March 2002 posts

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"Amoral" vs. "Immoral" -- RichardX1, 15:59:17 03/11/02 Mon

"Amoral" is often used (whether or not the usage is accurate) to mean "not believing in morality" or "unaffected by concepts of morality". Like the Borg. Or like Megatron tried to convince himself that he was in Beast Machines.

So in this case, Riley's use of the word could be (as) accurate (as that meaning of the word), since Spike doesn't seem to care about Good or Evil. He just does what feels right, and damn the consequenses, so long as he gets out "alive".

[> Re: "Amoral" vs. "Immoral" -- CW, 20:56:53 03/11/02 Mon

Yes, I think the ex-grad-student commando-guy got one right!

[> Re: "Amoral" vs. "Immoral" -- RichardX1, 08:53:42 03/12/02 Tue

"Unconstrained by others' notions or beliefs about morality"!

I knew I'd figure out how I wanted to say it, and I knew with even greater certainty that I'd figure out how I wanted to say it after I posted it.

Any luck with International DVD players? -- Farstrider, 08:55:10 03/12/02 Tue

I learned recently that favorite shows like Buffy and West Wing are out on DVD in other countries way ahead of their availability here in the US.

I could, theoretically, get myself an international DVD player that could play region 2 (I think) discs and convert them from PAL to NTSC. Then I could purchase the UK versions of these DVDs and play them at home. This would work out because I already speak Englandish.

Has anyone tried this? Any tips or warnings? Would the cost justify the end result? I would be looking at $200-300 for a DVD player (which would less of a big deal if I didn't already have one) and then, for instance, the Buffy Season 2 DVD sells for around $80 on eBay. That is a bit more than the $45 Amazon will charge for the Season 2 DVD in June.

Any thoughts? Am I just addicted?

[> Re: Any luck with International DVD players? -- Anne, 09:10:57 03/12/02 Tue

Sorry, you'd need a Brit-standard TV as well. Detailed information on this problem is provided on the site at the following URL: standards

[> [> Really? -- Rahael, 09:21:23 03/12/02 Tue

I didn't realise it was that complicated. I just bought a dvd online, connected it up to the tv with a cable, and started playing.

But I realised after the fact that I had bought a TV-video which was PAL/NTSC - compatible with both, without realising. Perhaps if I hadn't, that would have been £165 down the drain, or else being forced to buy a new tv.

Maybe all recently made tvs are PAL/NTSC? or was I just lucky?

[> [> although . . . -- Anne, 09:23:03 03/12/02 Tue

Following the links on the Buffyguide page I gave you above, and reading Rahael's post, I gather that the thing is that there are some DVD's that are multi-region DVD's, and that some of them at least will play on any TV. So although a British machine won't help (without a separate TV) some multi-region ones will.

On the page I was sent to by the Buffyguide links, I found two multi-code DVD players -- one would play DVD's from any region, but you would also need a PAL (British region) tv. The other one, found at the following link, at least claims that it will play DVDs from any region on any TV:

Hey, if you try it and it works, would you let us know?

[> [> Re: Any luck with International DVD players? -- Farstrider, 09:26:24 03/12/02 Tue

My understanding was that as long as you have a PAL/NTSC converting DVD player, it will work on an NTSC (American/Japanese) TV. No?

[> [> [> Re: Any luck with International DVD players? -- Anne, 09:42:11 03/12/02 Tue

No: you need to check on the specs! There is at least one other DVD player on that site that Buffyguide links to that calls itself multi-region, but specifically says that although it will play any DVD, you will need a PAL TV to see PAL disks.

So I guess I'm saying: get a multi-region DVD but be sure to read the fine print to see if it specifically says it will play either PAL or NTSC disks on an NTSC TV.

[> [> [> Re: Any luck with International DVD players? -- LorneLover, 20:09:14 03/12/02 Tue

I know the Apex brand are multiregional and co play PAL/NTSC just fine on ANY tv in America. I have an older model and it works well.

[> Worked for me -- Rahael, 09:12:39 03/12/02 Tue

I bought a multi-region DVD player for £165 (don't know how much that translates to in dollars). I wanted to be able not only to play the DVDs I bought here in the UK, but also to purchase Buffy DVD Season 1 from America (it had extras, UK version didn't)

And I could envisage my wanting eventually to play non Buffy dvds which usually come out earlier in the US. I'm so addicted of course, that it is solely a Buffy-playing player.

Buffy Season 1 bought in America worked just fine. Just popped it in and pressed play!

[> [> I'm almost as addicted as you are! -- Rob, 09:36:19 03/12/02 Tue

Before the "Buffy" DVDs came out, I had a barely-working DVD player and a 10" crappy TV. Just so that I'd be able to watch "Buffy" in all its glory, I got a brand-new DVD player, and a 20" screen flat-screen TV! Funny what we do for "Buffy"!


[> Addicted? Yes, I that's clear. -- bienbizare, 09:13:13 03/12/02 Tue

But I can understand your frustration. Luckily, I can make do with FX reruns. You're expending a lot of money and energy for a product that you'll be able to get in a few months.

Wait a minute... Months! I'm dying just thinking that there won't be a new Buffy ep for ONE month after "Normal Again." So maybe it's worth it to spend all that money. It sounds like your plan would work, though I'm not sure about the laws of buying a region 2 player (or however it's classified) in country where another player is to be sold. I thought I read somewhere that that was on shaky legal ground. But then again, you're addicted. You need your buff :)

If the US didn't get new eps before everyone else, I might just be wishing my ancestors hadn't sailed across that big scary ocean 400 years ago.

[> [> Sorry, typing bad, nervous for job interview -- bienbizare, 09:15:31 03/12/02 Tue

[> [> [> Good luck with interview, BB!! -- Rachel, 09:37:50 03/12/02 Tue

[> Re: Any luck with International DVD players? - I just did this -- Dochawk, 10:14:24 03/12/02 Tue

I received my Sampo DVD player (available online from a distributer in California) 2 weeks ago. I got my DVDs from Australia (half the price of the British DVDs). it converts region and NTSC/PAL automatically. I amvery happy with my results so far.

[> [> Email me for the links -- Dochawk, 10:18:51 03/12/02 Tue

[> Re: Any luck with International DVD players? -- Darby, 11:08:21 03/12/02 Tue

There's some information for DVD players whose programs can be modified (sounds like Dochawk has something like this) on Neil Gaiman's blogger journal at

specifically Feb 26 and just before.

It's also a fascinating read in general (if everyone will pardon a fan's plug), especially the archives about the final stages of book publishing from the writer's point of view, and his book tours.

[> [> Actually -- Dochawk, 13:38:27 03/12/02 Tue

The great thing about this DVD player is that it was all done before I got it (and was done witha simple code, the reason this DVD player is different is the Co makes one DVD player and then sets the region with a simple code, eliminate the code and the region is eliminated, also it converts NASC/PAL as well for the same reason)

[> [> [> Re: Actually -- Darby, 13:47:11 03/12/02 Tue

Apparently there are exceptions that require small software alterations - at least that's what NG says about his, which is apparently from the same company as yours.

Any advice for finding good fanfic? -- Farstrider, 10:43:31 03/12/02 Tue

Can anyone recommend any sites or other ways to find *good* fanfic. I checked out, and they had literally hundreds of authors (about 50 of which had Angel in their pen name). Anyone have any favorite authors to suggest? Or any discriminating sites that list only well reviewed fanfic?


[> Have you checked out the Fictionary Corner, the AtPoBtVS fanfic site? -- Rob, 10:58:35 03/12/02 Tue

There's a link at the top of this page.

...And it's award-winning!


[> oh yes -- juliaabra, 11:05:09 03/12/02 Tue

I think it really depends on what you're looking for in fanfic. These are a few of my faves but be forewarned they are largely b/s centric. Barb Cumming's very long, very excellent fic Mostly great writers (check out sangga and his_luv_pet) with links to other sites This will send you into cerebral shock as you try to comprehend the thousands of BtVS websites floating around This is a database of buffy fanfic links with brief reviews attached to each Laure Alexander's fic aka Narcolepsy One of the best spuffy writers out there IMHO SaberShadow Kitten's fic An index to many buffy fic sites

Of course the fic here at ATPoBtVS is superlative, and most of the sites I listed above have links to other interesting places. Mostly it's trial and error. You read enough and learn your likes and dislikes. One of my rules of thumb: if there are spelling and/or grammatical errors in a story's description, skip it. Hope these are helpful.

[> Re: Any advice for finding good fanfic? -- JM, 11:11:13 03/12/02 Tue

I'm not really familiar with the Fictionary Corner here, but I think my sister has read some and liked it. And considering the overall high quality of the site I'm not surprised.

One thing I've found helpful is to find at least one fanfic you enjoy. Many archives have the convention of including the author's Website. Many authors' Websites include recommendations. If you like their fics you'll likely appreciate their tastes.

I'm a fan of slash fic, not some much gen or even non-ship, so I doubt my recs would interest. If you do like slash, is probably the most discriminating archive out there. Plus in their links section you may find something helpful even for the non-slash fan: BtVS Improv attracts quite an eclectic collection of authors and subjects and BtVS Writer Guild is a good reference site for many fanfic topics. You might also check out the Unconventional Shippers site. (I get there from It's fairly good quality mostly and is only about 50% slash and has a very thorough links section, as well as linking to most archived authors' sites.

Drop me a line if you need any help checking out the above. I remember my first forays being pretty frustrating.

[> Re: Any advice for finding good fanfic? -- Deeva, 12:12:34 03/12/02 Tue

The 2 links below are just 2 of many stories that are my personal favorites.

All That Heaven Allows

Isabelle used to have her own site. But now her stories are archived all over., spuffy, spikelicious and so on. All That Heaven Allows is really long. It's not Dark Alchemy long but still. The depth of this story was amazing.

Family Ties

This one is fluffier but still good.

Hope this helps and let me know if you're interested in other stories. Good Luck!

[> [> There's also the Yahoo group "Better Buffy Fics" -- Dyna, 12:18:01 03/12/02 Tue

This book club-like rec list maintains a library of links to fics that have been recommended by list members. There are also discussions of stories. I've found a lot of good things through this list.

[> Re: Any advice for finding good fanfic? -- VampRiley, 12:48:28 03/12/02 Tue

The Dark Ages: The Dark Relfection

Naughty Bits


[> Re: Any advice for finding good fanfic? -- pagangodess, 19:03:59 03/12/02 Tue

Yes, do go to Fictionary Corner there are many great stories there that have made my cartridge run out of ink more that once. has a series of stories that I enjoyed.

Also check out this site. It has a whole bunch of easy links to fanfic that has been nominated for awards

Hope this helps

my view of how Xander treats Spike. -- luvthistle1, 12:36:49 03/12/02 Tue

Question: "Am I the only one who thinks that Xander been acting like the Backend of Mr.Ed? From the way he treated Willow in "Gone" to the way he treat Spike in "Normal Again", don't forget the way he is with Anya. He is begining to not be a very likeable character.Unless you like selfish ,arrogant and judgmental people. He hasn't even notice that Buffy has been patroling with Spike, (not them)and that maybe her feeling for spike has change. But ever time he see Spike,he feels he has to put him down. I think Xander is just jealous , because he knows that he can never have Buffy, and Spike Can.

What are your views on the way Xander treat Spike? Spike Treat Xander?

[> Re: my view of how Xander treats Spike. -- vulpes, 18:18:31 03/12/02 Tue

I think Xander needs an attitude adjustment!

[> Re: my view of how Xander treats Spike. -- Eric, 18:23:37 03/12/02 Tue

Yeah, I suppose he's pretty judgemental about Spike. Of course Spike is an unrepentant, glorified serial killer. Maybe some day he'll get over it... Or maybe he's jealous because he can never have Spike...;) As for Willow, it doesn't help to be too gentle with someone who's demonstrably going out of control with her magick to the detriment of herself and friends. Of course he's only entitled to just so much self rightiousness.

[> Xanders treatment of Spike has been increasingly annoying -- Kevin, 18:25:38 03/12/02 Tue

I've actually been pondering Xander a lot recently. His behavior towards Spike definitely disturbs me. Especially after all that happened last season. Spike has saved Xander on multiple occasions and has never been treated with any respect by Xander, let alone thanked.

When I was watching Older and Far Away, I thought it was ironic that Spike ran over and saved Xander from the Demon with the Sword. If I was Spike and had to put up with Xander constantly putting me down and treating me like dirt, I'm thinking maybe I would have been just a bit too late and let the Demon conveniently take Xanders head off.

And yes, Spike certainly has much to atone for in his pre-chip days, but so has Anya, and Xander's okay with her. In some ways I have more problems with Anya's past because it was voluntary. She chose to be a vengence demon. She spent a thousand years causing serious pain and misery. Dru chose Spike, never really explained what she was offering. She wanted her dark knight and she chose William.

Even Xander himself has caused suffering and death on several occasions through various spells and wishes gone wrong. Even recently, he brought the song and dance demon to town in Once More with Feeling which happened to kill off a few of the local inhabitants. Does Xander see himself has needing to atone for those deaths? Shouldn't he be just a little less judgemental and hypocritical?

I've wondered whether his problem with Spike (and Angel for that matter), is because Spike's a vampire or because Xander's jealous of any relationship (even friendship) Spike has with Buffy. Xander didn't like Angel even before he became Angelus...always calling him dead guy, etc., so I'm pretty sure it's just petty jealousy.

I think the jealousy goes deeper than just the relationship Buffy herself has with Spike and Angel. It's a jealousy of the deeper connection she as the slayer has with vampires. Slayers and vampires have a common bond, most of her world revolves around vampires, whether she's hunting them or sharing her thoughts and feelings with Spike and Angel. I think at some level Xander recognizes the connection, so he reacts by always trying to make them outside of the Scoobies. Most of his comments are meant to exclude, to identify vampires as a homogeneous group of evil dead and Buffy with humans (him).

Xander liked Riley. Riley was human and lacked the connection with Buffy on the supernatural, slayer/vampire level. Riley was part of Xander's world. I liked Riley okay, but Xander's love of Riley was more for his own sake rather than for Buffy's.

I keep hoping that Xander works out his issues with Spike at some point, because it's bad for Buffy that he won't accept Spike. Xander's attitude is part of the reason why she feels so guilty about how she feels about Spike(there's a lot about her friendship with Spike that's obviously good for her). I think Xander is being quite selfish not to be able to see what's good for Buffy from where she's coming from rather than just what's good for Buffy in his own mind.

And more than all of that, I like Xander and I really want to stop being so annoyed by him and his very narrow attitude and inconsistently applied value system. I'd like to see his jokes be a little lighter and less at other people's expense.

Hmmm, this ended up longer than I expected, and I could probably go on, but.....

[> [> Re: Xanders treatment of Spike has been increasingly annoying -- Lyonors, 19:28:01 03/12/02 Tue

Kevin, you said everything I have been whining about all season! Thanks!

>Even Xander himself has caused suffering and death on several occasions through various spells and wishes gone wrong. Even recently, he brought the song and dance demon to town in Once More with Feeling which happened to kill off a few of the local inhabitants. Does Xander see himself has needing to atone for those deaths? Shouldn't he be just a little less judgemental and hypocritical?

I have a little beef to pick with the Xand-man following this statement. About that demon he summoned....WTF? Could we get a better explanation about why? Far too random, I have a feeling that one is going to come back and bite us in the proverbial butt. But that could just be the conspiracy theory part of my brain talking...

Im not going to quote the whole jealousy thing....but I have had similar feelings about him for a while now...he always seems so bitter about the interaction that Buffy has with Angel and Spike.

And the whole Riley thing...that man drove me NUTS. Couldn't put a finger on why until I read what you posted Kevin...because Xander(who is currently irritating me senseless) liked him a little too much. He was just a little too heroey worshipy with him.

>I keep hoping that Xander works out his issues with Spike at some point, because it's bad for Buffy that he won't accept Spike. Xander's attitude is part of the reason why she feels so guilty about how she feels about Spike

Personaly, I think its -all- of her guilt about it. Willow would be more understanding as is Tara, and Dawn actually likes Spike so I dont see there being a huge problem there.

Wow...all in all a great post Kevin.

Thanks for sharing the rant.


