystallized some ideas that were bubbling about in my response. Hence, the real connection between Buffy and Cordy is that they deconstruct the old ideal of what a woman should be, and do it unapologetically. Unlike the noble woman that Buffy thought she had to be for Angel back in 'Halloween' who would never have even set foot out the door to get onto any path in her life, Cordy and Buffy have not only set out on their journeys, but have forsaken the established paths. Of course sometimes when you do that, you get lost for a while in the woods. But then you become stronger once you forge your own way.(Angel called the noble women of his past, idiots.)

You are right about both these characters, and both have been portrayed as tough, intelligent flawed young women, human beings. It's intriguing, but I thought that Cordy's Sunnydale social gal persona was in part a creation of her father's neglectful indulgence through money. In this sense Cordy had come to mask her more human qualities, because the connection to others had not been developed in her by early childhood reinforcement of nurturing. There's this sense then that the 'real' Cordy, as in 'Birthday' was there under the surface, behind the persona, like Scrooge or Buffy in 'Gone'. The actress dream was simply a lingering aspect of this Sunnydale persona that she had erected. However, the martial arts training and Cordy's 'Demonise me, already' and your comments got me thinking that the half human, half demon metaphor points not just to an uncovering of the human Cordy, and the final removal of the Sunnydale persona/dream of glamour, but an assimilation of the attitude Cordy had back in Sunnydale into her personality, which is really an aspect of her natural aggression. Unlike the Princess and the Pea, and the noblewoman Buffy of 'Halloween' Cordy doesn't become all delicate and nurturing, but champion. This assimilation brings together the natural character of Cordy herself with the effects of childhood experience: the fame desire is still part of the old, I want Daddy's love. The demon then can be, as I think it may be for Buffy's slayer, an expression of both a natural aggression and an emotional scarring. This is somewhat Batman or Catwoman-ish. It's that old cliche: what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. And death and resurrection were common to both eps.

As you and I seem to be the only ones contributing to this thread, I have one more thing to say about 'Birthday' and then I'll leave the analysis specifically of it alone. There are no Powers that Be, no Skip, no construct, no wallpaper world, no visions: these are all metaphorical devices describing how Cordy has come to realize that she can't continue to endure the extreme pain of conflict in the back of her mind between her dreams and her socially engaged life. She had to come to some decision before they pulled her apart, as the metaphor of the astral body separating from the body is meant to show(similar to the pushing and pulling of forces in Buffy of 'Gone.') Instead of being conflicted, with her natural agression being tied up in her Sunnydale persona/dreams she had to assilimate that fully into her new life, with the idea of that aspect of her being symbolized by the demon Skip, called not by the Powers that Be, but by Cordy's own changing attitude(martial arts training.) The visions are really metaphors(and great plot devices to get the team out and about) for Cordy's having opened to others' pain, with the pain of the visions representing her conflict with her dreams of glamour. In order to be the champion Cordelia had to bring the aspect tied up in her dreams into her new life, fully. She needed the strength she already had brought fully into the service of her new life. But, that isn't to say she's become Mary Sunshine; on the contrary, this is not the destruction of 'Bitch' Cordelia, but an adoption of her, a valuing of what she has to bring to Cordy's new life. This is the metaphor of half human and half demon: the very thing that got demonised in women is exactly what Cordy needs to become what we know she really is: a champion. Demon is just a word, just a value judgement. In one way it isn't demon at all, but a metaphorical expression of ner natural aggression; in another way, it is demon, because it represents the kind of emotional scarring that has toughened her up, and helps give her the energy to lead this new life.

Oh, the wall paper metaphor represents both the facade that Cordelia was putting up to her friends and the one, through drugs, that she was putting up in her own mind: she was wallpapering her own mind in order to ignore her conflict and need to assimilate aspects of herself, and let go of her dreams. Skip isn't a demon by chance: he's her guide because this is the aspect of herself, risen to this level of her mind which is telling her, adopt me, assimilate me or you will die. It's interesting to note that Skip is male. This is important in our discussion because in adopting, assimilating what Skip represents we have Cordy accepting what has been formally labelled as masculine, with Skip as male showing that, NO, women are not demons; the demon is represented here by a male, not a female. No, the female ghost from the past, and therefore a reference to the influence of patriarchy, is the woman whose head is blown off. Her presence shows the connection WE have been making to 'Halloween' and 'Princess and the Pea.' Had Cordy been back in a patriarchal society, she'd not have been able to assimilate her aggressive self due to societal pressures, and this would have blown her mind, so to speak: she would have been too delicate. It's intriguing to note that the woman with her head blown out is not dressed as a noblewoman, but a scullery maid. This ties in with Cordy at the beginning of the ep on her knees cleaning. What this points to is yet another fairytale: 'Birthday' is, in part, a feminist Cinderella story. Cordelia gets her prince, so to speak, but its an aspect of herself.

Thanks, as always, Rahael,


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> You two may've thought no one was reading, but I'm still recovering from the KABOOM! ;-) -- Solitude1056, 11:57:23 01/17/02 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Thank You :) Spoilers Gone and Birthday. -- Age, 21:20:41 01/17/02 Thu

I think, since I re-watched the ep tonight that I have to change my 'It's a Wonderful Life' idea in 'Birthday.' Skip as guide and Cordy's trip down memory lane are very much like Scrooge's visitation by the ghosts, to the point where she's bid to go elsewhere by hand, and asks Skip to take her from this place, as Scrooge does. Thus, the ep starts out as 'A Christmas Carol' and then becomes 'It's a Wonderful Life.'

It's intriguing to see the symbol of the flame in the conduit's chamber where Angel goes to get help for Cordy given what it has come to mean recently on 'Buffy.'

It's intriguing to see that the choice Cordy has to make is written into the young woman she has to save. Instead of abandoning the girl by remaining a famous star aloof from others, and thus continuing to receive the kind of adulation the girl gives, Cordy makes a human contact and saves her. The motif of the abandoning father(and mother) was reiterated too with the young woman's situation, harkening back to Cordy's own upbringing and the original possible cause of her lack of empathy for others. Just as Cordy saves the girl from the monster of neglect created by the need to have daddy back, Cordy saves herself. Cordy really saves herself in the form of the young woman.

Finally, when Cordy separates from her body she smashes open the cabinet to the weapons. This may have been just for effect, but given the degree of symbolism in these episodes, I doubt it. Firstly, it is an opening to something that's been shut away, the breaking of the facade she's put up in metaphorical terms. Perhaps the weapons have significance also? Perhaps they represent her more aggressive side, the one that she's been developing this season.

