May 2003 posts
Empty Places - BtVS 7.19 - WHAT IS THE POINT - Please Help Me Out - Possible Spoiler to 7.19 -- Angelina, 05:11:15 05/01/03 Thu
I wasn't even going to post anything about this episode, cause it so pissed me off, but I just watched it again, and I cannot help myself. I hated this episode for obvious reasons, and was wondering what the point of the entire episode was supposed to be, other than, the entire cast, except for Buffy and Spike are what - SCARED??????? I know everybody's figured that part out but what I just realized is that the whole traitorous, back-stabbing, Summers' house stealing, bunch of losers left behind in BUFFY'S house will now get to see how pathetic they are without Buffy to lead them? Don't they KNOW this by now? Hey, Buffy, How do you feel about not throwing Dawn into the abyss in The Gift now? Yeah, wanna give your life again for this little shit? Man, oh man, I did NOT see that coming. Kennedy and the other SIT's are just DUMB, but Willow, Giles, Xander and Anya? Holy Shit. I was stunned. Why didn't someone smack Anya's brains out of her head? Kennedy - who the frick gave you permission to LIVE??? I sincerely hope each and every one of these fricking Potentials winds up dead, I hate them. AND I hate the writers who created them. That plot line simply took away precious time from our core group. Anyway, Kudos to Sarah Michelle Geller, who not only gave a fantastic performance, given this crap to work with, but who shines every second she is on screen. I know a lot of people think she is "walking" through these episodes, I do not. I think without her superb acting skills, and the exquisite subtlety in her facial expressions, this episode would go down is history as the most hated episode EVER. Her last scene, with Faith, now that made me burst into tears, because her reaction in this scene is so Buffy. She CARES so much about her people, she just cannot express how she feels - she knows how precious they are, she totally blames herself for what has happened to Xander and the others, but she refuses to give up she knows this fight has got to be won - that's her JOB, actually that's her destiny. She looks almost relieved to be relieved! Let someone else take the burden for a change! But you can see her despair all over her face! And her struggle NOT to break down in the face of this unbeatable foe, Caleb and the FE, and the total lack of trust on the part of her so called family. And YES Spike IS the only one who has her back. Hey Giles/Wood - still want to kill him? Now back to the TRAITORS - only point I can see in this episode (and still point-LESS IMHO) is that these bastards of betrayal have got to start to trust Buffy again enough to follow her into battle with no hesitation, they have to see how hopeless they are without her. They have to know Buffy is their only chance. But my God, Buffy, haven't you just HAD IT with these people? I hope you walk away ALONE at the end of this series- B, you should NOT be having to prove yourself to these people again at this point. Screw em.
Re: Empty Places - BtVS 7.19 - WHAT IS THE POINT - Please Help Me Out - Possible Spoiler to 7.19 -- CW, 06:36:06 05/01/03 Thu
Buck up. Rest easy, ma'am... Do yourself a favor and read Rufus' post below entitled "One person's mission is another's Windmill" below. This has happened before on BtVS and the bad stuff never lasts. This was was much like Normal Again last year and Tough Love the year before, an episode to stir the audience's emotions and make things look impossibly difficult before the finale.
As I said in Rufus' thread, Buffy needs to be away from the others to sort things out. She needs to stop thinking of everyone, especially the SIT's as extensions of herself. Once both she and the scoobies recognize how they can complement each other's actions, things will turn out fine.
Also, incidentally sets up...(spoilers for 7.19 AND teaser for 7.20) -- luna (agreeing with CW and with Rufus), 08:24:56 05/01/03 Thu
...it also sets up all the romantic pairings shown in teaser for next week but predictable from EP. Spike is away, so he and Buffy will be thrown together alone. Wood was already just about snuggling up to Faith--now Buffy is out of the picture for a while, they can get together. It also gets Buffy out of the house and opens up other possible directions, like getting her to the mission in Gilroy (?? is there a mission in GILROY?) where she can find whatever it is that's not for Caleb but for "her"--presumably Buffy.
These are not as important as the points discussed in many posts below about psychology of Buffy, theme, plot arc, etc.--but still a factor.
What CW said, plus... -- OnM, 08:25:07 05/01/03 Thu
... another perspective on the phrase Dawn uses, "It's my house too" could be looked at metaphorically in the following fashion:
In one of my responses to a thread below, I mentioned that Dawn is a substitute for Faith (in my personal BtVS cosmology, Dawn literally is Faith, or a goodly part of her, because when the monks created her, they made her from the Slayer-- except, there were two Slayers.
Faith is Buffy's shadow self, and despite all the progesss Buffy has made over the last seven years, she still has never fully integrated that shadow self into her own psyche. If Buffy were to realize that the sister she dearly loves were literally made of the stuff that is her shadow self, then I believe she will be able to achieve that re-integration.
Even if one does not accept my 'cosmology', the metaphor still applies. Buffy will only reach full maturity when she understands that she is not alone, and that she is not the only one that can save the world. Dawn, Faith, Xander, Giles, even Anya or Andrew could save the world, given the right circumstances. If Buffy understood this, a great deal of her burden would be lifted.
Now, Faith has reformed, but Buffy isn't yet ready to accept what this entails (which is logical, it's too soon yet). So, when Faith (IMO, sensibly) disagrees with Buffy's plan, Buffy rebels for the wrong reasons.
So Dawn becomes Faith's metaphorical stand-in. Buffy can declare that everyone is against her for the wrong reasons, but she can't deal with her sister in the same way, because she cannot and will not question that Dawn loves her. So she leaves.
What you see as a traitorous act, I see as the bravest and most loving thing that Dawn has ever done. Contrary to being a 'spoiled ungrateful brat', she has entered adulthood with this one act-- I was very proud of her.
Please note that stating this does not mean I condemn Buffy for her actions-- she was only doing what she thought best. This is the whole point of the episode. Taking intracable positions does not improve things, it only divides further. All of this is perfectly in keeping with past seasons of the show, as CW accurately stated. Please be patient, and wait for the next few eps to air, and I'll be very surprised if things don't work out.
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house analogy [spoiler Empty places] -- lunasea, 09:46:44 05/01/03 Thu
Drew Goddard gave a great interview on Succubus yesterday. he talked about "Empty Places" was called "The Mutiny Episode" on the board all season and that is what they had to work up to. This was something they had to earn. There have been a lot of references to Xander repairing the house this season. They are put there on purpose. The eye gouging ties back to what Xander said in "Potential." When this happens, Xander doesn't put the house back together and it falls apart.
Time for Buffy to pick up a hammer and nails.
"I'd rather be a hammer than a nail."
(Rolos if you know what song that is from)
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El Condor Pasa -- cougar, (who gives the world it's saddest sound ;o), 10:02:21 05/01/03 Thu
Re: Empty Places - BtVS 7.19 - WHAT IS THE POINT - Please Help Me Out - Possible Spoiler to 7.19 -- dawn (not like buffy's sister IN THE LEAST!), 06:50:31 05/01/03 Thu
Angelina---thanks for that rant! my feelings exactly..and HOW is it Dawn's "house too?" Buffy busted her butt keeping a roof over klepto brat's head flipping doublemeat burgers...I've tried and tried to like Dawn but she just won't seem to grow up. Yeah, some people got killed and wounded. But hey...they're Slayers. Comes with the package, right?! What did they expect? Buffy never claimed to know it all or promised that no one would get hurt. Fighting evil here, after all...
Thanks again for the raving rant...I feel better, (after shedding some tears too)
Take a deep breath, Angelina. You'll live, and hopefully.. -- Random, 07:40:03 05/01/03 Thu
...go on to do many wonderful and productive things with your life. It's just a TV show. If it helps, more than a couple people have pointed out that Buffy is scared too...and may be acting reckless because of that fear. So the show had more than one point. Plus I think it made a very good point about Clem's treatment of the kittens he wins in kitten poker and the moral ambiguity of being a demon, even a lovable floppy-eared demon. So just concentrate on Clem .
Re: Empty Places - BtVS 7.19 - WHAT IS THE POINT - Please Help Me Out - Possible Spoiler to 7.19 -- Rina, 09:42:16 05/01/03 Thu
I don't hate this episode because I thought it was crap. In fact, I thought it was an excellent episode. But I'm not fond of it, because I'm angry at what the Scoobies and the Potentials did to Buffy.
Just a device...one that only wants to rest.....spoilers for Peace Out. -- Rufus, 05:31:14 05/01/03 Thu
We have heard the word Champion in almost every episode of Angel this year. Who wouldn't want to be a Champion.....Connor. From Peace Out.....
Connor finds Cordy in a Church and he speaks to her of his feelings...
Connor: I wanted to see you again...I had to....to know you were still here with me. Sorry I haven't....
It started Cordy..the New Beginning. I just wish you'd wake up and see it. ....Just what you wanted, I mean...it is what you wanted, right?
Why you came to me....you know what this was all about...protecting our baby Jasmine. So she can be....and make this world the kind of place you wanted. And it is better. Not harsh and cruel....the way Angel likes it so that he has a reason to fight....cause you know that's what he's about. Him, and the others, finding reasons to fight. Like that gives their lives any meaning....the ONLY DAMN THING!!!
I'm not like them. I just want to rest. God, I want to rest......But, I can't. It's not working Cordy...I tried...I tried to believe..I wanted it. Went along with....the flow. Jasmine, she's bringing peace to everyone. Purging them of their hate and anger......not me....not ME!
I know she's a lie....Jasmine. My whole life's been built on them. I just guess I thought this one was better than the others.
Connor lived his young life in Quor-toth one of the worst hell dimensions with things "we couldn't imagine" as the norm. Life a struggle....from being tied to a tree to play war-games with Holtz, to just surviving day to day....then he finds his way home....to a new war-game. For Connor it never ended, and he is tired. He put his hopes in Cordy, what they were doing for his baby Jasmine. He could always see her for the lie that she was, makes sense that he could given the fact that Cordy shared blood with Jasmine that a little bit of Connor was there too.
Each character in Angel has had a moment when they have done the worst things possible, and Angel said that the best they could do was try to make up for it, make things better. So, how do you fix something that is so broken that it may no longer be fixable?
The High Priest at wherever Jasmine came from said that Connor shouldn't have existed, was just a device. Connor didn't choose to be born into hell, he didn't choose to become "The Destroyer". What that (now deceased) Priest didn't figure on was that Connor would use the one thing available to him when nothing else mattered....choice. Connor chose to end the lie.....so, does that make him more than a device, or is his time up? What do you do when you have nothing left?
Re: Just a device...one that only wants to rest.....spoilers for Peace Out. -- CW, 06:13:53 05/01/03 Thu
Connor's monologue was one of the true highlights of the season.
Re: Just a device...one that only wants to rest.....spoilers for Peace Out. -- Katrina, 07:20:40 05/01/03 Thu
Yes! Some needed insight into Connor's psyche. I was one of the people who wanted it earlier, but maybe then it wouldn't have meant as much as it did, coming at this point of despair.
Connor does Shakepeare? (vague spoilers Peace Out) -- WickeBuffy, 09:02:33 05/01/03 Thu
Did anyone else feel like Peace Out was mimicking different Shakepearean plays at times? The long monologue in a deserted church? The lover lying in a deathlike state, waiting to wake up into a new world of happiness? People holding that head up like it was someone's skull? The strange family relationships between parent and child?
I'm a very Shakespeare-ignorant person, but a few very popular scenes from various plays seemed to be flashing through in bits thru the episode. The way the speeches were staged and even, alas poor beastie, the physical posturings. Just flashes, I'm sure there were more little parallels than that. Anyone?
Re: Just a device...one that only wants to rest.....spoilers for Peace Out. -- ponygirl, 08:17:46 05/01/03 Thu
I should probably leave this to the more well-read folks on the board but Connor's actions seem to me to be the triumph of existential thought. He chose to cast aside comforting illusions, the safety of religion, and the circumstances of his birth, and assert his own will. He's now confronting a world that has no meaning other than the one he gives it. Existential triumphs are not really cause to party party party, so it remains to be seen if Connor can find a reason to go on. Something tells me he's not going to get a big snowstorm to convince him to live in the world.
I find it interesting that the true face of Jasmine was that of decay. Was the reason that seeing her was so devastating because she represented a truth that many religions are created to try to avoid - that we will all die and that there is no guarantee of heaven or even that we will go on beyond our physical end?
Good thought -- Katrina, 09:13:16 05/01/03 Thu
And this idea would tie in nicely with the questioning to Angel of why he continues to fight...the idea that the good fight has to continue if one is in the dark, even if one knows (or suspects) there is no eternal verity, even if it seems hopeless. This confronts the potential meaningless of existence, and tries to find a way to deal with that, in the absence of absolute proof.
Connor as an existentialist character -- Masq, 09:18:13 05/01/03 Thu
What's scarier than being born with a purpose--being created by a powerful god-like entity for her reasons, her purposes?
Being suddenly without a purpose.
Most of us are born for no reason at all--unplanned or planned. We are certainly not brought into the world to fulfill a function with the grand scope of Connor's--to bring a savior into being and stand by her side as she creates her own version of peace on Earth.
Connor was given life for a reason, and now that reason is gone, dead at his own hands. The act of killing god should be empowering, but Connor did it because he no longer believed in anything--not Jasmine, not Angel, not Holtz, not Cordelia, and not himself.
Connor is now suddenly faced with a life that is only about choices. He can no longer ask himself if what he is doing is what Holtz would want or what Cordelia would want or what Jasmine would want.
But he lived his whole life through other people--being manipulated, not being taught how to choose. Angel brought back the world of choices, and choice always brings with it the possibility of unhappiness. Of wrong choices.
It's the world of Existentialist freedom. But can Connor find a way to live in it?
Re: Connor as an existentialist character -- Rufus, 20:50:13 05/01/03 Thu
But he lived his whole life through other people--being manipulated, not being taught how to choose. Angel brought back the world of choices, and choice always brings with it the possibility of unhappiness. Of wrong choices.
Do you think that Darla had any impact at all on what Connor finally did to who he considered his baby? I see Connor and Angel in similar situations...Connor can't love Angel, and Jasmine said she loved Connor but could only love herself.
Re: Connor as an existentialist character -- Rufus, 20:53:20 05/01/03 Thu
I had to make a comment on the use of religion this year. I saw that the character Jasmine ate people for one reason....it was a way of showing that blind devotion or worship of anything takes away your ability to rationaly make choices and ultimatley will metaphorically eat you up.
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That's a good one. Also, not a double post above -- Masq, 05:57:54 05/02/03 Fri
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Re: Connor as an existentialist character -- Arethusa, 06:59:26 05/02/03 Fri
I also saw it as the institution of religion feeding off the faith of its followers to sustain itself, to their detriment.
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Angel and Connor.....spoilers for Peace Out -- Rufus, 08:30:29 05/02/03 Fri
We heard the speech from Connor, his despair over not knowing why he would even want to fight...then we have Angel...
High Priest: What is it you think you fight for dead thing? Valor...what you call justice? Your friends are dead...most likely...or so you believe. So, it's not for them you fight.
Angel: I'm trying to save my world.
High Priest: Your world....A world that doesn't care for you...Doesn't want you.
Angel: It needs me.
High Priest: So your Powers That Be tell you. And maybe they're right. But it's not why you're here.
Angel: OK Bugsy, wanna tell me what I'm fighting for?
High Priest: Him.
High Priest: The Boy....the woman you've already lost. The boy is what you're fighting for. But you're going to fail. You're going to lose him too.
High Priest: So much effort always struggling to try to make things right for the boy, for Connor....but it's never enough. Why do you bother?
Angel: I can see you never had kids.
High Priest: The boy shouldn't even exist. He was only a device...to bring forth the blessed she....a means to an end.
Angel: Yeah, well people get born for all sorts of reasons.
High Priest: He will never love you.
Angel: It doesn't matter.
High Priest: Foolish Dead Thing.
People get born for all sorts of reasons....but Connor no longer can see a reason for being. He has been used by just about everyone he has come in contact with...Holtz (he doesn't remember the gang or his dad), Cordy (the Master), then Jasmine. His desperation was showing when he admitted that he never felt this happiness that Jasmine offered the world, but even if it was a lie he felt if he went with the flow just long enough...tried hard enough..he just might feel the happiness that all the others had. Then there was Angel, the Champion....the one fighting all the time...and in his anger, Connor broke some furniture in the church in his frustration, he just couldn't see why anyone would want to be a Champion, fight all the time. And why should he? He was a device...used by Holtz, Cordy, Jasmine. He was brought up in hell, he never had a family he had an nutball personal trainer in Holtz.
Angel is an example of an existential hero who has gotten past the most intense moments of despair to find that trying, the fighting, was worth all the pain. Connor has only known pain, hell...he doesn't understand what there is to fight for. Yet, he did listen to the talk about Champions...he wanted to believe but circumstances this year went against him. I think what would have helped Connor was to be brought up with his father, in a family, but that wasn't to be. He feels he has nothing, so why fight?
Choice is a great thing, if used wisely. To be able to use choice, someone has to have a foundation of life experience that would allow them to make choices. Connor can't, because he never had a stable life. Never had anyone who loved him enough to put aside their personal agenda's to do more than just use him. In Buffy we see a hero, but she has had a foundation of love from her mother and friends that continuously reminds her why she fights. Doesn't mean she does everything right the first time, but she has something to work from. Connor does not. For Connor to start to understand why anyone would fight the good fight, why it's worth it, he has to first know what real love is. Until then he is lost. Existance preceeds essence...I remember Sol writing a post on Existentialism..I still may not know much about it but I think that in Connor we can see where existance has given him nothing to use to continue on his journey in life. We have seen a God of sorts but a small god. Jasmine was selfish and wanted people to worship her, be obedient to her, while offering nothing in return.
Humanity was given the gift of choice...I somehow think that it was a gift that has a benefit that we can't understand fully, no more than we can understand the meaning of "God". Jasmine was a god who chose man to worship her....I think whatever higher power is nudging man forwards to is finally choosing "God" by existing, living in a way that honours and encourages the best we are capable of being.
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Not sure Jasmine is symbolic of religious institutions . . . -- pilgrim, 12:42:01 05/02/03 Fri
I agree Jasmine represents the object of worship and blind devotion. And that in this story, the worshipper, in losing himself in the worshipped, destroys himself. And so this story comments on the way various religions teach followers to worship. (Thinking here of Jesus' rather cryptic instruction that he who would save his life will lose it, and he who would lose his life for my sake will save it, and variations thereof. Of course there is debate about what losing yourself in God means, what the consequences are for selfhood.)
But as far as your comment about religious institutions goes, another way of looking at it is this: religions are the conventionalization of worship, and religious institutions are created by human beings to contain, guide, give framework for the impulse to worship. Jasmine seems to me to be getting rid of "religion," that pesky and difficult to control or predict human convention. There's no need for religious institutions any more, when god is standing right there.
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Reverse communion (spoilers Magic bullet) -- lunasea, 07:09:24 05/02/03 Fri
When celebrating the Eucharist, followers consume the body and blood of Christ. I like the idea that Jasmine is the anti-anti Christ. She consumes her followers.
I thought an interesting symbol was the burning books and empty book store in "Magic Bullet." With lack of choice came a lack of desire to be informed. Books weren't important any more (and to those of us on the boards could there be a worse "paradise"?)
Connor's future (spoilers through Peace Out) -- Tyreseus, 01:31:48 05/03/03 Sat
I agree with most of the thoughts expressed here about Connor being an existential character. But your post, Masq, looked toward the future of Connor's character and I just wanted to chime in a bit.
Unless this truly is a transitionary period in which the show will go in a huge new direction, Connor's future has one very important item already mapped out -- redemption.
Connor has done some really bad things since we've met him. And while we've never called him "evil" the way we called Faith "evil" for a while, let's examine his track record...
