1st Anniversary Character Posting Party - Buffy
Nina - August 14, 2001

Buffy. What's in a name? Mrs. Rosenberg called her "Bunny" (Gingerbread). Spike called her "Betty" (Superstar). Buf-fy???????? What kind of name is that? Who's that girl? Who's that heroin who is so often left off the "who's you're favorite character" list? Is that petite blonde so hard to love? All threads lead to Spike.... but so seldom to Buffy. Here's a little tribute to her. May all threads lead to her in the future (at least this one should :).


Before the Slayer there was a girl

BOY: You're just a girl
BUFFY: That's what I keep saying (The Gift)

Before she was called, Buffy was pretty much a normal Cordeliaesque adolescent. She was part of a gang. She was popular. Member of the cheerleading squad. Prom princess and fiesta Queen. All her care in the world revolved around friends and boys. Hanging out. Having fun. Like so many household her family was broken before any divorce took place. She even forshadowed some deliquency behavior (stealing lipstick). From this period of relative tranquility, Buffy brought along with her her 1. her love for ice skating (the ice capades without the irony) 2. Mr. Gordo (her stuffed Pig), 3. Her love for dancing and 4. Her clothes (don't play with those Sunday!) 15 years of a normal life that's all Buffy got. Becoming the slayer changed everything drastically and Buffy spend her first four years as a slayer yearning for normality again.

BUFFY: I want to leave
WESLEY: What? Now?
BUFFY: No, not now. After I graduate, you know, college?
WESLEY: But you're a slayer.
BUFFY: Yeah, I'm also a person. You can't just define me by my slayerness. That's something-ism.

It is true that most people still tend to define themselves by their job and their title. As the Little Prince of St-Exupéry said, we shouldn't define a person by the work they do, but according to what they like. That's the way to learn who someone really is. Buffy is a slayer, but she also likes cheese, round shaped earings and "Wind beneath my wings"! But I guess it's still not enough to know her...

The dumb blond with witty puns

BUFFY: You know it's probably none of my business but I just gotta ask: did you smell this bad when you were alive? If it's a post mortem thing, then hey, so not your fault and boy is my face red. But just so you know... the fast-growing personal grooming's come a long way since you become a vampire. (Fool for Love)

Buffy is not an intellectual. She's an action girl. Her speech pattern colorfully illustrate it. She often talks with broken sentences. Right to the point. No flourish. Does this mean she's dumb? Um. One could wonder sometimes if the dumb blond myth is true, but like any real human being Buffy harbors many contradictions. When she fights she will come with a repertoire of witty puns all the time. It's coming to her very easily. When she's into slaying, words are flowing, when she's normal Buffy, she oscillates between sheer stupidity and pure genius. Here are some of her finest "dumb blond" moments:

XANDER: You're up for some reconnaissance?
BUFFY: You mean where we all sculpt and paint stuff?
XANDER: No, that's the renaissance. (The Freshman)


BUFFY: I'm like that kid in the story, the boy who stuck his finger in the duck.
ANGEL: Dike. It's another word for a dam.
BUFFY: Oh, okay, now that story makes a lot more sense (Gingerbread)

Buffy may suffer from undiagnosed dyslexia. She often has a problem to remember difficult words and often misuse them or alter them. In "Faith, Hope & Trick", she will call Kakistos "Kissing toast", "Taquitos", and "Khaki trouser". In "Tough Love", she'll call a haiku "a poem that sounds like a sneeze'. In "Nightmares" she will call Billy's astral body "Billy's asteroid body". Buffy is not a bookish girl either. She prefers to watch the Hunchback of Notre-Dame on video instead of reading the book (Crush). Dawn teases her about cracking up some books sometimes as she knows nothing of Harry Potter (Real Me).

BUFFY: There's a lot of book on this list. Any of them come on tape? You know read by George Clooney or someone cute like that? (Real Me)

At school, she's usually an average student with no particular curiosity or aptitude for studying.

BUFFY: I have to take an English makeup exam. They give you credits just for speaking it, right? (Faith, Hope & Trick)

Yet sometimes she gets to surprise herself and her friends. She aced her SAT's and got to do better than Willow on an assignment in professor Walsh's class.

Because Buffy is not high maintenance, she remains very simple. The writers will often mock her to endear her to us, like in "The Initiative:

SPIKE: I don't care how brilliant she is. CUT TO:
BUFFY: Stupid pen. (her hands are soaked with ink)

Or "School Hard":

SPIKE: So, how 'bout this Slayer? Is she tough? CUT TO:
Buffy's room. She's standing at her mirror, trying to brush her hair.

