March 2002 posts

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QOTD: Which 'verse is real? -- yuri, 00:31:54 03/13/02 Wed

My answer: It doesn’t matter. Not one bit. What matters is which reality Buffy chose and why. I agree with Caroline, to choose the asylumverse would have been the easy way out. Facing the crumbling Buffyverse was even more of a challenge than facing schizophrenic recovery. (Especailly with her mother and father - together! She would be in a position of a coddled child with no responsibility at all, rather than having the weight of the world on her shoulders.) I think that Buffy realized this, and decided that to do what felt like “the easy way out” would probably be the wrong idea. The way that she makes her choice shows something about her maturity and character, whether or not she chose the "real reality."

Many people seem to feel that the possibility that it’s all a delusion will taint the show, but I think it just needs to be taken in stride – who cares if it’s in her head! I went through a period of time where I was questioning if the world was in my head. (I’d like to think I’m not the only one here, I’ve always seen it as a moderately common teenage existential crisis.) I haven’t proven myself wrong - there’s no way I could. So just make a choice and go with it, says I.

On another point -
I think most people recognized that the doc in the asylumverse (Have we coined a new phrase? Good for us.) pointed out many of the inconsistencies and complaints that have been made about season 6. It was cute. I enjoyed the nod. He proposes that Buffy’s world is getting all messy because it’s no longer enough for her (or something to that effect). Anyway, if we're talking Buffyverse the easiest explanation for all this is “Well, that’s what happens when you grow up, you start feeling like the world is crumbling and you feel alienated and distanced yadda yadda yadda,” and this is the trip ME is trying to take us on. The only problem for me is I’m having a hard time fitting the weird clichés, vague plot holes and oddly resonating moments in to this scheme. Two of these little things that stuck with me the most from Normal Again were

1. The oh-my-god-it-has-to-be-intentionally-bad dialogue:
Xander: I’ve had this painful hole inside (Executed terribly. Sorry, NB.)

Xander: I screwed up real bad.
Buffy: Hey, we all screw up.

(If I mention a bad acting moment I gotta mention a good one: as always, SMG's face when she's in the corner and her mom approaches her.)

2. Spike standing in the brightest non-direct sunlight I have ever seen. Even worse than After Life. (I know we constantly see Spike in what seems to be dust-inducing light, but this really seemed to top them all.)

I see how these irksome moments would really fit in to Buffy's post-resurrection perception, how she could view the world as monotonous and off-kilter, but I don’t understand them in the context of “Oh, grow up.”

Last thing –
About Buffy being self-centered and the whole hero thing Spike was so vicious about – I’m not sure whether I think that Buffy is self centered in general, that would require a longer exposition, but I don’t see why she shouldn’t acknowledge that she’s a hero. I mean, she is. And I don’t think that being a hero means you can’t acknowledge your heroism. Perhaps Buffy can be too high and mighty sometimes, but she should be able to think of herself as different and powerful... Hum, as I write this my mind is changing. I'll have to think more.
But that wasn’t where I was going. I was going to say that I couldn’t decide who would be more “self- centered” (whatever that means), Buffyverse Buffy deciding her entire world was in her head and therefore existed only for her benefit/detriment, or an asylumverse Buffy who, in her delusions, made herself a super-hero and the center of the world. Kind of a no-win sitch.

Ooh, I almost forgot, my clothing observation of the night: Almost everything Buffy wore in NA was either black or white... Maybe indicating her desire to see things that way.

[> after editing an essay, a girl realizes how fevered her post-buffy ruminations are. ah, well. -- yuri, 01:16:18 03/13/02 Wed

[> Re: QOTD: Which 'verse is real? -- Nathan, 06:39:14 03/13/02 Wed

>>About Buffy being self-centered and the whole hero thing Spike was so vicious about – I’m not sure whether I think that Buffy is self centered in general, that would require a longer exposition, but I don’t see why she shouldn’t acknowledge that she’s a hero. I mean, she is. And I don’t think that being a hero means you can’t acknowledge your heroism. Perhaps Buffy can be too high and mighty sometimes, but she should be able to think of herself as different and powerful...<<

Actually, Spike accused her of having a MARTYR COMPLEX. While martyrdom can certainly be heroic, like Buffy's self-sacrifice at the end of the prior season, a martyr complex is a little different. Such people, through doubt of their own worth, will put themselves through a great deal of pain and suffering to benefit others. For example, think about how long Buffy kept the secret of her afterlife from her friends, and struggled the whole time to pretend nothing was wrong. Spike isn't talking about the heroism, but about Buffy's rather self-destructive behavior as of late. Another example would be how quick she was about trying to turn herself in for "killing" Katrina. On some level Buffy feels that she isn't strong enough to make it, and is punishing herself. This isn't the first time Spike has had to remind Buffy that "life is for living." [Said it this episode and during the musical.] Spike is at least in part trying to do what he thinks is best for her.

I say partially because lets face it, Spike was being a little vengeful at the time. Through most of this episode we saw a lot of Xander's habit of accusing Spike of trying to take advantage of Buffy. The difference now of course, is that Buffy by her own admission had been using Spike. This has to be getting under his sking. Despite this Spike did whatever he could to help cure Buffy's hallucinations, only to have her be an ingrate and kick him out. In Spike's mind that was the last straw, and he opened his big mouth at the worst possible time. Obviously his idea of how to cure Buffy's martyr complex is at least in part selfish, but he certainly thinks he's justified in that, and I can't entirely disagree.

[> [> Spike as a symbol of illness (Normal Again spoilers) -- Darby, 07:38:07 03/13/02 Wed

At least in this ep Buffy had good reason to reject Spike - he is the strongest element in her Sunnydale existence that reminds her that she could be "wrong," unhealthy in the head. Also note that his dialogue, of all the characters, is most suggestive of Sunnydale as a coping fantasy and therefore most threatening to Buffy in her fevered frame of mind. She had to be wondering if Spike was somehow part of the asylum that had bled into her fantasy and was pushing her out of Sunnydale's light and into the asylum's darkness.

But, y'see, I don't see the asylum as the preferable existence of the two - its major pull, I think, beyond Mom and Dad, is some certainty of eventual health. I see this ep as a way of confirming in Buffy's mind that, flaws and all, there's more to love in Sunnydale than in any "real world."

[> [> [> Re: Spike as a symbol of illness (Normal Again spoilers) -- Tillow, 08:18:13 03/13/02 Wed

"She had to be wondering if Spike was somehow part of the asylum that had bled into her
fantasy and was pushing her out of Sunnydale's light and into the asylum's darkness."

Could you explain this please?

[> [> [> [> Re: Spike as an angel of sanity (Normal Again spoilers) -- Darby, 09:15:35 03/13/02 Wed

The premise of the asylum was that she was mentally unbalanced, was withdrawn from "reality" into some sort of idealized, heroic fantasy world. Of course, we know that her world isn't so idyliic, but that's explained with how the fantasy has been breaking down since her period of "return" the previous summer (aspects of each reality are rationalized through aspects of the other).

To me, this suggests that her Sunnydale existence has been more and more forced as her "healthy" mind tries to reject it and return to Normal. In her fantasy, her friends are her support, her connection to that universe (and, in fact, what finally compels her to stay there); Spike, on the other hand, has lately been the little voice on her shoulder that has been whispering, "You're 'wrong,' Luv, and even though you've created this miserable existence, you'd rather wallow here than be 'right.'" When the asylum was unknown, its place was in the "dark," where Spike was trying to draw her, away from her friends and role; but here, when the Mommy-Daddy world is revealed, he's trying to drive her out of her miserable existence into something healthier - in both cases it's a push in the same direction!

Spike has always functioned as the source of insight and clarity, even when the Big Bad. Isn't it possible that he could be drawn, insane as he is, as the voice of emotional reason?

It's weird, the more I write about this, the more it seems to hold together. I'm delusional, aren't I?

[> [> [> [> [> Oooo, and Spike is a physical reverse-image of the Doctor... -- Darby, 09:26:01 03/13/02 Wed

Who Riley (trying to draw Buffy back into a more idealized and stable fantasy) kept accusing Spike of being, even though it made no sense.

Play it out - both physically and psychologically, Spike is the anti-doctor: black-on-white, brash, loud, untrustworthy, unstable, incompetent. But, like the doctor, he is a voice of dissent and a wedge between Buffy and her world. As long as the first list remains true, the second can be ignored (see As You Were); once he gets reasonable (loveable?), as he has recently, can it?

The really terrible thing here is that I'm starting to convince myself of something I fundamentally don't want to be true: that the writers actually find the "Buffy imagines the Buffyverse" to be the "real" backstory of the series.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Spike as catalyst -- ponygirl, 11:26:35 03/13/02 Wed

I found it interesting that most of Buffy's major negative actions in this ep. were preceded by comments either from or about Spike. She dumps the antidote after his confrontation with her, she strikes Xander after he expresses pity for Spike (I know she had already attacked Willow but that occurred off-screen), and she began to strangle Dawn after she asking herself why she would sleep with someone she hates. He, like the doctor, is the one pushing her into making harsh choices, preventing her from drifting. It's interesting that Buffy's fear of what her emotional involvement with Spike means about her is so great that it propels her to flee the Sunnydale world she had thought was real.

[> [> [> [> [> [> The Doctor/Spike Connection -- Tillow, 12:32:58 03/13/02 Wed


Spike is absolutely the voice of emotional reason. They wanted him to fill that "Cordelia" role when they brought him on as the regular. Spike is all about truth, facing it, hearing it, living it. (he loses it once in awhile when it comes to himself but he is very observant of others) That's what he is saying to Buffy in the scene with the "you're addicted to the misery" bit. The problem I have with your first post is when you say that her Sunnydale world began to break down after she came back. In fact, it began way before that. Sunnydale is no picnic for her, culminating in the "I don't know how to live in the world if these are the choices."

However, your second post touches on something very VERY interesting!

Spike is the anti-doctor: black-on-white, brash, loud, untrustworthy, unstable, incompetent. But, like the doctor, he is a voice of dissent and a wedge between Buffy and her world. As long as the first list remains true, the second can be ignored (see As You Were); once he gets reasonable (loveable?), as he has recently, can it?

I hadn't picked up on the Doctor connection. I think it's a great one. It really bothered me that they would use a pseudonym so closely resembling Doc (lizard type bookish demon) who Spike must surely hate. But now it makes sense.

I disagree that he is the voice of dissent, though. What he says in all hot air, bravado. Blah blah blah. It's his very existence that makes Buffy question her world. How can he be someone she can sit down calmly with and even laugh with and still kill his kind on a nightly basis. It's his very existence that could cause the fabric of Buffy's sunnydale world to crumble and she is not strong enough to deal with that right now. She needs him to be as you have described. Black-on-white, brash, loud, untrustworthy, etc. And she will keep in below her, in the dark, until she is ready to face all the implications that the existence of being friends/lovers/partners with a soulless demon means for her and her world; until she can cope with him in her social construction.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The Doctor/Spike Connection -- Lyonors, 13:13:48 03/13/02 Wed

Wow Wow Wow....again I reiterate, WOW!! I can't believe I didnt see it when I watched the flipping episode. For an hour after AYW all I could do was ponder, WTF was with Spike being called "The Doctor." It really bothered me, It must have been my Joss-Alarm going off! That little comparison hit it right on the head, and it is definitly confirmed by Spike's pseudonym in AYW. All I can do is continue to marvel at the great intelligence level of the Buffy fans in this group and what they pull out of the show....


[> [> [> Funny, I came away with exactly the opposite impression of Spike's role. -- Sophist, 08:53:17 03/13/02 Wed

I saw Spike as giving Buffy "tough love" advice: spank your inner moppet, as Cordelia said in WSWB (I think; first ep of S2). He was telling her to LIVE in Sunnydale.

To me, it was Xander who was the real problem. He has always been in denial about much of Buffy's character. In part this is an essential aspect of hero worship; it's why we don't want to hear that so- and-so carried on adulterous affairs. But heros are not pure. They do have flaws. That doesn't make their deeds less heroic, though.

Xander's denial -- not just about Buffy, but about Angel and Spike, even about his own family -- reminds me of Joyce. It is Buffy's fear of Xander's disapproval that causes her to hide aspects of her behavior, that makes her want to appear more "normal". That desire to be normal was driving her fantasy of the asylum. I see her rejection of that path as a sign of resolution on her part that Xander's world, like Joyce's, is not hers.

[> [> [> [> Then again... -- Ishkabibble, 09:31:54 03/13/02 Wed

In the graveyard scene with Xander, Spike alludes to how, if they all are merely a manifestation of Buffy's delusions, it would answer a lot of questions. He specifically states that it would explain his having a chip in his head, having fallen in love with her, turning all soft, and becoming her sex- slave.

I can't tell which is the true "reality," but since Spike is the supposed "speaker of uncomfortable truths," I'm inclined to give weight to some of Darby's interpretation of this episode.

[> [> [> [> Completely agree -- Caroline, 09:32:25 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> Buffy needs to recreate the hero role to fit who she is.... -- Kevin, 17:57:16 03/13/02 Wed

My impression was that Spike was pointing out the uncomfortable truths as usual. Buffy needs to give up her denial before she's going to grow and move forward. Her relationship with Spike is a big part of who she is and until she deals with it and acknowledges it (even if she chooses not to continue the relationship) she's not going to learn anything about what her life is about. Keeping the truth about herself hidden, is holding her back. It's the denial that's pullling her into the 'dark'.

Spike is always very *alive* (ironic since he's the always referred to as 'dead'). He's willing to acknowledge his feelings and to stay engaged in life even when it's painful. He's willing to say the things no one wants to hear and risk being rejected for it. I always liked that about Cordelia too. Spike is all about risk, whether it's his life, his emotions, his relationships. He is the antithesis of denial.

It's Spike who's trying to get Buffy to live. She's just not listening....maybe he's not saying it right. I don't think he's trying to get her to give up being the hero per se, just the version of it that is holding her back...keeping her from being true to herself. She only has one defined hero role in her head and I would agree with previous postings that this version of the hero has been provided from a patriarchal structure by sources outside herself. Who she really is doesn't fit in with this imposed version of a hero. I think it's this false hero role that she's always trying to make herself fit into that Spike is telling her to give up.

She thinks there's something wrong with her because she has feelings for Spike. Be a hero, be yourself, give up trying to be what others (like Xander) want you to be, face who you really are and be happy. I don't ever feel that Spike is drawing her 'away', he's trying to get her to engaged in life and go with it, wherever it may take her, even if it means they won't be getting back together.

I agree with Spike...they'll *all* be better for it. And I felt he was including everyone in that statement.

I'm not sure I'm saying this right, I'll try and think about it some more, but I've got to leave the computer right now....

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Buffy needs to recreate the hero role to fit who she is.... -- Valhalla, 18:09:11 03/13/02 Wed

I think this was fabulously clear. It reminded me of Spike's 'Love's Bitch' speech ('I may be love's bitch but at least I'm man enough to admit it') and the musical. In the musical, the Scoobies are trying to help Buffy when she confronts Sweet (Giles: 'She needs backup. Anya, Tara ...') But Spike is the only one of the whole cast who understands that Buffy's biggest problem in that episode isn't Sweet, it's that she doesn't want to live. He's the one who saves her, and he's the one who says what Buffy needs to hear not to self-destruct.

Buffy in an asylum -- Rynn01, 00:59:27 03/13/02 Wed

First, Kudos to SMG for a brillant portrayal!

Secondly, I've read where alot of people on this board don't like the reference to her being in a clinic before. They don't think it goes with the character's history. I have to totally disagree. Remember Joyce? Queen of denial? The first thing she would have done is take her to a clinic! Wouldn't most of our parents?

Buffy simply never mentioned it because it's not something that you want to remember I'm sure. There is still a stigma attached to mental illness. Also, I don't remember a episode where it could have been brought into the conversation. I think the whole episode was brillant. I nkow that I will have that in the back of my mind as I watch Buffy for now on. Joss left the end confusing for a reason. I also believe that this episode was written for a reason, not just to fill a quota as someone said earlier. I bet that this will not ne the end of Buffy's confusion or ours.

[> Buffy in an asylum -- alcibiades, 01:49:29 03/13/02 Wed

"Remember Joyce? Queen of denial? The first thing she would have done is take her to a clinic! Wouldn't most of our
parents? "

The whole explanation of how Buffy got out of the clinic, by
making herself stop talking about her vampire experiences, is the perfect explanation for the reason Buffy never tells anyone anything willingly. And particularly not about her vampire lovers. Not Angel and not Spike.