I just honestly don't know how they make everything symbolic and yet create such a thoroughly enjoyable story. Besides, from the beginning, Cordy was my favourite character because the human was just so visible beneath the bitch. One just had to root for a person with the kind of energy she had. Still, she's no longer my favourite character: they all are.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Good Points -- matching mole, 12:12:48 01/17/02 Thu

First I hesitate to but into this exchange which continues to astound me. However your comments about Willow and Cordelia brought some thoughts I've had about them to the fore. When we first encounter them in BtVS season 1 they are complementary. Each has what the other lacks. Willow is aware of the value and potential of human interaction, she is attuned to the feelings of others. But she lacks self esteem, she needs positive interactions to feel good about herself. Cordelia has enormous self-esteem but no empathy. She actually has no real use for human interaction (I believe that the original Cordelia didn't care if other people liked her or not - as long as they pretended to like her). From this point their paths are amazingly complementary to one another.

1) The first romantic relationship. Willow has Oz, an extremely self-confident (although quietly so) but non-demonstrative figure. Oz resists Willow's attempts to 'make' him like her and tries to convince her that he likes her for herself. However his lack of effusiveness means that Willow doesn't get the constant reassurance she craves. Cordelia has Xander, a figure who is very demonstrative but in the past has demonstrated that he doesn't like Cordelia very much. Cordelia and Willow are both amazed by these relationships but for opposite reasons: Willow is amazed that Oz loves her and Cordelia is amazed that she loves Xander. The relationships both seem to broaden their perspectives a bit but then their men 'betray' them (Xander cheats and Oz leaves).

2) The second romantic relationship (or lack thereof). Willow replaces Oz with Tara who is his opposite in every way. Tara is less self-confident than Willow (or perhaps just more honest about her lack of confidence) and she clearly adores and idolizes Willow. Willow doesn't need to develop self-confidence because Tara can be relied upon to make her feel good about herself. Cordelia is alone. She elects to pursue a career in acting, in which she can continue appearing 'popular' without genuine human contact. Her initial role with Angel is clearly regarded as a day job, something to pay the bills but not emotionally involving.

3) Their worlds fall apart. Both Cordelia and Willow have faced the same problem over the last few years; their personae no longer fit the worlds they find themselves in. Willow has grown far too powerful to lack self-esteem. People don't provide uncritical support and encouragement to the powerful, the powerful shouldn't need it. At the end of season 5 and the start of season 6 Willow is clearly the central figure in the Scoobies' battles against evil. Buffy may have sacrificed herself to save the universe but without Willow the entire group would have perished several episodes before they ever got to that point. If Buffy is Frodo then Willow is Gandalf and no one expects Gandalf to need constant emotional reassurance. Also Tara becomes less reliable as a source of support as she grows in confidence. Willow can deal with a brain-dead Tara who needs her but can't deal with one who questions rather than praises her. Willow gains a sort of false self-esteem at this point, based on her considerable accomplishments. It makes her arrogant but doesn't give her emotional fulfillment.

Cordelia's world started collapsing earlier. Her acting career goes badly which damages her self-esteem. She gets the visions which force her into empathy with others. Her new social isolation makes her place more value on the few social interactions she has than she ever would have before. Her social circle is all male (until recently) and not the most communicative of men either. She finds herself at the center of Angel Investigations, both because of the visions and because she is the one that comes to link Angel to Gunn and Wesley. Cordelia can no longer feel good about herself simply for being beautiful and stylish - she hasn't succeeded in the world that values that. The world she is successful in values her because she is moral and useful. Cordelia enters a false empathy stage in which she embraces the cause of helping others but lacks the true empathy to reveal the toll this is taking on her to her friends.

4) Appearance. Initially Cordelia always appears stylish and well groomed while Willow makes rather eccentric fashion choices. In recent years their roles have reversed. Cordelia is almost always seen dressed casually with short hair. Willow's appearance becomes if not more stylish then at least more stylized.

5) 'Gone' and 'Birthday' Willow spends most of her episode alone. Even when around others she doesn't talk very much. She is dressed plainly. At the end she doesn't seek approval from Buffy she speaks with pride but without hubris of her accomplishments. Cordelia spends most of her episode in constant communication even though she is a disembodied spirit. She continually attempts to communicate with her friends although she quickly learns that she can't. She briefly returns to her days of stylish attire in her alternate celebrity reality. When she and Skip are together they are almost constantly talking. Cordelia's reclaiming of the visions is among the most selfless acts we have seen in the Buffyverse. As far as she knows this will mean her death and Angel won't even know what she did for him. When Cordelia returns to consciousness she ignores what has happened to her to immediately report on a vision. Her checking for horns and tail is a private matter she doesn't expound upon and she apparently doesn't notice that she is floating in the air.

Both Willow and Cordelia appear to have each gained what the other had that they lacked.

Spike and Redemption. Pre-vampire Spike seems very similar to the early Willow while pre-chip Spike has many of the attributes of the early Cordelia. Spike is self-confident and enjoys the material world. He is interested in appearances. While he is genuinely evil he is also very concerned that he appear evil and in a big way. Unlike Cordelia he is genuinely capable of love and empathy but only for specific individuals. Towards everyone else he is indifferent or predatory.

The chip destroys his world. He can no longer ignore or kill those around him. He is forced to interact with them. For a time he tries to convince himself and others that he is still evil. But eventually his tendency towards social interaction becomes directed towards his former prey, at least those around him. His love for Buffy, his obvious affection for Joyce and Dawn, his reduced hostility towards the others don't necessarily seem to be anything different than the capacity for genuine affection he had with Drusilla. I doubt that Spike would kill one of the Scoobies if he lost the chip but I don't think that is the appropriate question. Would he kill a random stranger after losing the chip (assuming there was no chance of Buffy finding out)? Or would he, chip intact, act to save a stranger from harm when no one else was around?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Wow! Spoilers to 'Gone' and 'Birthday.' -- Age, 17:50:08 01/17/02 Thu

It's always great to have a posting which examines the development of the characters. I tend to focus on theme and metaphor. Wow, what a character trail!

I love this line in your posting:

Cordelia and Willow are both amazed by these relationships but for opposite reasons: Willow is amazed that Oz loves her and Cordelia is amazed that she loves Xander.

I see what you mean: Willow is amazed that someone could love her; while Cordelia is amazed that she actually has genuine feelings. A thought occurred to me when I was reading your posting that perhaps Willow's and Xander's tryst in season three was in part due to subconsccious feelings of inadequacy on the part of Willow. She was subconsciously sabotaging her relationship with Oz because she couldn't fully believe that she deserved it?

