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Definition of evil -- purplegrrl, 15:02:10 07/18/02 Thu

There was an article in this week's Parade Magazine entitled "The Diffference Between 'Sick' and 'Evil'" by Andrew Vachss. (Unfortunately, as of today the full text of the article is on neither Parade's nor Vachss's web site.)

Although Vachss's article is about the sexual abuse of children, his definitions made me think of the Buffyverse (in the theory that ATLtBtVS - All Things Lead to Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Vachss's basic question is what is 'sick' and what is 'evil'? His immediate example is "A mother who puts her baby in the oven because she hears voices commanding her to bake the devil out of the child's spirit is sick; and a mother who sells or rents her baby to child pornographer is evil." He goes on to clarify this by saying "Sickness is a condition. Evil is a behavior. Evil is always a matter of choice. Evil is not thought; it is conduct. And that conduct is always volitional. And just as evil is always a choice, sickness is always the absence of choice. Sickness happens. Evil is inflicted."

Vachss's conclusion is that "we are what we do."

This definition of evil applies mostly to the humans and former-humans (vampires) in the Buffyverse. Let's look at some examples:

Warren: Warren may have deluded himself as to his own importance, but most of what he did was based on conscious thought. Killing his girlfriend may have been an accident, but he deliberately put her in a position where she could come to harm. And then instead of admitting his mistake and taking his punishment, he covered up the crime and tried to blame someone else. He later makes a choice to commit cold- blooded murder by coming after Buffy with a gun.

Vampires: Granted, the vamps are defined as evil because their bodies have been taken over by a demon. But even the two "friendly" vampires (post-chip Spike and Angel) have been known to take a turn down the dark path. Pre-chip Spike and Angelus were evil, both because of their nature and because they enjoyed the chaos that their behavior created. They chose to inflict as much terror and damage as possible when they fed on humans. Angel has terrorized and intimidated humans (okay, they were evil Wolfram & Hart employees, but that doesn't necessarily mean he has to sink to their level -- and doing so doesn't necessarily serve him any better). And just when we think Spike might be on the road to redemption, he proves he hasn't truly changed his colors because he is harboring demon eggs in his crypt. Angel's "evil" actions can be argued as working towards a greater good, but Spike's certainly cannot.

Willow: Willow's evil has often been much more subtle. She chose to continue to use magic for her own benefit (for everything to getting dressed to forget spells) even after making promises to the contrary to the love of her life. If she was willing to risk Tara's disapproval (and as we have seen, departure), Willow has certainly made a conscious choice. Her magic use went beyond mere addiction. Even in her enraged state, Willow's treatment of Warren was unwarrented. By doing what she did, Willow stepped over the line into evil. Especially since even after Warren (the real perpetrator) was dead, Willow was not satisfied. She continued to pursue Jonathan and Andrew to exact revenge, even if it meant destroying the world.

This is not to say that every bad behavior is evil. But if a person consciously sets out to harm or injure another person (either physically or psychologically) or if their actions may lead to the destruction of the world, then that is evil.

Any other examples? Any other thoughts?

[> Very interesting, thank you -- Rahael, 15:28:57 07/18/02 Thu

I think it's very important to say that there is choice, and that evil is choice, and the distinction made that some people are just very ill people is also important.

I wrote a post on evil and redemption a couple of months ago, where I said that evil always came from a moment of choice within the soul. (As does good behaviour). I also have been harping on the fact that evil people do not exist - evil actions do. And that we are all capable, susceptible to making that choice, unless we carefully examine and think about how we live in the world.

Could we see the lack of a soul as a sickness? very interesting indeed! Vampiric possession could certainly be seen that way. In fact, you might say that gaining a soul might be the path to being able to make true moral choices.

[> [> That's Always Been My Position... -- AngelVSAngelus, 20:51:28 07/18/02 Thu

"In fact, you might say that gaining a soul might be the path to being able to make true moral choices."

I agree whole heartedly. At least, that's the song they were singing originally. I've always gotten from the series that vampires shouldn't have a choice in the matter of their evil, that it was intrinsically their nature.
There was a post below a couple of days ago about Disharmony, and I got the feeling that that ep was totally about that very topic.
That's not to say that they're complete wind up toys to evil. Evil is their nature, but the type of evil they perpetrate is all their decision. Hence the calculated artistry of Angelus versus the impulsive and brash actions of Spike.

[> [> [> Re: That's Always Been My Position... -- Wizardman, 22:15:53 07/18/02 Thu

I haven't seen Disharmony, but your right about the vamps. I've always thought that Spike was the least evil of the Scourge. Angelus is a sadist, Darla was evil to the core, and Dru is, well, psycho. Spike is more about chaos and mayhem than evil- not that this qualifies him for sainthood.

[> [> [> Clarifying my position -- Rahael, 07:09:23 07/19/02 Fri

It just seems to me that by thinking of some people as 'naturally' evil, it allows us all of the hook. We aren't evil. How could we ever possibly do evil things?

In fact, my position is that people spend too much time thinking about how evil every one else is, and too little time concerning themselves with themselves. The most evil actions arise from a feeling of complete moral complacency. "I'm right. They are wrong. They deserve to be treated this way". I'm not arguing that we don't have the right to condemn or judge evil actions, nor do whatever we can to combat it. But thinking that the world is split between the evil and the good, rather than thinking of the world as complex, and moral actions being difficult to discern, leads to a greater potential for evil to happen.

Following on from the discussed 'Buffy the Vampire liberator', couldn't we see Vampires as suffering from an (im)mortal sickness, and the only cure is the ending of the curse, immortality?

In Earshot, Angel says he is 'dying' to get rid of it.

[> [> [> [> Agree with both your posts here, Rah -- shadowkat, 12:31:15 07/19/02 Fri

You say what I've been thinking for some time very eloquently.

People aren't evil so much as their actions or choices are.

Theres' an old folk tale that this reminds me of. It is actually a dare we told each other as kids.

"At midnight, if you walk up the stairs backwards and look in the mirror, you'll see the devil."

This means there is a potential for good and evil in each of us. Determining which is which is up to us and to some degree the culture and society we live in. But there comes a time in all our lives in which society, parents, teachers, etc can't tell us what to do or what is right, we have to make these choices ourselves. The choices we make do not necessarily define us. They only define us if we let them. We have choice.

This reminds me of another quote, this time by Anthony Burgess and unfortunately don't have it on me so it's no where near exact - but it concerns how people aren't "clockwork oranges - a machine made up of juice and organic material that can manipulated by God or the Devil, we aren't predestined to do evil or good" and just because we were demons in our youth does not mean we will be as we get older. In Burgess' novel, an evil youth who knows only destruction grows tired of it and decides to pursue creation, to grow up. And when he does make this choice, he becomes ashamed of his past acts and looks back with regret upon them. This theme gives me a great deal of hope.

Hope that made sense. At any rate I agree with you. ;-)

Buffy/Willow Paralle - Focus on Buffy's Fear of Abandonment Part I -- shadowkat, 18:56:09 07/18/02 Thu

Not sure I posted this to this board, ever. But since there's all this Buffy Bashing - I'm reposting!

W/B parallel - lack of love/fear of abandonment? (Very Long – due to reproduction of dialogue for emphasis).

speculation regarding Willow and Buffy.

Since we've really covered Willow, I’m going to focus on the Buffy side of this parallel. Using Willow for comparison purposes only.

Other posters have demonstrated how Willow is coping with problems through magic, she uses magic to erase mistakes, change things back to how they used to be, but nothing can truly revert back, you can’t erase mistakes or memories. You have to deal. She also uses magic to hide. Then one poster on the B C & S board named Belle hit Willow’s insecurity on the head: “Willow doesn’t believe she’s ever truly loved, no matter how much evidence to the contrary.” She goes on to state: “She didn’t know whether Tara loved her….If you don’t believe you’re truly loved (when that isn’t the case), then in fact the reverse is true – you’re not capable of truly loving anyone else (or yourself either). Because you’re not allowing yourself to be seen.” (Sorry for paraphrasing) This is an amazing point. But how does it relate to Buffy, who the writers are paralleling to Willow?

Buffy does have love and does, I think, believe she’s been truly loved. That’s not the insecurity. No it’s slightly different. Buffy’s fears and insecurities are rooted in abandonment, being left, being rejected, having those she loves and who state that they love her – leave. Particularly men. Buffy is afraid to give love, afraid to risk it, afraid that if she does, they will leave her. They always have in the past. Why should it change now?

Let’s explore this in a bit more depth.
Who has left Buffy? And What do they all have in Common?
1. Hank Summers (Buffy’s father) – he is sort of still around in Season 1, barely mentioned in Season 2, and completely gone by Season 5.
2. Angel – (old enough to be her ancestor) – he leaves Buffy three to four times before finally leaving for good. She announces that he is “GONE” in Wrecked.
3. Riley – (at least 5-6 years older, though never made completely clear except we know he’s not a student, a solider, and been around for a while when we meet him) – he gives Buff an ultimatium, leaves, doesn’t ever call, plops in with his wife to get her help, then takes off again. She announces he is “GONE” at the end of AYW.
4. Joyce Summers – Died. (I know not a guy, but still important.)
5. Giles – (old enough to be her father, acts as de facto father figure and guide) left at the end of Tabula Rasa. Reason – for her own good.

And of course there are the countless normal guys she dated and couldn’t stay with. But I’ll get to them later.

Isn’t it interesting that all of Buffy’s long term boyfriends are older than her? It occurred to me the other day that she has a thing for older men. Poor Xander can’t compete – he’s not old enough. Think about it:
1. Angel – 243 years of age. Even before she knew he was a vampire, she knew he was older. He states in the episode Angel: “We shouldn’t do this – I’m quite a bit older than you.” She introduces him to her Mom as a Community College Student helping her with her homework. And Angel often acts as a father figure.
2. Riley – not sure, but I’d say it’s a safe bet he’s at least 5-6 years older. We learn he’s just posing as a student in The Initative. Later, it’s made clear that he’s been in the military for quite a while and is at the rank of Lietuenant. Riley, while acting less like her father, does tend to exhibit an older almost more protective air. He protects her at different points in Season 4 or tries to. And it is Giles and Riley who go into Dracula’s castle to save her.
3. Spike (will go into him more later, he’s a bit different and I’m not completely sure how she feels towards him.) Is 128 years older than her (126 in 1999 – see The Initiative). Clearly another older man.

Why? Does Buffy have a father fetish? Stop shadowkat! No Freud! UGH! Possibly…but that’s not what interests me. What interests me is the abandonment fear, the fear of loss, and the need to feel cherished, loved, protected, safe…guided, and understood. We all feel that. And we all fear we’ll either never obtain it or once we do, it’ll be lost.

Part II to follow...

[> Buffy/Willow Paralle - Focus on Buffy's Fear of Abandonment Part II -- shadowkat, 18:59:23 07/18/02 Thu

Let’s talk about Hank Summers – the deadbeat dad.

Way back in Nightmares, Season 1, we start to learn exactly what Buffy’s relationship is with her dad.

Willow: So, do you see your dad a lot?
Buffy: Not a whole lot.
Buffy: He's still in L.A. He, like, comes down for weekends sometimes.
Willow: When did they get divorced?
Buffy: Well, it wasn't finalized till last year, but they were separated before that.
Willow: Musta been harsh.
Buffy: Yeah, that's the word you're looking for. I-I mean, they were really good about it around me, anyway, but still...
Willow: My parents don't even bicker. Sometimes they glare. Do you know why your folks split up?
Buffy: I didn't ask. They just stopped getting along. I'm sure I was a really big help, though, with all the slaying and everything. I was in so much trouble. I was a big mess.

Nightmares is the episode where a little boy manifests everyone’s deepest and darkest Nightmares. In this episode we get to see what scares our characters the most. Here’s one of Buffy’s nightmares:

Hank: I came early because there's something I've needed to tell you. About your mother and me. Why we split up.
Buffy: Well, you always told me it was because...
Hank: Uh, I know we always said it was because we'd just grown too far apart.
Buffy: Yeah, isn't that true?
Hank: Well, c'mon, honey, let's, let's sit down. (they sit) (exhales) You're old enough now to know the truth.
Buffy: Is there someone else?
Hank: No. No, it was nothing like that.
Buffy: Then what was it?
Hank: It was you.
Buffy: Me?
Hank: Having you. Raising you. Seeing you everyday. I mean, do you have any idea what that's like?
Buffy: What?
Hank: Gosh, you don't even see what's right in front of your face, do you? Well, big surprise there, all you ever think about is yourself. You get in trouble. You embarrass us with all the crazy stunts you pull, and do I have to go on?
Buffy: No. Please don't.
Hank: You're sullen and... rude and... you're not nearly as bright as I thought you were going to be... Hey, Buffy, let's be honest. Could you stand to live in the same house with a daughter like that?

Interesting scene. Even though it’s just a nightmare, or is it? Do we really ever see Hank Summers again? In another episode Buffy tells Willow how he usually takes her to the Ice Capades every year on her birthday. But this has apparently stopped. But What’s especially interesting is in the nightmare – Buffy is blaming herself. She’s to blame for him leaving. He couldn’t stand her. It was all Buffy’s fault. She’s has turned the rage and anger she feels towards her father inwards.

Now let’s compare Hank Summer’s leaving to Riley and Angel. There are very interesting parallels that can be drawn here:

Buffy’s relationship with Angel in some ways parallel’s her relationship with her father. In What’s My Line, Angel takes Buffy ice skating. She tells Angel that “My parents were fighting all the time, skating was an escape. I felt safe.” The only other person who did that was Hank Summers. And Buffy is afraid of losing Angel, very afraid. All through Surprise, she is tormented by nightmares of Drusilla killing Angel. So what happens? She gives herself to him intimately. And the next morning he’s gone. (Another interesting comparison with Buffy’s boyfriends – Angel and Riley both leave the morning after the first coupling. Angel – loses his soul. Riley must return to Professor Walsh and The Initiative). And what does Angel tell Buffy when she finds him?

Buffy: Ohhh. Oh, my God! (hugs him again) I was freaking out! You just disappeared.
Angelus: What? I took off. (goes to his bed for the shirt)
Buffy: (confused) But you didn't say anything. You just left.
Angelus: (pulls on the shirt) Yeah. Like I really wanted to stick around after that.

Later Jenny Calendar, a descendant of the family that cursed Angel admits that Buffy did do it, that she was responsible for his loss.

Poor Buffy can’t win. No matter what she does she loses that which she loves. Let’s keep going with the boyfriends. In Harsh Light Of Day – the first guy Buffy falls for after a soulful Angel leaves her for her and his own good – rejects her after she sleeps with him.
As Buffy askes Willow in Harsh Light Of Day: "So what I’m wondering is, does this always happen? Sleep with a guy and he goes all evil?… And why doesn’t he want me? Am I repulsive? If there was something repulsive about me, you would tell me right?” (paraphrased for length)

Buffy is beginning to wonder why people leave. Is it her? It must be right? Let’s move onto Riley, whom Buffy describes on more than one occasion as her dependable, normal guy. The long-haul guy. The one who won’t leave. Until Into the Woods.

RILEY: They want me back, Buffy ... the military. (Buffy looks up in shock) It's deep undercover, no contact with civilians. Transport's leaving tonight.
BUFFY: Tonight? When were you gonna tell me about this?
RILEY: I'm telling you now.
BUFFY: Are you going?
RILEY: I don't know. If we can't work this out...
BUFFY: Then what? This is goodbye? (Riley shrugs. Buffy gets mad.) You are unbelievable. You're giving me an ultimatum?
RILEY: No, I'm not.
BUFFY: Yes you are! You expect me to get over it now or you're gone!
RILEY: I don't, Buffy, that's not what I meant.
BUFFY: Well, I have heard enough. (angrily) I will not take the blame for this. (Starts to walk away.)

And of course Riley leaves. He gives her an ultimatium, but she can’t follow through. She doesn’t get there in time to stop him. Instead we see her running helplessly after his helicopter hoping he’ll look back and see her, but he never does. He’s gone. Does she blame herself? You betcha. In the very next episode, Triangle, Buffy has this conversation with her sister:

BUFFY: It hurts. In all kinds of horrible ways. In the way where I'm furious at him ... in the way where I blame myself ... and all the little ways I imagine ... how I could have fixed things.
DAWN: It'll get better. (Frowns) Won't it?
BUFFY: I hope so. Yes. It has to. (Dawn lies down, puts her head in Buffy's lap. Buffy strokes her hair) I'll just keep going like I have been, and every day it'll get a little bit better.
DAWN: Really? Every day?
BUFFY: Not really. But it'll be better soon.
DAWN: It still feels all sudden to me. With him gone where no one can talk to him.
BUFFY: But you never know. Maybe he'll come back. Maybe he'll hate the jungle ... or maybe he'll want to give it another try. I could ... say all the things I didn't get to say.

But when he comes back, he doesn’t want to hear it. It’s too late. A year later, that’s all it took, a year, he got over her and married Sam and lived happily ever after. This is the scene Buffy has with Sam from AS YOU WERE, it’s the only time she gets to tell someone that she didn’t let Riley go. But Sam doesn’t hear her and tells her that it took a year – like a year is a long time.

BUFFY: He thinks ... I let him go.
SAM: (stops) Do you wish you hadn't.
BUFFY: (softly) I wish things were different. I-I'm not trying to ... I don't ... uh, you know. (resumes walking)
SAM: I didn't mean to put you on the spot, Buffy. There's no bad guys in this one. The only thing that could ... help Riley work it out was time. Lots of time. Took him a year to get over you.
BUFFY: I'm glad he's over me.

