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BtVS rewatch: SEASON 6

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  • In Buffy‘s season 5, you were fairly adamant that Spike was not redeemable. Then in season 7, you seemed to change your mind, solidifying that when Spike moved over to Angel. What made you change your mind?

    "Ah, yes, the Spike debate again. It was my personal conviction, based on the show’s mythology, that a soul-less vampire like Spike was incapable of being redeemed. Otherwise, Angel having a soul was irrelevant. Spike could be domesticated, sure, he could be conditioned via the chip in his head not to kill, but he was still a soul-less killer. My opinion shifted after two things happened: Spike was given a soul at the end of “Grave,” and I began to see that Spike was an anomaly in the vampire world. A small part of William’s humanity was left within him after the vampire Spike took over."


    • I always really dislike the 'William had some humanity/Spike was an anomaly' pov and I have seen many quotes from Fury that present this interpretation. It doesn't work for me and what I really like about S6 and Spike's inability to draw the line and them choosing to give proof of his need for a soul is that it pulls Spike in line with the verse mythology of the soul and shows him as limited soulless. Spike's connection to William, aspects of the memories/personality of the human he was, works just the same for him as it does for all the other vampires. His individual priorities and motivations differ of course and one main focus stays on love and this informs a lot of his choices. But as a soulless vampire although his focus on love can result in some good actions the focus is often very selfishly driven to his own wants. Consequently it can also result in very negative choices and inappropriate behaviour because he lacks the moral and emotional depth to see the boundaries until souled.

      I have also heard quotes from David Fury that indicate his views on the relationship shifted as it developed too, such as this one too... "Spike and Buffy also have beautiful moments together as their relationship blossoms. It's not quite what Buffy and Angel were. It's not quite what Spike and Buffy were... It's something else. It's respectful of what's gone before. -- David Fury (Dreamwatch, 8-03)." Opinions develop and change and the Buffy and Spike relationship moved into an entirely different phase in S7. Joss at the recent reunion drew the distinction between their relationship in S6 and 7. I understand that Spike getting the soul didn't make a difference to some fans just like Angel being very emotionally vulnerable and needing emotional acceptance and support in the early seasons doesn't make a difference to some fans that dislike the age issues between him and Buffy. I know we are constantly looking to reflections to real life but the verse context matters in times like this when accepting things within the storylines/character paths I think. Equally when it comes to Spuffy I don't draw a tight real life equivalency on it as Buffy restarting a relationship with her attempted rapist because souled Spike is fundamentally different. The soul has specific meaning in verse which gives some degree of separation whilst retaining some character continuity too and that context of their relationship matters.

      I really don't think that fan opinions/interpretations/understanding of the situation, characters and relationship dynamic of Spike and Buffy's relationship can be split into either matching David Fury's initial feelings whilst Spike was still unsouled or Jane Espenson's (with excusing Spike or blaming Buffy as slight variants). I neither look to deny or excuse Spike's behaviour or blame Buffy and despise it when opinions lean towards victim blaming Buffy especially. I think Spike's character tendencies towards aggressive responses to rejection as mentioned earlier were very well established. The links also to sex and violence in the relationship as also raised earlier are there too. The coherency of Spike's path towards the violence and limitations that SR exposes works well for me. But I am then able to accept that he fundamentally changes when souled, beyond anything he could possibly have understood before he sought his soul, and see verse context to how his relationship with Buffy can then take a very different positive direction in the following season. It doesn't excuse him as the path to what happened and why he did it is there and solid to me. But inverse context applies to what follows and how he/they are able to move on after.

      I have to at this point echo Aurora's surprise that the conversation about Villains has been so thoroughly dominated by this. I am hoping to watch the episode tomorrow evening after rewatching SR in the morning and then hope to get to read/respond to the review and offer some wider thoughts before the weekend when the review of Two to Go will be due.
      Last edited by Stoney; 10-09-19, 09:14 PM.


      • Stoney:

        I always really dislike the 'William had some humanity/Spike was an anomaly' pov and I have seen many quotes from Fury that present this interpretation.
        I wasn't putting it forward as my understanding and I haven't read the rest of the thread. It was merely to make the point that Fury changed his mind. If I'm honest, I really don't give a flying flamingo what Fury says.


        • Originally posted by TriBel View Post
          I wasn't putting it forward as my understanding and I haven't read the rest of the thread. It was merely to make the point that Fury changed his mind. If I'm honest, I really don't give a flying flamingo what Fury says.
          Gonna miss John Bercow.

          I wasn't taking it as you doing so, my response was to Fury's suggestion about Spike. I understood that you were offering it as indicative that his pov changed, which is why I also offered another quote from him that also indicated he later felt differently as Buffy and Spike's relationship changed once Spike was no longer unsouled. So my thoughts were very much in response to his, to part of what he said in what you quoted.
          Last edited by Stoney; 10-09-19, 09:24 PM.


          • Just throwing in some other quotes that speak to the points/discussion BtVS Fan raised:

            Joss Whedon at the 20th Anniversary of Buffy (2017):

            "In terms of a long-term relationship, Spike's kinda your guy. You know he actually went and got a soul because of her. He was evolved in a different way."
            Joss Whedon (2016): "I’m a Buffy/Spike shipper. I always felt like he was a more evolved person, but that’s like saying Juliet’s going to be so happy with Benvolio and everyone will love it. Buffy/Angel is for the ages; Buffy/Spike is maybe for me."

            - Frazier Tharpe:

            Specifically, with regard to the soul, Joss doesn't seem to place a "real life" connotation on terms like "soul" (he calls the soul and the resurrection "beautiful concepts" even if they aren't directly transposable to real life).

            But he does stress its narrative importance in the Buffyverse, how it shapes verse mythology. There's no denying he specifically tried to create a line between souled Spike and soulless Spike, how Spike could not function at a certain moral level without it:

            JOSS WHEDON (MAY 16, 2003, New York Times):

            Spike was definitely kind of a soulful character before he had a soul, but we made it clear that there was a level on which he could not operate. Although Spike could feel love, it was the possessive and selfish kind of love that most people feel. The concept of real altruism didn’t exist for him. And although he did love Buffy and was moved by her emotionally, ultimately his desire to possess her led him to try and rape her because he couldn’t make the connection —- the difference between their dominance games and actual rape.

            With a soul comes a more adult understanding. [...] It does fall prey to convenience, but at the same time it has consistently marked the real difference between somebody with a complex moral structure and someone who may be affable and even likable, but ultimately eats kittens. [...] I’m not sure why it is that redemption is so fascinating to me. I think the mistakes I’ve made in my own life have plagued me, but they’re pretty boring mistakes: I committed a series of grisly murders in the eighties and I think I once owned a Wilson-Phillips Album. Apart from that I’m pretty much an average guy, yet I have an enormous burden of guilt. I’m not sure why. I’m a WASP, so it’s not Jewish or Catholic guilt; it’s just there. Ultimately, the concept of somebody who needed to be redeemed is more interesting to me. I think it does make a character more textured than one who doesn’t.
            As for Joss's relation with James Marsters, I'm sure its had its ups and downs but overall they seem to hold each other in high regard. If the Chosen commentary is anything to go by, it's pretty glowing:

            The great Marsters, with a chemistry with Buffy that is just completely different from Angel's. And different than David's and yet works very, very well. He's more on Buffy's level. He's more… their vulnerabilities come out – and I don't just mean as characters but as actors – around each other. And that really works, it works on a very different level. Their relationship clearly has been through a lot [...] and you feel that history. These two; and they bring it to the set every time they come to work. And that's why we still came to work; because they did.

            And James: the ability to turn on a dime is a very rare thing in an actor. From incredibly noble or scary to completely dorky or disarming. He does it with the 'tongue' line earlier, he does it here. You'd be amazed how few people can actually do that: and the last person I'd ever expect to be able to do it would be a theatre-trained guy, but yet, he's got the chops. He can go from Dracula to Jack Benny in a heartbeat, which is one of the reasons that I love him. That and his shiny, shiny hair.

            As for the soul-quest, I don't actually think the AR was some accident by the writers, solely intended to be detrimental to Spike's arc. It was done to make sure we registered he was "evil' soulless, definitely, but it was also meant to spark off his redemptive soul-quest:

            "Spike's quest was, and ALWAYS WAS, to get his soul restored for Buffy, despite any misleading leaks we may have put out that you fell for."
            - David Fury on the Bronze Beta, 11/19/02
            Moderator: "At the end of the finale, I thought Spike wanted to get the chip out, not get his soul back?"

            Joss Whedon: "Noooo.... but you were meant to think that. I personally devised something called a plot twist."
            At the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences panel "Behind the Scenes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer," 6/18/02
            "Spike looked into his soul at that moment [the attempted rape], and saw the demon in him, and that's what made him want to go get a soul .... We did a big ole mislead on you all, where we wanted you to think he gonna go get the chip out. We knew, the whole time, from the very beginning he was gonna go get a soul. And when he says I want Buffy to have what she deserves, he means a lover with a soul."
            - Jane Espenson, Buffy writer
            Radio interview on the Succubus Club, 5/22/02

            OK, to jump back to what was being discussed earlier...

            Really excellent points by American Aurora! (I love the idea of "bored now"/"beneath me" as recurring iterations of their identities running through Spike & Willow's intersecting journeys.) Just thought I'd add some thoughts to the whole 'Buffy-takes-Dawn-to-Spike's-crypt' thing before we move on:

            For me a text isn't "badly" written if characters don't behave like moral exemplars at all times. If everyone behaved flawlessly all the time it would be unrealistic, didactic and hard to even believe in characters as real people instead of fictive constructs. What matters to me is if the characters' actions feel plausible for them. And to me, Buffy taking Dawn to Spike's crypt in Villains is pretty in-character, for a bunch of reasons:

            a) If we think about her in this specific moment, she's been through a maelstrom of emotionally draining/ dangerous events in rapid succession: first, she was dealing with the emotional whammy of witnessing Spike's sex with Anya at the Magic Box (Entropy), at a point when she herself admitted she had feelings for him as has been pointed out. In comparison to what comes next, this feels very trivial, but it's important to consider the effect each successive event has on Buffy's state of mind. Then, she escapes an attack on her life by the Trio (Seeing Red), her jacket visible proof of how close she came to being killed. Another near-death experience that feeds anxiety about the danger afoot. She next suffers a back injury whilst engaged in combat with a vampire, something that would feel debilitating and make her feel even less in control. Next, the AR occurs in the bathroom and leaves her completely shaken. There's really been not a single moment of calm where she can sit back and think over recent happenings, gather her wits, calmly make plans. I agree with flow and Sosa Lola that time does not afford her this. The next thing she knows after reuniting with Xander, she's been shot by Warren, Willow magically pulls out the bullet, Tara is dead, Willow has gone "dark" with grief and rage. She's not feeling any sense of stability that she needs as the Slayer to lead: it all comes at a period when she needs to feel ready for battle at a moment's notice given that Dark Willow is now genuinely dangerous. Buffy previously had also registered Dawn's sadness when she said wistfully "He's not going to be coming around any more, is he?" Buffy isn't unaware of what a stable familial structure and safety means for Dawn, she has registered her sense of feeling forsaken on three major occasions now, in Forever (in the aftermath of Joyce's death), in Dead Things and in Older and Far Away. And usually, every time Dawn feels lost or ignored, she tends to attract trouble, or at least actively seems to go looking for it (too many episodes to count where this has happened.)

