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sleeping with the enemy -- MsGiles, 01:44:59 05/30/03 Fri

I've been meaning to have a go at a longer post since I started visiting the board and reading all the good stuff here. So it's a contribution. It's still only short (relatively), and it's out of date, because I've only just finished viewing S6 and haven't got hold of a copy of S7 yet. But hey, it's a start.

BTW, I realise I'm going to have to get hold of S7. Now that Buffy's finished, I think spoilerism is going to be a thing of the past. Saying 'can we not talk about S7' is going to be like going on a Shakespeare discussion board and saying 'can we not talk about (eg) the Tempest because I haven't seen it yet'. But I am going to try and stay unspoiled for a bit.

(OT light relief flashback) Bunch of guys in doublet and hose sitting round in a pub in London, getting very drunk. Guy 1 'Forsooth, have you seen his latest?' Guy 2 'Yes! Oddsbodikins! I caught the Royal preview. The little princes in the tower die horribly!' Guy 1 (furiously) 'I *so* did not want to know that, Marlowe you bastard' (stabs him) (Some trollops hanging round the bar look upset)

I originally posted part of the following as an incredibly badly worded contribution to a thread on Spike's soul, where it made no sense (maybe it still doesn't). Apologies for any deja vu resulting. The thread was started by Katlyn, and the question was essentially, why people were so down on Spike and suspicious of his motives, when they had accepted Angel's motives without question. I wanted to come at the whole 'is Spike bad?' thing from slightly different angle. And I wanted to think a bit about S6, having just finished it.

I've put footnotes in! That may seem a bit strange, in a post. I've gotten very fond of footnotes lately, I blame Rob's annotations.

Who's Bad!

At a bit of a tangent to the soul question, but maybe relevant, has been the contrast in S6 between Warren (human but increasingly murderous, opportunist and amoral) and a Spike who seems to be increasingly helpful and well meaning (that his motives may be questionable doesn't change the result: new hairstyle. Oops, no, I meant to say a different attitude). At the end of S5 he said he accepted that Buffy wouldn't love him, and he decided to help anyway. This pretty much carries on at the start of S6.

In S2 when Spike first appears, he's mainly concerned with Drusilla, and, secondarily, with killing another Slayer (something which is important for his self-image). He's also interested in how much murder and mayhem he can cause along the way, and in winding up just about everyone he comes across. So he's bad. By the end of S2 this modifies, but only slightly - he reveals that he's not as much of a rebel as he likes to appear: he's actually quite attached to the status quo, enjoys unlife, and doesn't want the whole shebang to go to hell. This is the big turnaround of S2: Spike, who seems to be the Big Bad, ends up being an ally, and it is Angelus,formerly Angel, the powerful mysterious helper, who wants to end the world.

Fade to grey

There is on the face of it not much moral ambiguity about Angel/Angelus. Angelus is bad. Angel is good. Angelus is a demon, who has set up home in Angel's body, complete with his memories, and strange, twisted versions of his feelings. The newly re-souled Angel collapses with sorrow and remorse when he remembers his actions, and spends the next 90 years beating up on himself because of it. And again, when Angel comes back from the hell dimensions, with the soul Willow restored to him, he is feral, but essentially good, once he comes to himself. He can remember everything he did as Angelus, but not relate to it. When the time is right, he forgets his own feelings, and gets out of Buffy's life.

Spike is a different issue. As his character progresses, he seems to become less evil, more cheerfully amoral with a liking for annoying people. Although he's still a vampire and a killer, he's also a bit pathetic, first losing out to the stronger Angelus over Dru, and then left by her and desperate in S3. Then, in S4, he gets chipped, and can't attack humans any more. To add insult to injury, he finds himself powerfully attracted to Buffy, and his resourceful but doomed attempts to alter his status with her from mortal enemy to potential boyfriend are hilarious. By S5 he's playing an important part in the fight to save Dawn and the world, but he has no sense of righteousness. It's just how it's panned out.

There's me in team, but no u

The Scoobies have a variety of ways of coping with Angelus and Spike. Xander is wholly and uncompromisingly against both of them: he finds them threatening, he thinks they threaten Buffy, and he's jealous of their romantic interest in Buffy. He thinks they're vamps, and vamps should be staked. He doesn't really alter this point of view, even when they work with the team. In a way he has some justification: they both treat him badly. When Spike first arrived, Angel, playing Angelus, offered him Xander to eat, and left it open afterwards as to whether he would have gone through with it if Spike had taken the bait. Slightly worrying behaviour really - perhaps there was a bit of Angelus in Angel after all.

Willow and Tara don't seem that bothered. Willow doesn't treat Spike or Angel any differently because they are vampires, and actually seems quite taken with both of them. She's happy to have Angel in her room in S2, discussing Buffy. She's sympathetic to Spike's feelings for Dru, even when he's threatening her, in S3. When he tries to bite her and can't in S4 she has to keep reminding herself to be scared. She's compassionate when the Buffybot upsets Spike in Bargaining, she leaves him to look after crazyBuffy in Normal Again. She knows his badness, he's threatened her more than once, once but she seems to accept him as a scooby. Tara is pretty much the same, not dismayed by Buffy's revelations of Spiky sex (in S6), and even teasing Spike about it at Buffy's birthday party . Maybe this is the Wicca perspective, encompassing as it does an awareness of the reality of magic and other dimensions, and an acceptance of the validity of all beings.

We never know much about Dawn's reaction to Angel. She would have been 11 in S2, so she might never have been much aware of him. Buffy tended to keep him well clear of the Summers house. Spike is different. In S5, when she appears, she is 14, and he is working with the team most of the time. He works hard to protect her - she never really sees his meaner side, and thinks he's really cool. In S6 she knows she's not human herself, so she has no issues about Spike. Similarly Anya, knowing her own demon origins, doesn't have a big problem with vampires.

Soul maketh the man?

Buffy takes a more subtle view than Xander. When she first starts seeing Angel, she worries about the implications. By the time Warren is being hunted down by Willow in S6, her view has become clearer. Here, she sees, and articulates very clearly the difference between humans and non-humans.

BUFFY: Being a Slayer doesn't give me a license to kill. Warren's human.
DAWN: (scoffs) So?
BUFFY: So the human world has its own rules for dealing with people like him.

It is OK to kill vampires and demons, and wrong to kill humans. That she had to kill the souled Angel at the end of S2 was a complete disaster for her, and nearly prompted a breakdown, though of course he was also the person she was in love with. However, as has been pointed out, Buffy has killed vampires who don't seem dangerous, like the vampire prostitute who bit Riley, and has seen no cause for concern. By implication it would be morally OK to kill Spike, and only sentiment holds her back from doing this. Buffy in S6, though flawed and lost, is still the leader and the hero, and her word holds sway, not just over Xander, but over us, the audience. When she says something so definite, and is not contradicted, it must be true.

But must it? So much of S6 inherently questions what she is saying, and her motives for saying it. Buffy has always had reservations about her calling as a Slayer. Initially this was to do with her lack of choice in the matter, the strain it put on her relations with her parents and on her attempts to fit in as a normal teenager. Then in season 3 she first had to kill someone who was not evil, though not quite human, her resouled vampire lover. It seemed like a one-off, a horrible accident. But Buffy's love affair with Angel had already begun to make her question her calling. Even though with a soul, he was still a vampire. That he lost his soul and started killing her friends only emphasised the contradictory situation. When he came back, the issues were still there.

In S5 she finds that her beloved (if annoying) sister is not human, and may be the sacrifice needed to save the world. She finds herself unable to do it, eventually offering herself instead. She is paralysed by the realisation that it may be her duty to kill Dawn, and retreats into a coma when she thinks she may not have protected her enough. She is not always able to live by her own rules.

All's unfair in love and war

It's easy to see where Buffy's motivation for making the clear distinction between the slayable and the non-slayable could have come from: her inescapable destiny and role, revealed to her in S1, is to slay vampires and demons. It's in every intro to every episode. 'She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.' So her work is to kill sentient beings. If she comes to doubt the rightness of this, she won't be able to do it, and darkness will cover the earth. But in order to believe in the rightness of killing, and yet not be dehumanised, made callous and evil herself (as she says she fears for Willow, if she kills Warren), she must believe in the inhumanity of what she kills. She kills without judging: there is no time to judge each case. Therefore she cannot believe there are exceptions. If she thought she was killing the not-quite-evil, the unfortunate, even the innocent, then it would destroy her. She would either be unable to carry on, or she would become a conscienceless killer, the fate she feared for Faith when she killed a human, and for Willow, killing Warren.

So she separates the humans and the vampires/demons. The humans are her kin, the vampires are Other. This is how war operates. We are human. They, our enemies, are Other, inhuman, evil. it's not wrong to kill them. (It's also how being a carnivore operates. If we believe animals are Other, we can kill and eat them. If they become kin, sentient co-workers (like horses, dogs and cats in our culture), we can't do that any more. It becomes abhorrent.) Where the lines are drawn isn't absolute. It's pragmatic. This way of thinking serves the need of cultural survival. It's important to be aware of it, because it can have a very dark side.(1)

Fight the good fight

Buffy's rule is not absolute either. It's pragmatic. She doesn't accept that, but its clearly true. At the start of S6 Spike is behaving well. He's been so shaken by her death, snarkiness has vanished. Buffy, alienated from her friends by depression and by anger at having been brought back, finds herself in dialogue with the new Spike. She finds a resonance. She finds herself wanting his company.

She fears this, because it challenges her rule. Spike, unlike Angel, has no soul. It really is loving the enemy. In wartime, loving the enemy is treachery punishable with death, and this is why. It is accepting the enemy as family, as a sentient co-worker. It makes war far more difficult, and removes all triumph from victory. With Angel the issue was partly avoided, because he had a soul, making him neither demon nor human, but perhaps equivalent to a human. Even so, Buffy was very dubious about the implications of dating him. Now Spike, a complete vampire, has no features except his own character to recommend him. And if Spike can be accepted as a team member and a peer, then what does that say about all the other vampires she has dusted.

Part of what Buffy begins to face here is the truth of all war. Not that war is always wrong, but that this is the price. We kill, not 'the other' but each other. A war has to be important enough to be worth that. (2)

so where *do* we go from here?

So, while the discussions about it are interesting and revealing, I don't think the message in BtVS is as simple as, Buffy Right, Spike Wrong, Angel Right (or the opposite). A simple moral diktat has never been the way with BtVS. In earlier series, resolution was achieved by acknowledgment. The teen fears dealt with (abusive step-people, manipulative coaches, failure at school, exams, failure with peer group, what have you ) were things that seemed insurmountable when hidden, but when brought into the light of day and kicked into touch, were revealed to be dealable with.

This doesn't happen in S6. By the end of the series, the problems are only partly acknowledged, and not really kicked into touch. But resolution isn't on the cards. Giles has the answer, faced with the catalogue of disasters Buffy describes to him, although Willow is about to nearly destroy them all, he finally collapses with helpless laughter, and Buffy ends up joining him. There's no magic bullet, nothing to make it all better. There's just carrying on, making mistakes, trying to mend them. But like Angel's 90 years of being smelly homeless guy, too much self-pity just gets silly.