Buffy will also have enough wits to know when to play the dumb girl to save her ass from a situation.

BUFFY (to Prof. Walsh): So I've seen. On the discovery channel with gorillas and sharks. They made them all nice. Have you seen it? (The I in team)

She also often knows a lot more than it seems.

BUFFY: Um, as much as I'm sure we all love the idea of going all Willy Loman... We're not in the band. (Band Candy)

Okay, she may only have seen the movie of "Death of a salesman", but still it proves that she can mix witty and dumb comments. Buffy is not black and white. She's shades of gray. Like we all are.

RILEY: You are amazing! Your speed, your strength.
BUFFY: (I'm) also passionate, artistic and inquisitive. (Doomed)

Even though Buffy can come with witty puns as fast as a magician can make a rabbit appear from a hat, communication is not Buffy's forte. When it's time to talk about difficult issues, she tends to shy away and avoid them.

BUFFY (to Riley): Let's not talk about it and patrol. (New Moon Rising)

RILEY: You don't wanna talk about it.
BUFFY: It's just that deconstructing Angel can wait. Right now I just want to go out there and patrol. Find Adam. We can talk about it later. (The Yoko Factor)

SPIKE: Common' we need to talk.
BUFFY: We don't need to do anything. There is no "we". Understand. (Crush)

The importance of family and friends

XANDER: You've been through it all with Angel and you're still standing. So, tell us, wise one, how do you deal?
BUFFY: I have you guys. ( The Wish)

The core of the scoobie gang (the original gang) gave to Buffy what she didn't have at home. A sister, a brother and a father. As we've seen in "The Wish", without friends, Buffy would probably be a mix between Kendra and Faith. She would lack the love, support and understanding that are so important to keep her rooted and balanced in the real world. Spike in "Fool for Love" will say the same, telling her that her mom and the scoobies are what tie her to the world, they prevent her from succombing to her death wish. Blessed with friends, Buffy will still yearn for a "slayer family" though. People who know what it is to fight demons. A family where her slayer powers will be elated. Where she will feel normal. This is why, even though her friends mean so much to her, Buffy will sometimes push them away and befriend new people. People who are part of that slayer family. Thus, she'll hang out with Faith (Bad Girls) and with the Initiative soldiers (The I in Team). Both time she's trying to be part of that slayer family. Both times she's disappointed. Faith and the Initiative both turn their back on her.

Insecurities and abandonment issues

1ST SLAYER: You're full of love (...)
BUFFY: I'm full of love? I'm not losing it? (Intervention)

Over the five seasons, 3 episodes were particularly dealing with fears: Nightmare, Fear itself and Restless. We got to witness that one of Buffy's inner fear was abandonment (by father or friends). It's seems very cliché to talk about the repercussions of divorce, but what can I say, I know the drill myself, divorce deepens our insecurities. Even though Buffy tries to live a normal life she is overly lacking that father presence. In "Nightmares" she is afraid that her father doesn't love her and many years later she will have this conversation with her mother that proves that this issue is still hovering over her head:

JOYCE: Your father loved spending time with you.
BUFFY: Not enough I guess
JOYCE: Buffy.
BUFFY: Oh, that just paved right over memory lane, huh?
JOYCE: You know the divorce had nothing to do with you.
BUFFY: I don't know. I'm starting to feel there's a pattern here. You open your heart to someone and he bails on you. Maybe it's easier to not let anyone in. (Fear Itself)

Everytime Buffy let anyone in, she lived to regret it. Owen was too Reckless, Angel turned evil, Scott Hope dumped her, Parker used her, Riley got himself bit by vampires whores and finally left her. During all this time her father was M.I.A. No wonder Buffy has abandonment issues. No wonder she always feel she has to please and become someone she's not to date a guy. She'll want to read Emily Dickinson to flirt with Owen, she'll dress as a 18th century lady to please Angel, she won't fight at full strenght with Riley in case he's too frightened by her powers, she'll laugh at Ben's jokes to show that she's not self involved. By the end of "I was made to love you", Buffy decides to remain single and learn to be comfortable with herself before being involved again. A huge step into breaking the walls that make her always choose the same kind of guys.