            Buffy didn't choose to become her legal guardian, it was thrust on her while still very young after losing her mother, but she fought to keep that status so she wouldn't lose Dawn. It isn't only because it was Joyce's last wish (that Buffy should take care of Dawn) or because Buffy loves Dawn so much, but also —more importantly— Buffy can't risk placing Dawn under the care of anyone who is unaware of supernatural danger. Buffy carries the responsibility of not just being the Slayer but having the unique knowledge of the existence of supernatural threats in the world, in a way that regular people don't (save for the Scoobies). Now, she hears that Dawn would feel safe at Spike's. Buffy has not had time to process anything, but on instinct, she trusts Spike with Dawn. It's possible that this is because of the way Spike fulfilled his vow of protecting Dawn when she had been dead. But it's also because Buffy is a tactical leader when she needs to be, and at this point, she can't afford to fall apart emotionally. Despite his chip, Spike was effective at protecting Dawn in Bargaining 1 and 2 and all through the summer. Does it feel strange that she's still trusting Spike with Dawn, given the AR? Yes it does, but given Buffy's style of leadership, I can understand why she's compartmentalising. She tends to do this in times of crisis. Recall Forever where she admits she can't afford to break apart because she needs to keep it together to take care of Dawn. In fact, the scene poignantly drives home the unfairness of how Buffy has to suddenly assume 'mom' responsibilities which even Dawn implies is too much to expect of her:

            BUFFY: I have to do these things [...] And I'm trying, Dawn, I'm really trying to take care of things. [...] Mom always knew!
            DAWN: Who's asking you to be mom?
            BUFFY: Who's gonna be if I'm not? Huh, Dawn? Have you even thought about that? Who's gonna make things better? Who's gonna take care of us? I didn't mean to push you away, I didn't. I couldn't let you see me--
            And similarly in Into the Woods, Buffy told Riley that she needed to be "on top of things" all the time, because that's part of what being a Slayer is. I agree with HardlyThere that this may not have been about protecting Dawn from Dark!Willow as much as it was about protecting her from other dangerous elements in Sunnydale. Dawn would certainly not be safe from these at Janice's. (Earlier this season she had got embroiled in a risky teen-vampire situation she needed rescuing from.) Leaving her with Xander wouldn't particularly accomplish anything plus Buffy may need Xander around if the need arises (she knows the Willow situation is unpredictable.)

            b) Buffy is not only pragmatic, she also has a Slayer gut-instinct/ Slayer sense, as American Aurora has highlighted (her instincts aren't easily dismissed since Slayers do value their instincts, especially in times of crisis and danger, seen as early as Out of Mind Out of Sight). Buffy has always treated each situation with a focus on its specificity. In New Moon Rising, for instance, Buffy asks Forest "What kind of demon was it?" when she hears of an attack to the Initiative men. Riley snaps contemptuously "Does it matter?" Well, yes, to Buffy, it does matter. Context in different situations matters to her as a tactical leader. Buffy has certainly not been blind to Spike's evil, the dangers he represents, his lack of a moral compass, it's in fact one of the reasons she repeatedly tells him she can't love him, because he's a "serial killer" on a leash without his soul. It's the reason she breaks up with him in the first place. So she's the last person to be accused of naivety when it comes to Spike's limitations. However, in this specific scenario, we learn that she does not view Spike as a threat to Dawn, she seems to locate his danger specifically as it relates to her. So when she says "Besides, he wouldn't," I believe that she believes Spike wouldn't harm Dawn and would protect her, and her instinct turns out to have been proven right. I don't think she's in any shape or form being deliberately slack about Dawn's safety, Buffy is the last person to be lax when it comes to Dawn. As Willow from Buffy says, Dawn keeps her afloat.

            Now, if I were in Dawn's shoes, I would absolutely feel angry, indignant and outraged, and I'd have every right to feel that way. Dawn has no clue what's been going on for months. She mistakenly assumed the Spuffy break up happened because Spike broke up with Buffy (according to the shooting script). For her to find out from Xander that the chipped vampire she has so far seen as a protective presence actually attacked/ tried to rape her big sister would justifiably freak her out beyond WORDS. And that is completely justified. I actually think it's a totally healthy reaction that she and Xander are protective of Buffy. I think it's testimony to the fact that they care about Buffy and I love them for it and I'd actually be a little weirded out if they behaved any differently. So I really can't fault them for their reactions at all.

            c) But it can't be denied that if Buffy were to open up to either of them about something as traumatic as what she's recently been through, particularly when Xander has mocked her judgement recently (and they've only just reached a shaky truce) and Dawn isn't likely to understand what's gone on without also questioning Buffy's leadership/ wisdom (which might further cause Dawn upset at this point), then neither would be receptive to what Buffy might say. Buffy could have lied to Dawn but what would that have achieved? She hasn't thought of a backup plan for where Dawn can stay as there don't seem to be any other options that satisfy her. In addition, Dawn is usually pretty good at catching on when she's being fed excuses. So Buffy pulls one of her "I'm the leader, I get to make an emergency decision" without telling Dawn the context. I truly believe she does it for Dawn's best shot at safety in the current scenario, so I really don't hate Buffy for it. I can understand being puzzled by the decision, disliking the fact that Buffy continues to trust Spike in the circumstances (where Dawn is concerned), but I don't hate Buffy for any of her actions here as she's running on her gut instincts as a leader, adrenaline and genuine good intention. I also fully understand why Dawn would be justifiably furious and distrustful of Buffy later when she finds out. But I'm looking at this specifically from Buffy's POV, and I don't think it's particularly out of character or unbelievable for her to think of leaving Dawn with Spike as a viable option in extremely dire circumstances when time is of the essence.

            Finally, a word about sexual assault: I think it's a really great point raised, in fact one of the primary reasons sexual assault survivors sometimes choose not to speak up is because they're afraid of judgment over how they reacted, why they didn't speak up sooner, judgement over their decision making, the way they "handled" their assault, the things they said or didn't say, why they kept quiet, etc. So I think it's an absolutely valid point and it's something that gets overlooked when one jumps to questioning Buffy's morality or her actions here. It isn't a question of whether she's a legal guardian to Dawn or not. When a person suffers an attack or trauma, the emotions they would feel/ the bewilderment they would go through has got to be the same, on a human level, whatever their responsibilities or commitments. I don't think any sexual assault survivor deliberately acts "irresponsibly", so to lay that on Buffy does feel like a roundabout way of blaming her for the repercussions of something that happened to her. Buffy has also grappled with her mental health and depression this season, which brings in an added dimension as to why I think she especially deserves to not be judged for how she authentically reacts in the circumstances. How one reacts to trauma isn't something that's actually under a person's control, she is bound to go through a period where she needs a few months at the very least to heal from everything that's happened. If anything, given everything she's been through, it's incredible that she has the ability to take leadership decisions at all especially at the speed with which she does.
            Last edited by SpuffyGlitz; 11-09-19, 04:40 AM.


            • Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
              I’m finally done with my current job and hope to respond to Willow from Buffy’s fantastic review soon - truly one of the best I’ve read on this board so far.
              Wow! That's really nice of you. Sadly, as I haven't read any reviews other than my own, it is hard for me to return the compliment. I promise to have a look at your "Seeing Red" review. The length and number of these reviews have so far been putting me off, especially seeing as I am so late to the party. When I was first brought into this, I was living abroad and was like super-super busy.

              Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
              I did want to note, however, that I find it fascinating that of all the things in your review, the focus of so many of the responses are about the aftermath of Spike and the AR - especially Buffy bringing Dawn to his crypt. I find it far more disturbing that souled Willow has literally skinned someone alive and subsequently tries to kill Andrew, Jonathan, Dawn, Buffy, Xander and pretty much everyone in the world - perhaps because Spike is unsouled and Willow is not. Perhaps it’s also because of the complex parallels between Spike’s actions in the AR and Willow’s actions in terms of cruelty and moral intent.
              I see your point, especially if you think coldly and analytically on it. Still, I do find Spike's assault of Buffy more disturbing, even if the pain it causes Buffy is a lesser evil than death would be. The rape of a loved one is an extreme breach of trust. It is a perverse act. On one level, I can understand it. We want sex and love, and we humans have a tendency to take whatever we aren't freely given. WANT, TAKE, HAVE. But on the other hand, I couldn't imagine harming a loved one in that way.

              Willow's killing of Warren follows a simple eye-for-an-eye logic. I could never imagine myself abusing a loved one, but I could imagine myself attacking someone who had harmed or killed someone I loved, even if I hope I would be able to rise above it and allow the police to deal with the matter. I do find it hard to blame Dark Willow or Carrie for their need for revenge, even if I logically now it is misguided and over blown. There is something extremely cathartic about watching them.

              Willow's previous acts disturb me more. Willow's erasure of Tara's memory of their fight and attempt at erasing Buffy's memory of Heaven is more disturbing, even if it is less violent and therefore less instinctively indusing of horror than Spike's assault. The attempt to erase Buffy's memories could even be defended from a radical utilitarian standpoint.

              However, the moment this season where Willow's behaviour really makes me sick to my stomach is her aborted movie date with Dawn. That is such a cruel act towards someone who looks up to Willow as a parental figure and who has always acted as a older sister/friend. Still, it is not as serious as sexual assault, and it is only a one-time occurence. Willow learns from this mistake, makes some painful admissions about herself, accepts the guilt and grows from it.

              Until "Villains," Willow remains on her best behaviour. The worst you could accuse her of is being lazy, as she does not help Buffy support their little household financially, but she is in recovery, does non-magical Scooby work and helps out with the wedding.

              As for Willow talking about shedding Dawn's human-ness in the next episode, I think we must keep in mind that Willow has lost her marbles at this point. Of course, he put herself in this state, but by doing that, she has completely lost control and perspective. And she is not trying to do anything to Dawn that she is not doing to herself. She knows the magix will burn her out. She no longer wants to be human. When she mocks Dawn, she is really talking about herself. "Boo Tara, Boo Buffy." Who is like that? Regular Willow is.

              Wanting to kill Dawn is a precursor to wanting to destroy the world, but this does not come from malice. It is meant to spare Dawn and the world from the pain of being human. It is Willow's twisted idea of salvation.

              The attacks on Buffy and Giles are truer, in a sense. These are two role models Willow feels has abandoned her, and so she has grown deeply resentful of them.

              I don't want to steal the thunder for next episode's reviewer, though, because this is really interesting, and I am sure there are many opinions on Willow's actions here.

              Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
              I do want to point out that Buffy’s strange trust in Spike and mistrust of Willow is ironically proven correct in the end. Perhaps it’s a Slayer gut sense that goes beyond human reason, but Spike isn’t even in his crypt because he’s gone off to get a soul (even while soulless) whereas Willow (with a soul) actually threatens Dawn’s life the second she meets up with her. And I think this is intentional as the two redemptive lines cross with Buffy and Xander in the middle - all the themes of moral disgust, ‘magical’ thinking and the Buffyverse theory of the ‘soul’ come together in the last few episodes as a kind of moral relativism vs. ethical naturalism debate.

              I agree with Stoney that Spike and Willow’s storylines have been linked for a while and naturally come together at the end of Season Six in a way that kinda shatters both characters - forever changed from Grave onward.
              I really don't agree with you here. Buffy has some problems with Willow, as she blames her for bringing her back to life, but they become friends again quite early in the season. And I don't see Buffy has having any intuitive trust towards Spike. I mean, she trusts Dawn and Joyce with him, but I think that is because she understands that he wouldn't try to harm her that way, as his ultimate goal is to make her love him.

