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Strawberry Fields by Holly Starting 12th May

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  • #16
    I can't think of anything canon that would suggest a claim.

    Darla left the Master for Angel. She virtually ran away with him. If anyone were to claim anyone I would have thought Darla would have claimed Angel.

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    • #17
      James and Elizabeth would have claimed each other I'd imagine, but I don't think any other vamp couples we see would probably have both wanted to bind themselves like claims are commonly depicted in fanfics. I don't think Darla and Angel would have, just thinking of how she left him in that burning barn. But yeah, I agree there isn't anything in the actual show that suggests claims. I think Holly was saying that the idea wasn't incompatible with canon and could be supported by elements in it rather than was saying the show had suggested claims at all. I'd have to look up the comment she made.

      Personally I like that claims don't tie to canon. It just makes the fics that have them, especially alongside accepting soullessness, feel like a really distinct alternate universe is being considered. Reading fics that are canon compatible is always great. But when they aren't, I really appreciated them being distinct and looking at something distinct from canon. It's probably why I enjoy all human fics that just use aspects of the characters personalities in totally different scenarios.

      I wonder at all if there could be any correlation between claims first appearing in fics and a totally different film/tv genre looking at blood bonds? I have vague memories of seeing the 'blood brothers' style of mutual cut and hand clasp used repeatedly in film and tv when gangs features at one time. May be totally unrelated of course.

      EDIT: I just looked it up and what Holly said was actually, "Also, the lore I added here is completely new and I kinda dig it. I know claims are fanon, but I think there are ways to make them canon-compliant." I'm not sure that I see the point being made in that I can't think of anything in canon that refutes that claims could be possible other than we haven't heard any mention of them. So perhaps her point in the story about them being rare and not often entered into is meant as a simple way of acknowledging that nothing in the existing canon has raised them before.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Stoney View Post
        I'm often prone to using way too many words. I even edited down my original post and lost at least a third of what I'd originallly written. Which aspect of the fic was your favourite part redtent?
        I like your long posts, Stoney. They are always so insightful. I'm crap at writing reviews.

        Well, In fact, my favorite part would be the accidental claim and that Buffy actually has a choice if she wants to keep it that way, and of course, she does, duh! Maybe it influences Spike to be less evil since he's soulless.
        I don't really like that Spike was so head over heels about Buffy with just one kiss. There could be some build-up for that to happen.

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        • #19
          Thank you, that's a lovely thing to say. I do still need to try to be a bit more succinct at times tho.

          I think Holly was going for the contrasts against his experiences with Dru as being what built into him being so affected by the smooch session with Buffy. I agree it is still too simple and easy, but I do think this is part of the background justification to it for him.

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          • #20
            I don't like claims and that's why this story was not on the top of my list to read. But the way it was handled made it acceptable to me, and the story had enough other things that I really enjoyed, like the setting in LA and the parts with Fred, Gunn and Lorne. And the writing in general, there's no denying that Holly is a great writer even though I don't share her love for claims. One other thing I wasn't a fan of, besides the claim, was how utterly unsympathetic the Scoobies, Angel and Joyce were when Buffy returned to Sunnydale. I guess it was a good source of conflict and drama but I didn't enjoy it.
            Last edited by Double Dutchess; 16-05-20, 12:24 AM. Reason: Typo
            https://www.youtube.com/c/DoubleDutchess

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            • #21
              I always like Holly's writing and think she really good at voicing characters. I dont dislike claims but dont actively seek them out. I was as interested in reading her writers notes about finishing the story after such a long hiatus as I was in the story itself.

              it's not my favorite story of holly's and its partly because I'm not a AtS fan so Fred and Gunn are just kind of meh to me. I did like the unusual jumping off spot, lots of Anne fics in the world (which is what I consider this) but a totally original starting point.

              I'm all about the buffyverse journey and this Buffy was young and this Spike didn't have all the interesting nuances that developed through the seasons, that's not Holly's fault, it's just my preference for later season characterizations.


              “I like who I am when I’m with him. I like who we are together.”