Buffy obviously learned at that point not to talk about things that would be disquieting to others and that would cause severe dissension and to shoulder the burden herself and stick to it, rightly or wrongly.

Now Willow knows this about Buffy, but the person who really needs to know it is Spike.

In fact, it seems that the episode is trying to point out that breaking this taboo for Buffy would throw her right back into the central and most painful and still unresolved conflict of her childhood. She won't talk about Spike to Willow and Xander because talking about Vampires once before not only got her thrown into an insane asylum, but eventually led to her parent's divorce because of how her parents argued over it. That is so painful still that she has not yet risked it again.

It also tells us the reason Hank Summers is a total goner in her life -- she chose the slaying and he couldn't abide by the decision. Perhaps, unlike Joyce, he was not in denial, he just rejected her for being a slayer. Not incidentally, the last time before this we are to see him but his appearance is cancelled is the day that she passes her slayer test. She passes her test and loses her father forever.

BTW, it seems that Spike still doesn't know who is after Buffy -- he thinks it is the demon not the boys.

[> [> Re: Buffy in an asylum -- John Burwood, 12:25:23 03/13/02 Wed

Another related thought - if Joyce & Hank checked Buffy into a clinic immediately after she burned down the gym, it might also have helped them prevent her being put into quite another institution - after prosecution for arson.
I often wondered how come nothing like that happened, but have no idea what the California norm would be in such cases.
Maybe psychiatric evidence that Buffy was temporarily delusional (When she tried to tell the truth) helped dissuade the school from pressing charges?

[> RED ALERT! SPOILERS in the subject line -- Robert, 12:57:36 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> Re: RED ALERT! SPOILERS in the subject line -- DEN, 13:42:37 03/13/02 Wed

Though I think Buffy's purported clinic experience antedated burning down the school, it would indeed help explain her free pass on the arson charge. In a related context, I have friends who spent time in VA psych wards, and they say they were constantly told their ticket out was to stop talking about their particular demons. Silence=cure in these overcrowded places. It would hardly be unusual for Buffy to pick up a similar vibe--if in fact the experience was part of "Slayerverse," and not seepage from "Asylumverse."

Willow *does* help around the house! (spoilers for NA) -- Belladonna, 05:44:35 03/13/02 Wed

So there! So many people have been complaining that Willow doesn't pay rent or help out around the house. I, and some others, have said that just because they don't show it, doesn't mean it's not happening. In Normal Again, Buffy says to Dawn, "Willow's been doing your chores, hasn't she?" I would assume that she's doing it on top of her own stuff. So, see? Willow's not a total bum.
Of course, Willow might not be doing chores, because she might not exist, because this might all be a hallucination! :)

[> Re: Willow *does* help around the house! (spoilers for NA) -- Caroline, 06:44:55 03/13/02 Wed

As one of the people who was complaining about Willow and Dawn not doing housework, I stand corrected.

[> [> "Everybody ought to have a maid, a serving girl, a lurking girl..." -- Brian, 08:34:18 03/13/02 Wed

Here's a question... (Potential NA Spoilers in response) -- Darby, 07:28:39 03/13/02 Wed

The writer was for several years Joss' assistant. This was his very first writing assignment (note the uneven dialogue, which might have been deliberate, but probably wasn't). Normal Again is full of nods and winks to the audience, which often peek out of other episodes but were more full- bodied here.

So what sort of attitude toward the watching public - us - has filtered through Diego Gutierrez from Joss? Should we feel encouraged, insulted, both, neither?

[> Re: Here's a question... (Potential NA Spoilers in response) -- Rendyl, 08:47:40 03/13/02 Wed

I was wondering that myself. I can't decide if NA was a dig at the fans and our complaints about this season (sort of a pop on the nose for us for daring to question the vision) or an attempt by the writing staff to reassure us that the inconsistancies are noted and going to make sense eventually.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that this season has felt almost like Buffy hallucinating. Obviously NA was conceived wayyyyy before my musings but it shows the thought was on the collective Buffy-brain long before I (cough-grin) channeled into it.

I like to think the writers are not petty. They are in a tough field and would have to grow a thick skin to get by. A little critisism now and again should not be enough to set them off.


Attn: WW! Please read! I want to help put your mind at ease about NA! (spoilers) -- Rob, 08:55:15 03/13/02 Wed

I read all your concerns about this episode, and I just had to post some stuff, to try to help put your mind at ease!

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.


[> Re: Attn: WW! Please read! I want to help put your mind at ease about NA! (spoilers) -- leslie, 09:04:42 03/13/02 Wed

I've only just started plowing through the posts, so this may already have been mentioned, but re: the doctor in the asylum--interesting that he seemed to be saying exactly the same things as Spike. Stop retreating into your own solipsis, acknowledge that there are people who love you, stop being in love with misery.

[> [> Great point, Leslie! -- Rob, 09:15:38 03/13/02 Wed

[> Well, when you put it that way... -- Solitude1056, 09:06:47 03/13/02 Wed

Maybe there was some point to the episode... but I still could've done without all the self-referential nyah-nyah going on from the writer. ;-)

[> [> Especially when it has been done before. -- A8, 23:50:42 03/13/02 Wed

Although I think NA was a compelling watch, the plot device has been used so many times before (a Twilight Zone about mannequins, a couple episodes of Star Trek:TNG, and even, as a variation, the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," immediately come to mind) I would have expected them to do much more with it. However, I believe it was better used in the Deep Space Nine episode "Far Beyond the Stars." The DS9 writers were blatantly self-referential in that case, thus letting the viewers feel like participants in the in-joke rather than the writers' dupes (although, to be polite, I'll give the BTVS staff the benefit of the doubt based on their past stellar performance that they would never be that cynical).

The messiah/hero in that episode, Captain Sisko, finds himself an oppressed African-American science fiction writer in the 50's who has created the story of Deep Space Nine and all its characters. He has an emotional breakdown when, following years of discrimination and rejection, his story, on the verge of publication, is pulled because nobody would ever accept a "negro" starship Captain or that such a fantastic story could ever be penned by a black man.

When he returns to the "real" fictional world of DS9, Sisko proposes that it's not so farfectched that he and all his friends on the station might be merely living out the dream of some writer somewhere out there (which of course they were). Of course, every night when we dream, we become the authors and heroes of our own little "fictions" which are every bit as real as the realities of the waking world. To many cultures, Hindu and Aborigine come to mind, the dream state is just as valid a reality as the world that lives in waking consciousness. And to a schizophrenic, the voices in his head are very real. Jung referred to such things, including the belief in God, as "psychic facts." They may not be capable of verification by accepted scientific methods (which can be viewed as an artificial construct at any rate), but they are so real to the person experiencing them that they are facts in their own right.

Anyhow, the asylum angle is reprised in the next season. At a crucial moment when Sisko is about to save the day, the opposing forces try to hinder him with the "false vision" that he is, in fact, that sci- fi writer in an asylum, and that the space themed visions we are seeing on the screen are actually from the stories he has been writing on his padded cell walls. The doctor tells him that if he paints over the stories on the wall (thus accepting his "real" reality) he will be "cured." He almost gives into the temptation, moving back and forth between realities as he struggles to make a decision. Ultimately, he chooses to finish what he has written and return to the sci-fi world of DS9 to continue his journey. Which reality was preferable? To choose the DS9 world means the weight of the universe on his shoulders. In what should be a carefree, idealistic future of equality and exploration, he is pulled in all directions by duty, religious belief and a destiny that place the responsibility for the continued survival of millions upon him and him alone. In the other reality, he has relatively little responsibility because society will not allow it. He is a second-class citizen, denied the opportunity to express his vision. It could be argued that, in spite of the oppression, the second choice is the safer one because nothing is expected of him. No matter how hard he tries he is basically fighting windmills.

Overall, NA left me scratching my head thinking that the BTVS writers could have done much more with the "figment of her imagination" plot device. IMHO they didn't break any new ground, and it would be extremely disappointing if this plot device resurfaces without being used in a more original fashion. "Dallas" tried to erase an entire season by claiming it was all a dream--a major shark- jumping event in television history. I'm pretty sure ME could not be contemplating anything that cheap or disastrous.


[> [> [> Come to think of it... -- A8, 00:10:36 03/14/02 Thu

...the alternate reality plot device was perhaps best used by Bob Newhart. He managed to explain away the absurdities of the characters and story lines in his second sitcom (the '80s show in which he was an inkeeper in New England) by making the entire TV series a sushi-induced nightmare of his character in his first sitcom (the '70s one where he was a psychiatrist). To complete the ruse the second series ends with him waking up in bed, startled, on the set from the first Newhart, with Suzanne Pleshette (his wife in the first sitcom) reassuring him that it was all a dream (and to lay off the sushi) as the theme music and title fonts from the '70s series bring it all to a close. Now that was original, and entirely acceptable, especially considering how bizarre the characters were in the second sitcom compared with those of the first.

And yes...I have watched way too much tv in my life.

[> great post BTW -- neaux, 09:14:52 03/13/02 Wed

You helped me sort out what I was noting in my own post below..

Anyway Rob, if you read my post below on Choose Your own Adventure.. could you answer this question?

when Buffy was recreating the "Superhero" scene down in the basement, why was Tara the one who would have taken over the Superhero role? What does this imply in relation to Buffy's world?

[> [> Thanks....and here's my Tara answer... -- Rob, 09:27:54 03/13/02 Wed

Tara, this year, has been Buffy's greatest supporter, in many ways. She's the one Buffy trusted to ask about whether she came back wrong. She's the one Buffy told about Spike. Lately, Tara has become Buffy's ideal friend...supportive, caring, maternal. Therefore, she became the person in Sunnydale who could fight what Buffy had done it. She challenges Buffy and is part of, what I believe, inspired Buffy to hallucinate about her mother giving her that beautiful speech about reassimilating into the world.


[> [> [> Re: Thanks....and here's my Tara answer... -- leslie, 09:43:16 03/13/02 Wed

I was also struck by who Buffy chose to kill to get herself out of Sunnydale: Willow, Xander, and Dawn. On the one hand, the obvious ones, the ones closest to her, her sister (literally made out of her own flesh and blood) and her two best friends. But she stops there. If she were really trying to kill off the "fantasies" that tie her to Sunnydale, shouldn't she have at least tried to take out Spike as well? You can argue about whether she loves him or hates him, but he is beyond all argument the person who arouses the strongest emotion in her, and emotion is what ties us to the illusory world. And in that context, it seems rather pointed that the buddhic Tara is the one who intervenes and creates the circumstance that makes Buffy decide which "illusion" she will occupy.

[> [> [> [> Re: Thanks....and here's my Tara answer... -- Dawney, 10:41:06 03/13/02 Wed

Hi! I am new to the "whole board experience" hehe. So, please bare with me. I agree, I believe Tara has been her anchor this season as well. Tara has been the one person who wasn't selfish when it came to Buffy's existence. She's never placed any pre-conceptions on Buffy. Willow and Xander are basically very selfish when it comes to Buffy, which is understandable to a certain extent due to the fact that she has saved their lives soo many times and they have fought side by side with her. They want her to act a certain way or respond to things the way she did before..However, Tara had nothing to gain from helping Buffy, but making Buffy feel better about herself.

It will be interesting to find out where Joss/Marti go with this next.

[> [> Tara the Mother -- Darby, 10:11:45 03/13/02 Wed

Hasn't Tara come closest to filling Joyce's role in Buffy's life lately? Would she kill a mother figure to gain the "real" thing?

[> [> [> Re: Tara the Mother -- leslie, 10:45:01 03/13/02 Wed

This is starting to feel like a compare-and-contrast essay on a final exam....

For all her personal maternalness, Tara is also the only other person--outside of the Summers girls-- whose mother has died. In fact, she and Buffy have very similar parental situations, with a dead mother who (eventually) accepted their non-normalness and an absent and rejecting father. Tara's maternalness is directed towards friends and lovers, and is succoring, while one of Buffy's major failures this season is in being sufficiently maternal to Dawn. I think Tara is more of a role model for Buffy in dealing with her mother's loss and incorporating that maternalness into her self, than in Tara taking Joyce's role in Buffy's life. (Although, of course, we do learn how to be mothers from our own mothers.)

[> [> [> [> Buffy the Mother (NA spoilers) -- Vickie, 11:06:37 03/13/02 Wed

Great point. And if Buffy learned how to be a Mom from her own mother (as she must), then she's doing a great job of it.

We usually saw Joyce as being very loving, very well intentioned, and pretty much completely clueless with regard to Buffy. She had no idea, with a very few exceptions, how to make things all right. (A notable exception, in my mind, comes at the end of Innocence, with the birthday cupcake scene.)

By contrast (or not), Buffy truly loves Dawn, truly wants the best for her, and seems to be completely unable to get those feelings across. She could point out to Dawn (or she can once the antidote takes effect and she can think straight), that, if she wants to be rid of Dawn, all she has to do is let Dawn keep cutting school. Easy. End of problem. Instead, she fights to keep Dawn, making Dawn miserable in the process. She does lots of the right things, but doesn't communicate them very well to her "daughter."

Reminds me a lot of Joyce.

(my $.02)

[> Re: Attn: WW! Please read! I want to help put your mind at ease about NA! (spoilers) -- black hawk, 12:10:09 03/13/02 Wed

dunno guys, none of rob's reasons or anyone else's for that matter help us distinguish between reality and non-reality. trying to understand or get into the mind of a schizo is pretty much impossible, and thats what everyone is trying to do. what is the point of life if you cant distinguish between fantasy and reality?

and to say that the "easy way" out wouldve been choosing the life with her mother is also absurd. the easy way out would be retreating completely into the fantasy world - whether its sunnydale or the asylum. it takes a tremendous amount of strength to return to reality.

and as far as the show is concerned, both worlds are centered around buffy - in her mind. we have no reason to believe that even though the writers chose to show other scenes in which buffy wasnt in means the sunnydale world is real and the asylum is not. it all connects to buffy's life in some way. like i said, we dont know whats going on in the mind of a schizo.

i say the only real proof (which was mentioned before in a few threads down) are the lives of other people (such as those in angel's world) that are not connected anymore to buffy. thats the only proof we have on which is "real."

[> [> Yes, but... -- Rob, 13:22:06 03/13/02 Wed

Buffy's "fantasy" world, if it is Sunnydale is not so easy, not compared to the life she would have in Asylumverse, if she got better and lived with her mother, and recovered. That would be easier than being the Slayer.


[> [> [> Re: Yes, but... -- black hawk, 14:02:59 03/13/02 Wed

rob, if you know anything about the disease, its serious and tragic. the RECOVERY stage is the problem, being able to recognize reality from fantasy. you all make it so simple and its clear you have no idea what this mental illness entails.

even so, who knows what kind of life is left for her if she returns with her parents after the asylum? you think it becomes fairy tale? she has to learn to LIVE again. she has had no REAL identity since she checked in. at least in buffyverse, she somewhat knows who she is. cant believe you people...get a clue...

oh yeah, one more thing - in buffyverse, she drinks a d*mn potion and *POOF* everythings back to normal. thats how she recovers...yes, she returns to a world fighting demons, but its a world where anything is possible, a world with no limitations.

[> [> [> [> Re: Yes, but... -- Nathan, 16:02:02 03/13/02 Wed

Yes, schizophrenia is a terrible illness, but do you really think the writers of this episode know the illness that well too? Mental illness is almost always misrepresented in television and movies, going all the way back to the classic Psycho.

[> [> [> [> Actually I do know the repercussions of recovery... -- Rob, 16:26:42 03/13/02 Wed

But you are thinking too literally about the disease. As usual on "Buffy," it was used as a symbol, just as, earlier this year the possibility that Buffy may have "come back wrong" was used as a symbol.

You can't apply actual rules about mental illness in the real world to the Buffyverse reality. This is, after all a fantasy show, and, further, a fantasy show that is known for its use of metaphors. The schizophrenia was here used as a metaphor. I think one of the main reasons it was chosen as Buffy's alternative is that, just like Sunnydale, the Asylumverse was not an ideal situation either--far from it. Buffy's decision was made more difficult, because neither of her options were good ones. But, in the one case, she would be surrounded by the love of a nurturing mother, who would care for her in her time for need. In the Sunnydale-as-reality case, she would have to stand on her own two feet, and recover herself from her difficult situation, but with the knowledge that she has friends who care and support her. The importance of the symbol is not the real-life difficulty for a schizophrenic to recover, but the fact that her mother exists in that world, a role that, in Sunnydale, she must take herself, with the help of Tara.