First, he kidnaps (or dadnaps) Angel and sinks him to the bottom of the ocean, betraying not only his father, but the whole AI team who cares for him.
He sleeps with the woman his father loves.
He tries to kill Dad again at the urging of Evil!Cordy.
He kidnaps and assists in killing an innocent virgin.
He recognizes Jasmine from the beginning as a monster and "goes along with the lie" because it seemed "better than the other lies."
Finally, he kills his daughter/goddess-spawn and peace on earth.
When do we start holding Connor accountable for his actions and stop excusing him for the rough childhood, manipulation by authority figures and misunderstood intentions? When do we start calling him a villian in the show (even a sympathetic one)? When do his actions become "evil" instead of just psychological acting out?
On the levels discussed above, Connor has become free - free of destiny, free of purpose, free to make his own choices. But few get off so easily in Jossverse from the past. The past haunts and impacts everything to come and everything in the now. The only characters I can point to who earned redemption easily are Spike and Anya - both of which are debatable.
Of course, as Angel becomes more well-adjusted than ever where Angelus is concerned, maybe Connor and Cordelia will be the focal characters walking that path to redemption in season five.
Just my $.02
Transition season (spoilers Peace Out) -- lunasea, 09:26:47 05/01/03 Thu
Thank you for the transcription. Now can you do Angel's speech to Jasmine. :-)
What is a champion? Typically it is seen as one that fights for good. Angel needs to replace that word with what the Oracles called him "not a lower being."
"the way Angel likes it so that he has a reason to fight," but Angel in his speech to Jasmine shows that isn't why he did it. "I didn't say we were smart, just that it was our right. The price was too high."
This season has been about choices. As the transition to dealing more with communion, it has also been about choices made from communion and how choices affect communion. It has been incredibly well written.
When life is a struggle, you don't have real choices. Connor doesn't understand the power of choice. He doesn't see anything worth living for at this point. He doesn't remotely know what it means to be human.
A champion. My husband is a champion, to my 6 year old daughter. She says he is the strongest and bravest man in the world. He is just a man, like any other, who tries to do the best that he can. That is what makes him a champion, an example to that little girl who loves him so much. Every time he chooses good and becomes a role model for her, he is a champion.
Connor doesn't understand this. He doesn't understand why the Oracles called him "not a lower being." How can he? To quote Connor from "Magic Bullet" "Why would anyone reject love?" Can Angel get through to him? What is Angel willing to do to do this?
Connor is a still a world of possibilities. He just doesn't understand what drives that, choice.
Which part of the speech to Jasmine? -- Rufus, 20:43:36 05/01/03 Thu
I spent last night with pencil and paper in hand and got most of the episode down. I got most of the Angel stuff with the High Priest and Angel with Jasmine. Some of the stuff with Connor and the gang as well.
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Re: Which part of the speech to Jasmine? -- lunasea, 02:47:26 05/02/03 Fri
You are amazing. The only thing that has inspired me to do that was the final brain-trip scene in "Orpheus." Typically by the time I have to sit down and do that, the next episode is going to start and I have even more material to work with.
I am still just rewatching Peace Out (going on 4 times now). It was so incredibly done. Eventually I will be able to do something other than make giddy noises while watching it. I held my breath the first time around. We really are getting a S4 Buffy, but this season was actually solid all the way through. Angel defeats the big bad 4.21 and then we will get our "Restless" next week which will set up the next mega-arc and show the consequences of defeating said big bad. What is Angel ready for at this point? I can't wait to find out.
Preserving this thread -- Masq, 19:31:43 05/01/03 Thu
Re: Just a device...one that only wants to rest.....spoilers for Peace Out. -- J, 20:30:39 05/01/03 Thu
I haven't seen anyone else mention it, but I was struck by the parallels between Connor's speech in "Peace Out" and Spike's speech in "Beneath You." Similar themes, similar language ("I just want to rest" v. "Can we rest?"). That's got to be more than just a coincidence.
Re: Just a device...one that only wants to rest.....spoilers for Peace Out. -- Rufus, 21:00:03 05/01/03 Thu
I did notice that fact and wonder if it just shows the parallel in their state of mind...the fact that both are at similar emotional and spiritual points....and what happens to each of us when we make our choices in how to deal with our lowest moments in our lives. Shiny Happy People don't have those moments and that is the burden of choice, it's harder than we think...unless it's choice in chocolate...;)
A Mindless Theme- Angel Season 4 (spoils through Peace Out only) -- neaux, 06:10:51 05/01/03 Thu
A Mindless Theme- Angel Season 4
Ok. I thought since the Big Bad went bye-bye last night, I'd do a little Season 4 rehash and get you guys opinions on it.
Well I'd like to argue that this season's theme was definitely Mindless. Or Not using one's mind, or Controlling one's Mind or BRAINS!!! MMMMM BRAINS!!
What I'm getting at is that ME had a good number of episodes where the cast or a huge cast of extras are controlled by another, therefore losing their minds or having their minds taken by another source. Manipulation is another good term to throw around too.. but I'll start with the obvious examples of the brainless fun!
House Always Wins- Here we have an addiction oriented episode. Casino Gamblers go to Vegas for fun and end up losing their soul to the House, becoming mindless zombies. People under the influence of addiction claim they cant control their lives. They feel crippled by this "disease" and life falls apart. Well, I watched this news documentary on Addictions last week and it is argued that people with these type problems prefer to label themselves addicted in order to free them selves of responsibility for their actions. Doctors dispute whether addicted people have choices or not. The argument about addiction is this:
The addicted either choose NOT to break their habits or it really is a disease they cant control.
I choose not to have an opinion on this but just point out that in this episode of the House Always Wins that the House masks the idea of taking someone's soul and creating a mindless shell with the idea of addiction. Pretty smart.
Other examples of drug related episodes but don't really touch on the addiction theme in such an extreme are Orpheus and Spin the Bottle. But these episodes do show the wacky effects of drugs and how the user of these drugs can lose their current state of mind. Spin the Bottle shows a reversion to a former self for the main characters and Orpheus shows more users in a lifeless state.
The best example of the mindless theme is of course the zombie filled episode Habeas Corpes. While it is a mini version of Resident Evil, Habeas Corpes succeeds in showing how people can be controlled and that mass amounts of controlled people are bad news. Yes these people are dead first before walking again.. but it forshadows Jasmine's mind control hijinx. The dead are reanimated by the Beast and it is suggested that the Beast's power is controlling the zombies. The gang can handle this scenario better than what lies ahead because Zombies fall into that Monster category where it is OK to kill what we "know" is bad. And hell, zombies are already dead.. just kill them again.
Habeas Corpes is a great forshadowing episode for Shiny Happy People and Magic Bullet. Jasmine has arrived by this point and has put her mojo on all of LA. Complete Mind Control. Jasmine can create mindless folk just as easy as the Beast in Habeas Corpses except Jasmine believes she is actually doing good. But the results are still the same.
While these were the obvious prime examples, these episodes were made to bang over the head the deeper issues affecting the living and breathing characters of Connor and Cordy. Was Cordy controlled by her unborn Jasmine? Or is Cordy responsible for her actions? While I'm not sure about these questions, What we do know is that Cordy was able to manipulate Connor into doing things for her. She played on his weakness and used the power of suggestion to control Connor.
Add to this the little references to Invasion of the Body Snatchers from earlier in the season, and Peace Out's "Night of the Comet" Quote from Lorne and this season's theme plays out nicely.
I'm sure there are plenty of more examples, but I'll leave that up to anyone else to add.
THE story -- lunasea, 08:24:06 05/01/03 Thu
Originally I was going to wait until I finished this, but after last night's Angel it fits so well. The Buffy section will be posted later. It took me over a week to get this far.
I started this on vacation. After six pages, I decided to give my brain a Buffyverse break. Yeah right. Really I did. I just can't seem to stop thinking about Jasmine. Two episodes left and this sets up next season. My heart starts to race just thinking about it. Since I can't go cold turkey, I decided to switch gears away from Jasmine. After "Inside Out" I started to analyze all instances of divine intervention in the two series to see if Jasmine fit with what we had previously seen. I stopped that one after about 7 pages (the visions S2 drove me nuts trying to figure out what the PTBs really wanted Angel to do or learn). What actually got interesting in that essay (that I didn't get to fully) was the role of divine intervention in the Buffy series finales. I will get to that somewhere in the mess that follows.
Faith, hope and charity/love. I've been writting about them a lot lately. I've been thinking about them a lot lately, especially as Buffy gets ready to ride off into the moonlight and Angel is transitioning to a new paradigm (similar to how season four of BtVS was a transtion from the story of a young girl finding herself to one that was a bit more spiritual). One of the criticisms of religion is that it tends to focus on the negative aspects of human behavior, sin and the vices. The virtues, including the four cardinal and three theological are often overlooked in favor of the lengthy lists of "don'ts." When taken together, the virtues and the vices present a picture of humanity that is both good and bad, shoulds as well as don'ts. Such a view isn't out of wack with secular thought, including the Buffyverse.
There is a philosophy behind the Buffyverse. Joss said so himself. His quote is at the top of this message board. It underlies what we watch and forms the universe that characters exist in. That philosophy is the story. Buffy and Angel, Willow and Wesley, Spike and Cordelia, Xander and Fred and all the rest just illustrate that story. The philosophy draws the lines.
Faith, hope and charity/love. Not a story you would expect an avid angry atheist to tell. In Christian theology, the words represent the Christian or theological virtues, the best that Man (I use Man to differential between Humanity, which means something inside of Man as opposed to meaning all humans) can strive to be. Even without God in the story, any story that tells of the totality of Man is going to discuss these issues. Any story that stresses the best of Man is going to focus on these things.
There is a interesting project put forth by Darryl Macer, a bioethicist at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. He wants to start a Human Behaviorome Project. The home page for this can be found at Human Behaviorome Project He wants to quantify the things we do when we put our genes into action: every personal, social, and cultural behavior that makes us human. It is an interesting project that is starting to get some press. The model they are using is a cube. The six sides are the ideals of self-love, love of others, loving good, loving life, memories and hopes.
I intejected that because the ideas I am going to talk about are not the sole domain of religion. The more we separate thought into various categories and sub-categories, the more we lose the forest for the trees. Thought about these things used to equal theological thought. When dealing with love, to leave out St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, or St. Teresa of Avila because the word "saint" precedes their names is to leave out a great deal of human thought on the topic. To leave out the Bible itself is to leave out the single most influential book in Western thought. Just because these are "religious" doesn't mean they don't contain THE story, the same story that Joss is writing.
Comics and movies are great. So is secular literature and philosophy. They are all part of that cube that Darryl Macer is trying to map. THE story is that cube. Even the most avid angry atheist is influenced by what is considered religious thought. The fundamental ideas are the same. Religion has taken the longest look at these ideas, so that is what I am going to use in this essay to explore how faith, hope and love/charity is used in the Buffyverse.
Angel vascilates between hope and dispair. Buffy flips between faith and doubt. Both are healed by love/charity. The philosophy that forms the Buffyverse is the importance and power of love. This isn't warm fuzzies, but "to love is to will the good of another" (St. Thomas Aquinas Summa theologiae) It causes Angel's extreme guilt for actions he really had no control over and it makes him into the Uber-Champion he is becoming. It is what attracts everyone (including the audience) to Buffy and causes her to accept the burden of being Slayer. When love motivates the characters, they save the day. When it doesn't, bad things happen. This season has been a great example of this. Angel's lack of love has allowed Jasmine to take over. Buffy's lack of love has resulted in the recent death of two Potentials and Xander being maimed.
Before I continue, faith and hope have to be separated. Christian hope is not the same as secular hope. God promised something, it is going to happen. It is a sure thing. Hope is the feeling that motivates us when things look bleak. There is no doubt that tomorrow wil be better. It will be. Christian hope doesn't involve doubt. It involves faith. It is faith looking forward. That is why it is often confused with and lumped together with faith.
This type of Christian hope often isn't considered hope because of the lack of doubt. This sort of belief without doubt is considered faith. There is a continuum in secular thought, with doubt on one end and faith at the other. Hope is in the middle. That is what they have come to mean. That isn't how the virtues are using them. Hope is on par with faith in certainity. Both are sure things.
Faith. Everyone has it in something. whether it is a diety, the ideas of another human being or themselves. Faith forms the structure of the universe we each operate in. That faith is often insulted by being called "blind." How well can we really see of the object of our faith? Theists say they do examine things. Philosophers write nice pretty books that use nice pretty words about things that cannot be "known" any more than God can be. Both groups may make out light and shadows, colors and shapes, but all of humanity is legally blind, more matter how much we try to see.
I realize that we have many atheists (and angry ones at that) and agnostics here as well as people who were just given Cake-theology, so I want to go a bit into what the Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to as "Man's Vocation: Life in the Spirit." I realize that various denominations differ on the specifics when it comes to the view of Man. Catholic theology has one of the longest traditions of any Christian thought. The Catechism even quotes Origen and synods back to Rome (382 CE). That is what I will use for this discussion.
I also want to reiterate that I don' think that Joss, the avid angry atheist, sat down with the Bible or Catechism and wrote his story from that. He is just telling the same story that is present in religion and mythology, which is why he often resorts to using images from religion and mythology in telling his version of the story. I am comparing the Buffyverse with theological thought to show what THE story is, the thing that cannot be fully seen. Not an easy feat, which explains how covoluted this is and the length. The Catechism is 866 pages not including the citations and index. The Bible is almost 1,500 pages. Joss has had 7 + 4 seasons so far. I am brief by comparison [grin].
I am going to ask the angry atheist for a big favor. Drop the anger, just for this essay at least. When you see things like "only with God's help" dont go "Grrrr!" Instead of seeing religion as trying to put Man down or control people, try to see through that to THE story. There is a lot of Truth and Beauty in theological thought. That gets missed when it gets dismissed out of anger.
All stories are just a part of THE story. Religion tends to offer a more of it than secular stories, which tend to concentrate on a chapter of human existance rather than tackle the entirely of what it means to be human. Joss does tackle this, which is why I am comparing the philosophy behind the Buffyverse to the Catechism.
If you aren't that interested in the specifics of the Catechism, skip to "Man in a Nutshell."
The Dignity of The Human Person--Man: The Image of God (no spoilers) -- lunasea, 08:32:17 05/01/03 Thu
The Dignity of the Human Person
Man: The Image of God
The view of Christianity on Man can be summed up with six words from Genesis 1:27, "God created man in his image." (at this point, woman is still part of man, so God would be the union of male and female. By separating man and woman, Man became less God-like. Sexism is another post entirely and not something I particularly enjoy discussing.) Man is a sinner is about as complete as love is pain or sacrifice. Buffy is both Slayer (demon essence) and "It (love) is your nature." (The Guide in "Intervention") Angel is both demon and soul. Men in the Buffyverse aren't angels (Holland in "Reprise") but they aren't demons either. Billy's touch can bring bad things out in men, but humans are also redeemable because of "the spark of humanity she had left" (Giles in "Grave") In this post I will try to offer the more complete view of Man that the Catechism grives that focuses on more than the bad/sin/evil.
If you want exactly what the Catechism says, Catechism Search Engine paragraphs 1699-2029, pp 424-490. I am leaving out the part about the Church as Mother and Teacher that follows.
1699. Life in the Holy Spirit fulfills the vocation of man (chapter one). This life is made up of divine charity and human solidarity (chapter two). It is graciously offered as salvation (chapter three). "
1700. "The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God (article 1); it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude (article 2). It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment (article 3). By his deliberate actions (article 4), the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience (article 5). Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth; they make their whole sentient and spiritual lives into means of this growth (article 6). With the help of grace they grow in virtue (article 7), avoid sin, and if they sin they entrust themselves as did the prodigal son[Luke 15:11-32 .] to the mercy of our Father in heaven (article 8). In this way they attain to the perfection of charity. "
What is Man's vocation?
1691. "'Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God's own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.'[St. Leo the Great Sermones 22 in natalie Dom., 3: PL 54, 192C.]"
In the Buffyverse, it isn't a call to be like God in whose image we are created that is Man's vocation, but as Marti Noxon said in an interview with the CBC program Ideas "the struggle to find the good." The difference is in the motivation and the possibility of actually finding it. The goal is really the same. Both the Bible and Joss tell a story about the dignity of the human person.
The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (Vatican II) held 1962-5 set down what Man being created in God's image means in Gaudium et spes. (I like that title) If you want the entire document it can be found at Vatican Archive: Vatican II Documents
Man was created in God's image, but this image is disfigured in Man by the first sin. This divine image is still present in every Man. "It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the union of the divine persons among themselves." (1702)
1878. "All men are called to the same end: God himself. There is a certain resemblance between the union of the divine persons and the fraternity that men are to establish among themselves in truth and love. Love of neighbor is inseparable from love for God. "
Being created with a soul and in the image of God gives Man three very important things--reason, free will and a conscience. These three things cause God to further endow man with freedom. This enables Man to "participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit." (1704) These things are also very important in the Buffyverse.
1704. "By his reason, he is capable of understanding the order of things established by the Creator. By free will, he is capable of directing himself toward his true good. He finds his perfection 'in seeking and loving what is true and good.'[Gaudium et spes 15 # 2.]"
1705. "By virtue of his soul and his spiritual powers of intellect and will, man is endowed with freedom, an 'outstanding manifestation of the divine image.'[Gaudium et spes 17.]"
1706. "By his reason, man recognizes the voice of God which urges him 'to do what is good and avoid what is evil.'[Gaudium et spes 16.] Everyone is obliged to follow this law, which makes itself heard in conscience and is fulfilled in the love of God and of neighbor. Living a moral life bears witness to the dignity of the person."
This plays out in the Buffyverse. Just because someone is capable of something, it doesn't mean s/he does it. In "Prophecy Girl" Buffy's emotions hold sway and she walks into a trap that reason would have said not to go into. Same thing in "Dirty Girls" (back to the beginning). On the other hand, it was reason that came up with the solution to defeat Adam in "Primeval.' As the Buffy/Giles/Willow/Xander unit tells Adam, "You could never hope to grasp the source of our power."
The B/G/W/X unit was interesting. Buffy herself doesn't really understand the source of our power as the dreams in "Restless" show. In that unit she experienced true communion of persons and the divine image truly did shine. It was through the reasoning that lead to this that Buffy saw things that did show the order of things. This order was ripped back apart in "Restless," as Buffy/Slayer tried to kill G/W/X and restore Buffy to what she was prior to the conjoining spell. This caused her to hunt more and doubt her own humanity.
Free will is another very important idea to the Buffyverse. Just because someone is capable of directing him/herself towards good, it doesn't mean it will happen. There are plenty of examples of this and this topic as been discussed to death and undeath.
The conscience is also important, key to the difference between Angel and Angelus. It also shows up in "Living Conditions" in regards to Buffy. In the Catechism, it is the voice and law of God. In the Buffyverse, it is a switch that orients the moral compass to good. More on this later.
In all three of these things, the Catechism and Buffyverse are in general agreement about the fundamentals. I will get to freedom later. The Catechism and Buffyverse part ways on the origin of evil. Is that important? I essays I will often say "Man evolved (or was created)" because it really doesn't matter to me how we got this way. What matters is that we acknowledge and accept how we are and learn to work with this to fulfill Man's vocation.
1707. "'Man, enticed by the Evil One, abused his freedom at the very beginning of history.'[Gaudium et spes 13 # 1.] He succumbed to temptation and did what was evil. He still desires the good, but his nature bears the wound of original sin. He is now inclined to evil and subject to error:
Man is divided in himself. As a result, the whole life of men, both individual and social, shows itself to be a struggle, and a dramatic one, between good and evil, between light and darkness.[Gaudium et spes 13 # 2.]"
