May 2002 posts

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Will vs Coirdy... -- FriarTed, 00:49:26 05/24/02 Fri


Did anyone else fear/hope that ascending Light Cordy from Monday night would descend Tuesday night to stand against Dark Willow?

[> Re: Will vs Coirdy... -- JM, 08:54:33 05/24/02 Fri

It's an interesting parallel between the two shows. However, I bet that Cordy has not been promoted to world saving duties yet. I bet she's more on the level of the Oracles. It appears that the Powers decided to work with more prosaic tools this outing. Maybe they felt that they had things well in hand in Sunndydale.

Actually it's interesting that although Willow and Cordy were both superhuman for a few eps, Willow's thinking globally and Cordy's power has been tapped basicly for extermination and family counseling.

[> kinda, but i like this ending better :) -- Shul, 18:12:46 05/24/02 Fri

[> [> Same here, I FEARED it would be Will vs Cordy!*nt* -- FriarTed, 03:17:14 05/25/02 Sat

E.W. Buffy Finale review (SPOILERS)/season 7 spec -- MaeveRigan, 07:53:55 05/24/02 Fri

Questions/comments about a couple of passages from the Entertainment Weekly review of the BtVS finale:

"In ''Grave'''s final scene, Spike won back his vampire mojo, courtesy of a powerful, primordial demon. Yet instead of extracting the chip in his head that inhibits his evil, the demon plunged its hand into Spike's chest and gave him his soul back. But what was meant by ''soul'' -- Spike's vampire nature or his old human nature?"

I've seen some posters on ATP hint at this possibility, but this struck me as the first explicit statement of it, that the "soul" the African demon gave Spike might have been some kind of "vampire soul." I don't really buy this, as it seems inconsistent with everything that "soul" has meant in the Buffyverse up to now. Admittedly, "soul" has been a fairly elastic concept, but it's never stretched this far, AFAIK.

It also seems inconsistent with the Jane E. interview, which was very interesting. Really like everything I've heard from her.

OTOH, a "vampire soul" might make sense of Joss's jokey "Spike changed his fish order--SOLE, not SOUL" posting on the UPN Bronze board. A sole is a cold fish: any semblance of a soul a vampire had would be metaphorically cold. Yeah, I'm making way too much of this.

I return to my previous position: human soul, whatever that means.

Next quote from E.W.:

"...Willow. We were told that even if she survived her conversion back to humanity, she may be less than what she used to be. ''X-Men'' fans will recognize this development as a nod to the fabled alternative ending to the classic "Dark Phoenix," in which Phoenix undergoes a lobotomy that reduces her to a little girl in a woman's body. Will "Buffy"'s writer borrow this idea as well?"

Now Xander's mention of "crayon-breaky Willow" in kindergarten starts to sound like foreshadowing. Anyone who thinks Willow might get off too easily, I'm wondering if she might be in for a few episodes of something similar to Tara after Glory brainsucked her? That seems fitting, at the very least. If Willow is going to use magic at all (and I think she should), she needs a complete retrofit.

[> Re: E.W. Buffy Finale review (SPOILERS)/season 7 spec -- yez, 08:12:36 05/24/02 Fri

Regarding Spike's "soul," I was wondering whether "soul" might be used figuratively to mean renewed vigor for his old penchant for doing evil -- as a vampire "should." So, returning his essence of vampireness, or similar.

As far as Willow goes, that's interesting... I guess I interpreted the final scene as Willow losing her will to carry through the plan and execute the magicks, unable to muster the energy, instead of being physically unable to do so. Also, doesn't Giles say that the coven was working on a way to "extract" her power without killing her? But what happens when Willow takes his "good" magick and gets "dosed" with the essence of it -- which touches her humanity -- may not necessarily be the same "plan" the coven was working on. Though I guess it could be.

I really would like to see Willow able to use her powers "for good." Might be nice for her to actually get guidance/training from that coven, for instance.


[> [> Re: E.W. Buffy Finale review (SPOILERS)/season 7 spec -- DEN, 10:13:42 05/24/02 Fri

Putting spoilers together, a reasonable hypothesis has Willow beginning s7 in England with Giles, undergoing some combination of penance, therapy, and rehab. It would eliminate the awkwardness that is inevitable if she opens the year in Sunnydale, and create anticipation for a return than can be played along a spectrum of possibilities.

BTW, does anyone else think that Giles and Anya will finally give up on the magic shop?! Anya seems a natural for investment counseling--or perhaps a high-speed messenger service.

[> [> [> Another reason the England option would be cool... -- yez, 10:17:23 05/24/02 Fri

is that it could potentially mean that we get to see the SG reconcile -- and are given a chance to do our own reconciliation with Willow at the same time, as audience members. That would be really great.


[> Hmmmm.....Crayon-breakyWillow....back to the beginning indeed... -- O'Cailleagh, 12:20:19 05/24/02 Fri

"...a homage, which I like to call "a rip-off" " (SPOILERS Star Wars: II, IV-VI; BtVS: up too 6.22) -- grifter, 08:40:23 05/24/02 Fri

“...a homage, which I like to call “a rip-off” ”
Douglas Petrie, DVD-commentary to “The Initiative”, on some striking similarities of some scenes to a little film he calls “The Flatrix”

No, I don´t think the season finale was a rip-off of Star Wars. Not an homage either, but some similarities between the finale and Star Wars were just too obvious to be coincidence. I think Joss Whedon was well aware that his season finale was discussing the same themes as Star Wars: Episode II, which came out a week (?) before, so he decided to just go along with it and play with it (hence Andrew managing to make three Star Wars-references in a single sentence in “Two To Go”).

Here now is my take on the Willow/Anakin, Darth Rosenberg/Darth Vader similarities I have witnessed. Since I´m probably not the first one to notice, forgive me if this has been discussed before.

A. “Everybody hurts…”
Both Willow and Anakin start out full of love. Willow loves Tara, but, mainly because of her low self esteem, is afraid to lose her. She tries to fix their relationship with magic when they have a quarrel. She fails, and really loses her, but they get back together and everything is good until Warren decides to get rid of the Slayer once and for all but kills Tara instead.

Anakin loves his mother, but is taken away from her at a very young age. He feels responsible for leaving her back on Tatooine as a slave. In Episode II he feels that she´s in danger and races back to save her, but is to late. His rage and fury are unstoppable as he takes out a whole village of “Sand People”; men, women, children, not bothering to find those really responsible for her death, but taking out all he can get his hands (or rather, lightsaber) on instead.

When Willow loses Tara she is filled with rage too. She kills a demon she just summoned to get Tara back, and hunts down Warren. In both cases their want for justice quickly turns into a lust for vengeance. Willow is still Willow up until after she absorbs the Dark Magic books. She even saves Buffy´s life. But when she finally confronts Warren she crosses the line. She does not take “an eye for an eye”, i.e. kill him (which would have been wrong too, of course), but rather tortures him slowly to death. This is NOT what Warren did to Tara. However evil and sad her death was, it was quick and not very painful as far as we can tell. Willow crosses the next line just as the other Scoobie´s arrive at the scene: She´s not even interested in torturing Warren anymore, she just wants to kill to satisfy her lust for vengeance.

After the crossing of that first line into darkness, neither Willow nor Anakin have arrived at their final level of evil. Anakin is still a “good guy”, fighting alongside Padme and the Jedi to protect the Republic. Willow is obviously evil now, and not herself anymore. She has turned into “Darth Rosenberg”.

B. “Black as the Devil Painteth…”
The next stage in Willow´s decent into darkness follows after her first “defeat” in the truck-race. She goes to Rack and absorbs his powers. When Dawn confronts her she tries to turn her back into energy, but is stopped by Buffy. But this still isn´t “Perfect Willow” (little Dragonball reference here, imaginative cookie to you if you get it). When she absorbs Giles´ newfound powers she becomes more powerful then any mortal ever was (at least she tells us so).
Anakin´s journey into darkness is not complete after Episode II by far. We don´t know what´s going to happen to finally push him over the edge yet, but we know the end result: Darth Vader. His journey is not over in “A New Hope” either, I think. Only in the very end of “The Empire Strikes Back”, in his battle with Luke, does he reach the peak of his evil. When he decides to destroy his own son and make him as unfeeling and evil as he himself is, he truly becomes a monster. Very similar to Willow trying to turn Dawn back into energy, and make her lose those pesky emotions too.

C. “In the end…”
What are the goals of Darth Rosenberg and Darth Vader? This is where they go separate ways. Darth Rosenberg is so full of power that she can feel all the pain and suffering people have to endure, very similar too Cordelia in Angel season 1´s “To Shanshu in LA”. Cordelia decides to help these people. Darth Rosenberg decides to help them by killing them all.
Darth Vader on the other hand does not want to destroy the galaxy. He wants to rule it.
But in the very end, they both want to die. They want their own suffering to stop. Vader knows that if he turns Luke into a Dark Jedi it will be his own end. “Always two, there are, a Master and an Apprentice…”. Between the Emperor and Luke there´s no room for good, old Vader.

D. “Love is all around you…”
Finally, we have Darth Rosenberg´s and Darth Vader´s defeats, or rather, the victories of Willow and Anakin. Both need a little help from outside to overcome their inner darkness. In Willow´s case it comes in the form of her best friend Xander. As cliché as it might sound to Darth Rosenberg, but his unconditional love and friendship are what it takes to push her away and bring Willow back. I said before that I wasn´t completely satisfied with the final scenes, but I was wrong. I have rewatched it now and it was perfect. It just seemed to come natural and logical. “World´s gonna end? Where else would I wanna be?” SO true.
Vader is finally confronted by Luke. The final scenes play out different then those of Willow and Xander, mainly because Luke is the main character and has more to do then Xander. But in the end, it is both Xander´s and Luke´s love that saves their friend´s/father´s soul, and with it their other friends and the whole world/galaxy.

Thanks for reading, comments are more then welcome, hope I didn´t bore ya!

[> That was something I WANTED to see In EP II (Spoilers for AoTC) -- AngelVSAngelus, 11:11:00 05/24/02 Fri

Anakin finds his mother and she dies in his arms, and a big smile paints my face because I know that one of the best dramatic circumstances, vengeful rage, was imminent. And then they cut away from the scene.
It would have been powerful stuff, to SEE him to destroy the whole village rather than have him TELL us later on. *sigh* That and I thought Hayden Christian Anderson (was that Anakin's real name?) took the following scene in which he tells Amidala about his fury in the completely opposite direction he should have. This is why George Lucas shouldn't direct.

[> [> Re: That was something I WANTED to see In EP II (Spoilers for AoTC) -- amber, 12:57:46 05/24/02 Fri

No, actually I think it's why Hayden whatever his name is shouldn't act. Having seen both the Buffy finale and Clones I'd have to say that despite some similarities, ME told a better story due to smarter writing and better acting.

[> [> Re: That was something I WANTED to see In EP II (Spoilers for AoTC) -- Dedalus, 18:30:04 05/24/02 Fri

His name is Hayden Christenson.

[> [> Re: That was something I WANTED to see In EP II (Spoilers for AoTC) -- Arya_Stark, 00:02:44 05/25/02 Sat

George couldn't have shown the scene like that and still gotten a PG rating. As far as I know, a PG is very important to him. Although, I'd be willing to bet that Ep 3 gets at least a PG-13.

[> Another similarity (SPOILERS Star Wars: II, IV-VI; BtVS: up too 6.22) -- Traveler, 16:49:13 05/24/02 Fri

Both Willow and Anakin accuse their former mentors of being jealous of their power. Also, both are seen sobbing in a friend's arms after their fury has spent itself. There are probably even more similarities if you look for them. I also agree that the Buffy finale was better done than the Anakin vengence scene. Then again, Buffy spent THREE HOURS conveying Willow's vengence and the emotions behind it, so of course it would be more rich and meaningful.

[> Re: "...a homage, which I like to call "a rip- off" -- Dedalus, 18:31:59 05/24/02 Fri

Grifter, I like you post very much.

There was a similar post earlier on about this.

[> Another similarity between Darth Rosenberg and Darth Vader (Spoilers) -- Exegy, 21:34:33 05/24/02 Fri

Great post, grifter!

I just wanted to elaborate on a goal shared by both Willow and Anakin. The desire to control the world, to shape it to one's liking. Even when these characters were relatively innocent and noble, they had this desire in mind.

Willow turns to magick very early as a way to control her environment. At first her spellcasting is fairly harmless: a few glamours here or there. But the seeds of corruption are present (interesting that Moloch the Corruptor targets Willow, feeding on her low self-esteem and need to exert control). Willow starts to abuse the magick. Her whole approach seems to be one of imposing her will on the world so that her pain can go away (see Something Blue). She uses magick as the easy way out, the shortcut to feeling better. She avoids working through the problems. Dawn's angry at her? Give Dawn what she wants (the book on how to raise Joyce). Willow does not fully consider the ramifications of her actions. She does not respect the magick as magick; she sees it as a means of enforcing her will and obliterating her pain. And so she keeps crossing more and more lines.

She raises Buffy from the dead without considering the effects on Buffy. She doesn't want to know. She wants only to ease her own sense of loss at a friend's death. A selfish desire. A way to make the world work the way she wants it to work.

When Tara or Buffy express anger or dissatisfaction, Willow zaps them with mind control. There's a problem? Make it go poof! Don't actually deal with it. Control what you can.

Willow stops doing magick only when she has clearly lost control of it. She seems to recognize the abuse. She vows to work without magick and to deal with her problems. She wants to recover so that Tara will come back to her. Tara's love can patch up the gaping holes in Willow's self-esteem.

When Tara dies, Willow returns to a pain she can't deal with. She needs to use magick to change the world so that things are better. But she can't change the fact of Tara's death. And so Willow goes off to do what she can. Her rampage is all about her pain and not about what Tara would have wanted. Willow cannot even see that she has friends who still love her. She is blinded by pain, and eventually the need to end that pain (the global pain of the world, as the world seems to echo her pain).

Anakin, like Willow, abuses his powers. He does not respect his strength; he uses his skills to make the world as he sees fit. His talk with Amidala after the Tusken slaughter captures his attitude perfectly. The world's not the way he wants it--well it should be!! And he'll give up his humanity to make it so.

By the time Anakin becomes Darth Vader, he is more machine than man. This transformation shows that he has joined the monster state in an effort to control the universe. The corruption of power here reminds me a lot of Orwell's 1984. Good stuff. And it's nice that we see Republic becoming the Empire just as Anakin becomes Vader. This parallel development stresses the fact that individuality is being destroyed in an effort to seek ultimate control. Humans are not gods, and they should not expect to wield the power of gods. Look at Vader, a machine with a man barely alive inside. And Willow, so dehumanized in appearance.

This is what an effort to control the universe does to you. Pain has to be dealt with; it cannot be indefinitely put off. To not feel pain is to not be a human.

[> [> Re: Another similarity between Darth Rosenberg and Darth Vader (Spoilers) -- Dedalus, 22:24:25 05/24/02 Fri

"To not feel pain is to not be a human."

I really like the way you put that.

I will say in both cases, I think the need for control stems from fear more than anything else.

[> [> [> Fear -- grifter, 23:30:13 05/24/02 Fri

And, after all, the Master told us that fear is the most powerful force in the world. Seems like he was right. And, who´d argue with someone with such an impressive fruit punch mouth anyway? ;)

[> [> [> On fear and finding oneself (Vague Spoilers) -- Exegy, 06:50:43 05/25/02 Sat

Yes, I will agree that fear is a cause of the control issues. Not the only one, but a main one. It's the fear of being exposed. Willow and Anakin don't want to be stripped bare before the world (see Willow's dream in Restless). They might suffer from harsh judgment and be found unworthy. So they build up a facade for themselves. They don't deal with their internal issues; they use external means to alter the universe to their liking, to make it a place where they can exist without worry. This impossible goal feeds into a vicious cycle, and Willow and Anakin end up hiding more and more, because in the end the world is not meant to be controlled.

Not the way they're controlling it. It seems to me like Willow and Ani have an external locus of control. They see the world judging and determining their actions. This is in contrast to the internal locus of control, in which the individual judges and determines his or her actions. Here the individual places the center inside and not outside (shaping the outside world to mirror oneself, not a healthy way to go).

The way out of the control addiction is to find oneself and deal with one's internal issues. You see Vader doing that at the very end of Episode 6. He saves his son, the son he was trying to destroy and remake in his own image. And by extension he saves the last part of his humanity. He dies a clean death, free of the machine life he had embraced.

I think that Willow will be able to find herself, too. Xander has shown her that even at her worst she is loveable, that there is something human in her to love. Willow just needs to believe this too. And she needs to deal with her pain, because that's a part of her humanity.

Song in "Grave"? -- grifter, 08:56:51 05/24/02 Fri

I´m pretty sure someone already mentioned what the song in the end of "Grave" was, but I can´t find the post anymore. Can someone enlighten me pwetty pwease?

[> It's Sarah McLachlan's "Prayer of St. Francis" -- Kerri, 09:14:25 05/24/02 Fri

[> [> thanks a lot -- grifter, 15:28:26 05/24/02 Fri

[> [> McLachlan seems to be the finale artist of choice (two on her belt) -- vandalsavage, 15:39:31 05/24/02 Fri

[> [> [> You gotta love Sarah. :) -- pocky, 18:46:20 05/24/02 Fri

I am now the Star Wars editor at - o/t -- Dedalus, 09:01:22 05/24/02 Fri

Yes, that be me. I'll be writing biweekly articles on all things Star Wars for awhile now. And have no fear, they'll actually be short. I know a lot of people here liked AOTC, and that will be the main topic of interest, at least for now. The review should be out next week.

As for now, I have an article up about the Living Force, Eastern philosophy, and letting go. It's more or less off topic, but it kinda ties in to Willow. So anyway, I thought someone might enjoy reading it. You can also sign up for my articles if you are so inclined.

[> That's so cool! Congratulations! I'm so glad you got it! :o) -- Rob, 09:09:16 05/24/02 Fri

[> Congratulations! Put me down as one of your future regular readers! ;-) -- Solitude1056, 12:09:11 05/24/02 Fri

[> whoa!! mazel tov! -- anom, 12:15:53 05/24/02 Fri

[> Re: I am now the Star Wars editor at - o/t -- Dedalus, 14:25:13 05/24/02 Fri

Why thanks all!

I am already getting some articles together ahead of time so I'll have enough to fund me at least through the summer. While I'm on a fanboy/intellectual high, may as well go with it.

I have some very interesting things to say and hopefully will express them in an interesting way.

[> Yeah Ded! -- Liq, 18:52:22 05/24/02 Fri

[> [> Re: Thanks. It's been way too long since we've yelled at each other. -- Dedalus, 19:33:31 05/24/02 Fri

[> Way to go, Ded! ... :-) :-) :-) -- OnM, 20:03:08 05/24/02 Fri

[> Congratulations on getting that position! -- Exegy, 07:51:59 05/25/02 Sat

[> Congrats, Ded! -- Humanitas, 10:46:51 05/25/02 Sat

I liked the article very much, and will defintely be reading you in the future.

Britney on Buffy?!?! (Semi-Spoilery for next season, but not many details) -- Laurie, 10:12:01 05/24/02 Fri

So I've been lurking daily for almost a year, and I hardly ever write (I don't think I am as eloquent as most of you) but I thought this tidbit of info was so bizarre, I had to post it. I don't know how true it is, as the IMDB often prints very gossipy celeb news that isn't always true.

Britney And Buffy To Battle It Out?
"Britney Spears is rerportedly set to spook fellow blonde babe Sarah Michelle Gellar in hit TV show Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The singer is reported to be appearing in six episodes of the teen series' next season as a nightmarish demon pitted against Gellar's do-gooding, undead- battling Buffy. An insider is quoted in British newspaper the Daily Star as saying, "This will be an amazing sight. Britney and Sarah Michelle Gellar are two of the world's most gorgeous girls. Millions will tune in to see the two of them fighting in their trademark figure- hugging outfits." Britney is hoping to consolidate her acting career following her debut feature Crossroads earlier this year."

teen series?!?!?!?!--I wouldn't define it so narrowly
Six episodes?!?!?!--hello? That's a lot of episodes.
trademark figure- hugging outfits?!?!?--Buffy does not dress as bad as Britney
What do you think? I just don't see Britney meshing with BtVS. It sounds terrible to me, actually, so I hope it's not true.

[> Re: "I Was Made To Love You" (Semi-Spoilery for next season, but not many details) -- Vegeta, 12:03:04 05/24/02 Fri

I had heard that Britney Spears was supposed to originally play the part of the robot-girlfriend in IWMTLY. But, dropped out due to conflicting schedules. Just a rumour I heard, I have nothing to back it up, but interesting none the less.

[> Re: Britney on Buffy?!?! (Semi-Spoilery for next season, but not many details) -- solo-spinout, 12:04:23 05/24/02 Fri

And the final Britney dialogue with Buffy will be Buffy saying: STay away from Randy/Spike, As she drives a stake thru Vamp Britney. All foreshadowed in TR btw.

[> [> So I can watch Buffy kill Spears? It might even be worth sitting through her "acting" to see that. -- Forsaken, 14:51:01 05/24/02 Fri

[> If it's spoilery, even semi so, PLEASE don't post it in the subject line. And welcome to the Board. -- Sophist, 13:27:16 05/24/02 Fri

[> Old Hoax -- Corwin of Amber, 19:47:40 05/24/02 Fri

This was on Aint It Cool News last year, regarding this season, so I presume it's a hoax. It would be amusing to watch Brittny get the crap kicked out of her though.

[> [> Re: Old Hoax -- Dochawk, 23:40:40 05/24/02 Fri

Actually it wasn't a hoax last year (which is why it may not be this year). Britney was originally offered the part of April in I Was Made To Love You, but other commitments kept her from doing it. Don't know anything about her future commitments, but 6 epis seems kinda long.

[> [> [> Well I'd like to see it. -- JCC, 04:35:19 05/25/02 Sat

Can you imagine the amount of viewers that Spears would pull in? Plus we get to see her get the crap kicked out of her for 6 hours.
Bring on Britney!

If I were a carpenter (Spoilers for all BtVS through S6; long) -- Sophist, 13:22:09 05/24/02 Fri

My wife says that S1 Xander was a weenie. This is harsh. Jonathan was a weenie. Xander wasn’t very effective, but he had a sense of humor and loyalty to friends that gave him courage. Nonetheless, he might well look at Jonathan one day and say to himself, “There, but for the grace of Buffy, go I.”

Xander had flaws in S1. Looking back, we can now see themes played out later: his brutal conduct toward Buffy in The Pack and his harsh reaction when Buffy rejected his proposal of a date. We forgave the former as the demon, not the true Xander (wonder if Xander will do that with Spike about SR?). We (I) could empathize with asking out the beautiful hero even though we all could see he had no chance, and his resuscitation of Buffy let us forget his crass reaction.

In S2 Xander seemed no different – maybe even to get better – until the writers did him at once a huge favor and a terrible curse: the weenie started dating Cordy, the hottest girl in school (well, not to me, but to most everyone else I guess). Knowing what we know about the Jossverse, it’s inevitable that Xander would pay for such hubris. And pay he did. Now Xander’s faults started coming more and more to the fore. His humor stopped being funny and started to be sardonic; the kind of humor that highschoolers adopt and some never grow out of. He showed signs of being judgmental and self-righteous (Passion; Becoming). By the end of the season, these faults led him to betray the girl he worshiped, even as he helped the tortured Giles to safety.