              And I do see Spike getting a soul as a bit of a fluke. It wouldn't be possible for him to get a soul unless he had an ulterior motive. The real process towards change starts after he gets the soul.

              Of course, I have strong Willow-bias here. But in my head Spike is an evil creature and Willow is first and foremost a powerful agent of good. Spike happens to fall in love with Buffy, who matches his ideal of womanhood: beautiful, powerful and just out of reach. Willow strives towards good, but her belief in her own goodness, her anxiety and her need to protect her ego lead her astray for a bit.
              Last edited by Willow from Buffy; 11-09-19, 10:57 AM.


              • Just finished rewatching SR, Villains tonight!

                For me the context to both Spike's and Willow's actions makes me understand and accept them. Willow is thrown out of control by her grief and is powerfully affected and running on that from the end of Seeing Red. The phrase even visually depicted on that closing shot of her which I think really draws emphasis to how blinded she is by her emotions. In his despair and desperation to try to force Buffy to respond how he wanted Spike tried to force a response from her, to make a connection again with her that he felt had been successful before. Now how Spike moves on from this is what makes it possible to forgive the character to me, but in understanding the act itself there's still relevant context as Spike is soulless and doesn't see the boundaries of his actions and manage to draw the lines morally in a way that could have controlled him. This is shown in his confusion in the crypt afterwards when he is asking what he did as well as why he didn't do it. He finally starts to see that he can't walk the line, he's not monster nor man. Now Spike doesn't have the capacity to understand and Willow isn't able to hold herself back in her grief and anger. Neither were committing premeditated and calmly considered actions. This is what separates them from Warren. We understand some of his driving motivations and insecurities from what we glean about his background and how he has been bullied and clearly feels insecure. But he both has the moral capacity to understand his choices and time and consideration to control himself. Even running on the fuel of his humiliation from Buffy smashing his orbs it is the day after that he has fetched a gun and goes and attacks her again. His actions are seldom presented as being in the moment or out of his control and when things do occur that could fit to that, Katrina's murder for instance, he makes no moves to hand himself in and confess what he has done as the overall context in which that went out of his control was already a very considered violent violation of her. How Jonathan is shown to be increasingly disconcerted by Warren's behaviour and then Andrew's desire for violence in Seeing Red adds into the sense of Warren being distinct and dangerous in a way that is framed to be less sympathetic than any other characters I think.

                I wouldn't see Spike getting a soul as a fluke as he deliberately goes to do it. It is however, I would agree, something more than what he understood. Spike realises that he can't be what he wants (acceptable to Buffy), can't get what he wants (Buffy) and so he goes to do something that he thinks will fix that. As often happens the action is good but the motivation was primarily fixed on what he wanted to achieve. Of course once he is souled he is able to see things differently and move beyond what he was. Both Willow and Spike are able to progress from where they are at their worst points at the end of S6 and I really like the point Aurora made of the roles others play in how they come to that. Of course Buffy's influence on Spike is something he carries forward after SR in how he chooses to respond to events, Xander's intervention with Willow is more active of course. But both of which result in my favourite season ending so I'm eager to keep watching and get to it.
                Last edited by Stoney; 11-09-19, 04:32 PM.


                • All said regarding writers, producers, actors, directors, viewers, readers, etc. are what I remember, my opinions, etc.

                  * Spike never attempted to rape Willow.

                  * Joss Whedon and James Marsters didn't have a true 'falling out'. It's simply that James Marsters wants to be a certain level of money. James wasn't going to guest star in Dollhouse just to please Whedonverse fans. It seems James was going to have some involvement in Firefly if that lasted longer than it did. Joss was pretty much the only one who made any money from Dr. Horrible . I forgot the name of his Shakespeare movie, but that was largely done for fun and the actors unlikely were paid much.

                  James Marsters left Smallville because he didn't want to move to Canada. He still got significant money if an episode mentioned Brainiac.

                  Alexis Denisof has a very small role in the Avengers franchise. It's not as if Joss signed TV Whedonverse people multi-million dollars contracts in the MCU and left out James.

                  And it seems James was remained friendly with Jane Espenson and David Fury.

                  James simply wanted to stay in Santa Monica or wherever and he didn't want to leave to do a job. Runaways films close to where James lives.


                  • Originally posted by SpuffyGlitz
                    Finally, a word about sexual assault: I think it's a really great point raised, in fact one of the primary reasons sexual assault survivors sometimes choose not to speak up is because they're afraid of judgment over how they reacted, why they didn't speak up sooner, judgement over their decision making, the way they "handled" their assault, the things they said or didn't say, why they kept quiet, etc. So I think it's an absolutely valid point and it's something that gets overlooked when one jumps to questioning Buffy's morality or her actions here. It isn't a question of whether she's a legal guardian to Dawn or not. When a person suffers an attack or trauma, the emotions they would feel/ the bewilderment they would go through has got to be the same, on a human level, whatever their responsibilities or commitments. I don't think any sexual assault survivor deliberately acts "irresponsibly", so to lay that on Buffy does feel like a roundabout way of blaming her for the repercussions of something that happened to her. Buffy has also grappled with her mental health and depression this season, which brings in an added dimension as to why I think she especially deserves to not be judged for how she authentically reacts in the circumstances. How one reacts to trauma isn't something that's actually under a person's control, she is bound to go through a period where she needs a few months at the very least to heal from everything that's happened. If anything, given everything she's been through, it's incredible that she has the ability to take leadership decisions at all especially at the speed with which she does.
                    I agree with the bolded part completely, but I don’t agree that criticizing Buffy’s decision or the writing in “Villains” is blaming her for the repercussions of her sexual assault. I can’t speak for anyone else, but my primary point of contention with the AR in general is that it does such a lousy job at attempting to show Buffy’s perspective. Spike attempts to rape Buffy and it is an extremely huge part of his character development, but it is absolutely irrelevant to hers.

                    During the last three episodes of S6 and throughout all of S7, there is no meaningful exploration of the AR from Buffy’s perspective. We get a couple brief moments where Buffy flinches at Spike (in “Beneath You” and “Him”), but it’s wildly inconsistent (see their interactions in “Lessons” and "Same Time, Same Place"). Most of the time the AR is addressed, it is to emphasize the point that ‘he has a soul’ and ‘it’s different’ now. This bothers me and the moment that we’re discussing – Buffy’s defense of him in “Villains”, which I took as showing that her feelings toward him have not changed – is a huge example of this. It’s really hard for me to view Buffy’s decision in “Villains” as a logical reaction of her experience of sexual assault because the narrative itself seems to purposely shy away from portraying her experience as a survivor of sexual assault.

                    Originally posted by SpuffyGlitz View Post
                    Buffy has certainly not been blind to Spike's evil, the dangers he represents, his lack of a moral compass, it's in fact one of the reasons she repeatedly tells him she can't love him, because he's a "serial killer" on a leash without his soul. It's the reason she breaks up with him in the first place. So she's the last person to be accused of naivety when it comes to Spike's limitations. However, in this specific scenario, we learn that she does not view Spike as a threat to Dawn, she seems to locate his danger specifically as it relates to her. So when she says "Besides, he wouldn't," I believe that she believes Spike wouldn't harm Dawn and would protect her, and her instinct turns out to have been proven right. I don't think she's in any shape or form being deliberately slack about Dawn's safety, Buffy is the last person to be lax when it comes to Dawn. As Willow from Buffy says, Dawn keeps her afloat.
                    I disagree with this. While I think Buffy loves Dawn more than anything, she does fail Dawn many times both in terms of her safety and as a guardian. She spends much of Season 6 neglecting Dawn in order to have sex with Spike. She is incredibly passive about the Willow situation that resulted in Dawn being injured/nearly killed in “Wrecked”. Buffy is clinically depressed throughout the season, which is the reason for these lapses in decision-making so I don’t judge her too harshly. However, one of the main points of S6 is that Buffy is making all of the wrong decisions especially when it comes to Spike, so I don’t think it’s unfair for one to question her judgement/thinking when it comes to him (including her trying to leave Dawn at his crypt).

                    It just frustrates me so, so much because this isn’t an isolated incident. It is a pattern in Buffy and Spike’s relationship that gets worse in Season 7. Another moment is in “Lies My Parents Told Me” when a chained-up but triggered Spike threw a cot at Dawn and then Buffy ended up trying to untie him merely a few moments later. Dawn could have been seriously injured by him but while Willow is comforting her, Buffy doesn’t think much about it because poor Spike is uncomfortable.

                    While I think Buffy and Spike’s relationship is extremely toxic (in S6 AND S7), I will admit it’s a realistic -- albeit inconsistently-written -- depiction of a toxic relationship. Buffy is in way too deep when it comes to Spike. The people outside of the situation – Xander, Dawn, (the audience, haha) – can see how messed up some of her decisions are, but of course Buffy can’t see because she is so invested in it. That's often how it is.

                    Originally posted by BtVS fan
                    Given the reported "ambivalence" of the writing staff in regard to the nature of the Buffy/Spike relationship and their apparent dismissal of the seriousness of rape, it is hardly surprising that there was anger, confusion and dissention among fans. The viewpoints expressed in fandom can generally be broken down into two categories: casual viewers and "Spikistas," hyper-dedicated fans of the character of Spike. The opinions of the former group tend to run fairly close to Mr. Fury's, and express horror over the attempted rape and disgust over the relationship in general. The latter group's opinions parallel more with Ms. Espenson's, with people endeavoring to excuse or deny Spike's behavior, or blame the incident on Buffy if they address the attempted rape at all.
                    BtVS fan, thanks for providing those quotes. It’s amazing how divisive Spike is, not only among the fans but among the writers as well. Spike being such a dynamic character was something that worked for him and against him in many ways. It seems the writers had such differing views on him and it was made all the more complicated by the fact that none of them (not even Whedon) ultimately knew what direction his character would end up in. No wonder the writing for his character was so inconsistent. But despite these things, Spike ended up having one of the most cohesive character arcs on the show so I think they ultimately made it work.
                    Last edited by Andrew S.; 12-09-19, 05:46 AM.


                    • Originally posted by Andrew S. View Post
                      I agree with the bolded part completely, but I don’t agree that criticizing Buffy’s decision or the writing in “Villains” is blaming her for the repercussions of her sexual assault.
                      Great post Andrew S.! I'm not implying that criticism of Buffy's actions equals blaming her for the repercussions of the AR, at least not from a Doylist level. I get what you mean and you've made a lot of convincing points. I'll think about it from a different perspective when I rewatch these episodes. But I want to clarify -- what I'm saying is that I understand where Buffy's coming from in the text, I feel sympathy for her. I totally get having a massive problem with Buffy taking Dawn to Spike's crypt from a Doylist perspective (especially so soon after the AR.) That's open to criticism and I understand people having huge problems with it. From a Watsonian perspective, considering the context and time, her judgement likely *is* still clouded by everything that's happened (and is continuing to happen.) So I agree that it's hard to judge her especially given her depression this season. I'll think about your criticism when I rewatch, but I still can't help feeling like Buffy's placed in a tough situation with no real time to pause and consider. As you say, S6 Spuffy was definitely toxic, but I thought Buffy made a valiant effort to put the brakes on it. Spike's barging into the bathroom didn't really have to do with her at this point.

