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thoughts on Spike...evil, redemtion, and the like- mild spoilers- longish -- shyviolet, 00:08:19 03/30/02 Sat

I've been watching some old eps from season three and thinking about what exactly Spike's purpose is in Buffy's life, how he parallels Faith, and whether or not he can be redeemed. This may be a bit muddled, and I may get off track, but please just bare with me:)

Ok, I think that the Spike-Faith thing is kinda obvious- I mean, they both give Buffy the same speech about one dead human not ruining all of the good that Buffy has done. Faith seemed to represent that dark part of Buffy, the slayer part of her, the part that wants to be bad and do what she wants. Spike as well represents darkness and lack of remorse. Both of these characters have tried numerous times to lure Buffy over to the dark side, to live guilt-free (Faith in "Bad Girls" and Spike most obviously in "Dead Things"--- "You belong in the darkness...with me.") I guess what I'm getting at here, is that both Spike and Faith were simply looking for acceptance from the one person that they thought they could getit from- Buffy- and in a way, they both underestimated her and theu power that they had over her. I Think that they both were already so far over on the dark side that they thought that they had no choice but to fall completely victim to it becaue they didn't have the strength to fight it- and neither of them wanted to be alone there, so they tried to pull Buffy in as well- but she had, and still does have, the strength to pull away from it (as she showed in "as You Were") as for the wanting of acceptance- when Buffy decided not join Faith's team, she found acceptance in another place- from the mayor, who was about as evil as one could get, and we all now what happened to her as a result. It seemed for most of this season that Spike was semi accepted by Buffy and the scoobies, even by Xander at times. But in AYW, Buffy walked away from Spike, and in NA she toled him to get out of her life- my question is, if he follows siut with Faith, then will he looke for acceptance in the arms of evil? Is that what is meant by his supposed tryst with Anya? And if he does succeed in getting his chip out, then will re revert back to his old ways, or continue on his path to redemption?

And this brings me to my next point- can Spike truly be redeemed? I am not even completey sure where I stand on this issue, but here's what I think- Spike has done a huge turn-around from where he was two seasons ago. He has done a lot of good, and whether it is all self-motivated by his lust/love for Buffy, or whether he is truly trying to be a good peson, remains to be shown. I want to believe that he is trying to be better and make a difference, b/c I like his character so much. I think that if Spike does get the chip removed, then it will reveal the path the will go down next season. What's more, is that Angel, evil as he was and still can be goven the right circumstances, is on his own path of redemption, and seems to be doing quite well. And at their most evil, Angel was for more cruel and deadly than Spike, eventhough Spike did kill two slayers, but it's not like Angel didn't try to kill Buffy. Spike always seemed to be trying to live up to Angel's legacy, living in the shadow of the great Angelus. And in "Surprise," the Judge said that he had never seen a being more evil than Angelus. And even when alive, William was a nice, romantic, sensitive man, while Angel drank and slept with women- so Angel was a worse man than William while alive, and while dead without his soul, and Spike without a soul, has done major amounts of good, comparable to what Angel has done with a soul. It seems that even without souls, Angel was far more dangerous than Spike could ever be. So my question is, is it possilbe for Spike to be fully redeemed without a soul? If Angel who has done so much more destruction for so many more years has a chance at redemption, doesn't it imply that Spike would also have that chance? Will he have to get his chip out in order to find this out? Will he still want to go down this path even after Buffy has pushed him away? I hope this will be played out in season 7!

Anyway, done ranting and clearing my head- I know that I probably think too much, but oh well. If any of you have actually finished reading this, then thank you for taking the time to do so! Feedback? Comments? Want to hit me over the head and tell me I'm a clueless moron?

[> Re: thoughts on Spike...evil, redemtion, and the like- mild spoilers- longish -- Cactus Watcher, 06:33:20 03/30/02 Sat

I think Spike/William has always been an incurable romantic. He has always been more interested in being pleasing to his 'true love' of the moment than anything else. Cecilly was refined, so William tried to be the most refined. But, he wasn't very good at it. Dru was wild, crazy, and evil, so Spike tried to be wild, crazy and evil. While he had some talent for that, he wasn't all that commited to it. As we saw in Becoming he gladly changed sides in hopes of keeping Dru. Between loves he was more selfserving than anything else. Of course, Harmony never meant anything to him. Now that he's in love with Buffy he can play the part of Angel, the vamp trying to redeem himself. He is more naughty than evil, when he's encouraging her to play on the dark side. But if he ever gives up on Buffy who knows which way he'll turn.

I'm the world's worst proof-reader, but if you actually want us to 'bare' with you, you might want to rethink your posting name. ;o)

[> [> Re: thoughts on Spike...evil, redemtion, and the like- mild spoilers- longish -- mucifer, 08:43:31 03/30/02 Sat

Spike is an amazing character. He has a history of having a sweet side chipped or prechipped he has been sensitive to messed up women ie crazydru, crazytara, suicidal buffy and has helped all 3. Angelus has never come close to this kind of behavior. I feel that being a vampire on the show for Spike anyway, has more of a complex bad boy subtexty feel to it than mass murdering monster. I hope that makes sense. And I love the way he often gives painful yet necessary advice to the good guys.

[> [> [> Re: thoughts on Spike...evil, redemtion, and the like- mild spoilers- longish -- Malandanza, 09:40:29 03/30/02 Sat


I think that the comparisons between Spike and Angel are unfair. Maybe Spike has done some good – reluctantly or with a desire to be rewarded, but Angel’s motivations are less gray. Angel’s finest moment wasn’t saving the world from the mad scientist (who wanted to stop time so he wouldn’t lose his girlfriend) – it was saving Faith. He did not have to save her; in fact, he risked his life by trying to do so. In Epiphany, his motivations are confirmed – he does good because he hates to see others suffer, not because he expects a reward. Angel had the same sort of insights into Faith’s behavior that Spike has into Buffy’s – yet Angel uses his knowledge to save Faith while Spike uses his to hurt Buffy – just as Angelus hurt Wesley, Cordelia and Buffy.

Mucifer: Angelus has never come close to this kind of behavior. I feel that being a vampire on the show for Spike anyway, has more of a complex bad boy subtexty feel to it than mass murdering monster.

Comparing Spike and Angelus, on the other hand, is valid. But I would say that Spike isn’t just a “badboy” – he is evil. Where Angelus is the serial killer, watching his victims and calculating how best to kill them, Spike is the street thug with the sharpened screwdriver for a weapon, holding up random passersby. He may not have the grand vision that Angelus has, but he still isn’t someone you’d want to run into in a dark alley. I disagree with CW that he is merely “naughty” – he is evil, just not very good at it. He just doesn’t think things through.

Shyviolet: It seemed for most of this season that Spike was semi-accepted by Buffy and the Scoobies, even by Xander at times. But in AYW, Buffy walked away from Spike, and in NA she told him to get out of her life- my question is, if he follows suit with Faith, then will he look for acceptance in the arms of evil?

Spike did try to get Buffy to walk away from her friends – in essence, he gave her the choice of being in the light with them, or the darkness with him. She chose light. Will he “revert” to evil once it’s clear to him that she’s rejected him? Undoubtedly. He never blames himself for anything that goes wrong – and he usually blames Buffy. He isn’t bothered by his actions the way Faith was – he revels in his evil instead. Until he learns that his actions have consequences, that he must accept responsibility for his own actions and that there is more to the world than Spike and his current obsession, he will not be redeemable. Anya, by comparison, is now redeemable (although not necessarily on the road to redemption just yet – we’ll have to see how things worked out with D’Hoffryn) – she understands (finally) that she hurt people during her vengeance days, and she is paying the price. Understanding is required first, then contrition and penance.

mucifer: Spike is an amazing character. He has a history of having a sweet side chipped or prechipped he has been sensitive to messed up women ie crazydru, crazytara, suicidal buffy and has helped all 3.

Spike’s obsession with helpless women has a chilling aspect as well – remember when Buffy was first brought back and he Xander:

Spike: Listen. I've figured it out. Maybe you haven't, but I have. Willow knew there was a chance she'd come back wrong. So wrong that you'd have to-- that she'd have to get rid of what came back. And she knew I wouldn't let her. If any part of it was Buffy, I wouldn't let her. That's why she shut me out.

Imagine a damaged Buffy in the sole care of Spike. His very own living, breathing Buffybot. And does Spike need his women to be helpless? Things began going badly with Dru when Dru recovered her strength (and Spike lost his). (Part of that was probably due to the reemergence of Angelus in whose shadow, as shyviolet says, Spike lives).

[> [> [> [> Re: thoughts on Spike...evil, redemtion, and the like- mild spoilers- longish -- myra, 10:06:32 03/30/02 Sat

I agree with you that for Spike to be redeemable he needs to do good without expecting some kind of reward, I think we have seen examples of this already though. Letting himself be tortured by Glory without giving up Dawn eventually led to some kind of 'reward' ("What you did, for me and Dawn, that was real, I won't forget it.")but there was also the possibility that Glory just would have killed him which means no reward-potential and even the possibility that Buffy would never have known what he had done. I think that by knowing this and doing it (protecting Dawn's identity)anyway he has shown potential for non-rewarded good deeds.

He never blames himself for anything that goes wrong – and he usually blames Buffy.

Have to disagree with you on this one, when Buffy died he blamed himself when he wasn't even to blame. He appears to have been beating himself up about the fact that he couldn't save her then ("Every night I save you.")even though she chose to sacrifice herself.

I could go on, but I'm not big with the coherence today (or ever, actually)and will spare you my babbling ;).
I apologise for any grammatical errors I made, what with english not being my first language and all (Dutch is).

[> [> [> [> [> A vote for Spike! -- DickBD, 14:55:20 03/30/02 Sat

I agree with the good things that have been said about Spike. But from the article most of us read in the interview with one of the writers (I'm fairly new, so I sometimes forget her name), it seems obvious they are going to let him turn back real bad and maybe even get rid of him. To me that would be a real mistake, as Spike is one of the most complex and interesting characters in the series. I think he wants to be "evil," as that is the in thing for a good vamp. But he does good things in spite of himself. I am reminded of the time Buffy rebuffed him as "beneath" her (ringing old bells of a similar rebuff). When he came back with a shotgun to kill her, Buffy was distressed over the news of her mother. Spike couldn't help trying to console her--and I don't see hidden motives or self-centered behavior in that.

I like Angel, but it seems to me that it is quite an achievement for a vampire to become a better being without the benefit of a soul.

[> [> Re: thoughts on Spike...evil, redemtion, and the like- mild spoilers- longish -- shyviolet, 10:46:46 03/30/02 Sat

Cactus Watcher-
what exactly is wrong with my posting name? why would it have any impact on whether or not you read my stuff? jeez, talk about nitt-picking! would it make you happy if I wrote it Shy Violet? I really didn't think that it was that big of a deal, but if it bothers you so much then just don't respond to what I have to say anymore. and I actually did agree with what you had to say.

[> [> [> It was a joke, ,shyviolet, not an insult -- Lilac, 11:16:14 03/30/02 Sat

CW was not trying to insult you -- he was referring to your typo. You meant to ask people to "bear with me", asking for patience -- you typed "bare with me" apparently inviting nudity, which seems an amusingly brazen suggestion for someone with a screen name suggesting shyness. CW's remark,which I believe included an acknowledgement that we all make spelling mistakes, wasn't meant to hurt your feelings or besmirch your name.

[> [> [> [> Thanks fo your help, Lilac. -- CW, 16:01:25 03/30/02 Sat

Shyviolet- when you see ;o) in a post here you can be sure the author doesn't mean to bruise your feelings. It's a smile and a wink.

Fic: Leashing the Beast Chapter 8 -- Nos, 13:26:24 03/30/02 Sat

Summary: In response to my own challenge *heh*, found on Crumbling Walls.
The Nerdy Three find out what Spike's chip does and formulate a plan to kill
the Slayer.
Rating: R for violence

Chapter 8 is up for those of you following the fic here. Hope you enjoy.

Of Marti, Spike and Giles..... -- Sam, 14:22:08 03/30/02 Sat

One more into the Spike debate…..
Having read Marti Noxton’s comments of recent days I happened to find myself watching season 3 again. And I find that I’m not really seeing her point. Marti says that we’ve all forgotten how evil Spike was back then. In fact what did strike me was, yet again, the parallels between Spike and Giles. These were highlighted in Restless where Giles is ‘training’ Spike to be a watcher and Tabula Rasa where they just happen to assume that they’re father and son. But just look at ‘Band Candy’. Giles is Spike, without the demon. And that seems to be most people’s preoccupation. Nobody has ever suggested ‘Oh, Giles was evil.’ He was quite clearly arrogant, obnoxious and violent, with a short fuse and no respect for authority. Sound familiar? He steals, he beats up policemen and he threatens Ethan with a gun. Hmm. When he’s not under the influence of magic candy he has killed one human in cold blood and attempted to kill another in what seemed like a fit of temper (the mayor; yes, still technically human at the time that Giles shoved a sword through him).
And it makes him one of the most interesting characters in the program. Unlike the other scoobies, he doesn’t see the world in black and white. Contrast their reaction to Xander’s suggestion that they kill Ben (and Xander’s horrified retraction when he hears what he’s just said) with Giles’ determination to eliminate Dawn if necessary. Which he would have done if Buffy hadn’t prevented him. Giles has grown up and is prepared to deal with realties. The scoobies are not. And if this season is about them growing up as ME has suggested, then they may have to confront their inability to see the shades of gray. Buffy has touched on this in confrontation with Riley but still wants to see the world as intrinsically simple. She wants Tara to tell her that she’s come back ‘wrong’ in Dead Things, because everything is easier if you can blame the demon, inner or outer. When she wants to dismiss Spike, or her feelings for him, she calls him a ‘thing.’
Which brings us to Spike, and MN’s reminder of his evil killing days. And now I’m glad I got to watch Lover’s Walk again. Yes, he’s bad. Very, very bad. He kills a shopkeeper and he threatens Willow with a broken bottle. And then he tells the hilariously heartbreaking story of how he broke up with Dru and “And she said…..that we could still be friends!” Yes, I laughed. And I don’t think Joss saw him as the big evil. Even then, no chip and pre Buffy-love, he is a drunken, amusing and sometimes sympathetic character. Rebel without a cause and generally inept. In fact, other than the biting bit, he reminded me entirely of Giles in Band Candy. The similarities, down to the accent Giles adopts, are scary.
Things in the Buffyverse have usually been defined as good or evil. Moral ambiguity be damned. Angel with a soul is good. Angelus without a soul is evil. You don’t kill people, you do kill demons. But Spike without a soul is ambiguous. He can be good. Forget about the Buffy obsession. He’s prepared to die for Dawn, or more strikingly, spend a summer patrolling with people he generally despises for her. I’m not sure how that can be dismissed. (Much of his best behaviour can be, as it’s motivated by the desire to impress Buffy or to just avoid getting staked). Certainly, he is amoral. Or, more to the point, his actions don’t fit with the Scooby version of morality. But personally, I’d be very curious to know how Buffy would react to finding out about Giles and Ben. Because that must be worse than hiding a dead body. Would she beat Giles to a bloody pulp? Or do you only do that to someone without a soul?

Giles: You mean life?
Buffy: Yeah. Does it get easy?
Giles: What do you want me to say?
Buffy: (looks up at him) Lie to me.
Giles: (considers a moment) Yes, it's terribly simple.
They start walking out of the cemetery.
Giles: The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.
Buffy: Liar.

[> Re: Of Marti, Spike and Giles..... -- mucifer, 15:11:58 03/30/02 Sat

The quote you just put there was from "Lie to Me" one of my fav episodes. It was season 2 and Joss written and directed. It was about Buffy learning about moral ambiguity. So season 2 Buffy kinda gets it way back then. Willow kinda gets it too when she doesnt want to destroy her vampire self. I totally agree about Spike being very ambiguous. I really think the whole show revolves around things not being straightforward and simple starting with season one and the many twists on classic monster stories they did leading up to today where each main character seems to be fumbling around in her or his own mess.

[> [> Re: Of Marti, Spike and Giles..... -- shadowkat, 18:35:18 03/30/02 Sat

Completely agree. I think it's why he is so fascinating. I don't know what he will do next. As I mention in my above post which felt way too long to put under yours, ;-) and i didn't want to take anything away from yours - Spike is a demon with a good man's memories as opposed to Angelus who was a demon with a womanizer and thug's memories. In a way Spike is the reverse of Angel. Spike = demon with good man's memories. Angel= soul with demon's memories.

Not saying both haven't committed horrible crimes. Just saying that i think the memories are important.

And yes - I think Giles gets it. He hides Ripper from the kids. But it's there underneath the surface. While Spike hides William yet i think he's there two. It makes him conflicted.

And your point about Lie to Me is a good one - used it myself in my own post. If only life were so simple. Black and White, but it's not. And I think that's a good thing, because it would hardly be so interesting would it?

[> Spike's ineptness as a villian -- AurraSing, 15:18:16 03/30/02 Sat

The closest Spike ever got to being truly scary was when he offed "The Annointed One"-at that point I thought that perhaps the viewers would begin to see less talk and more action from the Peroxided One.
However Spike still talks the talk but he's failed to walk the walk...Marti is probably trying to make us "think" that Spike is just one step away from evil but I'm afraid that Angelus was always a much more chilling villian than Spike ever was.(Even Angel locking Dr and Darla in the cellar with the Wolfram and Hart staffers was much more chilling than anything Spike has ever managed to accomplish directly)

Unless something truly radical happens to Spike in the near future,he'll still be the master of bluster to me.

