March 2002 posts

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The Doctor or the "Doc" -- Aven, 15:23:34 03/01/02 Fri

Forgive a backward UK viewer, but does The Doctor in AYW equate in any way with "Doc" from Season Five?

[> Probably not, but who knows? -- Traveler, 15:37:28 03/01/02 Fri

[> Re: The Doctor or the "Doc" -- Prancer, 17:45:06 03/01/02 Fri

It is interesting to note that in the shooting script - but not in the actual episode - a mention was made that Sam is a doctor. Hmmm.

[> [> Re: The Doctor or the "Doc" -- cynesthesia, 22:21:09 03/01/02 Fri

In the Sam-Buffy scene, Sam refers to working in an infirmary. Not quite the same thing as what's in the shooting script but still worth a hmmm.

[> [> [> Re: The Doctor or the "Doc" -- Singed Cat, 07:56:36 03/02/02 Sat

In that case I can see why it was left out of the actual episode-- we're confused enough with Joel Gray's Doc confusing the issue. Maybe Spike entered into it by that misnomer, hoping to connect with one of "doc's" old contacts.

New Angel Thread -- That I Spent Too Long Writing to Read the Other New Threads -- JM, 15:59:16 03/01/02 Fri

Due to a number of recent mentions of the comparative paucity of Angel posts on this board (quantity, not quality), and the general consensus that the most fervent AtS fans are temperamentally indisposed to initiating discussion, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and take action in support of my fellow man . . . er, fan. In other words, I’ve decided to start a thread. Which I have now done. . . Why I am still here talking to you?

OK, OK, that would be cheating and probably wouldn’t generate much discussion. (I’d like to add right here that I expect every one of the posters who complained about low Angel verbiage to respond to this post – even if just to let me know that I am objectionable and insane.)

What follows is a rather rambling arrival at a revelation that I came to today. Along with some embarrassing admissions to how I got there. It all started out in insomnia and the world of slashfic. For anyone not familiar with this sub-genre of fan fiction, from the minimal research I’ve done its name derives ultimately from the slash used to separate the names of two characters, denoting a relationship: e.g., Buffy/Angel, Willow/Tara, Riley/Forrest. Originally it was applied to any non- canonical relationship: e.g., Spike/Willow, Buffy/Giles. Overtime, however, it has come to designate same-sex couplings, and as an adjective, homoerotic undercurrents of the mostly male persuasion. Since the writers of this often fairly explicit sub-genre are almost (though not entirely) exclusively straight women, I feel it fair to equate it to the lesbian pornography aimed at an audience made up largely of heterosexual men.

Don’t worry, I have no intention letting this post degenerate into "squick." I’m really interested in exploring the more cerebral aspects of the topic. Output ranges from subtle erotica to PWP (porn without plot) and from tragically well-written to smuttily formulaic. Taking myself to be a not unrepresentative sample of the consuming population (and Hell, I’ve even written one, though it’s not ready for publication) I feel qualified to posit a few suggestions about the source of this taste. Posters justify their interest for reasons ranging from the classic "I agree with both of them" to consciousness raising about a historically downtrodden minority group. I have to admit that I am very skeptical of the latter explanation, for several reasons, the most pressing being the blatant physical objectification that occurs in even a discussion of the topic. And also the extended foreplay that titillating, but never confirmed, subtext provides. Personally, judging from the extant works, the most vitalizing reasons for the existence of slash include a need to express a certain power over men, in that this fiction puts mostly canonically het males in a position that inspires almost irrational terror in the majority of straight men (at least in America). Another important reason, IMO, is the dominance of the male perspective in literature. It is the model and voice that even women are most familiar with. And finally, last, but not least, the same organic lust that makes the fantasy of two women such a familiar staple among straight men. It’s just more unusual because expressions of female sexuality were uncommon in literature and art until fairly recently.

So now that I’ve attempted to elevate to the level of pop art the kind of thing that would enrage Tipper, on with the story. Night two of unusual sleeplessness arrives and I find myself at the HoYay! thread for "Smallville" on the formerly MightyBigTV board. And prurient admission number two (and final) this isn’t even a show I’ve ever seen, though I like the commercials. Anyway, for a HoYay! (short for homoeroticism Yay!) board, it often tends to the fairly cerebral. Including a detailed discussion of the actors relative merits as thespians and evidence of authorial intent versus player interpretation, at least ten pages of posts were devoted to a debate about agape, eros, and philos. So I don’t consider it time completely wasted. Better than checking the clock every eight minutes.

Anyway, one of the posters was weighing the relative merits of slashing based on actual subtext in the show versus author whim. Which topic is relevant to the medium, since in the fandoms in question any two male characters who have ever appeared on screen at the same time, and some who never have, have been slashed somewhere, at least once. It’s particularly relevant to the Smallville universe, where Michael Rosenberg, the actor who plays Lex Luther, has at least implied that the vibe of attraction has been a deliberate choice on his part. Which will help to provide a believable motive for the currently intense friendship between Lex and Clark inevitably devolving into bitter rivalry. Anyway the poster maintained that she (I assume) preferred pairings supported by deliberately inserted subtext. Which I suppose is entirely in the eye of the beholder. At least until we get the director’s commentary on the DVD.

So this got me thinking about the Whedon-verse and uncannonical pairings and subtext. Although every conceivable pairing from Buffy and Cordelia to Xander and Oz has been written up at some point. I think there are only four, or at most five, pairings that actually have the support of subtext behind them. (I am not including Tara and Willow because the subtext blossomed into text, and risqué implied on-screen sex.) The first and foremost pairing is Faith and Buffy. Not that I’m implying that either girl actually has lesbian tendencies, but the emotional intensity of their relationship due to their shared burden, definitely slipped the bonds of mere friendship. And definitely generated scenes that gave off a palpable physical heat. Best examples are the abandoned dancing at the Bronze in "Bad Girls" and the ending of "Enemies."

Second believable relationship: Ethan and Giles. The fact that Giles' wild youth was spent indulging in the drugs and rock ’n roll scene in London in the seventies makes it less than likely that he didn’t experiment as recklessly with sex as he did with magic. And summoning a demon for orgies and bacchanals with a group of five men and one woman? Plus there is a certain something to their encounters. (And let me add that I am fully aware that there are equally convincing NoYay! interpretations. That’s MBTV speak for denial of homoerotic subtext.) Ethan seems inexplicably tempted by the opportunity of goading "the Ripper." Having seen Giles’s casually ruthless side, he must have know how the encounter would end in "Halloween," and still he insisted on drawing it out until he couldn’t stand the pain. What was he even doing in Sunnydale in the first place, and why didn’t he leave? He couldn’t have known about Eyghon then.

And his demeanor is such that of the scorned lover. Implying an undeniable intimacy and broadcasting the bitter taste of betrayal and an unmistakable jealousy of Buffy’s relationship with Ripper. And on Giles’ part, there has been no one else who has so effortlessly slipped beneath his usually chilling, even in anger, self-control. And in support of my theory I must mentioned one of the funniest, understated scenes of the entire show. In "New Man," after Giles and Ethan rather rapidly reestablish a caustic comradery, the writers slip in a hilarious misunderstanding. A rather foggy Giles hears Ethan say "You know, you’re really rather attractive" and doesn’t at first realize that the comment is directed at their waitress. He looks mostly befuddled, but far more intrigued than disgusted. And his dawning comprehension is adorable. Plus there is one more season-four moment that convinced me that Giles, though primarily oriented toward women, is not entirely resistant to same-sex attraction: "Superstar." He was keeping the swimsuit calendar under the blotter on his desk, clandestine but readily available. It goes a lot toward explaining the vibe in that ep, an almost desperate adoration, not unlike any hopeless December-to- May attraction, het or other.

The other two couplings lightly supported by subtext are among our vampire friends. There’s something mildly believable about the idea that Spike and Angel and Dru and Darla at some point in their very long shared rampage probably blurred the lines of specific couples. There’s just something undeniably sexual about vampires. One director, discussing the book "Dracula," said that the exchange of blood is symbolic of just about every possible sexual union.

And then there’s Lorne. See I told you long ago that this was going to be an AtS thread. Lorne has hilariously been played for maximum, almost credibility-pushing, ambiguity. His mannerisms, speech, music taste, and clothing are a parody of the flamingly homosexual. And his relationship with Angel has all the trappings of attraction. Plus his description in "Over the Rainbow" of being alone in his love and conception of music in Pylea carried so much of the angst of the closeted and confused gay adolescent. On the other hand, meeting his mother certainly blurred the concept of gender for his people. Plus he has revealed an unequivocal attractive to Cordelia. My guess is that the ambiguity is a tease, but is also to create a very specific metaphor. Lorne is a metaphor for a gay man in show business at a very specific period in time. Even his mannerisms and tastes are somewhat dated. He represents entertainers like Elton John and Liberacci in the seventies. Men who were flamboyantly, well, flaming, but of whom the media establishment maintained the fiction of believable heterosexuality.

So that’s what, five? Which contemplation led me to Wesley (because all threads in my mind lead there). Wes is a huge slashfic favorite. Not clear if it’s the fact that he’s English (which for Americans seems to imply possibly bi) or his occasionally effeminate behavior that Cordy never fails to mention or his frequent naked emotional vulnerability. And however much fun the fics are, and the tongue-in-cheek remarks of the producers and actors, somehow Wesley doesn’t actually, to me at least, come across on screen as anything but committedly heterosexual. But still there’s something. . . .

Which got me thinking again, about among other things, his incipient meltdown in "Loyalty." The biggest contributing factors include the emotional trauma of the events in "Billy" that he never dealt with but that, if you re-watch the earliest eps, has had a subtle but noticeable impact on his demeanor ever since. In addition is his reaction to Gunn and Fred’s romance: a barely simmering rage that can’t obscure the fact that he still cares for both of them a great deal. But the major influence is the fear of the prophecy coming true. And it’s not just because he fears for Connor. Although it’s clear that he cares for the baby, Holtz’s coffin line visibly chilled him, and he has abuse issues that would make him identify with a child in danger, he is also the one person who has been seen the least often coddling Connor, attempting to remain dispassionate about this being whose role is unknown. No, his biggest agony is knowing the pain this would cause Angel. And this knowledge, this burden, is pushing him into aberrant, desperate behavior, sleeplessness, a barely sublimated death wish, and brimming hysteria. That’s a very strong reaction regarding someone else’s suffering. What could explain it?

And then the epiphany. Wesley is in love with Angel. And no, not in a romantic, physical, homosexual way. But in a way that is fairly common in the annals of Western literature and drama. An overarching love, even between two same sex characters, that is deeper than friendship, deeper than the romantic connections either character will ever experience. I think it’s possible, even not uncommon. It’s the same way some parents describe their relationship with their newborn children. Emotionally, though not physically, they go through the same stages as when falling in love romantically. Nature’s way of tying you irrationally to your charges. And personal admission absolutely final, I had a number of same-sex friendships in adolescence that could only be defined in these terms. There was zero physical interest, but the level to which I idolized the object of my affections and sublimated my own personality was truly frightening in retrospect. Luckily I had recognized this aspect of my personality and the inevitable disillusionment before I entered a genuinely romantic relationship.

I’d also maintain that Wes has fallen in love at some point with everyone on the staff, everyone in his small circle. He’s been canonically attracted to both of the women, Fred and Cordy. In Sunnydale, he genuinely worshipped Cordy. She was interested, yes, but somewhat casually so. And had a score to settle with Xander. She was the only one who showed him any kindness. And "Earshot" proved just how completely she was filling his thoughts. It’s attraction I think that carried over to AtS, see "Pangs," Expecting." "Sanctuary," "Reprise," and "Epiphany." I don’t think that he’s romantically attached to her anymore, but there’s still a deep commitment there on his part.

Once Angel took him in he developed an unnerving devotion to his hero. The devotion was partly played for laughs. Loosening us up to allow Wes in to our hearts after losing Doyle. But it was also painful when we realized he seriously meant everyone of those silly sentiments. His commitment is undeniable in "The Ring," "Five by Five," and "Sanctuary." In "I’ve Got You Under My Skin," he only loses control after the demon taunts him about disloyalty to Angel, not even when it brings up his painful childhood. Season one makes clear that Wesley will do anything, suffer anything, for Angel. Season three makes it clear that this is still true.

Season two sees him repeating the process with Gunn. Their nascent friendship grows stronger during Angel’s absence, and I’m sure deepens in those missing scenes after Wes is released from the hospital. His relief at Gunn’s return in "Epiphany" is only matched by that one word in "Over the Rainbow," "Gunn." AD so clearly broadcasts relief, gratitude, connection. Ships have been built over far less. And then there is "That Old Gang of Mine." Wes is entirely solicitous of Gunn’s reservations about the case, and entirely trusting, while only Angel is wary that something is wrong. The scene in Caritas where he realizes the extent of Gunn’s betrayal conveys such wronged fury and woundedness. Although he understands and forgives, I’m not sure the relationship ever entirely recovers. What he takes away is that the relationship and it’s obligations meant more to him than it ever did to Gunn.

Which I don’t think is even partially true. Of all of them at AI, I think that Gunn probably cares for Wesley the most. Almost every fight I’ve seen Gunn is instantly aware of whenever Wes loses the upper hand and instinctively goes to his aid. In "Epiphany," his viciousness towards Angel is largely in defense of the hurt Angel caused Wes. Just as Wes’s very rare show of temper is in defense of Cordelia. Gunn was torn apart about what happened in "That Old Gang of Mine," and devastated that Wes found out. He was uncharacteristically submissive during the dressing down. And that look in "Couplet," when he realizes with so few words the depth of the pain he’s caused Wesley. In that moment, so much could have been regained. But Wesley retreats into dismissiveness because he can’t control his emotions anymore. And ultimately Gunn grabs the anti-authoritarian stance he sported in "The Shroud of Rahmon." Still "Wesley’s a good man" speaks volumes.

I also think it’s a relevant commentary on Gunn’s relationship with Fred. Multiple mentions have been made of how much more she has in common with Wesley. Frankly, I think that from Fred’s perspective Wes in as much her intellectual unequal as Gunn. Wes is the product of rigorous training, she’s a natural prodigy. And her interests don’t seem to lean toward that factor anyway. She’s more attracted to strength than anything, and she knows first hand how damaged Wesley is. Anyway, topic, I think Gunn is attracted to her for the same reasons he’s so fond of Wesley. Not implying HoYay! but I really think he’s drawn to the same almost goofy enthusiasm ("Eureka"), the same intellectual disconnect from the real world, and the same gentle exterior hiding a core of steel.

On Wes’s part, although his attraction to Fred has been building at least since "Carpe Noctem," his falling in love seems inevitable at this point. (And his despair is compounded that he has lost both Fred and Gunn to each other.) Due to the emotional aridness of his upbringing he’s unable to regulate his affections when he develops a connection. And painfully I think it is largely one-sided. Yes they all care a great deal for him, but they wouldn’t let themselves slip into madness in an attempt to save him from pain. Angel is concerned, but easily distracted. It is only in his dream that the significance of his pain is recognized by his friends.

[> First response right off the bat... -- Masq, 16:19:21 03/01/02 Fri

More to come, don't worry, but:

Why do you assume the readers and writers of slash are all heterosexual members of either gender? There are lesbian and gay fans of both shows who want, ne, need, to see a little exploration of romance/blatant sex/near porn they can relate to.

[> [> Re: First response right off the bat... -- JM, 17:57:38 03/01/02 Fri

Oh, I'm not assuming. I've just noticed that the vast majority who've stated their preference have been straight women. I'm aware of at least one extremely well-written slash fic writer who is a bi woman. And I have noticed a few posters on HoYay! threads who are have stated that they are male homosexuals, as well as a large handful of gay women who express interest in both the gay and lesbian varieties of slashfic. And one male who maintains a reference site for those who wish to be as accurate as possible in their depictions. (And actually now, that I think, there is definitely one male-maintained fic site, though he exclusively focuses on one or two couples. And is obsessed, in a humorous way, with relocating the characters to Canada. Not there is anything wrong with that.)