                      Maybe she should have established boundaries sooner, but that's part of her arc as you say, and by As You Were she had done this. The fact that she still struggles with housing feelings for him is something I don't see as being under her control, she's done her best to put an end to it. Considering the toxicity of the relationship has only recently ended, it's still in her fairly recent past. Being totally clear-headed at this point doesn't seem realistic to me. It would probably need to take a bit more time before she gets there. As for S7, I don't necessarily see it as "toxic" so much as a messy "work-in-progress", it's not ideal and everything is still very raw. I follow the DH comics and feel like their relationship went on a continuum from there. I get your frustration with how some things are written on BtVS though, I had a similar sense of frustration earlier with the Giles-Willow kitchen scene in Flooded (which I've gotten over now, lol), so I empathise with feeling frustrated by aspects of the text. And I also tend to roll my eyes a little when there's excessive Spike sympathy at the cost of Buffy so you're not alone there either (although I probably do see S7 differently.) I won't pre-empt discussion on S7 yet, though -- I'm sure there will be multiple viewpoints when we get to it which will be interesting.

                      I disagree with this. While I think Buffy loves Dawn more than anything, she does fail Dawn many times both in terms of her safety and as a guardian. She spends much of Season 6 neglecting Dawn in order to have sex with Spike. She is incredibly passive about the Willow situation that resulted in Dawn being injured/nearly killed in “Wrecked”. Buffy is clinically depressed throughout the season, which is the reason for these lapses in decision-making so I don’t judge her too harshly. However, one of the main points of S6 is that Buffy is making all of the wrong decisions especially when it comes to Spike, so I don’t think it’s unfair for one to question her judgement/thinking when it comes to him (including her trying to leave Dawn at his crypt).
                      You're right, Buffy does neglect Dawn on these occasions (and in fact, herself admits to Willow in Gone that she was so caught up with her own issues that she didn't notice her best friend was sinking), but I wouldn't place the blame for what happened to Dawn in Wrecked solely on Buffy's shoulders either (plus ironically, her association with Spike ended up helping her locate Rack etc). Like you say, her escapism was owing to her struggles with her depression and it's something that's addressed by her. The fact that she saw the relationship as an escape was something she put an end to, plus she did feel horribly guilty all throughout it, and I think her own arc in some ways was meant to parallel aspects of Willow's downward spiral so maybe that's what made her less perceptive to what was going on with her best friend (and Dawn) while she was going through it. There's this saying, you don't see your own eyelashes despite them being above your own eyes, I think it's something similar. Maybe I over stressed her protection of Dawn, because I agree with your examples, but I think in spirit if not always in deed, Buffy has consistently been worried about/ protective of Dawn, it's one reason why she tries so hard to shelter her this season. She does own up to her choices towards the end, and I kinda love that she and Giles both end up laughing hysterically over it as cathartic release. Since Buffy's not an actual mom (she's a Slayer multi-tasking and adjusting to life after death), her lapses in judgement as Dawn's legal guardian to me are still sympathetic/ understandable. Still, I'll consider everything you say when I rewatch.
                      Last edited by SpuffyGlitz; 12-09-19, 11:49 PM.


                      • It was actually the last time I rewatched Season 6 that I had this 'awakening' if you will, of just how poor Dawn's home life was that season. It was terribly depressing.

                        You could of course go with the obvious examples such as "Wrecked" where both Buffy and Willow abandon Dawn to spend the day alone whilst they sleep off a night of bad decisions. However, whilst it certainly was unfortunate, I was more struck by Buffy's behaviour in "As You Were" when she freely admits that Dawn "is counting on her" and she's "not going to let her down by letting [Spike] in" and yet, she does so anyway. The shot of her dropping Dawn's dinner on the ground, if you even want to call it that, whilst she makes out with Spike is actually pretty awful. And then in the next scene not only is Dawn faced with a squished and no doubt cold dinner but she then admits to Buffy that she simply can't eat that processed junk for another night, implying this has been a regular occurrence.

                        It's then reminiscent of scenes in "Wrecked" where Willow finds Dawn in the kitchen trying to concoct a bizarre peanut butter quesadilla. Dawn does her best to be positive about the experiment only to admit that it tasted horrible the moment Willow offers to take her out for a meal and a movie (and we all know how that turned out). This scene is reminiscent of my childhood when I was home alone with no idea how to cook and I'd come up with these gross mishmash dishes to starve off my hunger. Except, those occasions were few and far between and I knew that when my parents got home I would have a decent meal. Accompany this with Buffy telling Riley in "As You Were" that all she had to offer him and Sam were ice cubes and it paints a very bleak picture for poor Dawn.

                        And then there's the fact that Buffy neglects Dawn for most of the season and excuses this to Dawn and her friends on the account that she's working around the clock at the Doublemeat Palace and slaying, when in reality, she's spending much of that time away sleeping with Spike. On top of this you have Dawn living with an addict who gets her into a serious car accident, Spike who has seemingly dropped any care and attention he had towards her at all and Tara who makes an effort to stay in touch but has moved out of home.

                        I'm even annoyed by Buffy in "Dead Things" when she chooses to wake Dawn up in the middle of the night to admit to her she hasn't been everything Joyce was and that she's turning herself into jail. Now, I get that Buffy was having a breakdown over her belief that she'd killed Katrina, and overall I'm very sympathetic towards Buffy throughout the episode, but why wake a fifteen year old up from a peaceful sleep to deliver her gut-wrenching news that you're leaving her... and to whom, exactly? It's so unnecessary, dysfunctional, and honestly just cruel and unthoughtful.

                        I love Buffy and I'll defend her from high heavens but I really noticed on my last rewatch how poor she was a guardian. I know she was still very, very young and practically a child herself, that she was suffering from clinical depression, and that she hadn't asked for this responsibility either. It makes it all somewhat understandable but I admittedly resent her for how poorly she treat Dawn in episodes like "As You Were" when she herself vocalises that she's letting Dawn down and then does so anyway.

                        It must've been awful for Dawn to go from a stable home environment with Joyce, with home cooked meals ("chicken and stars"), security, and a healthy parental relationship, to either fending for herself most nights and scrounging for things to eat or eating Doublemeat Palace food multiple times a week. It's even worse that she was suffering from such loneliness and pain that it summoned Halfrek to Sunnydale and she thought she had to accept this whilst she felt sorry for Buffy that she was "all tied up" with DoubleMeat Palace and slaying, when in actual fact her sister's really sneaking off to Spike's crypt instead of spending any time with her. I do agree with AndrewS that I think it's partially why I find Buffy's decision to leave her with Spike in "Villains" to be so upsetting. She's consistently let Spike in at the detriment of Dawn's well-being and in this episode she makes another really poor decision to prioritise her really sad (and I mean that empathetically) toxic relationship with him over Dawn's possible safety. It's a far cry from her protectiveness of Dawn in Season 5.
                        "The earth is doomed!" - Banner by Nina


                        • I do think that Dawn is a barometer through the season for how poorly the adults around her are handling their issues. She is dismissed, forgotten and neglected regularly. She bears physical injuries that require medical attention at times when others are self-medicating in effect by using coping mechanisms that serve to provide physical release/highs/escapism. The symbolism of how what you eat affects your health and happiness, what you take in to your body physically like the experiences that build into your mental/emotional wellbeing, is repeatedly featured in the season and regularly represents the general quality of the overall input being received. As Mogs outlined there's no doubt that Dawn's dietary contributions are questioned and her burnt cooking attempts and experimental concoctions really represent her isolation and loneliness. She is crying out for attention and affection and Buffy faces this more through the episodes, but seeing it doesn't instantly fix it. She knows that she is distant and struggling to give her sister the emotional support that she needs and is often falling short in meeting her practical needs too. I do agree generally with Mogs' post above about this issue and I think it is a deliberate part of how they show how the group isn't functioning well and how Buffy is struggling to cope through the season. The combination of Doublemeat Palace following Provider over on AtS I think really underlines this aspect of duty/responsibility.

                          In Villains though I feel Buffy's awareness of failing to meet Dawn's needs actually plays a part in why she agrees to take her to Spike's crypt. There is a resigned/unhappy tone to her agreement to do so to me. I think she is seeing it as meeting what Dawn is asking of her at a time when Dawn is trying to deal with having just lost yet another adult that was part of her previously established support network with Tara. And this comes with having found her and been alone doing so which I can imagine was an experience that emphasised a very traumatic sense of isolation and abandonment again. Dawn had clearly reacting badly to the news that Spike wasn't being included in the group any longer in Seeing Red after the events of Entropy, she was upset that he wouldn't be coming around any more (which implies there was some regularity to his visits that she personally saw/felt which would then be seen to be stopping). Because of the chip and Buffy's belief that Spike wouldn't hurt Dawn, whether that is a misjudgement or not it is a consistent point of view, I think she genuinely felt that she was best meeting Dawn's needs in agreeing to this. Perhaps even above what she might perceive in consideration of the wider circumstance to be a personal preference to not do so.

                          Having read the differing thoughts though I can't say it isn't very fair to question the choice. Would Buffy really be happy with Spike and Dawn spending time together generally still after the attempted rape? How would she perceive the attack on her changing things. As I said in an earlier post, I think the AR changed Spike's perception of himself and served to prompt him to look to change, but it was really yet another reminder to Buffy of the issues she already knew were there in the limitations of his soullessness and it supported why she didn't feel it was a possible romantic relationship to pursue. But she had believed that he wouldn't hurt her and there is anger and a sense of betrayal too at the end of the scene between them in the bathroom. But we also briefly see that Spike is showing contrition, presumably before he is then told firmly to leave or fled fast enough to leave his coat. I don't think that undoes what just happened between them I hasten to add and underline very firmly. But it could mean that Buffy's perception of his emotional state afterwards is not a focus on him as still acting violently or intent to hurt her. So with that in mind too I can see Buffy looking to put aside her very justifiable anger because she is compartmentalising it as her problem with Spike and the situation as needing her to do so. Along with it providing Dawn with a currently needed sense of security.

                          There's an interesting correlation across to A New World in AtS here and it also works alongside the season wide story element of Buffy shielding Dawn from the world too much as well I think. In putting aside her feelings and any reservations to take Dawn to Spike as she has asked, Buffy is again shielding her from the real world. She is allowing Dawn's perception of Spike's reliability to stay static without the new information which could change her feelings (and we see very much does). That desire to protect someone seen as vulnerable to the world around them is similar to Angel's chase after Connor when he flees the hotel. In both cases there is a belief that the children being 'out there' puts them at risk. But their perceptions of those they are looking to protect possibly doesn't truly reflect reality. Overly shielding Dawn isn't helpful and in this situation in fact goes against what she would want if she knew the truth and Connor isn't alone as Angel believes.

                          Buffy's choice certainly could also be seen to be reflective of how difficult it is to get away from abusive relationships. Especially with that notion of her having seen Spike's regret. Forgiving abusive partners and believing assurances that these things won't ever happen again is something that we often hear of. There are elements mixed up in all this when there are genuine feelings for the abusive partner and hope that they will change, or with the abused party making excuses for them. In real life there are plenty that can't or won't change and getting out of the relationship is definitely the healthy decision. Spike and Buffy's relationship was mutually abusive but Buffy was able to see this and withdraw. Because of his soullessness the relationship certainly reflects this scenario of an inability to change as well though, and the true lack of reliability he offers is underscored firmly by the attempted rape, even after Buffy had ended the relationship. I don't agree that the relationship is toxic in S7 as I think that the inverse mythology then also allows them to move away from the problems that cause the limitation between them in S6 in a way that isn't reflective of real life with a real/meaningful shift able to happen suddenly to Spike's emotional and moral capacity with the inclusion of the soul. I find the relationship then as pointedly changing from the abusive past to a new positive and mutually empowering dynamic. But that's no doubt going to get discussed across next season and it will be interesting to see where/why people feel differently on such things.

