May 2003 posts

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Buffy geek test? -- dream, 10:48:13 05/30/03 Fri

You want a Buffy geek test? Letís make one!

This is just a start -please add to it. Maybe someone knows how to program it so it can calculate automatically?

Have you ever referenced the following books, authors, philosophers, or psychologists in discussing Buffy? (1 point each)

T.S. Eliot
The Iliad
The Odyssey
The Once and Future King
Philip Pullman
Terry Pratchett
Anne Rice
The XMen comics

Have you ever referenced the following movies/tv shows when discussing Buffy? (1 point each)
The Matrix
The Star Wars Trilogy
Lord of the Rings/Two Towers
Star Trek (one point for each of the incarnations)
Mad Max
Twin Peaks
The Prisoner
The Twilight Zone
The X-files

Have you ever discussed the following topics in regards to Buffy? (1 point each)
Intuition vs. science/ways of knowing
Free will

Have you ever discussed errors in Buffy concerningÖ (1 point each)
Laws of physics
Ancient languages
Historical accuracy

How many Buffy episodes have you watched on first airing?
Just a few (no points)
About a quarter (1 point)
About half (2 points)
About æ (3 points)
Almost all (4 points)
Never missed one! (8 points)

When watching (past tense rule!) new episodes of Buffy, do you have Ö (1 point each)
A favorite chair
A favorite beverage
A favorite snack
A ritual of any kind
A drinking game
A notebook

How many of the following Buffygeek abbreviations do you understand? (1 point each)

How often do you log into Buffy websites?

Couple times a month (1 point)
Few times a week (3 points)
Every day (5 points)
This is my homepage (7 points)

Do you have or have you ever bought any of the following pieces of Buffy merchandise? (1 point each)
Action figures
Trading cards
Desktop wallpaper
Buffy novels
Buffy script books
Books of Buffy criticism
Candy bars
Anything from the ebay Buffy auction (3 point, 6 if you spent over $500)

Buffy comes up in my regular, off-line coversation..
Once in a while (1 point)
At least once a week (2 points)
Just about every day (3 points)

Add one point for every Buffy discussion board you regularly post on.
Add one point for every movie youíve seen ONLY because a Buffy cast member was involved.
Add 3 points for every Buffy convention youíve attended.
Add 2 points for every non-convention Buffy-related event youíve attend (Ghost of the Machine gig, for example).
Add one point if you mentally (or physically!) keep a list of top ten favorite episodes under constant revision.
Add one point if you do the same for ten worst episodes.
Add one point if you've dreamed about Buffy, five if you do so regularly.
Add thre points if you've written fanfiction.

[> I have a few topics to add, if you don't mind... -- Rhysdux (who is in a silly mood today), 11:49:37 05/30/03 Fri

You mentioned the following, Dream:

Have you ever discussed the following topics in regards to Buffy? (1 point each)
Intuition vs. science/ways of knowing
Free will

To which I would like to add:

1) Good and evil?

2) Mythology [double the points if you discussed two kinds of mythology, triple if you discussed three or more kinds of myth or mythology (i.e., Greek, Roman, Norse, Mayan, Hindu and Aborigine)when delving into a topic]

3) The nature of reality?

4) The nature of heroism?

5) Amorality?

6) Existentialism?

7) Objectivity v. Subjectivity?

8) Responsibility to the world/others v. responsibility to oneself?

9) Guilt and responsibility for actions?

10) Moral ambiguity?

11) Ethics?

12) Metaphysics?

13) the nature of a soul (what it is, who has one, how souls affect people, what the soulless lack, etc.)?

14) Dualism?

15) Shadow selves?

16) Symbolism?

[> [> Yay! Thanks, that's great! -- dream (looking for more input), 11:52:27 05/30/03 Fri

[> [> And..."Have you ever laid awake in bed at night, analyzing Buffy?" -- Rob (raises his hand), 12:54:17 05/30/03 Fri

[> [> "Have you ever considered, or actually done, academic coursework on Buffy?" -- KdS, 13:18:49 05/30/03 Fri

[> [> Don't forget psychology.... -- Liz, 17:34:08 05/30/03 Fri

Points for every character you've diagnosed with an actual psychiatric disorder. Or personality type, I suppose, but that's far easier.

Bonus points if you've actually gone and looked at the DSM IV criteria for said disorders.

And far more bonus points if you've read up on a disorder solely because you think someone from Buffy might have it.

- Liz

[> sorry to be obsessive about little details but... -- Alison, 12:13:07 05/30/03 Fri

it's Ghost of the *Robot*!..there..I feel much better now.
Keep up the good work on the test. :)

[> [> What geek isn't? :) -- dream, 12:47:54 05/30/03 Fri

[> do i get extra points for this? -- gillie, 14:01:37 05/30/03 Fri

yes, i did a self-portrait with buffy and spike.
yes, i entered it into a juried show.
and yes, it won the top prize.

sad, eh?

[> [> Oh, I give are the Supreme Buffy Geek!! -- dub ;o), 14:21:04 05/30/03 Fri

[> [> [> i was amused by the the juror's statement about my piece -- gillie, 15:02:52 05/30/03 Fri

"I responded to the psychological intensity of Amie Gillingham's "Confessions of a Spuffy Addict", which creates a powerful rapport between the foregrounded figure and the televised scene - with her hand outstretched, she seems to be drawing its energy into herself (vamping the vampire show, so to speak). The TV couple looks removed and impersonal; all the drama is taking place in the viewer's psyche. "

i'll recind some geekdom points to whoever can tell me
what episode my piece is from ;)

[> [> [> [> It's a scene from OMWF. -- HonorH, 16:12:42 05/30/03 Fri

Now, where are those Geek Points?

[> [> [> [> [> kowtowing to HonorH -- gillie (humbly handing over geek points), 16:17:43 05/30/03 Fri

and the song? (oh-so-obvious by now)

[> [> [> OT. Dub, you have mail. -- Cactus Watcher, 17:07:25 05/30/03 Fri

[> [> [> [> Got it--thanks! -- dub ;o), 18:02:19 05/30/03 Fri

[> No B5 references? -- 3man, 02:43:01 05/31/03 Sat

Now I'm really hurt :(

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang ("Spoilers to "Touched/Bullet", no later) -- KdS, 13:26:07 05/30/03 Fri

A pretty good couple of episodes, detailed discussion follows. Please mark spoilers for later eps in replies.

On Touched:

Unfortunately, from the discussion of the ep on the board and synopses on other sites, it appears that all three love scenes were cut due to the pre-21:00 time slot - after hearing all about Kennedy's tongue stud, we never got to see it :-( Hence this review may be a little lacking.

In general, my reaction was a little mixed. From the discussion of these eps on the board, I was afraid for a while that Touched was arguing that Buffy was superior, that she did deserve to be totally in charge, and that all the other Scoobies should have just recognised her perfection. I think that most of that was because I got a misleading impression of the Spike/Buffy scene - his praise for her was all about her good qualities in isolation, it wasn't specifically saying that she was superior to everyone else. Moreover, Spike struck me as very clearly bordering on irrational in his loyalty to Buffy in this ep. He has no real justification for physically attacking Faith, and while I'm fairly hostile to Spike anyway, I was really shocked by his casual, and utterly sincere, offer to Buffy to kill Faith. If he thinks what happened between Buffy and the other Scoobs is justification for murder, that humanity of his really is a work in progress. I do agree with the people who were unhappy about Spike's downplaying of his own intellect and ability to plan - but RRK does write Spike oddly, her portrayal of him in Tabula Rasa is utterly impossible to reconcile with what every other ep says about vampires. The Spuffy non-sex scene does, very slightly, disturb me in its implications, but that's something for a later essay on the whole S7 Spuffy dynamic.

The Wood/Faith scene reminded me of Gunn/Gwen, and I don't think that was just because of skin tone. I assume, from past casting spoilers, that Faith isn't going to die, and so I think that after Players we're getting a final admission on BtVS that non-eternal-relationship sex isn't necessarily a bad thing deserving savage punishment. Wood was more likable than ever before in his scene with Faith - open, uncondescending. I hate to think that we're meant to believe that Spike beating the crap out of him was salutory.

The one scene in the episode that I really didn't like was the Willow/Kennedy discussion. My immediate reaction to Willow's belief that sex will turn her evil is "Huh?". To misquote an earlier ep, I think she's getting delusions of Angel... As far as we've seen before, Willow only goes evil when under the influence of negative emotions, which doesn't seem to be likely here. The dialogue linked it to the Willen business in KiM, but if the guilt hex was still a problem, I'd have liked to have seen it mentioned since that ep. The one possibility I can see is that it was ME's very oblique, gun-shy way of trying to deal with the "Tara was shot because of lesbian sex" issue, but if so it was so oblique that it completely slipped past me. Maybe actually having Willow say "The last time I made love to someone they got their guts shot out" would have been considered too provocative. It does explain how depressed Willow's been, though, if she's been too scared to have an orgasm for over twelve months...