[> [> does someone need to do a rundown of Spike's crimes here? -- JBone, 15:51:51 03/30/02 Sat

There seems to be some convenient memories. I'd rather not, because then everyone elses crimes are brought up, and no one's mind is changed. Maybe if I feel like arguing later...

[> [> [> Re: does someone need to do a rundown of Spike's crimes here? -- DEN, 16:14:56 03/30/02 Sat

A possible meeting point between evil Spike and "cuddly Spike" might be that Spike's crimes are on the whole presented as backstory. We seldom SEE him do much of anything (OK, killing the teacher in "School Hard"!), as opposed to TALKING about it. Even his killing the slayers is presented as a kind of "fair fight," with the better man--er, vampire-- winning.

[> [> [> Re: does someone need to do a rundown of Spike's crimes here? -- DEN, 16:18:35 03/30/02 Sat

A possible meeting point between evil Spike and "cuddly Spike" might be that Spike's crimes are on the whole presented as backstory. We seldom SEE him do much of anything (OK, killing the teacher in "School Hard"!), as opposed to TALKING about it. Even his killing the slayers is presented as a kind of "fair fight," with the better man--er, vampire-- winning.

[> [> [> Yes please. And there should also be a list of alleged good deeds. -- Sophist, 17:28:47 03/30/02 Sat

I'm serious. I would like to see a list of actual bad deeds. I would like to see 2 main categories: pre- chip (but in the last 5 years) and post-chip. Each of these should be broken down into actual evil deeds committed (need not be crimes); attempts; and "manipulation".

I think that people are talking past each other. I think it would be very helpful to the debate to make it more concrete.

This list should be created by the "prosecution".

At the same time, I think it would be helpful to create a list of good deeds. The redemptionists could create that list.

[> [> [> [> Si monumentum requiris, circumspice -- d'Herblay, 20:07:36 03/30/02 Sat

Have you forgotten where you are? You're at a board which is a mere sideshow to a site dedicated to just this sort of calculus. The bad deeds of Spike built this place! (Well, Masq had something to do with it too . . . )

The evil of Spike.
Spike's moral ambiguity.

[> [> [> [> [> Ah yes,the one thing Spike is good at..... -- AurraSing, 21:13:26 03/30/02 Sat

Silly me,I'd forgotten how good he was at killing Slayers,at least until he met Buffy.Then again,did he have a point when he said the only reason they died was because they had given up up on life and their fascination with what lies beyond life had taken over?
And seeing as Spike can already hurt Buffy thanks to his chip being non-reactive around her,does this mean that Buffy's days are numbered yet again? I'd like to think ME will not go this route again but a truly evil and thwarted Spike should surely be contemplating this sort of action,wouldn't you think?

[> [> Even the Scoobs let his evil deeds pass...... -- AurraSing, 19:02:12 03/30/02 Sat

Spike should have been staked (chip or no bloody chip) once he came into their power after he had escaped from the Initiative,if the Scooby Gang truly thought he was evil enough to die for his past crimes.
So why didn't they kill him when Buffy goes out and slays vamps just for the fact they are hanging around Sunnydale? She has staked vamps she has found wandering around the cemetary on the presumption that they have killed and will kill again-so why not Spike?
What makes Spike so different from other vamps? It puzzles me enormously whenver I begin to contemplate this apparent difference in the way some vamps are perceived by the goiod guys.

[> [> [> A speculative reply... -- One2Many (delurking on this board), 23:53:54 03/30/02 Sat

It worries be too...I'm getting more and more concerned about the hierarchy of worth that seems to apply on BtVS.

But I think the difference between season 3/4 Spike and a minion vamp is at least partially that Buffy *knew* Spike. He may have been an enemy in seasons 3 and 4, but he wasn't a nameless, faceless minion she could quickly dismiss as a thing and then forget about. He was someone who had helped her to save the world (albeit selfishly, reluctantly and in a half-arsed manner).

As such, I suspect Buffy thought Spike deserved an 'honourable' death. Thus, she may have slayen him in the battle at the end of HLOD (had she had a weapon handy and been less fascinated by the Ring of Amara), but she wasn't about to stake him in the back while he talked to Harmony, or put him out of his misery after he was chipped and defenceless post-Iniative.

And Spike isn't the only vamp who Buffy treats special. She didn't kill Harmony, either, and she showed no great interest in pursuing Dru in Crush. Once again, they were vampires she was familar with who she seemed to want to (maybe subconsciously) avoid killing, despite the fact they were probably eating humans on a regular basis.

Which really does raise certain questions about Buffy's priorities, especially when one considers how easily she slayed the bordello!vamps - somewhat pathetic creatures who by all appearances were poseing no more of a threat to society than any other crack-house hookers.

But getting back to the point, I suspect that Buffy applies the sames approach to vamps as soldiers to do the enemy in war. In the case of most vamps she meets, utilitairna principals, council indoctrination and natural instinct takes over and she slays them. She can not afford to think about them as individuals or value judgements on individuals. But in the case of Spike, Harmony et al, much of in the case of enemy soldiers you've come to know, it's not so easy (even when you know that if you don't kill them now, they could well be killing someone you know tomorrow). Thus, no instant stakage and a deep, murky pit of conflicted feelings.

The only people who have killed vampires who are they really knew are Buffy, Xander and Gunn. Buffy's slayage of Angel/Angelus was clearly a special case - Angelus intended to bring on an apocalypse and Angel had to die to prevent it. But Jesse and Gunn's sister were a different kettle of fish. And the fact Xander and Gunn killed the demons inhabiting their loved one's bodies is probably why they cling fastest to the Council's teachings that Vampires are the *things* that killed them. And it may be why Xander, along, would have been in a position to kill Spike, and even he didn't - presumably out of some sense of familarity or pity.

[> [> [> Angel has a good answer for you (spoilers BtVS 4-5, AtS2) -- Traveler, 11:34:53 03/31/02 Sun

In "Sanctuary," Wesley asked Angel why he didn't kill Faith, and Angel answered (paraphrased), "Who are we to decide who gets saved?"

The idea of redemption is stronger in AtS, but it isn't completely absent in BtVS either. If you look closely, you'll notice that Buffy rarely attacks vampires unless they attack her or another human first. She let Spike live because he was no longer a direct threat and he wasn't capable of defending himself. Buffy couldn't see herself as a hero if she were to kill the innocent or the helpless. This is also why she didn't kill Glory/Ben.

By the way, some people have suggested that Buffy should have killed Spike for helping Adam divide the Scooby gang. I'm sorry, but if we start killing everybody who spreads hurtful gossip, there won't be many high school students left.

[> [> [> [> Hurtful Gossip? -- Eric, 04:22:07 04/01/02 Mon

Um, calling Spike's actions in The Yoko Factor mere "hurtful gossip" is like calling the attack on Pearl Harbor a demonstration in Japanese fireworks. Spike deliberately preyed on each scoob's secret insecurities for the explicit purpose of seperating long term friends so he could isolate Buffy. The ultimate goal was to send her alone to her death against Adam. They REALLY should have staked him for that.

[> [> [> [> [> Yes, hurtful gossip. -- Traveler, 12:49:11 04/01/02 Mon

"Spike deliberately preyed on each scoob's secret insecurities for the explicit purpose of seperating long term friends so he could isolate Buffy."

Hello, anybody remember high school? This exactly describes what my friends scornfully call "high school politics." People do it all the time, and while it isn't nice, we usually don't suggest that they should be killed for it.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Yes, but in high school gossip, the intention isn't to send someone to their death. -- Ian, 15:26:03 04/01/02 Mon

[> Re: Of Marti, Spike and Giles..... -- Doriander, 17:40:19 03/30/02 Sat

Giles is Spike, without the demon. And that seems to be most people’s preoccupation. Nobody has ever suggested ‘Oh, Giles was evil.’ He was quite clearly arrogant, obnoxious and violent, with a short fuse and no respect for authority. Sound familiar? He steals, he beats up policemen and he threatens Ethan with a gun. Hmm. When he’s not under the influence of magic candy he has killed one human in cold blood and attempted to kill another in what seemed like a fit of temper (the mayor; yes, still technically human at the time that Giles shoved a sword through him).

Spike killing a parent because he's not good enough to eat, or the shopkeeper (I believe there was even necrophilic rape implied "I haven't had a woman in weeks, if you don't count the shopkeeper") is not like Giles killing Ben to insure Glory's defeat, or the mayor. I certainly agree with similarities in terms of their attitudes, but not the degree of their evilness.

Spike Demolished Man? Conflicted Vamp? (very long) -- shadowkat, 18:25:39 03/30/02 Sat

Spike (revised posting) demolished man? Conflicted vamp?

First my thanks to Board for allowing long posts.

I also apologize for length. I have decided somewhat masochistically to tackle the most ambiguously written character in Buffyverse, the one we are all obsessed with, because I’m a bored masochistic fiend!

First why are we so obsessed with Spike? Because he is a character in constant conflict. We cannot predict his next move. We cannot predict how the other characters will react to him. And we cannot predict what the writers will do. I’m not sure Spike can predict his next move. He is like the classic characters of literature: Quasimado, Count of Monte Cristo, Oedipus, Macbeth, and Richard the III. Is he the villain? Is he the anti-hero? Is he both?

Demolished Man is a sci-fi novel written by Alfred Bester in 1951. It is about a man who does not live by society’s rules. He is wealthy and powerful. And a murderer. He has decided to live as he sees fit. So society sends a group of telepathic cops after him. When they capture him, they demolish his mind and personality. They insert all sorts of psychic barriers making it impossible for him to hurt people. He becomes someone else. The soul of the man is gone. They have not only removed his capacity for violence but also his free will.

Before I get into the heart of this anlaysis –I want to take a moment to discuss two quotes from Lie To Me, Second Season of BvTs. The first quote states in a nutshell what we wish life was about and why growing up is so painful. It takes place after Buffy staked her boyfriend Ford. Ford, who was dying of inoperable brain tumors, had made a deal with Spike to become a vampire in exchange for Buffy. (edited for length and emphasis)

Buffy: Nothing's ever simple anymore. I'm constantly trying to work it out. Who to love or hate. Who to trust. It's just, like, the more I know, the more confused I get. (edited for length) Does it ever get easy?
Giles: What do you want me to say?
Buffy: (looks up at him) Lie to me.
Giles:Yes, it's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.

Oh and if only that were true – both in the Buffyverse and in ours. But then things wouldn’t be quite so interesting, would they? We wouldn’t have characters like Spike to discuss. And here’s what Buffy tells Ford when he tells her he wants to become a vampire. He believes becoming a vampire guarantees immortality and eternal youth, instead of the painful death he dreads.

Buffy: Well, I've got a news flash for you, braintrust: that's not how it works. You die, and a demon sets up shop in your old house, and it walks, and it talks, and it remembers your life, but it's not you.

Remembers your life? Lets remember that phrase. It’s important. In Season 5 of BvTs the Writers posed a very interesting question to their audience: What if we turned a moral, kind, scholarly, Victorian poet into a vampire? Now let’s back up a moment here and evaluate what this means. Human beings are animals. In our primal pre-conscious state we are violent creatures, which kill other animals including each other to survive, this is chronicled in religious and scientific literature. Then sometime in our evolutionary development we became conscious, no longer primal, no longer just beasts, we now had the ability to reason, we have a soul, a compass which leads us to believe we can accomplish more by helping one another. We learned that violence was unseemly, wrong. In Buffyverse – Giles states way back in HARVEST: “This world is older than any of you know. Contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin as a paradise. For untold eons demons walked the Earth. They made it their home, their... their Hell. But in time they lost their purchase on this reality. The way was made for mortal animals, for, for man. All that remains of the old ones are vestiges, certain magicks, certain creatures...The books tell the last demon to leave this reality fed off a human, mixed their blood. He was a human form possessed, infected by the demon's soul. He bit another, and another, and so they walk the Earth, feeding... Killing some, mixing their blood with others to make more of their kind. Waiting for the animals to die out, and the old ones to return.”

In Season 1-Season 3, every demon was made from an amoral human. People like the character in Alfred Bester’s novel. But Fool For Love changed everything. The infected human was a Victorian scholar, a poet. A good man. Here’s the scene from Fool For Love where we see what Spike was before he became a vampire:

ARISTOCRAT #2: Ah, William! Favor us with your opinion. What do you make of this rash of disappearances sweeping through our town? Animals or thieves?
SPIKE/WILLIAM(haughty):I prefer not to think of such dark, ugly business at all. That's what the police are for. I prefer placing my energies into creating things of beauty.

When Drusilla turns him – she’s not tempting him with a life of violence and debauchery. She is tempting a lonely soul with acceptance. She tells him that she understands his desire to focus on beauty, on effulgence. She isn’t lying. Here’s the crossover scene from Darla showing poor Dru’s point of view:

Angelus: "Well, if you're lonely, Dru, why don't you make yourself a playmate?"
Dru: "I could. I could pick the wisest and bravest knight in all the land - and make him mine forever with a kiss."

So what happens if you make a vampire out of a good kind man? It is in a sense the opposite of Alfred Bester’s book, Demolished Man – instead of making the corrupt man good, they’ve corrupted the good man. But the evil writers of ME did not stop there – oh no, they twisted the knife again. They created a chip, a cute government chip and inserted it into our boy’s head, effectively inhibiting his capacity to commit violent acts. This theme is explored in more depth in the Anthony Burgess novel – A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, later made into a brilliant film by Stanley Kubrick (not for kids, very dark, very violent). The protagonist in A Clockwork Orange leads a violent gang of rapists, vandals and murderers. He violently cripples a man and rapes the man’s wife while dancing to “Singing in The Rain”. He is a fascinating character who lives outside society’s rules. And for those of you who like the nature vs. nurture debate – the character of Alex in A Clockwork Orange was raised by working class brutes who verbally abuse each other and their son. His world is an utopian mess. His peers celebrate his violence and urge him on. The more violent he is, the more his peers revere him. His accent is North London. He’s very crude. Very sexual. And he reminds me a great deal of Spike in School Hard. Eventually the government nabs him and conditions him to get violently ill whenever he sees violence, thinks about it, or does it. By the time the government is through with him, he can’t hit or hurt anyone without getting violently ill. Like the Demolished Man – A Clockwork Orange discusses what happens when we strip away someone’s capacity to commit violence. Are we taking away their free will? Both ask the same question – is this ethical? Does this truly rehabilitate the criminal? Can a corrupt individual who has committed atrocious acts be redeemed via conditioning? Or is this merely turning the fiend into a robot, a pathetic shell? After all the protagonist of A Clockwork Orange can still think for himself, he is still an amoral opportunistic bastard – he just can’t hit you. So have we really done society or the character an injustice by removing that capacity? It’s not the same as the Demolished Man after all – we didn’t remove his personality and insert a new one. All we did was put him on a leash.

And has Spike, like the character in A Clockwork Orange, been put on a leash? Is that all it is? Would he resort to violent acts once that leash is removed, like a prized pit-bull? Is he, in truth, just the animal that Drusilla, Angelus, and Darla created? Have all the remnants of the good Victorian gentleman’s personality been erased or demolished by the demon?

Let’s face it – we all love a good villain. The bad guy is more interesting than the hero, more conflicted, more unpredictable. We know the hero will probably succeed. That the hero will live, they usually do. But we don’t know what’s going to happen to the villain. And really good villains are conflicted ones – ones who could possibly change their course in midstream – Shakespeare, the Greeks, just about every literary great has explored this idea. Regardless of what we think of him now – Spike started out as one of the most interesting and seductive villains to hit BvTs. Like the character in A Clockwork Orange – he lived life by his rules. He did what he wanted. He drank, played, he destroyed because it was fun! He cavorted with Drusilla, he stole. The world was his playground. He ruled! Then Buffy dropped a pipe organ on his head and poor Spike was confined to a wheelchair. The world ceased being his playground. Drusilla was now in control and he could do only small things to please her. To make matters worse, Angel became Angelus and Drusilla – his ripe wicked plum- drifts further and further away. How tortuous it must have been for him to watch Angelus cavort with Dru. To watch Angelus plot and plan. To sit helplessly by when Angelus makes all the decisions – where they live, who gets hurt, what to do next. There is an interesting scene in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered that has always fascinated me: Spike has gotten Drusilla a valentine’s gift – it’s a lovely necklace with a ruby heart shaped pendant.

Spike: Fancy it, pet?
Drusilla: Ahhh. It's beautiful. Mm.
Spike: Nothing but the best for my gir...(Angelus walks up to the table and sets down a human heart, fresh and bloody. He smiles over at Spike, then down at Drusilla.)
Angelus: Happy Valentine's Day, Dru.
Drusilla: Oh... (holds her hands over it) Angel!(Angelus raises his eyebrows at Spike.)It's still warm. (Spike closes his eyes and lets out a deep breath, then looks back up at Angelus.)
Angelus: I knew you'd like it. (inhales the aroma) I found it in a quaint little shopgirl. (He sees the necklace, picks it up and holds it out to have a look at it.) Cute. (reaches around Drusilla's neck with it) Here. (She pulls her hair back and away so he can close the clasp behind her neck. Spike wheels toward them, upset with Angelus' forwardness.)
Spike: I'll get it.
Angelus: (looks up at Spike) Done. I know Dru gives you pity access, but you have to admit it's so much easier when I do things for her.