I got the impression that there was a human being lurking somewhere in Cordelia from the start. What she lacked, as you point out, is empathy. She begins to get it when she sees the role that Buffy plays in Sunnydale. Firstly she is forced to see that the world of the surface bitch isn't the only one there. You certainly hit the nail on the head when you brought up the idea of worlds collapsing. At first Cordy sees Buffy as a new addition to her bitch world view, but Buffy comes to be one of the things that leads to its destruction. Cordy, in 'The Wish' wishes that Buffy Summers never came to Sunnydale because it is Xander's association with the slayer that first attracts Cordelia to him. In the beginning Cordy is used to represent that which Buffy is leaving behind. But, like Buffy, Cordy is too smart to ignore the supernatural events happening around her. It is this crack in her own personal cosmic egg which leads her to emotions. And, very quickly to heartache. Once Cordelia has recovered from Xander's betrayal, she attempts to go back into the world she left behind, but is rejected. As you point out in your posting, it is the collapsing of worlds that seems to lead to change. Not wanting to be part of the gang and not able to go back to her old world(she manages to get back to her old world in bizarro Sunnydale, but quite clearly that way leads only to emotional death) she is very much alone, being acutely aware of the loneliness that the bitch world view was only masking.

Then, of course, the major support of the material of the bitch view collapses when the money dries up, but this also leads to a lesson for her in empathy from Xander as he buys her the prom dress. Her failed and silly pseudo relationship with Wesley(a semi-attempt to retreat back into the old world), shows, as does her desire to become an actress, that there's still the pull of the surface. Then she gets the visions. It's debatable whether the visions changed Cordelia or whether they simply express the human aspect of Cordelia coming out given the reversals of fortune, the world collapses she's experienced: she goes from being Daddy's little goddess to the human being on her own. I think it depends on how much of the metaphorical one wants to see in the series. Is there a causal link or are the visions simply devices to show a development?

Your comments about Willow and Tara certainly give one pause to examine what the motivations of a relationship are. Why indeed are some people attracted to others? There may be genuine emotion, but then there is the interaction of the characters of two people that has to be considered. As Tara sang in 'OMWF' Willow brought her out, helped her to gain confidence, but in actual fact Tara had to leave at some point to secure her own identity and new confidence, and to allow Willow to let go of the adulation that Tara provided.

You wrote:

Their worlds fall apart. Both Cordelia and Willow have faced the same problem over the last few years; their personae no longer fit the worlds they find themselves in. Willow has grown far too powerful to lack self-esteem. People don't provide uncritical support and encouragement to the powerful, the powerful shouldn't need it. At the end of season 5 and the start of season 6 Willow is clearly the central figure in the Scoobies' battles against evil. Buffy may have sacrificed herself to save the universe but without Willow the entire group would have perished several episodes before they ever got to that point. If Buffy is Frodo then Willow is Gandalf and no one expects Gandalf to need constant emotional reassurance.

I'm glad you mentioned 'Lord of the Rings' because it was part of 'Gone' as Frodo was mentioned and a ring was put on the housing of the invisibility gun; however, as I haven't seen the film, nor read the books, I cannot make a comment. I know something of the ring from 'The Hobbit.'

Willow did appear to the others to be confident. She had begun to rely so much on her magic to mask her insecurity that she had thought she could just continue doing this without there being a problem. Your comparison to Cordelia works well here because she too thought that she could continue on in her new life without a problem, and even masks the fact that there is a problem through the use of drugs: Willow and Cordy both connected to drug use; that's not just a coincidence.

You wrote:
Cordelia's reclaiming of the visions is among the most selfless acts we have seen in the Buffyverse. As far as she knows this will mean her death and Angel won't even know what she did for him.

Yes, this can't be emphasized enough. Of course, she doesn't want to die. Her decision to accept the visions back is life affirming. It's the same as George Bailey when he wants to live again. And to express that selflessness she then allows herself to be made half demon thinking that it would change her appearance(that's why she checks for the horns and tail: it's a way for the writer to show us that she expected to lose her pretty appearance.)

As for Spike, there's been some question as to the changing role of the demons these past few seasons. Again, the question is how much do we have to read this metaphorically and how much can we stay at the literal level of the story and talk about vampire lore etc. There has been a deliberate change in perspective to reflect the aging(aging! I wish I were only that 'aged', no pun on my user name intended) of the Scooby gang. What we have to consider, because this is a literary work, is that the images can be distorted due to perspective, especially as the supernatural is used to express the emotional problems and conditions of the characters. On television especially we expect as viewers to see 'The Truth', and shots are arranged to give us that illusion. But more than not, 'Buffy' is concerned with a psychological truth, one that has to take in perspective and beliefs.

I think part of the answer to your question lies in the new world that has rejected Spike: the Scooby gang. At the moment Buffy is hiding her 'relationship' with Spike from the gang. She's afraid of their judgement, and given Xander's comments about Harmony and Drusilla, her concern may be warranted. If the Scoobies can accept him, then it's possible for Spike to forge a new identity as a humane-vampire, but the way things are now, Buffy's not making it easy for him. Perhaps that's the point, perhaps Buffy's actions are like a test showing us the viewers that Spike has changed. The question is, can the remnants of the dead human reassert themselves over the demon; in other words has the adolescent male grown enough to deal with the personal demon that overwhelmed him, that essentially became him? If this is so, then, like Cordelia, or even Buffy and her slayer, the effects of the demon, the greater strength it affords him for having gone through the process, will be at the service of the human being. In a season about growing up, it seems likely that this may be the case, but I don't know. Your comparison of his journey to Willow's and Cordelia's underscores the repetition of motif in these series.

Your posting shows the degree of thought and organization that is put into the series; this is the reason why I've been emphasizing the possible weekly connection between the two series. It really doesn't matter one way or the other if the two are connected on a weekly basis, but it's just that if they are this reveals another level of organization and sophistication beyond the arc story, the character development, the metaphors, the drama, the humour etc.

Thanks for the reply.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Wow! Spoilers to 'Gone' and 'Birthday.' -- Rufus, 18:34:42 01/17/02 Thu

I think part of the answer to your question lies in the new world that has rejected Spike: the Scooby gang. At the moment Buffy is hiding her 'relationship' with Spike from the gang. She's afraid of their judgement, and given Xander's comments about Harmony and Drusilla, her concern may be warranted. If the Scoobies can accept him, then it's possible for Spike to forge a new identity as a humane-vampire, but the way things are now, Buffy's not making it easy for him. Perhaps that's the point, perhaps Buffy's actions are like a test showing us the viewers that Spike has changed. The question is, can the remnants of the dead human reassert themselves over the demon; in other words has the adolescent male grown enough to deal with the personal demon that overwhelmed him, that essentially became him? If this is so, then, like Cordelia, or even Buffy and her slayer, the effects of the demon, the greater strength it affords him for having gone through the process, will be at the service of the human being. In a season about growing up, it seems likely that this may be the case, but I don't know. Your comparison of his journey to Willow's and Cordelia's underscores the repetition of motif in these series..

This is why I asked what difference there is between the human and demon on the other board. They can intermarry, demons can integrate. That kind of reflects on people changing and adapting as life goes on. The next Campbell quote from Power of Myth describes what I'm thinking .....