Is she glad? I doubt it. Buffy’s boyfriends seem to get over her pretty quick. Angel barely mourned her death and has moved onto Cordy, while Buffy will love Angel forever. Is she doomed to be left? Is it any wonder that she leaves Sam to go to Spike? And what does she ask of Spike? She wants him to tell her that she’s important. That he loves her. Not just tell her. Show her. And better yet, demand nothing in return. She doesn’t have to show him. She doesn’t have to risk her heart again. Because it’s painful to be left. Even more painful when you believe they are abandoning you because of something you did. Buffy must feel a great deal of rage. Rage at Riley for leaving without a backward glance. Rage at her father. Rage at Angel. Rage at Parker and all the other normal boys who couldn’t handle her. But it’s not done, someone else is about to go. Someone she’s counted on from the get go. Giles. This is the scene they have at the beginning of
Tabula Rasa:
GILES: You have to be strong. I'm, I'm trying to-
BUFFY: (jumps up) Trying to, to what? (angrily) Desert me? Abandon me? Leave me all alone when I really need somebody?
GILES: (quietly) I don't want to leave-
BUFFY: So don't. Please don't.
But he does at the end of the episode.
(Song Goodbye To YOU) The one thing that I tried to hold on to .Cut to Giles on the plane. Cut to the Bronze. Pan across various couples walking around, holding hands, talking, etc. Goodbye to you .
And who does she go to for comfort? Spike. Why? Because he demands nothing in return. She can throw her pain, her rage, her need onto him and he can take it and does. She doesn’t have to love him. He’s not real to her. He’s a thing. And if she doesn’t love him, if he’s not real, he can’t leave, he can’t abandon her, he can’t hurt her. Or can he? Or is there something else going on here? Has Buffy’s self esteem sunk so low that she now believes Spike’s the only one who can show her love? (No flames please B/Ser’s – I’m one too.) Or – has Buffy shut herself down, is she pulling all that rage and pain inwards? Terrified to let it out? Because of all her responsibilities which are beginning to way her down? Let’s go back to the worst of the leavings – the death of her mother – when Buffy was suddenly hit with the fact that she had to be the adult. Had to take care of Dawn – who I still believe represents Buffy’s inner child, Buffy’s responsibilities, and Buffy’s insecurities which have never been addressed – but I digress.
Scene at the end of Forever:
DAWN: Nobody's asking you to be Mom.
BUFFY: Well, who's gonna be if I'm not? Huh, Dawn? Have you even thought about that? Who's gonna make things better? (crying harder) Who's gonna take care of us?
Indeed, who is? Joyce had provided Buffy a safe haven. When the men left, Joyce was always there. Now she’s gone. And Buffy suddenly feels horribly alone.
I’ve always sensed that the writers are using Dawn in a metaphorical way. She is Buffy’s inner child. Her annoying whines and screams and stealing represent Buffy’s cries to be heard. Buffy’s rage. Buffy’s avoidance of her own pain. But perhaps I’m overanlyazing and this is getting long.
At any rate – I think Older and Far Away is not just about Dawn’s fear of everyone leaving. I think the writer’s are once again using Dawn to give us another glimpse of what’s going on inside Buffy. Buffy isn’t a chatter or a whiner, she doesn’t tell us how she feels, she bottles it up inside until it comes crashing out with fists and flying feet. This rage she has deep inside herself must be taking its toll. The only person she’s shown it too, up till Normal Again, was Spike. As Spike has stated – he’s safe. She’s not afraid of his rejection. His dead to her. So she can tell him what she feels. She can punch him. She can throw her rage onto him. He even begs her to do it at the end of Dead Things. But it’s still there and so is the fear. Let’s look at Older and Far Away a bit closer. It’s an interesting episode and misleading because on the surface it appears to focus on Dawn’s fears of abandonment. I don’t think the episode is really about Dawn.
I know this is getting longish but bear with me. First Older and Far Away is a line taken from the novel Empire of the Sun by JG Ballard, made into a film by Spielberg. In the novel, a young British boy loses his parents in Shanghai during WWII, unable to find them, he is forced to fend for himself first in Shanghai then in a Japanese internment camp. He is not reunited with them until many years later and at that point, they are older and far away – he can no longer relate to them and he feels alone. Who fits this description in BvTS? Dawn? Look again – it’s Buffy. In the beginning of the episode, Buffy kills a demon who later is released into her house. How does this demon attack people and more important who does it attack? It floats in and out of the walls, slashing at people. It attacks Xander, Red Shirt Richard, and Spike. The only men, (not counting Clem) in the house. All three have established a relationship with Buffy. All three state that they have to leave the house: Xander and Richard to work and Spike because there are other things he’d rather be doing. Buffy brought the demon into the house by taking the sword. It’s Buffy’s anger jumping out of those walls, unable to be completely contained, it’s jumping out at intervals and it is attacking those who in Buffy’s subconscious represent : Father (Xander – who is later compared to Hank in Normal Again), Immortal Lover (Spike – who is similar to Angel), and Normal Guy (Red Shirt Richard -Parker, Riley, etc.) . All three are the only ones who get injured. Spike is still sporting a black eye from Buffy. Xander gets his arm ripped open. Red Shirt Richard gets slashed across the chest. The demon is reminiscent of Buffy’s rage. ME has told us all along that demons are metaphors for the characters emotions. If this was about Dawn – why weren’t Buffy, Willow and Anya slashed?
Another tidbit I’d like to throw out. Dawn’s conversation with the guidance counselor. Is this just Dawn’s wish? Or is Dawn echoing Buffy? Is Dawn representing Buffy’s true desires?
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR: I know there's been ... a lot of loss.
DAWN: (quietly) Yeah. Kinda. (looks up) I-I mean, yes. People keep ... people have a tendency to go away ... and, I miss them. And sometimes ... I wish I could just make them stop. Going away.
A hence the wish. What does Dawn say when everyone is upset about not being able to leave? “Sure. Of course you all wanna leave. 'Cause being stuck in here with me, that would really suck, right?”
Does this remind you of anyone else? Lord the rage. Dawn whines constantly. Is so annoying we want to hit her and yet Buffy says nothing. Never appears to complain. The only sign of pain we see is on her face and how she behaves with Spike and of course the pain she inflicts on her friends in Normal Again.
Long ago in The Gift, Buffy herself tells the gang that Dawn is her. “She's me. The monks made her out of me. I hold her ... and I feel closer to her than ... (looks down, sighs) It's not just the memories they built. It's physical. Dawn ... is a part of me. The only part that I-”
And that part is screaming out, over and over. Demanding to be heard. How long can Buffy afford to ignore it? How long can the other characters? She’s shutting herself off, trying not to feel, trying not to hurt. She’s been doing it since her mother died, since Angel left, since Hank walked out that door never to return. She doesn’t trust her friends, her sister (self), Spike, to not leave her, to not abandon her. She says as much in Normal Again – when she tries to tell Willow that her parents had abandoned her in a clinic once for talking about Vampires. Why should she trust them? Everyone else leaves. And there’s anger there beneath the self-doubt, anger at her friends for not letting her leave. Everyone else can leave, but why can’t she? What did she sing in OMWF? “ But they don’t know, when you take a bow, you leave the crowd…” She doesn’t want to die, but she’s afraid to live, afraid to feel, afraid to let the rage out, afraid of being left. And so we go back to what her guide, the first slayer, says to her in Intervention. This is important – it tells Buffy all she needs to know to make it through. It tells her that Love brings Pain but it’s worth it. She can’t live in fear of it and she can’t shut it out, because shutting it out…shutting down only makes things worse.
FIRST SLAYER: You're afraid that being the Slayer means losing your humanity.
BUFFY: Does it?
FIRST SLAYER: You are full of love. You love with all of your soul. It's brighter than the fire ... blinding. That's why you pull away from it.
BUFFY: (surprised) I'm full of love? I'm not losing it?
FIRST SLAYER: Only if you reject it. Love is pain, and the Slayer forges strength from pain. Love ... give ... forgive. Risk the pain. It is your nature.
Buffy needs to find a way of risking the pain and a way of dealing with her anger. She can’t continue to use Spike as her personal punching bag and/or personal sex slave – she figured that out in As You Were. Nor can she continue to ignore Dawn, her inner child, she got that in Older and Far Away. And she can’t kill off the friends who brought her back – it won’t change anything – she got that in Normal Again.
The question is can she risk the pain? Can she rebuild her relationships? Trust her friends with her feelings? Or will she continue to keep everything bottled up inside because she’s afraid everyone will leave her if she doesn’t? The irony is they will certainly leave her if she does. She can’t control what they do, really. She can only control herself. It’s a lesson both Willow and Buffy need to learn.
Thanks for reading. Sorry it was so long. Looking forward to your thoughts…

Part III Willow/Buffy Paralle Wanting to Be The Hero to Follow

[> [> Spoilers to Season 6 above -- shadowkat, 19:00:48 07/18/02 Thu

[> [> Halfrek -- Finn Mac Cool, 19:13:22 07/18/02 Thu

Would just like to note that the sword demon also attacked the Vengeance Demon Halfrek.

[> [> [> Re: Halfrek -- shadowkat, 06:15:21 07/19/02 Fri

Which also supports my thesis. Thanks for mentioning it. Buffy's rage symbolized by the sword demon...

Buffy had every reason to hate Halfrek. Halfrek interfered with Dawn. Halfrek locked them in the house. (Won't include possible Halfrek/Spike
connection...since I'm not sure about it nor was it possible for Buffy to know about it at the time.)

[> [> Re: Buffy/Willow Paralle - Focus on Buffy's Fear of Abandonment Part II -- Drizzt, 20:50:07 07/18/02 Thu

I love all of your essays Shadowcat:)

OT; you mentioned Rileys wife Sam. I do like Sam, but she was annoying becuase she seemed to be perfect...

I am in love with Buffy.
I would not abandon her.
My love is true.

All of Buffy's pain is mirrored within me; I empathise with her and love her because I can understand and accept her completely.

I will arrive in the Buffyverse at the begining of the ep The Crush(I mean REALLY be in that universes; the ep is only a reference point for the time in Buffy's life that I want to arrive), and I will repair the blood vessal in Joices brain so she does not have a brain anuerism.

[> [> [> Buffy Lives -- Drizzt, 20:51:36 07/18/02 Thu

[> [> Buffy's Fear of Abandonment by Willow and Xander -- Just George, 02:03:48 07/19/02 Fri

Abandonment is the physical embodiment of a severing of trust. Buffy's fear of abandonment also includes her best friends: Willow and Xander. Not physical abandonment, the abandonment of trust. Willow and Xander betrayed Buffy's trust by ripping her out of heaven. I'll be dealing with each of them separately. (All quotes from transcripts and scripts via Psyche and Joan the English Chick)

Sharing pain with a friend makes one vulnerable. Sharing may help alleviate the pain. But it may also make it worse, especially if the friend's acts are unthinking or pernicious. One has to trust their friend in order to share. Buffy and Willow used to trust each other intimately and so they shared their innermost pains.

Willow had never acted to hurt Buffy before Season 6. Buffy could always trust her absolutely. But now she can't. Willow hurt her by calling Buffy out of the grave. Not perniciously, but unthinkingly. So Buffy doesn't trust Willow as much as she used to. Buffy is less willing to make herself vulnerable in the same ways she used to.

Buffy could have shared with Willow what was going on with Spike at the beginning of Smashed. Buffy's instinct to share (as she had so many times before) was there. But it was just barely overcoming her reduced trust in Willow and her shame. When Buffy learned that Willow had brought Amy back, Buffy was easily diverted and didn't share. As Buffy's shame increased, she was never again willing to make herself vulnerable. The potential cost was too high. Willow only learned the truth from Tara in Seeing Red after all the other Scoobies have found out.

Buffy's relationship with Xander has been different than with Willow. He was not the one she shared pain with. Xander was the one Buffy got the truth from. When Buffy's focus has scattered, Xander has often given her the clear-eyed truth that cut through the metaphorical muck. Three examples of Xander Truth come to mind:

In When She Was Bad: "I don’t know what your problem is, what your issues are. But as of now, I officially don’t care. If you’d worked with us for five seconds, you coulda stopped this."

In Freshman: "Let me tell you something, when it’s dark and I’m all alone and I’m scared or freaked out or what-ever, I always think, ’What would Buffy do?’ You’re my hero."

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

Say what you want about Xander, but he has cut through the fog of Buffy indecision a number of times. But in each case, Buffy could trust that Xander's opinion was unprejudiced. Or that it was prejudiced in a way that Buffy respected. But she couldn't expect that in the case of her relationship with Spike.

By "Spiral" Xander and Spike had almost reached a wary respect (XANDER: "I mention today how much I don’t like you? SPIKE: "You mighta let it slip in . . . once or twice.") But after Buffy emerges from the grave, Xander's blind spot about Spike is back in full force. Buffy even calls Xander on it in Seeing Red: "Xander, you fought side by side with him when I was gone. You let him take care of Dawn --"

Buffy no longer trusts that Xander's prejudice against Spike won't taint his "truth". So she keeps him in the dark about the relationship. In Seeing Red Buffy says, "What I do with my life is none of your business." Xander replies, "It used to be."

Interestingly, by the end of the season, the roots of trust have been replanted. Buffy and Xander made up explicitly at the end of Seeing Red:

XANDER: "I thought I hit bottom, but... It hurt. That you didn't trust me enough to tell me about Spike. It hurt."
BUFFY: "I'm sorry. I should have told you."
XANDER: "Maybe you would have. If I hadn't given you so many reasons to think I'd be an ass about it."
BUFFY: "Guess we've both done a lot of things lately we're not proud of."

In a very different way, Buffy and Willow share pain in Two To Go. They do it in the middle of an argument and then in the middle of a fight. But it is a surprisingly inclusive argument. First, Buffy tells Willow she trusts her inner strength:

BUFFY: "I know what you want to do, Willow, but listen to me: the forces inside you are incredibly powerful. They're strong, but you're stronger. Just remember - you're still Willow."

Then Willow tells Buffy that she understands Buffy's pain:

WILLOW: Ack! Please! This is your pitch? You hate it here as much as I do. I'm just more honest about it."

And a moment later:

WILLOW: "This world? Buffy, it's me! I know you were happier in the ground. The only time you were ever at peace in your whole life is when you were dead."

Willow is right in spirit but wrong in time. Pre Normal Again, Buffy was happier in the ground. But Buffy has come back enough so that she wants to live and she wants her friends to live as well. That's what she fights for.

Also, Buffy has never taken getting punched very seriously. She can shrug off the effects of a fight much quicker than she can shrug off people betraying her. Even as Willow attacks, Buffy is still trying to reach her:

WILLOW: "Get off, super bitch." Willow attacks Buffy with enough force to send Buffy through the counter, but Buffy comes right back at her.
BUFFY: "I can help you stop."

This works for Buffy because what Willow is doing in the fight is not a betrayal. Willow's playing 'king of the hill.' It is Willow's "I am not your sidekick" rant from Listening to Fear rendered in big neon letters. But Buffy stopped defining Willow as a sidekick a long time ago. In "The Gift" Buffy tells Willow that she is the big bad of the group:

BUFFY: "You’re the strongest person here. You know that, right?"
WILLOW: "Well. . . no."
BUFFY: "Will, you’re the only person that’s ever hurt Glory. At all. You’re my best shot at getting her on the ropes, so don’t get a jelly belly on me now."

So playing 'king of the hill' may mean something to Willow, but not to Buffy. Threatening Dawn, Anya, Giles, or the world means something. Buffy has dedicated her life to protect them, individually and collectively:

BUFFY: "I'm not just gonna sit here while Willow incinerates what I've chosen to protect. I have to stop her..."

But even then, there is every chance that Buffy will forgive Willow's attack. No permanent harm was done to anyone. And Buffy will compare Willow's attacks to her own in Normal Again. Buffy is the most forgiving of the Scoobies. Buffy can be just as big about Willow's mistakes as her friends were after the demon dosed her. As she told Spike in Entropy:

BUFFY: "I tried to kill my friends, my sister, last week and guess how much they hate me now? Zero. Zero much."

Thus, Buffy has shown evidence of the flexibility necessary to reestablish trust with Willow. It may take some sharing, and some pain, but the signs are all there. And Buffy has already reestablished trust with Xander. His saving the world won't hurt there either.

All through Season 6, Buffy, Willow, and Xander were apart from each other, and screwing up their lives. They need to share truth with each other as a feedback mechanism; to help them get back on the right path when their lives fall out of balance. I'm betting those feedback mechanisms are shown, front and center, early in Season 7.

[> [> [> Good stuff -- JBone, 04:45:10 07/19/02 Fri

[> [> [> "For all this, nature stops and sings" -- Rahael, 05:08:25 07/19/02 Fri


Such love I cannot analyse;
It does not rest in lips or eyes,
Neither in kisses not caress.
Partly, I know, it's gentleness

And understanding in one word
Or in brief letters. It's preserved
By trust and by respect and awe.
These are the words I'm feeling for.

Two people, yes, two lasting friends.
The giving comes, the taking ends.
There is no measure for such things.
For this all Nature slows and sings.

Elizabeth Jennings

This is what Willow/Xander in Grave meant to me.

[> [> [> [> A lovely sentiment. Thanks for sharing! -- Off- kilter, 09:51:42 07/19/02 Fri

[> [> [> [> Thank you, shadowkat, Just George and Rahael. Wonderful posts, all!! -- redcat, 10:11:58 07/19/02 Fri

and 'kat, I'm especially intrigued by your interpretation of OaFA, which is so richly insightful. I would add that the reason B can even bring the demon-in-the-sword into the house is that she literally "doesn't see" where he has gone. Rather than making sure he is really dead at the end of their fight, she just assumes that his disapperance (while she's facing a different direction?) means that all is OK - she's just "going through the motions" of being the Slayer at that point, and even her quips fall flat. If anything, she seems slightly disappointed at the demon's disapperance in the cemetary (is it going waaaay too far to suggest that it must seem to her at that point in the narrative that even the demons are abandoning her?).