Odd. Spike gets the human gift. Angelus - the demon one. Spike – love’s bitca. Until Season 2, we weren’t really sure if demons could love. It is clear watching Spike and Dru that they can. As Dru says in Crush, “Oh we can love quite well, just not always very wisely.” Everything Spike does in Season 2 has to do with Drusilla. Drusilla to Spike regarding the slayer in School Hard: “Kill her for me, Spike. Kill her for Princess.” Later in Lie to Me – Spike is about to kill everyone in the room but Buffy stops him when she holds a stake to Drusilla’s chest, he lets them all go including Buffy to save Dru. In Becoming Part II – Spike flirts with Buffy but his main deal is to get Dru away from Angel. He is clearly motivated by love.

Spike’s memory of William - is this motivation, “love”, something left over from William? Is William still inside, somewhere? Not sure. But he clearly retains William’s memories, remember Buffy’s speech to Ford? Just as Drusilla retains hers – remember how she tortures Angel in What’s My Line Part II? Reminding him of how he tortured and killed her family? “They used to eat cake, and eggs, and honey. Until you came and ripped their throats out. Say 'Uncle'. Oh, that's right, you killed my uncle.” Spike, unlike Drusilla, isn’t really into the whole torture thing. Is this also due to memories from William? Spike prefers things done quickly as he states in What’s My Line Part II: “I'll see him die soon enough. I've never been much for the pre-show.” (Angel taunts him with this because Angelus and Drusilla clearly were.) Then in Becoming Part II – when Angelus wants to take a chainsaw to Giles – Spike suggests a nicer route, like Drusilla playing with his mind. And then in Fool For Love – when Angelus and Spike argue about killing in 18th century England:

SPIKE: Come on. When was the last time you unleashed it? All out fight in a mob, back against the wall, nothing but fists and fangs? Don't you ever get tired of fights you know you're going to win?
ANGELUS :No. A real kill. A good kill. It takes pure artistry. Without that, we're just animals.

To which Spike wonders – isn’t that what we are? “Oh, I'm sorry. Did I sully our good name? We're vampires.” Spike sees himself as a “bloody animal,” he revels in it because to a degree that’s what William would have believed. As William states – that’s what the police are for, it’s unseemly. The Victorian Gentleman sees all violence as unseemly. The Victorian Gentleman lives only for beauty and romantic love as expressed through poetry and verse. Here’s the scene where William confesses his love for a haughty Cecily. He’s just told her that the poetry he’s been writing is all about her.

SPIKE :Oh, I know... it's sudden and... please, if they're no good, they're only words but... the feeling behind them... I love you, Cecily.
CECILY: Please stop!
SPIKE: I know I'm a bad poet but I'm a good man and all I ask is that... that you try to see me-

When Cecily rejects him and he runs into Drusilla, who changes him, what does she tell him? How does she tempt him? With words of beauty and love and romance. She, in a sense, seduces him. Remember, he’s just been rejected by Cecily. No one appears to understand him. Here’s the scene from Fool For Love (edited for length and emphasis):

DRUSILLA:Your wealth lies here... and here. In the spirit and... imagination. You walk in worlds the others can't begin to imagine. (Spike is riveted by her insight into his character.) I see what you want. Something glowing and glistening. Something... effulgent. (Spike is beside himself. Finally someone who understands him.)
DRUSILLA: Do you want it? (Spike has never wanted anything more.)
SPIKE: Oh, yes! (touches her chest) God, yes. (Drusilla looks down for a moment as her face changes and her fangs descend. Spike reacts, more confused than afraid. She pulls back his shirt collar and buries her fangs in his neck. Spike cries out in pain but his cries quickly turn to moans of pleasure as Drusilla ends his human existence.)

What an odd conflict. Perfect for a debate on Nature vs. Nurture. You have a good man turned into a vampire, with no idea what that entails. Who teaches him? The Fang Gang: Dru, Darla and possibly the worst Vamp in history: Angelus, whom Spike calls in School Hard – his Yoda. Yet no matter what they teach him, he still retains those memories, the memories of a Victorian Scholar inside the head of a violent demon. (Sort of the reverse of Angel, who is the soul of a man retaining the memories of a violent demon, but I digress and that’s dangerous territory that I don’t even want to start trespassing on.) Spike has spent his unlife melding the two and not being all that successful. He lost Dru after 100 years due to the fact that ‘he wasn’t evil enough for her any more’. Now to add to it – he has this pesky chip. His capacity for violence has been stripped away. But has his free will? Not according to Drusilla. Drusilla believes he still has a choice, that the chip doesn’t matter. Here’s what she says to him in Crush (edited for length and emphasis):

DRUSILLA: I don't believe in science. All those bits and molecules no one's ever seen. I trust eyes and heart alone. And do you know what mine is singing out right now. You're a killer. Born to slash ... and bash ... and... oh, bleed like beautiful poetry. No little tinker-toy could ever stop you from flowing.
SPIKE: But the pain ... love, you don't understand, it's ... it's searing. It's, um, blinding. She puts her hand on the top of his head and pulls it down toward her.
DRUSILLA: All in your head. I can see it. Little bit of ... plastic, spiderwebbing out nasty blue shocks. And every one is a lie. Electricity lies, Spike. It tells you you're not a bad dog, but you are.

Then she attempts to prove it to him, by taking him to the Bronze, a scene that is later repeated in Smashed. Both scenes are interesting because in both Spike is clearly talking himself into the act. In Crush, I’m struck by two things first the lyrics the writers chose and second the expression on Spike’s face when Dru breaks the girl’s neck and flings her at him – telling him to feed. He is almost in tears. According to the transcript – he closes his eyes, takes a few deep breathes and forces himself to drink. Here’s the lyrics to the song playing in the background, the song is Key by the Devices: “And this time I'm staying to bury the trail that you left, you left, And if I was cold, well then you would stay inside me, warm me... I told you just like I told everyone I still have some doubts that you are the reason, Still this is just so hard 'cause I know that I'll be left like always, Here I'm safe so here I stay, Lift me out, lift the doubt.” I think this tells us what our boy is thinking. He wants to go back and be the vamp but he was left last time. He wants to stop being the bad vamp because he has fallen for the slayer but she’s just rejected him. His motivation for biting the girl appears to be in direct response to two things :Drusilla’s invitation to rejoin her and Buffy’s rejection, not to in response to his own desire. Just as his attempt to bite the girl in the alley in Smashed is in direct response to Buffy’s rejection of him.( “She thinks I’m confused because she’s confused. I’m not confused. I know what I am. I’m a killer. I’m evil.” If that’s true, why does he have to say it? And perhaps is, perhaps he’s just forgotten.) So is Drusilla wrong about the chip keeping him back? Or is she wrong about Spike being the bad dog?

In my last post of this analysis I stated that we can debate indefinitely on the concept of free will. But here I change my thesis, I agree with Ceit and Destiney and the others – the chip does not strip Spike of free will, all it does is limit his capacity for violence. He can still hurt people, just not physically. He can still commit evil/amoral acts. Drusilla makes this clear in Crush. So what has the chip done? According to the writers it has done the same thing to Spike that was done to Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Think about it – he can’t hurt or maim living creatures. Try to imagine what this is like – you can’t hit anyone. If you get punched in a bar, you can’t punch back. You can’t defend yourself. You can’t even wack someone on the head for being an idiot. For a demon that relishes a good brawl – a good fight – this must have been overwhelming. Yet he appears to have adapted. He found that he could hit demons. And remember what he said to Angelus over a hundred years ago – “don’t you ever get tired of a fight you can’t win?” He just cares about the fight. It doesn’t really matter whom it’s with. Yes I’m sure he misses the killing – but if he can fight, well then life is good. So has his capacity for violence truly been stripped or is it just the bloodlust that’s been curtailed? Or rather placed on a leash?

So can demons control their bloodlust? Do they have control over such an instinctual thing? Not according to the Watcher’s Council. Not according to Angel. But then Angel doesn’t want to admit to what Darla told him in the episode Dear Boy Atvs Season 2: “Before you got neutered you weren't just any vampire, you were a legend! Nobody could keep up with you - not even me. You don't learn that kind of darkness. It's innate. It was in you before we ever met. - You said you can smell me? Well, I can smell you, too. My boy is still in there and he wants out!” This reminds me of what Drusilla said to Spike. Except Spike wasn’t Angelus. Spike was something else and Spike only has a chip. No, no – I’m not comparing the two, white flag! White flag! What I’m asking is do demons have free will? Can they overcome a bloodlust? Harmony couldn’t. But then Harmony couldn’t go against the crowd as a human. She was and always will be a follower. If the popular group chose to hurt someone – she went along with it just as she does in Disharmony episode Atvs Season 2. Do demons in the Buffyverse have freewill or do their violent tendencies overwhelm it? I guess we can ask the same question about humans – do they? Or does our moral compass overwhelm it? Clearly humans do. We can choose to do good or evil. So I believe the same may be true of demons. It’s just the demon is more predisposed to do evil while the human is predisposed to do good.

So if demons have free will, what happens when Spike has the chip removed? Well if we go by the novel A ClockWork Orange –Spike will probably go back to his nasty ways. In that novel a group of left-wingers kidnap Alex and remove his conditioning, re- enabling him to commit violent acts again, which he chooses to do without compunction. The conditioning did not change Alex. All it did was put him on a leash. He did not become a different person because of it. It did not rehabilitate him. But Alex didn’t fall in love. Or care about anyone but himself. Nor did Alex have the memories of a Victorian Gentleman in his head.

What does this say about Spike ? Where do we go from here? Not sure, but I think there are few things we must keep in mind:
1.Spike lives outside the rules. He enjoys the brawl, making up his own rules, being his own man. He hates living by someone else’s rules and he hates following anyone’s dictates but his own.
2. Spike loves with his whole being. He is motivated by love. He is whipped by it. Once he falls in love with someone, he will do anything for them. Anything to make them happy. And he loves them almost unconditionally. He also loves without hope of it being returned.
3. Spike’s capacity to commit violence has been impeded by a chip. He is the demolished man, the incapacitated murderer of A Clockwork Orange. The chip makes it impossible for him to truly live by his own rules. Or does it? He can still choose to do evil things. He can still hurt people at least through mental/emotional manipulation. He can hire demons to do it. And right now, he can hurt Buffy. But he can’t kill humans. So any choice he might have made regarding this is nullified.
4. Spike is intelligent and knows how to reinvent himself and adapt. He knows how to make things work and he has the will to get around obstacles, even ask for help in bizarre places. This may be the source of his survival.

Well I can go on analyzing this guy for pages and I’m sure people have written thesis on him. I’ve read a few excellent ones on BAPS and Tabula Rasa. Hope this adds to it and is not just a retread. Sorry again for the length. I think I’m getting longer…

Thanks for reading. Looking forward to your thoughts. And yes I got an electronic copy of this one…;- ) shadowkat

[> Re: Spike Demolished Man? Conflicted Vamp? (very long) -- leslie, 21:22:05 03/30/02 Sat

The one thing that becomes clear to me in reading this analysis is that we have to make a distinction between violence and evil. You make a good argument for Spike, himself, being in love with violence, and that seems in a large part due to its physicality. That seems to be the major change in him from mortal to vampire: as a human, he is an intellectual/verbal artist, but a bad one; as vampire, he is a fighter and a (sexual) lover, and a good one. The object of his violence is another matter. He kills to feed, and he kills to please the group. However, once chipped, he learns to subsist on pig's blood (interesting that he adds herbs to it to "spice it up," something Angel doesn't seem to do with his blood, which seems to be not only another instance of Spike's sensuality but also an indication of his acceptance of his situation--if I have to drink the stuff, might as well see if I can make it taste better) and he seems perfectly happy fighting demons as long as he *can* fight. He acts, in many ways, like someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes or high cholestrol--you can't eat whatever you want any more, but that doesn't mean that your life is over, and it also doesn't mean that you can't learn to appreciate what you can still eat. But there is a little bit of a problem with people who keep foisting chocolate and Christmas cookies on you. "But you always loved these cookies!" In fact, the "Happy Meals on Legs" analogy seems even more appropos than ever.

I'm not saying that Spike's past evil deeds should just be ignored or written off, but if the desire that drove him to those deeds arose from a love of expressing physical force, the prospects for him deciding freely to continue directing that force towards "acceptable" objects are somewhat different than if he committed those deeds out of a love of causing pain and the power that that provides.

[> Fascinating analysis, shadowkat... -- Ixchel, 23:01:12 03/30/02 Sat

I greatly look forward to reading your posts (here and at BC&S).


[> Great work, shadowkat and about A Clockwork Orange (long Burgess quotes) -- cynesthesia, 00:32:45 03/31/02 Sun

I think the analysis of Spike and Alex the droog is very apt. What also seems to have bearing on Spike's situation is that there are in essence two versions of 'A Clockwork Orange.' One is the 20 chapter version of the novel that was printed in the U.S. and which was the one Kubrick filmed. This version ends, as you state, with Alex being deprogrammed/dechipped with the implication being that he will unquestioningly return to the violence of his former life. Free will and the possibility of growth or change doesn't enter into it.

But there also exists the 21 chapter version which was printed in the U.K. and the rest of the world. The end of *this* story is the novel Burgess actually wrote. At the end of the novel as it was originally conceived, Alex tires of his old life and resolves to grow and move on to something rather more normal of his own free will. He envisions a time when he will have a son who will go through the same destructive rite of passage that he has just been through, but considers that first he had better find someone to marry. A brief excerpt as Alex begins to plan the rest of his life:

That was something like new to do. That was something I would have to get started on, a new like chapter beginning.
That's what it's going to be then, brothers, as I come to the like end of this tale....And all it was was that I was young. But now as I end this story, brothers, I am not young, not no longer, oh no. Alex like groweth up, oh yes.

And this is what Burgess himself wrote in 1986 when the final chapter was restored to the American version of the book. Sorry for both snipping and length, but there is no way I could say this better than Burgess himself. young thuggish protagonist grows up. He grows bored with violence and recognizes that human energy is better expended on creation than destruction....It is with a kind of shame that this growing youth looks back on his devastating past. He wants a different kind of future.
There is no hint of this change of intention in the twentieth chapter....The twenty-first chapter gives the novel the quality of genuine fiction, an art founded on the principle that human beings can change. There is in fact, not much point in writing a novel unless you can show the possibility of moral transformation, or an increase in wisdom, operating in your chief character or characters. Even trashy best-sellers show people changing. When a fictional work fails to show change, when it merely indicates that human character is set, stony, unregenerable, then you are out of the field of the novel and into that of the fable or allegory.

...If he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange ... is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or ... the Almighty State. The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to operate along with good, in order that moral choice may operate.

...the book does also have a moral lesson, and it is the weary traditional one of the fundamental importance of moral choice.

So Alex's creator was tirelessly clear about the role of free will. And ultimately Alex does "grow up" from the inside out and chooses to move beyond the destructive ("evil") to the creative ("good"). Significantly, it is through imagining a connection to others - a future wife, a future son - that moves him forward. And Burgess was also clear about the line delineating the art of the novel from the simplicities of the fable.

Right now I'm very uncertain about ME's intentions towards Spike's story (call me bitter over the MN interview ;)). I'm not sure whether Spike's journey will be the 20 chapter one of inevitable evil and violence or the full 21 chapter version that allows for change and growth. I am sure which choice I think makes for a better story and better art.

Cynthia, I just know there are typos

[> [> Re: Great work, shadowkat and about A Clockwork Orange (long Burgess quotes) -- ponygirl, 19:59:42 03/31/02 Sun

I think you've really hit the nail on the head here, Cynthia (great quotage btw). The last few episodes have been really about choice, be it right or wrong. We've seen Xander walk away from what he believed to be his fate, Buffy choose to give up the promise of normalcy. What Willow and Anya decide we will have to see (or spoil). In a sense growing up is about choosing the life you wish to lead -- the things we can't control as a child: who our parents are, what our circumstances are -- we ultimately have to accept and take responsibility for. As has been pointed out Spike, both with the vampirism and the chip, has been kept in a state of extended adolescence. All of his choices have been made for him it would seem -- he has to be evil because he's a vampire, he does good because he can't hurt anyone, he loves Buffy because - well, he can't help it. A de-chipped Spike choosing to do good would be a pretty strong statement about the possibility of free will in the Buffyverse.

I'm hoping for the chapter 21 myself, I think Marti wants to remind us of evil Spike to give the story more suspense. Free will seems far more interesting to me than clockwork oranges or clockwork vampires.

[> [> Great Cynthia and have a hunch its 21-theme of growing up -- shadowkat, 05:34:54 04/01/02 Mon

The more I think on this, the more convinced I am that ME is doing the 21 chapter version - assuming of course that they are aware of it. But I think they are.

I just purchased the new American Edition of A Clockwork Orange which came out in 1986 in US. Joss Whedon would have probably read this version. Also after reading Burgess' essay as you quoted above - it looks like a perfect metaphor for growing up. A metaphor - dare I say it - that echoes Giles' line to Buffy in Lie to Me - about how the world is not easily divided into Black and White.

Whatever we may think about vampires or Spike, we must remember that they are used metaphorically in the show, a show that operates more on a thematic level than a plot level. And the theme this year is growing up not the ethics of conditioning or government control (which was part of Season 4's thematic structure, concerning trust). (Important point to remember here - each one of Buffy's boyfriends/lover's redemptive journeys echoed the main theme for the season that he was her boyfriend. Riley - trusting people, himself, Angel - taboo of forbidden love, forgiveness, separating himself from the pack, overcoming authority, Spike? - growing up.)