[> Yea Xander! Hit Spike some more!!!!!!! -- Hanayashiki, 20:04:44 03/12/02 Tue

[> [> And hitting someone who can't hit back is good because???? -- Kevin, 23:05:32 03/12/02 Tue

I'm wondering how treating someone else badly is good for Xander. Letting yourself be ugly to someone else reflects badly on you. I don't see how Xander is growing up by allowing himself to be petty, mean, and abusive. These aren't good traits in a human.

[> (SPOILERS for Normal Again) for the above!!! -- Robert, 20:15:18 03/12/02 Tue

[> Re: my view of how Xander treats Spike. -- Alvin, 01:58:06 03/13/02 Wed

This is kind of strange, but I think Xander puts Spike down because he does like him, but believes he shouldn't. Xander also sometimes comes out with strange pro-Spike statements such as "It's understandable that you'd want to have sex with Spike. He is compact and well-muscled" or telling Spike in Hush how bitable Xander is. Also, in Gone I'd swear that Xander was checking out a naked Spike.

Actually, now that I think about it, Xander's put-downs of Spike come after Buffy's reply "I'm not having sex with Spike, but it sounds like you want to." After that his Spike insults have become meaner so I guess what I'm trying to say is I think Xander is attracted to Spike, but covers it up by being mean. Remember how his attraction to Cordy and make-out sessions with her always came after they insulted each other.

If you really want to push Xander and gay references, it is interesting that this year for Halloween, Xander was a pirate, a costume last seen on Larry, the gay jock, who also happened to be mean and insulting because he was covering up that he was gay.

I'm not saying we're suddenly going to see a gay Xander chasing after Spike, but I do think Xander found himself at least partially attracted to Spike, and is now being insulting to Spike to try to prove to himself that he wasn't.

[> [> Re: my view of how Xander treats Spike. -- luvthistle1, 15:08:26 03/13/02 Wed

After reading your post, Xander 's Riley worshipping makes sense. In season 3 "Phase" Larry came out to Xander because he thought that Xander was going to come out too. Hmmm?Maybe Larry knew some things we don't?

[> [> [> - er- I think Xander is just insecure -- Spike Lover, 16:52:16 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> Re: my view of how Xander treats Spike. -- verdantheart, 08:08:37 03/14/02 Thu

If nothing else, the writers are having some fun with the idea.

[> Questions and Comments re: Xander & Spike (spoilerish s6) -- Belladonna, 06:08:33 03/13/02 Wed

I have always had problems with how Xander treats Spike. After all Spike has done for him, and the rest of the Scoobies, why would he be so mean? I could be wrong, because I only watched it once, but in Bargaining, didn't Xander and Spike get along? I'm not saying they were friendly, but they weren't at each other's throats the way they are now. I can't pin point what has changed to make Xander behave this way...can anyone else? Did something happen that I can't remember? I mean, Xander is *really* mean to him. Unneccessarily so. Spike can't hit him, or hurt any of his friends, so why is Xander so threatened by him? Any thoughts?
I also agree with Kevin's post. Why has no one given Anya a hard time about the horrible things she's done? She's arguably done a lot more damage to a lot more people than Spike. She was a demon for 1200 years! Willow's been held accountable for her actions surrounding her addiction. Why not Xander? His little lord of the dance demon did kill people, leaving Xander to blame, at least a little. But no one says a thing about it. And yet, Xander still abuses Spike for his crimes. It bothers me. Not that I hate Xander...I don't at all. I don't dislike any of the characters. Just not pleased about his behavior.
Sorry this is long and rambly...any thoughts?

[> [> On double standards -- Doriander, 07:03:55 03/13/02 Wed

Actually, I can see why the Scoobies were easier on Anya, while giving Spike a hard time. One could argue about the degree of evilness, how Anyanka was more vicious, or that Angelus is capital E-vil and Spike is evil. Thing is, the Scoobies had a first hand experience of the evil things Spike had done, and, as Giles would say, he made a very deep impression.

They didn't exactly have a personal experience of Anya's evil, so it's easier to discount it. Similarly, when they first met Angel, they accepted him, his past evil deeds glossed over. This is exactly why the Angelus arc is powerful because they were forced to confront the curbed issue that Angel did kill, torture, he's the Scourge of Europe.

Spike to the SG is what Angelus is to Holtz, and what Anya is to the philanderer demon she punished.

[> [> [> The problem with this is -- Sophist, 09:39:29 03/13/02 Wed

that Spike never actually succeeded at any of the evil things he tried to do to the SG. Failure couldn't have quite the same impact as, say, Angelus's success in murdering Holtz's family.

Plus, it's hard to explain how Xander manages to overlook the good Spike has done. Then again, he was prepared to overlook the good Angel did in order to kill Angelus....

[> [> [> Re: On double standards -- Malandanza, 10:10:57 03/13/02 Wed

"Actually, I can see why the Scoobies were easier on Anya, while giving Spike a hard time. One could argue about the degree of evilness, how Anyanka was more vicious, or that Angelus is capital E-vil and Spike is evil. Thing is, the Scoobies had a first hand experience of the evil things Spike had done, and, as Giles would say, he made a very deep impression...They didn't exactly have a personal experience of Anya's evil, so it's easier to discount it."

Well, in Dopplegangland Anya orders a vampire to kill Willow, so there is some firsthand experience with her evil. But that was only one time -- Spike made many impressions and just when the Scoobies think he's their pal, he reminds them he's evil (leaving them feeling like Giles and Xander during their Faith-hunt -- "We're dumb").

However, if you're looking for a double standard, how about the difference in the way that Spike and Faith were treated? When was the last time Buffy actively hunted Spike with the intention of staking him? The only time we've seen the Scoobies united against Spike the way they united against Faith was immediately after Crush, at the Magic Box where even Dawn wouldn't speak to him -- and all was quickly forgotten when Buffy decided she needed an ally against Glory.

Which brings me to my point: the Scoobies follow Buffy's lead. If Buffy doesn't like Faith, neither do they. If Buffy wants to be friends with Spike, so do they. Recently, Buffy has been putting on a show of hating Spike and Xander has been following her lead.

Xander once said "The quality of mercy is not Buffy" -- but he was sorely mistaken. Buffy is far too merciful with her enemies. I would put Anya and Spike in the same category as Jonathan (after Superstar) and even Glory after she was beaten. If an enemy is helpless, Buffy grants them mercy -- even if it is decidedly not in her interests to do so. Anya lost her demon powers and was helpless and lost as a human, Spike was chipped, Jonathan lost his powers as well, and Glory's end was sad and pathetic -- she truly didn't understand what had happened. Even Willow after her addiction and breakdown was so weak and helpless that Buffy couldn't help but forgive her. Faith has been many things, but she has never been helpless when facing Buffy (although I wonder what Buffy would have done had she seen Faith's collapse with Angel) -- I believe that the real double standard is Faith vs everyone else.

[> [> [> I disagree...Anya has hurt the Scoobs -- Kevin, 11:13:48 03/13/02 Wed

Anya has definitely injured the Scoobies both in The Wish and Doppelgandland.

While the scoobies don't remember what happened in the The Wish, Anya certainly does. It's the episode where she loses her power when Giles smashes her necklace and she loses her power. In that episode she even comments on how wonderful Cordelia's wish turned out (the chaos, the Master's factory, much pain and unhappiness all around.

The Scoobies all remember the events of Doppelgangland where Anya was actively trying to get her powers back. She never wanted to be human. She wanted to be a demon. No repentance there. She had a job, she was good at it, and she enjoyed it. The fact that it caused pain and misery was entirely lost on her. How many people did VampWillow eat in that episode? Has Anya expressed any repentance even over events that recently? I've never heard it.

I like Anya's character, it's highly amusing to listen to her lines and the way she delivers them...she's recently human and strangely literal....But she was a happy vengenence demon who only worked at fitting into the human world when she couldn't go back to her demon world.

Now that she's been powerless for awhile and she's had a taste of the human life with the Scoobies, will she want to go back to being a demon? It's pretty much the same question as for Spike with his chip. The difference is that Anya is supposedly human with a soul and Spike's not. I see there motivations for reform being the same though. They're both in love and want to fit in with the Scoobies. The big difference is that Anya receives support and inclusion for her efforts while Spike receives insults from Xander and exclusion. I'm interested to see how that difference plays out.

[> Re: my view of how Xander treats Spike (AN SPOILERS) -- Farstrider, 09:47:02 03/13/02 Wed

Let me jump in here to say that the animosity between Xander and Spike is hardly one way. Without citing the full litany of bad things Spike has said to X, look at last night. Without any provocation, Spike started mocking X for leaving Anya at the altar. This was right after he expressed shock at hearing about it from Spike - meaning, he knew better, but just wanted to piss of Xander.

I like Spike as much as the next guy, but he does seem to get off on getting under people's skin.

[> [> Without provocation? -- Dyna, 10:32:35 03/13/02 Wed

>>Without any provocation, Spike started mocking X for leaving Anya at the altar.<<

I disagree--Xander was the first to provoke in that scene, starting with his rude "I should have known you'd be tagging along" as soon as he sees Spike. When Spike gets up to leave peacefully, Xander can't resist the urge to needle him some more, again unprovoked: "Yeah, why don't you do that? Just run along." It's only then that Spike turns on him about Anya. IMO, Xander was completely in the wrong in that scene--he had no idea what Buffy and Spike were talking about when he walked up, and no reason to think Buffy was doing anything but consulting Spike about the demon, as she has numerous times before. I think the bit Xander says about how he just remembered Spike can't hit him is telling about how we're supposed to see Xander in this scene. "Good guys" don't hit people who can't fight back. Xander, on the other hand, not only hits Spike, but makes clear the reason he does it is because he can--because Spike can't stop him. Xander comes across cowardly and small to me here.

[> [> Xander definitely provokes Spike(SPOILERS) -- Kevin, 11:19:45 03/13/02 Wed

In the Xander / Spike intereractions that I can think of, Xander is generally the instigator. Spike certainly responds...he's not one to back down from any confrontation, but he's not usually the instigator. When he makes the comments to Xander while they're huntin the demon, he's still responding to Xander's jibes and sucker punching him in the graveyard earlier. Xander more than anyone keeps Spike outside of the group and Spike responds to him accordingly.

Spike treats those around him the same as they treat him. Willow treats him with respect and he treats her with respect. Xander treats him atrociously and Spike returns in kind. Actually he's easier on Xander than Xander is on him usually. Spike is somewhat restrained by how Buffy views his treatment of Xander, whereas Xander feels like he has free rein to treat Spike however he wants.

If Xander wants to grow beyond the petty verbal meaness that his father displays, he's going to have to change how he interacts with even those he doesn't like. Every time you allow yourself to be mean to someone, it alters your character. Every time your generous and kind it reinforces those traits. You can't pick and choose. No one on this show is perfect and no one has the right to be throwing stones in their own glass houses.

[> [> [> Re: Xander definitely provokes Spike(SPOILERS) -- alcibiades, 13:20:25 03/13/02 Wed

"If Xander wants to grow beyond the petty verbal meaness that his father displays, he's going to have to change how he interacts with even those he doesn't like."

Good point. And even more than that. We can now see that Xander's reflexive dislike of both Angel and Spike is a learned, family response. Like prejudice in a realverse. Xander's father provokes demons and fights with demons just out of meanness and here we see Xander doing exactly the same thing. He's going to fight with Spike as a way to channel his pain. It has nothing to do with Spike. Xander's already mentioned there's a great big hole where his heart used to be because he's ripped it out. In Restless, it was his father who ripped it out. In any case, here he is continuing the lovely family traditions.

I think breaking up with Anya has been really bad for him. It's put him squarely back in his basement. Xander tells us that he knows he's a better person when Anya is with him and here is a case in point.


[> [> [> [> Excellent -- Sophist, 13:46:20 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> Gah! Perfect! -- Tillow, 16:13:25 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> Sexual jealousy(SPOILERS) -- Valkyrie, 16:03:03 03/13/02 Wed

I think sexual jealousy is what causes Xander and Spike to clash. Before Buffy reappeared in Bargaining, we saw a working relationship between the two men, but the minute that Buffy reappeared, Xander attacked Spike for his "obsession." Despite his declared love for Anya, I think there's big part of Xander that still wants Buffy for himself.

[> [> [> [> Re: Sexual jealousy(SPOILERS) -- agree, plus it was similar with Angel -- Valhalla, 17:45:10 03/13/02 Wed

Xander had a similar antipathy toward Angel. It seems like Xander's meanness is triggered when other males are interested in Buffy, whether Buffy requites the interest or not. When Angel wasn't around, Xander was always the one advocating killing Angel because he was a vampire, even before the Angelus episodes. The circumstances were different (Angel was openly Buffy's boyfriend, and Xander was explicitly stuck on Buffy) but the constant jibes were the same.

I can't remember whether Xander had the same issues with Riley, although I sort of recall Xander calling him 'Soldier Boy' at one point. Xander always got along with Oz, but when Oz joined the group be was already 'taken' by Willow and never showed any interest in Buffy. Interesting ...

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Sexual jealousy(SPOILERS) -- agree, plus it was similar with Angel -- Tillow, 18:19:03 03/13/02 Wed

I agree and twice in this ep. Xander made specific sexual comments. One in regards to the demon poking Buffy. eh? And the other when spike said he'd keep an eye on the wax job Xander said make sure that's all you're oggling.

Just supporting the argument...

[> [> [> [> [> [> Nice - I didn't connect those comments before -- Valhalla, 20:41:49 03/13/02 Wed

[> Xander's world view -- purplegrrl, 11:31:53 03/13/02 Wed

Xander has a very tunnel-visioned view of the world -- everything is either for or against Xander (an ideal example is "The Replacement"). He likes it best when it is just him, Buffy, and Willow (and sometimes Giles) against the evil de jour. He wants to be seen as the protector in the group, even though he has no special powers beyond some "field time." But Xander has severe feelings of inadequacy, due in part to his emotionally abusive upbringing and partly to being nonathletic and uncool.

Xander doesn't like it when there is another male in the group, whether it's Angel, Riley, and Spike. He feels threaten on a number of levels -- some of which he can express and some he can't. With Angel, he was jealous of his relationship with Buffy because he wanted her for himself. But even after Xander knew that he would never have Buffy, he harbored secret feelings for her. Although he liked Riley, Xander had his difficulties with him such as accepting his authority/paying attention when they were on patrol. And with Spike, Xander knows the evil he can do and now that Spike is "neutered" Xander knows that he can safely torment him (like poking a stick at a caged animal -- if the animal ever got free Xander would probably run like a girl).

However, I think the main reason Xander has increased his torment and ridicule of Spike is that Xander thinks he needs to fill the hole Giles left in the group. While he can't be Book-Learning Guy, Xander wants the rest of the group to look up to him, ask his advice, and follow his lead (I've seen this behavior in my extended family and it is *really* dysfunctional). Xander wants a position of authority and with Giles gone and no other alpha-male hanging around Buffy he figures he's got a shot at it. He also wants to be there when things go awry and say I told you so.

Xander's problem is that he's going about it all wrong -- and he doesn't know it. He thinks he can bully his way into authority, much the way his father did as he was growing up. Xander learned to ridicule at his father's knee. And no matter how many times he claims he doesn't want to be his father, Xander *is* his father's son. If Xander is to truly "grow up" this season, he needs to take Giles, or even Spike (!!) as a role model.

[> [> Great points -- Sophist, 13:32:28 03/13/02 Wed

He could also drop the judgmentalism, and maybe even show some sensitivity to moral distinctions. He could also recognize that Buffy is the one in charge, and that his actions have undercut her authority. Oh, and he could see himself in the magic mirror instead of Willow.

I could go on, but there's a limit to the satisfaction I can get from beating a dead horse.