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Double Dutchess View Post
                One other thing I wasn't a fan of, besides the claim, was how utterly unsympathetic the Scoobies, Angel and Joyce were when Buffy returned to Sunnydale. I guess it was a good source of conflict and drama but I didn't enjoy it.
                It did feel overdone on that front. The initial scene when they walked into the library I thought was a great mix of relief and resentment. That she was with Spike I think would potentially have affected their reactions in the initial moment. But the way that anger was continued and held for so long, evident in so many scenes after, felt excessive. As I said, to me they felt vilified.

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                • #23
                  I finished Stawberry Fields last night. I really loved it. I like claims, so that part didn’t bother me at all. Unlike a lot of stories where Spike and Buffy are magically bonded and everything is perfect between them, I felt that Holly put them through enough trauma that it wasn’t a “I am meant for you” type of wish-fantasy. I also appreciate that Buffy was given an out early on in the fic so that she had some agency. The fic became more about her decision not to sever the bond than the bond itself.

                  I agree with Double Dutchess that the Scoobies and Angel weren’t given enough depth. Their reactions were very “let’s throw Buffy out of the house” season seven rather than just the hurt after season two.

                  On the positive side, what a great rewriting of the characters from Angel. Gunn, Fred and Lorne are intrinsically interesting characters who often play a backseat on the Angel show and Holly did an amazing job fitting them into this story.

                  I liked Stoney’s thoughts about the differences between Angel and Spike and how Holly tries to capitalize on them to make a case for Spike possibly doing without the soul. It goes against canon, but I agree that there’s a hint in the story that Buffy’s soul is making do for both of them because of the claim and so it’s not needed.

                  What I love about Holly the most is her ability to create a whole world with each chapter. I could visualize the demon night club, Sunnydale with Faith in charge, the little apartment that Spike and Buffy lived in, even the new dynamic in the library. I love stories that take tiny pieces from actual episodes and weave them into the text as if it were an alternate universe were Whedon decided to go in another direction.

                  Unlike a lot of stories, I thought she did a wonderful job focusing on Buffy in the plot. Too often, I think Buffy is sidelined for Spike or someone else and I liked that Holly really let us into what she was thinking. It also helps that her dialogue for Buffy and Spike is pitch perfect and very much like Joss Whedon’s Buffy phrasing. All in all, an excellent fic I would read again.

                  One more thought: even though the fic was long, it never felt long. It just breezed by.
                  Last edited by Tiny Tabby; 23-05-20, 12:05 PM.

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                  • Stoney
                    Stoney commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Really like your point about how Holly builds detail into the settings/situations that really brings them to life.

                • #24
                  Hey, everyone!

                  As always, I’m the last at the party.

                  Finished Strawberry Fields a while ago and wanted to find the time to go back and compare and contrast the original version of the fic and then the rewritten one. I’m endlessly fascinated by fan fiction and rewritten fics – not only in terms of tightening and refining a story, but also change necessitated by cultural shifts in how we perceive the Buffyverse.

                  In Strawberry Fields, I think Holly made some really smart choices that improved the fic both aesthetically and ethically. The idea of a ‘claim’ – so popular in fiction about vampires and other supernatural stories a decade ago – now has problematic aspects that make it less appealing as a device to bring two characters together. It’s not the claim itself, but what it implies about lack of agency – in the original fic, the balance between Spike and Buffy was different and her attempts to mitigate that ended up in major rewrites directly after the actual claim where Holly herself says, “the true detour from BtVS canon begins.”

                  The title Strawberry Fields is obviously a Beatles reference (and thanks, Holly, for the ear worm “Octopus’s Garden” that has been rolling through my head for days now! ) and I’m not sure if there’s much significance to it. The song title was originally a reference to John Lennon’s childhood surroundings – Strawberry Fields was a local orphanage near his home in Liverpool where he would play with the neighboring boys. Lennon himself said that it was about a examination of the self and looking at the past and how one fits in when they feel like such a perpetual outsider. But it was also a metaphor for drug use at the time – the tracks on the skin looked like strawberry fields. I imagine Lennon liked the dual meaning of looking back in time as a drug trip and a way to expand one’s own consciousness through a dream-like state.

                  Holly’s fic falls into this kind of dreamworld of past and present blendIng. Buffy and Spike are thrown by the claim into a drug-like situation – and this mirrors their first meeting under the spell of something outside of themselves – and yet, perhaps, bringing out their true selves. There’s a lot of ‘play-acting’ in this fic – pretending to be someone or something other than one is and I think that’s related to the title and the continual return to Lorne’s club to sing Beatles songs that act as an interior mediation of a mental and emotional state – and also turns the past, present and future into a dream-like feeling of isolation through Lorne’s cryptic messages of what could be which act as a bookend with Drusilla’s visions of Spike loving Buffy.