Too much way on her shoulders

FAITH: Hey, what's up with B? I mean, she seems wound kinda tight. Needs to find the fun a little. (Faith, Hope & Trick)

Buffy had to grow up very fast. When the girls her age had nothing more to think about than what color of lipstick to wear, Buffy had to make life and death decisions in a matter of seconds. She had to face death at 16, send her lover to hell, go through 6 apocalypses, fight hundreds of demons. Who could expect her to just back off and have fun? Despite all those circumstances, Buffy surprisingly still managed to find time for some R&R at the Bronze, try out for the cheerleader squad, compete for Homecoming Queen and host a Thanksgiving dinner at Giles'. Trying to get the shadow of a normal life gives her the strenght to continue her fight against evil. Without those distractions she'd be anything but the Buffy we know.

In season five though, Buffy is confronted to a lot more pressure than usual. A lot of responsabilities. Suddenly the weigh on her shoulder becomes almost unbearable. She loses control. It all begins with "Buffy vs Dracula". Dracula charms his way to Buffy. He compliments her and she's flattered. She's seduced. Another fear Buffy has, as we've seen in "Nightmares" and "Fear Itself", is to be unable to fight a vampire back. To become one of them or to die by their hands. The fact that she is powerless to resist Dracula's charms scares her. She isn't in control. And *control* here is the key word. For the first time of her life she meets a vampire she can't kill. He rapes her, metaphorically speaking, and she becomes a victim. Freaked out she asks Giles to act as her watcher again. She needs to know more about herself. She needs answers. Why wasn't she able to resist that thrall? Where are her powers really coming from?

Afterwards, Buffy needs to prove herself again with all the vamps she meets. Needs to be the one in control. Not to let "that" ever happen again. It's too bad for Spike, but he shows too many ressemblance with Dracula and he will be the one getting all the blows: Drac was attracted to her physically (so is Spike in FFL when he almost kisses her), Drac comes into Buffy's room at night (so does Spike in "Into the woods") Drac bites her (so *almost * does Spike in OomM), Drac tells her her power are rooted in darkness (so does Spike in FFL when he tells her about the slayer death wish). Buffy is in a quandary. Instinctively she will come to Spike for help, as seen in Real me, OomM, FFL, Checkpoint, BT, TL, Spiral, The Gift. She trusts him with the life of the people she loves the most in the world, yet she needs to beat the crap out of him everytime she sees him. Many fans found Buffy's attidute bitchy. I simply believe that Buffy was afraid. Still that control issue to resolve. (It's interesting to note that Buffy will punch Spike on the nose everytime she will have failed to have control over a vampire, but as soon as her life is not threatened anymore by other vamps (after FFL) Buffy will stop beating Spike (okay she does in "Crush" but he deserved that one for once!)

The discovery of the origin of her sister will also bring a lot of pressure on Buffy's shoulder. As soon as Buffy knows that Dawn is the Key, she will overprotect her. Acting sometimes more like a mother than a sister. Her mother's illness will bring Buffy to overprotect her too. Not only does she has to solve her own issues as a slayer, but she has to be the grown up. She has to become the parent of the family. She doesn't know how to deal and will keep everything bottled up instead of talking to Riley or her friends. One thing leading to another, Riley will leave, her mother will die, Dawn will be kidnapped by Glory. Her world will fall apart and so will Buffy.

Buffy has wanted out on many occasions (when she refused to fight the Master, when she flew away from Sunnydale after killing Angel) but where ever she went there was no out. To be out when you are a Slayer you have to die. To survive Buffy endured everything until it was too much. Until she couldn't take it anymore and went into catatonia. In "The weigh of the world" Buffy is separated in two in her own mind. Buffy the femine girl and Buffy the slayer. Only there's no such thing as two different entities. Buffy exist only as a slayer and the slayer lives in Buffy. Her inner journey is to let them merge and coexist without hostility.


Becoming the Slayer...

GILES: It's all about the journey (Restless)

The transition from normal girl to superhero took quite a long time to accept. Each year Buffy had to go through a 5 steps to grief program (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). Each year she began a little stronger than the last.

Year one (denial): In the first season, Buffy is in denial land. She has been kicked out of Hemery in L.A and is looking forward to going back to her carefree life as an average teenager.

GILES: I don't understand this attitude. You, you've accepted you're duty, you, you've slain vampires before...
BUFFY: Yeah, and I've both been there and done that and I'm moving on (...) I'm retired. (Welcome to the Hellmouth)

She will often put her slayer's duty on hold and privilege her social life.

BUFFY: If the apocalypse come - Beep me. (Never kill a boy...)