Xander took more lumps from the writers in S3. Judgmental now became his middle name (Dead Man’s Party), and self- righteous a regular guest (Revelations). And ate followed hubris when he cheated with Willow and lost Cordelia. There should be a sunrise after a sunset, but Xander didn’t get his. He reacted bitterly to Cordelia (in fairness, she returned it full measure), and was still so full of himself (or so needed to believe in himself) that he couldn’t see that Faith was just using him (Consequences). When he got the chance to prove his worth in The Zeppo, made up with Cordelia in The Prom, and fought bravely with the rest of the students against the mayor, I thought the sun might again shine on Xander.

It didn’t. Starting with S4 he became more isolated from the rest of the SG. They each acquired significant others, who naturally took time away from friends (though only Buffy, as usual, got blamed for this). Willow and Buffy went off to college and shared a room, but Xander remained a townie. He hopped from job to job, never fitting in. Xander became nearly as peripheral as Giles in S4, as the show focused on Riley, The Initiative, and Willow/Oz/Tara. Worse yet for Xander, Spike came back into the mix. Xander took this as an opportunity to abuse the evil undead, apparently unaware that he could hurt himself while doing so.

Since the lesson of The Zeppo didn’t take, Xander got another chance in The Replacement. This time it worked better. He got a stable job as a construction worker and settled down with Anya. This may have reduced his participation with the SG; more likely, the need to integrate Dawn and get rid of Riley were more important in reducing his screen time. The season arc gave him little to do in any case – what could he accomplish against a god? The lack of real accomplishment made it easier to overlook his virtues and focus on his continued abuse (less and less deserved) of Spike, and the increasingly worrisome condescension toward Anya.

S6 didn’t treat any of the SG very well, and Xander came off worst of all (at least until Villains, when Willow got pride of place). His self-doubt returned, followed by self- loathing. His bigotry remained as unattractive as ever, as did his judgmental and self-righteous attitude. This time, unlike previous seasons, Xander actually paid a price for his faults. He (at least temporarily) lost Anya. How big a price this is depends on how much you believe he actually loved her; Anya certainly has made harsh accusations about that.

By the end of S6, the writers had a real problem with Xander. His role in the SG had become more and more marginal. He no longer showed the ties of affection to Buffy and Willow that were so obvious in S1-3. His faults were on conspicuous display, but his virtues had been minimized for a very long time. How were the writers going to get us back to sympathizing with him?

We know how they chose to do it – make him be the hero. No one would have doubted Xander’s unconditional love for Willow at the end of S2. His declaration of love to the unconscious Willow in Becoming II was one of the most touching moments in a very emotional episode. It’s a long, dry march between that and S6. Except for Triangle, I can’t recall Xander ever displaying that love for Willow in S4-6. How did he recognize that love in his agony of self-loathing (an unlikely place to find unconditional love of another) which preceded the end of Grave? Where was his epiphany, his moment of realizing what Willow needed, that he was the one to do it, and that he could do it?

Willow did love Xander that way once. But even in Becoming II, she awakened with Oz’s name on her lips, not Xander’s. The intervening 4 seasons saw her grow closer Buffy, Tara, and Dawn, but move further away from her former crush. If Xander’s death would not have set Willow off on her rampage – and I think it would be unanimous that only Tara’s death could do that – then it’s hard to see how Xander’s words could reach her. Just as only Tara could have triggered Willow’s reaction, it’s hard to see how anyone else could have brought her back.

Xander’s not really a carpenter, you know. He’s a construction worker who does carpentry as part of his job. More important, he’s not the son of a carpenter.

[> Re: If I were a carpenter (Spoilers for all BtVS through S6; long) -- dream of the consortium, 13:56:48 05/24/02 Fri

I am doing something I generally don't approve of - copying a post I made below up here. Forgive me, I just think it's appropriate:

I have to say I love the crayon-breaky Willow line. Because Willow is the sort of person who can still probably feels that pit-of-the-stomach horror when she remembers her childhood. She made a mistake, and she was terrifed about being found out. She didn't want everyone to know what she did. And she hated herself for having done it, and the crayon for not being able to be put together again. And Xander, her pal Xander, loved her anyway. And now, the stakes are higher, the broken crayon is much much more than that, but she still hates herself, still hates the fact that she can't fix things, still is terrified of what people will think of her. And Xander is still there, loving her. And he knows all of this.

I tend to believe that the people who have loved us the longest can retain depths of knowledge of our characters even when we seem to have move past the stage of being close to them in obvious ways. That's why holding onto friends even after your lives take different paths can be so important. I rarely see certain friend from my childhood now, but in a time of crisis, I can be moved deeply by the depth of my love for them and vice-versa. The quality of the love is different than that of a current romantic love, that's true, it lacks that fire and fervor. But it actually makes perfect sense to me that the death of a lover could send Willow off the deep end, but the love of a brother is what is needed to bring her back.

I also think he understands Willow better than anyone - understands how she felt when she broke the crayon, how she feels now. Remember, she even worried that Tara didn't know her when she was a geek. (And she was clearly insecure during the scene in Restless where Oz and Tara giggle together). Xander always knew her and loved her anyway. A lot of this rampage is about self-hatred, and I think Xander has some clue about that. Maybe that's why they played up his own self-loathing throught the episode, to show how he might understand that crucial part of the equation. Admittedly, they could have shown a scene with his realization, but I had enough epiphanies in this episode anyway. He overhears Anya saying that Giles said "nothing supernatural" could stop her, and realises that there must be a natural way.

I was very frustrated with Xander this season, but I was frustrated with all the characters. I certainly hadn't lost sympathy for him and did not feel that his role in stopping Willow was a cheap way of re-capturing my sympathy. There were a number of things I didn't like about the episode (and a number of things I did), but his role was not one of them.

Maybe it's just because I love my brother.

[> [> Re: If I were a carpenter (Spoilers for all BtVS through S6; long) -- Sophist, 16:54:20 05/24/02 Fri

I pretty much agree with most of what you said, except the conclusion. I think maybe my own life experiences differ from yours and that may explain the contrary conclusion.

I had a tightly knit and long-standing group of friends when I left high school. We stayed in touch when we went to college, but gradually drifted away as we went to different colleges and jobs. We all made new friends in college and met spouses there or later. I still would stop everything to talk to any of them if I ran into him/her. But I no longer think of them as "best friends", even if they qualify as "longest friends". That era of my life is past. If I were in dire straights, I wouldn't expect any of my high school friends to help, but I would have that expectation of my current best friends (just as they would of me).

It has been clear for years that Buffy replaced Xander as Willow's best friend. Thst's not surprising at all. Buffy is the one who started being there for Willow; Xander less so. Willow herself has said more than once that Buffy is her best friend.

When I consider the possible endings of Grave, I think about who could have played Xander's role on the hilltop. Anya? Hardly. Giles? Implausible. Dawn? Nah. Xander? Plausible. Buffy? The obvious choice. Not only is Buffy the eponymous hero, she is Willow's best friend. The decision to use Xander instead struck me as an artifice rather than a natural outgrowth of the plot and characters.

[> [> [> the obvious choice -- lulabel, 20:11:11 05/25/02 Sat

When I consider the possible endings of Grave, I think about who could have played Xander's role on the hilltop. Anya? Hardly. Giles? Implausible. Dawn? Nah. Xander? Plausible. Buffy? The obvious choice.

Actually, I was thinking that Buffy was NOT the obvious choice. I certainly agree that Buffy has replaced Xander as Willow's closest friend (though not necessarily dearest) However, Buffy had already given it the old college try - both as a friend, and as the Slayer back at the Magic Box. If Buffy had been in the position to confront Willow out on that bluff top, she would have been there as the Slayer, to prevent the end of the world. We'd already seen the Slayer fail; she would have failed again.

In my mind, the reason that Xander was able to do what he did was because of his attitude. He didn't tell Willow that he wanted to stop her from destroying the world (which is what Buffy would have done, I believe), or even that he was there to "save her" (the other Buffy option). He was there to BE with her, through thick or thin. In a sense, he was going through with his marriage vows, but with a different person.

I also agree with dream of the consortium - the point about childhood friends having a special bond even after they are no longer close friends. I think that childhood friends are more like siblings, in that they've known you before you became a fully formed person, they've seen the whole package. While friendships made in high school or college can be much more intense, there is a different quality to them. Obviously this all depends on the person and their own experiences.

I do agree with the points of your detailed history of Xander and Willow's (lack of) interaction over the last several seasons. However, it could be one of those things where the writers assume that their friendship is a given. Remember all the complaints this season about no Dawn/Spike interaction? And then we see in the last few episodes that Dawn does indeed still has a strong bond to Spike. It could be the same sort of deal.

[> I agree (and some side comments on the Finale - spoilers) -- matching mole, 14:32:45 05/24/02 Fri

that the wrap up of the season was fairly unbelievable in light of what had happened earlier. Not just Xander's moment of heroism but Buffy's return to the living and Willow's abrupt rejection of her apocalyptic ways. However I will take issue with the idea that Xander's relationship with Cordelia represented hubris in any way. There was no indication that he had sought the relationship prior to its onset and after it started he often seemed embarassed by her.

What your detailed post does point out is what I think is an unfortunate change (which I've pointed out before) in the attitude of the writers towards their characters with time. Xander's declaration of love for Willow at the end of season 2 is indeed touching. It is juxtaposed with Xander's betrayal of Angel by not informing Buffy of the resouling attempt. These two events reveal Xander as a complex, interesting, real character. What I see at the end of S2 are the writers plotting out a melodramatic tableau and then thinking - what would Xander do?, what would Willow do? Xander's love for Willow seems forgotten for years afterword as you say. My interpretation was that it wasn't convenient for plot and thematic points that the writers wanted to make so it didn't get put in. I see the writers deciding to make each character go a certain way and adapting the plot to make that happen. Certainly both approaches are valid ways of creating fiction but I think that a less heavy hand on character evolution is a preferred approach for long-running serial fiction like a TV series. Otherwise you see the kind of incongruous leaps in behavior that we saw at the end of S6.

I found the finale very emotionally satisfying, probably because of the contrast it presented to the rest of season 6. While I was watching it I probably enjoyed it more than the end of any season except S2. But in retrospect it doesn't really hold up to detailed scrutiny. Several minor characters seemed consistent and in character - most notably Anya and Jonathon. Giles gales of laughter were a high point of the evening. It was both unexpected and in character - as I said below I would have liked that scene to get a little more attention.

[> [> Xander knew Willow in a way I think Tara never could - Xander knew Willow's evil and accepted that -- Charlemagne20, 14:52:07 05/24/02 Fri

Tara made Willow a better person and they're love was deep and unconditional but also it was passionate and all consuming.

Xander on the other hand loves Willow as he says no matter what she does. Vampire Willow, Willow the Witch, Willow the shy bookish nerd. He'd die for Buffy but I think he'd sacrafice the world rather than hurt Willow.

He was Dead serious when he was willing to watch her destroy the universe. Like Dawn and Buffy Xander would kill Buffy before she'd let Buffy kill Willow to save the universe.

All of the people around Willow tried to touch Willow as she was BEFORE she did something horrible. They in affect were saying let's ignore she murdered a man in cold blood and the world was awful.

Willow knew that couldn't be done.

Xander on the other hand acknowledged the horror and accepted it as a part of things. Xander can do this because Xander acknowledges a darkness inside himself and one he occasionally can't deal with (Hell's Bells)

Thus Tara would have died I suspect had she tried to reach Willow as a ghost or anything. Willow was disconnecting herself from her old self out of loathing, Xander wouldn't let that happen

[> [> Not out of character at all... (Spoilers for finale) -- Traveler, 16:34:06 05/24/02 Fri

Sometimes you take loved ones for granted until they're (almost) gone. With the end of the world coming, and seemingly no way to stop it, a lot of the scoobies were re- evaluating their lives and choices. It didn't suprise me at all when Xander rediscovered his love of Willow. Xander has always been focused on trying to support Buffy, whether she needs it or not. It really is a sign that he is growing up that he thought of his other friend, Willow. For once, he let Buffy solve her own problems and went to help the person who truly needed him.

[> [> [> Re: Not out of character at all... (Spoilers for finale) -- Sophist, 17:03:03 05/24/02 Fri

I think your post actually supports mm. You say "for once" Xander remembered to help Willow instead of Buffy. It wasn't the first time at all. He was very strong about it, for example, in WSWB. That, I think, is mole's point -- that a character behaved that way long ago and the writers just dropped it for years.

S6 was dark and hard to take (well, not for me; I'm a tragedyholic). The mostly happy ending in Grave seemed to have a cathartic effect on most viewers. But as we look back on it and see the flaws, and as we compare it to the other season finales (Prophecy Girl, Becoming, Graduation Day, Primeval/Restless, The Gift), I think we'll reach a consensus that TTG/Grave rates 6th.

[> [> [> [> Well, Graduation day sucked, so I'd say 5th, but i still liked it :P -- Ete, s6 lover, 17:20:01 05/24/02 Fri

[> [> [> [> I think it beats Glory and the Mayor and Adam actually -- Charlemagne20, 17:41:20 05/24/02 Fri

Graduation had it's moments but nothing so much as life affirming Willow/Xander snugglage or Dark Magic Willow.

Adam was....just pathetic and the reunion of the Scoobies was like a bandage on a flesh wound which isn't saying much. I just didn't care for her or the been there done that Buffy Death.

After the Master and Angel I'm fairly sure 2 to go and Grave was the best ending.

[> [> [> [> I think no such consensus is forthcoming... (Spoilers for season 6) -- Traveler, 20:07:13 05/24/02 Fri

I haven't seen all of seasons 2 and 3 yet, but so far season 6 is by far my favorite, including the finale.

As for Xander, you've named one example of when there was some good Xander/Willow interaction. I can also list some examples of good Xander/Willow interaction in season six. There are fewer, but then there are fewer healthy interactions between ANY of the characters in season six. They were all in a dark place.

Secondly, my point was that Xander has a tendancy to drop everything in order to help Buffy. This is really hard to argue with; he's been doing it since season one. Have you EVER heard him say before, "I'm sorry Buffy. I can't help you now; this is more important." I defy you to show me one example before the season finale. I'll have to look at all the episodes again, but I think his tendancy to protect/look out for Buffy above all others is even more pronounced in this season. He has been spending almost all his screen time with either Buffy or Anya, and if we compare, I bet Buffy gets more. So Xander's portrayal has been entirely consistant with other seasons, in the context of what is going on in his life.

[> [> [> [> [> Hmm. -- Sophist, 20:29:02 05/24/02 Fri

Let's be sure we're on the same page here.

First, I said nothing about S6 as a whole. My comment was limited to the finale. If you compare that alone to the other finales, I think it rates last. That doesn't make it a bad episode, just not as good as 5 outstanding ones.

Second, there are 2 points at issue about Xander. One was mine, and it had to do with Xander drifting away from Willow over the last 3 seasons. Your post here supports that point by pointing out that Xander usually drops everything to go with Buffy. Here, he dropped Buffy to go to Willow. That's part of what I mean that it was artifice to have Xander go to Willow instead of Buffy.

The other point about Xander is his relationship with Willow. There, you were responding to a point mm made and I gratuitously interfered. My only point was there was at least one episode long ago when Xander did give priority to Willow. The lack of any such episodes since is part of the reason why Buffy, not Xander, is now Willow's best friend.

[> [> [> [> [> [> More explanations (Spoilers through season 6) -- Traveler, 22:29:37 05/24/02 Fri

"My comment was limited to the finale."

I was addressing this and throwing in my two cents about the entire season for good measure :P

"One was mine, and it had to do with Xander drifting away from Willow over the last 3 seasons."

I agree with this to a degree, but I don't think the change is as dramatic as you make it out to be. The examples about Buffy were meant to show that he has ALWAYS been that way, even in the beginning, when we can all agree that he and Willow were close friends. I probably didn't emphasize that point enough, because I was busy being all indignant on Willow and Anya's behalf.

"Your post here supports that point by pointing out that Xander usually drops everything to go with Buffy. Here, he dropped Buffy to go to Willow. That's part of what I mean that it was artifice to have Xander go to Willow instead of Buffy."

You are completely missing the beauty of that scene. It wasn't artifice; it was the theme of the season, "oh grow up!" I have always seen Xanders dependance on Buffy and protectiveness of her as being a little childish. It shows his desire to be important as much as his love of Buffy. In the end, no-one could stop Willow except Willow. Not Buffy, not Giles... nobody. Suddenly, Xander didn't need to be important anymore, didn't need to have his usefullness confirmed, because nobody else could do anything either. Suddenly, he had the space to ask himself what he wanted without having to worry about other people's expecations. He decided he wanted to be with his best friend, whom he had known since kindergarden (long before he met Buffy).

Yes, Xander and Willow had been drifting apart, but the feelings were still there under the surface. We have plenty of evidence that they were there all along from the few touching scenes that we did see during season six. This is so clear and understandable to me that I am having a hard time explaining it. For now, let me suggest that people can drift apart and still love each other deeply. Hopefully, Xander and Willow will drift together now :)

[> [> [> [> so there really are more out there? (tragedyholics) 'Sgood to know. Interesting Xanderstuffs as well -- yuri, 12:18:12 05/25/02 Sat

[> [> [> Maybe you're forgetting... (Spoilers for finale) -- MaeveRigan, 17:54:36 05/24/02 Fri

"Sometimes you take loved ones for granted until they're (almost) gone. With the end of the world coming, and seemingly no way to stop it, a lot of the scoobies were re- evaluating their lives and choices. It didn't suprise me at all when Xander rediscovered his love of Willow"

Ahem. Once again we see the problem with a serial art form as opposed to a single-shot (e.g., a movie or a novel). People easily forget individual episodes that include scenes that contradict their thesis.

Case in point: "Hell's Bells": Xander asked Willow to be his "best man"--remember her complaining about having to wear the hideous dress instead of the more appropriate "Marlene Dietrich" tuxedo drag? Traditionally, the groom's best friend is asked to be best man.

Even more key, this exchange, when Willow finds Xander after he's been shown the fearful visions of his future:

WILLOW: I'll say this for the Y chromosome ... looks good in a tux.
XANDER: (tries to smile) Well, your double X's don't look too bad there, either.
WILLOW: (fiddles with his clothing) You're getting married. My little Xander.
XANDER: All growed up.
WILLOW: It's a good thing I realized I was gay, otherwise, hey, you, me and formal wear...

Xander gives a small smile and hugs her. Over her shoulder, his face looks very conflicted.

WILLOW: Do you know how much I love you?
XANDER: Mmm ... 'bout half as much as I love you.

Obviously, neither of them has forgotten anything.

[> [> [> [> Not forgetting anything -- Sophist, 18:41:38 05/24/02 Fri

One reminiscence does not a friendship make. Take the last 4 seasons as a whole, not one isolated scene.

[> [> [> [> [> Well, one quibble -- Traveler, 20:13:04 05/24/02 Fri

However, the writers have warned us before that they can't fit in all the interactions that they would like to in a 45 minute time slot. In general, we can assume that relationships haven't changed unless we've seen such a change explicitly illustrated. One reminiscence does not a friendship make, but in a TV show we can assume that the friendship is still alive behind the scenes, because it is implied by the reminiscence.

[> [> [> [> [> [> That's fair but. -- Sophist, 20:33:52 05/24/02 Fri

If there were no contrary evidence, I would agree. For example, many people complained about the lack of Spike/Dawn interaction this year. That didn't bother me for exactly the reason you state.

In the case of Xander and Willow, though, there has been lots of evidence that they have drifted apart over the last 3 seasons or so. In fact, that drift apart was one of the themes of S4 and S6. Under these circumstances, the offstage rule can't apply.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Onstage vs. Offstage -- matching mole, 20:54:04 05/24/02 Fri

The interactions that the writers choose to show are presumably the ones they think are the most important. That's sort of the point - I can easily believe that an S2 or S3 Xander would dive in and make that kind of a speech because his love for Willow was well established in that era. I can believe the S6 Xander might do it - but not so easily. I need a bit of convincing - which wasn't done during the finale or earlier in S6 as far as I could see.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> No offense but Xander doesn't have any other friends -- Charlemagne20, 21:00:48 05/24/02 Fri

Willow has been his only friend aside from Jesse until about say High school Freshman and the closest of his friends until Anya

And we know how Xander ended up there.

They're hardly "Drifted apart" they still live in the same town, hang out together, talk to each other presumably on the phone every day they don't see each other (which is rare), and Xander as recent as four years ago professed he loved Willow.

These are hardly things one can causally dismiss.

Yes he ditched Buffy but no offense Buffy wasn't in any real danger and Willow was in danger of destroying herself and her soul.....honestly Xander has never had to choose Willow or Buffy nor would I say it's a given he'd choose Buffy

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Exactly right. -- Sophist, 08:17:02 05/25/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> Two Best Friends? (X/W/B) -- Scroll, 20:57:27 05/24/02 Fri

I've never really grasped the concept of having *two* best friends, but my sister has two and so do other people, I'm sure. I think it's been clearly presented by ME that Buffy, Willow, and Xander all consider themselves best friends with each other. They are a triangle (strongest geometric shape in existence!) that allows them to work off each other's virtues and support each other in their weaknesses.

I think you're right that Xander and Willow had drifted apart somewhat, but I think it's not as big a rift as you make it out to be. And it wasn't just X & W, but X & B, and W & B (plus B & D, X & A, W & T). This whole season's had things falling apart. But Xander is still Willow's best friend just as much as Buffy is. You can't dismiss their scenes in "Hell's Bells" as being just one reminiscence. Being the best man at your friend's wedding isn't just a one- shot deal. It's a choice that resonates for the rest of your life. I mean, the only person I'd choose for my bridesmaid would be my *best friend*, not someone who *used to be* my best friend. That's JMHO, but I think it makes sense. : )

[> thought 257 -- Shul, 18:10:51 05/24/02 Fri

I accept that 1+2=3
but i reject the notion that 1 is good, 2 is pathetic, and 3 was poorly written.


[> Where else am I gonna go? (Spoilers for all BtVS through S6; long) -- JBone, 19:19:23 05/24/02 Fri

Xander had flaws in S1. Looking back, we can now see themes played out later: his brutal conduct toward Buffy in The Pack and his harsh reaction when Buffy rejected his proposal of a date.

Maybe my memory is a little fuzzy here, but wasn't Xander's harsh reaction to Buffy's rejection to go home and listen to country music. Now I know today that country music isn't was it was back in the day, but there still was some worth listening to when it aired.

What I liked about Xander in S2 was early in the year, before he started dating Cordelia. That whole "triangle" thing between Xander, Buffy, and Angel. Especially the sexy dance Buffy did for Xander, I don't think that I will ever forget that.

By the end of the season, these faults led him to betray the girl he worshiped, even as he helped the tortured Giles to safety.

Ever since I heard there was a controversy about this, I have argued that Xander betrayed no one. What he allowed by his non-action was Buffy fighting Angelus without any reservations. Although it is still debated, I see Xander as making the correct choice.

Probably the thing that supplanted the character of Xander in the remaining seasons was the addition of Spike to the permanent cast. Instead of Xander getting the best lines, they now went to Spike.

As for the Big Love that Xander feels for Willow, well, I see it like my own family. I come from a large, far age- ranging family that is scattered over the western US. I rarely talk to anyone of them more than once a year, but if I knew that one of them were in trouble, I'd move heaven and earth for them. My brother was dating a girl just a little while back, and she said something to the effect that he was like no one else she had met. His reply, "There are nine more just like me."

[> The test of UNconditional Love -- Spike Lover, 20:11:32 05/24/02 Fri

... If Xander's death could not have set off W's rampage, how could it have stopped it? I don't think it mattered to Willow the extent of her feelings FOR Xander. It was about the love and acceptance he was giving to her, not how she felt about it, not about what she felt or didn't feel about him.

I think what Willow needed to hear right then was what Anya needed to hear from Giles.