(1) In religious wars of the past (and even in some contemporary extremist thinking), the idea that someone not of your religion is 'other', and therefore OK to kill (unless they convert), even if your religion forbids killing has been espoused by various religious and military leaders, eg below, from the Crusades. This is the darker implication of this way of thinking, and why it's important to question it.

The pillage of Jerusalem
'Now that our men had possession of the walls and towers, wonderful sights were to be seen. Some of our men (and this was merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared with what happened in the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious services are normally chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, you would not believe it. Suffice to say that, in the Temple and Porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgement of God that this place should be filled with the blood of the unbelievers, since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies. The city was filled with corpses and blood.'
From Raymond d'Aguilers, Historia francorum qui ceprint Jerusalem

(2) The Mahabarata has relevance to the Buffy saga, as others have pointed out. The epic deals with the buildup to, process of, and aftermath of, a huge battle. There are the heroes and the villains; the forces of chaos and of preservation. It is a family war, a civil war (as they all are, at root). Slowly, slowly, as the story progresses, boundaries are crossed, compromise destroyed, war made inevitable. the lines are drawn up, the first battle must start.

Then suddenly, there is a moment of revelation. Arjuna, the warrior hero, born for war, who has spent his life preparing for it, sees both sides, drawn up. His family are there. On both sides. To win, he will have to kill people he loves. There is no convenient 'other'. Many of the people on the opposite side are there out of duty rather than inclination. Accidents of birth, loyalties they owe.

His nerve fails. Krishna talks him through it, in the Bhagavad Gita. The time for the universe to end its current cycle has not yet come, and it is Krishna's task to preserve existence, in the face of increasing entropy. Arjuna's task is to do his duty, the duty he knows in his inner self, and he can only do this, if he renounces attachment to the fruit of action, and simply acts. The world of experience brings attachment, and with it, inevitably pain. The other side of hope is despair. But it is not necessary to renounce the world to find peace - peace can be found through action.

In a way s6 is Buffy's Bhagavad Gita, the point at which she despairs, and questions everything that she does, and where, in the end, she finds in herself the resolve to continue. In Buffy, as in the Mahabharata, there are no glib answers, no right/wrong checklist. We live in an increasingly morally grey world, and we work to preserve it, until the time comes for it to end and all to begin again.


Thought for the Day

The birds held a competition to see who could fly the highest. The eagle went higher than any other, but when a reached the top of his range a little wren that had been hiding in his feathers flew out and got the extra couple of feet higher to win the prize.

But what happened next?

The wren turned round. Not only was he way above the ground, higher than a wren has any right to be, he was also several miles from the nearest cover, and only a few yards away from a very pissed off eagle who'd just flown all that way for nothing, and had missed breakfast ...

And finally finally

It's not over until the rabbit sings
(with apologies to an ancient (60s) recording of The Tales of Peter Rabbit set to music, the author and artists of which escape me (apart from Beatrix Potter, of course). I wish I could put the music in, but think jaunty piano)

(enter Peter Rabbit, wearing a dinky black leather bolero jacket and with the top of his head bleached white)
PETER (sings):

Why do I do it?
What is the cure?
All the other bunnies find it easy I am sure.
Nobody knows I'd like to be good
I should!

Why do I do it?
Who is to blame?
The others all are naughty but it never seems the same.
I'd give the world if only I could
Now and again
Be good!

I think a halo
Would suit me,
Dangling over my head.
When they behold me
They wouldn't scold me,
They'd say well done instead!

(little dance)

Why do I do it?
What is the key?
There's naughtiness in everyone but twice as much in me
Why do I do it?
Why do I do it?
Why do I do it?


(exit, tapdancing)

[> Spoilers for everything except s7 above -- MsGiles, 01:48:52 05/30/03 Fri

I've got a theory...(Spoilers S7) -- Cynicor, 05:04:33 05/30/03 Fri

What can I say? I crave closure...

Here's a theory I have been hammering together as I rewatch Season 7. If they sound like incoherent rantings, they probably are. But let me know your opinion.

The scythe is more than a weapon. "A powerful weapon. But you already have weapons." It is a conduit to channel the spirit, or essence of something, into beings that contain the...potential...of that spirit. With the slayers-in-training, that spirit is the potential of the Slayer. But for generations the scythe lies hidden. Why? Surely it profits the Guardians if this power is released? Gain a generation of Slayers that much earlier?

Reason: Like all tools of power, it can be used for evil as well. The First, all-powerful source of evil, also seeks the scythe. Why? Despite its influence, despite its myriad servants, it holds no true power. It craves to be made flesh, to feel the crack of a neck between its hands. Then there is the scythe, this true metaphor for womanhood; not for one, but for many. Share the spirit. A tool that, in the hands of the First (metaphorically) to take the seed of evil that lies in every human being, amplify it. Use it as Willow used it, but to share the potential for evil. Embody the First in every person on the face of the earth.

But the scythe is hidden by the Guardians who watch over the Slayer. The First waits. It is eternal; time has no essential meaning to it. It knows the prophecy that one day the scythe shall be brought forth once more.

Then, something happens to the line of the Slayers. Suddenly there are two, when there has only been one. The First knows, perhaps, that this is the sign it has waited for. Then one Slayer dies. The magics are restored, the scythe remains hidden. But suddenly, the Slayer lives again. This time the magic cannot be sustained. It seeks to create anew the Slayer but the line goes through another. The magic becomes eroded. And the scythe is revealed.

The vessel of the First begins to move around in the world. In many ways, he is so much like the Slayer. A vessel, a conduit for an enormous power. One man, in all the world. And possessing a power that waits in potential in not just a handful of girls scattered around the globe, but every single human being. He begins his search for the scythe. He destroys the Watchers Council...why? Because, because...I'm not sure why. Someone else can tell me why.

That the First wanted the scythe *for itself*, and not to just to "hide it from the Slayer", explains much of what has nagged me about this season.

The First wanted the SITs dead but not Buffy. Throughout the season I was constantly confused as to why the First did not simply kill Buffy if it wanted to wipe out the SITs. Buffy was what stood between it and that goal. Reason: Because the First needed her, if its schemes failed.

Caleb told Buffy about the scythe because the prophecy said only She could remove it. The scythe would be a powerful weapon in the Slayer's hands, but the power of the vessel is great also. When 'brute strength' failed, they thought to get Buffy to pull the scythe from the stone, then simply wrest it from her.

Then, the seal. The First has an elaborate plan to summon a Turok Han from the dimension it was imprisoned in. Only one is brought forth, when an army lies in wait. Why? The First is more subtle. It has countless servants attempting to destroy the world, take over the world, kill all the humans. If it brings forth its army now, the scythe will remain untouchable. The world of humanity will be enveloped by darkness, but there are countless dimensions, no doubt, where the power of evil already holds absolute sway. So: it waits again. It trusts to the power of the vessel to find and loose the scythe.

But why summon the first ubervamp? Why play your hand that early? Reason: You want the Slayer to fear. You need the Slayer to be in the right frame of mind. She needs to be obsessed with the army of demons she fails to see the true danger. Despite the power of these demons, they are vampires; unlike the Pure and tainted demons, they are bound by simple laws. Sunlight restricts their movements. Holy water burns. Stakes. Crosses. All the baggage that comes with being a vampire. They are a threat that can be contained.

But the Slayer is now focused on the army of demons that are about to come pouring out of the Hellmouth. She is ready to let girls die to win the ultimate victory, not realising that as she lets each potential fall, she is weakening herself and fulfilling the First's plan. Then, at the right time, the vessel is introduced. Unlike the mindless ubervamp, he attacks her emotionally. She becomes obsessed with defeating him, but he is too strong for her. Then, when the time is right, you produce what seems to be a simple solution: a weapon, made for the Slayer. And as long as she keeps thinking the way that you want, she will use the scythe like a weapon, and not for its true purpose. Then you simply take the weapon from her cold, dead hands.

But suddenly the vessel is dead. The Slayer has had an epiphany, and as so often when she does so, something bad dies. The First realises that its hold over the Slayer's mind is about to slip. So it risks everything in one last attempt to drive the Slayer and her rag-tag troops into a fatal confrontation where they will lose the scythe and their lives. It appears to Buffy in the basement. It tells her that the army is about to break loose, that once the army outnumbers the humans on the earth, it will be made flesh. And it tells Buffy what she has heard all her life as the Slayer; that she is alone, that she will die alone.

And in this, the First suddenly overreaches itself. Buffy remembers the lesson she has learnt so often over the past seven years, that she is strongest with her friends, with the group. She remembers how the Big Bad tries to separate her to make her weak. And suddenly the true power of the scythe is clear.

Despite thinking all this, I still don't get the logic behind 'The Plan'. Let me know what you think about all of this, if you can decipher my random babblings.

[> Re: I've got a theory...(Spoilers S7) -- Kate, 11:50:21 05/30/03 Fri

Not ramblings at all. I think the conclusions you've drawn from season 7, especially the final episodes, make a whole lot of sense. Reading your thoughts I begin to process mine just a bit better. Ever since someone raised the question regarding Buffy's plan in the last episode for defeating the First and the army of Turok-Hans and how one had to question, if it wasn't for Spike, how were they really going to win, I've been trying to find a satisfactory answer to that question (for myself).

I think the answer I've come to is that they weren't going to win - or at least this time, there was going to be no guarantee. One of the points hammered in throughout the season was the concept that Buffy, et al. were well and truly at war. This was not some big battle against one enemy, but a true out and out war against the Forces of Evil (capital F, capital E). So while you plan and strategize and come up with the best possible solutions to win - in this case using the power of the scythe to change the rules of the game and share the the power - there is no guarantee you and your army are going to win. There never is in war. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't fight. And in the end the tides changed for Buffy and her army...the unexpected source of support (i.e. the French coming to aid the revolutionist in the American Revolution) appeared at the last moment - Spike and the amulet. For the first time in the history of "Buffy," we went into the final battle not truly knowing if they would win. Sure, like in the past, we had faith in Buffy and the gang and their plan, but maybe not as much as before and maybe with not the utter certainity of the past. And maybe that was the point. The last couple of years, according to ME, have been about growing up and the consequences of that process and the one thing you learn is that there are no guarantees in life - nor in war. You just try your best and sometimes your fail, but sometimes you really do succeed - often though a combo of hard work and blind luck, kind of like the final battle on "Buffy."

That's just the conclusions I came too. I could be totally off base, but maybe not. :)

Bring Back Connor? Why? Really Want Opinions. -- Angelina, 07:22:59 05/30/03 Fri

I have been away from this Board since ìChosenî. I just could 't bear talking about the end of Buffy yet, and for the most part, I still can't. I am musing. I did pop by for some good "lurking" however, and the first thing I see is the "Bring Back Connor Campaign". Oh. Good. Lord. Is this the popular consensus of this Board? I really would like to hear your opinions. I am going to be watching Angel next season, (yes, because of the presence of a certain Blondeî), and I am curious to know why anyone would want Connor to come back as a character. In fact, the campaign indicates that Connor has the "heart of a champion". I don't now - nor have I EVER - seen any signs of a champion in Connor. I am most anxious to hear other people's views on this. In what episode, and in what manner, has Connor shown his "heart of a champion"? When he was slaughtering that young girl, when he buried his father under the sea? I see ì Bring Back Connorî as a very unusual request! I could see bring back Cordelia (a new revamped, improved version over the Cordy ME has been giving us), but Connor? Whew. I am blown away. Comments and Opinions Please?

