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BtVS rewatch: SEASON 7

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  • Just some musings on the First, inspired by Dan’s, Tiny Tabby’s and PuckRobin’s magnificent reviews.

    A place for everything and everything in its place. An adage that certainly was important to the Victorians (of whom both Giles and Spike are the current heirs in this show) although it may well have had its roots earlier. This statement has moral connotations: something out of place, in the wrong place, was morally wrong.

    So when Giles tells Willow in Lessons that the flower she draws up through the earth doesn’t belong there, when the First Spike tells Spike that there’s an order, and the Slayer is not in it, I wonder what that all means. How much of First Cassie’s declaration that the First is “over” balancing things. Over and done with the whole mortal coil. Plus First Cassie looks like that flower, which I suspect is all related to the theme of the monstrous feminine that others know much more about than I do.

    If you factor in the portentous words of the Eye of Beljoxa (sorry, I know I’m getting ahead a bit here, but I didn’t want to overlook it), that the conditions were not ripe for the First, then later in First Date that it’s “not time” for Spike yet...

    I do find it really interesting that both the Watchers and the First are concerned to maintain order and hierarchy. I do wonder what it all means. Although I expect that’s been analysed somewhere before now and I’ve missed it!

    I love Tiny Tabby’s suggestion that it’s First Spike that Buffy is tailing in Sleeper, I think she’s hit the nail on the head, and this is so in keeping with the smoke and mirrors tactics that the First employs.

    Loving the reviews. Thanks, everyone, and stay well.
    You know what I am. You've always known. You come to me all the same.

    "There's a lot of comedy to be gotten from the world's doom spiral right now." Tracey Ullman, June 2018

    Comment


    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
      Season Seven Rewatch
      Never Leave Me
      Part Five

      Act Three starts off with a classic tableau out of any Buffy episode. An evil vampire eagerly drinks the blood of an innocent human victim. The pose of Spike and Andrew is so iconic that it could have been used as the advertisement for that night’s episode of Vampires Gone Wild. (Actually, in the Buffyverse, Fox probably did cancel Firefly to air Vampires Gone Wild.)




      What makes the scene different, though, is that the two starring figures don’t fit the typical Buffy mold of vampire and victim. Spike isn’t a hungry vampire looking for his next meal and getting off on the terrified screams of his victim. And Andrew isn’t an innocent bystander who just happens to find themselves on the wrong side of the Hellmouth tracks.

      In many ways, the whole scenario could be reversed if looked at from a certain moral standpoint with Spike as the helpless victim of his musical trigger and Andrew as the Machiavellian murderer of his best friend who deliberately keeps the secret of the Big Bad from the Scooby Gang.

      But at first glance, it looks bad. Very bad. Like William the Bloody has returned to suck 'em dry and use their bones to bash Buffy’s head in bad. Morphy is hoping Buffy the Vampire Slayer is getting a word picture here as Buffy leaps up from where Spike threw her on the floor to rescue Andrew.



      As Buffy goes into Slayer mode, she tears Spike off of Andrew and flings him across the room like a rag doll. Spike hits the wall with his face smashed directly into the light switch (the script calls it a THUD - ow) and falls to the floor near the door in a stupor.



      The attack is over and Buffy checks on the terrified Andrew, who is sitting on the floor in a daze similar to that of Spike.



      Anya and Xander rush through the door and past Spike, who is in human guise again, dazed and bleeding from the mouth. Both glance at him in dismay as they race to Buffy and Andrew’s side.



      Spike registers that Anya and Xander just rushed past him. He is a vampire, to borrow the title of Marcel Proust’s novel, “In Search of Lost Time”.



      In the next shot, we see that Morphy has accomplished all that he set out to do. He has broken down the walls of the interrogation cells into one giant room where the two suspects are placed side by side – and only one is found wanting. All four humans are gathered on one side, Buffy, Anya and Xander checking out Andrew to see if he is okay after the attack.



      It must be disorientating for Andrew. He entered 1630 Revello Drive wearing a replica of Spike’s leather duster. He had been trying to think of himself as cool as Spike. But now, Spike wasn’t cool and swishing in a long black coat. Spike was coatless. He wasn’t cool. He was a vicious animal – a force of nature who tore into Andrew in exactly the way that Andrew did not tear into the pig earlier in the episode.

      And Andrew had been interrogated by Xander and Anya. She was supposed to be a vengeance demon – a demonic force of nature who would take great delight in pummeling Andrew into a bloody sack of meat. And yet when the uncool Spike attacked Andrew, here was Anya treating him with concern, care and comfort. Neither Spike or Andrew were the demons that Andrew thought they were.

      On the other side, there is Spike. Always on the other side, separate from the humans. The direction makes it clear that we are seeing the scene from two different perspectives – the humans and the vampire. Both Andrew and Spike are huddled on the ground, terrified and bleeding. Both are guilty murderers, both have been manipulated by Morphy to act in certain ways and neither has any idea of what just happened or how they’ve been set against one another.

      But from Spike’s point-of-view, Buffy and her human friends are obviously only interested in making certain that the human is still alive. How Spike feels at the moment is immaterial because he’s just a dead thing, a disgusting killer who will never really be a kind of man.



      Spike looks down with an anguished look. The last thing he remembers Buffy went to check on the commotion in the other room. Now, the commotion has clearly moved to this room. Although he has no memory of doing so, Spike realizes that he must have attacked the blond geek (Andrew – his name isn’t so much a memory that Spike lost as a memory that Spike never bothered to pick up in the first place) because of what he sees and the taste of human blood in his mouth. It’s not like Buffy hasn’t had to stop vampires before. He can’t really blame her for throwing him against the wall.

      As Buffy slowly rises to look at Spike as if he were a monster – despite the soul, the monster he continues to be – he sees the sinister image of himself shaking his head behind her, a phantom ghost of the past. A close up on Buffy’s disgusted face confirms everything that Spike thinks of himself as Morphy/Spike smirks at what a schmuck William the Bloody is to believe that he could be anything more than a thing to Buffy and her friends.



      To really bring home this view, we see one of the final moments of the scene from Spike’s perspective with a point-of-view shot from the floor, as he gets what he feels he deserves. Buffy’s huge boot heel in his face. The soul means nothing. He’ll always be beneath her.



      There’s one more quick shot that shows the scene from Buffy’s point-of-view as Spike grunts and his head falls to the floor, literally kicked unconscious, blood pouring from his mouth.



      It’s interesting to compare this scene to the moment in “Becoming” where Angel regains his soul. There, Buffy puts down her sword because she realizes that Angelus is gone, subsumed into the souled Angel’s psyche.



      Angel drops to his knees. Buffy swings her sword back, ready to cut off his head. Suddenly he cries out in pain, and she sees his eyes glow for a moment. Buffy hesitates.
      ANGEL: Buffy? What's going on? Where are we? I don't remember.
      Buffy slowly lowers her sword.
      BUFFY: Angel?
      ANGEL: You're hurt. – Becoming

      The two scenes are very different in terms of what is happening. In “Becoming”, Buffy realizes that Angel’s soul has been returned to him despite not knowing that Willow has been working to re-ensoul him (thanks to Xander’s ‘Kick his Ass’ line). Yet, Buffy senses that Angel has changed and is not the man she was fighting a moment before and treats him with tenderness.


      In “Never Leave Me”, Buffy is aware that Spike is having blackouts in which he’s unknowingly killing. Or at least, that’s what Spike has told her. We the viewer have seen Morphy singing its song to Spike and encouraging Andrew to buy leather dusters and kill pigs. Buffy hasn’t seen that. Yet, she seems to ignore that Spike has changed shortly afterwards and seems to be as bewildered as her about what just happened and brutally kicks him in the face.

      Yes, it is important for Buffy to stop Spike from running feral through the house, but the harsh kick to the face feels gratuitously cruel. Spike is a vampire who heals quickly, so it’s not the physical pain and injury that’s relevant here – but how he feels as a souled creature that she should treat him so badly. Why not a quick punch to the face to knock him out instead of a vicious kick in the head like a monster?

      There’s probably a sense of unconscious payback after the events of “Seeing Red.” She kicked him away in that scene as well when she felt for a few moments the terrifying feeling of having no control and seeing Andrew in a heap on the floor may have brought back a wave of fury over Spike’s former actions as a soulless vampire. It’s almost as if she’s so angry that she wants to put him out in the most dehumanizing way possible, her enclosed foot not even allowing for tactile contact. Her anger over Spike’s actions seems to have gotten the better of her good nature – she’s fallen into the same patterns of old when she and Spike would violently spar and bring down a house.



      Of course, this kind of psychological division between Buffy and Spike is exactly what Morphy is counting on. It uses the soul as a cudgel to punish Spike over his past crimes and Buffy’s memories of those past crimes to build pent-up rage over his latest victims. The enjoyment on his face when Buffy viciously kicks Spike makes him feel his plan is working. Spike’s pleas for help and mercy will hopefully now fall on deaf ears and Spike will perhaps burn himself alive in the morning light like Angel or go out in a blaze of glory, biting Sunnydale victims until Buffy takes him out.


      But what Morphy doesn’t seem to understand is Buffy.


      Off-screen, Spike has been hauled down to the basement and left on the floor in shackles – visions of “Dead Things” dancing in her head – while the Scooby Gang has another emergency meeting in the living room to discuss what to do about Spike.

      In the Scooby Squad Room – otherwise knowing as the living room of Summers’ Home – Buffy briefs Willow and Dawn about what happened.



      BUFFY: He didn't seem to want anything to do with me. I mean, he just pushed me aside and charged at the wall.



      It’s not surprising that Buffy is astonished by this. Spike didn’t want anything to do with Buffy? That hasn’t been true since he first came to Sunnydale in 1997. Spike’s viewed Buffy as another slayer to kill to add to his reputation, as an object of his twisted romantic obsession, as a sexual partner. Even when Spike left town and claimed indifference in 1998, Dru’s psychic powers revealed that was a lie.

      Now Buffy’s been cast aside for Andrew? He’s nothing to Spike – they’ve only exchanged a dozen or so words. Spike didn’t even know that Andrew was cosplaying as him.

      Leaving aside all of Buffy’s personal history with Spike, there’s a simple question that needs to be answered – a Latin phrase of Cicero’s, beloved of mystery writers. Cui bono. Who benefits? What would Spike have to gain in attacking Andrew?

      It couldn’t be for food. Why break through a wall, when he could have dined on super-charged slayer blood in the same room?

      But Willow isn’t concerned about what Spike had to gain, as much as what her friends could have to lose.



      WILLOW: Are you hurt?

      Buffy shakes her head.

      BUFFY: Not really.



      Not physically hurt, anyway. “It’s all relative, innit?” as Spike would say. Her slayer healing would fix any bodily damage Spike caused. But to have a conversation with a souled Spike and then to see him become an enraged killing machine – devoid of even the personality of a soulless Spike or Angelus? Those experiences in quick succession may have left a different kind of hurt.

      Officers Harris and Made-Up-Last-Name-Jenkins – or maybe it should be nurses Harris and Jenkins now – descend the stairs and join the meeting.

      DAWN: How’s what's-his-name?



      Ah yes, the ever-present joke that no one can remember Andrew’s name. Originally the writers planned the Trio to be composed of three returning villains. But when the actor who played school-massacre-wannabe Tucker Wells turned down the return gig, they shifted Warren into the role of lead, misogynistic scumbag and created “Tucker’s brother” to take Warren’s newly vacated place in the uber-nerd slot.