I, in no way was attempting to be exclusionary, just noting some statistics that indicated an interesting phenomemnon. And no characterization is exception proof. It just stems from the fact that I've noticed, especially, a difference in the slash interests of the men and women who post. I'd imagine that slash-fic written by women for women is as often off interest to gay males as a typical lesbian porn tape from Playboy is titillating to an actual lesbian.

Once, again, not trying to make any grand assumptions, but I've also noticed that gay male fic intended for a gay male audience is often fairly hot and physical, while the majority of female written slash is heavy, to the point of schmoop, on emotions. And on matching up fairly aggressively het, butch males. Again, I'm trepidatious to make too sweeping assumptions, considering every human is unique and himself or herself an exception to some rule somewhere. I just noticed a trend that reverberated especially because I'm a part of it.

[> [> [> Re: First response right off the bat... -- JM, 09:40:30 03/02/02 Sat

Well, honored Masq, I've been thinking more about what you said, and agree that I need to qualify my assertions. In fact, since this was night number three of insomnia I spent three hours staring at the ceiling weighing the topic.

Slashfic is by no means a monolithic universe. There are as many varying strains of emphasis as there are variations on possible couplings. And there are definitely fic out there dealing with issues of gay identity, being gay, and the impact a developing realization of sexual identity has on the lives of those affected. I also admit that my perspective is probably skewed because the sampling I'm most familiar with is the works that appeal to me the most.

My impressions thus far are that the closer works tend toward actual subtext found in the source, a rating of PG to R, and an avoidance of intensive "shmoop," the more likely they are to explore believable aspects of gay or bi identity. (There's a fairly good series out there about E/G's youth that explores the emotional ramifications of being involved with someone who refuses to commit to the obvious identity issues that a physical relationship raises, e.g., how do you deal with someone who is ashamed of you and your relationship even though they may love you.)

My reservations about the majority of the medium being a genuine exploration of same-sex issues is partially based on commentary I read on the reference site maintained by the afore mentioned gentleman. Along with criticism of the physical depicitions of sex in many fics that he mentions is what he sees as an inaccurate depiction of the relationship dynamics. His major objection is that the male/female dichotomy is too often reinterpretted into bottom/top. His point was that it's not about who is the "woman" in the relationship, it's that the point is there are no women in the relationship. He also objects that there is too much crying and way too much talking. One commentator does not a consensus make, but it got me thinking. Anyway take it for what it's worth.

[> Hey JM... can I add this to Fictionary Corner? Email me! -- Liq, 16:23:24 03/01/02 Fri

[> [> Re: Hey JM... can I add this to Fictionary Corner? Email me! -- Jm, 18:04:45 03/01/02 Fri

Oh, God, yes, please, Liq, grant me immortality. I'd e-mail you but I'm not home right now. I'll follow-up with an e-mail tomorrow. Please feel free to edit or whatever.

[> [> proof read before adding! -- pocky, 10:32:29 03/02/02 Sat

i've found a couple of spelling errors: "Lex Luthor" was misspelled, and the name of the actor who plays Lex is Michael Rosenbaum--NOT Rosenberg. that must've been a slip from the buffyverse. ^_^'

so yeah, always proof read!


[> [> [> Re: proof read before adding! -- JM, 10:41:57 03/02/02 Sat

Thanks, I'm embarrassed about Lex Luthor, but I thought I might have gotten MR's name wrong. I just couldn't double-check because my roomie was on-line. And yes, agree with the proof read. You can't beleive the number of things that got changed before I added. There's still several mistakes that are driving me batty. For instance, decide on Giles' or Giles's and stick with one. Oh, well, no edit button. Anyway, thanks for reading.

[> Second response... (spoilery) -- Masq, 16:30:28 03/01/02 Fri

At first, I thought you were going to get into a discussion of Wesley's impending "whigging out" next week trying to save Connor from Angel.

That is a worthy topic in itself, because, as we know, Wesley has heavy-duty father issues dealing with abuse and they haven't been explored yet. This could be what's behind his current distrust of Angel--the demon father.

But integrating your claim of a Wes-to-Angel attraction subtext, which now that I think about it, has some merit (remember Wes trying to be Angel early on in AtS with the leather and the "rogue demon hunter"?), how will this attraction/admiration play itself out against Angel "the evil father"??

[> Re: New Angel Thread -- That I Spent Too Long Writing to Read the Other New Threads -- cynesthesia, 16:42:08 03/01/02 Fri

De-lurking to say interesting post. There was an interesting vibe in 'Loyalty' with Wesley accompanying Angel on the visit to the doctor's office. We knew why Wesley was there, but the two men must have seemed very parental in their attitude toward someone who was an outside observer.

Maybe this has been mentioned before, but DG made a joking remark in reference to the ballet episode, something like, "as if our show weren't gay enough already."

[> [> Re: New Angel Thread -- That I Spent Too Long Writing to Read the Other New Threads -- Masq, 16:56:43 03/01/02 Fri

This makes me think of how there was a gay joke on Angel in nearly every one of the early first season episodes, usually coming from Cordelia's remarks on his (alleged) effeminate clothes or supposed "eunuch" status, (which a real gay man is anything but) but in "Lonely Hearts" he was trying to discover what was going on in the bar and some guy thought he was picking up on him.

Just the writers having a little fun with the character, I suppose. And now that i think of it, those references have never gone away. He's still called a eunuch and his taste is still called "gay". But Angel's just a little old-fashioned, growing up as he did in the days of fops and dandies. His complete comfort with himself and his manhood around Lorne shows he's got no hidden anxieties about his sexuality.

[> [> [> Re: New Angel Thread -- That I Spent Too Long Writing to Read the Other New Threads -- Apophis, 17:11:34 03/01/02 Fri

There's also the fact that Spike frequently refers to Angel as "poof" and "peaches" (not to mention his "nancy boy hair gel"). Spike's cockney way of insulting his grandsire or evidence of past intimacy? Or maybe Spike's just projecting...

[> [> [> [> Angel may be comfortable with his masculinity... -- Masq, 17:16:14 03/01/02 Fri

but Spike isn't comfortable with Angel. When Spike makes fun of Angel's supposed effeminacy, it's attempt to belittle him because Spike feels threatened by Angel. Angel is older than him, is better schooled than him, carries out his plans more smartly than him, and got the girl to love him.

Plus Angel consistently beats the s*** out of Spike in their fights.

[> [> [> [> [> Yeah, I've never gotten a clean vibe -- Jm, 18:13:04 03/01/02 Fri

Plus, I've yet to read a really solid Spike/Angel slashfic. The closest I've come is one's that have only implied it. It's less that I can imagine an actual relationship than a sexually charged pile of familiar vamps who got a little creative. OK possibly veering into bad taste. I'll stop now. You get the idea.

[> Re: New Angel Thread -- That I Spent Too Long Writing to Read the Other New Threads -- yabyumpan, 17:34:52 03/01/02 Fri

interesting thread but I actually see Wes's hero worship of Angel as more of a Father/Son thing. Angel (in AtS anyway), has looked after Wes, encouraged him, given him respect, "allowed" him to be the boss. He took him under his wing and enabled him to blossem in a way that his real father never did.
"No, his biggest agony is knowing the pain this would cause Angel. And this knowledge, this burden, is pushing him into aberrant, desperate behavior, sleeplessness, a barely sublimated death wish, and brimming hysteria. That’s a very strong reaction regarding someone else’s suffering. What could explain it?"
I think it can be explained in that he is once again going to disappoint his "father" and in doing so may cause his "father" to exact retribution against him.
Agian great pot but i do see it as more of a Father/Son thing

[> [> Re: New Angel Thread -- That I Spent Too Long Writing to Read the Other New Threads -- JM, 18:34:47 03/01/02 Fri

At one point I might have bought the father vibe, maybe as late as last season. Frankly "Redefition" and the Pylea arc, as well as the discussions in "Carpe Noctum" and "Couplet," reveals that the authority in their relationship has not remained static in the last year. Wes is far more protective than submissive now.

Although there were subtle father-figure vibes in his deseperate appeal for Giles approval, I'm not sure he would actively cast some one he liked as a father figure. Although still desprately desirous of his aprpoval, Wes seems fully aware that his father is a right bastard.

Again, I don't mean to imply a sexual attraction on Wes's part, it was simply the path that led me to the end point. Perhaps older brother is more appropriate than father-figure.

Plus I disagree about "allowing" Wes to be boss. Though Angel occassionally gives that impression, the transition in authority was entirely due to his choices in "Reunion" and "Epiphany." Cordy and especially Gunn have never given any indication that they would abandon the leader they chose. And since the return from Pylea Wes has never seemed to doubt his own authority (except briefly in "Billy" when he considered resignation).

[> "Overarching love" between people of the same sex has withered at the hands of homophobia. -- yuri, 17:51:25 03/01/02 Fri

Wesley is in love with Angel. And no, not in a romantic, physical, homosexual way. But in a way that is fairly common in the annals of Western literature and drama. An overarching love, even between two same sex characters, that is deeper than friendship, deeper than the romantic connections either character will ever experience.

I agree -- this form of love was common and romanticized up until homophobia really began to take the form it has today. Many romantic tales of heroes allude to these sorts of relationships between soldier/knight and general, or King and whatever you'd call the second-in-command to a king. (If I was more well-read and had a better memory I'd be referencing something here.) Now we see less and less of these relationships in fear that they may be percieved as gay.

One question - is this "overarching love" really something that happens between two people, or does one person feel it for the other, who then feels something different in return?

[> [> David & Jonathan, Damon & Pythias, Gilgamesh & Enkidu -- Scroll, 18:55:10 03/01/02 Fri

I agree with JM's analysis of Wesley's overarching love for Angel. You're right in that it's not romantic but a type of brotherly love so extreme that Wesley would put his own life over Angel's suffering. And while I can see Season 1 Wesley looking up to Angel in a father/son way, I think he's grown beyond that now, especially after Angel fired them in Season 2.

If you want references of philios love, think David and Jonathan from the Bible. Jonathan's father, King Saul, ordered David to be killed on sight, but Jonathan protected David and swore to give up his right to the throne so David could be king. It says that Jonathan "loved David as his own life."

Also, Damon and Pythias is a Greek story of two friends whose extreme loyalty to each other was shown when Damon pledged his life that Pythias would return from handling his affairs to be executed for rebelling against Dionysius, a tyrant of Syracuse. At the time set for the execution, Pythias returned and Dionysius pardoned them both.

I think Wesley's desperation stems from his fierce desire to spare Angel the pain of killing his son. One moment in "Loyalty" that really struck me is when Angel's talking about the hockey sticks and how he can't wait to see who Connor is going to be. I think Wesley is definitely comparing Angel's terrific parenting and love for Connor to his own father's lack of affection. And when Angel says he's "so happy", you can see the palpable despair that falls over Wesley's face. He feels that Angel really deserves to be happy, even though happiness is the one thing Angel should never have. And when Fred compliments Wes and says he *deserves* a break for being so good and loyal, you can almost see him thinking, *no I don't*.

Despite his reluctance to warm up to Connor, I see Wesley as the most loyal and loving in the philios manner of all the AI gang. He loves irrationally, and he even seems to recognise it when he says to Angel, "Love can be a terrible thing." If he didn't love Angel so much, he wouldn't be in this quandry. And if Angel didn't love Connor so much, the possibility of Connor's death wouldn't be so devastating.

[> [> [> Anyone know the story of Gilgamesh & Enkidu? -- Scroll, 19:02:05 03/01/02 Fri

Sorry, I forgot to give a synopsis of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. I'm not really that familiar with this story but I think it's Sumerian legend about it's first king, Gilgamesh, and a wild man that he tames, named Enkidu. They consider themselves brothers and did everything together. I think that Enkidu dies to save Gilgamesh but I could be wrong, I can't remember how it goes. Does anyone know?

[> [> [> [> Re: Anyone know the story of Gilgamesh & Enkidu? -- leslie, 20:32:54 03/01/02 Fri

Gilgamesh is the king of Uruk, Enkidu is a wild man, created to be Gilgamesh's double, who is "tamed" by a sacred prostitute. G&E fight, but then become best buds, together they fight and kill Humbaba, a demon--Enkidu delivers the fatal blow. The goddess Ishtar makes a pass at Gilgamesh, who rebuffs her by listing the dicey ends to which all of her lovers have come. Ishtar sends the Bull of Heaven to kill Gilgamesh, but Enkidu kills the bull and insults Ishtar himself. The gods decide that Enkidu is a danger to their world and kill him with a sickness. Gilgamesh, disconsolate, goes on a long journey that leads him to Utnapishtim, the only survivor of the worldwide flood that destroyed all life except what he had on his boat, and the ears of comparative Biblical scholars prick up everywhere. Utnapishtim, after telling Gilgamesh that the only thing to do about death is accept it, relents and gives him a plant that will make an old man young again, thereby offering him eternal life, but the plant is stolen from Gilgamesh by a serpent. Biblical scholars' ears prick up even further. By now, their ears are located somewhere around the tops of their heads, causing auditory distortion so severe that they cannot hear any more of the story, and so it ends.

[> [> [> [> [> ROFL! best retelling I've ever heard! -- a former theologian... Solitude1056, 20:44:45 03/01/02 Fri

[> [> [> [> Re: Anyone know the story of Gilgamesh & Enkidu? -- Apophis, 20:42:25 03/01/02 Fri

Gilgamesh was king of Babylon eons ago. Enkidu was created by the gods as a wild man and foil to Gilgamesh, who was being a rather poor king at the time. Enkidu was pure and happy in his natural state, living with the animals as an equal. Shepherds were frightened by him, though, and devised a plan to get rid of him. They sent a harlot into the wild to seduce him. Once he and the harlot finished their business, Enkidu found that the animals no longer trusted him, as he had, by sleeping with a woman, swung the pendulum from animal to civilized man. Disheartened, Enkidu entered Babylon and got in a fight with Gilgamesh. The story gets kind of fuzzy here, for me. Eventually, Gilgamesh and Enkidu go on a quest to find eternal life. Along the way, Enkidu is killed protecting Gilgamesh, who is understandably distraught by this. There is quiet a bit of "overreaching love" between the two, a fact that was remarked upon in my World Literature class.

[> [> Re: "Overarching love" between people of the same sex has withered at the hands of homophobia. -- JM, 10:09:03 03/02/02 Sat

My opinion of the disappearance of this convention is that it is a combination of the scientific worldview replacing the Romantic and the changing gender roles in society. Science categorizes and quantifies, limiting ambiguity. And in response to the expanded definition of acceptable female behavior, American males at least have seemed to limit their definition of their role to one of hyper- masculinity. Though I think that that dynamic is definitely changing, and has been drastically changing in just the last ten years.

The role of philos in art though is not entirely vanished. I think that it is alive and well, though sublimated, in the buddy dynamic most often found in cop partner fiction. It's no accident that most examples also depict the protagonists in a very strained realationship with their romantic partners. Women who can't share in this deep bond that their men have with their partners.

Most other examples, though, I feel are one sided. Certainly in the case of Wes and Angel. Angel is fond of Wes. From the beginning he was protective. Now he is respectful, comfortable, and completely trusting. (Which will make the perceived betrayal all the more devestating.) However, he has nowhere near Wes's devotion. The only people who bring that out in Angel are Cordy and Connor.

Cordy, I think would put Wes a close second behind Angel and the baby. Fred, I think genuinely cares for Wes, see her compassionate response in "Billy." But I think what was implied in the diner scene was that she will choose Gunn over loyalty to AI and the mission too.

Gunn comes closest in matching his devotion, though I think it stems from a slightly different source. Comradeship is very important to him, note the very personal appeal that Rondell made. Ultimately Gunn chose AI and Wes over the people he had practically grown up with. This relationship has taken a very serious hit though with the insertion of Fred.

[> [> [> OT example of overarching love -- Vickie, 12:20:17 03/02/02 Sat

In "The Making of the Fellowship of the Ring," Elijah Wood and Sean Astin discuss the relationship between Frodo and Sam in just these terms. It's interesting that so many modern readers have seen a homoerotic subtext in that one also.