                          It has been really very interesting to see how much discussion and debate has come from this aspect of the episode and I have certainly questioned and considered it more after hearing everyone's perspectives. I do think Buffy was simply trying to make what she felt was the best decision in the circumstances, was looking to listen to Dawn at a very difficult and upsetting time, whilst obviously still dealing with a lot of her own personal issues and had barely any time to process the attack itself let alone all the new traumas that were piling up as well as the pressure of the moment. But there's no doubt in my mind though that the chip is a major factor of why she is at all willing to do it. Having now watched the eps finally I'm going to give some time and thought to WfB's review and consider the rest of the episode.
                          Last edited by Stoney; 13-09-19, 04:07 AM.


                          • I've started reading your "Seeing Red" review, American Aurora. I really love the way you write and you put your finger on some many important point. Since Willow is my favourite character, I had to weigh in on the discussion on Willow as a cool girl/psycho lesbian bitch.

                            Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
                            I’ve seen some rants on the net about Buffy as a “faux” feminist show – and many center around the depiction of Willow Rosenberg as a “cool girl” who quickly devolves into a “Psycho Lesbian Bitch” until she’s tamed by the men around her. The whole Light Willow/Vampire Willow/Dark Willow divide irks them – because they feel she feeds into pernicious and even homophobic stereotypes that are damaging.
                            So, as people may have noticed, I am fiercely defensive concerning the merits of Willow as a character. Therefore, I want to try to unpack all of this and provide my take on it. I'll try to be open minded, but the bias is strong

                            I reject the idea that Willow is a cool girl off hand. In my opinion, there are two cool girls in the Whedon canon. They are Fred from AtS and Kaylee from Firefly. Whedon often gets accused of only writing manic pixie dream girls, which is a trope that is closely related to and largely overlaps with the cool girl. Even if the two mentioned are egregious examples of this, none of his other female characters fit into this trope. Cordelia, Zoe, Dr Sanders, Sierra, November, De Wit, Anya, Dawn, etc are not cool girls. And neither is Willow.

                            Willow tries to be a cool girl in the first two seasons, but she is not very good at. The cool girl is accomodating and tries to adapt to whatever she thinks men will like. In fiction, this is unconscious. The cool girl is simply cool. Fred just loves tacos. She does not eat tacos to impress Gunn. Kaylee loves fixing spaceships and she wants to have tons of greasy sex with the uptight Simon. That's just who they are. But Willow tries to win Xander by being his friend, so it is a conscious effort on her part. However, Xander falls in love with sexy teachers, slayers, cute foreign girls and the cheerleading queen. He does not fall in love with his buddy, who is good at movie quizzes and wants to help him do his math homework. Willow may be accomodating, but she isn't that cool. She is Xander's "guy friend who knows about girl stuff." She is un-sexed and friend-zoned.

                            As the show progresses, Willow grows to be more impressive and way cooler, but she becomes less accommodating and more difficult. Not more difficult than a person has a right to be, but too difficult to be a cool girl. The exchange you quote from "Doppelgangland" is a good example of that, but there are many other examples of Willow demanding to be heard and taken notice of. And then there is the fluke with Xander, which I know upsets a lot of fans. Many fans don't want Willow to be the kind of girl who finds infidelity "sexier ... somehow," but that is who Willow is on the show. She isn't always perfectly wholesome.

                            In fact, many fans find Willow the be the furthest thing from a easy going cool girl and describe her as arrogant, condescending and judgemental.

                            And then there is Oz, who may actually be a cool guy. When Oz is introduced on the show, they make it very clear that he is a sensitive guy, who would never judge a woman on her appearance. There are several scenes of Devon, Larry or Xander trying to get Oz to join in on some classic gawking and objectification, but Oz never plays along. He is unthreatening and kind. He loves all of Willow's quirks. Seriously, who falls for a girl who tries to boil herself inside an eskimo outfit at a nightclub?

                            And throughout the show, Oz mostly remains a very low maintenance, supportive and undemanding boyfriend. Being in a band gives him some cool points, but he does not engage in any unseemly activity associated with musicians. And he has some previous sexual experience, but he won't push Willow.

                            For a lot of shy, un-kissed young nerds, Oz must have seemed like the perfect guy. Kinda cool, kinda sexy, but not in a threatening way. Loyal and sensitive. He is a good listener, who hardly ever speaks, especially not about himself.

                            As for the psycho lesbian bitch and hysterical woman allegations, those are a little harder to combat. First off, though, I want to point out that prior to S6 and even to a degree in early S6, Willow and Tara's relationship is shown to be a very healthy and supportive. It doesn't turn bad until S6, and S6 isn't a good year for heterosexuality either (looking at you, axe murdering and judgemental Xander and stalky-the-clown-turned-attempted-rapist Spike).

                            Then, I wonder whether Willow truly deserves to be called a psycho bitch. Was she a psycho bitch before Dark Willow? She does some bad stuff, sure, but that seems really harsh. Dark Willow may be described as a psycho bitch, but she is out fighting some truly monstrous men.

                            Now, I get that Willow's reaction to Tara's death connects to some cultural belief concerning female hysteria and insane lesbians. But aren't storylines where men go insane from grief very common? Is Wesley a psycho bitch when he stabs Gunn in the chest after Fred's death? Is Angel a psycho bitch when he fires Wes, Cordy and Gunn in S2? Is Giles a psycho bitch when he goes after Angel in "Passion" and yells at Buffy for saving him? Is Xander a psycho bitch when he threatens to murder Buffy in "When She Was Bad," because Buffy was moody prior to Willow's abduction?

                            I think there are situations when hysteria feels like the only natural response. There are many times I want to get hysterical, because the world is so cruel and unfair. But getting hysterical in real life is a bad idea, so I try to avoid it.

                            Willow goes hysterical after an insane experience. Personally, I forgive her for it. Maybe her response is the only sane one. The love of her life lies dead in her lap and her best friend is bleeding out, because of some maniac with a gun.

                            Then I would like to argue that Willow is not the show's main lesbian. Tara is. And isn't Tara the furthest thing from a psycho bitch?

                            Willow is not introduced on the show as a lesbian. We only learn that Willow is a lesbian after she meets Tara. Therefore, I would argue that people will generally not see Willow's lesbianism as being her most central quality. It is different for Tara, because we first learn to know her as Willow's first girlfriend. If we asked people to write words relating to Willow and then words relating to Tara, the word lesbian would likely show up much sooner for Tara than for Willow. This is both because we have known Willow for so long before she comes out, and because she according to her own admission still lack Tara's "lesbo street cred."

                            We see this in the discussion between Xander and Buffy in "Family." Xander spells it out. He can still figure Willow out, even if she has this "new thing in her life." But Tara is this unknown scary lesbian. They don't know anything about her, except that she "likes Willow."

                            This mechanism can be seen in real life. If we have prejudices against a group, we often see people whom we know as being less representative of that group than other members of that group. A racist person can have a black friend, but that black friend isn't as scary as the other black people who live downtown. A homophobe may have a gay friend, but this friend likes sport, unlike other gay people who just watch musicals and braid each other's beards.

                            On AtS, Gunn is black, but he is also a person, unlike the friends in his crew, who are just black stock characters, and therefore a purer expression on how the writers generally view black people. Gunn is a fairly reasonable black person. He doesn't have the same aggressive pack mentality as his old friends.

                            And so, how could someone argue that meeting Tara, who is the kindest person in the world, turned Willow into a psycho lesbian bitch? I guess that may have something to do with the last point, namely that it is heterosexual men who manage to calm Willow down. Without a calm Oz in her life, Willow's hysterical woman-ness is allowed to run wild. Oz did show some scepticism towards Willow's magical experimentation, and Willow's magic is connected to her womanhood, lesbianism and her hysteria.

                            But is Xander's appeal to Willow a triumphant hetero-masculine moment? I would argue that it is not. It is a deeply humbled Xander who begs his oldest friend to stop what she is doing. It is little more than a plea to acknowledge the love that has existed between them for almost their entire lives. Xander isn't strong. He is not confident. He does not appeal to rationality. He has made some admission about himself since "Entropy" and "Seeing Red."

                            The scenes with Giles and Willow in England is a different deal, though, because this really feel like Willow submitting to the judgement of a sensible and rational man. I truly wish we had seen Willow with the coven instead of with Giles. And while there is some great Willow moments in S7, she does not get back to being the Willow I truly love until after the seed is destroyed in the comics. S7 has a mostly muted and unsure Willow.

                            Phew! Really hope that didn't sound like a hysterical defense speech

                            Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
                            Buffy engages with violence on a daily basis to fight the wrongs of the world – her power comes from conquest and so she has to be morally beyond reproach in her mind or she’s nothing more than a killer. But Willow doesn’t have that kind of agency – she’s winnowed in by her own fears of doing the wrong thing and realizing her greatest fear – that she’ll reveal she’s essentially worthless and unlovable.
                            I think Willow sees Buffy as everything she herself is not. Buffy is cool, confident, assertive and attractive, while Willow sees herself as a grey mouse dork.

                            Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
                            Luckily, she comes from a progressive family – and so coming out of the closet wasn’t as traumatic as it could have been because her parents hadn’t labeled it as “wrong” as it might be for someone in a more fundamentalist home.
                            I find Willow's relationship to her parents very interesting. On the one hand, Willow is happy that her mother is supportive of her coming out. On the other hand, Willow is dismayed that her mother only shows momentary interest in her life, because Willow's choice of partner is socially brave.

                            Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
                            Despite Willow’s moral grounding and reticence to break rules, I would imagine those forbidden words of dark magic that opened up the very nature of life and death would be a fatal draw for a brilliant woman who constantly repressed her own inner nature while being constantly ignored, teased, and beaten down by adult figures (and even her own peers) and was forced to play the Cool Girl who is always helpful and always positive throughout six seasons of Buffy.
                            Yes! Yes! Yes, yes, yes! Yes! Very important point!


                            • I've just caught up in time before the next review.

                              Originally posted by Willow from Buffy View Post
                              There is quite a bit of discussion about who the so-called big bad of season 6 is. I always found life to be an unsatisfactory answer, because BtVS has always been about the hardships of life. Saying that season 6 is about life feels like a cop-out. It is too vague. Then again, what is Buffy's main problem in season 6? It is all the little things—the little things who by themselves are too small to really be much of a thing—all those little things we colloquially refers to as life—life dragging us down, making us incapable of dealing with the big things.
                              This is an interesting perspective on the season, which I think I mostly agree on. I think Buffy's main problem in the season is dealing with trauma and her depression is a symptom of that. But then I do agree that those little life challenges add in to facing 'life' in a way that she isn't able to. I suppose I see the challenge as life in the sense that it is about more than the little things, but how able you are to process and deal with everything in context. Why sometimes all those little things can be too much to deal with. In this way the repeated focus on time and how the past affects the present and future is the way in which just living life is the season's focus. How your past experiences/traumas still influence and affect you can make dealing with the here and now so much more difficult than the task at hand appears. And how well you are relating to others around you, how your relationship dynamics are helping or hindering, also greatly affects your ability to process and deal with everyday things. And obviously those relationships have their own histories that influence the present too.