      Joss Whedon used the expression “hanging a lampshade on it” to describe calling attention to an absurd element they want to gloss over. (The earlier expression was a more logical “hang a lantern on it” – as lanterns project light and lampshades conceal light.) The writers delight in lampshading that Andrew was an unintended creation.

      After a season with Andrew on the show the joke is wearing a bit thin, but the new joke is that they are still telling a joke that’s outlived its usefulness. Dawn didn’t go to school with any of the Trio – Andrew should be no more a stranger to her than Warren or Jonathan are.

      But Xander updates the group on what-his-name…. sorry, Andrew’s state of health.



      XANDER: He's got a good chunk taken out of his neck, but he'll be all right. Had to tie him up again, but mainly just to keep him from scratching at his bandages.



      Xander speaks of Andrew as if he were a child, or perhaps a dog that needs one of those huge neck collars to keep from scratching itself. It’s funny in some ways, but also makes the Scoobies seem like exclusive jerks.

      I wonder if at least sixty-six-bar-six percent of the Trio could have used their talents for good if people like Buffy hadn’t laughed off Jonathan’s shortness. I look at Jonathan and Andrew as where Xander could have gone, if he hadn’t had friends like Willow and Buffy.

      Xander then turns to Buffy with the big question.



      XANDER: (to Buffy) What the hell happened up there?



      Buffy answers, and her choice of words is interesting.



      BUFFY: I don't know. (beat) I mean, Spike and I were having a conversation and he was fine.


      She repeats the use of the word “fine” from the previous scenes. She heard Anya say “Fine” when Andrew was shaking his head know – and yes, Andrew wasn’t privy that Anya’s violence was more a ruse than genuine. But then Spike used the word “fine” and when he did, Buffy knew something was up.

      Buffy doesn’t tell the Scoobies about what Spike said to her – about the soul, about self-loathing. Maybe because it was not her place to share, or maybe because the conversation went into parts of Buffy’s past she’d rather not share with the gang.

      It’s an interesting directoral choice that when Buffy says “fine” , the camera shows Willow listening with that odd look.


      Maybe Willow is using her keen best-friend-senses (the ones that had been dulled in the sixth season by the Big Bad of “Life”) to detect that Buffy isn’t entirely forthcoming. Maybe she’s wondering if the toxic relationship that is Spuffy was looming again.

      Or perhaps Willow is thinking about herself. How she too appears “fine” to most around her, but inside she’s terrified that the darkness that led her to magically drug Tara, hurt Dawn, flay Warren, try to kill the Scoobies and destroy the world is lurking just below her “fine” surface. Maybe Willow is wondering if she’ll be the next one to seem fine and then suddenly turn murderous.

      Or maybe Willow is thinking about how “fine” or “good” are used as quick responses from those with depression, anxiety or chronic health issues to their “friends” who really don’t want to hear the truth, and are instead looking for some Pollyanna reassurance that everything is “okay” in a moonbeam-and-pennywhistle world when really they are filled with self-doubt and self-loating.

      Buffy does add a qualifier to her “fine”.



      I mean, you know, fine as Spike can be.



      Perhaps the less perceptive in the room think that just means “as fine as a vampire with a chip and a soul, who turns into a snarling beast can be”. But Buffy is keeping a lot quiet.

      Buffy’s often been accused of cutting her friends out. That she feels that the burden of being a slayer isn’t something she can share with others. But in this case, it’s Spike’s burdens she’s not sharing. Perhaps the mission would be better served if she were more forthcoming, but her keeping Spike’s confidences seems like the right choice.

      The original shooting script plays it a bit differently

      (Original Shooting Script lines:
      BUFFY: I don't know. (beat) Spike and I were talking, and he was fine – well, he wasn't fine, but he was...Spike.
      “But he was … Spike” isn’t the same as saying “as fine as Spike can be”. In the shooting script she acknowledges that he isn’t fine, although she doesn’t go into details. In the original she’s not quite saying he’s not fine because Spike is never fine. It seems like a separate thought. That fine or not, he had a continuity with the person she knew. He was Spike – a self-loathing Spike, but still Spike.

      In both the shooting script and the aired episode, she continues.



      BUFFY: And then I went to check on you guys and when I got back, it was like he was… (thinks) …a completely different person….
      It’s as Buffy says the words that she accepts what had happened. Her kick on Spike suggests she thought he was a threat, that the soulful Spike might have been as much of an act as the placid Spike. At this moment, she decides the Spike who talked about self-loathing and the Spike who said he was fine were different people. It wasn’t an act.


      Maybe that’s why the line was changed from the shooting script “but he was … Spike” implies she’d had already reached her judgment about their personalities and was only searching to express what had happened. The way Sarah Michelle Gellar plays it, it’s like a lightbulb just went off in her head.


      Willow, not knowing the details of Buffy’s conversations with Spike and likely thinking of Anya’s comments earlier makes a wrong guess.



      WILLOW: Different like "William the Bloody" type different?



      But who is William the Bloody to Willow? Not the creator of Bloody Awful Poetry – the true source of Spike’s other sobriquet. And not the mostly cuddly Spike, who had violent outbursts but cried about his lost love Drusilla. And then who was chipped and made harmless, a de facto member of the Scoobies.

      No, for Willow, William the Bloody would be the stuff of threats and innuendo – of tall tales in the Watcher’s tomb. This William the Bloody would be a dagger of the mind? One she did not see, but heard as her and Cordelia hit in the broom closet as Spike stalked the halls threatening to do terrible things to the slayer’s friends.



      Buffy corrects Willow’s mistaken assumption … sort of. She doesn’t talk about the changed Spike that she actually witnessed – the one with the dull expression and even duller phrases. To describe that Spike, Buffy still might give away too much about the personality-filled Spike by way of contrast. Instead Buffy relays what she didn’t see but heard.




      BUFFY: He was talking to someone. I heard through the door, he was having this conversation… (thinks) …and then he started singing.



      At this point, Buffy is starting to tie these events to what she already knows. But Anya’s way ahead of her – she’s got a theory.

      ANYA: Maybe it's another musical. (looks around; thinks) A much crappier musical.





      Well, as theories go, it’s an improvement over bunnies. It’s a cute call back to “Once More with Feeling” – an episode which revealed, somewhat improbably, that Xander was the ultimate cause of their troubles. Yet another reminder of the villainy among our heroes.

      Maybe it’s also a cheeky reference to Drew Goddard’s earlier episode “Selfless” where Anya flashed back to the events of “Once More with Feeling”. Rather than spending months on it like the original musical episode, Joss Whedon supposedly tossed off Anya’s new song “Mrs.” in an evening.



      But there would be no musical reprieve from Joss Whedon this time. Instead Buffy bringing the conversation back to what she learned earlier.



      BUFFY: He mentioned something about a song in the cellar. He changed there, too. I mean, instantly became another person.



      Buffy’s now come to Spike’s defence. The killer of those women – the thing that attacked Andrew – it wasn’t Spike. It was as if Spike was a sock puppet for someone else, something else.

      Fortunately for Buffy, Detective Xander Harris is on the case. This description stirs something in Xander’s mind attic, his mind palace, … well, his mind Blockbuster Video, anyway.



      XANDER: Trigger.



      The one word reference has stumped the room. But fortunately Anya has spent years with Xander, learning all the in-and-outs of his many pop culture references. She thinks maybe she knows what he’s talking about. She sees now it relates to singing, but not much else.




      ANYA: The horse?



      I’m not sure if modern viewers would get what Anya is talking about, but Trigger used to be a world-famous Hollywood superstar. It was the “Wonder Horse”, a palomino featured in the many films of the singing cowboy actor Roy Rogers. Trigger was also a fixture in the 1951 – 1957 TV series The Roy Rogers Show. My dad was obsessed with that show, and would tell me bedtime stories about Roy Rogers and his famous horse. The episodes also aired in reruns in the early 1980s where I first saw them, although I never picked up my dad’s obsession.

      Well, not just my dad’s obsession. Not only did Trigger appear prominently in the Roy Rogers comic books by Dell Comics (even being added to the comic’s title), he was worthy of his own spinoff comic book series.



      Well, Trigger was the horse of a singing cowboy. So, there was a connection to songs there.

      Actually, Trigger was the character’s name. The original horse actor was Golden Cloud, who died in 1965. Before hooking up with Roy Rogers, Golden Cloud played Maid Marian’s horse in the classic 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood.



      Actually, it’s kind of a sweet gesture that Anya tried to show off her pop culture knowledge to support her ex-boyfriend. For someone often accused of being “strangely literal”, this was quite the intuitive leap. But it was a leap to the wrong conclusion. There were no cowboys or wonder horses involved in this trigger reference.



      XANDER: No, in his head. It's a trigger.

      He starts thinking about it.

      XANDER: It's a brainwashing term. It's how the military makes sleeper agents.





      XANDER: They brainwash operatives and condition them with a specific trigger – like a song – that makes them drastically change at a moment's notice.



      In the original script, Xander makes an additional historical reference.

      (Shooting Script alternative lines:
      XANDER: XANDER It's a brainwashing term. It's how the military makes sleeper agents. They brainwash operatives and condition them with a specific trigger -- like a song – to drastically change their personalities at a moment's notice. (beat) I'm fairly certain it's how Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated.)



      In the script, it wasn’t just Anya who got her triggers mixed up. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 is often said to be the inciting incident that “triggered” the First World War, but as far I know, the 19-year-old assassin Gavrilo Princip was merely motivated by Yugoslavian nationalism, no brainwashing triggers involved.

      Buffy listens to Xander’s explanation.



      I have to wonder if Buffy is thinking about how a triggered Spike resembles another ex-boyfriend of hers. Not Angel, this time. But Riley Finn. Riley was a part of the secret government ops group The Initiative – they’re the ones who put the chip in Spike’s head. Riley, and his fellow soldiers, were brainwashed by the Initiative’s leader Maggie Walsh and her cybernetic creation Adam.



      It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine the Initiative to be the ones behind Spike’s trigger. They installed a chip to contain him. Why not add a trigger to weaponize Spike?

      But if Buffy thinks back to Riley, Willow seems to have forgotten the events of season four. She acts as if the concept of brainwashed sleeper agents is something entirely new.



      WILLOW: Is this left over from your days in the Army?



      She is referring to the second season episode “Halloween” where a magic spell transformed the Scoobies into their costumed characters – another example of changing character at a moment’s notice. In Xander’s case, his “two-dollar costume king” army surplus outfit and toy gun made him a real soldier. For plot convenience, he could sometimes draw on his memories of that experience to remember how to use military hardware or prowl around army basis. When the extra knowledge became inconvenient to the plot, it was established the memories faded over time.

      It’s odd that they’d make a call back to that episode instead of their season-long history with Riley Finn. I suspect it’s just to set up Xander’s punchline to the joke.



      XANDER: No, this is left over from every Army movie I've ever seen. But it makes sense.



      As the script says, Xander is “on a roll”. Maybe Buffy’s not chiming in about Riley, because she’s letting Xander have his moment. Even if his knowledge comes from pop culture, he’s stumbled onto something.



      XANDER: We've had ghosts or something haunting us, right? Well, what if Spike's ghosts have figured out a way to—not only haunt him—what if they figured out how to—how to control him?



      It makes sense to Buffy.



      BUFFY: (realizing) Spike said he's been seeing things since I found him in the basement…
      Upon hearing this, Willow tilts her head. Her expression says “you never told us that before”. She must wonder “What else have Spike and Buffy been talking about?”



      Dawn picks up the thread, to demonstrate she’s able to follow along – and to make sure any viewers at home can follow along too.