[> Writing off Connor -- Masq, 09:19:51 05/30/03 Fri

I always felt deeply for Connor. He was a character with such fascinating potential, but his character was written to fit the story line rather than the character being used to drive the storyline.

He was introduced to us as a teen as someone who had been raised to hate his real father but who was so in need of love and family. And that sort of character should have been a source of a lot of angsty story lines on a show in which family is such an important theme, and a show about a vampire who is trying to build a connection to humanity.

Connor was that connection, in flesh and blood, and Angel should have tried to reach out to him. But the Beast came, and the evil!Cordelia story filled our screens, and all the things they could have done with Connor became secondary to that.

So yes, I found myself every week yelling at the television for him to get over himself, or whatever. But it was always plain to me that Angel loved him, and so I loved him, too, and I wanted Connor to find something resembling peace and a life with his father. I wanted him to find a way to fight side-by-side with his dad the way Gunn or Wesley do. It wouldn't mean they would always get along, because, you know, fathers and sons...

Well. that makes me a big ol' Angel-Connor shipper, but I don't care.

Instead they isolated Connor from his father, from a support system that would help him work through his confusion, and Connor made some bad decisions. So then I wanted him to have a chance to redeem himself, find peace for himself as the person he was, whatever you want to call it, but ME and Angel took that away from him. I can't be bothered helping you deal with your demons, kid. I wipe my hands of you. New lie in a life of lies.

And now it's like he never existed at all.

I don't know how they're going to keep the momentum of the other characters up next season with their memories altered. Connor was integral to the events of Seasons 3 and 4, and to the changes the characters went through and how it effected their personalities.

How can Wesley possibly make sense of his dark period if he doesn't remember stealing baby Connor and getting his throat cut? How will Wesley make sense of the new confidence and beard stubble he gained as he fought his way out of that darkness?

If Cordelia returns, how will she make sense of the fact that she was able to "hide in plain sight" in the Hyperion for months, pregnant, if she doesn't remember Connor playing guard for her? Who will they think fathered Jasmine, the Beast??

Anyway, I have issues about the way this story line went, and the way it's going.

But no matter how Connor acted, I tuned in every week hoping and waiting for the "Angel" writers to give him the chance they gave so many other characters--a chance to face his demons and grow. Like Angel, I couldn't stop loving him no matter what he did, because I saw the good in him.

[> [> The Worst Thing Angel ever did -- SS, 10:13:51 05/30/03 Fri

"I can't be bothered helping you deal with your demons, kid. I wipe my hands of you. New lie in a life of lies."

On Buffy, Angel once said the worst thing he ever did was to pervert Drusilla's pure mind and then sire her.

Was Connor's mind pure? Considering all the years he spent in Hell...maybe his reactions were understandable. We were never given enough information about his hell dimension to make a decision about that either way. But I would argue that he did enough good things to warrant giving him the benefit of the doubt...if only until we got enough information about his hell dimension to make a decision on it.

And was he then "sired" into that false life? He was worse than "sired". To be sired you have to drink from your sire. He never chose to drink.

What Angel did with Connor was worse than what he did with Dru.

Connor should come back. If only because Angel needs to understand how wrong he was.


[> [> [> Sorry for the double post..:( -- SS, 10:23:26 05/30/03 Fri

[> [> [> Re: The Worst Thing Angel ever did--Spoilers for Home. -- Arethusa, 10:42:52 05/30/03 Fri

Intellectually, I think Angel was wrong to do what he did. But emotionally.... After Angel had him mindwiped, Connor was happy and successful, loved and loving. Angel's not stupid, he knows he denied his son the free will he demanded for everyone else. But how much free will does a brainwashed boy have? Could he have been deprogrammed and live a remotely normal life, or would he have spent the next decades in terrible emotional pain?

On the other hand, Faith was also an emotionally damaged supernatural killer whom Angel helped redeem. The difference is that Faith wanted to change, and Connor wanted to kill until he was killed in turn. He was hell-bent on suicide-by-cop. Angel killed him before he could kill others, and gave him a second chance. There was no good choice here, especially for those of us who wanted to see Angel and his son interact.

[> [> [> [> The difference was that Faith had known at least a few minutes of caring and comfort -- lunasea, 13:44:35 05/30/03 Fri

Connor has NOTHING. There is NOTHING to redeem him on. He is a lost cause. They should have set this up better. One sewer talk where he admits to being tied to a tree for days doesn't quite cut it. There are people who really wanted to see Connor redeemed.

But as representative of Angel's past, he cannot be. He is a lost cause. He has to be. This season is about Angel moving beyond that past, not redeeming it. Connor had to go.

Angel had his son committed, not an easy choice for any parent to have to make. They do make a point of saying that the only reason Faith was in jail was because she allowed it. Would Connor stay where ever he was put? He would have to be heavily sedated and guarded. What sort of life is that? Angel did the only loving thing he could for his son.

I had one desire this season, to see Connor say "I love you Dad." After "Magic Bullet" I knew that wasn't going to happen. Instead I got something just as beautiful "Prove it."

Maybe Angel can still interact with Connor, as a mentor/boss figure. I doubt Wolfram and Hart are done with Connor. They do know about Connor and I can see them using him against Angel.

[> [> [> [> Re: The Worst Thing Angel ever did--Spoilers for Home. -- ponygirl, 13:51:07 05/30/03 Fri

I see what happened to Connor as the ultimate in tipping the board over and starting the game again. The damage inflicted by Holtz, by Jasmine, by Angel himself had made it impossible for Connor to make informed and sane choices about his own life. The odds were always stacked against Connor, Angel was attempting to wipe the board clean. Even if Connor does eventually find out what Angel did to him, his justifiable outrage would still be tempered by memories of a sane and loving family.

The Faith comparison is a good one, and I would argue that she too seemed pretty bent on suicide-by-Angel before she went to prison. I think that her example informed Angel's decision as well. Could Faith have changed so successfully if she hadn't removed herself for a time from a world that included Buffy, vengeful Watchers and evil lawyers?

[> [> [> [> [> Wiping the slate clean -- manwitch, 14:36:06 05/30/03 Fri

I like this that ponygirl has said.

In a way, connor, after having lived much suckdom, found something that he could actually be happy with in Jasmine, something that could take away his pain. He gave all that up for Angel, for the Free Will that Angel felt everyone should have. He busted through Jasmine's head, destroying finally the last symbol of potential happiness he could ever have had.

But interestingly enough, in doing that, Connor has no free will. He is condemned to forever live in a world of pain, unhapiness, misery, and his personal choices will make no difference. But Angel, being our hero, returns the favor to Connor, and Angel sacrifices his potential happiness with his progeny to give Free Will back to Connor, which he does by wiping the slate clean.

Angel didn't inflict anything on Connor. Angel was his usual, pretty darned decent, unselfish self.

Should Connor be redeemed? I dunno. In a way, it seems he already was. Sometimes you get redeemed by atoning, by making amends. Like Angel, maybe. But more often than not, you get redeemed by an act of grace. Angel's got grace in spades.

[> [> [> Completely disagree: The Worst Thing Angel ever did (Spoiler/Home) -- WickedBuffy, 11:54:37 05/30/03 Fri

Connors reaction to the rest of AI as they were destroying Jasmines hold on everyone was one of anger. He wanted life to be that way - the "no free will", the Shiny Happy people. Even though he wasn't feeling it himself, he still held out some hope that he would, eventually. And this was with the full knowledge of what Jasmine truly looked like.

The life he has now is similar. It's what he wanted. Using his previous actions surrounding Jasmine as a base of comparison, it seems the "free choice" option was much less important to Connor than having peace of mind, a loving family and "normal" existance.

He grew up in a Hell Dimension. Unlike any we've specifically experienced. Though his dreams may be similar to ours, what he would sacrifice to get them could be very different than ours.

In Angels dimension, freedom is a very important concept. Freedom of choice something to always fight to preserve, to hold dear. Because it's something that wasn't always there and could possibly be taken away again.

In Connors Hell Dimension, from the little we saw of it and heard of it, perhaps freedom of choice wasn't a priority - or maybe never even considered. Instead it was fighting to survive, harsh conditions, very little affection, no mother, no siblings - which would create an entirely different set of priorities to base dreams upon.

We judge Angel from our POV and from what we preceive as Angels POV about choice and free will. His actions are possibly hypocritical to what he purports to believe. Intangibles like ethics and free will are weighed and judged.

But the bottom line, the reality, the tangible, is that Connor got what he always wanted and never had. And though the price of choice may seem too high for some of us - how can we assume it would be to him? Especially based on his actions and reactions during the past seasons.

Justifying the wrongness of the situation by saying Connor has to go through his previous reality for him to suffer and really grow, is a huge leap into nothing. ::splat::

Whatever memories he has now of his life with his new family, they are sure to include sorrow, pain and struggle also. (Or else he wouldn't have grown up to be the responsible, loving intelligent young man we saw at the dinner table.) And those are his reality now.

"Connor should come back. If only because Angel needs to understand how wrong he was."

Connor is not an object to teach Angel lessons. Connor is as much a being as Angel is. If Angel has lessons to learn about this, then it should be at Angels expense, not Connors.

An extreme show of violence and immense cruelty, worse than any he has been subjected to before, would be to put Connor back.

[> [> [> [> Excellent post, WickedBuffy -- Arethusa, 14:41:37 05/30/03 Fri

Connor did make a choice between free will and belonging when he chose to follow Jasmine unquestioningly. He knew she was killing to survive, and unsuprisingly this did not deeply disturb him. It's all he saw in Quar-Toth. He chose belonging to Jasmine over free will.

Good point about POV. Being able to see multiple POVs on this board helps me understand the characters better, and trying to understand the characters' POVs is what keeps me fascinated by the shows.

Connor is as much a being as Angel is.

Wich is why I hope he returns.

[> [> [> [> [> Thank you very much, Arethusa. That brightened my day. :D -- WickedBuffy, 18:52:53 05/30/03 Fri

[> [> [> My random thoughts on Home (Spoilers, natch) -- Rahael, 20:17:08 05/30/03 Fri

This episode ripped out my heart, chopped it into little pieces and squeezed it hard. And I think I liked it.

These are the things that struck me:

Connor didn't find happiness in Jasmine. He, all alone, didn't find bliss, joy and love. He always knew it was a lie. He couldn't give up anything by killing her, apart from killing a beautiful (depends on how you define beauty) lie.