                              So all the aspects of past and present that affect your perceptions and capacities for managing what you need to are considered, rather than facing a specific 'big' challenge towards growing up such as getting a job or going to college. It's everything that builds into who you are and where you are at at each point that gives some of the context to how well you can cope. In this sense life itself is the challenge for two reasons. Because the story considers the context of what you have experienced, what you have lived through already, as an integral part of where you are as an individual and in your different dynamics. It then looks at your capacity in consideration of individual struggles in dealing with those little things in life. If it happens that factors fail to support each other and aid you in coping, then even little things can make any additional struggles you are going through and the daily challenges so much harder. As you say, if bigger issues then come along too there is just no way to absorb that as well. Buffy starts the season trying to deal with trauma and her distance from her friends. All the little life pressures that add on then help to hold her down and make it harder to cope with that underlying problem. When issues like The Trio come up they are greatly dismissed as there just isn't the capacity to address it like they could/should be. Or even see it for the danger it holds.

                              I see Joss as an absurdist. The Buffyverse is chaotic and unfair. It takes a tough person to make it. Heaven is the opposite of that. It does not really feel like a place at all. Buffy describes it as a wonderful, serine state where even the pains of being a fleshy body living in harsh materiality is gone. To me, that has always felt like a horrible place for Buffy to end up—Buffy the fighter, Buffy the survivor, lounging in some immaterial opium den in the sky.
                              Yes there is something absent in how Buffy describes herself in heaven and it continues and works with her sense of disconnection on her return and the feeling that she isn't really 'back' for quite a lot of the season either. Of course she can never be who she once was and attempts to return to previous selves fall flat because their experiences have changed them and that can't be undone.

                              So, I do think it makes sense to say that life is indeed the big bad—not life itself but “life” in quotation marks. The resolution to the season comes in “Grave,” when Buffy accepts life and promises Dawn that they now both will have the strength to deal with “life.”
                              The choice to reconnect changes things for Buffy as it will allow her to have support as well as a better sense of the reasons for facing the challenges again and the potential of life ahead of her.

                              I really like your consideration towards who really are the villains of the season that the episode presents and how this works separately from the 'big bad' being faced. As I've said recently, I think that both Willow and Spike are seen to abuse power during the season and both are violent and violate others. But we understand that at the height of these actions in the latter part of the season, Willow is running on grief and Spike in selfish and soulless desperation showed the limitations of his moral understanding. Neither took a calm/considered choice to do what they did, even if we can see how it did build on from previous behaviour. Whilst it isn't clear as it isn't concluded at this point (and the mislead is running as to Spike's current intentions too), but the biggest distinguishing aspect that removes a sense of villainy for me comes with how they respond to their actions. In this way it contrasts to The Trio who have been actively making the choice to try to be villains through the season and not only stand against those they see as the heroes of the story but also disregard any social/moral boundaries and the consequences of their actions if it gets them what they want.

                              The Trio have also been violent and violated others, and have done so repeatedly and without looking to stop or take responsibility for the things they have done. But does it fall more on the shoulders of Warren who has presented himself as the leader fairly consistently, unless it benefits him not to. As you ask, are Jonathan and Andrew only villains by association? They were presented as a team from the start and were clearly in agreement about their plans and overall intentions. Yet we've seen Jonathan steadily separating, from both his different response to the unplanned death of Katrina as well as increasingly from the internal fissure as the plans plotted against him develop. But we've also seen how directed Andrew appears to be by his wish for Warren's affection and approval. Does this separate him too or is it meaningless against the fact he still actively joins in and clearly revels in the possibility of gaining strength and dominance to violent expression in Seeing Red? At the same time that Jonathan is choosing to try to help Buffy survive and win, drawing his own line and actively not supporting the choices of the other two. So it isn't always straightforward with the bad guys "easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats" and situations change and can do so rapidly. As the events from Seeing Red to Willow's final act in Villains also displays. Certainly the mix of those we can consider villains in play at this point is very intriguing.

                              The question you raise about the lines between the actions of a hero against villains and when it is acceptable to kill are excellent and often it is a matter of subjective perception. This is why society constructs rules and laws for people to agree to and then abide by. But we have considered through the season too how the judgement of society on what is acceptable in how people behave can be a negative constriction too. And so often in the supernatural world human laws and controls just aren't enough. I found Willow's choice to torture and kill Warren really very shocking when I first saw it. I still do even though it is to a lesser extent than the impact of that first time viewing it. But the determined fixation on vengeance taken to its most extreme action in violence like that is still hard to see. But I do think the driving emotions and the blindness that caused creates sympathy. Even at the hardest points to view, what drives her is clear and the significance of it is expressed by the intensity of her grief being possible for Rack and Anya to sense. I can't see it as right to kill him, but I also don't think that Warren had indicated that he had any real remorse to the crimes he committed in the season and wouldn't continue to be a danger to others as soon as he was free again.

                              Across in AtS's A New World a similar consideration can be seen in the uncertainty of how to react to Connor, and whether he will be a threat to the group or just in need of guidance and support. New now to the world he has landed in they are unsure what he knows of social boundaries and not knowing why or how he is back disadvantages them from assessing the situation well. Similar to Buffy and Xander when first reunited with Willow, they're operating without understanding his intentions. The fang gang also don't know Connor's perception of them and how affected he has been by both his experiences and any influence by Holtz. His ability to converse implies that he spent some years being raised by Holtz. In truth Connor's whole perspective on his father has been controlled by Holtz as he has taken him and then raised him to satisfy his own wish for vengeance. Here again, we can understand the underlying emotions, traumas and histories that influence the choices the characters make. But there is a great deal of deliberate consideration and a lack of any desire to stop or change that means Holtz's ongoing choices will be revealed to have a great deal of villainous intent driving them. Connor, however, who has been misled and deliberately influenced to fulfil someone else's wish for revenge, could be considered more of a tool although he acts out of individual choice. Yet to a great degree he is another of Holtz's victims.

                              This season, Buffy shows us the dangers of rejecting life and disassociating ourself from our own bodies and experiences. Spike is her opposite in this regard. His engagement with life is extreme and reckless and shows little regard for others. Spike gives Buffy many useful lesson through the season, but he represents a different kind of danger.
                              That is really interesting and works well against their conversation in the bathroom scene I think. Spike emphasises passion as consuming and burning but Buffy, who already called a stop to their destructive affair, doesn't want to give in to escapism and pleasure at any price. She is able to see and consider the lack it offers now and the temporary nature of such an approach to relationships as she is steadily moving towards reengaging herself fully again.

                              The idea of the two characters representing two extremes of engagement that affects them and those around them like this is really interesting to consider alongside the observation that SpuffyGlitz made in the rewatch revival thread about how a number of episode titles work in relation to impacts on the body and senses and a sense of chaos. And it this sits well against the experience through the season running from being forced into her body and life again, right through to choosing to actively engage by the season end.

                              The episode does feature a bittersweet reunion of three core Scoobies, who haven't been acting as a team much this season. Of course, it ends up being short lived, but it is still nice seeing everyone in the same car. It is important to note that Willow's first act after absorbing the dark power is to save Buffy. I have often wondered, though, as to why she would bring Xander and Buffy along to hunt Warren. I suspect that she (consciously or not) wanted to provoke the confrontation that happens after Willow destroys the Warren!Bot. It seems like Willow is quite happy to let them see her flay the real Warren. Maybe she is hoping they will save her or maybe she just wants her to share her pain. I dunno. It may simply be that she is instinctively drawn to her friends and she wants them to be there as her world ends.
                              That Buffy and Xander don't understand what has happened to Tara and so to Willow at first again serves to show the significance of what influences us and affects the ability to understand and support others. The need to share her pain I can see being part of it, but also the desire to press her intention with or without their support as this is such a defining moment for her.

                              Dawn stays with Tara's body, whereas Willow leaves her behind as soon as she is resigned to her death. Over the coarse of these last three episodes, Willow will become more and more unwilling to talk about Tara. From the next episode on, she will threaten violence upon everyone who mentions her name. I do not talked a lot about Dawn in the following, but Dawn is a very important character in this season, and up until the point of Tara's death, Dawn and Tara have both often served as authorial voices, but now we see Buffy start to reclaim that role.
                              Both Dawn and Tara have been the ones on the outside affected by the struggles that Buffy and Willow have been going through. Both have been used to illustrate the emotional highs and lows, the costs and consequences of actions and perhaps in losing Tara it presses the importance of Dawn. In this sense the confrontation between Willow and Dawn and the threat to Dawn works well for the build in to Willow's wish to save the world from the pain of living. And of course this aligns with Buffy's statement in The Gift that the hardest thing in the world is to live in it and yet contrasts in looking to avoid facing the hardships and pain of doing so. Of course facing the pain of living is something that has already been raised in the season against how hard it was for Buffy to be back. Repeatedly in the earlier part and a running theme in OMWF that led to the reveal of her having been in heaven. This ties then to the idea of being gone as being easier and the comfort of a disconnection from the hardships of life. As this greatly reflects a lot of the journey that Buffy has been on this season but has started to work beyond, it perhaps makes sense that those affected by the coping mechanisms from before step down/are removed as Buffy starts to reclaim a sense of leadership more clearly again.

                              I really enjoyed your consideration of the dual nature of the Buffyverse. How they use the boundaries between fantasy and realism, the magic and the mundane, at varying points and how Willow's response to the inability to reverse Tara's death can be seen as an objection to those boundaries. I have never considered how the text switches from the fantastical comic book weapons used by The Trio, to the literal weapons employed when Katrina's killed and Buffy and Tara are shot. Excellent observation.

                              I have always tended to read the flat lining noise when Buffy is in hospital and Willow saves her as Willow's magic interfering with the monitors and removing them, the need for them, rather than Buffy dying that time. It's an interesting idea though, especially seen as Willow breaking the narrative boundaries usually maintained, and I'll consider it when I watch it next. I really like the point that in breaking the boundaries, in using her power for revenge in the 'real world' rather than fantasy, Willow is then seen to be unaffected by Warren attacking her with the axe but kills him with magic. It's an interesting perspective on these final few episodes for Willow and I think works in an intriguing way against the notion that Willow (and Buffy) come to accept darker sides of themselves through the course of the season and how they use their power is a significant part of this. As the context of the show utilises boundaries to inform where and when the characters act, the choice to not misuse the power they have at other times is always an aspect of this too. It's interesting too then when moving forwards into the next season when their powers are combined to break the constraint of the original story parameters to empower others.

                              Tara is the centre of Willow's existence. Throughout the season, Willow has lost many of the things she treasures, such as the control of her super-Willow magic, the respect of her friends, etc. She is at a low point in her life. This makes Tara all the more important. Tara becomes the light at the end of the tunnel as Willow struggles to get back on her feet. But when Tara dies, Willow immediately abandons her. She suppresses her grief with anger. Therefore, without the puritanical ethics of champion- and slayerism, Willow is even less herself.
                              This is really powerful. The symbolic abandonment of Tara in the bedroom tying to Willow separating from who she was as we see her take a path of questionable ethical choices in embracing her anger and desire for vengeance. I don't feel like Dawn in wanting Warren dead personally, but I understand what is driving Willow and can't hand on heart say I wouldn't feel that if it was someone I loved so fiercely. That you'd lose something of yourself in the process though is very true. Willow makes it clear that she is accepting of the consequences of not returning from this. With her perception of the future so bleak and blank from the loss of Tara, nothing feels able to hold her back.