Minor issues: while the hand-held camera work in the opening scene has been interpreted as referring to the leaderless confusion at Revelo Drive, it reminded me of various reality TV shows, where you have the inevitable mass argument sequence. And finally, being spoilt for the introduction of the Scythe, it was incredibly painful to see unspoiled people speculating in the run-up to this ep about what Caleb "had" of Buffy's. There were so many cooler ideas on the board than a physical weapon.

On Magic Bullet:

As before, the Jasmine arc strikes me as being well done but very, very, obvious. There was an interesting undercurrent here of specific parody of Christian doctrine and worship - the whole blood rite thing, and Jasmine consuming her followers in communion instead of vice-versa. I'm wondering if the glowy eating people was a reference to Lykka in Lexx, or Miss Brunner in Final Program, or both, or neither.

A couple of nice back-references to earlier eps here. Wes's denunciation of Fred as an evil seductive siren harks back to his possessed ranting in Billy in a way that only confirms again how much of that was Wes's own dubious attitudes. It was also fun in a slightly immoral way to see Lorne finally get some payback for Wes beating him senseless in Sleep Tight.

Plot nitpicking - Fred shooting Angel through Jasmine would need a pretty powerful handgun and a steel-jacketed bullet to work reliably. Fortunately the bullet did look jacketed, but if the gun had been powerful enough Fred's small frame would have had big trouble with the recoil. And why do Fred and Angel have to look at Jasmine to be freed from her thrall after ingesting her blood, but Wes, Lorne and Gunn feel an instant release?

[> Spoilery further reactions to "Magic Bullet" (spilers to END S4) -- KdS, 13:27:44 05/30/03 Fri

With hindsight, Connor's speech about tracking lessons is a mild turning point for Angel. As I see it, in Sleep Tight and ever since, Angel told himself that whatever his problems with Holtz, Holtz was a family man who would treat Connor decently, even in a Hell dimension. The revelation of just how abusive Holtz was might well be the first step in Angel's decision to believe him to be unsalvageable.

Spoilery suggestion - Cordelia grabbing Angel's hand comes off as simply emotionally manipulative, but I wonder if it was a set up for the reported original plan for Cordy to kill Jasmine.

[> [> One final unspoilery thought on "Bullet" -- KdS, 13:37:06 05/30/03 Fri

Did anyone else think Angel was going to bite Cordy and then either bite everyone else or make them feed off him?

[> Spec based on Magic Bullet (mild spoiler Sacrifice) -- lunasea, 14:04:27 05/30/03 Fri

In "Magic Bullet" we see a conspiracy theorist's worst nightmare, with Fred playing the conspiracy theorist. Even the book store guy considers her paranoid. One thing about conspiracy theorists, they are nuts. The gang is going to go off half-cocked to end Jasmine's global domination scheme. Only Angel really knows what is going on and what is at stake and as usual, he will fight for one reason and then justify it after the fact using another reason.

I think since Fred is the one that plays conspiracy theorist, she is the one that will have the most doubts about what they did. She already has thoughts about what they did to Professor Sidel, as she will tell Gunn later. As the reality of what they are going to do sinks in, Fred is going to have a lot of problems.

Have to see how that plays out next season.

having another go -- MsGiles, 14:33:31 05/30/03 Fri

Ok it got archived almost immediately last time. So please forgive me , but I'm going to have another go.
a plea!(in early Willow mode) please comment in some way or form. If this seems like trite drivel or pompous burble then tell me and I'll know, maybe I can do better. If there's a posting summer school, like the fanfic uni, I'll go to it! I liked writing this, but half of the liking was thinking someone might read it. Maybe I posted at a bad time?

I originally posted some of this as a contribution to a thread on Spike's soul, where it made not much sense (maybe it still doesn't). 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. Then, when I posted it again it got archived immediately (*sob*).

I've taken the footnotes out and have a postscript instead. Maybe the footnotes were crap. It's a bit OT having the Peter Rabbit song at the end, but it just kept going through my head.

The theme of the post is thinking around the whole 'vampire with a soul/without a soul/ Buffy staking vampires and having relationships with them' issue, as it relates to S6.

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.

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.

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.

Postscript: war and more war
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

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)

[> Preserving...(too busy to reply, plus Friday night isn't the best time to get lots of replies) -- Random, 15:44:54 05/30/03 Fri

[> Re: echoing the preservation -- aliera, 16:06:49 05/30/03 Fri

And thank you for the essay, Ms Giles. Wish I had something to add but I'm rushing off also. Hope this stays up a while! Oh and in case it does and I post back are you spoiled for season 7?

[> [> thanks for that, Random as well -- MsGiles, 16:22:04 05/30/03 Fri

I'm *so* paranoid, I thought maybe I was a troll. My social skills are never A1 and on a board I can't do that apologetic face thing.

I'm not spoiled for S7, but I don't mind being spoiled in a general sense, ie in S6 I knew Willow was going bad, that something happened about Spikes soul, but I didn't know about Giles coming back, so that was a great surprise. It's tricky, trying to have unspoiled conversations, I'll probably just give up after a bit, it's so difficult for other people.

[> Doing my bit to preserve as well. Deserving of a reply I can't give right now. -- Just George, 17:01:25 05/30/03 Fri

[> I've often wondered about this ... -- Liz, 17:28:03 05/30/03 Fri

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.

OT to what I was going to say, but oh well: You could make a case for the reverse as well. The stranger here is not Angelus but *Angel*. When Angel turns evil, something isn't given to him; something is instead taken away. You don't perform an exorcism on him to "cure" him, you instead put his soul back into his body. AFAIK (and I may very well be wrong here; I haven't seen all of S4/5 or any of AtS), you don't do *anything* to remove a demon in order to reensoul a vampire. IOW, saying that a person is possessed by a demon as a vampire is just a convenient way of rationalizing things -- it allows you (to use your terms) to catagorize them as an Other.

Beyond that, is there ever anything involving a vampire with neither soul nor demon? I suppose that would be the defining case.

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.... 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.... By S5 he's playing an important part in the fight to save Dawn and the world, but he has no sense of righteousness.

This is IMHO the biggest inconsistancy in the Buffyverse, and perhaps the flaw that's undermined the later seasons. With Angel/Angelus, the difference between souled and unsouled is clear-cut; with Spike, the difference seems nearly irrelevant.

*frowns* A potential explaination for this (and feel free to shoot me down, or point me to where this has been said before) could be that lacking a soul doesn't completely alter how you think; it simply removes all your inhibitions. The difference between Angel and Angelus is so dramatic because Angel is overcompensating for who he was as Angelus. [1] (Vice versa also applies -- c.f. I Have Eyes Only For You -- but not as greatly.) The difference between Spike and William (i.e. ensouled Spike) is less dramatic because (and on this point I actually have essays backing me up) Spike is trying to overcompensate for *William's* personality -- Spike is trying to behave completely opposite to what William is doing. Spike is a wuss at heart; he's simply being macho to compensate for his real personality.

- Liz

[1] *light bulb* Hey, I have relevance! Angelus is the core personality; Angel is grafted onto this. See? Proof of what I said above.

But then I just argued that Spike was the complete reverse. *sigh* Never mind.

Feel free to cite, like, entire seasons of AtS to prove me wrong.

[> [> Re: I've often wondered about this ... -- MsGiles, 20:11:41 05/30/03 Fri

Thanks for replying! I haven't seen AtS either yet, but S3 starts Monday over here (UK) so looking forward to it.

I like the idea of something being taken away rather than added: it's only because Giles states the demon theory that I followed it. It seems to link up with the whole origins-of-the Buffyverse story, that the earth was colonised by demons who got thrown out, the last one mixed in with a human to make a vampire. But you're right: if a demon had been added in, you'd have thought it would have to be taken away. Unless it's still in there with the soul, so the body has two drivers fighting for the wheel. I wondered why a resouled vampire didn't become a human, like Anya becomes human and mortal when she retires from being a demon, so maybe this could be why. Angelus says somewhere in S2, I think in 'Angel', that he holds himself back from biting Buffy, but he actually wants to.

So that might work for Angel, that something goes out *and* something comes in to make a vampire. But what about Spike, then? The demon that's driving him does seem to have an awful lot in common with William, including, as you say, William's issues of wimpiness to compensate for.

But the thing for me about S6 was Warren, supposedly equipped with this wonderful soul, contrasted with Spike, constantly being put down for not having one. Warren, before he ended badly, seemed well on the way to becoming a completely conscienceless manipulator and murderer, someone who, had he got an obsession for Buffy, wouldn't have bothered trying to help out the scoobs or support Dawn. he would just have tried to come up with some gadget to subdue or imprison her.

Like in Hells Bells, the humans were tending to get worse than the demons all through S6. The demons used to represent the things about the humans that were bad. in S6 the humans left the demons standing and just got on with it.

[> [> [> Couple points -- Finn Mac Cool, 22:05:20 05/30/03 Fri

In "Angel", Giles states about vampires: "It may have the movements, the, the memories, even the personality of the person that it took over, but i-it's still a demon at the core, there is no halfway." If we take this as canon, then vampires and humans are seperate entities, but that doesn't mean the vampire doesn't retain the human personality; it's just altered by the demonic perspective.