This struggle is THE story. The struggle shows us how to overcome evil and be good. That is why happy characters bore us. It is only the end of the story. Pure evil is just as uninteresting in the long run. It is nice for a short while, but THE story lies in the conflict, in the division, in overcoming evil.
The Dignity of the Human Person-- Part II (spoilers Sacrifice) -- lunasea, 08:39:22 05/01/03 Thu
Our Vocation to Beatitude
Happiness is another important thing when talking about the nature of Man. The desire for happiness "is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it." (1718)
1718. We all want to live happily; in the whole human race there is no one who does not assent to this proposition, even before it is fully articulated.[St. Augustine, De moribus ecclesiae catholicae 1, 3, 4: PL 32,1312.]
Happiness in the Catechism is what motivates "us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else." (1723) The promise of God shown in the Beatitudes "teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement - however beneficial it may be - such as science, technology, and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love." (1723)
God = good in the Buffyverse. In Christianity we strive to know God. In the Buffyverse, the struggle is to find good. When the characters do good (provided they have a soul), it does make them happy. In the Catechism, the divine image is present in the communion of persons. This communion makes people happy. In the Buffyverse, the two characters that have exerienced perfect happiness are the two characters that have experienced this communion on the highest level. Angel experienced it with Buffy ("Innocence"). Buffy experienced it in heaven as she tells Spike in "After Life." It could also be why the Jasminites are so shiney and happy. Communion = happiness in the Buffyverse. It is how humans are.
In the Buffyverse, all other causes of happiness are shown not to be real or true happiness. Cordelia's meanness masks a total dissastisfaction that money and popularity can't fix. She was only really happy on BtVS when she was with Xander. Both Oz and Tara are able to make Willow happy. Her real happiness comes in quiet morements with Buffy, like at the end of "Choices" or "Same Time Same Place." The jovial Mayor could turn on a dime, such as when Faith in "Choices" when she reaches for the box. Spike and Angelus both hide some serious pain behind those fun exteriors.
The Buffyverse has gods and the PTB, but they are pretty hands off. This does not differ from the Catechism. It is very important to the idea of freedom. Free will isn't the boon that God has granted man. Freedom is. Free will is how we are made. God's non-interference policy (which ties to salvation) is freedom.
1730. "God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. 'God willed that man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel,' so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.'[Gaudium et spes 17; Sir 15:14 .]
Freedom gives us the ability to act on what reason and will dictate. Reason tells us what we should do. Will allows us to chose this. Freedom allows us to act on it. People in prison still have free will. They lack freedom to act on that. (then again, that is what got them there in the first place)
1731. "Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude. "
The relationship between freedom and sin gets complicated. I will hold off on that until I get to Angelus. He is the vampire that we know best in his natural state (unsouled and unchipped), so I will deal mainly with him when discussing vampires and evil.
The Morality of Human Acts
Because Man has freedom, it makes Man a moral subject, as Buffy tells Andrew in "Potential." The Catechism also stresses in several paragraphs that one may not do evil so good may result from it. This seems to be the one thing Buffy has gotten right this season. Darla reiterates it in "Inside Out."
The Morality of the Passions
Man has the freedom to act. One of the things which contribute to how he acts are the passions. It was one of my favorite BtVS episodes. Angelus has this to say about passion "It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we'd know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank... Without passion, we'd be truly dead." The Catechism defines it as "Feelings or passions are emotions or movements of the sensitive appetite that incline us to act or not to act in regard to something felt or imagined to be good or evil." (1763) Without the passions, we would't have anything to incline us to act or not act. We would be dead inside.
Fred gives a wonderful speech to Gunn about the importance of feelings/passsions in "Sacrifice." The only problem is she thinks that Angel is shutting these off. He isn't any more capable of this than Buffy is. They both sure look like they do. It is a front they put on for the world. Angelus talks about "if we could live without passion." We can't. It is part of us. That is why it eats us up when we don't do what it wants. Buffy confides to Wood in "Dirty Girls" about how she really feels. When Angel is going to slit Cordy's wrists in "Magic Bullet" he tenderly kisses her forehead first. It is quite obvious how hard this is for him. Same thing with all the hard choices these two make.
"The passions are natural components of the human psyche; they form the passageway and ensure the connection between the life of the senses and the life of the mind." (1764) Buffy and Angel are still screaming inside, no matter how dead they both appear to us. They have super-hero sized hearts, so they are screaming particularly loud. They are played by talented actors who let this seep through in glimpses here and there.
In the Buffyverse as well as the Catechism, "In themselves passions are neither good nor evil. They are morally qualified only to the extent that they effectively engage reason and will." (1767) "The principal passions are love and hatred, desire and fear, joy, sadness, and anger. " (1772) "Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices. " (1768) This is seen most with the character of Spike or in the difference between Angel and Angelus.
"In the Christian life, the Holy Spirit himself accomplishes his work by mobilizing the whole being, with all its sorrows, fears and sadness, as is visible in the Lord's agony and passion. In Christ human feelings are able to reach their consummation in charity and divine beatitude." (1769) The Guide in "Intervention" tells Buffy "the Slayer forges strength from pain." Love isn't the only source of pain. The Slayer needs to mobilize her whole being. Angel is the same way. When either don't use their whole being and try to shut parts of themselves off, which can't be done, bad things happen.
"Moral perfection consists in man's being moved to the good not by his will alone, but also by his sensitive appetite, as in the words of the psalm: 'My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.'[Ps 84:2 .]" (1770) Buffy and Angel are creatures of instinct. As I will show with Buffy much later, when she acts from will alone, very bad things result. When "her heart and flesh sing for joy to the people she loves, " she is triumphant.
1776. "'Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment.... For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God.... His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.'[Gaudium et spes 16.]"
I probably could have said that quicker, but that was so beautiful that I had to share.
It is an issue the Buffyverse has avoided. The conscience oreients Joss' characters to good. How? It really isn't that important, but it is interesting how philosophy and theology deal with this mechanism that is in Man. I like the imagery the Catechism uses that is also present in Romans 2:14-16 and Jeremiah 31:33. It is one of my favorite ideas in the Bible. I do wish that Joss would tackle this with his own imagery, but I understand why he doesn't. Such is the dilema for angry atheists--explain the existence of the conscience.
1779. "It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience. This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection:
Return to your conscience, question it.... Turn inward, brethren, and in everything you do, see God as your witness.[St. Augustine, In epistulam Johannis ad Parthos tractatus 8, 9: PL 35, 2041.]
How many times have Buffy and Angel gotten into trouble because they weren't turning inward? They tend to focus on the world and what they have to do, rather than what is going on inside of them. What is going on inside of them is what ultimately saves the day.
The Christians concept of conscience is tied to salvation, which will be discussed in much greater detail later, since it really plays out with Angel.
1781."Conscience enables one to assume responsibility for the acts performed. If man commits evil, the just judgment of conscience can remain within him as the witness to the universal truth of the good, at the same time as the evil of his particular choice. The verdict of the judgment of conscience remains a pledge of hope and mercy. In attesting to the fault committed, it calls to mind the forgiveness that must be asked, the good that must still be practiced, and the virtue that must be constantly cultivated with the grace of God:
We shall . . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.[1John 3:19-20 .]"
The Dignity of the Human Person: Part III (no spoilers) -- lunasea, 08:49:35 05/01/03 Thu
The conscience lets us know what is good. "A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions" (1803)
The virtues are what lead us to give the best of ourselves. BtVS and AtS are also about sin, but for me THE story is how to be the best we can. Sin is part of the story because it gets in the way of this.
1804. "Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.
The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love. "
The four cardinal virtues are praised throughout the Bible, Old and New Testament. "If any loves righteousness, her (wisdom's) labors are virtus; for she teaches self-control and prudence, justice and courage; nothing in life is more profitable for mortals than these" (Wisdom 8:7) Any story that delves into THE story is going to heavily involve the four cardinal virtues.
1809. "Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will's mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable.
1806. "Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; 'the prudent man looks where he is going.'[Prov 14:15.] 'Keep sane and sober for your prayers.'[1 Pet 4:7 .] Prudence is 'right reason in action,' writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle.[St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae II-II, 47, 2.]
1807. "Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the 'virtue of religion.' Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good.
1808. "Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions.
The Buffyverse deals heavily with these, even having entire episodes about them and what happens when they are transgressed.
The three theological virtues are faith, hope and charity/love. In the Catechism they are referred to as theological becaus they come from God. The human virtues, including the cardinal, are "acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace." (1810) The theological virtues "are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life." (1813) I have discussed them before. This essay was supposed to deal primarily with faith, so when I get to that I will elaborate. I have discussed hope before.
Charity/love is the big one. As it says in 1 Corinthians 13:13 "and the greatest of these is love." God loves us and we are supposed to pass that on. Charity/love is something I am formulating another post for, especially why it is important to modern thought (religion, new age spirituality and more secular thought), but it is either not prevelant or is actually absent from older thought. Please share your thoughts on this, as it will help me to formulate my own.
1827. "The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which 'binds everything together in perfect harmony';[Colossians 3:14] it is the form of the virtues; it articulates and orders them among themselves; it is the source and the goal of their Christian practice. Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love."
1828. "The practice of the moral life animated by charity gives to the Christian the spiritual freedom of the children of God. He no longer stands before God as a slave, in servile fear, or as a mercenary looking for wages, but as a son responding to the love of him who 'first loved us':[Cf. 1John 4:19 .]
If we turn away from evil out of fear of punishment, we are in the position of slaves. If we pursue the enticement of wages, . . . we resemble mercenaries. Finally if we obey for the sake of the good itself and out of love for him who commands . . . we are in the position of children.[St. Basil, Regulae fusius tractatae prol.3 PG 31, 896 B.]"
This is something I will return to when discussing Angelus.
1829. "The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion:
Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.[St. Augustine, In epistulam Johannis ad Parthos tractatus 10, 4: PL 35, 2057.] "
The big difference between the Catechism and the Buffyverse is the concept of Grace and the Holy Spirit. The Buffyverse is about empowering the individual, so such things as the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit come from the individual. Does it really matter how they got there? "The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord." (1831) "The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: 'charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.'" (1832)
That is the good in us. In the Catechism, as well as the Buffyverse, Man aren't angels. In the Catechism, sin and the vices aren't presented as Man is evil and damned. Instead it is presented as a double gift from God.
1849. "Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as 'an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.'[St. Augustine, Contra Faustum 22: PL 42, 418; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae I-II, 71, 6.]"
1850. "Sin is an offense against God: 'Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.'[Psalms 51:4 .] Sin sets itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become 'like gods,'[Genesis 3:5 .] knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus 'love of oneself even to contempt of God.'[St. Augustine, De civitate Dei 14, 28: PL 41, 436.] In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.[Cf. Philippians 2:6-9 .]"
The Buffyverse and the Church disagree on the list of specific sins, but on the fundamental principles that underlies what is a sin there is agreement.
1853. The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will, according to the teaching of the Lord: 'For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man.'[Matthew 15:19-20 .] But in the heart also resides charity, the source of the good and pure works, which sin wounds."
In the Catechism there are two types of sin.
1855. "Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.
Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.
1856. "Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us - that is, charity - necessitates a new initiative of God's mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation
Being vamped distroys charity. It takes something drastic, resouling, to return this. Three things are required for something to be a mortal sin--grave matter (10 Commandments), full knowledge and complete consent. "But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. " (1860) This is why Angel still feels guilty for what he did as Angelus. I will return to this when I get to Angelus.
1865. "Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root. "
We saw this with Willow season six. Faith also went down this slippery slope. Both still has their moral sense and were able to be redeemed.
1866. Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called 'capital' because they engender other sins, other vices.[Cf. St. Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, 31, 45: PL 76, 621A.] They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia."
The Buffyverse has dealt with these, even devoting entire episodes to their exploration.
The Human Community (finale title) -- lunasea, 08:52:00 05/01/03 Thu
1877. "The vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father's only Son. This vocation takes a personal form since each of us is called to enter into the divine beatitude; it also concerns the human community as a whole. "
The Person and Society
1879. "The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature. Through the exchange with others, mutual service and dialogue with his brethren, man develops his potential; he thus responds to his vocation.[Cf. Gaudium et spes 25 # 1.] "
This is something I see as key to Buffy and Angel, perhaps the most important thing about these characters. In FFL Spike says "The only reason you've lasted as long as you have is you've got ties to the world," but it is those ties to the world that have caused Buffy to die, twice. People aren't Buffy's ties to the world, they are her tie to the divine. This is shown best in "The Wish," (one of my top 10 episodes as well and probably as important as "Restless" in understanding the Buffy that will appear in "Chosen." speculation on my part)
In "The Wish" we get to see what would happen to Buffy if she didn't move to Sunnydale, if she hadn't met Angel, Willow, Xander and Giles. It is through her interaction with the Scoobies and Angel that Buffy develops her potential. It isn't her potential as Slayer, but her potential as the image of God that we all are. That is what makes her into the Uber-Slayer. When she loses sight of this, she gets into serious trouble, both personally and professionally.
The Guide in "Intervention" tells Buffy "Love will bring you to your gift." In order to find out what her gift is, Buffy has to love. In order to love, she needs others to love. That is what Angel and the Scoobies have been, something for Buffy to love. This doesn't just keep her from wanting to die. Perhaps more importantly it allows her to express that divine image in her.
With Angel it is illustrated by helping the helpless. In "City of" Doyle tells Angel, "It's about letting them into your heart. It's not about saving lives; it's about saving souls. Hey, possibly your own in the process." The entire series is an illustration of this paragraph from the Catechism.
Participation in Social Life
The Catechism has a lot to say about society, authority and the common good. Things that really apply to Buffy as Slayer.
1930. "Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy.[Cf. John XXIII, Pacem in terris 65.]
We have seen this with Buffy in both season 6 in her treatment of Spike and season 7 in her treatment of Anya, though they aren't technically human persons.
1932. "The duty of making oneself a neighbor to others and actively serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves the disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be. 'As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'[Matthew 25:40 .]"
In "In the Dark" Angel makes the conscious decsion to help "the weak ones lost in the night," rather than become a day vampire.
1933. "This same duty extends to those who think or act differently from us. The teaching of Christ goes so far as to require the forgiveness of offenses. He extends the commandment of love, which is that of the New Law, to all enemies.[Cf. Matthew 5:43-44 .] Liberation in the spirit of the Gospel is incompatible with hatred of one's enemy as a person, but not with hatred of the evil that he does as an enemy. "
In "Angel, Buffy tells Angel "I've killed a lot of vampires. I've never hated one before." She shows compassion to a chipped Spike. She can't kill Ben. These things make her a hero.
"Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all man have he same nature and the same origin." (1934) This does not mean that all men are the same. "Differences appear tied to age, physical abilities, intellectual or moral aptitudes, the benefits derived from social commerce, and the distribution of wealth.[Cf. Gaudium et spes 29 # 2.] The 'talents' are not distributed equally" (1936)
1937. "These differences belong to God's plan, who wills that each receive what he needs from others, and that those endowed with particular 'talents' share the benefits with those who need them. These differences encourage and often oblige persons to practice generosity, kindness, and sharing of goods; they foster the mutual enrichment of cultures
This comes into play in "Primeval" when Buffy, Giles, Willow, and Xander literally share their talents to defeat Adam.
God's Salvation: Law and Grace (spoiler BotN and Orpheus, finale title) -- lunasea, 08:55:03 05/01/03 Thu
1949. "Called to beatitude but wounded by sin, man stands in need of salvation from God. Divine help comes to him in Christ through the law that guides him and the grace that sustains him:
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.[Philippians 2:12-13 .] "
Redemption, one of the main themes of the Buffyverse. Because in the struggle to find the good, Man occassionally (and for some, more than occassionally) finds the bad instead, redemption is needed.
The Moral Law
A big difference between the Buffyverse and the Catechism is that the moral law is set down for Man to follow in the Catechism. It says what is good and what is evil. In the Buffyverse, the characters have no such fatherly instruction to go by. There is a lot of grey in the Buffyverse. Still there is a soul/ conscience which orients the characters to good. This moral law is almost taken as a given in the Buffyverse, not really coming from anywhere.
1951. Alone among all animate beings, man can boast of having been counted worthy to receive a law from God: as an animal endowed with reason, capable of understanding and discernment, he is to govern his conduct by using his freedom and reason, in obedience to the One who has entrusted everything to him.[Cf. Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem, 2, 4: PL 2, 288-289.]"
In the Buffyverse, vampires are dusted for Man's protection, but they really aren't held morally culpable for their actions.
1954. "Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good. The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie:
The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin . . . But this command of human reason would not have the force of law if it were not the voice and interpreter of a higher reason to which our spirit and our freedom must be submitted.[Leo XIII, Libertas praestantissimum, 597.] "
Take away the part about God and it isn't far from what we have seen with the Buffyverse. Man has mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good. Man does have the ability to discern by reason the good and the evil. Man doesn't always use this reason, but the faculty is there.
In the Catechism natural law is placed in us at the creation. The angry avid atheist doesn't have a reason it is there. It is his universe, so he gets to put it there and doesn't have to explain it. It really doesn't matter how it gets there. We just need to acknowledge and accept it is there.
1956. For there is a true law: right reason. It is in conformity with nature, is diffused among all men, and is immutable and eternal; its orders summon to duty; its prohibitions turn away from offense .... To replace it with a contrary law is a sacrilege; failure to apply even one of its provisions is forbidden; no one can abrogate it entirely.[Cicero, Rep. III, 22, 33.] "
In the Buffyverse, vampires can, but such creatures are sacrilege, even being harmed by the purity of the sun or religious artifacts. More on this with Angelus.
1963. "According to Christian tradition, the Law is holy, spiritual, and good,[Cf. Romans 7:12, 14, 16 .] yet still imperfect. Like a tutor[Cf. Galatians 3:24 .] it shows what must be done, but does not of itself give the strength, the grace of the Spirit, to fulfill it.
There isn't some written code in the Buffyverse which Man has to abide by. However, knowing what is right and having the strength to do that are two different things.
In Christianity the Old Law is refined and perfected witth the Gospel. "God wrote on the tables of the Law what men did not read in their hearts" [St. Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos 57, 1: PL 36, 673.] The Gospels "proceeds to reform the heart, the root of human acts, where man chooses between pure and the impure, where faith, hope and charity are formed and with them the other virtues." (1968)
The entire Gospel can be summed up with John 15:12 "This is my commandment: love on another as I have loved you." Can the Buffyverse thus be summed up? It bears striking similarity to what Buffy tells Dawn in "The Gift." We will have to see what Joss leaves us with in a few weeks.
James Marsters words about the finale "it is going to make you love more" seem to be what Joss has been doing all along. The Gospels aren't supposed to be a list of do's and don'ts. It is supposed to awaken our hearts and make us love more. That love/charity gives us the strength to fulfill the Law.
This is shown wonderfully with Buffy and Angel. When Buffy does manage to open her heart, she gains incredible strength, strength that surpasses what the demon essense has given her. When Angel discovers how much he does love Buffy, he finds the strength to give up everything that he wants.
Grace and Justification
1987. "The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us 'the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ' and through Baptism:[Romans 3:22 ; cf. Romans 6:3-4 .]
The Buffyverse doesn't believe in grace or the Holy Spirit. It has never resorted to anything similar to this to purify its characters. The closest thing is the resouling of Angel (and now Spike, though how that turns out has yet to be seen). Sin can't be cleansed and stays with the characters. Redemption is an ongoing process with no real end.
1214. "This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to 'plunge' or 'immerse'; the 'plunge' into the water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as 'a new creature.'[2 Corinthians 5:17 ; Galatians 6:15 ; Cf. Romams 6:34 ; Colossians 2:12 .]"