"I'm blond." Her hair color had nothing to do with it. She is saying simply. "I have missed you too. Hold me and tell me you missed me." Was it illogical for Anya to want that when you know she has spoken and felt pettiness towards Giles in the past? Sometimes you just need what you need. -It was the Spike/Anya scene again w/o the table varnish.

So X is able to get through to W. How? By telling her he knows who is she. (She has never been invisible to him.) And he loves her- no matter what she does. (Break a crayon or destroy the world.)

In AYW -Buffy comes in and dictates to Spike what she needs to hear: 'Tell me you love me.' and then he holds her in that 'special way'... It does not make one bit of difference to her that she does not feel it back- that it is one-sided. At that moment, Spike is the one who knows her - state of mind-, her past, and present better than anyone else. She needs to be known, accepted and loved whole- heartedly.

-Incidentally, when Spike comes to her in the bathroom, you could say that he wanted the same from her. Perhaps he needed her, after the fiasco w/ Anya and then X's cutting remarks that he was a soulless thing -and nothing more... Remember his comment to Dawn, "If everyone says it, it must be true." Anyway, perhaps what SPIKE needed was Buffy to say, 'I know you were initially a good man. I know you were a bad vampire who killed half of Europe. I know since they chipped you that you have tried so very hard to be better than a vampire. And I know all this and I love you.' If this is what Spike was actually there for, THEN BUFFY FAILED. (She seems to say, I could only love you if I trusted you or if you had a soul.) -Which brings us to the next question: Is Buffy capable of love (unconditional or not)and if not, why not?

Also, Invisibility has certainly been a theme this year and over the seasons. When you get out of school and join the 'real world', you sort of become just one of many. Nothing individual or special. (Your resume looks just like everyone else's.) All of these characters have been trying so hard to stand out (to a certain degree. -especialy the Trio.) (Except for Buffy who was trying to disappear.)
Sometimes the best way to know that you are not invisible is to have someone acknowledge that they know you and love you.

[> [> That has an unexcluded middle. -- Diana Michelle Murray, 20:31:18 05/24/02 Fri

Just because Buffy cannot love Spike unconditionally, that does not mean that she cannot love *anyone* unconditionally.

[> Changing Friendships -- Malandanza, 18:19:20 05/25/02 Sat

"No one would have doubted Xander’s unconditional love for Willow at the end of S2. His declaration of love to the unconscious Willow in Becoming II was one of the most touching moments in a very emotional episode. It’s a long, dry march between that and S6. Except for Triangle, I can’t recall Xander ever displaying that love for Willow in S4- 6."

I agree, Willow and Xander have been steadily falling apart. I also think that S4-S6 are important for another reason -- this is the period when Xander replaced Willow as Buffy's best friend.

Immediately in Season Four we see this shift: Willow is oblivious to Buffy -- off at school with her cool boyfriend the musician and her Wicca group, but Xander is there for Buffy.

XANDER: Buffy, I've been through some fairly dark times in my life. Faced some scary things, among them the kitchen of the fabulous "Ladies Night" club. Let me tell you something. When it's dark and I'm all alone, and I'm scared or freaking out or whatever, I always think, "What would Buffy do?" (beat) You're my hero.

They have their fights, but Xander is able to reach Buffy in a way that Willow simply cannot. In Into the Woods Xander and Buffy help each other understand that they love Anya and Riley, respectively. There is a communication, an empathy between them. Even in Seeing Red, Xander and Buffy fight and make-up in the same day and end up with a better understanding of each other as a result while Willow can only watch from the window.

Add to that the deep seated resentment and jealousy that Willow revealed in the finale. It wasn't just the magic talking -- Willow said all those things to Buffy that she had been repressing (maybe even unaware that she felt them) and they all came pouring out, like Angel's revelations about Cordy and Wesley in Eterenity. Buffy was not Willow's best friend by Season Six, and I'd say Xander had replaced her long before then.

To an extent, I think Willow was aware of the rift between herself and Buffy -- she verbalized those insecurities when Tara revealed that Spike and Buffy had been having sex:

WILLOW: Does everyone else know? Am I the only one she didn't --

TARA: No, god. She didn't even mean to tell me. It just came out.

WILLOW: How could she hide something like that from me?

Seeing Red

[> [> Re: Changing Friendships -- Dead Soul, 23:09:19 05/25/02 Sat

To an extent, I think Willow was aware of the rift between herself and Buffy -- she verbalized those insecurities when Tara revealed that Spike and Buffy had been having sex:

WILLOW: Does everyone else know? Am I the only one she didn't --

TARA: No, god. She didn't even mean to tell me. It just came out.

WILLOW: How could she hide something like that from me?

Seeing Red

It really struck me the first time I saw Seeing Red that Willow's first thought on hearing about Buffy and Spike was resentment about being out of the loop -resenting anyone, even Tara, for knowing something about Buffy before she does. It seemed to me indicative of the insecurity, jealousy and fear she has about both her relationship with Tara and her relationship with Buffy.

Dead Soul

greenwaldt Leaving Active participation in Angel -- Dochawk, 13:51:40 05/24/02 Fri

This is a big thing. Someone not from the Jossverse will be running Angel

LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) --- "Angel" co-creator and executive producer David Greenwalt is in final negotiations to ink a one-year, seven-figure deal with Touchstone Television to join the studio's new ABC drama "Miracles" as showrunner.
Greenwalt will also continue on 20th Century Fox TV's "Angel," which he co-created with Joss Whedon, as a creative consultant. Sources said David Simkins is expected to be named showrunner of the WB Network series, which will begin its fourth season in the fall. 20th TV declined comment on the matter Thursday.

"An unexpected thing happened to me when I first read and then saw the pilot for 'Miracles,' which is that I fell in love," Greenwalt said. "It's got everything -- it asks the big questions about existence, it's got irony and danger and horror and hope, and these are all the things that I love."

On "Miracles," a co-production with Spyglass Entertainment, Greenwalt will serve as an executive producer with Richard Hatem, Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber. The show about a young man (Skeet Ulrich) assigned to find scientific basis for reports of miracles was picked up for midseason.

While he is excited about the new opportunity on "Miracles," Greenwalt said the decision to leave active duties on "Angel," a show "very near and a dear to my heart," was difficult.

Whedon, executive producer of "Angel" and creator/executive producer of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer (news - Y! TV)," who has worked with Greenwalt since the inception of "Buffy" in 1997, said he was "all broken up" by the news of Greenwalt's departure.

"It's a good move for him; he's still gonna consult for 'Angel,' so that's good for me, but it's killing me,"
Whedon said. "I'm losing a great writer, a great producer, a great director and a guy without whom I have yet to make an hour of TV. He's the real deal, and there aren't that many of those."

Greenwalt will still be involved in some of the most important parts of the production process on "Angel," including breaking the stories.

The pact with Touchstone comes as Greenwalt's overall deal with 20th TV, where he said he spent "six very happy and productive years," comes to an end.

In addition to working on "Angel" and "Buffy," Greenwalt's TV series credits include "Profit," which he co-created, and "The Wonder Years." He began his career as a screenwriter in the 1980s, co-writing several movies, including "Secret Admirer," which he also directed.

Greenwalt is repped by Robert Gumer of Kaplan-Stahler-Gumer and attorney Alan Hergott.

Simkins, who has an overall deal with 20th TV, most recently was a consulting producer on "Roswell" and "Dark Angel (news - Y! TV)." He also was an executive producer/showrunner on "Freaky Links." His credits include "Charmed" and "Vengeance Unlimited.

[> Oh no you don't young man! You get back there and fix that storyline or you're not going anywhere! -- SingedCat, 14:01:53 05/24/02 Fri

[> How can someone.... -- LeeAnn, 16:00:12 05/24/02 Fri

How can someone who is not fluent in the Jossverse run Angel? God only knows what non-canon storyline will be okayed. And this man was a producer on Rosewell, which had a storyline that meandered all over creation.

Tsk tsk tsk.

The chip -- shygirl, 16:11:56 05/24/02 Fri

Please forgive me for making my first post so long. I'm not sure that is appropriate here. But this season and the finale has been buzzing around in my head and keeping me awake at night. There are so many threads that I've tried to write down and explain to myself. I became overwhelmed and decided to start small... ;-)) I know I've left out so much and my thoughts are still in the "surface" stage, but I really would like to hear what other people think about this little item because I've not heard it discussed at a programming level. If I step on toes, I apologize in advance.

The Chip

An implanted computer chip protects humans from Spike’s blood lust by controlling his behavior using negative reinforcement techniques vis a vis a painful jolt if he attempts to attack anyone...except Buffy since her return from the dead.

If the chip is programmed to keep Spike from hurting any human while leaving the desire for human blood intact what are the options and implications for learning new behavior?

If the chip kept him from attacking Buffy until she came back from the dead, what really happened?

Assumptions made by Spike and Buffy….
a. The chip is malfunctioning…
b. Somehow she came back wrong…
c. There is something wrong with me…

Computer chips are programmed to behave in a precise way in response to precise input.
Q. What is this chip really programmed to do?
1. What if it is programmed to change as a response to changes in the circumstances/people encountered?

Q. Is the programming general or specific?
1. If it is general will the program respond to the changes in Willow and make it possible for Spike to attack her as well as Buffy?
2. Or, is the chip specifically directed to changes in Buffy?

If it is directed at Buffy, this suggests to me pre- knowledge of a connection between Spike and Buffy. And, it suggests that “someone” might be setting up a learning experience for both of them. Certainly both of them are interesting but mal-adjusted persons with potential.

1. From my limited understanding it seems to me to me that the goal in eastern spirituality is not to become “good” but to balance the Yin and the Yang within our psyches. To be able to hold on or let go depending on the needs of the moment, but not to grasp at anything greedily.
a. From a western perspective – meld the monster and the man and live on the razor’s edge using the power from all parts of the spirit/soul/intellect/personality/body to live a full life. To understand and accept the shame and darkness within ourselves and realize that our power as humans does not just come from the light within us. We can all be monsters when the need arises. We can all be heroes when circumstances demand it.
b. Spike was from the beginning, even before the chip, a complex personality. Becoming a vampire allowed him to leave the “Nancy boy” “mommy’s boy” image/behavior behind and re-invent himself. He became the monster within.

Step one: chip implanted – Spike’s blood lust is brought under control while allowing him to keep his new “identity” as “the Big Bad.” This gives the “young” vampire an opportunity to see how the “other half” lives in this modern world. It pulls him into conflict with his “monster” self.

Step two: He begins to “care” about the slayer, not as prey to be killed and bragged about as a trophy, but as a sexually attractive female…. Possibly the kind of female who would have scorned William. He is after all “love’s bitch” even as a vampire. Unresolved issues about women, love and maturity begin to bubble up in the conflict with the monster.

Step three: Buffy dies and comes back… and the chip no longer prevents him from harming her. The question – why? There has been no satisfactory answer provided for that in the episodes I’ve seen. Perhaps the chip is simply responding to previous programming, thus pulling Spike further into conflict with the monster. Buffy keeps her panic and fear of herself and her responsibilities at a safe intellectual distance. Her behavior and choices seem controlled by the opinions of her family and friends. And that means you don’t fall for the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. To be attracted to a soulless evil vampire? What would people think of her? She is ashamed of her feelings so she conceals the association. Naturally things turn out badly.

Step four: Spike steps fatally over the line - In the script it emphasizes over and over the self-loathing Spike feels for what he has done to Buffy in the bathroom. At no time does it say he hates her or that he wants to destroy her. Rather, the dialogue suggests the kind of frustration many young men feel when they love someone that is unable to accept love easily from anyone. He wants some kind of mastery over her so he can be a man. He wants to "make" her accept his love. But, Buffy has so many walls around her feelings that while it gives the impression that she has it all together it prevents her from feeling her emotions too deeply. And she comes to know that she does not want a relationship base on pain. Buffy needs to become whole as well, to integrate the light and dark within her own psyche. Perhaps that process has begun with her rejection of a “sick” relationship with Spike. This does not mean that there may not be a future relationship of some kind between them, but rather that it cannot be hurtful for either of them.

Step Five: Spike hits the wall of monsterdom and loathes himself for what he's done. He seeks change. Despite all of the wonderful analysis and speculation, we really don’t know yet what kind of change he will embrace. The emotional content of the final episode waivers back and forth until any scenario can be postulated with reasonable credibility.

However, I personally feel relatively certain that Spike and Buffy still have a great deal to learn from each other and the lessons aren’t over. Will they end up a couple? Maybe, maybe not… it could reasonably go either way. Should they end up together? In my opinion, not as the persons they are right now, they would destroy each other as Slayer and Vampire have done for centuries. There is a great struggle going on here, just like in the “real world.”
h. Step Six? – Spike returns as human? Or vampire with a chip and a soul? The ensouled vampire with a chip is potentially more intriguing to me. The chip can continue to protect other humans from his blood lust (a soul does not guarantee goodness) and the soul can force the monster and the man into a final confrontation. What an interesting battle that could be…. And it doesn’t necessarily end up with Buffy and Spike all cozy in front of the telly. Although I wouldn’t mind them finding each other at the end of their trials.

[> Good summary... and some answers. -- Traveler, 19:37:53 05/24/02 Fri

"Computer chips are programmed to behave in a precise way in response to precise input.
Q. What is this chip really programmed to do?
1. What if it is programmed to change as a response to changes in the circumstances/people encountered? "

The chip was created by the Initiative to prevent demons from harming humans. It responds when the chiphead (to borrow Xander's term) tries to attack someone with the physical makeup of a human.

"Q. Is the programming general or specific?
1. If it is general will the program respond to the changes in Willow and make it possible for Spike to attack her as well as Buffy?
2. Or, is the chip specifically directed to changes in Buffy?"

Spike could attack Willow if the magic she used made her not completely human anymore. Somehow, I don't think that happened.

"Step three: Buffy dies and comes back… and the chip no longer prevents him from harming her. The question – why?"

As Tara explains later, Buffy didn't come back wrong; she came back different. This means that the chip doesn't recognize her as being human any more, but she's definitely NOT a demon.

"To understand and accept the shame and darkness within ourselves and realize that our power as humans does not just come from the light within us."

This point has been brought up by many other posters and there does seem to be a lot of evidence to suggest that this is where ME is going, but only time will tell.

"However, I personally feel relatively certain that Spike and Buffy still have a great deal to learn from each other and the lessons aren’t over."

I am certain you are right :)

[> metaphor regarding Buffy...maybe -- dreadfuldemon, 23:01:12 05/24/02 Fri

You know, I always thought that Spike being able to physically hit Buffy, being able to *hurt* her, meant that he became able to cause her emotional pain. (Because she grew feelings for him, or at least was attracted to him sexually.) After she came back from the dead, the chip no longer recognized her as human and she could not be protected from attack. To me this showed she was emotionally vulnerable. Since now she cared suddenly. About him. Did anyone else pick up on this as something the writers intended or am I just seeing metaphor where there's just drama

[> [> Re: metaphor regarding Buffy...maybe -- shygirl, 23:46:38 05/24/02 Fri

I agree with you. I think we often slide over the effect of the chip in Spike and ultimately his interactions with other characters...He tuned in to the vulnerability of the slayer and played it. In terms of Buffy's vulnerability, it is only when we begin to acknowledge and embrace that vulnerability that we grow forward... in my opinion. Another telated thought... Spike has always protected Dawn who seems so innocent and vulnerable... in addition to being "the key" is Dawn a also representation of Buffy's vulnerability and therefore the key to Buffy? Is that why she has always been so protective of Dawn? And that begs the question, why does she trust Spike with that vulnerability and not Xander? or Willow? or anyone else? She entrusts the vulnerable parts to Spike? What does this mean?

A few thoughts...on "Two to Go/Grave" and S6 in general (SPOILERS thru this season) -- mundusmundi, 18:11:50 05/24/02 Fri

Please excuse yet another new thread, especially one titled (for nothing else seemed fitting) "A few thoughts." I'd been pondering a way to tweak my reaction towards "Two to Go/Grave" into one of the other discussions, but a great many of them seem to be geared towards a particular character or theme, so perhaps a more general perspective counts as something new. I've got nothing deeply philosophical to say, and I'm not going to try and string anyone reading along with a series of leading questions. Like a chip-eating beetle, this episode has lodged itself in my brain and I just need to find a way to extract it out, pronto. *g*

While "TtG/Grave" isn't the greatest Buffy finale I've seen (that would be, if you'll pardon the obvious, "Becoming"), it ranks a strong second among the most affecting. This despite the fact that it's arguably the messiest of season- enders, with some of the same problems that have been bothering me about this entire year. Then again, maybe it's because of the messiness that I find it so powerful. I agree with the view expressed a couple weeks ago by someone on the board (was it darrenK?) that David Fury is overrated, that he likes to "break things," but after seeing "Grave" three times now I have to admit that he was the right man for the job. A more nuanced writer may not have been able to sell it – they needed a steamroller.

First the Petrie portion, to which I was lukewarm initially but have liked more after repeated viewings: it sets the stage well enough. It's immeasurably better than "Weight of the World," last year's winner of the "I Think This Episode's Only Filler" award. I could have lived without Eighteen Wheeler Willow, but overall the eppy was briskly paced, made entertaining use of Anya (Emma Caulfield is Carole Lombard, a throwback to the classic screwball comediennes – "Giles, I'm so sorry! Willow made me free her with her brain!" -- and Anthony Steward Head has become the flummoxed Cary Grant she plays off so enjoyably) and, finally, thank ye gods, killed off Rack. The appearance of Giles was the perfect capper. Judging by fan reaction, it's gratifying to reconfirm just how beloved and missed he is.

Fury's had the lion's share of good scenes. The GvW showdown, as others have noted, was remarkable at depicting Willow's seething resentment towards the man. Willow's reactions towards all the other characters are very interesting at how they serve to either reinforce or undermine our own opinions of them. For Xander fans, his climactic actions may serve to vindicate the innate goodness they've always claimed his character has had all along. For those who haven't been on the bandwagon since "Becoming" (where, lest we forget, he lied to Buffy right before her battle with Angelus), nothing he does here is likely to change anyone's mind.

Naturally, I'm biased, but I think Xander's final words to Willow are exquisitely simple, beautifully summing up a longterm friendship that has been both taken for granted yet so deeply ingrained in his fiber that it finally comes to the fore. How poetic that it took a mortal man to stop a supernatural tragedy. For me, it's one of the most moving scenes in the history of the show.

Indeed, when Willow capitulates to Xander is the moment I finally gave up and surrendered to the finale. Granted, there were things that bugged me. Andrew, who had become a touching character in "Seeing Red," picked up where he left off in "Villains," receding back into caricature. Gellar, perhaps unused to playing a supporting role, seemed a step off her game somehow. Though in all fairness, who could do anything with lines like, "There's so much I want to show you"? The dialogue remains one of the sticking points for me this season. Since Giles left, it's as if the writers took his exposition and spread it around to everyone else. There's been too many scenes of characters telling each other how they feel, and too many of the same kinds of scenes (Buffy/Dawn, Buffy/Spike, Xander/Anya, Willow/Tara), as others have also mentioned.

There has been, in sum, too much stasis. But Whedon & Co. gripped the reins tightly and pulled the climax through. Overall, I've enjoyed S6 the least of all seasons, but I'm feeling optimistic again. Like Willow's hair changing back to red – the loveliest of metaphors in a season with precious few – Buffy appears to be returning to bloom.

[> Re: A few thoughts...on "Two to Go/Grave" and S6 in general (SPOILERS thru this season) -- Dedalus, 18:25:36 05/24/02 Fri

Very interesting.

I remember the big controversy on usenet that Xander lying in Becoming caused. It was called "Xander Lied," and there were about ten pages worth of argument following it.

I agree about the mortal man stopping the supernatural tragedy. I would say that was a very nice statement of Joss' own peculiar brand of humanism. The song at the end was a nice touch too.

And as for the Buffy line, well, there was so much she wanted to show her.

[> [> Re: A few thoughts...on "Two to Go/Grave" and S6 in general (SPOILERS thru this season) -- MaeveRigan, 19:23:22 05/24/02 Fri

"I agree about the mortal man stopping the supernatural tragedy. I would say that was a very nice statement of Joss' own peculiar brand of humanism. The song at the end was a nice touch too."

Loved the end. But as a statement of humanism, it was fairly ambiguous, what with Xander's "carpenter" allusion, and the beautifully appropriate song being the the "prayer of St. Francis." But it works both ways, surely, because it's the essence of Christ to become human in order to stop the supernatural tragedy.

At the end of season 5, Buffy got to be the Christ-figure. This time, it was Xander. Who'd have guessed?

[> [> Re: A few thoughts...on "Two to Go/Grave" and S6 in general (SPOILERS thru this season) -- mundusmundi, 19:23:42 05/24/02 Fri

Good to see you, Ded.

I agree about the mortal man stopping the supernatural tragedy. I would say that was a very nice statement of Joss' own peculiar brand of humanism. The song at the end was a nice touch too.

Yeah, that really rang home by the third viewing. I don't deny anyone a Christian interpretation, but you're persuading me that the scene (and song) could be interpreted as an ironic counterpoint -- a Kazantzakis-esque spin.

And as for the Buffy line, well, there was so much she wanted to show her.

ROFL! Okay, touche. I just wish she would start showing and stop telling so much.

[> [> [> Re: A few thoughts...on "Two to Go/Grave" and S6 in general (SPOILERS thru this season) -- Dedalus, 19:43:36 05/24/02 Fri

Well, it all depends on how one interprets the incarnation. I just finished reading Behold the Spirit, another excellent book by Alan Watts, and in it, Christ becoming flesh was seen as the the high point of the entire cosmic affair. The union of spirit and flesh as opposed to some Manichean or Gnostic riff where the two are firmly at odds.

I don't think Xander was meant to be an ironic counterpoint. He is a carpenter, he loves his enemies, he literally turned the other cheek when Willow slashed one. I just meant that Joss is the kind of guy who would emphasize the humanity of Jesus over the divinity. Granted, it COULD be an ironic counterpoint, but that's not the necessary conclusion.

If you think about it, that's what he was trying to say with Buffy, too. We finally got a conclusion with the heaven storyline, which I will be writing about when I get off my Star Wars high. Buffy was finally able to see the "heaven in a wild flower," as opposed to having it be some purely spiritual, platonic dimension. Think Pullman and the Republic of Heaven. As Campbell once said, "this is it."

And seriously, if Buffy had so much she wanted to show Dawn, what the **** else was she suppose to say?


[> [> [> [> Re: A few thoughts...on "Two to Go/Grave" and S6 in general (SPOILERS thru this season) -- mm, 19:49:38 05/24/02 Fri

I don't think Xander was meant to be an ironic counterpoint. He is a carpenter, he loves his enemies, he literally turned the other cheek when Willow slashed one. I just meant that Joss is the kind of guy who would emphasize the humanity of Jesus over the divinity. Granted, it COULD be an ironic counterpoint, but that's not the necessary conclusion.

That's what I meant, but you said it better.

If you think about it, that's what he was trying to say with Buffy, too. We finally got a conclusion with the heaven storyline, which I will be writing about when I get off my Star Wars high. Buffy was finally able to see the "heaven in a wild flower," as opposed to having it be some purely spiritual, platonic dimension. Think Pullman and the Republic of Heaven. As Campbell once said, "this is it."

Looking forward to reading it.

And seriously, if Buffy had so much she wanted to show Dawn, what the **** else was she suppose to say?


[> Re: A few thoughts...on "Two to Go/Grave" and S6 in general (SPOILERS thru this season) -- Sophist, 19:11:11 05/24/02 Fri

I liked much of S6. To me, it was like S4 -- lots of great episodes, but uneven and disappointing in the handling of the major story arc. I have 4 of this year's episodes in my personal top 12, but DMP was a reprise of Bad Eggs and AYW was odious.