As for the Warren - Spike parallel, I agree that ME was going for that. Yes, Warren was pretty much an amoral bastard. And, no, if he fell for Buffy, I don't see him trying to woo her over like Spike has. But an important thing to consider is that Spike liked being Buffy's slave. He has an odd, masochistic bent where he sees women almost as objects of worship, and that he's beneath them, getting pleasure out of the never ending quest to please them. Warren, on the other hand, doesn't have much in the way of masochism. As such, he wouldn't derive pleasure from kneeling before Buffy the way Spike does.

Now, this is just my personal view about the difference between humans and demons on morality:

Imagine a spectrum colored in Red and Blue. To the far left of the spectrum is pure Red; to the far right of the spectrum is pure Blue. Right in the center is a tiny little sliver of pure Purple, and the extreme colors of each side gradually develop a purple hue as they near the center. In my head, the Red represents Evil, and the Blue represents Good, while the Purple is Amorality. Vampires, by their nature, are drawn to do evil. They are pulled to the pure Red on the left of the spectrum. Likewise, humans are drawn to do good; they're pulled to the pure Blue on the right side of the spectrum. Some people get close to reaching the pure colors (Mother Theresa probably came pretty close to the pure Blue/Good, and Angelus and the Master came pretty close to the pure Red/Evil), however, no one really ever reaches so far to either side of the spectrum that they are undiluted; there's always a little Purple mixed in. Now, we know there are human sociopaths, like Warren, who feel no guilt or remorse at all; for them, the Good side has ceased to exert any pull and they slip into the Purple section in the middle that represents Amorality. And, if there are human sociopaths, it's not too large of a stretch to believe there are vampire sociopaths, vamps for whom Evil no longer has any influence and who drift into the Purple section. Now, here's where the important part of my theory comes in: you can ignore your natural calling; you can totally drown out the little voice saying to do Good/Evil and decide to just do whatever the hell you want; the catch is, you can't develop an opposite motivation. Humans like Warren can get rid of the desire to do Good and choose to do Evil, but the Evil they do is motivated entirely out of self-interest; it's not Evil for Evil's sake. Meanwhile, vampires like Spike can get rid of the desire to do Evil and choose to do Good, but the Good they do is motivated entirely out of self-interest; it's not Good for Good's sake. So, basically, my theory is that the absolute worst humanity has to offer is in about the same place on the moral spectrum as the best vampiredom has to offer. Of course, all IMHO.

[> Re: having another go -- manwitch, 18:33:52 05/30/03 Fri

I think Buffy's awareness of the grey zone increases over the course of the series. But I think the ambiguity is there from the beginning. I mean, the episode in Season 1, Angel, starts it right off. He's a vampire, but he doesn't seem to be bad, even if he isn't immediately good.

Buffy makes her moral decisions, and I believe you were saying this, based on very local situations, not on rules or grand schemes. The fact that vampires are "Bad" according to the rules will not cause her to give up on Angel or Spike. The fact that murdering people is bad will not cause her to give up on Willow. Nor is her self-interest relevant. She will kill Angel even though he's good and she loves him if that is what must be done. Angel is, of course, not human. Had he been so, as Dawn clearly was, perhaps she would have had a bigger problem.

Local local local. Buffy is not the prisoner of rules or systems. She upends them if she needs to do so, as has been amply illustrated in Season's 1-6.

The advantage of having such decisions based in what I am referring to as locality, is that you actually know what the hell you are doing. By following rules or systems, good vs. bad, they are always evil, etc., things may seem clear but you are brutally forcing infinite variety and difference to fit a very limited mold. You necessarily do violence to that which you are ostensibly upholding or defending. But when you base your decisions on where you are, who you know, and what is happening right then, you acquire a degree of flexibility that working for rules and systems lacks.

I think of Buffy's relationship with spike as "incorporating otherness into herself." She is willing to accept and include, rather than reject and exclude, that which is different from her. I think that is an admirable characteristic, and within reason, it doesn't matter how evil or intolerable Spike is for this characteristic to reflect well upon Buffy.

The moral ambiguity around Angel/Angelus is not really about the difference between the two personalities, but more about which one is really him or what is it that is responsible for the behavior of one or the other or both. I wonder if perhaps the original man is responsible. Angelus is not absolved of his behavior, in my view, because he lacked a soul or a moral compass. That is his fault. The souled Angel knows this. Because, as we see in the "Dark Age" episode, the demon is still in there. As Liz has pointed out, the soul doesn't exorcise the demon. It just keeps him in check.

Angel's moral compass comes from that soul. That soul looks out over Liam's behavior, and divides it, some into Angelus and some into Angel. Spike's moral compass does not come from the same place. It comes from his will, from his choices. Sometimes he messes up. Angel messes up some times too, but we call that Angelus, and pretend Angel had nothing to do with it.

Spike is not alienated from his inner demon.

As far as what Spike's character recommends about him, I don't think Buffy needs to be worried about what that says about other vampires. Part of Spike's character is that, when it counted, he made choices that put him in the area, at least, of the good guys, even if he couldn't be considered one of them. So again, Buffy's response to him is local. She didn't dust a whole lot of vampires that were trying to help her or protect her family or tell her they love her. Spike's character is, local local local, a reflection on Spike, not on other vampires.

But how I think it all does reflect on Buffy is this: What does it say about Buffy that she does not need to kill in order to slay demons? I think that is the true significance, and where her true power lies. Buffy not only lives in the grey zone, she creates a grey zone for those that are in the dark. Simply experiencing her provides an alternative to those who are willing to make the choice.

[> [> Re: having another go -- MsGiles, 20:40:48 05/30/03 Fri

'But when you base your decisions on where you are, who you know, and what is happening right then, you acquire a degree of flexibility that working for rules and systems lacks.'

I think that's right. That's one of the main qualities Buffy has which enables her to survive - that and her ability to work with friends. Kendra came in to point that up. She worked by the rulebook, did her homework, had no friends because it wasn't allowed. And like most Slayers other than Buffy, she didn't last very long.

'I think of Buffy's relationship with spike as "incorporating otherness into herself." She is willing to accept and include, rather than reject and exclude, that which is different from her. I think that is an admirable characteristic, and within reason, it doesn't matter how evil or intolerable Spike is for this characteristic to reflect well upon Buffy.'

That will be so once she accepts it. But in S6 she is still in denial over a relationship with him- not just a sexual relationship, *any* relationship. He's not one of her friends, not part of the team, at any rate in public. She makes a big public thing about being dismissive with him, to cover up that she's sleeping with him. And even in private it's an effort to admit that she likes him a bit, sometimes. So that still needs to be addressed at the end of S6

'Angel's moral compass comes from that soul. That soul looks out over Liam's behavior, and divides it, some into Angelus and some into Angel. Spike's moral compass does not come from the same place. It comes from his will, from his choices. Sometimes he messes up. Angel messes up some times too, but we call that Angelus, and pretend Angel had nothing to do with it.

Hmm, so maybe there are THREE little guys in there steering: the original person (who is actually the brain, body, memories etc, but who is an entity), the soul, and the demon. The soul and the demon then seem like the little devil/angel figures that sit on people's shoulders going 'do it' 'don't do it' etc. That seems a bit simplistic - but Warren could be a badly-inclined original person who was ignoring his soul, while Spike was a goodly-inclined OP ignoring his demon? Interesting thought.

'Buffy not only lives in the grey zone, she creates a grey zone for those that are in the dark. Simply experiencing her provides an alternative to those who are willing to make the choice.'

I like that idea. Her flexibility is what breaks down the absolutes, helps resolve the issues that lie behind the conflict.

[> Re: having another go -- LonesomeSundown, 19:35:23 05/30/03 Fri

First off, thanks for that thoughtful essay. And I totally missed it the first time you posted it, so I'm glad you reposted.

Some scattered thoughts follow. It's interesting how the First Law of Buffy "It is OK to kill vampires and demons, and wrong to kill humans" has changed as the series progressed. In the first two seasons, any non-human was fair game. Angel was an exception because of his soul. When he lost it, Buffy had to kill him. The undermining of "two legs good, two horns/fangs bad" started in season 3 with the return of Angel and Oz-wolf storylines. But one scene I remember is from "Faith, Hope and Trick" when Buffy tells Faith off for beating a vampire to pulp. Yes, the vampire is one of the Other, it is okay to kill him, but don't torture him. The Initiative arc, of course, blurred the lines further. At one point Buffy tells Riley that not every demon is evil, there are degrees. I would argue that Buffy's Law was no longer an infallible moral principle by Season 5. The killing of the vamp prostitute is a case in point. When I watch that scene I feel sorry for the vamp as she cowers in fear of her life and the blind panic as she flees. That dusting doesn't *feel* right, even though she is one of the Them (sneaky book reference ;-)). And Buffy feels it too. That is why she is looking inwards in season 5, trying to understand the source of her power. I think you perhaps feel something similar, judging by these lines in your essay:
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.

So if I probably ended up parroting what you said, can Polly have a cracker, please? Actually make that a mocha, full of sugary caffeinity.