JG, I really enjoyed your extension of the abandonment theme to Willow and Xander -- excellent insights about Xander being one of Buffy's most important Truth-Speakers.

Rah - ahh, thanks, once again, for helping my morning begin with a poem -- next to birdsong and the laughter of a child, 'tis one of my favorite things to have along with my first cuppa...

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Thank you, shadowkat, Just George and Rahael. Wonderful posts, all!! -- shadowkat, 10:20:26 07/19/02 Fri

"I'm especially intrigued by your interpretation of OaFA, which is so richly insightful. I would add that the reason B can even bring the demon-in-the-sword into the house is that she literally "doesn't see" where he has gone. Rather than making sure he is really dead at the end of their fight, she just assumes that his disapperance (while she's facing a different direction?) means that all is OK - she's just "going through the motions" of being the Slayer at that point, and even her quips fall flat. If anything, she seems slightly disappointed at the demon's disapperance in the cemetary (is it going waaaay too far to suggest that it must seem to her at that point in the narrative that even the demons are abandoning her?)."

Thanks. And no, I don't think so...I think that explains why Halfrek also gets sliced along with Spike. People complained when first seeing it that she phoned in the performance. I don't think so. I think she was told to downplay it. It's how you feel when your depressed.
Struggling to care. During the whole episode, she wears a fake almost tired smile. Going through the motions. And yep the demon disappears on her. She thinks fine, I'll just take your shiney sword - so there. She seems so contained.
Even with Spike - who she clearly would like to throw across the room more than once. I felt her rage in that scene and oddly enough it reminded me of Jim in Empire of the Sun.

oops gotta go - my lunch pal is here.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Thank you, shadowkat, Just George and Rahael. Wonderful posts, all!! -- Just George, 10:49:28 07/19/02 Fri

"People complained when first seeing it that she phoned in the performance. I don't think so. I think she was told to downplay it. It's how you feel when your depressed."

SMG's performance has been hard to enjoy because she has been portraying a depressed character for so long. I think the last time we saw a "proud" Buffy was in Family. The last time we saw a "self confident" Buffy was in Checkpoint. And the last time we saw a "pissed" Buffy was in Crush. She has been depressed ever since her mom died in The Body. Depression has stripped the edge off of Buffy's emotions and forced SMG to pull in her performance.

For all the other epiphanies in S6, I believe that Buffy saying goodbye to her mom in Normal Again was the most important. With that, she is ready to go on. Her confidence when speaking to Spike at the beginning of Entropy was indicative of her new confidence. Admittedly, things went badly in Entropy. But after that episode all the secrets were out and Buffy was ready to move on.

I expect Buffy to have her full range of emotions back in Season 7. And I expect SMG to "bring us along" for all of them.

[> [> [> A partial dissent from the holier than thou side -- Sophist, 12:41:33 07/19/02 Fri

In this thread devoted (pun intended) to Buffy, I am a little surprised to see some of Xander's harsher statements to Buffy portrayed as evidence of his friendship. JMHO, but I think Buffy is nearly always right. When Xander has been harsh with her, Xander is wrong.

The examples I can come up with off the top of my head are PG, Passion, Becoming 1&2, Dead Man's Party, and Revelations. In each case, I would argue that Xander was not being a truth teller, he was berating Buffy unjustly. Even in WSWB, Xander reacted without any attempt to understand Buffy's emotional state. In OMWF and Becoming 2, he lied by omission in withholding crucial information from her. As for ITW, I guess it's matter of opinion: if you agree with Xander that Riley was "The One" (and I do think Xander sincerely believed this), then his speech was a sign of friendship. But if you believe, as I do, that Riley was not The One, then Xander was hardly being a good friend in suggesting to Buffy that he was.

In my view, Buffy has always been a better friend to Xander than Xander has been to her. I would probably say that the same is true for Buffy and Willow. To me, the important aspect of this friendship is just how good a friend to them both Buffy has been.

[> [> [> [> Re: Agreeing with the partial dissent -- Just George, 16:24:42 07/19/02 Fri

We may sound like we are disagreeing, but I think we are coming at the same thing from different sides. I agree with you that Buffy has been an amazingly good friend to both Xander and Willow. I can only think of one time when she committed a sin on commission that hurt them (WSWB.) She may have hurt them other times by not being fully engaged, but those are sins of omission and I give them much less weight. Buffy can't focus on her friends to the exclusion of all else. As Willow said in Primeval, "You're the Slayer Buffy, your stuff is pretty important." Xander and Willow's sins of commission are much more numerous and egregious.

And Xander has not always been right when he tells his truth. He was an ass in Dead Man's Party. And he let his jealousy overcome his good sense in Becoming Part 2. But Xander's value to Buffy is when he brings a murky conundrum to a decision point. He makes the choices clear. Then Buffy decides. Often Xander is on the wrong side. But he takes a side and forces Buffy to as well.

From this standpoint, it would have been good for Xander to have found out about Buffy and Spike early on. He would have been reflexively against it. But he would have forced Buffy to come to a decision about continuing or discontinuing the relationship. Making a decision and sticking to it, rather than waffling would have been healthier for both Buffy and Spike.

As for Into The Woods, it doesn't matter to me if Riley is "The One" or not (though I agree, I think Xander liked Riley.) It matters to me that Xander thought Buffy was not facing up to her decision. She was blaming Riley and not thinking about the consequences of her actions. So Xander gave Buffy a stark choice and she made it. That she was too late to catch Riley does not lessen the value of her choice. Her choice to "run" crystallized Buffy's feelings and made her realize that the relationship problems were mutual rather than one sided. Without making the choice, I think it would have been harder for Buffy to get over Riley than it was. Buffy would have had mountains of uncertainty that would have taken her a lot of time to work through. By making the choice Buffy learned more about herself and Riley.

Sometimes Xander seems to be a tough friend to have around. But I think his "truths" are an important feedback component in Buffy's life. I'm glad they reconciled.

[> [> Great one 'kat ! -- Etrangere, 07:49:13 07/19/02 Fri

I especially like the point about Normal Again being really about Buffy. That the demon only attacked those Buffy feared would abandon, it's right on. Though Dawn has reasons enough to have some abandon issues of her own :)
An interresting thing is despite all those issues, it's sometimes when Buffy is all alone that she can find her true strength. Like in the end of Becoming 2.

[> [> Another wonderful essay! -- ponygirl, 08:26:39 07/19/02 Fri

I will certainly keep your points in mind when re-watching OAFA, not one of my faves, like AYW it feels like the story was in service of the metaphor not the other way around - still both are definitely important episodes in looking at the larger picture of season 6.

Poor Buffy! She's been hard to like this year, withdrawn and brittle, but oddly enough I find myself empathizing with her more than in seasons past. I wonder what lessons she will take from her personal season horribilus. For my own random speculation I want to see Buffy get a chance to leave at the end of season 7, not necessarily permanently, but finally having a chance to see a world beyond Sunnydale - to boldy move into the larger world rather than hide from her life as she did in Anne.

[> Thanks shadowkat :-) -- aliera, 09:27:18 07/19/02 Fri

For Buffy:

To him who has conquered himself by himself,
His self is a friend.
But to him who has not conquered himself by himself,
His self is hostile, like a foe.

Quote from Oriental Myth by Joseph Campbell,
who is citing Bhagavad Gita 6.6.

Buffy - Struggling With Being The Hero in a Dark World Part I -- shadowkat, 10:10:12 07/19/02 Fri

Okay - split in three parts and separate post from the
abandonment because too long.

Buffy – Struggling to Be the Hero in A Dark World

Who were you’re heroes growing up? Firemen? Policemen? Superman? Power Girl? Buffy’s was Power Girl. In Killed By Death, Season 2, Btvs, we see her flashback to playing Power Girl with her younger cousin, Celia. Her cousin is sick and in the hospital. Buffy comes to visit her and watches her die in a horrible way. Buffy can’t save her. If she was Power Girl, she could have.

How often, if we think about it, have we wanted to be the superhero? Wanted to save the day? Kill the bad guy? Bring our friends back to life? Save them? And if we can’t be the superhero – gee wouldn’t it be nice to sleep with him or her? To be their sidekick?

1. DREAMING OF BEING THE HERO: It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

The episode Superstar in Season 4 explores our desire to be the hero. What we think it would be like. The ultimate “Mary Sue” story. Jonathan, geeky nerd, does a wish spell where he becomes the Superhero and under the conditions of the wish – he has everything he believes a superhero would have: a dream house, beautiful girls, money, success, fame, adoration, and saves the world. It’s not real though, as Buffy attempts to point out. The superhero doesn’t get any of those things. The superhero – has to fight her battle in the shadows, undercover, with no money, no rewards, and often alone. Think about our own real-world heroes? The Firemen who rush into collapsing buildings, the policeman who face down criminals, the soliders who fight terrorists, the Secret Service men who take bullets for our leaders…paid very little in most cases. And boy do they get a lot of grief. We hold them up to impossible standards.

Like us: Willow, Xander, Jonathan, Cordelia, Dawn – all dream of being the superhero. They all want to be the slayer. They believe it’s cool. And they don’t completely understand the sacrifices. In the Real ME, Dawn announces in a voiceover narrative what she believes a superhero is, and it’s not all that different from Willow, Xander, or our own view.

“*I* could so save the world if somebody handed me super powers... but I'd think of a cool name and wear a mask to protect my loved ones, which Buffy doesn't even. If this town wasn't so lame everyone would completely know what she does. And then I bet they wouldn't even be that impressed, because like, killing things with wood? Oh, scary vampires, they die from a splinter.”

In Anne, Xander, Willow, Cordy and Oz team-up to fight vampires. They even wear customs and call each other codenames like Nighthawk. Meanwhile, Buffy is fighting her way out of a true hell. Fighting depression and despair to do it and saving a large group in the process. Her struggle isn’t fun. It doesn’t have cool clothes. When she returns to Sunnydale and takes back her duties, the team isn’t beside her, helping, she is alone. And they are condemning her for leaving them to fight what they consider her battles. Xander chastises her for not coming back, quitting. Willow for not being there to help her deal with her magic and werewolf boyfriend. Only Giles seems to sense the pain beneath the surface and works to get to the heart of it. (See Dead Man’s Party – Faith, Hope & Trick).
Buffy is often alone. It’s one of her greatest nightmares – being abandoned to fight her fight alone. Both in Fear Itself and in Restless, we see Buffy hunting her friends. She pushes them aside initially because she can’t live with the idea that she caused them to get hurt, but she so desperately needs their help. Their companionship. The hero’s job is a lonely one. A point that is actually re- emphasized in Bargaining Part II through most of Season 6. Are the SG alongside Buffy when she is fighting? No. But before she returned? They fought as a team. She comes back. They return comfortably to their normal routines. Giles even tells her she should go alone to fight the singing demon and save Dawn.

Dawn like the rest of us romanticizes what it’s like to be the hero. Here’s a discussion between Riley and Buffy regarding this desire. Riley understands Dawn, because Riley also wants to be the hero. Buffy would like to be Dawn for a while.

RILEY: You have super powers ... and college ... a studly yet sensitive boyfriend...
BUFFY: And a pesky life-or-death job that I can't quit or even take a break from.
RILEY: She doesn't get the sacrifices. She's a kid.
BUFFY: And that's what bugs. *She* gets to be a kid, and she acts like it's the biggest burden in the world. Sometimes *I* would like to just curl up in Mom's lap and not worry about the fate of the world. I'd like to be the one who's protected, who's waited on-

If Dawn wants to be the slayer, then Buffy wants to be the little kid. A desire that is echoed a year later in Normal Again where her parents in the asylum world offer to let her curl up in Mommy’s lap and be protected. Not surprising. Aren’t there times when we all wish we could go back home, rest in the comfy womb of Mom’s cooking and hot chocolat? It’s interesting that in Fool For Love, when Dawn asks when she’ll get to go on patrol – Buffy says never. Buffy is protecting her child self from her thankless life. Later, in Season 6, Dawn slowly appears to get this. Maybe seeing her sister fall off a tower and then get dragged back to life had an effect?

DAWN: Buffy's never gonna be a lawyer, or a doctor. Anything big.
XANDER: She's a Slayer. She saves the whole world. That's way bigger.
DAWN: But that means she's gonna have like crap jobs her entire life, right? Minimum wage stuff. I mean, I could still grow up to be anything. But for her ... this is it.
XANDER: Okay, but maybe you'll be a lawyer or a doctor, and you can use all your money to support your deadbeat sister.
DAWN: (sarcastic) Oh, that's terrifically better. Thanks.

Xander is still under the delusion that saving the world is reward in of itself. Why would Buffy want more? Xander is like us - we think the same thing. We would love to save the world but realize it’s dangerous and are just as happy to be a sidekick. Meanwhile we criticize the people who are risking their lives from the sidelines. Not only do they have to save the world, they better be saints while they do it! No boinking bad vamps. No whining. No mistakes. That’s Xander’s problem. How can you sleep with Spike? You’re the hero? Towards the end of Seeing Red, he realizes what he’s done and once again, Buffy plays the hero, pushes him out of the way and takes Warren’s bullet in the chest.

The problem with being the hero is not all the times you save the world. It’s all the times you failed. That’s what haunts you, what lives inside your nightmares, the people you couldn’t save. Buffy is terrified she’s nothing but just a killer. That what she does in the long run doesn’t really matter.

BUFFY: I sacrificed Angel to save the world. I loved him so much. But I knew ... what was right. I don't have that any more. I don't understand. I don't know how to live in this world if these are the choices. If everything just gets stripped away. I don't see the point. I just wish that... (tearfully) I just wish my mom was here. The spirit guide told me ... that death is my gift. Guess that means a Slayer really is just a killer after all. (The GIFT)

In interviews most Firemen state that at night they are kept awake by the images of the people they couldn’t save. Cops have the same guilt. It was the guy they accidentally shot on the street or the girl who died before they arrived that sticks with them. Buffy has the same problem. The people who haunt Buffy are Theresa, Jenny, all the people Angel killed, Celia, her mother, and Katrina to just name a few. The people she couldn’t save. Just as she probably remembers all those that she killed. She remembers Angel. She remembers Ford. What struck me in Smashed is how relieved Buffy looks when Spike explains he can only hit her no one else. She doesn’t want to kill him. She’s knows him. And yes, cares for him. It doesn’t have to be love. Like Willow states way back in Doomed, “we can’t let him kill himself Xander, we know him and it would be ooky.” I believe she’s somewhat terrified that there will come a day in which she will have to, that he’ll lose the chip and she will have to hunt him down and kill him before he kills anyone else. Someone once asked me what I thought of the dream sequence in Dead Things – which shows Buffy sleeping with Spike, then attacking Katrina, then staking a defenseless sleeping Spike, then staking a defenseless Katrina. I think it’s simple –fear and guilt. Or what she felt after Angel killed Jenny. It’s not the people you save that stay with you – it’s all the ones you didn’t save. And all the ones you killed.

Buffy’s friends and family don’t get that. They think its like Spiderman or Superman. Action is you’re reward. There’s no guilt. The responsibility doesn’t way heavily on you. Why not charge for saving lives? Buffy unlike a firefighter, really doesn’t have that luxury. But then are firefighters paid that much? Are cops?

PArt's II and III to follow - sk

[> Part II: Slaying as A Career Choice? -- shadowkat, 10:11:49 07/19/02 Fri

ANYA: Um ... i-i-if you wanna pay every bill here, and every bill coming, and ... have enough to start a nice college fund for Dawn? (big smile) Start charging.
BUFFY: (irritated) For what?
ANYA: Slaying vampires! (Xander looks embarrassed) Well, you're providing a valuable service to the whole community. I say cash in.
BUFFY: (carefully) Well, that's an idea ... you would have. Any other suggestions?
ANYA: (softly) Well, I mean, it's, it's not *so* crazy.
DAWN: Yes it is! You can't charge innocent people for saving their lives.
ANYA: Spiderman does.
DAWN: Xander?
XANDER: (reluctantly) Action is his reward.

Spiderman does have a rewarding career by the way – he’s a newspaper photo-journalist. (Stan Lee was nicer to his superhero than Joss Whedon is.) Poor Buffy is stuck working a double-shift at the Doublemeat, while Peter Parker sell photos of his alter-ego and other newsworthy events. Buffy always knew this was the case. As far back as high school, she knew that her future was sealed. Her friends could pick their careers, hers was already chosen. This is shown in WHAT’s MY LINE. (It’s paraphrased in places for length).

Buffy: Uhhh! I shouldn't even be bothering with this. It's all mootville for me. No matter what my aptitude test says, we already know my deal.
Xander: Yup, high risk, sub-minimum wage...
Buffy: Pointy wooden things...
Willow: You're not even a teensy weensy bit curious about what kinda career you could've had? I mean, if you weren't already the Slayer and all.
Buffy: Do the words 'sealed in fate' ring any bells for you, Will? Why go there?
(Willow is hurt by that comment.)
Xander: Y'know, with that kind of attitude you could've had a bright future as an employee at the DMV. (shakes his pencil at her)
Buffy: I'm sorry, it's just... unless Hell freezes over and every vamp in Sunnydale puts in for early retirement, I'd say my future is pretty much a non-issue.

They just don’t get it. They think of slaying as a career. Something she can retire from and so do we in a way. I remember a friend of mine saying a few months ago – well, Buff’s done her thing, she can be a civilian now, right? Like she was in the military. No, that’s Riley. Riley can stop at any time. Buffy can’t. Here’s a scene from What’s My Line Part II, this one is with Kendra, another vampire slayer who has just helped the gang save the day.