Another thing that tore at me - all this time I had thought that Connor had believed in Holtz, had loved him. Well, he may have loved him. But I don't think he believed that Holtz loved him. How could he? ("You let him take me")

There are interesting parallels between Jasmine and Angel. "The Father shall devour the son". Jasmine is called the Devourer. We also learn that in Jasmine's language, love means self-sacrifice. That theme has echoed throughout the season. Jasmine is just the metaphor made grotesque, made flesh. Angel sacrifices Connor in a ritualistic way. Subversive echoes of Abraham and Isaac. Will you sacrifice your only son for me? Angel will do it for Love.

Connor could always see Jasmine's face. I thought it was interesting that in Season 3, the baby Connor quietened his crying when Angel went vamp face. Connor has always preferred Angel to be Angelus and always thought of Angelus as Angel's true face.

I completely empathised with Angel's decison. I thought it was wrong, though.

In one way, Connor's immunity to the bliss felt by everyone (symbolised by his blood) got transferred to Angel. Angel now remembers what few others do. And he did this by shedding his son's blood.

Even more ironic - Connor's life goes wrong because Angel 'let' Holtz take him. Angel fixes it by giving him up again.

And let us not forget that Connor participated in the ritualistic murder of an innocent girl, who in the last moment took on the face of his mother. Did this foreshadow his killing of Jasmine, too? Is his second exile the price he paid?

Nothing any more coherent yet. But Connor emerges, for me, the most tragic figure yet. Subject to prophecy. Exiled twice now. These miraculous, prophecied about, sacrificed sons have a habit of returning. Or, at least, I hope so!

[> [> The Worst Thing Angel ever did -- SS, 10:14:01 05/30/03 Fri

"I can't be bothered helping you deal with your demons, kid. I wipe my hands of you. New lie in a life of lies."

On Buffy, Angel once said the worst thing he ever did was to pervert Drusilla's pure mind and then sire her.

Was Connor's mind pure? Considering all the years he spent in Hell...maybe his reactions were understandable. We were never given enough information about his hell dimension to make a decision about that either way. But I would argue that he did enough good things to warrant giving him the benefit of the doubt...if only until we got enough information about his hell dimension to make a decision on it.

And was he then "sired" into that false life? He was worse than "sired". To be sired you have to drink from your sire. He never chose to drink.

What Angel did with Connor was worse than what he did with Dru.

Connor should come back. If only because Angel needs to understand how wrong he was.


[> Connor - the "unfinished" piece. (spoilish/Angel/HOME) -- WickedBuffy, 11:06:49 05/30/03 Fri

Whether he was a pouting champion or a badly-dressed loser, Connor played an integral part in the development (and potential development) of several characters.

Connor feels unfinished to me. As his own character, and also as an important piece in the growth of other relationships, directly and indirectly. Angel. Angel and Connor. Angel and Wes. Cordy and Angel. Connor and Cordy. Wes. etcetc

Just the Angel development alone justifies Connors return.

Not because of what he was, as much as what he created, just by being there. There was a continuous ripple-effect going on by his presence. To so suddenly have that jerked from the story feels abrupt and unnatural.


[> [> Re: Connor - the "unfinished" piece. (spoilish/Angel/HOME) -- Katrina, 13:46:20 05/30/03 Fri

Was Angel's decision a bigger and more complicated version of the much-maligned spell of forgetfulness Willow put on Tara? (Sorry if it's been asked before. Catching up on a week's worth of posts).

[> [> [> Re: Connor - the "unfinished" piece. (spoilish/Angel/HOME) -- Quentin Collins, 23:33:27 05/30/03 Fri

Until season five begins, we can't really know the extent of what happened with Connor. I get the impression that it is not a matter of making people forget something, but a matter of actually changing reality. So, in that dimension, it is quite different from Willow's spell.

From the moral perspective, what Angel did with Connor also seems quite different from what Willow did. Willow's spells in "AtW" and "TR" seemed rather selfish in nature. Sure, part of her reasoning may have been to make Buffy feel better, but much of it was just to make things easier for Willow. Plus, Buffy's situation did not seem anywhere near dire enough to even begin to justify how Willow violated everyone by tampering with their memories.

I haven't made up my mind yet whether what Angel did with Connor was justified. But it was clear that Connor was in a dire situation which there may not have been any coming back from. There are at least plausible ways to justify Angel's actions while I do not believe there are any to justify Willow's.

[> [> [> [> I agree. And sometimes parents have to make very difficult choices. -- WickedBuffy, 10:38:45 05/31/03 Sat

[> [> [> Re: Connor - the "unfinished" piece. (spoilish/Angel/HOME) -- Katrina, 11:58:43 05/31/03 Sat

Maybe you're right. I dunno, I've never been a parent, only a child, so it's hard for me to say. I was just wondering, though, what if Joyce had found a way to magically unmake Buffy as the Slayer? Say, gone back in time and somehow caused another girl to be chosen, so the last so-many years of Buffy's life wouldn't have happened? In order to spare her all the pain and suffering and the possibility of an early death at the hands of vampires? Would that have been morally okay for her to do?

I know Connor's situation was extreme, and maybe the end result was what Connor really wanted. On the other hand, Angel didn't want to let Faith lay down the sword and "rest" when she wanted to. That was too easy, "easier than redemption." Then he turned around and changed reality to make life better for Connor.

And as I believe has been noted above, isn't this choice on Angel's part going to screw with the pasts (the experience and thus the hard-won insight into self) of the other characters? He may have been doing what he thought was right for Connor, but what will this do to Wesley's life, just to name one? In kidnapping Connor, he estranged himself from his surrogate family, and ended up in a relationship with Lilah, which led to a very nice redemptive moment when he tried to free her soul. Hasn't all that disappeared? To be replaced with memories of a past that didn't really happen? That's a little questionable.

Angel wants to give Connor the chance for normalcy and happiness that Angel never had, and that Connor never got because of the strange circumstances of their lives. Maybe I'm uncomfortable because it seems symbolic to me of the common idea that parents want to give their children what they never had, and keep their children from having to endure the struggles they did. But when parents do this, in the end they generally don't do their children any favors. Even in the context of AtS, if it wasn't for the struggles, if life was easy, there wouldn't be any heroism.

Hence my vote to bring Connor back and face the repercussions of all this cosmic craziness!

[> [> [> [> Joyces Choices (spoilish/Angel/HOME) -- WickedBuffy, 19:25:42 05/31/03 Sat

That's an interesting question about Joyce you asked.

I know some parents who would probably make the change - because their ethics include protecting their child at any and all costs. Then others wouldn't (with great difficulty) because it would be against what they believed.

But Joyce - specifically her character - I'm not sure. If that choice came up for her early on, when she was just learning about what Buffy did - I think she might have leaned towards the changing option. But Buffy learned a basic sense of justice and ethics from modeling her mom (maybe her dad - he's a murky figure in all this), so maybe Joyce wouldn't have.

What do you think?

PS no matter how much a parent might try to protect their child, there is never 100% shielding from lifes pains and hardships. It just comes in varying degrees, depending on the circumstances. We have no idea what hardships the new Connor went thru. Most likely nothing like his first life, but still - from his perception of reality now, it might have been pretty difficult at times. I think it will be interesting whether he comes back or not. It seems strange to me that people are inferring he didn't suffer as he should have. That is an extinct reality. What goes on now, is now, the current reality.

[> [> [> [> [> Hello My Name Is Not Connor -- Valheru, 23:22:09 05/31/03 Sat

It seems strange to me that people are inferring he didn't suffer as he should have. That is an extinct reality. What goes on now, is now, the current reality.

Wonderful insight.

Connor made a lot of horrible choices. Some were innocent mistakes; some were intentionally evil. And then sometimes, he'd do, say, or convey something that was unmistakably good or pure. Like anyone, he was capable of both redemption and unredeemable sin.

People will forever be split on Angel's choice. But to those split over Connor's choices, Angel's was an encompassing solution. In one way, it was the ultimate punishment for Unredeemable Connor: erasure from existence. Extreme Death Penalty. But in another way, it was the ultimate reward for Redeemable Connor: rebirth into a better world. Heavenly Ascendance.

But that young man Angel glimpsed through the window? He's none of that. He's not Connor. He never lived the life Connor had or made the choices Connor did. We don't know what he deserves. Good life, bad life, hell or heaven...we have nothing on which to judge.

Angel saw him. He smiled. But that was not his Connor. His Connor got exactly what he deserved. Whatever that might have been...

"I hate my free will" (Angel Odyssey 4.17)(sp 7.17) -- Tchaikovsky, 07:30:13 05/30/03 Fri

Drusilla: Look. Jasmine.
Angelus: Night blooming.

From 'I only have eyes for you'

Xander(to Dawn): You're not special (slightly worrying pause for the audience). You're extraordinary.

From 'Potential'

'It's not about Right. It's not about Wrong. It's about Power'

From 'Lessons'.


Hello everyone. I've long maintained that Angel and Buffy, while functioning in the same universe, are fundamentally different concepts. They're different styles of show- and so, for example, Buffy as a character comes across less sympathetically in 'I Will Remember You' and 'Sanctuary' than on her own show, where she's in the centre. I really don't think (although I hold a minority opinion here) that much is to be gained from attempting to see conscious parallels in them. Yes, link all over the place, by all means. 'Everything's connected' after all. But when we leave Angel and Faith behind, we're stuck in a new world, without a conscious thematic overlap. There are links that can be made, but I don't believe it's all one tapestry, but two. That said, there have been quite a few little internal references in the last few episodes that have made me wonder. The three above are all pretty obviously related to these two episodes. There's been a lot of almost consciously intellectual hint-making going on in Angel this Season, more so than I can remember on any other Season of wither show, and it's probably partly to do with the enigmatic plot-lines and shifting intentions- the writers trying to make the audience guess what's happening, only to lurch off in a different direction. The clues are red herrings, or not so. In this case, there is a very obvious overall theme developing- that of free will and a deterministic universe. So to Angel in a second.


First, in a slightly illogical place, but that's the fun of pretending to be a writer, a very brief word on 'Lies My Parents Told Me'. I liked it. Not that I don't understand people who had other reactions to it, but I thought it was a well-crafted episode, whose eventual aim was to postulate the idea 'Mothers may act in different ways, but all love'. I felt that all three Mothers in this episode were supposed to be considered to be acting as best they could. Spike's mother clearly did love him, which is what he realised. He had to understand this to achieve a crucially important step in his transformation. But there's also the key scene between Wood and Buffy early on, where Wood tells Buffy she reminds him of his Mother. Then, at the end of the episode, we see Buffy, ever so tenderly, stroking Dawn's hair. Dawn got hurt in the line of battle, because Buffy was not protecting her from the world but showing it to her. This parallels Robin Wood, in that rainstorm in 1977. Buffy is not wrong to have allowed Dawn to get hurt, and perhaps not even wrong to claim that, if in saving the world she had to kill Dawn, she would do it. For her the first thing is the mission. The same is true of Nikki Wood. She tells Robin that the mission is what matters. Robin understands. Nikki loved him. Spike's story, as recounted in 'Fool For Love' and expanded on here, is false. Spike is reacting to being unfairly trapped and killed. He could in fact beat the trigger by self-reflection. What he says to Wood, the intimidation, is not what he actually believes. For, as much as Spike could have killed Wood, he doesn't 'because I killed his Mother'. He understands what that means- and he knows that Nikki loved her son. All three mothers- Anne, Nikki and Buffy- have difficult lives in which to bring up children, and all love them. For me, it was an affirmation of Mothers, not a broadside on them.