[> [> caffeine all round -- MsGiles, 21:03:13 05/30/03 Fri

I'm glad you brought up the Initiative, I hadn't really thought about it. But of course they are playing with the whole demon/human thing, crossing lines, blurring boundaries. Souls don't come into their thinking; they treat demonic force as if it were another type of electricity, something they can harness and control. They are a bit like the Nazi doctors who experimented on prisoners: in taking all sense of right and wrong out of the equation, they have opened themselves up to horrendous possibilities. The Initiative, with their gadgets and obliviousness to what they are actually doing, are a lot like the Trio in S6. In the 'special project' they are trying to use demonic power, to control it. Like Willow's Dark Arts magic, the power has an agenda of its own.

Phew! Talking about caffeine, it's 5am here. Darn timelag. Should've made the world flat.

CoAís exclusive Fury interview -- Doriander, 19:25:12 05/30/03 Fri

Nice, informative piece (he was an actor!). Amusing behind-the-scenes anecdotes (particularly among them writers) and really enlightening stuff that touches on the extent of writer/director/actor control discussed here recently (archived thread). To go straight to where he discusses his experience directing Gone and LMPTM, go here:

Other links:

ScoopeMeís requisite Buffy eulogy by Matthew Heitzer aka Hunter Maxin. Requisite tissues.

DorkTowerís final Buffy-related installment. LOL funny (especially if youíve been following his previous installments). Then...sniff.

[> Thanks for the links. I especially enjoyed the Heitzer piece. -- tomfool, 22:28:37 05/30/03 Fri

Pretending to be Masq -- Tchaikovsky, 04:47:09 05/31/03 Sat

As Masq and d'Herblay are away, and a load of people seem to want threads back, I'm going to bung some initial posts in this thread, so that they help each other to stay up a while. Yes, it's presumptuous, but hey.


[> I've got a theory...(Season 7 spoilers) -- As posted by Cynicor, 04:48:11 05/31/03 Sat

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.

[> [> Makes pretty good sense...(Season 7 spoilers)...Another Theory... -- Darby, 10:05:08 05/31/03 Sat

Maybe the purpose of the final season is to leave a long list of clues and loose ends. Marti has always asserted that ME never really worries about inconsistencies, but marvels at the fans' abilities to rationalize them away. Since the show was going poof, maybe the last season's legacy is built on this. Your attempt comes pretty close to pulling a lot of the Season 7 elements together, but there are probably many ways to do it.

Y'see, everybody, we've been reaqding this wrong - Season Seven was a puzzle for us to put together!

[> [> [> The vampire food phenomenon... -- ZachsMind, 11:11:31 05/31/03 Sat

"...the fans' abilities to rationalize [inconsistencies] away..."

For example:

INCONSISTENCY: Angel claimed to not be able to taste normal human food. Spike has a strong affinity for cheese fries and bloomin' onions.

ANSWER: It's not a quantifiable, defining trait among vampires that all lose their tastebuds or all do not. It's akin to human colorblindness, or perhaps lefthanded versus righthanded tendencies. Some vampires lose their tastebuds at the point of turning from humanity into vampirity. Others do not. Angel may simply be handicapped, unlike most vampires. Or Spike may be unique among his kind. Further research of the cannonical source material could perhaps weigh that out, if it's revealed that other vampires suffered from a loss of taste, or if Angel was in the minority.

My point is, it's not a marvel that we fans rationalize away M.E.'s blatant mistakes. It's part of the fun. Kinda like Stan Lee's old "No-Prize" dealies in the Marvel Universe. EXCELSIOR!

[> [> [> [> Could be it works the same way as the Weetabix -- Finn Mac Cool, 13:11:54 05/31/03 Sat

He likes the texture.

[> [> [> [> [> Is smell the only sense that's heightened in the ME universe? -- WickedBuffy, 19:09:28 05/31/03 Sat

Wait.... did we decided if ME vamps can taste or not? (I agree about the texture part, definitely.)

If they can't taste, doesn't that lessen the fun of drinking blood? Or can they taste just that? (Since the ones who chose to drink cow blood, etc, grimace at it.)

We've seen their sense of smell can be more intense - is that it? If it is, why did Joss choose just that? I've read discussions debating the sight and the hearing. But never the touching - was that ever mentioned in BtVS?

and why am I craving an onion rings right now...

[> [> [> [> [> [> no--definitely hearing too...there've been several examples -- anom, 22:08:03 05/31/03 Sat

[> [> [> Spike's onion flowers -- O'Cailleagh, 17:42:59 05/31/03 Sat

How is it that Spike (or any other Vamp) can even eat onions? They are closely related to garlic, and have a very similar chemical make up, as well as almost identical medicinal and magickal properties. Surely he should find them a little fatal? And also, even if it *has* to be garlic (and not a close relative), I'm pretty sure that some of the spicier foods we've seen Spike eat must contain some.


[> Dreamer Easy in the Chair That Really Fits You - Thoughts on *End of Days* & *Chosen* - Part I -- As posted by OnM, 04:49:52 05/31/03 Sat


Love comes to you and then after
Dream on, on to the Heart of the Sunrise
... Sharp - Distance
How can the sun with its arms all around me
... Sharp - Distance
How can the wind with so many around me
I feel lost in the city

............ Yes, from Fragile


It's a rushing wind, a hammer blow, it's hard, soft, confusing, a first orgasm, a perfect equation, a fevered
dream... it's power.

And it's happening everywhere.

........ Joss Whedon, from Chosen


Itís the end, and where do I start?

No, actually it isnít the end, certainly not in any remotely absolute sense. In fact, I was incredibly impressed
with how the master scrivener neatly penned a conclusion that opened up so many interesting possibilities
for future adventures within this now familiar fictional universe. Yeah, I am aware that from standing
human eye level it looks like a gigantic hole in the ground from which a lonely desert road spans the
distance to the horizon, but if viewed from a sufficient height it might very well look like a crop circle.
Nobodyís trickier than the Joss-man, so thereís still future adventure in the offing-- we havenít just arrived
at a Buffyverse crossroads, itís a bloominí freeway interchange of potential. So, I am sad but I am grateful,
all at once, and isnít that just typical.

Itís been a strange day so far, trying to get things together and write this, my last ever ëreviewí of a new
Buffy episode. As usual, I start by collecting some ideas from here and there, looking for the shooting
script to get posted, and thinking about the usual musical or movie references to punctuate the beginning
and end of my scribblings with. The title was one that I had thought up over a month ago, and I liked it so
much that I was hoping the actual events of the finale wouldnít betray the meaning. I neednít have overly
concerned myself-- while the specifics of Chosen played out differently to some degree than what I
had expected, Joss did just what I expected him to do, and so here I am, trying to round up all of my
sharp/distant wandering thoughts into something coherent enough to share.

The composing process continues. Having set up a few preliminary thematic links, I then try to set the
proper cognitive background fabric in place by choosing some tunes to play while I cogitate-- or
procrastinate, as the situation demands. It is probably revealing that for the last several hours Iíve been
digging semi-randomly into my vinyl collection, although whether what is revealed is a desire to wallow in
nostalgia or just a sense of anchoring myself to the past in preperation for the move ahead into the future,
Iíll leave you to determine. Earlier today, I opened up a four-disc set of Mozart string quartets that I
purchased many years ago, but never played. (One of my odd, bad habits is to accumulate more books,
records, CDís, laserdiscs, DVDís and whathaveya than I possibly have time to read, listen to, watch,
whathaveya. Like Buffy, I blame this personal failure on the annoying demands of my endless workdays,
but I really should just buy less stuff. On the other hand, everytime I go into a local mini-market or
newsstand, I see a long line of people tossing down perfectly good bread for a faint-to-nothing chance on a
state lottery ticket, and then I reason that at least my own momentary lapses of reason bear fruit with a far
greater shelf life.)

At the moment, Iím listening to Who Knows Where the Time Goes, another multi-disc set of some
collected works of another gone-but-not-forgotten genius poet/musician, Alexandra ëSandyí Denny, who I
loved back in my youth and for whom my passion has never waned. Looking at her picture on the cover of
the album box, I now think of Tara. The resemblance is partly physical, partly a bizarre link between the
real and the fictional universes. Denny died, quickly and unexpectedly, when she accidentally fell down a
flight of stairs and struck her head, never regaining consciousness-- and the world lost one of the most
sweetly earthy and soulful and graceful of its voices to the chaos of random fate. Stray bullet, flight of
stairs, same reason Iíd rather blame insensate entropy than willful deity.

I donít mourn deeply any longer, though-- that was long ago, and the world keeps turning, as it should.
Denny wasnít a household name then, and she isnít now, but she has earned the respect of history as long
as the devoted will tell of it. Her work lives on beyond her time, as will the Buffyverse and the characters
within it that we have come to know so well.

So here goes-- as usual, I have no real idea what Iím doing, Iím just making this up as I go, and I thank all
of those others whose prior thoughts have helped so much in the formation of my own. While it was my
original plan to do seperate reviews for the last two eps, Chosen aired before I had a chance to
even start on End of Days. As such, it became close to impossible to comment retroactively on
End without having to mentally filter out the events of Chosen. I mean, how much more
spoiled can one get than actually seeing the next ep out? So, the only rational thing is to just do them both
at once, or in sequence, and not pretend to not know the future. If only real life afforded such advantages...