[> [> [> Buffy is not always good at being in charge.... -- OtherEric, 18:59:27 03/13/02 Wed

Normal again, and in fact this whole season, have demonstrated that while Buffy is the protagonist, and the most capable fighter of the group (actually the whole series shows this), she is not the definitive leader in a traditional way and has made many bad decisions. She has always depended upon others too much for too many things, often without realizing and taking them for granted in the process. She's no leader. She should be, but her inner issues prevent her from assuming the mantle, and that is her challenge. She's good at tactics and great once a battle breaks out, but she lacks strategic skills, forethought, and forgets to use the fact that she is the groups' hero and role model in directly leading and inspiring them and forging them into a stronger unit. She's not intuitive enough with people to be a leader. She has a charisma due to her beauty and strength but not the presence or the ability to project effectively in order to lead others. She's horrible at dealing with people, their emotions, her own emotions, and conflict in general, unless it is direct violent conflict. She needs Xander and Willow (and Giles, but unfortunately he went home) very much and also needs to grow quite a bit herself. This season has shown how her world begins to unravel when her close support network is either gone (Giles) or mostly focusing on their own relationships and problems (Willow and Xander). Xander does need to grow into the leadership positon for now. Buffy for the reasons above, can't do it or isn't there quite yet, and Willow has always been smart but lacked wisdom and restraint and common sense that Xander doesn't. He still has complete military knowledge from the costume episode, out of the three core scoobies left--he is the best one at interacting with and dealing with people. He understands relationships better than any of them (with sometimes the exception of understanding his own) and has always possessed a kind of wisdom and heart (intentional ref to 422) that makes him valuable beyond measure to the scoobies. And he understands loyalty and wanting to help better than any of them, probably. And that is the first part of leadership--loyalty, helping, fostering trust. Joss has made reference to this before. Many are still debating whether jealously was a factor in Xander withholding info about Willow attempting to return Angel's soul from Buffy, despite the fact that Joss has simply stated that he didn't think it was much more than Xander making a good decision in the field like any commander would. 5th season also built this up. He is not perfect, but he is a good manager of the group and their abilities, better than anyone else who is still in the group and it carries over to other aspects of his life. He is a demonstrated and proven leader in his construction job, and was rapidly promoted because of those as much as his technical skills. His judgementalism is no different from Giles--but the group needs someone to do that. He has common sense that Willow doesn't and that Buffy's emotions get in the way of. The first slayer said she was full of love when she thought she was empty of emotion. She's not yet that good at reading even herself. She may not even need to become leader or grow into the role as long there are others to help and guide her. The best fighter in a group is often not the leader and the Buffyverse has always stressed exactly that point. The examples are numerous: Goku, Wolverine, Thing, Hulk, Thor, Sabretooth, Juggernaut, Sasquatch, Titania, Hercules, and so on. Xander isn't undercutting anything. Buffy has no authority except on the battlefield, once the fight has started for the most part. She has always been too conflicted to provide strength and moral support to others becasue she needs too much of it herself. A good leader and good comrades understand this and don't hold her self-invovlement and character flaws against her. Those who take it personally, like Riley, eventually are driven away and those who don't understand it and don't place Buffy and the good fight first, don't belong and can't belong (like Anya). Those who can see all this and make the hard decision (even on a subconsious level as it does not yet appear he understands all his own motivations) in favor of the team and the struggle, eschewing a chance at personal happiness while doing it, are born leaders, like Xander.

[> [> [> [> Even if I did agree about Xander, -- Sophist, 20:31:45 03/13/02 Wed

I couldn't accept your conclusion about his behavior in Becoming II. The fact remains that Buffy is in charge. Whether she should be or not is a different issue, on which reasonable people might differ. But Xander was wrong in Becoming II because he doesn't get to decide that his commanding officer is making the wrong decision. Can you imagine Patton or Schwarzkopf, or anyone, if a subordinate withheld crucial information because he thought the general would do the "wrong" thing?

As for Xander's leadership qualities, well, I guess that's too much a matter of opinion to debate. But I don't agree with your analysis.

[> [> [> [> [> Well, hold on. Xander's not Patton, for starters... -- Solitude1056, 22:19:49 03/13/02 Wed

I'd see Xander as FDR, Wilson, Churchill - much more the statesman who can see to the heart of the situation and effectively assess it, and come up with long-range tactics that aren't just battlefield maneuvers. Buffy's more Patton, or any other excellent general - good once the battle starts, able to handle her own and arrange the folks around her, but not so good once the fighting's stopped. As a matter of fact, she's demonstrated time and time again that when there's no fighting, she's at a complete loss as to how to resolve any issue. The best example was when her mother became ill, and Buffy's immediate response was to go fight something. She knew, intellectually, that this wouldn't solve her mother's illness, but emotionally it's her biggest and best (and sometimes only) coping mechanism.

Xander, on the other hand, is much more than her second-in-command. Like Giles, he's capable of seeing the larger picture and assessing one situation's position in that picture. In that sense, I agree with Joss' take that Xander was making the best decision as a commander... if you think commander more as a commander-in-chief, and less general-of-battlefield. He wasn't leading the charge into the fight, but he was the one who had to give the information necessary to the general so she could fight, herself. He made a sudden decision/realization that certain information might be detrimental to her ability to fight, and he carried it out. Given his track record in assessing Buffy as well as he does the situation (like Spike can, actually), I'm not surprised that he chose the less evil of the two options.

However, once Xander starts to question his own role, and gets wrapped up in his own situation, this compromises his ability to fill his set role in the Scoobies. This season has been a top-notch example of that flaw, so far.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Great points -- Rahael, 02:41:36 03/14/02 Thu

I also remember Jane Espenson's comment on Earshot on the DVD - paraphrasing here - "People think that Buffy is only good for fighting, but she's smart too - even as she's nearly collapsing, she's still directing them as to what they need to do".

I think we often overlook how many times Buffy's decisions and interventions have been crucial. Graduation Day for example. She decided the whole battle plan, getting up from her sickbed and thinking up a complex plan of attack.

The Scoobies are a team, but Buffy is definitely the leader - remember Xander's comment that she was his hero. That seems to signify to me that she definitely can inspire her troops.

I also remember her speech to the general of the Initiative "This is my turf" - pretty strong stuff. Her speech to the Watchers Council at two crucial points. Buffy has the necessary, inspirational steel. She just forgets about it sometimes.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Anya not belonging??? -- Tillow, 06:22:42 03/14/02 Thu

I also just wanted to take issue with the comment about Anya not belonging because she doesn't place Buffy and the good fight first. Not exactly true. Anya has come a long way. She was directly responsible for several of the ideas that brought down Glory in the Gift. The Troll Hammer, the Dagonsphere, the Buffybot (whether that was Anya/Xander we'll never know). When Xander sang in the musical to Giles "what if Buffy can't defeat it?" Anya very cleary backed up his what if with the comical "beady eyes is right; we're needed."

She's newly human and as such, she's a reflection of our own issues of mortality. So sometimes she freaks out about that, but overall, she has learned to be a part of the group and fight the good fight.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> And further... -- Rob, 09:57:24 03/14/02 Thu

Anya owns the Scoobies' meeting place! That is more than a little symbolic of how uniting to the group she is. So, she can be a little self-centered. That's part of her nature. But she truly loves Xander, and, yes, his friends as well. His friends have become her friends over the years, to the point that, at the end of "Hell's Bells," Willow, Dawn, and Buffy did not know whose side to be on. Anya is an integral part of the group. I think the number one scene that got people to understand her fully was her famous "Body" speech.


[> [> [> [> [> [> I must not have made my point clear -- Sophist, 09:10:27 03/14/02 Thu

My point was not how I saw Xander, but how the SG sees him. They do not treat him as a leader. Admittedly, the SG has no formal hierarchy (one of its strengths). Giles leads sometimes. Buffy leads most of the time. Willow leads when Buffy and Giles can't. Xander never leads, and the others never look to him for leadership. He provides emotional, moral support, what the French before WWI would have called elan.

The twin eps of Becoming made 2 things clear: Xander had the opportunity to make his arguments about Angelus and the spell, and no one agreed with him except Cordy (and maybe Kendra); and Buffy was the one who made the decision to try to bring Angel back. Willow clearly agreed, and she faced down Xander even when Buffy had left. Therefore, Xander was not in charge and was wrong to withhold the information from Buffy. The issue is not the merit of his argument, but Who decides? Xander usurped Buffy's right to decide.

Again, how everyone sees Xander involves so much opinion that all I can do is disagree with your characterization of him. Doesn't make me right or you wrong. But my disagreement on that point was different than the argument I was trying to make, apparently not very successfully.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> I see your point... course, I also think Xander's grown a lot, too. -- Solitude1056, 11:22:45 03/14/02 Thu

Just too bad he seems to be regressing into outright bigotry over the past few episodes (as opposed to the quiet undercurrent he's demonstrated before now).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Agreed on both points. Progress on the one count may re-start his growth. -- Sophist, 13:47:59 03/14/02 Thu

[> Xander & Spike both have "issues"... -- Lilac, 19:16:54 03/13/02 Wed

to put it mildly. Over all, I would have to say that Spike gets along better with anyone female over anyone male. He clashed with Angelus in the early days of his being a vampire, he has clashed with Giles and Xander during his association with the SG. On the other hand, he has always gotten along reasonably well with Willow, in spite of threatening to bite her when he thought he could, he has had pleasant conversations with Anya about the good old evil days, and he is devoted to Dawn.

Xander does seem unreasonably threatened by Spike. After all, Spike can talk a good game, but has not had the ability to hurt Xander for a long time. I can only think that Xander's feelings towards Spike are along the dog in the manger line. Xander knows he will never have Buffy, doesn't really want her that way any more, but he sure doesn't want Spike to have her. And on some level, under all the denial, I imagine that Xander knows that Spike has come a lot closer to having Buffy than Xander ever did.

Their interaction in NA was disturbing because it did show Xander acting downright mean. While it could be argued that he is feeling bad, it hardly seems like an excuse since he caused his problems himself. Spike's reaction seems more reasonable to me -- as a recent dumpee himself, I imagine he feels for Anya in a very real sense.

BUT what really bothered me about that scene, and other recent scenes of Spike abuse, is that Buffy lets it happen (before she gets dizzy). Even if she had not been as closely albeit conflictedly (not a word,is it?)entangled with him as she has been recently, Spike's contributions to her efforts would seem to have earned him at least a base level of common courtesy. What is it with her letting Xander abuse him, or Riley hit him, for that matter? It is hard to respect her letting other people abuse someone who loves her so much, even if she can't return his feelings.

[> [> Good points... -- Ixchel, 20:02:11 03/13/02 Wed

Also, even though Xander's pain is of his own making, this doesn't mean that he's not in pain. No, it doesn't present him in a good light to lash out at Spike, but it is understandable.

As to Buffy, she _was_ telling them to stop (even though Willow was the peacemaker, as she has been before with them). Also, I believe that the closer she gets to Spike, the more scared she becomes and part of her denial is her denying anything to him at all (kindness whatever). When she thought she felt nothing for him she could be gracious (season 5 or like in HB when she feels like she is more in control).


[> [> Xander's "issues"... -- alcibiades, 08:14:55 03/14/02 Thu

I think Xander is using Spike as a surrogate in this scene to exorcise the feelings of turmoil he has about Anya but won't admit. Like Anya, Spike is part demon, part human, a convenient transference point. And it is so much easier to hate him than to hate Anya. Or to admit to himself consciously that a part of him hates Anya for being part demon. So he can take it all out on Spike, punish Spike for his own transgressions and sink further into the rut of being his father's son. And to punch Spike before he's even turned back around from laying his packing down on the ground. Gee Xander. Ballsy much?

[> [> [> Great point -- Rahael, 09:20:48 03/14/02 Thu

Complexity upon complexity!

[> [> [> [> alcibiades... though I can't pronounce your screen name.. -- Tillow, 10:43:56 03/14/02 Thu

You are fabulous! Don't go anywhere!

[> [> Re: Xander & Spike both have "issues"... -- clg0107, 15:52:54 03/14/02 Thu

>BUT what really bothered me about that scene, and other recent scenes of Spike abuse, is that Buffy lets it happen >[SNIP]Spike's contributions to her efforts would seem to have earned him at least a base level of common courtesy.

I think that this is part and parcel of Spike's ultimatum about Buffy 'fessing up. It will do her good to quit hiding it, and it will mean she can quit heaping abuse on him whenever she's "caught" in his presence. She does owe him some courtesy, which she can now extend to him in private. But he want's the whole thing acknowledged and out in the open, for everyone's good.

Sidebar: It says something about Spike that he hasn't (really) blown her cover. Yeah, his remarks in front of Xander came close, but weren't really intentional or malicious, and he covered for her right away. I think it's significant that at a time when he is feeling hurt he's chosen not to lash out by just blabbing, willy-nilly. He's now declared that it can't stay this big dirty secret, but he's been a gentleman about it up until now.

It's just one more fascinating nuance...I suppose one could argue that he still hopes to get her back, so he's minding his p's and q's. But he's reacting like a stand-up guy, not a vindictive eeeevil demon (in this, anyway)!


season7: How do you think it should end? -- luvthistle1, 13:21:09 03/12/02 Tue

Season seven is rumored to be "Buffy the vampire slayer" last season on the air. I would like to know how do you think it should end? What would you like to see happen to the characters?

I would like Riley to come back Vamp, and Spike Stakes Riley with Mr.pointy to save Buffy.Buffy tells the gang that her and spike are getting married and decided to fight demons together, in L.A along side with
Cordy and Angel.Dawn discover that she(the key) is as powerful as "Glory" and with Giles (who comes back)help train to be the new slayer.Willow discover a cure for Oz, using witchcraft and goes off to find him. Anya marrieds a rich handsome man, and leave Sunnydale, while Xander decided to move out of his parent's basement, and move in with his lover......Jonathan!

[> Re: season7: What about Tara? -- Brian, 13:30:10 03/12/02 Tue

Forced to use magic to save the Soobies, Willow joins with Tara to save them, and during the process, she and Tara switch their abililties. Willow becomes a natural witch with no more addiction, and Tara becomes a very powerful witch, but with her calm center, she is not overcome by the dark magics. While working closely with Giles in helping Faith to better understand her slayer ability, she discovers that love is love and she falls in love with Giles, and they get married. Or she falls in love with Faith, and they get married.

[> [> Faith and Tara... now there's a couple to ponder on! -- Masq, 14:20:05 03/12/02 Tue

Good fanfic fodder for someone, either of the adult or non-adult variety. : )

Actually, it'd be more interesting if it concentrated on the non-adult. How would these women interact?

[> Buffy's end? (spoiler for Angel/I Will Remember You) -- anom X, 14:48:36 03/12/02 Tue

It's an interesting question on how Buffy herself should end? There are a host of possibilities, moreso than I'll consider below...

First off, does she die?

It's been done twice in two different forms, and by the time you reach the third heroic death, we're a little (or at least I feel I am) desensitized.

Yet, that doesn't fully discount dying. Here I'll tread where few would possibly dare tread (and the likelihood of the following I agree is fairly low).

Buffy can die a cowardly death which would cast retrospectively upon the entire series a gloomy pestimistic overtone. Or, if we're looking for Big Bad Scoobie, wouldn't it be a kicker if it was Buffy herself? Then she could be killed by her friends -- perhaps in a sortof Angel getting his soul back as he gets sucked into Hell fashion.

Moving on to the more plausible: Buffy continues to be a Slayer.

Buffy continues in future undocumented adventures with gusto, or pessimism (weighing the gusto as more likely since who wants to be stuck in a dead end job?). Or Buffy retains her Slayer powers but retires. Faith comes back (most likely) or she is killed and another Slayer steps in and takes over the duties of the One (of Two).

Buffy passes on her Slayer powers to someone (as did Doyle). Most likely candidate, of course, is Dawn -- being made of Buffy's blood. Buffy becomes normal and leads a "normal" life.

Or we have the whole Dallas fiasco as suggested by today's episode... though that would make "Angel" and "the Ripper" rather odd spinoffs (and we're all stuck inside Joss's wacky broadway nightmare).

And of course, my completely unfounded most-likely projection: Buffy can't live with undocumented adventures because that leaves to much to be expected. Nor can she die heroically at the end of the series because she's done that twice. The other proposals -- cowardly/evil/normalcy -- all undermine the founding principle of the series: that Buffy proves stronger than her foes. In effect, if ME isn't always optomistic, it does have some stable undercurrent that things as a whole will continue going on, albeit if not as happily as hoped.

What's the resolution? Buffy retains her Slayer powers at the end of BtVS (she may either choose to step out of the fighting or may continue fighting), but she does die. However, she dies in AtS. As far as we know, the prophecy that was made in "I Will Remember You" was not avoided nor was it even clearly stated that Angel's re-vampirification (okay, I made up that word), would have any affect on the one concrete prophecy that the Oracles made -- which regarded Buffy's future: "What happens to all mortal beings. Albeit sooner in her case."