Incidentally, I also saw all the protaginists as entirely in character. Remember how Giles, has been finding it more and more difficult to be Buffy's watcher and father. He left in Season Six because he felt she couldn't grow. Then time passes, and he returns in 7.10, trying to re-negotiate his role with this strong, exhausted woman. And he struggles, and has a big argument with her over Spike, and eventually, using Buffy's own mantra about the mission, he does what she does not want him to do. It's happened before. He's wrong, and irresponsible, but for me, in character. The resolution, as someone mentioned, is the shutting of Buffy's bedroom door, closing Giles out of her personal life, but not the life of the mission.

I'm not all that keen to start up another raging debate about this, (although I am posting this!), but I did just want to put down why for me it wasn't toxic or even irritating. I think I accept the claim that some viewers may have mis-interpreted Spike's words after being attacked by Wood as a 'Uncomfortable Truth' moment, and thus that the timing and vehemence of the outburst was a bit misguided, but personally I understood the story as actually having a rather positive message about mothers.

Less brief than I wanted!


'Inside Out' is a tidy, brooding meditation on just whether we have free will, or whether it is all plotted out for us in advance, and hence acts as a nifty pre-cursor to the beginning of the Jasmine arc in 'Shiny Happy People'. It's also a good piece of writing and first-time directing from Stephen DeKnight, who has to fit in a humungous bit of exposition and reflection on exposition into a short episode, and does so without it ever feeling like a ticked-off list, (like those over-crammed Harry Potter movies). Let me clear up two of those three previous Buffy references first.

They both come from the mouth of Cordelia- who may be part-Jasmine, who knows? I side with the argument that Cordelia has been gradually more influenced by the spawn as it has grown, from 'Spin the Bottle' onwards, so that it started out with some wacky decisions in 'Apocalypse, Nowish', gestated into some good ole murder in 'Long Day's Journey', and culminated in her plotting various omens of doom after the release of Angelus in 'Calvary'. I'm sure there are almost as many theories as viewers, and of course I still don't know whether there's any further exposition left, but there's only four episodes left now, (I'm nearly caught up with everyone! How weird!).

1)There's 'There's no Good. There's no Evil. They're just concepts of reality'. Well now. Cordelia here starts to try to explain how subjective the Universe is to Connor. With the dubious character and desperate dilemmas of this Season, the troubled teen is more than happy to let the lines blur into into a puzzling mural of grey. Then he can disown responsibility for things he regrets, claiming they were in his concept of what was most advantageous.

2) Cordelia claims pretty much the opposite of what Xander claimed for Dawn in 'Potential': 'We're special. Our baby is going to be extraordinary'. Yes, Connor and Cordelia are different, she argues. Not like the 'ordinary people' who would be delighted even to help to bring forth their child. It's interesting to consider how Cordelia, Xander's ex, was the everyman of Angel for the first two seasons as Xander was the everyman of Buffy. Now, even possessed she has hit the opposite extreme, claiming superiority over mere mortals, she feels she is able to take lives to feed the new life inside her. She has turned her thoughts, her beliefs, 'Inside Out', as much as she is physicaly turned inside out by the birth.

Another inside out of this episode is Skip. It's interesting that there's been a bit of backing up done on the benevolent demons this year. Last year, Clem and Skip were introduced as being rather nice really. This year, for whatever reason, Clem has been outed as a kitten-eater, ('the sub-text is rapidly becoming the text') while Skip is a mere mercenary for whoever will pay him more or physically incapacitate hium less. I loved the idea of the terrifying demon who 'commutes' and has everyday problems in 'That Vision Thing', but here he reverts to a more stereotypical characteristic of his physicality.

How much am I enjoying Wesley's reconciliation with Angel and Gunn? A lot. It's been so hard-won and realistically portrayed by the writers. There was that little line about Wesley trusting Gunn in the Angelus act, seemingly there as a throwaway. Then the little scene at the end of 'Orpheus' with Faith. And now we get: 'Why should you care what happened to her?' 'Because you did'. How much more do those minimal, even inspecific little lines mean to the Angel/Wesley dynamic? Maybe one of the side-effects of realising how much Angelus lived in the past was an attempt by Angel to purge his character of any tendencies he had of dwelling in the past- in other words, to forget the year-old apparent treachery by Wesley, done with guilt and good intentions, but always felt as a betrayal.

And then we get Connor's choice, this worry , this anxiety over which mother to trust. Does he trust the woman who has been the only one to help him with his life for the last six months, the only one to understand what he is going through, to make things easier, the one who carries something wonderful that he has made, th eonly thing he has achieved? Or does he trust his deserting, megligent Mother, the soulless vampire, Angelus' partner, not even bothering to survive his Birth? We might not see it like this, and yet all these apparent facts, coupled with the fact that Cordelia was there first, swings the balance in Cordy's favour. By the time we see the return of Darla, Connor has already ingested Cordy's mantra, and gives his own spin on it; 'Good. Evil. There just words.' I suspect that Connor can feel how truthful some of Darla's words are. That he feels wrong about killing the girl. That his conscience, his soul even, the very soul Darla shared and enabled her to do her only good, is nagging at him. Along with this, there's all those little, odd details- Cordelia askign him to kill Angelus, the gang seemingly turning on her so that he had to rescue her at the end of 'Players', and how wrong it feels to murder people- always portrayed as an issue in the Buffyverse. And yet. This child, his ultimate achievement, and this guide, the one who gives him physical and emotional comfort, the only one, wins through. Connor decides to let determinism, being ruled to Cordelia, win out of free will, the free will that Darla exhibited in staking herself so Connor might live.

And this is an important point. For despite how there are claims in the next episode that Jasmine's arrival was scheduled by her in an elaborate turn of events, if Connor had trusted that he could change the world, had trusted his free will, then determinism could have been defeated. he could have made a difference. The newly enlightened, focussed Gunn, may have practised his speech, but it had that same quality as a Xander speech, and more perhaps, because it wasn't about one person's specialness, but about empowerment, belief in strength, for all:

Gunn: Look, mono-chrome can yap all he wants about no-name's cosmic plan. But here's a little something I picked up rubbing mojos these past couple of years. The final score can't be rigged. I don't care how many players you grease. That last shot always comes up question mark. But here's the thing. You never know when you're taking it. It could be when you're duking it out with the Legion of Doom or just crossing the street deciding where to have brunch. So you treat it all like it was up to you, the world in the balance, 'cause you never know when it is.

Darned right. Don't play by the rules, says Gunn. Forget the game-board, kick it over and start again. Just as Buffy does. It's like Angel's speech in 'Deep Down': 'We live as though the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be.' One of the most abstract sentences ever uttered on Angel, and probably my favourite. Assume that you are making a difference every time, because one time you will be. I'm reminded of that West Coast review that OnM posted a link to, and the line about Eve giving us choice, giving us the chance to be wrong, to do evil, and not be couched on God's sofa. An inside out view of the world. The reaspn that, although redemption is hard, I love my free will.

Shiny Happy People following on.


[> Jasmine. Night blooming (Angel Odyssey 4.18) -- Tchaikovsky, 08:15:21 05/30/03 Fri

I've just realised I didn't do a header for my episode review for 'Inside Out', which makes it a bit of a rarity. So in case you were worried, here's one for 'Shiny Happy People':

4.18- 'Shiny Happy People

First of all, let me note that reference from 'I Only Have Eyes For You'. It makes perfect sense in that episode, because Drusilla and Angelus are muddling through what it means to be a vampire while moving into his mansion place, with Spike the sitting duck in his wheel-chair. Here we get the same lines again. I suspect it's there to draw our attention to the fact that Angel likes the smell of Jasmine, and somehow associates the smell with his own plight. By this stage, it's fairly clear that Craft and Fain were gigantic Buffy fans before they were hired, otherwise the number of little references back to the mother series would be quite remarkable.

I'm a bit muddled as to what to make of this episode. It felt extremely unfinished and somewhat overlong for the idea being expressed. We had already seen the genuflecting, effortlessly bringing Angel and Connor into line, at the end of the previous episode, and this episode doesn't seem to enlarge as much on the idea as I would have expected it to. In a speedy plot Season, this episode was ponderous. Admittedly it raised some really interesting issues, but it managed to feel even more incomplete than usual in a shamelessly serial season, and I was left a little bit underwhelmed. But as usual, there was some good stuff:

-Interesting to not the order in which the four uninitiated AI members knelt down when they first saw Jasmine. Lorne, Fred, Gunn, Wesley. Are we supposed to trake this as an order from least cynical to most cynical? Certainly, one of Lorne's major problems as a member of AI has been his tendency to be too trusting of people. Wesley, who remains standing long after the others are on bended knee, is the man who has recently gone through the experience of trusting no-one. It certainly means something, but it comes as a bit of a surprise, takign this into consideration, that it is Fred who gets the vision of Jasmine with the maggots later on. The genuflection has already done something that, ironically, 'mother' Cordelia has been doing the opposite of right up unitl Jasmine's birth- it brings Angel and Connor together. But it quickly becomes apparent that Jasmine's influence is not a simply good one. Jasmine has opted for the opposite of what Gunn supported in the precious episode. That no-one should have free will or choices. It is in fact free will, quotes one famous theological argument, which is the reason for human evil. If we were incapable of making others suffer, we be robots, devoid of the ability to choose, and God would not have fashioned us in his own image at all, but as drones for his masterplan. Here Jasmine appears quite ready to waive humans' ability to think for themselves, instead allowing people to relax into only doing as she says. For Angel, it comes as a release from responsibility, one which in some part of his mind, he craves. And yet, it seems rooted right at the bottom of his psyche, he has the pre-dispositon to guilt, and is found by Jasmine desperately worried about having not done well by her.

Jasmine claims that the past lives of Angel Investigations was manipulated in a very specific way in order that her incarnation should come to pass. It required Connor, which in turn required Angel and Darla together. Beyond this, we are required to go right back to 'The Trial', (an incredible leap for an important point) for the argument that in attempting and succeeding in passing the tasks required to spare Darla from death, Angel won a life for Connor. Darla could not be saved, as the PG Wodehouse man explained, because she had already died. But Angel's acceptance of death so that Darla might live as a human put him, so to speak, one in credit. Later, Wesley, Lorne and Gunn's actions all led to the circumstance in which Connor and Cordelia consummated their ('weird and icky') relationship, so that it appears that the characters all were pawns. I'm not happy with this portrayal of events, and will continue to refuse to believe it until it is placed beyond doubt. Particularly while Jasmine is portrayed as such a flawed character with so many flawed thoguhts.

Firstly, she claims that they must all 'honour each other', (an interesting reference to 'Love thy neighbour as thyself'?) before dismissing the man who doubts her to a mental hospital. Her creed excludes those who do not fall under her spell. And Fred is so busy attempting to please her, maniacally scrubbing Jasmine's shirt, that she forgets all else- becoming obsessive about a small detail.