[> [> [> Re: "Overarching love" between people of the same sex has withered at the hands of homophobia. -- yuri, 16:24:38 03/02/02 Sat

My opinion of the disappearance of this convention is that it is a combination of the scientific worldview replacing the Romantic and the changing gender roles in society. Science categorizes and quantifies, limiting ambiguity.

Interesting. Do you mean that science is the root of modern culture's desire to categorize and quantify? I would have said that it's just human nature -- it makes things easier. But then so many things we assume are "human nature" really aren't at all.

And in response to the expanded definition of acceptable female behavior, American males at least have seemed to limit their definition of their role to one of hyper-masculinity.

Wow, that's very true. I actually hadn't thought of it that way. It makes sense - if women were still where they were in the nineteenth century, there wouldn't be the sort of homophobia and "hyper-masculinity" that we see today.

And then another question - does the type of "overarching love" that we are discussing generally apply to males? Everyone's examples have been male... Do we see the same relationship between women or is it something different because of the difference in gender roles?

[> [> [> [> Re: "Overarching love" between people of the same sex has withered at the hands of homophobia. -- John, 22:20:45 03/02/02 Sat

"Wow, that's very true. I actually hadn't thought of it that way. It makes sense - if women were still where they were in the nineteenth century, there wouldn't be the sort of homophobia and "hyper-masculinity" that we see today."

Did you really just say that?

I think you'll find the tendency is for homophobia to have lessened, not increased. Ideas of masculinity have decreased in importance, and the gap between gender has been decreased. Hyper- masculinity it an example of men trying to get back to an earlier (I'm tempted to say 'less evolved') state, as in the 19th century homophobia was not only rife but inshrined in law. If gender roles were the same today as they were a hundred years ago, you'd see a whole lot more homophobia. Today's hyper-masculinity was the 19th century's norm.

Am I misinterpreting what was meant? Because I've only read the first and last posts in this thread, so that's not at all unlikely!

[> [> [> [> [> Re: "Overarching love" between people of the same sex has withered at the hands of homophobia. -- JM, 05:27:39 03/03/02 Sun

I think what we were trying to get at is not that homophobia itself has grown more common -- good point about the laws -- but that the behaviors that trigger it have changed with time. At a time when men and women lived in more separate circles, almost, though not quite, their own subcultures, intensive friendship and even physical contact didn't trigger homophobic suspicions.

The fact that we now have a word and commonly accepted concept of what homophobia is is probably an indication of progress. It means the topic is part of an open debate in our society and not a shared, if negative, hidden assumption. I have no doubt that Wilde's trial would have been conducted far differently today.

What I saw as a redefining of the acceptable expressions of masculinity, especially physical contact and discussion of emotions, in American society was something that came about after homosexuality became a acceptable topic for open debate in the media, and it's a trend that I think is relaxing. I'm not an expert though, just my impressions.

[> [> [> [> Re: "Overarching love" between people of the same sex has withered at the hands of homophobia. -- JM, 05:40:28 03/03/02 Sun

Categorizing: I think it is part of human nature, or at least, Western European culture. Maybe the influence of Roman legal traditions on the development of organized Christianity. What I was thinking of was during the early part of the twentieth century, when science and technology were becoming more prominent and complex, their influence on the culture also deepened. It seemed kind of like a fad, scientific concepts being recklessly applied to every topic, whether or not they were appropriate or whether people even understood the theories they were attempting to apply. The trend just brought to the forefront our culture's desire for order and organization. (At this point I really wish I hadn't abandoned history after graduation. I'm rapidly outpacing my ability to back up my bizarre assumptions.)

No, I don't think the concept only applies to males, but in the time period of literature that is most applicable, women and their point of view are very underrepresented. I'm sure that there are some examples, but far fewer. (I do remember as a kid reading Louisa May Alcott's books and being shocked at amount of kissing and cuddling that went on among female friends.)

might be a silly question but... -- O'Cailleagh, 17:04:36 03/01/02 Fri

Don't you think Lorne and Sweet would make a great couple?

[> I dunno... -- Wisewoman, 17:55:28 03/01/02 Fri

Love them both, but they might be too similar to make a good couple--both flamboyant, talented, and somehow needy.

I think Lorne needs someone who can appreciate those things about him, and mostly someone he can have fun with. That lets Angel out--way too broody, and Lorne would have to do all the work.

Actually, I think Lorne and Cordy could be a mutual-admiration-society all on their own. Not saying it would last, but they seem to be compatible types.


Angel and Shanshu (poss spoilers) -- yabyumpan, 17:06:35 03/01/02 Fri

Angel and Shanshu

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while so I thought I’d bring it here for any comments etc. I think in order for Angel to Shanshu he needs to not only avert the apocalypse and fight all those demons etc but he needs to full integrate and accept the Demon within himself. He was Angelus for longer than he has been Angel and much longer than he was Liam, it is very much a part of who he is but Angel, along with most other people see Angelus as a separate identity. I think he needs to accept and learn to appreciate what the demon has done for him before he can fully regain his humanity. (yes I did say appreciate!) The demon within him, Angelus, has done more to make him the man(pire) that he is today than anything else and I mean that in a positive way. Let’s think about Liam; would Liam have been the sort of person who would "help the hopeless", risk his life for others, even really love? Obviously it’s impossible to really say but I would think the answer is no. Similarly, if when Angel was vamped his soul remained intact (I know, going totally left field now but bare with me), would he be on a mission to help those helpless, I would think it’s very unlikely. It is because of his experiences as Angelus that he wants to do good. This isn’t discounting all the people along the way who have helped him (Whistler, Buffy, AI etc), nor am I discounting the importance of his soul but his main push to do good, esp within AtS has been the need for redemption, to atone for the sins of Angelus. There is also the fact that precicly because of his demon he is able to help in ways that no one else can; his super-perceptive senses, greater strength, the ability to leap over high fences etc, plus because of his experiences as Angelus he is able to, many times, see into the minds of the enemy and, to some extent, predict their actions.
I found it interesting that in Guise will be Guise, even though the swami was fake, he made some very salient points about Angel, the one that always sticks in my mind was when Angel said "I can’t let the demon control me" and the fake swami says "you think the demon doesn’t control you?". I think that’s a crucial point, by spending time brooding and feeling guilty about all the terrible things Angelus did he is in a way, feeding the demon, giving him energy; in the same way when we focus on any emotion be it love, anger, fear etc, it feeds that emotion and gives it greater importance and presence. I think only by accepting and acknowledging the gifts that he has because of his demon will he be free from it’s control.
One of the things I’ve liked and found interesting about this season is that he does seem to be becoming more accepting; I was quite shocked in Heartthrob when he was talking to the gang about Holtz, I can only remember him ever talking to people about his past as Angelus twice (to Buffy about Drucilla and to Wes and Cordy about Penn).
I’ve read some criticism of the show saying he shouldn’t be happy, more dark and broody, working towards redemption, what about fighting demons and saving souls etc; but the show is called Angel the Series, not "the Redemption of Angel" or "Angel Investigations", it’s about his journey, the journey of a very long lived and complex being. I’ve often thought who you would end up with if Angel were zapped by the demon that zapped Xander and split him in two. I think to say Angel/Angelus is too simplistic, Angel could not exist without Angelus IMO, he is an integral part of who Angel is.

To go back to my original premise, I don’t think that Angel can Shanshu unless he fully integrates and accepts his inner demon, although that may lead to an interesting paradox; if he is at peace with his demon then that may help him to Shanshu but it may also bring Angelus out again!

OK, now I’ve tied my brain up in knots, help!
Thoughts, feedback……..
Thanks for reading

[> Angel a demon or a man? (possible Spoilers) -- Scroll, 19:35:42 03/01/02 Fri

I think you're right in that Angel is not a human with a demon inside, he is a demon with a human soul. This is something he accepts about himself most of the time, though there've been a few instances where he defends that the demon is separate from the man (most noticably in Amends). He tells the First Evil that Angelus' deeds aren't his fault because he had no soul and no control over his body. But Holtz doesn't see it that way because the hands that held down his wife, the body that raped and killed her, still belong to Angel.

Wesley, Buffy, and especially Cordelia, (not so much Gunn) have always tried to separate Angel from Angelus. One is a good man and the other is an evil monster. But Wesley's now seeing that the beast is always within Angel and can re-emerge at any time. One thing I was never very clear on is whether the demon is what is evil about Angel, or the man. Joss claims that the demon is drawn to an evil star and the human soul to a good star. I think Liam's flaw was that his soul was pretty weak to begin with, the demon took absolute control once it was gone. In Amends, Angel's fear is that his soul won't be strong enough to resist the demon. That's why he tries to kill himself. Now we see Wesley consider the possibility that Angel won't be able to stop himself from killing Connor.

Do you think Angel should be killed just because there is the possibility that Angelus will regain control? Please take this and run with it... : )

[> [> Re: Angel a demon or a man? (possible Spoilers) -- yabyumpan, 02:01:32 03/02/02 Sat

Scroll: No! For many reasons but as i've just woken up i'll just go with: Wesley has been known to be wrong about prophesies before and as Fred said "nothing is enevitable".

What happens to the threads when they fall off the page? -- Spike Lover, 19:09:39 03/01/02 Fri

[> They should go into Archive # 1. -- Darby, 20:00:57 03/01/02 Fri

Classic Movie of the Week - March 1st 2002 -- OnM, 21:04:38 03/01/02 Fri


No oppression is so heavy or lasting as that which is inflicted by the perversion and exorbitance of legal authority.

............ Joseph Addison


Stripped of ethical rationalizations and philosophical pretensions, a crime is anything that a group in power chooses to prohibit.

............ Freda Adler, Sisters in Crime, 1975


I'll be judge, I'll be jury, said cunning old Fury;
I'll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death.

............ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, 1865


No other offense has ever been visited with such severe penalties as seeking to help the oppressed.

............ Clarence Darrow


The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.

............ Henry Kissinger


So when is enough, enough?

By sheer coincidence, there was an article in today’s newspaper about a senior staff member of the Environmental Protection Agency who has resigned in frustration over what he sees as the Bush administration’s efforts to alter a key regulation governing air pollution caused by large industrial plants.

As part of the Clean Air Act legislation passed 30-some years ago, the change under debate is one that would affect the requirement under current law that industries need to update pollution controls when they make other changes in their operating facilities that act to increase the level of air pollution they produce. In 1996, the Clinton administartion began cracking down on plants that it said were in violation, which resulted in numerous lawsuits. The EPA was on the verge of finally settling the suits when the decision was handed down by the White House to ‘review’ the law. Now, many of the litigants have ‘walked away from the table’ rather than settle on the basis of laws that may suddenly change.

On the face of it, it seems like the right and honorable thing to do-- you find yourself in what you see as a card game with a stacked deck, with no hope of winning. You call attention to the cheating involved, and ask that it stop. You are ignored, and the cheating not only continues but escalates in intensity. Seeing any further involvement as pointless, you remove yourself from the situation. Soon after departing, you notice that not only aren’t you missed, but another new player has taken your seat, one whom you recognize as being even a bigger cheat than the other players. The game continues, but now the stakes have increased also. Pretty soon the thieves are running the prison, and setting their sights on the world outside the fence.

Director Oliver Stone wonders aloud about a similar circumstance on the DVD commentary track of this week’s Classic Movie, Salvador, which was released in 1986, the same year as his much more widely viewed film, Platoon. Despite the heaps of critical praise and Oscar noms for Platoon, many serious flick fans site Salvador as being the more primal cinematic venture of the two. To be sure, Platoon is a beautifully made piece of work, and deserved it’s many accolades, but there is a rough, intense quality that Salvador radiates that the somewhat glossier later-issue Stone carvings fail to complelely capture.

The story opens with unemployed writer/photojournalist Richard (‘Rick’) Boyle being woken by the sound of someone banging loudly on the door of the apartment shared by he and his wife-- it’s the landlord, angry and demanding to be paid the overdue rent. Rick’s wife, whose substantial hostility makes it perfectly clear that this isn’t the first time that she’s been in this situation, decides that she’s finally had enough and splits. Shortly thereafter, Rick is arrested and jailed for a huge number of accumulated traffic violations and parking tickets. Bailed out by a friend, an ex-radio DJ (‘Dr. Rock’, played by Jim Belushi) nearly as broke and screwed up as Rick is, the two men drive Rick’s battered jalopy down south from California, heading across the border, supposedly for the cheap liquor and multitudes of prostitutes to be found there. At least, this is the story Boyle paints for Dr. Rock, but the real purpose of the ‘vacation’ is soon revealed.

In a spark of casting genius, Rick Boyle is portrayed by actor James Woods, a master of the nervous twitch and machine-gun speech modalities. In just the first fifteen minutes of the film, Woods sets the perfect tone for a character who is at the end of his vine without even the luxury of a tree to crash into. The beer’n’hookers 3-hour tour gets shipwrecked in El Salvador, where Boyle hopes to persuade his ‘contacts’ in the region to give him a gig with some actual major magazine or news service. Dr. Rock is completely freaked, knowing full well just how dangerous this conflict-ravaged country is, but Boyle seems to almost revel in the chaos.

Of course, Boyle is more than slightly jaded and/or disconnected with reality, a chronic condition due partly to his extensive past experiences as a war correspondent and partly due to the regular consumption of drugs and alchol. (A number of other reviewers of this film have made allusions to ‘gonzo’ journalist Hunter S. Thompson, and some of these parallels do in fact seem valid, although I have not personally read Thompson’s works to any great degree.) The question remains, is this an advantage or disadvantage in dealing with an insane situation?

If one looks at the ‘standard’ reportage being presented to the ‘respectable’ media, it would appear that Rick Boyle has the edge. Understandably concerned for their safety at best, and just ‘punching the clock’ at worst, few of the other press members care to get too close to the big ugly itself. Carnage abounds, the bodies pile up, and most of the visitors from El Norte sit around the hotel for most of the day sharing drinks and chit-chat.

Boyle finally wangles a legitimate offer, teaming up with a talented and experienced photojournalist, John Cassady (John Savage), a reporter for Newsweek, and the two work on collecting evidence which unfortunately supports the contention that the United States has (once again) decided to prop up a ruthless and violent dictator, all in the name of expunging ‘communists’ from the region.

This brief description doesn’t begin to do justice to the actual complexity of the goings-on in Salvador. The characters who inhabit this film represent the much greater questions as to what extent the general public can place it’s trust in govenmental entities who often shade or even openly distort the truth to suit their own goals. While based on true events, including the real experiences of the real Rick Boyle, director Stone makes no pretense of making a literal, factually perfect ‘documentary’ (and confirms as such on the commentary soundtrack of the DVD). The violence and horror are not overstated, even if some scenes suggest as much, but Stone is striving first and foremost for a visceral impression, and he succeeds to a remarkable degree.

And what of the honest, ethical man, faced with such travesties? The ambassador to El Salvador, Thomas Kelly (played by Michael Murphy in the film), enraged by the statements of the Reagan administartion (specifically those by Alexander Haig) to the effect that the four Catholic nuns who were beaten, raped and executed by right-wing thugs were ‘communist sympathizers’ and so somehow responsible for their own deaths, resigned his position.

So who takes his place?

If I were a religious man, I would pray that our current administration has learned from history, and so won’t doom us to repeat it. I would also pray that things will never get to the point where someone like Oliver Stone can’t bring a film like Salvador to the screen to remind us that some truths must remain self-evident.

E. Pluribus Cinema, Unum,



Technically, One can imagine the government's problem. This is all pretty magical stuff to them. If I were trying to terminate the operations of a witch coven, I'd probably seize everything in sight. How would I tell the ordinary household brooms from the getaway vehicles?

............ John Perry Barlow

Salvador is available on DVD, which was also the format of the review copy this week. The film was released in 1986 and the running time is 2 hours and 3 minutes. The screenplay was written by Oliver Stone and Richard Boyle. Cinematography was by Robert Richardson, with film editing by Claire Simpson. Production design was by Bruno Rubeo. The soundtrack was originally in monaural, but was remastered into a 5.1 surround soundtrack for the DVD release. (The original mono soundtrack is included as an alternate on the DVD, if for any reason you are leary of the remastered one). The DVD release sports a number of extra goodies, including a director’s commentary track by Oliver Stone, some deleted footage, a photo stills gallery, and a documentary short film ‘on the making of’. The commentary by Stone is alternately fascinating and annoying, as is the man himself, and the docu/short film eerily portrays the manner in which reality and fiction manage to cross one another repeatedly.