Moyers: In George Lucas' Star Wars, Solo begins as a mercenary and ends up a hero, coming in at the last to save Luke Skywalker.

Campbell: Yes, There Solo has done the hero act of sacrificing himself for another.

Moyers: Do you think that hero was created out of guilt? Was Solo guilty because he had abandoned Skywalker?

Campbell: It depends what system of ideas you want to apply. Solo was a very practical guy, at least as he thought of himself, a materialist. But he was a compassionate human being at the same time and didn't know it. The adventure evoked a quality of his character that he hadn't known he possessed.

Moyers: So perhaps the hero lurks in each one of us when we don't know it?

Campbell: Our life evokes our character. You find out more about yourself as you go on. That's why it's good to be able to put yourself in situations that will evoke your higher nature rather than your lower. "Lead us not into temptation.".

In these quotes I had to think of the situation of everyone in both shows. "Our life evokes our character" Buffy has been the most obvious example of life evoking her character, but it also applies to demons as well. The difference with beings be they demon or human that become evil, is that their lower nature was evoked. Now, with Spike and Cordy to a lesser degree they both have found out that they have qualities of sacrifice and compassion that they never knew existed within themselves. On the larger scale the SG are all heroes because they chose something more than themselves to work for. Life can either evoke your higher or lower nature, vampires are metaphors for people that have become isolated, evoking their lower nature. Spike is in the postition where his higher nature has been evoked a number of times, we just don't know if that will become a norm or if he will eventually find that it is easier to cater to the lower nature that is the norm for the vampire. With Cordy, the test she went through in Bithday helped her shed her childish desire for adulation and evoked her higher nature, the one that accepted becoming part demon, horns(?) and all.....:):):)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Wow! Spoilers to 'Gone' and 'Birthday.' -- Age, 12:38:06 01/18/02 Fri

Thanks for reposting your comments from the other board; I didn't see the full significance of them.

I'm sorry but I cannot comment fully on them right now. I agree with your position and find your comments important for the ep 'Birthday' as Cordy's meeting with Angel is emphasized in that ep; and for the general change in perspective we have had from adolescent to adult. Very definitely we are a product of our experience, and we certainly do not experience all of our life or ourselves at once. Your comments point at a more adult, more intelligent, more accurate way of looking at ourselves as complex creatures.

Sorry, I already did a full reply to your comments this morning which took about two hours to compose, but which got destroyed when I received a protection fault while adding the posting. I hadn't backed it up, stupid me, and I'm feeling a little shell shocked from it.

One thing I do want to mention is that the demons are simply a metaphorical representation of the emotional states that humans get stuck in. In a way the human beings themselves are simply iconic representations of the human states that the characters are in. Or, even the human states that demons get themselves into.

The black and white oppositional thinking of childhood doesn't take into account the complexity of the human being. And, I think that Joss Whedon came up with devices such as Angel's soul, the chip, and Darla's unborn child's soul as a way to preserve the demon, but alter the vampire. What I'm getting at is, the idea of demon is simply part of the oppositional way of looking at things. It's just, as you point out, certain lower(though I hesitate to use value judgements here) aspects have been evoked. With the chip in place or re-souled, the other qualities that the human remnants symbolize, can come out. It isn't that the 'demon' is done away with because that would mean an inaccurate devaluing of the aspects that the demon represents, but that other aspects of the creature are brought out and shown to have value. This is evolutionary in its conception where the changing world and our changing life evoke certain aspects of ourselves that are needed.

Something to point out is that we are told in season three of 'Buffy' that we've never seen a pure demon which the mayor tries to become but fails to due to his humanity. This is important to your comments because then it is not just the vampires who have humanity in them, but all the demons are human hybrids to some degree or other. This reinforces your posting because then the demons we see do have other qualities that can come out.

(Except for the ones that are merely metaphorical representations of problems such as the monster of neglect that the young woman in 'Birthday' calls. These are not so much complex demons as simple monsters to express a problem. My original posting went into the problem of the literal versus the metaphorical with an examination of Giles as Fioral demon expressing his problem; Ethan Raine as human being used only as a device to symbolize Giles's descent into his anger from the past; although Ethan's presence in that ep serves to underscore Campbell's idea of choosing situations that would foster the higher qualities, which Giles does not; Buffy's super vamp villain, the Master, as a metaphor for her desire to deny the emotional problems of her life, but they only get worse with denial, ie from run-of-the mill vamps to super vamp; plus more. One thing though, this series does take the arena of TV physical violence and turn it into a venue for the psychological struggle of our emotional lives.

In response to your comments about the heroism of the Scooby gang, I made the point that even though most of the action is really a symbolic depiction of psychological working through of emotional problems, are the Scoobies any less heroic for this? I think not. While there is a large dimension to this series involving social engagement, the question is what type of engagement is it? We as human beings can't go out there and bash a few demons and vamps like Buffy; so what is this series really telling us to go out there and do; and I think the answer lies in connecting with people, helping ourselves and others through the very painful emotional turmoil that we face in our lives. This is the real meaning of the death of the teenagers in the first season episode that wakes Buffy up to her duty, her social engagement, as slayer: it isn't that she has to go out and bash some vamps, but she, as a strong young woman, in working out her own turmoil, is an example for others as they work through theirs. The students who were killed by the vamps are a metaphor for the psychological toll that emotional pain can bring, that our personal demons can bring to us. Yes, there is a more literal interpretation of stopping actual people from harming others(this is the theme of the power that an adolescent gains devolving into vampirism or being used for social engagement), but throughout the series what we've really been viewing is the example of a young woman who must deal with her own emotional problems, rather than denying them as her coming to Sunnydale signifies. It is her struggle and her example which helps us as viewers because, to be honest with you, none of this is real, human or demon on the show; all that the writers have is the fiction to present as example to us, not documentary. It is to a psychological truth that the series is directed.

Sorry this is so short; you really don't know how sorry I am that this is so short. Oh well, nothing works perfectly all the time.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Xander and Willow (Spoilers for seasons 1-3) -- matching mole, 09:52:18 01/18/02 Fri

First my apologies for not putting a spoiler warning on my previous message as it was very full of spoilers.

Thanks for your response and for the numerous posts full of interesting analysis. I'm not very good at pulling metaphors out of things I read so I'm glad my character analysis is appreciated. I watched 'The Prisoner' in the late 70s when I was a teenager and have not seen it since. I loved it at the time but I don't think I was getting everything out of it that I might have.

You wrote 'A thought occurred to me when I was reading your posting that perhaps Willow's and Xander's tryst in season three was in part due to subconsccious feelings of inadequacy on the part of Willow. She was subconsciously sabotaging her relationship with Oz because she couldn't fully believe that she deserved it?'