Here are my major disappointments:

1. They never satisfactorily handled Willow's problem: the magic/drugs metaphor never worked, and they never could resolve it the only proper way, i.e., Willow abused magic because she abused power. The problem was that if they played it as power abuse, we might never forgive Willow. The drug analogy doesn't really exculpate her, but they seem to be using it as an out anyway.

2. Spike's journey was much more interesting as a vampire moving toward the human without a soul than it is as a reprise of Angel.

3. They left too many issues for resolution in the finale. As a result, it had lots of good scenes that didn't cohere.

4. There were lapses of writing throughout the season (many complaints on the Board about them). They seemed to use artifice to solve problems that they themselves had created.

There is still a great deal of good in S6. It just fell short of the heights I once thought it might reach.

[> [> Re: A few thoughts...on "Two to Go/Grave" and S6 in general (SPOILERS thru this season) -- mundusmundi, 19:33:25 05/24/02 Fri

(Some idle SPECULATION below too, at least in response to the first point....)

1. They never satisfactorily handled Willow's problem: the magic/drugs metaphor never worked, and they never could resolve it the only proper way, i.e., Willow abused magic because she abused power. The problem was that if they played it as power abuse, we might never forgive Willow. The drug analogy doesn't really exculpate her, but they seem to be using it as an out anyway.

Agreed. And I'm wondering how they're going to deal with her killing Warren. If they use a "mystical murder" loophole, I may get irked, but I don't see any other way around it -- unless they throw her in a cell with Faith.

2. Spike's journey was much more interesting as a vampire moving toward the human without a soul than it is as a reprise of Angel.

I'll reserve judgment for now, though I was fairly disappointed with the "challenges" in general. Obtaining a soul doesn't seem terribly difficult, all things considered -- perhaps there's a correspondence course?

More seriously, I'll be curious to look back on S6 in a year or two. For me, S4 keeps looking better all the time, whereas S5, which resonated while it was going, seems to have lost some of its luster.

[> [> [> Re: A few thoughts...on "Two to Go/Grave" and S6 in general (SPOILERS thru this season) -- matching mole, 20:06:09 05/24/02 Fri

I think your general feeling about the finale more or less matches mine, other mm. After the static nature of a lot of season 6 the rapid movement of the last few episodes, even if they were pretty messy, was quite a relief.

On a purely structural note I think one of the best things about the final (and Villains before it) was the removal of Spike to another locale and his replacement with Giles. This is not an anti-Spike comment. But Spike seemed to be the center of the paralysis gripping the story in the latter part of the season. Every episode he and Buffy would essentially repeat the same conversation with minor variations. Once he went to Africa then both he and Buffy were freed. I would have been inclined, with hindsight, to have Spike go off on his quest a bit earlier in the season, devote more time to it.

After its conclusion I would have to judge the dark Willow/magic addiction arc was perhaps the least successful thing that ME has ever done. The amount of manipulation and artifice that was required to turn Willow evil and to also partially absolve her from responsibility made it difficulty for me to take it really seriously.

However I thought that quite a few interesting things were attempted in S6. I'll disagree with both you and Sophist in really liking DMP. But then I'm the opposite of a tragedy- aholic (a humouraholic?). It struck me as an attempt to do something different from a 'typical' BtVS episode that pulled us away from the self-involvement of much of S6. In a strange way it reminded of the great early high school episodes in which a large point of the story was to comment on things happening out in the world (and not just in people's heads).

[> [> [> [> Spike and stasis -- Humanitas, 14:24:08 05/25/02 Sat

But Spike seemed to be the center of the paralysis gripping the story in the latter part of the season. Every episode he and Buffy would essentially repeat the same conversation with minor variations. Once he went to Africa then both he and Buffy were freed.

Perhaps this reflects the inherent trap of being a vampire, observed many times before on this board: sure you get to live forever, but you never get to grow, you never become other than what you were at the moment of becoming vamped.

[> [> [> The trials (SPOILERS thru this season) -- Traveler, 20:23:10 05/24/02 Fri

"I was fairly disappointed with the "challenges" in general. Obtaining a soul doesn't seem terribly difficult..."

Are you serious? Spike seemed pretty thrashed after his last trial; he could barely stand. Maybe you object to the physical nature of the trials, and the fact that they were over (relatively) quickly? I would argue that it would still take a LOT of determination to do what he did, and the risk of failure and death seemed very real. Besides which, I don't see vampires queing up to get souls once word gets out how "easy" it is. Secondly, the trials themselves really don't matter. The soul IS the trial, and we won't see if Spike survives it until next season.

[> [> [> [> Re: The trials (SPOILERS thru this season) -- mm, 20:33:25 05/24/02 Fri

Are you serious? Spike seemed pretty thrashed after his last trial; he could barely stand. Maybe you object to the physical nature of the trials, and the fact that they were over (relatively) quickly? I would argue that it would still take a LOT of determination to do what he did, and the risk of failure and death seemed very real. Besides which, I don't see vampires queing up to get souls once word gets out how "easy" it is. Secondly, the trials themselves really don't matter. The soul IS the trial, and we won't see if Spike survives it until next season.

Nah, I was just being a little snarky. I was hoping for something a little more dynamic, is all. The physical nature, as you suggested. Your last sentiment I certainly agree with.

[> Re: A few thoughts...on "Two to Go/Grave" and S6 in general (SPOILERS thru this season) -- Kerri, 19:59:14 05/24/02 Fri

I guess I'll just weigh in with my thoughts about the finale and season 6 as a whole. First, let me say I loved this season. I'm a big fan of the really emotional (and often painful, dark) episodes- although after this season I am not looking forward to some more optimistic, uplifting episodes.

What I really loved about this season was the emotional arc. I could almost feel the characters pain. The characters gained so much richness. I loved Tara (and I miss her so much). I always like Tara, but she really grew into an amzing character this season. Spike became so much more interesting and complex.

This doesn't seem to be a popular position, but I absolutely love the character of Buffy. She has always been by favorite character, and the reason that I am so invested in the show. It is Buffy's journey that really interests me more than anything else, and it was this painful, but ultimately fulfilling journey that made season 6 so great.

Despite how much I enjoyed the season in general, it did seem to lack some of the finer points and subtlety I have always enjoyed. The dialog suffered, and the adiction metaphor was just a little bit too blatently obvious for my taste.

No scene exemplifies this better than the B/D scene in "Grave". Honestly, the dialog didn't seem to be what it used to, and the subtlety that past emotional scenes have included-honestly missing Joss' touch in the finale.

However, I still loved this scene. It's what I've been waiting for all season. Joss always says that he gives the audience what they need not what they want, and this was so true in s6. It was painful to see the Scoobies so lost, and to see Buffy in particular so depressed, but the audience and the characters were ultimately rewarded by this journey.

It was great to see the old fire back in Buffy's eyes, and the look of wonder on her face when she crawled out of her grave, this time reborn. The emotion of the scene (which IMO was played very well by SMG) outweighed any poor dialog or cheesyness that may have been in this scene. I loved it.

Now there were a few things that I didn't like this season:

Dawn-an excellent character last season was reduced to an anoying whiny waste of a good potential character. Hopefully she will be better next season. (I've got my fingers crossed)

Willow and addiction-The lack of subtlety annoyed me, however, I did begin to reconcile the idea of magic as a drug with the rest of the season and BtVS as a whole in the finale-so a plus there.

The trio-I absolutely hated them. I liked the idea that ordinary people could be even worse than demons, and the juxtaposition of the imaturity of the trio vs the scoobies, but i hated the characters. They were just plain annoying.

Just a few more random thoughs:

I really wish we could see the SG right after the finale. I'd like to see everyone's reaction to Willow actions, Giles' return, as well as Spike's reaction to being resouled, and Buffy's rebirth. And as always after the finale I want to see this NOW.

Basically my thoughts on the finale were the same as much of the overall season: not as well written or executed as some of the others, but still one of the best episodes/seasons IMO, because of the power of the emotional arcs.

[> [> The trio -- matching mole, 20:40:00 05/24/02 Fri

Actually I thought that the trio was one of the better things about the season (forgot to mention them in my post above). When they were first introduced they did seem like a not particularly successful attempt to introduce a comic element into the rather grim tone of the early part of the season. However I thought that the subtle development of the characters over the season and the blending of humour with serious themes was really well done. As 'big bads' go, if we are to regard them as such, I'd rate them third - behind the Mayor/Faith and Angelus/Drusilla/Spike and ahead of the Master.

[> My meandering Season 6 opinion. -- darrenK, 21:10:51 05/24/02 Fri

Yeah MM, it was me that called David Fury overrated. He's got a cool name. He hits the net, chats with the fans, stirs the pot with big opinions, but then his episodes aren't anything special. Besides Helpless, they weren't memorable. They were functional, derivative and there. Gone was mediocre, so was Crush. I liked Real Me, but it wasn't a great episode. I just thought it was really smart to do a Dawn-o-centric episode when we knew nothing about her origins. His other season ender––Primeval––was like something regurgitated from the X-files, except for the parts that were regurgitated from the Matrix.

And it annoys me that he's a fan favorite, while Marti Noxon, who wrote the Wish and Bargaining 1 and Villians gets knocked constantly. All that's left to say is "that'll put marzipan in your pie plate bingo."

Now for my meandering Season 6 opinion....

Season 6 was heavy-handed at times. There was too much afternoon special melodrama. The Willow magic 'addiction' thing was weird and off kilter. And I got really tired of Dawn either in trouble or whining.

But, as I wrote in a thread above, I admired the writers attempt to make ever episode part of the overall arc.But, the weakness in this approach was that in most seasons the stand alone episodes distracted the audience from the lack of resolution on the main arc, not this year. To my chagrin, almost every plotline stayed open until the final 3 episodes. It was much too much running in place. No episode gave the satisfaction of really tying itself up at the end.

Whoever said that Spike and Buffy had the same conversation 10 different ways hit it on right on the head.

And As You Were, Smashed, Wrecked, and Double Meat were all really flat episodes.

But they were balanced with Bargaining 1, Life Serial, Afterlife, Tabula Rosa, Hell's Bells, and, of course, this season brought what might be the greatest of all Buffy episodes, OMWF.

I liked Two to Go and Grave just for the relief of seeing the plotlines resolve themselves. Not to mention that Alyson Hannigan, Emma Caulfied and Anthony Stewart Head all gave really strong magnetic performances.

Well, actually AH was better than magnetic, she was explosive. Just watching her made TTG and Grave worth it.

As an aside, the person that said that Season 4 seemed better in retrospect and that Season 5 seemed to recede a bit has a good point. These stories take on resonance over time. I've also become a bigger fan of season 4. I couldn't believe how good The Initiative was when I saw it in syndication. They packed ALL of that into one episode? Wow. And that speech by Spike at the end of Doomed might be one of the greatest ever. There's a lot to love there.

[> [> Re: My meandering Season 6 opinion. -- Cactus Watcher, 22:07:11 05/24/02 Fri

I'm a critic of season six, but not a season six hater. I think I was one of the few people who actually liked Wrecked. I think the disappointing thing about the season is that despite being actively involved here, this is the first season since I started taping I haven't been constantly going back to old eps. to check things I'd seen earlier. Frankly, there was a lot less hidden, a lot less, "Oh, so that's what that meant!" this year. A lot of people seem to have grown tired of the depression, and wished there had been more humor. I don't think it was any accident that ME began assuring people as early as mid-season that next season would be lighter. I'm sure it was always planned that way, but I think ME really did feel the heat, maybe from their sponsors as well as from many fans.

The second time I watched the finale, my impressions did change, but not all for the better. The first time when I didn't know what was happening, I got the wrong impression about Willow's difficulty using her magic at the end. When I knew what was going to happen the second time, it looked much more reasonable. The first time through while I was all tense, it seemed AH was doing a magnificient job acting. However, the second time I wasn't as impressed, and not as 'convinced' with Black Willow in general.

I've always been a fan of season 4. I actually liked the fact that Adam was little more than a trivial annoyance to the Scoobies for most of the middle of the season. Who needed him around when Faith showed up for instance? And Primeval and Restless were both worthy to be considered finales for the season.

[> [> The necessity of Season 6 -- Humanitas, 15:02:55 05/25/02 Sat

It almost seems to me like ME responded to the fan reaction to S5 by gving us an overdose. What I mean is, we all (well, most of us) went ape over all the angst and heartbreak of the latter part of last season.

Don't know about y'all, but I started either crying or gasping pretty regularly at about The Body, and kept doing so all the way through The Gift. Then, with Bargaining, I was delighted to have more of the same. "Yeah! This is good," I thought, "nice and dark. Very intriguing."

The problem is, ME seems to have replied with: "Dark? You like Dark? We'll give you dark! And how 'bout depressing!" Now, a classic feature of depression is a feeling of not getting anywhere, of being trapped. We certainly got that this season. We lost the comedy to a large degree, and the characters and show both seemed stalled at times.

That said, I think that this season was the necessary follow- up to last season. The arc of high drama that reached its peak with Buffy's death needed to have its downward slope this season, with all the problems following her resurrection. Had we not had this period of re-adjustment, Buffy's re-birth would have been far too easy, and ultimately meant less.

Furthermore, the characters on this show have often, if not always, grown together, their respective story arcs mirroring each other. This season allowed some of the other characters to have their own little death's and rebirths, so that they, too, are ready to move on along with Buffy. Willow and Spike's arcs are obvious, but look at Anya. Her carefully constructed human existence crubled around her, and she was forced to accept that she can't control everything. Xander was also forced, in a single season, or rather half-season, to confront both the worst (leaving Anya at the altar) and the best (loving Willow unconditionally) elements of himself. That looks like death and re-birth to me. Tara... still too sad about Tara to hope that we will see her spirit in the future. :( Even Giles had to change his role, from paternal figure to (hopefully) rakish uncle. And Dawn, while not given much chance to show us what she's going through, got in her first kills, and had to accept that she cannot be the center of everyone's universe.

So, to sum up, it seems to me that Season 6 was not only necessary, but that it had to be done this way in order to honestly convey the difficulty of the characters growing up, to the greater or lesser degrees that they have done so. Black periods like this are a part of life, and it is fitting that they be part of the greater arc of a mythological series.

But I'll be happy to be able to laugh more next season.

[> [> [> Re: The necessity of Season 6. Agree, but... -- belle, 15:27:17 05/25/02 Sat

Overall, I have no problem with the main ideas and tone for S6--yes, even magic as potentially addictive works for me. (I think I wrote why in more detail in another post). It's the execution that's been, if not terrible, uneven.

I guess I don't mean to bash MN; while I often find her more heavy and soapy than actually dark, she's still one of the better writers on the show. (She's actually one of my favorite comic writers; the roommate episode is still one of my favorites). My main problem with her at the helm is, well, she's not Joss. No one is. No one else understands the mythic aspects as well as he does; Fury certainly doesn't, as far as I can tell.

Or maybe they do get it, when it's explained to them very carefully--much of my beef with the finale was that the dialogue was so carefully expository that it looked like the writers were trying to explain the plot holes to themselves as well as to us; and, like much of this season, it was rife with thematic anvils. It occurs to me, though, that if an episode is "anvilicious" it's not so much that the writer thinks we won't get it as that *they* didn't get it at first, and still don't, quite.

Joss is actually not always my favorite BTVS writer, as a writer, of all time. When he's good he's stellar, but when he's off, he tends toward too-obscure or inappropriate jokiness. And he does tend to forget the little (or not-so little) plot details in his rush to get to the Theme.

What he really is, it seems to me, is a great *director.* His gift for orchestrating multiple actors and plot lines is unparalleled on TV. More rare, he's able to *compress* in a way that very few are--he knows the nuances of subtext, he can make a short, even wordless scene pack more information than many writers could get in an entire episode's worth of long expository speeches.

It hasn't helped that most of the directors, more so than the writers, have been really bad this season--or is it just me? The finale's writing is uneven, but the directing is uniformly terrible, it seems to me--has an "action-packed" car chase ever been so dull? And there are some really obvious shots of the stunt doubles' faces. More important than the action, though, I thought the editing was bad, and some moments that were clearly meant to be terrifying or moving came off as just silly, thanks to bad directorial choices. That bit with Willow screaming in rage in the jail cell, for instance--I doubt Petrie meant for her to sound like a car alarm. Anyway.

[> [> [> [> Re: The "anvilicious" S6.... -- mundusmundi, 23:32:59 05/25/02 Sat

You just summed up my feelings in one terrific word. Excellent post all the way around.

[> My two cents. -- A8, 23:23:49 05/24/02 Fri

I'm sure someone probably has mentioned this somewhere, but Willow's breakdown in Xander's arms at the end of "Grave" is very reminiscent of Faith's breakdown in "Sanctuary" on AtS. They both go from being puffed up powerful monsters to little girls in a matter of seconds as they each pound on the chest of the person who is there to bring them back from the precipice. In each situation, Buffy is powerless to rectify the mess and she, in fact makes everything worse by her presence.

Another observation--the return of Giles reminded me very much of the return of the Sorceror in the "Sorceror's Apprentice" segment of Fantasia. As you may recall, the Sorceror leaves his apprentice (Mickey Mouse) to do the cleaning chores and specifically warns him against trying any unsupervised magic. Naturally, the cocky apprentice ignores the sorceror's admonitions and conjures up a spell to make the cleaning implements do his chores for him. As his spell goes awry, his efforts to correct his mistake only exacerbate his original problem to the point that he is overrun by an army of multiplying mops. He has lost all control of the magic until the Sorceror returns, undoes the bad magic and gives the apprentice a remedial slap on the behind as punishment. In the course of BTVS S6, Giles' second leaving is the beginning of disaster for the remaining SG. All hell starts to break loose on all fronts without his supervision as the members of the SG lose control of their lives and are unable to undo their mistakes. In fact, their efforts to make things whole again only seem to make matters worse. Order is not restored until the prodigal father figure returns with the wisdom of experience, a stern gaze and an understanding smile.

[> [> Giles isn't a prodigal father figure -- Diana Michelle Murray, 23:58:31 05/24/02 Fri

Most people extrapolate the meaning of prodigal from the Bible, but they find the wrong meaning. They think that it means the person who went away and comes back but it really means 'rashly or wastefully extravagant'(, hence the prodigal son was a wastral, which he was.

Giles most certainly is not.

[> [> [> Thanks for the clarification. Serves me right for posting late sans dictionary. -- Prodigal A8, 15:07:06 05/25/02 Sat

[> [> Re: My two cents. -- Aquitaine, 09:25:56 05/25/02 Sat

I'm sure someone probably has mentioned this somewhere, but Willow's breakdown in Xander's arms at the end of "Grave" is very reminiscent of Faith's breakdown in "Sanctuary" on AtS. They both go from being puffed up powerful monsters to little girls in a matter of seconds as they each pound on the chest of the person who is there to bring them back from the precipice. In each situation, Buffy is powerless to rectify the mess and she, in fact makes everything worse by her presence.

Yes. Willow and Faith's situations are very similar and I can't wait to see Willow be held accountable for her actions. For some reason, I don't think that she will suffer the same fate as Faith and that irks me beyond belief.

My biggest problem with S6 is that despite 20 episodes of pain and angst I don't feel that any of the Scoobies have been held accountable for their actions. Instead, they have suffered. And suffering does not accountability make.

IMO, the finale was the most effective tabula rasa in series history. Xander gets to be hero. Buffy gets to slough off her depression. Presto! Giles gets to save the day after walking away. Spike gets to walk away from a mess and gets a soul...

As I look forward to S7 (and I say that tongue-in-cheek) I hope to see the real Oh, Grow Up! season.

- Aquitaine

[> dialog and other thoughts -- Rattletrap, 16:14:03 05/25/02 Sat

I have made no secret of the fact that I absolutely adored the entire final scene between Buffy and Dawn. The dialog worked perfectly for me, partly because it was a bit uncomfortable and clunky. Real people, when pressed into a situation like this, can rarely come up with anything deep, profound, or eloquent to say. Speaking your mind openly and honestly has a lot to recommend it, but it frequently comes out sounding a bit cliche and awkward. I have commented elsewhere that I loved the stunt choreography in that scene for precisely the same reason--it wasn't the clean and heavily stylized fencing characteristic of most TV and movies, it was awkward and ugly just as real combat swordfighting, even by well-trained masters, usually is. I found this sense of honesty wonderfully refreshing.

Wouldn't it be - refreshing-... -- Spike Lover, 19:32:26 05/24/02 Fri

Now that Spike has been resouled -whatever that means, wouldn't it be cool if it made him suddenly "snap out of" his love of Buffy? What if he were completely over her??

I can't think of one reason why he would go back to Sunnydale under those circumstances though- which would be bad for the show. (Wild fantasy:) Perhaps he might return as Giles did, to subvert some real evil that he heard was brewing (and he is trying to do some good in the world now.) And he just happens to run into the tired old gang.

Since he is different, Buffy is interested. She talks to him. He shrugs her off. She becomes fascinated. He is indifferent. She begins to go where he hangs out- hoping to see him. She arrives to find him fighting off some big bad- he shrugs and leaves. In a word, the shoe is on the other foot, and Buffy becomes hopelessly mad for him... Then it is his turn to put her down, slap her around for information (doubtful we would see that. It is so uncool for women to ever be slapped around.) ((But for all you women equal- righters, what comes around should go around afterall-)) etc.

Ok, this is the sick stuff I will be pondering all summer long.

[> Funny thought :D -- Traveler, 19:40:19 05/24/02 Fri

I'm a big fan of irony, but I'd be REALLY surprised if that's what happens. I think Spike still has a long way to go before he finally gets his act together.

[> Re: Wouldn't it be -refreshing-... -- shygirl, 23:28:46 05/24/02 Fri

I agree he may push her away. Perhaps not out of indifference, but resignation. Why indeed come back to Sunnydale.... I envision Anya asking him that question... and Spike asking her why she stays... they both hurt.
Buffy may become intrigued with a "different" Spike who resists the attraction because of the pain it causes him. It is the "dark night of the soul" for Spike... nothing will be simple or easy. I see a potential re-definition of relationships with many of the scoobies. He can, for example, understand Willow in a way no one else can. I see Anya or Dawn as being the first to recognize that Spike has changed in a major way with Anya being the one to identify it. The ultimate confrontation however (only in my opinon) will be between him and Xander. Spike may be the one to really be able to bring to Xander's attention the extent to which he has been a twit to the women he cares about and how judgemental he has been towards persons he doesn't understand. I think Xander is a bit of a bigot and will have an ephiney this year.

[> [> Re: Wouldn't it be -refreshing-... (spoilers through season 6) -- Traveler, 00:43:14 05/25/02 Sat

Anya or Willow do seem the most likely candidates, especially considering that Dawn now knows about the attempted rape. I'm sure that there will be Xander/Spike confrontations, but we will have to wait and see if there are any epiphanies to be had.

[> [> [> Re: Wouldn't it be -refreshing-... (spoilers through season 6) -- AgnosticSorcerer, 01:32:00 05/25/02 Sat

I could imagine Spike coming back to Sunnydale and no one immediately recognizing that he has a soul and he makes no attempts to tell anyone. He continues on with his puppy love for Buffy and she continues to abuse the supposed souless vampire. Eventually, the pain will become too much for even Spike to handle (now that he has a soul, perhaps he is more susceptilbe to human emotion/reaction) and Buffy finds out she's been abusing a souled human.

[> [> [> [> Re: Wouldn't it be -refreshing-... (spoilers through season 6) -- Traveler, 10:30:28 05/25/02 Sat

Yes, that would be ironic, but I think the writers are trying to move Buffy out of abusive relationships. Besides which, I'm hoping Spike grows up enough to expect better treatment himself.