Cast overview:

James Woods .... Richard Boyle
James Belushi .... Doctor Rock
Michael Murphy .... Ambassador Thomas Kelly
John Savage .... John Cassady
Elpidia Carrillo .... María
Tony Plana .... Major Max (Maximiliano Casanova)
Colby Chester .... Jack Morgan, U.S. State Dept. Analyst (CIA)
Cynthia Gibb .... Cathy Moore, Catholic Lay Worker
Will MacMillan .... Colonel Bentley Hyde, Sr. Officer MILGROUP
Valerie Wildman .... Pauline Axelrod
José Carlos Ruiz .... Archbishop Romero
Jorge Luke .... Colonel Julio Figueroa, Commander 3rd Brigade
Juan Fernández .... Army Lieutenant
Salvador Sánchez .... Human Rights Leader
Rosario Zúñiga .... Human Rights Assistant



Item the 1st--

Some other films directed by Oliver Stone: ( from the Internet Movie Database ):

Any Given Sunday (1999) / U Turn (1997) / Nixon (1995) / Natural Born Killers (1994)
Heaven & Earth (1993) / JFK (1991) / The Doors (1991) / Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
Talk Radio (1988) / Wall Street / Platoon (1986) / Salvador (1986) / The Hand (1981)
Mad Man of Martinique (1979) / Seizure (1974)

Item the 2nd--

I would like to give a big ol’ ‘thumbs up’ to, and a sincere plug for, a site that is the source of all of these great quotes I’ve sited in the column this week. Organized by topic, and very much worth your perusal, please visit:


The Question of the Week:

What do you think is the most affecting war film you have ever seen? Why? (The interpretation of the word ‘affecting’ is entirely up to you).

That’s all for this week, so as always, post ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. Please don’t be afraid to start a new thread up for your reply if the column gets rapidly stashed into the archives as it has done in the last several weeks. (Last week’s riff barely lasted a whole day... ~sigh~). Just reference the column in the title of the thread.

Take care, and see you next week!


[> Re: Classic Movie of the Week - March 1st 2002 -- matching mole, 21:33:40 03/01/02 Fri

Salvador certainly had a big impact on me and I only saw the second half of it (don't remember why now). Thanks for the reminder and the review.

I don't watch very many war movies but of the few that I have sampled the most affecting was Jean Renoir's The Grand Illusion. Call me a starry-eyed idealist but his portrait of the natural comradeship of men erasing the artificial boundaries of nations at war almost made me weep or stand up and cheer or something. It was the visual equivalent of listening to 'Imagine'.

Are you still interested in having others make attempts at movie reviews? I'd be willing to give it a try but I don't remember what the procedure was. Could you repost it? Thanks.

[> [> Guest review info is... -- OnM, 04:58:40 03/02/02 Sat

...currently residing in archive Nr. 5. Click on the review for Feb 22nd and scroll down to the 'Miscellaneous' section of the column. Info is contained therein.


P.S. -- If it's gone from the archives before you get to it, e-mail me and I'll send the particulars to you.

[> [> [> Thanks -- matching mole, 07:59:10 03/02/02 Sat

I'll be sending you a review in the next week or so. Appreciate the opportunity.

[> Re: Classic Movie of the Week - March 1st 2002 -- Andy, 06:24:10 03/02/02 Sat

As affecting war films go, I think my favorite is The Thin Red Line (the new version, not the original :)). I think there are tons of great scenes in that which really get me every time I watch it. My favorites are the bit with Elias Koteas and Nick Nolte arguing over whether Koteas should send his men straight into the line of fire, where they would presumably all be killed, and then the scene in which Ben Chaplin gets the letter from his wife back home. But the whole movie is full of stuff that gets me all emotional and thoughtful about how cruel war is.

But the combat in the film isn't quite up to par with other war films, IMO. So I think most affecting war film I've seen just in terms of the intensity of the combat itself is probably Black Hawk Down, which I just saw a few weeks ago. Really lean, nasty movie that doesn't try to manipulate you with too many canned "character moments" that throw you out of the realism of the film for the sake of preaching or moralizing (it's actually almost like the polar opposite of The Thin Red Line, now that I think about it). Just non-stop, intensely depicted combat that hits you right in the guts over and over again. I came out of that movie feeling like I'd just gone 12 rounds with Lennox Lewis (not that I think I could survive that long with him). Probably not for everybody but I thought it was pretty effective :)


[> [> Re: Classic Movie of the Week - March 1st 2002 -- Wisewoman, 08:44:07 03/02/02 Sat

Gallipolli. Heroism, politics, stupidity, futility, tragedy--just about sums up war as far as I can see.

[> [> [> Classic Movie of the Week - March 1st 2002 -- Fred, the obvious pseudonym, 11:16:15 03/02/02 Sat

"Paths of Glory," Stanley Kubrick.

[With commanders like these, who needs the enemy?]

[> [> [> Re: Classic Movie of the Week - March 1st 2002 -- Cactus Watcher, 19:38:42 03/02/02 Sat

I agree with Wisewoman. My choice is also Gallipoli for the same reasons, plus the helplessness and hopelessness.

[> [> [> [> Re: Classic Movie of the Week - March 1st 2002 -- Brian, 05:06:16 03/03/02 Sun

A third vote for Gallipoli.

[> [> [> [> [> Anyone like to do a guest review on this film? -- OnM, 05:37:35 03/03/02 Sun

[> [> [> gee, sounds a lot like... -- anom, 21:32:03 03/04/02 Mon

"Heroism, politics, stupidity, futility, tragedy--just about sums up war as far as I can see."

...No Man's Land. Well, that had a tighter focus, but it had most of those other things too. Maybe not the heroism.

[> Re: Classic Movie of the Week - March 1st 2002 -- gds, 08:47:29 03/02/02 Sat

I'm not much on war movies though there are a few I like. My all time favorite is "From Hell To Eternity". I saw it as a kid about 40 years ago and could never forget it. What I didn't know until a couple of years ago is that this is based on a true story about a war hero. Some of the many casualties of war both in real life and the movies are sanity, rationality and humanity. As someone tried to mention a few months ago and got severely chastised for his efforts, patriotism is a scary thing because what starts out as a fine thing: "loving your homeland" will for many people degenerate into the evils of nationalism and racism. Gone is the principle of evaluating individuals by what and who they are. Instead people are assigned to groups: "gooks", "commies", "injuns", "rag-heads" etc. Once sufficiently dehumanized they become legitimate targets for hatred and terror. Mob mentalities begin to form and even those who object are bullied into submission both by violence, threats of violence and being called names to incite violence like "collaborator", "injun lover" etc. All of this and more happened to the Japanese Americans in WWII.

This movie is about a real hero named Guy Louis Gabaldon: someone who rose above all that and was able to look at the opposition as people, not as just "the enemy", just a bunch of "japs". In the movie, he did briefly lose touch with his humanity after his buddies were killed in a battle, but he was able to get it back. I don’t know if that happened in real life.

Of course Hollywood itself showed a little bigotry when making this film - the real life hero was a Mexican American. In my brief search on the net I didn’t find much on this movie, but the link below has some info about the real life hero.

[> War Movies -- La Duquessa, 10:46:55 03/02/02 Sat

Breaker Morant. Starring Bryan Brown and Edward Woodward. Don't know the year or the director. The real price of war is paid off the battlefield. Officers in the Boer War (I think--it's been a while since I've seen the movie) are executed for war crimes...but of course it is far more complicated than that...

The Best Years of our Lives...Myra Loy and Frederich March, I think...1946. Won tons of Oscars and is still affecting today, particularly when you consider its subject matter (1940s version of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and the timing of its release (The war barely over).

Blackadder goes Forth--particularly the last ep. Although there is very little blood and gore, the jokes are funny because they are painfully true and really show WWI for all its stupidity and absurdity.

Paths of Glory. Kirk Douglas. MOre executions, this time of German soldiers in WWI. War is not just hell, it's stupid, too.

A Few Good Men. Okay, I thought most of the movie was silly, but the "You can't Handle the Truth" speech is so utterly and completely true (as 9/11 has so vividly pointed out) that I am willing to forgive the rest of the movie.

As you might guess, I go for war movies without the blood. In Today's dead-soldiers-on-the-front-of- the-New-York-Times Taliban-executions-on-CNN-Arnold-Blows-Up-Another-Colombian-Hit-Man World, blood has lost its punch in terms of creating a viseral horrific accident. (Brief digression: I went to see Brotherhood of the Wolves (excellent movie) and the audience that sat through rape, graphic attacks on women, Indian warriors kicking people in the face and other various violences screamed in horror when the film showed an image of a pile of bloody dead wolves.) Anyway, IMHO, blood is only the outward manifestation of the horrors of war. It's the soulkilling aspect of war that I find truly horrible.

(Of course the closest I've gotten to a war in on CNN, so maybe if I were faced with the blood in real life I'd feel's always easy to be an armchair pundit while someone else is in the line of fire...)

Was it RE Lee who said something along the lines of "It is a good thing war is so horrible or we should grow too fond of it..."? I fear we have done so anyway...

Final thought:

Worst War Movie Ever: Saving Private Ryan...Sentimental Malarky Much, Steven?

ps. Hell is For Heroes with Steve McQueen was good too...

[> Not exactly a war movie -- Vickie, 12:15:32 03/02/02 Sat

Schindler's List. I don't watch the "blow 'em up" types, they're much too "affecting."

[> [> I'm with you... -- Dichotomy, 15:34:47 03/02/02 Sat

Though not exactly a "war" movie, Schindler's List was an incredibly gut-wrenching portrayal of wartime actrocities, survival of the human spirit and discovering the humanity within. I went to see it alone and had to call someone from a payphone right outside the theater because I was so moved. "Platoon" had a similar, but not quite as intense, effect on me when I saw it many years ago.

"Casualties of War" with Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn was extremely heartbreaking and disturbing because it looked at a single wartime atrocity in horrifying detail. The performance of the actress playing the kidnapped Vietnamese girl (I'm sorry I don't remember her name) ripped me up inside.

I saw "Salvador" on HBO many years ago, but everyone in the room was talking and doing other things, so I missed quite a bit. However, the rape scene turned my stomach, as it should have.

I guess for me an affecting war movie is one I felt I needed to see, benefitted somehow from viewing it, want others to see it, but have a hard time watching it more than once.

[> War Flicks (rambling) -- Eric, 18:14:15 03/03/02 Sun

Oddly enough, after years of military fascination, I can't really say I've seen any war movie that stood out as truly great. One reason is that every war movie made is made for a specific objective. Prior to the '90s most were made by film makers from the Vietnam era. So naturally most intended to show war as merely stupid, gory, and for the lighter films, utterly absurd. Galapoli is one of these. These films are great cautionary tales, but I will tell you that some wars NEED to be fought, even with their Galipoli like aspects. Others focus on war as an action movie, like the Guns of Navarrone or a few of the John Wayne movies. Others are not really pro war, but try to show that some wars are justified. Saving Private Ryan was one of these. (Great first 20 minutes, sticky sentiment afterwards.) Blackhawk Down is a great slug in the gut war film - but the book is better. I absolutely refuse to see We Were Soldiers Once because the ads relentlessly exploit America's current patriotic sentiment to sell it. (Just because I'm a patriot doesn't mean I approve of that behavior). But the book is very good.

The thing is is that warfare condenses everything positive and negative about the human experience. There is greed, stupidity, cruelty, atrocity, terror, horror, sorrow, and death. There is also courage, self sacrifice, faith, the joy of victory, love, honor, and even a ferocious beauty to it. (Men used to revere war because they believed that it could build inner manly virtues. Too bad they never considered that those virtues were already in them and could be put to better use.) Its very hard for a mere movie to catch all this.

My theory for the missing wedding ring (Spoilers for AYW) -- Felipe, 07:03:19 03/02/02 Sat

Hi everyone!

I read a few posts down that when they showed Riley's and Sam's hands together, there was no wedding ring. I read that maybe it was a conspiracy, or that Riley was making it all up, but I think they don't have rings on because they are shiny, and usually, military in special operations do not wear anything shiny, or else they might give away their position in the dark. Guns and knives are treated with special substances to lose their shinyness, for the same reason.

Well, that's just a guess, tell me what you think.


[> Re: My theory for the missing wedding ring (Spoilers for AYW) -- LadyStarlight, 07:46:59 03/02/02 Sat

Also, if you're wearing a ring and it gets caught on something, you can have that finger ripped off. (the things I retain from first aid courses....)

[> [> Also, it's hard to pick up women... -- JodithGrace, 09:12:20 03/02/02 Sat

at the DoubleMeat Palace, if you're wearing a wedding ring. Seriously, The whole "Riley's married!" bombshell would have been a dead giveaway right from the start if he had shown up wearing a wedding ring.

It's an essay on "Restless". I'm also new here, be nice -- SCWLC, 14:34:51 03/02/02 Sat

Title: The Over-Analysis of "Restless"
Disclaimer: I don’t think I can even really claim the interpretation.
Rating: Uh... It’s a descriptive/analytic essay (with no real point either) G?
Summary: Read the title.
Notes: None really, all I'm going to say is that it was suggested that I post this here. Part two will be posted immediately.
Feedback: Please! I wanna know what people think of my insanity. Write to Now on to the (dare I call it that?) essay.


Overall there are several layers to the overall meaning of the episode. The First Slayer is trying to cripple the members of the Slayerettes who participated in the mind-melding spell done to defeat Adam. She is doing this by having them face some of their most powerful fears. She is also trying to get Buffy to admit that as the slayer she is alone and has to be so to be a real slayer.

The interesting thing about the fears the others face, is that they are all about identity. It makes sense, in one way that the First Slayer is trying to explain to them that they are not the slayer, Buffy is. Because of this the others should not be there. Before I get into the central analysis, I must state that until what I call the rebuttals section, my interpretations are the ones the First Slayer is attempting to foist on the Scooby gang. These dreams, as the endeavours of the First to kill and refocus the gang are supposed to give these messages of uselessness and despair to the dreamer. I have therefore interpreted them in that way.


In the first scene of Willow’s dream, she and Tara have a conversation about how their pet kitten ought to have chosen a name by now. Willow says that "She will, she’s not all grown yet." The whole discussion winds up focussing on how "They will find out . . . about you."

The conversation is a metaphor about how Willow is hiding some truth about herself from other people. Miss Kitty, the pet kitten, is used to represent Willow. Tara’s worry about how they should have been told her name by now, is the First Slayer saying that Willow should have told people who she truly is by now. The issue of names has to do with the belief of many magic workers that if you know a person’s true name then you know who they are. Willow, in saying that Miss Kitty isn’t all grown yet, is saying that she doesn’t have to let people know who she is, because she hasn’t finished developing her personality.

When Tara tells Willow that she’s going to have to tell the others eventually, Willow says that she can’t because she all this homework to do. Willow is talking about the personality she holds as a member of the slayer’s inner circle of friends. The homework is her actions as a member of the Slayerettes When she says she doesn’t want to leave, it means she doesn’t want to leave the inner circle. She’s safe from being discovered to be a geek there.

On another note, Joss may have wanted to have Tara double as the First Slayer in Willow’s dream as well as Buffy’s. In this case that adds the whole spin of Willow trying to "write out" a slayer using the first as a template. Willow is writing on "The Slayer" in general, and Tara’s comment about how Willow knows her name takes on the extra meaning that Willow doesn’t understand what being the Slayer is all about.

The next scene is brief and is merely a reiteration that Willow is bad at pretending to be a cool Slayerette. Scene three, the play, represents the persona’s people put on for the sake of society, survival, etc. Everyone there is all dressed up for the play while Willow is dressed in her regular clothes. Buffy tells Willow that her costume is great and that no one will know the truth about her. Willow is confused by this causing Buffy to lament that Willow is already in character, and she should have thought of that. Buffy as the flashy "Chicago" cast member, Riley’s costume as "Cowboy Guy," Harmony’s milkmaid outfit, and Giles as the director are there as metaphors for the social personae of the people playing them. Buffy has always played herself as the sophisticated valley girl to the uninformed observer, Riley is the big ox from Iowa, Harmony has always pretended to be innocent and sweet and even when she was human she was a bitch, and Giles does have a position of authority.