A few more thoughts.

-An important line, although a seeming throwaway is Lorne's
"It's, uh, it's too diva, isn't it? Diva, Deity, it's a thin line."
The joke is that the diva thinks herself a God. The importance is that this God, while powerful, is little more than a diva- someone on whom all attention must be focussed, to teh detriment of others, and others' relationships with each other.

-The origin of the phrase 'Shiny Happy People' is not entirely straight ahead with the cheerfulness. REM's irony is adopted here.

-I loved Lorne's "what is my life like?!" line: 'Nothing like a homicidal maniac to put a dampener on an impromptu spiritual gathering'. This from someone who ostensibly does believe in all the nonsense!

-This of course is about how difficult free will is, and how powerful it is. After Fred receives her vision, (the source of which is a complete mystery to me), she realises that all is not as perfect as it seems. Her only ally has been confined to the realms of the psychiatrists, and was hurt by her touch. Fred becomes a little like Winston Smith in 1984, walking alone along the streets, while the telescreens broadcast the symbol of the deity Big Brother Jasmine glaring out in each bar. I suspect I can hope for a rather less bleak finale than 'Fred loved Big Brother', but this is Angel and anything can happen. It's set up for an interesting final arc.


[> [> The High Cost of Free Will (Angel Odyssey 4.18) -- WickedBuffy, 10:28:00 05/30/03 Fri

"... that it appears that the characters all were pawns. I'm not happy with this portrayal of events, and will continue to refuse to believe it until it is placed beyond doubt. Particularly while Jasmine is portrayed as such a flawed character with so many flawed thoughts."

I'm with you there. When I heard that dialogue I got the same, stomach plummeting pain I had when I was a kid - and read about the Three Fates. Everything was already destined a certain way and nothing could alter it.

I'm having a hard time accepting we were watching an elaborate puppet show for over a season - with Jasmine writing the scripts and working all the strings. There might have been room for some improvisation along the way - but no character could veer too far from the manuscript. And Jasmine directed it with an iron fist.

"Jasmine claims that the past lives of Angel Investigations was manipulated in a very specific way in order that her incarnation should come to pass."

If her claim is true, then Angel, Angelus, Fred, Gunn, Wes, Cordy, Lorne and anyone they might have interacted with on any level - had been without true freewill long before Jasmine even made her physical appearance.

[> [> [> That's not quite what I got out of it -- lunasea, 13:15:19 05/30/03 Fri

I got the scariest big bad EVER on either show. What you have here is a being that really knows the gang and can manipulate them that well. She didn't write the script or take away their free will. She used it against them. Free will was crucial to her plans. If you go back, consent was incredibly important to Jasmine. Cordy couldn't just be swept up to the higher realms. Every step of the way, she had to give her consent. As Skip says "All you have to do is say yes." Cordy has to stay up in the higher realms until she gives her consent to become Jasmine's vessel by wanting to help her friends. Jasmine was willing to wait for this. She knew it would come eventually.

It wasn't a character couldn't veer from the manuscript. It was they weren't going to. Given the options, Cordy was going to choose to become part demon. She was going to want to help her friends. It was Cordy's choice, but Jasmine knew what she was going to choose.

That is what was really scary, how well Jasmine knew our gang, especially seeing as the gang didn't know themselves that well. Jasmine had the ultimate weapon, what Buffy asked the Shadowmen for, knowledge.

Because of this, what happens to Cordy in no way takes away from her wonderful 6 year journey from ditz to hero. The choices Cordy made and the woman that Cordy became are because she wanted to help and she had grown. That some deity took advantage of this should in no way detract from the sacrifices she made. Jasmine took advantage of her nature. That does not take away from what that nature was.

Should Jasmine taking advantage of the Trials negate the amazing thing that Angel did for Darla? The sacrifice is in the purity of his heart, shown by his intent. Are the burns he received any less because Jasmine then used that to bring about her birth? Was Angel's epiphany cheapened because it followed Connor's conception?

Don't let what Skip said detract from the people that the gang became that was shown in each choice they made. Sure Jasmine knew what choice they would make, but that didn't mean they didn't make those choices.

[> [> [> [> I agree completely...beautifully said. -- Alison, 17:27:14 05/30/03 Fri

[> [> [> [> Isn't manipulating the options for a desired outcome a form of negating pure choice? -- WickedBuffy, 18:38:21 05/30/03 Fri

"Sure Jasmine knew what choice they would make, but that didn't mean they didn't make those choices."

Controlling the environment to the extent that someone, for example, Cordelia, makes the only choice she can make isn't a free will environment.

"It was Cordy's choice, but Jasmine knew what she was going to choose."

As you said, Jasmine knew them very well, well enough to know what choices they would make. Well enough to manipulate situations until they made the choice Jasmine needed them to make in order to carry out her plan. Does a predetermined outcome mean free will is immaterial, then? An illusion? That it makes no difference?

Jasmine manipulated them in such a predetermined way that they were guided or boxed in, to Jasmines plan.

But all this is based on the theory that Jasmine had set everything up. She could have exaggerated her importance or just plain lied.

And that's why I had the sick feeling in my stomach when she said that. For a moment, I believed her.

[> [> [> [> [> Well, this is my view of free will -- Finn Mac Cool, 22:22:27 05/30/03 Fri

We are made up of several parts. We are our biology: our genes, our brain chemistry, or electrical impulses. We are our memories: our experiences, our joys, our sorrows. Put all of this together and you have the person. And the choices we make are made because of the situation and the sort of person we are. So, if you know the person, know them so well that you can tell how each part of them is going to interact with the other, and you can control the situation entirely, then, yes, you can make them choose your choice while still giving them the freedom to choose.

Here's just sort of my philosophy to it all: everything, including our behavior, is a reaction to previous events. Cause and effect. Everything has an effect, and each cause creates a particular sort of effect. This means that, since the dawn of time, everything has been pre-determined, since everything that happens is happening in reaction to the first of all causes. This would imply we have no free will, right? Well, there is something that makes this different than total absence of choice: we don't know what his fated. We can't know; the factors involved are so numerous and complex that it's impossible to tell how it will all work out. So, unless we can predict the future or travel through time, the existence of fate is meaningless (though, both time travel and precognition are possible in the Buffyverse, so the question does matter there, though it's questionable if anyone has enough power to set everything up so precisely).

[> [> [> [> [> [> OK- let's plunge deeply into philosophy! -- Tchaikovsky, 03:59:52 05/31/03 Sat

This argument is the argument for determinism: "The philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs" as it says at the dictionary website. But lots of people don't believe in determinism, for several reasons.

One of the most compelling points for me in this argument is the extension that is sometimes made, that because science is ever advancing, we may one day reach a point where we can predict another person's actions with total certainly. A spanner in this argument runs through to Heisenberg. We may be able to reduce scientific error for some observable things down to a negligible amount, but in some circumstances, there are things which cannot be measured in one way without sacrificing definition of another thing- the wave-particle duality of the electron, where measuring position sacrifices knowledge of speed, and speed sacrifices knowledge.

I find the idea of a deterministic universe a little queasy-making, but in any case, from the argument above, I believe that it is necessary that we act as if there is free will, because even if there isn't, it's difficult if not impossible to predict what will happen. We must live in the world as if our choices do count. Shouldn't we?


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> ok BUT ..."If" Jasmine was telling the complete truth about her control.... -- WickedBuffy, 10:37:30 05/31/03 Sat

... . and she knew exactly what each person would choose and manipulated the environment so the "choice" that person made was the one she needed for a step in her final plan.

Is it really free will, then? Is it truly a choice? Or do those terms take on a less important meaning in that type of universe and some other terms become more vital. Or do ideas like choice and free will become irrelevant because someone else is invisibly pushing you in specific directions that "they" have predetermined are needed for their own goals? Does that make true "choice" an illusion, because you aren't given a random selection of options, but only the one you would choose anyway?

How much does manipulation play in negating your free will?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> You are confusing freedom with free will -- lunasea, 10:53:40 05/31/03 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I am? -- WickedBuffy, 12:38:42 05/31/03 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> My take -- Tchaikovsky, 04:32:02 06/01/03 Sun

I'd say that Jasmine is an experiment in allegory really. Perhaps we are meant ot compare her to a degree with the mind-washings of advertising, although as you mention, Jasmine's is more complete manipulation than influencing.

But, what is very important to me is that, in our universe, Jasmine as I understand her is really only an abstract concept at most. There is no person we can meet who has the same knowledge of us and how to manipulate our actions as Jasmine does. And if this deity were to exist, pulling our strings without us knowing it, then we may as well live as if we do have free will, because we have no way of understanding how we are being manipulated anyway. Jasmine is more of an argument towards happiness than anything else. In fact, the more I consider it the more I'm thinking of Huxley's 'Brave New World', in which an apparent utopia is actually undermined by the complete manipulation of the population. Everyone appears perfectly happy, (partly because they are drugged on the powerful narcotic soma), and yet there is no free will. The interaction between the 'savage' and the representative of the society explores the issues better than I could hope to, (although the structure and style of the book is horrible- and it doesn't work on a basic narrative level as a novel, in my opinion).


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> There's another reason why such accurate prediction wouldn't work . . . -- Finn Mac Cool, 13:03:54 05/31/03 Sat

A system of prediction that supposedly can predict everything will never exist because it can't predict its own impact on the world.

For instance, suppose there's a computer I'm sitting at that compiles all of the data in the world and uses it to make 100% accurate predictions. And, as I'm sitting at it, one of its predictions is that someone will walk into the room in five seconds and say "hi", and I'll say "hi" back. But the computer's prediction has changed my plans. If I hadn't read that prediction, I would have said "hi". But now, knowing that is what I'm supposed to do, I decide not to do it. This means that the prediction has failed. The only way for the prediction not to fail is for the computer to factor my reading the prediction into its calculations, in which case it determines that I will not say "hi". But, having read the prediction saying I won't say "hi", I decide to say "hi" in order to thwart the prediction. Thus the prediction's invalidated again.

You could repeat this theoretical situation forever, but you'd never get the prediction to come true, because the computer's prediction will always alter its own calculations. The only way such a computer could accurately predict the future is to not let its predictions be known.

Does this mean fate doesn't exist? No. What it does mean is that we'll never know what fate has in store, since predictions of the future can never predict their own effect upon the world. The only sort of creature that could ever truly understand fate would be one that had absolutely no way of affecting our world. If there was a creature in another dimension capable of observing every facet of our world, but never being able to alter any facet, that creature could predict fate, but only the fate of our world. Any attempt to predict its own fate would invalidate its predictions.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Which is why oracles traditionally can't see their own fate (BtVS 7.04 spoilers) -- Valheru, 17:59:26 05/31/03 Sat

...because their true fate will always be influenced by their foresight. Cassie was an inversion of the traditional myths of fate because, even though Buffy tried to alter Cassie's present to alter her future, it still came true as Cassie had forseen. In that circumstance, Cassie had no free will to choose her own fate. Usually, an oracle's fate is predetermined, but because the oracle can't forsee it, he/she/it is forced to live as though there is free will.