But what is the plausibility of reaching the "end of days" as suggested by this prophecy with Fray in the fray (I know nothing of Fray, by the way)? Multiple explanations, of course. If Angel is immortal, end of days can be a long way away, and in turning back into a vampire, he postpones it for quite a while. Leaving Buffy to die a "natural" death when the time comes. "End of days" might also mean the end of our civilization as we know it, since Fray I believe lives in a vastly different dystopian world (though that means that AtS would have to have a pessimistic ending -- or at least, it would have an extreme pessimistic downturn somewhere in the middle and leave the coming of Fray as being our light at the end of the tunnel. We know how reliable those are).

So really... I guess I've just in some parts negated my most probable theory, and my answer is: "I don't know".

[> [> please note the poster of the post above is *not* me... -- anom, 15:35:10 03/12/02 Tue

...even after I've been kicked out of chat 23 times. Or IX times. Although I do come to the same conclusion--just without going through all that stuff in the middle.

[> [> [> Whew! Okay, glad you cleared that one up... ;o) -- dubdub, 15:40:00 03/12/02 Tue

[> This is how it ends... (**SPOILERS*** for Normal Again) -- Wisewoman, 15:30:20 03/12/02 Tue

So, don't read this until you've seen tonight's ep, or at least read the fact, it won't make any sense otherwise...


Last episode of the last season, season 7, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer--Buffy meeting Giles, Buffy meeting Willow, Buffy meeting Xander, Buffy meeting Cordelia, Buffy meeting Angel...massively sped-up flashes of scenes from the entire seven years of the series...including previous Season 7 scenes, to whit: Buffy being stung by a gigantic wasp, only to find it was really an injection of a brand-new anti-psychotic drug, the one that finally has the effect of "curing" her schizo-affective disorder and bringing her back to "reality," Buffy undergoing intensive psychotherapy, Buffy leaving the asylum, Buffy in the bosom of her family, Buffy going back to High School in LA (okay, she's too old, but she's still gotta graduate)...


Buffy walks to school on her second day, alone, feeling a bit down because she's too old to find any friends. She's wearing a short skirt, very chunky shoes, and huge hoop earrings. Her hair is long, curly and wild. As she passes close to a large tree we catch a glimpse of someone cowering in the shadows, watching her longingly...someone dark and brooding?

Buffy's late, everyone has already gone in when she arrives at her old LA high school. She has her hand on the door handle when suddenly a large hand is placed on her shoulder, causing her to gasp in surprise and drop her books.

What the...? Don't DO that!

Excuse me. Ms Summers? I need to speak with you. My name is Merrick...

grrr, arrrrgh


[> [> ROFLMAO, WW! -- Rob, 19:05:08 03/12/02 Tue

Before Hell's Bells gets completely eclipsed...(spoilers through HB) -- Jon, 13:33:14 03/12/02 Tue

I re-watched Hell's Bells over the weekend and noticed some things. First of all, in case anyone doubted it, bulls are absolutely EVERYWHERE in that episode (I can't believe some of the obvious bulls I missed, like the fact that the wedding was happening at the Bison Lodge). The minotaur ground - especially in its relation to Xander - has been very ably covered by others already.

I'm still wondering what the C-section thing (from Buffy's explanation to Anya regarding the wedding delay) has to do with anything, and I noticed that Xander's uncle Rory's exlanation as to how the stuffed bison head "was done wrong" *could* be read as a rather blunt description of how to perform a C-section (I'm not going to quote him here because the word-picture his description puts in one's head considered in this light is not a very pretty picture at all, and I'm a little wary of making the observation at all because people would be right to think I'm a sicko and I apologize already for making this observation in the first place but I just had to get it off my chest).

So, we can just leave that where it lays. Or not.

Two other observations which may have already been noted and discussed. First *both* Xander and Buffy are described as "glowing" (pregnancy bells going off - which is interesting in the context of the Xander/Anti-Man discussion below).

Second, I think Xander's departure from the church at the end of the episode, his walk into the light leaving Anya in the cave dark of the Bison Hall, mirrors Buffy's abandonment of Spike at the end of AYW. That seems pretty basic and I'm surprised I didn't see I didn't notice it the first time through.

Apologies if I'm just going over already covered ground. If I'm NOT going over already covered ground, I'd love to hear any reflections people have on this stuff.


[> That's a lot of bull! No really, great post -- ponygirl, 14:42:04 03/12/02 Tue

Great catch on all the bull references. I was enjoying the Minotaur thread earlier but cluelessly didn't even make the bison connection. Now that you've mentioned it, I got thinking to Xander's dream in Restless. The most common theme in his dream was the movie Apocalypse Now -- in the climatic scene of the movie the killing of Kurtz is intercut with the ritualistic slaughter of a bull. Kurtz is both god and father to the villagers and to Willard. In HB Xander has failed the test of Apocalypse Now, symbolically he must kill his father in order to continue his journey.

[> [> Yes, wow, forgot about Apocalypse Now! -- Jon, 15:58:15 03/12/02 Tue

Now that you mention it, seems like Apocalypse Now, Heart of Darkness, and the Theseus & Minotaur story have a lot in common. People have probably already written dissertations about that, huh?

Maybe Xander didn't fail the "Apocalypse Now test" - maybe he's just embarked on his journey into the heart of darkness. I only suggest this because I can't help feeling a lot of sympathy for him at this juncture - and because somehow the shots of him in the motel room at the end of HB remind me of the scenes of Martin Sheen in the hotel room at the beginning of A.N. (but I'm sure I'm only seeing that because you brought the movie up).


Meta-narration in Normal Again (spoilers, natch) -- Tanker, 18:19:56 03/12/02 Tue

I'm still too gobsmacked by the episode to post anything long, but the scene where the doctor explains Buffy's delusional world to Hank and Joyce was the biggest example of meta-narration I've ever seen. I think it ties in nicely with the theory that was posted here about how Joss warned us how this season was going to go in the musical. In Normal Again, Joss (through writer Diego Guetierrez) acknowledges everything that is "wrong" with S6. I think he listed every complaint that people have about the season. It was his way of saying, "I meant to do that."

I love the way the ep ended. What is reality?

[> Re: Meta-narration in Normal Again (spoilers, natch) -- Terrapin, 18:52:09 03/12/02 Tue

The doctor(another doctor......hmm) mentions how lame the three nerds are compared to all the gods, demons, and vampires. I thought that was reallly clever.

[> [> Can someone explain the meta-narration? (spoilers, natch) -- Can someone explain the meta-narration?, 19:40:31 03/12/02 Tue

Because I didn't see any addressing of the problems with season 6. Or I didn't see any addressing of the problems that _I_ have with season 6. I might have different problems.

But the only reference at all to season 6 was that the nerds were a little odd after fighting a god, and that the world she had constructed was "starting to come apart," which I suppose could be what everyone was talking about. But that's a little vague, and I thought it alluded more to Buffy's confused state of mind and her strained relationships to everyone than the actual (alleged) flaws in the season.

Mostly his summary was mocking of seasons 1-5. He mocked the entire premise and the wacko plot twists that have happened so far. Which was pretty interesting. But I did not see anything resembling writers speaking to complaining viewers in meta-narrative.

Overall it was a fascinating episode, but I think I'm going to try to ignore it's existence when thinking over the show. That little Brazil-twist ending was odd.

And I didn't like throwing in that she had been in an institution before, when she was first called. When she said she had been in one, I thought that she was going to say that she had been in one before she was called. That would have been mildly inconsistant with her character but it bothers me less than saying that she was in one during her first year and then everybody just ignored the fact later. Not just Joyce forgetting about the vampires, but the idea that nobody ever worried about her sanity while she was behaving so strangely. They thought her a juvenile delinquent but nobody came close to questioning her sanity, at least not seriously. That seems extremely inconsistant.. you can chalk it up to Joyce's repression of everything, but she seemed to be caring and paying attention at least a little.

[> [> [> Re: Can someone explain the meta-narration? (spoilers, natch) -- skeeve, 08:28:54 03/13/02 Wed

The problem with having a called Slayer in a mental institution for two weeks is that she could get out by brute force if by no other method. Also, she could prove that part of her `delusion' was real: super-strength and super-durability. It's not clear how soon she knew of her super-healing.

[> Re: Meta-narration in Normal Again (spoilers, natch) -- Lyonors, 18:54:24 03/12/02 Tue

OMG.....I was thinking the same thing about "I meant to do that" while I was picking my jaw up off my chest. One beef---I wasn't particularly happy with Xander's near-flippant reentry. Yes, he had his little speachy time, but it just didn't cut it. And the fact that noone knows -where- Anya bugs me. But the line about the closed sign on the magic box....*sniff* nearly made me bust out the kleenex!

Waiting patiently the huge amount of time till next new Buffy...well, not -that- patienly,


[> Re: Meta-narration in Normal Again (spoilers, natch) -- yffub, 18:57:01 03/12/02 Tue

I found the reference to the "Three Evil Guys" equally important. The doctor referred to them as "pathetic, weak men".


[> Re: Meta-narration in Normal Again (spoilers, natch) -- Wisewoman, 19:17:42 03/12/02 Tue

I think you're making an important point about Joss and ME addressing a lot of issues that we have with this season, via the mechanism of the doctor describing Buffy's hallucinations. I know I'm being picky, but I think for it to be metanarration the Doctor would have to tell Buffy's mom and dad that she was hallucinating she was a superhero in a television show.

I'm having a lot of trouble with this ep, as I knew I would after I read the wildfeed. They've just presented me with an alternative explanation for the last six years which is quite frankly easier for me to accept than that Sunnydale sits on a Hellmouth and Buffy is a Vampire Slayer. That's pretty depressing.

I have no problem with the writing--that was very well done, and SMG did her usual stellar job in the portrayal. It's just...I don't know if I'm going to be able to block this out when I watch the rest of the season, and it's actually making me a little nauseous. Maybe that's the point, to keep us off guard, but I can't help but wonder what people would think of this ep if it was the last one of the series. Wouldn't that be the ultimate "Bobby's in the shower and the last season was all a dream" type riff that that we were so worried ME might try to pull to bring Buffy back to life?

There's also the whole element of how cruelly close to reality the whole asylum scenario was--Buffy would have been the right age to begin exhibiting signs of schizophrenia when the show began. And the revelation that her parents did send her to clinic because of their concern when she started talking about vampires--and then they just forgot? So how come, when Joyce finally met some vampires, fought some demons, and accepted that Buffy was the Slayer, she never said, "Gee, honey, I remember you used to talk about this years ago, but we thought you were crazy...Sorry!"

I'm on the verge of rambling, if not ranting, and I know I'm not making myself clear. I need to get some distance from this one, maybe because right now I feel like I really, really hated it, not because it was poor quality TV, but because of what it said. But then again, I don't think we needed another basically dark and depressing ep right now, so maybe that's colouring my attitude as well.


[> [> Re: Meta-narration in Normal Again (spoilers, natch) -- Tanker, 19:24:07 03/12/02 Tue

A lot of people (in other fora) have said "Why didn't Joyce say "oh, not that again" when Buffy said she was the Slayer in S2. It's very simple:

That was part of the "delusion." In "reality," Joyce and Hank never split up, and so Joyce and Buffy never moved to Sunnydale. The entire series took place in Buffy's head.

However, the mental institution was not real. The shot at the end may appear to be ambiguous, but I think the fact that we saw the nerds summon the demon is a clue that Sunnydale is in fact the true reality. Remember, she hadn't taken the antidote yet at the end of the episode. When we saw her in a catatonic state, that was the last little bit of the demon-induced delusion.

[> [> [> Okay, that makes sense... -- WW, 19:34:18 03/12/02 Tue

So there's no credibility in Buffy telling Willow that her Mom and Dad sent her to a clinic, because that happened in the Buffyverse reality, which never really happened anyway?

No, wait, but then doesn't the fact that Joyce never acknowledged it point to the "reality" of the Asylumverse rather than the Buffyverse? Or, no, I get it, the sending to the clinic happened in the Asylumverse reality. Once Buffy has taken the antidote and is truly herself again she should be able to reassure Willow that Joyce and Hank never did have her committed for observation.

Man, this is really messing with my head, but I think I agree with your explanation.


[> [> [> [> Thanks, WW. Like I wasn't confused enough already! :o) -- pagangodess, 19:45:43 03/12/02 Tue

I'm also confused about the whole Buffyverse/Assylumverse thing. Until I rewatch the ep and have a chance to straighten things out in my head, I'm gonna go with Tanker's explanation.

This is almost as confusing as that time travel/alternate reality thing on Star Trek:TNG, Voyager, etc. The problem is, the more you think about it - the more confusing it gets.


[> [> [> [> [> Re: Thanks, WW. Like I wasn't confused enough already! :o) -- gds, 20:19:21 03/12/02 Tue

This episode reminds me of the Deep Space 9 episodes where the Emissary was about to start on his destiny. They had arranged his birth to (among other things which were never specified) defeat the pagh wraiths. The pagh wraiths sent him a vision of being an inmate in an asylum and the doctors trying to convince him it was all a delusion. They did this so that he would not fulfill his mission.

Interestingly, this episode explained the origin of the Emissary and part of why there was an emissary. He was not an accident - a right place right time coincidence. His parents were manipulated in giving him birth. For more info on this episode see

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Thanks, WW. Like I wasn't confused enough already! :o) -- Hanayashiki, 22:12:57 03/12/02 Tue

And a superior version of the asylum cliche as well, even though tonight's Buffy was great.

[> [> [> [> Re: I can't get it to make sense that way -- Valhalla, 20:08:56 03/12/02 Tue

I still can't get this to make sense. Either the Asylumverse is real (which I don't believe, for the reasons stated), and Buffy never left the Asylum from when Joyce and Hank put her in there 6 years ago, or the Slayerverse is real, and she actually was in an institution for a few weeks. When she tells Willow about it, she's definitely in Slayerverse, and at that point in the show, she thinks she's been poisoned by the demon with the spike, and the asylum is fiction.

The only other explanation that makes sense to me is that the Asylumverse world is leaking into the Slayerverse, but the two worlds didn't really do much leaking into each other elsewise, at least not in terms of the history of each; they're two parallel tracks. She wasn't having Wizard of Oz type crossovers where characters from one universe appeared in the other as different people.

As silly as it sounds, Buffy's explanation that her parents just seemed to forget about her vampire sightings actually made more sense to me, both in terms of Joyce's character and the show generally. After Buffy 'comes out' as the Slayer, Joyce kept trying to get Buffy to quit; she acknowledged that Buffy was the Slayer, but she didn't really understood what it meant or take it seriously (at least not for a long time). And I was always really bothered by how easily and quickly Joyce was pulled into MOO; without intervention, she would have killed her (at that time) only child. Not to mention how easily she got sucked into Ted the Robot's evil ways and how blithely she discarded Buffy's concerns about him. Actually, the fact that Joyce did eventually acknowledge Buffy's Slayerness as real is less in her character than her forgetting about Buffy's previous institutionalization for vampire sightings. Joyce has always been a character whose reality switched around pretty easily, especially where Buffy is concerned. I know a lot of people really liked Joyce's character, and she was fairly multidimensional, but she did always have a slightly Stepford thing going on (I think Buffy says something like this in the Ted episode).

Besides just Joyce, seasons 1-3 repeatedly showed all the adults around Buffy (except Giles) either in utter denial of all the kooky supernatural happenings in Sunnydale or just plain absent. One of the themes of the show has always been that the Scoobies were pretty much on their own, mostly because given the choice of acknowledging horrible, supernatural things, and glossing over them, the adults always picked glossing. Even in seasons 4-5, there were Initiative adults who knew what the game was, but they were seriously engaged in keeping the truth concealed.

So, my vote is that Slayerworld is the real one, Buffy was in an institution for a few weeks, and Joyce just forgot.

[> [> [> [> [> Buffy didn't say she told her parents she was the Slayer... -- Rob, 20:21:56 03/12/02 Tue

What I got from it was that she told her parents about the vampires she'd encountered. And that is why she was sent to the institution. I forget the exact words, but she said something like, "When I saw my first vampires, I was really freaked out. I told my parents, and they sent me to an institution..."

She may not have said she was the Slayer. She might have told them about vampires only.


[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: clarification -- Valhalla, 17:31:10 03/13/02 Wed

Just a clarification -- I didn't mean to imply that Buffy told her mom about the Slayer deal 6 years ago -- she was definitely only talking about seeing vampires in connection with the first (and possibly only) asylum gig. What I was trying to say about Joyce was that when Buffy finally did tell her about being the Slayer (can't remember what season -- 2? 3?), Joyce still had some denial-like stuff going on -- she believed Buffy, but didn't really accept what being the Slayer meant.