Also, as I said before, I think Sunnydale is real, and the Asylumverse is fake. Therefore, if you see the Asylumverse as the hallucination, it would be one created by Buffy. Buffy may not know, and probably doesn't, the real life implications of schizophrenia and recovery from it. She knows what she has seen in movies and television, and is internally using that as a symbol, as I said before.


[> [> [> [> [> Re: Actually I do know the repercussions of recovery... -- nite walker, 18:52:36 03/13/02 Wed

repercussions of recovery? this is assuming that they do...almsot all schizos never fully recover and learn to live WITH the disease for the rest of their lives, using drugs to block brain activity that triggers the halucinations or voices. others are SHOCKED back to reality using electrocution therapy.

and i must mention we were thinking "literally" about this issue because you were explaining why you thought the world at the asylum was fake. and your explanation about the doctor being the key is flawed because it can be argued both ways, in favor of the asylum or buffyverse.

now, you are assuming the buffyverse is real (which i do as well but not the same reasons you believe so) and when you talk metaphors, thats fine and makes sense. but i was not arguing against this metaphor or the use of metaphors on the show but only your facts that support buffyverse being the REAL world. thats where i thought your argument was flawed. you cant use metaphors for this explanation. you can only when you prove which world is real and use these metaphors as support to your theory. talking metaphors, you talk interpretation. and for every point you bring up supporting your theory i can find some way it makes sense for the opposition. but, i agree with you, and it didnt take a genius to figure it out - that world created around the asylum had largely to do with stability, with her parents together and her mom alive being central to the fantasy.

the writers on the show explained enough of the disease to be able to make you think and debate about this issue without ruling anything out. thats the brillancy of this show, things arent clear cut and in your face but always shades of gray.

as a side note, i just want to mention that we must assume that even though the asylum is the hallucination, that world is most like the one we live in. comparing the two, i believe that buffyverse is a much more desirable place to live in.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Actually I do know the repercussions of recovery... -- Rob, 19:35:19 03/13/02 Wed

If we're just examining the hard facts, I don't think there is a way to argue one way or the other. And that is part of the point of the episode. Of course, with an episode like this, it could be argued both ways. And in my thinking, you can never separate the metaphor from the reality in "Buffy." It's all pervasive.

If you want hard facts, I think the most convincing is that in the asylum scenes, everything really did revolve around Buffy. She was in every scene, and was the focus of every scene. In contrast, the Sunnydale scenes showed characters and events (the Troika, Willow seeing Tara at school) that Buffy had no knowledge of. The asylum scenes were tailor-made to deal with Buffy's problems of disconnectedness, her grief at never having been able to say goodbye to her mother, etc. The Sunnydale scenes focused on other concerns also--Willow's relationship with Tara and her fears about Tara seeing other people, Xander's fears about where Anya went. Schizophrenics usually see themselves as the centers of the universes they create. Buffy is the center of every asylum scene, but not so in Sunnydale.

And that is my main reason for believing the asylum is fake.


[> Attn: ROB!! Thank you!! -- WW, 12:17:10 03/13/02 Wed

Sweetie, I'm okay, I'm coming to terms with last night, with the help of the many threads and theories that abound here, but we have a pet emergency today (very elderly cat, last legs, very sad) so I might not be around much.

But thank you, I really appreciate your effort.

[> [> Hope your cat's ok, WW! -- Kerri, 12:45:58 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> Re: Hope your cat's ok, WW! -- DEN, 13:18:31 03/13/02 Wed

We love our friends no less when they go on four feet. May your companion's passage be an easy one.

[> [> [> [> Sincere thanks, DEN. -- WW, 17:14:23 03/13/02 Wed

Ultimately all we can do is to try to ease and perhaps speed the passage. It's been a very draining day. Your good wishes are appreciated.

[> [> You're welcome about the post...and a similar situation happened with my dog last year... - - Rob, 13:20:15 03/13/02 Wed

I'm sorry. :o(


[> [> [> Re: an older thread -- DEN, 13:30:14 03/13/02 Wed

Rob, can you help me out? You said in earlier posts the demon injection could in theory be of Buffy's creation if the "Asylumverse" is real. I see that clearly enough--but it seems to me that the show itself gives us no direct help going there. We have to work backwards from events to reach that conclusion. Is that your idea? Or have I missed something in the show , something suggesting the injection was not "just" some kind of mindbender? Perhaps, for example, the fact that none of the "research" described exactly WHAT the injection's effects were?

[> [> [> [> injections -- Jon, 17:10:37 03/13/02 Wed

This is probably a pretty obvious observation and it doesn't answer the tougher questions, but I noticed that the demon injection in the Buffyverse occurred simultaneously with an injection of drugs in the Asylumverse.

I have to say I'm not having that hard of a time just kind of holding the two realities next to eachother, hinged on the event(s) of the injection(s). I'm not finding a strong need to get to the bottom of the "which is real?" question. Maybe that's just me being flippant or Zen or something.

[> [> [> Thank you, Rob -- WW, 17:17:24 03/13/02 Wed

Me, too.


[> [> sorry to hear about your cat, wisewoman -- anom, 22:51:33 03/13/02 Wed

I went through the same thing 2 years ago with my cat...6 weeks after her sister. I hope it goes as painlessly as possible, at least for your cat...I know it can't be for you.

Bothered, mildly bewildered, and hardly bewitched -- Solitude1056, 09:01:51 03/13/02 Wed

I've gone through the other threads but I may have missed if it someone else said it better than I, but I've gotta check in and report with my feedback. Hmmm.

Been thinking about dubdub's original cry of exasperation about the episode. Which is real, which is false, what is heaven, blah blah blah. And I couldn't put my finger on it until this morning - the whole episode ran less like a truly thought-provoking, tone-changing, season-defining episode... and more like one of those mental masturbation arguments I used to have as a college sophomore after a philosophy course. Maybe you recall the kind - where you sit around and use big words to argue whether Sartre or Kant had the right idea about "what is life," or "what is reality," and whether believing hard enough means there really is five dollars in your pocket. (Sorry, Masq, but I'm sure you've seen the symptoms.) And it all amounts to a lot of hot air, but it's purty enjoyable in the meantime, and it gets you out of doing homework for a few hours.

The episode qualifies, on some levels, as being too clever for its own good. Okay, so Buffy's brain, deep inside, sought out elements in her own psyche and history and used them to its advantage to support a delusion. That makes sense - our dreams, for instance, don't regurgitate images and symbols from other psyches, only our own. Only our personal dictionary of symbols and images will reverberate for us, which is why one person's dream of a swimming pool is not the same as another's.

So the point of the poison is to do what? Make you go all catatonic so you'll be stuck in your head dreaming of daisies, and less likely to fight back. (Well, in that case, why'd the demon bugger off after poking Buffy? Yeah, well, whatever, maybe it just likes spreading the love and isn't that big on killing folks. Uh, okay.) The mind is a powerful, mostly untapped tool, and it's perfectly capable of creating alternate realities for ourselves - for good or ill - in which we feel helpless observers to the party. Looking at it from that perspective, then the episode makes sense and the rest of it is sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I mean, hell, so "the interesting question" and "unfortunate decision" I heard trumpeted in Fury interviews (or maybe it was Noxon, I dunno now) were supposed to make us go, oooh, is this real? Instead, all I thought was, oh, you guys are trying too hard to be clever and make us think and all you're doing is making me go grrr, argh and not in a good way.

Yes, somewhere in Buffy's brain - until she gets the antidote - is a small box inside which is the delusion that she's lost in a catatonic state. The last image was the brain's confirmation that she's permanently chosen to move away from the reality inside this box. Alternately, until someone discovers a drug-based cure for catatonia, she's in a catatonic state and her mental processes are trapped inside a box called Sunnydale. Whatever.

Hopefully, the real point of the episode - or perhaps I'm projecting - isn't whether Buffy is really the hero, and that's what makes her the hero, or whether she's just some poor mentally ill person dreaming herself the hero. I mean, we all dream ourselves heroes at some point. Godz only know I can't be the only person here who's seen a burning building and had a small comforting flash of being the one who rushes in and saves everyone in the nick of time. But except for the doctors and fireman and policeman amongst our existential scooby crew, most of us are stuck with the small heroic acts, the ones no one notices: graciously letting our children go on their first unaccompanied dates, stepping aside so our spouses can dance with an old flame, or acknowledging maturely when it's time to finally let a loved pet be put to sleep. These are heroic acts, even if no one is ever going to write a book or make a movie about them. Doesn't matter if it's small scope or world-saving, it's part of our own internal play and thus the sound and fury signifies everything.

Thing is, I would've rather have had an episode where things moved forward, instead of an episode that spent 38 minutes on reminding me of this - a point I never lost in the first place - and only another 10 minutes on the really important stuff. Where's Anya? What's going on with Spike and Buffy? How is Dawn coping? What's Xander planning? When are Tara and Willow going to start talking or get over it? Why hasn't Jonathan slipped away from Warren yet? What are the Troika planning, anyway? Yes, Buffy's been detached, but I thought we settled that several episodes ago! Just how many times can we watch her reaffirm that she's been too detached, disinterested, and going through the motions, anyway?

ME could've taken those 10 minutes and scattered them through a better main plotline and I wouldn't've missed this pseudo-episode in the least. Besides, at least then I wouldn't've felt like Joss was taunting me throughout the episode: girl who kills vampires, big hero... pretty lame. Yeah. Well, way I see it, anytime you can see the writer behind the writing saying "ooh, look at me being clever! aren't I witty, I just used a snappy pop culture reference!" then it destroys the illusion. A few self- referential comments here and there (such as the famous, "Dawn's in trouble, must be Tuesday") is one thing, since normally we've gotten what, two or three a whole season? But ten or eleven comments in the same epi is a bit much. It just destroyed the illusion completely for me - they might as well have gotten in a shot of the boom mike over someone's head, and really destroyed it completely. In fact, I was fully expecting on that last shot for the camera to keep pulling away and either we'd see cameras and backstage and the director yelling cut... or we'd discover it was a very tiny model sitting on someone's desk.

[> Re: Bothered, mildly bewildered, and hardly bewitched -- Apophis, 09:31:08 03/13/02 Wed

This is what I was trying to say earlier. This was ME's way of not doing their homework for a while. Nothing moved forward; did Anya take D'Hoffryn up on his offer? What's up with Jonothan? Why's Dawn still p'ed off? There's gonna be, what, 5 weeks between now and a new episode? They could've at least resolved something or left us with something plot-related to mull over in the interim, like Sleep Tight did in Angel.

[> Solipsism -- Sophist, 10:20:40 03/13/02 Wed

I sympathize with your frustration at the sterility of the arguments you describe. My take, however, is that solipsism remains a legitimate and serious issue; the frustration comes because we can't yet resolve it. The college bull sessions you describe do serve a purpose. They allow each of us to adopt a, to us, satisfactory way to put the question aside.

What I find ironic in your post is what I interpret as your own existentialist solution to the problem. The daily performance of small heroic acts is what existentialism promotes as the solution to the meaning of life.

The reason I find it ironic is that Rahael has argued very convincingly in several posts below that it is precisely Buffy's existentialist response to her dilemma which we see at the end of NA. Specifically, Buffy reacts to the actual life situation confronting her, namely, the loss of her friends and family (I would argue it is specifically the loss of Willow which forces the issue). This reaction is entirely consistent with the message of OMWF and, IMHO, with BtVS since the beginning.

If you think about it hard enough, I'm sure you'll realize you like it. Right after you find that $5 in your pocket.

[> [> Well, I am an existentialist... courtesy Kierkegaard & Heidegger... ;-) -- Solitude1056, 10:35:50 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> Re: Well, I am a Fortean -- leslie, 11:06:25 03/13/02 Wed

Me, my philosophican bent is towards the work of Charles Fort, who devoted himself to the accumulation of what he called "damned facts," that is, fact that fall outside the dominant paradigm of reality and are therefore "damned" or rejected as unreal, untrue, fantastic. Frogs don't fall from the sky; so what the hell are all these frogs doing falling from the sky? It must be a hallucination; it must be a freak whirlwind; it must be something other than frogs; it must be swamp gas... or maybe there really are frogs falling from the sky. Fort pointed out that there is a disjunction between the consistent worldview that humans create in order to exist in the world without spending every second questioning the nature of reality, and the world's reality itself. The demand for consistency is not a sign of reality, but a sign of the construction of reality. And therefore, I appreciated Normal Again for Buffy's choice of the inconsistent, Fortean universe.

Did anyone else start hyperventilating.......(spoilery!) -- Mystery, 09:06:52 03/13/02 Wed

...when Tara entered the house?

With what was going on in the basement and all the "Big Scooby Death" rumors abound, I was terrified for her!

BTW, NA is now #3 in my favorite episodes lists (#1 The Body. #2 Hush). I think the whole think was perfectly done. The fact that they left us unsure at the end, indicated that Buffy will continue to have doubts about her sanity. I always love episodes that play with your head by questioning the main character's reality (Farscape is the best example out there). I also think that Buffy in an Aslyum (I'm assuming between the movie and the show) also fits in. a friend from high school got caught smoking weed and his parents committed him. He was out in three weeks, and the parents are in complete denial they "sent him away". He doesn't even talk about it, even though he's on medication for stress. So while it's weird that it hasn't been mentioned in 5/6 years, it is not out-of- character for anyone involved.

Fantastic episode tho! Fantastic acting from SMG! Poor Spike. And I guess Dawn knows about Spike and Buffy now and Xander was just a second away from putting together the last bit and figuring it out. Oh boy.

[> Re: Did anyone else start hyperventilating.......(spoilery!) -- truelove, 09:43:44 03/13/02 Wed

Mystery, I didn't start hyperventilating, but I couldn't believe my eyes when that hand (Buffy's) snaked out and grabbed Tara's ankle sending her tumbling down the stairs.
There had been rumors of the BSD - and I thought --
"No!! She's killed Tara!!"

And quick-thinking Tara -- she made her spell before
descending the stairs and running towards Willow.
I noticed that Willow had her mouth taped - couldn't have cast a spell even if she wanted to with her hands tied and
her mouth duct-taped!

If she had killed Tara, even under these conditions, the whole story would have suffered. No one came out on top in this episode though. Muddy waters. Dark and moody.

Spike wanted to take Buffy to his crypt when she collapsed,
but was met with distain -- "She's our friend!"
I thought that was rather crude seeing as Xander knew Buffy was spending a good deal of time with Spike. And Spike saying "Rub ice on the back of her neck. She likes that." and feeling left out and unable to help his Buffy.
Yep, I think it's time for the relationship to come out in the open. Keeping the big secret is only making Buffy sick.
What's bothering her is that it was over a period of time so it can't be dismissed as just a one time mistake. She'll have to own up to the Scoobies just as she did with Riley. She's sleeping with Spike.