[> [> [> [> [> abusive relationships (spoilers through season 6) - - shygirl, 18:28:39 05/25/02 Sat

Absolutely. Anya has finally see the light and isn't going to be a door mat for Xander... Perhaps with a soul, Spike won't find being abused such a turn-on.... He might grow up too and walk away.

[> [> Re: Buffy Intrigued? I doubt it -- Dochawk, 11:46:43 05/25/02 Sat

First off, why is Buffy going to believe he is different? Soul now? How do you prove it to someone, especially since the chip is still in force. And do you think Buffy is going to forgive him for his attempted rape that easily? Or that Dawn will?

Spike is going to have alot of work to do, just to get the Scoobies to talk to him again. (or he should)

[> [> [> Oh god, how DO you prove something like that? -- yuri, 12:31:09 05/25/02 Sat

That didn't even occur to me. I mean, of course it can be done during some tricky magical or demonic encounter where something detects souls (like spike's chip could tell if tara was a demon) but of course when spike comes back, no one's gonna be like "hey, look at the soul on that one!"

[> [> [> [> Re: Oh god, how DO you prove something like that? - - leslie, 16:23:21 05/25/02 Sat

Though vampires appear to be able to smell the souls on people--is he going to be outed by another vamp?

[> [> [> [> [> okay, I'll bite, how do you prove someone doesn't have a soul? -- shygirl, 18:35:07 05/25/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> human parallel? sociopaths, do they have souls? -- shygirl, 19:16:24 05/25/02 Sat

Partial Profile of a Sociopath….

Glibness/Superficial Charm
Language can be used without effort by them to confuse and convince their audience.

Manipulative and Conning
They never recognize the rights of others and see their self- serving behaviors permissible.

Grandiose Sense of Self
Feels entitled to certain things as "his right." Craves adulation and attendance.

Pathological Lying
Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis.

Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
Does not see others around him as people, but only as targets and opportunities. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.

Shallow Emotions
When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since he is not genuine, neither are his promises.

Incapacity for Love
While he may talk about love he is unable to give or receive it. Expects unconditional surrender.

Callousness/Lack of Empathy
Unable to emphasize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others' feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them. Their skills are used to exploit, abuse and exert power.

Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believes he is all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for his impact on others.

Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others outside their group.

[> [> [> [> [> [> But his job is to prove he has one now to Buffy, not that they prove he doesn't -- Dochawk, 01:42:34 05/26/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> [> How did they know Angel had one? -- LittleBit, 07:19:19 05/26/02 Sun

As has been pointed out above there's not been a soul sniffer, except maybe the Judge (who was prepared to take Spike, and Drusilla, out because the two "stink of humanity." And no one's been particularly capable of, as Yuri says, noticing the "soul on that one."

They 'knew' Angel had a soul because he told them he did. He was tall, dark, handsome, mysterious 'cryptic guy' who didn't act like a vampire. When pushed to it he explained it by telling how a soul was forced on him as a gypsy curse, thus becoming tall, dark, handsome, itty-bitty less mysterious 'tortured-soul guy.' Only Xander refused to buy this. Giles was quite intrigued by the possibility.

His story wasn't verified (if you will) until the curse was broken and he lost his soul reverting back to full, unrestrained vampire, or as the Judge said, "there's no humanity in him." His re-souling then provided proof that his soul was returned because his behavior again underwent radical change. Angel and Angelus had behavior patterns that were so completely opposite that the soul/no soul state was clearly defined.

Spike is going to have a much more difficult road. His behavior is not going have such radical change. He was already capable of affection and jealousy; he reeked with humanity. He was helping the Scooby gang. He was trusted with Dawn. Buffy had begun to trust him. Only Xander continued to see no differences between 'most' vampires and Spike except what was imposed by the chip.

How does a vampire who was artificially prevented from harming humans, who already stunk of humanity, who was capable of human emotions even begin to show that he now understands (groks for those who know it) and no longer needs the chip for restraint?

He would have to become a paragon of virtue, never exhibiting a negative emotion or response for fear of it being 'proof' that he was no different. [And may I just say please no...Spike needs to be allowed his snarkiness.] Or hope to heaven for one of those intuitive 'flash' moments that Buffy was known for in which she realizes something is different. Maybe she'll have another omniscient dream now that she has accepted living again and is shown Spike getting all souled.

But unlike Angel, none of them will just take his word for it that he has a soul.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> How does Spike know he has one? -- Sophist, 08:08:07 05/26/02 Sun

Sure, the cave demon said so. How does Spike confirm it? Can anyone on this board prove that he/she has a soul?

LittleBit is right: this is a case of "by his acts ye shall know him".

Unless, of course, Doc returns to sniff Spike (tower scene in The Gift: "I don't smell a soul anywhere on you.").

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Maybe now we'll get some comfirmation of what a soul is . . . -- Alice, 15:18:30 05/26/02 Sun

. . . in the Buffyverse. Because the definitions are getting less and less definate as the seasons have continued. In Season 2, having a soul and not having a soul was extremely important to Angel; a soul was treated almost as a physical thing, something you could trap in an orb or lose. It made the difference between whether you acted evil or whether you were good.

However, this season with Spike, Clem, (and Lorne in A:tS) and other demons who are good, we have seen people who do not have human soul be good, and with the Trio and Willow, we've seen people who supposidally have a sould act evil. Pure coincidence, or Joss and co trying to reflect the changing viewpoints of the SG and growing up in general?

I'll be disappointed if Spike acts completely differently with a soul. I hope that next year isn't about whether Spike has a soul and how he can prove it, but that it doesn't matter whether he does or not.

[> [> [> Forgive and Forget -- Malandanza, 17:46:56 05/25/02 Sat

" you think Buffy is going to forgive him for his attempted rape that easily? Or that Dawn will?

Maybe not forgive, but certainly forget. In fact, I think it's pretty clear that Buffy doesn't harbor a grudge against Spike since she was willing to let Dawn stay at his crypt immediately after the attempted rape. Maybe it part of her martyr's complex and she blames herself for much of what happens, but Buffy doesn't hold grudges. Even with Faith, Buffy was still defending her long after Willow, Giles and Xander had settled the issue in their minds. Faith really had to hurt Buffy to make Buffy hate her and I doubt Buffy's anger lasted past her stay in LA.

In Villains Buffy thinks that Willow is angry with Warren because he tried to kill her and tries to reason away the vendetta. Buffy isn't raging and storming after her would-be assassin. She is frankly puzzled by Willow's reaction. Other times Buffy has immediately forgotten an attack:

*Spike's bondage games in Crush
*The Xander/Buffy confrontations from The Pack through Seeing Red
*Willow's misuse of magic that directly impacted Buffy or her friends (like Wrecked or Tabula Rasa)
*Harmony's kidnapping of Dawn in an attempt to kill Buffy in The Real Me
*The Riley breakup -- Spike was terrified that she'd blame him in Triangle, but she barely acknowledged his existence. Nor did she keep a grudge against Riley for visiting the vampire brothel.
*Forgiving Angel for Angelus' actions

Of course, the list goes on and on, but you get the point. It is absolutely in character for Buffy to forget all about the rape attempt.

Dawn is another story -- she been angry at Buffy all season. After Wrecked she was angry Willow as well, but mainly Buffy. The girl can hold grudges. However, I have a feeling that Spike may be a special case for her. Buffy isn't upset about the rape attempt, and Dawn has always liked Spike -- in fact, has had a crush on him. She will be unlikely to think of the assault as rape -- especially since Xander (who hates Spike) is the one who told her about it and Buffy's confirmation wasn't exactly a condemnation. I think Dawn will be happy enough to put the attempted rape out of her mind (which Spike would never do! It must have been a big misunderstanding. Probably Buffy's fault).

[> [> [> [> Re: Forgive and Forget -- rose, 11:25:13 05/27/02 Mon

I agree that Dawn will forgive spike regardless bets on wether she demands a real explanation of what happened the only person that actully said rape on the show was Xander. Once Buffy thew spike off he left and looked sick before he did even without his soul he showed more remorse and guilt than warren . granted hes confused vampires (which he still is) just dont feel these emotions.

also B/S had set up the pattern he offers somthing she says no he says stop him and then she lets him and at times enjoys it no doesnt mean anything between them unless backed up by violence like being thrown which is when he stopped.

[> [> [> Re: Buffy Intrigued? I doubt it _ Answering my Own Post -- Dochawk, 20:15:41 05/26/02 Sun

Up above I posited that one reason Spike is so difficult to deal with for Buffy is that her very nature, the slayer nature, despises and hates vampires and she is somewhat heroic in overcoming this nature. If her Slayer wiring recognizes vampires by sensing their lack of a soul, perhaps Buffy will know innately that Spike is now a Motown singer. (maybe JM ought to put a little James Brown in his singing act).

This is for the Critics: A Defense of Season Six (Spoilers through Grave) -- Wynn, 19:52:37 05/24/02 Fri

I apologize if this has been discussed recently. After a season's worth of critics, professional and amateur, bad mouthing Season Six, I felt compelled to write a defense for the season. In my opinion, Six was a strong season, as strong as the much loved Season Two.

In the defense, there are a few spoilers for the Empire Strikes Back. Just warning ya.

Also, please no flames. If you don't agree with me, post why you don't agree with me. Don't bash. And, hey, this is my first "essay" posted on the board. I'll improve with time.

On to the defense... The primary reasons I have seen that were named as the causes of the poor quality of Season 6 are:
1. It's too depressing.
2. There's no humor.
3. Certain plots were ridiculous.
4. There wasn't a traditional Big Bad.
5. Lack of Joss involvement makes a bad season.

There are others I have read about that mainly stem from character or 'ship dislike (i.e. I hate Season 6 because of the Buffy/Spike relationship). The five listed above are the ones that I will concentrate on.

It's too depressing:

I'll be the first one to admit that ME took the characters of BtVS and the viewers to many dark places this season. We were shown the dark, uncivil sides of humans and demons, and it made everyone uncomfortable. Characters left and died, abused each other and themselves, and wallowed in their own pain and misery. But is this season any any more depressing than the past seasons? I say no. It's a different type of depressing; it's about human (or demon) nature, rather than depressing events. Season Two, which many consider to be the best season ever on BtVS, was, in my opinion, equally as high on the depressing scale as Season Six. Consider these episodes:

Lie to Me
The Dark Age
I Only Have Eyes For You
Becoming 1 & 2

All of the episodes listed above were depressing and angst filled. The return of Angelus, the murder of Jenny Calendar, the death of Kendra, and the killing of Angel: all not-so-pleasant events. But does the heavy angst make it a bad season? Absolutely not. As the First Slayer told Buffy in Intervention that she forged strength from pain, ME forms quality, thought provoking, risk taking, emotionally challenging television from pain. BtVS wouldn't have the impact that it does (and invest its viewers as intimately as it does) if it didn't have the drama and angst.

This season had many depressing qualities: Buffy's depression from being ripped from heaven; Willow & Tara, Xander & Anya, and Buffy & Spike all broke-up, leaving all parties devastated and open to bad behavior (i.e. Willow's misuse of magic, The Scenes in Dead Things and Seeing Red, Xander's drinking, etc.); Giles' leaving; Tara's death. The angst is almost overwhelming, but angst is one of the trademarks of the show. Joss and ME give angst and we expect angst. However, there is a humorous balance to the drama. The balance of humor and drama make the show as wonderful as it is. Angst is necessary. Humor is necessary, and it was present in Six. It's just a little harder to find.

Lack of the funny:

Rewatch Flooded, Life Serial, Once More With Feeling, Tabula Rasa, Gone, Doublemeat Palace, and Hell's Bells. All are loaded with the one-liners that BtVS is known for. For example, from Flooded:

Dawn: "That's a weird place for a horn. (quietly) That's not a horn."

Anya: "This tone of my voice? I dislike it more that you do, and I'm closer to it."

Buffy: "Plus, fire? Pretty."

And the scene that introduced us all to the trio of "Super Villains"- Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew v. M'Fashnik demon:
M'Fashnik: "Which one of you is the leader?"
W, J, and A: "I am."
M'Fashnik: "I will kill the leader."
W, J, and A: "He is."

More funny examples from other episodes:

Bargaining Part One: all scenes with the BuffyBot (marzipan, knock-knock jokes, and vampires beware!).

Life Serial: the "Mummy Hand" sequence and drunken Kitten Poker escapades. (a big thank you to writer Jane Espenson to those two part of Life Serial!)

Tabula Rasa: all of the amnesia sections of the show.

Hell's Bells: Anya's early attempts at vows (sex poodle), Buffy's ingenious distraction method at the wedding (juggling), the hideous bridesmaid dresses (the radioactive quality), Xander's family v. Anya's demons.

Two to Go/ Grave: Dark Willow's verbal attacks of her friends. Maybe it's just my hidden sadistic streak, but I found a lot of Willow's barbs funny. It reminded me of the Mayor's humor, funny and dangerous at the same time.

The BtVS humor was present in nearly every episode. A lot of people just didn't notice it because of the drama.

Ridiculous Plots:

Ah, ridiculous plots. There is always going to be someone (most likely a very vocal someone) who isn't satisfied with what ME presents every Tuesday. People protested to Buffy and Spike, Tara's death, Giles' leaving, Willow's "addiction," the lack of the traditional Big Bad, no humor, too depressing, blah blah blah. Nitpicking the stuff we can't control (i.e. what actually occurs on the show) is pretty mush pointless, especially before the season is finished. ME and Joss are going to tell the story they want to tell. If the direction of one of the storylines doesn't jibe with you, welcome to the wonderful world of fanfiction, where you can take the story where you want to go!

Probaly the most protested plot point was Willow's addiction to magic. Many after Wrecked (including me) said that the physical addiction to magic and the portrayal of magic as "evil" went against the BtVS canon. But did it? Clearly, Willow used powerful dark magicks to resurrect Buffy. She was into the dark magic even before Season Six: she used it for her one-woman revenge attempt against the hellgod Glory for brainsucking Tara (a prelude to Willow's revenge over Tara's death?). Dark magick, not magic in general, has been portrayed as dark and evil since the beginning of the show. Remember Amy's mother in The Witch; also, Ethan Rayne, the Chaos worshipper himself, used dark magicks in Halloween and the Dark Age of Season Two. But magic in general was never evil in the Buffyverse. Tara used magic, and it didn't affect her the way it did Willow. The two were using completely different kinds of magic.

Willow got into some dangerous stuff in Season Six, and, as Buffy said in Villains, "she's messing with forces that want to hurt her. All of us." The magic Willow used, to me, is like the Dark Side of the Force in Star Wars. Yoda says to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back that the Dark Side is quicker and more accessible than the Light. That is the allure the dark magicks have for Willow. They are easier and quicker to access, which make it easier and quicker for her to attempt to erase her pain (see Something Blue, Tough Love, Tabula Rasa, Wrecked, and Villains.) Like the Dark Side of the Force helped to turn Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader, the dark magicks helped to turn Willow into Dark Willow.

Willow became addicted to the power she possessed from the dark magic. It changed her (the withdrawl symptoms in Wrecked through Doublemeat Palace, the veins and black hair in Two to Go and Grave). The good magic of Tara and of the Coven overwhelmed Willow (to Giles in Grave "Who's your supplier?") and it helped to stop her destruction of the world. Like the distinction between the Dark Side and the Light Side of the Force in Star Wars, ME seems to have stated that the dark magic is what is evil in the Buffyverse, not all magic.

Hope what I have written so far is coherent and interesting. The concluding two points will be in another post, directly after this one.

[> All about impatience -- darrenK, 20:21:34 05/24/02 Fri

I've come to realize that my own criticism of season 6 was all due to my own impatience. I was so anxious to find out how it would all turn out that I didn't take the time to really watch the episodes.

Rewatching a few––Gone, Hell's Bells, Flooded–– in light of the finale, I've realized that the Buffy writers did something extraordinary, they created a plausible adult world with roots in the adolescent world we saw in Seasons 1&2.

No other show that I can remember has been able to age in a believable way with its characters.

The writers did something else that was extraordinary. They made every episode a part of the main arc. No stand alones. Even Normal Again was important to Buffy's view of her world.

I can't remember a Buffy season where every episode was part of the main arc. That's a pretty significant accomplishment. (Well, maybe All the Way wasn't a real part of the arc, but it certainly wasn't a stand alone either.)

I still didn't like Wrecked. Too much melodrama for me. And I still think they dragged out Buffy's depression just a tad too long.

But you can't expect every episode to be perfect, even on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

[> Re: This is for the Critics: A Defense of Season Six (Spoilers through Grave) -- Wynn, 20:23:18 05/24/02 Fri

Continuing on:

No Big Bad:

The tradition of Little Bad/Big Bad went out the window in Season 5. Glory lasted the entire season, as did Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew. Both caused maximun damage within the SG: Glory because... well... hey, she's a god, and the Trio because of a cumulation of many reasons, including the SG's underestimation of them and the fracture of the SG due to the lack of communication between them. I liked the Little Bad/Big Bad formula Seasons Two and Three. It worked very, very well. Should ME have deviated from a working formula? Should they have stayed with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" theory? It could be argued either way. I love the fact that ME takes risks; some of my favorite episodes are the riskiest: Restless, Once More With Feeling, etc. Abandoning a working formula for a riskier seasonal arc is a gutsy move, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. For the story that ME told in Five and Six, I think a change was necessary. ME is all about change; things don't stay the same on the show, including the way the story is told.

Lack of Joss:

I have very little to say in defense of this. More Joss involvement is always a good thing. He adds the extra special something that sets his episodes apart from the others. But that doesn't mean that the other writers cannot write quality episodes. Case in point, Douglas Petrie's Fool for Love, Steven S. DeKnight's Dead Things, Rebecca Rand Kershner's Tabula Rasa, and Jane Espensons' Band Candy were all, in my opinion, superb episodes.

Joss and the ME crew have repeatedly said that he has remained intimately involved in BtVS. That's a very good thing, but more episodes written by Joss would have been better. He brings the story back to where he wants it to be.


I hope this is a good defense of Season Six. I love the show (and this board), and sometimes it just makes me mad when people constantly bad mouth it *coughJeffJensencough* I wrote this defense to hopefully illustrate my belief that the quality of the show has not declined. Yes, there were not-so-stellar episodes this season (As You Were), but every season has its low points, such as Bad Eggs from Two and Where the Wild Things Are from Four. But Six had a strong start, up until Wrecked, and a strong finish, from Hell's Bells to Grave. The middle was kind of wobbly. The darkness this season has been occurring since The Body in Season Five. I know I'm looking forward to the hopefully happier times in Season Seven. The saying "It's always darkest before the dawn" seems appropriate. We, along with the characters, needed this darkness to appreciate the light.

All done. I hope it was worthy of the board.

All quotes were from Psyche's Transcripts, and the phrase "This is for the critics" is from a Janet Jackson song.

[> [> You're preaching to the choir with me... ;o) -- Rob, 20:39:13 05/24/02 Fri

Season Six Support Good!


[> [> Well said, Wynn. Maybe some people will change their minds with time? -- Ixchel, 21:29:03 05/24/02 Fri

I remember (like some others, it seems) being somewhat disappointed with S4 (except for, of course, Hush and Restless) at the time (the Initiative didn't captivate me entirely, Adam seemed lacking compared to the Mayor, I was indifferent to Riley). Now, I realize what an excellent season it was and that even the lesser (IMHO) episodes had gems of characterization and/or humor (WTWTA, Spike and Anya at the Bronze, and Spike, Anya and Xander at the frat party).

I feel S6 is quite brilliant (like the other seasons), daring and compelling. My admiration will probably only increase with some distance and with the viewing of S7 (as each sucessive season has inevitably enhanced my appreciation of previous seasons).

Again, great post.


[> [> Re: This is for the Critics: A Defense of Season Six (Spoilers through Grave) -- Rosie, 08:47:47 05/25/02 Sat

I agree with those defending this season - it has been strong in many ways and although having its weaker points ( Wrecked?) the characters have been growing and learning that life isn't easy - and not just in a 'wow the world's gonna end'kinda way - they appreciate the TOUGH decision making now - after all whether or not to fight a hell god, defend the world against demons or ward off an apocalypse are not really decisions - they are GIVENS - especially if you're a slayer (or part of her gang). buffy and the gang had in many ways been sheltered from the world by the very fact that they were always busy saving it!! now they're out there making adult decisions; some wiser than others - so i say that while this season may have lacked traditional btvs momentum and drive that it was a necessary and fascinating season that shows how well joss knows these characters and how ell though out/scripted the show is. so there!!

[> Great job, thanks! (especially reminding us of the humour!) -- Scroll, 21:08:13 05/24/02 Fri

[> Re: Well said -- Dedalus, 22:21:31 05/24/02 Fri

[> Wholeheartedly agree with Wynn, darrenK, Rob, and Ixchel!!! -- Exegy, 08:03:02 05/25/02 Sat

[> Re: This is for the Critics: A Defense of Season Six (Spoilers through Grave) -- Humanitas, 15:09:53 05/25/02 Sat

Oh, I should have put my two cents on S6 here, it seems. Poop. That'll teach me not to read all the threads before deciding where to put something. ;) Anyway, if anyone wants to read it, it's a couple of threads down, and labeled "The Necessity of Season 6."

[> [> I agree with you. -- Wynn, 15:20:02 05/25/02 Sat

I liked your point about needing the darkness to emphasize the importance and impact Buffy's death and resurrection had on herself and the SG, and the mini-analyses of Anya and Xander's character arcs. And, like you, I am looking forward to happier times on Season 7 of BtVS!

[> [> Echoing Wynn. Excellent post, Humanitas. -- Ixchel, 15:47:25 05/25/02 Sat

[> Re: This is for the Critics: A Defense of Season Six (Spoilers through Grave) -- Rattletrap, 15:59:48 05/25/02 Sat

Nicely articulated, Wynn. I enjoyed the season, and I think this is one that will get better on repeated viewings. With this season, for me, the whole seems to be somehow greater than the sum of the parts--at the end of the day, when they've finished telling the story, I think it was powerful, catarctic, and ultimately satisfying; even if I'm not altogether sure why or how. As Humanitas (and others) have suggested, this season was a necessary one--a story that had to be told, essential for the characters' journey--despite its frequently dark and disturbing subject matter.

I seem to be one of the few people who is ultimately happy with the way Willow's magic problems were handled. I see TTG/G as, essentially, ME overtly pointing out that the magic-as-drugs metaphor was faulty, and that it was intentionally so. I think it is a bit short sighted to assume Willow's story is over at this point, or that these issues have been resolved. On this point, I think TTG/G is significant because Willow finally realized the underlying issues were about power and self-perception, more than magic.

[> Interestingly, I agree with nearly every one of your points, but the season end disappointed me. -- Sophist, 18:41:12 05/25/02 Sat

I have defended S6 here all year long. I love dark, painful episodes. Four of the episodes from this season are on my personal top 12. I agree with nearly all of your points. Nevertheless, I'm disappointed in the way they ended the season. I've explained some of my reasons in individual character posts below. Here, I want to focus on thematic problems as I see them.

Major Problem No. 1: Willow. It is now (in hindsight) clear that they intended Willow to be the one to go off the deep end. To do that, the writers had to solve 2 problems. One was how to get Willow to do that. The other was to set it up in such a way that we would, nevertheless, eventually forgive her.

They did solve the first problem in a completely satisfactory way, by killing Tara. There is no doubt that this was believable. There was, of course, a high cost for this (losing a character I loved), but that's ok if the story line requires it (hey, I argued that AtS dropped the ball because they did not kill Wes when they should have).