Giles often has to put her back on track and remind her that her mission is to save the world, not having "post pubescent fantasies with boys":

GILES: Follow your hormones if you want, but I assume I don't have to warn you about the hazards of becoming personaly involved with someone who's unaware of your unique condition.
BUFFY: Yeah, yeah, I read the back of the box. (Never kill a boy...)

At the end of the season she casts a last pleading supplique:

BUFFY: I'm 16. I don't wanna die. (Prophecy girl)

But after realizing how much she is needed, she will accept her faith and will fight the Master.

Year two (anger): During the second year Buffy will be the Slayer out of duty. She still needs to be told to be a Slayer.

BUFFY: Sacred duty, yadda, yadda, yadda... (Surprise)

She's often angry to be told to patrol. She is also angry about herself not to have known better about Angel. Anger and pain is what will attrack James the ghost in "I only have eyes for you". When she discovers her friends have been almost killed by Angel in "Becoming part 1", anger will give the power Buffy needs to accept that she has to kill her lover once and for all.

Third year (bargaining part 1): By the third year, Buffy tries to open herself to new perspectives. Killing Angel was the most painful thing she had to do and she tries to build back her life. With Faith she witnesses a different point of view. Faith kicks ass and likes it. Buffy moves from considering slaying a duty to seeing it as a job. She's getting more mature about it. Conscious of her responsabilities, she's starting to make compromises.

BUFFY: We help people, it doesn't mean we do whatever we want. (Consequences)

At the end of the season she'll bargain her life to save Angel. Even though things turned out well, she was ready to sacrifice herself for love.

Fourth year (bargaining part 2): During the fourth year, Buffy is Watcherless.

GILES: Well, officially you no longer have a Watcher. Buffy, you know I'll always be there when you need me, but you'll have to take care of yourself. (Freshman)

Buffy has to learn to become self-reliant. She's not only growing up as a young woman, but as a Slayer as well. Buffy will understand and accept her role as the Slayer even more when she is confronted to the Initiative. She's becoming possessive like an animal who needs to delimit its territory.

BUFFY: This isn't your business. It's mine. You, the Initiative, the suits in the Pentagon... You're all messing with Primeval forces you can't begin to understand. I'm the Slayer. And you're playing on my turf. (Primeval)

Fifth year (depression): In the fifth season, Buffy has become a hunter. She will patrol every night on her own without needing Giles to tell her to do so. She won't like other people to patrol with her anymore. It's also the year of depression. Buffy will swallow everything up and will cry alone. She takes everything on her shoulders and feels indispensable (deep sign of depression). She will go on until she goes catatonic and refuses to go back to the real world. It is only at the end of "The Gift" that she will finally come to total acceptance and sacrifice herself with love.

BUFFY: This is the work I have to do. Tell Giles, tell Giles I've figured it out and I'm okay.

There's no way to say yet if Buffy will need a depression part two phase before totally accept her faith, but the fact remains that over the years Buffy not only became a better slayer (better agility), but in her choices she showed true compasion and love for humankind. She probably even was the first slayer who ever saw her existence as more than the kill.

Fighting techniques

SPIKE: She's tricky. Baby likes to play. (...) You see that? The way she stakes him with that thing? That's what's called resourceful. (Halloween)

Buffy's forte is her unpredictability. The lack of attention to tradition. The fact that she can improvise. Giles in the first two seasons and then The Council of Watchers reproached those qualities many times. They tried to show her how unprepared she was, but Buffy may not fight accordingly to the book, she still managed not to die for a long time (oups... she is dead technically... But well you get my drift!)

As said before, the use of puns gives her an edge. She destabilizes her attackers and makes it less personal. Buffy who can find it so hard to have a deep talk about deep things, will chat and banter with her victims like there's no tomorrow. It's a way to forget about the kill.

BUFFY: You're gonna get heartburn. Get it? Heartburn?
The vamp dusts and gives no reaction.
BUFFY: That's it? That's all I get? One lame-ass vamp with no appreciation for my painstakingly thought-out puns. (Wild at heart)

Anger is also a powerful way for Buffy to defeat her attackers. We've witnessed on many occasions when anger got her the extra strenght she needed to win the fight. Here are some examples:

Harsh light of Day: as soon as Spike mentions Angel Buffy pummels him like a beast in fury.

Homecoming: After Scott Hope broke up with her, Buffy unleashes her anger on Faith. (FAITH: You really have some quality rage going. Really gives you an edge)

Triangle: As soon as Olaf, the Troll, says that Xander and Anya won't make it as a couple, Buffy beats the crap out of him.