What better metaphor than a man who goes from the innocent childhood of romantic poetry to the adolescent violence of vampirehood to the controlled existence of the chip to the emotional maturity of being able to make a moral choice. It's also terribly ironic. Raising all sorts of difficult moral questions for the characters and the audience. Particularly if you do a comparison with Willow - who went from the childlike geekdom (similar to William's poetry) to adolescent dabblings in magic to complete loss of self into magic/power. Two arcs. One uplifting. One potentially tragic. And both terribly ironic - fitting with the theme that the good guys are NOT always stalwart and true and the bad guys ARE not always with the horns. In the adult world - your childhood best friend could become your worst enemy and the adolescent thug your ally.

And in the middle of the arc? You can explore all the stages and elements of growing up. From not allowing yourself to be defined solely by who you are with to taking responsibility for your own actions and your life. I think if you rewatch all the episodes of BvTs from Season 1 forward - these arcs make perfect sense. PArticularly Spike's and Willow's.

Thanks again for mentioning the 21st's made me see, finally, exactly what they are doing.

[> Please email this one to me also for the Essays section in FC -- Liq, 02:38:51 03/31/02 Sun

[> Spike -- Rufus, 03:28:46 03/31/02 Sun

So if demons have free will, what happens when Spike has the chip removed? Well if we go by the novel A ClockWork Orange –Spike will probably go back to his nasty ways. In that novel a group of left-wingers kidnap Alex and remove his conditioning, re- enabling him to commit violent acts again, which he chooses to do without compunction. The conditioning did not change Alex. All it did was put him on a leash. He did not become a different person because of it. It did not rehabilitate him. But Alex didn’t fall in love. Or care about anyone but himself. Nor did Alex have the memories of a Victorian Gentleman in his head.

There are many similarities between Giles and Spike, not just the fact that they share the same mother country. Both at some time saw themselves as rebels, as bigger than life types that enjoyed a spot of violence to go along with the party they call life. We saw what happened to Giles, he got a wake up call in The Dark Age, for Spike we have to wonder if that wake up call has been a season and a bit long?
Giles was an ordinary guy who rebelled against his lot in life. He didn't want to become a Watcher, he wanted to make music and have fun, Spike was a bookish fellow who may have been able to spell fun, but didn't know what it was.

Vampires are a metaphor(at least in BTVS)for arrested development, people stuck in the adolescence, wanting only pleasure and excitement. If we go along the lines of Clockwork Orange then Spike is also Alex, a thug who became an experiment.

Spike was originally a government experiment, an attempt to control the beast in order to benefit by making perhaps a toothy soldier, totally under a higher power's control. The government screwed up when another phase of the project decided to change the rules and kill everything. The Initiative failed in better soldiering through chip technology, but, has there been an unintended benefit that was forgotten when they were pouring the cement and salting the earth?

Spike didn't like being a neutered puppy, he wanted to be normal, for a vampire. He still hated the Scoobies...wanted to take a chunk out of the Slayer. But then, something surfaced from his unconscious, love, love for the Slayer....he was screwed. The chip may be able to cause great pain when a vampire attempts to harm a person, but it can't take away the longing for the kill. Spike became suicidal because his purpose in life was gone.....tried to off himself to escape the monotony of Xander's hideout. But when he realized he loved the Slayer, he slowly started to change. At first he was motivated by self interest, survival, then he became the Slayer's bitch....the rebel lost his first cause and took up the cause of the Slayer.

This season has been facinating....remember the interaction between Spike and another vampire in All the Way?.....

Spike continues trading blows with the first vamp. Spike takes a hit and goes down.

VAMP 1: What is your malfunction, man?!

Spike makes an angry face, gets up and shoves the vamp down into the dirt.

SPIKE: It's Halloween, you nit! We take the night off. Those are the rules.
VAMP 1: (gets up) Me and mine don't follow no stinkin' rules! We're rebels!

He takes a swing at Spike, who blocks it, head-butts him, and then kicks him in the chest. The vamp slams back against a tree trunk and slides down it to the ground.

SPIKE: No. I'm a rebel. You're an idiot.

Spike pulls out his crossbow and shoots the vamp. Vamp 1 dusts.

Spike begins reloading the crossbow.

SPIKE: Give the lot of us a bad name.

Spike the rebel sounds a bit more like a disaproving Giles. Spike the rulebreaker sounds a bit more like an establishment type guy. Of course there was his aborted attempt to attack that woman in the alley in Smashed....he had to convince himself to bite.....something that came rather naturally before. But he still isn't a redeemed type guy because he still hasn't figured out how to extend his interest in human welfare beyond a few select people like Buffy and Dawn.

We still don't know what end will come to Spike but there are two possible in Clockwork Orange. Will Spike end up like Alex in the short version....a quick return to killing ways once the chip is gone? Or, will he become more like the Alex in the full version of Clockwork Orange....a vampire who changes his mind about what is important to him....loses the taste for the hunt and slowly becomes more humane, more human? It's clear for anyone to trust Spike, the chip has to go. Does he need it anymore? Has the chip done the impossible and started the process of growing up in a vampire? In a season where the theme is growing up it's clear that some of the gang will make it and some will fall by the wayside unable to work through their adolescent angst. Spike may be a very old adolescent, but it's never too late to grow up, unless of course you go back to the human buffet.

[> Spike and Harmony -- Malandanza, 08:38:14 03/31/02 Sun

"So what happens if you make a vampire out of a good kind man? It is in a sense the opposite of Alfred Bester’s book, Demolished Man – instead of making the corrupt man good, they’ve corrupted the good man."

I don't think that we flashbacks we saw of William portrayed him as a "good, kind man" -- rather, as a weak man. We saw an absence of evil, but not the presence of good.

SPIKE: I prefer not to think of such dark, ugly business at all. That's what police are for...I prefer placing my energies into creating things of beauty.

Was William good or had he just led such a sheltered an unexamined life that he hadn't committed any overtly evil acts? But we have seen examples of good people becoming vampires -- VampWIllow and Penn. Two of the best people in life and two of the worst vampires in death. And then there's VampHarmony, who is very similar to living Harmony -- almost indistinguishable, in fact.

I think every human in the Buffyverse has a capacity for both good and evil -- vamping drastically reduces the capacity for good, allowing the evil free reign. Let's use a scale of 1 to 10 -- 10 being Angelus type evil or Buffy-at-her-finest type of good. Also, for the sake of example, say that Willow rates an 9 in the good and a 5 in the evil. Since she's predominantly good, her actions are predominantly good. Even when she does evil acts, it is generally with the desire to good -- or, at least, without the desire to cause harm. As a vampire, the good is almost gone -- say 10% of what was once there, the influence of the remnants of the good human's personality. Now evil dominates substantially. Compare with the Gorsches -- a capacity for evil of 9 and of good about a 1. After vamping, no real difference. For Harmony, I'd say a 1 for good and a 1 for evil. She could have been swayed either way in life, but ended up following Cordelia. If her parents had been poor or she had been less attractive, she might have fallen in with Buffy and been good. After vamping, the evil dominates, but not by much. She can be easily swayed into wanting to be good. Anya's remarks in Smashed:

BUFFY: I know. But I think she'll be fine. This is Willow, she of the level head

ANYA: Those are the ones you have to watch out for the most. Responsible types.

BUFFY: Right. Cause they might go all crazy and start alphabetizing everything.

ANYA: I'm serious. Responsible people try so hard to be good all the time - when they get a taste of being bad, they can't get enough. It's like - kablooey!

is true for vampires. All the restraints are gone. It's not that VampWillow was more evil than the Gorsches -- she wasn't -- but that the dramatic change from good Willow to evil VampWillow made her seem so. Dramatic changes result from a part of the personality being lost rather than an invading personality taking over.

As for Spike, I see him more like Harmony. Weak, shallow, self-centered -- but most importantly weak. He resembles William because there wasn't much there for the vampire to remove. And maybe this means that only the most petty, pathetic vampires are redeemable. At his best, he is so far removed from Angel that the comparison is absurd, and at his worst, he is so from Angelus that the comparisons are equally absurd. He is Harmony.

[> [> What is strength? (long, spoilers up to present) -- Traveler, 11:18:33 03/31/02 Sun

"Dramatic changes result from a part of the personality being lost rather than an invading personality taking over.

As for Spike, I see him more like Harmony. Weak, shallow, self-centered -- but most importantly weak. He resembles William because there wasn't much there for the vampire to remove. And maybe this means that only the most petty, pathetic vampires are redeemable. At his best, he is so far removed from Angel that the comparison is absurd, and at his worst, he is so from Angelus that the comparisons are equally absurd. He is Harmony."

Personalities are not gained or lost when a person becomes a vampire in BtVS. Only their morality is changed. Willow right now is totally capable of doing anything that vamp Willow ever did, if she ever lost her moral compass. If you don't believe me, recall the anger with which Willow attacked Glory or the self-centeredness she displayed when she hurt Dawn.

Also, I have never agreed with you about William. You seem to have very alpha male definition of strong and weak personalities. Not everybody can or even should be a leader and a trend setter. William in one short scene showed courage in three ways. First, we know that he continued to write poetry even though his peers ridiculed him for it. This is a sign of strength. Then, knowing that his poem wasn't very good, he still gave it to Ceicily. Have you ever written a poem and given it to a woman that you really care about, not certain of it's reception? Speaking from personal experience, I will tell you that it is really tough, and takes guts. Finally, I will use your own quote against you.

"William: I prefer not to think of such dark, ugly business at all. That's what police are for...I prefer placing my energies into creating things of beauty."

While it is a rather snooty comment, it certainly is not designed to endear him with the in-crowd. If he were really just following the crowd, he would have tried to find something intelligent to say on the topic. This is not to say that he doesn't care about other's opinions, because he obviously does. He has always had something to prove, but this doesn't necessarily make him weak. Very few people don't consider other people's expectations when they make their decisions. For example, a soldier runs into a hail of bullets to throw a grenade into an enemy bunker. When asked about it later, he admitts that he did it because he didn't want his buddies to think he was a coward. Does this make his actions any less brave? Bravery and motivation for that bravery are really seperate things. Spike has hunted and killed two slayers, when Angelus was afraid. Spike wanted a fight he may not win, where Angelus wanted a certain victory. When Angelus had Spike on his back with a stake pressed against his chest, Spike laughed in his face. Who was braver? Angelus was really nothing more than a bully, running from stronger opponents. Yet you say that Spike was weak?

However, the sign of true strength has nothing to do with valor in combat. It is the ability to go against expectations, which both William and Spike have done many times. Spike was the one who came to Buffy and helped her save the world from the Judge, even though he hated Buffy and wanted her dead. In "Crushed," Spike was rejected by Buffy, yet he chose her over Drucilla. When he was tortured by Glory, he still didn't reveal Dawn's secret. Who really cares what his motivation was for doing these things? All of them required strength of character that most humans lack, let alone vampires.

Finally, to address your other points: Spike is certainly not shallow. Compare his obsessive love with Buffy to her obsession with being good (or her hair, for that matter), or to Anya's love of money, or Willow's love of magic... the list goes on and on. Spike is one of the most insightful, deep characters on the show. And self-centered? Again, compare him with any of the other characters, particularly Buffy and Dawn, on whose behalf he has committed incredibly selfless acts. Is Spike evil? Maybe. Is he a killer? Definitely. I'm not arguing that he is a good role-model or even particularly nice. However, he does have good qualities which we should not ignore.

[> [> [> Applause! Amazing Traveler! I agree. -- shadowkat, 14:20:52 03/31/02 Sun

I agree - thank you, you perfectly echoed my thoughts about this.

Oh - quick correction - was Acaughla (sp?) not the Judge in Becoming. But don't feel bad, JM made the same mistake in his interview on Season 2 DVD. (Can you tell that I've watched these episodes too many times?)

Spike is his own man. He has often gone against the tide. In School Hard - instead of going after the slayer when the annoited one wants him to - when they'd be at the height of their strength - he goes two nights before. Impulsive? Maybe. And when he comes back? He kills the annoited one and goes against the annoited ones minions.

And the bravery it took to make a truce with Buffy to overcome Angelus in Becoming? Whoa.

I also agree about the poetry - having done this myself. I know what it's like to write a love poem and send it to someone only to be rejected - it takes guts. It's not a sign of weakeness.

More examples? Let's look at the Gift. Spike went up on top of that tower, trusted Willow to get him through a gang of minions - who had pushed the gang back behind the wall- to save Dawn. He may have failed, but he was seriously injured in the process. That took guts. Just as it took guts for him to let Buffy beat him - to take her anger onto himself. Anything to stop her from turning herself in in Dead Things.

Whatever you might think about Spike - he has never been a weakling.

[> [> [> Re: What is strength? (long, spoilers up to present) -- Arethusa, 14:22:25 03/31/02 Sun

These posts remind me of a question I had when I first saw FFL (before I knew this site existed!). Victorian William was obviously rejected by his social circle, and I've wondered why. In physical appearance, dress and speech (allowing for American actors' dubious accents) William seems to be the equal of his peers. He has a gentleman's disdain for crude, common violence and a love of poetry. So why are the others so scathing? Just being a bad poet doesn't seem enough to explain their dislike. Cicely even declares William is "beneath me", a very harsh judgement.
Back story: Eighteenth and, especially nineteenth-century England saw the creation and enormous growth of a new middle class. Their fortune was made in "trade," leading to the nickname of a nation of shopkeepers for England. The middle class, by virtue of wealth and better education, no longer belong to the lower class, and by virtue of humble birth, did not belong to the upper class.
So was William new money, instead of old money? Does his insecurity and need to belong to a group stem from social rejection? If William was considered part of the social climbing and gauche middle class, that would explain his set's scornful disgust. Even William's overrefinement could be seen as a fear of humble roots.
After being vamped, Spike tells Buffy, the first thing he did was join a gang-where he was again low man on the totem pole. In School Hard he is again part of a gang, but now a leader. But then he is chipped, and rejection from his demon peers follows. So what does Spike/William do? Start hanging around the scoobies-before he fell for Buffy.
A need to belong would explain why Spike continued helping the Scooby gang after Buffy's death, and why he was so upset when he learned they raised Buffy from the dead without telling him.

[> [> [> Re: What is strength? (long, spoilers up to present) -- Malandanza, 17:33:01 03/31/02 Sun

"Personalities are not gained or lost when a person becomes a vampire in BtVS. Only their morality is changed. Willow right now is totally capable of doing anything that vamp Willow ever did, if she ever lost her moral compass. If you don't believe me, recall the anger with which Willow attacked Glory or the self-centeredness she displayed when she hurt Dawn."

Add in the spell she began in order to curse Oz and Veruca, her verbal exchange with Giles after rasing Buffy from the dead and the second attempt at the amnesia spell. I don't doubt that Willow is capable of great evil. But she is also capable of great good -- and the good is generally dominant. In cases of extreme stress we sometimes get a glimpse of what she's capable of. Her morality, however, is a significant part of her personality -- as it is with most people. Most of us would be very different people if we no longer had a pesky conscience telling us to feel guilty -- and all the behavior modifications that come with channeling dark desires into socially and morally acceptable routes.

"First, we know that he continued to write poetry even though his peers ridiculed him for it. This is a sign of strength."

Andrew was ridiculed for maintaining that Timothy Dalton was the best Bond, yet he persisted in his belief. Is this a sign of strength or a sign that he's clueless?

"Then, knowing that his poem wasn't very good, he still gave it to Cecily. Have you ever written a poem and given it to a woman that you really care about, not certain of it's reception? Speaking from personal experience, I will tell you that it is really tough, and takes guts."

Do you think William was expecting Cecily's reaction? It looked like it took him by surprise to me. He was hurt enough by it to flee in tears. I propose that it was not courage that persuaded him to reveal his secrets to Cecily. Think of the Troika again -- difficulty with fantasy and reality. They reinvented themselves -- they're "supervillains" -- Spike is the "Big Bad." I think that William had managed to build a little fantasy world around his obsession and hoped that once his feelings were known, Cecily would declare her love for him, then swoon in his arms. Had he had any grounding in reality, he would have known that Cecily despised him.

"While it is a rather snooty comment, it certainly is not designed to endear him with the in-crowd. If he were really just following the crowd, he would have tried to find something intelligent to say on the topic. ."

Was his comment addressed to the men who questioned him? He spoke loudly and clearly, but his intended audience were the women (with a glance towards Cecily, mid-speech) who had been "shocked" by the indelicate remarks of the men. He hoped his remarks would be well-received by the people they were intended to impress.

"Spike has hunted and killed two slayers, when Angelus was afraid. Spike wanted a fight he may not win, where Angelus wanted a certain victory. When Angelus had Spike on his back with a stake pressed against his chest, Spike laughed in his face. Who was braver? Angelus was really nothing more than a bully, running from stronger opponents. Yet you say that Spike was weak?"

The Angelus and Spike scene matched the Master and Angelus scene pretty closely. The point wasn't that Angelus was brave for facing down the Master or that Spike was brave for facing Angelus, but that they were in the foolish, reckless stage of a vampire's existence -- a stage that Angelus grew out of. Angelus was angry not because Spike was risking his own life by starting fights he might not win; he was angry because Spike had started a fight that Angelus, Darla, Dru and Spike might not win (hence the hiding in the coal mine). Starting a fight you might not win when you know your friends will bail you out is not strength.