                  This gives the whole fic a sense of time - as something already lived and will be lived that’s set in stone and yet, still leaves the potentiality of change. The characters could make a different decision, break the claim, go a different way. This tension underlies the whole fic – which gives it a dramatic pull that it would otherwise lack with just the implacable nature of the claim.

                  So if Strawberry Fields is about building a kind of reality out of our dreams of who we were, who we are and who we will be, it’s also about asking someone else to join you on that journey.

                  Let me take you down
                  ‘Cause I’m going to
                  Strawberry Fields
                  Nothing is real
                  And nothing to get hung about
                  Strawberry Fields forever

                  Living is easy with eyes closed
                  Misunderstanding all you see
                  It’s getting hard to be someone
                  But it all works out
                  It doesn’t matter much to me (“Strawberry Fields Forever”, Lennon-McCartney)
                  There’s a nice rhythm of trying to work it all out and yet not caring very much that underlies the idea of how to deal with the claim that demarcates the line between the real world and one’s own internal world that is suddenly breached by their bond. This makes the opening even more clever in changing the actor in “I Only Have Eyes For You” from Angel to Spike because the line between their ‘roles’ in the past and their ‘roles’ in the present as vampire and slayer are blurred just as the two lovers of long ago. With Angel, it was always about the discrepancy between past and present – her lover before his monstrous transformation – whereas in the new fic, it’s about the potential future between Buffy and Spike that lies dormant behind their respective roles.

                  There weren’t a lot of changes from old draft to new before chapter 15, when the two finally bond in the claim. The biggest issue I had with the early chapters was Spike’s relationship with Drusilla – despite her attempt at dusting Spike, I still had trouble believing that he would suddenly turn his back on her so easily. There doesn’t seem to be much regret or longing from Spike after her betrayal – which I found a little out of character for someone so devoted to his sire. Angelus also seems a bit off – I don’t believe that he’d so easily get over Spike walking out the door to talk to his former beloved Buffy and was surprised when Angelus just let it go.

                  Holly also sets the story up from the beginning to deliberately isolate the Scoobies – Buffy pulls Spike out of the room almost the moment he arrives to have a long, private conversation with him. Giles also seemingly trusts Spike a little too much – throwing a few punches doesn’t really cut it for me and shows how smart Whedon was to have Spike approach Buffy when there was no other help possible from any quarter whatsoever. Sparing Spike’s life becomes a necessity in Becoming – in Strawberry Fields, it’s simply a decision, but it’s not as forceful when Buffy’s back isn’t pushed against the wall and Kendra is dead. Holly tries to sidestep this by using the Initial spell to explain why Buffy is still drawn to Spike and keeps isolating him – and it works well enough in the fic. But it loses the desperate through-line that culminates in Joyce throwing Buffy out of the house and Buffy killing Angel.

                  In some ways, Holly makes Buffy’s lonely move to Los Angeles far more romantic and less bleak by attaching her so closely to Spike despite all the horror that has happened. I imagine that if Whedon and Co. had decided to go this route, Spike wouldn’t have been so devoted and romantic. Instead, Buffy would have found herself bound to a monster a**hole instead who makes the same kind of horrifying comments as in “Wrecked.“ A slayer unwillingly bound forever to a vampire could be the basis of a truly gruesome and grim story – of course, this is a Spuffy story and so, thankfully, it’s the exact opposite. Spike would never hurt Buffy in this fic.

                  Of course, this kinda voids out the necessity for the AR. Holly shows us a lot of struggle inside Spike to offer support to Buffy, to allow her agency, to do what she wants – things that I’m not sure the actual character in the show would be capable to doing to the extent that he does in the fic since he’s soulless. The implication is that they’re genuinely soulmates regardless of the actual claim and so no soul is needed. When Spike is seemingly dead after being impaled to the wall, he bites down on Buffy in a blood-starved trance and instantly, we’re already in pre-claim territory with the demon claiming Buffy as “mine”. The fic generally sees this as a romantic flourishing of his feelings for her rather than a terrifyingly demonic impulse.