An (extreme) analogy might be how adults react when a 5-year-old tells them she's going to be President when she grows up. People think it's cute and maybe even admirable, but they don't usually take it very seriously.

[> [> [> [> [> Aha! Retcon alert! -- Tanker, 20:39:54 03/12/02 Tue

I missed Buffy telling Willow about being in an institution when the show aired, because I was in a chat room at the same time. Anyway, I think this counts as a retcon. The reason Joyce didn't say anything in Becoming part 2 is because it's a television show with an evolving, and sometimes changing, backstory. I think that's the only way to look at it without going insane trying to make sense of it.

I'll have to think about this some more. The writers may have added that to make the episode more ambiguous. Since it retconned the backstory, it may have been a mistake.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Nuh-uh! -- Rob, 21:05:08 03/12/02 Tue

If we say the Assylumverse is the real world, then we can say that, in Buffy's dream, Joyce forgot about the whole incident...After all, it is a dream.

If we say Sunnydale is the real world, then it's a little harder to explain, but it's possible that her assylum dream bled into her reality, from her confusion of going back and forth...and that memory of having been institutionalized and telling her parents was planted as part of the delusions.

I don't think it was put in as retcon. I think it was put in on purpose to confuse...and to make us question which reality is real, and thus make it harder to guess. If the demon's poison could make Buffy hallucinate a world where she's in an asylum, why couldn't it also put in some fake memories of having been in the asylum before? Hey, the memories of Dawn were implanted by magic, after all. And I think you could say Dawn is Joss' ultimate parody on retconning.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> My head just exploded. Film at 11. -- Tanker, 21:16:04 03/12/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> I think it was there to increase BUFFY'S confusion... (That's not a spoiler, is it-?) -- Darby, 07:10:12 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Aha! Retcon alert! -- Robert, 12:12:16 03/13/02 Wed

Can you give me a definition for retcon?

[> [> [> [> [> Denial Joyce -- alcibiades, 21:39:09 03/12/02 Tue

"Besides just Joyce, seasons 1-3 repeatedly showed all the adults around Buffy (except Giles) either in utter denial of all the kooky supernatural happenings in Sunnydale or just plain absent."

And it is not insignificant that before Giles left, he told Buffy that he had taught her all he knew about how to be a slayer and Joyce had taught her all about how to live. And Buffy, like Joyce before her, has been in denial about her external reality ever since. As we have seen remarkably clearly tonight, its been her way of trying to maintain contact with Joyce. Joyce never wanted this for her, and like a good girl, Buffy has been trying to comply. It's Joyce she says goodbye to, not her father. She has no idea what her father wants for her because she doesn't know him.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Denial Joyce -- Rattletrap, 07:17:00 03/13/02 Wed

There was a nice subtlety that really played up the similarity between Buffy and Joyce--did you notice that Kristine Sutherland and SMG both used the same affectionate face stroking gesture while trying to console Buffy and Dawn (respectively, I know this is confusing)? As OnM pointed out a few weeks ago, SMG has done a good job this season picking up some of KS's mothering mannerisms when interacting with Dawn.

I'm still mulling over the two weeks in a clinic thing. It may be a RetCon, certainly Joss & Co. have routinely revised their past history over the last 6 years. That was my initial assumption, and my biggest complaint with this otherwise excellent episode. But Rob and some of the others now have me wondering if maybe this was intended as evidence of Buffy's realities blurring together.

I should also say that Diego Gutierrez is now my hero.

Sorry for the rambling, just had to get my $.02 in.


[> [> [> [> [> Re: I can't get it to make sense that way -- Calluna, 00:06:28 03/13/02 Wed

Okay, here's a simpler explination. Obviously Joyce wasn't the only one who repressed Buffy's visit to a clinic. I'd say Buffy repressed it quite nicely as well. It makes sense that her demon induced hallucination would create a world in which she was a normal kid. Crazy, but normal. That's pretty much one of the things this season has been about; how Buffy wishes she wasn't the Slayer, even if that means she has to die (again). So this repressed memory of the clinic surfaces into a full blown alternate reality, which to Buffy explains the loss of 6 years. And no one ever really explained exactly what the demon's poison would do. Maybe if everyone had researched further, they would have found out that this demon takes the deepest wish of the victim and twists it.

I also thought that this episode had a nice sub-text of Buffy coming to grips with her father's abandonment and her mother's death. The "Goodbye" at the end wasn't so much Buffy saying goodbye to the alternate/"Real" universe Joyce, as Buffy finally saying the goodbye that she wasn't able to when Joyce died and choosing to live in a reality without her.

Oh and I agree with the idea that the final scene was a left over hallucination before Buffy took the antidote.

Actually, I liked this episode in a "Matrix" kind of way. Made you think about the nature of reality. And is it just me or was Tara the catalyst for Buffy's return to reality?

[> [> [> [> [> Family Secrets -- Vickie, 11:00:23 03/13/02 Wed

I respectfully suggest that some of you have no idea how powerfully families can suppress events that MUST NOT BE TRUE if they are to maintain their integrity as family units.

Suspicion of mental illness, unfortunately for those who suffer from it, is often one of those events.

I type from personal experience here. There are members of my family whose memories have reconned our history regarding certain hospitalizations. You cannot talk to these family members about the hospitalizations. These evaluations and treatments did not happen (for those family members). The very possibility of the events having happened threatens their entire paradigm of reality.

I have no problem with Joyce Summers, long time reigning queen of denial, "forgetting" that Buffy was evaluated for mental illness prior to their move to Sunnydale. She can happily say to herself "Buffy was fine. They let her go. It's best if we just behave as if it never happened."

This kind of suppression does damage. I cling to the image of Buffy unchaining the demon in the basement (thank you, Leof) and then defeating it as a very hopeful image.

as always, just my $.02.

[> [> [> [> Don't want to burst that bubble, WW, but...(NA spoilers, of course) -- Rob, 20:19:20 03/12/02 Tue make things more confusing, it's possible that this whole "demon juice" thing was also part of Buffy's dream. In the Assylumverse Reality, everything in Sunnydale is part of Buffy's dream. So she may have incorporated her relapse into awakedness into her dream, by having the demon juice being the thing that revived her.

But I can also attempt to settle your mind by saying I think that Sunnydale is the real reality. For one, I agree with Spike. How self-centered can she be that the entire reality and all these people and creatures were figments of her imagination! Really! Harumph! (Always wanted to use "harumph" in a post...finally got my chance!) Now, I know that was a joke, but see I think the key lies in what her doctor said. He said, in a way, that, in order to cope with reality, Buffy created this dreamworld, Sunnydale, wherein she was a superhero who battled demons. But, just the opposite, I believe that explanation explains why the Assylumverse is the fake one. Buffy all year has felt disconnected, not normal, going through the motions, yadda, yadda, etc. And so I beleive she created the fantasy that none of this was real, and her mom was alive in order to cope with the disconnectedness she felt. In this fantasy, not only does she get to see her mom again, but Joyce gives her valuable advice, that gives her the drive to live again in the real world...Sunnydale. Interesting how closely Joyce's speech echoed Buffy's to Dawn at the end of "The Gift." Through this fantasy she created, Buffy was able to hear her mother say these words...And may now finally be able to follow her own advice.

It is not being half-demon that is making her feel weird, as she had almost hoped. She is full, herself, and human. Perhaps the episode is titled "Normal Again," not because of the implication that she has awoken from her Sunnydale dream, but because, after listening to Joyce's words and realizing how important her friends are to her, Buffy finally will be normal again in the real world, Sunnydale.

I liked how they mentioned that Buffy's stay in heaven was her brief awakening from her coma. But I like it only as a concept. I don't think that's real. Wouldn't Buffy, upon awakening, have remembered that as being the heaven she experienced? Recognized it maybe? No, I think that the Assylumverse fantasy incorporated Buffy's death into it, and explained that as the reason for it. But I don't think it really is.

This episode was very thought-provoking for me, and was the biggest mind-frell (sorry to borrow a "Farscape" term!) since "Restless." But, just as with "Restless," I think the Assylum is a dream that can hold great portent for the future, or even better, have helped Buffy deal with her present.

Joyce may have been able to cure her like her friends, Spike, and herself never could. Buffy got one more day with her deceased mother, something many people would do anything for. And so that qualifies as a happy ending in my book, besides the sadness surrounding the situation.


[> [> [> [> [> Re: Don't want to burst that bubble, WW, but...(NA spoilers, of course) -- Hanayashiki, 22:10:30 03/12/02 Tue

"But I can also attempt to settle your mind by saying I think that Sunnydale is the real reality. For one, I agree with Spike. How self-centered can she be that the entire reality and all these people and creatures were figments of her imagination!"

Selfishness is the reality of schizophrenia, I worked with these people before and God bless them, but mental illness can be selfish at times, especially schizophrenia. BTW, if she was that deep into her psychosis, in reality there would be little chance she would ever come out of it. Schizophrenics that gone are often "lost" for good. A sad and terrible fate for the families left behind.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Don't want to burst that bubble, WW, but...(NA spoilers, of course) -- Rob, 22:38:41 03/12/02 Tue

Even with that, that was not my primary reason for thinking Sunnydale is the "real" reality...That was my more joking reason.

Read beyond that for my real reason...the words of the Doctor and the words of Joyce.


[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Mental illness can be selfish at times?! Jesus Christ. -- Dedalus, 22:51:10 03/12/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Sorry, but its true. You can get mad all you want, I know what i speak. -- Hanayashiki, 00:16:03 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> "selfish"? -- mama-san, 07:00:05 03/13/02 Wed

To me, "selfish" implies not only a deliberate choice but an understanding that other people exist and have feelings. If your grasp of reality is weak or intermittent, there will be times when you're not sure anyone but you is real. After all, the only way we know that other people have desires and emotions like ours is extrapolation: they seem to behave the way we do when we experience these things, and it's simpler to assume that that's because they do as well (as opposed to various solipsistic explanations like "I'm making all this up in my head.")

I don't know much about schizophrenia, but I know that various mood disorders can divide a person's sense of self from his understanding of other minds. For example, someone who's in major depression may genuinely believe that he's worthless and that everyone will be better off without him, despite believing that other people do have value. Friends and family may be unable to persuade a depressed person that they genuinely want and need him; he may insist that they're only saying so to be polite or kind, and they'll really be happier when he's gone. If he's told that suicide is selfish, because he'll be hurting the people who love him, he may simply refuse to believe that those people know what they really want.

Buffy's shown many signs of depression this season. It may seem selfish, not to mention bizarre, for her to imagine that Sunnydale would be better off without her, but the warped worldview of depression can make such beliefs powerfully convincing.

If you think other people may not really exist, how can you be expected to act on behalf of anyone but yourself? If you think you're worthless and ought not to exist, how can you understand that other people value you? I think Buffy is confronting both of these warped worldviews in "Normal Again."

And yet she suffers on behalf of the people she loves in both universes, no matter which one is real. What a painful episode: two worlds on her shoulders, and no way to protect her loved ones in both.

Mama-san (whose babies are, just for the moment, asleep)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Yeah, it did make me slightly mad. Stupidity has that affect on me. -- Dedalus, 19:16:09 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Don't want to burst that bubble, WW, but...(NA spoilers, of course) -- Valhalla, 17:23:24 03/13/02 Wed

I don't understand all that much about schizophrenia, but the doctor implying that Hank and Joyce could get Buffy back as she was really bothered me. It was one small reason why I doubted that the Asylumverse was real, too, because as I understand it, one of the great horrible-nesses of schizophrenia is that there's no real cure. It can be treated in some cases, but it's always kind of around. And I definitely don't think it can be cured just be repeatedly telling someone that their 'delusions' aren't real.

I thought that moment showed more why escaping into the Asylumverse would be attractive to Buffy -- because then she could back to being a 'normal', non-Slayer female. Otherwise, being in an institution wouldn't be my first choice for an escapist fantasy.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Thank you, Valhalla! ;o) -- Wisewoman, 19:26:40 03/13/02 Wed I understand it, one of the great horrible-nesses of schizophrenia is that there's no real cure. It can be treated in some cases, but it's always kind of around. And I definitely don't think it can be cured just by repeatedly telling someone that their 'delusions' aren't real.

Thank you so much. Your statement has done more to convince me of the "unreality" of the Asylumverse than anything I've read (a lot of which was pretty convincing as well).

No psychiatrist in his right mind (pardon!) would attempt to "cure" (or even treat) schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder by simply informing his patient that it was all in her head!

I feel much better now!


[> [> [> [> [> my mother/myself -- anom, 00:26:23 03/13/02 Wed

"Joyce may have been able to cure her like her friends, Spike, and herself never could. Buffy got one more day with her deceased mother, something many people would do anything for."

Of course she could. Buffy's mother, in spite of all the denial, has always been her greatest source of support & love, & Buffy has internalized this even if she doesn't realize it. Even though it's demon- induced, the asylum-reality comes from Buffy's mind, & I think the people in it represent parts of her mind. The doctor is the part of her that wants to rationalize away what her life has become. Her mother is the part of her that believes in herself. That's why she can give her the "you're strong enough" speech that prepares her to go back to Sunnydale-reality. But I think her mother--in this case maybe both her parents--is also the part of her mind that wants her back in her previous life, & after she says "goodbye" to them in the asylum-reality, they're the part of her that still mourns the life she can't have.

Doesn't her mother even say something about always being with her? (didn't tape it, & don't have time to rewatch yet anyway) And it's true, her mother will always be with her, because she's a part of her--maybe the strongest part. Realizing that helps Buffy face the reality where her actual mother is dead & the monsters are real, but she has more strength than she realizes & friends to help her deal with it all.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Mmmm, lovely post. -- mama-san, 07:08:05 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> [> Rob and anon - great posts - completely agree. -- Caroline, 07:14:32 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> Maybe both are real! (SPOILERS for Normal Again) -- Robert, 20:52:00 03/12/02 Tue

I believe the final scene of the episode was more than just ambiguous. Buffy had not yet taken the antidote, so it may be that she was still bouncing into her hallucinations, but I think something else is going on. Since we are dealing with a demon (and his venom) and possibly magic, the mental hospital scenes may be a created reality. We can't know until the rest of the season plays out whether this is true, but I see precedence.

I believe that Dawn's existance is more than energy in a human form and back-dated retroactive memories for everyone else. More had to change than just memories when Dawn was placed in Sunnydale. I think that ME was hinting at an altered reality with Dawn. In "Normal Again", I think they are hinting at multiple realities. This would be a delicious twist if true.

On a slightly different subject, I really enjoyed this episode. ME is poking fun at the shows which end with episodes (or the entire series) turning out to be a dream. As Wisewoman has previously written, this episode is aggrevating because the hallucinations are more reasonable than the reality. ME is thus poking fun at themselve, and at us. Not for a second do I believe that the hallucinations are the reality (or not the only reality) -- not with at least another 30 episodes to go in BtVS. UPN could change the title of the show to "Buffy the Schizophrenic", but I don't think it would sell.

[> [> [> Life Serial -- Sarah, 22:20:13 03/12/02 Tue

I think both universes were real. This dialogue from Life Serial really sheds some light on what they were trying to say here.

"Social Construction of Reality"
(turning to the class)
Who can tell me what that is?

A concept involving a couple of
opposing theories. One stressing the
externality and independence of
social reality from individuals...

And the flip side?
ON BUFFY, taken aback as hands shoot up around her again.

That each individual participates
fully in the construction of his or
her own life.

Good. Who can expand on that?

ON BUFFY, listening, watching, increasingly overwhelmed.

Well, those on the latter side of the
theoretical divide stress that social
reality is actively constructed and
restructured by individual actors.

As he speaks, Buffy leans in to Willow and whispers.

Will, I'm not following this too well.

The trick is to just get into the
rhythm, go with the flow.
Her hand goes up.
Flow-going might be easier if your
classmates weren't all big brains.

Buffy, that’s ridiculous. They’re no
smarter than you or me.


(answering a question)
Because social phenomena don’t have
unproblematic objective existences,
they have to be interpreted and given
meanings by those who encounter them.

Nicely put. So, Ruby, does that mean
there are countless realities?

ON WILLOW, pleased with herself, as she turns back to BUFFY who just looks at her.

“Objective” measurement is actually
a social construction on the
subjective meanings ascribed by those
doing the measuring...

MIKE (cont’d; O.S.)
All knowledge of the world is a human
construction rather than a mirror of
some independent reality...