Kendra: You talk about slaying like it's a job. It's not. It's who you are.
Buffy: Did you get that from your handbook?
Kendra: From you.
Buffy: I guess it's something I really can't fight. (smiles) I'm a freak.

But she does try to fight it. She’s not a super-hero after all, she’s a teenager who wants to date boys and take up cheerleading.

Giles: You have a sacred birthright, Buffy. You were chosen to destroy vampires, not to... wave pompoms at people. And as the Watcher I forbid it.
Buffy: And you'll be stopping me how?
Giles: Well, I... By appealing to your common sense, if such a creature exists.
Buffy: I will still have time to fight the forces of evil, okay? I just
wanna have a life, I wanna do something normal. Something safe. (WITCH, Season 1, Btvs.)

Then in Never Kill A Boy on The First Date - where Buffy tries to date and only ends up getting everyone including the poor date into danger. Buffy can’t even have a normal guy.

Giles: (looks toward Owen) Seems like a nice lad.
Buffy: Yeah. But he wants to be danger man. You, Xander, Willow, you
guys... you guys know the score, you're careful. Two days in my world
and Owen really *would* get himself killed. Or I'd get him killed.

Gee, being the superhero doesn’t look like that much fun. It’s not like Superman who gets Lois Lane or Spiderman who marries Mary Jane. (Both do in the comic books.) And this is just the first Season. It’s in Season 3 that things get interesting. Buffy is suddenly faced with what she believes are “choices”. She thinks, at least momentarily, that she can get off the hook. That she can go to Northwestern and go to college. She does not need to be the slayer forever. Faith can take her place. Her mother also believes this. Unfortunately, Buffy will always be the slayer – it’s not a career choice or an occupation. It’s who she is. Who she will be until she dies. Willow doesn’t get this; Willow believes it is a choice.

There are three major scenes from Choices, Season 3, which discuss this. It’s a turning point episode in at least two characters lives: Willow and Buffy’s. In it, Buffy learns she can never leave Sunnydale, she will always be the slayer, and her life will always be run by that. Willow on the other hand chooses to remain in Sunnydale as opposed to going to Oxford and chooses to use magic to be part of Buffy’s evil fighting team. First scene happens towards the beginning of the episode where the gang is discussing College. Buffy has just realized that she can’t hand the slayer duties over to Faith, who has become evil and has just mentioned how her Mom still wants her to go to Northwestern. Her Mom doesn’t get the fact that she can’t, that she doesn’t have a choice. Willow apparently doesn’t understand this either.

Willow: Sounds like your mom's in a state of denial.
Buffy: More like a continent. She just has to realize that I can't go away.
Willow: Well, maybe not now, but soon, maybe. Or maybe I too hail from Denial Land.
Buffy: Faith's turn to the dark side of the Force pretty much put the proverbial kibosh on any away plans for me. UC Sunnydale – at least I got in. You! I mean I can't believe you got into Oxford!

Poor Buffy. But she still has hope. Here’s a scene with Wesley and Giles, where she is practically pleading for loophole, a way of moving on, of being something other than just the slayer. How she must envy Willow in this episode.

Buffy: I want to leave.
Wesley: What? Now?
Buffy: No, not now. After I graduate, you know, college?
Wesley: But, you're a Slayer.
Buffy: Yeah, I'm also a person. You can't just define me by my Slayer-ness. That's ... something-ism.

It’s not until the end of the episode, after Buffy has failed to defeat Faith and the Mayor and barely rescued Willow from their clutches, that Buffy realizes she’s stuck. She must stay in Sunnydale and follow her calling. Willow on the other hand has gleefully decided to stay in Sunnydale and help Buffy fight evil.

Buffy: I'm never getting out of here. I kept thinking if I stopped the Mayor or ... but I was kidding myself. I mean, there is always going to be something. I'm a Sunnydale girl, no other choice.
Willow: Must be tough. I mean, here I am, I can do anything I want. I can go to any college in the country, four or five in Europe if I want.
Buffy: Please tell me you're going somewhere with this?
Willow: No. (hands Buffy a letter) I'm not going anywhere.
Buffy: UC Sunnydale?
(Dialogue chopped for length)
Buffy: I can't believe it! Are you serious? Ah, wait, what am I saying? You can't.
Willow: What do you mean, I can't?
Buffy: I won't let you.
Willow: Of the two people here, which is the boss of me?
Buffy: There are better schools.
Willow: Sunnydale's not bad. A-And I can design my own curriculum.
Buffy: Okay, well, there are safer schools. There are safer prisons. I can't let you stay because of me.
Willow: Actually, this isn't about you. Although I'm fond, don't get me wrong, of you. The other night, you know, being captured and all, facing off with Faith. Things just, kind of, got clear. I mean, you've been fighting evil here for three years, and I've helped some, and now we're supposed to decide what we want to do with our lives. And I just realized that that's what I want to do. Fight evil, help people. I mean, I-I think it's worth doing. And I don't think you do it because you have to. It's a good fight, Buffy, and I want in.

Buffy struggles in this scene, partly with her envy of Willow’s choices, partly with the fear of losing Willow and most of all the fear of Willow staying and getting killed helping her. Willow is oblivious to this struggle. Willow wants to help Buffy, to be the hero too. “I don’t think you do it because you have to,” Willow says. It’s true, Buffy does choose to use her powers for the good. With great power comes great responsibility. Spiderman also makes this choice. Both could choose to make money at it, they don’t. Buffy could choose to go Faith’s route. She doesn’t. Oh she flirts with it in Bad Girls, but is rudely awakened when Faith kills the Deputy Mayor. And later, we’re reminded of Buffy’s choices, in Who Are You, when Faith tells Spike, that she could be or have anyone she’d like but doesn’t because it would be wrong. She chooses to be the Slayer. So does Faith at the end of Who Are You – going to the church instead of leaving town. Saving lives. It’s what they do. But it’s hardly a career.

PArt III and conclusion to follow - sk

[> [> Part III - Becoming the Hero/Slayer (spoilers to Season 6 on all three) -- shadowkat, 10:13:54 07/19/02 Fri

3. BEING THE HERO/THE SLAYER – Accepting A Life of Sacrifice and Violence

Buffy’s friends and possibly the audience forget the sacrifices Buffy has had to make, over and over again. The hero doesn’t get to run off with her boyfriend to parts unknown. Or to kill a human on a vengeance spree. As she tells Xander and Dawn in Villains : “Being the slayer doesn’t give me a license to kill.” She has to be very careful how she uses her powers. Who she kills. And as she grows older the rules get murkier. Part of the problem is, unlike a fireman who can use water to put of a fire, Buffy must rely on violence to act as the Slayer. She must kill with her hands. It is part of her nature. It’s part of who she is. The hands. After all we wouldn’t want a ‘Huggable Vampire Slayer’? But at what cost? Buffy herself wishes it wasn’t a part of her, it scares her. She believes it drives people away. After all the men she loves leave her. In IWMTY – she tells Xander she drives them away with her self- involvement and violence. Maybe she does. She can no longer tell. Here are two telling scenes dealing with how Buffy views the slayer and how others do.

The first is from the Replacement, this is the episode where Xander gets split in half. A weak Xander and a strong Xander. We learn that the demon meant to split Buffy in half – creating the pure slayer and the weak normal girl. It is an interesting episode – it states in very clear terms that the slayer is who Buffy is. Just as Xander can’t kill off his weaker self and survive. Buffy can’t kill off the slayer and survive. It’s not a career. It’s part of her. But part of her would like to erase it, chop it off.

BUFFY: Riley, do you wish-
RILEY: No. (some dialogue is chopped for length)
BUFFY: Well, you have been kind of rankly about the whole slayer gig. Instead of having slayer Buffy, you could have Buffy Buffy.
RILEY: Hey. I *have* Buffy Buffy. Being the slayer's part of who you are. You keep thinking I don't get that, but...

But does he get it, really? Riley doesn’t understand why Buffy wants to erase that part of herself. He doesn’t understand what she’s saying. How can he? Here’s a scene with Riley’s wife, ahhh the irony. Buffy lost Riley even though he claimed to be fine with both parts of her. This is from As You Were:

SAM: I gotta tell you, Buffy, I'm a little bit intimidated. I mean, patrolling with the real live Slayer, you're like ... Santa Claus, or Buddha, or something.
BUFFY: Fat and jolly?
SAM: Legendary. And it's not just slayer status I'm talking about. It's you.

Gee, poor girl is a legend. She can’t have the normal guy. The normal life. But hey, she’s
Santa Clause. And she can’t even save those she cares most about. She had to send Angel to hell. And what about Mom? The violence doesn’t save Mom. The hitting, the kicks, even magic doesn’t. Her slayer role means almost nothing. She can’t save her mother. She can’t avenge her. Here’s the scene from Forever, following her mother’s death. It’s a dreamlike scene with Angel in the cemetery.

BUFFY: I can stick wood in vampires ... but Mom was the strong one in real life. She always knew how to make things better ... just what to say.
ANGEL: Yeah ... you'll find your way. I mean, not all at once, but...
BUFFY: (shakes her head) I don't know. I keep thinking about it ... when I found her. If I had just gotten there ten minutes earlier...
ANGEL: You said they told you it wouldn't have made a difference.
BUFFY: They said ... "probably" ... wouldn't have made a difference. The exact thing they said ... was "probably." I haven't told that to anyone.
ANGEL: Doesn't make it your fault. You couldn't have done anything different.
BUFFY: (annoyed sigh) I didn't even start CPR until they told me. I fell apart. That's how good I am at being a grownup.

Ten minutes earlier? What was Buffy doing ten minutes earlier? She was saving Katrina and Warren from Aprilbot. If she had left the Aprilbot to destroy Katrina and Warren, she might have saved her Mom. I’ve often wondered if this occurs to her, at least subconsciously, in Dead Things. That maybe part of her quilt regarding Katrina is that she wishes she had saved her Mom instead.

Buffy can kill vampires. She can kill demons. But she can’t save her mother. She can’t save lives. All she can do is kill. Even in The Body – in the morgue – with her mother lying dead on a slab. Dawn has time to study their mother. Buffy has to kill a vampire. This feeling is really brought to the fore in the last episode of Season 5 –The Gift. Someone, can’t remember who, made the comment that Buffy was selfish jumping in her sister’s place, that Giles was the hero because he put the needs of the world first – that is what a hero does. A hero puts the world first. But heroes are people.

Buffy has been fighting the same battles forever. It never stops. The others, Xander, Willow, Anya, Giles – they get to bow, they can leave. Giles proves this in Season 6 when he returns to England, not once but twice and both at inopportune times. Willow said as much in “Choices”. Even Xander has said it. But Buffy? She can’t leave. And she can’t always save those she loves. Her mom is gone. So is Angel, who she had to send to hell. And Riley, who left her because she couldn’t give him what he needed, her slayer duties took too much out of her. And in Season 5, she’s being asked to kill her sister – for what? The world? And what, Buffy wonders, has the world given her lately? What does she get in return? Is she just a killer? Someone created to kill whatever adversary the forces of darkness send at the forces of good? As she says way back in Season 1, “Been there, done that. Moving On.” Is it any wonder, that now, in Season 6, she wants to quit?

BUFFY: (still looking down) I was happy. Wherever I ... was ... I was happy. At peace. I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time ... didn't mean anything ... nothing had form ... but I was still me, you know? (glances at him, then away) And I was warm ... and I was loved ... and I was finished. Complete. (Afterlife, Season 6)

And she does try to escape to that again in Normal Again. She resents Willow and Xander for pulling her out of it. For demanding she continue her chores as slayer while they get to live normal lives. She even tries to kill them. But the hero is part of her soul. She can’t divorce it. She can’t ignore it. Killing her friends won’t erase it. It doesn’t work that way. We can’t change who we are deep inside. At the end of Normal Again – Buffy comes to her senses and saves her friends from a demon she’d unchained in the basement. She stands solidly and asks for the antidote. Chooses the life of the slayer over the life of the normal girl in the asylum. Finally, Buffy makes a solid choice, accepts the slayer.

A solid choice that is echoed throughout Villains, Seeing Red, Two-To-Go and Grave, where Buffy not only makes the decision not to kill the evil humans, but tries to save them even though they shot her and her close friend Tara. She also tries to save her best friend, Willow from herself. Even after Willow threatens to destroy her and her sister. And finally in Grave, decides to show Dawn, her sister the world.
It’s tough to be the hero, particularly when you didn’t initially choose this path. And yes, even heroes fall down on the job, it’s human nature and Buffy is very human. But what we can and should admire about Buffy Anne Summers is she continues to go down this path, she doesn’t give up; she struggles step by step even when she’s faced with insurmountable odds. And she does it with compassion. Very few of us would have the capacity to do what Buffy does. How tempting it must have been to kill Warren, Jonathan and Andrew or to stake Spike. The fact that she doesn’t and doesn’t allow anyone else to is somewhat amazing. Could any of us have done the same? Have to admit I wanted Warren dead. How tempting to quit her job at DMP and join up with Riley. How tempting to continue her affair with Spike. Continue using him. No one but Riley knew and Spike would have let her, even if it was destroying him as much as it was hurting her. How tempting to stay in the asylum world. But Buffy doesn’t do these things. Nor does she stay in the Grave. I found her struggle inspiring this year. We all fall down. We all make mistakes. The hardest thing to do is get up again, crawl out of our grave, face the new morning and start again. Buffy did this…and my heart leapt for her. As much as I adore the other characters, Buffy remains my hero.
One more thing – when I first posted this, someone on BC & S said it sounded as if all Buffy did was whine. So I revised it a little to cut down on that perception. Because I don’t see that. I see someone struggling. Someone human trying to handle the responsibilities of being a super-hero at the ripe old age of 21. Responsibilities she can never get compensated for. She kills demons, but no one can know. They can’t even know demons exist. And if she told her parents or the authorities? They wouldn’t believe her. She saves the world but has to work a menial job. And every guy she gets romantically involved with? Leaves. Not to mention that at least two of them were monsters. Yeah they were frigging handsome monsters, but still monsters. One of which lost his soul after sleeping with her and tried to kill everyone she knew. Give the girl a break. Wouldn’t you whine? Just a little?

Thanks for reading.
:-) shadowkat

[> [> [> kudos... -- DL, 10:47:06 07/19/02 Fri

Well said, shadowkat!!

"With Great Power comes Great Responsibility." -Spiderman, the Movie.

I don't know if you've seen the movie/comic book, but I really enjoy the parallels and dissonance between the two. People tend to forget that both superheroes are young; the difference between them is the support group that Buffy has in the Gang. I think her love for them makes her want everything to be "normal," so that they could all have "normal" lives. In this sense, I don't see her as whiny, but rather agree with what you have said.

I think your post has inspired me to make that comparison in depth... :)

[> [> [> [> Agree -- Finn Mac Cool, 11:14:20 07/19/02 Fri

This is a totally awesome look into how being the Slayer shapes Buffy's character. You are a great essay writer. Though, what do you want to bet that if Buffy had a normal life she would try to get her Slayer one back? And, once she got it, she'd try to be normal again?

[> [> [> Can newbies respond too? -- Arystocrat, 11:20:02 07/19/02 Fri

I have thoughts on this theme, but don't want to jump in uninvited.


[> [> [> [> Of course you can. We welcome newbies. -- Sophist, 12:03:56 07/19/02 Fri

Of course, once we lure you in, you become fair game. Bwahahahaha......

[> [> [> [> Of course. We were all newbies once. -- shadowkat, 12:18:51 07/19/02 Fri

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please share them.

[> [> [> [> Fair Warning -- Arethusa, 12:52:10 07/19/02 Fri

Once you start posting, you won't be able to stop. Pretty soon you'll find that all roads lead to Buffy, and when faced with a difficult situation you'll ask yourself, "What would Buffy do?." Then you can't watch other tv shows because they are bereft of literary allusions, and whenever you see a female character cower in fear you'll yell at the girl on the screen to start kicking some butt. Are you reeeally sure you want to post? ;0)

[> [> [> Yay for Buffy! Yay for shadowkat! -- ponygirl, 12:51:52 07/19/02 Fri

Thanks for sending me off to the weekend with a bit of Buffy love! Maybe Buffy's struggle this year wasn't as dramatic as finding a soul or saving the world or wielding powerful magic, but it was as basic and as huge as finding a way to live in the world. A struggle that we all face and I for one take hope that Buffy clawed her way out, whiney sis and all, and "fell in awe with life"(fab quote by Ete), watching her in a way I did too.

[> [> [> Re: Part III - Becoming the Hero/Slayer (spoilers to Season 6 on all three) -- Arystocrat, 13:00:58 07/19/02 Fri

I do agree with the points made by Shadowkat about Buffy being a hero and making sacrifices in order to be that hero. I also agree that being a Slayer isn't something she has a choice in and that her friends (being young themselves) overlook a lot of that.

My thoughts are more about how Buffy deals (and doesn't deal) with this.

A lot of times I do think Buffy are whiney. She is a Slayer, but she does seem to be making any effort to truly reconcile that with also being Buffy. To me it always seems to be Buffy that considers the two sides of her life to be different and separate and incompatible. She seems to insist that because of one she can't have the other. Really, she's a walking identity crisis.

Being the Slayer doesn't really stop her from doing anything except (for the moment at least) leaving Sunnydale. She was going to school and stopped not because of Slaying, but because her mom died. Something that could have happened to anyone. If she tried, I'm sure she could find a way to go back. Really she could become anything she wanted to be in the daylight world, and maybe the lessons she learned as the Slayer could help her. Can you imagine the power of a Slayer/Lawyer? Or if she's so reconciled to being The Slayer, couldn't she learn things that could help her with her job? Private Detective skills? Demonology? Theology?