Willow tries to figure out how they can already be putting on a play on the first day of class, while everyone around her rapidly shuffles about understanding what’s going on and where they fit in. Riley repeating over and over that he’s "Cowboy Guy" and Willow should have gotten there sooner to get a better role, while Harmony states that Willow had better not step on her cues only goes to reiterate that Willow does not understand anything about the big game of real life and that she is mistaking her role as a Slayerette for her true personality. Indeed, she is, as Harmony puts it, steeping on everyone’s cues.

There is a gathering in the wings and Giles starts doing a backstage pep talk with his little troupe. There is, again mention of Willow stepping on everyone’s cues, and also, the comment that "Acting is not about behaving, it's about hiding. The audience wants to find you, strip you naked, and eat you alive, so hide." These acting metaphors are all about the masks people wear to avoid being eaten alive by society, or in Willow’s case, demons. Willow’s mask is considered inappropriate by the First Slayer.

Willow, in her confusion wanders through the wings, and runs into Tara. Willow runs on about the play, and drama class until Tara, witnessing Willow’s confusion tells her that she (Willow) doesn’t understand yet. Tara disappears when Willow turn around, and then Willow is chased by what we later find out is the First Slayer. At this point Willow seems to realise that she is dreaming, but does not understand what the message of the dream is.

She’s rescued by Buffy, who demands to know why Willow is still in costume. When Willow is confused, Buffy rips off Willows clothes revealing the geek from first season BtVS. After a failed attempt to read a book report, Willow is attacked and has the breath (spirit) sucked out of her by the creature that followed her, while everyone looks on in bored amusement.

The last scene is the most blunt of the scenes depicting Willow as a geek in wicca’s clothing. Buffy, after she rips off Willow’s "costume", says "Much better," followed by Harmony asking "Is everyone quite clear on this now?". The Play is long over and Willow should get back to being herself.


As we enter Xander’s dream, he asks "What’s wrong with Willow?" the response he receives is "Big faker," tying in with Willow’s dream. There is a discussion of "Apocalypse Now", during which Xander states, somewhat desperately, that "It gets better, I remember it gets better." Giles then says in tones of sudden enlightenment that "Oh! I get it, it’s all about the journey isn’t it?". Thus the message that Xander is going nowhere in life is first stated. Xander, in saying that he remembers "it" getting better is saying that life is supposed to get better. As he heads up the stairs to go to the bathroom, Buffy mockingly asks him whether he needs help with it, to which he responds, "Got a system." This is , I think, the First Slayer’s way of asking if he needs help to get by in life. She’s mocking his lack of progress.

In scene two, he has a conversation with Buffy’s mother. It smacks of an Oedipus complex, (yes I would put it past Joss) as they discuss how everyone has gone ahead and that Xander should catch up. When Buffy’s mother says that she’s heard people say they can catch up before, it also carries the meaning that she’s stuck behind like Xander. She invites him to join her, and Xander says he needs to go to the bathroom first. She says "Don’t get lost." The majority of the scene is, again, based around the not being able to catch up with the others, but there is the first dip into the family issue that arises later (aka Xander’s Oedipus complex over Buffy’s mother).

In the bathroom, Xander finds himself scrutinised by the Initiative, and decides to use another bathroom. This is merely a comment on how he feels like everyone is waiting for him to to something. The First Slayer intimates that Xander is a bug under a microscope. After some wandering Xander finds himself in his basement. The door at the top of the stairs rattles and Xander says "That’s not the way out." The way out of his life in the basement is not to fight through the demons waiting at the top of the stairs.

He leaves the basement and finds his way to a park, where Giles and Spike are on the swings, and Buffy is playing in the sandbox. Giles comments on how Spike is like a son to him, and Buffy calls him "big brother". Not in the 1984 sense, mind, but in the family sense. Getting back to Buffy in a moment, I shall discuss the G-man. Xander responds to Giles’ comment that Spike is like a son to him by saying that he was into that for a while, but he’s got other stuff going on. Followed by a shot of Xander being the ice cream truck guy. This has the first meaning that Xander was into having Giles be his father figure at one point, his father was a jerk after all. Now he has other things to do. Then there is the side issue that while Xander has stuff going on, it’s loser in a van selling ice cream stuff.

Xander then talks to Buffy who had asked him when he first arrived if he was sure it was them he was looking for. Was he looking for this "Slayer’s Bunch", or a family. Xander asks Buffy if she’s sure she should be playing in such a big sandbox. The sandbox then turns into a desert behind Buffy, but when the shot moves back again, it’s just a sandbox. The message being sent to Xander is that while Buffy’s life is a really big and scary desert to Xander, to Buffy it’s just a sandbox. She’s the Slayer, he’s not, and he should get out now.

Buffy also has the easily interpreted comment that "I’m way ahead of you big brother." Xander is puzzled by this comment, and yet it makes sense. When Buffy arrived in Sunnydale she was alone, and didn’t have anyone to show her the ropes in school, or to defend her from the non supernatural stuff. Xander became her "White Knight," see "Killed by Death". Xander was an older brother type of person for her. She’s moved on though, and he is still just the Xand-man of four years ago.

At the ice cream truck, Xander talks to Anya who asks him if he knows where he’s going. Then she mentions that she thinks she’s going to get into vengeance again. As Xander exclaims that society has rules, (and an endzone, mixing football with metaphorical dreams, bad combo) there’s giggling in the back and Xander turns around to reprimand Tara and Willow. They apologize, saying he’s just so interesting. Xander says he’s going places and then the girls kiss as Xander stares. Then they ask whether he wants to join them.

Now, the question about where he’s going is obvious. The part where he’s interrupted by Willow and Tara in the middle of his rant is about how while he’s following his rules, boundaries, and endzones, other people are breaking taboos (Well, I suppose two lesbians making out in the back of an ice cream truck is sort of a taboo) and going places while he’s just sort of cruising to nowhere. Anya tells him it’s okay, she’s learned how to steer by gesturing emphatically, I suspect yet another comment on fruitless gestures at life, she’s learned from Xander how to make meaningless movements instead of actually steering. He can go join Willow and Tara.

So, off he goes, and winds up back in the basement. This is to emphasise that while Xander can struggle all he wants, he will never learn how to navigate his life, and he’ll always wind up back in the basement. The door rattles again, and Xander says "That’s not the way out." again. This begins to suggest that maybe there is no way out. Something chases Xander to and through the halls of Sunnydale U. It chases him to Giles, who expresses surprise that Xander isn’t with the others. Again with the leaving behind of Xander. Giles says something in French, which has some meaning to the effect that Xander’s friends are all ‘there’. There was some other stuff I didn’t catch. The translated bit I’ve got indicates the being left behind theme again, and the untranslatable French is to show Xander that even when he gets explicit instructions on how to go places they might as well be Greek (or French as the case may be).

Anya shows up and says that Xander needs to come with her, Giles says that he told Xander that, and they, and several students drag Xander to some potted plants and turn him upside down. His life is beyond his control.

He finds himself in a bizarro world "Apocalypse Now". Snyder shows up and bluntly tells Xander he’s useless on the First Slayer’s behalf. I don’t think translation is needed there. The question is asked about where Xander is from, to which he replies "Well the basement mostly." "Were you born there?" "Possibly". To misquote from I don’t know what, "From the basement he shall rise, and to the basement he shall return." Xander won’t escape the basement.

He winds up running, chased by the creature that chased Willow, past the Scooby gang, who ignore him (he’s useless), and winds up back in the basement. He says the basement line again, then his father bursts in. His father rants at him in what sounds like the daily ration of parental abuse, finishing by saying that Xander hasn’t the heart, his role in the spell done in the previous episode. His father plunges his hand into Xander’s chest, then changes into the creature. The message? You’re just like your family, and you’ll never leave the basement, no matter how much you try. Xander has no special skills, abilities, gifts, or anything to separate him from the trash that comprises his family.


Giles’ dream begins with him apparently trying to hypnotise Buffy. Buffy mocks him, and he responds by telling her it’s always been done like this. Finally she breaks out laughing. This is the introduction of the Giles theme of guilt. Giles is to feel guilt over having hypnotised Buffy into being something other than the Slayer. The basic notion here is that Giles tried to mould a slayer to his liking and she mocked his methods, and went on to be a great slayer.

Next, Giles, Olivia, and Buffy are walking through an amusement park and Buffy is bouncing around dressed like a little child, while Giles and Olivia move along more sedately, like parents who refuse to be dragged along by a precocious youngster. Olivia is pushing an empty baby carriage. I will from now on use pram because it’s shorter than baby carriage. This contains a simple meaning. Giles has tried to make Buffy into his offspring, because he’s never really had any of his own. This message is emphasized by the empty pram pushed by the current Giles love interest.

When they arrive at a ‘game’ which consists of Buffy throwing balls at a pretend vampire, Giles is somewhat mean and when he corrects Buffy’s technique. Buffy hits the vampire the second time around, and whirls about expecting approval. Giles tells her he doesn’t have any treats, and Buffy pouts. Olivia says he doesn’t need to be so harsh, and Buffy gets some cotton candy. This is also about the Watchers’ tendency, as the First sees it, to treat slaying as some sort of carnival game, not a grim hunt.

Then the telling part of the scene occurs. Giles says "Now you’re going to get that all over your face," Buffy turns around with a mud mask on her face, the colours turn to a photo negative, and Giles says "I know you." Giles has taken the joy out of slaying for Buffy. He was useful at first when it came to technique but he’s tried to turn her into something other than the Slayer. He’s disapproving because at any moment she might turn into an uncontrolled real slayer.

The mud mask moment has a dual meaning. The obvious one is that Giles knows on some level that the First Slayer is in his dreams. The second one is that he knows Buffy is the Slayer. When Giles says "Now you’re going to get that all over your face, it translates to mean "Don’t enjoy being the Slayer, you’re supposed to be my serious little puppet daughter." The First Slayer sees Giles’ actions as an attempt to turn Buffy into a surrogate daughter with some superpowers. Moreover, his work is taking away the savage core of what Buffy is. She’s not a person, child, or tool, she is *The Slayer*.

The moment is interrupted by Spike gesturing and telling Giles to hurry up or he’ll miss everything. When Giles gets inside, he sees Olivia weeping over the overturned pram, and Spike is being photographed by a large crowd who are ooh-ing and aah-ing with each new pose. Giles demands that people not hurry him, and Spike says that he’s hired himself out as an attraction. When Giles responds "Sideshow freak?" Spike replies that at least it’s showbiz. While Olivia is weeping over the fact that Giles will never have a family, (or something to that effect) The conversation with Spike is the part that holds interest.

Giles’ mocking comment is a comment on Spike’s place in the supernatural community. He’s now a sideshow freak, a vampire who can’t kill humans. Spike’s response cuts just as deeply, "At least it’s showbiz". At least he’s part of that community in a way Giles can never be. When Giles expresses confusion about what he’s supposed to be doing, Spike mocks him by asking why he hasn’t figured it out yet with his "enormous squishy frontal lobes". When Giles says that he still thinks Buffy should have killed Spike, Spike promptly strikes a "Jesus on the crucifix" pose. These comments, keeping in mind that they are, in fact, a conversation with the First Slayer, are directed to her, and when Giles says "I still think Buffy should have killed you," he means the First Slayer. Because the dream is about Giles’ guilt over trying to kill, change, mold, or otherwise alter the Slayer from her essence.

Giles moves onward to The Bronze. When he arrives there he starts by apologising and learns that Xander and Willow are at "Death’s door." It’s demanded that he must have an explanation. Then he starts to sing, and makes a big production out of telling the two on the couch what to look for. Suddenly, his microphone fails, and Giles starts to crawl following the wire. This is mainly about how Giles makes a show of telling people what’s going on and where to research. Possibly even a complaint about Giles telling Willow and Xander something that they already knew. The biggest message is, however, that things are going on all around him and he’s not needed, called upon, and is the last to know because he no longer has all the answers. Maybe he never did.

As Giles crawls through the darkened backstage area, he fumbles after the mike wire, and comes to a big pile of wire. Buried in the middle is the watch he was hypnotising Buffy with at the beginning of the dream. Giles realises who is chasing him, but the thing that followed and ‘killed’ Xander and Willow just slices his head open. As Giles "dies" he says "And I can defeat you ...with my intellect. I ...can cripple you with my thoughts. Of course, you underestimate me. You couldn't know. You never had a Watcher."

Ultimately, what the First Slayer is saying is that all of Giles’ intellectual pursuits and efforts are like crawling around in the dark. That the need for all that crawling stems from the "hypnosis" Giles used on Buffy. There’s of course a double meaning at the end, when Giles is talking about how the First Slayer underestimates him. The first is that, well, the First Slayer underestimates the watcher. The second, is that the First Slayer, unlike Buffy, never had a watcher, so she wasn’t crippled the way Buffy was. In the end, Giles is just a regular guy who’s trying to manipulate the slayer to his own ends, who cripples the slayer with his presence.


We open the dream with Buffy asleep in her dorm room bed. Anya is in Willow’s bed and is pleading with Buffy to wake up. Anya seems terrified. As Buffy refuses she rolls over, looks up, and sees a creature chained up and hanging over her bed. In short, people plead with Buffy to wake up and defend them from evil. Buffy is ignoring the responsibilities hanging over her head.

The next scene, with it’s vast vast numbers of interpretations, begins as Buffy sits up in bed, startled. It’s the bed from all those dreams with Faith. Then Buffy comments that she just made that bed with Faith, and Tara asks "For who?" Which leads to the question of whether you’ve ever heard the adage, "You’ve made your bed, now you have to lie in it." Buffy made her choice to BE the Slayer, now she must abide by it. Tara’s question is did she make that bed for herself or Faith? Also one must remember that Tara was borrowed to represent the First Slayer and the essence of slayerness. This adds the extra issue of whether Buffy made the bed for her, or her slayer self.

Buffy starts to look around and asks whether her friends are there. Tara responds by telling Buffy that she’s lost them. Buffy then says that she thinks they need her to find them. The message is simply that Buffy’s friends can’t go where Buffy goes, or perhaps that Buffy has become careless with them. Either way the message is that she doesn’t really need them. Buffy’s reply is that they need her.

Buffy looks at a clock reading 7:30 am, and mentions how late it is. Tara tells her that the clock is all wrong and hands Buffy a tarot card reading Manus. The card that was used to represent Buffy in the spell done to defeat Adam. This is an introduction to the notion of Buffy being separate from the rest of the human race. Buffy shouldn’t be judging her time by the clock on the dresser because it’s all wrong for her. She should be running her life according to her place as the slayer. Buffy responds to this by saying she’ll never need those. Tara looks at her and essentially says that Buffy thinks she knows what’s going on but that she doesn’t really. Buffy just frowns and repeats that she needs to find her friends.

The scene between Tara, or the First Slayer, and Buffy is particularly fascinating because it is essentially stating the view Buffy takes of her role as the Slayer, and compares it to the view the First Slayer has of her calling. For Buffy, her role is that of protector and helper. She is inextricably bound to the normal human world because her place is to preserve it while the First sees the role as one of attack rather than defence. To her, the Slayer is a destroyer of demons, not a defender of humanity.

The scene shifts to Buffy walking down a hallway in school. She pulls over a passerby to ask where her friends are. When he doesn’t know she lets him go and says plaintively that "They wouldn’t just disappear." The First Slayer is again hinting at something through this moment. She is suggesting Buffy is reaching out to the wrong people, ie/ humanity. Buffy continues a little down the hall to see a hole in the wall, and finds her mother there. The whole of the next exchange is based around the notion that Joyce is deliberately living in ignorance. It reaches a point where Joyce suggests that Buffy could break her mother out, but she is abandoned as Buffy spots Xander climbing some stairs and dashes off to catch up.