Questionning Art place : Normal Again as a re-justification of the show -- Etrangere, 09:44:26 03/13/02 Wed

Watching Normal Again after having read the wonderfull essay "Once More with Joss" by Cynesthecia (sp ?) makes it all the more interresting. Not only is this episode full of metanarration, but it seems the authors use the occasion to question the validity of their work (by threatening to destroy it, both as a fictionnal reality, and both by making buffy almost kill its main characters). The writers, attentive to their audience, aknowledge some of the coherence flaws of the Season, and even let the characters complain about their evolution, seemingly answering the puppet master claim that he controlls them. (Various comments from Buffy, Spike and Xander on the realism of what happens to them)
So, what is ME saying to us ? Yes, our Big Bads are lame ? Yes, thinking Buffy is a super-heros is stupid ? And yes, there is no coherence whatsoever to this show, because None of This is Real and it's all a big delusion, a hoax, haha, ain't we clever !
Don't think so :)
Here's my theory :
We all know here that the basis for BtVS was to create a metaphorical vision of the difficulties teenagers encounters in their daily life, where High School is litterally the Hell(mouth) and where it's gonna be the end of the world of you can't go out tonight.
But time has passed, and the characters are no longer teenagers, don't go anymore to High Schools, and demons & vampires seem very harmless indeed compared to the crude reality of job, educating children and unidealised love.
Does that mean that the show has no more basis ? Does it mean that it is now unvalidated ?
There's been critisms indeed that the show is "loosing it", that it's no more the same anymore, and, far from comptuously making fun to their fan, ME is answering their plea with an ambiguous nod.
And what they saying holds to how to interpret Buffy's choice.
You can choose to think that one of this two realities is the real reality (the only real Buffy is really Buffy... )
Either you think the Asylum reality is The Reality, and you reject the Sunnydale-world for its inconsistancy and his fantasy, because vampires and demons are stupid, and Buffy doesn't look like a heros anyway and you're too grown up now for this stupidities and it's time to go back to real life(tm) and slaughter happily all the delusions of your imagination.
Either you think the Sunnydale reality is The one Reality, because that would just spoil the show and you have to keep your dreams alive so just let us denying and fanwanking any crumb of incoherence that threatens its core.
Offcourse, there's a third way.
I've been waiting (and still am) to OnM's reaction to the parallelism of the end of Normal Again and the end of Brazil. Brazil's ending is very controversed, some thinking it's ultimate despair, others that Sam's true freedom and only chance of escape is through his imagination.
I'm not sure for Brazil, but in Buffy's case, choosing to go back to Sunnydal can hardly be described as an escape. Which world is the hardest ? Going back to a world where Mum and Dad can care for her, where she has no Slayer duty and no Dawn responsability ? Or going back to the place where life itself is painful ? Hell, you could even say she chose Sunnydale because she truely is addicted to misery !
Except that what makes Buffy choose is Joyce's speech on her inner strength that finished with "Believe in yourself"
And that's our answer, because here the question is (as is for Brazil, I guess), what worth is imagination ? In a world of dull jobs and endless routines, should we be allowed to dream ?
Was I the only one to be chocked, not only because I could guess what it meant, by the doctor's extreme directions to Buffy when he told her she must do everything, absolutly everything to destroy this inner world of her ?
Someone has mentionned how much the asylum was alike the Initiative basement, and indeed, they are alike in what they ask of people. They want to impose their reality, described as the only normalicy to Buffy, and no place is made for dreams, questions or imagination. Those must be destroyed, killed, murdured so as to fit in. How violent what they ask of Buffy is ! Killing the part of her mind that loves herself, destroying her basement, ie her own subconcious.
I don't think ME (and I don't either) wants to make the apology of self-delusion. But since we know that the Sunnydale reality is only a metaphore for the "real" reality, that demons are symboles for the difficulties of life we have to always fight, and that Buffy the girl and Buffy the Slayer are one and only (cf the Replacement), dull reality and imaginary reality do not have to be mutually exclusives. Actually, aseptisized and all rationnal reality is just as self-delusionnal as the metaphorical reality. Real world is much much richer. And believe in yourself means believe in your imaginary, believe in your dreams because they help you live in reality. And no, it's not because it's grown-up time, it's not because you have to work, and care for your children and face crude banality in all its horror that metaphores and symboles don't have a place anymore. They still do, more than ever in fact.
Believe in yourself, and believe in Buffy, and believe in Mutant Ennemy :)

[> Great post!! -- Rahael, 09:49:50 03/13/02 Wed

[> Very well put! -- Solitude1056, 09:54:43 03/13/02 Wed

[> Trust in Joss, trust in ME... -- Vickie, 10:05:55 03/13/02 Wed

Great post, Etrangere. I have only a tiny thing to add.

I think we can be certain that Buffy didn't know which was the real reality. She couldn't tell which was true, or if both realities could co-exist (parallel worlds). Being unable to tell, she took the most responsible course (maybe the only logical one), making a choice with the fewest bad consequences (at least, for others).

Because Buffy chose Sunnydale, her parents in the Asylumverse will grieve (assuming they exist). But no one had to die. And she didn't have to take the chance of becoming a murderer if her choice was the wrong one.

Had she chosen the Asylumverse, she would have had to kill enough of her friends to free her mind of Sunnydale. And if she was wrong, or if the two realities co-exist, she would have murdered all of those friends and left the others to cope with the Hellmouth without a slayer.

Her choice was indeed the courageous one, trusting in her own strength even though she hasn't seen a lot of it lately. She may be addicted to misery (Spike's POV), but this choice isn't indicative of it.

my $.02.

[> in Etrangere for excellent posts -- ponygirl, 10:33:11 03/13/02 Wed

The Trouble With Willow (spoilage; looooong) -- CJL, 10:00:02 03/13/02 Wed

Hi. First timer here at the ATP board. A fellow Buffyphile over at the BC&S thought you guys might appreciate this post about the complex psychological problems of one Willow Rosenberg, the comparison between Willow and Tara's approaches to magic and thoughts about the immediate future of the character.

Enjoy. And please...comment!


We’ve never met Willow’s dad, Ira, and we saw Sheila Rosenberg for about five minutes during "Gingerbread"— but I think we’ve all got a fairly accurate picture of Willow’s childhood. Mommy and Daddy pursued their PhDs and then their careers, leaving Willow alone in her room with her stacks and stacks of science textbooks (and later, romance novels); her only social contact with kids her own age was that weird Harris boy from down the block (who had problems of his own with proper parental guidance). Willow grew up in her own little world, receiving validation from her teachers, who marveled at her precocious intellect--but never got it from her parents, who probably did just as well (if not better) in school, and never saw anything extraordinary about their daughter’s achievements.

Just thinking about Willow’s adolescence makes me cringe. Imagine a painfully shy 13-year-old Willow working up the courage to talk to Sheila about boys and growing up and not fitting in, hoping Mom would finally give her some comfort and assurance. Then imagine Sheila locking into trained psychologist mode, grouping her daughter in with the statistical majority on the white, middle-class Bell Curve, patting Willow on the knee, and heading back to the office. (It’s hard to feel special when Mom says 89.7% of the girls your age are going through the exact same thing…)

With that, a pitifully unprepared Willow plunged into the social piranha tank known as Sunnydale High, and was immediately set upon by lead piranha Cordelia Chase, who sent her bobbing to the surface of the tank with the other geeks and social outcasts. She wasn’t too upset, since she had that Harris boy there with her, but his presence was a double-edged sword: he was a perfectly harmless and healthy romantic fantasy for a sheltered girl like Willow, but he had NO IDEA how she really felt about him—yet another killer shot to the girl’s ego. At that point, her life couldn’t have been any more traumatic…

Cue Buffy.


A Hellmouth? Vampires? Witches? Demons? You’d think a shy, fragile creature like Willow would have curled up into a ball and rolled under the nearest table until the Apocalypse. But from the very beginning, Willow showed uncommon enthusiasm for pounding the Big Evil, using her talent with computers, her big, squishy frontal lobe, and her uncanny ability to disarm Xander, Giles and even Angel with her adorable face to help Buffy stomp the monsters of Sunnydale.

On reflection, though, we shouldn’t have been too surprised. Trapped in the lowest stratum of the high school social system, emotionally cut off from her parents and tortured by her unrequited love for Xander, the idea of saving the world every week must have been a liberation, rendering Cordelia’s insults and Sheila’s statistical charts completely irrelevant. She latched on to Buffy’s sacred mission as if it were her own, soaking up enough of Giles’ books to earn a Masters in Demonology, wandering into vampire-infested graveyards—heck, even giving nasty old Moloch a shot when he pissed her off.

But it wasn’t enough. In fact, her status as Buffy’s best friend and Chief Slayerette exacerbated her inferiority complex, since Buffy was the Chosen One, Action Girl, while Willow worked quietly behind the scenes. As we all know from "Restless," Willow still saw herself as the insignificant geek with the Sears wardrobe, and she became obsessed with increasing her value to Buffy and the cause. Jenny Calendar, technopagan supreme (sob—I miss Robia) was Willow’s link from the world of science to the world of magic; Jenny’s untimely death created a power vacuum within the Scoobies, which allowed Willow to practice magicks far too dangerous for an inexperienced adept. But she got very good, very quickly because she pursued magic with the same focused intelligence as she approached science.

And therein lies the problem.

I don’t remember who it was (feel free to identify yourself), but I think a poster on this board perfectly summarized the difference between Willow and Tara: Tara is a witch and Willow is a spell caster. Tara was probably born with magical power; her mother was a witch, and I’m guessing all the women down the family line were witches too. From an early age, Tara’s mom probably taught her the ways of Wicca, the glories of the natural world and how magic resides in everything around them, how to channel the energies of the natural world into magic, and—this is the big one, folks—a healthy respect for the natural order of the universe. Willow, on the other hand, approached magic with an attitude copped from Western Science. Magic was a tool, just like her computer was a tool, an extension of her mind, an instrument with which she could impose her will on the material world.

[Please: no flaming posts about Luddism and would I prefer to live in a cave, eating broiled squirrel over the campfire. Western Science has given us computers, televisions (with Buffy on ‘em), airplanes and medicines to cure diseases thought indestructible 50 years ago. But when has Western Science ever respected the boundaries of nature? The chemical warfare of World War I, the atom bomb, the hydrogen bomb, bioweapons, genetic engineering—Science approached the border, and despite some initial queasiness, rolled right past it without so much as a backward glance. Progress or arrogance? Salvation or ruination? I could go on like this for years, but I’m straying from the text….]

From the start of BtVS Season Four ("Something Blue") through the middle of Season Six, you could see Willow crossing those borders, tinkering with deeper, darker magicks, putting herself and her friends at greater and greater risk; and without the moral principles of Wicca to guide her (the threefold rule and DO NO HARM), Willow’s magicks were always tied into her current emotional state—and no, that’s not a good thing. In "Doppelgangland," the mere thought of Faith turned Willow’s pencil into a deadly projectile; in "Something Blue," Willow’s despair nearly killed off the entire Gang; and in "Wrecked," her fractured consciousness summoned a murderous demon.

All of these incidents—and so many others—have one thing in common: that scared, emotionally isolated child, protecting the candy-coated paradise she’s built inside her head. Oz leaves her? Do a spell, and thy will be done. Glory hurts Tara? Grab hold of some dark mojo and kick her skanky ass. Dawnie is upset about Joyce dying? Push her in the direction of a resurrection spell. Buffy dies? That resurrection spell is always there. A fight with Tara or the Scoobs? Just a touch of Lethe’s bramble, and it’ll all go away. Poor little Willow is a victim of the big, bad world outside, and hey, she just wants everybody to be happy. Even if it kills them.

The comparisons to Warren and Katrina’s enslavement are obvious, so I won’t belabor them here. But I think a more interesting point of comparison is another powerful witch, the first witch we saw on the series—Catherine Madison. Catherine also saw herself as a victim: pregnant and married (probably right after high school), trapped by the responsibilities of motherhood, then abandoned by her husband and left alone to watch the wrinkles accumulate in the mirror as her clumsy daughter made a mockery of her glory years. Catherine had the power to shape the outside world into the fantasy inside her head—and all she had to do was violate Amy to do it. (Unfortunately, like many child abuse victims, Amy followed in her mother’s footsteps.)

For most of this season, Willow was certainly heading in Catherine’s direction. But even though I think she would’ve made a kick ass Big Bad, Joss and ME probably didn’t think they could send Willow all the way into darkness then bring her back as a sympathetic character. (I can understand their reluctance. Remember, when Angel came back to earth in Season Three, he wasn’t very popular around the library, either. Joss felt he had to smash us over the head with an anvil— disguised as a snowstorm—to make everything hunky dory: "See? God says it’s all right to like Angel again!" Wouldn’t want them to do that twice, would you?) The creative brain trust had to find a way to deal with Willow’s complex psychological problems without turning her into a monster.

Enter Rack.


When Willow stepped into Rack’s magic junkie den for the first time, she was at the peak of her powers, playing with house money and rolling sevens with every spell. When she came down off her high after the second visit, she was frightened, trembling—okay, let’s say the word—wrecked. It was obvious, we all thought—losing Tara, combined with the physical side effects of Rack’s magic and Dawn’s near-fatal encounter with the demon finally scared Willow straight. A nice thought, but it doesn’t match up with the facts. First, Tara’s departure in "Tabula Rasa" didn’t exactly start Willow on the road to magical moderation; second, Willow had suffered physical side effects from magic before (headaches, nosebleeds, etc.) and never slowed down for an instant; and finally, if "Something Blue" didn’t tell her in loud, capital letters that her magic could be fatal to her friends, nothing would. So what was different this time?

One word: control. Magic—Willow’s wonderful, all-purpose tool to control and manipulate the world around her—wound up controlling her instead. (For a cybergeek like Willow, it was as if her laptop computer had accessed and reformatted her brain.) Willow quit cold turkey because she had no idea what would happen the next time she channeled magical energy through her body—and it scared her to death. Of course, some Willow fans think she overreacted and could easily cast a lower-level spell if the gang really needed one; but I think it’s a perfectly legitimate fear, and ANY magic at this point would be a huge mistake. Her confidence is shot. Her body chemistry is completely out of whack. And if she’s under stress—well, would YOU want to be in the room the next time Willow tries a spell?

And so, Willow sets out to kick the magic habit, and the "addiction" story line takes over. This is where we’ve lost some people, and yes, I’ll admit it’s been something of a mixed bag—but I don’t see it as an outright betrayal of principle as other Buffyphiles do. (Joss and the brain trust are NOT saying anything as simplistic as "magic is drugs" and "magic is bad." Tara’s continuing presence within the group is a weekly refutation of both statements.) I think part of the problem is the basic inertness of the plotline. It’s damn tough to make the day-to-day life of the recovering addict interesting, and in an action-oriented series like BtVS, some of Willow’s scenes just lie there like day-old shrimp. (Dramatic cut to Willow at the UC Sunnydale student cafeteria: and she’s…still not using magic.)

But she hasn’t just been lying in her rent-free room in Buffy’s house, working through the MDTs (magical delirium tremens); we’ve had some terrific scenes of Willow in action—the OLD Willow in action. I loved it when she got out her gumshoes and magnifying glass and tracked down the nerds in "Gone"; and I absolutely kvelled when Science Girl examined the burger in "Doublemeat Palace." (Was I the only sentient being in the universe who really liked that episode?) That scene worked on so many levels: it was Willow going back to her roots, and we saw her re-learning how to help the gang without resorting to shortcuts. ("You can tell it’s not magic, because it’s SO DAMN SLOW.") Patiently waiting for the chemical analysis to run its course was sort of a lesson in Wiccan principles for Will; nature takes its own time, and natural laws must be respected. (From this comes wisdom, Jewish grasshopper….) No wonder Tara’s on board with the program.

As for the preponderance of twelve-step psychobabble, and recovery program clichés—I don’t take it seriously. And you know what? I don’t think ME takes it seriously, either. To this day, I’m convinced the first 45 minutes of "Wrecked" was SATIRE. Think about it: those "tripping" scenes in Rack’s inner sanctum were so cheesy, so deliberately Roger Corman, I half-expected to see Peter Fonda standing in the waiting room. And Amy stealing sage to feed her habit? That was FUNNY. [Okay, maybe not ROTFL or LMAO funny, but at least EAAC (Elicited an Appreciative Chuckle) funny.]

But the main reason I don’t take the Spellcasters Anonymous nonsense seriously is because I don’t think it’s going to work. If I’m accurate in my reading of her profile, there’s a big problem with Willow adopting the "addiction" paradigm: it allows her to retain her "victim" status, and conveniently allows her to dodge all those inconvenient psychological issues she’s accumulated over the years. Yes, she’s weaning herself from magic and learning to do things the mortal way again (to quote Bewitched); but has she talked with Mom and Dad about family therapy? Has she found a way to deal with the anger and resentment she has towards her parents...her peers...the world? Until she comes to terms with that frightened little girl inside her, all the support group sessions and six-month pins from S.A. won’t do her any good. All we need is the right situation (Tara, Xander or Buffy in a no-bull life-threatening situation), and the dark mojo will come flowing out like poisoned water.

And this time, the results will be cataclysmic.


We’ve all suspected--and some even hoped--that Willow will eventually fall off the magic wagon, and people have been speculating for weeks about HOW things will go horribly, horribly wrong. Will she release that patented dark mojo and, either deliberately or accidentally, cause the long-rumored BSD? Will she somehow mess with Dawn’s mystical essence and precipitate a Key-related disaster? Or will she lose her marbles and team up with: a) Anyanka; b) Amy; c) The Troika; d) Spike or e) none of the above, to visit doom upon her friends as the newest, Biggest Bad of them all?

All good. All painful. Just Joss’ style. But I’ve got an alternate theory about what’s going to happen; it doesn’t match up completely with the previous sections above, but I think you’ll find it interesting. (Bear with me; I know it’s been a long post, but this needs some set-up….)