                  Spike immediately feels remorse when he comes to himself – which is also a bit out of character – especially before the claim. And Buffy doesn’t seem to mind because she’s marveling that her blood saved Spike’s life. All of this falls into common tropes of romantic fiction – no sacrifice too great and no remorse too small. Spike even finishes the Ur-claim of their blood bond by professing he’s ‘yours’ to Buffy right as her mother enters the kitchen and the talk begins from Becoming. Of course, this time, Buffy walks out with Spike.

                  Does this already lean heavily on Buffy’s agency when Spike is always there throughout every trauma? He takes her from her mother’s house, he takes her from the room in which she kills Angel, he feeds her and makes love to her and pretty much does everything she wants. But how does this change the nature of Buffy – who tends to stand alone and pushes away anyone who wants to stand with the Slayer? It’s interesting to note that there isn’t much of a change in Holly’s drafts up to this point in the story – it’s Buffy and Spike’s reaction to their ‘claim’ afterwards that causes most of the drama and it’s then that Buffy acts more like her old self. She leaves Spike in bed to run away – but Holly also underlines that Spike allows her to leave and even leaves a note telling her so. This is kinda - still disturbing. As is the idea that Buffy is in physical pain whenever she’s too far from Spike.

                  And it’s here that we get the first divergence – in the older fic, Spike knows with certainty that Buffy can’t stay away for long because of the claim. In the new fic, Spike is unsure himself as to what the effects are. It takes away the idea of Spike as ‘puppet master’ in the fic and leaves him as baffled as she as to the nature of the claim. In the original, he leaves ‘an ominous note which promised to find her, no matter the cost.’ In the new fic, he isn’t sure about it until he researches it. Spike as stalker of an absolute claim is muted as well as Buffy’s longing for Spike – her body no longer ‘screaming’ for him as her anger takes hold over the idea that Spike has ‘claimed’ her. The idea that Spike can make everything all right again is rewritten to give Buffy more agency over the claim.

                  To her credit, Holly doesn’t magically give Spike a “soul” after his claim – he’s still a vampire with demonic urges and she doesn’t anthropomorphize him as many fics do so that he’s basically a human with fangs. However, he’s much closer to Season Seven Spike than not and others in the Angelverse react to him as if he’s souled and not much of a threat. What’s also very amusing (besides the marvelous characterizations of Fred and Gunn and Lorne) is how Holly managed to take Angel out of his own TV show and replace him with Spike and Buffy. I think this is the most original thing about the fic - it’s topsy-turvy day in the Strawberry Fields of Holly’s fic. And it’s a huge amount of fun.

                  The Angel crew acts as a fresh start in the fic in the same way that they function in the TV series – but this time, it’s Spike and Buffy instead of Angel who get the opportunity to begin again. Of course, Fred and Gunn and Lorne are much more amenable than the characters in Buffy - not only because they were deliberately written to be more accepting of a vampire ally in the Angel series, but because they never really confront Spike as a monster like Glies, Willow and Xander back in Sunnydale. They don’t have bad history with him and so the fic allows Spike to walk into a pre-made group who is almost pre-destined – like the claim – to like him. In fact, they are the ones who have to work through their own prejudice against vampires in the resulting adventures in which we get one psychotic human and one psychotic vampire who are both taken out as our protagonists are placed in peril.

                  And this brings up questions of morality that constitute the debate between Buffy and Gunn. What is a vampire and is it possible for an unsouled vampire to be moral? To avoid murdering people? From Gunn’s personal experience, he’s certain that it can’t be true until he understands the bond between Buffy and Spike. So much so that when his sister is turned, he’s hopeful that she can be another Spike which both Spike and Buffy assure him cannot happen because – well, we’re not really given a convincing reason outside of the claim and the fact that Spike is “a very different sort of vampire from any other vampire she’d encountered…” The claim does a lot of work here, that’s for sure.

                  But how much work does it actually do? Buffy seems to know enough to trust that Spike will not hurt her, but not enough to know if he’s bagging it. Surprisingly, it takes till Chapter 25 for Buffy to even ask Spike if he’s killing human beings. “You’re not biting people?” There’s an automatic assumption that Spike isn’t drinking straight from the tap anymore. Which leads us to Spike being captured because he places himself at risk through buying blood, allowing others to track him down. It’s here that Holly leaves the fic for more than a decade on a cliffhanger as Buffy prepares to rescue Spike.