The Buffyverse has used baptism to show change, both positive and negative, but it is more symbolic to show change, than actually causes that change. The show has also used death, actual and perceived, to cause change.
The Buffyverse is about empowering people, so the role of the Holy Spirit is replaced by people and love itself. Grace is a gift of God's love. Remove God and all that is left is the love. In THE story, the source of love isn't important. The love and what it does is.
"With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us." (1991) In the Buffyverse, when someone loves another, these things tend to result as they enter the path to redemption. This happened after Angel first in "Angel and later when he was reborn in "Amends" and when Spike was baptized in "Bring on the Night." Xander is able to reach Willow in "Grave" with his love. We will have to see how much Faith has really changed since "Orpheus." Love is the source for redemption in the Buffyverse. No one spontaneously decides they want to be struggle for the good. Even with Lindsey, it was his loving Darla that finally got to him. Darla was redeemed first in "The Trials" by Angel's love and later in "Lullabye" by loving Connor.
1993. "Justification establishes cooperation between God's grace and man's freedom. On man's part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:
When God touches man's heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God's grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God's sight.[Council of Trent (1547): DS 1525.] "
This plays out in Angel and I will get back to it later. Replace "Word of God" with either Buffy or a belief in good.
1994. "Justification is the most excellent work of God's love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. It is the opinion of St. Augustine that 'the justification of the wicked is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth,' because 'heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation and justification of the elect . . . will not pass away.'[St. Augustine, In evangelium Johannis tractatus. 72, 3: PL 35, 1823.] He holds also that the justification of sinners surpasses the creation of the angels in justice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy."
Not sure if or how that plays out in the Buffyverse, but it was pretty so I wanted to share. There are some really beautiful things in Christianity. Even a mysoganist like St. Augustine or St. Paul can say something nice.
In the Catechism "Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life." (1996) In the Catechism there is help. In the 12 Steps there is help. People need to believe there is help, like Kate did in "Reprise." How much help is there in the Buffyverse? Help. "We help the helpless." "God helps those that help themselves." Angel empowers others, but is expected to help himself. I will get to the PTB on AtS later.
2002. "God's free initiative demands man's free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. The promises of 'eternal life' respond, beyond all hope, to this desire
In the Buffyverse, Angel could not lose his soul, couldn't find his perfect moment of happiness, without love. Angel does have a longing for truth and goodness that only perfect communion with another can satisty. Angel does have the power to know love and he knows it wasn't being with Darla.
There are sacramental and special graces. The special graces are also called charisms. The visions of the PTBs could be called charisms. "Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church." (2003) The visions do fit this. Same thing with the power of being Slayer.
2005. "Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved.[Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1533-1534.] However, according to the Lord's words 'Thus you will know them by their fruits'[Matthew 7:20 .] - reflection on God's blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.
A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: 'Asked if she knew that she was in God's grace, she replied: 'If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.''[Acts of the trial of St . Joan of Arc.]"
This is one of my favorite things said by St. Joan. It fits rather well with Angel's conception of redemption. When he has this attitude, he is centered and does a great deal of good. When he doesn't feel this way, his actions reflect that and bad things result.
Merit is what is owed to us. "With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator." (2007)
2008. "The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit. "
This fits with Angel's view of merit and redemption. Angel wouldn't even be thinking about this if it wasn't for the curse which returned his soul. After that it was the PTBs contacting him through Whistler and Doyle that led him to the path of redemption. He accepted and collaborated by them first by freely helping Buffy and then later helping the helpless. The scroll of Aberjian mentions becoming human as being a reward that he will earn.
"Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. " (2010) When Angel is motivated by charity, "Judgement" results. Angel's motivation, as well as Buffy's, are key to when they defeat their opponent.
After earth's exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone.... In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself.[St. Therese of Lisieux, 'Act of Offering' in Story of a Soul, tr. John Clarke (Washington Dc: ICS, 1981), 277.]"
Again, more pretty words. They may have some resonance with "Chosen." I don't know.
Man in a Nutshell (no spoilers, no Buffyverse actually) -- lunasea, 09:01:57 05/01/03 Thu
16 pages is a lot for anyone to read who isn't extremely interested in the subject. It was just background for what follows anyway. Here is the summary. That was a really long way of saying that Man has good in him and his job is to exercise that good. It explains how to find the good and what helps us be good.
In Christianity, the good is placed there by God in whose image we are created. Our vocation is to be this image, instead of the base condition we entered into when we were disfigured by the first sin. That image means that we have reason, free will and a conscience. Because of this God gives us freedom. Because we sinned, we are divided in ourselves and this causes a struggle between good and evil, light and darkness.
We are created so that we are drawn to God and this is the only thing that makes us truly happy. This desire for happiness motivates us to be good and purify our hearts. Man is also created with the passions (principly love and hatred, desire and fear, joy, sadness, and anger) which are neutral feelings that motivate us to act or not act. They can be taken up by the virtues or perverted by the vices.
Man's will alone is not enough. The Holy Spirit moblizes the entire being. The conscience the voice or word of God inscribed on the heart. We have to turn inward to hear it. The virtues are habitual and firm dispostions to do good. The human virtues include the cardinal virtues of temperanace, prudence, justice and courage and are acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. The theological or Christian virtues are faith, hope, and love/charity. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life.
Just as there is good in us, Man is also capable of sin. However, God doesn't just turn His back on Man. He gave us each other so that we can find our divine nature. He gave us different gifts so that we have to rely on each other. It is through communion with others that this nature shines most brightly.
Man doesn't always succeed at finding the good, so a path to redemption is needed. God's law is written on our hearts, but for those who don't read this, God's Law was written down. This is only a list of what to do. It doesn't give us the strength to follow them. That is where the Gospels come in mind. They aren't a list of do's and don'ts, but are supposed to open our hearts. Combined with the Theological virtues, they do give us the strength to follow the Law.
Faith, Freedom, Choice (spoiler Dirty Girl) -- lunasea, 09:03:30 05/01/03 Thu
Part One of Catechism is what is known as "The Profession of Faith." It starts "I believe" or "We believe." It is a list of what Christians are supposed to believe. Faith, to a Christian, is a very important thing. It isn't just a belief. "Faith is man's response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to man, at the same time bringing man a superabundant light as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life." (26)
Faith isn't just a passive belief. It is a partnership with God. It requires both Man and God in order for it to happen. God calls and we answer. It is a theological virtue, because if God didn't call, we couldn't answer. Once Man answers ""By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God." (143)
Man is made in God's image, but has been defiled by sin. We have both virtue and vice in us. Our intellect and will can be clouded by sin and vice. In Christianity, by having faith in God and submitting to His Word, we are able to rise above sin and vice. The biggest difference in Christianity and the Buffyverse is that in Christianity there is the Word to fall back on and give us hope.
The Word and the active search for good both have the same goal, to bring man into the light as we search for the meaning of life. THE story is about how to bring Man into the light. Faith is a bit more than just a belief. It requires something on the part of the believer. That is what makes it faith, rather than belief.
In the Buffyverse, there are mainly two different types of faith. There is faith in the divine, as represented by the PTB, and there is faith in oneself. Buffy, as Slayer, combines both. Buffy, as The Chosen One, is more than just human. The purpose of faith in the Buffyverse is the same as in Christianity, to bring Man into the light as s/he searches for meaning in life. In the Buffyverse life is a meaningless void that we give meaning by struggling to find the good. That purpose isn't always met, as shown with the character named Faith. Faith that is not infused with love/charity can take people into the dark. This season, this is also being explored with Caleb. Faith and Caleb represent the two different types of faith when they exist without love. Caleb is faith in the divine and Faith is faith in yourself. I will get to them both later.
Very important to faith in Christianity is choice. Faith is a call from God, but Man has to answer it. Because of freedom, Man can reject this and often does. This choice is what makes Man like God. It is what being made in the divine image means. "God willed that man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel,' so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely and blessed perfection by cleaving to him." [Gaudium et spes 17; Sirach 15:14]. "Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts." [St. Irenaeus, Adversus haerses 4,4,3; PG 7/1, 983]
This is what the dignity of the person is all about. For the angry atheists this may not jive with your view of religion, but per the Catechism, what makes us Men is reason, free will, a conscience and the freedom that God grants us because of this. We have a responsibility to use these to be the image of God that we are. How does that differ from the Buffyverse? It is THE story.
"'Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.'[Ps 105:3 .] Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness. But this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, 'an upright heart', as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God.
Change God to good and how much does anything we have seen Joss present differ? This one paragraph pretty much sums up what the shows are about. THE story doesn't differ whether it is Christianity or the Buffyverse.
Now I will attempt to explore the Buffyverse from this perspective.
Ange: Happinessl and Choice (Spoilers Peace Out) -- lunasea, 09:06:37 05/01/03 Thu
I am so glad I started this last week. Last night's Angel "Peace Out" fit completely with it.
Man's Vocation: Life in the Spirit is a good description of AtS. Angel's redemption is more than a way for him to ente the Kingdom that is promised in the scroll of Abejian. As Doyle tells him, "Let me tell you something, pal, that craving is going to grow and one day soon one of those helpless victims that you don't really care about is going to look way too appetizing to turn down. And you'll figure hey! what's one against all I've saved? Might as well eat them. I'm still ahead by the numbers!" (City of) Angel is willing to reach out to others, something incredibly difficult for him, in order to keep from doing evil.
Angel comes up with various epiphanies that describe what he sees as Man's vocation. After having time turned back so he can be made into a souled vampire again, he figures out "We don't belong to ourselves. We belong to the world, fighting." (Heroes) That motivated him until he found out the fight couldn't be won.
His next epiphany is " If there is no great glorious end to all this, if - nothing we do matters, - then all that matters is what we do. 'cause that's all there is. What we do, now, today. - I fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward - finally just to beat the other guy, but... I never got it.... All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because - I don't think people should suffer, as they do. Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness - is the greatest thing in the world." (Epiphany)
Then Hell Spawn sends him to the bottom of the ocean. The smallest act of kindness didn't help. "Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. - It's harsh, and cruel. - But that's why there's us. Champions. It doesn't matter where we come from, what we've done or suffered, or even if we make a difference. We live as though the world was what it should be, to show it what it can be." (Deep Down)
Each of these are ways of restating that we need to be good. They just have different motivations. The first is to fight the good fight. The second is to help others. The final is just to be an example. Each time what Angel does remains consistant, to be good. It is the expected outcome that changes.
By defining his vocation, Angel is trying to find a reason to live. He is trying to give his life some sort of meaning. Humans want to be happy. This happiness motivates us. Angel isn't allowed to be happy. Happiness is a problem for him. Angel is trying to find out what it means to be human, but he can't be human because he can't do anything that will make him perfectly happy. He has to find a way to love his neighbors without entering fully into communion with them that will lead to perfect happiness. For three seasons, Angel has been exploring this. He can't take this happiness for granted.
A very painful moment this season was in "Shiny Happy People" when Angel is in the garden and is trying not to feel happiness because he is worried about what will happen. This is echoed later in "Peace Out" when Connor is in the church talking to Cordy. Jasmine brings all these great things to everyone, but him. What Jasmine offers isn't fully available to Angel because of the curse or to Connor because he is her father and shares a blood link. When Angel said "I thought her lies were better" my heart broke. Thought, past tense. At that moment, Connor lost all motivation to even live. Time for Connor's dark night.
Also, time for Angel to explore what truly makes us made in the divine image. Choices. Freedom. What goes into those choices? What sort of people make those choices? What sort of people does that make us into? Angel and Connor this season have even said that they didn't have a choice in something they have done. Angel has based all his decisions on the idea that he is a champion. This makes all his choices for him.
Angel defines himself as a champion, but what does that mean? It has gone through revisions, depending on how Angel sees his vocation. Each version is how Angel sees the purpose of being good, being the divine image. In Connor's speech at the Church, he accuses Angel of just wanting to be able to fight something. Jasmine delivered the good. Angel didn't have to fight for it any more. He lashes out at Angel, but the turning point for Connor in that monologue is when he realizes that what Jasmine gives isn't enough.
One thing I would have liked to see in this final arc would have been to see Angel actually question whether he should take paradise away from everyone. It is easy to say that Jasmine lied so she must be up to something evil. She wasn't. I would have liked Angel to be making his choice with full realization of this. I would have liked to see that he was fighting solely for free will.
"I didn't say we were smart. I said it was our right." Angel understands this right for the same reason that he understands happiness, he has lived without it. This is why they brought back Angelus. As Angelus, he couldn't choose good. That is why he doesn't feel bad about what he did as Angelus. He wasn't human. He wasn't created in the Divine image. He didn't have the same choices. His choice was in how to be evil, how to express his evil nature. As a souled vampire, Angel really understands how important freedom and choice is. It will be interesting to watch Joss explore this.
First choice will be what is he willing to do to save Connor. Buffy and Angel went through their dark nights, but they had a foundation to draw on when they did. Connor doesn't. Can he come out of his dark night without some serious intervention, probably involving magick since he has been putting it down all season (speculation)
Now that Angel will be exploring choice, they will explore what we use to make those choices even more.
Faith and Liam/Angel/Angel(us) -- lunasea, 09:08:27 05/01/03 Thu
Faith, a belief in something. Hope, the belief that that belief will help us. Angel has maintained his faith from Liam to Angelus to Angel and back again. Even this season his faith is still intact. As evil vampire Angelus, he mocked God. From his name, to marking his victims with crosses, to having a preference for convents, confessionals and inncence, to his gorgeous tattoo, he has been mocking God. You don't mock what you don't believe in.
Liam didn't not believe. If he had no faith, this faith couldn't have informed Angelus. Angelus struck out against God as much if not more than his father. It wasn't Liam's father that made him feel like a failure. It was his inability to live up to what he thought God wanted him to be. "I've always been weak." Being vamped while drunk and trying to seduce Darla was
the ultimate "I told you so." Angel admits in "The Prodigal" that he made some wrong choices and what he did was wrong. It was just that the punishment (being vamped) didn't fit the crime.
As a varmpire, Angelus no longer has the threat that humans have over their heads, eternal damnation. He has been damned. God doesn't want him any more. Angelus sticks his tongue out at the God that would punish him for enjoying life, when it didn't harm anyone. Liam's sins were victimless. If God doesn't want Angelus, Angelus doesn't want God. He constantly asserts his independance from God with his mocking.
That doesn't mean that Angelus doesn't believe in God or what God promises. It is a lot like Caleb. Angelus has transcended God and his promises. Angelus still has his faith. He also has more. As Liam he was struggling with life. Now it all makes "perfect sense." I will elaborate on this later when I get into Caleb.
As Angel, he still believes in the divine. He isn't quite the devotee that Cordelia is, but this is tied to hope, not faith. Hope is what gets us through the dark times. Angel has a hard time with these. His character is about hope. Faith has to be a given. He has trouble not because he doesn't believe in the divine, but because he doesn't feel worthy of what they promise. It 's not the demon that needs killing, but the man. It is the man, his own weaknesses, that keep him from the Kingdom.
Shanshu. The divine promises Angel heaven. Angel believes it. He even believes it when it says he is going to die. He just tries to not let it bother him. When it says what he most wants, he starts keeping track of everything he does to merit getting his reward. Then he screws up. He misinterprets a vision and feels that he isn't going to get his reward. Every set back plays on Angel's sense of not being worthy. His dispair isn't based on not believing the divine or their prophecy. It is based on him. "Mandy" has become Angel's theme song. It isn't about not believing that Mandy could save him, but rather is about him sending her away. It is all his fault he feels this way.
There are plenty of examples of how Angel's dispair comes not from a lack of faith, but from a lack of hope. One thing Angel is missing is an important component to Christian hope, Grace. In Catholic Mass part of the Communion Rite is the congregation saying the words "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the words and I shall be healed." Angel has no such thing. Even though humans are weak and we fail, God through Grace helps to become better. Hope is the root of prayer. Can you imagine Angel praying (he does in "Judgement")?
In many ways, God's Grace has been manifest in Angel's life though. He feels alone and abandonned, but is he? The various Messengers and their visions have been manifestions of divince Grace. This is missing from Buffy, because her issue is faith. She can't have tangible proof of the divine's existance. Angel's faith is never a question, so divine intervention is ok. Angel is even alive because of at least one miracle, in "Amends." He was returned from Hell in another miracle. (an interesting one that is motivated by love. Either Buffy's love directly brought him back or the First did it because Angel could get to Buffy because of that love)
I am going to refrain from talking too much about love at this point. Briefly put God=love, God is all over the place in Angel's life. God isn't some guy with beard up in the clouds. He is a mystical omnipresent force that exists in everything. Humans recognize this as love.
Buffy and Angel Verse is a Catechismal 'What does this mean' -- Walking Turtle, 10:04:00 05/01/03 Thu
Wonderful analysis using both the Catechism as source and the Catechismal method of teaching. The old one/two. This is the 'truth' now what does the church thinks it means. Or for this board what does it mean to Buffy or to Angel.
Earlier I posted about Joss's view of orginial sin as accessed from Buffy's recent treatments of Spike.
Your analysis allows me to lazy. I don't have to struggle to write something just read what you have written and expand upon it. Why??? Your analysis is the way many people think. Most don't realize it.
My wife is a religion reporter and over the years has divided people into two general groups. Those who learned their faith though a Catechism and those who have learned their faith without a formal Catechism. The former tend to ask "What Does this mean" questions. The latter tend to ask "How do I do it" questions not only about their faith but in all things they undertake.
Joss doesn't use Buffy or Angel to tell us "How to do it". He explores "What does this mean" The Catechismal approach; he just has't make the 'leap of faith' yet [maybe never -- that his choice]
Thank you -- lunasea, 13:11:15 05/01/03 Thu
I still have a lot to go. This was originally supposed to be mainly about Buffy herself and the way she explores the concept of faith. As Marti said in an interview with Ideas "I mean, the whole show in a way, the whole show ping pongs between the darkest night of the soul and this whole yearning for belief."
WWJD or in our case WWBD. What a stupid question. The purpose of these stories is to open our hearts so we can ask what WE would do. We can get to the "truth" what I refer to as THE story through them. Why stop at them? Why stop at the forms they take?
I invite anyone to compare their belief system to the Buffyverse to show us how they both get at what you perceive to be THE story. Show us "What does this mean?"
(I am a Buddhist, but so few are familiar with it that it would take even more than 16 pages to give any sort of background to set up the comparision [I did attempt it with what the First is]. Also, I prefer to use the Sanskrit words, so it becomes a language lesson as well. I know the Catechism rather well. At one time I wanted to be the first female Deacon. I don't disagree with THE story it gets at. The form it takes just wasn't for me. Unlike Joss, I don't discourage anyone from believing in God or practicing religion.)
Reconciliation/road to redemption -- lunasea, 12:44:19 05/01/03 Thu
Man doesn't always find the good. In any story about the struggle, this fall has to also be dealt with. Because of the "stirring of the conscience" Man needs to find redemption for his sins. It is dealt most with Angel, but it also important with other characters. Vampires are extremely fallen men, but only with the soul can they find redemption. Even chipped Spike wasn't about this. We haven't seen that much of souled Spike, so I will discuss mainly Angel.
There are many forms of penance in Christian life: fasting, prayer, almsgiving, efforts at reconciliation with one's neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one's neighbor, the intercession of saints, and the practice of charity. We have seen these all play out in the Buffyverse. Angel even pretty much donned "sack cloth and ashes" after he fed in the 1970s (Orpheus).