End of Days


When the devil comes blowing through your door
You'll know there's trouble, and he's coming back for more
You better keep what is precious hidden under the floor
Or you better treat it so good it will never want for more

But looking back in retrospect
Did you ever really get what you'd expect?
Trying to rectify / Got lost a little further
You've been trying to justify
Find out how and where it came

Devil was your angel, but it's not no more
The devil was your angel, when you weren't sure

Do I tempt trouble to break through all these doors
Just to put a face to the voice which always home?
To fight for what is precious, to know what's under the floor
If I could treat it so good, I swear I'd never want for more

But when I found my peace / There was still mistakes
However painfully aware every step I take
Trying to rectify / Got lost a little further
Well, I've been trying to justify
Find out how and where it came

The devil was my angel, now I'm just not sure.
To travel as my angel there's always my whore

Gonna take you back down / I won't feel no shame
Till my dreams / Are my own again
Gonna take you right down, and I'll take the blame
Till my dreams are my own again

Here I am again

Devil was my angel, now I'm just not sure
To travel as my angel there's always my whore
Maybe you're an angel, tried to remember you're an angel
Remember you're an angel, if you're not sure

............ Beth Orton


This seems like as good a time as any to mention that Iím a title junkie-- a good title really does it for me,
and ME has always been a titlerís delight. So who makes these things up, anyway? Joss? The writer of the
ep that bears the title? Some combination of the above? I dunno, but this year has been a banner year for
cool, multi-meaning titles, doubly amazing considering how short many of them were. This episode is no
exception, a mere three words, one of them a common conjunction: End of Days.

Itís May, and each and every year for the last seven the ëend of daysí for the Buffyverse has been at hand.
But this is the first year where they actually used the phrase as a header-- an ominous sign, if we didnít
know better. Perhaps itís a metanarrative? I think that there would have been very few of us who would
predict that Buffy might lose this year. We may not have been sure how, but we knew in our hearts and
minds that the Buffster would somehow profoundly scrunch the First Evil and its collective minionage. So
the phrase ëend of daysí may have greater significance to Tuesday nights at 8:00 PM Eastern Standard
Time, which admittedly will never be the same. As to the penultimate ep itself, the End begins here:

~ ~ ~

The parallel ending sequences of the previous episode, Touched, continue in the opening act of
End of Days. We are in the sewer annex/Ubee-armory, as Faith opens the ëtreasure chestí only to
find a bomb. She screams for the others to get down and then runs, knowing full well it may be a
completely futile act. The bomb explodes, SITís and surroundings go flying in a percussive blaze of light
and heat. Cut to the cave below the winery where Buffy is still staring rapturously at the Scythe-- knowing
without knowing (as heroes often do) that this device is a Slayer Grail of some kind. The appearance of
Caleb behind her quickly confirms this as he taunts Buffy about not having time to pry the weaponís blade
out of the solid rock before he can kill her-- only to see Buffy easily ëKing Arthurí the Scythe out of the
stone with barely a hint of effort. The look on his face at this key moment is just priceless, and was one
that Iíd been eagerly waiting to viddy for several weeks now.

Buffyís effortless possession of this obviously mystical weapon presents the worst possible confirmation of
Calebís fears-- the prophecy he and the FE were discussing earlier is coming true, and Buffy is the fulfiller
of said prophecy. We now have one brassed-off Slayer wielding a feminist version of Excalibur, smooth
sweeping curves vs. more phallic linearity, but a blade every bit as sharp and deadly. Buffy correctly notes
that while the taunts and jibes continue spouting from his lips, one very nervous Caleb is backing away as
fast as she approaches him.

We shift our view back to the sewers, in the aftermath of the explosion. Amazingly, several, perhaps even
most of the protos are still alive, although some are in pretty bad shape. Faith seems to be missing, and a
search begins for her, or for her body at least. Kennedy gets a big thumbs up from me when one of the
protos (understandably) suggests getting the hell out while they still can, and Kennedy wonít leave without
finding Faith, even if sheís dead. Credit where due, Kennedy does get the concept of loyalty, even if it
wasnít previously directed at Buffy. Iím sure at this moment Kennedy realizes that she was the one to first
stick her neck out to choose Faith instead of Buffy for a leader, and if itís in for a dime, in for a dollar. If
sheís this loyal to Faith, then future things bode well for her and Willow.

Somewhere in the midst of this scene we cut back to Casa Summers, where Willow, Xander, Dawn and
Anya have returned from their attempt to locate and follow Buffy, as Faith directed them to in
Touched. They report to Giles that they couldnít find Buffy, that a locator (spell, I assume) led
them to the abandoned house, but that Buffy had already ëmoved oní. Unstated by anyone but clearly felt
here is the unsettling feeling that Buffy might have moved on for good, that Faith really is it now-- and
despite her obvious sincerity and worthy efforts so far, that Faith just isnít as experienced as Buffy.

Giles does nothing to help the mood when he states that Faith and the others are missing-- something must
have gone wrong. The wonderfully spare dialog here perfectly matches the unspeakable emotions that
Willow and Xander must be experiencing:

Willow: We have to go to her.

Xander: Guess so.

When I first heard that spoken, I instinctively thought that ëherí meant Buffy, because in the past it always
had, but then seconds later came the realization that theyíve just stated that Buffy canít be found. So ëherí
means Faith-- and the realization that they truly are Faithís followers now, for better or worse.
Unlike Kennedy, whose lack of long term association enabled her to sever loyalty ties with Buffy easily,
Xander, Giles and Willow can only feel that they are paying the ultimate price for their failure to back up
Buffy, no matter how well intended their motivations were at the time. Kennedy, of course, is about to
have a relevation that will change her perspective.

The protos do find Faith, and at first it appears that she has been drowned in the pool of water below the
iron walkway to the antechamber. Did she dive in and thus avoid the brunt of the explosion? The brief shot
of the detonation suggests that she didnít get there in time, but it is hard to tell which bodies are actually
caught in the expanding force of flames. In any event, Faith is miraculously still alive, but unconscious. The
protos start to make their way back out of the debris-littered tunnels, but get another rude surprise when
first one, then several Uber-vamps appear and attack them. One poor SIT gets surrounded and quickly
slashed to death by the Ubers while Kennedy and the remaining girls huddle together in terror, trying
bravely but vainly to figure out a way to escape what appears to be certain, ugly death. One of the Ubers
engages Kennedy (who again gets serious points for placing herself between him and the other SITs) but
itís hopeless-- he has her by the throat within seconds.

There is a loud, sudden crash as part of the concrete ceiling smashes to the ground behind the Ubers, and
in a blaze of light from the outside sun we see Buffy, Scythe in hand, drop down into the sewer tunnel and
immediately start dusting as if the Ubers were nothing more annoying than your garden-variety vamps. We
get to see Priceless Looks- The Sequel as Kennedy and the protos are suitably stunned, both with their
sudden reprieve, and at Buffyís astounding Slayage skills. Buffy quickly directs the band to exit before
more Ubers might appear.

~ ~ ~

Iíll pause here for a moment to make a couple observations about this scene and the one before it. One of
the things that is always a potential problem in any science-fiction or fantasy work such as this is the risk of
losing oneís suspension of disbelief, and being jarred out of the story because of it. While itís virtually a
cliche that action movie characters regularly survive explosions, even at very close range, this is always one
of those conventions that I have the most trouble with. An explosion of a magnitude suffcient to crumble
stone and bend steel would instantly make sloppy mush of mere flesh. Now, I can buy it that Faith
survived, even if she didnít manage to dive underwater before the explosion because Faith is a Slayer, and
Slayers are supernaturally strong-- maybe not invulnerable like Superman , but pretty damn tough

I do realize that not all the protos survived, and that the others may have taken cover behind a wall
or something when Faith screamed to ìget down!î, but this is still pushing it, considering the tightly
confined space they were in. This leads me to have to resort to some trusty fanwanking to explain the
survival rate, and as a loyal BtVS fantasy fan, Iíll not shirk my sworn duty!

Later on in this review, when I get around to the climactic scene in Chosen, Iím going to bring up
the same conjecture that I have used many times in the past to explain how Buffy occasionally manages to
do things that should simply be impossible-- say fall out of a second or third-story window, carrying a 180
pound-ish monk with her, and land on her back on hard concrete ground without shattering every bone in
her spine, at minimum. Then, there was her defeat of Glorificus, who, after all, was a god and should not
be physically defeatable, period. Rest assured that there are other examples, numerous ones.

While the specific explanations can be argued about-- Buffy is a goddess in training, and can draw on
powers that she doesnít understand but still employs, Buffy has hidden psychokinetic abilities that only
become available when she is under extreme duress, Buffy possesses Rufusí Magic Clause-- whatever the
case, it doesnít matter. I hold one truth to be self-evident, which is that Buffy can bend reality.
Does this mean the Buffyverse is reprogrammable like the Matrix and Buffy is Neo? Works for me, and it
really works for me in Chosen, but how does this apply to Faith and the protos surviving the
bomb blast?