This seems quite possible. For a lot of seasons 2 and 3 Willow seemed very insecure about the relationship with Oz. I think she felt that if he found out the 'truth' about her (the truth being some external justification of her poor self image) that he would leave. Her fling with Xander may have been an attempt to force what she probably thought was inevitable (on a subconscious level) or it could have been a grab at her long-term desire when he suddenly became available.

A really interesting question is why Xander suddenly became interested in Willow. I think that Buffy and Xander are opposites just like Cordelia and Willow. Buffy is female but takes on the stereotypical male role of hero. Xander is male but takes on the role of damsel in distress (especially in the early years Xander is placed in danger far more often than anyone else). Buffy's two main romantic partners before Spike, Angel and Riley both played stereotypical 'girlfriend' roles - their relationships with Buffy were pretty much the only reasons they were on the show. Any character development they displayed was strictly within the context of the romantic relationship.

In contrast Xander has tended to be attracted to women that, as you and Rahael have pointed out, subvert the normal expectations of female behavior, most notably Buffy and Cordelia but also the sexually aggressive preying mantis woman, Impata, and Faith. Throughout most of the series it is clear that he has no romantic feelings for Willow (with the exception of the almost kiss at the start of season 2) who is, at least behaviorally, probably the most traditionally feminine of the major female characters and his sudden interest in her in season 3 has always seemed a little out of character to me. Any thoughts?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Xander and Willow (Spoilers for seasons 1-3) 'Birthday' -- Age, 10:38:56 01/18/02 Fri

One just gets just so much depth of meaning from reading others' postings. While Joss Whedon must be the central figure in the creation of the stories, he must have a committee of writers making suggestions, very much like we are doing, exchanging ideas and seeing this series with our own strengths and weaknesses. If there is nothing else that I've learned from lurking and then beginning to post on this site is the value of another person's point of view. And, this ties nicely, although I didn't plan it, with your idea of the characters being incomplete. We just focus on different things. Thank goodness we focus on different things.

Again a posting that shows a definite structural basis to the characters in this series.

Perhaps Xander did have those feelings, but it took Oz's relationship with Willow to show him Willow's value as a romantic interest. She was established in his memory as a childhood friend, someone you buddied with.

I think that the tryst between Xander and Willow was meant to show the turmoil of adolescent emotions. This is why I find Skip's idea in 'Birthday' about free will and people choosing to love as rather strange. People do have the ability to choose not to love or open up to love, but there's little free will in falling in love. Cordelia had just begun to open to her emotional side, and then it blew up in her face. Whedon wanted to make it clear to her and us the heartache that goes along with emotions. I think also he wanted Cordy's process of opening up to be much longer. Had she continued to date Xander, she would have opened more to her feelings for him, become a more integral part of the Scoobie gang and have reached a similar(but not the same) stage in her development that she's only gotten to now. However, her understanding would be less perhaps, had she not had the reversal of fortune, had she not been exposed to her own loneliness, had she not worked through her childhood trauma on 'Angel.' Whedon prepared a much longer path for her in order to bring about a deeper change in her.

My memory is not what it used to be. I too saw 'The Prisoner' series back in the late 70's, and with a good friend of mine, it was the first TV series that I analyzed to death, with much help from my friend. But, my memory loss refers to the first season eps of 'Buffy.' So please bear with me. Xander seems to be the portrayal of the teenage male adolescent who thinks about sex alot: the preying mantis woman is the male fantasy gone horribly wrong; Impata is a version of Buffy's dilemma between responsibility and having a life; so, Xander would be attracted to her because she's a sexually potent creature. This ep was written to give Xander the opportunity to show Willow that she was valued, if not loved by him. In this way, he sacrifices his love life for her, in the same way that Buffy sacrifices her life to slay. And Faith, well, she's the repressed aspect of Buffy.

Hopefully that answers some of your question.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Xander and Willow (Spoilers for seasons 1-3) 'Birthday' -- matching mole, 13:29:13 01/18/02 Fri

Thanks for the insights Age. I think I was getting a little carried away with my idea of Xander as the 'Damsel in Distress' and being primarily interested in strong women. He was also a typical teenage male and likely to fall into any romantic liason that came his way.

Your memory seems pretty good to me. I only remember seasons 1-3 as well as I do because I've recently seen reruns of a lot of that time period. When Rahael was discussing "The Mayor of Casterbridge" above I realized that although I read that book sometime in the mid 1980s I now remember almost nothing about it except that I liked it and the mayor came to a bad end (although I doubt he turned into a giant snake and got blown up in a library). I think I should revisit a lot of books I read back then. And I should read 'A Christmas Carol'. This is a shocking confession for a self acknowledged Dickens fanatic (I've read all the novels and about half of them twice) but I've never read 'A Christmas Carol'.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Buffy/Frodo? -- DEN, 19:20:20 01/17/02 Thu

I like the Frodo tag, but think Willow is closer to Aragorn--or perhaps a Boromir who is (so far) allowed to survive her moral lapse when "a madness siezes her". Willow led, IMO, the Scoobies more as a paladin (a little Jewish paladin, I admit, but a mighty one nevertheless)than a wizard; magic was only part of it. The Gandalf role inthe series is played by Giles, including his death/departure so the other characters can mature on their own.

This thread inspires comment even if it's on a minor point!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Didn't Warren say "Cheer up Frodo" to Jonathon? -- Rufus, 19:31:45 01/17/02 Thu

Jonathon as Frodo...hmmmmmm

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Didn't Warren say "Cheer up Frodo" to Jonathon? -- matching mole, 20:36:52 01/17/02 Thu

more like Gollum, or if you're inclined to take a kinder attitude towards him, perhaps Pippin

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Buffy/Frodo? -- matching mole, 20:34:16 01/17/02 Thu

I agree completely that in general (i.e. over the whole series) Giles is analogous to Gandalf. I was thinking specifically about the end of season 5 and the start of season 6 in which Giles is more in the background and Willow really takes charge.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> This is great... -- Rahael, 08:08:18 01/18/02 Fri

You wait and wait for original critiques of BtVS and several come along in the same thread!

I've never thought to contrast and compare Willow and Cordelia before - but the your analysis highlights a whole way of thinking about both I had never considered. You are right - both Cordelia and Willow (and indeed the other characters of BtVS) are not 'complete', and part of the journey is their search for emotional completeness.

I like your comments on Spike too. I must think about this some more.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> What a great thread! Additional thoughts on "Family" and "Expecting" -- Raccoon, 07:51:16 01/18/02 Fri

I've been following this debate with interest, but hitherto I haven't dared to weigh in - it's been a while since I read up on things, so I tend to lurk more than post on this board. I find the arguments on deconstructing patriarchial structures by (literally) encorporating the 'demonic' female fascinating. It's not the first time femininity has been symbolized by demonic figures on either BtVS or AtS; I'm thinking about the Tara-centric episode "Family" and "Expecting", another episode in which Cordelia goes through fundamental changes. How is the 'aspect of the demon' theme treated in these episodes?