      DAWN: So, he gets his soul back. He starts seeing spooky things. And he goes extra-extra-crazy.

      Now that they understand the problem, Buffy wants them to find a solution.



      BUFFY: This trigger…how do we holster…safety…or…. (to herself) I don't know guns.

      BUFFY: (recovers) How do we make it stop?

      Buffy’s stumbling over the right words – and her frowny face at it – is a cute callback to the slayer’s long-standing aversion to firearms – a trait she shares with a lot of comic book superheroes.

      It might also be an acknowledgement that the kind of films that Xander is talking about is a traditionally male cinematic genre. And when it comes to practical solutions, the inherent goofiness of the genre trips Xander up.



      XANDER: Well, usually the operative completes his task and either blows his head off or steals a submarine.



      The classic brainwashing trigger film is The Manchurian Candidate, the 1962 film based off Richard Cordon’s novel – a bona fide movie classic. It sends with triggered character played by Lawrence Harvey turning on his gun on his brainwashers (namely his own mother played by Angela Lansbury) and then blowing his own head off.

      https://youtu.be/UwfFWXUEyfQ

      But there are less lauded films in the sleeper agent genre.

      In the 1977 film Telefon, a Robert Frost poem serves as the “trigger” to brainwash agents into blowing big army targets and themselves up.

      https://youtu.be/altSJMUmmHw

      But what about Xander’s ultimate absurd example with the nuclear submarine? That seems to be a reference to the 1972 film Madame Sin. It was a failed TV pilot, released as a TV movie on ABC in America. Elsewhere, it got a theatrical release.

      Bette Davis stars a half-Asian/half-European crime lord – a sort of love child of Professor Moriarty and Fu Manchu. She runs a network of brainwashed operatives – one of whom does indeed steal a submarine. Or tries to anyway. Star Robert Wagner helps foil that scheme.

      https://youtu.be/UhK9ARzGHPw?t=4537

      Madame Sin uses sound and music to control others. As she explains to Wagner early in the movie:

      MADAME SIN: Music is food for the hungry soul. Don’t you agree, Mr. Lawrence? The world of sound vibrations is relatively unexplored. I find it endlessly rewarding. In art, it has the power to soothe. But in science, it has the power to hurt.


      Bette Davis gives a deliciously over-the-top performance that has made the movie a cult classic. I can see why it would linger in Xander’s memories. And I suspect if Andrew had seen the movie he’d be cosplaying Bette Davis rather than Spike.

      But as charming as these films are, they don’t really solve Buffy’s problem. In the movies, the objective is often to save the victims of the trigger. Buffy wants to save the trigger as well.

      If they want to make army references, Buffy goes into army mode and starts issuing orders to her unit.



      BUFFY: (to Xander and Anya) All right. I need information. If Spike's a bomb, then I need to know how to diffuse him.

      She turns to Willow and Dawn.

      BUFFY: You two, I wanna know what did this to him. Spirits, ghosts, demons—check the lot of ‘em. Look for anything that could haunt or possibly control like this.

      BUFFY: (beat) I need to know exactly what we're dealing with.



      As it turns out, Willow and Dawn’s research won’t be needed. The answer to this mystery comes to pay a visit to 1630 Revello Drive.

      But first, there’s a piece of the puzzle that Buffy doesn’t know about – one that we the viewers didn’t know about either, although we had our suspicions. We don’t know exactly what we’re dealing with, but we want to find out.

      Over at Sunnydale High, Principal Robin Wood seems to be working rather late. But working on what and for whom?



      Who is Robin Wood? Fans wondered. Was he a villain? Was he a hero? They were clearly spending way too much time on him for him to simply be “some guy”.



      Wood leaves his office. It could just be in the day’s work for an underpaid educator – one who like so many teachers I know does a lot of after-hours work that grumpy penny-pinchers never take into account when talking about teacher salaries.

      He walks down the hallways, so far nothing weird beyond the background music and that we are spending so much time on Buffy’s boss. And then Wood checks his watch. A ha!



      A meaningless action to some, but this was a telltale clue to others.

      Some fans wondered if Wood could be another member of the Watchers Council, sent to work at the school, just as Buffy’s Watcher Rupert Giles had been the school librarian at the original Sunnydale High.

      Then a curious thing happens. Wood stops in his tracks and looks behind him.



      He backs up to the door that leads to the basement – the one marked No Student Access.

      Student Access? No. But Principal Access? Yes, Wood opens the door and heads to the basement.

      But what made him stop? What made him retrace his steps? What made him open the door?

      Does Wood have a trigger too? Did Morphy appear and play a snatch of Early One Morning to Principal Wood?



      He certainly seems like he could be possessed. It’s not like Wood is aimlessly wandering the ever-shifting corridors of the school basement. Wood knows exactly where to go – right to the door that leads to the Seal of Danzalthar

      And still lying on top of the seal is Jonathan’s corpse. Right where Andrew had left him in “Conversations with Dead People.”



      The discovery of a body could be a big deal. Such discoveries can turn cases on their head. Did Andrew confess to Xander and Anya that he’d killed Jonathan? Will Wood take news of this discovery to Buffy? Or will Wood just go to the police?

      If he’s working for Morphy, maybe Wood will slaughter a pig and complete the demonic ritual.

      But none of that happens. Wood just … watches.



      Is that because he really is a Watcher – just ineffectually watching without taking direct action? Or has Wood really become so jaded after just a few months on the job that a dead body is meaningless to him?

      “Forget it, Jake – it’s Sunnydale”, to paraphrase the final line of the 1970s crime classic Chinatown.

      Who would notice another unmoving corpse in this town?

      The more interesting corpses in Sunnydale move – they walk and they talk. Sometimes they're monsters. But sometimes they're monsters with a soul. And as Buffy descends into her own basement clearly marked Slayer Access Only on the door with a starved, snarling monster on the other side, she is determined to make that monster face his own humanity.

      End of Part Five
      Last edited by PuckRobin; 11-10-20, 08:16 AM.

      Comment



      • And THAT! was a truly brilliant discussion on POV and every possible cue within time and out of it—within imagination—is exactly the kind of complexity and doubt for any human to fully know or understand any other. We have seen these actors grow in skill and understanding and still we have to wonder “what is she/he thinking and WHY?”

        I know this is probably the reality that arises that actually tends to ‘individualize’ people or even divide them, and, yet, that each character is living through time, through literal life and death, we also must recognize a kind of empathy that indeed connects all—one to the other—as is called “the human condition.”

        However, “somewhere!” along the line, there is a thing called choice—the fact a person fights, flees, or freezes all having consequence because we don’t just live in space, we also are bounded by time, no matter how fluid it may seem ‘mentally or emotionally’ to seem “instant” or “eternal.”

        Because of this thing called choice, a rather “yes” or “no” (or “wait and see” to transfer “the moment” to a later moment, costly or not) there is an ACTION and there is also a thing called “learning from experience.” (Yes, learning a lesson may also take practice to actually “internalize” the lesson with both meaning and change).

        I would note that Buffy’s experience with Angel was with an enouled being and to see that (literal) light hit his eyes once more—the light of his soul that truly loves her—is quite different than the years of experience that Buffy had with Spike—soulless, itself a torment that she * keeps on * in allowing him to “live”. Vampires kill people to live and soulless, they live to kill. THAT is the difference between humans and vampires ‘killing” for basic nourishment. Worse, that she both used him badly, while, he in turn, did what THIS soulless being would do, even as Angel himself described about him: NOT stop. Thus, she is not learning, but is “annihilating the self.” Until SPIKE would continue to “not stop,” and maintain AND ALLOW mutual abuse, he crossed a line he simply couldn’t imagine existed: self annihilation; Buffy stopped just to *exist. *

        Furthermore, Spike’s gain of a soul was complicated with the “curse” of a trigger no one knew was a power working on each person’s “negative” qualities, ignorance, fear, guilt and shame.

        So! The fact that there is all this complication shown, we also know that Buffy * morally * learned about “final judgments” that meant final killing. She killed vampires, like “falling off a log.” She only had to “act” and “consequence” followed simply. (Gravity acts unilaterally, without “permission). She then “caught the demonic in the act,” in order to prevent death; and, last, she learned to recognize the “reality of potential,” death is within life in every moment, which meant ‘change” is also a reality whose consequence is some will survive and learn and grow; others will not, like it or not. BUT SHE HAS A DUTY TO HUMANITY.

        Therefore, I posit there is also a thing called ‘judgment’ that may “tickle” someone’s sense of the moral enough to demand an action stop, restitution to be made, or even retribution be paid—even in any version of “time out, “ let alone the “legal” definitions that demand someone’s choice into * action * (within a given society cannot be tolerated—people are mortal and they also live in a social order, good, bad (or indifferent, as might be described as sociopathy or “soul-less-ness.”).

        IMO, “figuring out” Spike’s ‘trigger’ as seem windy way toward righteousness and ‘moving forward’ might be quite moral in the life of a child—which Spike IS NOT: he had a soul before, however “repressed” some hold is why he seems so much more “complex” than Angelus, or even, ‘malleable’ in his “romantic” life and outlook e.g. offering pain as a “good thing.” Furthermore, it may be “problematic” to produce a body in all murders—but this is not the case. “Forensics” would have proven his “fangs” have a shape and distance apart that are measurable and could be offered as evidence, even if possibly ‘refutable.’ Second, it is ‘no secret’ that Spike is confused, but isn’t EVERYONE and that is meant to put doubt on their prejudices and judgment? Well, it comes down to one fact: DID HE OR DIDN’T HE?

        I am more than sorry that every single slight to any other being hasn’t been psychologically treated to make restitution possible and a person capable of changing their behavior—and, as a creative person will attest, rebellion is required against the level of rigidity that prevents creativity in the first place, but this guy is killing PEOPLE. That offends ‘life’s purpose’: to survive. Further, that is an offense “legally’ and “morally”—we are ALL diminished when someone no longer ‘fills space and time’ simultaneously with consequence to the whole of humanity.

        “Putting together the clues” and deciding “he did it,” is insufficient, even if one “knows to their bones,” e.g. Angelus’ murder of Jenny, etc. And it is “sad” that we, as humans, can’t protect all from all risks, in whatever shape, but we do create laws (if “moral” objection is insufficient to “stop” some ‘perpetrator’) that no one is allowed to MURDER. Laws even differentiate regarding “intent,” etc, which would shape charges and INCLUDE Spike.

        While I don’t believe in the “death penalty” personally, I do feel that ‘imprisonment’ is most definitely a kind of “torture” and (in many societies is really not meant to “rehabilite,”). BUT! I have no problem making sure dangerous people 1. “get treatment,” 2. forfeit their freedom to ‘move about the country’ 3. have the opportunity to appeal any (human) defect in a “guilty/not guilty’ venue, which means it is easier if they are alive to do it.

        The slayer doesn’t issue ‘tickets’ and ‘warnings.’ Buffy might, but that isn’t the DUTY of a slayer: preserve (human) life. He has a SOUL and he is “mentally ill,” but his “knowing” he is doing wrong, and has committed murder—in this universe, the slayer slays. She is not ‘measuring” how many people she has SEEN perish before she is *entitled * to defend her own, very human life. No one is perfect. Spike is “sick,” but he was not appropriately stopped, even with the “chip,” that is supposed to make Buffy feel ASHAMED that she (has “darkness” that provides the “balance of undestanding/wisdom” in personally also having attraction to power, to sex, to even death and killing to that of her GREATEST gift of “mercy”) that BUFFY, the person couches in judgment, both to weigh and ACT. THE SLAYER AND BUFFY * must * preserve life* --NOT SOULS—as her duty. Period. Don’t forget, Buffy DID kill Angel WITH A SOUL in her intent and mind, even if all the boogity makes the undead less dead at times.