There was some evidence presented during the three eps that featured Faith in A:tS this year, and
continuing with her return to Sunnydale for the last five Buffy eps that indicate that as Faith is putting her
renegade past behind her, she is becoming progressively more like Buffy. If Buffyís reality-bending abilities
are linked to her strong connection to the Slayer heritage, her moral core, and/or her genuine love/caring
for the welfare of others, then it might be reasonable that as Faith ërejoins the foldí those abilities could
become hers also. Like Buffy, she may draw on these powers without consciously realizing it. If so, then
this offers an explanation for the survival of herself and the luckier SITs-- Faith genuinely cares enough
about the fate of her charges to bend reality slightly at the moment of the explosion, and it is enough
buffering to keep at least some of them alive.


The next items up for bid are the allusions to two previous episodes. The very first thing that popped into
my head when the protos pulled Faithís ëlifelessí body from the water was Xander and Angel pulling Buffy
from the water in Prophecy Girl. While I donít recall seeing them administer CPR to Faith, in each
case the Slayer survived because someone cared enough to insist on making the effort to save her. In
Prophecy Girl it was Xander, in End of Days it was Kennedy. Faith still carries the guilt
about her evil past in some corner of her mind, guilt that keeps telling her that she isnít worthy of loyalty
from others. That she is wrong about this is becoming clearly evident, and the realization of this change in
the way others see her will be important in the final battle to come.

Another reference was to the episode where Buffy first fights a Turok-Han-- she falls (by accident) down
through the ground into a cavern below, and nearly gets killed by a single Uber. Here, she deliberately
breaks through the (much harder) ëgroundí and swiftly dispatches not one but four Ubers.

~ ~ ~

OK, now back to the more or less narrative part. We are back at Casa Summers, and injured SITís are
being attended to as best as possible. Xander and Giles appear at the open front door, carrying the still
unconscious Faith. Kennedy and Amanda both express concern about Faith, asking Buffy if sheíll be all
right. Buffy honestly answers that she doesnít know. Amanda, looking guilty and sorrowful, posits that
they, meaning all the ones who rejected Buffyís leadership in favor of Faithís are being punished. Buffy
finds this shocking, and immediately rises to Faithís defense, saying that the FEís armory in the sewers was
a trap, and that she could have fallen for it just as easily as Faith. Buffyís lack of reproach for her previous
disempowerment seems to make the SITís feel even more guilty, and as Buffy heads upstairs to check on
Faith and give the SG an update on Caleb and the Scythe, Amanda once again states that she ëstill feels like
weíre being punishedí.

Buffy stops at the door to her bedroom, where Faith has been taken. Seeing the battered body of her once
friend, then enemy, now-- what? lying there, Buffy suppresses her swirl of emotions and takes full charge
once more. Calling Giles and Willow to another room, she outlines what little she knows about the Scythe.

It becomes obvious that we are now at a story arc pivot point from which things get better, if still dire, and
we know that because the jokes start popping up again. Giles is examining the Scythe, commenting on how
well crafted it is, and its obviously mystical attributes. Willow gets off one of the best puns of the season, if
not the entire series with her ëScythe mattersí quip, which makes Giles grimace, but only briefly. Buffy
urges Willow and Giles to research things as quickly as possible, since this is the first real break they may
have had for a long while-- the one thing she knows for sure is that Caleb and the FE fear whatever this
weapon represents.

We cut to Andrew and Anya, who are in another room patching up an injured proto, who is apparently
weaving in and out of full consciousness. Anya keep making cheerfully insensitive remarks about ëdeathí
and ëmortal woundsí and such, to which the poor SIT keeps remarking What?? Andrew announces
that heís going to make a raid on the Sunnydale hospital to get new bandages and other needed medical
supplies, and he wants Anya to go with him. Anya is delighted at this, and after announcing that sheíll get
Kennedy to look after the injured girls, the two of them leave to stage the raid. This scene isnít just funny,
it acts to set up both the near future scene in the hospital where Anya reluctantly confides to Andrew why
sheís still hanging around instead of leaving Sunnydale, and later on for one of the final scenes in

Meanwhile, Buffy is discussing a plan with Xander that he seems none too pleased about. The gist of it has
him being sent away from Sunnydale, and he argues that Buffy is ëputting him out to pastureí. Buffy is
insistent, and he eventually relents, although obviously still not happy. What is remarkable about this scene
is the same thing that is remarkable about the previous one where Buffy, Willow and Giles are talking
about the significance of the Scythe-- Buffyís incredible graciousness in ignoring what her friends did in
rejecting her previously. Iíve read a few complaints here and there that this was unrealistic, but I disagree--
this same breaking apart/coming back together arc happens every year to some degree, but the time
required to heal the wounds inflicted gets shorter all the time, because both Buffy and her friends have
grown in terms of maturity. Itís no longer the end of the world when a rift like this one occurs. The internal
demons that have plagued Buffy and the Scoobies have been vanquished one by one, and only the external
ones remain to be dealt with-- the real ëend of the worldí problems they all face together.

I would point out also that if Buffy has forgiven Faith her trespasses, then forgiving Xander, Willow and
Giles is a trivial act by comparison. Has Buffy forgiven Faith? Itís never said out loud, but the actions
speak volumes. In a short while there will be a verbal exchange between the two women that settles a lot
of hanging issues, but I would argue that if you willingly allow your ëenemyí to look after the welfare of
those people you care about, then that is surely forgiveness in some manner or form.

~ ~ ~ ( Continued in Part II ) ~ ~ ~

[Misses out some of OnM's spiffy formatting- sorry.]

[> [> Dreamer Easy in the Chair That Really Fits You - Thoughts on *End of Days* & *Chosen* - Part II -- As posted by OnM, 04:51:29 05/31/03 Sat

~ ~ ~ ( Continued from Part I ) ~ ~ ~

We are back to Giles and Willow, where Giles is encouraging Willow to try to tap into the power of the
Scythe magically, assuring her that she can do it safely. Willow demurs, stating that itís too risky. An
interesting item here is a line that was in the original shooting script that was cut out of the actual
broadcast (presented here in italics):

( Willow puts the scythe down, a little scared of it. )

Giles: Willow... you know there's a way to do it without endangering yourself. Drawing
positive power from the earth, the power that connects everything.

Willow: I know. And when I was in England I got it. But here... I can't do it. If I tried something
big... I just know I'd change and then it's all black hair and veins and lightning bolts. I mean, I can barely do
the locator spells without getting dark roots.

Giles: But if it's necessary...?

Willow: Giles, honestly... I don't know.

( Giles hesitates, deciding how much to push. Finally... )

Giles: Do what you can, Willow. That's all any of us can do.

Willow: I guess so.

Did ME think they would be giving too much away if they kept the ëpositive power of the Earthí line in
there? I donít think this would have given away the plan Buffy comes up with in Chosen, but
perhaps it was more about eventually giving Willow a revelatory moment with greater impact. The other
neat thing about this scene is that it appears that Giles has learned a lesson from his recent run-ins with
Buffy-- you can tell he wants to be more assertive and demanding with Willow, but he quietly backs down,
realizing that it really isnít his decision to make. He may strongly disagree with Willow on her refusal to
use more powerful magicks, but allows her her own choice nevertheless.

Oh, one other comment Iíve heard made by several folks, namely where did Willow come up with such a
long-lasting laptop battery? Címon, people! Someone as smart as Willow could easily figure out a way
around this, such as by helping herself to a car battery from an abandoned vehicle. The average car battery
could keep a laptop going for days, and if it did run out, you just go grab another one. No reality-bending
needed here at all.

We move on to Xander and Dawn out at Xanderís car, searching for the supposedly misplaced crossbow.
In the midst of missing eye jokes, we get to hear an offhand remark by Dawn as regards the fate of Miss
Kitty Fantastico, and all over the country cat lovers probably scream in anguish. (Well, this is a horror
based show, ya know?) Poor Miss Kitty-- but wait, play back the tape again, and listen carefully. Does
Dawn ever say she accidently shot Miss KF? No, there is just mention of ëthe incidentí. ME so evil-- or at
least Jane Espenson, this sounds like her twisted work. As one thoughtful poster pointed out after this ep
first aired, the incident could easily have been one of Dawn carelessly leaving the crossbow out and Miss
KF tripping it, causing Dawn to get way too close to the wrong end of the bolt.

On the other hand, there was the tragic incident with the wall in Conversations with Dead People.
Ah well...

Xander makes an ëI Claudiusí joke. This isnít just a funny play on words-- Claudius was considered to be a
weak man and a fool by most of those around him, but, like Xander, he ësaw thingsí that others didnít.
(BTW, the PBS/Masterpiece Theatre series on him was very cool, and might even be available on DVD.)
One thing Xander doesnít see, however, is that real cloroform is very dangerous. This is another
suspension of disbelief thing I have, even though, again, itís a standard cliche. He could have slipped her a
sleeping pill of some sort or otherwise found some safer way to make her pass out long enough to get her
out of town. And donít tell me he didnít have any pills handy-- like, cloroform is part of everyoneís normal
household supplies?

Next comes one of my favorite scenes of the show, where all the previously implied fence-mending actions
between Buffy and Faith get a more direct treatment. Since this season-ending ramble is going to be long
enough, what with two eps and some finale thoughts and all, Iíve been trying to watch the script quotage
quantity, but this scene is just too tasty to let it go by. The cookie dough gets some serious baking time
done here:

( Faith sits up in bed, still looking beat up, but much better. She is holding the Scythe and her eyes are
closed, in the same reverie Buffy enjoyed when she first found it. Buffy stands by the bed, watching. )

Buffy: You feel it too, don't you.