Let’s go back to Willow’s first big-time spell: "Becoming, Part 2." She attempted to restore Angel’s soul, and first time around, failed miserably. Against medical advice, she pulled herself out of her hospital bed and set up again. In the middle of the spell, a presence entered her body and suddenly, magical amateur Willow was speaking perfect Aramaic (?), and the spell went off without a hitch. Angel was restored; Buffy kissed his ass goodbye; end season two.

Most Buffy fans are under the impression that this "presence" was either the spirit of Jenny Calendar or the Powers That Be, working through Willow to save the world.

But who says this "presence" was one of the good guys?

Suppose an evil spirit, hovering just outside of our plane of existence, sensed a flux in mystical energy and saw a prime opportunity to gain access to our world. It swooped in, touched Willow’s mind, and has remained in contact with Willow ever since. I’m not saying Willow is possessed, per se; this entity could’ve been subtly manipulating Willow, incrementally boosting her power levels, exploiting her psychological weaknesses, waiting patiently until Willow performs the near- apocalyptic incantation that would free the spirit from its prison.

I know it’s farfetched, but this scenario might explain some of the puzzling events involving Willow during the past three seasons. During Seasons Four and Five, everybody commented that Willow’s power was growing incredibly fast. Was Willow just a "natural," or was her learning curve something out of the ordinary, even for witches? (Tara always seemed uneasy about Willow’s exponential leaps, with good reason.) Didn’t anybody find it unbelievably convenient that just as Tara left and it looked like Willow might have second thoughts about magic, she "realized" how to cure Amy (after three years!) and that scroll floated down from the ceiling? And finally: during that chilling confrontation with Giles during "Flooded," didn’t anybody else think that Willow’s flip- flopping from proud surrogate daughter to "don’t mess with me, little man" to Season 1 stammering was just too freaky to be explained in purely psychological terms? I can’t believe Willow would ever, EVER threaten Giles like that, no matter how angry she was at the moment. She sounded like two completely different people.

If you’ve stayed with me this long, the next question is: who’s in there with Willow? Since "first contact" was at the end of Season Two, the most likely suspects are villains from Season Two or earlier. Spike, Dru, and Angelus are out, for obvious reasons. If Season Seven is the finale, Joss might be tempted to do a "full circle" and bring back either the Master or the Anointed One. But surveying the situation and the cast of characters involved, it all pulls in one obvious direction: we’ve got Amy, witchcraft, and a disembodied entity trying to break out of its prison and re-enter the outside world.

I think you know where I’m going with this.


She’s still in that trophy. Her mind is still working. And if she does succeed in tricking Willow into letting her out, what an amazing BB she would be for Season Seven.


I apologize for the long ramble; but I had a lot on my mind, and I wanted to get it all out in one thread. Let me just conclude by saying that no matter how Joss and ME resolves this arc, I’ll be watching and applauding the wonderment that is Alyson Hannigan, who’s been my favorite (along with Nic Brendon) for lo, these many years. (If Xander was me in high school, Willow was the high school girlfriend God decided I was not worthy to receive.) I’m with them until the end.

Got to get back to work. Bye.

[> Great Essay! -- Rahael, 10:27:22 03/13/02 Wed

That's a really coherent and convincing character study.

And I agree with you about the magic addiction thing. Willow is trying to 'normalise', 'classify' and rationalise her problem. As you point out, her method is both empirical and logical at all times. This makes her a great Scooby, but also blinds her to the rage within. So she thinks that if she classifies it as an addiction thing, she can get a grip on it and solve it in a structured way. Because feeling the pain is going to overwhelm her.

Great point about her addiction making her a 'victim' rather than the powerful person she is ("I smell power....")

And no wonder Willow is scared about her emotions - we see just what Willow in emotional mode is like - She hurt a god! she promised that she owed Glory pain and then she inflicted it. Another thing from Something Blue - Giles warns her that doing magic when you're emotionally unstable is dangerous.

As for your theory, I think its intriguing but I'm going to hedge my bets. Could be the first evil rather than Catherine Madison. Or it might just be Willow herself. She is ultimately responsible, as are we all for our actions.

Another thought. Willow has made a prison for herself out of rage and magic - Xander in his own private delusional hell (HB), Dawn too is not free, her stealing is uncontrollable. Buffy of course, traps herself into her asylum. This is 'Over the Hills and Far Away' playing out metaphorically. The Scoobies are building their hell in heaven's despite. They are all free to walk out (I hope!).

[> [> Re: Great Essay! -- Arethusa, 11:33:48 03/13/02 Wed

In Richard Matheson's _What Dreams May Come_ (the book, not that dreadful movie) the main character, Chris, faces a terrible dilemma-his wife is trapped in Hell after she commits suicide. She thinks she's in her own home, although it is a hellish version of the life she created on earth. He finally decides to "let this Hell be our Heaven," and stay with her until her "sentence" is up.
His sacrifice redeems them both, and they are offered another chance at life.
I think Buffy's finally beginning to accept her life as it is, not as she thinks it should be. She has now made a conscious choice to be Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, something she has been trying to escape from for years. She might be ready now to let this hell be her heaven, which is a very difficult decision to make, and might, indeed, be good news for Spike.

[> Re: The Trouble With Willow (even more spoilage) -- DEN, 10:27:42 03/13/02 Wed

I admire the eloquence, the intellectual force, and the literary flair you bring to the topic. I agree strongly that Willow's issue is not magic as such, and certainly not a hunger for power as such. Rather it involves the complex set of problems we might subsume under the rubric "self-esteem." And if the BSD is the one being discussed in other posting areas(I don't wish to go out of bounds here), Willow is all too likely to lose--or sever-- her last connections with the forces of light: not only for the obvious reason, but because the magic IS stronger than she realizes, and she will be facing it alone. One need not accept Catherine Madison (and I find the idea very stimulating!) to see Willow in that situation as being like a small person trying to hold a high-pressure fire hose on target, but being jerked around by the force of the water pressure.

[> WOW !!!! -- Etrangere, 10:33:41 03/13/02 Wed

Great analysis of Willow, interresting take on the addicted storyline, you almost got me liking it :)
By the way, loved DMP too

about the hypothesis of Catherine, it's an interresting idea, but didn't we got (if not on screen at least in the Shooting Screen) a shot of the Trophe in Doomed where she was still traped ?
Anyway, I believe we'll have to get an explanation for Willow's jump in power someday.

[> Great Analysis... -- Darby, 10:38:01 03/13/02 Wed

It's tough to buy into Catherine as a legitimate BB because she duplicates too much established baggage in the "been there, done that" area.

By herself, she's a pumped-up Ethan Rayne (or Amy).

As an evil influence on Willow, she's Angelus.

If we're to have a bad Willow, she has to be essentially Willow to have the proper dramatic impact, for the stuff you've mentioned to be resolved.

I liked pretty much all of the rest, though, even the assumption that Willow's power has been "granted" from somewhere (another possibility is Vamp Willow, to whom Willow may have still been tethered when she expired - there's another explanation for "hot-and-cold" Willow).

And if our Willow- VampWillow was herself vamped...

[> That was fabulous, thanks to whomever suggested you bring it here -- Dochawk, 11:00:49 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> You're welcome. -- Zus, 13:42:37 03/13/02 Wed

See cjl, I told you they'd like it.

[> Re: The Trouble With Willow (spoilage; looooong) -- Rufus, 11:08:41 03/13/02 Wed

Let’s go back to Willow’s first big-time spell: "Becoming, Part 2." She attempted to restore Angel’s soul, and first time around, failed miserably. Against medical advice, she pulled herself out of her hospital bed and set up again. In the middle of the spell, a presence entered her body and suddenly, magical amateur Willow was speaking perfect Aramaic (?), and the spell went off without a hitch. Angel was restored; Buffy kissed his ass goodbye; end season two.

The spell may have gone off without an apparent hitch, but Giles pointed out the dangers of playing with something you don't fully understand and respect.....Becoming...(Psyche's transcripts.....

Season 2 Becoming part one.....

Giles: Um, well, this, um... certainly points the way, but... the ritual itself requires a greater knowledge of the black arts than I, I, I can claim.

Willow: Well, I've been going through her files and, and researching the black arts, for fun, or educational fun, and I may be able to work this.

Giles: (very concerned) W-Willow... channeling... such potent magicks through yourself, it could open a door that you may not be able to close.

Willow has been given great power, but is it hers? Giles further put doubt about Willow's power in my mind in Flooded...

GILES: (turns to face her) Do you have any idea what you've done? The forces you've harnessed, the lines you've crossed?

WILLOW: I thought you'd be ... impressed, or, or something.

GILES: Oh, don't worry, you've ... made a very deep impression. Of everyone here ... you were the one I trusted most to respect the forces of nature.

WILLOW: Are you saying you don't trust me?

GILES: (intensely) Think what you've done to Buffy.

WILLOW: I brought her back!

GILES: At incredible risk!

WILLOW: Risk? Of what? Making her deader?

GILES: Of killing us all. Unleashing hell on Earth, I mean, shall I go on?

WILLOW: No! (stands) Giles, I did what I had to do. I did what nobody else could do.

GILES: Oh, there are others in this world who can do what you did. You just don't want to meet them. (turns away again)

WILLOW: No, probably not, but ... well, they're the bad guys. I'm not a bad guy. (upset) I brought Buffy back into this world, a-and maybe the word you should be looking for is "congratulations."

GILES: Having Buffy back in the world makes me feel ... indescribably wonderful, but I wouldn't congratulate you if you jumped off a cliff and happened to survive.

WILLOW: That's not what I did, Giles.

GILES: (angry) You were lucky.

WILLOW: I wasn't lucky. I was amazing. And how would you know? You weren't even there.

GILES: If I had been, I'd have bloody well stopped you. The magicks you channeled are more ferocious and primal than anything you can hope to understand, (even more angry) and you are lucky to be alive, you rank, arrogant amateur!

Giles angrily grabs his towel and turns to leave.

WILLOW: You're right.

He pauses by the door, looks back at her.

WILLOW: The magicks I used are very powerful. I'm very powerful. And maybe it's not such a good idea for you to piss me off.

Giles says channeled..the power that Willow is using is not her own but gotten at a price, I just have to wonder if anyone has presented Willow with the bill yet. Willow, has made the mistake of thinking that the power she uses is all about her and she is the one in control. I think this season she may find out why there are rules to be respected in the first place. Willow acts out of anger, that tends to make people attempt shortcuts, ways around the usual order of things to attain what they want. I remember Willow saying that she wasn't the sidekick, if not then how does she see herself? From Doomed season four...

Spike: “Am not! I just don’t want pity from geeks more useless than I am.”

Willow: “We’re not useless! We – we help people. We fight the forces of evil!”

Spike: “*Buffy* fights the forces of evil. You’re her groupies. She’d do just as well without you – better I’d wager, since she wouldn’t have to go about saving your hides all the time.”
Xander: “That is no not true! We’re part of the team. She needs us.”
Spike: “Or you’re just the same tenth grade losers you’ve always been, and she’s too much of a softy to cut you lose.”
Willow and Xander stand there speechless and after a moment Spike turns and walks on a satisfied grin spreading over his face.

Of course since then, Willow invoked the Darkest Magicks that helped get them out of trouble in The Gift.....but they lost Buffy. It was that fear of loss that got Willow to bring Buffy back. That act in itself wasn't what was wrong but Willows attitude of "no harm no foul" that she brings to her spell casting. The idea that any ingredient, any spell is okay by her if it gets the results she wants. The next question is what will the end result of all this power be on Willow, can she ever become what she once was, or will her ego simply not allow it?

[> [> Doorways -- cjl, 11:22:40 03/13/02 Wed

"It could open a door that you may not be able to close."

"Willow has been given great power, but is it hers?"


The idea that Willow has been granted great power from an outside source and payment for this gift will come due is more chilling than any "Dark Phoenix" scenario I've heard thus far. If true, Eps 21 and 22 could make the predicted nightmare of Episode 20 look like a Sunday School picnic by comparison......

[> [> Re: The Trouble With Willow (spoilage; looooong) -- aurelia, 18:28:15 03/13/02 Wed

Okay this make me feel a little better about the whole Willow accessing powers she can't control or understand issue. I've thought that a dark force controling Willow (be it the first evil or whatever) takes away some responsiblity away from her when her actions were morally sketchy but entirely in character. The best example for this would be Willow's forgeting spell in "All the Way". She loves Tara and can't deal with conflict (I know I can relate) so she just makes the conflict go away, not seeing the moral implications of her actions. I don't think that she's being subtly influenced by something dark, but rather that she has accessed something way too powerful and she hasn't paid for it yet.

I'm not sure if that was coherent or not, which is unfortunate since I've lurked here for a long time, loved so much of what was said and finally couldn't contain my need to post any more. And I so wanted to say something good.

[> [> [> you get a gold star, *and* a comment! ;-) -- The Second Evil, 20:52:07 03/13/02 Wed

No seriously, feel free to comment, godz only know I rarely have an intelligent thought o' my own. I recommend paraphrasing d'Herblay, Dedalus, Fresne, OnM, or Rahael if you want to sound Utterly Brilliant (TM), but theft from Wise "dubdub" Woman or Rufus if you want to sound Very Perceptive And Completely Enlightened (TM). I'll stop here, I've incriminated myself enough...

Ahem. Where was I... great, now I can't remember the point I was going to make, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with someone else's post (of course) that used the oh-so-awesome visual of Willow as a small person holding onto a large firehose, which instead of controlling it, was being controlled. Which, of course, I just paraphrased very badly, but you get the idea. I hope. ;-)

[> [> [> Welcome, aurelia! ;o) -- Wisewoman aka WW aka dubdub, 22:20:51 03/13/02 Wed

And thanks to the Second Evil for the gracious plug!

[> [> [> The Trouble With Willow : Stuck at Level 2 -- destiny, 22:53:02 03/13/02 Wed

I think having Willow be controlled, to any extent, by malevolent powers is a cop-out. What makes Willow's descent so incredibly frightening is that she's engineered her own fall from grace. Yes, there may be a source of power that she is drawing on that is not her own, but can we classify it as evil? That violates the basic theory of realativism - that how you see something determines its nature. This talented, smart girl who seemed to have it together has gone dark because that's the most attractive path. It should make us examine our own morals and how waterproof they are. Consider Kohlberg's stages of moral development - which one are we at? The first, where we behave in an acceptable manner because we have to, the second, where right means acting in our own intrests, or the third, where we act to please others? Do most of us ever get higher than that? Willow is stuck at level two - she does things ( or doesn't ) because of their effect on her. This lack of moral development in such an intelligent person is what I find truly frightening.

[> [> [> [> Re: Willow -- aurelia, 23:18:36 03/13/02 Wed

I'm not sure if you are agreeing with me or not, but I completely agree with what you said so we'll leave it at that.

Anyways, thanks WW and The Second Evil for the welcome, I'm really feeling the warm glow of getting a response.

[> [> Oh, yeah, now I remember my comment... (sheesh, losing my mind, err, so to speak) -- The Second Evil, 21:15:55 03/13/02 Wed

Willow acts out of anger, that tends to make people attempt shortcuts, ways around the usual order of things to attain what they want. [...]
Of course since then, Willow invoked the Darkest Magicks that helped get them out of trouble in The Gift...

Yeah, but it was Willow that got them into the trouble in the first place. Everything was in a holding pattern until Glory found Tara, and having sucked Tara all the way to the loony bin, Glory was left with no idea of the Key's identity, again. Things could have remained there, for a short while longer - perhaps long enough to either forestall the event past the due date, or long enough to get completely away. It was Willow, however, who refused to listen to reason.

From Tough Love:

You can't even think
about taking on Glory.

Willow faces Buffy. Strong.

You saw what she did to Tara.
I can't let her get away with it.

No, you have to let her get away
with it. Even I'm no match for her,
you know that.

But maybe I am.

Willow starts to walk down the hall. Buffy blocks her way.

You're not.
And I won't let you go.

It's not your choice,
Buffy; it's mine.

This is not the time.

When, Buffy? When is? When you feel
like it? When it's someone you love
like I love Tara? When it's Dawn,
is that it, Buffy?

No. When we have a chance.
We'll fight her when
we have a chance.

Willow pauses.

You wouldn't last five
minutes, Willow. She's a god.

Willow nods, slowly. Then she slumps as if every atom in her body is giving up.

Fine. I'll wait.

It's the only choice.