Checkpoint: Humiliated by Spike, council of watchers and university professor, Buffy beats the hell of an anonymous vamp in the cemetery (VAMP: Who the hell are you talking to?)

Blood Ties: When Glory calls Spike Buffy's boyfriend, Buffy finds new strenght to punch Glory in the face.

Even though Buffy will often refuse to admit that slaying is a turn on and that she likes it, she only fools herself:

KEN: That... was not... permitted.
BUFFY: Yeah, but it was fun. (Anne)

In "The I in Team", we see intercuts of scenes between Buffy and Riley fighting and making love. Buffy may still deny how much she likes slaying, her actions often prove the contrary. In "Buffy vs Dracula" she confesses to Giles that she was out every night during the summer, hunting for vamps. She will even leave the love nest to satisfy her needs.

Leadership and authority

Ms. Calendar: The part that gets me, though, is where Buffy is the Vampire Slayer. She's so little. (Prophecy Girl)

Buffy is little, but when it comes to orders in the slayer department, Buffy is the one giving them, not receiving them. Her integrity, loyalty and straighforwardness make her a born leader. She's the one leading her army to battle. Defying authority and being a woman after her own heart is what characterizes her.

GILES: Just do as you're told for once, alright!
Buffy punches him in the face. (Prophecy Girl)

WESLEY: Are you not used to being given orders?
BUFFY: Whenever Giles sends me on a mission, he always says 'please'. And afterwards I get a cookie. (Bad Girls)

When confronted with outside authority (school in particular), Buffy sometimes will feel diminished though.

PROFESSOR REEGERT: Do you understand? You are sucking energy from everyone in this room. They came to learn. Get out!
BUFFY: I didn't mean to... suck. She exits. (Freshman)

But it usually doesn't last. Buffy is the defender of the weak and she will learn to defend herself when in need. She'll be impressed by Professor Walsh's authority, but will find the guts to tell her she has no compassion in "Something Blue". She's impressed by The Council of Watchers, but will have a straight talk with him at the end of "Checkpoint".

The quest for love

Buffy is no conventional slayer. Her need to understand her nature takes her apart from her kin. Buffy won't accept to fight only to lose herself in the bargain. She needs a raison d'être, a purpose. She needs to understand and bring the slayer and the human in her in perfect harmony.

BUFFY: I'm just ... starting to feel ... uneasy about stuff.
GILES: Stuff?
BUFFY: Training. Slaying. All of it. It's just ... I mean ... I can beat up the demons until the cows come home. And then I can beat up the cows ... but I'm not sure I like what it's doing to me. BUFFY: Yeah. Strength, resilience ... those are all words for hardness. (pause) I'm starting to feel like ... being the Slayer is turning me into stone. (Intervention)

She will go on a quest to know more. The spirit guide will give her a few pointers:

GUIDE: You're full of love.
GUIDE: Love, give, forgive.

But will also unsettle her with her final blow:

GUIDE: Death is your gift.

From this encounter, Buffy will find some sort of resolution in her life. She'll be able to forgive Spike. Out of love she'll sacrifice her school life to take care of Dawn. She won't understand the "Death is your gift" part on the spot, but will nevertheless accept it as part of the package.

The hero's journey

The jungle cat is the steward of the rain forest and keeper of the gateway of death. The jaguar helps to dismember that which must die in order for the new to be born. (Alberto Villoldo, "Shaman, Healer, Sage")

The jungle cat was present in "Restless" when we got to see Miss Kitty Fantastico in slowmotion walking her way towards us. We meet him again when he takes Buffy to her spirit guide.

BUFFY: Hello kitty! (Intervention)

Every hero, in order to be a hero, has to face the ultimate fear that is death. Be it in the raw sense of dying or in the metaphorical sense of transforming oneself into something else. Before her own dismissal, Buffy had to face a lot of pain, a lot of loss. She lost Riley, her mother, her life ("I have Dawn's life"), she even was ready to lose her friends if they were to kill Dawn. She shed her skin like a snake, losing what was precious to her. Until there was nothing left but love. Then she made the final jump. The leap of faith. She jumped to save her sister, to save the world. As a true hero, she left words of love to her friends and hope. She sacrificed her life. And for once it seemed as if she finally had found her true purpose in life. Love.

May she rest in peace... But not for too long!

Quotes coming from:

- Jotted down while watching the episode (50%)
- Psyche's transcript site (45%)
- The Watcher's guide books 1&2 (5%)

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