        The point of Preserving Life is why * potential * is such a 'harp'--it helps to exist for that potential to become kinetic; and potential/existence made it POTENTIALLY possible for Spike to both "become" and "achieve" his, as a (mortal) human being.

        That is why 'killing" is truly a *personal/social' measure of both the salvation and curse of being "human," and why there is always potential for better outcomes, but also "creative" murder of 'potential' itself--so how do you feel about abortion? Me? NO ONE CHOOSES over the woman. PERIOD: It's 'complicated,' to quote Buffy. hee.
        HUGS!
        sybil

        Comment


        • Originally posted by sybil View Post
          And THAT! was a truly brilliant discussion on POV and every possible cue within time and out of it—within imagination—is exactly the kind of complexity and doubt for any human to fully know or understand any other. We have seen these actors grow in skill and understanding and still we have to wonder “what is she/he thinking and WHY?”

          I know this is probably the reality that arises that actually tends to ‘individualize’ people or even divide them, and, yet, that each character is living through time, through literal life and death, we also must recognize a kind of empathy that indeed connects all—one to the other—as is called “the human condition.”

          However, “somewhere!” along the line, there is a thing called choice—the fact a person fights, flees, or freezes all having consequence because we don’t just live in space, we also are bounded by time, no matter how fluid it may seem ‘mentally or emotionally’ to seem “instant” or “eternal.”

          Because of this thing called choice, a rather “yes” or “no” (or “wait and see” to transfer “the moment” to a later moment, costly or not) there is an ACTION and there is also a thing called “learning from experience.” (Yes, learning a lesson may also take practice to actually “internalize” the lesson with both meaning and change).

          I would note that Buffy’s experience with Angel was with an enouled being and to see that (literal) light hit his eyes once more—the light of his soul that truly loves her—is quite different than the years of experience that Buffy had with Spike—soulless, itself a torment that she * keeps on * in allowing him to “live”. Vampires kill people to live and soulless, they live to kill. THAT is the difference between humans and vampires ‘killing” for basic nourishment. Worse, that she both used him badly, while, he in turn, did what THIS soulless being would do, even as Angel himself described about him: NOT stop. Thus, she is not learning, but is “annihilating the self.” Until SPIKE would continue to “not stop,” and maintain AND ALLOW mutual abuse, he crossed a line he simply couldn’t imagine existed: self annihilation; Buffy stopped just to *exist. *

          Furthermore, Spike’s gain of a soul was complicated with the “curse” of a trigger no one knew was a power working on each person’s “negative” qualities, ignorance, fear, guilt and shame.

          So! The fact that there is all this complication shown, we also know that Buffy * morally * learned about “final judgments” that meant final killing. She killed vampires, like “falling off a log.” She only had to “act” and “consequence” followed simply. (Gravity acts unilaterally, without “permission). She then “caught the demonic in the act,” in order to prevent death; and, last, she learned to recognize the “reality of potential,” death is within life in every moment, which meant ‘change” is also a reality whose consequence is some will survive and learn and grow; others will not, like it or not. BUT SHE HAS A DUTY TO HUMANITY.

          Therefore, I posit there is also a thing called ‘judgment’ that may “tickle” someone’s sense of the moral enough to demand an action stop, restitution to be made, or even retribution be paid—even in any version of “time out, “ let alone the “legal” definitions that demand someone’s choice into * action * (within a given society cannot be tolerated—people are mortal and they also live in a social order, good, bad (or indifferent, as might be described as sociopathy or “soul-less-ness.”).

          IMO, “figuring out” Spike’s ‘trigger’ as seem windy way toward righteousness and ‘moving forward’ might be quite moral in the life of a child—which Spike IS NOT: he had a soul before, however “repressed” some hold is why he seems so much more “complex” than Angelus, or even, ‘malleable’ in his “romantic” life and outlook e.g. offering pain as a “good thing.” Furthermore, it may be “problematic” to produce a body in all murders—but this is not the case. “Forensics” would have proven his “fangs” have a shape and distance apart that are measurable and could be offered as evidence, even if possibly ‘refutable.’ Second, it is ‘no secret’ that Spike is confused, but isn’t EVERYONE and that is meant to put doubt on their prejudices and judgment? Well, it comes down to one fact: DID HE OR DIDN’T HE?

          I am more than sorry that every single slight to any other being hasn’t been psychologically treated to make restitution possible and a person capable of changing their behavior—and, as a creative person will attest, rebellion is required against the level of rigidity that prevents creativity in the first place, but this guy is killing PEOPLE. That offends ‘life’s purpose’: to survive. Further, that is an offense “legally’ and “morally”—we are ALL diminished when someone no longer ‘fills space and time’ simultaneously with consequence to the whole of humanity.

          “Putting together the clues” and deciding “he did it,” is insufficient, even if one “knows to their bones,” e.g. Angelus’ murder of Jenny, etc. And it is “sad” that we, as humans, can’t protect all from all risks, in whatever shape, but we do create laws (if “moral” objection is insufficient to “stop” some ‘perpetrator’) that no one is allowed to MURDER. Laws even differentiate regarding “intent,” etc, which would shape charges and INCLUDE Spike.

          While I don’t believe in the “death penalty” personally, I do feel that ‘imprisonment’ is most definitely a kind of “torture” and (in many societies is really not meant to “rehabilite,”). BUT! I have no problem making sure dangerous people 1. “get treatment,” 2. forfeit their freedom to ‘move about the country’ 3. have the opportunity to appeal any (human) defect in a “guilty/not guilty’ venue, which means it is easier if they are alive to do it.

          The slayer doesn’t issue ‘tickets’ and ‘warnings.’ Buffy might, but that isn’t the DUTY of a slayer: preserve (human) life. He has a SOUL and he is “mentally ill,” but his “knowing” he is doing wrong, and has committed murder—in this universe, the slayer slays. She is not ‘measuring” how many people she has SEEN perish before she is *entitled * to defend her own, very human life. No one is perfect. Spike is “sick,” but he was not appropriately stopped, even with the “chip,” that is supposed to make Buffy feel ASHAMED that she (has “darkness” that provides the “balance of undestanding/wisdom” in personally also having attraction to power, to sex, to even death and killing to that of her GREATEST gift of “mercy”) that BUFFY, the person couches in judgment, both to weigh and ACT. THE SLAYER AND BUFFY * must * preserve life* --NOT SOULS—as her duty. Period. Don’t forget, Buffy DID kill Angel WITH A SOUL in her intent and mind, even if all the boogity makes the undead less dead at times.

          The point of Preserving Life is why * potential * is such a 'harp'--it helps to exist for that potential to become kinetic; and potential/existence made it POTENTIALLY possible for Spike to both "become" and "achieve" his, as a (mortal) human being.

          That is why 'killing" is truly a *personal/social' measure of both the salvation and curse of being "human," and why there is always potential for better outcomes, but also "creative" murder of 'potential' itself--so how do you feel about abortion? Me? NO ONE CHOOSES over the woman. PERIOD: It's 'complicated,' to quote Buffy. hee.
          HUGS!
          sybil
          There are two main reasons why the UK and many other countries don't have the death penalty. One the possibility of mistakes - Buffy is to her credit very through about investigating Spike not just did he do it but did he willingly do it and why - and the fact he didn't willingly do it is significant. Is it morally ok to execute someone who murders when sleep walking or if they've been hypnostised or brainwash into doing so I'd argue ....no. The law has diminished responsibility or temporary insanity pleas for a reason - sometimes people commit crimes in an altered state and to treat them like cold blooded murderers is wrong.

          Two - redemption - I grew up with the story of Nicky Cruz - a gang leader who discovered Christianity in jail and turned his life around sometimes even those who seem lost have it in them to change. When talking about Faith's redemption arc on the Still Dead podcast series - one of the women there I think Lani Diane Rich, who is awesome said redemption stories are kinda like Greek myths of old they aren't reality in most cases but they're inspiring as they're what we can aim for and wish where. If Spike went to all that effort to regain his soul only to be killed because he's too dangerous to be allowed to live as if he'd never bothered in the first place then that's wrong in my book and worse for a story perspective, it's depressing. If we don't allow or encourage people to change for the better if they're trying to what hope is there for anyone? How does the world get any fricking better? Buffy knows this and she knows too despite all the damage he caused - she did not treat him well.

          I see Xander's statements as his first inkling Spike may not be so different to himself and after all he did dreadful things when he was possessed - the difference being he only pretends he can't remember them.

          Your arguement is overly simplistic and wrong.

          Comment


          • There are two main reasons why the UK and many other countries don't have the death penalty. One the possibility of mistakes - Buffy is to her credit very through about investigating Spike not just did he do it but did he willingly do it and why - and the fact he didn't willingly do it is significant. Is it morally ok to execute someone who murders when sleep walking or if they've been hypnostised or brainwash into doing so I'd argue ....no. The law has diminished responsibility or temporary insanity pleas for a reason - sometimes people commit crimes in an altered state and to treat them like cold blooded murderers is wrong.

            Two - redemption - I grew up with the story of Nicky Cruz - a gang leader who discovered Christianity in jail and turned his life around sometimes even those who seem lost have it in them to change. When talking about Faith's redemption arc on the Still Dead podcast series - one of the women there I think Lani Diane Rich, who is awesome said redemption stories are kinda like Greek myths of old they aren't reality in most cases but they're inspiring as they're what we can aim for and wish where. If Spike went to all that effort to regain his soul only to be killed because he's too dangerous to be allowed to live as if he'd never bothered in the first place then that's wrong in my book and worse for a story perspective, it's depressing. If we don't allow or encourage people to change for the better if they're trying to what hope is there for anyone? How does the world get any fricking better? Buffy knows this and she knows too despite all the damage he caused - she did not treat him well.

            I see Xander's statements as his first inkling Spike may not be so different to himself and after all he did dreadful things when he was possessed - the difference being he only pretends he can't remember them.

            Your arguement is overly simplistic and wrong.
            --VAMPADO

            While(1.) I may personally totally agree with you regarding the death penalty –which is exactly why I brought up “potential” and even ended the subject on abortion—which Buffy (unknown to the reader of comics was actually a “robot brain” in a human body AND vice versa *else where *) chose to do for a fetus and her duty/herself) and ! with the entirety of the worlds of “coulda, woulda, shoulda ‘morality’ that give foundation to that of moral argument, I have to ask the “professionals” to take the lead on my own understanding. E.g. the death penalty is in some and not all states in the U.S., but for the crimes of terrorism/treason, as examples, at the federal level (not including the jurisprudence of the armed forces of the nation, which in themselves, perhaps, differ when there is a “hot war” set of conditions e.g. “lawful orders.” I don’t know.

            Thus, (2) I am not trained in law or in psychological * any level * or even in philosophy, rhetoric, other than to offer “a reality check * on “the world WE live in that ALSO means your experience will be different than mine shaping that reality. Further, I have held that the ‘story’

            I signed onto in that “way back machine” of 17 years of age, is a “reality” of story that includes very fairy tale elements as a reality.

            I also later came to accept the idea that the entirety of the story is Dawn’s efforts to “become,” with Buffy as the avatatr ‘show’ of HER psychological plane—why she is ‘the key.’