And of course (thanks to Spike) Buffy manages to save the day when Willow, hotheaded and determined, doesn't wait. It's Glory's immediate retaliation for Willow's attack that leads her to the college campus where Tara unwittingly spills the news about the Key's identity. Every step on the way to Buffy's sacrifice leads directly, systematically, from that single discovery by Glory, which happened so quickly only because she was furious about Willow's rash attack. Okay, so we got to see that Willow's magicks had become powerful enough that she could wound a god, but the cost was pretty damn high.

Which always made me wonder if it wasn't some innate awareness of this responsibility that lent Willow the determination to bring Buffy back. If she could bring Buffy back, then she could undo the hasty series of steps they traversed that put Buffy in the forced choice in the first place. But then, that's just my speculation on Willow's inner mind during the lag between end of season 5 and beginning of season 6...

And all of it, along with everyone else's examples, makes for a person who probably isn't possessed or controlled by an outside intelligent power (ie, a self-aware source that is plotting out Willow's steps) but simply a person who is controlled by a power that's too big for her, and whose own ability to tap into that power comes best when she's upset, hurt, scared, or royally pissed-off. Like it's said about driving when angry, power and emotion make for a forceful punch but not always an accurate one.

[> CJL -- I hung on every word -- -- truelove, 11:23:33 03/13/02 Wed

How could a long essay be so short? I may not agree that
Willow is possessed, but agree totally on the character anaylsis - I've never seen a better one of Willow.
And adding that her fear may be one of the reasons that
she won't attempt spells is another demension that I hadn't considered seriously until now.

She was strange behind the wheel of the car - she was weird.
And out of control. I thought it might have been a swap of powers from her to Rack and back again. What did he take and what did he give? We may never know.
Thanks for your essay. Wonderful.

[> Amy, and um... you think that post is long? Not here it ain't -- Masq, 11:33:54 03/13/02 Wed

Thanks for that little analysis of Amy you squeezed in there. I've been bothered about how, in "The Witch" the real Amy seemed to distance herself from magic and her mother's actions, and then turned around in Season 2 and embraced witchcraft. Futhermore, 6th season Amy seems an even more over-the-edge version of her mother. But your "abused child" analogy clears this up considerably.

I love your theory on Willow being possessed. I just wonder if that's ME's plan for Willow. Most viewers have very short memories for events that happened on the show four or five years ago. Bringing back Willow's re-cursing of Angel, much less Catherine Madison, might fall flat.

Oh, and welcome to our humble little board!

[> [> Short Memories? -- cjl, 11:51:02 03/13/02 Wed

Masq, I think Buffyphiles have the LONGEST memories of any cult TV series outside of Star Trek. We seem to delight in the ever ascending pile-up on the eternal highway of Buffy continuity, how anything Xander says in Season 6 echoes a joke he said in Season 2, or how Willow's wardrobe/Buffy's hair has or hasn't changed from Season to Season.

In other words, we're loopy that way.

And Joss knows it.

[> [> [> Re: Short Memories? -- Masq, 13:37:10 03/13/02 Wed

I hope you're right, but the attitude you refer to is most often seen in long-time viewers of the show.

There are viewers (some, not all) who started watching the show in Season 5 or 6 and even with FX to get them caught up, they treat Season 2 as ancient history and unimportant to current events on the show. It's not an uncommon attitude about real life history, too.

Some of the questions that appear on this board from time to time make me wonder if a few fans have even bothered watching tapes, DVD's or FX airings of the old seasons at all.

: ) : )

As for Joss and Co., they have a tendency to play to a higher common denominator than other shows on television do and they may give us the benefit of the doubt.

[> [> [> [> Re: Short Memories? -- verdantheart, 12:51:41 03/14/02 Thu

Short-termer here (since mid-4th season), but as a fan I've caught up on prior events and appreciate their resonance in current events. They're incorporated into the subtext even when they aren't part of the text. I expect that if they do intend to bring up apparently long-discarded threads, they will lay fresh groundwork for them (oops, sewing and masonry, how's that for a mixed metaphor?).

[> Kaboom! -- Vickie, 11:46:41 03/13/02 Wed

Thank you.

[> Responsibility/playing the victim -- Tillow, 13:14:09 03/13/02 Wed

First off: That was just yummy. The character analysis is brilliant and timely.

I have often wondered about the force that seemed to take over Willow as well but I have to say, I don't think it will happen. If for no other reason than the most dramatic thing that Joss can do is for Willow to realize she has opened herself up to all this pain. Just as Buffy realized she is actually responsible for all of her actions, that there is nothing wrong with her, so it must go for Willow for the integrity of the growing up plot to hold true.

No one is responsible for the pain she has brought on herself and others but her; she is under her own 'power.'

One recent throw away line I thought was interesting came in Hells Bells. When the Demon was slain and they all just stood around and looked at it, Willow said "Is anyone else waiting for it to just 'poof' and disappear." Remind anyone else of Something Blue and the "I don't want to work through the pain. Why can't I just go 'poof' and make it go away."

Perhaps this throw away line was a little hint that she hasn't learned the fundamental lesson yet. Yet.

[> [> Mistress of her own fate -- cjl, 14:04:02 03/13/02 Wed

My theory about an evil outside force influencing Willow doesn't completely let Willow off the hook for what she's done--or what she's about to do. If you re-read that section of my post carefully, you'll note that part of the success of this entity's strategy is keeping out of plain sight. I never said it has directly influenced Willow's actions; on occasion, it may have left a trail of bread crumbs for Will to follow--but for the most part, it's just settled back into a corner of Willow's mind and let the poor kid slip down into Hell on her own.

What's it waiting for? There have been rumors that Dark Willow might somehow mess with Dawn's mystical essence, and re-open some doorways that DEFINITELY should have remained closed. This would tie in with Giles' comments in "Becoming, Part I" (thanks Rufus) and reinforced with every Giles/Willow discussion ever since. We all know that in the Buffyverse, gateways ususally mean badness. Much badness.

On the other hand, I understand your point of view. For the most part, I agree. Willow has to be fully responsible for her actions. Anything less would be a copout.

And yet...

I'm not proud of this, but part of me doesn't WANT Willow to be fully responsible for what she (apparently) is about to do. I want to be able to look at her when she comes to her senses at the end of the season or in season 7.

Right now, I don't know if I'm gonna be able to do that without losing my lunch. The problem Joss and ME had with Angel in Season 3 still stands: how can you root for, and be expected to empathize with, someone who's committed utterly unspeakable acts? Can we let Willow off the hook with a sprightly, "hello? Not evil now!" (Please, lord, just don't let Joss and ME dump another snowstorm on us.)

Obviously, I'm conflicted. Suggestions? Comments?

[> [> [> Re: Mistress of her own fate -- Dochawk, 15:43:39 03/13/02 Wed

This conversation is sliding dangerously close to future spoilers, so I just want to say I agree with you, ME is heading into truly dangerous territory and I question whether they have thought through all the consequences. See my posts on the spoiler trollop board.

[> [> [> Re: Mistress of her own fate -- Tillow, 15:58:21 03/13/02 Wed

I see the distinction you make here. Perhaps then it would be the Catherine/First Evil influence would be like her accomplice in her own degredation like Spike has been Buffy's in a way. Though I don't think Spike meant to be and Willow's "other party" would. I guess that's where it seems like it wouldn't be consistent with Buffy and Xander's plots.

And I completely agree with you on one front... I'm worried about how I will feel about Willow and Xander when the dust settles. Buffy is struggling. It seems the other two are straggling, particularly Xander (right now). But they will make us believe, as always. After they rip our hearts out and stomp on them a couple hundred times, of course.

[> Thank you! Please read this, CJL and others. -- Wizard, 16:57:06 03/13/02 Wed

Thank you! I'm not sure about the bit with Catherine- although it would make an interesting plot for next season- but the rest of it matches my own theories and ideas about Willow vs. Tara in the use and view of magic- technical vs. organic, in other words. But I have a question: Can Willow ever use her powers without crossing the line? I think that she can, with time. What do you think?

[> [> Re: Thank you! Please read this, CJL and others. -- O'Cailleagh, 17:57:04 03/13/02 Wed

Provided it was 'caught' in time, and she approached it from a more spiritual/natural/Wiccan angle (as opposed to the 'scientific'/ceremonial magic), and with proper guidance, I feel that Willow could become as powerful as ever without resorting to Dark Magics. If you ignore the 'possesion' theory that is. Although it was intriguing, (the possession theory) I always put Willow's power down to growing up on the Hellmouth...all those mystical emanations and the like....kinda like pollution. Although, if she is possessed...hmmmm...likely candidates might be the First Evil, the Romani woman she channeled to re-curse Angelus, or possibly Rack. He's been around for a while, according to Amy at least.

[> [> [> They will have to morph the addiction metaphor -- Tillow, 18:03:27 03/13/02 Wed order for that to work. In other words, she is going to have to realize perhaps it was a self image she was addicted to or something else like that, instead of the actual magic. (due to the once an addict, always an addict thing)

Secretly... I think this is what will happen.

Well.. maybe not so secretly.

[> [> [> [> Re: They will have to morph the addiction metaphor -- O'Cailleagh, 18:11:10 03/13/02 Wed

I should have mentioned that-you're right. As part of proper Wiccan training (in the Realverse at least) there is much in the way of healing, on all the levels, and the releasing of shadows/personal demons. That would address your point.

[> [> [> The Scientist as Mystic -- cjl, 18:21:18 03/13/02 Wed

Reflecting back on my original post, I may have been too rigid in my thinking in creating an absolute (and probably false) dichotomy between the post-Cartesian empricial, scientific method and the principles of Wicca.

For every scientist who considers the natural world a mere reflection of the human intellect, there are dozens who appreciate the world in all its beauty and complexity and approach its wonders with the proper awe and respect.

As I said in my original post, Willow getting reacquanted with her chemistry set in DMP was perhaps a re-education for her in how the process of scientific exploration can be wedded to the mystic's appreciation of nature. They do not have to be mutually exclusive.

So, could Willow learn to use magic without succumbing to the dark side? If we were talking about mid-season two Willow, and Tara stepped in as her teacher right at the beginning--sure, why not? But in the intervening four seasons, all those childhood resentments and anger management issues have kind of snowballed. By season four, I get the feeling that--even if Tara had sat Willow down and given her a three-week intensive tutorial in Wicca--it wouldn't have done much good.


[> [> [> [> Re: The Scientist as Mystic -- O'Cailleagh, 18:34:01 03/13/02 Wed

Well, maybe not three weeks. Unfortunately, it does take a very long time to become proficient (and responsible) in most traditions of Witchcraft. In fact, basic training takes a year and a day!. I agree, Willow's reaquaintance with science is possibly a good thing-a lot of what science has decided to be 'fact' has been known by Witches (and other 'mystics') for Millenia (and the bits that haven't...they got wrong!!). I just hope she has time to realise it.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: The Scientist as Mystic -- DEN, 20:06:52 03/13/02 Wed

A case can be made that Willow is not even facing the addiction squarely. Her "recovery" is consistently shown as Taracentric; her guiding idea is stay straight and get Tara back. Itis a very common real-world pattern, and it almost never works. If the relationship is restored, the underlying issues that caused the addiction eventually resurface.

[> [> [> [> [> [> You're (unfortunately) dead right. -- NT -- cjl, 20:14:50 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> [> Isn't that an oxymoron? -- Wisewoman, 09:41:04 03/14/02 Thu

...stay straight and get Tara back?

Sorry, couldn't help it!


[> Great job, CJL -- Kaboom, indeed. And welcome to our community! -- OnM, 18:27:48 03/13/02 Wed

Perhaps this summer, after the remaining events of Season 6 have passed, you might consider updating this and posting it for our Second Anniversary Character Posts.

Interested? If so, seems to me we could probably give you dibs on Willow!

Nice work.


[> [> I accept your generous invitation. -- cjl, 18:46:41 03/13/02 Wed

Let me know after the death, destruction, and agony in Sunnydale have died down, and we can come back to the board without risking mental anguish........

[> Re: Pencil me in for a big kaboom too :-) -- Dedalus, 20:14:30 03/13/02 Wed

[> Definite Kaboom-age -- Rattletrap, 06:51:09 03/14/02 Thu

Quite impressive. I find your psychological analysis of Willow dead-on, and I love your take on "Wrecked"--now that you point it out much of this addiction storyline does seem like satire of psychobabble and bad movies about hallucinations. I'm not sure I can see the writers dragging Catherine Madison back out as a future BB, as they rarely seem to reach back more than 1 or 2 seasons for unresolved plot points. That said, I still love the dramatic potential of the idea and would complain if it happened.

Thanks again. Good work, we hope you stick around.


[> Curious what you think, CJL: Who is paying the price for the spell in Bargaining? -- Sophist, 14:00:22 03/14/02 Thu

We saw one kind of price in Afterlife. We've seen another in TR/Wrecked. I'm wondering, though, if the problems of the group as a whole -- Buffy's, Dawn's, Xander's -- aren't part of the price for such powerful magics.

[> [> The Price -- CJL, 14:13:01 03/14/02 Thu

I think it's becoming more and more obvious with every episode....

The core scoobies who brought back Buffy--Willow, Xander, Tara, Anya--are paying (or will pay) an enormous price for their act of hubris. Their lives will either fall apart completely--or end. Giles and Spike will be on the outside looking in as the house of cards collapses. Dawn may be an unwitting instrument for disaster. Buffy will end the season either facing down her best friends in battle, or be faced with the unenviable task of (metaphorically) scraping them off the streets of Sunnydale at the start of Season 7. Or both.

Ugly. But they can't say Spike didn't warn them.

"Magic always has consequences...ALWAYS."

[> [> [> Could not agree with you more. -- Rahael, 14:50:03 03/14/02 Thu

[> [> [> Then Willow's real redemptor is Buffy -- Sophist, 15:14:55 03/14/02 Thu

Tara's magic -- skeeve, 11:17:30 03/13/02 Wed

Is this the first time that we have seen Tara do magic on her own?

[> any more? -- skeeve, 11:47:31 03/13/02 Wed

I just remembered the spell she did to hide her supposed demonness. Any others?

[> [> OMWF -- Vickie, 11:51:51 03/13/02 Wed

She made the little glitter star things in OMWF. She made the tinkerbell-go-find-Willow spell in Bargaining.

There are probably more that don't come to mind right now. Tara is definitely more restrained in her magic use than our Willow.

[> [> [> Also... -- Belladonna, 11:58:52 03/13/02 Wed

Also, in Bargaining, when she and Anya were running from the motorcycle demons, and one of them grabbed Anya, she did a little ball of light thingy that knocked Anya out of his grasp.

[> Re: Tara's magic -- Lucifer_Sponge, 12:46:05 03/13/02 Wed

We've seen Tara do magic on her own a couple of times.

In Superstar she created a cloud of fog to blind the monster Jonathan accidentally summoned.

In Family, she did a spell to hide her non-existant demon self.

In Bargaining she pulled quite a few tricks. She made a demon drop Anya, she created the little ball of light to guide a lost Willow and Xander, and made a wall of fire appear between Xander and one of the biker demons.

Also, in Older and Far Away, she did a spell that ultimately released the sword-demon from its... err... sword.

Yeah, so, as far as I can remember those are the only times Tara has done magic all by her lonesome.


Who Is That Doctor (spoilers for NA) -- leslie, 12:19:06 03/13/02 Wed

I have been trying to remember where I have seen the actor who played the asylum doctor before, and the penny just dropped. Isn't he the guy in the Big Red ads who mysteriously materializes and reveals to people the joys and wonders awaiting them from chewing spicy gum? ("It looks gooooood on you.") And isn't he, in these ads, essentially an illusion or vision? And does this perhaps give us a tiny clue as to which reality is real here?

[> not the same person. -- neaux, 12:29:30 03/13/02 Wed

[> Used to be on Hill Street Blues. -- Darby, 12:36:48 03/13/02 Wed

[> If my eyes are correct it is indeed Michael Warren from Hill St Blues -- Rufus, 16:25:30 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> Which interestingly enough was the first TV series... -- OnM, 18:40:07 03/13/02 Wed

... to employ a large cast of regulars and layered, overlapping storylines that evolved it's own little universe. In a way, BtVS is here because of what Steve B. did with Hill Street. We take it for granted now, but it was astoundingly innovative in it's day.

This new concept in TV high art was then followed by St. Elsewhere, which some of you may recall ended with the whole Dr/hospital universe existing as the dream/delusion of a schitzophrenic boy.

Ah, the good old days...