Eventually, Spike also outgrew this phase. Spike talks a good game ("What can I tell you, baby? I've always been bad" -- followed by a flashback to William) but his actions sometimes differ rather markedly from his words. He killed a couple of slayers -- okay. Did it look like he was losing those fights? Was he ever really at a disadvantage? He had the upper hand all the way. In Innocence Spike says four to one are the kind of odds he likes. He has hordes of minions when he faces Buffy in Season 2. He attacked Angelus from behind and fled the scene before the battle was over (while the world was still in jeopardy). Most importantly, he seeks the Gem of Amara so he can kill Buffy -- immortal vampire vs mortal slayer -- hardly a fair fight.

As for being a Bully, yes Angelus was a bully. But so was Spike -- look at how he treated Harmony or the Troika.

"In "Crushed," Spike was rejected by Buffy, yet he chose her over Drucilla."

Offering to sacrifice Dru to prove his love for Buffy is not one of his better moments. It's John Hinkley shooting Reagan to prove his love to Jodi Foster. Except Spike lacked the courage of his convictions -- he wanted to make sure that Buffy would reward him for the sacrifice he was making before he went through with it.

"When he was tortured by Glory, he still didn't reveal Dawn's secret. Who really cares what his motivation was for doing these things? All of them required strength of character that most humans lack, let alone vampires.

Revealing Dawn's secret would have resulted in his death. Glory would not have rewarded him. He might not even have been kept around long enough to make sure he wasn't lying -- Glory wasn't exactly brilliant. However, I don't think that we were meant to believe that self-interest motivated Spike to keep quiet. Rather, it was his obsession with Buffy (as the final scene where she pretends to be the 'Bot shows). It is not strength of character, however, to submerge your own personality entirely and live solely for another person. Spike's idolatry of Buffy is the clearest sign of his weak personality.

[> [> [> [> Re: What is strength? (long, spoilers up to present) -- Rufus, 18:06:37 03/31/02 Sun

However, I don't think that we were meant to believe that self-interest motivated Spike to keep quiet. Rather, it was his obsession with Buffy (as the final scene where she pretends to be the 'Bot shows). It is not strength of character, however, to submerge your own personality entirely and live solely for another person. Spike's idolatry of Buffy is the clearest sign of his weak personality.

I happen to disagree with your assumption that William was weak. He may have been timid and self-conscious, but I wouldn't call him weak. I would call those that bullied him in FFL weak as they ganged up on one person to humiliate him. It was only when his moral compass was removed that William/Spike became weak, using the same tactics that the typical bully would to get his way.

To say that Angelus was more brave than Spike makes no sense to me as I felt, that as a human Liam was an example of a weak man escaping from a reality that he was too lazy to change. Liam was on his way to at the very least become a thug who would brawl and steal his way through life, at least William was no threat to the family silver.

I think that it comes down to personal preference in who we consider the better man. I like the journey that both vampires are on. Angel's journey appeals to me because he was such a weak man, a slave to his passions. He is learning to become the man he never would have been in Galway. His pride frequently gets in the way of clear thinking (thank god Cordy is there to slap him out of it) but he is working it out. Spikes journey is more uncertain because he is a vampire without a human soul, but he still has the mind of the person he has always been. I see his story parallels that of Alex in A Clockwork Orange, in that the government steps in and tries to make a controlable machine out of a dangerous being. The government had to figure that if they couldn't kill them all at the very least they could somehow render them helpless. The next step for Spike is to have that chip out and see if his trials while neutered have had an impact on how he will act out when the muzzle is off.

[> [> [> [> [> Excellent points, Rufus. -- Ixchel, 19:39:02 03/31/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> Re: What is strength? (long, spoilers up to present) -- leslie, 18:10:01 03/31/02 Sun

I haven't exactly been keeping a kill card here, but one thing that strikes me in terms of the "goodness" or "badness" of Spike is that we have seen him kill, or connive in the killing of, more vampires than humans. Starting with the Annointed One, he then sacrifices at least three vampires in order to get a sense of Buffy's fighting style. He allows the Judge to kill his manuscript scholar. He's ready to kill Angel to cure Dru. He only avoids killing Harmony because she's wearing the Gem of Amara at the moment. It seems to me there are more, but I can't call them to mind at the moment. In any case, I think that by and large, if I were a vampire, I would get a little anxious if I were involved in a plan masterminded by Spike, just because the attrition rate on his side tends to be pretty high...

[> [> [> [> Nicely put, but I still disagree. Here's why... (more spoilers) -- Traveler, 21:55:11 03/31/02 Sun

"Andrew was ridiculed for maintaining that Timothy Dalton was the best Bond, yet he persisted in his belief. Is this a sign of strength or a sign that he's clueless?"

It is a sign of strength, but it is a small one. Andrew normally DOESN'T argue with Warren, especially over improtant issues. In contrast, Spike argues with Buffy quite frequently.

"Do you think William was expecting Cecily's reaction? It looked like it took him by surprise to me. He was hurt enough by it to flee in tears."

He certainly was hoping that she would accept him bad poetry and all, but just because he knew he was taking a risk didn't mean he couldn't be hurt by the rejection all the same.

"Had he had any grounding in reality, he would have known that Cecily despised him."

Probably better social skills would have helped him more.

"Was his comment addressed to the men who questioned him? He spoke loudly and clearly, but his intended audience were the women (with a glance towards Cecily, mid-speech) who had been "shocked" by the indelicate remarks of the men. He hoped his remarks would be well-received by the people they were intended to impress."

You make a very good point. I didn't notice that, so I thank you for pointing it out. This then, may not be a good example of courage, but that doesn't invalidate any of my other examples.

"Starting a fight you might not win when you know your friends will bail you out is not strength."

Both times he fought a slayer, Spike was alone with them. His "friends" couldn't have bailed him out.

"He killed a couple of slayers -- okay. Did it look like he was losing those fights?"

Yes, both Slayers had him at a disadvantage during the fights. He won the first fight completely by luck, when a bomb exploded outside and distracted his foe. The second time, he managed to take her by surprise and reverse the tables on her.

"Most importantly, he seeks the Gem of Amara so he can kill Buffy -- immortal vampire vs mortal slayer -- hardly a fair fight."

The gem didn't make him super powerful. It just allowed him to survive daylight. Buffy still had the advantage as the Slayer. Also, I never said that Spike wanted FAIR fights. He just wanted fights with genuine risk. I'm not trying to make him out to be a noble anti-paladin or something. Rather, I disagree with the suggestion that he is a coward. Also, he does run away when he's beat or has something more important to do (like save Drusilla). Only a complete fool doesn't run when he knows he's lost, but that doesn't stop him from taking a stand, even when it's dangerous.

"As for being a Bully, yes Angelus was a bully. But so was Spike -- look at how he treated Harmony or the Troika."

Yes, Spike is certainly capable of being a bully. When I said that, it was in comparison to the extreme sadism of Angelus. Spike was a murderer, but at least he didn't like to "play" with his food. Besides which, he never tried to kill any of the people he disrespected. My entire argument has been about his bravery, not how nice he is.

"Offering to sacrifice Dru to prove his love for Buffy is not one of his better moments."

Well, once again, I'm not arguing that Spike is a nice guy, although I do think he has changed a lot for the better since "Crushed." The point that I was emphasizing was that he still chose Buffy, even after Drew was free and Buffy was still trapped and had COMPLETELY rejected him. He let her go knowing that she would be royally pissed of about what he had done. He's lucky he didn't get staked.

"Revealing Dawn's secret would have resulted in his death."

Not necessarily. Spike easily could have made a deal as he did with Adam, but that's neither here nor there.

"It is not strength of character, however, to submerge your own personality entirely and live solely for another person."

I absolutely agree. It is definitely a sign of weakness, and it's something that Spike needs to grow past. But that one weakness doesn't mean that he doesn't have any strengths.

And he HAS been growing in a mostly positive direction. Compare William to Spike during season two. Compare season two Spike with season five Spike. Then look at the HUGE difference between season five and six. There is a clear (at least in some ways) positive progression here. He goes from kind, but timid poet to brave, but evil rebel. Then, from evil rebel to reluctant helper. Now it is hard to remember sometimes that he is even a vampire. If he could just find the sensitivity and basic decency that he had as William and keep the courage and strength he has as a vampire (not counting his romantic relationships), Spike could become a really cool person.

I'm hopeful that this will happen, in part because Spike is finding new strength in his relationship with Buffy, (assuming he goes through with it), by forcing her to tell her friends about him. He may get some validation from Buffy's friends knowing that his feelings weren't entirely unrequited, but he expects them to reject him and drive Buffy further away. He's forcing the issue because he thinks it will be more healthy for Buffy. You're right, sometimes Spike IS all talk. He says he's evil, but I just don't believe him anymore.

The Nature of the Soul -- Mr. Man, 18:54:52 03/30/02 Sat

I'm new to this board, so forgive me if I'm rehashing too much that as already come before. I know I'm rehashing some, but this is a discussion I would be interested in seeing fleshed out more, so here goes:

The Nature of the Soul
The main debate as I see it is not over the nature of the soul, ie the effect the soul has on the person burdened with it, but rather the substance of the soul, ie the form that soul takes, how it could be removed, replaced, shifted, or stolen. This is all up in the air, but ultimately it is irrelevent.

The nature of the soul is, however vaguely, in question. The soul is not that which makes one capable of distinguishing good from evil. Even demons seem perfectly able to make this distinction.

In stead, the soul is that which allows us to choose the side we will stand on. It is the ability to work for the side of Good, the side of the PTB in the case of the Buffyverse.

But, if the soul allows us to choose Good, it should also allow us to choose Evil. The soul is the thing that turns our hearts dark.

What does this all mean, then? Only a being with a soul has the option of moral ambiguity. A soul allows us to mix "evil" actions with "good" ones on a day-to-day basis.

Creatures without a soul, vampires for instance, have no such moral compass. Whatever spirit animates them is locked into the moral alignment that was set for it upon its conception by the power behind it (the First Evil or the PTB).

Incidentally, should any being that could be thought of as a true angel exist, it couldn't have a soul, because a soul would allow it to turn on the Power(s) that created it (however, see below for another view on this).

So, if this is all true, then "demons bad". But the other hald of that statement, "people good", is not a given. And we've seen this proven time and again.

However, evidence calls into question the "demons bad" assertion as well. Doyle was obviously a "white hat". (This can be written off to that pesky human half, but genetics as a basis for a soul is problematic at best.)

Angel could definitely be seen as evil during his little break with his calling in season 2. But he has a soul, doesn't he? Yes. It is that soul that lets him see the error of his ways when he is confronted with his own evil in "Reprise". Granted, his one night stand with Darla is part of his path back to the Powers, but that isn't evil, just kind of sad.

Now, the real mind trick comes when you look at Spike. As a vampire, by definition, Spike cannot possess a soul. And no chip in his brain is going to give him one either. Yet, Spike has helped save the world on several occasions. (In his own self-interest, but that could be said of all of the Scoobies.)

He is in love with Buffy, but love is not dependent on a soul; Spike was in love with Drusilla for over a century, and Darla loved Angel for even longer than that. Granted, the lack of a soul may turn love into a perverted, selfish mockery of what we normally expect from it, but it is still love.

Spike's real problem (as far as his place in the soul question) lies in his attitude toward Dawn. Spike has protected, even comforted her (in his way). Spike has treated her well, saving her life several times; he even took a knife and multi-story fall for her, in an attempt to save the world, it should be noted!

So, does Spike have a soul? The answer is a qualified "maybe". Does he have the soul of William, the Bloody Awful Poet? No. Does he have a new soul? Maybe. Spike is obviously not a "good" person. But he is also not a purely evil creature.

Is it possible to grow a new soul? Has Spike's time with the Scoobies allowed him to generate a new moral center? Can a "soulless" being actually possess the ability to choose morality? These questions are crucial when discussing the nature of the soul.

[> Re: The Nature of the Soul -- leslie, 20:54:08 03/30/02 Sat

Not sure exactly what to make of this, but evidently the soul is also something that emits an odor. Vamps can smell souls--Darla in particular is repulsed by the smell of Angel's soul when he is cursed. And the fact that they audibly sniff before announcing that they can smell a soul suggests that this is not a metaphor. The Judge, however, announces that he smells something "human" on Spike and Drusilla--he doesn't name it a soul, but something about them literally stinks, vampirically speaking...

[> [> Re: The Nature of the Soul -- Darby, 21:08:33 03/30/02 Sat

It is established that in the Buffyverse there are different types of souls. Vampires are not soulless, but possessed of demon souls who, if you accept that human souls have a moral compass initially set to "good," have an opposite setting. It is the variance from that original setting that is supposed to produce the different range of personalities in people and demons.

Does that really explain much? No, it was just a convenient foundation on which to build a murderer as a hero - it has been mentioned several times that Buffy is to vampires as vampires are to humans: she kills with no remorse or concern for "life" of the victim, at least for vampires. For other demons, motives seem to matter, and we keep being shown vampires whose motives don't seem entirely evil (and if you look at them as predators, their attitudes toward the victims are even less quantifiable). The more ME muddy that water, the more doubt they throw on the whole Slayer mandate of stake first and never ask questions.

[> [> [> Re: The Nature of the Soul -- Kimberly, 06:23:03 03/31/02 Sun

I have two quick comments here:

Incidentally, should any being that could be thought of as a true angel exist, it couldn't have a soul, because a soul would allow it to turn on the Power(s) that created it.
My understanding is that is precisely what Lucifer/Satan is: an angel who turned on God. (Whether this actually applies to the Buffyverse is another question.)

Is it possible to grow a new soul?
From everything we have seen, I doubt it. I'm not sure what journey Spike is on, or where his ultimate destination is (although I hope for redemption, because it makes for a great story), but I don't think it will involve a new soul. Too much of a "been there, done that" feeling after Angel.

[> [> [> [> Re: The Nature of the Soul -- DickBD, 13:57:24 03/31/02 Sun

I'm impressed by these posts, as I am by very many of them. It is clear that everyone views the Buffy world as one unto itself (and I must confess that I first thought that "Buffyverse" had to do with "teen speak" when I first saw the term).

Everyone is viewing the situation hypothetically depending upon the rules of Buffy's universe. One of my favorite parts was in "Passion" when Willow had to put up a cross in her Jewish household for everyone's protection.

I'm assuming that none of us actually believes in vampires or in demons, but the fantasy world of their existence makes for great stories in Buffy and Angel. I'm sure that a lot of us don't believe in souls either or in free will, for that matter. But it is fascinating to read the discussions trying to make sense of how things work in Buffy's universe. Great work, everyone, I really enjoy your posts.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone read the various novels about vampires? Do they seem to have the same characteristics as the ones in Buffy? (I must confess that Buffy and Angel are the only fantasies I read or watch, although I do like hard science fiction.) Just as an aside from a hardened old biologist, I would point out that psychoanalysis has a very shaky foundation in the modern scientific world and is generally disregarded, based on its results and the fact that it is not falsifiable. But it used in a very interesting fashion on this board for analyzing characters and their actions. And although I prefer the science fiction of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, my favorite of all is *Gateway* by Fredrick Pohl, even though psychoanlysis is a big part of it.

[> [> [> [> [> Science -- Ian, 14:50:11 03/31/02 Sun

I agree, psychology and psychiatry do not qualify as a true science. They are a pseudo-science, dependent on ambiguous "facts" and even more ambiguous conclusions. The hallmark of a true science is applicability and repeatability. In other words, a search for constants.

Human nature is never a constant, and although there are repeating themes and related behaviors, the sheer number of variables and the uncertainty or the results preclude it from attaining the level of a hard science.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Science -- Sulis, 15:53:46 03/31/02 Sun

Please don't make sweeping generalizations like that about "psychology". Much of psychology and psychiatry is concerned with therapy, an area that despite enormous amounts of work has defied a definitive scientific analysis. But psychology is a MUCH bigger field than therapy.

And as a psychologist myself (not a therapist, I am a cognitive psychologist), I have to say that the research I've done is as scientific as any that I did as a biologist.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Oh, too true. My bad. -- Ian, 16:29:35 03/31/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> Psychoanalysis -- Darby, 19:18:25 03/31/02 Sun

I tend to think that at its best psychoanalysis is an intuitive craft, not unlike the arts that we dissect here in other ways - there are, or can be, general rules and guidelines, particular techniques that can be applied to achieve semi-predictable results. And, being a science-craft, it goes through pendulum- swing trends - give neurobiology about another decade, and analysis will start to look acceptable again (it's weird how "it's your mother" has been replaced with "it has something to do with serotonin"!).