[> [> [> [> [> Name me a "free will enivronment" -- lunasea, 08:56:01 05/31/03 Sat

We are bombarded from all sides by things that want to influence us. All those commercials we watch are trying to influence us. When we get all dressed up looking for a mate, or just a shag partner, we are trying to influence their decisions. When we post on a message board, hoping to get someone to see something or maybe change their opinion, we are trying to influence them.

The only difference between Jasmine and Madison Avenue is that Jasmine was influencing important things. She was a college brochure. Which college do we go to? What major do we choose? All life altering decisions that other people influence.

Does a predetermined outcome mean free will is immaterial, then? An illusion? That it makes no difference?

But as the gang showed, it wasn't predetermined. She influenced things, but never was fully in control. All it took was the introduction of two wild cards, Faith and Willow and Jasmine's plans were in trouble. Add in Fred getting infected and the plan began to unravel. Even Jasmine had limitations.

I try to stay out of discussions about free will, because to me it is an illusion, a very important and powerful illusion. When in the Buffyverse, I maintain that it is real. As such, it is incredibly important and makes the characters who they are. Jasmine didn't take this free will away UNTIL people were enthralled. Everything before then is a testament to those characters. Jasmine didn't negate free will, she used it. Free will was very important to her plans.

[> [> [> [> [> [> "Influence" vs "Manipulation" (slight spoiler Jasmine) -- WickedBuffy ::staying focused on the Jasmine/free will::, 11:10:55 05/31/03 Sat

There's a huge difference between "influence" and "manipulation". Madison Ave* influences, Jasmine manipulated.

"It was Cordy's choice, but Jasmine knew what she was going to choose."

"Sure Jasmine knew what choice they would make, but that didn't mean they didn't make those choices."

It's like some forms of belief in God**. Jasmine took God's place, but with a negative motive. God (Higher power) supposedly knows all..and knows what choice we are going to take. But God has no evil will..with a desire for a determined outcome. He doesn't create choices to create an outcome. Jasmine had this larger knowledge of the plan..and then did things to direct people. Having that larger knowledge made it something less than free will.

"Jasmine didn't negate free will, she used it. Free will was very important to her plans."

Jasmine had Godlike knowledge..but then..took that superknowledge to achieve a desire...In that sense it's not a completely free will environment. It's more a mockery of choice and free will than the true intentions of them.


*"Madison Ave." as used here refers to media advertising and not the actual street or anyone living on that street.

**this example is for illustration purposes only and does not claim to represent everyone's view or non-view of God.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Just something we will have to agree to disagree on -- lunasea, 13:07:27 05/31/03 Sat

I give my kids a choice, clean your room or go to bed. Is that really a choice? I have stacked the deck and I know what they are going to choose, what I want them to. My kids still feel like it is their choice and they learn about logical consequences.

Madison Avenue employs some what could be considered underhanded techniques, including repeated showings in order to "brain wash" people. They use music and images in order to control us. They even pretty much lie. Ever get a hamburger that looks remotely like what it does on TV?

Just something we will have to agree to disagree on. Free will is a mental thing. Jasmine doesn't take it away or negate it. She relies on it to make her plan work. If say WR&H was controlling the gang, they wouldn't be able to choose what Jasmine wants them to. Free will was very important to her.

And God, benevolent all-knowing guy up in the clouds, does get involved. It is called Grace. God does have a desire, that we all end up in heaven. He does all sorts of things to help us get there. He accepts that we may not end up there and lets us do that, but he isn't quite hands off.

UNTIL the enthrallment, that is the position Jasmine is in. She cannot do anything about Faith or Willow. She maneuvers things so that they go her way, but how is Skip offering Cordy things any different than say what happens to St. Jeanne D'arc or St. Paul? Is Grace itself a violation? People can still choose to turn God down. He just knows they won't. Does that make those people less admirable?

What about the visions? They know that Angel is going to react to them and do whatever it is they suggest. The PTB's have been molding him into their champion, something that will be needed much later. Is this a violation of Angel's free will?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> There's always a choice -- Valheru, 18:27:25 05/31/03 Sat

I give my kids a choice, clean your room or go to bed. Is that really a choice? I have stacked the deck and I know what they are going to choose, what I want them to. My kids still feel like it is their choice and they learn about logical consequences.

Yes, it is a choice. As humans, we can't take away the freedom to choose, only the parameters and environment from which to choose from. Let me use two extreme examples:

1) You are encased in cement, with only your head exposed. A man has a gun to your head. You can't escape and there is no possibility of being extracted from the situation by an outside influence. The man says to you: "Say 'hello' or I'll kill you." Is there any choice? Yes. You can choose not to say "hello." The consequence is extreme, but you still have the choice to determine your fate: "hello" or death.

2) You are encased in cement, with only your head exposed. Do you still have free will? Yes. Your choices are limited to what you can only do with your head, but you still have choices.

Choices can be very difficult, very easy, or very limiting, but there's always a choice.

Your kids could decide to clean their room. Or they could decide to go to bed. Or they could decide to do neither. All you can do is change the circumstances of their choices, to entice them into making the choice you want them to. But it is ultimately their decision to make, no matter what you do (short of killing them, but I'd advise against that :P )

[> [> [> [> Just another quick thought -- lunasea, 09:06:33 05/31/03 Sat

We can contrast what happened to Cordy with what happened to the First Slayer. Cordy was manipulated into the higher realms and tricked into giving her consent every step of the way. She still gave it though. Those choices are still a testament of the hero she became. After she made her choice, she no longer had choices to make.

The First Slayer wasn't given ANY choices. She was chained to the earth and raped by the demon essence. Subsequent Slayers are chosen. They don't make the choice. However, once they are chosen, they still have choice and what they do after that is a testment of who they are.

Cordy became heroic by the choices that she made, which eventually led to her no longer having choices. Buffy became heroic by the choices that she made in order to deal with the lack of choice she had in being chosen.

It is an interesting exploration of choice and heroism itself.

[> [> [> Personal fanwank on why Skip was lying -- KdS, 13:22:58 05/30/03 Fri

As I see it, assuming Jasmine is telling the truth about being a Power That Is, the Powers are related to, and specifically in control of this dimension. By my interpretation, however, the Senior Partners of Wolfram & Hart are from another dimension and seeking to take control of this one. Hence, while Jasmine could have taken advantage of events after Angel won Connor's life in the Trial, the events leading up to that point depended on the Senior Partners arranging Darla's resurrection, which according to my interpretation of the natures of the Partners and Jasmine, she could not have influenced.

[> [> Pawns. -- Rob, 12:16:43 05/30/03 Fri

Jasmine claims that the past lives of Angel Investigations was manipulated in a very specific way in order that her incarnation should come to pass. It required Connor, which in turn required Angel and Darla together. Beyond this, we are required to go right back to 'The Trial', (an incredible leap for an important point) for the argument that in attempting and succeeding in passing the tasks required to spare Darla from death, Angel won a life for Connor. Darla could not be saved, as the PG Wodehouse man explained, because she had already died. But Angel's acceptance of death so that Darla might live as a human put him, so to speak, one in credit. Later, Wesley, Lorne and Gunn's actions all led to the circumstance in which Connor and Cordelia consummated their ('weird and icky') relationship, so that it appears that the characters all were pawns. I'm not happy with this portrayal of events, and will continue to refuse to believe it until it is placed beyond doubt. Particularly while Jasmine is portrayed as such a flawed character with so many flawed thoguhts.

Here's my take on the situation, or rather Buffy's take on the situation from "Amends": "What, some great honking evil takes credit for bringing you back and you buy it?"

I don't believe that Jasmine set into play every single action that has happened on the show since the beginning, although I do believe that the specific reason that she wants everybody to believe that is to accentuate and exaggerate her own fabulousness.

Some of her words I completely buy, such as her explanation for Connor's birth, because it perfectly works symbolically, emotionally, and mythologically. I do not, however, believe that she orchestrated the situation so that it would lead up to him winning that life for Darla. I believe that she co-opted Cordy's powers after "Birthday," but I don't believe that she is the one who, through Doyle, caused Cordy to have the visions in the first place. I think she is taking credit for things she didn't do, but I don't think everything she said should be discredited.


[> [> [> I wonder why she suddenly lost all that previous precise control over events. -- WickedBuffy, 12:57:42 05/30/03 Fri

[> [> [> [> She didn't forsee everything or really anything -- lunasea, 13:25:00 05/30/03 Fri

She understood all the Players involved, but she didn't forsee Fred being infected, which was the thread that once pulled unraveled everything.

Also, she didn't see Wesley bringing Faith in. Faith was key because it was her interaction with Angel that helped him get over Angelus. What did Jasmine want with Angelus? Who knows when we will find out. Not sure if the writers even know yet. The thing with Faith, though, got Angel back to Angel quickly when he was resouled. We weren't left with broody, possibly ineffective Angel. Instead he put things together really quickly and figured out who Jasmine was. As she tells him, she should have seen that coming.

This was another thing she didn't forsee. She can only know the players she is concerned with. She can't see the future. Faith really screwed things up for her. So did Willow so quickly resouling Angel. Jasmine was concerned with the major players that she didn't count on people like Faith and Willow.

Lilah may have been another loose canon, so that is why she killed her so quickly. Lilah is one smart cookie and had amazing contacts, hence the book she got on the pandimensional black market. Jasmine wanted this player out of the way.

It is hard to keep track of a handful of pawns. She got tripped up by the othere pawns and circumstances she didn't see coming.

[> How to Cram Two Years' Worth of Exposition into One 42 Minute Episode -- cjl, 09:27:31 05/30/03 Fri

We wanted an explanation. We wanted back story. We wanted Connor to quit whining, get off his ass and DO something. When are we going to learn never to wish for these things around the vengeance demons that populate ME?

Notes on "Inside Out":

-- I swear, DeKnight must be a masochist. "Kill off one of Buffy's most beloved characters? Sure, Joss, anything for you. Write the crucial first episode of the season for ANGEL as my first script for the series? No problem! Cover all the exposition for Cordelia's ridiculously complicated back story in my first episode as a director? It'll be my pleasure!" (That said, I think he's found his dream job on ANGEL, where self-torture is practically the main character's stock in trade.)

I don't know if any director could have made the torrents of exposition in this episode sound natural and flow smoothly, but DeKnight did a creditable job for a first-timer. (The shooting scripts for "Inside Out" must have weighed a ton.) Still wish Joss, Jeff & Co. could have parsed out the explanatory dialogue over the course of a few episodes (unfortunately, the plot arc of 4.18-4.22 wouldn't allow it). When watching all that smoothly-directed yammering, I thought to myself: "Such smoothly-directed yammering! When are they going to hit something?"

-- Hated, HATED what they did to Skip. I know, it was necessary for the plotline, but the idea of an affable, blue-collar working demon, a "commuter" hellspawn, was one of the most inspired conceits of the Greenwalt era, and it was a shame to watch him turn into another trash-talking mercenary for a Higher Power. Better that Wes killed him. Didn't want to see him after this ep, anyway. (Clem, at least, never lost his charm.)