            Also, on retrospect, BTVS can be seen as a ‘nightmare’ visited most probably during REM right before waking and, thus, so memorable. The nightmare continues over years, as the pleasanter moments of her life are ‘routine’ and not worth actually ‘showing’ as deeply grave drama. The simplicity of ‘having enough’ food, drink, a roof overhead, being clean, having privacy and company by one Buffy Anne Summers * going through the process of becoming an adult doesn’t consider ‘high school is hell.’

            So! If everything is ‘nightmare,’ it means “all about Buffy.” This would be *both * the psychological plane, that *differentiates * each player there upon its ‘stage,’ as only a part of her own psychological ‘landscape’ It “means,” some expressed fear/desire given shape—conflict—that attend her worldy reality of “school” —learning LESSONS—whether institutionally, at work, or “within.”

            These lessons are about finding place, finding friends/family, finding personal talents/power/influence, meeting physical, emotional and psychological needs in beneficial and even failed efforts of them, in order to * continue * to become and “learn leassons.”

            So, rather than “dictator of all that is correct,” I hope that the level of ‘moral outrage’ and parsing going on here is not only enjoyable, but it is also NOT a reality that time and resources and “real world” people render EACH AND EVERY TIME to every single, “cause and effect” and BARELY is even given (a few) “professional specialties and expertise.” I might remember what I ate yesterday, but couldn’t address “calories” or “how I felt, let alone how I SHOULD feel in those choices and actions of eating what and how I chose. Habituation and unseen personal bias are also part of the human condition because we ALL kill to live. Not a fun fact, but a fact still the same. I personally might grieve to look a cow or chicken in the face and see the literal them, lying around in parts, even in a grocery store, but I also choose not to EAT them. I kill plants that have their own fierce life and also give life to the freaking planet, so I am not morally superior to anybody.

            People make laws, good and bad; people LEARN and do better. But people DO NOT HAVE ALL ANSWERS TO FIX ALL THINGS. We can only “stop” the pain and that itself is a big MAYBE.

            No one can “magically” undo several killings/murders committed by these characters in a “presto” TIME respooling, e.g. vengeance demon Anya, ‘just because’ we like Anya, Xander loves Anya, and “real Anya” would feel really terrible about it and did—it *changed * her to go and die for ‘humanity,’ in her own mind—maybe “heroic” or even “stupid” with some * supposed * ‘no measurable effect.’ —To me, SHE became the ‘point of the story.’ She made it: an ADULT.

            THAT is why she ‘had to die.’ Same with Spike in “Chosen,” but also mythically, as was my original viewing/understanding regarding the nature of “transfiguration.” It wasn’t just the mind that changed, but the body, as well. And that is indeed true for any (human) child—not to mention Buffy’s increasing prowess over that body’s ability to defend itself.

            And! THAT is why BTVS disappointed me: Buffy may be the ‘surprise’—but not the story I thought I was once seeing: all about Buffy.

            Buffy herself NEVER “made it.” She IS some avator within the psyche, acting as guide to through the unknown, the dark and the darkness, with many talents of “instinct,” daring, imagination, adaptability. So, I still hold the whole mess is *IN * Dawn. Who made it (in the comics, at least—THAT is why, I think, Joss chose “no Buffy with Xander” in season seven. Buffy is BOOGITY. Dawn is the ‘key’ and Dawn is the human who “achieved” her becoming with “normal AND human Xander—the points Buffy and Angel, the avatars, delivered as individuals and as themselves a paradox to viewers like me, that never got to see “the point” of “paradox” in ‘normal’ and ‘human’ that these characters * stated * and wanted for themselves in all their “pointed “ paradoxes.

            I can only state that in my wrong simplicity it would be nice what you propose, but just isn’t what I find (here in the US—a place founded in theft, intolerance, greed and greedy violence that * everyone * in the world can see has “crawled out from under some rock” lately).

            People “take up space’ and that means someone else “can’t stand there.” We, ‘kill to live.” And, therefore, do harm; we do forget “lessons,” and we don’t (easily or ever) forgive; we are biased and don’t even know it, personally and through culture * in all its expressions * that give shape to the structures of what is called “normal” behavior, of normal, of that which is legal, that is moral and that which remains “the unknown frontier.”

            By example, one would question what is “moral” or fair or “legal,’ to the *survivors * in some families that may have no LEGAL standing or get no redress when Isis beheads their loved ones. These people had no problem attacking other people of the Islamic faith, let alone “Americans or British.”

            Those Isis people may be “brainwashed,” or even operate under a trigger (within a prayer, for example) because their indoctrination is also known to include great deprivations/torture. (See the “education” of many little boys in Afghanistan that starving parents hoped was something good for their sons—who were roundly starved and denied sleep to endlessly chant “readings.” See the escalation of using women and children as ‘activists’ in suicide bombings because their lives are so full of endless “potential” on earth, anyway. While “the big one” in the U.S. is 9/11—I can’t even get passed Sandy Hook and the remaining brother was not given the death penalty, even as other Americans “declare” it NEVER happened at all.

            I think 9/11 was committed by THUGS, and could (then, too) be adjudicated by current legal and international structures, as no single country-state perpetrated this act upon the U.S. We most certainly “chose wrong” in how we DID adjudicate it with the eternal, perpetual, widening stain of war on terror” that has brought about so much worse from the first in “The Patriot Act”—cooked up in the ‘dark of night’—and Guantanamo Bay, “legalized torture” and ‘other country black ops sites when made illegal, yet the level of “worse” continues to boggle imagination, in LEGAL terms, let alone “moral’ or psychological “truths.” So, so we “Clockwork Orange” people?

            So. Somewhere in the dither, which I have just NOT spared you, I would point out that a “yes” or “no” is called “judgment.” I brought up “potential” that is smeared so thickly on season 7, no one can miss the point.

            Upon ‘potential’ we KNOW that depriving children of the best nutrition and health care—even of safety—is catastrophic on development and their * entire * potential, perhaps, with racism, poverty, “blind” biases, etc, making their paths near insurmountable.

            And! In the US, we hand out Nobel Prizes for feeding the hungry world,for the UN, located in NYC. But, we have so little problem with allowing 20 percent of our children to go around hungry, malnourished when they do get food, and they continue to worry even how “the next meal” will happen. It doesn’t take any effort to see this with your own eyeballs.

            The viewers may get given “evidence” as an offering to understanding “what can’t be seen” as the nature of another’s experience, which is why psychopathy and sociopathy are offered/shown in both human and vampire characters. Warren might be judged as so much “worse” than Spike, yet, on the psychological plane of story, a human William had had a “trigger’for over a 150 years: his vampirism ‘suppressing’ his “I fought for my soul” statements that left him ‘knowing/remembering” and yet, “frozen” and “accessible” for a different (escape) trigger that really exposes his OWN fear: aka “the first” and “somebody ELSE (gets blamed) for making me feel “pain” of a life NOT being a vampire. That guy who swaggers, who can take any and all abuse and stand tall and “get what he wants” at the center of action: FREEDOM at any price and not having to care about any consequence, even to himself. Why/ Because he remembers “William,” the person all dolled up in correctness and male “standing,” but holding the FEELING of being a weak, ignorant, humiliated, rejected (unloved) human provided access to “the trigger” of the one woman “who needed a man,” but did love him, even if sickly. She needed him more than she, as the adult and parent, could offer help TO her child becoming a man and taking his place within independence, within family and even society. Notice any Freudian transference in ‘mother to * appropriate/moral * wife he would care for? See Cecily. See Dru, as the *indifferent * mother-lover HE ALSO has to care for that “fit him to a T.” See Buffy, sitting on her front stoop, outside the walls and safety of ‘home’. Spike “head tilts” and “sees her on the same level,” but also does what “William” does, he “attends.”

            Now. See Buffy nurture; see Buffy love, see “tough love, too;” see Buffy “care.” You get it. It was Willow who gave him the cookie, Buffy didn’t “ask” about his blood source; it was Buffy who considered him a “sock puppet.” It is me that is saying Buffy IS a sock puppet of Dawn’s literally ‘wearing” a sock puppet called Buffy called also (aspect) Spike, until one avatar differentiates in actual “becoming “ within a human girl who *also * had a father figure in a “brother figure” become a husband and then father to HER physical child. (comics). How’s that for the incest portion of the program?

            No longer can “what someone says” be held as “absolute and fully disclosed truth, when the person uttering it can be shown to have some flaw, whether ignorance, whether sociopathy, whether self preservation on * any * level and that brings in psychological realities that include “cuz I sez,” the inability to access memory/ even delusion/illusion/imagination, and last, ‘instinct’ for survival.etc.

            I’m saying that the “real world” from *this * changing story is very different than the PSYCHOLOGICAL PLANE THAT THE SHOW HAS BECOME with regard to the word “potential.” Potential holds both failure to become and the ability to become—without judgment—moral, or otherwise. That is simplistically entropy or energy.

            The show is dealing with ‘creatures’ that have no physical ability to effect the material world, therefore, logically, NO ONE DIED. But we are * shown * they actually did and at whose TEETH, whatever was driving him/Spike to do so.

            I assume all the other demons/vampires of the show are simply ‘misunderstood’ potential? What of Andrew? “I’m good now?” Is it any wonder that so much gets a “pass” because THESE CHILDREN are indeed becoming the “real world” and have to render ‘judgment’ on literally who lives, who dies, who is * NOW * literally “worth saving.”

            The moral argument says “everyone” because WE are human and we do die and there will be no “justice * for that factoid, unless you develop a sense of “ecology’ or philosophy (including religion). And why? WE ARE ALL DIMINISHED because any and all humans do live within Time and Space and we are ALL mortal, all hold ‘potential.’ Now you can offer up your home, your hot water and lights and pantry to a serial killer and psychopath, but I think “separation” and thus, some “freedom from fear” is worth my tax dollars to house and feed this person. Yes, I prefer “Birdman of Alcatraz” stories of redemption, too—but he didn’t get out of prison and that is “harsh” because a whole level of care is necessary to “integrate” the reformed person to actual economic survival that is deeply under attack in the U.S. for most. And what of those who ‘never cause trouble?’ Their struggles and pain may not be so ‘supported’ at * any * level. What ‘potential’ is lost there?

            I do appreciate the *merciful * approach to understanding a person’s (motivation) actions, that the *show * renders and has been of the greatest pleasure to those on this forum. (And, me, too—but! I take nothing away from those parsing the living and breathing (well…you get the idea despite being undead because this being has a “qualifying * soul—and so did a living, breathing (horror) WARREN). WHICH is indeed the “what about argument” that regarding “creatures” in a fictional landscape, in which “human” counts above all others, let alone for “Buffy’s choice” to actually have “real world” latitude for ONLY SPIKE, when OTHERS are clearly in grave pain and are “dying” unseen and self harming.

            Professionals “give their lives,” as their talents and resources and LAWS allow to *saving * both perpetrator and victim and even the society at large.

            —WAIT, THEY ARE ALL DEAD or GONE. A dozen graveyards are filled from the potentially salvageable given enough cookies and counseling and eternity, or ‘demon/spooks’ working on the subconscious of ‘someone” or “someone’s focusing all attention on the “gotcha” of another’s psyche. THIS is called “Scarecrow” (1973) Al Pacino/Gene Hackman without the HAPPY ending of “burning up” with a smile on his moral face.

            In the real world, I do imagine the “helpless,” but “moral outrage” of “black lives matter,” has now spread through the world for VERY REAL reasons that ignoring “the law” and that which is considered “moral,” can both BE FIXED a lot more readily than the fact we really don’t KNOW HOW to cure sociopathy, as example. We can “torture” or we can “drug someone into coma,” we can basically “imprison.” Legally. And, yes, I absolutely support voting rights to the “imprisoned.” Even if they choose ‘Spike.’