The problem comes from the other end. They seem to have created the magic/drugs metaphor to provide a way for Willow to come back to us. I say this because one of the writers quoted below said, paraphrasing, that Willow's deeds were not attributable to her because of something akin to demon possession. This does not work.

It doesn't work for 2 reasons. First, even on its own terms, drug use does not excuse someone from committing a crime. If I take PCP and then kill someone, I'm still guilty. Second, magic is a thing, not a person/demon. "It" doesn't possess someone. Instead, we can only say that someone abuses magic. Why did Willow abuse magic? For power. Again, the fault remains in Willow and cannot be attributed to an external demon.

Last, and as a personal comment, I seriously doubt the loss of Tara was worth the heavy handed, after school special aspects of Rack. Nor Willow's "withdrawal" symptoms.

Major Problem No. 2: Spike. They pretty much had done as much as they could with chipped Spike. They needed to move him one way or the other. They chose to give him the chance to rehabilitate himself. That's fine with me; I love Spike. Hell, I love Spuffy (and that's a real minority position).

Again, the problem is in their solution of re-souling him. This caused two disappointments. One was that they gave up a much more interesting story, namely whether a vampire without a soul could be rehabilitated. That's novel, it's new, it's daring. They chose to follow "canon" instead. Maybe they can do things with Spike they've never done with Angel; I'm certainly not judging until I see. But I'm disappointed they took the safe route rather than the daring one.

The other disappointment was that in order to justify Spike's need for a soul, they had to force us to say "OOOH, that Spike, he still is really evil." This had gotten to be real hard to justify after the evidence of Intervention, The Gift, and S6 up through TR. The writers were forced to be heavy handed and offensive about it, so we got AYW and the OOC bathroom scene in SR (I'm calling it OOC because the writers keep referring to it as an attempted rape; if they later say it wasn't, I'll take back the OOC charge).

Minor Problem: Xander. As I explained in detail in the carpenter thread below, using Xander as the hero in Grave was plausible, but barely so. The natural choice was Buffy. Letting Xander do it seemed like another forced solution, this one to the problem the writers had created with their handling of Xander's character over the last 4 seasons or so.

None of this means S6 was bad or even that the closing episodes were bad. It just means that I'm disappointed.

[> [> I agree with you too. -- Wynn, 21:14:49 05/25/02 Sat

I loved Season Six (obviously, or I wouldn't have written an essay defending it.) But I agree with your points about Willow and Spike. I watched most of Season 6 today (up until Dead Things), and, again stating the obvious, I think that ME adequately handled the Willow/magic arc until Smashed/Wrecked. The point at which I think they dropped the ball is the scene in which Amy told Willow about Rack. Amy: "He knows spells that last for days. And the burn-out factor is, like, nothing." To me, this went directly against what Tara said in Tabula Rasa about magic and Willow: that Willow used magic to fix what she didn't like. Herself, Tara, Buffy, the entire world (in Grave.) The addition of the physical addiction seemed to be unnecessary when they had Willow's misuse and abuse of magic as a story arc.

I also love Spike and Buffy/Spike, and I agree with your point about the vampire without a soul rehabilitating. I think they had more they could have done with this. I guess ME thought Spike without a soul had run its course. I have faith that they won't pull another Angel.

The problem I had with Xander saving Willow is that he forgives Willow for torturing and killing Warren, stalking Jonathan and Andrew, fighting Buffy, Giles, and Anya, and trying to destroy the world, BUT he didn't forgive Anya for becoming a vengance demon again or sleeping with Spike (which was none of his business.) He loves Willow unconditionally, but he doesn't seem to love Anya unconditionally. Maybe I'm just going nuts. I haven't rewatched the season finale, so I could be missing something.

[> [> [> Re: I agree with you too. -- anom, 20:09:19 05/27/02 Mon

"He loves Willow unconditionally, but he doesn't seem to love Anya unconditionally."

Well, Xander hasn't seen Anya since he faced Willow. Maybe it took that confrontation to show him what unconditional love really is. He found he could still love Willow even after what she'd done. Maybe he'll find that--or at least find out if--the same applies to Anya. After all, Willow was acting pretty demonic....

As far as forgiveness is concerned, I'm not sure unconditional love implies forgiving all that Willow has done--at least not in the sense of making it OK for him that she did those things. It may just be the setting that will allow Xander to come to the point where he can forgive her.

[> [> Agree with most, but not all, of your points too Sophist .... -- Lonesome Sundown, 21:24:52 05/25/02 Sat

>> They seem to have created the magic/drugs metaphor to provide a way for Willow to come back to us. I say this
>> because one of the writers quoted below said, paraphrasing, that Willow's deeds were not attributable to her because of
>> something akin to demon possession. This does not work.

Totally agree. As I mentioned elsewhere, magicked-out-Willow strongly reminded me of Vamp Willow and with the whole evil- AU-twin-as-a-metaphor-for-your-own-dark-side, it seems to indicate that Willow cannot evade responsibility.

>> One was that they gave up a much more interesting story, namely whether a vampire without a soul could be >> rehabilitated.

I'm not quite sure I agree. Many keystrokes have been typed (and some even punched ;)) about whether Spike was on the path to rehabilitation, and I'll not add any more. As you say, ME had gone as far as it could with chipped Spike. I think they didn't have much choice about resouling him.

>> I'm certainly not judging until I see.

I agree. The open questions in my mind are
i) how Willow's debt to both the natural and supernatural world is handled
ii) what's to be done with soulful Spike

[> [> Question for Sophist. -- Lonesome Sundown, 21:34:26 05/25/02 Sat

>> the OOC bathroom scene in SR

OOC = ?

[> [> [> Out of Character, I believe he means -- mundusmundi, 23:25:20 05/25/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> Yes. -- Sophist, 07:40:09 05/26/02 Sun

[> [> Excellent post, Sophist. I agree with much of what you say. -- Ixchel, 21:51:49 05/25/02 Sat

But that's not unusual. BTW, what are your four episodes? I would guess OMWF, TR, DT and NA, but that's probably because those are what I consider the highlights of the season. I believe that S6 has flaws (like any other season), in fact most of the very ones you describe. I suppose I just feel that, on the whole, it was very well done. That said, I do agree that the finale was slightly lacking (at least that's how I feel at present).

Regarding Willow, I wonder if the writers don't present these excuses for those fans who can't accept characters' "evil" aspects (as we discussed before), as a sort of damage control? I believe that this aspect (DarkWillow) is from within Willow, certainly actualized by the absorption of magic, but still _Willow_. This doesn't mean I now reject the character, because I don't think her actions (horrible as they were) negate her contributions through the years. That in the end she chose (for whatever reason) to stop, means (to me) there's hope for her. I don't expect her to go to prison (no body, no evidence), but I do think she has a hard path ahead of her. I'm with you on the gracelessness of the "addict" portions (though I thought her "trip" in Wrecked was interesting and I liked the music). I suppose I basically feel that, no matter what "excuse" is put forth, Willow will not be welcomed back into the fold as if nothing happened. This could be a sort of contrast to how Buffy (who _was_ under the influence of a drug) was treated after NA, though it can be argued her violent actions towards the others also came from within and were only catalyzed from without.

Regarding Spike, I was disappointed as well that ME took the safe route (BTW, I love Spike and Spuffy too, still, so you've got company in the minority position). I postulated in another post that perhaps the reason they went this way is because of the seeming problem a soulless vampire being "good" through will (and a chip) would create within the show. That being the possible perception that Buffy, as a vampire Slayer, could loose a clear moral ground if Spike could do this. Now, I don't believe this would be so (IMHO, Spike's situation is fairly unique), but maybe ME didn't want to take that chance? IMHO though, the fact that Spike _chose_ to obtain a soul means a great deal. In effect he did triumph over his vampire nature with this act (a testament to free will, really). I agree with your perception on AYW and SR. As much as I adore DP's other episodes, AYW left much to be desired (though the Buffy and Spike, and Xander and Anya scenes were actually quite good). As to SR, I think the writers perhaps don't want to dismiss the seriousness of the scene, so that may be why they refer to it as attempted rape (even though I'm not sure what would be the appropriate term for Spike's actions there). I don't know that it was a necessary scene, but as someone has pointed out Buffy did many things that could have driven him away, none worked, so it's conceivable that _he_ had to do something that would cause him to seek a change. Also the scene was well done (being intense and terrible) and Spike's reaction of shock and horror is proof of how much remorse he was capable of _without_ a soul.

Regarding Xander, I can see your point, but I don't agree. I think that Buffy, Willow and Xander have more of a familial relationship and, with that, bonds that are very strong. These can bonds exist even if somewhat neglected (though I'm not sure I agree that this has happened) and are formed from love, shared experience and a deep understanding of each other. That Xander was able to use this bond to reach Willow and that Buffy may not have been able to (sometimes communicating is not one of her strong points) is quite plausible to me. So, while I had some problems with Grave, this wasn't one of them. I tend to disagree about Xander S3 through 6 as well. I think he has been delineated well and is fully realized (experiencing growth and regression, expressing strengths and weaknesses).

Again, wonderful post. I feel you've expressed my disappointments with S6 far better than I could have.


[> [> [> You're a good guesser Ixchel -- 3 out of 4. -- Sophist, 07:56:26 05/26/02 Sun

Clearly we think too much alike. However, my 4th top episode was Smashed, not DT. DT could still make the list if they ever resolve the beating scene satisfactorily. I loved the episode, but still need them to do something besides have B/S act as though that never happened.

I would add 2 points to your comments on Willow. First, Buffy's behavior in NA came after she was involuntarily injected with a drug. That's different than Willow voluntarily taking up dark magic. Second, there may be no body, but there were 3 witnesses who are now accessories after the fact unless they report the murder.

Your comments about Spike are very perceptive. I would just add that the "moral high ground" issue is one that I would have been very interested in having them explore. That's what I mean about a lost opportunity. Again, I'm not judging how they will handle souled vampire no. 2.

I do agree Spike had to do something to force him to a point of decision. Why not have him bite her? That surely would have been a betrayal of trust, and he even said as much in TR ("No thought of me biting you. No thought of you staking me."). Then we could all write about how brilliant ME was to foreshadow this......

[> [> [> [> The sucking problem in the Buffyverse -- Tar, 09:07:39 05/26/02 Sun

According to the writers, they were dismayed at the idea that people actually liked the Buffy/Spike relationship. I believe Fury stated, he thought it 'disturbing' that the pairing had fans. I think the writers are lying thru their teeth about this, but I'll have to wait til S7 for proof.

Their intent was to show that Spike remains an evil entity even with the chip and his love for Buffy. Spike biting Buffy might have conveyed that message, but it might have also have conveyed some erotic overtones they were deliberately trying to avoid.

When Buffy was bitten by Angel, she seemed to experience an intense orgasm. Similarily, when Dracula bit her, it was played out in a sexual manner. I think ME was afraid to go that route with Buffy and Spike because of these past examples. They wanted to be clear on the message they were sending.

Cause, ya know, it might have given the fans of the couple the wrong idea....again.

[> [> [> [> Thanks, Sophist. If we think alike, I take that as a compliment. :) -- Ixchel, 14:24:55 05/26/02 Sun

You raise an excellent point about the alley scene in DT, but the fact that no one (outside of Buffy and Spike) knows means that, unless one of them talks about it, it may never be mentioned again. I tend to think Spike forgave her as she did it (also, her face when she stopped clearly showed she was horrified at what she'd done and he probably recognized that). I think it's possible she may have already forgiven him for what he did in SR (his face showed that _he_ was horrified at what he'd done and maybe she recognized that, and her actions/behaviors in Villains seem to hint at forgiveness), but because Xander and Dawn know (and probably everyone else will once Spike returns), Buffy won't be able to ignore it. If she attempts to accept Spike back into the group (of course, the soul aspect is an important variable here), then the others will be very upset (and rightly so, especially since they have no idea about the complexities of Buffy and Spike's relationship). Perhaps at this point Buffy will have to explain _something_ about what happened between them and the events of the DT alley scene could come out then (especially if she's very distraught). It seems some sort of scenario like this is necessary if Spike is _ever_ going to interact with the others again, though only because Xander and Dawn know (if they didn't, it would be very different).

You're completely correct about the difference between Willow (Villains through Grave) and Buffy (NA). I suppose I was trying to make a statement that I believe Buffy's reaction to the demon drug in NA was a negative aspect of her personality being brought to the fore and a violent manifestation of her troubled mind. There is no question, of course, that the injection was involuntary (as opposed to Willow's deliberate absorption of magic) and so the SG's dismissal of the NA event is appropriate. You are also correct about Buffy, Xander and Anya being witnesses, but I don't believe they'll report this to the police. What could they say ("our friend flayed and incinerated this guy with her witch powers" wouldn't sound very convincing, especially to the supernatural-blind SD police)? Even if Willow tried to turn herself in, it probably wouldn't work (they'd just think she was insane). I think that Faith turning herself into the police worked because there were bodies (Finch and the volcanologist) and she had expressed to Buffy that Slayers were above human law. Therefore her acceptance of human judgment was a psychological breakthrough on her part (also, it was convenient, as ED may never return to the show). I'm not sure Willow considered herself above human law so much as she didn't consider it at all. Maybe her goal was to kill the Troika and then let the magic consume her (just speculating here, but her statement about not coming back could imply suicide)? So, perhaps, Willow's "prison" will be something else?

I agree that the "moral ground" issue would have been interesting (maybe too convoluted for one remaining season though?). I think the point of the attack in SR is that Spike was very desperate, maybe hopeful from Dawn's statement (which, we know, was true) and felt that if Buffy had sex with him again she'd realize her love for him (we know that, when they had sex, Buffy had some strong feelings because of what she told Tara, so his reasoning here is not completely without basis in fact). I believe there is a parallel here with Willow removing Tara's memory of their fight (she is very afraid of losing Tara, just as Spike is of losing Buffy). Both Spike and Willow seem to think that if only their loves bent somewhat to their will, they (each couple) could be happy. This makes them blind to Buffy's and Tara's feelings. Spike doesn't seem to realize until he hits the wall (which seems to snap him out of it) that Buffy is _crying_. Tara can't struggle when Willow exerts her will on her because she doesn't know what's going on, but presumably she would've if she'd known (as she makes it clear later that Willow hurt her). This said, the things that Spike and Willow did were horrible and I don't condone them in any way (I think I understand why they did them, though). IMHO, with this in mind, Spike biting Buffy wouldn't have been as effective because he wouldn't imagine that biting her would make her accept her love for him and that then they could be happy together. Of course, I'm not using Willow's behavior to excuse Spike (or Spike's to excuse Willow for that matter), but I do think the parallel is there. I'm not sure that a scenario where Spike bites Buffy (out of pain, frustration and anger) to possibly punish her for not loving him (or for not admitting she loves him) wouldn't have been more difficult for me to understand than him attacking her (out of desperation, pain, frustration and a little anger) to try to force her to love him (or to admit she loves him). If they had to go this way (some sort of attack), rather than him be rejected once again and simply decide to seek a soul, then maybe this was the best option (making it more about desperation and less about anger)? I could be wrong though.


[> [> [> [> [> If DT plays out like you suggest, then you'll have guessed all 4. -- Sophist, 14:53:38 05/26/02 Sun

You're quite right about the practical problems of prosecuting Willow. I can see the defense attorney now: "So, Ms. Summers, you say she flayed the victim alive. What tool did she use?" Or: "Mr. Harris, if she burned the body, where are the signs of the fire?" The jury might have some problems with this.

Maybe, in some larger sense, DT and SR do cancel out. Odd way to look at it in one sense, but logical in another.

And thanks.

[> [> [> [> [> [> "Ms. Summers, how did you happen to be in the woods... -- Ixchel, 16:01:28 05/26/02 Sun

At the alleged scene of the crime?" Buffy: "Well, Anya..." Defense attorney: "One of the other witnesses, Ms. Jenkins?" Buffy: "Yes, Anya located Willow." Defense attorney: "And how did Ms. Jenkins do this?" Buffy: "Well, she's a vengeance demon and they can sense a need for vengeance so..." Sorry, got carried away. :)

Interesting point regarding DT and SR. I really don't believe the similarities (loss of control, violent act, seeming horrified reaction) are a coincidence. There are important differences, of course, Spike invited Buffy's attack in DT and Buffy certainly didn't do so in SR (though, in DT, I doubt Spike knew the depths of Buffy's pain and self-loathing, and that she would lay into him so completely, but I think he accepted it). Also, that they are both by the same writer seems relevant somehow.

You're welcome. Thank you.


[> [> [> Agree with your points, Ixchel. On the scene in SR ... (Longish, Spoilers for finale) -- Exegy, 10:19:25 05/26/02 Sun

I like to refer to that scene as a potential rape. It never progressed far enough to become an actual rape (it upsets me that so many people call Spike a rapist when he only had the potential to become one). Lots of guys have to be stopped before they do something foolish; that doesn't make them rapists. Personally, I don't think Spike was aware of what he was doing. He says so himself as soon as Buffy jolts him back to reality. And I believe him; the look of utter horrified shock on his face was enough to convince me. Not to mention the telegraphed emotional breakdown leading into the potential rape.

Spike loses control. The chip can't restrain him with Buffy, and so he ends up hurting the woman he loves, the one he so recently said he would never hurt. He has betrayed his pledge to her (the look of horror in SR is a duplicate of the look of horror Spike wears in The Gift, when he realizes that his failure to keep his promise to his lady has resulted in her death). Spike certainly doesn't intend to betray his pledge to Buffy; he doesn't intend to harm her in SR. So I don't see the incident arising out of an attempt to rape her; rather it is an attempt to make her feel again, and the only times she recently felt for him were during times of sexual intercourse. It's a terrible, misguided attempt, and it would have resulted in actual rape had not Buffy asserted herself. Spike realizes this too late, and he is properly racked with guilt afterwards.

I think the scene is necessary. It forces Spike to recognize that he needs to change in order to give Buffy what she deserves (someone whom she can trust). Spike must reinvent himself, and that's what his quest to gain a soul is all about. The addition of a soul merely reflects the internal desire to change. Spike reaches this development as a soulless being, and so I don't see the soul as a cop- out but as payoff for changes already undergone. The desire to change is the change, a form of redemption Spike has never sought before (although he has stated that he has changed on several occasions, I don't think any action of his has ever properly horrified him enough to actively seek transformation--until the scene in SR).

What bothers me about the scene is the artifice required to set it up. Buffy is stronger than Spike; she must be weakened in order for the viewer to believe that Spike can come close to raping her. Hence the inclusion of the graveyard fight immediately prior to the bathroom incident; that fight is a transparent device (ooh, Buffy hurt her back) that has no other business being in the episode. I think it would have been much less jarring if Buffy had received her injury in a scene that tied into the rest of the episode ... say, from her raid on the NoD's headquarters. A booby trap could have hurt her, and then she'd have even more reason to be pissed at the NoD. And this would make SR more streamlined and the incident in the bathroom much less obvious.

I'm not as upset about Buffy bouncing back to fight Warren. She can fight past injuries when she needs to; she's done so before. Spike merely caught her at her most vulnerable state; she wasn't expecting an attack from him (illustrating that she trusts him more than she would care to admit). But Buffy knows that she's going to attack an amped-up Warren, and so she prepares herself appropriately. (By the way, she's clearly not at her full strength when she attacks him. Warren actually asks her if she's feeling okay, because she seems to be off her game. I think Buffy is still hurting from her injury and Spike's assault. She's exhausted by the time Warren flings her into a bench, and that would have been close to the end of her if not for Jonathan's helpful suggestion). Buffy beats Warren--barely--only to have him fly off. I'm okay with this scene. It's more the obvious set- up to the potential rape that bothers me. It's just irritating.

Perhaps the jarring set-up results from the fact that the potential rape was a late addition by MN. DeKnight may not have had time to alter events in his episode to fully accommodate this addition. Maybe the confrontation between Buffy and Spike was originally less sexual in nature and more outwardly aggressive. Then Buffy would not have needed to be weakened as much; she could have just given back better than she received. I think that the original scene may have involved Spike trying to turn Buffy (there were rumors of such a development on the Net; also, Spike tells Buffy that he might bite her if she keeps acting like such a bitch in Wrecked--foreshadowing?). I'm thinking that it would have played out as more of the aggressive foreplay in Smashed, with Buffy resisting and Spike giving into his demonic impulses and trying to turn her. And then she'd kick some sense into him and he'd be horrified, because he loves Buffy as she is. Part of what turns him on is the tension between Slayer and vampire, and I believe he admires what is good in her as well. Spike sinking his fangs into Buffy is as much a violation of her as sexual assault would be (indeed, the action is a metaphor for rape). He would have been horrified in much the same way. And he would have sought change for the same reasons.

When all has been said, though, I actually prefer MN's scenario (although it was not accommodated very well in the episode). Why? I think Spike had to be brought down to his lowest point, and nothing would bring him lower than almost raping his beloved. The reality is far harsher than the metaphor, methinks. (Compare the scene in the Initiative with Willow to the bathroom scene with Buffy. Enough said.) Here Spike betrays both his human nature and his vampire nature. He doesn't even have the ability to say that he is the Big Bad anymore (if he were trying to turn Buffy, at least he could argue that he was being true to vampiredom; he'd have an excuse). He's a pathetic nothing. If he were a real man, he would never have attacked Buffy in the first place (he's acting out of human impulses--he's not in vampface and he's not performing the vampire equivalent of rape, biting or turning--but the human impulses are the worst type, and nothing to be proud of). If he were a real monster, he would not have stopped assaulting Buffy until she destroyed him. He would have felt no remorse, no weak and pathetic human emotions.

Spike blames his feelings, his weakness, on the chip. But the chip is not at fault. The chip doesn't affect Buffy, and so Spike could have continued to hurt her. No, the chip is not to blame. Spike is. His feelings issue from within; they're not mandated from without. Whatever changes he undergoes ... they must be performed on himself.

Spike decides that he must change, for he can't remain the absolute nothing that he is. He had to be brought to this point in order to realize this. His character had to be basically destroyed so that he could reinvent himself. And here is where the choice comes in. Spike either decides to be the Big Bad, as the viewer is led to believe, or he decides to transform himself into someone Buffy deserves, someone she can trust. He chooses the latter option. He makes this choice as a soulless being, and whatever improvements he makes upon himself while souled will reflect the choice of the soulless being. So I don't see the soul as a cop-out. I see it as the transformation Spike chooses in response to the realization the potential rape grants him.

[> [> [> [> Brillant -- Etrangere, 11:03:07 05/26/02 Sun

"Spike reaches this development as a soulless being, and so I don't see the soul as a cop-out but as payoff for changes already undergone. "

That's how I like to see it too.

Of course, they could portrayed it differently in S7 and disapoint us :)

[> [> [> [> Spike's Trials as Crucible (spoilers) -- Scroll, 12:46:30 05/26/02 Sun

There are varying positions regarding Spike's real intentions in going to the cave demon. Some posters say that he wanted his chip out, but others defend Spike and say what he really wanted was a soul so that he would be what Buffy deserved. I think initially Spike wanted the chip out. He blamed the chip for his inability to be a Big Bad; he saw the chip as the reason why he didn't go through with his actions in Seeing Red. The cave demon told him that it was the Slayer, or rather his love for the Slayer, that was stopping him from being a monster.

In Villains, Spike keeps referring to Buffy as "the bitch", paralleling Warren's misogynistic attitude. His tone when he says "I'll give the bitch what she deserves" seems to indicate that it won't be flowers and candy. Spike clearly wants to return to his evil self so that he can kill her...

But the cave demon instigates the trials to prove Spike's worthiness. And as Spike fights each battle, his reserves are depleted, he gets worn down, he's exhausted and battle- weary. And he's reduced to his very basic thoughts and emotions. He uses the same words: "Make me what I was so I can give her what she deserves." But now it means something totally different. He doesn't want to kill Buffy, he wants to be worthy of her. And he gets a soul for all his troubles. The cave demon tricked him.