"Family" is the culmination of an arc where the audience is misled by their own expectations. It's a misunderstanding, however, which is simultaneously that of the protagonist. Tara, who's been told by her family that she is part demon, turns out to be fully human after all. Though not my favorite episode, it's a clever play on homosexuality as metaphor, especially considering that the person in question is openly gay. In this episode, as in others, Spike is the one who sees through the subterfuge to get at the truth (which raises interesting questions about Spike's place in the gendered dynamics at work in the Buffyverse). The family demon myth is the way the McLay men have controlled and subdued their wives and daughters. This is not far from the views expressed by the traditional patriarchal establishments of church and medicine, in which the female body is perceived as 'unnatural' and 'monstrous'.

This is echoed in "Expecting", in which a vulnerable and lonely Cordelia is impregnated with demon spawn after a one-night stand. I'm not always sure how to interpret the gender dynamics that we see in AtS. I was very uncomfortable with the way 'primordial misogyny' was implied in "Billy", and "Expecting" gives me a similar feeling. While I find it refreshing to see a show in which we are shown actual male/female bonding by way of friendship, I'm not so sure about the way female sexuality (or the lack of it) is portrayed. Cordelia has sex with a casual acquaintance, and wakes up the next morning somewhere in her third trimester. Her body is unrecognizable to her; she has been invaded by an unknown being, and as the pregnancy progresses her mental state of mind becomes animalistic and brutal. Eventually the monster father is revealed and destroyed, which terminates the pregnancy/possession.

In both of these episodes the 'demonic' is expelled, thus showing that patriarchy's stance of women is both wrong and ridiculous. Tara's abusive family is portrayed as a near caricature version of ignorant and unsophisticated 'bumpkins'. The procreationally challenged demon is equally ridiculous; in fact he bears a strong resemblance to the stupid trolls of Scandinavian folk tales who are eventually defeated by the poor but valiant hero. In "Family" the dismissal of the demonic female may be seen as positive; it challenges and undermines the so-called 'unnaturalness' of the female body. In "Expecting", however, I'm not quite sure what the underlying metaphor is. Is this a punishment for engaging in casual sex? Is the exaggerated portray of pregnancy, with its ailments and appetites, meant as a rebuttal to the way pregnancy has been vilified by patriarchy? I'm sure you discussed this in depth way back when, but I've only been lurking for a month or so:)

How does this prior expulsion of demonic aspects relate to the current embodiment of them, and how do you see these episodes in comparison to "Gone", "Earshot" and "Birthday"? I wish I could write more, but alas, work awaits. I'd be interested in hearing your opinions.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: What a great thread! Additional thoughts on "Family" and "Expecting" -- Rahael, 08:23:57 01/18/02 Fri

Thanks so much for weighing in!

I'd forgotten all about "Expecting". But my instinctive response is to say that perhaps Cordelia's monstrous pregnancy, and the still birth of that is a kind of satire on her quest for fame, of the most shallow kind.

She falls for a fashionable, successful photographer, and is partly attracted to him because of his superficial goodlooks and charm and partly because he is famous. He is revealed to be in hock to a demon, who has gifted him his fame in return for selling his soul. The photographer and his male friends sacrifice attractive young women to the demon. That last scene, where Cordelia and the other young women are dressed like sacrifices, seems to resemble their fate in LA as camera-fodder. Used for the base reproductive (in terms of images, in terms of procreation) purposes of men. It is Cordelia who destroys the demon, who though formidable, turns out to shatter very easily. Her pregnancy, like her dreams becomes still born, and vanishes. But they were always empty to begin with. The young women Cordelia befriends are clearly in it for fame, money, success.

Thus, I think Expecting (though not the greatest episode) was still a critique of patriarchy. The sex that Cordelia has is symbolic of her selling her body in return for material success (like the bikini advert she does at the end of Season 2). The demon baby is a metaphor for her hopes and dreams. The Daddy-demon, who projects an illusion of invincibility, and who uses these women seems to stand as a giant patriarchal figure. It reminds me of the 'Reptile Boy' ep in Season 2, where yet again Cordelia nearly ends up the sacrificial victim of Machida, (a giant snake who awards prestige and power to his male worshippers). There, Buffy rescues here. Here, Cordy revists this scenario and defeats the patriarchy-monster herself.

So I don't think that it's so much that Cordelia is punished for having sex; she is taught that the true fruit of her empty dreams of fame is too much for her to bear (literally). But the more the demons grow within her, the more she is attached to them. So it's a kind of delusion.

More food for thought! I shall have to return to this.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Patriarchy and Angel (series and character - spoilers) -- matching mole, 10:37:45 01/18/02 Fri

Thanks for all the wonderful comments on the 'non-traditional' images of women we see in the Buffyverse. I would have to agree with Racoon that the commentary on gender roles is a bit more confusing on AtS than it is on BtVS. On BtVS we have female and male characters both clearly stepping outside of traditional notions gender-based behavior. I commented on Xander in my response to Age above and I think that arguments could be made for both Oz and Spike subverting male roles as well (maybe even Giles).

But what about AtS? On the surface it would appear to embody a patriarchal world view. The main character is a dead, white male after all. And even when Angel relinquishes control of the agency his replacement is the only other white male - Wesley.

However I would argue that Angel is in many ways a subversion of a typical male role. His intial role in the Buffyverse was as Buffy's 'girl friend'. Angel (as opposed to Angelus) was really an extension of Buffy rather than an independent individual. His purpose was to help Buffy. Once he takes on an independent existence in Los Angeles this has to change. Yet Angel retains some of his stereotypically feminine characteristics. Rather than slaying his emphasis is on 'helping the helpless' He is shown interacting with victims of supernatural violence far more often than Buffy is. And now he is caring for a child.

Cordelia has been discussed at length. Wesley and Gunn seem more stereotypically male and Fred seems stereotypically female but their characters, particularly Gunn's and Fred's have not been developed to as great extent as the two senior characters. Lorne provides a lot of interesting food for thought. The most inhuman in appearance of any regular or semi-regular character in either series 'he' is assumed to be male presumably because he is played by a male actor and dresses in male (if flambouyant) clothing. However given his mother's appearance I would hesitate to be certain about this point (I'm don't remember if any Pyleans referred to Lorne as he or him).

In any event Lorne's mannerisms and dress are those of a stereotypical homosexual man. Yet he appears to be mildly sexually interested in members of both sexes (note his severed head ogling the disrobing Cordelia on Pylea and his frequent vaguely suggestive comments to Angel). I think Lorne has a lot of potential for interesting events down the line.