Although I can't disagree with the notion that a lot of psychology qualifies as pseudo-science, it's only because much of the research I've read has fudged results by skewing the definitions going in. I'm the first to admit that much of biology is fuzzy science, but there seems to be more consensus on what basic concepts mean.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: The Nature of the Soul-Vampire Books -- Eric, 09:24:51 04/01/02 Mon

I have read several books about Vampires. The mythological tradition behind them is extra ordinarily diverse, with every world culture having their own vampires. Some are quite powerful, while others merely nuisances. Vamps can be made by satanic pacts, other vamps, suicide, or some terrible crime. Some like the nosferatu are hideous, others practically only ghosts. So the literary tradition is also diverse. Bram Stoker incorporated Eastern European legends into Dracula and made up others out of whole cloth. He set up a trend that lasts to this day. Basically, writers incorporate or discard whatever they like about Vampirism. Anne Rice's sympathic Vampires are much more powerful then Buffyverse vamps. They move superfast and don't disintegrate into dust. But they can't transform into bats. In Stephen King's Salem's Lot most vampires are practically zombies except for the master vamp. They aren't as powerful as Buffyverse Vamps but can turn into mist to escape if necessary. In another less famous book a Vampire hunter could kill them with excessive gunfire. Vampires and souls in these books differ. In some, the soul is imprisoned in a body that is out of control in its thirst for blood. Killing the vamp sets the soul free. In others, Rice in particular, the soul is intact, but must battle its blood thirst nightly. Most resemble the Buffyverse in that the soul goes bye - bye. It is either replaced by a demon soul or the person's id takes over, dominated by blood lust.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The Nature of the Soul-Vampire Books -- DickBD, 12:02:23 04/01/02 Mon

Thanks, Eric. That saves me a lot of reading! I never paid much attention to the vampire mythology, but after getting hooked on Buffy and Angel, my ears perk up when I hear about them. I did go to see the original *Blade*, but my wife wanted to walk out in the middle of it and was mildly angry with me for making her sit through it. (And, of course, she thinks I am crazy for taping Buffy and re-watching episodes as though it were Shakespeare!)

"Hells Bells" revisited -- RichardX1, 19:21:41 03/30/02 Sat

I just had to post this thought seeing as the episode was recently covered...

In a world like the Slayerverse, where happy endings are (apparently) impossible, is a world- destroying demon like Acathla or (potentially) season-2 Angelus a monster, or a hero?

Dance You Monster, To My Soft Song (BtVS fiction) -- matching mole, 20:59:15 03/30/02 Sat

Here at long last is part 6. Hope all interested parties have some vague memory of past events. Thanks to leslie for the idea of the land that space forgot which I have shamelessly plagiarized.

Dance You Monster, to My Soft Song
Shadows at the Bottom of the Sea, Part VI

Jane moved quickly and silently across the orange tile rooftops. She was in a relatively new neighborhood, one of few such in Sunnydale. The white stucco houses were all the same, bulky irregular boxes crammed into too-small yards and hemmed in with cinder block walls. The streets were broad, outlandishly so to her sensibilities, and, at this time of night, empty. Here and there the sound of sprinklers could be heard. Jane ground her teeth. It was ridiculous and shameful, wasting all that precious water to grow grass.
The clatter of moving stone caught her ear and she stopped instantly, her rock-climbing gloves gripping tight to the tiles. She looked towards the chaparral-covered hillside a block away. A pale shape moved among the shrubs, spotted effortlessly with enchanted eyes. It was a coyote, moving with head down, sniffing out its dinner. It was also definitely not the source of the disturbance. The noise had been nearer and off to the right.
Jane leapt from the roof she was on to the next. The sound of stones sliding came again, closer and quieter. She could smell something now, a scent that triggered memories of her home. A tiny English village with green fields and mysterious hedgerows and roads that somehow motor cars never used. A village where, if you didn’t leave something tasty outside your door in the evening you’d wake up to curdled milk. It was the smell of spring-time, dewy fresh and flower sweet with just a hint of decay at the back to remind you where the soil that produced those flowers came from. It was the smell of magic.
She reached the edge of the roof and peered down into the yard. Most of the space between the house and the pool was taken up by an empty swimming pool and surrounding deck. A few eucalyptus leaves floated at the bottom of the pool in puddles of stagnant water. The puddles were there because the bottom was marked with scratches and gouges, forming designs that could be randomly formed patterns or a message in some inhuman language.
To the left of the pool a rock garden filled in the narrow space next to the wall. Half a dozen cycads were planted haphazardly in a bed of crushed lava. Jane drew in a deeper than normal breath as she recognized one as a rare species of Encephalartos. It was fairly large, at least a half a century old, which meant that it was probably field collected.
“Bastards,” Jane muttered but she was no longer thinking of the plant. A Eucalyptus grew in the corner next to the cycads, its trunk pale enough to almost gleam in the night. A dark figure with a disturbing silhouette lurked at its base. As it moved she saw the glint of metal and managed to trace the loop of chain around the trunk.
In an instant Jane moved to the edge of the roof and then to the top of the cinder-block wall. Her movements were precise and confident but they gave her no satisfaction. They just moved her closer to her goal. As she approached she recognized the silhouette as a ghoul, more specifically a Flabby Churchyard Ghoul, New England variety. Probably of 18th Century vintage. An increasingly rare type she thought, feeling happy for the first time that night. It shouldn’t be chained up in someone’s backyard. In fact it shouldn’t be in southern California at all but this backyard was sitting on the Hellmouth.
“Hello.” She kept her voice to a whisper. In neighborhoods like this it was usually a safe bet that everyone was asleep at this hour. However she wasn’t willing to bet on the sleeping habits of anyone who kept a ghoul chained up next to their pool.
“Wha..!” The ghoul started to exclaim when she lunged forward and clapped a hand over its mouth. Her fingers sunk deeply into the soft, pale cheeks without much effort. The skin and flesh were the consistency of an elderly mushroom. Jane didn’t wince. She’d felt worse things. Much worse.
“Keep quiet,” she hissed. The ghoul squirmed underneath her. “I’m not going to hurt you. I’m a friend. But you can’t make any noise. Alright?”
The ghoul’s face moved up and down slightly under her hand. She pulled it away.
“Watch out for the B’yerch.” The ghoul’s voice was so quiet and had such a slippery sound that she could barely understand him. Her mind first went back to the gouges in the bottom of the pool. But it didn’t stay there long and was off racing through the catalog of her memories for something about the B’yerch. Then the third cycad from the left rose up on long thin legs and hit her in the back. At that point she remembered everything, just a second or two too late.
Jane rolled to her feet, sending a few pieces of lava tumbling across the pavement and into the pool. Her clothing absorbed the blow but her arms were covered with abrasions from the rocks. She pulled a small device from a pouch on her waist as the B’yerch approached. The leaf-like appendages on its back lashed violently back and forth and crashed into one another with an almost metallic sound. Jane remained still. One arthropoid leg raised itself in preparation for an attack and she feinted to one side and then plunged forward, punching her weapon into the side of the B’yerch. There was a crackle and a brief flash of light. The monster screamed with a sound like tearing steel and collapsed to the ground. Jane stepped forward, reaching for a brightly colored satchel that was strapped tightly to her side.
“Fascinating creatures, the B’yerch.” Jane smiled at the ghoul, her preternaturally white teeth clearly visible in the dark. There was no point in trying to be quiet now, anyone who hadn’t heard the B’yerch wasn’t going to hear a little bit of conversation. “Not quite as formidable as I’d been lead to believe. Still the camouflage is excellent. Remarkably deceptive.” One the B’yerch’s legs lashed out without warning and knocked Jane head over heels into the pool. The demon propelled itself up from the ground and into the drained pool after her.
“It appears that I spoke too soon.” The ghoul was staring in her direction when Jane pulled herself up and out of the pool a minute later. The satchel was squirming slightly as it rested on her hip. “It is most fortunate that my supervisors were not present for that minor setback.”
“Are you unharmed Miss?” The ghoul shuffled forward, dragging the ruins of its suit along.
“Just some minor abrasions.” Jane pulled a damp eucalyptus leaf off her knee. “Nothing to be concerned about.” She frowned in sudden realization as the ghoul approached. “You’re not chained up any more. How did you get free?”
In response, the corpse-eater held up the end of the chain, which had the distinct appearance of being gnawed.
“And you didn’t free yourself earlier because of the B’yerch I take it. I wonder what kept the B’yerch here? No matter now. Time for us to go.” She reached a hand out towards the ghoul and then stopped. “Haven’t I seen you someplace before.”
“I was in the store when you and Miss Summers were fighting.” The ghoul reached its hand towards its head and then stopped. “My name’s Howard. I’ve lost my hat.”

Buffy jogged through the empty streets of downtown Sunnydale towards the docks. Xander had wanted to drive her. Perhaps she should have taken him up on his offer. Anya was his fiancé after all, he probably wanted to help with the rescue. But Xander had just seen her. Seen her with Spike. She could barely bring herself to think the words, much less say them out loud or discuss the matter with one of her oldest friends in Sunnydale. It was easier by far to run across town and save Anya on her own. Buffy thought about the reactions of Xander, Willow and Dawn when she triumphantly returned with Anya all unscathed. That might delay the question and recrimination time for a while. In addition, this was another chance to take down the strange young Englishwoman who had bested her before. But it was by no means a certainty and Buffy was of no mind to let her friends see her humiliated twice in one evening. Twice in a day was plenty.
The Spanish colonial architecture gleamed bone white in the moonlight. The actual moon was starting to set, a huge orb hovering just over the tops of the palms. Buffy changed her pace from a jog to a loping run, long, deliberate bounds driving her toward her goal. She almost didn’t see the vampire lurking in the mouth of an alley. It grabbed her arm and almost pulled her off her feet. Instead she spun in place, dragging the vamp out of the alley and slamming it into a lamppost. The stake was in her hand without thinking and she was on her way again before the dust hit the pavement.
Two blocks later she rounded the corner and saw the abandoned factory, boarded up windows and all, looming over the vintage clothing stores and taco joints that now dominated the neighborhood. For an instant she allowed her concentration to drift. There certainly were a lot of empty factories in town. What had they made here? When did they all close down? Was it a hellmouth thing? Buffy made a mental note to ask Xander. On second thought, Willow. She stopped running, now only a hundred feet or so from the chain link fence around the factory sight, and walked slowly towards her goal. Now that she had started thinking it was hard to stop. Thoughts of Spike and the scene at the Bronze came flooding back into her mind as did the memory of her humiliation at the magic shop earlier in the day. Xander and Anya had seen it all, along with that strange ex-watcher woman who drank too much. And that ghoul that she had found in the cemetery the night before, Howard. He’d been at the shop then but she thought she remembered a glimpse of him at the Bronze. Where had he gone after that?
“Maybe he left town, went back to one of those old, moldy cemeteries he was so fond of.” Buffy shrugged to a non-existent audience. “Great. Now I’m talking to myself. Welcome to Loopy Buffy. Her first performance: a sexual obsession with a vampire. Currently holding conversations when I’m by myself. What’s next folks? Fifty cats and a bucket of cheese.” She reached a gate in the fence and rattled the chain before stepping back in preparation for jumping. As she flexed her legs a huge and rather B movie-looking tentacle snaked up out of a manhole, grabbed her, and pulled the Slayer beneath the street.

[> Dance You Monster, To My Soft Song (2) -- matching mole, 21:01:36 03/30/02 Sat

Surprisingly, the ghoul seemed to weigh significantly more than the B’yerch inside Jane’s inter- dimensional satchel. The metaphysics of land that space forgot had been explained to her several times but she had never really grasped them. Perhaps the ghoul’s voluntary entry affected the weight? She’d experienced stranger things in her life. For the first time she found herself wondering what the inside of the satchel was like. Supposedly creatures inside were prevented from encountering one another. If the B’yerch did manage to find Howard and ate him would the weight change? Jane frowned. Wondering wasn’t going to get the job done.
She was out of the newer part of town, moving briskly and steadily down streets with elegant older houses. It had been a very slow night on the Hellmouth, without a single demon until she had found Howard and the B’yerch. Having to wait until after midnight for her first encounter was unusual to say the least. Perhaps something was going on, something that she should have known about. Maybe a little intelligence gathering was in order.
The scent of magic caught her attention with death and blood more to the fore than earlier. It was a vampire. A common and rather uninteresting demon for all the fuss that people made about them. They took well to captivity for the most part although there was a tendency for the bloodsuckers to get indolent and lazy when they didn’t have to work for their food. In Jane’s experience, the North American ones were particularly bad in this regard. Given half a chance they abandoned traditional vampire culture and became useless for conservation purposes. They drank alcohol, they watched television, sometimes they even drove cars.
She could hear voices now as well. Vampires were coming up the sidewalk just around the corner. Possibly they had interesting information. Jane stepped behind a large Hibiscus planted in someone’s front yard, next to the house. She crouched down and heightened the sensitivity on her auditory spell. Four figures came into view and then stopped at the corner. There were two men and two women. The men were vampires, the women human, although one smelled faintly of magic.
“Which way back to your place then?” The blonde vampire with striking features spoke. He has a London accent but it sounded slightly affected to Jane.
The younger woman, with lighter hair, answered. “It’s about eight blocks east of here. But you don’t have to walk me.”
The dark-haired, slightly older woman chipped in. “Tara, you must live near us. It’s not safe to be out on the streets by yourself. Can we drop you off?”
“Not bloody likely.” The blonde vampire turned toward her. “Not that it’s any of my business, bein’ evil and all but I think the young lady would like to keep her blood in her veins. And you might want to pay a little more attention to the company you keep as well.”
“Listen to the pot calling the kettle black.” The other vampire was thoroughly unremarkable in appearance with limp brown hair and a wrinkled shirt. “Tara is as safe with me as Marta is. I know who she is. She’s a friend of the Slayer. You think I want that kind of trouble?”
“Mr. Thompson would never hurt you.” Marta smiled at Tara. “He’s such a gentleman.”
“Mr. Bloody Thompson?” Spike was incredulous. “Oooh, I’m tremblin’ in me boots. Lord of the Undead, the fearsome Mr. Thompson.”
“Spike I’m O.K.,” Tara said. “I think you should go after Buffy. She might need help. And you need to talk to her.”
“Bloody Slayer can look after herself. I’m through with her.” By now the foursome were well past Jane and their voices were getting faint. For a minute she considered going after them and bagging the vampires. But they seemed thoroughly socialized to humans. It seemed that those two had no intention of feeding on the two human females. They were more interested in talking to them. A horrifying alteration of the natural order of things. Jane continued on her way.

“Just think of me as a plot device.” The sewer was a lot more spacious than Buffy thought it should be. She tried to remember if she had been in this part of the city’s underground passageways at any time in the past. The spot in the tunnel in which the Old One was expounding seemed large enough to drive a locomotive through. It couldn’t have always been that big. Could it? “Or perhaps a figure behind the stage moving events to suit my own mysterious purposes. It is even possible that I am both. I am trans-dimensional you know. Both on the stage and behind it.”
“Fine. You’re a gigantic undersea metaphor. You’re also a gigantic pain in my ass. All you mega- villains are the same. As I would say if I was in a better mood, pretentious, much? Lots of talk about grand schemes and how ‘I’ve done it now and you don’t stand a chance’. But you have got to be the absolute worst. Mr. ‘I’ve seen it all because I’m ultra-dimensional and I’ve just got to comment on everything while playing retro music’.”
“Whatever. You don’t even seem to have a scheme, no schemeyness for you. Unless the plan is to bore me to death. In which case it’s working really well. And now we’re moving on to the whole everything not real and the worlds a stage and we are but actors. You know sometimes a phallic- shaped deep sea creature is just a worm. I’d say don’t get me started but I guess it’s too late for that.”
“Are you quite finished?” The high-pitched voice of the Old One made it difficult to tell what its mood was. It tucked a couple of its more cylindrically shaped appendages out of sight.
Buffy shrugged.
“Well I’m glad to see that your infamous wit has not deserted you in your time of crisis. You’re quite well known for it, you know. The Goat with a Thousand Young commented on it to me the other day or possibly it will happen sometime next month. In any event, the comment is temporally proximate to this moment. Quite refreshing too, these spicy quips, for those of us who are beyond mortal conceptions of good and evil but have a tough time sitting on the fence. It’s hard not to swing a bit on the evil side when all the good guys are clean-cut and about as exciting as curdling milk. Or brooding and tortured.”
“I’ll keep that in mind as I continue with my life long struggle against evil.” Buffy pulled a stake from inside her jacket. “Now unless you’re going to rip me limb from limb or gobble me up like you did with the wattley neck guy back in the cemetery I’ve got an ex-vengeance demon to rescue.”
“Just a few more minutes.”
“Are you sure that’s what you meant to say? Not ‘you will never escape my tentacles of doom’ or ‘good luck and enjoy the rest of the evening’ by any chance? ‘Cause I have to say that as super- villain lines go that was not top ten material. Now if you changed it to ‘Just a few minutes more and the earth will be mine’ then you’d have a contender.”
“The earth? What would I do with the earth?” The Old One sounded genuinely, if mildly puzzled. “I’m just here to see the sights. And delaying your entrance is going to make one of the sights a little more interesting. I kept you asleep for several hours but I thought a little bit of conversation might make the time go by faster so I woke you up.”
“You know,” sighed Buffy, “maybe it’s because I’m not extra-dimensional and all so I don’t have the proper perspective. But I’m getting pretty tired of interesting things happening to me.”
The Old One’s tentacles writhed with some strong emotion. “Foolish mortal,” it said, it’s high pitched tones managing to convey an impression of unutterable horror, “boredom is the abyss that swallows up the mightiest into deepest nameless oblivion. Speak not of it again. I think maybe the time for waiting is over. Or close enough.”