I see the trials as a crucible that burns away everything in Spike until all that's left is the truth. He wants to be worthy of Buffy. And apparently ME believes that only a souled being is worthy of Buffy. I actually don't have any problems with this, though others do. I'm willing to wait for S7 to see where Joss takes us with this.

[> [> [> [> [> Valid argument. It can be read either way ... (Spoilers) -- Exegy, 17:42:16 05/26/02 Sun

The ME writers deliberately keep Spike's motives ambiguous until the final scene of Grave. You can argue that he only wanted the chip out at first. You can also argue that he desired a soul all along (I think at the very least you have to admit that this was his unconscious motivation). Or you can argue that he wasn't sure of exactly what he wanted; all he knew was that he needed to change. As you pointed out (and rather nicely, Scroll), the African trials serve as a crucible, a severe test that melts away all the extraneous factors and leaves Spike with pure intent. And that intent is to get a soul.

I think that Spike wanted a soul all along (although he may have only consciously realized this during his trials). I don't believe that he went to the cave demon to get his chip out. Why would he have traveled all the way to Africa in order to get a mechanical device removed? Surely a doctor (or even an evil genius like Warren) would have been better suited for the job. I mean a cave demon? No, Spike went to Africa to undergo a mystical transformation. Now, you can argue that he might have wanted to be transformed into a pure demon (a true BB) and I'd grant you that possibility, but I'd personally disagree.

When Spike travels to Africa, I don't think that he intends to return to his BB days (if he in fact ever was the BB). He's clearly uncomfortable with the gruesome cave paintings. Okay, so Spike was never one for torture, but that fact doesn't explain the unease he displays here. In Bargaining he wanted to join in the biker rampaging. He likes violence. But he doesn't want to be evil personified. He still wants to keep his strength, but he wants it for noble purposes. So when the cave demon mocks Spike for having once been a "legendary dark warrior," the vampire says that he's still a warrior, but he pointedly omits the word "dark." Like Randy (Spike devoid of episodic memory but with inner make-up still intact), he wants to be the tough good guy, the vampire with a soul (yeah, sounds like an Angel clone, but Spike will differ from Angel for various reasons). And I think this purpose becomes even more clear in his mind as he undergoes the trials (tests of his physical prowess and his resolve).

If Spike intended to become the BB all along, the writers would have made that purpose clear. Some say that they did, but they really didn't. They left the entire storyline ambiguous until the very end. Spike never said, "I'm going to get this chip outta my head!" or "Wait until that b*tch faces a real BB!" Nope, he only talked about how things were going to change and how Buffy would get what she deserved. Which could very well indicate that Spike wanted to get a soul, to prove to Buffy how good he could be (he complains that Buffy thinks she's better than him; now that he has a soul he'll be her equal). True, he refers to Buffy in anger, but I'm not surprised that he's pissed. The potential rape proved to Spike how weak he can be, as both monster and man, and we all know how the vampire hates to be perceived as weak. Spike blames both Buffy and the chip for his weakness (when he should really be blaming himself), and he goes off on his quest to prove something to Buffy--that he can change.

I believe that Spike's quest is a direct reaction to what Buffy has told him all season long. That he's a monster, that he can't change, that he can't be trusted. It's understandable that Spike should call Buffy a b*tch after all that she's said and done to him. She's rejected him again and again. She can't trust him. And Spike has given her reasons to not trust him (As You Were, SR). So he goes to prove to Buffy that he can change; he can make the b*tch see that he's better than her opinion of him. He can give her what she deserves. And he can still be a powerful warrior, too (just not the BB, he wants to prove something to Buffy, not destroy her). Spike's a persistent fellow. He never gives up a cause. And he's going to pull out all the stops in reinventing himself so that Buffy will love him.

The writers keep Spike's true goals hidden so that they don't spoil the surprise ending. They only need to do this if Spike desires a soul (or some sort of positive change) all along. If Spike wants to become the BB, the writers tell us so that we can appreciate the dramatic irony of the final scene (Spike getting something he doesn't expect). It makes no sense for the storyline to be so ambiguous--unless Spike wants a soul (or the equivalent). And I think he wants to make a positive change from the start. In fact, I've further convinced myself of this.

Now just because Spike has gained a soul doesn't mean that there are no strings attached. The cave demon seemed evil (the paintings and the reference to Spike as a "dark warrior"). There might be some loophole attached to the soul. I actually think that Spike might be the vampire to Shanshu. Spike doesn't want to return to weak William. He desires to keep the prowess of a vampire. How cruel (just the way Joss likes a story) if he were to become human, a lower being. And if Buffy were to still reject him; like Spike said, she needs a little monster in her man. Here he has undergone all these changes for her, and maybe when he finally proves his trustworthiness--bang! Things are changed all around again. (I think it would be wicked cool for the positions to be totally inverted, with Spike becoming human and Buffy a vampire--for the last few episodes only, of course. And Buffy as a vamped Slayer becoming one with her inner darkness and permanently closing the Hellmouth, doing something noble in her last act. Because maybe a vamped Slayer would actually be purified Slayer? And still driven by Buffy's memories and ideals. I know, far-out speculation ... but it would make for a deliciously twisted series ending.)

[> [> [> [> [> [> Wow! likey (Spoilers Finale, DF Succubus Interview) -- Doriander, 11:43:17 05/27/02 Mon

I think it would be wicked cool for the positions to be totally inverted, with Spike becoming human and Buffy a vampire--for the last few episodes only, of course.

Man, that's wicked! Again, I like how your mind works (Doriander says while bowing).

You know, Fury admits Joss and the writers have been "talking" about this, Buffy turning into a vampire that is.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Awesome ... I didn't know about the DF interview (Spoilery Speculation) -- Exegy, 16:41:28 05/27/02 Mon

But if the writers have considered this scenario ... wicked cool indeed! Hmmm, Buffy a vampire, where have we seen that before? Oh yeah, Nightmares! I always thought it was interesting that Buffy became a vampire but still managed to retain her humanity (although she was starting to thirst for blood). Unintentional foreshadowing, perhaps?

We've never seen a vamped Slayer on the show before, so we don't know if such a creature would react like a normal vampire. Maybe there's something more to all that "powers rooted in darkness" talk. After all, Dracula calls Buffy kindred. Granted, he's preying on her fears, but I feel that there's a deeper truth to what he says. Dracula echoes the same words that ended Restless ... Buffy doesn't know what she is, what she is to become. Implying that some radical change awaits her. Is this change being brought back from the dead and having to dig her way out of a grave like a vampire (an echo of Nightmares)? Or is it something else? Actually becoming a vampire, fully inheriting the dark powers that she so dreads. Realizing that maybe the Council hasn't told her the whole truth about what a Slayer is, and how the Slayers were created.

I think that the Slayer strength is demonic in origin. I also think that Buffy senses this but is afraid to admit it to herself. Because what then makes her different from the monsters she slays?

Well, the answer is simple. Buffy makes herself different. She tells the First Slayer, "You are not the source of me." While Buffy's powers may be rooted in darkness, she does not need to use them for darkness. Buffy is the shaper of her own destiny as a human; it is possible that, faced at last with the depths of her darkness as a vampire (her Slayer potential perhaps maximized), she will continue to shape her own destiny. Once again defying all expectations, and succeeding where all others have failed. Transcending her reality.

But only doing this with help. I imagine that, if this scenario takes place, Spike will play a pivotal role (he might be a human at this time). He'd be able to empathize with a vamped Buffy, to reach her when no one else could. He was once a monster without a soul; he'd remember what it was like. And he could extend to VampBuffy the gracious understanding that her human self once gave him ... he could treat her like the woman he loves, not a monster. And Buffy could respond to this treatment. Like the Spike of late Season 5 and early Season 6, she could act nobly because her humanity has been awakened.

And maybe the Scooby Gang could finally realize that a "monster" can act nobly if one encourages it to do so. And the balance of light and dark that many have wanted to see is finally reached. A monster overcomes its urge to do evil as a monster, and it remains a monster (but a noble one). The Scoobs, with Spike in their midst, help Buffy save the world as a vampire. And she sacrifices herself to "permanently" close the Hellmouth ... but maybe she'll be back ... far in the future....

I also think it would be funny for Spike to become human just as Buffy becomes a vampire (maybe the transformations are connected). Maybe the catch is that in order to become human and help save the world for others he has to give up any chance at Buffy. Who knows ... too many variables to consider. And I'm almost positive that this won't happen the way I've theorized, but I think it would be cool to see this in some form.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Nightmares (Speculation) -- Doriander, 05:12:06 05/28/02 Tue

What's the theme next season? Oh yeah, "Buffy Year One." Hee! I'm just getting too carried away with this idea, it's just too good.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Interesting -- ponygirl, 09:24:47 05/28/02 Tue

I always wanted them to follow up on Buffy's reaction to tasting Dracula's blood. It seemed to give her a direct line to the First Slayer which begs for more exploration. While I don't really want to see Buffy vamp out (it seems just too horribly tragic), a little harmless blood sampling and exploration of her dark side and possible demonic origins could be good wacky fun for next year.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Exploration of the dark side (Speculation) -- Exegy, 11:24:28 05/28/02 Tue

I think that next season will finally follow up on Buffy's connection to the dark side (especially if it is the last, because too many hints have been dangled our way about the "powers rooted in darkness" to leave this issue unresolved). Granted, the whole Buffy-being-vamped is a bit of far-out speculation, but I do think that she will have to face the roots of her Slayer nature. She never really dealt with her origins in Restless. Her declaration of "You are not the source of me" seems more like foreshadowing than dealing with the situation set before her. (She spoke quite lyrically to the First Slayer, almost as if she were echoing events and decisions to come. The whole "I'm going to be a fireman when the floods roll back" comes to mind. That line seems to reflect this year, where the flooding is the trauma Buffy must overcome and the fireman bit is learning to deal with one's emotions without being consumed by them ... and making it through the chaos of the end of this season.) I think that the "You are not the source of me" declaration indicates an epiphany Buffy will undergo once she has been forced to deal with her full Slayer darkness. And I think the way to understanding her darkness is through vampires, the Slayer's kindred. There is some connection between Slayer and slain that must be examined (too many hints thrown our way).

We've seen how Buffy gains strength from both being bitten by a vampire and biting a vampire. The Master bites her; when she's revived she feels stronger, "different." Maybe brought that much closer to her Slayer roots. And when she bites Dracula, she breaks his thrall and kicks his ass. "How do you like my darkness now?" she says. And it is her darkness; she's using her powers for her own purposes, and they are good ones. Another foreshadowing of a plot to come?

The Slayer's potential seems to become more actualized by draining and being drained by a vampire. It would only stand to reason (okay, twisted reason) that an action involving both drainages would bring the Slayer really close to her full potential. And that action involves becoming a vampire (if one has been drained to the point of death).

Except maybe the Slayer isn't vamped normally. Maybe she's only brought to a full realization of her demonic power (as a vamp or as something else). And she has to deal with the power and discover that the power does not determine her actions; she determines her actions.

Even as a "monster," she determines her actions. I think this would be a tremendous triumph for Buffy--confronting the depths of darkness within and overcoming them. Defeating the demons inside and outside--and being sucked into the Hellmouth as a result.

Okay, I'm getting a little tragic with the sacrifice part, but it's a good type of tragedy ... uh, really it is! Okay, maybe I'm just one for the terribly bittersweet endings.

But think of it this way--if Buffy becomes a vampire or full Slayer, she'd maybe be able to survive in the Hellmouth. And she could be brought back in the future and returned to her human status--except the Hellmouth would probably have to reopen then, and the fights would continue. Which is what would be happening otherwise.

And if the Hellmouth has to be closed (as the Fray comics indicate), then I want Buffy to close it and still have a chance of returning. Being a demon warrior would give her a better chance, I think.

*Exegy really runs off to work now*

[> [> [> [> Thanks, Exegy. I agree with you also. -- Ixchel, 16:49:39 05/26/02 Sun

Excellent analysis of the SR scene. And I agree that the injury to Buffy could've been integrated into the episode better. I don't have a problem with the Warren fight scene either, Buffy did seem to have more difficulty than she would have normally. I'm not sure I wouldn't have been more disturbed by Spike bitting Buffy, though. The scene with Willow in TI only became less distressing _after_ he couldn't bite her (and their amusing dialogue ensued) and on repeated viewings we know what will happen so the shock is gone. Before that it was very intense (though of much shorter duration than the scene in SR, I think, which makes a difference). Also, there is the factor that we didn't expect any better from Spike then and we (some of us anyway) expect so now. I believe Spike wanting Buffy to feel her love for him (no matter how wrong and misguided) is different than attempting to change her into a vampire (which is worse, I think). Wonderful closing paragraph. That Spike _chose_ a soul does make all the difference.


[> [> [> [> [> Hmmm. Yes, on The Initiative ... (Comparison with SR) -- Exegy, 18:30:22 05/26/02 Sun

I guess my perceptions of that incident in The Initiative are filtered through the humor that ensues afterwards. The actual biting attempt ... yes, that is disturbing. (And good acting there as well.) Spike encourages Willow to scream and then turns up the sound on her stereo. Then he puts his hand over her face and shoves her onto the bed before mounting her ... yeesh. Talk about sexual implications! But the fact of the matter is that Spike is trying to bite Willow, not rape her. It's still a disturbing scene, but I find it less disturbing than a realistic portrayal of rape. Why? Because vampires are metaphorical creatures (okay, in the Buffyverse they are real, but they still usually operate as metaphors). They're based on the monsters you can see in movies. They bite people and sometimes vamp them. It's what monsters do. Frightening? Yeah! But this doesn't happen in real life. Rape does. The Initiative incident is as disturbing as it is for me because it implies rape (although it is not actually rape).

Now, Spike turning Buffy would be disturbing, but I don't think it would beat out SR. Because if Spike were to attempt to vamp Buffy, then he would be literally acting as a monster. He'd be following demonic impulses, and I think that this would, if anything, mitigate his actions. The demon won him over. You can't expect anything else from a monster. The monster is only doing what it's supposed to do, what the monsters in the movies do. The only difference is that this is a monster that you know.

But Spike almost raping Buffy (and not even realizing what he is doing)--he is figuratively acting as a monster. He isn't following demonic impulses (unless the demon is a metaphor for the worst human urges). This isn't how demons act. Vampires don't rape people (not when they can suck them dry, the vamp equivalent of rape). Vampires don't shoot people (unless the vamp is acting as a human would, as Darla acts out of jealousy, her own weakness). They act like proper monsters!! Spike's actions betray both the monster and the man in him. He becomes as nothing. And he cannot blame anyone but himself.

In the case of Spike vamping Buffy, you can argue demonic possession. Spike really wasn't acting, it was the demon in him. In the bathroom scene, Spike alone is to blame. And that's what makes the event so terrible. This is the same Spike who stared in awe at his lady as she appeared to him on the stairs (After Life). The same Spike who held her wounded hands so carefully in his. The same Spike who puts ice on the back of her neck because she likes that. The same Spike who so recently said that he would never hurt her. And now he has betrayed all that. He's undergone one of the most extensive character destructions that ME has ever executed (Willow being another very recent example). This is not a bad thing from a storytelling standpoint, but it is very disturbing to watch. I almost cried when I saw how far ME was going with the scene, and I had been forewarned! I don't think that I would have been nearly so disturbed if it were Monster!Spike I was watching. Nope, I was looking right at MaybeHuman!Spike. And I was looking at something that happens every day to women. Aaaah!

[> [> [> [> [> [> I think I see your point and you make a very good argument. -- Ixchel, 22:42:07 05/26/02 Sun

I'm still not sure I agree though. Though Spike's attack in SR was on Buffy's body and will, an attempt to turn her would have been an attack on both those _and_ her personality (and would have potentially set free the negative aspect of Buffy, perhaps leading her to destroy all she has stood for). I do agree though that the scene is extremely distressing, but I'm not sure that, even just visually, it would have been less so if he had attacked her in a vampire manner. Also, isn't it implied that he had this loss of control in part because he didn't have a soul? Otherwise how could the obtaining of a soul help him be better? So I don't believe that the demon aspect of Spike can be extricated from his act in SR. OTOH, I don't believe that Spike's human (for lack of a better term) aspect could be extricated from an attempt to turn Buffy. If it would be solely the demon aspect attacking through hunger and a desire to reproduce (or spread its "infection"), then why particularly choose Buffy as its victim? It makes sense only if it's understood that _Spike's_ feelings about her would influence the act. I do agree completely with your very insightful point about character deconstruction. That Spike betrayed everything important to him is very true.

Excellent post.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Thanks, Ixchel! Your POV is just as valid (and well- supported) as mine (Spoilers) -- Exegy, 07:59:00 05/27/02 Mon

It's just that I personally see a demonic attack (as in trying to vamp Buffy, it's what a demon does) as less horrific than an actual rape scenario (what a human does). In the former case, I could blame the demonization of Spike's humanity. I don't think that I could make as strong an argument for demonization in the bathroom scene. The vampire's reaction there is a distinctly human one. Spike's not acting as a vampire should; he's acting as the most pathetic human would. If he had tried to vamp Buffy, he'd at least be acting like a proper monster. No, the incident results in a betrayal of both his demonic and human natures. He is brought down to nothing (as we agree).

This is not to say that Spike acting like a literal monster in trying to turn Buffy wouldn't be terrible. I agree with you that in some ways it would be worse (a greater betrayal of Buffy, in this case). But I think such a scenario would separate me a bit from Spike's action. I'd see him operating more as monster than as man (well, manpire). It'd be much the same as the scene in Passion where Angelus snaps Jenny's neck. One of the most horrific scenes ever if one considers the action alone. But you see the vamped Angelus, the demon, and the scene just isn't the same. Angelus is a monster, and he acts like a monster is supposed to act. Not as distressing from that vantage point (I think Angel's sacrifice of the lawyers to Drusilla and Darla is much worse because the vampire is acting out of the worst human impulses--just like Spike does).

And you see what effect the soul has. Having a soul doesn't prevent Angel (or Warren or Ethan or Anyone) from committing terrible crimes. Being soulless doesn't prevent Spike from doing good deeds. What the soul reflects, I think, is the ability to fundamentally change oneself (in a way that goes beyond one's actions, because an action can be good or bad but it doesn't necessarily mean that one has committed to a radical change). This is not to say that Spike hasn't undergone change; but I think that he has his limitations and he doesn't really see that he must overcome them. When he realizes his limitations, when he truly desires to reinvent himself, when he demonstrates his true resolve through the trials--he gains a soul. And the soul reflects the very real change he has already committed himself to-- the desire to reinvent himself so that Buffy can trust him and maybe love him.

Yes, I think that being soulless leads to Spike's loss of control, but that's because of who he is as a vampire. I believe that soulless vampiredom is a metaphor for arrested development--remaining in the same stage of unlife (and it really is unlife, because one is not growing) and not really changing one's worldview. You do see Spike changing to some degree, but only because the chip allows him to interact with Buffy and come to love her as a person. Spike starts to tap his latent humanity (it's been within him all along) and discover his noble aspirations (they must have been buried, because Randy stripped of his memory has them). But just because Spike wants to be noble doesn't mean that he has committed himself to change so that he can be a trustworthy individual. No, he's still stuck with his limited worldview (trust is for old marrieds, burning and consuming love is what matters most in this world). This is the same attitude he has carried with him since being turned (embracing an unlife as a direct reaction to the weakness he felt as a human, not willing to undergo change). The potential rape finally shows Spike just how limited his attitude really is, and he dedicates himself to change. His desire to break out of his unlife by gaining a soul (but notice that he is still not willing to embrace the weakness of full humanity) is the real change. The soul merely indicates his dedication to the internal change. It means that Spike now can commit himself to becoming someone whom Buffy can trust--someone who won't lose control and nearly violate her.

I think that Spike trying to turn Buffy would have been as much about a loss of control as his "trying to rape her." I don't think that he would have consciously attempted to turn her--just like he doesn't intend to nearly rape her. Because the action would have to horrify him enough to send him packing for Africa; he couldn't know exactly what he was doing. I think that the turning scenario would have progressed in exactly the same way as the rape scenario did. Spike tries to make her feel by injecting her with the fangs because he knows she likes being tasted by vampires (the evidence of Angel's bite that he notices on her neck). But Buffy refuses and things go way too far. She beats some sense into him and he is properly horrified.

I think that the potential rape scene works better because it is the logical capper to all the previous S/B interaction. Spike has connected to Buffy through sexual intercourse; the boundaries set up by "Yes" and "No" have become increasingly unclear (not that this is an excuse); the relationship has been a mutually abusive one; Buffy admits to feeling for Spike, and the only time Spike thinks that she feels for him is during sex. This type of scenario occurs in RL, and it makes for a situation that is not as clear-cut as some might believe. There are two sides to the story; I think that Buffy doesn't totally blame Spike because she realizes that she has played a large role in the progression of the abusive relationship. She's not innocent; she's wrong, too (looking at the relationship as a whole, because the scene in the bathroom must be understood in the context of the relationship).

I also believe that Buffy trusted Spike more than she'd care to admit. She sees him betraying his pledge of love to her, something she thought he would never do. And Spike thought he couldn't do this, too. Buffy resigns herself to the fact that Spike hasn't changed; he can't be trusted because of what he is. She forgot what he was again (As You Were's realization). And Spike, for once, determines that he cannot remain the same any longer. He'll undertake a radical transformation and prove to Buffy that he can be as good as she is (well, worthy of her trust anyway).

We'll see how well Spike succeeds and how well Buffy responds next season. I have a feeling that Spike's trials have only just begun.

Thanks for reading!!

[> [> [> [> [> Excellent posts, Ixchel and Exegy. I agree with Ixchel, but both points are very well expressed. -- Sophist, 09:49:16 05/27/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> Wow! Great post! -- ponygirl, 11:39:27 05/27/02 Mon

[> [> I've got no problem with them using Xander in the finale and here's why..... -- Rufus, 04:22:16 05/26/02 Sun

All the characters had to grow up in some way. Buffy, get back into participating in the world, Willow had to stop thinking that the only valuble thing about her was her power, and Xander had to stop thinking of himself as useless, destined to end up like his father. Xanders actions were all over the place...he avoided the wedding until he was faced with the actual ceremony, he would say things to Anya that made her feel insecure, he idolized Buffy in a way she could never live up to. He could never forget what Spike was (oh, that is kinda a good thing), and all his talk about demons seemed to reflect more about how he felt about himself. Xander isn't a bad man, he was just a trapped man. It wasn't the wedding, or Anya, or any demons fault for how Xander felt, he had decided somewhere in his mind that his destiny would be to become his father. The demon who showed up to his wedding only had to show him what his fears would look like, to get him to run. This season was about not just growing up, but how one grows into a person who feels confident enough that they don't have to use a crutch to feel powerful. Willow never left high school, the memories of being called a loser made her feel like that's all she would ever be, no matter what costume she wore. This caused her to depend upon the magic to cloak her in a facade of power. She thought that's all Tara could ever see in her, she felt that's all she needed to make things easier, less painful. Then she got more power than any mortal, she ended up the Big Bad..ended up fighting Buffy. The problem is that as their battle escalated, they were not able to defeat each other. Willow saw Buffy as a power that made her less of a person, she fought that, fought her friend so Buffy couldn't take the "costume" off (I'm referencing Willow's dream in Restless). Giles came back, this of course foreshadowed in Flooded, and Willow remembered word for word their arguement. So Buffy and Giles instead of making Willow feel comforted and secure only made her more insecure the more determined to hang onto the power she had. When Giles dosed her with the balancing magic, Willow was able to feel pain, but only pain, the pain of the much so she was willing to make it go poof. This is where Xander comes in. Xander has no power, felt powerless most of the season finale. He got the memo that only said that everything was his fault, and was depressed enough to go into neutral.