            So, have you, could you, would YOU ever “call a cop?”

            I mean ,where are the adults in this show? They “left” to show a reason: the kids are “becoming” the grown ups. And not all will “make it out alive”: The people who ACTUALLY became adults OR left on the “school bus” to learn more lessons in ever-becoming.
            THAT is called ‘choosing’ and is NOT a paradox. THAT is not a “great ending” to me for THIS story.

            I found more it “trustworthy” with B/A, because the ending required BOTH to die.

            Not as much fun as all this psychological parsing indulged in on behalf of Spike for * his * redemption, “just so’ Buffy can CONTINUE to be a CHILD!

            Even if Buffy’s ‘mercy’ to dare and understand describes her and her journey, she is quite satisfied in saving those she cares, she chose to return to the ‘yesteryear’ of childhood, in order to “close the hellmouth” of all the other (daring, questioning and pubescents GIRLS wondering about {sexy?} vampires, who really are now shown as monsters and completely “undifferentiated.”)

            And, the last choice of the comics does NOT rely on Buffy making “judgment”—except to judge Faith—it is to ARREST aka STOP people. Well, a lot of adults have to do the psychologically hard stuff and that includes a JURY.

            Jaysus. I apologize. I can’t even re-read this mess. I AM SORRY! (Just defensive because THIS stuff is NOT what I signed on to when I was 17—Buffy’s age and I’ve gone through the great, deep, hidden meanings of this show and the characters within it to learn, of course, but really. When we start “parsing” every ‘twitch’ on behalf of ONE character, I just feel the disappointment for the POTENTIAL of this story epic Fail, yet again, not only the reality of myths, but in the eyer olling boredom of ‘heroic cycles’ in vogue. I'll "save everyone," just gotta get me some of that genetic kung fu, allrighty, and just DO THE SMASH AND THE CRUNCH- “do the law myself." Now THAT looks like "potential" to me! hee hee.

            HUGS!
            sybil

            Comment


            • For me S7 gave Buffy a wider world ahead of her as the hellmouth was closed and she had seen a way to more literally pass on her power, which she did directly through her heroism and compassion constantly to many others daily, that gave her a greater 'us' and less isolation than she had felt through the years we followed her on the tv show. In the comics then we see her response to this wider world and deciding who she wanted to be within that context and the new potential that offered her. In the end she was exploring a role that integrated with her slaying life in a way that brought her a balance she had been seeking for so long. But importantly it wasn't something that she had to feel committed to and restricted by. By keeping her out of a relationship at the end too the writers also gave her the limitless possibilities of what she might do there too. In the end the freedom to do anything, change her mind and do something else, whilst also choosing to be a slayer too was Buffy's journey. Yes she hadn't reached her potential, but from the start she struggled to feel like she had any, that she wasn't just marked with an expiration date and no opportunities. A 'freak' that couldn't have a 'real' life. It ended with her at ease with herself, her slaying and the real world around her, open to the potential of so much and feeling very much a part of it. Getting there was her narrative journey and although it left her in progress, not feeling drowned out as an individual was the success for her that she reached.

              We've gone a little off on a tangent and I've even skipped through the whole of canon(!), but I love that the review is prompting discussions and am really looking forward to reading it all through and responding to PuckRobin's observations on the episode.

              Comment



              • While I can’t, just can’t even agree with the descriptive words for the “whole of the piece” because you also do use the word ‘narrative.’

                I do “see” your vision for the reasons you find that give you satisfaction in the paths explored for the outcomes you also feel provide the greatest (autonomous?—I don’t wish to put words into your mouth, Stoney!) potential for a person finding the best place in the world that allows the greatest freedom to change and to change her mind, while maintaining a balance in her slayer life/normal human life. Which I take as her psychic view of herself in balance, set within the world that provides her structures for further achievements, both psychically and ‘physically’ in space and time with those beside her, who also “ever learn” and yet, “serve and protect” others of the wider “world.”

                And yet, ‘the ugly necklace’ is the big fat LITERARY “yes, this is a big, fat, literary” problem “bookending” this narrative and an ugly metaphor regarding ‘necklacing’ (as a form of fiery death) itself; and what “closing the hellmouth” means to you. We now have hellmouths all over the place and that really seems to be a problem for the world. Kinda like women themselves, who are set in a patriarchal reality that is the “norm” we actually live in. And, we continue to have the problem of “vampires”—jaysus—please MAKE IT STOP, (!!) already.

                The use of “three” and other ‘magical’ symbols are very much in use of fairy tale that provide “expression” for children to explore some pretty awful notions and they get “wrapped up in a bow” with ‘And they lived happily ever after. Well, it is the AFTER part that is THIS STORY; we haven’t got to the ‘happily’ part or even what that might look like for “nomral’ and ‘human’ AT ONCE for either titular character. The fact that Buffy is NOT a fire person—whether the reality of her petite size would have ‘bounced’ her from trying, but is a “GUN” toting cop with “sisters in blue” is a serious problem in that I ALREADY SAW THAT with her “blue jeans” and SHE ABHORS GUNS. I recall and expressed here the “ages of the gods (gold, silver, bronze—recall Buffy’s bronze sandals, on her feet, when she was the “sock puppet” for the ghost teacher who SHOT her *student * lover (played over/also by Angel/us); and the age of man regarding lead. Recall she also said, in “Storyteller,” I think, before all the sniper/mass shootings in season 7: “Guns, Never a good idea.”

                Also, I think this idea I noticed on joss’s twitter—I do like his politics—scroll to NOV 10, 2019https://twitter.com/joss, which would have had all the metaphor a person could stand, and also “rebellion” in ‘intimacy’ that might have been “something to see” for a “Bad Buffy,” instead of things like ‘Beer Bad’/Hathor the ‘out of control’ (bloody) cow, for example.

                The “drink” in her mother’s hand, the adults making the decisions for yet another “water” (and drug) reference has always “been there” and yet, WHERE is the FIRE? NOT Buffy, at the end of season, other than the ‘bad unbreathable air’ of chaos contained, I guess. But, Fire and literal sun (coming out of the shadow—of {eternal}death—is “clear” to me, and okay enough for Spike’s (ugly necklace-induced ‘mcGuffin’ /aborted) NARRATIVELY CORRECT * transfiguration * to human man: achievement of adulthood/forever becoming as the paradox of being “a normal, mortal, human” at the very last of season 7. AND BUFFY’s? Well, we get season eight. The world was burning down and she and Angel, oh…yeah. THAT time that she actually decided to make “a change” was really a “left turn lurch” to RETAIN the forever moment-godness state, yet also ‘magically’ NOT change ( to AGAIN save “childhood.’). Jayzzzzus.

                How do I know that Buffy the fire person didn’t save Liam’s life in a fire and THAT was their first encounter ever? Or William’s? Or anybody else that we never saw “potentially” significant in the SECOND continuing story if anybody REAAAALLLLLLY needed one. I didn’t. Because I always have: And they lived happily ever. Because ‘AFTER” is now OVER!

                I just “don’t get it” that the literal “free air” that is safe and clean to breathe, as a literary metaphor in HUMANS require it, is also not respected as part of the ideas shown (to me re: destruction/change toward “good” or “bad”) regarding “fire/water” throughout the “story.” I saw all the elements in the B/A story very clearly in setting, including that of “wood” for example for “Eastern” elements, besides the fact vampires don’t breathe, humans do and Paradox is retained even in the “unseen” air of night.

                Therefore, ‘handling a fire hose’ as showing a (controlled) “fire/water” paradox, dealing with uncontrolled, destructive, chaotic “burning down the world” and sucking literally all the air to FEED ITSELF, in fire (wood or earth destruction/changechaos), was also a “show” for her * autonomous * choice in job and yet “team work” is literally required to do it, (which includes any gender descriptive one wishes) Somehow this is too silly or too “graphic” in a series/ show with rape metaphors in (hyperbolically), “every other episode?” (Forced change e.g. “growing.”)

                And yet, they choose literal lead as her choice of career, in a MILITARISTIC, PATRICIAN structure, in which she ‘runs herd’ (OVER) her sister and slayer, Faith; NOT really showing that “protect and serve” thing for ‘the world’ she fits in, in any “metaphor” at all.

                Wry smiles as “dry humor”/e.g. balance of fire/air/water/earth “skips” wood and just, as a metaphor SHOULD SCREAM: GRANTED AUTHORITY. NOT: “entitled” AND ISNOT confidence to me, (I know SO I win); “parental/controller” not EVEN the (protective umbrella) of protective/concerned wisdom for those NOT in the know.

                THESE are reasons we all have different views on what we actually see. And LITERARY narrative having key structural identifiers maintained for the reality I am in, is very “key” to me, for a narrative. Not just the “head tilts, grimaces, ‘puppy dog eyes’ parsed to the bone, but “forgetting” any of those literary ‘techniques’ also count for that ‘deep hidden meaning’ to be, ‘narratively’ sufficient. Otherwise, one really can’t “prove” anything, but HOW one interprets; and THAT is ‘just guessing’ to me.

                And you are absolutely right, that in my defense or offense, as it is taken, I do reach around all over the place in “what aboutism” as those metaphors were put there for a reason and I respect that. That is structure, that helps ME keep my balance, too. I do believe Joss is deeply, truly, maddeningly gifted, even if he, too, fails, sometimes.

                Thanks for not “bouncing” me ‘outta hyah’ on my (tin) ear re not sticking to the point of each episode to follow within this thread. A rewatch just never worked that way for me, without having “read” the context that got me there and I do think literary technique is important, just not as horridly pointed as “this is slap-dash and terrible” by Joss himself regarding the UGLY necklace/necklacing” that entangles Buffy, Angel Spike AND BTVS and ATS terribly to just keep them “superheroes” and THAT is the ultimate betrayal to me of THIS story because JOSS KNEW IT. Period.

                HUGS
                sybil

                Comment


                • Just finishing up the final two parts but creating placeholders for them.

                  Very soon.

                  Comment


                  • Just testing to see if I still need a divider.

                    Comment


                    • lurking with much anticipation....


                      Comment


                      • Thanks. I’m busy writing it with a combination of anticipation and dread ... as always.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by PuckRobin View Post
                          Thanks. I’m busy writing it with a combination of anticipation and dread ... as always.
                          oh yes...

                          i send fellow feeling—

                          and a twist upon one of Willow's
                          fine lines:

                          The dread is not a friend....


                          Followed by another, finer one from
                          the 13th century anchoress and
                          mystic Julian of Norwich:

                          Everything will be well: every little thing will be well—*



                          *i know, a certain brutal stupidity in uttering such words
                          is these too, too precarious times... but within the delimited
                          space of the S7 Review, they lose that quality, return to
                          the givingness with which they flowed forth....





                          Comment


                          • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
                            Season Seven Rewatch
                            Never Leave Me
                            Part Six


                            In the Buffyverse, basements aren’t just utilitarian places to store old equipment, fold the laundry and run a heating system. They’re also places of the mind – shadowy worlds where the wild things are – or at least things purposefully hidden from the harsh light of day. Monsters, dead bodies, criminals on the lam – and unwanted children like Xander who live in small cramped quarters beneath their parents and entertain their girlfriends in the romantic glow of dingy florescent lighting and the warm scent of unfettered mildew growth behind the water boiler.