1435. "Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right,[Cf. Amos 5:24 ; Isaiah 1:17 .] by the admission of faults to one's brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one's cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance.[Cf. Luke 9:23 .] "
"The road to redemption is a rocky path." (Faith in "Judgement") As Angel tells her later, "Our time is never up, Faith. We pay for everything." (Orpheus)
The process of conversion and repentance is described in the parable of the prodigal son. ME, as usual, has to put their own spin on this story in "The Prodigal." Instead of the son ending up destitute after wasting his money, he ends up a vampire after being drunk and trying to seduce a beautiful woman. In the parable, the son returns home to his father's open arms and is forgiven. In the Buffyverse, the son returns home and eats his father. Because of this action, he has forever damned himself since he can never get the approval he craves.
The Bible offers many stories that offer hope. In the Buffyverse, there is no eternal heaven, no God, no grace, no one to follow. All we have are choices. With each choice we have the chance to be redeemed or damned.
1448. "Beneath the changes in discipline and celebration that this sacrament has undergone over the centuries, the same fundamental structure is to be discerned. It comprises two equally essential elements: on the one hand, the acts of the man who undergoes conversion through the action of the Holy Spirit: namely, contrition, confession, and satisfaction; on the other, God's action through the intervention of the Church. The Church, who through the bishop and his priests forgives sins in the name of Jesus Christ and determines the manner of satisfaction, also prays for the sinner and does penance with him. Thus the sinner is healed and re-established in ecclesial communion. "
This is the big difference between Christianity and the Buffyverse and why "The Prodigal" ends differently than the parable. The Buffyverse only has the first element, which is what I will examine. In the Buffyverse, there is no absolution of sins. The redeemed just has to find a way to get on with his life.
Angel's brooding has another word in Christianity, contrition. It is the first act of the penitent and is what leads them to seek reconciliation. It is also known as animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart). Contrition is 'sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.'[Council of Trent (1551): DS 1676.]" Because of this contrition, Angel's story has been about redemption. His brooding may annoy some in the audience, but it is a necessary first step on the path of redemption.
1455. "The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible. "
Angel's first confession is to Buffy in "Angel." He not only confesses his past transgressions, but how he is currently feeling. Because of this he is reconcilled with Buffy when she bears her neck for him to show him he is more than just a monster. Buffy is no longer mad at Angel, but it doesn't change their circumstances. His sins are too numerous and grave for a simple confession to do it. At the end of the episode, the cross still burns Angel, a cross that is worn by Buffy.
Angel has many confessions throughout both BtVS and AtS. Almost every time he opens his mouth, it is a confession of some sort. Frequent confession is recommended by the Church. "By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful"[Cf. Luke 6:36 .] As Angel has reached out more and more to save other's souls, he isn't so hard on himself. As he talks to Cordelia and sees how easy it is for others to fail as well. The more Angel confesses, the more merciful he becomes.
Now for some more beautiful words from St. Augustine.
Whoever confesses his sins . . . is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear 'man' - this is what God has made; when you hear 'sinner' - this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made .... When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light.
The third action Man does is satisfaction. This is also known as penance. To look at the road to redemption as only penance is to miss two-thirds of it. Satisfaction is very important because "sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused.[Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1712.] Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must 'make satisfaction for' or 'expiate' his sins. " (1459)
1468. "'The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God's grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.'[Roman Catechism, II, V, 18.] Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation 'is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.'[Council of Trent (1551): DS 1674.] Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true 'spiritual resurrection,' restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.[Cf. Luke 15:32 .]"
There is no reconciliation with God in the Buffyverse. Angel has yet to find peace and serenity of conscience with contrition, confession or penance. At this point he has just accepted that as how things are going to be and from that has found a sort of peace. He can't find total peace "Because, sir, to be blunt, the last time you became complacent
about your existence turned out rather badly." (Giles in "Amends") Angel is on the path of redemption, but if he ever found it while still cursed, it could result in bad things. This sort of reconcilliation would result in his perfect happiness, like it did in "Awakening."
Some more pretty words that will lead us to the post about sin and salvation.
St. Ambrose says of the two conversions that, in the Church, 'there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance.'[St. Ambrose, epistulae. 41, 12: PL 16, 1116.]"
Sin and Salvation -- lunasea, 17:00:22 05/01/03 Thu
God grants Man freedom. Through this freedom Man defiled himself by sinning. As it says in the above post, Man is what God made, and sinner is what we made ourselves. I haven't spent much time on sin yet.
386. "Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile. To try to understand what sin is, one must first recognize the profound relation of man to God, for only in this relationship is the evil of sin unmasked in its true identity as humanity's rejection of God and opposition to him, even as it continues to weigh heavy on human life and history. "
387. "Only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin and particularly of the sin committed at mankind's origins. Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God's plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another. "
In the Buffyverse there are demons, specifically vampires, that are evil by nature. They can't just be dismissed by psychology. We can use psychology to see why they express their evil natures a particular way, but they are evil period. Being vamped can be compared to original sin.
The Catechism, unlike many other Christian teachings, doesn't use the concept of sin to give a list of don'ts. It uses it as "the reverse side of the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all men." Sin isn't used to put down man, but to show how much God loves us.
Where does sin come from? The first creatures to sin were not Men. They were angels. "This 'fall' consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign." (392) In the Catechism "Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love." (311) The Angels and Man have this freedom "because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it" (311)
310. "But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better.[Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I, 25, 6.] But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world 'in a state of journeying' towards its ultimate perfection. In God's plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.[Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles III, 71.]"
This was directly dealt with this season with Jasmine. In "Peace Out" she even mentions "kicking evolution up a few notches." When free will is restored, people just don't get depressed like what happened to the Fang Gang. Paradise was destroyed. Suffering comes from God allowing us to exercise our free will since we are not perfect.
In Jasmine's words about evolution, a great hope was shown. Man may not be there, yet, but we can get there. Where Jasmine had us is possible through evolution. When that happens, our fate is ours and it will be a true paradise.
The Catechism says "The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man."[Cf. Gaudium et spes 13 # 1.] "The prohibition against eating 'of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil' spells this out: 'for in the day that you eat of it, you shall die.'[Genesis 2:17 .] The 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil'[Genesis 2:17 .] symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature, must freely recognize and respect with trust." (396)
Where the Buffyverse and the Catechism part ways again is "Man is dependent on his Creator, and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that govern the use of freedom." (396) Change the idea of the Creator with an unknowable idea of what is good. In the Catechism, Man is incapable of knowing what is good on our own. That is how we are imperfect. In the Buffyverse, Man isn't omniscient either. The only difference is the Church says that Man can know what is good by submitting to God.
397. "Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God's command. This is what man's first sin consisted of.[Cf. Genesis 3:1-11 ; Roman 5:19 .] All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness. "
This plays out in the vampire. Man actually becomes a demon, which is a fallen angel. The difference between men, angels and demons is that men have both good and evil, virtue and vice in them. With the removal of the conscience, the vampire's belief in good dies. A vampire cannot act from good motives (please no Spike debates). He abuses his free will and only chooses evil options. All sin on the part of the vampire is because he is oriented towards evil and distrusts good. This even plays out in Angelus with his mocking God in numerous ways.
398. "In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Created in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully 'divinized' by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to 'be like God', but 'without God, before God, and not in accordance with God'.[St. Maximus the Confessor, Ambigua: PG 91, 1156C; cf. Genesis 3:5 .]"
There is nothing wrong with exercising our reason and free will thus becoming the divine that we are. This should just be done in accordance with what is good. Angel has used his free will to be a champion and the Oracles have basically said he was divine by calling him "not a lower being." It isn't God's powers we should strive for, which we have. What matters is what that power is for, what we do with it. That is what makes us in accordance with God.
In the Buffyverse, Man is also subject to the Fall, but with the vampire that fall is more dramatic. As much as sin corrupts a regular human, it harms the vampire even more. They sure look like they are having fun. It is all an act, as Angelus tells us, " I know how it feels-forced to be someone you're not. Hurts to the bone. You try to bury the pain, but you can't get the hole deep enough, can you? No matter how much you dig, it's still there. Broken shards stabbing every time you breathe, cutting you up inside. You know, there's only one way to make the pain stop. Hurt someone else." (Release)
400. "The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.[Cf. Genesis 3:7-16 .] Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.[Cf. Genesis 3:17, 19 .] Because of man, creation is now subject 'to its bondage to decay'.[Romana 8:21 .] Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will 'return to the ground',[Genesis 3:19 ; cf. Genesis 2:17 .] for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.[Cf. Romans 5:12 .]"
With the vampire this really plays out. They are released from their mortality by a death that does not allow for an afterlife. Ever hear Angel complain about being ripped from heaven? It is an even more permanent death than humans have. The Council of Trent refers to original sin as "the death of the soul."
404. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature.By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.[Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1511-1512.] It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called 'sin' only in an analogical sense: it is a sin 'contracted' and not 'committed' - a state and not an act."
This is similar to what happens in transubstantiation. The very nature of something is changed. A vampire is originally a human, not perfect, but not a demon. When they are vamped, their nature is changed.
Resouling of Angel
405. "Although it is proper to each individual,[Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513.] original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence'. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle."
A vampire's human nature has been totally corrupted. He cannot be saved (again, no Spike debates, please). When Angel is resouled, his human nature is restored. His nature is now that of demon with soul. He is a wonderful metaphor for this state of man. Resouling Angel doesn't redeem him. It just makes this redemption possible.
"By our first parents' sin, the devil has acquired a certain domination over man, even though man remains free." (407) Angel still has to fight the demon in him. It hasn't been reduced to silence by the presence of the soul. Because Angel has the soul, he is free now. He can choose good.
412. "But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, 'Christ's inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon's envy had taken away.'[St. Leo the Great, Sermones 73, 4: PL 54, 396.] And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, 'There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exsultet sings, 'O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!''[St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologaie III, I, 3, ad 3; cf. Rom 5:20 .]"
Thus the beauty of Angel. Angel is much more of a man than Liam ever was. The greater the sinner, the greater the saint. When Angel was resouled, he became much more than Darla took away from Liam.
Sin is the result of freedom combined with man's imperfections. God doesn't just leave us in this state. He constantly calls us. We just have to answer it. In "Becoming" we find out that Buffy isn't the first Slayer Angel has seen (probably Nikki, since he is in NYC when Whistler finds him). The PTB have called him before, but he didn't answer. When he answered the call to help Buffy, he started his road to salvation, a road that he was unable to take by himself. Angel's road to salvation is more than just reconciliation and penance. It involves the PTB nurturing his virtues and even giving him hope in the form of the scroll of Aberjian.
Buffy and Faith through Season 6 -- lunasea, 17:53:15 05/01/03 Thu
Buffy's part of the story is one of faith. Faith is often seen as belief in a higher power. On Buffy, that higher power isn't the divine. The divine is pretty absent from the show, which is why some prefer it to Angel. The divine is very important to Angel. This causes some to think that Angel is less about indivualism.
Buffy's story is still one of faith, though. Her counter-part is even named Faith. The reason the divine isn't on Buffy is because the higher power on Buffy is Buffy herself. She is the Chosen One. It is part about faith in yourself and individualism and part about the power of faith itself, especially when motivated by charity/love.
The power of love is the focal point of Joss' story. Corallaries to this are the power of faith and the power of hope, both when they are infused with love and when they aren't. Love's absence is more dramatic when faith and/or hope is still present. This season, Generalismo Buffy and Angel's Champion mode have been faith/hope without love and it has felt wrong, very wrong. It wasn't something we wanted to see Buffy's final season.
From the beginning, it has been about Buffy developing faith in herself and her role as Slayer. Season one we see Buffy's abilities develop. In "Welcome to the Hellmouth" Luke almost does her in. It is Angel's cross that saves her, a nice misdirect so the audience doesn't realize Angel is a vampire, but also a symbol of his faith in her. His line at the end of "The Harvest" was "She did it. I'll be damned." It is rather amusing considering that is why Angel is saved. After this point, Angel has faith in Buffy. His role on the show is to get her to see herself through his eyes. To me, it is the most beautiful thing on the show. The way they mutual afffirm each other is something I root for.
Buffy is all cocky in the series premier, but she isn't quite as good as she thinks, yet. We see several instances where Buffy gets cocky, but the vamp almost gets her that season. In "Angel" both The Three and Darla almost get her after she does her usual witty remark insulting them and showing her over confidence. Angel is the one that saves her. This plays out most dramatically in "Prophecy Girl." She wants to take the Master with her when she dies. She doesn't realize that she isn't the hunter, but the prey. Again, Buffy needs to be saved by something that isn't her.
The pattern of Buffy is set up. Buffy doubts. The circumstances demand action. Buffy cannot doubt, so she goes to the opposite extreme, total faith. That empowers Buffy to act, but that action isn't infused with love. She messes up. This causes her greater doubt than she previously experienced. Someone talks to her or something happenes and she finds a more realistic faith that is infused with love. Then and only then can Buffy save the day. The story of Buffy can be traced in the interplay of faith and doubt and how love's presence affects them.
This can be seen season two with Angel. Buffy cannot kill the man she loves. In many ways she blames herself for what has happened and doesn't want him to have to pay the price for her mistake. He is killing people and she is the Slayer. She has to act. When Jenny is murdered, she has to drop her doubt and believe that she can kill Angel. She is ready to take the fight to him. He is able to use this attitude to lure her away from the library so Dru can kidnap Giles. She is on the run from the law and has to find a way to kill Angel. She goes back to total faith.
But that isn't the point that Joss has his hero kill Angel at. The act still isn't infused with love. He brings Angel's soul back, just in time, so that Buffy realizes what she is doing. Otherwise, she would have saved the world and lost herself. It would have been a Pyrric victory for her. She needed to realize what she was losing. When that was the situation, Buffy did indeed save the day. She lost her lover and gained back her heart.
Buffy is the hero that has to go in with more than guns blazing in order to save the day. If that is all she brings, bad things happen. In Season 1 this attitude cost Buffy her life. In Season 2 it cost Buffy Angel's life. What would have happened if Angel didn't get resouled in time? Would Buffy have mourned like she did? I doubt it. We would have seen Buffy from "The Wish" season 3 instead of season 7.
Season 3 the interplay of doubt and faith was written into 2 wonderful arcs that collided in the finale. The first arc centers around her relationship with Angel. The second involves a character aptly named Faith, who is nothing but faith. No love, no hope. All Faith has is a strong belief in her own abilities. Buffy briefly goes to this place, but her heart just won't let her stay there any more than it will allow her to abandon Angel. Season 3 was great to watch. Circumstances kept trying to pull Buffy over to the dark, but her heart just wouldn't let her go. That isn't to say that she always acted out of love, but she did always come back to it.
"Amends." Willow tries to make amends to Oz for what happened in "Lover's Walk" by offering him her virginity. Willow finds out that love doesn't call for sacrifices like that and Oz turns her down, though they do get back together. Angel finds out that he can be something other than a monster and is given a new purpose, to make amends for what he had done as Angelus. Buffy is more than a vehicle for this revelation though. She makes her own amends, to herself and to Angel.
In "Lover's Walk" she doubts whether they can have a workable relationship and she leaves him. In "Amends" Buffy realizes something is going on and cannot avoid Angel. She has to go back into total faith mode, where she can beat this thing. It isn't as simple as finding something to pummel though. By concentrating on finding a physical cause, she leaves Angel alone. This allows the First to really mess with him. When she finally does pummel the Bringers and faces the First, she finds out that her Christmas is going to be Angel's wake.
Why? Because Buffy hasn't been fighting the right thing. Her total faith has blinded her to what she needed to do. When she finds Angel, she tries to reason with him. It doesn't work. Buffy then goes back to an even greater doubt, "What about me?" she says through her tears. In that moment, she does open her heart and it does reach Angel. To save Angel she didn't need to pummel things. She needed to openly love him. When Buffy turned back to love, she saved the day. Just pummeling things in Slayer mode wasn't going to cut it. It never will with Joss' story.
Then we have Faith. Love saves the day with Angel. Its absence is what does Faith in. Faith has complete and total faith, in herself. She has no doubts about her role as Slayer. As Slayer, she allows herself to be lifted to the position of divine. Her mantra "take, want, have" shows that she is acting like God, but 'without God, before God, and not in accordance with God.' She uses her reason, free will and Slayer powers not for good, which they were intended for, but for evil.
Faith tries to take Buffy over to the dark side. Buffy's heart won't let her go. When this happens, Faith's omnipotency is challenged. She reacts by trying to take away what means most to Buffy, namely Angel. Faith doesn't succeed in this, but Angel's lack of hope leads him to break-up with Buffy. Buffy can't figure out how to beat the Mayor and is worried about the Ascension.
This is what takes us into the finale where the two arcs collide when Faith shoots Angel with a poisoned arrow. Killing the Mayor is just the exclamation point to show how far Buffy has come. The real test was not being able to kill Faith with a clean conscience and letting Angel feed off of her.
Buffy could have killed Faith without remorse or hesitation, which would have saved Angel. This would have made Buffy into Wishverse Buffy, just as if she had killed Angel before he was resouled the prior season. Buffy was acting out of complete faith in herself. She could kill Faith to save Angel. She found out she couldn't. This brought her back to herself to a place where she could sacrifice herself to save Angel. In that sacrifice she found out the key to defeating the Mayor.
Season 4 starts the transition from just belief in herself to a belief in herself as divine. Season 1-3 she saves the day as Slayer, by killing the demon (season 3 she lured the demon to the explosives). Season 4 is it the B/G/W/X unit that saves the day. Season 5 it is her blood, her death that saves the day. Season 6 Xander saves the day.
In Season 4 she learns what true communion is. She isn't ready for this yet. We get a different finale then we are used to. The demon is defeated in 4.21 in "Primeval" but the real finale is "Restless." Buffy doesn't defeat a demon here, but her own Slayer spirit because it wasn't ready for the B/G/W/X unit. There is a lot about how she doesn't know what she is that transitions us to the next 3 seasons.
You can't have faith if you don't know what you are having faith in. The Catechism starts with the Profession of Faith. It talks about ways that Man can know God and what God is. Buffy developed faith in what she thought she was seasons 1-3. Season 4 she starts to see there is more to her than that. What she doesn't know yet.
Season 5, she is worried just what that more may be. The season was spent in a lot of doubt, more than any other season (which is saying a lot) When Riley leaves, she doubts she will ever find anyone. When her mom dies, she doubts she will even make it through the night. When facing a hell god, she doubts she will be able to defeat her. She even doubts her own humanity. Buffy's triumph season 5 was not in defeating some demon. It was in understanding the words of the Guide from "Intervention." She dies with faith in herself that her love is brighter than the fire.
She comes back season 6 and finds out just what that means. Love is pain, the Guide tells her. Buffy learns really what that means. It causes her to hate herself. She wants something to sing about. The world can't be wrong, so she must be. She hates herself for how she feels. That season her triumph had nothing to do with saving the day. It was more divine than that. It was in climbing out of the grave that she built on the realization she had season 5. Season 5 was that she could love. Season 6 was a lot of pain because of that love. It ended with her figuring out how to turn that pain into strength.
Fascinating. Re the catechumen and the Catholic Catechism... (Read these posts, everyone) -- Random, 07:07:11 05/02/03 Fri
...I would tend to classify Scoobies and the AI gang as aspirants in a more individualistic, Protestant mode. Indeed, they seem to be groping in a manner not unlike the early days of every Church.
Great work. A few points in response:
A big difference between the Buffyverse and the Catechism is that the moral law is set down for Man to follow in the Catechism. It says what is good and what is evil. In the Buffyverse, the characters have no such fatherly instruction to go by. There is a lot of grey in the Buffyverse. Still there is a soul/ conscience which orients the characters to good. This moral law is almost taken as a given in the Buffyverse, not really coming from anywhere....In the Buffyverse, vampires are dusted for Man's protection, but they really aren't held morally culpable for their actions.