Jane dropped into the abandoned factory through the skylight. It was the one time she actually allowed herself to enjoy her enhanced powers. There was no particular reason that she couldn’t just walk in the side door. It was padlocked with a lock she had purchased at Sunnydale Hardware and the key was in her pocket. At this time of night and in this part of town no one was likely see her walking across the parking lot. But it seemed so anticlimactic after several hours of leaping around on rooftops to become an earthbound pedestrian for the last leg of the evening circuit. And it was very gratifying to feel the floor slam into her legs with a force that should have snapped bones and pulverized kneecaps and suffer nothing more than a mild shock.
“Now, let’s find the two of you places to spend the night.” Jane glanced down at her satchel. “Not the most luxurious of accommodations I’m afraid, but better digs are in line for the future.
“But first, let’s get out of these nasty field clothes into something more comfortable.” Jane put down her baggage and stepped over to a locker and opened it. “So if you’ll just wait a minute…” She removed her highly practical kakhi trousers and shirt and with movements that did waste a second or the tiniest bit of energy and put on a highly practical knee length skirt and white blouse. “Now we’ll find you two a place to stay.” She walked over to a series of large crates lined up against a wall. As she approached muffled noises became audible from inside.
“Perhaps next to Clem for you, Howard. There is a certain phenotypic resemblance so you may be related.” The sounds got louder although still muted, growls, squeals, trills, clicks, and, other, less identifiable, noises. Jane smiled to herself. The sound of her demon menagerie always gave her thrill. It was a pity that she was going to have to release them into the preserve. They would be happier there, true, but she wouldn’t have the pleasure of seeing them all whenever she wanted. “Now babies,” she cooed, her voice deviating from upper class reserve, “keep it down. I’ll feed you in a minute. Just a minute now.”
“You know, talking to yourself is not a good sign.” The voice came out of the shadows on the far side of the factory floor. A small, blonde woman stepped into a wide patch of moonlight. Even at this distance Jane had no problem recognizing the Slayer.
“It wasn’t a good idea for you to come here.” Jane carefully put the satchel down and mentally estimated her heart rate. It was increasing. She could feel the blood surging through her arms and legs as her muscles tensed for battle. “Back at the magic shop you were just a nuisance but now you’ve become a definite problem. One that will have to be dealt with.”
“The Old One could learn from you.” The Slayer began walking, slowly and deliberately, towards Jane.
“What?” The unexpected statement broke Jane’s concentration.
“Dialogue. Villain talk. ‘One that will have to be dealt with.’ That’s good villainy stuff. Too bad I’m going to kick your butt before you get the chance to teach him any. Unless you give me back Anya.”
Jane’s response was to leap across the warehouse. As she sailed through the air in an arc towards the Slayer she slid a long blade out of her sleeve and into her hand. Her fingers tightened on the bone handle so tightly that it started to crack.

[> [> Re: Dance You Monster, To My Soft Song (3) -- matching mole, 21:03:25 03/30/02 Sat

Jane looked like an avenging angel Buffy thought as she desperately jumped out of the way. Maybe an avenging angel crossed with an English schoolgirl. The normally limp, sandy blonde hair whipping around her head, the skirt flared out, briefly revealing the highly sensible underwear, the enormous knife, and the expression of bored irritation on the chiseled features.
The knife slashed past within a few inches of Buffy’s leg. Jane slammed into the floor feet first, causing the boards to buckle. Buffy rolled and bounced back to her feet. She took a step back, noting a space between two crates off to her left, a haven to head for if things got bad.
Jane was also on her feet, the long blade in her hand pointed straight towards Buffy. Buffy held herself motionless, waiting to see if Jane would say anything or just attack. But nothing happened. They stood, half a dozen paces apart, silent and unmoving for what seemed an eternity. It was so quiet that Buffy could hear a faint cracking sound coming from where Jane’s hand grasped the knife. Eventually she could stand it no longer.
“What is the deal with you monsters and villains tonight?” Buffy tried to sound flippant, just in case they were paying attention in other dimensions, but her heart wasn’t really in it. “Where’s the grandiose claims? The threats of vengeance? The taunts? At least a snarl or a scream as you lunge for my throat. You had a good start with that ‘just a nuisance’ line but now you’ve gone all non- verbal psycho on me. Normally I appreciate an adversary that is straightforward and less than verbose but this is bordering on boring. Or creepy. And not in the good scary monsters and haunted houses way.”
“You have the temerity to call me a villain?” Jane sounded genuinely baffled. Her pale blue eyes widened slightly but the tip of the knife didn’t waver. Moonlight shone softly on the blade and on Jane’s alabaster skin. “And despite your immature and flippant tone I believe that you mean it sincerely. I would respond but the enormity of your ignorance and lack of moral bearing is such that I wouldn’t know where to begin.”
Indignation rose up in Buffy and she was about to blurt out a response when she remembered Spike. Sex with a vampire was probably a big lapse in morals. She felt herself on shaky ground. Still a response of some sort seemed called for. “What are you talking about? I’m minding my own business, slaying demons and saving the world when you come to my town and start picking fights.”
“Typical.” Jane sniffed, the sort of reaction that always seems contrived but she made it seem completely natural. Buffy knew that she could never pull it off. “Justifying your actions as minding your own business. An apathetic suburbanite who can’t see the consequences of her lifestyle.”
Hoping that Jane wasn’t talking about Spike Buffy protested, “Watch who you’re calling apathetic! I’ve saved the world four times. Or maybe it’s five. Or even six. Anyways it’s a lot. Even says so on my tombstone. You can go check.”
“Yes, you’ve been interfering with the natural order of things. This is demon habitat. Some of them have lived here far longer than humans. Everywhere they are fading away, their wonder and beauty becoming rarer with each year because of human technology and order. Only here, in southern California, are magical ecosystems maintaining themselves. And you, Buffy Summers, are endangering these precious remnants.” Jane slashed out with the knife, slicing through Buffy’s sweater and slightly scratching her skin as the Slayer twisted out of the way.
Buffy grabbed Jane’s arm and twisted her around, slamming the environmentalist into a large crate. The wooden container shattered and a scaly, two-headed squid flew out on enormous diaphanous wings that were decorated with scenes from the life of Joan of Arc. All four of its dinner plate sized eyes stared at Buffy with what the Slayer could only assume was alarm. Then great jets of emerald ink billowed out behind it. Strange smelling ink that reminded Buffy strangely of the Ice Skating shows her father used to take her to on her birthday.

“You bitch.” Jane was furious that she didn’t catch the swear word until it was out of her mouth. Her Ephempterdicephalolepidodecapod was loose and the Slayer was responsible. The only one of its kind known in any easily accessible dimension and she was about to lose it. Jane watched in horror as it used a razor sharp and diamond hard tentacle to shatter half a dozen crates, freeing the demons within. One by one the squidoid slashed them to pieces and devoured them. The reserve would never get stocked if this fiasco was allowed to continue.
The Slayer hadn’t moved, stupefied by the narcotic ink of the Ephempterdicephalolepidodecapod. Only the creature’s distaste for human flesh had saved her so far. But if it ate much more it’s hunger would grow too great to be sated by the available supply of demons and it would have to expand its diet. Within an hour it could devour all of Sunnydale and grow to the combined size of three aircraft carriers. If that happened Jane would never get it back into one of her crates even if they were full of bits of the land that space forgot. If she was going to do something it would have to be now.
Jane turned and sprinted back across the room towards her locker. A tentacle flicked over her head but it was not aimed at her. Another row of crates shattered and demons burst out into the confusion. One of the them was the owner of the magic shop, who despite the reports labeling her as a vengeance demon, had proved disappointingly human. She tumbled to the ground at Jane’s feet. Jane leaped over her and threw open the locker. She dumped her satchel on the ground. At the back of the locker there was a device resembling a hybrid between a VCR remote and a magic wand. She grabbed it and pushed three of the buttons at once while pointed it at a forklift parked against one wall. This was the only way. It would cause havoc in the reserve but with all the supplies of the land that space forgot available there they should be able to control the Ephempterdicephalolepidodecapod no matter how large it got.
A ghastly rusty orange glow suffused the forklift and a hole formed in the air in front of it. Vistas of another land could be seen. Space was heavily distorted so that a large number of different scenes could be seen at once. It was as if they were on top of one another but still clearly distinguishable. Beautiful, terrible demons of all shapes and sizes were everywhere. Scales, fur and slime, horns and talons, a great variety of eyes, ears, nostrils, and other sensory organs. Creatures slaughtering, feeding, and copulating. A chaotic cacophony of fantastic diversity. Jane drank it in through every pore in her skin.
“All you deal is death, Slayer. Death to these wonders. I have given them a home.”

“Wake up Buffy.” The voice seemed to be coming from the other side of a wall. A soft, fuzzy wall. Then something hit her, not hard enough to hurt but hard enough for her to feel it. She pushed at the wall and it started collapsing. There was light on her face, a strange rusty orange light. She opened her eyes. Anya was standing over her.
“Hey An.” Buffy’s voice sounded a bit strange to her own ears. “I think I’m here to rescue you.”
“Well good work so far.” Anya smiled in a not very reassuring way. “But I don’t think you’re quite done yet. So no sleeping on the job. Take a look.”
Buffy saw Jane, back on the far side of the room. In front of her was a hole in the air that made Buffy’s eyes hurt to look at. The hole was full of all sorts of really unpleasant looking demons that seemed to be overlapping with one another in a clearly impossible way. Jane was tracing some sort of outline on the ground in front of her. Off to her side a floppy-eared demon that Buffy had seen at Spike’s poker game was pulling Jane’s forgotten satchel out of sight behind the ruined remains of several dozen crates.
“We can’t let those things get out.” Buffy pulled herself to her feet.
“Uh, Buffy…” Anya was pointing to something behind her but the slayer was thinking only about Jane and the portal.
“Hey, Miss Earthy Crunchy.” Buffy was hoping the Old Ones interdimensional buddies weren’t listening in just then. Her repartee was definitely going downhill.
Jane turned her head slightly. “Ah, you’re awake Slayer. But too late I fear. You may have caused me a minor set back but now I am undefeatable. The portal cannot be closed by anything except a living being passing through it on its way to a new home.”
“That’s I needed to know.” Buffy scooped up a large fragment of crate and threw it, full force, at Jane. The blow knocked the English girl off her feet. Instead of falling down to the floor, she fell up, mouth wide open with surprise into the portal which vanished immediately and unceremoniously.
“Now that’s the kind of dialogue I was waiting for.”
“Buffy.” Anya tapped insistently on the Slayer’s shoulder.
“What is An? Is there a killer bunny lurking back there somewh…” Buffy turned to see the scaly squid thingy, now the size of a bus, hovering in the air near the roof of the factory. It was just finishing eating the remains of a demon that Buffy had been hunting for several weeks. The bones were raining down somewhere out of sight.
“I suppose you’re going to want me to defeat that as well,” she said, stealing a quick glance at Anya.
“I think you just got rid of the only chance of defeating that.” Anya was looking around. “Which way to the nearest door? And the nearest really fast car?”
Just then a vast tentacle smashed through the wall and grabbed the monster jerking it back out of sight. The wall collapsed completely, revealing the Old One, much larger than it had ever appeared before, with the last of the squid vanishing down its throat.
“Damn that’s tasty.” The high pitch of the Old One’s voice was unaffected by its great size. “Haven’t had one of those in ages. That should hold me until morning.”
“So you’re not going to eat us? Not that I’m complaining. I just want to be clear.” Anya stared up through the hole in the wall of the factory.
“Not right now. It’s been a long day. I think I’ll retire for the night.” The Old One turned and vanished into the darkness.
“Well I guess that’s that.” Buffy turned towards the nearest door in a still intact wall. “We might as well be going home too. Xander and Dawn will be wondering where we are.”
“I don’t want you to think I’m ungrateful Buffy. Lord knows Xander is always telling me I’m insensitive so I want to get that out of the way at the start. But I find this extremely unsatisfying. Not the being saved of course, but how it happened. First, how the hell did you know that she would fall up into her portal?”
“I didn’t, but…” began Buffy but was interrupted.
“Second why did you close the portal while the squid monster was still on this side of it? Not the brightest move. Third, given that your stupidity had doomed us both and probably all of southern California to being squid bait doesn’t it seem a little too convenient that the Old One would show up and save the day? Not to mention ruin the dramatic tension.”
Buffy looked away in a effort to keep herself from punching Anya. There was a light on back behind the crates. It must have been low to the ground as it was casting an enormous flop-eared shadow high on the wall.
“Yes, Buffy.”
“Isn’t that a really big rabbit over there? With fangs.”
Buffy kept Anya in sight all the way back to her apartment but somehow managed not to catch up to her.

[> [> [> Any chance of getting these collected? -- d'Herblay, 22:01:06 03/30/02 Sat

I'd like to be able to read these straight through, but I missed some installments on their first arrival. Any chance of sending them over to Liq for Fictionary Corner? Or, hell, just to me for my own personal enjoyment?

As it stands now, a new reader can find parts one and two in the December archives. Parts three, four and five, however, are nowhere to be found.

[> [> [> [> Yes, please send them to Liq for FC.... -- Liq, 02:23:19 03/31/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> The whole story -- matching mole, 06:02:04 03/31/02 Sun

I had been planning to wait until the completion of part 10 and then go back over the whole 'epic' to remove the problems with continuity and consistency that I'm sure have appeared. However by the time I finish I'm sure that I'll be thoroughly sick of the thing and not want to look at it for awhile. And I should have the courage of Charles Dickens and ME in putting out my story one piece at a time without going back and changing it.

So I'll get my hard copies with my wife's editorial comments back from her graduate student so I can make some minor corrections and submit them later in the week.

Thanks for the interest, it's very gratifying.

Male characters and female leaders on BtVS -- Ixchel, 00:20:15 03/31/02 Sun

This post was inspired by Lilac's comments regarding her disagreement with the perception of male characters on BtVS as being "weak".

An interesting aspect of BtVS is the strong (IMHO) male characters, who accept a female leader with little or no problem.

Giles, though he is Buffy's mentor, nevertheless supports and reinforces her leader role. He expresses practical doubts about her plans on occasion or provides guidance, but he does acknowledge her as the group's leader and treats her as such. For example his actions during Buffy and Wesley's argument in Becoming 2 where he says he has nothing to say, and then goes and sits by Buffy. This scene seems to not only show his unwillingness to attempt to order her, but also by going near her that he is with her and by sitting (his head being lower than hers as she is standing) that he accepts her as the leader.

Xander also respects Buffy's leadership. What is interesting is that he accepts Willow as temporary leader in situations as well going back to Halloween and through to TWotW and Bargaining. In Halloween as soldierXander he listens to ghostWillow even though 18thcenturyBuffy asks if he is feeble-minded to be taking orders from a woman. In TWotW he makes an attempt at organizing the group, but gets resistance from Spike so they have to be separated by Willow. In this instance once Willow makes it clear that she will lead, Xander seems to accept this without qualms.

Spike could be seen as accepting Buffy as leader because he wants to please her, but I think it is more than that. In TWotW he (like Xander) accepts Willow as leader when it becomes obvious that Buffy is incapacitated. While this could be interpreted as his acknowlegment of Willow's power (which she reminded Spike and Xander of when she separated them) and the fact that he is a fringe member of their group, he did resist (what he perceived as) Xander's attempt to lead.

This is not to say that these three characters function as some sort of drones. They do not. I believe each one to be strong. They do think for themselves and take action, but they also accept female leaders without (it seems to me) reservation.


[> Ooh, I inspired, how nice! -- Lilac, 06:17:38 03/31/02 Sun

[> Re: Male characters and female leaders on BtVS -- Sophist, 08:07:26 03/31/02 Sun

I agree about Giles and Spike. For reasons I can't really articulate, Xander seems weak to me. I think it's because I don't seem him as the dominant figure in any relationship, whether with Cordelia, Willow (after S1), Buffy, Anya, Giles, Angel (after S1), or Spike. If Xander is #2 in every relationship, what is it that would make him a strong character?

What about Angel? Riley? Oz?

[> [> Does one have to be dominant to be strong? -- Lilac, 11:26:48 03/31/02 Sun

I don't believe that the only way to be a strong person is to be a dominant person. Xander was not the aggressor in his relationships, but he is supportive in those relationships -- isn't that a kind of strenght. I think of Xander being strong in the sense of facing down challenges that are really, in many cases, beyond what he should reasonably be expected to face. He is, after all, the Scooby with just an every day Joe's strength and knowledge, so he really puts himself on the line when he joins the fight.

[> [> [> Re: Does one have to be dominant to be strong? -- Sophist, 14:50:40 03/31/02 Sun

If someone is supportive sometimes and dominant other times, you would be right. If someone is always supportive, that sounds like the old stereotype of womens' role. While there is a strength of sorts in that role, as you correctly point out, I think it was rightly seen as shackling women by not allowing for them to be in charge at least some of the time. In that sense, Xander's role is not a strong one.

[> [> [> [> Agreed. Any extreme is usually unhealthy. -- Ian, 14:53:23 03/31/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> Re: Does one have to be dominant to be strong? -- Slain, 15:31:07 03/31/02 Sun

An interesting idea, and something that I hadn't really thought about. I've always pushed the feminist angle, focusing on how the female characters are dominant, and only thinking of the male characters in terms of this. It would make an interesting comparison to AtS, where I think the main power is split between Angel and Cordy, or sometimes Wes and Cordy.

I think it's a common feature of feminist texts concieved of by men, like BtVS, that while the women are dominant, the male characters are not exactly weak, but are rather supportive.