Why Xander was the one to get through to Willow over all others starts in the fact that he was the Scoobie with no powers, the guy with the jokes and the guy that went out to get treats. When Anya told Buffy that no magic power could stop Willow, Xander heard and in that moment started to become what he always was to choose how to live his life independant of his family and his doubts. Xander took a chance and instead of trying to beat Willow into submission, he went to comfort his friend. Xander did what no other Scoobie could, use the fact he had only the power of his love for his friend to bring her out of the darkness into the early morning light. He saved the world by learning to accept the demons in Willow, and himself. Xander comforted his friend and helped the magic Giles gave her to drive the darkness out of his friend. Instead of hating his friend for what she had allowed herself to become he became an instument of light and love, and he didn't have to raise a fist.

[> [> [> I think this is the best case that could possibly be made. And I don't buy it. Sorry. -- Sophist, 08:01:42 05/26/02 Sun

[> [> [> A better response. -- Sophist, 09:43:31 05/26/02 Sun

For me, Buffy is the hero. She gets to save the world (a lot). The SG help, and their help is important. They can even be heroes on small scales, like Xander in PG or The Zeppo. But the show is about Buffy; it doesn't work if one of the SG is the hero on an apocalyptic scale.

The message that we all have it within ourselves to be noble is a great message. But that's inconsistent with the most fundamental premise of a show about a particular hero. If we are all heroes, I don't need Buffy. As Rick says to Victor Laszlo, "We all try. You succeed." Xander can try, but Buffy is the one who succeeds.

We can all see different aspects of Willow's psychology here. Several people have commented about her repressed jealousy of Buffy (as a footnote, let me say that if we take Dark Willow's comments as expressing true, but repressed, Willow feelings, it makes it harder and harder to forgive Willow for Dark Willow's behavior). If this is the case, from whom does Willow need to hear the message of unconditional love? Clearly, from Buffy. Willow needs to know that she --nerd Willow, not SuperWillow -- is important to Buffy. That's who should have been up on the hilltop delivering the message.

[> [> [> [> Disagree -- Arethusa, 09:54:51 05/26/02 Sun

>>[...] from whom does Willow need to hear the message of unconditional love? Clearly, from Buffy. Willow needs to know that she --nerd Willow, not SuperWillow -- is important to Buffy. That's who should have been up on the hilltop delivering the message.

I respectfully disagree. Willow does not need validation from Buffy-she needs it from herself. She needs to realize to the depth of her soul that she is worthy of love and is, indeed, loved for what she is, and nothing else. Xander is the one to tell her because he knows her best, knows who the true Willow is, under the jumpers and the magic. They have always looked to Buffy for a sense of importance, but they have always looked to each other for love.

[> [> [> [> Re: A better response. -- manzanita, 10:18:06 05/26/02 Sun

I disagree that because the show is entitled "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Buffy must always be the one fighting the apocalyptic battles.

From Season 1, ME has reiterated the theme that Buffy's success is tied to her support from the SG. In Prophecy, Xander revived her; in School Hard, Spike comments that a Slayer with friends and family is far more of challenge than a typical isolated slayer; in Innocence, Xander gets the rocket launcher for Buffy to blow away the Judge; in Season 3, all of Sunnydale high helps her defeat the Mayor; and in Primeval, it is the joining of Buffy with Giles, Xander and Willow that defeats Adam. And Spike tells Buffy In Fool For Love that her connections with people are what has kept her from falling into the Slayer deathwish trap.

Buffy is weaker when she and the SGs lose touch with each other. In the beginning of Season 4 and in Season 6, the SGs drifted apart from each other. When Buffy withdraws into herself and isolates herself from the SG, she is less of Slayer.

I actually think that it was interesting that Buffy was not this season's savior. Buffy had kept to herself so much, not wanting to show any signs of weakness or vulnerability to the other Scoobies. Outwardly she was trying to be the perfect Slayer and do as much as she could by herself. In her own way, she was trying to control her world, depsite the lecture to Dawn and Xander in Vilians. And, as Giles told her, the most adult thing is to know when to ask for help. Even Slayers have limits.

Aslo note that in Grave, Xander "saved" the world. But he had help. Giles dosed Willow with good magic. Anya teleported to Buffy, Dawn, and Xander to tell them where Willow's location and that supernatural means could not stop her. Without Giles dosing and Anya's information, Xander would never had reached Willow literally or figuratively.

I think that ME has sent a consistent message from the start that the whole is the greater of the sum of the parts.

[> [> [> [> [> Exactly! What would Buffy be without her friends.... -- Exegy, 10:52:45 05/26/02 Sun

Well, we've seen that, haven't we?

We've seen that scenario played out with Faith, Buffy's shadow, the Slayer who has no family or friends. She turns to the Dark Side.

We've also seen it with the Wishverse Buffy, another shadow figure. That Buffy doesn't "play well with others." She goes off alone (Angel follows her out of his own initiative) to face the Master, and she dies.

Contrast the events of The Wish to the events of Prophecy Girl. The real Buffy has friends who care about her safety. Indeed, if it were not for Xander's actions, Buffy would never have been brought back to life the first time. She would never have lived beyond the prophecy. THe Master would have killed her as surely as he kills the Wishverse Buffy.

So by saving Buffy, Xander in effect saves the world. And, along with the rest of Buffy's friends, he continues to save the world. Not in particularly glorious ways; all the flash and glitz goes to Buffy. But Xander does save the world himself on more than one occasion. That's what The Zeppo illustrates. Sometimes it's the guy behind the scenes who prevents the apocalypse ... along with everyone else.

Buffy would not be the hero that she is without her friends. They save the world with her. They just don't get all the attention (Willow's harbored resentment at being the "sidekick" comes to mind). But they are necessary. The enjoining spell of Primeval shows that Buffy's friends provide essential support for the hero. They are the elements of her success. And if one element comes to the fore ... well, I see no problem with that. A heart alone can win sometimes where brute strength cannot.

[> [> [> [> [> [> You're proving my point. -- Sophist, 11:57:59 05/26/02 Sun

I completely agree that Buffy needs friends. I completely agree that she couldn't do it without them. I completely agree that the SG perform heroic acts on a smaller, human scale (and no, Xander did not save the world in The Zeppo, he saved the school from being blown up). Every example in manzanita's post demonstrates that the SG help, but Buffy saves the world. A lot.

Having Buffy in the climactic scene would have had the added benefit of answering those critics that Buffy was just bitchy and cold this year. While I don't agree with this, there certainly is an element of truth to it. If Buffy had been there with Willow, those concerns would have been put to rest.

And Arethusa, I agree with your description of what Willow needed; I thought I was saying the same thing. I just don't agree that Xander was the one to say it.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Why can't Xander be the hero? -- Scroll, 12:23:59 05/26/02 Sun

In The Zeppo, Xander saves the school from being blown up, with Buffy et al. in it. They were all busy trying to keep the Hellmouth from opening. If the school had blown up, they would've all been killed and the world would have ended. The funny thing about this episode is that two groups of people (Xander and Buffy/other Scoobies) save the world and neither group knows about the other.

You said: "Having Buffy in the climactic scene would have had the added benefit of answering those critics that Buffy was just bitchy and cold this year. While I don't agree with this, there certainly is an element of truth to it. If Buffy had been there with Willow, those concerns would have been put to rest."

Why can't the same be true for Xander? He's been criticised for his behaviour this year as well, and I think he finally had his epiphany those last few minutes of Grave. He stepped up to the plate and did what Buffy couldn't do. Not because Buffy wasn't Willow's friend, but because Buffy is concerned first and foremost with saving people. She wants to save the world and she wants to save Willow. Buffy is all about being the hero, like you said. But Willow didn't need someone to save her, she needed to know that she was loved.

Xander realises that he's not about saving Willow. He's about being a friend, being the Comfortador, the one poeple can lean on in times of trouble. Is the truth that Xander's love was what Willow really needed such a terrible thing? I think it's a beautiful message that Buffy, hero that she is, isn't always the answer to the world's ills. Sometimes what you need is a shoulder to cry on.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Why Buffy has to be the Hero -- Sophist, 14:58:12 05/26/02 Sun

If everyone can save the world, it's no longer special to do so. What makes Buffy special is that she can and does do that. Everyone else can be a hero, only Buffy is the Hero.

From a moral point of view, I completely approve of the idea that we all have it within ourselves to save the world. But it undercuts the whole premise of the show.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Why Buffy has to be the Hero -- Rufus, 16:01:08 05/26/02 Sun

You say that Buffy has to be the hero like there can only be one hero at any time. Buffy has still done many heroic things this year, but she wasn't living her life like she much cared about what she was doing. Her journey as a hero was to return to the world, and that happed in small steps this year. She finally got it in Grave, embraced her sister and the world and rose from the Grave in the way we hoped she would the first time in Bargaining. The writers made Buffys journey especially hard in that she did things this year that she wouldn't have in the past. The main one sleeping with Spike, and her failure to connect with everyone else in a way that would have prevented Willow from going over the edge in the first place. Buffy was so busy just trying to feel that she didn't notice just how far Willow had gone.

Xander is the hero this year because he was what was needed to get the job done, it doesn't lessen Buffys contribution over the six years, it shows to me that these people have become better human beings for their interactions with each other. Even Spike strove to become a better being because of all the good and bad interactions with the SG and Buffy causing him to begin to reference his humanity enough that he went in search of a soul. Xander being the hero was the thing that was needed in this situation and proves that even those without superpowers have it inside to be just as heroic as the strongest superhero. Xanders background with Willow was such that he has known her since they were children, seen her happy, seen her cry, stole her Barbie when they were 5. Buffy is a best friend of Willows but brute force wasn't needed this time, and her ability to battle was just causing Willow to use more power to defend what she had gotten through the dark arts. Xander along with the balancing magic that Giles brought, found that last spark of humanity that brought Willow back to us. This doesn't cheapen Buffy as a hero, it proves that she is someone that has helped others find the best within themselves. She is "the" hero, this time just wasn't her turn to save the world.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> OMG Rufus I am agreeing with you -- Dochawk, 17:30:53 05/26/02 Sun

There are different types of heroism and Xander has shown us one, the heroism of unconditional love that Buffy hasn't yet achieved. Does this cheapen Buffy as The hero? Nope, because the hero in this case is not the warrior. Willow in her own weird way was nodding to Buffy the hero, the warrior, when she made it so she would go down fighting. But Buffy has not completed the hero's jounrey (with nods to all you Cambell fans since I am not using it in that way, cause I just don't know enough about it, would love to see someone's post on it), the place she hasn't gone yet on her journey is the place that love takes her. I think this is the next (final?) step in her journey. Interestingly Xander was able to reach that place with Willow, can he do it with Anya? he sees now, how powerful it is. If so, he will have grown tremendously and will be completing a journey of his own.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: OMG Rufus I am agreeing with you -- Rufus, 18:13:42 05/26/02 Sun

Yes mark that one on your calendar and for mentioning Campbell I give you a quote or two....

Moyers: Why are there so many stories of the hero in mythology?

Campbell: Because that's what's worth writing about. Even in popular novels, the main character is a hero or heroine who has found or done something beyond the normal range of achievement and experience. A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.

I find that people can get confused about the hero issue because it can either mean the main character of a story or what Campbell says "someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself". Each member of the Scooby Gang has done that and in the last moments of Grave it appears that Spike has given up his Big Bad persona to become something more wonderful than he was. Each character in their own ways is in a hero's journey, each with trials to go through to get from one point of consciousness to another. That is why I love all the characters even the bad guys. The Scoobies are an example of what can happen when people reach out to become more than the were, even if they are afraid to. The bad guys represent what happens when someone decides to pick a dark path, either through sloth, fear, or greed.

Trials and Transformation

Moyers: In this culture of easy religion, cheaply achieved, it seems to me we've forgotten that all three of the great religions teach that the trials of the hero journey are a significant part of life, and that there's no reward without renunciation, without paying the price. The Koran says, "Do you think that you shall enter the Garden of Bliss without such trial as came to those who passed before you?" And Jesus said in the gospel of Mathhew, "Great is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth to life, and few there be who find it." And the heroes of the Jewish tradition undergo great tests before they arrive at their redemption.

Campbell: If you realize what the real problem is - losing yourself, giving yourself to some higher end, or to another - you realize that this is the ulimate trial. When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self- preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.

And what all the myths have to deal with is transformation fo consciousness of one kind or another. You have been thinking one way, you now have to think a different way.

Moyers: How is consciousness transformed?

Campbell: Either by the trials themselves or by illuminating revelations. Trials and revelations are what it's all about.

Moyers: Isn't there a moment of redemption in all of these stories? The woman is saved from the dragon, the city is spared from obliteration, the hero is snatched from danger in the nick of time.

Campbell: Well, yes. There would be no hero deed unless there were an achievement. We can have the hero who fails, but he's usually represented as a kind of clown, someone pretending to more than he can achieve.
All quotes from Power of Myth

I think that just as Buffy is always changing adapting to what she learns from the trials we see every season, so to the Scoobies like Xander. Xander is just as much on a hero's journey as Buffy is, the difference is that she is the Hero or lead character of the overall story or series and Xander is is a hero in what he does in reaction to the trials they all go through.

Moyers: So perhaps the hero lurks in each one of us when we don't know it?

Campbell: Our life evokes our character. You find out more about yourself as you go on. That's why is't good to be able to put yourself in situations that will evoke your higher nature rather than your lower. "Lead us not into temptation."

This is the most important quote that describes the situation with Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies including Spike. They have all been in situations that evoked something in their idividual characters. Willow was lead into temptation by her arrogance, and lead back into the world by Xander who finally understood his value to the situation. I don't even have to go much into Spike to prove that he has gone through some obvious trials that could have turned out very differently had he not been exposed to the chip, Buffy, and the Scoobies. He could have gone back to being a monster but his interactions with Buffy and the gang evoked something in the human he once was that began to long to be more. With Buffy, she had in her actions refused her return. Buffy wanted to return to where she felt safe and warm, her trials included her relationship with Spike where he finally understood that their natures would seperate each other forever leading him to search to become what he thought Buffy deserved. Buffy, finally accepted her return and was the Buffy we all hoped for this year when she helped Dawn out of the Grave. If we only look to one character for heroism we miss all the heros that are just like us, just like Xander, people with now special power but choose to act for something more than themselves.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Beautiful, Rufus! Gotta love Joseph Campbell (Spoilers) -- Exegy, 19:55:07 05/26/02 Sun

So Buffy has finally returned to the world. Her emergence from the grave with Dawn illustrates that she has not left any of herself behind this time. She is finally (I hope) intact.

So what's the next stage of the hero's journey? IIRC, that is the communication of one's experience to others. The hero takes on prophetic or messianic dimensions. Okay, so Buffy has learned that the world is not hell afterall. It can be a truly beautiful place--you only have to open yourself up to the beauty in order to experience it. Buffy has been so closed off this year, but she finally "gets it" (God, I hope so). Now that she has undergone her true epiphany, it is time for her to spread her awareness to others. The logical place to start is with Dawn. And that means no longer protecting Dawn from the world, but showing it to her (about time!).

Buffy is very much the central hero of the show. But her friends are heroes, too. And not just because they are Buffy's friends, but because of who they are as individuals. Willow the spirit, Xander the heart, and Giles the mind all operate in Buffy, the hand that effectively saves the world.

And Buffy has saved the world for six seasons now. But, as Rufus and other posters have pointed out, sometimes you don't need the goal of saving the world to avert the apocalypse. Sometimes you don't need the hands to affect physical manipulation.

Sometimes a heart alone is required. And that's what Xander provides. No, he doesn't save the world the way Buffy does. In The Zeppo, Buffy is fighting the demons of the Hellmouth. Meanwhile Xander quietly prevents the explosion that would have killed all the Scoobies and made closing the Hellmouth a moot point. No, not saving the world on a heroic scale, but acting as a hero all the same. And playing a crucial role in preventing an apocalypse.

Xander comes to the forefront in Grave because his type of heroics are needed. After a year of losing his heart, the part that makes him so special, he finally finds it and proffers it to Willow, his oldest friend. I agree that he's not trying to save the world. This is Xander, he does the little things. And sometimes the little things are necessary.

I think Willow responds most to Xander for several reasons. He's her oldest friend. She's known him almost her whole life. If anyone can reach her, then it's going to be him. Not Buffy. Not Giles. Willow harbors resentment against both Buffy and Giles. She's always coveted what those characters had, and now that she is in a position to assert herself.... Also, Buffy and Giles are clearly doing everything in their power to stop Willow. They want to save her. Willow doesn't want to be saved. No force on earth can stop her.

Well, no supernatural force. Only the love of her oldest friend. Xander is not trying to physically stop Willow. He's only loving her, showing her that she's still the same Willow who's been his friend all these years. And Willow responds to this message as she could not respond to the physical efforts of Buffy and Giles to reach her.

Does Xander save the world? Yes, but not in the way Buffy does. He's a different character, he has his own way of operating. And his victories don't detract from Buffy's at all. If anything, the success of Xander and the other Scoobs augments Buffy's success, which I hope I have been saying all along.

I'm glad that ME chose to do something different by having Xander save the world. In this case it was appropriate. And it allowed Buffy to come to her epiphany. She finally returns to the world, a necessary step of her hero's journey. Assuming that Buffy has learned from her experience, I expect next season to be much more light in tone. Still weird and strange, but with a sense of hope that has been sorely lacking in the show.

Season six is all about Buffy losing her way and not being able to return to the world. It ends with her being "reborn" into her hero's role. Next season she will once again be the most important woman in the world. This year she WASN'T because of her inability and/or unwillingness to actively participate in the world. Things around her spun out of control. If Buffy were going to save Willow, she would have done so sometime during the season, before everything fell apart. But she didn't; she was lost in her own misery and didn't realize that her friend was also drowning.

Xander screwed up his life, too; he couldn't seem to do anything right this year. Until the end with Willow. Then Xander does the right thing by just being himself. He rediscovers his strength at the same moment Buffy rediscovers her joy of life.

Buffy wasn't supposed to save Willow. That wasn't her challenge this year. That was Xander's challenge, because in doing so he had to find his heart. No, Buffy had to find her appreciation for life, and she wasn't going to do that saving Willow. Saving the world is old hat for Buffy, another task. She had to be faced with death, placed in a grave with Dawn, until she realized that she wanted to be alive, to go out into the world and encounter its challenges and its joys. She had to be placed into that deep pit so that she could climb out of it. She could be reborn as herself again. She could become, once again, the hero we have loved for so long.

Next year she'll save the world.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Two Fabulous Posts -- Dochawk, 20:12:35 05/26/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> A truly rocking sub-thread! Thanks for the great posts! -- ponygirl, 12:47:15 05/27/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Agreeing, and... -- MaeveRigan, 12:08:32 05/27/02 Mon

"This doesn't cheapen Buffy as a hero, it proves that she is someone that has helped others find the best within themselves. She is 'the' hero, this time just wasn't her turn to save the world."

Absolutely. And I'm speaking as one who's among the first to defend the show as "BUFFY the Vampire Slayer."

What I wanted to add: as a "hero" in conventional terms, as the Slayer, Buffy's continued to be fairly competent all season, even if most of the time she's felt as if she's "going through the motions." Where has she really needed to grow? Her biggest failure to grow has been in connecting to Dawn. That's why Buffy has to finally "get" her relationship with Dawn, and symbolically revive herself and her family in order to regain the hero's spirit she should have had all along.

There's more than one way to save the world.

[> [> [> [> Maybe the message is "It doesn't take a hero" -- change, 04:01:38 05/28/02 Tue

Last year in Angel the message was that fight between good and evil is not going to be won in some grand battle but rather in many small battles and choices. In this season of BtVS, part of the message seems to be that the battle is not always fought and won by heros, but also by regular people without special abilities and powers. That's part of the reason why Xander saved the world.

Also, as manzanita pointed out, Xander has saved the world before. If he hadn't revived Buffy in PG, the Master would have been let loose. By the same token, Buffy was a hero in Dead. Her objective was to keep Willow from turning to evil by killing more people. She, and the other scoobies, did that. She broke Jonathan and Andrew out of jail before Willow could get to them, she prevented Willow from killing Dawn at Rack's, she prevented Willow from killing Jonathan and Andrew by fighting her in the Magic Box, she saved Giles's life, she saved Jonathan, Andrew, Xander, and Dawn from Willow's fire ball, and she saved Dawn again from the earth monsters. Buffy was in everyway a hero. So was Giles. So was Anya. Xander may have been the one to finish the job, but it took all of the scoobies working together to save Willow and the World.

[> [> [> [> [> "When everyone is somebody, then no one's anybody." -- Sophist, 10:47:16 05/28/02 Tue

Gilbert and Sullivan do have a way with words.

[> [> [> [> [> [> That's a sad philosophy to embrace. -- Traveler, 12:41:05 05/28/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> I don't embrace it IRL (well, I do within limits) - - Sophist, 13:58:33 05/28/02 Tue

My point was only that a show devoted to a hero undercuts its own premise by making everyone a hero. In order to preserve the show, it has to distinguish between smaller acts of heroism by supporting characters and the larger, world-saveage heroism of Buffy.

IRL, on the other hand, we all can succeed in some sense. In cases where success is defined as reaching a certain minimum level (e.g., faith in God), then everyone is able to succeed equally well; there are no extra credit points.

But where success is defined relatively (e.g., Michael Jordan is a better basketball player than I am), then either we have to bow to Gilbert and Sullivan or we have to be satisfied that I'm a better lawyer than Michael (I hope). Everyone can still be equally great, but we have to succeed in different ways. Since basketball players are not inherently better than lawyers (work with me here), success in one endeavor is just as valid as success in the other.

[> The real problem with season 6 -- change, 17:32:51 05/27/02 Mon

The real problem with season six is not that it took us to a dark place, but rather that it left us there for too long. As you pointed out, the other seasons have had plenty of angst ridden episodes. However, in previous seasons, angst themes generally ran only one or two episodes. For example, Jenny's murder in season two was done and over with by the next episode "KbD". It was only brought again briefly in 2 more episodes that season. Also, the dark themes generally were not about the characters themselves, but about events external to them. All through seasons 1 - 4, the main BtVS characters continued to develop in positive ways . This helped to keep the show up beat even while dark things were occasionally happenning. It's only been since "The Body" that we've had dark, depressing themes that ran on for episode after episode.

I don't want to seem too shallow here, but BtVS is suppose to be entertainment. It's hard to be entertained if you're depressed about how all of the characters on the show that you like are destroying themselves. There is a difference between TV serials, and books, movies, and plays. Movies and plays are over in a few hours, books are over in a few days, but TV series go on for years. Books, plays, and movies can be completely dark because they only last for a short period of time. A TV season can't be because 9 months of watching characters destroy themselves is too much for too long.

I've noticed some people are saying they like this season now that they have seen the finale. However, seeing the finale changes your entire perspective of the season. You have seen the characters resolve their problems, renew their relationships, and find their purpose in life again. When you rewatch old episodes, the finale is still in your mind coloring what you see. I think people's views before the finale were more accurate. One episode does not save a season. Think of season 3 when Graduation Day was delayed because of the Columbine shooting. Were you still happy with the season before seeing the finale? Do you think you could say the same about this season? I don't think I could. There were just many Tuesday nights when I didn't want to watch the show because it was just too depressing, and I think that's a terrible thing to be able to say.

I really hope the writers make season 7 more up beat. I miss the humor. I miss Buffy's puns. I miss the likable characters.

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