The point is well-taken. In a cosmological scheme where most indictment is self-indictment, the lack of a soul would contraindicate real punishment. Over the years, we the fandom have struggled with what precisely the "lack of a soul" truly means. On a basic level, it is precisely indicative of an almost-purely practical form of justice for evil in the Buffyverse. If a vampire is nothing more than a human shell inhabited by a demon, then the only form of retribution and/or justice is the simple act of ending its existence. While it's never been made particularly clear what becomes of the demon after the destruction of the vampire (the status of Darla's demon is unclear, for instance, though her "soul" was clearly contiguous and quite befuddled), we do note that Hell seems less a form of direct damnation than an incidental one. More to the point, we have no instances of a soul being sent to hell for its sins. The demon dimensions we have seen thus far seem populated by victims -- the children of "Anne," the dimension of the Senior Partners, Angel's torment post-"Becoming," even Glory's Hell-dimension. While it seems clear that Buffy entered heaven -- though I've heard theories that argue against this -- I cannot recall a single clear instance of someone being condemned to hell for his/her crimes...except Angel, and he was condemned by his own act (releasing Acathala) and by Buffy's judgment (running a sword through his chest.)
(The multiplexity of heaven/hell dimensions reminds me of Oceania, where many cultures depict their hereafters as being highly specific...a Heaven for the blind, for instance, or for unweaned children. Buddhisma and Hinduism have, in certain areas, Hells specific to certain crimes where the length of stay is variable, though always mindbogglingly long)
The moral law is, therefore, largely self-imposed. In essence, the conscience becomes the catechism, the tabula rasa upon which the codes are written. The dusting of the vampire is itself a form of imposition of moral law on the vamp. He or she is held culpable by the enforcers of the catechism -- the ones who do adhere, to whatever extent, to the moral law. In a Buffyverse that resembles, in form, a polytheism rather than a monotheism, the role of personality becomes far more paramount. Where the God of the New Testament is exalted, the older Gods (and for that matter, the Old Testament God) are far more mundane, filled with what passes for human parallels -- pettiness, wrath, retribution, tendencies toward nepotism, et cetera. Therefore, the moral law (as Eckhart might say) lies in the soul's abnegation of self, the transcendance of the impulses toward evil and selfishness. The Scoobies and the AI gang all have baser moments. They struggle, they move past this tendency toward the violation of moral law. Evil lies in all of us, of course; this is a point that has been reiterated time and again. If this weren't so, Holland Manner's points out, we'd all be angels.
Glory is called a god, and this isn't, I think, an idle characterization. She is the apex of selfish individuality, little more than an deified demon. One tends to doubt that she has a soul, else why would she need to transport her physical body to her home dimension. Why not destroy herself and have done with it, freeing her essence (I can't posit effectively what happens to Ben's soul...perhaps, in a moment of cosmic irony, he ends up in Glory's home dimension, tortured eternally by the two surviving Hell-gods.) And therein lies a great irony...her death spells annihilation, while the clearly mortal Buffy can find repose in an afterlife.
So the moral law is somewhat ambigious. Buffy does find a reward in Heaven for her life. The nature of this heaven is vague, the nature of the one's in charge of directing Buffy's soul to this heaven vaguer still. The PTB's? This theory would seem likely, except they seem far more concerned with the overt battle against evil than the internal struggle for virtue. A creed founded in opposition has very distinct characteristics, not the least of which being a relative dearth of intrinsic values. I wouldn't trust the PTB's to give a damn whether Angel was a saint, only whether he was a heroic warrior. So Buffy enters heaven. I would expect the PTB's to grant that privilege to anyone who accumulated a sufficient number of battlefield honours. Doyle would be there, as would Kendra. The real question is whether those who achieved virtue can lay claim to a spot. Did Darla go after finally recognizing a moral.natural law that superceded her own sense of self-preservation? Where is Jenny Calendar, who tried to save Angel's soul, only to fail and die?
So I would argue a very simple point: the nature of the soul in the Buffyverse lies in its role in counteracting the baser nature of humanity. When we see vampires, or demons, or hellgods, we are looking at the inversion of Holland Manner's observation: all the people we see around us have souls, have some form of moral law struggling within them...if this weren't so, they'd all be demons. Faith's redemption demonstrates this point perfectly. Even when she hit the darkest mile of her long dark night of the soul, the moral law struggled within her. She knew the words of the Buffyverse catechism, even if she chose to ignore them for a while. Is this tendency innate? One tends to believe that there is a certain amount of rote learning, of course, but it seems that there is also an instinctual catechism inherent to the sould as well. Therefore, Connor, twisted as he was by Holtz, finds that he can become something better because, deep down, he hearkens toward a generic moral law. He learns love, he learns forgiveness, and he learns them in a manner entirely different from, say, learning the alphabet.
1879. "The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature. Through the exchange with others, mutual service and dialogue with his brethren, man develops his potential; he thus responds to his vocation.[Cf. Gaudium et spes 25 # 1.] "
So we are confronted with the Other. The basic premise behind vampire slaying lies in the fact that vampires are destructive, and evil, parasites on human society. Oh, sure, they occasionally try to destroy the world, but for the most part, killing them is a practical, day-to-day issue. They follow no moral law, no societal service. I have heard arguments that vampires are merely acting out their own moral law, and there is some basis for that. But to say that, in the Buffyverse, their's is equally valid is ludicrous. The basic underpinnings of moral law in the Buffyverse are clearly predicated upon the more traditional virtues of human culture. Relativism is not merely misguided in this case, it is actually extremely dangerous. Here's the thing that's certain to rouse some protest on the board: the conflict between the Slayer and her ilk and vampires is not a war. The WC had it wrong all along, and this is one of the primary reasons that we the viewers have found the WC abhorrent. They insist on waging war, with all the conventions of war, and if we bought that argument, we must buy the argument that their treatment of the Slayers is both necessary and logical. But this conflict isn't war...it's judgment. We don't wage war on serial killers, we wage social Law and Justice.
Fascinating read, lunasea.
Theme of Buffytvs Season 7 -- Spike Lover, 09:04:36 05/01/03 Thu
I was going to post this below, but the thread is gone.
But perhaps I am missing the very important continued theme of this season :Grow Up.
Isn't the last thing someone learns as they become an adult that THEY DO NOT KNOW EVERYTHING? That others are right and have been right all along? That actions and non- actions do have consequences: eviction, firing from jobs, jail. Don't teens have the delusion... if I was only in charge, everything would be fine because ultimately I know everything?
In Season 5, you will remember, Giles told her THE ONLY WAY to close the portal that would end the world was to kill Dawn so the flow of blood would stop. Buffy rebuffed him. There had to be another way- and sure enough, she knew of one.
Was not the beginning of Season 6, where Willow, and the other youngsters decide to bring Buffy back from the dead, because this would solve all their problems, make everything all right?
Even this season, Buffy rejected the extra power that the predawn Shamans offered her, because 1) she felt she did not need it and 2) she felt it would make her less than human. She presumed both of those, but we don't know that she was right about them.
Re: Theme of Buffytvs Season 7 -- Rina, 10:15:06 05/01/03 Thu
By the way, I believe that Buffy made the correct choice in rejecting those extra powers. I'm glad that she is more concerned with maintaining as much humanity as possible.
absolute monarchy in Empty Places (spoilers) -- skeeve, 09:07:30 05/01/03 Thu
At the last meeting, Buffy was making sense. That is not the same as being right. Methinks the seal isn't even a red herring. It's done its job, no need to sit on it. The winery has something important to Caleb. Probably. It's not certain. Caleb might just like the place. At this point, Buffy was done making sense.
Her conclusion, that another raid on the winery would be useful, was senseless. Buffy gave the others no reason to expect any outcome except more death and maiming. There were ways to change that, but none of them were suggested: Better weapons. This is an aspect of the Buffyverse that doesn't hang together very well. Buffy and other slayers should have had things like machine pistols with wooden bullets a long time ago. They would be especially useful against the ubervamps. Flamethrowers are also nice. Better tactics would be nice. Another poster already sugested burning the place to the ground. Information. If somehow they knew what they were after, taking casualties might be worth it. Of course a better tactic would be to do one's searching while Caleb was elsewhere.
Giles's was wrong about "windmills", just as Buffy was wrong about what to do. In context, "windmill" meant delusion or hallucination. Buffy's conclusion about the winery, was probably correct. For some reason, Giles did not suggest researching the winery.
Somebody could have said "Buffy, you're our leader, you're just not our absolute monarch. Some things we won't do." To lighten the mood, said somebody might have also suggested a visit to the Great Pumpkin.
Even if we accept Dawn's claim that the house is as much hers as Buffy's, it doesn't follow that Dawn has the authority to kick Buffy out of the house.
This one does not even suspect the the SITs picked Faith because she took them to the Bronze. They picked Faith because she was the other Slayer. Even without the Slayer requirement, I think Giles would have been the only other sensible choice.
BTW I'm disappointed that Caleb won't get to meet Jasmine.
Re: absolute monarchy in Empty Places (spoilers) -- Rina, 10:09:23 05/01/03 Thu
I think that Buffy was right. And I think that Spike's information will prove her right. And we don't really know if Buffy had intended to openly attack the winery.
As for the "absolute monarchy" comment - you're right. Buffy is not a monarch. But she is a general, they are part of an army and they're involved in a serious war. Which means, they are NOT part of a democracy.
Re: absolute monarchy in Empty Places (spoilers) -- Shiraz, 12:35:14 05/01/03 Thu
Well then, if Buffy is truly a general during wartime, (as you say) then her course of action is very clear:
She needs to kill Faith, Anya, Dawn and Giles.
In front of the others.
Preferrably, she should force Xander, Willow, Kennedy and Rona to conduct the executions. That way no one would ever openly question her leadership again.
George Washington did this to NCOs who mutinied during the War for Independence, so there is precedence. Its the MILITARY way of doing things.
After all, people can be very reluctant to throw away their lives. And if a leader doesn't have the ability to gain their troop's obedience through trust or respect (as Buffy has shown), then that leader must gain obedience through fear, intimidation and brutal discipline.
If its for the greater good you shouldn't have a problem with this.
However, you might want to consider for a moment how the situation deteriorated to this point to begin with. Keep in mind that, in the absence of a greater authority (president, parliment, politbeaurau, Watcher's Council, etc.), the resposibility for determining the capability of a leader to lead rests with those being led, and that's the crux of the matter.
Let's face it, Buffy doesn't, er. didn't lead by divine right or by governmental decree, but rather through the respect of the Scooby Gang. When that went away, so did her authority to lead.
"And then you found that what you really wanted was power, and there were much politer ways of getting it. And then you realized that power was a bauble. Any thug had power. The true prize was control."
-Terry Pratchett "The Fifth Elephant" (perhaps saying something about this season)
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I agree completely, Shiraz (spoilers) -- WickedBuffy (this got way off track), 15:33:36 05/01/03 Thu
"Let's face it, Buffy doesn't, er. didn't lead by divine right or by governmental decree, but rather through the respect of the Scooby Gang. When that went away, so did her authority to lead."
OK, so an army is a government. The General makes the rules. Which explains why Bush (or any other US Predient) is also titles "Commander-in-Chief". Does that mean a democracy suddenly switches to military rule, with a different set of standards and laws, and becomes a type of monarchy with the "General" making all the decisions?
Then I guess Buffy WOULD be the official General and sole decision-maker without having to have a vote on it. And the Scoobies *would* have to follow her.
Which is silly, because they weren't even an official democracy, no election was ever held. It was more of a council with a spokesperson - who held that spot, as you pointed out Shirez, based on respect. And they aren't an army - they are a group of people united against a common foe.
Everything seems to have gotten blown off track with the wrong labels and definitions. There was no Queen to dethrone, no General to revolt against - just Buffy losing the respect of her peers and being replaced with someone the rest of the group believed would be better. Being a Slayer gave Faith an automatic boost on the respectometer, even over the eldest (Giles), and was selected to Lead. Not boss, but lead.
Follow-up to cjl -- A (limited) defense of continuity (spoilers through EP) -- Sophist, 09:32:01 05/01/03 Thu
The thread containing your post got deleted just as I went to post this. Here it is in a new thread.
Now that I've had plenty of time to think about the ending scene, and re-watch it, I'm ready to defend most of that scene as entirely within character. I'll take the characters one at a time:
Giles -- He clearly hasn't been "right" since BOTN. His behavior in EP was inexplicable for the old Giles, but entirely in keeping with the new one.
Anya -- Has been bitter towards Buffy since Selfless. Her comments made no sense (as Valheru pointed out), but are similar in kind to her reaction to Willow in OAFA.
Willow -- Her comment was almost word for word identical to what she said in Revelations. Though I have some problems with her failure to speak up when Anya was spouting off her nonsense, Willow's overall behavior was consistent with the one other occasion in which she seriously questioned Buffy's judgment.
Xander -- He was subdued, as was appropriate under the circumstances of his injury. But he has never hesitated to confront Buffy publicly and harshly (Passion, Becoming 1, Dead Man's Party, Revelations).
Dawn -- This is where I have a real problem. Dawn's behavior was dramatic -- they needed an "et tu Brute" moment -- but her statements were absurd. I find it hard to imagine Dawn turning on Buffy in this way, particularly after we got the scene of Dawn's hostility towards Faith in DG.
Dawn's behavior is the key to the scene, but with the least credibility. To this extent, I agree.
In Defense of Dawn's part... -- Q, 22:11:19 05/02/03 Fri
>>>Dawn -- This is where I have a real problem. Dawn's behavior was dramatic -- they needed an "et tu Brute" moment -- but her statements were absurd. I find it hard to imagine Dawn turning on Buffy in this way<<<
But, If we keep in mind Joyce's visit in "Conversations with Dead People", does it not explain a little bit why Dawn would be a little wary to follow Buffy's lead?
Exactly my line of thinking! -- Rob, 01:53:49 05/05/03 Mon
Seems like a set-up... (spoilers through EP and promo for May 6) -- Silky, 09:16:32 05/03/03 Sat
...paving the way for Buffy and Spike to be alone together -plus goes back to Spike's statement that sooner or later Buffy would realize that he is all she's got. (Which seems to be true at the moment.)
Maybe the SITs will learn to appreciate Buffy. SMG's acting made it so clear that Buffy is hurting for everyone but doesn't dare let herself feel it because she has to focus on trying to conquer the evil and save all of them. They really ought to know her better by now.
I also thought it was a way to make us sympathize with Buffy again after all the talk about what a B**** she was last year. Once again, Buffy sacrifices for the others. Hope they see that before the end comes.
The writers are doing a fab job with Faith.
Would someone please send me the Cliff Notes to this thread? -- WickedBadADD, 14:00:49 05/03/03 Sat
Dawn (EP spoilers) -- Rob, 09:48:30 05/01/03 Thu
I've found the best way to reconcile Dawn is the fact that she has been holding Buffy at arm's length all year (as Buffy has been doing to her), as a result of being fearful of Joyce's prophecy. I think she was turning on Buffy before Buffy could turn on her. Xander losing an eye and how much that upset her is also probably a key factor, especially when Buffy says that they are going to go into the same place again.
A clear and thorough analysis; agree with 99% of it.... -- cjl, 10:16:39 05/01/03 Thu
I had no problems with W/X. Their behavior was entirely consistent with previous episodes. I'd even be willing to give Anya's little speech a pass, because she's been bitter about their confrontation in "Selfless" and feels powerless. (Also, since it's All About Buffy, the former vengeance demon is the appropriate mouthpiece to articulate Buffy's inferiority complex about her "superiority.")
If Greenberg and Whedon had taken Dawn's 'tude down a couple of notches, I could have dealt with her at the end. If she'd gone up to Buffy, and said, with a great deal of hesitancy and pain:
DAWN: Buffy, we love you, we need you, but we can't-- [Dawn averts her eyes for a moment; steels herself for the big finish.] This isn't working. You're tired and you're upset, and you're not thinking clearly. M-maybe you should get out for awhile, clear your head, so we can-- [BUFFY gives her the "et tu, Brute?" stare. Buffy turns away and heads for the door. DAWN starts to tear up.]
I would have been perfectly happy with that speech, and the final exchange between Buffy and Faith. No problemo.
As for Giles--sigh. We can fanwank all we want about the destruction of the Watcher's Council and his post-traumatic shock, and blah blah blah, but the Rupert G. we're seeing post-BotN has about as much relation to the Giles we knew as the Rupert Gee from the David Letterman show. Will Joss ever explain this radical break in Giles' personality, or are we supposed to just accept it and move on? If Willow started acting like Harmony after she came back from England, would we accept such character discontinuity so easily?
Why giles is behaving as he is -- 110v3w1110w, 02:05:39 05/02/03 Fri
i think giles behavior is what we should expect from him. what we are seeing from him now is what we seen from him at the end of season 5 when he was talking about killing dawn to save the world. when things get bad giles will do what he thinks needs to be done to win even if it involves killing dawn, ben, spike or even turning on buffy the way he did then thats what he will do
I agree. (Spoilers through EP here and in cjl's) -- Sophist, 10:28:30 05/01/03 Thu
Your suggested speech for Dawn makes much more sense logically and for the character.
As for Giles, I'm assuming this is a plot issue that will be revealed. If not, I find it inexplicable.
Agree...on Dawn and suspension of disbelief (Btvs 7.19) -- s'kat, 10:41:11 05/01/03 Thu
DAWN: Buffy, we love you, we need you, but we can't-- [Dawn averts her eyes for a moment; steels herself for the big finish.] This isn't working. You're tired and you're upset, and you're not thinking clearly. M-maybe you should get out for awhile, clear your head, so we can-- [BUFFY gives her the "et tu, Brute?" stare. Buffy turns away and heads for the door. DAWN starts to tear up.]
That would have worked for me. The way they played it? Didn't. Why? It broke my suspension of disbelief and that is critical in a horror fantasy show to maintain.
I'm sorry, you can fanwank it all you want, but Dawn ostensibly telling Buffy she has to leave her house, that she a minor has the right to do so because it's her house too? Didn't work. It would be like your kid telling you to leave. A kid who doesn't pay rent. Who doesn't do any work outside of schoolwork and chores. Buffy has been holding a full time day job up until the last episode to pay the mortgage and the bills. Until Dawn coughs up some cash or starts working? I can't buy her having any rights to that house whatsoever. Buffy would have been within her rights to kick every single person in that room out of her house.
That bugged me. It would have worked far better for me if the writers had chosen the path they took in Dead Man's PArty and Yoko Factor, where Buffy gets furious and just storms off not wanting to talk anymore. But to have Dawn say, I love you but you need to leave and since this is my house to, I have the right to tell you to leave? sigh. I felt an overwhelming desire for Buffy to say: Uhm sorry Dawn, until you start paying the mortgage, and the bills, and get a job, this isn't your house too, so I suggest if you don't like what I have to say or my rules - you should find a new residence. The same goes for everyone else here. I'm sure Wood has some room at his place.
They just played that last bit wrong. I was fine, annoyed, but fine up until Dawn's little speech. I understand it's necessity, but it could have been done a whole lot better.
And since I know these writers can pull it off - having just re-watched Dead Mans' Party and having seen Yoko Factor which do pull off similar things and brilliantly, I was a tad disappointed.
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Better than that... -- KdS, 02:39:49 05/02/03 Fri
Last night yab suggested that rather than Buffy being kicked out of the house, all the others should have walked out. Lots of vacant houses in SD do occupy right now...
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Agree -- s'kat, 08:14:34 05/02/03 Fri
Last night yab suggested that rather than Buffy being kicked out of the house, all the others should have walked out. Lots of vacant houses in SD do occupy right now...
That was what I wished they had done. In fact it was the first thing that jumped to mind. Why didn't they walk out? It would have worked both metaphorically and literally for me if they'd chosen to do that. Instead I was left sputtering, but this is Buffy's house you nits. She's giving you guys a shelter. You can't kick her out. She kicks you out. Ugh. I hate it when a writer ruines a good metaphor.