-- Americans have a saying: "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit." Skip's inventory of manipulations of the PTB sounds exactly like an attempt to baffle the Fang Gang with bullshit, covering the holes in a mostly-improvised plan by Cordy's demonspawn by hinting at an impossibly complex "you are naught but pawns" scenario. I seriously doubt Jasmine's influence reached back as far back as "The Trial" or "War Zone," although I can't deny she's made the most of her opportunities....

-- Anybody else think Gunn's little speech was inspired by his time with Gwen in "Players"? Gwen was apparently trapped in one of those exciting but lonely lives that hot chicks with superpowers usually endure in Joss Whedon shows, but she flipped the board over and redefined her existence. The power of self-determination was as electric as anything else Gwen was channeling in "Players," and Gunn seemed to be energized by the message, as if remembering something about himself that he'd forgotten during his tenure at A.I.

-- Julie Benz! Yay! (I repeat: "Julie Benz! Yay!") At this point, I'm shameless when it comes to Darla. Vampire? Resurrected human? Spokeswoman for the PTB? Don't care. Just keep bringing her back. (Maybe a Darlabot for S5. . .) Her dialogue seemed to be a bit too flowery in places, but I kind of brushed that off with the thought that this is first time we've seen this particular Darla: pure spirit, connected to the Light, and fighting for someone she loves.

Speaking of which...

-- Evil!Cordy vs. Good!Darla: Shadowkat could probably roll on for three pages about how this subverts the traditional gal friday and femme fatale stereotypes in noir (and she has!), but I'll just note the reversal, and what a Level Ten mindfuck it must have been for Connor. I will also note (quite mysteriously) how much a mindfuck this epic confrontation is for the audience, especially given the events of 4.22. (And no, I'm not going to say any more about that.) Is it ever "right" to obliterate a life for the "greater good"? Is it even possible to define these terms? Keep these questions handy--you're gonna need them.

-- Thinking back on the birth of Jasmine...This might be the last we see of Cordelia Chase. (I hope not.) OK, that's depressing. OTOH, the episode ended with Gina Torres standing resplendently naked in front of her dutiful servants. Can't knock an episode that ends with Ginna Torres Naked. ("Got no argument from me." -- Laurence Fishburne.)

Next: Shiny Happy People, or: Fred Unleashed

[> [> Thanks TCH...a re-issue of my take on Cordy vs. Darla thing -- s'kat, 10:53:12 05/30/03 Fri

TCH, thank you for cheering me up today...wonderful reviews agree with you on pretty much everything. Also agree with cjl's comments. Although - I'm not that upset about Skip, since I missed the episode in which he was introduced. Have never seen That Vision Thing, and the episode I did see him in Birthday -I hated so much...that it's really hard for me to think of him in a good light. So, I guess I always saw Skip as well an evil mercernary. Outside of that? Agree on everything else.

In return for the cool posts, here's my take on the Cordy vs. Darla thing.

Here's how I compared Darla and Cordelia for an essay I wrote some time ago:

Darla and Cordelia: The Good Mother - Flipping Fatal and The Gentile

Cordelia is shown early on in Season 3 as a better mother than Darla. When she attempts to help Darla, comforts her, Darla goes for Cordyís jugular. (Offspring, Ats S3). After Darla dies for her child, it is Cordelia who changes the child, Connorís, diapers and holds him and rocks him. Cordelia becomes his surrogate mother. (Dad ñ Couplet S3 Ats) Connor is kidnapped when Cordelia is away on vacation. (Loyalty ñ Sleep Tight S3 Ats) And when Connor returns, it is Cordelia who wipes his pain away. She is dressed in white robes and literally glows when he sees her ñ the good mother personified, holy and nourishing. (A New World S3 Ats.) Darla by contrast is a vampire, dressed in dark clothes, seen in S3 drinking the blood of innocent children, violent. (Offspring-Quickening S3 Ats) Her child eventually changes her into a better person, one willing to stake herself to save his life. (Lullaby S3 Ats.) Cordelia starts out wonderful, but once impregnated, becomes the embodiment of evil. Cordeliaís motherhood changes her into a blood drinking, evil monster, who kisses the Beast and desires an innocent girlís blood in order to have her child. (Apocalypse Nowish - Inside Out S4 Ats.) Unlike Darla, Cordy doesnít sacrifice herself to have her child ñ she sacrifices someone else.

The irony is that Cordy requests the blood of an innocent to have her child while Darla, a vampire, takes her own life to have hers. The two archetypes, gentile good mother and fatal are flipped. Cordelia seduces the virginal son, Connor, in order to give birth to a child or god. (Apocalypse Nowish Ats S4) Angel pseudo-rapes Darla, and accidentally impregnates her ñ to give birth to Connor. (Reprise Ats S2) Cordelia and Connorís sex is shown as almost romantic, under the sheets, not rough, soft, passionate, while Darla and Angelís sex is rough and violent. Both Darla and Cordelia technically sleep with their surrogate children. Angel is Darlaís vampire child ñ the one she gave birth too ages ago with her blood. (Becoming Part I, Btvs S2, The Prodigal Ats S1, & Darla Ats S2) Connor is Cordeliaís surrogate child, the one she adopted from Darlaís ashes. (Lullaby Ats S3) By sleeping with their sons, they become impossibly and mystically pregnant. And their pregnancies change them to reflect the souls of their children. Darla becomes the good mother, Cordelia the femme fatale. Cordelia is in a sense punished for wanting to protect her family at all costs while Darla is redeemed for it.

In case the audience doesnít catch the significance of this comparison, the writers bring Darla back to attempt to convince her son Connor to go against Cordeliaís wishes and not sacrifice an innocent life. In Inside Out Ats S4, Darla, the evil vampire who had eaten millions of innocent lives, resurfaces in an attempt to tell her son not to spill innocent blood for his unborn child. His soul ironically made it possible for her to attempt to convey this message to him, just as it is his childís soul that makes it possible for Cordelia to kill the innocent girl when he refuses to do so himself. Cordelia tells him Darla is lying to him and he believes her, he allows himself to succumb to the fatale and by doing so, is punished in classic noir fashion. But the twist is that the fatale was the gal Friday, the good motherÖwhile his vampire mother is the one attempting to save him and in classic good mother/Gal Friday fashion ñ fails.


(And I'm pretty sure that was just one page or at least it is in my word program. ;-) )

[> [> [> Gentile????? -- just wondering, 22:46:52 05/30/03 Fri

Shadowkat, did you really mean Gentile here? As in Not Jewish?

Or maybe gentle? Or something else I am not seeing?

[> [> [> [> I think it might be Gentil -- Tchaikovsky, 04:07:47 05/31/03 Sat

As in the French for 'kind'. An archetype for the generous spirited, well-mannered character. Certainly rings a bell, and I'm fairly sure sk wasn't talking about non-Jews.


[> [> [> [> [> You're right: It's a noir term - Gentil -- s'kat, 08:23:27 05/31/03 Sat

Gentil - means kind or the opposite of fatale.

Had zip to do with religion.

The problem I always had with French in school was remembering which words
to put e's on the ends of and which one's not to.

[> [> [> [> [> [> If you're being realistic in French... -- KdS, 12:25:47 05/31/03 Sat

The e on the end of the adjective comes when you're discussing a female person (or female-gendered noun). Hence for Cordy/Darla fatale/gentile would be correct. No idea if the French feminine gentile has anything to do with non-Jewish Gentile.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> You double the L in the feminine: "gentille". Problem solved. -- Caira, 20:05:12 05/31/03 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> the roots are related -- anom, 23:53:14 05/31/03 Sat

"No idea if the French feminine gentile has anything to do with non-Jewish Gentile."

Turns out they are related--both come from Latin gens, nation. According to, "gentle" comes from "Middle English gentil, from Old French, from Latin gentilis of a gens [Roman patrilineal clan], of one's family, from gent-, gens gens, nation; akin to Latin gignere to beget -- more at KIN." The earliest meaning was "belonging to a family of high social station." People in those families were said to be "of gentle birth," which does not mean that birth was any easier on their mothers! "Gentile" came directly from Latin, not through French: "Middle English, from Late Latin gentilis, from Latin gent-, gens nation." The definition is "a person of a non-Jewish nation or of non-Jewish faith."

So the common element is gens, meaning "nation." This is direct translation of Hebrew goy, which is used in Yiddish to mean "Gentile" but literally means "nation" in Hebrew. The plural is sometimes used in Hebrew to mean "the nations" (i.e., other than the People of Israel), but the word really refers to any nation--when God tells Abraham "I will make you a great nation," the word used in the Torah is goy.

Shadowkat, I think the problem is that most of us (certainly those who posted to ask about this, & certainly me!) don't read many noir essays & were unfamiliar w/this use of the word. If you don't know a word has a given meaning, you can't figure it out "within the context of the sentence," esp. if it has a more common meaning that doesn't make sense in that context. This is not the 1st time someone writing on a specialized topic on this board has done so w/out taking into account that not everyone reading it has the background in that topic & its specialized vocabulary. It's not that you need to substitute another term; just explain the one you use, if it's obscure like "gentille." Saves a lot of confusion.

[> [> [> [> [> in English.... "genteel"? or is that a different meaning in this respect. -- WickedBuffy, 12:44:14 05/31/03 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: in English.... "genteel"? or is that a different meaning in this respect. -- s'kat, 14:00:24 05/31/03 Sat

It's supposed to be the opposite of Fatale - which is film noir term coined by French critics in the 1950's to describe as certain character type. The opposite of that is the Gal Friday/Good Mother motif - which they state is Gentile (not to be confused with Jewish term Gentile or the
English term Genteel. ) The problem with language is one word can mean more than one thing.

Foil - a fencing term and a literary term.

Corpses - Body of, or dead body.

Fatal - death, meaning the end, or in this context - the deadly woman

Gentile (I took it from a noir essay) - pure, kind, or in this context - the good woman

(The term Gentil)

See? Confusing. That is why it is important to figure out the meaning of the word within the "CONTEXT" of the sentence. Not based on an outside experience of it.

If it's that big an issue? I'll change the bloody term to Good Mother. (sigh)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> I'm just enjoying the learning. :> -- WickedBuffy, 18:55:31 05/31/03 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: in English.... "genteel"? -- mamcu, 07:26:55 06/01/03 Sun

I'm 99% sure that English "genteel" is the same as French "gentile" because the meaning is very close (essentially, "nice" is one meaning of both) and the pronunciation would also be very close, esp. the "teel" part.

"Gentile" as opposed to "Jew" definitely could be related to "gentile", but I can't find a definite answer.

[> [> Agreed on blue-collared Skip -- Tchaikovsky, 04:13:24 05/31/03 Sat

It's rather symbolic of what has been lost form the series since Greenwalt's departure- that ever so ridiculous idea- the amusing juxtaposition, the knock-you-off-your feet opening of 'Judgement'. The Lorne-ness of Angel. I love Seaosn Four, but I did treasure that Greenwalt touch- and the way it complemented the bleakness of Minear and the character driven, thematic plotting of Joss Whedon.


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