                              Your exploration of Dark Willow is great. There is a detachment in Willow during her acts in Villains that relates to the desire to abandon her own morals in order to act driven by the desire for vengeance. Considered against her contradictory wish to both follow rules and enjoy freeing pleasure in breaking them is really interesting for a sense of continuity of character in being able to switch in this way. But of course that does come with that loss of part of herself, what had to be switched off to be able to act this way. I watched Carrie too long ago to remember much of it at all but really enjoyed the correlations you drew. I agree that there's strength to fighting back being represented but a clear line that is crossed too. Considering Willow and Tara's differing fears and tying Willow embracing her desire for vengeance, the turn back to magic, as a push against remaining plain old Willow and existing in despair I think works really well with that literal step away from Tara. It fits the shutting down she does emotionally that means she is avoiding facing her grief but clouding it in her anger.

                              I'm going to try to add in watching Carrie before S7 and really hope you'll join then with your thoughts on that season for Willow too.

                              Tara stands in stark contrast to all these characters. Tara, in season 6 especially, is purely a stabilising force. And even if she was killed by a violent misogynist, her death is not a consequence of who she is. Warren does not even intend to kill her. Her death is just a random result of his cruel and thoughtless behaviour.

                              It may be that the writers did not see the true value of Tara and that the decision to kill off one of TV's few gay characters was terribly misguided, but I think people have been too quick to place her death within a tradition where she does not really belong. I think there are many other character in the Buffyverse who are problematic, though, such as the ones mentioned, as well as Andrew and Lorne. But Tara is a heroic character, whose heroism (except for one axing) did not lay in violence.
                              Great points about the writing of Tara's death. I'm not very knowledgeable at all about tropes, but I would have thought if anything it could better be argued that Tara's death is more problematic because it happens to serve Willow's story. I have mixed feelings about these situations as I do think such things happen suddenly in real life and so aren't invalid to use and to gain the impact on those around the person who dies by doing so. But I can understand why people who are invested in the character that is lost suddenly could feel resentment for such an ending to be given.

                              Buffy spends the summer in Heaven, separated from her body, which decomposes back on Earth. Being thrown back into herself proves to be a shock. Buffy struggles the entire season with depression. Worst is the feeling at she came back wrong. She feels unfamiliar in her own skin and among her old friends. She is disconnected from herself and from the world.

                              Spike is very much in tune with his own body and his id, so Buffy seeks solace with him. However, sleeping with Spike only alienates Buffy even more from herself, as she does not recognise herself in the person she is becoming.

                              In “Seeing Red,” Buffy suffers two attacks against her body. The first comes from Spike, the second from Warren. At the risk of being crude, you could say that Spike fails to penetrate, while Warren succeeds

                              These attacks fill Buffy with terror. Throughout the season, she has been reckless with her body. She broke a house with Spike in “Smashed.” She gave up control of her body to Spike in “Dead Thing,” when she let him cuff her. She rejoiced when she was turned invisible in “Gone,” finding near non-corporeality freeing rather than terrifying. Now she has come very close to first being raped and then being killed. It reminds her that the body is precious, and that in order to live in the world, we must accept that we are temporal creatures of flesh.

                              When Buffy wakes up, she finds her whole world in disarray. Tara is dead, Willow is on a vendetta, Anya is a demon, Dawn is yet again traumatised and Xander feels helpless and useless after all his recent mistakes. Knowing that she stands to permanently lose everything she cares about, Buffy rises to the challenge.

                              Buffy does not lose herself to the moment. She sympathises with Willow, but she reminds her that they don't support vendettas against humans. It is this integrity that separates a champion from others.
                              I agree this response from Buffy feels like another moment that is moving her into better, more complete connection with the world around her and those she cares about. We saw at earlier parts in the season when she was listening to others talk, Willow facing the problems with magic or when Anya and Xander expressed concerns about Willow, Buffy had a tendency to relate it back on herself whilst they were talking. Her focus on what she was going through and the secrets she was keeping forced a barrier in her ability to give her attention completely to what was happening around her. The misjudgement of the danger of The Trio fell to this too. The potential of disappearing in Gone had her afraid to die again, but she was still distanced. These latest attacks, her brush with death again, the loss of Tara and the potential loss of Willow too are additional experiences all gathered on the fragility of life and definitely play their parts in her reconnection and how her focus on Willow and the situation at hand unfold now.

                              Thank you for a really enjoyable review WfB. I'm very much looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Selfless too and hope that you'll continue to join us for the remainder of this season and for comments through the next too.

                              Some additional thoughts... There are a few other ways the episode is interesting when considered against AtS' A New World. Firstly there is the difference that loved ones make and how they affect actions and choices. This has really heavily dominated this season as the themes of betrayal, protection, fears of the future and influences from childhood have featured so much. Now Angel is reacting to the shocking return of his son, the wish to get to him and reconnect, while Willow is acting in reaction to the loss of Tara. As I raised before, their understanding of each other and perceptions of intentions are somewhat restricted and when understood will be found to conflict.

                              There is also an interesting comparison to be made between Willow and Connor as ones who are perhaps operating with a simplified focus and view on the world. We imagine that a modern world is a confusing place for Connor, just as the new world Willow is faced with, that Buffy wakes to and Xander is watching play out is baffling and alarming to them for how it has suddenly changed. There is a simplification on the focus that both Connor and Willow take though in their roles of avengers. Connor's intentions around Angel are still hidden but he takes a part of defender as well as the label of destroyer. To Sunny he is a saviour and protector and her perception of him is very different from Tyke who he beats and maims. Both Willow and Connor act specifically as predators towards someone that has previously taken that role and, even if unintentionally, directly (Warren-Tara) or indirectly (Tyke-Sunny) caused another's death. The role of predator is emphasised when both look to scent/sense their intended victims. Both perhaps could be considered to be taking a role of an avenging angel.

                              There's no doubt there is judgement involved in the actions both Willow and Connor look to take and there are examples in the Bible of God passing judgement and angels carrying it out. These attacks can be considered reminders of God's overarching power, but also deemed as examples of protectiveness and guidance to the rest of humanity. This notion of divine judgement was something that interested me as an angle to consider as A New World is also the episode that sees Lilah present Wes with a copy of Dante's Divine Comedy as she presses on him the seriousness of the sin of betrayal. The influence that people can have on others underlined here again not only in the sense of judgement being dolled out through the direct confrontation between Willow and Warren and Connor's return to Holtz but by Wes' later contemplation of the book.

                              The rifts and divides that occur between characters features heavily in both episodes along with attempts to bridge the gaps and reach out. Willow is able to teleport and literally leaves Buffy and Xander behind as a block when they want to communicate with her and persuade her to reconsider. But then Anya's reacquired status as a demon is revealed as she is able to sense Willow and help Xander and Buffy find her. After Connor falls through a rift from the dimension where he had been taken, Angel is prevented from following him yet again as he flees out into the daylight. But others in the group are able to follow in his place and feed information to him of what they find to lead him to Connor. His determined protection of his son when he finds him seems to begin to impact the preconceptions we realise Connor came back with a little. Those that care and are looking to help and support are sometimes able to and sometimes not. The ones struggling in the world are found again, but only briefly before separation reoccurs. The attempt to connect and communicate is repeatedly hampered by what keeps drawing the focus of the other back away.

                              We've discussed already the choice Buffy makes in taking Dawn to Spike's crypt so I won't repeat my perspective on that, and it is there of course that Buffy finds out about Spike's absence. The gulf between them after the events of Seeing Red is now given a literal separation of distance as he has left town and again we see a situation where intent is hidden alongside the sense of a focused drive and mission commanding someone's actions. When we cut to see the beginning of what Spike has gone to do his determination and outright refusal to be affected further by the opinions and perceptions of others about his decision is clear straight away in telling the villager he isn't asking for permission to enter and in how we see him respond to the criticisms of the demon about what he wants. After seeing what is generally considered to be a foreshadowing picture in the cave paintings of Warren being flayed, we see another running on their emotions and acting with their eyes on a fixed goal they are immovable about. Spike seems to utilise his resentment at all that has happened to him and the inequality he feels judged by, combined with his anger at the demon, to prepare for what might lie ahead. And we get one of the biggest clues given to what his intent may truly be (aside from the repeated times his soullessness has been flagged over two seasons as the key issue of course) when the demon talks of Spike's wish for restoration. The same terminology as was used in the spell performed on Angel in S2. The intention here is to mend a rift of course, but with the desire to keep uncertainty and possibly mislead the audience, emphasis is given to Spike's resentments which have regularly played a part in his response to both the chip, and reduction in status it created, as well as towards the ways his love for Buffy and wish to be accepted he has felt has changed him and is now driving him to seek further change.

                              Both shows leave situations very much up in the air and clearly to be continued. As Spike invites the demon to give him his best shot, Connor reunites with Holtz and the question of intention is raised again. Willow's intention however to turn her attention now to the others she holds responsible for Tara's death is made abundantly clear though. The impact of Willow calmly surveying Warren as Buffy and Xander look on in shock and simply responding with 'one down' when asked what she has done is a favourite moment of mine. It just hums with emotion and the tension that the episode has built up so well as Willow tracked Warren down. That instant awareness as you understand her intention by mentally finishing the phrase which links us straight to the next episode is simply great.
                              Last edited by Stoney; 14-09-19, 08:34 AM.


                              • Dear Willow from Buffy

                                First, apologies for taking so long on this…

                                Most boringly, a long visitation of migraines….

                                Second, very much yes to this—

                                Willow from Buffy
                                I like Willow and I like season 6.
                                Third, I have nothing to say about Buffy’s decision about Dawn: so much of interest has been said; the episode gives so much more to think; and your review explored that more so beautifully—

                                Last, not being given to linearity, what I offer here will move more transversally across your piece, between ideas, connecting disparate points, drawing our their implications and my differing, at times, readings—differencings most often provoked by the fine complexities of your thoughts…. This means that there are points of your review that I will not mention: know that I do not because, finding them perfect, I have nothing to add…

                                But enough of openings…

                                Utterly loved your reflections upon the title—

                                In response, a turn, habitual on my part, to the dictionary, in this case the 1844 Webster’s, since it happens to be on my bed (it was Dickinson’s dictionary: “and for years, the lexicon was my only companion.”)”

                                VIL’LAIN, n. [Fr. villain….According to the French orthography, this word is formed from vile; but the orthography in other languages connects this word with vill, village, and this is probably the true origin…]

                                1. In feudal law, a villain or villain is one who holds land by a base or servile tenure, or in villenage. Villains were of two sorts; villains regardant, that is, annexed to the manor... or villains in gross, that is, annexed to the person of their lord, and transferable from one to another. Blackstone.

                                2. A vile wicked person; a man extremely depraved, and capable or guilty of great crimes. We call by the name of villain, the thief, the robber, the burglarian, the murderer, the incendiary, the ravisher, the seducer, the cheat, the swindler, &c.
                                Doubtless this did not came into the minds of the writers, but as I care little, if at all, for authorial intent… What interests me is the lowly origin of the villain—as property, bound to land or lord, “dehumanizing,” as you wrote, WfB—if I were to trace the history of the word through the OED, we’d doubtless find that the meaning changed as villains were freed from manor and lord, thus came to be seen as threats to those who once owned them… Villains are indeed evil and wicked, as Noah tells us, but they are lowly evils—I am thinking, here, particularly about your fine analysis of the of the Trio—bound to others or their own passions, lacking the stature of Big Bads, their purely apocalyptic drive for power—

                                This journey through the lexicon does not tell us who the “Villains” are, but it does separate them from the season’s Big Bad. Yes, Willow begins a final conflagration, but, as you point out, WfB, this does not make her the Big Bad: it does not, for she will be, at that point, no longer driven power, by its desire (as she will have been, briefly, in TtG), will be, instead, driven purely by anguish…. But more on that when we get to Grave….