So my take was that Buffy had to choose which reality to acknowledge.

[> [> [> [> Oooh....Thanks for pointing that out!! -- Belladonna, 05:48:07 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> about big brains that's making mine sweat! (NT) -- Lyonors, 06:16:45 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> Re: Life Serial -- Arethusa, 08:48:16 03/13/02 Wed

Buffy made several important choices this episode: she rededicated herself to fighting evil, internalized her parents' love and wisdom while saying goodbye to them, (perhaps) gave up on the notion of a "normal" life, and insisted to Dawn that they must get back on an even keel right away.
She still hasn't come clean to herself and everyone
about her relationship with Spike, but that's probably next. She's already told Tara and Dawn, and Spike is obviously not going to let her hide anymore, for both her sake and his.
If growing up is all about accepting responsibility and facing the world as it is, not as we want it to be, Buffy has begun to make huge strides in this episode, and I can't wait to see how ME will integrate Buffy's new maturity into the big showdown with the Lost Boys of nerddom.

[> [> Re: Meta-narration in Normal Again (spoilers, natch) -- luvthistle1, 23:07:32 03/12/02 Tue

It would also, explain for, why none of the other Adults knew what was going on. Like Willow's mom, or Xander's Dad. (*I see what you mean)during the whole 6 seasons. The police never once came across a vampire? *ouch*. Doesn't Harmony's mom wonder what happen to her? or Oz's parents? It's sorta like "Charlie Brown" with the parent rarely seen.

I did not like this episode very much, so I hope the season finale is SUPERIOR

[> [> Re: Meta-narration in Normal Again (spoilers, natch) -- Drucilla, 06:30:29 03/13/02 Wed

I think that ultimately, Joss was mocking the audience, rather than the Buffy characters. I know I felt as if I was the one who was beingg screwed with, because he was forcing us to go back and forth in sustaining our disbelief. It was the ultimate threat of the Buffyverse-- not that it was destroyed, but that it was never real. It was brilliant and disturbing. And I hated it and loved it, which of course, is exactly what Joss wants. It was him pointing out once again (as he did in OMWF) that he is the puppetmaster, but in fact, that Buffy isn't the puppets, we are.

[> Re: Meta-narration in Normal Again (spoilers, natch) -- Veronica, 19:18:30 03/12/02 Tue

Like Tanker, I liked the way the ep ended with the open question of what IS Buffy's REAL reality? Although we are led to believe that the whole mental institution reality is constructed b/c of the demon juice, it's still an open possibility....who knows? maybe this will re-appear towards the end of the series?

When I saw the preview for this ep, I was worried that it was along the same line as an epsiode of "Charmed" in which one of the sisters was trapped in an alternate reality in which she was told that she was insane. I was pleasantly surprised that this ep developed more of its own storyline...

[> [> Re: Meta-narration in Normal Again (spoilers) -- agent156, 19:55:30 03/12/02 Tue

I really liked the ambiguity in the episode. Either of the two worlds could easily be real or simply Buffy's escape from reailty.

Things haven't exactly been going very well in Sunnydale for her lately. She has lost both her real parents and her surrogate father Giles, had to take on the responsibility of raising her sister, gotten a crummy and unfulfilling job with little hope of ever being able to get a better one (or so it seems), and her beacon of hope, Anya and Xander, showed itself to not be so bright. It seems natural that her escape from that world would be to put herself where her parents were still both alive and together and all those responsibilities that were weighing on her were gone. The doctor's explanation is simply her rationalizing this reality to herself. It only makes sense to escape from life she would try to point out things in that life that already tended towards non-belief like vampires and demons.

And as someone else already said, what is reality anyway? It all lies in the mind.

In my opinion it was a great episode. A lot to be taken in and taken from it.

[> [> [> Re: Let's Try This -- DEN, 20:51:05 03/12/02 Tue

1 The Demon injection triggered the following events. That seems indisputable.

2. That means the Asylumverse cannot reasonably be a "Bobby Ewing" frame for the series. It could be a) a parallel universe or b0, and more likely, a construct of Buffy's mind reflecting some combination of rejection of her present circumstances; desire for an idealized child's world, in which her parents are together and focused entirely on her; or even fear that she might really be insane (and it's NOT necessarily true that if you think you're insane, you aren't!)

3. The "hospitalization for observation" event might have been part of the "Slayerverse," and been turned into a family secret, as suggested. More likely, though, it was early "seepage" from the Asylumverse alternate/hallucination, along the later lines of tying everyone in the basement and turning the demon loose to kill them. That was the "Asylumverse" answer to Buffy's problem, but it played out in "Slayerverse." It seems most logical to interpret Buffy's conversation with Willow as the same kind of thing.

[> [> [> [> I agree, except... -- Rob, 21:14:29 03/12/02 Tue I said before, if you were to argue that Asylumverse was real, then the Troika injection could have been an element Buffy incorporated into her dream, to explain why she woke up at that point. But in Asylumverse, she could have just woken up.

I would like to continue, though, by saying that, although i don't agree with your using that as a reason for why Asylumverse was fake, I do agree that Asylumverse was not real...and totally agree with your "seepage" idea.


[> [> [> [> [> I'll take door #3, please. -- Sheri, 21:53:23 03/12/02 Tue

It's been a mighty long time since I last posted, so I thought I just might quote a little bit from OMWF to get me pumped up a bit:

"Life's a show, and we all play a part."

Ok. Pumped. (Tack så mycket, Buffy!)

I'm going to contend that neither the Asylumverse NOR the Buffyverse is real. It's all just brought to us thanks to Joss and team's wacky little minds. We accept the fictional world of the Buffyverse because ME has convinced us to suspend our disbelieve. Yes, I know... OBVIOUSLY. But how often do fictional works show us the puppet strings behind the story?

Obviously this isn't the first time that Joss has waved hello to his puppets: They somehow managed to accept the introduction of Dawn without even flinching. The Scoobies remember Dawn, so does that make her any less real? True... we don't remember her... but six years ago, we also didn't have any recollection of a person named Buffy--it was only through our suspension of disbelief that we have managed to forget (for the duration of the show's hour) that the Buffyverse is not real.

So now we have Evil!Joss reminding us that Buffy in the mental hospital is just as (un)real as Buffy fighting demons--it all depends on what WE decide to believe.

(hummmm... that made a LOT more sense in my head... oh well... at least I'm finally posting again, so cut me some slack!)

[> [> [> [> [> [> good point Very EVANGELION! -- neaux, 04:43:04 03/13/02 Wed

AFter seeing OMWF I really thought that Joss had taken a cue from The Neon Genesis Evangelion Series.. That the world is a stage and everyone plays their part...

and after seeing last nights episode... I TOTALLY think this is an expansion of Joss' point.

BTW, If you havent seen Evangelion.. you really are in for a Mindfark.

Don't have time to write; had to post that "Normal Again" has made my top 10 best "Buffy" eps list! -- Rob, 19:01:59 03/12/02 Tue

[> Re: ... has made my top 10 best "Buffy" eps list! -- Robert, 20:55:32 03/12/02 Tue

Yes, I agree! My problem is that I have more than ten episodes in my top ten, making it tough to manage.

[> [> I know what you mean, but my current list, as of now, is... -- Rob, 22:36:39 03/12/02 Tue

1. Once More, With Feeling
2. The Body
3. Hush
4. Restless
5. Normal Again
6. The Gift
7. Fool for Love
8. Lover's Walk
9. Doppelgangland
10. I Only Have Eyes for You

[> [> [> But what about the funny? :) -- Tillow, 07:51:25 03/13/02 Wed

Pangs, Something Blue, Tabula Rasa??

Or do you you have a seperate list for those?

Va bene. To each his own. :)

[> [> [> [> Ok, you're on to me, Tillow...Here's my comedic list! -- Rob, 08:28:55 03/13/02 Wed

1. Life Serial
2. Band Candy
3. Tabula Rasa
4. Something Blue
5. Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered
6. Triangle
7. The Zeppo
8. Superstar
9. Halloween
10. Living Conditions

[> [> [> [> [> Ah ha! :) -- Tillow, 10:57:32 03/13/02 Wed

You must go rewatch Pangs this instant and assimilate it into your list.

A bear! You made a bear!

I didn't mean to!

Undo it! Undo it!

This is no good!!! (sotto voce) It needs more condensed milk.

C'mon man! How could you forget Pangs... !!!


Choose Your own adventure in Normal Again (spoilers) -- neaux, 19:17:14 03/12/02 Tue

Anyone see the movie Goonies?

The Goonies was a great story of adventure. It was known for its Choose Your Own Adventure plotline where the kids decided whether to face one reality or accept another. The kids could accept the reality of poverty and follow their adults into that reality or escape on their own pirate adventure filled with treasure and boody traps.

There is a scene where the main character in Goonies gives a speech to his gang about what it means to live out your adventures down in the bottomof the well.. "Up there.. (he points to the real world) Up there.. its there time. Down here. Down here its our time."

Buffy had to choose between her adultworld where she was still the kid and made no decisions.. or live out her alternate reality full of adventure and monsters and no adults and where she could be a hero, and choose her own adventure.

As Buffy slipped from one reality to the other.. she had to find a way to cement herself in One reality permantly. She chose her fantasy world. One BIG PROBLEM though...

Because her fantasy world was beginning to shift into reality.. for example the concept of bills, work and 3 nerds as villians.. the monsters were dissapearing. Her fantasy world was melting. The doctor in her other reality convinced her of it. He told her there was no reason to go back.. the only thing holding her back was her friends. He also said that her friends were superheroes too. Buffy didnt want to hear that. Buffy's the hero!!

She had to regain her Hero status before reality took over her world. She purposely set her friends Down in the basement. Tied them up too with a demonic monster so that she could save them and try to regain her fantasy world of Monsters and being the hero.

Another problem.
In resetting her fantasy world, she didnt expect someone else to take over the hero role. That was where TAra came in, and for the same reason why Buffy tripped her. Buffy could not allow someone to upset her scene. And buffy did fight the baddie and save the day. She therefore chose to stay in fantasy land. She regained her Hero status.. and left the reality of the mental ward.

what does all this mean really? shoot I dont know. I cant ever make final statments to support my observations.. Can someone help me out?

[> Re: Choose Your own adventure in Normal Again (spoilers) -- gds, 19:45:26 03/12/02 Tue

She didn't choose the fantasy world. The sanitarium was the fantasy world she used to escape the real world with demons (i.e. real world problems). When she chose to trust herself and her ability to cope, she left the fantasy world - the world of the sanitarium.

[> [> eh.. -- neaux, 04:24:26 03/13/02 Wed

I think that it could really be argued either way.

[> [> [> Oh my gawd do you suppose... -- Ishkabibble, 11:23:17 03/13/02 Wed

the very ambiguities that have all of us questioning right now which is the true "reality," will be how Joss, et al, end the series?

The only thing worse than concluding that the whole series was a delusion, would be to NOT be able to reach any definitive conclusion at all.

So, I'm worried that when the series ends, ME is going to leave it up to each of us to decide which is/was the true reality.

I want closure...I want ME to provide it...but I want the end to go my way! Cognitive dissonance much?

How Buffy should end -- arfub, 19:18:41 03/12/02 Tue

I believe SMG will leave the show prior to the show's end. Dawn is around to replace her. Since she is made from buffy somewhere along the way she is going to realize she has the same powers as the slayer.....and so the series will continue after SMG's contract expires.....

[> Re: How Buffy should end -- O'Cailleagh, 19:52:55 03/12/02 Tue

I think it unlikely that Dawn will become the next Slayer. She may be made from BuffyBlood, but the Slayer thing is more destiny than inheritance.
Dawn will find her own power, she is the key after all.
I think the series will end and be continued with occasional movies, with guest-roles for the cast in the various spin-offs (AtS,Ripper,whatever else). This will continue til the big apocalypse storyline in which Angel saves Buffy's life, and becomes human again.
In s7 I'd like to see the 'return' of Pike (from the movie), the perfect guy for Buffy (ie non-demonic, not chemically/genetically-enhanced, yet cute and handy with a stake). I'd also like to see a lot more actual Vampire Slaying-lets get the girl back to her roots!

[> Re: Dmmb thinking ! -- Micha, 07:54:53 03/13/02 Wed

Psychology, mythology and reality in Normal Again - initial thoughts -- Caroline, 19:53:03 03/12/02 Tue

There is so much going on here but I’d like to focus some quick, initial thoughts on the psychological and mythological elements.

I’ve been arguing for a while now that Buffy has been undergoing a tremendous process of change and growth. A large part of that growth is to move beyond her idea of who she is and begin exploring who she really is. Her identity is being enlarged by unconscious processes that she has been fighting against this whole season, preferring her prior, limited ideas of who she is and what she is supposed to want. Unconscious drives, when repressed, tend to erupt rather unpleasantly and I think that’s what happened in Normal Again.

Buffy’s life in the mental institution symbolically represented her way out of the life that she cannot deal with in Sunnydale – her slayer responsibilities and the source of her power, her family responsibilities and the issues surrounding her sexuality and feminine power. Sure she was in a mental institution but that was a really good way to explain the ‘delusion’ of Sunnydale and try to destroy it. It was the place she went to when she was in denial, aided by the demon’s poison. Her parents were there, they were together, she didn’t have Dawn to deal with. If she could put Sunnydale behind her, she could be healthy and be a normal kid. She wouldn’t have to deal with the journey she is currently on, and she wouldn’t have to go down into the dark place to find out who she is.

In order to make the fantasy world real, she has to symbolically destroy the Sunnydale world. This would also obviate the need to delve down into her unconscious to find out what is truly going on. Buffy has a choice here. Either she retreats into denial-land or she confronts both her conscious and unconscious lives in Sunnydale. At first, she chooses the fantasy world, driven by her anger at Spike. I’ve argued before that Spike represents Hades to Buffy’s Persephone and today he really played his role. Persephone is caught in the underworld and creates a fantasy to try to get out. Hades just tells it to her like it is and Persephone flees. He sees that she is stuck in her misery, she’s not moving through it so she must deal with her underworld life, make peace with her lives above and below or she will remain miserable forever. However, in the process of destroying the Sunnydale world, she realizes that she is just escaping into a fantasy and chooses Sunnydale. This represents Buffy acknowledging that she cannot be ‘normal again’, that she cannot have a normal life, that symbolically she cannot return to the innocence and naiveté of childhood, that there is a psychological imperative for her to make the journey that she is on. She must tread her path in the underworld and connect with her unconscious self, make those things real in her life and integrate the different parts of her identity as slayer, sister, lover, friend. She must become the hero of her journey without the hero/martyr complex.

I thought that there was a good exploration of the appearance/reality theme at many levels in this episode. We had the literal level of Buffy being poisoned and switching between realities, we had the psychological and mythological metaphors for these realities and we had the self-referential metaphor of the nature of the show itself – were the last 6 seasons a delusion, where was Buffy when she was ‘dead’ etc. Whatever the answers to those are, whatever is ‘real’ or self-created, there is an essential theme, an essential truth to be gleaned from it that is relevant to our lives, that help to give it meaning.

[> Re: Great stuff -- Dedalus, 22:55:21 03/12/02 Tue

[> We really do see things differently... (Also spoilers) -- Darby, 05:34:10 03/13/02 Wed

It's amazing how the same input can be processed in totally opposite ways - my take on what happened at the end was the reverse of yours, more-or-less.

What I saw was a Buffy who had not decided that the institution was a dream, but one who was making a decision about which one was less painful (or to use Spike's word, "miserable"). That, to me, was the great saving grace of what could have been a pedestrian tour through a classic theme: after this experience, Buffy would never be sure just what her "reality" was, but existed in the one she had actively chosen (she is the Choosin' One, after all...sorry). And it was a typically Buffy decision - she let the situation reach her pain threshold, and then put a stop to it. But it also has probably put back on a taking-back-her-life path. As a viewer, I would have liked to have seen more of what went into the decision to "stay in Sunnydale"; as a Buffy watcher, I'm impressed that we were given just enough that two thoughtful people could interpret the same scene completely differently.

That, to me, has always been the strength of Shakespeare: not the ability to right great dialogue (though there is that), but the ability to write plays of such deep vagueness that they can be endlessly reinterpreted.