( Faith opens her eyes. )

Faith: Damn. And damn. That's something.

Buffy: I know.

Faith: It's old. Strong. And it feels like... like it's mine.

( She tosses it to Buffy, a slight mixture of shame and resentment under her reasonable tone. )

Faith: So I guess that means it's yours.

Buffy: It belongs to the Slayer.

Faith: Slayer In Charge, which I'm guessing is you.

Buffy: ( sits on the bed ) I honestly don't know. Does it matter?

Faith: Never mattered to me. But somebody has to lead. Let's vote for Chao-Ahn. Harder to lead
people into a death-trap if you don't speak English.

Buffy: It's not your fault.

Faith: Really not looking for forgiveness.

Buffy: You're not?

Faith: What do you want me to say? I blew it.

Buffy: You didn't blow it.

Faith: Tell that to the--

Buffy: People die. You lead them into battle, they die. No matter how smart you are, or how
ready, war is about death. Needless, stupid death.

( Faith looks at Buffy a moment. )

Faith: So here's the laugh-riot. My whole life, I've been a loner. ( pause )

Buffy: Was that the funny part? Did I miss--

Faith: I'm trying to--

Buffy: No, no. Sorry. Go.

Faith: No ties, no buddies, no relationships that lasted longer than... well I guess Robin lasted
pretty long; boy's got stamina.

Buffy: (wide-eyed) Principal Wood? And you? And on my...

( She gingerly rises from the bed, takes a step from it. )

Faith: Don't tell me you two got wriggly--

Buffy: (flustered) No! No! We're just good friends. Or mortal enemies, depending on which day of
the... is this the funny part?

Faith: Okay. The point? Me, by myself all the time, and looking at you, everything you have, and I
don't know... Jealous. And then there I am, everybody looking to me, trusting me to lead 'em... and I never
felt more alone in my life.

Buffy: Yeah.

Faith: And that's you every day, isn't it?

Buffy: I love my friends, and I'm grateful for them, but yeah, that's the price. Being the Slayer.

Faith: There's only supposed to be one. Maybe that's why you and I can never get along. We're
not supposed to exist together.

Buffy: Also, you went evil and were killing people.

Faith: (nodding, thoughtful) Good point. Also a factor.

Buffy: But you're right. I mean, I guess everyone's alone, but... Being a Slayer. There's a burden
we can't share.

Faith: And no one else can feel it. ( long pause ) Thank god we're hot chicks with superpowers.

Buffy: (agreeing) Takes the edge off.

Faith: Just comforting.

Buffy: Uh huh.

The delicate balancing act between these two was just exquisitely rendered here by both Sarah and Eliza--
their onscreen chemistry is as delightful as it ever was. I particularly loved the ever so brief but telling smile
that appears on Buffyís face when she finally gets that Faith finally gets the aloneness gig-- this was always
one of the greatest differences between them in the old days. Faith loved being a Slayer, reveled in it, and
could never grok why Buffy was always treating Slayerhood like it was such a righteous burden. Buffy
could never understand why Faith didnít see the burden side of it, the side that was so painfully clear to
Buffy. These are two people who have gained a much better understanding of the other, and they didnít
even have to swap bodies this time around-- bonus!

Agian, desperate times or no, things are looking up. First thereís pain, then thereís gain. I think a lot of
other Buffyfreaks have already nominated the line Thank god weíre hot chicks with superpowers as
a serious series keepsake.

After the conversation with Faith, Buffy heads out to find the place Giles and Willow have located that
may help Buffy understand what the true significance of the Scythe is. Meeting up with Spike, the two talk
somewhat uneasily regarding the previous night in the abandoned house, and what it meant to each of
them. The uneasiness shifts quickly into a more intimate series of revelations, as Buffy tells Spike that it
was his strength that enabled her to get herself back together and led her to get the Scythe, which could be
so important that it could turn the tide for them against the FE. Spike tells Buffy that all he did was hold
her and watch her sleep, and it was the best night of his life. He confesses that he is ëterrifiedí because of
this. Buffy tells him not to be, that ëshe was thereí also. The emotions donít stay this naked for long
though, and the two of them back away-- the moment isnít right, there is still a battle to deal with. Spike
says not to worry, and that they should ëgo be heroesí.

We pick up on Andrew and Anya, who are raiding supply rooms at the hospital. Andrew points out an
oxygen tank and wonders if it would be useful. Anya replies that it would only be useful if you had a giant
shark like in jaws and needed to blow it up, to which Andrew responds rapturously that Anya is ëthe
perfect womaní. As they stuff bandages and other supplies into a large sack, Andrew wonders aloud why
Anya hasnít left town, since she doesnít seem to have any real reason to stay. Anya then talks about how
despite how stupid she thinks humans are, the one thing she has come to admire about them is that when
things get really, really bad, they always stand up and fight-- no matter how hopeless things appear to be.
Andrew realizes that Anya has far more affection for the people around her than she pretends to have, and
jokingly teases her about it. She acts angry and tells him to stop, but it is pretty obvious that Andrewís not
far off the mark. Andrew confesses that he expects to die in the upcoming battle, but that itís alright with
him, he accepts that fact. They continue filching supplies, and then Andrew suggest a wheelchair fight. We
then jump cut to a scene where the two are laughing and careening at each other in wheelchairs, a
hilariously improbable scene that only ME could pull off and not look ridiculous doing so.

When Andrew points out that Anya will likely survive and he wonít, it immediately confirmed in my own
mind that the reverse was almost surely going to be true. Whedon made it plain in advance press
announcements that there were going to be deaths of some regular characters during the season endgame,
naturally not revealing who it would be. Even if I didnít take into account the knowledge that Emma
Caulfield stated that she would not be returning to the show whether it was renewed for an eight season or
not (this was months back), Whedon does act predictably in certain ways. Anya changed over the course of
time, from man-hating vengeance demon to human respecting human, but she still was responsible for the
horrific deaths of thousands during her 1100+ years of life, and the cosmic wheel needs to turn. Andrew,
on the other hand, still has a lot of re-education ahead of him-- death is too easy a solution for him at this
point in time.

Iíll talk a little more about Anya and Andrew again during the Chosen part of this riff, but Iíll
mention one last point before I leave this scene behind. The wheelchair fight symbolism was wonderful-- as
Anya said, no matter how bad things get, humans still fight. At the same time, the humor inherent in the
shot reminded me another classic Monty Python movie skit-- the ëblack knightí that King Arthur battles in
Holy Grail. There is a fine line between bravery and foolishness, and knowing exactly where that
line delineates is the key to ultimate success. Was Buffy almost the ëblack knightí for a moment there in
Empty Places? Perhaps close, but not quite-- maybe if the black knight wasnít such a lone wolf, he
might still have his arms and legs. Not to mention that Arthur has his own problems. (Hello, anyone seen
my Grail? Hello?)

Buffy arrives at a graveyard in which there is a sort of Egyptian-looking tomb or monument of some kind.
Kicking in the door, she enters only to find torches burning, illuminating the interior. A voice is heard and a
very elderly woman (ëI look good for my ageí) appears. The woman acts as if she knew that Buffy was
coming, and refers to herself as a ëGuardianí. She proceeds to tell Buffy that she was one of those who
placed the Scythe in the stone thousands of years ago, after it was used once to kill the last pure demon
that walked the Earth. She and some other powerful women apparently ëwatched the Watchersí, who
descended from the three Shamans (or Shadowmen) who created the first Slayer. She and her kind lived to
look out for the Slayer, apparently without the knowledge of the Watchers. Now the Guardian speaking
with Buffy is the last of her kind still alive.

Alas, not for long, as Caleb suddenly appears from a shadowy area of the tomb, and snaps the Guardianís

Meanwhile, Xander is driving Dawn away from the city. Dawn wakes up, still groggy from the chloroform,
but obviously upset and angry at being ëkidnappedí. Xander hands her a note from Buffy (Dawn doesnít
look surprised). Dawn reads part of the note, then casually zaps Xander with a stun-gun of some kind.
Poor Xander passes out, and Dawn takes over the driverís seat, turning the car around and quickly heading
back to Sunnydale.

Back at the tomb, Caleb and Buffy fight. The Scythe gives Buffy a serious advantage, but Caleb fights as
viciously as ever and eventually gets her into a vulnerable position. Just as he goes for the kill, a fist swings
in out of nowhere and decks him. The camera pulls back to reveal Angel. Buffy gets up off the floor,
looking at Angel in shock and disbelief. They embrace, and Buffy kisses Angel.

Over in a corner of the tomb, hidden behind a pillar, Spike is watching. The First Evil, in its guise as Buffy,
is standing behind Spike and sneeringly comments, ìWhat a bitch...î. Spikeís expression is hard to read,
but he certainly doesnít looked any too pleased. Cut to black, commercials, and end credits.