Something I've written on the subject;

[> [> [> [> I think we just have to agree to disagree on this... -- Lilac, 17:26:41 03/31/02 Sun

I feel that Xander demonstrates strength in being steadfast, loyal, and supportive. He faces things he fears because it is the right thing to do. While he hasn't historically been the aggressor in his romantic relationships, I don't think he allows himself to be pushed around when he is in a relationship. So, while Xander isn't the headman in the group, I do think he deserves to be considered a strong person in his own right. I must say that I don't consider bolting on his wedding to be a sign of strength -- obviously, if he was that conflicted about getting married, he should have dealt with his fears in a more mature manner before breaking Anya's heart. Other than this one glaring exception, I think Xander has done pretty well over all in doing the right things.

This question of the strength of the male Buffyverse characters makes me think of Rianne Eisler's ideas on the dominator paradigm and the partnership paradigm. The traditional patriarchal society is, generally speaking, a dominator paradigm. Matriarchal societies tend to operate under more of a nonhierarchical partnership paradigm. The Scoobies, with Buffy at the center, seem to me to be more of a partnership than a hierarchy. While Buffy is the core, because of her calling, the group mostly operates by consensus. This mode of operating calls for a different kinds of strengths than the dominator, or hierarchical, paradigm. Just a thought.

[> [> [> [> [> I'm with you on the partnership. -- Sophist, 18:11:05 03/31/02 Sun

That's a better way of saying what I was trying to say above. I just think Xander is portrayed as not really a partner. Giles was a partner. Willow is a partner. Spike is. Tara has become one. Xander is the one who goes to get donuts. This is not a problem for me; I don't resent it or think it wrong or bemoan the lack of strong men on the show. I'm just commenting on what I see.

[> [> [> [> [> [> You know what, , I've changed my mind.... -- Lilac, 04:45:05 04/01/02 Mon

I was thinking about this Xander thing last night, and realized that I felt I could defend the Xander of the high school years, but have a much harder time defending Xander now. His recent behavior has been that of someone with a weak character. I am referring here to his cruel and humiliating abandonment of Anya, and his persistent poking at Spike. A strong man would have faced his fears about his impending marriage before the point of no return. And I have to say that insulting and even striking someone who can't fight back, as Xander does Spike in NA, is pretty low behavior. It's also like tormenting a chained dog -- you had better hope the chain doesn't break. Being mean to those who are weaker than you is not a sign of strength.

So I guess what I think now is that Xander started out on the path of being a strong person in his early years, but somewhere along the way he has lost the path. Anyway, I am conflicted enough about him at this point that I don't think I want to defend his behavior.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Lilac, about Xander... -- Ixchel, 19:31:14 04/02/02 Tue

I think I know what you mean, but I feel the Xander you could defend is still there.

I have this perception that this season the writers have taken these very three dimensional characters and shown us a "fourth dimension". It's not very nice (usually), but this "dimension" exists in everyone.

And it is somewhat distressing to watch (at least for me), but I feel it's worth it (or maybe will be?).


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I hope so, it would be too disappointing otherwise. -- Lilac, 16:23:40 04/03/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> Well said, Lilac. -- Ixchel, 19:35:23 03/31/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> dominant/supportive and strength -- yuri, 12:35:05 04/01/02 Mon

I'm confused about the definition of a "supportive" role, and why this isn't strong, or can't be considered dominant in itself. To be the support means that those who you are supporting need you so that they can do what they need to do, so doesn't that give you just as much credit and control as they have? I don't see why one must be supportive sometimes and dominant other times to be strong. Certainly, some roles considered "supportive" are really just neutral. And certainly, the state of being forced into a supportive role diminishes any strength one can get from it, such as the situation of many women over the ages. However, I think that really being "supportive" is just like being "dominant" but not in the archetypical way we are so used to. It's like in sports (ye gads, a sports analogy), like basketball or something, we see the ones who make baskets as the stars, but just as important are the ones that give them the ball. Or the people in the scorer's lives that make their life worth living, that help them get up in the morning. They are just as much a part of every basket.

I'm writing this at hyper speed under the glaring eye of several people waiting to use this computer, (I despise internet cafes) so I know it's not that great. I hope someone else can clarify and expound, because I'd like to know the history of this argument, as I'm sure there is one, from those more well read than I.

[> [> [> [> [> "They also serve who only stand and wait" -- Sophist, 14:03:32 04/01/02 Mon

There is no doubt that supportive actions require their own strength. I believe Lilac made that point first and I entirely agree (and said so). There are 2 problems I see with relying on this agreement to characterize someone as "strong".

First, it cuts too far. If every role requires some strength to perform (albeit strength of a different kind), then there are no strong or weak characters, only characters taking on different roles. I might agree with this conclusion, except I'm inclined to recognize (and celebrate) BtVS's portrayal of "strong" female roles. Ultimately, if we call Buffy or Willow or Tara "strong", we must have a contrasting ideal of "weak".

Second, while there is nothing logically wrong with calling every role a "strong" one, that's not how the term is commonly used. To follow up on your sports analogy, we can praise John Stockton for his superb ability to make assists without thereby believing that he is as important ("dominant", "strong") a player as Michael Jordan. The reason is this: on a basketball team every player gets the ball sometimes. The object of the game, however, is to score baskets. Those who do so are more important than those who give them the ball.

My original post questioned the assertion that Xander was portrayed as a "strong" character. It's clear that Xander is not the one fighting the fight; that's Buffy's job. Nor is Xander ever recognized by the SG as being in charge; that's Buffy or Giles or Willow. By his own admission, he is not "research guy". Xander does contribute, in the same way Jimmy Olsen helps Superman, but I don't see how we can avoid characterizing Olsen as weak once we admit that Superman is strong. It's a relative term, as Ixchel pointed out.

There is another sense of "weak" that applies here also. Everybody has weaknesses. That doesn't make us weak overall. We call a character weak if his/her weaknesses outweigh the strengths.

Lilac's last post mentions several occasions when Xander's weaknesses have clearly outweighed his strengths. While all the SG have weaknesses, Xander's have been emphasized for 5 full seasons now (I believe he was a strong character in S1). The other members have commented on it and there have been at least 2 full episodes devoted to it (The Zeppo and The Replacement).

Xander has his strengths, but they are less strong than Buffy's or Willow's or Tara's. Buffy's weaknesses, whatever they are, don't outweigh her strengths. Neither do Willow's or Tara's. Xander starts from a position of less strength, so that when his weaknesses show, we lose sight of his strengths. I think that has happened to his character over the last 5 seasons.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: "They also serve who only stand and wait" -- Ian, 15:20:16 04/01/02 Mon

This is more amplification than contradiction, but I believe one reason Xander can seem weak in the company of so many strong personalities is due to his own ignorance of his strengths. Each of the original Fab Four has talents, powers and experience that are recognized and respected by the others. Except for Xander.

Buffy is the Slayer, she knows what she can do and so does everyone else.

Willow is the powerful witch and computer hacker, she knows just how powerful her magic can be, and those around her realise that potential even more accutely. But even before her magic, Willow was valued for her computer skills and all around intelligence.

Giles is/was the Watcher, full of arcane knowledge and decades of life experience.

And Xander, well, Xander is the goofy sidekick, intelligent but underachieving. Xander has never apparently recognized his own strengths, and to make matters worse, the Scooby's haven't gone out of their way to tell him.

This doesn't conflict with any of the other posts, but I find it interesting how much the group dynamic of the Scooby's has affected viewers perceptions as well. Xander is perhaps the most courageous, arguably the most persistent, and clearly one of the most intelligent Scooby's, if not the most intellegent.

However, the Gang doesn't see Xander clearly, mostly because Xander doesn't see Xander clearly (yay to the legacies of an abusive/dysfunctional home). The Gang seems pretty democratic in its dynamic, so if Xander could just grab some self esteem and strut his stuff, it might change everyone's opinion of him. (In fact, in The Replacement, we see that happen: Assured Xander speaks his mind and the others really listen.)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> A good point. -- Sophist, 16:30:33 04/01/02 Mon

You make a very good point that Xander doesn't receive much (any?) reinforcement of his strengths. The mutual support the SG give each other has been lacking in general this year and Xander has suffered from it for years.

That being said, I can't agree that Xander is the most intelligent. The evidence we have is that Willow and Giles are far brighter than Xander (and everyone else). While less clear, the evidence is also that Cordy and Buffy are more intelligent. Oz probably was also.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Reply -- Ian, 16:45:42 04/01/02 Mon

Well, you've got me there.

Still, most of what I think people point to when ranking smarts on the show amounts to applied intelligence. By this standard, Xander is distant to everyone. By his own admission, Xander is not "research boy," but it's always seemed clear to me that this stemmed from personality rather than capability. Also, who else on Buffy goes to such lengths to downplay their intellectual abilities? That can't help the ranking.

However, by the standard of spontaneous intelligence (wit, quick thinking, ability to diffuse a situation), Xander always holds his own.
That doesn't make you wrong, but that's really what I meant to say re intelligence.

Jeez, Sophist, too lazy to read my mind? ;)

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: "They also serve who only stand and wait" -- yuri, 08:11:26 04/02/02 Tue

I realize I may have skimmed to quickly over the last few posts, and therefore not fully understood your point of view, but I still disagree with what you're saying. It may just be one of those times when the disgreement springs from a difference in our basic emotional wiring, so it's futile to arue, but I'd like to put in a few more words anyway.

As for Xander, I've thought about it a bit and am still confused about whether I would deem him strong, especially after your and Ian's discussion.

However, I still don't think that Micheal Jordan is "stronger" than John Stockton. Well, sheeit, of course Micheal Jordan is a stronger player than Stockton, but you know what I mean. I feel like it may be a sort of cultural thing that we associate dominance and strength only with the person physically (usually physically, or some other obvious way) closest to the final goal... the person who actually makes contact with the obstacle or whatever needs to be overcome. To some this is reasonable, and I can understand that, but I think that the people who link the "champion" to the rest of the world, to their sanity, and to their own strength are just as strong and dominant, in every sense.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: "They also serve who only stand and wait" -- Sophist, 09:47:08 04/02/02 Tue

There's nothing at all wrong with that way of seeing things. We could say, for example, that people are not strong or weak, they just have strengths and weaknesses and the relative importance of these is purely subjective (and may change according to circumstances).

Ixchel's original post argued that the male characters on BtVS were all "strong". I took that to mean an overall assessment beyond just saying each has his own strengths and weaknesses. If that is the ground of discussion, then I think we have to agree that the hero is stronger than the helper, even though the helper may have his/her own important strengths. Even among the helpers, Xander has been pretty clearly less important than Giles (the father) and Willow (the best friend). The comparison with Tara and Spike is less clear, and pretty subjective, so about all I can say is that I see Xander as weaker than either of them (and I strongly believe that Tara is a much stronger person).

But I also think it important to re-emphasize that the writers have spent the last 5 seasons showing us Xander's weaknesses: he's a poor student; he floundered about looking for a job; he can't fight very well; he's judgmental; he fails to see the consequences of his own actions; he's jealous. While all the other characters have had their weaknesses shown, none have been emphasized the way Xander's have. That very much affects the way I view the character.

[> [> [> [> Re: Does one have to be dominant to be strong? -- Rattletrap, 08:24:42 04/02/02 Tue

Xander is a strong character in that he is supportive, loyal, and dedicated. While, as many have pointed out, he is not usually a dominant figure in his relationships (Anya being one possible exception, not sure here); he is also not a doormat. Xander is a person of very definite views and is not shy about making those known if the group is moving in a direction he feels is wrong. Examples include his confrontation with Buffy about the returned Angel in "Revelations" and his determination to rescue Buffy in "Innocence" and "Prophecy Girl" regardless of the cost. In short, while he is not normally a dominant personality, he can be extremely dominant if the need arises. This strikes me as the sign of someone who is a strong character.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Does one have to be dominant to be strong? -- Sophist, 10:01:37 04/02/02 Tue

I think you've correctly identified Xander's strengths: he's generally, with a few exceptions, supportive, loyal and dedicated. However, as I see it, the questions are:

1. Is he as strong as the other characters on the show?

2. What are his weaknesses, and how do they balance against his strengths?

When I go through these mentally, I see him as weaker than the others, and I see his weaknesses predominate.

I'm a little puzzled by your citation to Revelations as an episode demonstrating Xander's strength. He was so overboard in his reaction that he ended up apologizing to Buffy for "going postal". The apology shows a strength, but the rest of the episode does not.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Does one have to be dominant to be strong? -- Rattletrap, 06:22:27 04/03/02 Wed

Hmmm, good point, and I would certainly agree that the apology shows strength, but I think I tend to stick by my original line of thought. Xander was convinced _at the time_ that he was doing the right thing, and he certainly had good reason to be afraid of Angel's return and to stand up to Buffy. As I said earlier, he wasn't afraid to make his objections known. The fact that he later backs down from it doesn't really deflate the strength in the original moment, in my mind at least.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> That's fair. -- Sophist, 08:46:28 04/03/02 Wed

I guess I didn't see it as a uniquely Xander demonstration of strength because the whole SG was there in the library confronting her.

[> [> Response for Sophist... -- Ixchel, 17:47:03 03/31/02 Sun

Regarding Xander, I really have to disagree. I see him as strong in many ways. As Lilac says supportive, brave (with only human strength to back it up), and IMHO kind (usually). And to be these things with his family background takes strength of character (of course his long association with Willow and then with Buffy and Giles probably helped a great deal).

As to being dominant or subordinate in a relationship, I don't perceive these interactions as fixed, but rather in a state of constant flux. Also, relationship dynamics are so complex and can be interpreted on multiple levels. So that a relationship that seems one way to someone may seem completly different to someone else.

Regarding Xander and Cordelia, I saw this relationship as fairly equal overall. While Cordy may have appeared in control, Xander's affectionate, but censoring, remarks did attempt to modify her behavior. Also, it would seem that she gave him real power over her as witnessed by her devastation in Lover's Walk (I don't believe that was all wounded pride).

As to Xander, Willow and Buffy, it does seem as if he defers to them (especially Buffy as leader), but I believe there is more to their relationships. A main feature of his interaction with them is his willingness to confront them about their actions as leaders (Becoming 1, Bargaining 1 and 2).

I think that Xander and Anya's relationship is also more complex than meets the eye. It could be seen as either being "dominant". It is in many ways reminiscent of his relationship with Cordelia, but with more depth (his speech to her in Into the Woods and her speech about loving him in Hell's Bells).

In Xander's relationship with Giles, I can see where he is subordinate. I think he was looking for a "good father" (as I suppose they all were) and realized that Buffy and Willow were favored over him (not that Giles doesn't love him too, I believe he does). So perhaps he is more insecure of his position with Giles?

I'm not sure how I would interpret his relationship with Angel. There is a lot of nebulous area (Angel turning evil, coming back), and he never seemed fully integrated into the group.

I believe with Xander's relationship with Spike all their conflict makes an interpretation difficult. Because Spike starts out (late season 5) as barely accepted, Xander thinks this is how he should stay (especially due to Spike's previous actions, vampireness, etc.). So Xander behaves toward Spike like Spike is the omega of their little pack and is annoyed when he feels Spike oversteps his bounds.

Regarding Angel's reaction to female leadership, I'm not sure. He did defer to Buffy, but I don't know how he would have handled for instance Willow as a leader. Also, he did have a tendency to be the "dominant" one in his romantic relationship with Buffy. Looking at his time as Angelus, I do perceive Darla as being the leader of their gang, but she seemed to encourage Angelus' delusion that he was in charge (like she enjoyed macho posturing somehow?). As to the present AtS, I get an impression of some deference to Cordy, but also some resistance to the idea (this is a very vague perception on my part, I'm not nearly as obsessive about AtS as BtVS, so I don't tape it).

I'm not sure I can have a coherent opinion about Riley. I liked him fine during season 4, he started to grate on my nerves in season 5, so that by Into the Woods I was ready for him to go. And since As You Were I now intently dislike him. Maggie Walsh not withstanding, I do believe he had a problem with female leadership (when not backed up by a military hierarchy). Would he have accepted Willow's leadership (which was well done IMHO) in TWotW as readily as Xander and Spike?

Oz is interesting, he may have appeared "dominant" in his romantic relationship with Willow, but I'm not sure if this was due more to her mannerisms than an actual desire on his part. Also, he never seemed to question or be uncomfortable with Buffy's leadership in any way.

Thanks for your thoughts.


[> [> [> Re: Response for Sophist... -- Sophist, 18:18:42 03/31/02 Sun

I appreciate your comments. They are always insightful and very well expressed.

While I usually agree with you, here I don't. My gestalt of Xander is that he is portrayed as a weak character. I guess I could give examples, but that kind of defeats the point of a gestalt. It also neatly avoids having to come up with evidence in support of my view........

Anyway, as I said in response to Lilac, I don't have a problem with Xander being weak. I think the other characters display a good sense of teamwork, even though Buffy is the hero (the show is eponymous after all). I'm just making an observation without judging.

[> [> [> [> It's all subjective... -- Ixchel, 19:24:28 03/31/02 Sun

Thank you, Sophist. I very much appreciate your comments as well and for the same reasons. I always look for your name on the board because I know you'll have a fascinating point or comment.

I think I understand your perception of Xander. It really is a testament to the talents of ME that these characters are so multifaceted, so complete that different people can have varying opinions on them and _all_ be in some sense correct.

A little comment about their teamwork, I think this is one of my favorite aspects of the show. Buffy isn't a dictator, but rather a leader. The message that together they are strong is a positive one to me (especially relevant in this season where they've lost that cohesion, that strength).


[> Sorry, that should be Graduation Day 2, not Becoming 2. -- Ixchel, 16:20:39 03/31/02 Sun

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