Or if she just wants to work couldn't she get a job better than minimum wage? I mean, Angel Investigations manages to work on some paying cases every now and then, what about Scooby Investigations? Or she could be a bouncer at the Bronze, lord knows they need one.

Really I guess all I'm saying is that I acknowledge that Buffy makes sacrifices to save the world, but she also seems to have stuck herself there as well. She only makes excuses for not growing up and growing into the responsibility end of the Slaying. She makes sure that she can't have a normal life within the Slayer parameters. Really, it doesn't seem to me that she's made any effort to do so. Before or after her death.

There is more to Life than just Slaying, she even said it herself. She just has to make the effort to find it.

All of this, I feel compelled to mention, has been said in one way or another over the years my Spike, who has a pretty good grasp on Truth.

Anyway… my only real credentials for my own ideas here is the very dark superhero RPG I play in.


[> [> [> [> Re: the ebarrassment of mis-posting -- Rendyl, 13:47:08 07/19/02 Fri

Assuming mis-posting is even a valid term. My other post should have been under shadowkats last one. Maybe we have board Gremlins?

OT - what RPG do you play in Arys? Located tabletop, online, or Mud/Mush?


[> [> [> [> [> Ren: RPGs -- Arystocrat, 13:49:49 07/19/02 Fri


We play good old fashioned Champions. Played table for a long long time, but some of our players now live out of state so now we play via Instant Messaging.


[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ren: RPGs -- ahira, 15:31:49 07/19/02 Fri

Ooh, Champions. One of my very favorite RPG's. Had a really good group I played with while in the Navy. Of course, we were also all insane and that showed through in our characters. hehe Bob, superhero automechanic, saving the world, one car at a time....

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ren: RPGs -- Rendyl, 15:57:56 07/19/02 Fri

***hehe Bob, superhero automechanic, saving the world, one car at a time....***

Rofl...I loved Champions. I must be a masochist because just the thought of the GM rolling 30 or 40 d6 gives me little shivers.

We played with this one guy who designed a fairly cool exosuit. Except the thing was so heavy he often left indentions when he walked. In wood, in concrete, in etc.

(it was an odd campaign, your Bob would have fit right in)

Ren - ah the days

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ren: RPGs -- Just George, 16:46:25 07/19/02 Fri

Glad you liked Champions. We had a ball making it.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ren: RPGs -- Rendyl, 19:43:04 07/19/02 Fri

Uh...you are -that- George?

Pardon me a moment, I am having tingly and giddy feelings...Okay, better now.


(who doesn't care if it really is George or not because just the few seconds of wondering if it really was George gave me a rush)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ren: RPGs -- Just George, 12:45:34 07/20/02 Sat

Yup. Thanks.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ren: RPGs -- Rendyl, 14:26:45 07/20/02 Sat

Whoa. (or maybe WOW) Very pleased to sort of meet you.

My husband says, "If that really is George (last name omitted to protect George's secret identity) then cool."

Actually he said "You remember game designer names and you call -me- a geek???" but we will just skip that part and fast forward to where he thought George was cool.

Ren -shush, I am having a moment

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ren: RPGs -- ahira, 21:27:37 07/19/02 Fri

Yep, that was always a cool part of it. Had a dice bag just full of d6's. I remember we would raid games just to collect as many as we could get to play Champions with. Then of course, you have to build a character with an attack big enough to get to throw all those dice. I was pretty much the guy with the weirdest characters in the group though. We started one that was based on teenage heroes, so I made one based on the newspaper boy from Better Off Dead. He had a distinctive look limitation that people didn't like to be around him. They always had the feeling they owed him money....

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ren: RPGs -- Rendyl, 06:24:19 07/20/02 Sat

***He had a distinctive look limitation that people didn't like to be around him. They always had the feeling they owed him money....***

Rofl. I always loved the sessions where everyone got a little...odd. We played with a guy who was going through an 'Elvis phase'. All his chars were loosely based on various incarnations of Elvis. They were all great, except maybe for the troll in the white jumpsuit he played in Shadowrun. That was just...disturbing.


[> [> [> [> When does she sleep? -- Malandanza, 18:06:33 07/19/02 Fri

"Being the Slayer doesn't really stop her from doing anything except (for the moment at least) leaving Sunnydale. She was going to school and stopped not because of Slaying, but because her mom died. Something that could have happened to anyone. If she tried, I'm sure she could find a way to go back. Really she could become anything she wanted to be in the daylight world, and maybe the lessons she learned as the Slayer could help her."

Buffy has three full time jobs -- slaying, DMP and being a surrogate mother to Dawn (which will take up more of her time than it has been now that Tara is dead). Then there's the money issue -- even if she could find the time to squeeze in a couple of classes, would she be able to pay for them? And what happens when Dawn goes off to college? Buffy certainly won't have graduated yet. And better jobs require dependability (they also tend to require things like experience and higher education) -- Buffy has to be able to drop everything and save the world (or her corner of it) when the need arises and, unfortunately for her, that means dead-end jobs.

I met a few people who held down full-time jobs while attending college (also full time) and were married. But they weren't roaming the streets of Tempe at night, keeping the streets safe for humanity (at least, I don't think they were). Even then, they didn't have much time for anything else. The marriages held together because of the understanding that the stress would be temporary -- when they graduated, things would be better. Buffy doesn't have that luxury -- she will be slaying until her untimely death.

Buffy shouldn't have to work -- that would eliminate most of her concerns. The WC ought to be supporting her, as they did Kendra.

[> [> [> [> [> Yep agree entirely. -- shadowkat, 20:35:35 07/19/02 Fri

Don't understand why CoW can't support their slayers the way they do their Watchers.

Also Arystocrat - you suggest Slayer/Lawyer? Having been through law school I can tell you that this would be nearly impossible: job/single mom/ slaying - get through 4 years of college then 3 of law school plus study for the bar?
Poor girl is only human. I went to law school and barely
made it without the full time job and just internships and full time study. Buffy is also not a great student.

People have been comparing her with Spiderman, but have forgotten one key thing - Spiderman wasn't a single Mom supporting a kid sister. Spiderman might have been broke but he only had to support himself...I seem to remember Aunt May being okay.

I think she can find a better occupation than DMP. But the girl is only 21. How many people know where they want to go at 21? I didn't. Took me awhile. Actually still don't really know...LOL! I think Buffy has been doing remarkably well for someone who was forced to drop out of college to raise and protect her kid sister along with paying bills and saving the world.

[> [> [> [> Re: Part III - Becoming the Hero/Slayer (spoilers to Season 6 on all three) -- Arethusa, 22:51:35 07/19/02 Fri

Do you remember Buffy sleeping through and skipping class in high school and college because she fought evil all night- hard, tiring, stressful, dangerous work-and often had to continue during the day? Jobs that have no qualifications, no night work, and can support two people and a house are few-at least in my world. It took me eight years of waitressing at night, when the money is much better, to get my little B.A, and I only had myself to support.

Buffy spent her entire high school years trying to have a normal life, dating, socializing, running for Homecoming Queen, trying out for cheerleader. Strangely, demons and death kept interfering. After her *second* death, she became depressed-understandably-and had a hard time coping with her responsibilities, as many people her age do.

I went from middle class comfort to poverty, too, and it's scary, frustrating, and more difficult than you can imagine. Not everyone is born an arystocrat!

[> [> [> Re: Part III - Becoming the Hero/Slayer (spoilers to Season 6 on all three) -- Rendyl, 13:39:37 07/19/02 Fri

Thanks for posting. I needed a 'Buffy' pick me up. :)

After reading all three parts I get a sense of Buffy as always having to be the adult. The person who has to do a job or task or chore because if they don't it will never get done. She has to go face the Master to save the world, she has to send Angel to hell to save the world, she has to work at the fast food restaurant so the electricity stays on. (okay, maybe not world saving but she and Dawn do need to eat)

***Even in The Body – in the morgue – with her mother lying dead on a slab. Dawn has time to study their mother. Buffy has to kill a vampire.***

Or kill a vampire when she should be having a break and being able to mourn. The world does not stop for Buffy.

Maybe the message Joss and Co meant for us to get this season and last is 'it sucks to be the grown-up'. I keep thinking that even I can chose to blow off a day or two and just bum around. No work, no dishes, no painting. The world will not end if I spend the day goofing off. But Buffy is just...stuck. There is no one else to do it and the world very well could end if she slacks off. No pressure there. ;)


[> [> [> Excellent work! Simply excellent! Kudos! -- Earl Allison, 14:37:14 07/19/02 Fri

[> [> [> Re: Part III - Becoming the Hero/Slayer (spoilers to Season 6 on all three) -- ahira, 15:48:39 07/19/02 Fri

Another great essay shadowkat. I get up in the morning and take a look at the board. Whenever I see one of your essays, I seem to end up late for work.

Not to take anything away from your post, but as a very long time Spiderman comic fan, I would have to say that Spidey and Buffy have a lot more in common than you might think. And Stan Lee did not make his life all that easy. Just a few points, Spiderman's first love was killed by the Green Goblin. Knocked right out of his hands as he tried to save her. He was the perennial nerd in school to his classmates and even with his powers, could not really do anything to change that. He wanted a normal life as well. Science was his first dream. He wanted to be a scientist, go to college, all that jazz. Everywhere he turned, he was confronted by Spiderman and his responsibilities. On more than one occasion, he tried to give up/get rid of his powers to just be a normal person. Like Buffy, he realized that being the hero is too much a part of him. Even powerless he still had to try and be the hero.

Oh, his cool photography job, he probably made more than Buffy at doublemeat, but was always just as broke. No food in the fridge, sneaking in to avoid the landlord looking for his late rent, etc. It is generally accepted by most that Spiderman's popularity is due in large part to him being so real. Having all the money problems, girl problems, lonliness and isolation forced on him by the hero role affecting his relationships with friends and family. Yes, he did finally marry Mary Jane, but that road was very long and very rocky.

As for Spidey and Buffy being similar, I think it all boils down to your essay. They both had something thrust on them and had to deal. Becoming true heroes along the way, even if they don't always see themselves that way.

And, luckily, I can usually get away with being a little late for work now and then. Can't wait to see your next essay shadowkat. Be well all.

[> [> [> Another thumbs up. Great thoughts shadowkat -- Caesar Augustus, 18:52:20 07/19/02 Fri

[> [> Awesome essay ! -- Ete, 16:28:03 07/20/02 Sat

again great thoughs. Love the way you showed the dichotomy between the scoobies' perception of what a hero is, and Buffy's more acurate awareness of the sacrifices it means.

[> Re: Buffy Part I -- Arethusa, 13:30:49 07/19/02 Fri

"I believe she’s somewhat terrified that there will come a day in which she will have to, that he’ll lose the chip and she will have to hunt him down and kill him before he kills anyone else. "

Another reason she can't let herself love him.

[> Re: Whoosh!!!Buffy - Struggling With Being The Hero in a Dark World Part I -- aliera, 14:20:38 07/19/02 Fri

"BUFFY: I sacrificed Angel to save the world. I loved him so much. But I knew ... what was right. I don't have that any more. I don't understand. I don't know how to live in this world if these are the choices. If everything just gets stripped away. I don't see the point. I just wish that... (tearfully) I just wish my mom was here. The spirit guide told me ... that death is my gift. Guess that means a Slayer really is just a killer after all. (The GIFT)"

You know a year and a few months later this line stills makes my eyes water. Josh said on the Season II tape set that's what they were trying to do ...just strip it all away...and then, just two short years later... all over again but notched up a level...how do we find the point of it?

Isn't that what some of our posts have asked? Haven't we become brutally aware this year that we as individuals can do all the right things and no matter, it can all be gone in the wink of an eye. How appropos to our times.

This is truly a difficult thing to think about, because she can't live for herself and her own history has continued to hammer this lesson home and yet, her guide has said that she must continue to love and we saw this year the results of her refusal.

[> [> You just quoted my all time favourite line. Makes me tear up everytime too -- Rahael, 15:09:44 07/19/02 Fri

[> Re: Buffy - Struggling With Being The Hero in a Dark World Part I -- jbb, 16:53:30 07/19/02 Fri

shadowkat, I am in awe of your literary skills! You have expressed so perfectly what I feel about Buffy's struggles. Now I don't have to try for the umpteenth time to put my thoughts into words, it's been done much better than I could ever have. Thank you for a great essay.

[> [> Re: Buffy - Struggling With Being The Hero in a Dark World Part I -- Nic, 23:15:57 07/19/02 Fri

Unbelievable essay. Completely voices my love for this character and nails down what would be the serious weakness of a continuation of the series without Buffy. How could any other character possibly experience the level of pathos and trauma she's been through and still embody true greatness the way she does?

The best part was the discussion of Buffy's moral code. Buffy definitely shows how blurry the line between being a killer and a murderer can be, and yet how it is possible to tread that line-mainly through constant vigilance. Buffy is a deeply moral woman with a rock solid code of honor, duty and compassion. The only time this code has ever been outlined explicitly is in her argument for saving Warren's life, yet it has grown and been reaffirmed consistently throughout the series. Unlike Riley and his buddies in the Initiative who constantly mouth off about how well they uphold their obligations, Buffy just lives her morality without reminding everybody about it. If anyone has tested the strength of her convictions it's been Spike. Plenty of times she should have staked him, even after his being chipped. She doesn't, however, not because the Scoobies so desperately need him for information or because she secretly has feelings for him (definitely not in S4 or most of S5). She can't bring herself to eliminate someone who's defenseless against her even while proving to still be a danger. And unlike the others, I think she understands that there are ways to deal with your enemies (even non-humans) without having to kill them (rejecting the either/or mentality of the Initiative and Gunn's former gang in AtS).

Somebody once wrote in an essay that Buffy's capacity for love is so strong it's blinding. I think she provides an interesting alternative to Angel, who is a champion for good because of his altruistic compassion for the innocent but who has a hard time relating to individuals (loves mankind but dislikes people)and Spike, who has an awesome capacity for love and devotion that's tied completely to one or two people while ignoring or only briefly registering the pain of others (he is incapable of empathy for complete strangers). Buffy's sacrifice in the Gift is not selfish because she satisfies both sides of her nature by opting to save Dawn and the world at the expense of herself.

[> [> [> Great post -- Rahael, 10:35:15 07/20/02 Sat

And isn't there also a sense in which people distrust Buffy just because she is a) moral and b) strong?

I wonder whether the self rightousness she has been consistently accused of simply comes from those two facts. But Buffy has to be so strongly moral precisely because she is strong (emotionally and physically).

There is a sense in which weakness is prized over strength, because we are afraid of our heros while feting them at the same time. Buffy, however, in my opinion perfectly captures both strength and vulnerability, moral clarity and emotional blindness, graceful as well as clumsy, filled with love and grief. In short, she is a complex person.

We are not 'evil' or 'weak' or 'good' or 'strong'. We have the capacity to be all of those things. Buffy's emotional and physical travails are shown, not as moral examplars or the ultimate guide, but as a narrative which makes us think about our own choices, whether we agree or disagree with her.

I love your points about the different attitudes of Buffy, Angel and Spike.

[> Thank you all! Appreciate the comments! -- shadowkat, 07:42:43 07/20/02 Sat

The Gift - Plot Holes? -- sunshine, 14:49:58 07/19/02 Fri

Though I liked "The Gift" first time round, it didn't quite live up to my sky-high expectations. However, I've watched the episode several times since, and have enjoyed it more and more every time. I love the long talky sections at the beginning, the beautiful feeling of peace at the end, and the contrast with the desperate battle that's gone before. A wonderful, thoughtful meditation on the nature of heroism and sacrifice, and a fitting end to five years of the Buffster.

That said, I've always been bothered by the plot holes. Some are merely irritating (e.g. Olaf is a god now?!), but others appear quite fundamental. In particular the conclusions that Buffy draws just before sacrificing herself follow only tenuously, at best, from the evidence of the rest of the season (Dawn is made from Buffy, Buffy's death will stop the flow of blood, etc.).

Anyhow, these fundamental plot holes have always bugged me, but I recently came across a comment in the BuffyDiscussion group at Yahoo that made me reconsider. The essence of the post was that the fact that the conclusion wasn't justified "logically" made Buffy's sacrifice more admirable, and bestowed upon it a kind of religious significance (compare Xander's "christ-like" attitude in "Grave" - a true leap of faith, as it were. In other words, the really big "plot holes" are deliberate on the part of the writers, as the aim is to create a myth, rather than adhere strictly to the normal rules of narrative logic.

Apologies if this is old news, but I'd never come across this idea before, and it makes a lot of sense. DO ther people find this a plausible take on the events of the S5 finale?

btw the BuffyDiscussion (one word) Yahoo group is worth checking out - much intelligent debate. There are a couple of fine, moving posts on "The Body".

[> Re: More to life than logic? -- lachesis, 16:16:56 07/19/02 Fri

I'd say so. The leap of faith would not have had the same impact if they'd figured it all out back in the Magic Box. That Buffy makes an intuitive leap and then acts on it makes her sacrifice more about love than duty. Throughout the episode, logic demanded that Dawn be killed, and Buffy refused to give in to it.

With narrative, you kinda have to think that things can be *made* logical a la Agatha Christie. And then the fun is in figuring it all out like a puzzle. With BtVS, where one comes to expect consistent plotting, I find that 'plot holes' can be used to great effect. Sometimes, like the whole 'who really summoned the demon' issue in OMWF they just keep you wondering - always a good thing. Other times, though I wouldn't really call the blood thing in TG a 'hole,' the absence of a strictly rational explanation does help with the mythic. Sometimes its better to be shown something that you don't, can't, or just won't understand. Life doesn't always fit together logically.