~ ~ ~

As is often the case, there are some differences between the aired version of the show and the text of the
shooting script. Most of the ones that occurred during the scene between Buffy and the Guardian were
fairly inconsequential, and probably were excised for time considerations. There are three minor differences
that I did note that I personally would have left in. I have no explanation why these details would have
been changed, unless it was to make the Guardian seem more aloof-- and if so, why? Here is the relevant
parts, with the deleted parts in italics (the script refers to the Guardian as ëSheí):

She: I see you found our weapon.

Buffy: Who are you?

She: One of many. Well, time was. Now I'm alone in the world. I'd gamble you know what
that's like.

[The Guardian] holds out her hand. [Buffy pauses, then] hands her the scythe.

She: You pulled it out of the rock. I was one of those who put it in there, and don't think that
was easy.

Buffy: What is it?

She: A weapon. A scythe. We forged it in secrecy for one like you, who...

( She stops, smiles at Buffy, still holding the scythe. )

She: I'm sorry, what's your name?

Buffy: Buffy.

She: No, really.

( Buffy shrugs. )

She: Buffy. We forged it in secrecy, kept it hidden from the Shadow Men, who --

Buffy: Yeah. Met them. Didn't care for 'em.

( She looks at Buffy with new respect, hands the scythe back to Buffy. )

She: Yes. Then you know. And they became the Watchers. And the Watchers watched the
Slayers. But we were watching them.

Buffy: Oh! So you're like... What are you?

She: Guardians. Women who want to help and protect you. This... was forged, centuries ago, by
us. Halfway around the world.

Buffy: Hence, the Luxor Casino theme.

The oddest change to my way of thinking is the one where the Guardian looks at Buffy ëwith new respectí
after Buffy reveals that she met (and turned down?) the Shadowmen. (Did the Guardian instinctively
understand this somehow?) When I first read over this script, I tried to remember the expression described,
and couldnít do so. I cued up my tape, played the scene over, and sure enough-- the Guardianís reaction
shot-- if filmed at all-- was cut. Also, while it might seem persnickety on my part to argue over the
exclusion of a single word, having the Guardian address Buffy by her name changes the tone of the
response from detachment to affirmation. If this was supposed to be a meta-comment on the people who
ignore the show or donít treat it seriously because of the name (which is what I suspect) Iíll let it pass, but
I think the ëno, reallyí part was both funny and sufficient to achieve that end-- the deletion of Buffyís name
in response was overkill.

Additional good stuff in this part-- when the Guardian hands the Scythe back to Buffy, it reminded me of
the scene in Grave where Buffy hands her sword to Dawn, passing the torch as it were. If one
considers the three of them as a continuum of sorts, you effectively have a virgin/mother/crone
generational reference illustrated. Then, there is the Egyptian theme, or ëLuxor Casinoí as Buffy
humorously notes. This was something that didnít make any particular sense to me until just the last day or
two, when I remembered the connection between ancient Egypt and the sun god, Ra.

Oh yeah-- the Ra-tet, remember? The beast blocking out the sun? Jeez, there are a number of sun refs you
can play with here, especially when we get to the end portion of Chosen. Hereís a couple of quickly
Googled sun-god factoids for ya:

Ra: Ra was the ancient Egyptian god of the Sun. He was represented with a hawk's head, over
which is a solar disc. Ra was the son of Neith and married Mut, representing the interaction of earth and
sunlight in producing vegetation.

Neith: In Egyptian mythology, Neith was the goddess of the heavens and a war goddess and the
mother of Sebek and Ra. She was often depicted with, or holding, crossed arrows. She was thought of as
the great weaver who wove the world.

OK, now that second deity, which I linked to from the first one, has some interesting Buffy subtext to a
Buffy proto-goddess philosopher. Remember the crossed hands (ëManusí) on the tarot card spirit-guide
Tara shows Buffy in Restless? And here is a ëgoddess of the heavens/war goddessí who is often
depicted holding ëcrossed arrowsí. ìIíll never use thoseî, quoth Buffy. Well, maybe...

So if Buffy is sorta Neith-y, then Spike must be... well, later, after things get really sunny.
Hummm.. hawks head over which is a solar disc...

Lastly (not really, but canít type forever ya know), The phrasing the Guardian used when Buffy questions
her about the Scythe-- A weapon. A scythe. Not something like Itís a weapon we named The
Scythe or Itís a weapon, but more than simply that. The pause between the two descriptive
terms lends a discrete emphasis to each, and implies a mystical meaning to the second term. (which weíve
already discussed, so I wonít repeat that stuff here).

~ ~ ~

Two more short scenes, and then itís on to Chosen. Not too much to say about these, since they
are mostly a setup for the beginning of the next (gasp! --last!!) epsiode. Caleb appears from out of the
shadows and kills the Guardian, then attacks Buffy. Angel appears, stops Caleb momentarily, then Buffy
finishes him off, or appears to. Spike is watching from behind a pillar, and understandably isnít too joyful at
B/A kissage. The FE promptly metanarrates what many supposed BtVS fans seem to think-- ìIsnít she a
bitch!î. Ohh nooooo, Spikey will turn Eeeeevil now!

Nahhh. I never thought so for a moment, it was all just a big honkiní tease. However, I do
wonder how the heck both Caleb and Spike managed to get into the pyramid without either Buffy or the
Guardian noticing. I wank thee, I wank thee not: There was a back door, which Caleb used to sneak in,
and Spike followed him. (He did say to Buffy right before she left Casa Summers that he was going to
keep an eye on Caleb for her). I donít know which door Angel came in, but by then Buffy was in the midst
of a fight to the death, so she might not have noticed him even if he came in the front.

jenoff had something both funny and appropriate to say about the initial Caleb sliceínínot dice, and I
couldnít possibly put it any better, so I wonít:

A plea with characters in fantasy tv-- please, when you've just defeated the big bad, don't drop your
weapon, don't turn your back to it, chop the baddy up into a million tiny pieces, set them on fire, and grind
them into dust. Then bury them down the deepest, darkest hole you can find, fill it with concrete, and top it
off with the largest boulder you can move. And even then, it'll likely come back.

Yup. Shoínuff what it is, yo.

I had every expectation that Dawn would never sit still to be taken out of play, and so having her zap
Xander seems only logical, but, just as chloroform is really dangerous in real life, so might I think is
discharging an electrical device within inches of the brain or brain stem. Nerves, spinal cord, heartbeat,
breathing, all that good stuff that needs to keep functioning? Oh well. Itís a Summersí thing-- all very

Thatís the end of the End of Days. In the next section of this maniacal marathon manifesto, I get to
try to describe how an episode that rated a mere 6.5 to 7.0 on first viewing ended up a solid 8.5 after the
second viewing and currently holds it own with all the previous finales, the weakest ones of which still
effectively ventilate my gray matter.

Itís all about having expectations, and then letting go of them. Stay tuned for Buffy Nirvana, live ahead.

So címon now, entertain us...

~ ~ ~ ( Continued in Part III ) ~ ~ ~

[> [> [> Parts III etc. will probably be up within the next week. *** Spoilers for named eps, obviously *** -- OnM, 04:53:10 05/31/03 Sat

[> [> [> Small sparks of speculation & a Faith metaphor ... (spoilers/Chosen) -- WickedBuffy ::deja vu::, 12:59:23 05/31/03 Sat

Thank you, OnM - I'm looking forward to the next piece now. I feel like I just rewatched the episode through different eyes. :>

A couple small points you brought up yourself and I had speculated differently.

The explosion - It seemed the blast itself was more contained but the force of it was what sent them flying. There were more bodies in the air than rocks or debris. Faith landed in the water, instantly putting out any flames on her and also protecting her from the remaining heat.

Why SITs and Faith didn't become slayer confetti - at the same time the treasure box blew, Buffy was putting her hands on the Scythe. There could have been an initial power surge that went thru Buffy, Faith and to a lesser degree, the SITs, briefly strengthening them during the blast. Which would also explain their quick hearing recovery.

Willows laptop battery -

1) solar-powered rechargeables

2) when Andrew and others went scrounging, they nicked more (Andrew being the guy he is, would have instantly realized the need)

3) Willow, computer nerd, had a box of spare charged batteries in her bedroom.

(4) Long ago, realizing that the floating pencil trick had no real use, Willow perfected her "laptop recharging battery" spell. It never gave her black roots, so she had gotten to the point of unconsciously keeping it going. (Tied into it was the "Automatic Save" spell.)

Extra note about Faith: The explosion and subsequent retrieval from the water kept reminding me of the phrase "baptism by fire and water". There were several noticeable shifts in Faith. Not created by the fire and water specifically - but bridging a space between the shifts.

[> I tried and tried and tried . . . -- d'Herblay, 09:42:42 05/31/03 Sat

. . . to bring back the threads in question. Oh, I could get them out of archive two, which is an improvement over the state of several days ago, get them so they didn't show up anywhere in the Voy system, get them so it was as if they'd never existed, but I could not get them to show up on the main page. I give up.

Thanks, TCH. I'm going to take a nap now.

[> [> There's almost a 'Stones song here -- Darby, 10:07:34 05/31/03 Sat

[> [> Voynak also seems to be 'archiving crazy' to compound the problem -- TCH- attempting to whistle 'I can't get no...', 04:34:35 06/01/03 Sun

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