                  From the start of her new addition to the fic, it’s obvious that the writing is sharper and faster. There’s a feeling of shuffling storylines as she retrofits her new ideas to her old timeline. The next part of the fic meanders a bit (and I mean this in the best sense – it’s picaresque and charming) until the return to Sunnydale – her voicing of the characters is excellent and there are a lot of fun adventures with a bit of angst as Buffy considers the possibilities of breaking the claim and Spike finding out that she’s keeping it from him. Holly smartly chooses to give Buffy a major out so that her bond to Spike becomes a decision rather than a burden – a metaphor for choosing to partner with someone and reevaluating your choice from time to time.

                  The inevitable debate between Spike and Buffy over her discovery is well done with a lot of discussion over the idea of agency. Knowing how obsessed William Pratt was with the idea of a true soulmate, it did strike me as in character for Spike to become deeply upset over the idea that Buffy might sever the bond. What isn’t brought up is how much a soulless vampire can even comprehend as to why Buffy would be disturbed by the claim. Also, the idea that she becomes immortal because of the claim brings with it a whole wheelhouse of problems that is never mentioned in the fic – the problematic elements of living forever pushed aside for the idea that love conquers all.

                  The final denouement in Sunnydale is very entertaining as we see the opposite of Spike inserted into the Angelverse – it’s now Faith inserted into the Buffyverse complete with mooning Angel. My favorite parts of the fic were how Holly manages this flip-flip universe and I think she does a bang-up job both times.

                  As many others have said, the biggest issue I have with the fic comes with the depiction of the Scoobies at this point – they’re far too angry at Buffy’s absence to be believable. We get a little bit of a repeat of Season Seven as they throw Buffy out of the library. And we get the inevitable Angel angrily confronts Buffy scene to trash talk Spike just as in Chosen. Faith, on the other hand, is superbly drawn and it almost made me want to see a alternate universe show with Faith as the Vampire Slayer fighting demons with her lover Charlie.

                  Of course, this throws down the whole characterization of Faith as a deeply disturbed person even before she arrives in Sunnydale – but like Spike, we’re getting a Season Seven Faith who is a much better person than the way she came into the show on screen.

                  The fic ends with Buffy and Spike moving back to LA after reconciling with her mother, watcher and friends. The decision makes sense and we get Spuffy: The Series playing alongside Faith the Vampire Slayer with some crossover magic as even Fred and Wesley happily pair up and everyone is with someone else except for poor Angel as it comes to a close.

                  And after saying all these nit picky things, I have to say that I really enjoyed this fic. Holly has a great ear for dialogue and I laughed out loud many times at Lorne’s imaginative phrasing and Spike’s witty one-liners. The whole claim thing doesn’t bother me as much as it does in other fics because Holly managed to use it to bring up implications that are generally ignored in claim fics (agency, morality, love vs. coercion) and I thought she made a convincing case that Spike didn’t need a soul because of the claim. Her characterizations were excellent and entertaining – the alternate universe of Spike in the Angelverse and Faith in the Buffyverse were terrific.

                  There’s a fascinating long piece after the fic in which Holly describes her experiences in writing the fic over a decade, including feeling uneasy about the hatred for claim fics and her attempt to write under a pseudonym to protect herself. She also talks about removing certain elements of the fic in her outline that involved dubious consent. I can see the changes even in the chapters that she rewrote and the fic is far better for it. As I figured, the ‘out’ for Buffy was added in later, which gives her the power of choice. Interesting that Buffy and Spike were not even meant to be a couple until they returned to Sunnydale, staying in a ‘just-friends’ state with sexual slip-ups. I think she made some really smart changes that remove some of the most troubling aspects about claims.

                  All in all, I like Holly’s fics – they’re well written and she has a real gift for dialogue that reveals character and pushes the plot forward. I’m glad that she finally found the time and the inclination to finish Strawberry Fields.
                  Last edited by American Aurora; 27-05-20, 06:40 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #25
                    Really interesting to hear that the biggest shifts came around the claim and with issues of agency. I wonder why dubious consent was something that featured so much in fics in the past and wasn't looked on in the same way. The social shifts in the background that make the idea of someone 'really wanting it' and that they just need pressing to be released from their own unnecessary barriers, the MeToo moments that have exposed the abusive power imbalance and the attempt to romanticise such things being rejected?? As you say, I think the changes made around this were really wise.