                            ANYA: So, what kind of place are you looking for?
                            SPIKE: Dunno. Maybe a crypt. Someplace, you know, dark and dank. But not as dark and dank as this.
                            ANYA: It's pretty depressing, isn't it?
                            SPIKE: I've known corpses with a fresher smell. In fact, I've been one. - A New Man
                            Basements have always been viewed as a disadvantageous place to hang out, a place where losers post big on the internet while gorging on fast food dressed in boxers and briefs, a sort of hipster’s Plato’s Cave with a limited view of the real-life above ground. In sociology, the ‘basement metaphor’ is often used to refer to hierarchies of societal advantage with some at the lower end of the basement near the draft and others on the cozy stairway near the door. But anyone who has a fall finds themselves in this metaphorical limbo. Bad credit, failing grades or last place in a competition gets you ‘in the basement’ – which seems to be just one tiny step away from a freefall into hellfire.

                            So it’s not surprising that Xander (or at least the suave version of himself) saw leaving the basement not just a necessary step towards adulthood, but an act of self-preservation.

                            BUILDING MANAGER: I think someone said you're currently in your parents' basement?
                            XANDER-DOUBLE: Right. And there's just a point where you either move on or you just buy yourself a Klingon costume and go with it
                            BtVS has always imbued the mythical aspects of the underworld with psychological meaning. The Hellmouth is a just a larger version of the underground cellar/basement in which dark things and hidden secrets are revealed. The monsters that Buffy battles – both above and below – are invisible to the regular inhabitants of Sunnydale, relegated to the basements of their subconscious. This makes Buffy and her friends more like cave explorers than monster-hunters, exploring the hidden depths of the underworld like mythic heroes, stumbling in the dark so that those above can feel safe and secure.


                            XANDER: Sunnydale High. These walls – if they were still walls – what stories they could tell.
                            Xander steps into something black and crunchy. He looks.
                            XANDER: Ewwwww!
                            Xander responds to Willow’s questioning look.
                            XANDER: Mayor meat. Extra crispy. – Doomed
                            But it’s not just cave-exploring superheroes or supernatural monsters who live in basements. Very human monsters – three of them – lurked in Warren’s mother’s basement safe from the cave exploring eyes of the Slayer and her friends, protected from the bullies they had encountered in the real world. Once their fancy lair is discovered, the Trio move repeatedly into other underground basements dotted throughout Sunnydale. I can’t say for sure if any of the three actually owned a Klingon costume, but I’m sure Andrew would have been able to order a few in the Klingon language if need be.



                            But Warren, Andrew and Jonathan didn’t think of themselves as the proverbial losers-in-the-basement. No half-blind shadow-gazing prisoners of Plato’s cave here. No, the Trio fancied themselves as Philosopher Kings – or at least Philosopher Dungeon Masters, possessing secret knowledge that would lead them to hidden treasure and the defeat of their enemies. Warren, at the very least, would have seen himself as a kind of Lex Luthor genius of the underworld, far more reasoned and intelligent in his dark lair as opposed to the pathetic normies above, blinded by the light.

                            Warren might have asked rhetorically did as Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor did, “Why is the most diabolically brilliant leader of our time surrounding himself with totally nincompoops?” The movie Lex was also a basement-dweller, although his basement was an underground version of Grand Central Station.



                            LEX LUTHOR: “Remember”, my father, said….
                            OTIS: Land.
                            LEX LUTHOR: Right. It’s a pity that he didn’t from such humble beginnings how I have created this empire.
                            MISS TESCHMACHER: An empire? This?
                            LEX LUTHOR: How many girls do you know who have a Park Avenue address like this one?
                            MISS TESCHMACHER: Park Avenue address? 200 feet below?
                            LEX LUTHOR: Do you realize what people are shelling out up there for a few rooms off of a common elevator?
                            LEX AND OTIS in unison: What more could anyone ask?
                            • Superman (1978)
                            The celebration of dark places is nothing new for supervillains, who embrace their musty lower haunts as an embarrassment of riches – preferably a cool decked-out cave, a Victorian cellar with fancy chairs and a winery, a technological marvel of a basement with wall-to-wall computers – or if you happen to actually be a creature of the night, perhaps an elegant mansion with a roomy subterranean series of caves, a duplex crypt with electricity buzzing through the cobwebs and the murk – or the exciting chaotic mess of a mine shaft.

                            ANGELUS: You've got me and my women hiding in the luxury of a mine shaft, all because William the Bloody likes the attention. This is not a reputation we need.
                            SPIKE: Oh, I'm sorry. Did I sully our good name? We're vampires.
                            ANGELUS: All the more reason to use a certain amount of finesse.
                            SPIKE: Bollocks! That stuff's for the frilly cuffs-and-collars crowd. I'll take a good brawl any day. – Fool for Love


                            The old soulless version of Spike considered himself in a class of his own, his very existence as a basement-dwelling night creature allowing him to mock and ridicule the ridiculous weakness and stupidity of his prey above ground. Spike thought his underground wisdom made him wiser. None of that frilly cuffs-and-collars crowd who played by the rules.

                            Some of this arrogance probably originated in William Pratt. Like the Trio and so many bullied young men who puff up their egos in order to feel more confident, William/Spike always fancied himself a cut above the ‘normies’ – the ‘vulgarians’ – not only those who bitterly mocked him when human, but other vampires and demons who thought the smaller vampire would be a pushover.

                            But a lot of Spike’s arrogance comes from the actual vampire culture of the Buffyverse. Vampires see themselves as superior beings, working their way up the food chain through siring one another and dominating a group of vampires. Since they were also creatures of the night who were forced to make their homes beneath the earth to escape deadly sunlight, they naturally elevated the idea of underground caves and crypts as the swankiest of lairs – the equivalent of making the cover of Vampire Architectural Digest.

                            But how one views the basement often depends on where one is in the hierarchy. Just as vampires looked down on humans as dumb animals who witlessly ran right into their traps, many demons and Big Bads looked down on vampires as tainted, impure half-humans who lacked any real power or proper demon wisdom. One such being was the ancient hell-god Glory who could transform – morph, as it were – into a human male named Ben. Ben had discovered that the mystical key that Glory wanted was in human form and he’d accidentally slipped up and revealed this to Glory’s robed, monk-like minions. The monkish minions kept an eye out for who was closest to the slayer, kidnapped Spike based on the Buffybot’s reactions and brought him before Glory.

                            But Spike was weighed in the balances…and found wanting.



                            GLORY: What the Hell is that and why is its hair that color?
                            MURK: Stunning One, we believe he is…
                            Murk and Jinx exchange a delighted look.
                            MURK/JINX: The Key!
                            GLORY: Really? That's fantabulous! And impossible! He can't be the Key. Because, see, the Key has to be pure. This is a Vampire. Lesson number one, Vampires equal impure!
                            SPIKE: Damn right I'm impure, I'm as impure as the driven yellow snow! Let me go!
                            GLORY: Can't even brain-suck a vampire. He's completely useless. – Intervention
                            Like Glory, many gods and demons cast aspersions on vampires because of their half-human bodies, a mark of inferiority – in their minds, vampires were the basement dwellers. The hierarchy was definitely God>Demon>Vampire>Human>Animal.

                            And then, there was Angelus.

                            Angelus’ appetite for cruelty and complicated schemes to dupe unsuspecting human victims caused him to favor expensive, ornate digs far above the ground in fancy hotels and high-rises – especially for Darla who loved a view from above. From the beginning, Angelus mocked the ‘dark’ traditions of the vampire that supposedly showed their superiority – he needed none of that to be truly evil. In fact, he found the whole ‘vampires of the underworld’ routine to be a bit gauche and pathetic.

                            MASTER: The order of Aurelius. We are the select – the elite.
                            ANGELUS: And you live in the sewers, do you?
                            MASTER: We live below, giving tribute to the old ones. Awaiting that promised day when we will arise – arise – and lay waste to the world above us.
                            ANGELUS: Why'd you want to do that?
                            MASTER: Huh?
                            ANGELUS: Well, I mean, have you been above lately? It's quite nice. Me, I could never live in a rat-infested stink hole - like this, if you'll pardon me for saying so. I got to have meself a proper bed or I'm a terror. Isn't that right love?
                            DARLA: He's young.
                            ANGELUS: And this one – down in the goose feathers and the finest silks and linens and a view. She's always got to have the view, don't you, my lamb? – Darla


                            One imagines that Angelus would have sneered at the geek-infested underground wonderland of the Trio or the sparse digs of Spike’s Restfield Crypt. Although, like Buffy, he might have appreciated its posh bed and extravagant rugs in Season Six. The only other vampire who shares the extravagant tastes of Angelus and Darla seems to be the celebrity-chasing Count Dracula.

                            SPIKE: Drac's in Sunnydale-way? I guess the old boy needed closure after all.
                            RILEY: Actually, he's gunning for Buffy. But I'm out to find him before he gets another shot at her.
                            SPIKE: Tough talk, cowboy. But you're not gonna catch him napping in a crypt. No, the count has to have his luxury estate and his bug-eaters and his special dirt, don't he? – Buffy vs Dracula


                            But even with Dracula’s extravagant tastes, the only real way for a vampire to protect themself from exposure to the sunlit world was to lurk underground – or in the dark. Despite the necro-tempered glass of Wolfram and Hart and the blacked-out windows of Spike’s Desoto, it can be an inconvenience – or even a kind of prison when the Slayer’s involved.


                            FORD: What happened?
                            SPIKE: We're stuck in a basement.
                            FORD: Buffy?
                            SPIKE: She's not stuck in the basement. – Lie to Me


                            No, Buffy’s not stuck in the basement – but unlike Angel, Spike is seemingly always stuck there in one way or another – from the Initiative Caves to his two story-crypt to Buffy and Spike falling through the floor of the abandoned house to have sex in the basement.

                            The idea of the basement as a gateway to Hell originally comes from ancient religions that saw dark caves and underworld passages as a way to communicate with the spiritual – both good and evil. Spirits, friendly guides and evil monsters could all lead a person beneath the houses of the living into the houses of the dead. The basement/cellar became a kind of halfway house between the two spaces - in psychology, it represents unconscious levels of our own psyche, things we fear to explore and store away things we don’t want to acknowledge. In stories, too, the basement often shows us things the characters are trying to hide.



                            BUFFY: I swear to God, if you tell anyone about last night, I will kill you.
                            Spike sobers, getting the seriousness of her threat.
                            SPIKE: Right.
                            A beat. Then he lifts her lacy panties.
                            SPIKE: You gonna want these, too?
                            Smash. Buffy' s hand comes into frame and clocks him. She moves out into the light, leaving him stranded. – Wrecked


                            What happens in the basement stays in the basement.

                            In Season Seven, that becomes literally true as souled Spike hides out beneath Sunnydale High when he returns from Africa, a shadowy presence in Buffy’s life. In many ways, Spike’s journeys from one underground place to the next are the exact opposite of the Trio’s journey. Warren, Andrew and Jonathan move from a comforting family home to a booby-trapped basement to a dark cave as they grow increasingly evil. Spike moves from directly above the Hellmouth to the old basement where he buried his victims to Morphy’s caves to the Summers Residence. In all of them, souled Spike is starved, taunted, beaten, chained, tortured, and driven mad. And that doesn’t even include the enemy within – the inner basement where Spike’s deepest shame and fears reside, with the thousands of victims he’s murdered and devoured beating a steady drum beat on his new shiny conscience.


                            In the past, Spike embraced the dark below as something that empowered him – that ironically raised him higher in the food chain than the clueless humans who walked the earth. But now with his soul, Spike still believes that he belongs there - but in a very different way. Not because he’s a superior form of being, but because he’s a disgusting monster who should be hidden from the light. The basement – and by extension, the Hellmouth – is his home. He’s always been there. Beneath all of them.