Most myths (and folk/fairy tales) deal with situations, problems, challenges, that can only be dealt with non- rationally. Many of them tell you your society's acceptable answer to life's various paradoxes. BtVS doesn't just reference myths, it subverts, adapts, and occasionally makes them, while maintaining the high degree of narrative logic that we now prefer. That's a pretty neat trick, in my opinion. And I have to love that Buffy can say 'I'm supposed to be the Chosen One, all mythic and defendery.' But then I do love mythic, in all its many and various forms. I blame the Greeks, but BtVS only feeds my passion.

[> [> Great post. Agree entirely -- Rahael, 16:24:05 07/19/02 Fri

My line on the Gift has always been:

"it works because it doesn't work". It's that little bit of magic that is just conjured out of the air by Buffy's love. The greatest mystery of all, the ability of mankind to sacrifice themselves for others.

It has a different, emotional satisfaction

Though I have to confess I rarely get worked up about plotholes. I've never read a great work of art which didn't have any.

[> [> [> On top of that... -- Darby, 17:05:21 07/19/02 Fri

What with her bein' dead an' all, the writers couldn't feel justified in having a character point that out:

"So Buffy, how'd you know that we wouldn't have to throw Dawn in after you anyway? It did make the prospect of getting past you to do it easier, though, got to admit."


[> [> [> [> Re: ...all of the above, I think -- aliera, 17:23:33 07/19/02 Fri

Well, we've got insightful, touching and funny ...now if we can just get our drift goin'...we'll have a very typical thread!

I had a very nice (and for a wonder) short post all set up and got locked out as we were posting at the same time, Darby. I'll leave it's elegance to your imagination :-). Voy must being feeling the heat because it's been particularly capricious this week.

I also considered Buffy's intuition to be one of her strengths (I'm probably repressing the times this didn't work out though). And when she leads from love, well, as the first slayer indicated that is the secret. It's not surprising that this is difficult for her to do. Fear is as immobilizing (anom? SP?),if not more so, than depression.

Hoping that next season will show her coming to this understanding for herself. To see what a slayer is, to accept and enfold both sides of herself, to lead from her heart is the "gift" I would wish for Buffy.

[> [> [> [> [> requested spelling -- anom, 22:47:12 07/20/02 Sat

"Immobilizing" is right.

I'm just getting to this thread, so nothing to say about the content yet....

[> [> Re: More to life than being irrational? -- Cactus Watcher, 18:55:48 07/19/02 Fri

Shame on you people. If you like 'The Gift' as-is, fine. Don't make silly excuses for why you like it. You know the reasons why I and others were disappointed in it. Don't trivialize them by making excuses like 'it's better that way.'

Joss did NOT do his job in season five, PERIOD! He thought everything was in place so that everything that happened in 'The Gift' would be the logical progression of what happened before. Everything in the episode would have been more or less logical. You can see this in every case. But, he didn't bother to check the week-by-week scripts, and the foundations he thought were there, weren't. The proof is the nonsense about Olaf's hammer, etc. If you like everything about the ep despite the screw-ups, fine. If they don't bother you, fine. But, please don't insult the rest of us by saying they made the ep better!

Generally, even I like 'The Gift.' Right now the worst thing in my mind about the ep is not the plot holes, but that silly tower. How many cowboy shows did I see as a kid where the good guy and bad guy are fighting it out on basically level ground, when suddenly there was a cliff next to them for the bad guy to fall off of? How lame was it to build a tower simply to have Buffy do a swan-dive off it? If they did it on a series you weren't so wrapped up in, you'd laugh yourself silly.

Finally, for heaven's sake, women everywhere should spit fire every time the word 'intuition' is mentioned in the context of being opposed to logic. It was used over and over as one of Hollywood's most common ways of degrading women. In the 40's and 50's according to the average movie and or TV show women NEVER KNEW ANYTHING, except maybe how to cook and sew! So how could they ever be right about anything else? Oh, women had this special inituition, which meant they didn't need a decent education, they didn't need to consider alternatives, they didn't need do anything, but make guesses. Men supposedly were there to provide the other things for the otherwise dumb-lucky women. Let's let the word 'intuitive' stand for a feeling brought about by an accumulation of experience and learning, not 'Boy, was that a lucky guess!'

[> [> [> Re: More to life than being trollish? -- d'Herblay, 19:27:55 07/19/02 Fri

I happen to believe that holding a show to the highest standards of consistency is a noble pursuit. I also believe that those who prefer to ignore these questions in favor of treating Buffy as more mythic, more dreamlike are pursuing a course just as noble. What I do not believe is that it is fair to call one avenue "silly." I found darrenK's post below very satisfying from both the ultra- realist and the surrealist perspective, and I think that lachesis makes a point which does not deserve such vehement dismission.

[> [> [> [> Come on d'Herblay -- CW, 21:59:32 07/19/02 Fri

You've seen too many of my posts to believe the intent of anything I write is to be trollish. Did I not say repeatedly that their opinion of the episode and its quirks was fine? Did I challenge anything they said about the specifics this time? I have repeatedly done that in the past. But, since that is not changing any one else's mind, I'm not going to do it again. But, yes, indeed I believe someone should stand up and object loudly, when people casually say that the net effect of many blemishes is the improvement of a work of art. Yes, occaisionally an imperfection can indeed improve a work of art, but it's not an excuse for imperfections in general.

Yes, I did expect people to get a little angry at what I said. But, I assure you the purpose is not simply to anger, but to get people to think hard, both about what they've said and what I've said.

I don't expect anyone to act like Mr. Spock, but attacking logic on even a casual level is a very poor idea. Myths often have their own logic, but if they had no internal logic at all no one would give them a second thought.

[> [> [> [> [> Ok, here I come! -- d'Herblay, 22:41:58 07/19/02 Fri

I have not seen too many of your posts (can there ever be such a state? only when Boke's around), but I have seen enough of them that the tone of this one shocked me. You usually strike me as an even-keeled, congenial sort of fellow. But to attack lachesis's post as "silly excuses" and "trivializ[ing]"? To tell her, "Shame on you"? That's not the Cactus Watcher I've known. It is fine to expect people to be angry at what you've said, but it would be finer to take steps so that they don't become angry at how you say it. I saw a vehemence expressed by pounding the caps lock key and sentences that called for capitalization. "Please don't insult the rest of us by saying they made the ep better!"? "If they did it on a series you weren't so wrapped up in, you'd laugh yourself silly"? (Not to mention the image of a fiftyish male telling women how they should react to word choices.) The tone of your post was patronizing and insulting and frankly uncalled for. I don't doubt that the intent was amiable; what you extended was anything but.

(All told though, I pretty much fall in with the nitpicky school, though I never could get all that worked up about Sancho Panza's disappearing and reappearing mule.)

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ok, here I come! -- CW, 00:45:27 07/20/02 Sat

First about the 50-ish male business. Guys my age were there when feminism really took off in the late 60's. We had plenty of attitudes that need changing. But, beyond that we got accused of all kinds of beliefs, that really only existed in the movies and on TV. Real feminism is about men and women talking about and working on their common problems. If I can't say to a woman that the concept of intuition as presented by the media is a problem, then there is something wrong, not with me, but with the society. I don't claim to be an expert on women, but I do try to do what is right. I once went with a fellow grad student to our department office to ask why her pay check was smaller than mine. It didn't help, but at least everyone knew where I stood. I should add that I never tried to date her, it was just a matter of principle.

Next ask yourself why a reasonable person might use the words I did. You may or not remember that I taught Russian in college. I'm certainly not the only person here who has taught in college. I don't claim the right to hand out grades to every post. But, being patronizing occaisionally, goes along with age and having been a teacher.

Finally, I'm pretty good a twisting words around myself so I'm not mad at your last post, d'Herblay. But, I do think it's clear in my first paragraph I was addressing a group of people not lachesis in particular, and it also should be clear that I was the one feeling insulted. Think about the paragraph on the tower again, tomorrow. It's not about any other post or even us fans. It's about ME's choice of stage.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: irrationality -- lachesis, 05:50:53 07/20/02 Sat

One of the things that keeps me coming back to this board is my fascination with the way that a continuing discussion of BtVS can reveal such a variety of fundamental (and often opposing) intellectual attitudes. And still continue productively. I find this particularly interesting because in many other fora I've encountered (ostensibly equally devoted to free and equal discussion, like academic conferences and journals) such disparate intellectual attitudes are treated as something to be glossed over and not admitted to (except in behind the scenes gossip). In short, as barriers , rather than aids, to understanding.

Anyway, I certainly didn't mean to be insulting. I had not, perhaps, fully understood the extent to which people might be annoyed by what they see as failures in narrative logic or progression. Nor did I intend to denigrate logic as a tool, although I would say that Cactus Watcher's definition of intuition above was the sense in which I intended to use the word.

As regards 'plot holes' and excuses, perhaps my attitude is conditioned by being an ancient historian, and the fact that I tend to view BtVS as I would any piece of art: as a cultural construct which enjoys a complex relationship with the aims and skills of its creator(s), the expectations of its audience, and the assumptions about the nature of social, cultural, and material reality which underly both of these. To me, from this perspective, art is not about total exposition. Being a historian is all about the gaps, the ommissions, and assumptions, in how our counterparts in the past chose to communicate, describe and depict their world. So I spend my life analysing, explaining and appreciating the plot holes in narrative history, and trying to understand radically different ways of applying logic to life.

I enjoy the fact that otoh I can analyse BtVS as I would Homer or other epic, in terms of form, structure, plot, and worldview, but otoh, I can come here and see how other people see it, analyse it, criticise it. This I can never have for the older art that interests me.

There are gaps, ommissions, assumptions, in the way that JW and ME choose and attempt to portray the world they have constructed for our viewing pleasure. I don't consider them a problem that requires excuses, nor do I consider it unreasonable to claim that great artists often deliberately (or even intuitively!) leave room for a variety of interpretations. But all interpretations which can be supported by analysis of the evidence are valid, and none of them should be insulting. If I'm being patronising, then let me too claim the defence of teaching college students, if not of age.

And hey, thanks for reacting!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> The rational response!! -- Rahael, 06:13:44 07/20/02 Sat

Lovely bit about the gaps and omissions in history, and those in art. I remember Leslie had a great post about plotholes some time ago.

Certainly ancient historians live with more gaps, but even we early modernists make do! One of the things I like about BtVS is that there is virtually no authorial voice telling us "this is what happened". There's always room for doubt, for conflict. And that's what fires so much of the discussion on the board. I mean, just the fact that the actor was being told one thing, the audience was kept in suspence, and the writers (so they say, at the moment, I don't quite trust them) are telling us something else.

I also liked your comment about intellectual differences being an aid to greater understanding. The closest thing I've come to the board, in this respect was a Special Subject seminar group on the Interregnum which happily argued, joked and drank it's way through a term.

lol, dH re the disappearing donkey of Sancho Panza. I didn't even notice!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Sancho Panza. Me neither! -- CW, 07:00:41 07/20/02 Sat

And I loved reading Don Quixote. I have it in Spanish, but haven't read more than a page or two except in English.

Oh, well, even if I was villain of the evening, at least it wasn't another dull Friday.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Villain of the Evening? LOL. -- mundusmundi, 07:15:54 07/20/02 Sat

Perhaps we could make it a regular thing until new episodes roll around: "Vote for your favorite VotE!"

Should I have used an emoticon there? Oh, well.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Villain of the Evening? LOL. -- Malandanza, 08:49:17 07/20/02 Sat

"Perhaps we could make it a regular thing until new episodes roll around: "Vote for your favorite VotE!"

On the other hand, starting a competition to out-Villain each other on a board where competitive spirit abounds might result in too many candidates and not enough voters :)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> LOL - perhaps the First Virtue would be reduced to judging, like Paris -- Rahael, 10:27:25 07/20/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> The contestants have to pose naked?!?!?! -- Sophist, 10:58:55 07/20/02 Sat

Better be a lot of gold in that there apple.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The contestants have to pose naked?!?!?! -- Rahael, 11:09:35 07/20/02 Sat

lol. I think I read a different (sanitised!) version than you.

Of course, on the board, we are denied? spared? ummmm such things.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Perhaps I've been unduly influenced by Rubens' painting -- Sophist, 11:18:26 07/20/02 Sat

And a little worried at the ease with which some here post pictures of themselves. Hehe.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Heros, Villains and reading habits -- Rahael, 10:23:33 07/20/02 Sat

A Study of Reading Habits

When getting my nose in a book
Cured most things short of school,
It was worth ruining my eyes
To know I could still keep cool
And deal out the old right hook
To dirty dogs twice my size.

Later, with inch-thick specs,
Evil was just my lark:
Me and my cloak and fangs
Had ripping times in the dark.
The women I clubbed with sex!
I broke them up like meringues.

Don't read much now: the dude
Who lets the girl down before
The hero arrives, the chap
Who's yellow and keeps the store,
Seem far too familiar. Get stewed.
Books are a load of crap.

Philip Larkin

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> They surely are, and they'll get you in the end... -- lachesis, 16:42:46 07/20/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> OT: Thanks, d'H. Hope you guys are well. dK -- darrenK, 19:01:23 07/20/02 Sat

[> [> [> Re: More to life than being irrational? -- Rendyl, 20:37:44 07/19/02 Fri

She said Buffy made an intuitive leap (which btw is a cute pun) not that Buffy was 'guessing'. When did intutition become a dirty word?

Some of us process information in a way that seems to lead to 'leaps of understanding'. Nothing guessy about it, just the brain taking in all the information and making the connections without us conciously realizing the connections are being made.

(I struggled with things like Trig and Calc, where I could always get the answer but was often unable to explain -how- I got it)

If that is how Buffy worked it out why would that make her weak or unintelligent as your post seems to suggest?

On the other hand, BTVS has always had mythic themes running through the storyline. Whether they drive 'TG' or not is likely a matter of interpretation. Or taste. :)


[> [> [> [> Re: More to life than being irrational? -- parakeet, 00:56:49 07/20/02 Sat

In all fairness, I don't think that Cactus Watcher was trying to suggest that Buffy wasn't smart (or that the writers meant to suggest that). He seemed to be saying that the method that the writers chose to bring Buffy to that sacrificial conclusion brought to mind a condescending attitude towards "women" and "intuition", or, at least, was uncomfortably close to that association. Now, I don't agree with Cactus Watcher about this (intuition isn't a dirty word). His tone was a bit belligerent (though not offensively so) and that does ask for a response in kind. To state the obvious, we all get heated, but so what? Conversations based only on logic or intuition would be boring or pretentious beyond belief.

[> [> [> [> [> also -- parakeet, 01:12:12 07/20/02 Sat

Intuition could be said to be logic without self-awareness. Logic could be said to be intuition without creativity or, rather, risk. These would both be simplistic views of a complex process. Add in the cultural, and often contradictory (even within the same culture), views of gender, and you have a contentious, glorious, painful mess.
Buffy's leap may not have been logical, but it wasn't without reason. She had a lot of pieces of that puzzle. Maybe other conclusions were possible, but that doesn't detract from her decision.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: also -- Finn Mac Cool, 09:16:13 07/20/02 Sat

Also, we have been given hints before that Buffy is partially psychic (her prophetic dreams, for example). If Buffy does have some form of ESP, then she might be able to know that her blood would work in place of Dawn's.

Hey, maybe that bit about the flow of blood having to stop wasn't referring to Dawn's blood. Maybe any blood would work.

[> [> [> The Gift -- Rahael, 05:58:13 07/20/02 Sat

It's funny, because the first time I ever started getting hooked on the board, there was a long discussion about plot holes in the Gift. I read a long and twisty thread with contributions from the like of AKUK and Dedalus. It even prompted my first post, to say that The Gift had it's own emotional logic. (and I thought it was an interesting discussion! and worthwhile discussing, not an exercise where people should feel ashamed or insulted!)

For me the imagery of blood throughout Season 5 was what provided it's own logic. Blood as mortality, blood as life, blood as identity (Blood ties) and blood as kinship. (the death/life/gift idea is encompassed in this). I know that my posts on BtVS often try to defend it's more questionable aspects, that my opinions are frequently fanwankery. I come here because there's no where else I'd be able to say these things without getting laughed at (I mean, Keats and Spike??).

"Shame on you people. If you like 'The Gift' as-is, fine. Don't make silly excuses for why you like it. You know the reasons why I and others were disappointed in it. Don't trivialize them by making excuses like 'it's better that way.'"

You know, the discussion had already started before you leapt in, so don't take it personally. I mean, I know what AK-UK thought about the Gift, and he certainly was angry, but I can't remember what you thought about it.

I didn't think we were excusing the terrible crime of plotholes. I thought we disregarded them. I thought another perspective (not yours, alas, it is true) had been suggested.

"Finally, for heaven's sake, women everywhere should spit fire every time the word 'intuition' is mentioned in the context of being opposed to logic."

I'm sorry, yet again that I can't react to situations the way you think I should. Intuition is not a word that I associate with women. I associate it with human beings.

I am, after all a fan of Wittgenstein, and I love the way he described the thought process, and ideas/thoughts just leaping in out of the blue. But, each to his own.

THe board has managed to discuss the Bathroom scene in SR, complete with discussions of bad writing and OOC and irresponsibility. I cannot understand why the Gift and plotholes is so inflammatory.

[> [> [> [> Re: The Gift -- mundusmundi, 07:32:28 07/20/02 Sat

I cannot understand why the Gift and plotholes is so inflammatory.