[> [> [> The Hidden Meaning of the St. Elsewhere Ending -- cjl, 19:44:07 03/13/02 Wed

I know this has been beaten to death on other posts, but I haven't seen this one last tidbit...

St. Elsewhere was pretty much the baby of Mark Tinker, the son of Grant Tinker, creator of the Mary Tyler Moore and head of the once-powerful MTM productions, which produced St. Elsewhere for its entire run. I've heard that Tinker (fils) always used to joke about himself as the idiot son of the great man. The last scene of the series--in which the entire series was revealed to be the imaginings of a noble doctor's autistic son--was Tinker's final inside joke about his role in life and as creator of the series.

By the way, what kind of TV universe synchronistic convergence was going on last night? We get Michael Warren from Hill Street Blues and the whole St. Elsewhere/"just my imagination" mindf**k ending on Buffy; meanwhile, over on cable, Clark Johnson of Homicide directs the first ep of "The Shield", while Reed Diamond pops up on Philly--not to mention Dennis Franz at his usual "Blue" station. The best of NBC drama (1980-2000), all in one night?

Question ? Might seem strange but it could be relevant... -- Guinyan, 13:08:46 03/13/02 Wed

Something has been bothering me for a few days now...and before I can elaborate, I need to know something that I don't remember : When Angel came back from his hell's dimension in season 3, was it ever explained why or how ?
Could someone help me on this ?
Thanks !

[> Re: Question -- Brian, 13:12:30 03/13/02 Wed

The First Evil (on the show, that is)said that it brought back Angel. But I still feel that Angel was brought back by Buffy's love. The friendship ring he gave her became the portal for his return.

[> From the ATPoBTVS site... -- bienbizare, 13:21:58 03/13/02 Wed

What force caused Angel to return from Hell? Three possibilities present themselves:

1.Buffy's claddagh ring. Buffy's visit to the Garden Mansion is definitely a psychological ritual--the first step in letting go of a loved one so that she can move on in life. Its significance as a mystic ritual remains an open question. A moment after she leaves the Mansion, a bright beam of light illuminates the ring on the floor, and grows more intense. The ring begins to vibrate against the marble. With a flash, a dimensional portal opens above the ring and Angel falls through onto the floor, naked and disoriented.

2.the only mystical force which has taken credit is the First Evil in Amends.

3.The Powers That Be: In Blind Date, a prophecy implies that Angel has a duty to the Forces of Good, even a destiny. The PTB's therefore have an interest in and the power to bring Angel back.

Which one is the answer..... I have no idea.

[> [> Re: From the ATPoBTVS site... -- O'Cailleagh, 18:04:57 03/13/02 Wed

How about all three? The ring (imbued with the love between them) served as a focus for the First Evil to send Angel back. And the third point? The Powers That Be are just that-The Powers That Be...they are ALL the powers that be,'Good' and 'Evil'

[> Re: Question ? (NA Spoilers) -- Darby, 14:48:57 03/13/02 Wed

Angel was too intense a part of Buffy's delusion, and so had to be gotten rid of, but it didn't "take," so she brought him back; somehow it didn't need to be really explained, or at least not well. She kept him for a bit, but it got unworkable again, so she pushed him out again. Now she only fantasizes about him on Monday nights, about 22 weeks of the year...

That was it for relationships of that intensity...too threatening to the constructed reality, too much pain. Some pain good, feel alive; too much pain bad, want to go back...

Schiztophrenia and the Hero's Journey -- Goji3, 13:18:31 03/13/02 Wed

...Are Very similar and linked.

Joseph Campbel explained the conection excuisitly in "Myths to Live By" ' Schitzophrenia - the inward journey'. Having read brings so many things to light its not even funny, and way to much to try and put up here (I can't believe this hasn't been mentioned yet!)Brining up mentions of the Jung archtypes and social unconscious.

'...the imagery of schizophrenic fantasy perfectly matches that of the mythological hero journey...'

The point of the inward journey was to find a new centering point for ones life.

'...if one is ever to return home. It is this: not to idetify one's SELF with any figures or powers niether release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and power to serve others'

Their was also an intersting bit on how Shamans in primitive cultrues tended to be recovered schitzophrenics.

The entire artical is to much for me to type up part of here...but hopefully some of you have copies of 'Myth and Mythology'...Read the chapter on the Inward Journey and see the really cool insights that make 'Normal Again' even more enjoyable.

God, an I live in philly, I haven't even seen it yet (stupid Hockey Game...).

[> Myths to Live By.....Schizophrenia-the inward Journey -- Rufus, 16:08:21 03/13/02 Wed

I absoutely agree with your notation of the Heroes Journey being comparable to to one suffering from a schizophrenic break. In Myths to Live By and in Power of Myth, the schizophrenic break is mentioned in conjunction to the Heroes Journey and shamans in primative's a short excerpt from Myths to Live By....

According to my thinking, they were the universal, archetypal, psychologically based symbolic themes and motifs of all traditional mythologies; and now from this paper of Dr. Perry I was learning that the same symbolic figures arise sopontaneously from the broken-off, tortured state of mind of modern individuals suffering from a complete schizophrenic breakdown: the condition of one who has lost touch with the life and thought of his community and is compulsively fantasizing out of his own completely cut-off base.

Very briefly: The usual pattern is, first, of a break away of departure from the local social order and context; next, a long, deep retreat inward and backward, backward, as it were, in time, and inward, deep into the psyche; a chaotic series of encounters there, darkly terrifying experiences, and presently (if the victim is fortunate) encounters a centering kind, fulfilling, harmonizind, giving new courage; and then finally in such fortunate cases, a return journey of rebirth to life. And that is the universal formula also of the mythological hero journey, which I, in may own published work, had described as: 1) separation, 2)initiation, and 3) return:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

I can't say enough how much I enjoyed last nights show. It was worth the wait. There were many hints of it happening exactly the way it did, namely the mention of both St Theresa and St Joan....Buffy did the same thing last night she made a journey inward and through her mothers words (Giles did say she had everything she needed to make her strong before he left) Buffy found the inner harmony she needed to come back to Sunnydale...just think the three pathetic men did her a big favor.

[> [> two minor observations -- Vickie, 16:55:19 03/13/02 Wed

Great thread, great post. I hope this is actually a contribution...

In older cultures, the call to shamanism was often a kind of psychotic break. (I'm not qualified to say if it's schizophrenic or not, but it resembles that disease.) Often, the "separation" is described as a literal dismemberment.

Also, with all the talk of St. Joan, I feel as though I need to rewatch Tabula Rasa. Think Buffy's choice of a name was an accident?

The Last Temptation of Buffy (SPOILERS for Normal Again) -- mundusmundi, 13:34:55 03/13/02 Wed

For me, this was easily the most exciting episode in months, a return to near-form for a show recently stuck with its metaphors, stuck with static characters, stuck in the muck. Having seen it twice, I've come to view "Normal Again" as the Buffyverse version of The Last Temptation of Christ, with a dash of The Shining thrown in for good measure.

In Kazantzakis's novel, as even those who haven't read it know, Jesus's ultimate temptation isn't power or wealth or fame, but to become a mortal human being. Scorsese's screen adaptation depicts the tempter (i.e., Satan) in the guise of a little girl, a guardian angel who frees Jesus from the cross, tends to his wounds, and offers him the chance to be, not normal again, but ordinary for the first time:

(The angel said) "In your whole life you have seen not one day of gladness. Your mother, brothers, disciples; the poor, the maimed, the oppressed – all, all abandoned you in the last terrible moment. You remained upon a rock in the darkness, completely alone and undefended. And then God the Father took pity on you. 'Hey, there, why are you sitting?' he called to me. 'Aren't you his guardian angel? Well, go down and save him. I don't want him to be crucified. Enough's enough!'" (Kazantzakis, 445)

What follows is presented in both book and film as sequences from an "ordinary life." Yet it is a life that is constantly being encroached upon by others who urge Jesus to fulfill his destiny on the cross. It has been argued vigorously whether the temptation depicted is a hallucination, or a alternate reality presented as a valid option.

Joss Whedon has stated in so many words that Buffy herself is a messiah figure, with her story rich in Christian symbolism, though it would seem that the conception is closer to the Kazantzakis version of Christ than the more formally accepted one depicted in the Gospels. Buffy is greater than mere mortals, which make her flaws seem that much more glaring. It is Spike, of course, who understands this paradox best, and who tries to exploit it to his own advantage. In arguably the crucial scene of "Normal Again," he unwittingly functions as a kind of "tempter" also, albeit one whose words have the opposite effect for which they were intended:

"I hope you don't think this antidote's going to rid you of that nasty martyrdom. See, I figured it out, love. You can't help yourself. You're not drawn to the dark like I thought. You're addicted to the misery. That's why you won't tell your pals about us. Might actually have to be happy if you did. Did I learn to stand and help you, God forbid? Or drive you out, where you can finally be at peace in the dark with me. Either way you'd be better off, but you're too twisted for that. Let yourself live already. Stop with the bloody hero trip for a second and we'll all be for the better for it. You either tell your friends about us, or I will."

As usual, Spike gets to the heart of the matter but misses the point completely. Angry at Buffy, self- absorbed to the nth degree, he thinks he's delivering an ultimatum, when actually he spurs her to try and escape the reality she knows.

As with Last Temptation, I see the alternate reality in "Normal Again" as a hallucination, but one which may be viable. Buffy's further temptations by the doctor, her father and especially Joyce are noteworthy for how kind, understanding and reasonable these authority figures (never held in the highest esteem in the Buffyverse) appear to be. The episode is filled with trinities such as this, including the Troika (who are also splitting apart at the seams, with Jonathan either about to bolt or get iced) and the Scooby Trinity of Willow, Xander and Dawn, who are attacked by Buffy in a scene that echoes Wesley's brutal assault on Lorne in last week's AtS episode, "Sleep Tight."

This is where "Normal Again" -- cued by Jonathan's early Jack Torrance quip -- turns into a variation of The Shining, with Buffy attempting to dispose of her family and friends. As it has already been observed how self-reflexive this episode is, it's interesting how Buffy's actions, harrowing though they are, could be seen as a kind of retribution for viewers annoyed by the Scooby antics this season. (C'mon, admit it: when Buffy taped Dawn's mouth shut, you grinned a little....;)

It stands to reason that Buffy will be forgiven faster than Wesley. And that she passed her test. The question is how much longer she can stand to be a "rock in the darkness," whether her days of gladness are forever gone.

[> Re: The Last Temptation of Buffy (SPOILERS for Normal Again) -- DEN, 13:48:38 03/13/02 Wed

IT also shows the depth of Buffy's desperation. She is willing until the last minute to see those closest to her in "Slayerverse" die at the hands of a demon in orser to begin her "healing" in the Asylumverse. And your take on the authority figures as tempters is spot-on!

[> Why I love this board more than un-life itself... -- Masquerade, 14:08:30 03/13/02 Wed

An insightful literary analogy between a BtVS episode and one of the most interesting and controversial novels of the 20th century, followed by inside humor, i.e.,

C'mon, admit it: when Buffy taped Dawn's mouth shut, you grinned a little....

Thanks, mm!

[> [> I grinned more than a little! ;o) -- Rob, 14:23:21 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> Merci beaucoup, et aussi.... -- mm, 15:37:03 03/13/02 Wed

I meant to mention that Kazantzakis in relation to the Buffyverse has been discussed many times before on this board, lots of excellent stuff all throughout the archives. (I believe it's even made OnM's Classic Movie list.) And, I pinched the idea of Trinities from a post darrenK made a few weeks ago -- he mentioned the Troika, but I can't remember the other Trinity he noted -- only adding the Hank/Joyce/Dr. threesome from NA.

[> [> [> Very cool -- Masq, 15:49:32 03/13/02 Wed

We're building our own little community of knowledge here by tapping into each other's ideas and expanding on them.

Yes, I remember "TLTOC" coming up before. But this was a new angle on it. : ) Has it ever been related to Buffy before, as in Buffy=messiah figure (which has been mentioned numerous times) plus temptation of messiah figure ala TLTOC?

[> [> [> Yes, it did. Here it is, from March 23rd 2001... -- OnM, 17:46:00 03/13/02 Wed

(I believe it's even made OnM's Classic Movie list.)

This is on the short side, since it was written not too long after I first started the column. Not much in the way of analysis, but you'll note my mention that the thought to recommend the film came about because of comments I read on the board here, and very likely whatever was happening that week on the show.

Anyone have a record of BtVS by air date? I'd be curious to know what ep aired the Tuesday before 03/23/01.

mundus, do you have any articles on record where Joss referred to Buffy as a messianic figure? I've certainly stated that thought plenty of times, but I actually don't recall Joss ever stating so specifically. Be glad to read about it if you have the info. Thanks!

---------- CMotW / 032301 -------------------------------

“The dual substance of Christ-- the yearning, so human, so superhuman, of man to attain God... has always been a deep inscrutable mystery to me. My principle anguish and source of all my joys and sorrows from my youth onward has been the incessant, merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh... and my soul is the arena where these two armies have clashed and met.” -- Nikos Kazantzakis

“This film is not based upon the Gospels, but upon this fictional exploration of the eternal spiritual conflict.”

* * * * * * *

My Classic Movie for this week starts with the statement and the disclaimer above, but the controversey that followed this film kept more than quite a few people away. Some movie theaters, like the ones in the area that I live in, refused to show the movie for fear of being picketed, or simply to avoid any chance of bad publicity and the effect it might have on future ticket sales.

This is truly unfortunate, for Martin Scorsese’s film, *The Last Temptation of Christ*, is as devout as any great biblical epic. Contrary to the viewpoints of the of narrow-minded fundamentalists who were assuring the public at large that this ‘blasphemous’ work would tarnish the image of their most revered Lord and savior-- and who for the most part, of course, never actually saw the film-- *Temptation* is a manifestly profound offering of faith.

So what made this film so frightening, that when Scorsese first attempted to make it into a reality the studio abruptly dropped the project, forcing him to wait literally years until he finally got the opportunity to bring what, for him, was a labor of love to the movie-going public? Well, a radical idea, apparently. Are you ready for this? Jesus, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, part of the holy trinity, King of the Jews, destroyer of original sin, was, well-- *human*.

Oh, dear, this isn’t good. We like our deities to be, well, deities. Godly, powerful, all-knowing, all- seeing, crusher of infidels, redeemer of the faithful, all that good stuff. Then along comes this fellow, Nikos Kazantzakis, who writes a novel wherein Jesus is not *born* a god, but instead is an ordinary human who is *called* by god to become the savior of humanity. And who, by the way, isn’t all too happy about that calling.

The film opens with Jesus sleeping on the ground, out in the open. We hear the high, keening sound of a bird, a flapping of wings. He awakes with a mind-rending, agonizing headache, a headache he knows all too well the source of. He knows, as surely as he knows his own name, that it is God speaking to him. God who ‘is a great bird swooping down upon him, digging its talons into his skull’. Calling him, leaving visions of a destiny he fears, and wants to go to all lengths to avoid. He wishes to drive this destiny, God’s will, from him so badly that he begins to do things to drive God away, make it clear to God that God is mistaken in choosing him, a weak, frightened, most ordinary man.

But the visions continue, and one day, he sets off into the desert, seeking a spiritual cleansing. He must accept his destiny, override his fears, for it is apparent that God will not relent. He is the chosen one. Thus begins a journey to the inevitable-- or is it? Can he make a suitable sacrifice, and still retain the ‘normal’ life of a ‘normal’ man, which after all is really all he wants, a choice that should be so simple, so ordinary. This journey, and the acceptance of the necessity for what God requires of him, and why, makes him human, yet so much more.

I confess that I had only seen this film once before, maybe a year after it was first released in 1988. Postings here on the board in the last week regarding the nature of possible messianic characters on BtVS made me think of it again, and I decided to see if it was available on DVD. To my delight, not only is it available on disc, but I found it newly remastered in a director-approved edition with generous amounts of supplementary material, including a commentary track by Scorsese, Willen Dafoe, Paul Schrader and Jay Cocks, and an interview with Peter Gabriel, who composed the magnificent soundtrack with its multitude of unique, beautiful and passionate soundscapes. I strongly urge you to buy or rent the DVD rather than the VHS version if you can, the photography is stunning and the moderate widescreen (1.85:1) looks very good even on a smaller TV.