                    I think I commented on Spike's characterisation as being between being unsouled and souled, but I hadn't particularly thought about the fact that this was mirrored with Faith. I had I think simply put the change in Faith down to not feeling challenged by Buffy's presence, but it is made clear that Buffy is kept emotionally resident by the Scoobies and their 'what would Buffy do' referencing was hard to deal with. So yes, I think you're right that Faith is fast forwarded and jumped in her character progression too. The biggest issue I have with this in fics where an unsouled Spike is to be accepted is how tightly it ties the person that Buffy is able to love and be with with the murderer/rapist/torturer that Spike was before he loved her. This is what claims offer, to me, that is a positive. Something that is an inherent internal shift of some sort.

                    I didn't have the same issues with Spike abandoning his emotional connections to his sire because I think the spell was used in a similar way. That instant connection and deep longing for what Buffy could offer, what she represented, bringing Dru's abuse over the years and dismissal into stark relief. The often ignored aspect of the Spike/Dru relationship I think is how unequal they were. They are introduced with that romance cloaked around them in S2 and despite everything seen thereafter it is held tight and believed in as Spike himself does for such a long time. For there to be something which made him review the relationship and react to the abuse of Dru's actions is a jump that is a convenient emotional shift from him being a demon that accepts the abuse and doesn't see how dismissive Dru can be, to one that has had enough of such treatment. Like the claim looks to brush over the issues with him being unsouled and his characterisation is written as being far more controlled and thoughtful than he is unsouled in canon, the 'magic' of the liplock opens up his eyes and changes his grounding with his sire in a way that is again a big step from canon which is given rather than earned perhaps. Like his ability to understand why Buffy would be bothered by the claim, he is also able to be bothered by the demonic abuse that was before accepted in their relationship. Both hang on the shift in Spike to being more able emotionally, as he tends to be in unsouled Spike/Buffy fics. Buffy's break from her own morality being the other side of the same coin and that dismissal of her experiences with Angel is magically created from the liplock for her too. So Spike is seen as 'special'. And so Alona fails where he succeeds.

                    When we talk about the fics and I look at them critically against canon these two shifts are definitely the weak spots in the fics that accept him unsouled. I don't think it works anywhere near as well as where canon took the characters and lacks the cohesion to the show overall that canon gets around Spike needing his soul. But pushing that critical assessment aside I can still very much enjoy these early season fics that step to the side on the soul and Holly makes it so much easier than a lot of writers to do so when her voicing is so good and you can get caught up in the alternate universe elements she creates. I genuinely would love to read more stories about Faith/Gunn too.

                    Really enjoyed reading your links to the fic title.

                    Comment


                    • #26
                      Yeah, Stoney, I think that the whole “Me Too” movement with its acknowledgement of abusive power dynamics between men and women and the lack of consent had a lot to do with her changes. Exploring Buffy’s relationships with Angel, Riley and Spike - all of which have problematic elements - necessitates a different perspective on what was previously viewed as romantic and/or comical. The ‘rape’ scene between Spike and Willow in The Initiative could never be played today with the same sort of light humorous touch that seemed so funny twenty years ago. Interestingly, I think that it goes both ways and the tug-of-war between certain writers of Buffy and fans during Season Six regarding the ways in which Buffy and Spike treat each other say a lot about how times were changing - in many ways, I think the fans were more on the money than the writers themselves. The battle over whether Buffy was just as culpable as Spike in terms of dubious consent and abusive power was just as charged as the debate over Dark Willow’s power reflecting a wholly destructive force being a subtle form of misogyny (the hysterical woman out of control trope).

                      I find that with a lot of fandom, there’s an embrace of moral relativity in art that would not be tolerated in real life. This isn’t to say that moral ambiguity is a bad thing - but it doesn’t even seem to come up as an issue when ‘bad’ characters are transformed through love or magical thinking. So the difficult moral journeys of Angel, Spike and Faith are voided in favor of presenting them at the end of their journey at the beginning of a fic. It’s the same problem I have with the new Boom Buffy comics - the characters seem to be introduced fully formed from Season Seven where their journey ended in the series.