Good question, hard to explain. Watching the episode, I always feel like I'm in the back seat of a car with a driver trying too hard to keep me focused on everything but the p(l)otholes along the way. Naturally, I notice them more. It becomes, though not inflammatory, certainly irksome after awhile.

I don't dislike "The Gift," and I acknowledge its emotional poetry. I do think, however, that Christophe Beck's tremendously underrated score (no surprise, the best music never calls attention to itself) provides quite a bit of the emotional undertow, and links together the themes that Joss's script and direction fails, in my opinion, to deliver.

[> [> [> [> [> "Of course it's her oil. It's always got to be oil." -- Dedalus, 08:46:59 07/20/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: ROFL! Thanks for the memory, Ded ;o) -- dubdub, 12:01:37 07/21/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> Re: The Gift -- sunshine, 09:14:42 07/20/02 Sat

Glad somebody mentioned the music. You're right that it anchors the piece emotionally, and helps hold the whole story together (the main theme appears in modified form on two or three occasions, but is only stated fully at the episode's climax).

Christophe Beck has pulled off similar feats a few times (e.g. "Wild at Heart"). I've never felt that Thomas Wanker quite fills the gap Beck left.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Incendiary drama -- lachesis, 09:45:04 07/20/02 Sat

I wrote this earlier and was going to post it above, which is why it starts where it does, with the tower. Now it seems maybe more relevant here, and besides, I don't mean to be Ranter of the Evening (RotE?)There is a tentative answer to Rahael's question below...

Of course, the tower is funny, and yeah, I did laugh. Particularly given the amazement shown earlier in the season over the sudden appearance of Dracula’s castle. The internal logic of the narrative required a tower, and so one was constructed, jerry-built, we might say. Yes, we might easily have been shown it earlier, and indeed, those crazy people worked remarkably fast. On the other hand, drama (and I mean as a format, not a genre of TV) is a conventional representation of reality, and one of the firmly established conventions within which BtVS operates, is that much of the action takes place off-stage/screen. (Personally, though others may not agree, one of the reasons I am so ‘wrapped up in’ the show is that it is set in the Buffyverse, which is conceived as continuing even when we are not ‘watching’ it. This is something BtVS shares with both epic and myth as forms, one reason it can deal more successfully with heroic and mythic themes than most contemporary art). Had this particular convention not already been firmly established, then I certainly would have had a problem with the tower.

Whether certain features of drama constitute ‘dramatic conventions’ or ‘dramatic failures’ is hotly contested for Classical drama. Certainly drama is of its essence based on a fundamental convention – that for the duration of the drama, the actors represent ‘real’ characters *on some level* (the fact that a dramatist may manipulate this level being one of the fascinating aspects of the form, i.e. Normal Again) – and this is not in dispute. What is disputed is the extent to which the concept of ‘dramatic convention’ can be extended. Many commentators see the Greek invention of the ‘god from the machine’ ending as a device to compensate for dramatists’ failure to properly construct and close their plots. (The ending of Aeschylus’ ‘Orestaia’ trilogy about vengeance, through Athena’s judgement on a medical technicality, which was discussed here a few months ago, is a notable example). In general, this device is unsatisfying to modern audiences. Nevertheless, it was clearly acceptable to Greek audiences. Why? Some would say because they were naive and silly.

Others would present two arguments. Firstly, that the Greeks conceived the world as subject to resolutely interventionist gods, who were indeed liable to turn up when something, or someone, caught their interest. And further, that the importance of paradox which runs throughout Greek literature and philosophy, lay in the fact that life’s paradoxes were not necessarily seen to be resolvable through logic or human agency. That the paradox of vengeance, which is both instinctive and destructive, can be so deeply examined in the ‘Orestaia’ precisely because the dramatist refuses to prioritise one of these aspects over the other. If there was a simple way to deal with the urge towards vengeance, we would not still be debating it here. There is not, and so the divine intervention comes as a relief from a cycle that has become unbearably vicious. Which leads to the second argument; that the main social and psychological function of drama is to provoke crisis and provide resolution. Crisis is common in everyday reality, resolution is rarer, and harder to achieve. In drama, if not always in life, we find the hope of resolution which enables us to endure ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.’ It can therefore be argued that Greek audiences found the ‘deus ex machina’ ending less illogical than modern commentators do, and placed a higher importance on the experience of catharsis. Such an argument is supported by Aristotle’s comments, but of course, its opponents do claim that Aristotle is just making excuses for his culture’s failure to properly appreciate what drama ought to be. We will never know :)

And so, my suggestion as to why the question of 'plot holes' in TG is so inflammatory, is that this is an episode which relies very much on crisis and resolution. It does, I think we would all agree, connect on the emotional level. But just as the level on which drama represents reality is fluid, so the level on which we recieve that representation is personal. Some people hate (either in plot, or through mannered acting) to be reminded that what they are watching is a construct. Willing as they may be to analyse and deconstruct afterwards, the experience of watching the drama is one of absorption, of WSOD. Understandably, 'plot holes' interrupt and detract from this, frustrating the experience of catharsis. There are things in life which it is more annoying to be interrupted in the midst of than 'catharting,' but probably not many!

Personally, I find that being reminded that what I'm watching is art not life improves the experience. It does not interfere, and so I *like* to wonder about how and why I have been reminded. Maybe because I came late to TV, and took even longer to understand its conventions, which are mostly very different to those of written literature and performed drama. And I would never say that the way I watch is the right way to watch, its just the way I watch.

It seems to me that there's a spectrum and mostly BtVS pitches well to most of it (though maybe this is partly why some people just plain loathe it) but when the emotional intensity of the drama is raised, the level of internal consistency and of narrative logic becomes a real issue. I know that many people don't find Greek tragedy tragic, or comedy comic, or even relevant, because they find it very artificial. I'm not saying that mannered or stylized drama is better, or that appreciating drama more as 'art' is more sophisticated, or that good drama shouldn't try to absorb the viewer. Just that seeing the resolution and not feeling it is frustrating, and that 'plot holes' in particular seem to do this for some people. But its just a theory :)

[> [> [> [> [> [> Music and coming late to television -- Rahael, 10:06:27 07/20/02 Sat

Good points all.

Mundus, I found myself humming the thematic music to the Gift while I was out and about in town today. Surely no coincidence!! Certainly, an incredible amount of the emotional impact of The Gift is down to the great music, and the juxtoposition of the images.

Lachesis, thank you for another great post. I didn't watch any television until I was about 12 or so. When I went to University, I didn't watch it at all (I viewed Buffy only in the holidays). Sprinkled between these years of abstinence were moments of total addiction. I watched everything, from Countdown, to 'This Morning', soaps, documentaries, costume dramas, chat shows and dramas.

It's always been a slightly weird art form to me. On the other hand, my family used to put on productions of plays translated to our native language. Some of the first lines I could speak were from Lorca's Blood Wedding, and Williams' Glass Menagerie. These were very unshowing, stark productions (had to be, given the budget) I even got to see my aunt on a little gray box once, reproducing her performance on national television with her husband (a very surreal experience!. So art has always been artificial for me. And I think the way my family approached drama was very much from the mannered, artificial way, given the restriction of budgets, etc. I also used to entertain myself doing private one man plays from the Iliad and Greek Myths, using only a split level room and a bed sheet (handy for instantly transforming oneself into Zeus).

I also came late to film. I had never once before considered that this unfamiliarity with the filmed image (as apposed to the imagined universe of the land of books) had any significant effect. Imagine growing up in a place where everyone had a television, and watched it from childhood! Mindboggling.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Incendiary drama -- DEN, 13:04:23 07/20/02 Sat

Lachesis, maybe that's my trouble with Buffy's insights about Dawn and blood. There was so little foreshadowing of either in previous eps that I was reduced to accepting a Greek-drama rationalization and going with the flow. The problem is that while Buffy has been shown to have some prophetic gifts, she is a LONG way from Athena! Cannot a case be made that the mythic construction went too far in this case? Or am I just a hopeless rationalist.

BTW, couldn't we put together a helluva liberal-arts college faculty from this board?!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Incendiary drama -- lachesis, 16:37:18 07/20/02 Sat

Sure, such a case can be made. It seems very clear that for some people, this was certainly so, and that the blood thing and other things in this episode, seemed so off as to prevent them appreciating the episode as much as would otherwise have been the case. I don't argue with that perception. All I can say is that (since I only discovered this board at the start of this year, and haven't read all the archived posts post-TG, though I will now) *I* really had never thought of these things as problems before this thread.

Yeah, I was a touch surprised that Buffy was so sure of her sudden flash of inspiration about blood (though I completely agree with Rahael's summary of the blood theme above) that she took her leap of faith. On the other hand, I had already been convinced that her need to save Dawn was absolute, that she would take any chance to do so, and that logically, if it didn't work, Dawn would jump and save the world (in which case Buffy would surely have followed her).

I was being a little superficial in my first post - just saying that mythic construction is a form, that it can at times be used to try and heighten emotional effect in drama, that the opinion Sunshine relayed was not unique, and that I believe that BtVS is one of the few things one will see it experimented with in.

I guess what I was trying to say above was to point out that talking about dramatic conventions where others see failures is not restricted to 'fanwankery' as Rahael so delightfully puts it, and is not necessarily all about making excuses after the fact. (Although I freely admit that most academics are fans at heart, and should know it!)

I know you say 'reduced to...' above, and I wouldn't argue with that either, except to say that getting beyond the conventions of, the need to rationalize, Greek drama has allowed me to read and enjoy many other dramatic forms - mystery plays, Jacobean tragedy, folk plays - and be amazed by the capacity of drama to express both the timeless and timely aspects of the human condition. I don't watch BtVS for any one aspect, I watch it because I find it a unique and complex creation which experiments with many techniques, forms, and layers of meaning, because it usually does so effectively, and because it always surprises and delights me.

And, really, I'm not anti-rationality, or pro-irrationality, I just like them both, in their places (and sometimes even out of them).
Long answer, short question, sorry :)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Death -- Finn Mac Cool, 17:09:31 07/20/02 Sat

Also, remember that Buffy was beginning to develop the Slayer death-wish. You can't ignore the fact that that affected her eventual decision.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Death -- lachesis, 04:13:34 07/21/02 Sun

I agree completely. I felt that her realization allowed her to choose death as a positive, triumphant, thing, rather than as escape or defeat. But her death-wish also gave the ending that touch of ambiguity, which made it all the more real and affecting (and which was what I picked up on the board debating in many of the archived post-TG threads). And in turn makes her resurrection all the more disturbing.

Whatever else you might say about JW, he is a master of dramatic irony!


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Death -- aliera, 06:10:29 07/21/02 Sun

I would agree Finn and lachesis. But I would not agree that Spike is an unbiased sourch of information.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Death -- aliera, 07:20:54 07/21/02 Sun

Sorry that should be 'source' and I should have continued the sentence to clarify the Spike is the source of our information about the 'death wish' and his reading may not be complete (and his motives may not be entirely altruistic.)

For me, myth presupposes the subconscious.

Most of my reading regarding myth as a subject has been the works of Joseph Campbell and most recently, his interviews with Bill Moyers, among his more accessible works. Here's an interchange below that relates somewhat to the Season 5/6 theme of myth and 'life is just living' or as we would normally voice the questions...what is myth? what is life? how does myth relate to our lives?

From "the Power of Myth".

Campbell: The one thing that comes out in myths,...is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. Athe darkest moment comes the light.

Heaven and hell are within us, and all the gods are within us...that is was myth is. Myth is the manifestation in symbolic images, in metaphoric images, of the energies of the organs of the body in conflict with each other. This organ wants this, this organ wants that. The brain is one of the organs.

Moyers: So when we dream we are fishing in some vast ocean of mythology...

Campbell: That goes down and down and down. You can get all mixewd up in complexes and things like that; but really as the Polynesian saying goes, you are then "stanidng on the back of a whale fishing for minnows." We are standing on a whale. The ground of being is the ground of our being, and when we simply turn outward we see all of these problems here and there. But when we turn inward, we see that we are the source of them all.

The Inward Journey, page 39

Campbell: People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That is what it's all finally about, and that's what these clues help us find within ourselves.

Myth are the clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life.

Myth and the Modern World, p5

There is a great deal more of course realting to our experiences of life, myth, and the hero's journey; but this is already getting a bit longish.

One of the values of the board (for me) is the coming together in this space of different world views as expressed through our individual statements and questions about the show. As a group, we come to a better understanding of the show and perhaps deeper subjects through this. I learn as much or perhaps more from the people who notice the anomalies, because that focus is different than my own, broadening my experience of the show and sometimes other things.

Thank you all again for an interesting discussion.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Myth vs Allegory? -- sunshine, 04:14:16 07/21/02 Sun

Thanks for the two excellent posts, lachesis. It would never have occurred to me to look at BtVS' approach to narrative through the prism of Greek myth/drama, but once you latch on to the mythical spects of the show, it' a natural approach to take.

I think that the writers have cranked up the myth-factor over the last couple of seasons, starting with the S4 finale ("you don't know who you are, what's to come..."). Even S6, with it's "get real" theme had lots of elements of myth in its finale. Before that, you might have said the show was allegorical, but allegory is not the same as myth, right? That said, I'd be grateful for some help articulating the difference between the two!

The writers must be doing something right, as the last two season finales have haunted me like no others. I've come away from them with a feeling that I've been shown a truth that is very difficult (impossible?) to articulate in words. Perhaps it is something to do with the universal, existential questions these pieces address? The S2 finale - powerful as it is - is mainly about the fate of two star- crossed lovers.

Hmmm, this was meant to be a short reply thanking lachesis, but I got carried away!

[> [> [> [> [> [> Another interesting sub-thread, thank you all. -- aliera, 16:09:01 07/20/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> Excellent, lachesis. I think this helps explain -- Sophist, 09:57:48 07/21/02 Sun

why viewers feel so strongly about the finales. If the finale doesn't work for you, you are deprived of the catharsis you so desperately need. It's like listening to a symphony in which the orchestra hits wrong notes at the conclusion, or which the composer closed in the wrong key. In either case, the tension never gets resolved and you walk away unhappy.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yeah, its like that or Steven Spielberg's last two movies... -- AngelVSAngelus, 15:06:23 07/21/02 Sun

In which he builds up highly intriguing premises and then totally cops out to a contrived, "happy" ending.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> How Philip K. Dick sabotages Spielberg's shiny happy feeling from the grave (spoilers) -- d'Herblay, 16:11:55 07/21/02 Sun

The Tuesday after it comes out, I, being the complete Dickhead I am, go to the matinee of Minority Report. Enjoyable little flick. Not much with the meatyness of Dick's actual writing, but the story it's based on is an underdeveloped O Henry twist story anyway, so no big deal. The next day, I'm listening to Talk of the Nation, and a caller points out that it can be a much more interesting film if you listen to what Tim Blake Nelson says the prisoners do while they're in suspended animation. So, that Thursday I go back to listen more closely. And, of course, it's just like Philip K. Dick to make you question whether something is real. The reason everything is resolved in such a pat manner, and everything turns out well in the end, is not that Spielberg is a giant cornball, but because everything that happens after the incarceration of Tom Cruise is just his happy little fantasy! I mean, "I said she was killed; I never said she was drowned"? That only works in '30s dime novels and the dreams of the cryonically frozen! You just have to know that in the "reality," Precog soldiers on, evil is not brought to justice, and life sucks.

I have no idea if Spielberg intended this bit of fanwankery, but you have to expect that it's just up Phil's alley. Ultimately, it's immaterial to me whether Spielberg intended my interpretation, as long as I find the interpretation meaningful. Anyway, it's a little bit of d'Herblay Response Theory that makes the movie much more interesting, so I hope Spielberg won't begrudge it (he did manage to get two matinee tickets out of me).

By the way, for those shocked by my self-description earlier, I was in Murder Ink in Manhattan one day, discussing the new releases and the imminent arrival of the new Lawrence Block, when one of the staff said, "Oh, that's right, you're a real Blockhead, aren't you?" I responded, "My favorite living mystery writer may be Larry Block, but my favorite science fiction author of all time is Philip K. Dick, and I don't like the way that construction carries over!"

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Wow (spoilers for Minority Report) -- ponygirl, 08:39:17 07/22/02 Mon

I really enjoyed Minority Report, except for that cringe- worthy sunny lala ending. Now I'm wondering if post-AI Spielberg is a far sneakier guy than I give him credit for. Damn I'm going to have to see it again, aren't I?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Wow (spoilers for Minority Report) -- sunshine, 08:57:32 07/22/02 Mon

Me too - I was bitterly disappointed with the ending of MR, and came out of the cinema muttering, "this would never have happened in the 70's". Now I'm beginning to think the film may be a classic after all...

[> It's not a plothole, it's our human heritage... -- darrenK, 18:27:14 07/19/02 Fri

I'm not Christian, but the Christ myth is older than Christianity and resonantes with all humans. The idea hinges on a very specific mythic principal: symbolic substitutional sacrifice. It's the idea that your sins can be washed clean through the sacrifice of another: sometimes a man on an altar at the top of a ziggurat; sometimes a virgin at the mouth of a volcano; many times a ram on a pyre outside The Temple of Soloman that once stood in Jerusalem.

In its very worst form, it's also known as scapegoating because the sacrificed is an unwilling victim who has done nothing to deserve the violance meted out as a consequence of the community's sins. In its most elevated form it's voluntary and the victim has willingly chosen to bear the sins of his community. This is martyrdom.

In the words of Buffy "it's senseless", totally illogical to think that your sins can somehow be expiated through the death of another, almost by remote control, but humans have been building religions and civilizations on this idea for all of our history.

Did any of you read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe?