Oh don't get me wrong I totally see why they did what they did. They are enamored of the Summers' house as metaphor for everything going on inside of Buffy and the fact that everywhere else in town is empty but her house, which is crammed full with people who metaphorically represent all her insecurities, psychological trauma, wants and dreams, and now she even feels unwelcome in it, is too great a metaphor for any writer to pass up. Besides it's a great twist on the cliche, everyone walks out scene which happens in most shows or movies. On top of that it's a twist on Older and Far Away and Dead Man's Party where they are attempting to keep Buffy in the house and she desperately wants to run away from it. And this would have worked too, if they hadn't screwed it up with that one dang line. Because unfortunately it can't just work on a metaphorical level on a tv show that is trying to work literally too. You kill the audience's suspension of disbelief. If this were Twin Peaks? I'd say, hey, Lynch only works metaphorically. By the second year of TP you couldn't watch it any other way. I had no problem with that, I think metaphorically. But I know that Whedon does both and brilliantly- he's done it in the other episodes. You can watch and are supposed to watch Btvs literally and metaphorically - that's why it has such a broad and diverse fan base.
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Re: Agree -- Tyreseus, 00:34:59 05/03/03 Sat
Besides it's a great twist on the cliche, everyone walks out scene which happens in most shows or movies.
Yes, but it horror movies, when everyone walks out on the hero, they usually die in gruesome ways -- thus proving that the hero was "right" in the first place. I don't think that was what the writers were going for here. Even leaving out the "everybody dies" part of the movie cliche, when you have everyone walk out on Buffy, it still leaves her with a hollow victory (an empty house) and much like the end of Becoming, Part 2, I think they're trying to strip everything away from Buffy in preparation for the final showdown.
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Re: Agree -- DEN, 19:21:03 05/04/03 Sun
The statement "this isn't your home any more" is best understood in a metaphoric/emotional sense. My ex said that to me as the climax to a long-running marital collapse, and I assure you I didn't react by thinking along the lines that for thirty years I had paid the mortgage, the insurance, and every other bill connected with the place. By the end of the scene, who actually pays the bills is irrelevant--Buffy is on the moral outside.
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Respectfully disagree, 'kat. -- OnM, 06:59:12 05/02/03 Fri
*** I'm sorry, you can fanwank it all you want, but Dawn ostensibly telling Buffy she has to leave her house, that she a minor has the right to do so because it's her house too? Didn't work. It would be like your kid telling you to leave. ***
Forget for the moment my theory about Dawn being Faith, literally or metaphorically. After all, I'm taking the 'grand overview' or 'fourth wall' position, which isn't valid if one is considering Buffy's POV within the episode. How does Buffy see Dawn? Go back to The Gift:
Buffy: "She's me. The monks made her out of me."
Buffy sees Dawn as her future, her potential, the chance to be all that she has been unable to be, to achieve. Dawn is Buffy's sister, but she is also her child, and thirdly (metaphorically) a key that breaks down walls.
So, your sure-fire 'instinctive' plan is being harshly questioned, literally everyone is disagreeing with you, but you put them off because you believe that they are 'not watching your back'. Then, 'you' approach you, and say, firmly and without hesitation that you are wrong.
Oh my. Now just how do you argue with yourself-- your better self?, as you internalize it?
Sorry, I maintain that the writing of this scene was dead on.
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Re: Respectfully disagree, 'kat. -- dream, 07:47:00 05/02/03 Fri
Then, 'you' approach you, and say, firmly and without hesitation that you are wrong.
But Dawn isn't just a symbol of Buffy's best self. She's also Dawn, a character in her own right - a dependent who adores her older sister. This was cjl's point originally - the scene works perfectly as metaphor. In terms of character, it's off. Not terribly, horribly off (because Joyce's warning may be affecting Dawn), but still off (and I would agre with s'kat that the "my house too" is the part that fails). If the writing were dead-on, it would be satisfying in terms of both metaphor and character.
I agree with Sophist that the other characters acted like themselves (or, in Giles' case, like the new self he's been laden with this season), but Dawn's character was used for what she represents, not what she represents in harmony with what she is independently.
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Well said. -- s'kat, 08:00:02 05/02/03 Fri
That's exactly it. Thanks dream - you said it perfectly.
I'll just add:
OnM, I'd be the first to agree on the metaphor. Brilliant metaphorically. But this show has to work on the literal/ dramatic level as well, lots of people who watch it don't think metaphorically. And this scene just did NOT work on the literal level and it should have. If Dawn were a mere figament of Buffy's imagination - and this were literally taking place inside her head, not just metaphorically, I wouldn't have a problem with it. But it is also literally happening. And it would have been so easy to have made it work both ways. All they had to do is remove that one line. Heck cjl gives a possible alternative.
They do it well in Yoko Factor and Dead Man's Party. Even in OAFA, the other Drew Greenberg episode, where ironically Dawn is inadvertently responsible for keeping Buffy in the house against her will. That worked for me. But it didn't here. Because of that one line.
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Respectfully disagree, OnM -- cjl, 08:10:14 05/02/03 Fri
OnM writes: "Buffy sees Dawn as her future, her potential, the chance to be all that she has been unable to be, to achieve. Dawn is Buffy's sister, but she is also her child, and thirdly (metaphorically) a key that breaks down walls.
"So, your sure-fire 'instinctive' plan is being harshly questioned, literally everyone is disagreeing with you, but you put them off because you believe that they are 'not watching your back'. Then, 'you' approach you, and say, firmly and without hesitation that you are wrong.
Oh my. Now just how do you argue with yourself-- your better self, as you internalize it?"
I get the feeling that when Sophist transplanted the discussion to a new thread, part of my original message didn't make the trip. One of the main points I made in my original "you go, girl!" to Valheru (uh, you are a "she," right?) was that the symbolism in the Casa Summers confrontation WORKED PERFECTLY. To quote from my original post: "Symbolically, the last scene is all but inevitable. The Counselor, the side she's been repressing for weeks, finally cries out and tells the General to stuff it. Her mind is still confused (hence Giles' hissy fit) but her heart, her spirit, and the girls who she used to be or could be [Dawn] rise up from the recesses of her mind and kick her out of the House of Buffy."
Symbolic goodness acknowledged. But that was never the problem.
The problem with a series as metaphorically rich, as symbolically dense as BtVS, is that sometimes Joss (and I'm blaming Joss here) maintains symbolic integrity at the expense of dramatic credibility. You can't just look at Dawn as "the better part of Buffy" in Joss' admittedly-magnificent symbolic superstructure; you also have to remember she's a 17 year-old girl living in her big sister's house in California, and her actions must make sense in that context--otherwise, Dawn is merely a bloodless icon, a pawn moved around on Joss' chessboard, and you can't really care for a character who's ONLY a symbol. (Same goes for the rest of the supporting characters.)
Dawn's actions at the end of "Empty Places" made perfect sense given her symbolic place in Buffy's mind, but (IMO) they made no sense whatsoever for a 17 year-old girl who's dependent on her big sis for shelter, food, education, and the clothes on her back. Sorry--I tried, but I cannot wrap my mind around this one. Symbolic integrity shouldn't trump dramatic credibility. Joss is usually better at pulling off both at the same time. He (and DZG) blew it here.
Again, JMO. Believe me, I'd love for somebody to persuade me otherwise. I don't need the acid reflux.
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Defending Dawn -- Arya_Stark, 08:55:48 05/02/03 Fri
Does anyone here remember being 17? I know that when I was 17, I considered my parent's house to be MY house. I had no conceptions about mortgages and housing expenses.
I doubt that Juyce left the house to just Buffy. In all probability, she left the house to both girls. In which case it IS Dawn's house too. In Dawn's 17 year old mind she's not thinking about things like mortgages and money, She's thinking that it's the house she's lived in for some time.
And I don't think that Dawn sees Buffy as a mother figure (she may be metephorically, but not character-wise). She sees her a an older sister and sisters are peers. As a peer who has lived in the house as long as Buffy (longer if you count the time Buffy was dead), I have no problem with Dawn thinking that it's her house, too. She is merely being VERY self-centered and forgetting about all the hard work Buffy has put into keeping the house.
Dawn being very self-centered is not out of character. She has certainly been much better and more mature lately, but with all the recent stress, I'm not too surprised that she regressed to a more self-centered Dawn.
All of that said, while I don't find "it's my house, too" to be what bothered me, the stuff with Dawn didn't sit right with me. Maybe it was her fear about what "Joyce" said, but I always expected Dawn to stick by Buffy. Everyone may abandon Buffy, but I expected Dawn and Spike to be with Buffy.
I rarely post here, but I just had to speak up. Most everyone seems to feel that the "it's my house, too" line was what didn't make the speech work. And I didn't mind the line, but thought that the speech still doesn't quite work. I guess I'm still trying to find out why.
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Respectfully agreeing with A_S -- ponygirl, 12:30:30 05/02/03 Fri
Well, actually I do respectfully disagree with you about Dawn being self-centred... but I do agree that the legal/financial aspects of Dawn asking Buffy to leave didn't both me in the slightest. It seemed similar to a situation where a child asks an abusive parent to leave - legally they have no right to but it's very important emotionally. Oh and I am NOT in any way shape or form comparing Buffy to an abusive parent - just the situation.
My complaint with the scene is like cjl's, that I can see symbolic and dramatic necessity of Dawn turning on Buffy, but it just didn't ring true to me from a character or emotional standpoint. If we had just gotten a bit more of what was going on in Dawn's mind, either in that scene or earlier in the episode we might have been better able to understand how she got to that point. We see a lot of Dawn anxiously observing in EP or reacting, but not a lot of articulating. I don't know if was intended to make her actions more of a surprise, but for me it became an "I can see where this is coming from but I'm not sure how she got there" moment.
And I do firmly place the blame on Drew Z. for this lapse. One of my biggest complaints about his writing on OAFA was that while I could understand why the plot required Anya to freak out and tear apart Dawn's room, I couldn't see it from a character perspective. The plot arc took precedence over the emotional arc, something that is rare enough to note on BtVS.
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Funny, I always liked that scene -- dream, 13:12:11 05/02/03 Fri
Anya freaking out, that is. Anya, who used to be able to teleport out of unpleasant situations, who pointed out that when an apocalypse was coming she'd usually "skedaddle," who had so much power and doesn't anymore - it made perfect sense to me that she would be the most claustrophobic, the most irrationally crazed at the idea of being trapped. And of course, she never liked Dawn, always saw her as a pain in the neck, was unlikely to be concerned with respecting her privacy. I also thought EC did a great job in those scenes.
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Question on Dawn's Age -- Tyreseus, 00:41:21 05/03/03 Sat
We're calling Dawn 17, but am I off in believing Dawn is a freshman at Sunndydale High? If so, maybe my math is all screwed up, but 17 indicates Junior/Senior in the CA school system.
Or maybe I'm just confused because Dawn was attending a high school prior to this season, it just wasn't Sunnydale HS.
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Well... -- Tchaikovsky, 07:12:00 05/03/03 Sat
She claims she is a freshman in 'All the Way', Season Six:
'Right down there at the bottom of the ladder. Well, actually, those little bits below the bottom rung that hold the ladder up' [Rough quote].
So I assume she may be in her second year of High School, but first at the new school. There was a lot of discussion of this after 'Lessons' aired, which is probably around in the archives somewhere.
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Dawn's age = 16, see inside for proof -- s'kat, 09:54:10 05/03/03 Sat
In Season 5, Dawn is 14 years of age.
In Season 6, in the episode Entropy, Buffy says and I quote that you are 15 and 1/2 right now. So she hadn't had her sixteenth birthday yet.
My assumption is Dawn was born in the late summer early fall around the time she appeared on Btvs in season 5.
Since she remains fourteen throughout Season 5, then becomes 15 off screen towards beginning of Season 6.
So...She is 16 and 1/2 now. Roughly the same age Buffy was when she was killed by the Master.
She is still an adolescent.
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Re: Respectfully disagree, OnM -- Alison, 19:14:48 05/04/03 Sun
I think that to understand Dawn's actions, you have to understand that the usual (even for the buffyverse) rules don't apply. This is the BIG apocolypse. In past, even when things where at there worst, Sunnydale institutions continued to function. School is cancelled, and people are fleeing Sunnydale en-masse. Dawn could die tomorrow--what use are the rules of a system that have always seemed a little foolish in relation to the world the
Scoobies occupy. Morgages, custody...even when I wanted to slap Dawn thinking of all the burgers Buffy flipped to keep her in that house, I could understand her point of veiw. If survival is your goal, all impedements must go. The rules of a collapsing society that tells you to be submissive to your elders, to defer to her sister(who has sacrificed so much for her)'s judgement: not so important.
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Re: Agree...on Dawn and suspension of disbelief (Btvs 7.19) -- shambleau, 13:47:59 05/04/03 Sun
Since the Hellmouth is clearly affecting the residents of Sunnydale, a point brought out both by Clem's statement and the action of the cops, why wouldn't that also affect Buffy, the scoobs, the SITs and Dawn? Making them act out of character or at least on their worst instincts? The FE can manipulate them through minions or its own manifestations, but the Hellmouth energy is an FE asset that gets overlooked and is very handy, for me, in rationalizing some of the out-of-character moments we've seen. Add that negative energy to that scene, along with everything else that's been mentioned, and I buy Dawn's actions.
Re: A clear and thorough analysis; agree with 99% of it.... -- ponygirl, 11:22:26 05/01/03 Thu
Yep, I really liked this episode but that scene just didn't quite get there for me. It was powerful, it was necessary - in fact I imagined something like that happening once the SiTs started griping and I heard that Faith was coming back - but as you pointed out, cjl, it seemed a bit off in terms of dramatic progression. I don't even have a problem with the actions of the characters - I just think they went from point A to point G while dropping a lot of letters in between. It was a tricky line to walk, to keep our sympathy for Buffy while making the Scoobies' actions understandable. While there have been some pretty strong voices on either side of that line, for me I think they came pretty close to the middle, but not quite believable for the Scoobs.
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Re: A clear and thorough analysis; agree with 99% of it.... -- Metron, 12:01:34 05/01/03 Thu
Also have to pipe in here, since that whole scene just knocked me off kilter. I agree with your assessment a great deal (original poster), and of the followup remarks.
In addition, I'd like to say that Anya's little speech was just rediculous, petty, and quite frankly annoying. Well, add to that her facial expressions and I just wanted to punch her in the face.
Her, and Rona as well.
My theory is that the only way that was able to play out the way it did was that a few key people got together before hand and had a little chat, a "If Buffy continues to act in this reckless manner, we're going to have to do something about it" behind the scenes chat.
That, to my mind, would explain Dawn's little speech at the end. It's probably just wishful thinking on my part (since I really do love little Dawny) but that just sounded like she was coached, and was delivering a speech that had been given to her "in case of emergency" so to speak.
Buffy did need to be relieved of duty though, whether she knew it or not she's being played right where FE and Caleb want her to be.
Re: Follow-up to cjl -- A (limited) defense of continuity (spoilers through EP) -- celticross, 11:47:25 05/01/03 Thu
I agree with you, Soph, except about Anya. I found Anya's speech the best part of that scene. Poor Anya has been virtually purposeless this season (of course, pretty much all she ever was pre-Hell's Bells was Xander's Odd, Sex Fiend Girlfriend - it's like they made her go back to being a demon because they didn't know what else to do with her). So for me, having her call Buffy on her superiority complex, especially being one of those called out during the infamous "Everyone sucks but me" speech in GiD, was rather satisfying. I've been growing increasingly tired of Buffy's behavior this season, so the whole scene didn't really bother me at all. She needed to be called out on the fact that her method of playing general isn't meeting with much success.
So, back to my main point...Anya telling off Buffy? Good thing.
Anya's speech -- ponygirl, 12:50:12 05/01/03 Thu
I think Anya's speech deserves a bit of a look-see. Celticross liked it, Metron who posted above hated it, but what was it all about?
I risked my unspoiled eyes and snuck over to the Spoiler Trollups to grab the transcript of the closed captioning (thanks for posting that Rufus!)
But we don't know. We don't know if you're actually better. I mean, you came into the world with certain advantages, sure. I mean, that's the legacy... But you didn't earn it. You didn't work for it. You've never had anybody come up to you and say you deserve these things
more than anyone else. They were just handed to you. So that doesn't make you better than us. It makes you luckier
On one hand it could be seen as the argument of the common man against any form of inherited wealth/class/leadership (darn, aren't those peasants revolting?). But there's also the Buffy as Joss position. People don't choose the abilities they are born with - at some point don't we all look at someone who is beautiful or talented and envy them? There may have been hours of training and patrolling for Buffy, years of unsung writing for Joss, and heavy prices all around, but ultimately it looks easy, it looks like a gift. And it is, too.
So what's the answer? Do the special have privilege over the ordinary? Can there ever be a level playing field, where everyone starts out equal? Or with all the talk of potential and the extraordinary this year is the series moving to a place where everyone can be seen as special? Where all get the chance to earn or transcend the circumstances of their births?
Anya's speech didn't work for me because (spoilers for EP) -- Sophist, 13:16:28 05/01/03 Thu
Well, several reasons.
First, it makes no logical sense to say these things about Buffy when she was arguing for Faith to take over. Every word of Anya's speech applies just as much to Faith (and, for that matter, the SITs) as it does to Buffy.
Second, her reference to Buffy as "lucky" is plain silly. "Cursed" would be a better word; not only do we have Buffy's life history to see this, but we know that the Slayer power originated in a primal violation. And who brought Buffy back in Bargaining?
Third, Anya's argument was, in essence, you're not better just because you got these powers. This assumes Buffy got them randomly, like it was the result of a lottery with a big random number generator. It wasn't; Buffy was "Chosen". I have to assume she was "chosen" for a reason, namely that she could handle the power and do good with it. That doesn't make her beyond reproach, but it does mean Anya's statement is nonsense.
Fourth, treating the issue as metaphor, no one "deserves" the innate abilities he/she has. We have them, that's all. Buffy is no more "lucky" than Willow or Xander or Anya herself. And if I were Anya, I wouldn't be too quick to throw stones about what people have done with their powers.
The opinions here seem quite divided, some believing Buffy had it coming, others outraged by the betrayals. I think there's plenty of fault on both sides.
I don't have nearly as much problem with Buffy's attitude or behavior as some do. To the extent she has gone a little too far (and it's only a little, IMO), I blame Giles and Wood. The best part about the ending of EP is that Buffy will have time away from those 2 in which she can see how they've misled her.
I don't blame Willow or Xander for doubting the wisdom of charging back to the winery. However, I think Buffy was right about its importance. They are at fault for letting the situation spin out of control -- it really is inexcusable for Willow not to challenge Anya. She and Xander are also at fault for failing to offer alternatives or improvements. That's been their failing all season. If they had, the gang would still be together.