Naturally this is a combination of mockery from the First and Buffy’s guilty conscience about never actually taking the time to get her mother out of her self-imposed ignorance. It is also about how the people around Buffy can never understand Buffy’s world from the limited confines of their own, and more importantly, she hasn’t the time to deal with their ignorance.

Buffy arrives in a room that looks like a part of the Initiative with Riley and some guy sitting at a glass table. Buffy asks him when he got back, and Riley tells her that the debriefing went really well. He tells her that he is now part of a plan to gain world domination, "The key element? Coffeemakers that think." Buffy questions the wisdom of this, and then Riley responds falling into a melodramatic pose saying, "Baby we’re the government. It’s what we do." This is a clear point about the arrogance of human government and how they deal with things beyond their comprehension.

The other guy then speaks up, saying that Buffy is uncomfortable with certain concepts. With the attention drawn to him he says that "Aggression is a natural human tendency. Though you [Buffy] and me [Adam] come by it another way." It is at this point the viewer recognizes the man’s voice as the human/demon cyborg. As he says this, the creature we have seen in previous shots briefly shadows Buffy. Buffy says that neither of them is a demon, a statement which Adam seems to doubt. This is a fascinating moment as the First Slayer speaks using Adam as a medium through which to give Buffy the message that she is not human, and does not belong with them. By comparing the Slayer both to demons and to the hybridisation that comprised Adam, the First makes very clear the point that Buffy is not a creature of nature, but of the supernatural.

The creature behind her vanishes and Riley says that she should leave because they have "A lot of filing, giving things names." to do. Buffy asks Adam what his name was before. He responds saying that no one can remember. Another blow to humanity and the Initiative types. They consider filing and giving things names to be really important, and that the only reason the men are memorable is because of Adam. No one can even remember his name.

At this point the lights vanish, replaced by emergency lighting, and sirens start sounding and a voice says "The demons have escaped. Please run for your lives." Riley and Adam get up indicating they’re going to build a pillow fort to hide behind while the demons attack. Buffy whispers that she has weapons, but no one stops to listen to her. This being yet another insult to the Initiative types with the statement that regular humans are to the Slayer what a pillow fort is to a real set of weapons, but that they also can’t understand her.

When she kneels down to get her weapons, she finds her bag is full of mud. She moves her hands through it briefly, then covers her face in it. The scene, as with Giles, turns to a photo negative. Then Buffy looks up, the colours return to normal, and Riley cruelly says, "Thought you were looking for your friends. Okay, killer...if that's the way you want it. I guess you're on your own." He then walks off.

This is extremely interesting, not just because of the parallells between the season five episode where Riley breaks up with Buffy, but also because of how very neatly this underlies the point the First is making over the dichotomy between the natural and the supernatural worlds. The First is speaking through Riley telling Buffy that she can’t go both ways. Either she is looking for her friends, a normal life, and a picket fence, or she’s the Slayer. If she’s going to react as the slayer, represented by the mud mask, she can’t be one of the pillow fort people. Riley calls her killer because that is what the Slayer is. A killer of demons. If she wants it that way she is alone.

The blue emergency lighting returns to normal as Buffy stands up and walks off. As the camera view follows her feet, the floor turns to sand, scrub and bushes appear, and we find ourselves looking at the desert seen by both Xander and Willow. Buffy says she’s never going to find her friends there. Tara then appears telling her that she didn’t come there for her friends. This is another repetition that Buffy as the Slayer is a solitary creature unconnected with the rest of humanity.

A conversation between Buffy and the First follows spoken through Tara who says that someone must speak for the First while Buffy insists that the First speak for herself. Buffy demands why she is being followed and where her friends are, and the first refuses to answer her questions, instead speaking through Tara to tell Buffy what the essence of the Slayer is, "I have no speech. No name. I live in the action of death, the blood cry, the penetrating wound. I am destruction. Absolute ... alone." Buffy responds that she is not alone, and goes on to strike back at the First verbally, saying, "I talk. I shop, I sneeze. I'm gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back. There's trees in the desert since you moved out. And I don't sleep on a bed of bones." She demands the return of her friends which prompts a fight between the first and current slayers.

This artistically excellent scene is very much to the point, as Buffy and the First simply tell each other what they each believe. The First is a proponent of the solitary huntress way of being, and is a savage uncivilised creature, but is also much more in tune with her predatory side than the modern and civilised Buffy. The fight that breaks out between them is almost a representation of the ongoing struggle Buffy has between herself as Buffy summers, and herself as the Slayer.

Buffy tries to get the First to stop fighting her, saying that they don’t fight for dominance like that anymore. It doesn’t work and they go rolling down a dune. As they continue to struggle, we hear Buffy command "Enough!". She seems to have woken up when the First grabs her and stabs her repeatedly with a stake. Buffy then gets snarky, and in the middle of her rant about hairstyles, wakes up.

Buffy’s attempts to rationalise with the First are, of course, futile because the warring is all the First knows. Diplomacy, having been invented long after her death is such a foreign concept that any attempt to do so is useless. Buffy demanding the end to the fighting is representative of her taking mastery over her unruly savage half. The bit of the dream that occurs in Buffy’s living room is her reiteration that she is in control of herself and being the Slayer is secondary to being Buffy Summers.

This is contradicted at the very end of the episode as Buffy passes by her bedroom door and hears Tara’s voice telling her again that, "You think you know... what's to come ... what you are. You haven't even begun." Casting doubt on Buffy’s belief that the First is "not the source of me."

Restless essay: Part two -- SCWLC, 14:45:04 03/02/02 Sat

Notes on pt 2: I have been informed that I should mention the various references to the fifth season in this. I'm not doing that for one very important reason. I'm writing this from my notes that I wrote within two weeks of first seeing the episode in S4. I can give a side interpretation of the S5 hints if you bother me enough. Anyway, on with the insanity!

Tara, The Cheese Guy, and other avatars

Obviously, most of the characters in these dreams are used by the First Slayer as means of communication between her and the dreamers. There are certain representations that are more plainly speaking directly from and for the First. Tara acts as the voice of the First for both Willow and Buffy, Giles receives his messages from Spike, and Xander is given his judgment through Snyder and a man we assume to be his father.

Each of these ‘appearances’ of the First is chosen to more perfectly emphasise the point the First is making about the dreamers. Tara is chosen to speak for the First in Willow’s case because Willow’s dream is all about what others think of her. Tara, being Willow’s girlfriend, carries the most weight with Willow when it comes to what people think of her. This only emphasises the point that Willow is hiding from people, because what one is willing to tell a friend and what one is willing to tell a lover differ significantly.

Obviously the First uses other people, most notably Buffy, to tell Willow she is lying to herself and others. Buffy is another excellent choice because she is Willow’s best friend and privy to more than most people about Willow. However, in terms of the most definitive voice speaking for the First, Tara is the clearest representation.

In Xander’s dream he is told that he is useless, not going anywhere, and that he can never escape because he is a useless layabout like the rest of his family. These messages are delivered by the two figures most able to make these judgments, his father, using the notion of ‘it takes one to know one’, and Principal Snyder, who is a, relatively speaking, unbiased observer. Because of their positions as both insider and outsider, these opinions mean more to Xander as beliefs about his self and his future.

Anya and Joyce are also used as secondary representatives. Joyce, as another person who has been left behind as well as being ‘useless’ when it comes to the supernaturally related issues, is another who knows better than anyone else about Xander as the team third wheel. Anya is Xander’s girlfriend and, like Tara, is privy to the sides of Xander’s personality which are usually not seen by others.

For Giles, Spike is the perfect vessel because of the situation which developed over the course of the fourth season. As the rest of the Slayerettes began to gain in confidence, knowledge, and skill, there was less need for Giles as the constant research maven, and instructor. It was particularly galling, no doubt, that Buffy was relying on Spike more, and Giles less. Spike also provides a sharp contrast between himself and Giles in they are both British, but Spike is young, (sort of) strong, exciting, and all the things which Giles is not.

Finally, as was brought up in a previous section. Spike is truly a part of the supernatural world. He is a vampire. An impotent one, but a vampire nonetheless. The nature of the First Slayer’s complaint against Giles, as told through Spike, is that he is a wholly human creature who presumes to understand what a slayer is. Her belief is that he has no concept of the essence of a slayer, and is therefore no more than an impediment to Buffy’s development. Spike, as a member of the community of those who hunt humans, and are in turn hunted by the Slayer has a better understanding of what Buffy’s essence is comprised of.

In the dreams of these three Buffy is also used as a manifestation of the First, as she is a slayer and uses the same forces that were used by the First when she was alive. Partially she shows how the Slayer can see through the pathetic pretenders Buffy’s friends are, and also to show the ways in which Willow, Xander and Giles are not able to exist in the same world as she does.

This comes through more strongly in Xander and Giles’ dreams than in Willow’s, where the bonds Giles and Xander have with Buffy make her the perfect choice to speak to their insecurities. Xander has always looked at Buffy in a romantic way, even now that he has Anya, he still sees Buffy in much the same way he saw her that first day of school. Giles has always seen Buffy as his charge, an almost-daughter, a student, and a fellow warrior. The First Slayer takes these views and both slams the romantic and loving assumptions of the two, and reminds them that Buffy cannot truly be those things to them. She is first and foremost the Slayer.

Tara’s role as speaker for the First is reprised in Buffy’s dream. Obviously Buffy cannot be used by the First as this is Buffy’s dream, but Tara, as an outsider who is intimately connected to the world of the supernatural, is the perfect person to use as the mouthpiece of the First Slayer. She is neutral, but even at this time before Buffy truly knows Tara at all well, the innate wisdom Tara seems to carry with her is evident. The First can speak through the witch without the fear of Buffy’s knowledge of her interfering with the message, and the kindness Tara exudes from her pores only gives the viewer the feeling that her message can be trusted.

Riley and Adam, the other central manifestations of the dream, provide Buffy with that push of the normal human people who understand that Buffy has no place among them, and the connection that she has the creatures she hunts. Adam, as a combination of the demons, humans and cold unfeeling technology, has a unique perspective of the line Buffy tries to tread from day to day. Riley is a human who understands that the slayer cannot be understood by puny human minds such as his own.

Buffy’s mother is a small secondary manifestation to remind Buffy that although she may have originated in the limited world that her mother represents, she exists in a much larger area. This is simply a focussed statement of how those closest to the slayer still cannot follow where she leads.

The ‘Cheese Guy’ appears in all four dreams as a bizarre metaphorical summary of the message of the dream. The cheese represents the supernatural world as it relates to Buffy and the dreamer. Willow’s quote "I’ve made a little space for the cheese slices," has to do with how she’s created a section of her life that has to do with magic. She isn’t a true witch, and she certainly isn’t a slayer. She’s simply doing her time as a Slayerette as some sort of sick hobby.

Xander receives the statement that "These . . . will not protect you." This does not relate to protecting him from being killed by monsters, it has to do with protection from becoming like the family he was born into as opposed to the supernatural family he is now a part of. Only, he’s the only one of his ‘family’ who has no connection to the important stuff in life, ie\ the supernatural. This association with the supernatural world is not enough to separate him from the world of his genetic family.

Giles receives the statement that "I wear the cheese. It does not wear me." He is being told that he wears his supernatural essence. He is not supernatural, he is a human with some knowledge and some friends of the paranormal world, his tweed guy personality is him, not merely a persona he puts on for the ignorant masses.

The reason the Cheese Guy just waves the slices at Buffy and says nothing, is because he is telling her that she is (hem hem) the cheese. Her essence is nonhuman and paranormal. She has no separation from the world of the supernatural as Giles Xander and Willow do.

Finally the last manifestation is the almost corporeal form the First Slayer takes. The animal we see following Xander and Willow, the savage who attacks Giles and Buffy, and the silhouette seen in scene after scene. She stands behind Buffy as Adam speaks with her representing the animals forces lurking behind the valley girl face Buffy shows the world. The Slayer lurks in every corner behind Buffy, and she stalks the others through the dreams. She is the something out there that so terrifies the others.

Mud masks and other weirdness

There are several recurring symbols and actions in the course of the episode, and each one holds a particular message for the dreamer. The first of these is the desert. This isn’t precisely a single object, or rather, it is a really big object. The desert appears in Willow, Xander, and Buffy’s dreams. This is used as a symbol of the world the Slayer does walk in ("The Slayer does not walk in this world," The First Slayer, through Tara). While both Willow and Xander react with fear and do not enter the desert, Buffy’s world shifts on its own from the regular human one to that of a slayer.

The desert first appears in Willow’s dream as she speaks with Tara about Miss Kitty choosing her name. As she discusses this, and through it her reasons for being uncertain about her own identity, (see above section on Willow’s dream for details) she moves over to the window of the room and opens the curtain to reveal a desert. We see what we later discover is the First Slayer moving about, but at the time she is merely an indistinct shape behind the brush. This is our first glimpse of the world of the First. When Willow says, "It’s so bright. And there’s something out there," she shrinks away from the sun streaming through the window. Tara, on the other hand, simply sits in the sun and looks at Willow. This may not seem like much, but Tara, as a direct manifestation of the First, being completely comfortable in the light, while Willow can’t look into it shows an essential difference between the two.

In Xander’s dream, it is seen as he speaks with Buffy. She is playing in a sandbox, while Giles and Spike are on the swings. Xander makes the comment that "It’s a pretty big sandbox," and the camera cuts to a view of Buffy sitting in the desert saying, "I’m okay. It’s not coming for me yet." This is much more telling than the first scene with this symbol. In this, while Xander is hesitant about the desert, Buffy is completely comfortable. The slayer can play in her sandbox, but to everyone else, it’s a scary desert.

Finally, it shows up in Buffy’s dream as the backdrop to her meeting with the First. It appears just following her confrontation with Riley and Adam. The camera shifts to follow Buffy’s feet, and the floor is gradually covered with sand, and then small shrubs begin to appear. The shot then cuts to a more general shot to follow Buffy as she walks in the desert. When she comments that she’ll never find her friends here, and then Tara replies that that is why Buffy came, it is a tacit admission that the desert i the realm of the slayer where no one else can follow. It is also the pointed remark that Buffy came there because she is the Slayer, and not one of those normal human types like Willow, Xander or Giles.

The question of why a desert as opposed to a graveyard or some other place, is that the First Slayer was one of the first humans ever to walk the earth. The terrain she would be familiar with is the area and time she lived. At the time and place when she had appeared, the environment would have been a desert, or at least very dry plains. By bringing Buffy to that environment she is trying to reconnect the current slayer to her roots.

Xander and Willow react with fear to the desert because they aren’t meant to be there. This plane of existence and understanding is one inhabited solely by slayers. The message given by the First through the other symbols and metaphors is to indicate how little the two belong in Buffy’s world. So, Xander who has always tried to protect Buffy from the world she is a part of, is told that while Buffy is safe in that desert, he is not. Willow, on the other hand, is trying to become a part of this unusual existence but gazes out on the desert commenting on how "It’s so bright." When confronted by the reality she wants to be a part of, she cannot even see that world properly.

Another recurring symbol is the unmade/made up bed. This is not a symbol that appears during the course of the episode very much. Where it has occurred is during the course of the series. This particular metaphor is first seen in "Graduation 2". Buffy and Faith are making up a bed as Faith tells Buffy what the Mayor’s weakness is. It appears again during "This Year’s Girl" seemingly as a warning that Faith is coming out of her coma. The basic image in the first two times is of the two girls making a bed together. The third time, in "Restless", Buffy comments on how she and Faith had just finished making the bed.

This symbol has a couple of levels and, as I mentioned before, may very well relate to the old saying "You made your bed, now you have to lie in it." That particular meaning, that they have made their choices and now have to live with them is shown by the progression of the dreams. In the first, they are close and working together. In the second, Buffy has stabbed Faith and is still holding the knife. In the third appearance of this motif Buffy is alone, and looking at the work she and Faith had done together that has been wrecked. This series of dreams culminating in the segment in "Restless" show this progression of choices and their consequences.