This is the Witch talking to Aslan and company about Edmund, the traitor:

"His blood is my property...do you really think that your master can rob me of my rights by mere force? He knows the Deep Magic better than that. He knows that unless I have blood as the Law says all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water."

And, much like Buffy and Dawn conference while we can't hear them, Aslan and the Witch talk and the reader and the other characters have no idea what they're saying," It was a terrible time this––waiting and wondering while the Lion and the Witch talked earnestly together in low voices."

Of course, Aslan has arranged to die in Edmund's place. (And I remember no discussion of whether or not they share the same blood.)

It's not a plothole. It's simply an archetypal element of these types of stories. A hero is allowed to substitute his/herself for the intended victim and the magic of that ultimate act, a decision to sacrifice oneself, allows that substitution to be possible.

The idea is that the universe doesn't really care who dies as long as someone dies.

It's something so powerful that you can only stare in awe at it, a true hero willingly laying down what we consider the greatest gift––life––to save a community unworthy of the sacrifice.

The story redeems us, just as the hero saves the community, by reminding us that there is something greater than one's own selfish interests. It's supposed to make us shudder and feel unworthy.

We do. She saved the world. A lot.

[> [> Mmmmm, lovely! -- Rahael, 18:40:22 07/19/02 Fri

[> [> [> Thanks, Rah. Much appreciated. -- darrenK, 18:57:08 07/20/02 Sat

Hopefully you guys will be in NYC soon.


[> [> [> [> New York -- Rahael, 07:07:01 07/21/02 Sun

Wonderful memories of New York. If the opportunity arises, I will seize it. It's much the most romantic place!!

[> [> [> [> [> The most romantic place?? -- redcat, 09:24:44 07/21/02 Sun

I, of course, am already planning for your and your ironic- but-occassionally-confused love's romantic get-away to MY version of paradise.

Let's see now... Champagne on ice? Check. Fresh flowers in the guest room? Check. Gourmet meal for two? Check. Wide selection of music, books, poetry and movies on hand? Check. Lightly scented bubbles for the bath? Check.

Oops, just realized I'm all out of suntan lotion and Mai Tai mix. Good thing you're not coming till at least the day after tomorrow....

[> [> [> [> [> [> mmmmmmmmmmm! -- Rahael, 09:46:14 07/21/02 Sun

Looking forward to it!!

Much as I would like to claim that I live a simple, ascetic life, with only a few basic requirements and a good book, I am alas, given to epicurean tendencies. I have to drag dH, kicking and screaming to all these fancy restaurants..........

[> [> Nods, Well spoken (er written) sir. -- Rendyl, 20:40:46 07/19/02 Fri

[> [> Very fine, and also... -- MaeveRigan, 03:38:06 07/20/02 Sat

This archetype applies as well when Xander puts himself between DarkWillow and the world in "Grave." It's not as spectacular an example, since he doesn't have to actually die, but he is certainly "laying down his life for his friend(s)."

[> Re: The Gift - Plot Holes? -- Caesar Augustus, 20:05:57 07/19/02 Fri

I'm a fan of The Gift, but saying plotholes are a device of the writers smells of excuses to me. I agree that making Buffy's decision a leap of faith rather than an act of logic was important, but that doesn't mean that logic has to be absent to, say, the logical, like Giles.

BTW, as was pointed out to me when I asked the question, Olaf stoll the hammer from Thor, who was a god.

[> [> Oh. Question... -- Wizardman, 20:52:49 07/19/02 Fri

Do you know when it was said that Olaf stole Thor's hammer? I don't remember hearing that, but then its been awhile since I last saw Triangle.

[> Re: The Gift - Plot Holes? -- sunshine, 03:20:52 07/20/02 Sat

Thanks to everyone for their eloquent comments. Lachesis and Darrenk have quite persuaded me that there is no plot hole at the end of "The Gift". However, I agree with CW to the extent that plot inconsistencies are not a trivial matter. IMHO, writers have something akin to an ethical responsibility to respect their readers' intelligence, and blatant plot holes are offensive for this reason, among others. Hmmm... did that sound pompous or what?!

In my original post I also mentioned Xander's leap of faith at the end of "Grave". I have a question about that - did anybody else wonder where the frig Xander suddenly came from? I mean, he just seems to appear out of nowhere as Willow's blasting the temple thingy. This makes me wonder if the writer/director wanted to present Xander's appearance at the very moment when Willow needed him most as almost miraculous. It's almost as if the little bit of old Willow that's still left summons Xander to save herself? Does that sound far fetched?

I guess Xander could have just walked there, but there's just something odd about the way the ending is presented.

[> [> The Miraculously Materializing Xander -- Thomas the Skeptic, 06:29:56 07/20/02 Sat

The same observation about the way Xander mysteriosly materializes out of nowhere occured to me also, Sunshine. Although I had'nt expressed it to myself in so many words, I think now that it was a combination of Willow's lingering desire to resist her own evil manifesting itself magically and the physical expression of Xander's will to save his friend. Its as though the slim fragment of Willow's will-to- good was focused through the prism of Xander's determination to love her no matter what and his miraculous appearance was the result.

[> [> [> Re: The Miraculously Materializing Xander -- Arethusa, 06:44:08 07/20/02 Sat

That, or he walked. Does anyone have a map of Sunnydale? Willow's Blood Map was no help.

[> [> [> [> Sunnydale Maps -- Darby, 13:46:09 07/20/02 Sat

A map is useless - stuff exists where it needs to exist when its needed. UC Sunnydale has moved miles at least three times, and where the hell is the mall?

And everywhere in Sunnydale is accessible on foot, at a time and distance that presents the best dramatic timing.

But I had figured that he walked there anyway - with all the cemeteries in town the one he was in just happened to be the one closest to Willow.

'Cause they'd all be dead otherwise.

But would you figure the best way to stop Willow from blasting the whosis was to step into the line of hellfire??? Now that's comparable to the Buffy-off-the-tower stuff that started this thread, and has even less foreshadowing (just the opposite) to support it as a viable option!

[> [> [> [> [> Xander and the End of the World -- Finn Mac Cool, 14:40:35 07/20/02 Sat

I don't think Xander knew stepping in front of the beam would stop it. He hoped it would, but couldn't be sure.

But look at it this way:

Step in front of beam of magic. Could get crispy fried and the world comes to an end, but maybe that will stop it and I can try to reach Willow, try to touch her humanity.

Don't step in front of the beam of magic. World ends in a few minutes and he's dead anyway.

While there was only a chance that what Xander did would work, it was the only way that there was a chance.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Or... -- Darby, 20:10:31 07/20/02 Sat

...Why not walk up to Willow and tap her on the shoulder? If she had been firing shotgun blasts into the icon, he would have definitely come in by an alternate route.

Otherwise, dramatic and metaphorical but dumb, dumb, dumb.

"So Xander, what'd you figure you could do up on the hill?"

"I figured, hey, it's Willow, I can always talk to her."

"So you figured crispy-fried in an evil magic bazooka beam was the best conversing position for you?"

"Well, if you put it that way, my planning maybe could have had some tweaks..."

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Or . . . -- Finn Mac Cool, 22:30:52 07/20/02 Sat

Or Xander had given up all hope by that point. Remember his speech about, 'If you're gonna destroy the world, start with me. I've earned that'. Maybe he decided that he had no hope of stopping Willow, and might as well get it over with. Either expanantion I've given can work as a reasonable motivator.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Or . . . -- Darby, 05:58:01 07/21/02 Sun

True, but being a tv show, nothing like that can happen without some dialogue to set it up.

Could have been a nice moment in the old, Jossian, tweak-the- cliche way...

...WILLOW continues to funel earth energy into the satanic temple. From off to the side, XANDER appears but WILLOW can't see him through the CGI "fog" (POV SHOT). After a moment's indecision, XANDER steps into the energy beam, and it disrupts with a shower of neat effects. A pile of smouldering ash and bits of Xander-shirt are all that remain.


And they could have gone on from there, with the added bonus that Anya could say, "Oh my God! You killed Xander! You bastard!"

Just my snarky way of saying yes, that might have been work- able, but we would have needed some reason for why Xander would do that rather than walk up behind Willow and hit her with a stick...

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Or . . . -- Finn Mac Cool, 07:04:10 07/21/02 Sun

Willow had near Slayer strength from her magic. Hitting her with a stick wouldn't do Xand-man any good.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Aha! -- Darby, 07:22:40 07/21/02 Sun

No, Xander didn't see the violent girl-on-girl action, he wouldn't have known - and it's in character for him to do something like that even when illogical.

And it would have gotten her attention, which is what's dramatically necessary anyway.

Personally, I'd've liked to see him come up behind her and say, "Hey, Will. Got a rope?"

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Or . . . -- skpe, 14:04:28 07/21/02 Sun

Remember Warren hit her with an axe to no affect. stick, bad idea

[> [> [> [> [> Thematic mirrors, Buffy's 'divinity' and the Leap of Faith -- OnM, 09:55:30 07/21/02 Sun

I remember when I first saw Xander step right into the path of Willow's hellfire-stream, and not only did
the stream abruptly stop, but absolutely nothing physically bad seemed to happen to him as a result.

This seems logically contradictory, but I have learned through past experience to avoid over-analyzing
these moments until I have a chance to think about them in terms of the overall context-- and not just of
the particular episode, but sometimes of the entire show over the course of seasons.

After rewatching the episode, it became clear to me that not only was this depiction of Xander's 'power' not
illogical, it was perfectly in keeping with one of the 'great themes' of BtVS, which is the occasional
suggestion of Buffy's 'divinity'.

Last year, in The Gift, we had what probably was the most directly illustrated depiction of this
'hidden' aspect of our heroine. I have observed that the writers, likely under Joss’s direction, avoid openly
declaring that Buffy accommodates certain god-like qualities within her totality of self, but the evidence
that this is so is close to unavoidable if one studies certain events that have taken place over the past six
years. (A year or so ago I dicussed some of these events in more detail, in a post where I compared Buffy
to the ‘Kwisatz Haderach’ of Frank Herbert’s Dune series of SF novels, a topic I’d very much like
to update sometime, but not just now! ;-)

One manifestation of Buffy’s ‘divine’ aspects is the way she has continually ‘inspired’ the lives of those
persons who become close to her emotionally. In a way, to use the Christian analogy (and I’m aware that
there are others, such as a Buddhist conceptualization), the Scoobies are Buffy’s ‘disciples’. Earlier, I
believe Malandanza quoted the Xander line that when ‘he was in a dark and scary place’, he would think,
“What would Buffy do?” Substitute ‘Jesus’ for ‘Buffy’ and this exact phrase is one used regularly
by thousands of Christians to help them deal with difficult times or situations.

In The Gift, Buffy performs what by any normal measure of logic would be an irrational act-- she
insists on saving her sister’s life even if it means that the world ends. Giles is placed in a semblence of the
‘Judas’ role in that he holds out to his spiritual ‘leader’ that this is folly. But Buffy insists, and for her
certainty is rewarded with the epiphany (again, in defiance of logic) that her blood can substitute for
Dawn’s, and that she can close the dimensional rift by jumping into it, and of course dying in the process.

I cannot help but see this as a case of ‘divine intervention’, and it occurs because Buffy is spiritually linked
to whatever form that divinity takes in the Buffyverse. The fact that she is rewarded (at least initially) by
being sent to ‘heaven’ further acts to confirm this theory.

Now, as to Buffy’s friends and lovers-- think of all the people whose lives have been changed, in a
generally positive manner, both for themselves and the greater world that they interact with, because they
‘knew’ Buffy, either directly or indirectly. Despite the current very dark place she inhabits, Willow and her
true potential would have been largely wasted if she had never met Buffy. Xander very likely would have
wandered aimlessly through life, perhaps even eventually descending to become like his father. Giles
started out as The Watcher, a teacher, but comes to realize that his charge has even more to teach him than
the other way around, and over time repeatedly defers to her wishes as he becomes aware of her inherent
instincts towards bringing about a victory in the fight against evil.

Of course, there is Angel, whom Buffy killed, and then ‘resurrected’, and eventually sent on his own
seperate mission to serve as a warrior for good (and again at a personal loss to herself). There is Cordelia,
who gradually went from self-involved bitch to a caring and sensitive individual. There is Faith, the ‘evil
mirror’ to Buffy herself, whose descent into darkness began the slow painful return to the light when she
slept with Riley, who convinces her (albeit unwillingly) that love is truly real and possible. Riley himself
was freed of his narrow preconceptions of the world by his time spent with Buffy. There was
Chanterelle/Anne who went on to help the homeless teens of LA in the Angelverse after Buffy literally
frees her-- and others-- from hell. There has been the long arc with Spike, who didn’t even have a soul, but
somehow falls in love with his mortal enemy.

So, it not only is perfectly possible that Xander could defy ‘reality’ by not getting fried by Willow’s hellfire,
it is entirely logical in the Buffyverse sense. What would Buffy do? Buffy would save Willow or die trying.
Because Buffy inspires Xander, and has done so since he has known her, he is unafraid to confront
Willow’s power in the most direct manner possible-- he literally stands between her and the image of evil
and destruction incarnate. Many viewers noticed the ‘carpenter’ reference he makes as he challenges
Willow, certainly another Jesus reference, and that’s hardly an accident. Buffy has granted Xander the
ability to act in her place-- the disciple doing the work of the spiritual leader. That she is not cognizant of
doing this is also consistant with the Jossverse spin on religion-- the ‘goddess’ is unaware of her abilities,
but they flow from her, nonetheless.

So, the thematic mirroring between the last episodes of S5 & S6 reflects a new reality for the dynamic
between Buffy, the powers she serves, and those who follow in her path. Last year, Buffy needed to die to
set things right with the universe. This year, another soul who she has inspired-- and very importantly, an
otherwise normal, mortal human being, sets things right not only with the universe, but imparts the
critical new lesson to Buffy that she is no longer alone-- others that she has ‘taught’ can perform incredible
feats that would seem to be beyond their capabilities. I am expecting that Dawn will be the primary
benefactor of this new awareness in the coming season. The ‘leap of faith’ is different this year, but there
has been one at the end of every season, and the one that occurred this last season is one of the most
important, because the leap hasn’t been one that Buffy alone has had to make.

“You think you know. What’s to come, what you are. You haven’t even begun.”

But now she has. ”The sea refuses no river.”

[> [> [> [> [> [> Wonder-full -- Arethusa, 10:12:09 07/21/02 Sun

[> [> Re: Xander -- CW, 07:36:18 07/20/02 Sat

Xander's sudden appearance bothered me the first time I saw it, too, so I watched him carefully when I rewatched it from tape. It does make better sense if you concentrate on what he's doing at the top of the hole, rather than focusing your attention where it would normally go with the folks in distress down in the grave.

It's really no big deal, but one of the times when Xander stops Willow's energy from flowing to the statue, there is a burnt up piece of paper that flies out of the 'cloud' and flutters past him. Everytime I see it, all I can think of is where did that come from? Maybe no one else notices, but for me it's a minor comical distraction just when I don't need it.

[> [> [> Re: Xander -- sunshine, 09:18:41 07/20/02 Sat

Hmmm, it sounds like you "finally figured it out" - don't suppose you'd care to expand on that first paragraph? I don't have season 6 on tape, unfortunately.

[> [> [> [> Re: Xander -- CW, 23:12:05 07/20/02 Sat

Er, I was hoping you wouldn't ask. I haven't seen it in awhile. I believe the key is that if you watch Xander while Anya appears, he overhears where Willow is, and his expression changes. Then after Anya leaves, Buffy yells to Xander to find a rope. If you've mostly been paying attention to Buffy you think Xander leaves to find the rope. If you've been watching Xander, it's more clear he's decided to ignore Buffy and go to find Willow. My guess is that ME wanted us to be fooled on first viewing to increase the tension.

[> [> [> [> [> Thanks CW, I'll watch very closely next time -- sunshine, 03:53:55 07/21/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> Where's Xander? The Home Game. -- Darby, 06:02:14 07/21/02 Sun

Was it ever firmly established that the "Xander above the hole" shots varied from region to region? I remember the discussion but don't remember how much was confirmed from the tapes people had made...

My version had the shot of him still hovering and listening while Anya made her exposition to B&D, but I know some people insisted that their version had lacked that.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Memory is a tricky thing -- CW, 08:05:57 07/21/02 Sun

I broke down and dug out my copy. Xander is absolutely there when Anya appears. He is shown briefly still looking into the hole, after Anya has begun to speak. There is no expression change as I stated above because, once Anya has said where Willow is, we don't see him any more. After Anya leaves, Buffy calls for the rope again, but is disturbed when he doesn't answer. That's all the clue we get. Sorry, I messed up, Sunshine.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Memory is a tricky thing -- sunshine, 08:31:03 07/21/02 Sun

No problem, CW - thanks for having another look. As the clues you mention are so "blink and you'll miss 'em", I'm beginning to think that the writer deliberately left it vague. Did Xander walk, or was he magically, miraculously summoned? I think there's enough there to support the magical interpretation, but I'm happy to accept the ambiguity.

[> Re: The Gift - Plot Holes? -- skeeve, 08:56:11 07/22/02 Mon

Buffy's `reasoning' wasn't the worst part of it. The worst part of it was that it was built on another logic hole. Giles, Buffy, and the others spoke and acted as if the stopping of the blood flow was the same as Dawn dying. That heavy-duty interpretation was taken to be the plain meaning of the words. Not only was that wrong, the difference could have had major consequences.

Once Dawn was cut, killing her was unlikely to save the world.
Killing her with a knife or something would have sped up the bleeding and closed the doors a bit sooner than leaving her alone.
On the other hand, strangling her or breaking her neck would have slowed the bleeding and actually made things worse.

The situation cried out for coagulants or cauterizing agents.

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