[> [> Re: We really do see things differently... (Also spoilers) -- Caroline, 07:04:22 03/13/02 Wed

How did Buffy decide that the institution was not a dream? I think the opposite interpretation - the Joyce we saw last night symbolized all the things that Joyce had taught Buffy in life and that is the person who was speaking to her. And, why was the Sunnydale world the less painful choice? I would have thought that explaining away all the difficulties associated with that world as a grand delusion and being able to put that pain behind her and start again with her parents together, Buffy as the only child would be less painful.

I think that looking at the show on a literal level does not provide any answers to which reality is 'real' - it is saying that our worlds are socially constructed and doesn't clue us in any way to which is the right one. Since I tend to view the show on more symbolic level, that is where I look for the clues to glean whatever themes or meaning there could be. I'm less concerned with the ontological existence of the Sunnydale world or the mental hospital world, I'm more concerned with the sense I can make of it on a symbolic, psychological and mythological level. And this show, as well as this whole season, makes much more sense to me in a psychological perspective in the way I've interpreted it in my original post. Perhaps you could provide an analysis that makes psychological sense in terms of Buffy's journey from your interpretation of the events of Normal Again.

[> [> [> I agree with you completely Caroline. Beautiful posts. Thanks! -- Tillow, 07:45:49 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> Re: We really do see things differently... (Also spoilers) -- Darby, 08:04:51 03/13/02 Wed

It's part of growing up, which is the season theme. As an adult, I've gotten to know my parents as people (as Buffy did through S4 and 5); I love them, but I get more satisfaction from my relationships with my friends, who I "connect" to more. At times of pain and stress, would I consider a return to a type of idyllic childhood if it was offered? It's hard to turn down an escape avenue, even one that may not be really all that good - if not, there wouldn't be suicides. What I saw was Buffy really deciding to accept that option (rejecting the antidote) right up until it became clear that she was about to do away with her real friends. My take on the scene was that her friends (and Dawn), true or imagined, were the most valuable thing to her in either reality, and she had to save them. At that moment, it was irrelevant which universe was the true one, but she chose one to live in.

But I'm beginning to get a clue as to why our interpretations are often different - you look first for the imagery, for symbolism, while I look first for the "reality," (including the reality that these are works of fiction, which has certain rules that have to be acknowledged even when they're not followed) and we then fit the other on to the first.

That, and I suspect we see our own realities in pretty different terms. It's fun for me to compare them, I hope that it's fun for you.

[> [> [> [> Very much..please keep being my devil's advocate! -- Caroline, 09:18:06 03/13/02 Wed

but I think that we did kind of come to an agreement on one thing - "At that moment, it was irrelevant which universe was the true one, but she chose one to live in." I completely agree. And you're right about how I view Buffy - the metaphor or what the action represents is so much more important for me than the literal presentation. The really great thing about this show is just how many levels you can enjoy it on.

[> [> [> [> Interesting -- Rahael, 09:34:26 03/13/02 Wed

I tend to look for both in Buffy;

though your point Darby, about her friends being more important than Joyce and Hank, I think is more a matter for interpretation than a simply unmetaphorical look at the ep. For example didn't Buffy warn her friends that she loved them, but Dawn's life was even more important? And the Buffy who opened the door to the resurrected Joyce in 'Forever', only to be rescued from the horror that lurked outside by Dawn's inner steel?

I have to say that as someone who like Buffy was bereaved of her mother, that must have been an incredibly hard choice for her to make. I don't know whether I would have made the same choice. If a delusion could have been that real, to bring back the impossible.....and so in my view, it makes that choice both metaphorically rich, and it makes sense in terms of narration too. Buffy chose to live, to give up her dream of Joyce and Hank and 'normality' - but we see that her dream of normality is literally poisoning her existence in Sunnydale. It is shutting her up in a sterile world, instead of really living.

And the image of the slayer, lying unconscious in a hospital, dead to the world until suddenly woken is one that refers back to Faith.

In my view, narratives have to have a coherence to them, but are also beautified and given meaning by metaphor and imagery. In fact, I would argue that metaphor and imagery gives a depth of coherence (because it resonates unconsciously with us) that simple coherence in terms of an incredibly tight plot doesn't.

And in a kind of response to Sol's point about self referential delusions, I wonder how much of that is really on one level, Buffy just incorporating her own views about Sunnydale (pathetic villains, boredom and lack of heroism and all) into her fantasy. After all most people who are depressed do find life turning grey, uninteresting and mundane on them. It turns into a yawning grey chasm. No more heroes anymore.

And in one last self confessional about reality and metaphor, I had a dream when I was 16, at a turning point in my life. I dreamt that I was going to meet my father at a train station, and we were going to go on holiday. But he didn't turn up. I was left there, bags packed, wandering where to go, which train to take. Then my mother appeared. I knew that in this dream, I wasn't deluding myself that she really was alive. She floated above the station platform, and told me to take the next train, because that was the correct one to take. And then she said that she was going to have to leave me, but before she did, she ripped a piece of her sari, and handed it to me. Something of hers to take away with me she said. And then she disappeared, and I got on the next train.

Now that was an incredibly healing experience. The train station was all the choices that faced me, now that I had stopped being a child. The piece of sari she gave me was the dream itself - something which reminded me that I always carried her within me. Just as Buffy carries Joyce within her.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Interesting -- mama-san, 09:51:16 03/13/02 Wed

Thank you for giving us that dream. I thought this episode might have been almost cruelly painful for anyone who's dreamed a world where someone they've lost is alive again, and wished they didn't have to wake up. But a dream like yours shows that the episode is true to life in another way, that beyond the pain there's the chance for healing -- healing in your real life, even though the source is a dream.


[> [> [> [> Re: We really do see things differently... (Also spoilers) -- Farstrider, 11:34:36 03/13/02 Wed

Just a quick thought: Caroline indicated that staying in Sunnydale was the more painful alternative of the two. Perhaps, but that doesn't undermine Darby's point about Buffy choosing, since perhaps Buffy chose the MORE painful reality, given her tendency to play Buffy the martyr.

[Just a small piece of the larger debate, I know.]


[> [> [> [> [> Um...that was precisely my point! -- Caroline, 12:00:34 03/13/02 Wed

And Buffy chose what was more painful but more 'true' in terms of her psychological development. And now the challenge for her is it exist in the reality she has chosen without playing the martyr.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Um...that was precisely my point! -- Farstrider, 13:05:00 03/13/02 Wed

It could be that she just chose the more painful route simply because it was painful, not because it was more true. I don't necessarily agree with that analysis, just offering it as a suggestion in light of Spike's comments in NA.

[> [> [> [> Re: We really do see things differently... (Also spoilers) -- Caroline, 12:47:14 03/13/02 Wed

I've had a bit more time to think about your response and would like to add some further thoughts.

I disagree with your interpretation of how I view the show. I look at the narrative first, not last, and then look for the symbolism/metaphor behind it. I think that anyone would be hard-pressed to dismiss the narrative and go to the symbols first - you would really be lost, IMO, or at least I would be.

I reiterate that looking at the show on a purely narrative, literal level that you would also be hard- pressed to decide which reality exists ontolgically in Normal Again. Witness the debate in other threads and the different points of view on this. On a literal, narrative level, it's really difficult to make sense of what is going on. So, to me, the logical thing to do is to reach back to previous episodes and seasons and look at what themes are being played out here and look for what's important to the whole growing up theme of the season in order to see what the writers are trying to convey below the literal narrative. That's why on a psychological level, so many people are interpreting the mental institution world as being a fantasy that Buffy is retreating to from her painful world and yet ultimately embraces her painful world. Why does she do this? Well, I would argue that it was psychological imperatives - the eruption of the unconscious and her decision not to reject it, mirroring Persephone's descent into the underworld. So this interpretation, to me, fits a lot better.

But, Darby, I really don't think that we are viewing the show all too differently, I am just using different jargon to you and making sense of the show not just on a literal level but on a symbolic one. You argue that Buffy's decision at the end was about which decision was less painful - I agree. Psychologically, she was constructing a reality - which is precisely what I argued. All I added to that was, given what we know of previous episodes, and given the parallels that we have seen in myth, and given what we know about her unconscious state, we can surmise that the mental hospital was a fantasy world, a last defence by her conscious mind to stave off the promptings of her unconscious. So, I just added another layer to your view.

You argue that Buffy rejected the antidote up until she had to face doing away with her friends. I also agree. What I would also add here is that we can see her friends partly as projections of her own unconscious mind - they do represent something to her. It was at that moment that she decided to face the more painful Sunnydale reality and stop trying to destroy her friends and that world. And that also means facing not just her conscious life in Sunnydale, it also means facing all those unintegrated parts of herself currently running around in her unconscious. So there's another layer added.

In my original post, I stated that while all this made sense on a symbolic level, we really don't have any idea of what is ontologically real but that it really didn't matter to me, the themes playing out were so much more important. You also state that it is irrelevant which universe was the true one. I don't see any disagreement there.

So, we have a different experience of watching the show but both are valid - there is a literal narrative level and a symbolic/metaphoric level and I will not even pretend to argue that one is superior to the other, they are both equally valid, IMO. Joss has stated explicitly that this show is one to be viewed on a metaphorical level though and I think the reason that many of us enjoy it so much is precisely because it speaks to us metaphorically. In our exchange on Riley and patriarchy, many including Sophist and Age argued that they agreed with both of us. I think they agreed with your literal and my symbolic views of the show and didn't see contradictions, just different layers. So, don't discount the symbolic interpretations, I think that they add a great deal to the literal.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: We really do see things differently... (Also spoilers) -- Darby, 14:08:36 03/13/02 Wed

You're probably right, we're more similar than different, I had just thought that you had described yourself as being primarily / initially interested in the metaphors. I know that we both look at both the surface and the underneath, but the interpretations vary - I'm starting to think that it's more basic worldview and not process that are different here (and not all that much).

[> Wow, Caroline--well-said and enlightening, as usual! -- Dyna, 16:13:46 03/13/02 Wed

Making the world safe for insanity (spoilers for Normal Again) -- Apophis, 20:30:21 03/12/02 Tue

First off, the Buffyverse has to be the real universe, unless Buffy is devoting some of her subconcious to narrating the events of her vampire ex-boyfriend's life in LA.
Second, I didn't like this episode. I didn't like it when I read the wildfeed and I liked it less after actually watching it. There were somethings I liked, most notably the Xander/Spike interaction. The bad outweighed the good, though. The thing with Buffy being in a clinic shortly after she was called is an awkward, clumsy, unnecessary addition to continuity. Dawn describes her sister's delusions as her "ideal reality," despite the fact that she's locked in an asylum getting doped up every hour. The biggest problem I have, however, is the fact that the writers are treading water. Nothing is resolved this episode. At least Angel gave us some stuff to think about before its network- enforced break; NA just seemed to be the creative team's way of filling a quota. Willow and Tara are on eggshells around each other, Buffy and Spike are loving/hating, Dawn is petulant, Xander has relationship problems. I'm starting to think that Mutant Enemy is just making this season up as they go. The whole thing is a depressing, chaotic mess (with a few notable exceptions). I know i'm whining, but I've nothing better to do, so there.

[> Re: Making the world safe for insanity (spoilers for Normal Again) -- Serena, 21:55:39 03/12/02 Tue

And it's harder to care about all these characters now that ME has raised the possibility that they are figments of Buffy's imagination. One thing I have always enjoyed about this show is the character development but delusions don't have characters and can't be expected to act in a rational way.

[> [> Not necessarily (spoilers for Normal Again) -- Darby, 05:44:42 03/13/02 Wed

If Buffy's Slayer-strength talent is really in imagination (did anybody alse think the "beyond imagination" line was just incredibly cliched?), then her characters could be rich and "real"; she's the Uber-Joss.

Just yesterday, I was listening to an Irish writer being interviewed, and she was talking about how she had always thought that "characters take on a life of their own" was a writer's fancy, but her main character had, based on reactions to the many things that had been thrown her way (Fiction isn't like life, she said, where you spend many days doing nothing - you can't have "Page 51: she did nothing; Page 52: she did nothing..." you have to give them things to do and react to, and they build a set of responses), changed the direction of the narrative. She had planned to parallel a famour Irish story of a gentried Lady whose love for a groom destroyed her, but when it came time for the novel's heroine to make the decision that would lead to destruction, she wouldn't do it! Almost sounds delusional, doesn't it?

Top it off with some fringe theories that some schizophrenics are actually "tapped in" to alternate realities anyway, and you've got all sorts of rationales for how the Buffyverse could be "real" even if the institution is "real" as well.

[> Re: Making the world safe for insanity (spoilers for Normal Again) -- alcibiades, 22:59:29 03/12/02 Tue

"I'm starting to think that Mutant Enemy is
just making this season up as they go. The whole thing is a depressing, chaotic mess (with a few notable exceptions)."


I think Season 6 is the most brilliant thing I have ever seen on TV. To me, it is obviously completely plotted out seasons ahead of time. Every single episode of it and every plot twist, no matter how depressing. Okay maybe not DMP, blech! I spit! The point of DMP I concede, but having to view the reality sucked big time.

This episode just resonates so completely with earlier episodes. Like Buffy's realization fighting Angelus in Becoming Part II that when you take everything away, she is still there to keep on fighting, to have confidence in herself. And then just like she killed Angel, she now kills off Joyce. Only now she is doing it, as the doctor point out to us, not to save the world, but to save herself and her friends. Her life has spiralled down from the infinite to a single point of light.

Then there is the fact that in order to reach what I spitefully call "false Riley light" and what Spike calls the hero trip (but he means Riley too), Buffy was actually about to murder all her friends. She had so much desire to suppress the dark side of being a slayer that she was willfully going to kill her family -- which sounds to me like a reverse Angelus killing his family because of his soul becoming repressed. Buffy has finally met the dark side of being a slayer, but met it exactly as she was trying to escape it forever. That she will meet it is ineluctable, but as to whether she can use it for balance or whether it overwhelms her and destroys her is still in her hands.

And did you notice that before Buffy bopped Xander over the head with a frying pan, a truly great moment, (which of course is an Anya anvil from Hell's Bells but also from Spiral) Buffy's eyes were so yellowy luminescent they actually looked like vampire eyes. Morally, she had turned into a vampire in order to escape her fate as a slayer. It's such a great twist on the slayer-vampire continuum we've all been wondering about. Because she is doing it for self-serving reasons, she wants a shortcut back to her former self without doing the time. She is looking for the way out of her own labyrinth and she thinks she has found an escape hatch.

More than that, though, Buffy hits Xander when he starts disparaging Spike. And I think in her performance, and in the writing, there is purposeful ambiguity about what that means. OTOH, her first intense episode in the graveyard begins when Spike and Xander begin fighting each other over her. So the fact that if she tells Xander about her relationship, blindvisible Xander will clearly react negatively, and will be totally against it, here literally splits her apart, into her two selves, and the self that emerges is the denial self, the true daughter of her mother who suppressed the knowledge of Vampires while living in Sunnydale. That, after all, has been Buffy's model of growing up.

In the episode in the kitchen, Xander is once again disparaging Spike, which brings back the agony of the split into two parts. But this time, with the denial, super-ego self so much stronger, Buffy also seems pained that Spike has mentioned things about her sex life with him to Xander that now he knows, if only he would admit the visual into his blindvisible brain. In order to suppress that knowledge of her true nature registering in Xander's consciousness, she has to kill him because her desire to suppress reaches that far. She will now murder her friend in order to suppress it.

Well, we have seen double Willow and double Xander shows, and of course the bot, but here is really a double Buffy show.

But I wouldn't be worried about the depressing chaotic mess. As Warren operating as Joss tells Jonathan in a moment of great meta-text, I know you're ancy. But things are really going to pick up now. And before that of course, when Jonathan had fallen asleep watching the local Buffy show, Warren blasted him alert with a hose full of water.

I'd say Joss knows some of the customers are unhappy, and he's got a solution for them in sight.

[> [> More cool parallels in NA (spoilers for Normal Again) -- alcibiades, 00:56:04 03/13/02 Wed

Some points I left out of my earlier post.

I don't think it is in the least a coincidence that the Mental Hospital is all nice and white and square exactly like the Initiative, places where Buffy's power is illegitimate and ineffective.

Furthermore, we have the ever present image of Riley as surgeon general, Riley who in his last appearance wanted to stake Spike and make him go away that way, poof into dust -- and also kept on erroneously calling Spike doctor. The hospital also has blue light shining in it, the same kind of blue light Buffy saw in her dream in Restless, where Adam tells her that aggression is a natural tendency in humans, but you and I come by it differently. And Buffy insists she is not a demon. In this scene in Restless and in Normal Again, Buffy is childlike, ineffective, her power is not real in either.