Another layer has to do with what could be termed the "sisterhood of slayers." There is a common bond between all slayers, and the action of making a bed has a certain amount of familial connotation. It is the sort of thing, stereotypically, sisters might do together. This suggestion of sisterly activity deliberately offsets the anger and dislike between the two, while demonstrating the similarities between their relationship and that of siblings. Those similarities appear in the jealousy each girl felt for the other, as well as the connection as the only people who could understand the burden and gift of being a slayer.

The sisterhood aspect relates to the First Slayer because she is the eldest of this collection of girls. She holds the place of the firstborn and her feelings on the matter do, in some ways, hold a resemblance to that of an older sister. She feels a combination of resentment at the treatment the later slayers received in having watchers, but there is a certain smugness at her independence from these parental figures.

The bed is trying to evoke that connection between all slayers and to give Buffy the sensation of connection with her roots, as it were. The rumpled bed is also an attempt to bring out another layer to the dream. In each of the dreams in which the bed is a factor something is occurring on or with the furniture that prevents the bed from being made. In the first, there is a cat which keeps morphing into Angel and back again, in the second Faith bleeds on the bed, and in the third the bed is completely unmade.

The message in these is that while Buffy and Faith have been trying to determine the exact nature of a slayer their efforts have constantly failed. The failure is represented by the imperfectly made bed. When Buffy comments that she and Faith had just finished making the bed she’s suggesting that they had settled the matter of what constitutes a slayer. The First asks who they made it for, implying that they were not making the bed for a slayer but for someone or something else.

Another symbol of importance is the mud mask. It appears in both Buffy and Giles’ dreams. The first time we see it is in Giles’ dream as he is chastising Buffy about her ball throwing technique at the fair. Right after Buffy is given the cotton candy as a reward for a good throw Giles says that she’s going to get it all over her face. When the camera cuts back to her she’s wearing the mud mask.

In Buffy’s dream she puts it on when the demons escape their cells in the Initiative-like space while Riley and Adam have run off to build a blanket fort. When the two men do this, Buffy whispers that she has weapons and reaches into a bag which has appeared at her feet. Instead of weapons there is mud, and Buffy, after a brief pause, smears it all over her face.

In both of these instances the mask represents the primal force of the slayer coming to the surface. Giles’ remark that "I know you," is, in part, reference to the primal force of the First Slayer whom he is recognising has taken Buffy’s form in his dream. In Buffy’s case she is putting on her ‘game face’. She must shift from being Buffy Summers to being the Slayer. In both of these cases the point being made is that Buffy is this primal force at her core, not a human.

The last issue to be raised in this section is one that may have been confusing to some people. It has to do with actions rather than symbols. The First Slayer attacked each of the dreamers in a different way, but there was one part of each attack that was not so much consistent as predictable. The First Slayer tries to kill Willow by sucking her breath, Xander by ripping out his heart, Giles by cutting open his head and taking out his brain, and Buffy by good old fashioned violence. These may seem to be rather disparate ways to kill a person, but they all refer back to the adjoining spell of "Primeval". Willow was ‘Spiritus’, the spirit, Xander was ‘Animus’ the heart, Giles, ‘Sophus’, or spirit, and Buffy was ‘Manus’, the hand.

Working backwards (yes there is a reason), the hand has been represented in many mythologies as the physical, meaning the part of a person that does things. Buffy, as the person who was going to be attacking Adam was to be the hand. She was going to be doing the things to defeat him. More than that, however, the Slayer is a manifestation of the essence of this physical action. When the First Slayer hands Buffy the card she is not only telling Buffy about her place, it is a comment on the lack of purity to Buffy’s purpose. The Slayer is a creature of physical violence and such should not be using these other qualities.

Giles was ‘Sophus’, in fact, has always been that to the group. He is the person with all of the knowledge and mental acuity in the group. That was the main reason he was given the position of mind in the merge. His position dictated the methods the First Slayer used to kill him, as well as all those taunts from Spike about the Watcher’s "...enormous, squishy, frontal lobes." His brain is ripped out because that is his strength. Even as the First Slayer is cutting up his head Giles is still thinking that he can use his intellect to defeat her.

Now we reach Xander. ‘Animus’, or the heart. Something of a nothing role one might consider. It could even be questioned why they even need this extra part when they have spirit, other than that four is one of the big magic numbers. But then again, so is three. The reason is that heart and spirit are two very different things here. Spirit does not represent emotions as the heart does but the supernatural essence of a person. Xander has taken to role of emotion. He has always been the blindly feeling member of the group. He has always been virtually unshakeable in his opinions once they are set, and this emotional attachment has given him an honesty about his feelings that is not as often seen in the others. Emotions are the most honest of these elements, and Xander's feeling have always been transparent. More, we have seen from Buffy how important emotions are. This leads the First to rip out the part of the body most associated with emotion, Xander’s heart.

Finally, Willow. She is the representative of supernatural power. Forces ungoverned by the mind, emotions, or the physical world. Willow was chosen, naturally enough, because she is a witch. Her stock in trade is these forces. The reason I have saved her for last is to answer a question that has no doubt been posed by some. Why does the First Slayer suck away Willow’s breath? The answer has something of a history to it. The first level is that there is no really common body part associated with the spirit or soul that one can chop off. There is, however, a very common use of breath as a metaphor for the spirit. Why? That dates back to the etymological history of the word spirit, which evolved from the original Latin meaning of spiritus, which is breath or breathing. Which is why the Latin root of respiration is ‘spir’.

The Rebuttals

So far this has covered the individual dreams, the characters in those dreams, and some of the recurring motifs and themes. I have not given the other side of the issue. That is, in what ways the First Slayer was right or wrong.

Willow is told by the First that she is not, and never will be anything more than the mousy little computer geek she was when Buffy came to Sunnydale. That all of her attempts to become a witch, a ‘cool’ person, or even just someone else are in vain because she cannot escape her past. In some ways, the First is right. Willow will never get away from her history. She was the computer geek through most of high school, and that early lack of confidence and experience will always haunt her. On the other hand, Willow is not the same girl she was in grade ten who fell for a demon over the internet because she was so naive and starved for affection. Those early experiences made her stronger. She is now a very powerful wicca, and she is part of this world Buffy lives in. However, those same memories run the risk of having her try so hard to be the opposite of her old self that she winds up needing to wear a mask all her life.

The message to Xander is that he will never escape his dismal life in Sunnydale. More, that he will never be more than his redneck family. Again, those experiences as the clearly abused son of a bunch of white trash will affect him his whole life, but he has escaped being like them through his association with Buffy. Like Willow, he has avoided mundanity through association with Buffy. The First Slayer is wrong about him. The friendship she so condemns did get him out of the basement. His connection to Buffy is not one of entering her world, his connection grounds her to that of everyone else, and that is something she needs.

Giles is a slightly more complicated issue than the first two. He has spent his whole life studying and trying to be a part of this paranormal world Buffy inhabits. His mind has been trained and organised specifically for this work. Unfortunately, the First Slayer is right about Giles in one important respect. He is not, and can never be, a part of the supernatural world. He will always be on the outside looking in at the people and things he studies and loves. Giles is an outsider to both the human world and the supernatural. What she is wrong about is that he is invaluable because of this, not despite it.

Finally, Buffy’s rebuttals. What makes Buffy so different from the others is that she has her own responses to the First Slayer. Of course, it is to be noted the she is the only one the First addresses personally, rather than through someone. True ‘Someone has to speak for her," but she is speaking to Buffy rather than through metaphor and partially controlled dreams.

When they do speak with each other The First tells Buffy that the Slayer walks alone. Buffy’s response is simple, "I am not alone." When she is told that "The Slayer does not walk in this world," her dream eloquence is quite poetic.

"I walk. I talk. I shop, I sneeze. I'm gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back. There's trees in the desert since you moved out. And I don't sleep on a bed of bones." The First Slayer has been basing her warnings and criticism on a world that has long since disappeared. Buffy can no longer walk alone. There are things that The First does not comprehend because her world and Buffy’s are so separated. When Buffy demands the return of her friends, the First Slayer tries one last ditch attempt to talk Buffy into being a merciless killer. When Buffy rebuffs her she does the only other thing she knows how. She attacks Buffy. Again Buffy informs the First Slayer of the changes over the millennia since the advent of humanity, "It’s over. We don’t do this anymore." Buffy is ignored and they go rolling down the hill behind them. It isn’t until we hear Buffy shout "Enough!" that the nightmare is over.

We see Buffy sitting up as though waking from her sleep, when she is attacked by the First Slayer a final time. Buffy lies there for a moment staring in disbelief at the other girl who is insisting on stabbing her, and asks if the other slayer is quite finished and then tells her that "I'm going to ignore you, and you're going to go away." She then informs the other that the First is not the source of her. After some snarky comments about hair, they all wake up for real.

It is this last scene that makes Buffy’s rebuttal lacklustre. Buffy is both eloquent and understanding until the final part. With that sinking into the familiarity of her role as a valley girl, Buffy does more than turn the tables on the First Slayer, she denies her calling as the slayer. It is one thing that Buffy doesn’t understand until the fifth season, and that is that she is a hunter. She can’t separate herself from "... the whole ... primal power thing."

So, the First Slayer gets the last word at the end of the episode when Buffy pauses, looking into her bedroom, where the same bed she’s dreamt making up with Faith, and we hear the First Slayer speaking through Tara saying, "You think you know ... what's to come ... what you are. You haven't even begun."

[> Re: Restless essay: Part two -- anneth, 15:41:44 03/02/02 Sat

that was ver well done. I have only a few comments.

tara might also be said to be speaking for dawn - the first slayer does eventually speak, if not in restless than in buffy's vision near the end of season five. so when tara explains her presence in the dream as speaking for her who cannot speak (a primordial energy in human form, with the capacity to wreak destruction) she can be as easily representing dawn as the first.

consider also what dawn likes/dislikes about the scoobies in the first few eps of season five: she has a crush on xander and admires willow for her cool friends and wiccanism. she's intimidated by giles and not sure that he likes her (being as he's an undemonstrative intellectual authority figure). these are the facets of these characters that restless explores. there are distinct parallels between what dawn the key and buffy/first represent and can do.

dawn's season five entrance is most explicitly presaged in giles' dream. buffy is five or six years older than dawn, in real life. in the fair scene, buffy is dressed as a 5 year old and acts as one, while oliva pushes an empty pram. an artificial memory is being created, but we can see through it, for now, because dawn, its focus, doesn't exist yet.

also in that scene, note that the fake vampire young buffy "kills" is "count drac" - the first real monster buffy kills in season five. clever... very clever...

in xander's dream, a parallel is created between spike and giles. as you noted, giles is treading a line betweem the natural and supernatural worlds. so is spike,as season five explores in depth. spike and giles are both vacillating between existences. giles/ripper has been at it for much longer than the recently-neutered spike, which is why he's "training" spike to be a watcher - he's experienced at this type of development. Spike, at giles' urging, begins to swing higher and harder, foreshadowing his season five dillema - for the sake of a human, he tries to be a "good man," but his instincts and experiences continually pull him in the other direction.

maybe, in the long run, spike will become a character on "ripper" and really honestly become a watcher-in-training... who better than a vampire to train slayers?

anyway, that was fun.

[> This Restless stuff is marvelous. Long, but marvelous. -- manwitch, 17:46:35 03/02/02 Sat

[> Re: Restless essay: Part two -- John (Slain by Buffy), 18:00:06 03/02/02 Sat

Interesting, and extremely good, essay - some parts sound like they could be expanded upon with reference to Season 5 and 6. For example the part about Xander being 'big brother' seems to me to relate more to the way Xander supported Buffy in S5, and told her to run after Riley, than previous seasons.

[> Re: Restless essay: Part two -- Vickie, 22:03:27 03/02/02 Sat

Fabulous post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I'd never try to respond to the whole. But one statement got my "dream interpretation" juices flowing.

"Tara's role as speaker for the First is reprised in Buffy?s dream. Obviously Buffy cannot be used by the First as this is Buffy?s dream, but Tara, as an outsider who is intimately connected to the world of the supernatural, is the perfect person to use as the mouthpiece of the First Slayer."

One can see oneself in a dream. There can be two dreamers in a dream. It's rare, but does happen.

An interesting question is, if the First is "slayerness," and slayerness in the Scoobs" dreams gets represented as Buffy, what does it say that slayerness is not so represented in Buffy's dream?

In Buffy's dream, slayerness is represented as other. She could have seen herself, or simply acted as the First in her own dream. She did not.

Buffy does not identify herself as slayerness. We knew this. The episode restates it.

In the first sequence. Tara represents the First. Tara is a voice for the First in several of the dreams. Probably because of her connectedness, her Earth Mother wisdom, and because she is relatively unknown to the gang at this point, she is a good image for power and mystery. It's also possible that somehow Tara herself is (sub?)consciously involved.

Later, the First is represented by an entirely new image, one that we've glimpsed throughout the episide, and that we take for the First herself. This image is even more other than Tara: primitive (the script calls it The Primitive, not the First), earthy, strong, and obstinant.

My point is, these are Buffy's images. Slayerness enters her sleeping mind and these are the images she clothes it with. What does this say about her?

She conceives slayerness as powerful and unknown, mysterious, and somehow connected to the ancient roots of human kind. And she does not identify with it. She makes this clear at the end of her dream (as you mention), "I don't sleep on a bed of bones." Followed by her hilarious personal hygiene remarks.

I agree with your observation that the end of Restless is Buffy's (yet again) rejection of her slayer heritage. Tara's voice at the very end, promising revelations regarding her nature, tells her that she cannot refute what is clearly part of her very marrow.

[> Whoa....this was * good *! -- Teri, 22:51:07 03/02/02 Sat

I mean realllly good! Well worth the time it took to even explained the CHEESE GUY? Now there is a man whom I thought for SURE had NO explanation..BUT! You have now since shown me the errors of my ways! NOW when he shows up in my dreams not only can I tell him that I know WHO he is but what he should do with the cheese!

Thank you!

[> Re: Restless essay: Part two -- Rufus, 05:09:51 03/03/02 Sun

I always like to read others take on Restless. One thing I have to mention is that the whole motivation of the attack by the First Slayer on the Scoobies is anger. Her images, words may speak some truths but I always remember this was one pissed off spirit that invaded Buffy's home.

So, the First Slayer gets the last word at the end of the episode when Buffy pauses, looking into her bedroom, where the same bed she’s dreamt making up with Faith, and we hear the First Slayer speaking through Tara saying, "You think you know ... what's to come ... what you are. You haven't even begun."

I have to compare the words of the First Slayer in Restless to the Guide embodied in the First Slayer in Intervention.

FIRST SLAYER: No ... friends! Just the kill.
(Shot of Buffy watching her.)
FIRST SLAYER: We ... are ... alone!

The first slayer wasn't created for anything but to be a human shaped guard dog for humanity, only there to be used to keep the prize safe. This makes for a rather dismal life for any of the girls chosen to live a violent, lonely, brief life. And to think Dracula (with a basement full of babes) complained about being alone.
Though the slayer may have been created to be "used" by others, it's clear that there is more going on here. In Intervention, Buffy feared her inability to love, her feeling of being in neutral while life went on about her. Giles sent her into the desert to consult the guide. Something that only the slayer can do and she must do that alone. The question she asked got an unexpected response.....

Open on Buffy at the fireside. Throughout the ensuing scene we see the First Slayer through the flames, sometimes obscuring her entirely.
BUFFY: I know you. You're the first Slayer.

FIRST SLAYER: This is a form. I am the guide.

BUFFY: I have a few questions ... about being the Slayer. What about ... love? Not just boyfriend love.
FIRST SLAYER: You think you're losing your ability to love.

BUFFY: I-I didn't say that. (sighs) Yeah.

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. Love will bring you to your gift.

BUFFY: (pause) What?