                      I’m not opposed to Spike realizing how limited and unbalanced his relationship was with Drusilla - it’s just hard to believe that he would get over her so easily when he struggles like hell in Buffy to do so - even after he falls for Buffy hard. He obviously still even has feelings for her as souled Spike in Season Seven. I would have liked a bit more reflection, I think, rather than a constant rat-a-tat on how badly she treated him. We tend to romanticize the past rather than the opposite, I think.

                      Comment


                      • #27
                        Oh, don't get me wrong, I do still think how Spike drops Dru is too easy, it is just a nice change from my pov to see the angle of him viewing the relationship from a different perspective where the abuse is a breaking point. I don't think he was able to see it unsouled though (a great part of why he had no problems with the mutually abusive aspects of his relationship with Buffy in S6 and was more than willing to take the beating in Dead Things). But the magical kiss works both ways in having him able to see the relationship with Dru with a greater emotional intelligence as well as reducing Buffy's in nullifying all of her experience with Angel because it made her feel like a woman again. He's increased by the experience and she's reduced to have them meet in the middle. It is a typical balancing act for fics to do with their characterisations to get unsouled Spike accepted. In reality yeah, I take your point that Spike wouldn't have dropped the relationship with Dru so easily. This aspect of them both being spurned by Angel and Dru and coming together is I suspect supposed to be another element of them being drawn to each other as they'll turn out to be better matched/appreciated.

                        I do think that Spike has ongoing feelings for Dru but I also think that he has a good deal of resentment and trauma bound into it too. It'll be interesting to discuss the relevant points when she features in S7 as my instinctive feeling is the latter is definitely the larger part which is somewhat affected by the former. I agree that we tend to romanticise the past but the internal change of who Spike is plays a point of separation as well as connection. As always the layering when souled. The reference to himself as a victim in AtS 5 is greatly revealing and the revisits he has to Dru whilst he is going through dealing with his newly resouled state and that mix of the demonic urges remaining alongside his revulsion at what he'd done in the past all mix in and layer onto the Dru elements in his history. I think it is a shame that we never got to see them meet again in canon. I can see why because she was placed in his past when he chose to put the potential of what he saw with Buffy first in Crush, but his response to her and his past when souled are all mixed together and it is a really complex and fascinating melee emotionally.

                        Of course this fic shaves off an important element of that by him not being souled and not having that revulsion to his past. In that way I can see that the ease with which he turns from Dru stands out but it is all part of the same issue in the desired characterisation shifts which make them jump to idealised for purpose versions through the magical kissfest. It's a trigger that we're greatly presented with the truth of, it is its impact that we're seeing from the start and so they aren't in themselves earned. Spike's ready drop of Dru is probably less jarring to me than Buffy's easy dismissal of how Angel's soullessness was absolutely key to all that happened in S2 after they'd slept together so that she isn't instantly fundamentally opposed to any romantic contact with Spike. She's been through something incredibly traumatic and is just ready to see Spike as different despite the soul loss being the cause of all that happened and which underlined the brutality of vampires and the line between herself as the slayer and vamps. But yes, both are problematic elements.

                        Having come to the show so long after it finished I find it fascinating to think that the mutual abuse of S6 was not as deliberate a part of it from the writer's point of view as it seems to me. That Buffy was forgetting who she was, killing herself, by losing her morality and so it was her that had to be the one to break the relationship, as the only one who had the moral boundaries to see how wrong it was just seems like such a key element of the season in their relationship. But within that is definitely her stepping over the line to have something to need to stop that is more than just that sleeping with Spike is wrong. How it is tied at points to 'the things' she let's him do and that sense of moral judgement on some things that have nothing to do with anything other than old fashioned ideas of what 'good girls' would like/want has always seemed outdated in the writing, but can easily be placed onto the sense of social expectations and judgements that do exist and linger.

                        I have to say the Willow/Spike scene in The Initiative didn't bother me when I first watched it as a casual viewer, but as soon as I was watching with an eye to analysing the episodes/characters it was a scene that I found uncomfortable, particularly because it was being treated with humour. It's actual very threatening and once you've seen it like that it's pretty impossible to find the funny again.

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