Don't let the trolls get you down Rahael. I myself was sorely tempted to respond to their posts. But unfortunately, although Tolkiens trolls were turned to stone by sunlight, these ones will not be turned to anything by reason.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Contested masculinities...... -- Rahael, 14:07:31 01/18/02 Fri

I really regreted replying to the troll soon after I pressed 'post confirmation'. But hey, its done now, and I've got my chin up, as instructed! My natural state is to be cheerful; it didn't take me long to return.

And there are some great conversations going on this board to make up for others!

You bring up some very interesting points about masculinity in Angel. To my mind, you cannot deconstruct patriarchy by simply liberating women - you must also liberate men. So if AtS frees Cordelia, but not Wes or Gunn, it fails to contest patriarchy successfully.

I totally agree with you regarding the feminine aspects of Angel, and Lorne. Moreover, Angel is comfortable with this side of himself, though he is 'masculine' - brooding, handsome,silent, strong. There is an interesting scene in the episode 'Expecting' where Cordelia's friends mistake Angel and Wesley for lovers. Angel is untroubled: "Adds mystery" he comments.

But I think that Wesley and Gunn are less stereotypically masculine than you suggest. For example, Wesley's relationship with his father perfectly illustrates how Patriarchy (rule by the elder) oppresses men as well as women. Wesley has not only been sacked by the Watchers' COuncil, but he has a very troubled, perhaps abusive relationship with his father. Despite his leatherclad first entrance into AtS, we soon realize that underneath the leather is the tweed clad watcher. Similarly, underneath the masculine pose, we find that Wesley hides his true self away.

Gunn is also another example of a troubled man. The very quality that gives him his masculinity, being the leader of a group of streetkids, being paternal, looking after others, handling himself in a fight etc, are the very things that provide the tension in his character. In the first episode that we meet him, we realise that foolhardiness and macho posturing were weakening his gang. Later, in season 3 ep I haven't seen, I understand that some of his gang turn up, and cause a conflict of loyalties.

So here we have two characters, who both attempt to live up to patriarchal, masculine ideals. In Guise will be Guise, the episode where Wes meets Virginia (who is about to be sacrificed by her father) Wes attempts to put on Angel's mantle and rescue the damsel in distress. Gunn attempts to protect those in his care, with varying degrees of success.

Thus, both Gunn and Wes's masculinity is troubled - in fact, its crucial to the internal tension which drives the characters forward.

So I think these themes have been addressed, though not as in depth as with Cordelia, I agree. As with Lorne's character, we will have to wait and see what the writers have in store for them.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Patriarchy and Angel (series and character - spoilers) -- Age, 17:43:24 01/18/02 Fri

I agree with your assessment of the difference between the two series. I'm going to address 'Angel' as your comments really got me thinking about patriarchy and its development recently.

Not only do we have several characters who had problems with their fathers, not only was Angel portrayed as the abandoning father figure to the children he fired last year as he went on his violent rampage, not only did we have the first character, Fred, whose parents seem loving and supportive this year to show a change in our society, but last's year's epiphany was the deconstruction of the patriarchal structure of Angel's thinking in that he returns to the Angel team, not as their boss/father, but as a colleague, and he lets go of the idea of reward from a parent.

Last season started off with Angel acting as absent father to the team and patriarchal boy-king to Darla as Angel craved for the past, for the comfort of the surety of his vampire life, the black and white world of feed or be killed(just as Buffy craved for her childhood at the beginning of her arc.) Darla, Angel's mother/sire is made human again; and becomes the focal point of Angel's obsession with his own redemption. It is her reversal of fortune as she is made into a vamp again that destroys Angel's idea of redemption for her and turns her into Dru's daughter, ie no longer his mother. Angel loses his patriarchal dream of home life and his mother/wife to look after him, and takes the dark journey of adolescence until he comes up with another way of looking at things. (Buffy's arc is similar in that she loses her childhood dream, her mother dies etc, but that's for another posting.)

In this way, the more traditionally patriarchal 'Angel' series, with the girl Friday vision-operator Cordelia who still wants to be glamourous, does a brief recap of patriarchy and the world of black and white thinking in Pylea, and then with the balancing of male and female characters with the intro of Fred, the scientist, about Angel, to symbolize a movement towards a new society, begins to have Cordy embrace her aggressive side; gives a demonized female, Darla, a great redemption scene; puts the spotlight on the negative influence of fathers through Wesley; has Gunn choose between the old and the new; has Fred symbolize the emergence of the female in our society; and gives Angel parental duties. There is now a movement away from what has been quite patriarchal.

But, as Rahael, suggests, if women are liberated from the ideas of patriarchy, and not the men, then it's no good. This may indeed have been one of the reasons for the inclusion of an episode like 'Billy.' The women fought back; society has changed, but if men are still infected by women hating notions then it still won't work; and what is worse these women hating notions seem to go hand in glove with notions of worthlessness on the part of men. Liberation from patriarchy for men, besides giving them the opportunity to embrace women as friends and colleagues, will, as Cordy frees herself from the negative influence of her father in 'Birthday', release them from self destroying ideas of themselves. If nothing else patriarchy's aim was to tell people that an authority had power over them, knew better than them. To do this, men and women had to be taught that they didn't measure up, couldn't rely on their own judgement; they had to remain children in order for the patriarchs to tell them what to do. Letting go of the influence of this type of society is synonymous with regaining oneself, synonymous with the theme of the arcs for both 'Buffy' and 'Angel' this year: growing up. And I think that Whedon's using the age of the characters as a means of showing how our society is growing up.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Patriarchy and Angel (mild spoilers) -- Rahael, 12:02:21 01/19/02 Sat

That was a much more coherent analysis of patriarchy in Angel than I could have managed!
I had never thought about Angel relinquishing his paternal role to the gang and returning as a colleague quite in that way before, but now you've pointed out how it relates to a more equitable, less patriarchal set up on AtS.

I think what we have here in Angel is a depiction of the process of negotiation - Patriarchy isn't defeated yet, but we see the characters facing it up, and winning battles - the war still goes on though.

People point to the Powers that Be, and ask why they don't do this, or don't do that - why don't they lift the curse from Angel, make life easier for him, sort out Cordelia's visions, and so on. But if that was the message of the series, we would all just abrogate our independence and our ability to choose and make decisions for ourselves. If Angel didn't reach his own decisions through his own choices, he would be lesser. He would not have control of his destiny. So it is necessary that the PTB be ambiguous, capricious even.