Buffy again met the first slayer, but found that the first slayer was only a form, and that she was in the presence of a guide. This guide isn't pissed off like the First Slayer was in Restless....there is a message that contradicts everything the slayer wanted for Buffy in Restless. Buffy found out that she was full of love, not just a killer like she had thought. Yet Buffy fears the pain that love can bring so she is left in a no win situation until she gives into her true nature. The guide never answered the question about Buffy's humanity but opened her eyes to the key to her true potential, her true strength. The one thing she constantly rejects, or fears. Love, because it causes her so much pain. If a slayer is only a killer, only a guard dog to be used by others and discarded when spent, then why would she get a message of love, give, forgive? Season six has had many people shaking their heads trying to figure out what is up regarding Buffy and her slayer nature. There has been a slow merging of the human and demon in Buffy's circle of friends. Buffy has had sex with the one thing she is supposed to fight. What the hell happened to the Buffy from the platform in The Gift? I think that we will find out that Buffy has always contained the answer to all the questions and can only understand them when she is ready to. The message from the first slayer in Restless is one of despair, the message from the form of the first slayer in Intervention is one of hope. It looked like Buffy got and gave the gift of death in season five, only to find that she has come back, just like in Life Serial to live her life until she gets it right. I think Buffy has a choice to make love or despair, all because she has the gift of death.

[> [> Re: Restless essay: Part two(spoilers for OMTWF and AYW) -- Teri, 10:03:35 03/03/02 Sun

So glad you made the comparison between the Primal Slayers role in Restless and Intervention. I've often thought about that scene and wanted to believe it was setting some things up for season six but would always end up coming back to the conclusion that it was only a set up for her sacrifice for Dawn in "The Gift". But the way you put it. The fact that Buffy has to make a choice, love or despair makes me look again at and question a couple of things in season six if that be the case.

The first question being the first song in the musical. I went back and looked at it and found some things I'd missed before. Things that explain what happened to Buffy after she jumped off that platform in "The Gift". Copying song from transcript (found in here to show what I noticed.

Song: "Alive"

BUFFY: (verse one)
Every single night, the same arrangement
I go out and fight the fight.
Still I always feel this strange estrangement
Nothing here is real, nothing here is right.

A vampire appears from behind a gravestone, rushes at Buffy. She spins him around, continues singing.

I've been making shows of [punch] trading blows
Just hoping no one knows [kick, grabs vampire and throws him behind her]
That I've been going through the motions
Walking through the part.

Buffy pulls a stake from her jacket pocket. The vamp attacks her from behind and she stakes him without looking back.
BUFFY: Nothing seems to penetrate my heart.

She resumes walking and singing.

BUFFY: (verse two)
I was always brave, and kind of righteous.
Now I find I'm wavering.

We see two vampires and a demon gathered near a tree. There's a person tied to the tree. The vampires see Buffy and attack.

Crawl out of your grave, you'll find this fight just [punches a vampire]
Doesn't mean a thing. [punches second vamp]
She ain't got that swing.

The vamp punches Buffy and she goes down. A sword is stuck in the ground beside her. She lies there on her back. Sound of crickets chirping.

BUFFY: Thanks for noticing.

She continues lying there as the two vamps and the demon begin to do a dance.

She does pretty well with fiends from hell
But lately we can tell [Buffy gets up and grabs the sword]
That she's just going through the motions
Going through the motions.

Buffy pulls Vamp 1 away, cuts off his head with the sword.

VAMP 2: Faking it somehow. [Buffy pushes him aside, stabs the demon]
DEMON: She's not even half the girl she- [looks down at his wound] ow.

The demon falls over. Buffy continues walking, holding the sword.

Will I stay this way forever?
Sleepwalk through my life's endeavor?

She uses the sword to cut the ropes that are tying the person to a tree. The person comes around the tree trunk and we see it's a very good-looking man.

How can I repay-

She turns away, tosses the sword aside and continues walking.

I don't want to beeeeee...
[walks up onto a raised platform ringed by statues, stops]
Going through the motions
Losing all my drive.
I can't even see
If this is really me
And I just want to be-

Vamp 2 attacks her and she stakes him. He explodes into dust which forms an artful cloud, obscuring Buffy from view, then clears as she sings the final word.

BUFFY: Aliiiiiive.

Kay, see, I haven't watched the musical that many times since it aired cause the music gets stuck in my head FOR DAYS and DAYS....(am I the only one who has this problem with musical songs?)Anyway...

But going back and reading the lyrics without the tune showed me that Buffy is clearly making a statement that she still feels dead. Nothing is penetrating her heart. NOTHING.

What I found also interesting about going back to the musical transcript is the fact that the very first scene in the teaser is Buffy tied up in Spike's dungeon and Spike saying I love you and Buffy grimacing. Things that make you go hmmmm....why'd they put that first?

Well my reasoning would be cause at the end of the musical it's Spike's love that saves her. And it's Spike's love that makes her claim that it makes her "Feel even though it's not real" (or something like that)

SO I guess where the big confusion lies for me now on this topic of love with the Buffster is the final scene in AYW...

She tells Spike, I * Can't * love you..this is killing me.
WTH? How can it save her and KILL her if his love is the only thing that makes her feel alive?

Anyone? I'm too confused to comment more!

[> [> [> Re: Restless essay: Part two(spoilers for OMTWF and AYW) -- Doriander, 12:48:23 03/03/02 Sun

I think what kills her is that she's allowed herself to abuse Spike's love for her, took him up on his offer to be her willing slave. Buffy has a conscience, she knows it's wrong, and it's gnawing her.

[> [> [> [> Re: Restless essay: Part two(spoilers for OMTWF and AYW) -- Teri, 13:53:17 03/03/02 Sun

Yeah, I mean that was pretty obvious. She had to be honest with him and herself about her using him.

But if TPTB are trying to make a statement that in order for Buffy to not loose her humanity she's going to have to accept her lot by giving into LOVE...then how is this scene and whole THING with SPIKE really going to help that? For me it just confused it. In this scene she is WALKING AWAY from LOVE..again. AND

I mean the whole way she walks off into the light was such a hoax for me because to ending like that warrants some sort of real huge breakthrough and step towards growth. For me..Buffy admitting to Spike that she "cant love him" was not a step in growth of Love, Forgive, Give. To me she just admitted she was a taker and wasn't going to take anymore. Kay so, where does the loving, giving and forgiving begin?

Maybe it begins with herself and that I could understand but...I've yet to see that happen. In order for the walking off into the light scene to be deserved I feel I need to see her actually making a step IN LOVING, GIVING, Forgiving.
AND maybe now that I look back on it the scene with Spike did have some of that in it..but it wasn't clear enough for me to see. See where I'm confused!? Arggg...

[> the bed, Dawn, First Slayer vs. us, and the cheeseman -- Anne, 05:28:44 03/03/02 Sun

First, thanks for posting this essay in such a timely fashion, after the rerun. I was frantic to see someone's take on the episode, but I saw that the archives on this board don't go that far back, and didn't know where else to look.

I'm still pretty clueless as far as formulating my own interpretation; however, there are a couple of points that did come to mind as I read it.

First: you talk about the unmade bed with regard to Buffy, and "making your own bed and lying in it," but the bed could equally easily be interpreted as Dawn's. Remember, in Faith's dream in "This Year's Girl", when they are making the bed together, Buffy says something about having to leave because "Li'l sis is coming" and Faith says something about "so much to do before she gets here." And the last thing Tara says to Buffy after she leaves the room with the bed in it is "Be back before dawn". Sorry, I don't have a clever interpretation of what this means about Dawn; I'm just pointing out that some relationship is intended.

Secondly: you make a distinction between the point of view that the First Slayer is attempting to foist off on the dreamers, and the actual unconsciouses of the dreamers themselves. But in the end, I'm not sure how meaningful this distinction is: remember these lines in Giles' dream:

Willow: Something is trying to kill us. It's
like some primal… some animal force.

Giles: That used to be us

Finally: apparently Joss didn't mean a dern thing by the cheese man. Buffyguide provides the following quote:

More from Joss at the Bronze: "The cheese man means nothing. He is the only thing in the show that means nothing. I needed something like that, something that couldn't be explained, because dreams always have that one element that is just RIDICULOUS. Thus, man of cheese. Plus funny. (to me)"

The link to that page is below -- just scroll down to "Notes". ss.shtml

Thanks again for the essay.

[> [> Re: the cheeseman -- Brian, 08:00:22 03/03/02 Sun

But what I really like is that the interpretations of the Cheeseman really work. So, Joss was undone by his subconscious.

[> [> [> Re: the cheeseman -- Teri, 08:23:35 03/03/02 Sun

Totally agree with Brian! I know I'm harpin on the cheese man but I loved that guy and the explanation was brilliant. I mean if you compare the cheese to being a whole new meaning the old saying....the cheese stands alone? Or at least I think it does. Course that could just be me...

And my thinking on the Joss quote, the man's just so damn good that even when he's trying to write with no meaning, turns out to have it anyway! Gofig...

[> [> [> [> Skeezy Cheeses -- darrenK, 09:51:46 03/03/02 Sun

SCWLC's interpretation of cheese as representing the supernatural is consistent all the way through to Once More With Feeling.

Xander sings that Anya "...eats these skeezy cheeses that I can't abide..."

Not only has Anya been involved with the supernatural, but she's been a vengeance demon and is originally presented as evil in The Wish and Doppelgangland.

Even up to the present, Anya's view of what constitutes good and what constitutes evil is still way- skewed. While humans might see most demons as evil, Anya maintains her relationships with them, making few distinctions between humans and demons.

So if "cheese" is the supernatural, then "skeezy cheese" is supernatural evil.

Just thought I'd throw that in.


[> [> [> [> [> lol... good point -- Traveler, 16:41:47 03/03/02 Sun

[> [> [> "Buffy likes Cheese" -- Kevin, 11:02:04 03/03/02 Sun

What is it with Joss and cheese? I remember Willow telling Riley that Buffy likes cheese. Then Riley actually offers Buffy cheese. At the end of that ep Riley asks Buffy if Willow told her that he liked cheese.

And Willow with stinky yak cheese in her bra.

And Anya and the skeezy cheeses below...

I've never thought about the cheeseman before, because Joss did say it had no meaning, but the interpretation of the cheeseman above certainly rang true for me too...

Cheese, hmmmmmmmm

[> Re: Restless essay: Part two -- Nina, 17:24:11 03/03/02 Sun

SCWLC I am very happy you took my suggestion and posted this here! This is really an incredible essay!

Again big thanks!

Nina (Mimosableu)

[> Re: Restless essay: Part two YOWZA! -- SCWLC, 17:25:22 03/03/02 Sun

I mean, whoah!

I never thought I would get this much response to the essay. The damned thing took me two years to write, and I just didn't expect this.

I would just like to say that while I appreciate everyone's comments about how the dreams are filled with spoilers for S5 and S6, that my intention was to go with an interpretation based on what we knew as of the end of S4. So, although there are many references that can be traced to Dawn, several that can be traced to Riley leaving, a couple that can tell us something about Spike's current role, I wasn't planning on a retrospective look.

Also, although I do recognise that Joss Whedon has interviews and whatnot in which he explains what occured according to him, I have never like reading or watching interviews. So, when I wrote the notes for this essay, I was writing based on my own observations of the show and nothing else.

Anyhow, thanks for your feedback!

Anyone's theory (not about the brontosaurus)... -- OnM, 15:14:55 03/02/02 Sat

OK, I just got this strange error message that the post I was replying to just got deleted. Huh?? This was in response to Masq asking about theories on Conner.

I have to say that despite the unlikelyhood of it, I agree with the poster (and I apologize for forgetting his/her name, but you know who you are, right?) who thinks that Groo is Conner.

Time travel / interdimensional journeys offer many possibilities. When I get a chance, I want to dig up the Angel eps where Groo gives some of his history to see if any of it even remotely fits.

I suspect that the season will approach it's end with Conner being transported to another dimension and somehow eventually ends up in Pylea, but back in time. He grows to maturity in Pylea, the Angel Band comes along and does their liberation thing, Groo eventually leaves Pylea and comes to find Cordelia.

Groo will have to eventually die in order to set some cosmic happening on the righteous path again, possibly avert the apocolypse. The situation is such that Angel will be in the position to cause his death. The situ thus mirrors Buffy's choice in 'The Gift', except this time the sacrifice must take place, and does.

So, the prophecy comes true, but it's the adult Groo Angel kills, not the infant Conner.

Good fic for someone to write!

[> It's called apatosaurus -- paleontologist D, 12:29:05 03/03/02 Sun

New essay: "The Demon vs. The Rose: Magic in Buffy" -- Slain by Buffy, 15:48:43 03/02/02 Sat

This is a new essay I've written which attempts to deal with the whole issue of magic in Buffy, from Season 1 to 6 (spoilers up to 6.11 'Gone'), as well as to identify what I think are two clear ways of practising magic in Buffy; natural, or demonic.

Any comments are appreciated, providing they're not of the "I don't like Season 6 so I don't care" variety! ;)

Also I've haven't seen past 'Gone', so I'd really appreciate it if you could keep from mentioning episodes after 6.11 - especially if they completely disprove my theory! :D

[> Sounds good - off to read. (Your england essay has been referenced several times recently, fyi!) -- yuri, 16:29:30 03/02/02 Sat

[> [> Re: Sounds good - off to read. (Your england essay has been referenced several times recently, fyi!) -- O'Cailleagh, 18:44:27 03/02/02 Sat

yes it does sound good.....are you a practitioner?

[> Very interesting! Addresses recent topics here. -- Darby, 08:16:49 03/03/02 Sun

[> I wish BtVS were that consistent. -- yez, 14:10:56 03/03/02 Sun

Nice essay. I've been wondering about the general rules for and types of magic on BtVS recently.

You wrote: "Giles and Tara are clearly not as gifted as Willow, but part of this is surely because they are, sensibly, limited by their ethics. For Willow, the combination of a great gift and a lack of knowledge about the dangers of magic is dangerous. Giles and Tara have tried to warn her, but either they have underestimated her power or overestimated her understanding of magic. When Giles calls Willow a 'rank amateur' he means that, in her quest to be better, she has disregarded the code of ethics Wiccans and Watchers live by."

I don't know that she's disregarded a code of ethics as much as never had one to begin with. Willow really has never had proper guidance, and she's progressed so rapidly, that the little she has had really hasn't been enough. As far as we know, the only groups she's been involved with have been Amy and that other kid (as seen in "Gingerbread") and the Wiccan group in her first college year, right? In the first case, she was with practicers who were as inexperienced as she was. In the second case, the other groups members, excepting Tara, seemed to have had no actual interest in practicing.

And another thing, IMHO, is that neither Giles nor Tara have ever really given Willow a good reason for not using magic -- or least not one that's convinced me -- and we've heard her ask a few times. And we've seen that many times, her use of powerful magic has been necessary in the sense that it's helped saved lives (or souls) or helped to get the big bad. So the characters and audience members haven't even been given a clear message that powerful magic is necessarily dangerous.

I don't know... my inclination is to think that there's just been inconsistency, especially this season, in how magic is presented. And that would be otherwise fine, if now it didn't seem like we were supposed to be seeing these universal kinds of rules, e.g., magic always carries a price -- it hasn't always seemed to.


[> [> Re: I wish BtVS were that consistent. -- John, 12:25:55 03/04/02 Mon

Well, I strongly disagree about the inconsistencey; that's why I brought in earlier episodes. 'Dark Age' is from Season Two, yet the message of the episode is quite clearly that magic is dangerous, and has consequences: also the message of Season 6. Neither Giles nor Tara never tried to imbue Willow with their ethical code, because they always believed she was responsible: "she of the level head". However he had disregarded, or was blind to, her vulnerabilities.

[> [> [> We agree about Giles, but... -- yez, 13:51:27 03/04/02 Mon

I agree we've been shown many instances when magic has been dangerous, but I think the lesson Willow learned -- and I don't blame her -- was that magic is dangerous when it's not done properly in the technical sense. When spells aren't executed properly, for example, or the wrong spell is chosen. I think that's her personality -- "I can do my homework, I can learn it, I can master it, I can execute it perfectly, trust me nothing will go wrong."

Where the inconsistencies come in, IMHO, is in the "magic *always* has its price" dept., because I don't think the consequences have always been apparent, if they've been there at all -- unless you count Willow's addiction. But that's a bit of a catch-22.

Or maybe you can draw the parallel to medication -- some drugs have side effects so mild as to be unnoticeable, while some have side effects that can kill you, while others generate side effects that take years to catch up to you. And taking the medicine (doing the magic) is essentially a cost-benefit analysis.


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