In the same scene in Restless, when Buffy is talking to Riley she is ostensibly there trying to find her friends but having no luck.

Riley, angry voice, I thought you were looking for your friends. Okay, killer, if that is the way you want it.

This is kind of suggestive since he represents the "surgeon general," the doctor of the institute. Did he want her to find her friends or to kill them?

Then a bit later on:

First Slayer: No friends. We are alone.

Buffy: That's it. I'm waking up.

This parallels Buffy's final waking in Normal Again where she has just faced being alone and killing off her friends. I think more than Xander and certainly more than Dawn, both of whom provoke episodes of madness, it is to save Willow that Buffy wakes up, Willow, whom she has previously stated never fails to come through for her. She has to come through here for Willow also.


Then there is the parallel of Buffy's basement and Spike's crypt.

Spike was growing sui generis murderous thoughts, er, demon eggs that hatched as soon as Riley approached them in the basement of his crypt.

Buffy on the other hand, was about to commit actual murder of her friends and her sister in her basement.

In the hospital, Buffy is clothed in white. Later on in the show, when she is rounding up Willow, Xander and Dawn she is neatly bifurcated in half, white on top, near her brain, black covering her erogenous zones. Spike and the demon are, of course, entirely dressed in black. Spike has been notably in black ever since Buffy rejected him, but he hasn't acted on it yet. Which is its own consistent irony. Since, Hello Vampire.

[> [> [> Re: More cool parallels in NA (spoilers for Normal Again) -- Rahael, 08:44:07 03/13/02 Wed

I really like the points you bring up here. I haven’t seen the ep, only read the wildfeeds, so thanks for filling the visual resonances.

A great point about spaces in which Buffy cannot be comfortable within institutional spaces, and how their rigidity and emotional sterility is reflected in their physical structure and image. Not only are hospitals associated with the birth/death imagery of last season, but also Professor Walsh frequently wore a white coat in Season 4. Doc performs surgery on Dawn, and Walsh cuts up demons. Ben the intern worked in Sunnydale hospital, where Joyce’s corpse was laid out. Buffy was stalked by the kindestod when she was in hospital, and we learn that the very first encounter she has with the supernatural was witnessing the murder of her cousin by the invisible kindestod when still a young girl. And of course the comatose Faith lay in a hospital – the symbol of Buffy’s sleeping darkness during the last couple of years. It seems associated with a kind of emotional numbness, loss and pain in the Buffyverse.

Great point you bring up that even the troika are bored by the mundane-ness of Buffy’s life. In fact so many great points! I too think the Riley light was a false one – I downloaded bits and pieces of As You Were last night (urgg. so frustrating having such a disjointed viewing experience of Season 6). What struck me? Buffy was too cute for words, as well as looking fragile next to the awkward and clumsy Riley. In fact, both Riley and Sam looked big, awkward and clumsy next to graceful Buffy, DMP uniform and all. The happy couple didn’t strike me as the super perfect couple that I had expected to encounter after reading the board. There seemed to be all sorts of gaps there.

I don’t think I’ve ever watched an episode of Buffy which had a strong didactic line ‘This is right! This is the correct way to do things!”. If they have ever presented a choice as immutable, it's only so that Buffy can overturn it by finding another way (the gift, PG). If a choice is inevitable, its because that’s the tragic situation mankind is in. In most Buffy eps, the ‘truth’ with a capital T is elusive. No one is all wise. Most of the characters function on half truths. We the viewer can sit back see the bigger picture, but even then I don’t think ME ever says ‘this is the morally correct choice’. It’s because Buffy isn’t about morally correct choices. It’s the story about how we often face tragic choices, and how we might go about making those decisions. It’s the journey and the means, not the place we end up.

Therefore it is immaterial whether Buffy was in heaven or the hell of the asylum. Echoing Yuri’s points in her ‘Which Verse’ post, what important is the decision she made in the Gift. It doesn’t matter if either reality is the correct one, or only one is real. What matters is what Buffy chose to do. If nothing we do matters, the only thing that matters is what we do. Angel was faced with a similar choice last season. Was hell really on earth? Was this the home office? Was Shansu really a terrible lie? That doesn’t matter. Life should be lived for its own sake. “The pain that you feel can only be cured by living… have to go on living.” Concentrating on heaven or hell is the mistake that Buffy makes – and talking about social construction of reality, we can easily see that Buffy has been constructing her own little hell in Sunnydale this season. She even regrets letting go of Riley (!!!!). I could see Riley’s good points in Season 4, but after seeing As You Were, now he’s really annoying the hell out of me........

[> [> [> [> Re: Or...(spoilers for Normal Again) -- Darby, 09:40:16 03/13/02 Wed

...all of the negative hospital / institutional experiences (except, curiously, the first one, which involved the living out of nightmares as if they were real) might be explained as a close-to-the- surface rejection of a delusional mind confined to a mental hospital.

I gotta warn everybody, I'm about five minutes (and the realization that I have way too much other work to do) from analyzing the entire six seasons from the standpoint of a compensation there's an idea for a website! All Things Delusional on Buffy the Vampire Slayer...

[> [> Great points -- Sophist, 08:37:24 03/13/02 Wed

Status of Altered Reality (Spiolers for Normal Again) -- Buffyboy, 22:07:07 03/12/02 Tue

The status of the altered reality scenes seem to be far from clear. This is due to the last scene in this reality. After Buffy has made her decision to stay in Sunnydale (the final discussion with her Joyce), we see her one more time in the sanitarium and the doctor tells Joyce and Hank that she's no longer there, she's slipped back into her *fantasy*. That is, she is no longer consciously a part of the altered reality. How could this scene exist at all if this altered reality is only a result of Buffy's fantasy? The only conclusion I can draw is that there must be more to the altered reality than it being a product of Buffy's fantasy.

[> Re: Status of Altered Reality (Spiolers for Normal Again) -- Apophis, 22:36:19 03/12/02 Tue

A) Buffy hadn't taken the antidote yet when that scene occured, so maybe it was just residue; she felt her "real" life needed an epilogue.
B) The existence of alternate universes has been established in the Buffyverse. Ergo, there must be, out in the ether somewhere, a reality in which there are no slayers or demons or vampires and Buffy Summers is a schitzophrenic in a mental institution. Therefore, both Door #1 and Door #2 are real.

[> [> Exactly -- some people on this board need to get a grip on themselves, or take their antidote -- Geeks Anonymous, 22:44:08 03/12/02 Tue

[> [> Re: Status of Altered Reality (Spiolers for Normal Again) -- Buffyboy, 03:36:44 03/13/02 Wed

As far as I can tell only your choice B works. Since in that last scene Buffy is at least totally unconscious (her eyes don't respond to the doctor's light at all), or maybe even dead in that reality (the doctor does say "She's gone"), I do not see how this scene can in any way be the mere result of her fantasy. Thus, if something like your choice B is correct, Buffy is forced to make a choice between being "normal again", one of her fondest wishes since see became a Slayer, or remainig a Slayer and thus very far from normal. Buffy's tortued reaction to being forced to make this choice, but making it nonetheless, makes NA a bit more than another example of "treading water."
Finally, since I didn't make this clear in my original posting, I in no way want to imply that I think that everything and everyone in the Buffyverse could or should be understood as a result of Buffy's fantasy. As you pointed out in you post, this makes Angel and the rest in L.A. very hard and probably impossible to understand. Even more, it renders the entire six year of Buffy, and three years of Angel pointless, stupid beyond description and devoid of any meaningful emotive content.

[> [> [> Re: Status of Altered Reality (Spiolers for Normal Again) -- Nathan, 06:19:50 03/13/02 Wed

Not to mention there is one other detail. We never see any scenes in the asylum that don't include Buffy. Granted, she's totally catatonic in one of them, but that could very well be her hallucinations making one last attempt to draw her back in. That image I think was what was going through her head, the possibility that she had made the wrong choice. Not that throughout this episode we do see scenes of everyone else in the Buffyverse. And frankly while it this is all fiction, know psychiatrist in his right mind would suggest the sociopathic behavior Buffy went on, even if it was just a fantacy world. She's already unstable, that would only make things worse.

[> [> [> Re: Status of Altered Reality (Spiolers for Normal Again) -- Wisewoman, 06:48:46 03/13/02 Wed renders the entire six year of Buffy, and three years of Angel pointless, stupid beyond description and devoid of any meaningful emotive content.

Welcome to my nightmare.


[> [> [> [> Re: Status of Altered Reality (Spiolers for Normal Again) -- skeeve, 07:39:06 03/13/02 Wed

Remember the series finale of the Newhart.

[> [> [> Attn: WW! Please read! (NA spoilers) -- Rob, 08:48:33 03/13/02 Wed

First off, the last scene doesn't have to mean the Asylumverse is real.

Remember, Buffy asked Willow to get her the antidote. We see that last scene before she gets the antidote, however. That could have been the final remnants of her hallucination.

And WW, I posted this farther down, but I really want you to see my interpretation of what happened, so I'll reprint here, in case you didn't get a chance to read it:

"I think that Sunnydale is the "real" reality. For one, I agree with Spike. How self-centered can she be that the entire reality and all these people and creatures were figments of her imagination! Really! Harumph! (Always wanted to use "harumph" in a post...finally got my chance!) Now, I know that was a joke, but see I think the key lies in what her doctor said. He said, in a way, that, in order to cope with reality, Buffy created this dreamworld, Sunnydale, wherein she was a superhero who battled demons. But, just the opposite, I believe that explanation explains why the Assylumverse is the fake one. Buffy all year has felt disconnected, not normal, going through the motions, yadda, yadda, etc. And so I beleive she created the fantasy that none of this was real, and her mom was alive in order to cope with the disconnectedness she felt. In this fantasy, not only does she get to see her mom again, but Joyce gives her valuable advice, that gives her the drive to live again in the real world...Sunnydale. Interesting how closely Joyce's speech echoed Buffy's to Dawn at the end of "The Gift." Through this fantasy she created, Buffy was able to hear her mother say these words...And may now finally be able to follow her own advice.

It is not being half-demon that is making her feel weird, as she had almost hoped. She is full, herself, and human. Perhaps the episode is titled "Normal Again," not because of the implication that she has awoken from her Sunnydale dream, but because, after listening to Joyce's words and realizing how important her friends are to her, Buffy finally will be normal again in the real world, Sunnydale.

I liked how they mentioned that Buffy's stay in heaven was her brief awakening from her coma. But I like it only as a concept. I don't think that's real. Wouldn't Buffy, upon awakening, have remembered that as being the heaven she experienced? Recognized it maybe? No, I think that the Assylumverse fantasy incorporated Buffy's death into it, and explained that as the reason for it. But I don't think it really is.

This episode was very thought-provoking for me, and was the biggest mind-frell (sorry to borrow a "Farscape" term!) since "Restless." But, just as with "Restless," I think the Assylum is a dream that can hold great portent for the future, or even better, have helped Buffy deal with her present.

Joyce may have been able to cure her like her friends, Spike, and herself never could. Buffy got one more day with her deceased mother, something many people would do anything for. And so that qualifies as a happy ending in my book, besides the sadness surrounding the situation."

Other reasons Sunnydale is real--

--Buffy is in every scene in the hospital, where she is not in the Sunnydale scenes. That implies that the hospital is her hallucination.

--Yes, all of the Sunnydale happenings are fantastic and unbelievable. That's what makes it so easy to convince Buffy that the Asylumverse is the truth. It works so well, because the argument seems convincing. But not convincing enough...

--If Asylumverse was Buffy's heaven, and she was really emerging from her coma, wouldn't she have recognized the hospital instantly as her heaven? Buffy is VERY smart. She always puts two and two together faster than anyone else.

Lastly, even in the remote possibility that Buffy really is in a coma, that doesn't make the show stupid or pointless.

The point of this episode, I believe, is that Buffy had to choose between childhood and being an adult. If she chose the Asylumverse as the true reality, it would be symbolic of giving up on adulthood, letting her mother take care of her again, shirking her responsibilities. This is a place where her mom would take care of her once more and she could be a little girl again. But she chose Sunnydale, showing that she is ready to be an adult and start living her life, and stop feeling so disconnected.

Everything in the Asylumverse was created by Buffy, to explain her problems. Oh, being a Slayer isn't real; it's too fantastic. It's easily explained away. The Doctor can represent Buffy's logical mind, trying to help her explain why she feels so disconnected. Her mother is the nuturing part of Buffy's mind. Joyce tells Buffy all the motherly things she really needed to hear, in order to stand on her own two feet...and finally, fully recover from Joyce's death.

I think the Troika's latest attack was a blessing in disguise. As I said before, I think it may help Buffy finally be normal again.


[> [> [> [> Way to go, Rob! That was just spiffy! -- Brian, 10:59:46 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> Thanks! I always try to be as spiffy as possible. ;o) -- Rob, 18:44:27 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> Re: Status of Altered Reality (Spiolers for Normal Again) -- Farstrider, 13:33:21 03/13/02 Wed

I would agree with you, but it is pretty ironic that a story that is fictional to you and I has "meaningful emotive content," but a fiction to one of the characters in that story cannot, because it is not "real." If fiction can be meaningful, why does it matter who perceives it as fiction and who perceives it as reality?


[> Crisis on Infinite Buffys -- Earl Allison, 12:19:37 03/13/02 Wed

I posted this at the Spoiler Trollop Board before the episode aired -- maybe it'll help reconcile some opinions, maybe it'll get rocks thrown at me :)

"BtVS has shown us alternate realities, realities that all coexist -- what if, in Buffy's leap through the portal at the end of S5, she momentarily displaced the Buffy of the Asylumverse? That she was indeed there and mistook it for Heaven (what with being medicated and somewhat out of sorts), and had her essence dragged back to the "prime" Buffy reality when Willow cast her spell?

It's possible that a link was formed between the two Buffys due to the portal, a link that was triggered by the demon's venom, sending "our" Buffy back to the Asylumverse intermittantly, and displacing the native Asylumverse Buffy's mind (which is likely not around much anyway, leaving room for the body to be "occupied").

So we have the "prime" Buffy jumping between dimensions and realities -- and she is called upon to choose one.

"Our" Buffy might have just made her decision to return to her native universe, leaving Asylumverse Buffy to her own universe.

Admittedly, a really weird thought, influenced by things like "Crisis on Infinite Earths," but maybe workable.

If she HAS been in an asylum for the run of the series, I will be mightily displeased -- not that it would matter, though.

Thoughts? Applause? Thrown rocks? Do I need to be committed myself?

Take it and run."

Like I said, I'm pretty sure it's not a great idea, but I'm putting it out there -- maybe someone more knowledgeable than I can work with it.

Take it and run.

[> [> Re: Crisis on Infinite Buffys -- Buffyboy, 13:20:06 03/13/02 Wed

Earl, I very much like your post. Since I'm still convinced that both the Buffyverse and the Asylumverse are real, alternative realities, your speculation may well provide part of the explanation of seasion 6. Remember Buffy sang: "I thought I was in Heaven", not that she actually was in Heaven. Certainly the doctor gave us some reason to think you might be right with his comment about last summer. Also, as I said before, if the entire Buffyverse is just a fantasy, not only will I, like you, be "mightily displeased" but the enire Buffy saga will be absolutely ruined. Any time writers resorts to the old canard, "the entire story was a dream, fantasy, etc." it's a sure sign they've backed themselves into a corner out of which they don't know how to extricate themselves. It's just plain old bad writing.

[> [> [> Re: Crisis on Infinite Buffys -- OnM, 19:07:08 03/13/02 Wed

Still forming many new thoughts on this amazing ep, but as I'm working through the multitude of posts, I just wanted to mention that I agree completely with you as to the Buffyverse and Asylumverse being seperate 'realities'. There could be many possible analyses of this, but I am sure that was the whole point of the final shot, with the catatonic Buffy and the weeping Summers'.

The ultimate meanings could be quite profound, but one thing I am absolutely certain of is that the 'normal' BV we are familar with is NOT an illusion. No one on the ME writing team is that lame, c'mon people!

[> [> Re: Crisis on Infinite Buffys -- Farstrider, 16:01:14 03/13/02 Wed

I proposed something very similar here on Monday. I was giving high fives all around when the doctor said her time in heaven was a time in the asylum!

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