Milton in his 'De Doctrina Christiana' criticised tradtional theological thinking about the Garden of Eden. He saw it as necessary for Adam and Eve to rebel. To be true moral actors in the world, one had to have reason, one had to choose. He said that he did not admire a virtue which was 'cloistered' and 'unbreathed'. So the decisions that the characters are faced with and have to make in AtS and BtVS have to be difficult, and sometimes their virtue is compromised. This is why Giles leaves Buffy behind (he says that he wishes he could slay her demons for her - but realises that he is standing in her way); this is why the PTB are not out there guarding Angel day by day. This is the world that true moral agents have to live in.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: What a great thread! Spoilers S5 Gone Birthday Family Billy -- Age, 16:45:09 01/18/02 Fri

There does indeed seem to be a major difference between the method of deconstructing patriarchal myth of 'Family' and that of 'Birthday.' Perhaps Joss Whedon is leading up to the revelation of Buffy's slayer as demon(speculation, not a spoiler) in which we all go, ho hum, so what, because we've been on Buffy's journey from adolescence to adulthood in which demon loses its original meaning. The series has been from the start about deconstruction using the metaphor of research in the library to show the value of knowledge over myth. In the fact the very use of the supernatural as metaphor is the deconstruction of it as childhood myth. Perhaps 'Buffy' is also portraying the development of society in general as we move from a patriarchal model through the reactionary stage to a more balanced way of living in which a woman like Cordy can take charge of her life, her body and become half demon without it meaning anything to her: the attachment to appearance has always been associated with a male dominated society because women could only gain any power if they attracted a man through their appearance and submissive behaviour. In fact the initial effects of her taking on this so called demon aspect is for her to be as light as a feather, as Scrooge says he feels he is at the end of 'A Christmas Carol.' Given the subject of your posting, patriarchy, I might add that the deaths of the mother and the sister in Dickens' work could be interpreted to express the death of the feminine; this would tie in with Joss Whedon's themes in 'Buffy' and 'Angel.'

Tara in 'Family' was too steeped in the mythology of her childhood to see clearly, and so, she cast the spell in order that others couldn't see her clearly. It required the intervention of the new feminized society, Buffy and her Scooby gang, that had adopted for itself the traditional value of family(modernized and extended to reflect how family has been redefined) for Tara to be able to see through the myth of patriarchy and see it for the lie that it is: family isn't simply an institution for the care and support of kings and boys by female slaves, kept imprisoned by the notion that they are inherently evil; the point of contact between men and women isn't one of either war, sexual predation, protection or support. Joss Whedon had to make that statement, and used Tara, one of the sexually marginalized, (especially homosexuals who have been targeted for their automatic deconstruction of the myth of absolute opposite of male and female) before he could bring us to the point where Cordy's accepting being a demon shows her taking on strength, not accepting the value judgement that something is evil about her. On the contrary, Cordy's new demon form is associated not with the demonic, but ironically with very angelic decisions. She becomes part demon in order to help others. It is in a way further a deconstruction of the idea of women being demons because it subverts the notion by associating it with angels.(Scrooge in 'A Christmas Carol' says he's as light as a feather and as happy as an angel.)

That someone, somewhere, at some time, in the past(yes, I know, it's still a prevalent myth in some sectors of society) may have had the notion that women are evil just doesn't matter anymore. 'Demonise me, already', says Cordelia, so! I'll get horns and a tail; it doesn't matter. The image of the devil of course is in the horns and tail, but Cordelia's a grown woman; it just doesn't matter. Unlike Tara, Cordelia knows who she is, having uncovered herself from her wallpapered world.

We may have gotten to this point of accepting Cordy's decision because of last year's hell goddess arc on 'Buffy.' Glory didn't come across as evil, so much as silly and selfish in a very childish way; she was a caricature of the old Cordelia. Add to this, as Rahael suggested in one of her postings, the identity crisis of Dawn, ie it doesn't matter what you are, but who you are; then the recent self sacrifice of Darla, and we have a movement towards leting go of the idea of women as evil, and even the notion of thinking about what a person is.

As for the primordial misogyny of 'Billy,' I think the episode was designed to spark debate because it was a debate itself between the cynical Lilah who would, given her outlook on life, readily accept such a theory; and the scientist Fred. Again this was a deconstruction of myth by a scientific figure. Billy renders the men helpless as a symbolic way of showing how patriarchal culture has infected men(and women) with the notion that you take out your feelings of frustration, and helplessness on something weaker and less value than you are: feminized men(homosexuals perceived as such) and women. Quite clearly from that episode there is no primordial misogyny and the male characters suffer as much as the female once they get out of the influence of Billy's toxin: the husband will have to live with having killed his wife; the male cop has been shot; and Wes is just as hurt and isolated and ashamed as Lilah was in her apartment scene after the beating. Please, don't get me wrong, the brunt of violence and humiliation has been directed by men at women, but this has been a cultural phenomenon. And don't get me wrong again. Fred is very forgiving of Wes, and she's right to be in this case within the supernatural limits of the story; but men cannot excuse their behaviour and blame it on culture because at some point, as they reach manhood, they have to examine what their belief system is, take responsibility for what's there in their minds, before they go on to disseminate the culture for the next generation.

Billy doesn't do that; he simply acts like a child because he's really contemptuous of both men and women. He and his family represent the idea of a ruling class(power as the basic social interaction) in which they are untouchable, and the rest of society is worthless; his touch of toxin is really a metaphor for the inculcation of very negative notions about what both men and women are; and so, magically, the men act according to that belief. As Billy explains to Cordy: he doesn't hate women, yah, you're all whores, but men are just as bad because they'll throw away their lives and careers for what's under your skirts. If this isn't the basic credo of patriarchy, I don't know what is: men have all the power; women have none(Billy even thinks that Cordy's there at the airport to whine at the unfairness of it;) and the only way they can get any power is to take it by bartering sex for it; women are the corruptors and men are the weak contemptuous boys that will be so easily corrupted(Adam and Eve.) The basic imbalance in this belief that's transferred to the men is that men are worthless, but women are worse. If it weren't for the tempting women, men would be okay. Therefore women are below contempt. Just as Billy takes no responsibility for his actions, the culture he transfers to men is based on men blaming women. Billy says that he's never hurt a woman; he just likes to watch. This is akin to saying that culture doesn't hurt women; just men do. This is not so. If we change the culture we not only help women, but we give men the opportunity to have what you say in your posting: a friendship with women. This episode is definitely not based on primordial misogyny because the events of the episode have been set in motion by Angel's release of Billy to help Cordelia. The idea of primordial misogyny is subverted by the very fact of Billy's release. Not only this, but the events allow Cordy to take on a more aggressive role and go after Billy herself, with a tazer and a cross bow.

In regards to 'Gone' and our discussion of patriarchy, perhaps, now that the Scoobies are growing up, Whedon is leaving us with a diminishing symbol of the male dominated culture in the three villains. While still a threat, they seem farcical. We look at them and instead of saying, oh cool, we exclaim grow up already. The three villains, basement males, really still want to be villain kings. They are holding onto an antiquated notion of what they should be.


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