I think if you have never seen this film before, you will be in for a moving and thought-provoking experience, and one that will reward repeated viewings. If you have seen it before, see it again with a mind to BtVS and A:tS themes of the current and last several years in mind-- the resonances are astounding. In some cases I even came to wonder if Joss or the other writers didn’t borrow either consciously or subconsciously from Scorsese’s vision. Now I might have to do an analysis comparing the role of Harvey Keitel’s Judas with Xander in regards to their respective interaction with Jesus and Buffy! And no, I’m not wigging out here-- see for yourself. Then there’s always Magdalene and Darla? Faith? Kate?

Or maybe we’ve gotten it wrong all along-- since it’s Cordelia who has the visions and the agonizing headaches that accompany them.

E. Pluribus Cinema, Unum




Egad, this is another 'review' that I'd love to redo at length, like I did with Terry Gilliam's Brazil. So many thoughts, so very little free time! Aacckkk...


[> [> [> [> Re: Other lit/crit refs -- DEN, 17:58:32 03/13/02 Wed

I appreciated the links to the German horror classic "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligiari," which was eventually given two endings, one affirming the story's reality and the other presenting it as the central character's delusion. And there was a late-60s counterculture classic, "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden," in which the schizophrenic narrator's fantasy world was more attractive than the "reality" to which the psychiatrists sought to restore her.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Other lit/crit refs -- Jimbo, 21:40:31 03/13/02 Wed

Don't forget the criminally underappreciated "Total Recall", which ends with a conventional "Action Hero gets the girl" ending, but drops hints throughout that it's all in fact a psychotic episode...

[> [> [> [> [> [> yes, I thought it sounded very Philip K Dick -- Rahael, 01:51:47 03/14/02 Thu

Total recall was based on his book 'We can sell you your memory wholesale" (I maybe misremembering it). But a lot of his novels question the nature of reality, and question the narrator's viewpoint. 'Martian Time Slip' has parts narrated by someone who is supposed to be autistic.

I'm a big fan of his work. It's unremittingly depressing and dystopian, but his work seems original (I could be wrong) and pretty startling.

[> Re: The Last Temptation of Buffy (SPOILERS for Normal Again) -- Anne, 14:37:48 03/13/02 Wed

Love this analysis in general (and you did catch Jonathan's line about "going Jack Torrance in here" in the first Troika scene, right? I caught the line but did not make the connection with Buffy's rampage until reading your post. Duh.)

But -- disagree in part with your interpretation of the Spike speech. I don't see that he missed the point, nor that the effect of his speech was the opposite of what he intended. This might partially be because I believe you misheard an important sentence. After "might actually be happy if you did" he says not "Did I learn to stand and help you, God forbid," but "They'd either understand and help you, God forbid, or drive you out, where you can finally be at peace in the dark with me . . ."

In other words, he realizes that the consequence of her telling the Scoobies might be to separate her from him finally. What he is trying to get her to do is to embrace and admit the truth anyway, because that is the only way she is going to break out of her miserable rut. His prodding her spurs her to try to escape the Sunnydale reality because its "truth" is something that seems to her too horrible to face. But of course, that's been the case all season long. This is just the first chance she's had to actually escape it. She has to go through the experience of trying to destroy and escape it before she can finally face and embrace it. Thus I think that in this scene, Spike is actually functioning fully as the truthteller who stirs things up in the hero's psyche in a positive way, ultimately instigating growth. I don't think he "misses the point" at all -- he wanted her to choose living, and (in a way that has been argued endlessly elsewhere on the board) she did.

[> [> Good catch! -- Caroline, 14:43:49 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> Good catch, indeed. Thanks for the correction! -- mm, 15:29:10 03/13/02 Wed

I must have rewound and listened to that part a half-dozen times, because it didn't seem right to me as I transcribed it. And now you've given me something more to think about. (That's a compliment.)

[> [> [> Yeah, I had to turn on the closed captioning to finally get the line, myself. -- Solitude1056, 20:18:18 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> Staring into the Abyss (SPOILERS for Normal Again) -- alcibiades, 15:36:33 03/13/02 Wed

"They'd either understand and help you, God forbid, or drive you out, where you can finally be at peace in the dark with me . . ."

I understood that line another way, IOW, they'd understand and be supportive and help you, (just as Tara was), or they wouldn't.

I think it is absolutely clear from this episode that the reason Buffy "can't" be involved with Spike, why it is killing her, is because having to admit her relationship with him to her friends is such a huge leap, with the abyss waiting for her, perhaps beckoning to her, down below.

And to get pedestrian and quote a little Nietzsche, for which my only excuse is that it makes perfect sense for this episode, "If you stare long enough into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you."

And so we get the two Buffys, each staring into the other's life and trying to eradicate the other.

And what's notable here is that Buffy's attempt to escape having to deal with facing up to her relationship with Spike nearly bloody does get her killed in every sense that is significant. And the price she is willing to pay for this is the lives of her two friends and her sister, the very same people who she feels she cannot face up to about Spike because they will think she is insane (Xander's words about her "sleeping with Spike" from Intervention). This kind of denial does not come cheap. She'd have to buy it with a very significant blood sacrifice. Her leap into the other dimension will be paid for by the blood of Xander and Willow and Dawn, reversing the leap she made in the Gift. And the chilling thing is that for a long while she seems determined to pay the price.

BTW, I can't agree it is Spike who is self centered to the nth degree in this episode. I mean, her friends don't even bloody realize she was depressed before she got injected. Xander and Willow both are self involved in their own pain. Before he dumped Anya, Xander was too involved in the wedding to see anything about Buffy.

Spike may not give her advice she listens to immediately. But he gives her the advice she ultimately heeds. It's the right advice.

[> [> [> Re: Staring into the Abyss (SPOILERS for Normal Again) -- Anne, 16:16:06 03/13/02 Wed

Actually, it sounds to me like we agree. I also think that Spike's saying that they'd understand and be supportive of her or wouldn't -- but she has to take the risk either way -- and I also think that Spike was not being self-centered. Quite the contrary: he is willing to take the risk of facing the truth about how they react to her (and what it means for him) whatever that might be.

[> [> That's how I understood Spike as well -- Kevin, 19:12:48 03/13/02 Wed

I love the comparisons to the Last Temptation, it was definitely resonating up until the comment about Spike. The corrected line above is what I heard.

Spike is the one pushing Buffy to accept herself, share it with her friends and move forward. I took him to mean in whatever direction it takes her, with him or without him, but to acknowledge herself and be *alive*.

Denial Buffy is not working, she's stuck in the misery rut which isn't good for anyone.

Again, great post above. I'll have to watch the movie again. Real heros, human heros resonate with me more than perfect, two dimensional heros.

[> Re: The Last Temptation of Buffy (SPOILERS for Normal Again) -- Jimbo, 15:02:03 03/13/02 Wed

"It has been argued vigorously whether the temptation depicted is a hallucination, or a alternate reality presented as a valid option."

...And that is why, after watching the ep again, I think it approaches genius. Although it does not, in the end, undermine the basic Buffy mythology (in the sense of the final episodes of St. Elsewhere or Newhart), it does present an alternative interpretation: both realities are self-consistant, and either could be "true".

I dearly hope this is never refered to again, that it isn't "wrapped up" in a final ep. Let it be remain ambiguious. Maybe Buffy is fighting demons in Sunnydale, maybe she's lying in a trance in a hospital in LA. The point is that she has chosen her reality. She has gone from being the "chosen one" to being the "one who has chosen".

And that makes all the difference.

[> [> Superbly written. I agree totally. -- mm, 18:21:58 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> And that does make all the difference -- Kevin, 19:23:59 03/13/02 Wed

I hoping now that Buffy has chosen, we're moving forward again, engaging in her life, and hopefully, having some fun along the way.

[> [> [> The chosen one has chosen -- juliaabra currently breathless, 00:56:00 03/14/02 Thu

THIS THIS THIS is why i read this fabulous, wonderful, intelligent board. I am inspired and challenged and excited by these terrific ideas. Thanks to all of you.

[> [> Exactly! And written so much better than I could have. -- ponygirl, 09:00:11 03/14/02 Thu

[> [> wow, such an amazing thread and I'm only halfway through! Astounding, mm and Jimbo. - - yuri, 09:37:52 03/14/02 Thu

[> Buffy's "Beautiful Mind" -- Spike Lover, 16:37:40 03/13/02 Wed

I thought they had stolen the script from A Beautiful Mind. Particularly when they are telling Buffy that her friends are not real and she needs to acknowledge that to be free.

Forgive Buffy? Not likely. She condemned herself when she admitted that she had been sleeping with a vampire that she hates. She needs her teeth kicked in. I do not respect her. She is a pompous, using bitch. And what is with Xander? He feels bad about himself and so he puts Spike down? For the first time ever, I wanted His teeth kicked in too.

[> [> Re: Buffy's "Beautiful Mind" -- Rufus, 16:44:13 03/13/02 Wed

I see we are angry about something in the show. Buffy has the right to feel any way she wants about Spike. She doesn't have to go out with him, or sleep with him. Just because she said she hates the vampire doesn't mean that reflected all her feelings about him. I think you are being a bit harsh on the girl who has saved the world...a lot...starting way before the vampire signed on for the gig.

[> [> [> Re: Buffy's "Beautiful Mind" -- Spike Lover, 17:16:12 03/13/02 Wed

Hi Rufus. I read and enjoy your posts a lot.

I also have the right to feel any way I want about the characters on a fictional show. I have pretty much thought Buffy 'needed her teeth kicked in' since Season 3 or 4.

I don't like who Buffy is, and that is good. The writers have done a good job making her a 'real' person. She is imperfect. She has a 'better-than-thou' attitude that I hate. She has weaknesses. The thing I hate about her most is that she LIES to herself -about a lot of things. But, if the writers wrote her as perfect, sweet, down to earth, non-judgmental, able to see the good in everyone, with no issues of her own, the character would be one-dimentional and "preachy" like the Brady Bunch kids.

I get mad at most of the characters, but specifically Buffy. She does not win any points for saving the world. I don't give Xander any points for getting up and going to work every day either. (Dawn gets negative points for complaining/whining/throwing tantrums all the time.) I even avidly hated Joyce for her blindness and weaknesses. (I'm glad she's dead.)

But anyway, I digress. I don't think I am too hard on Buffy. But I am slightly envious. I would love to have a boyfriend w/ Spike's good qualities. I get mad when I see Buffy throw that away. I have had to deal w/ multiple rejections from guys before: It wasn't fun. And watching "Crush" and "Fool for Love" last year was so utterly painful for me because in watching I had to remember and relive my own painful experiences of rejection. So when you see that I say that someone needs their teeth kicked in, it should be understood that the writers of the episode have 'hit a nerve'.

[> [> [> [> Re: Buffy's "Beautiful Mind" -- Rufus, 17:35:50 03/13/02 Wed

What I find so amazing is that the quality of mercy is there for someone, Spike, who has been the lowest of murderers, and missing for mere mortals that are just stumbling through their first and only go around in life. I like the character of Spike, but I also take many an opportunity to remind myself and anyone listening that he is a "bad guy". The things you note about Buffy, Dawn, Xander and, Buffy's mom are all very simple human faults, ones that may drive us nuts but aren't fatal to innocent bystanders. Spike has been the worst killer, dining on young and old, male and female, finding self worth only in killing or bagging the biggest trophy, the Slayer. His unlife has been a destructive waste, Spike a parasite upon humanity. If I and you can have feelings that he is worth more than the worst he has done as a vampire, I can only hope you can be more sympathetic to the simple human foibles of the Scoobies. I can't show mercy to Spike with his crimes and fail to extend the same mercy to the humans that have only tried to protect the world from his kind.

[> [> [> [> [> Mercy and Hate -- lulabel, 21:33:41 03/13/02 Wed

I have to agree strongly with Rufus here - how can one vilify characters for simple, ordinary, non- aggressive human failings? I don't mean to be attacking anyone's personal viewpoint here, but I guess when I see/hear such a strong word as "hate" it yanks my own chain a bit. I remember as a small child being reprimanded by my grandmother for saying " I hate broccoli". She tried to explain to me that one doesn't use the word "hate" for such small things, that the word was reserved for terrible things, for statements such as "I hate war". At the time (I was 5) I thought she was just trying to inflict on me some of her ridiculous ideas of ediquitte. I must say that as an adult I now take this as a basic truism of life.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Buffy's "Beautiful Mind" -- SablePhoenix, 22:45:11 03/13/02 Wed

Rufus said--"What I find so amazing is that the quality of mercy is there for someone, Spike, who has been the lowest of murderers, and
missing for mere mortals that are just stumbling through their first and only go around in life."

I agree. I think it's because we hold Spike to a lower moral standard than we do with Buffy and hte Scoobies. Spike is presented to us as a villain with huge shades of humanity, and we see his growth as a person, his compassion. He isn't portrayed as someone to emulate or look up to.

But Buffy and the Scoobies are presented as heroes, people who save the world and save lives. They enforce a moral code, killing or punishing those who would wreck havoc. WE hold them to a higher standard. They're supposed to know the right thing, but htey don't always do it because they're confused and flawed, etc. The golden idol has feet of clay.

[> [> [> [> No Points for Saving the World... Wow, harsh (NT) -- jbb, 17:37:35 03/13/02 Wed

[> [> Empathy for all the characters? -- Ixchel, 18:33:11 03/13/02 Wed

JMHO, but I feel that all the major characters have been actualized in such a way that I really understand (or at least I think I do) the reasons why they act the way they do (good or bad).

I still feel empathy for them, especially this season where they're inflicting a lot of pain on each other and themselves.


[> [> [> Yep... -- Eric, 19:49:59 03/13/02 Wed

I like ALL the characters. I'm harsh toward Spike mostly because of his evil past and the absurdly high regard some posters have here for him in spite of it. Talk about seduced by evil... But he is a great character as villain or hero(?). As were Faith, The Mayor, Joyce, Jenny. The only possible exceptions are Glory and Principal Snyder. Buffy is THE heroine - though not a saint - and I do not look kindly on those who disparage her. Xander is often snide and annoying, but he's fundementally a good guy. I need never defend Willow here, for obvious reasons. Tara, whom I thought a silly PC add on has proven to be an extraordinary addition (Sometimes I LOVE to be wrong). Anya needs work, but has great potential. I could go on, but have pontificated enough tonight.

[> [> I think you misunderstood that scene, SpikeLover. -- Sophist, 20:01:12 03/13/02 Wed

I think that scene represented asylum-Buffy speaking. Otherwise I'd have to believe that Sunnydale- Buffy attacked her best friends and her sister for good reasons. No, that was Buffy yielding to the temptation of the hallucination.

[> Re: I feel compelled to come clean -- curious, 20:43:32 03/13/02 Wed

---"As it has already been observed how self-reflexive this episode is, it's interesting how Buffy's actions, harrowing though they are, could be seen as a kind of retribution for viewers annoyed by the Scooby antics this season. (C'mon, admit it: when Buffy taped Dawn's mouth shut, you grinned a little....;)"---

Damn you caught me out. You hit the nail right on the head:)

[> [> Re: I feel compelled to differ -- Philistine, 23:48:39 03/13/02 Wed

I found it pretty disturbing, actually. I got the whole stomach-lurching-and-twisting sensation and all. Even seeing Willow already in the same condition didn't compare to watching Buffy gag Dawn. Not, I think, because I'm so fond of the character of Dawn; rather because of the watching it in progress. In fact, I found the entire chase sequence leading up to that moment more than a bit creepy - which I would imagine was the intended effect.

[> [> [> I agree.That scene was worse even than the Shining b/c I have more invested in the characters. -- yuri, 09:40:56 03/14/02 Thu

And I don't particularly love Dawn but the vibe was too creepy for me to get any satisfaction out of it.

[> Re: The Last Temptation of Buffy (SPOILERS for Normal Again) -- Me in DE, 06:50:20 03/14/02 Thu

Great thoughts (and great movie).

The Buffy/Christ comparison ties into another thought rolling about my mind about Buffy and her hero's journey.

It's been said before that she's had the 'reluctant return' version of the Campbell myth, torn out of heaven and all that. And for me what has always been missing is the boon - what does Buffy bring back to this world?

Quite frankly, the discussion about is the asylum heaven or not is not as interesting as 1)she decides to leave and 2)the words of love & support that Joyce gives her helps her make her decision.

Buffy gets a chance to redo the reluctant return thing, and hopefully she will bring back the boon of Love (and not with the little 'l'). This makes the Christ analogy even more appropriate.

And I think we can all see that Sunnydale is needin' a little lovin' right about now...

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