                                This leaves, of course, the question of the Big Bad, and I like your suggestion that it is “life”—although I would extend it, add that it is Life as well: not life but Life, Life thought specifically in terms of the trauma of Buffy’s resurrection—

                                Here, I am thinking of a discussion Stoney, SpuffyGlitz, and I got into on the ReWatch Revival thread, where Stoney argued that we tend to focus so much upon Buffy’s depression in S6 that we tend to overlook her trauma—the trauma that birthed it:

                                For Freud, trauma is a missed appointment, an experience the subject does not actually experience—hence its inaccessibility to consciousness. For most, this is a missed appointment with death… But for Buffy, because she was already dead, was not facing death’s (im)possibility, her trauma was formed by a missed appointment with Life—

                                At the same time, trauma emerges not simply from that missed event alone: as Cathy Caruth, interpreting Freud writes, "for those who undergo trauma, it is not only the moment of the event, but of the passing out of it that is traumatic; that survival itself, in other words, can be a crisis—"

                                For her awakening displaces the subject in time (and space, body): displaces her in relation to the time of her non-experience and to that of trauma's repeated disruptions—moment to moment, the subject finds devastated her ability to form meaningful connections between ideas, feelings, things, people...

                                And it is precisely Buffy's missed connection with Life that throws her into a crisis of survival, that strands her between Life and Death, far from the very home she inhabits; that drives her far from those she loves, whom she knows she loves—especially Dawn, whom, as vampmogs has so finely shown, she dreadfully neglects, whose Life Buffy fails to sustain, body and soul—, enwebbed as she remains in her displacement from that love's opening into the force that so moved through her, ensuring her survival and that of the world; that propels her, instead, into the dead arms of Spike—

                                (Although, as I argue in my NA writing, it is, ultimately, there, in Spike's arms, in the self-shattering she there encounters, that Buffy begins to find a strange, movement athwart herself and him, a passage into the Possibility that Life would be—making their “this” far more complex than, I think, an experience of further self-alienation alone… )

                                To take this just a bit further: in Caruth’s analysis, the crisis of awakening, of trauma, becomes a matter of obligation and witnessing. For one who suffers trauma, awakening to survival is a crisis—of guilt, of unintelligibility, of displacement from the known. To witness is, in part, crucial because it requires the subject to take up her responsibility to the dead—or, in Buffy’s case, given the nature of her trauma and her calling, to the Living. As the one who did not exactly survive, who rather suffered a return to Life, she must live so that they may do so, must once again make meaningful connections—within herself and to others, personal and impersonal, those whom she loves and those whom she saves—to the world, to assume her obligations for others, for their indeterminate possibilities—

                                In this, the obligation of witnessing does not necessarily involve telling stories: it involves, most importantly, listening to the call of the other; attending, with generosity, without expectations; allowing touch—opening to the changes that call, that touch might bring, to such futurities… But more on this at the end, when I get to your fabulous meditations up power…

                                But in this connection, I very much liked your thoughts about Buffy at the end, about her recklessness, throughout S6, with her body and then her acceptance, after the AR and her nearing of death, “that we are temporal creatures of the flesh”—and thus, mortal, given to death—which is part of her reconciliation with the trauma of Life, her becoming-able to witness, to form connections to herself and others once more. This suggests that while Life, along with “life,” functions as the S6 Big Bad, it also functions as its remedy: Life and the connective relations, the unforeseeable movements of becoming, that sustain it—

                                (Although I have never read the hospital scene as Buffy actually dying: Buffy is absolutely approaching death when Dark Willow enters, very likely would have died without her intervention, but I have always seen Buffy’s flatlining as merely mechanical, an effect of the crackling magical energy that Willow is emitting—she shuts everything down, further showing, as you write, that she has “breach[ed] the boundary between the magical and the actual,” disabling science with her greater power… )

                                But that aside suggests that I ought now shift over to Willow and the problematics of power…

                                I utterly adored your reading of Willow, the Dark Willows, and Willow and Carrie, your reflections on power in the ‘Verse—

                                However, rather than calling BtVS itself fully didactic, I would say that it has didactic threads, makes didactic statements, while exploring, from multiple perspective, of power, specifically the ethics of power; while thematizes this exploration most fully in S4-7, it also plays itself out in S1-3. Finally, this exploration juxtaposes itself against one of norms, the violence of normativity—

                                In S1-5, particularly 1-3, Buffy sparks Willow, Xander, and, to a certain extent, Giles, to move beyond the norms that have been imposed upon them, to listen to themselves acutely, to discover their own powers; in turn, their responsive support of Buffy enables her to embody her chosenness, her power, in a mode that resists the patriarchal, affectless—and unquestionably didactic—norms of the Council, which sought to keep her power in check, under their control, without falling into the ethical error Faith, that of taking her power to be her own. With the exception of the treatment of Willow upon Oz’s abandonment in S4, this pattern pretty much holds until S6, when the Scoobies themselves become the forces of normativity: Xander, Giles, and Willow expect Buffy to return as the Buffy they knew; Tara and Giles seek to impose norms upon Willows use of magic; Anya and Xander himself impose marital norms upon Xander; &c. In the process, they each become lost to each other…

                                To Buffy, this intensifies her trauma… To Willow, however, this becomes particularly deadly: from S1 onward, Willow has been the voice speaking for a certain fullness of emotion, for a fullness of love—a fullness she has ever lacked—and against its restriction by any laws or norms. Thus as early as S1, in Angel, when Xander (largely out of jealousy), talks “rationally” of what Buffy must do to Angel, when Giles (out of Council logic) talks of her obligation, when Buffy (out of guilt) finally does the same, Willow alone speaks out of love: “If you care about someone, you care about them. You can’t change that by…”

                                Yet Willow’s subversive voicing of love is cut, at an obverse angle, by her inability to bear any sort of emotional conflict—due, doubtless, to her mother, who forced Willow to suppress all conflictive feelings under the façade of the good girl—and, after Oz and the treatment she met upon his departure, her unutterable fear of love’s loss. And it is out of the former that we first see, faintly, Dark Willow emerge: after the Clothes Fluke, when she seeks to magic away her attraction to Xander, his to her, without his consent or knowledge—then again, in S4, when she seeks to end her own pain (although I find it hard to blame her for this, given the normative behavior her friends had sought to impose upon her… ).

                                I say we see Dark Willow emerge here, if faintly, because we see her turn magic to serve her own pleasure and pain—pain and pleasure that may or may not be “natural” but is certainly human (I am not sure the human is in the least “natural” in a definite sense, even if it is not supernatural in the show’s sense), to use it as she will, as if it belongs to her self, to salve that self’s pain and loss. And we see Willow turn to magic increasingly as she grows in power: when she goes after Glory, she does so not out of righteousness but vengeance—“I owe you pain,” she says—and must be rescued by Buffy; she mind-wipes Tara out of a desire to erase the conflict between them, again without Tara’s consent; then, even knowing Tara’s horror at her actions, she attempts to repeat them, attempts to mind-wipe Buffy as well, Tara out of fear of loss, Buffy out of guilt. While I cannot but have a certain sympathy for Willow’s attack upon Glory, given who Glory was, a supernatural creature, what she did to Tara, what she intended to do to Dawn and the world, I cannot, at the same time, but see it as related to Willow’s uses of magic upon her friends, her beloved, to salve her own pain—the motivation is the same. Willow does not see the difference between using magic upon Glory and upon her lover and friends without their consent, using magic, in Tara’s words, “to make things to [her] own liking” (TR)—forcing them to fit her ideal, just as she was once forced fit the norms of others, especially her mother’s.

                                Nor is Willow’s admission of “addiction”—I have never deemed to be more than a metaphor—an ethical solution. Indeed, it is precisely its evasion. In her conversation with Buffy at the end of Wrecked, Willow says, “It’s not worth it. Not if it messes with the people I love.” If it messes. Willow here effaces her ethical responsibility. And Buffy agrees. Agrees because, largely, she is not listening to Willow at all, is thinking of Spike: “I think it’s right. No matter how good it feels.” Agrees, however, also because she does not want to face the true possibility of Willow’s ethical failure, wants to hold onto the image of Willow’s goodness—as do we (I say all this not to attack Willow in the least: I say it because I find her so complex, fascinating, and marvelous, don’t want to see her watered down). The turn to addiction carries a normalizing force, allows Willow to evade an ethical reckoning with herself while holding onto an ideal self-image, one that she can strive to attain, one that will win back Tara’s love, win back the love and respect of Buffy, Xander, and Dawn. But in line with the normative forces at work in S6, this image is but a reversion to the good, useful girl Willow had believed, ever again believes that she must be. And “the rehab [does]n’t take,” in Rack’s words (TtG), not because Willow falls off the wagon but because there was no wagon to fall off of. Willow was not addicted to magic: she took the power she was given and turned it, violently, upon those she loved in an effort to soothe her own pain, to make the world to her own liking. And because she comes to no true ethical confrontation with herself over this turning, because, instead, she thinks that sacrificing her power will be enough to get her what she wants. recover what she most fears to lose—Tara, her friends—Willow’s violent return to magic upon Tara’s violent death is all but inevitable. The horror of her mutilation of Warren is all but inevitable.

                                That said—and this is why I do not find the show itself didactic, despite its many didactic statements—I fully embrace your embrace of Willow’s anger, her anguished “How is this natural?” For on an affective level, working athwart its statements, I think that we are meant to be drawn to Willow, to move with her and Dawn and Xander (“Out of the mouths of babes”), to want Warren dead, dead at Willow’s hands… on some level… To empathize fully with Willow’s loss, the cry of her pain… As I wrote above, Willow has been the voice of love; it thus makes sense that when she finds her love torn—blown—from her arms by the tiniest, most destructive of things, that such love should turn to the most fully embodied vengeance…

                                And it’s Tara…

                                As you ask:

                                How not be with her—?

                                And yet how—?

                                Willow: I’m not coming back—

                                Willow wants her friends to be with her in that car as she goes after Warren, in part, I think, because she does not plan to come back: she wants them to be with her as she goes, at the end. And going, the end—this is all she can see past her vengeance. As Buffy will later say, “This will destroy her—”

                                And how can we accept that?

                                It’s Willow…

                                Willow tortures Warren—

                                She shows him Katrina’s ghost to expose his ultimate impotence. She taunts him. She makes him feel what Tara felt as the bullet ripped through her. She renders him so, so vulnerable—strips him of his protective skin, leaving him absolutely exposed. A terrible logic adheres to all her actions—an utterly human logic, magical though the power behind it may be…

                                All her magic involves her in very human violence: the very violence that she condemns. The violence and pain of human life to which she has always been so sensitive—that she has always found so unbearable. And in Grave, as has ever been the case, her connection to the world, her filling with its anguish, will lead to the same human response:

                                Drawn to one of its logical conclusions, Willow’s emotional fullness will seek to end the world—

                                Until its other impossible conclusion draws her back—

                                I was going to write about power as an ethical obligation, as a dissolution of self, an impersonal gift and becoming, but as I have done so—at length—elsewhere, as I have already gone on—at length—here, this seems a good point to stop…

                                Countless thanks, again, for a most marvelous, thought-giving review….

                                Last edited by StateOfSiege97; 14-09-19, 02:59 PM.