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Re: THANK YOU SOPHIST..AND I repost my comments from Wednesday..Anya's speech (spoilers for EP) -- Angelina, 10:35:13 05/02/03 Fri
I wasn't even going to post anything about this episode, cause it so pissed me off, but I just watched it again, and I cannot help myself. I hated this episode for obvious reasons, and was wondering what the point of the entire episode was supposed to be, other than, the entire cast, (INCLUDING Buffy and Spike) are what - SCARED??????? I know everybody's figured that part out but what I just realized is that the whole traitorous, back-stabbing, Summers' house stealing, bunch of losers left behind in BUFFY'S house will now get to see how pathetic they are without Buffy to lead them? Don't they KNOW this by now? Hey, Buffy, How do you feel about not throwing Dawn into the abyss in The Gift now? Yeah, wanna give your life again for this little shit? Man, oh man, I did NOT see that coming. Kennedy and the other SIT's are just DUMB, but Willow, Giles, Xander and Anya? Holy Shit. I was stunned. Why didn't someone smack Anya's brains out of her head? Kennedy - who the frick gave you permission to LIVE??? I sincerely hope each and every one of these fricking Potentials winds up dead, I hate them. AND I hate the writers who created them. That plot line simply took away precious time from our core group. Anyway, Kudos to Sarah Michelle Geller, who not only gave a fantastic performance, given this crap to work with, but who shines every second she is on screen. I know a lot of people think she is "walking" through these episodes, I do not. I think without her superb acting skills, and the exquisite subtlety in her facial expressions, this episode would go down is history as the most hated episode EVER. Her last scene, with Faith, now that made me burst into tears, because her reaction in this scene is so Buffy. She CARES so much about her people, she just cannot express how she feels - she knows how precious they are, she totally blames herself for what has happened to Xander and the others, but she refuses to give up she knows this fight has got to be won - that's her JOB, actually that's her destiny, BUT, she ALMOST looked relieved to be relieved! Let someone else take the burden for a change! But you can see her despair all over her face! And her struggle NOT to break down in the face of this unbeatable foe, Caleb and the FE, and the total lack of trust on the part of her so called family. And YES Spike IS the only one who has her back. Hey Giles/Wood - still want to kill him? Now back to the TRAITORS - only point I can see in this episode (and still point-LESS IMHO) is that these bastards of betrayal have got to start to trust Buffy again enough to follow her into battle with no hesitation, they have to see how hopeless they are without her. They have to know Buffy is their only chance. But my God, Buffy, haven't you just HAD IT with these people? THERE HAD TO HAVE BEEN A BETTER WAY FOR THE WRITERS TO HAVE MADE THEIR POINT. THIS ENTIRE "DRESSING DOWN" OF BUFFY WAS ABSURD. Buffy, I hope you walk away ALONE at the end of this series- B, you should NOT be having to prove yourself to these people again at this point. Screw em.
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Just a TV show, Angelina. Take a deep breath and remember... -- Random, 15:01:13 05/02/03 Fri
...that life goes on and that no-one was trying to offend you personally. You may need to re-watch and ask yourself if, perhaps, there may be more shades of grey in the show. Give us all something to actually think about other than "Yeah, wanna give your life again for this little shit?" And once you've calmed down and stopped shouting in your subject lines, people may be able to actually address the issues you raise.
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The way I see it is... (EP spoils) -- Rob, 13:36:10 05/01/03 Thu
...when people are getting into arguments, they say heated things that they don't always mean. I know myself that if I later took time to dissect my arguments against someone I was fighting with that these same arguments could have easily been applied to discrediting me. For example, if I say to someone, "You're so stubborn!", he or she could easily turn it back on me, because, yes, I'm being stubborn, too. I think Anya argued this way, even though her arguments could apply to Faith to, because Faith isn't acting superior to the others, Faith isn't speaking down to them, etc. The argument would have been stronger if Anya had included, "Faith's a slayer too, and she doesn't treat us the way you do," but I forgive her lack of judgment. She was angry, she let it out. I just don't think that it's right to judge the writing in this scene as being illogical, because no one was thinking very clearly at the moment there. And I think that's the point.
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'Double Meat Palace' reference -- Finn Mac Cool, 14:04:23 05/01/03 Thu
Back in "Double Meat Palace", Anya said the Trio was an example of why demons are better than people; when she was a demon, she worked hard at causing destruction and got proper compensation, while supervillains like Warren want reward without having to earn it. Anya's speech about Buffy not deserving her powers more than anyone else and not doing anything to earn them immediatly made me think of her very similar speech in DMP.
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Consistency -- luna, 14:17:40 05/01/03 Thu
Also, Anya's speech to Buffy is really consistent with the way she has talked to Xander about their breakup. While in the past, a lot of the humor of her character came from her uncensored honesty, it also came from her cluelessness about what was appropriate and inappropriate to say--and in her angry speeches to Xander, there was never ANY awareness of the fact that she might have been causing a good part of the problem in their relationship. Now she's turning that uncensored honesty and that one-sided vision on Buffy. Sounds like the old Anya, at least, whether right or not.
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I wasn't criticizing the writers. I was criticizing Anya. -- Sophist, 16:05:32 05/01/03 Thu
cc had agreed with Anya's points. I don't. I think her speech was entirely in character -- I said so in the post which started this thread. I just think her criticism of Buffy was wrong.
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Re: I wasn't criticizing the writers. I was criticizing Anya. -- celticross, 16:09:51 05/01/03 Thu
Of course, it's entirely possible I'd agree with any criticism of Buffy by other characters at this point, because the General Buffy persona irritates me no end, and I really, *really* miss the days of "First among equals" Buffy. Just admitting my bias. :)
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Sorry! -- luna, 19:20:19 05/01/03 Thu
Don't know now if I misread you or put my answer in the wrong place. But I see now that I erred in some way.
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Must be my fault -- Rob took it the same way you did. -- Sophist, 19:33:07 05/01/03 Thu
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Re: Must be my fault -- Rob took it the same way you did. -- Rob, 20:57:32 05/01/03 Thu
I guess I assumed when you broke it down logically that you meant these were reasons it was written poorly. But it turns out I agree with you on both levels, that (a) the argument itself was illogical but still (b) in character for Anya.
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Me too! -- luna, 07:54:27 05/03/03 Sat
In other words, it didn't change my feelings about Anya or the writers (though some other things did...)
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Re: Anya's speech didn't work for me because (spoilers for EP) -- Dariel, 13:41:38 05/01/03 Thu
I don't blame Willow or Xander for doubting the wisdom of charging back to the winery. However, I think Buffy was right about its importance. They are at fault for letting the situation spin out of control -- it really is inexcusable for Willow not to challenge Anya. She and Xander are also at fault for failing to offer alternatives or improvements. That's been their failing all season.
I think Xander and Willow (and the Potentials) have been illustrating one of the classic conflicts of growing up--The desire to think independently, to be an adult, maybe to even lead, as opposed to the fear of the same and the desire to remain a child. They want Buffy to call the shots so they don't have to make the difficult choices. In EP, they finally have to face their own misgivings, and they don't like it one bit. So, they go overboard, and, guess what, appoint someone else to be leader.
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Re: Anya's speech didn't work for me because (spoilers for EP) -- celticross, 14:55:48 05/01/03 Thu
"I don't blame Willow or Xander for doubting the wisdom of charging back to the winery. However, I think Buffy was right about its importance. They are at fault for letting the situation spin out of control -- it really is inexcusable for Willow not to challenge Anya. She and Xander are also at fault for failing to offer alternatives or improvements. That's been their failing all season. If they had, the gang would still be together."
But does the gang NEED to be together? I think that's the dividing line for those for and against Buffy's ouster. Buffy hasn't been entertaining other people's suggestions since Bring On the Night. She's donned the mantle of General Buffy, the Leader, the One Who Makes the Decisions. She hasn't given the impression that she would be willing to listen to Willow and Xander. And after the beginning scene in the hospital, when she uncomfortably gets out of having to face the consquences of the first attack on the vinyard (Xander), who can blame Willow and Xander for thinking she'd rather be doing other things?
I don't deny that she's right about the vinyard. There's a reason Caleb's there. But the "my idea, my strategy, my decision" method didn't cut it anymore. Willow and Xander may not have been offering any alternatives, but Buffy hasn't been providing much room for them.
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Re: DISAGREE - Give Buffy a Break FOR GODS SAKE. -- Angelina, 13:03:40 05/02/03 Fri
Buffy was not "uncomfortable withthe consequences" of the first attack. SHE WAS SICK AT HEART. She is totally blaming herself for what has happened and is simply (in her own Buffy way) trying too hard now to make things "right".Yes, she has been "General Buffy" but she is scared wittless that SHE IS NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO STOP THE END THIS TIME. Looking at the picture of Buffy Willow and Xander "at the beginning" almost killed her - and then Caleb came and almost did it again. I honestly believe you Buffy Bashers are really being ultra harsh on Buffy. What is she supposed to be doing now? Give her a well deserved BREAK.
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Okay Angelina... -- Random, 15:13:46 05/02/03 Fri
I'm hardly a Buffy-basher. I love Buffy. She's been my favorite character for seven seasons running. But I come to this board to explore the complexity of the show and the characters. Chill out. If I were to offer a reasoned critique of her actions and motivations -- as I do with any and every character -- screaming at me or anybody will accomplish little else except to annoy the hell out of us and obtund us to you or your viewpoint. celticross wasn't attacking Buffy, just opining that perhaps there are more complex issues than "Buffy is right, everyone else is wrong." Try giving the other posters a break.
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Re: DISAGREE -- celticross, 15:09:05 05/04/03 Sun
Angelina, you and I simply disagree about Buffy. And that's ok. We disagree in our interpretations of Buffy's behavior. I'm not trying to draw your ire or anyone else's, and I don't consider myself a "Buffy basher". My respect for the character is why I'm so critical of her. So please don't take offense to my remarks, just understand that our opinions differ.
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Re: Anya's speech didn't work for me because (spoilers for EP) -- Sophist, 16:19:59 05/01/03 Thu
I'm not sure your 2 points are consistent. I thought we all agreed that the SG needed to hang together. If you believe they don't, then I don't understand why you'd criticize Buffy for not taking suggestions. If you believe they do need to be together, then we're agreed on that.
Buffy hasn't been entertaining other people's suggestions since Bring On the Night.
I don't get this. I think she's been begging for them. That was what I took to be the whole point of GiD. She certainly sought ideas and help in Showtime. Can you give me an example of a suggestion W/X have made that Buffy rejected?
And after the beginning scene in the hospital, when she uncomfortably gets out of having to face the consquences of the first attack on the vinyard (Xander), who can blame Willow and Xander for thinking she'd rather be doing other things?
I don't read Buffy's behavior this way at all. She was clearly feeling guilty -- blaming herself -- for what happened. She was hardly avoiding consequences; to the contrary, she was, as usual, blaming herself. And doing so, I should add, though I don't believe she was at fault.
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Re: Anya's speech didn't work for me because (spoilers for EP) -- celticross, 08:08:44 05/02/03 Fri
And in our different viewings of the same scene, I think we can see why the Scoobies aren't seeing things the same way Buffy is. Where you see guilt, I see discomfort, and who's to say what Willow and Xander see? It's pretty obvious the events of the past few episodes can be read very differently, with some crying betrayal and others saying it's about time.
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Compare (spoilers for EP) -- Sophist, 10:53:22 05/02/03 Fri
Buffy's reaction to Xander in the hospital with Willow's reaction to Buffy in the ending scene. Willow can't look Buffy in the eye because she feels guilty. Same reaction as Buffy had with Xander.
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Didn't work for me 'cause they'd given her zilch to say up until then. -- WickedNoticingWhenWritingDoesn'tFlow, 13:28:50 05/05/03 Mon
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Thank you Sophist -- Kate, 18:52:55 05/01/03 Thu
I totally agree with everything you said - your arguements invalidating Anya's speech, that the fault can be shared by all for the meltdown in EP (mainly due to lack of decent communication), not having a huge problem with Buffy's behavior this season and how the more harsh aspects can defintely find blame with Giles and Wood...you said it perfectly!!
I also wondered in this episode and "DG" why, if they disagreed with her plan so much, didn't anyone offer up any alternatives? All they did was yell at Buffy and shoot down her plan...how productive is that? Most of the time battle plans have been a group effort. That seems to have gone out the window this season. Sure Buffy has been all, "I'm the general; I'm in charge," but who the hell has been whispering that in her ear all season? Giles!! And she had no real reason, until recently, to not trust him or to heed his words. (I still don't trust that he hasn't been corrupted by the FE in some way and that his words to Buffy have been about undermining her all together.)
Side note: I do think Buffy's approach to the group in sharing her hypothesis about the winery was poorly executed. What she should have done was tell the inner sanctum first, away from the SITs, and maybe had some sort of outline of a plan as well. This might have encouraged more of a discussion rather than a verbal throw down. That said, just 'cause she presented her idea poorly, doesn't mean that Buffy's wrong (which for all intensive plot purposes, she probably isn't).
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Re: Thank you Sophist -- Rina, 13:45:55 05/02/03 Fri
I believe that Buffy's main problem in "Empty Spaces [or is it Places?] was her lack of communication skills - shutting herself emotionally off from the others, shunning Dawn, losing her temper with Faith [although the latter deserved it after that stupid stunt], and revealing her plan in a poor manner.
But did her idea stunk? I have no idea how she planned to return to the vineyard, but I believe that she was right that there was a source of power there and that Spike and Andrew's information will confirm her theory.
One last thing - Buffy is the head of an army. Giles made that perfectly clear in Season 7. She made it perfectly clear in "Get It Done". And as an army, they are engulfed in a war. Generals at the head of an army do not get too chummy with the troops. It's a sign of poor leadership. The problem with the Scoobies and the SITs, they have no idea how serious their situation is. Or they do and are too scared to really face it.
What really seemed off with the Buffy leaving -- Dariel, 13:20:12 05/01/03 Thu
Buffy mentioned earlier that she'd had her butt kicked by Caleb yet again. Asking Buffy to leave the house could be putting her in danger. In what way does that make sense?
Given how powerful Caleb seemed, she wouldn't be much safer in the house. -- Finn Mac Cool, 14:12:16 05/01/03 Thu
Plus, I hope at some point it will be brought up that Caleb passed on the chance to kill Buffy, which actually means she's at less risk than everyone else.
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Re: Given how powerful Caleb seemed, she wouldn't be much safer in the house. -- Dariel, 14:28:11 05/01/03 Thu
Well, I was assuming that Willow has a barrier spell going, but I suppose that's a big assumption. Though I don't know how anyone would sleep, otherwise!
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Think about the Turok-Han -- Finn Mac Cool, 16:50:27 05/01/03 Thu
When the Turok-Han attacked the house, Willow was able to use a barrier spell to keep it out. However, that took lots of concentration from Willow and didn't last for long, and the Turok-Han was far weaker than Caleb.
Also, if Buffy isn't in the house anymore, it's possible that the First Evil (and thus Caleb) don't know where she is.
Wood, Anya and Dawn -- yez, 14:03:19 05/01/03 Thu
And what about Wood?! For me, the words coming out of his mouth were what jarred me out of the scene. I mean, was he even *at* the failed raid? I don't remember him being there (though my memory's not what it used to be). It just seemed really out of character for him to all of a sudden turn against Buffy -- who he just fired from her job because he thought she needed to be spending 24/7 leading the war against the First -- and suddenly start supporting Faith who he hasn't even seen in action at all. All he knows of Faith are the negative stories Buffy has told.
I didn't so much have a problem with what Anya, Willow, Xander or Giles had to say -- it all seemed pretty reasonable, IMHO, even Anya's questioning of why Buffy gets to lead (remember, Anya's not arguing about what gives Buffy the right to be the chosen demon slayer -- she's talking about what makes Buffy think she's also been chosen to command an "army"). What I had a hard time believing was that they'd say it in front of the SITs, though there's a lot to be said for mob mentality and jumping on the bandwagon that the SITs started and reacting to Buffy's responses, which were pretty incendiary, IMHO.
As for Dawn, my initial reaction was also "What the... ?!" as others have said. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder whether I jumped to conclusions about what she was saying and meant. For example, I think it's possible that all Dawn was saying was, "Buffy, we need to take a vote so that we're all together on this, and we can't take that vote with you here," which seems perfectly sensible to me. I think the whole, "It's my house, too," line was what really seemed to throw everything off. I still don't understand what the hell that had to do with anything. It almost seems like a line got cut, like Buffy was supposed to say something about them all having to do what she says "as long as they're under her roof" or something.
You honestly think Wood was giving his real motivations in 'Dirty Girls'? -- Finn Mac Cool, 14:10:17 05/01/03 Thu
I suppose it's just a coincidence that firing Buffy so she "can focus her attention on the mission" came the day after Buffy sided with Spike over him? Wood may have said that was the reason why he did. Who knows, maybe he even believed it. But, despite Wood saying that "it's the mission that matters" several times, in the past few episodes his personal grudges/sentiments have been quite directly getting in the way of the mission.
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Re: You honestly think Wood was giving his real motivations in 'Dirty Girls'? -- yez, 15:14:02 05/01/03 Thu
If it weren't for Wood still seeming to be in a "trying to get out of the doghouse" mode after just trying kill one of Buffy's most prized allies, I'd probably agree with you. But my read of him earlier in the ep. was that he was still kind of sheepish about the whole thing -- and also still commited to fighting the fight.
And actually, after so recently having disagreed with Buffy and been proven so wrong, you'd think he'd be even *less* likely to go against her again.
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Wood prabably doesn't view himself as being wrong -- Doug, 17:59:39 05/01/03 Thu
I'm not sure what you mean by "trying to get out of the doghouse". I figured that Wood was trying to get back at Buffy but didn't want to get his a$$ whupped in the process. He then gives an exceedingly *weak* justification about the mission being all that's important. It's weak because if he needed Buffy to focus more on the fight he wouldn't fire her (and thus force her to seek another job with an employer who's not involved in the fight), he'd let her keep the job but let her slack off on her hours. Now, the way his advice leads her right into Caleb's ambush is getting me wondering if he's really workig for the first, but's that's another issue.
So he reaches the Summer's home, meets Faith, and finds out that there is some resentment for Buffy simmering around there. So when the meeting starts he tears into Buffy along with the rest of them, never mind the fact that he supported the attack. The way he casts himself as moderator and uses that role to undermine Buffy's position is very similar to the way he lured Spike into the ambush in LMPTM.
People don't give up 26-year vengeance quests lightly. Wood is not going to give up just because Spike wiped the floor of the cross-room with him. So now Wood is well placed within the group; and Spike has few allies other than Buffy.
Wood's luck is looking up; if he's not working for the first he has phenomenal luck.
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Ummmmmm, Spike had no allies other than Buffy all season, though up to now she's the one who counts -- Tired, 20:55:57 05/03/03 Sat
Happy Beltane!! (O/T) -- O'Cailleagh, 10:04:45 05/01/03 Thu
Just thought I'd wish everyone a happy Beltane, The May is truly in, and summer on its way! Yay! BB!
PS....may be in chat later tonight for those who care!!
Happy Beltane to you too!! -- Belladonna, 10:58:13 05/01/03 Thu
Did you see any faeries as you were gathering flowers? -- Caroline, 13:35:49 05/01/03 Thu
Not this time...... -- O'Cailleagh, 07:27:21 05/02/03 Fri
But I did remember to wash my face in Beltane dew...full of Youthy goodness!
Blessed Beltane to all you other Witchy types in ATPoBTVS&AtS! -- Briar, 14:50:57 05/01/03 Thu
A Question -- SableHart, 15:24:11 05/01/03 Thu
How do you pronounce Beltane? I've only ever seen it written.
Exactly as it looks...AFAIK -- Wisewoman ;o), 16:42:47 05/01/03 Thu
I've also seen it spelled Beltaine and Bealtaine.
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Hmmmm...... -- Rufus, 00:26:03 05/02/03 Fri
I must be tired cause I saw Beltaine and thought we were talking about a hearing aid.......bad me...bad bad me...I'll go hang my head in shame in the corner.
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ROFL! -- ;o), 10:36:15 05/02/03 Fri
Re: Happy Beltane!! (O/T) -- Traveler, 19:43:46 05/01/03 Thu
It's funny I read this post now. I'm over at a friend's house about to celebrate Beltane. Hope all of you have a good one!
happy may day/beltane! (just as it ends, in my time zone) -- anom, 21:01:11 05/01/03 Thu
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