                            SPIKE: This is my home. I belong here. Always been here. Cheers for stopping by. – Lessons


                            Throughout their history, Buffy pretty much agreed with souled Spike. He was a loathsome, disgusting monster who was only spared because of the chip in his head – a dead thing that was useful only for occasional muscle and quick alliances against an even worse foe. But ironically, now Spike has come back with a soul and a trigger that causes him to lose even the moderate control that a vampire has over his demon, Buffy sees Spike in a different light.

                            She moves Spike out of the basement and into Xander’s apartment – his first human-like dwelling since the mansion in Season Two – and then brought him into her home after he begged her for help in the squalid basement of death where his victims were buried. But after being given sanctuary in Buffy’s bedroom, Spike’s attacked someone else – and so it’s back to the basement for the third time. But at least it’s Buffy’s basement – which means Buffy will also be there, as heroic and merciful as ever.



                            As Buffy walks slowly down the stairs, she sees a literalization of the phrase ‘beneath you it devours’ as former Andrew-devouring Spike lies motionless on the floor, manacles attached to each wrist and ankle, firmly chained to the wall. There are plenty of moonbeams casting shadows across the basement floor, but sadly, no pennywhistles as the camera pans over Spike’s sleeping form, visions of Morphy sneering as Buffy kicks him in the face dancing through his head.



                            Buffy looks a bit guilty as she looks closely at Spike’s face. To take Spike out and save Andrew, she had to resort to immediate force – but Spike’s swollen lips and crusted blood not only reflect his demonic nature as a blood drinker, but also reflect Buffy’s boot-kicking slayer power long after she had already stopped his feral feeding of Andrew. The bloody mouth makes Spike look both monster and victim at the same time. Which is kind of what a souled vampire is and reminds Buffy that she’s partly responsible for Spike’s plight – after all, he got the soul for her.

                            It also reminds Buffy that she’s seen this kind of feral fugue state before – and she was also responsible for his departure and return. After staking Angel with a sword in “Becoming,” she thought that he was gone. But then Angel returned from his Hell dimension in “Beauty and the Beasts” like a wild animal, racing through Sunnydale and attacking Buffy. Apparently, the century-long stay in Hell wiped away any memory of Angel’s human attributes, stripping him down to his essential demon.

                            When Buffy kicks Angel and then punches him out to contain him, Angel falls to the ground with the same blood drenched mouth as Spike.



                            Spike wasn’t in Hell for a hundred years, but the Big Bad playing with him now seems to have created the same kind of separation of the demon from his human qualities. Spike didn’t seem to recognize Buffy either in the cellar or in her bedroom when he went on his mad attack. Like Angel, he even seemed to lose the power of speech. He was all demon – all feral monster – and Buffy had to be cruel to be kind in order to prevent Spike from hurting anyone. After all, when Spike eventually came to, wouldn’t he be devastated by his own actions if Buffy hadn’t taken him down?

                            So Buffy has Spike chained up – for his own piece of mind as well as the Scooby Gang. Back in “Beauty and the Beasts,” Buffy did the same thing for Angel, who she knew would be deeply upset if he’d harmed or killed someone in his primal state. Angel had the same manacles on his arms as Spike when Buffy chained him to a hook in the wall of the old mansion of season two – the only way to restrain a feral monster with super strength and wiles to match without hurting him.



                            Of course, most vampires don’t get this treatment – they get the sharp edge of a pointy stick. After all, chaining them for a day would only stop them for a day. Spike’s chip gave him a ‘get-out-of-dusting-free card’ when he first came to Buffy begging for her help in “Pangs” and was subsequently tied to a chair and chained to a bathtub, but Buffy and her friends were only interested in Spike for any information he could give them. Spike’s personal well-being was low on their priority list because he lacked a soul – the fundamental thing that separated Buffy from the vampires she slayed.

                            For six years, Angel was the vampire with a soul. One. Singular. Vampire. Until now.



                            As Spike lies unconscious on the basement floor, Buffy carefully kneels down beside him, sets the bowl on the floor and starts to clean the blood off Spike’s face with her towel. Not roughly like a jailor might do to a prisoner to punish him nor clinically distanced like his recent feeding. Buffy gently dabs at his swollen face to avoid hurting him – to give him a certain dignity – to help him be a kind of man.



                            This attempt to make amends – to silently apologize to Spike for her brutal act – is immediately grasped by Spike as he slowly comes to and opens his eyes. He looks both fearful and ashamed as Buffy continues to gently wash his face like a child, but stays silent for just a second as if he’s imagining that she’s a dream. Buffy is washing his face? Except for the fact that he can feel her touch, he’d probably chalk it up to another exciting moment of Morphy winning the All-Star Buffy Look-Alike Contest.

                            If Buffy’s being kind to him, then the dim memory he has of using someone as a chew toy must be a dream. But this can’t be right. Spike knows that he did something wrong even in his dazed state on the basement floor. His memory is most likely similar to the flashbacks he had in Sleeper – moments of lucidity in which he remembers biting Andrew or falling to the ground or Buffy putting her boot in his face. But Spike is quiet as Buffy continues to wash his face, afraid to ask and dreading the answer. Not that he didn’t deserve a kick in the face anyway for all his past crimes. After the AR, Buffy should’ve done a lot worse.



                            He waits for Buffy to say something – anything – regarding the evil thing he’s done now, but she continues with the gentle touch until Spike can take it no more and tentatively asks Buffy to fill in the blanks.

                            SPIKE: (softly) Did I hurt anybody?


                            The implicit question Spike is asking – did I kill anybody? – is immediately understood by Buffy.



                            And she declines to answer at first. But the fact that it’s the first question out of Spike’s mouth when he comes to makes it clearer than ever to Buffy that Spike has changed. So she dances around the subject.

                            BUFFY: You took a good bite out of Andrew –
                            SPIKE: Who?
                            BUFFY: Tucker's brother.
                            SPIKE: Ah.


                            Ah, the never-ending font of merriment coming from the inability to remember Andrew’s name. Thankfully, this is the last episode in which the Scooby Gang has selective amnesia about one of a three-member gang who successfully murdered Katrina and Tara, almost killed Buffy and provoked Willow to destroy the world.

                            It’s supposed to be humorous, but it confirms Spike’s words shortly after being chipped and joining the Scooby Gang:

                            SPIKE: This is the crack team that foils my every plan? I am deeply shamed. – Something Blue


                            While lying on the floor in Dawn’s bedroom, Spike probably did remember Andrew as one of the trio of ‘geeks’ who had magically viewed every episode of Doctor Who – even those lost by the BBC – while Spike waited for Warren to check out his chip in “Smashed.” But why Andrew suddenly appears in the Summers household is a mystery to Spike. Perhaps even to Buffy, who continues to dab at Spike’s swollen lip.

                            Since Spike would have no idea whatsoever who “Tucker” or his brother is, his polite acknowledgement is a bit much. But it’s likely that Spike is just mouthing words at the moment. He’s still afraid to ask the big question – is he dead? But Buffy reassures him that she stopped Spike before he could do more harm.



                            BUFFY: He'll be okay.


                            Of course, if Buffy wanted to go farther to make Spike feel better, she could have pointed out that Andrew was a former Big Bad, but Buffy doesn’t really say anything more about him. Nothing about the role Andrew played in Season Six and nothing even about Andrew’s possible complicity with the Morphing Wonder who’s been forcing Spike to do ‘bad things.’

                            But Buffy probably doesn’t want to get into the ethics of whether Andrew’s an immoral person who might deserve a good vampire munch. She’s already been there before with Faith when Buffy tried to feed her sister Slayer to Angel – and that moral lapse most likely makes Buffy even more guarded about protecting humans no matter how ethically compromised they are.

                            This shows the difference between Buffy’s moral code after trying to kill Faith and that of many in her team. Willow tried to obliterate Jonathan and Andrew in her fury over Tara’s death. Giles murdered Ben without a moment of doubt to stop Glory. Souled vampire Angel had no such scruples when he locked the depraved Wolfram and Hart team in a room with a hungry Darla and Drusilla. Buffy, on the other hand, forgave most of her enemies – otherwise, Spike would’ve been a pile of dust years ago.



                            Spike knows this - all of his focus is on Buffy gently wiping his face – and in his self-loathing state, it disgusts him. Especially when Buffy reassures him that he didn’t murder Tucker’s brother – “he’ll be okay” – which must sound pretty weak to Spike considering the amount of terror he put Andrew through. It must also remind Spike of what Buffy said when she kicked him away in the bathroom in “Seeing Red”:

                            SPIKE: Buffy, my god, I didn't –
                            BUFFY: Because I stopped you. Something I should have done a long time ago. – Seeing Red
                            And now Buffy has had to stop him again from hurting someone. She’s the only reason that Spike didn’t devour Andrew and leave a corpse on the floor of Dawn’s bedroom. The thought that only Buffy’s quick wits and slayer skill could stop Spike – who literally ran through a wall – must scare Spike half to death. Xander was right – Spike is an out-of-control monster and only Buffy stands between a feral vampire and an innocent like Dawn.


                            SPIKE: (softly) I don't remember…




                            Spike is struggling to tell Buffy that he’s dangerous, that he’s not in control of himself, that she needs to do something about it. But like their talk in her bedroom, Buffy doesn’t quite grasp yet what Spike is saying. Buffy believes that Spike’s trying to tell her that he’s not responsible for his actions because he can’t remember anything.

                            BUFFY: It's okay.


                            With this phrase, Buffy takes on full responsibility for Spike’s actions. She’s not just reassuring Spike that Andrew is okay, but that she can take care of anything if Spike goes insane again. Buffy even gets up to rinse the bloody cloth in the sink – a subtle metaphor for clearing Spike of his bloody deeds as Spike slowly raises himself off the floor, fear clearly overwhelming him.



                            SPIKE: Buffy – I don't know why…


                            Spike is trying to tell Buffy what she must do to stop him even as Buffy reassures him that none of this is his fault. It’s a short dialogue of comic misunderstandings in which Buffy and Spike are talking about two different things. But the fundamental issue here is who is in control – Spike doesn’t want to rely on Buffy as a shield – that’s too much for her to take on. Whereas Buffy is all slayer business as usual, her inferiority-superiority complex making her believe that she can handle Spike regardless of what he might throw at her.



                            So Buffy quickly changes the subject from Spike’s behavior and the consequences to what’s actually causing it.

                            BUFFY: We think we do. Something's playing you. Some ghost or demon has figured out how to control you.


                            Spike realizes that Buffy isn’t just talking about Tucker’s brother, but is also absolving him of all his terrible crimes since he returned to Sunnydale. Worse, she’s still going to try and help him – which would endanger Buffy and everyone else in the house. The last thing that Spike wants to be a burden on Buffy and force her to take him on as her responsibility. Their conversation earlier in Buffy’s bedroom showed how enraged she became at the thought that she might be responsible for his pain and suffering.



                            Spike lifts himself off the floor to sit against the wall as Buffy continues to rattle off reasons for Spike’s feral attacks, determined to change Buffy’s mind about helping him even as she rattles off the comforting details of their recent Scooby meeting.

                            BUFFY: Got the gang researching it right now. Xander has this theory that you're being triggered –


                            Spike can’t believe that Buffy is acting like he’s worth saving after what he did. Not only to Andrew and the other victims in the basement of the house, but to Buffy herself in the past four years. It’s obvious what she has to do – something she should have done a long time ago as she said in the bathroom. Stop him.



                            SPIKE: Kill me.


                            If Morphy were in the room right now, he’d be giggling and clapping his hands in delight like mad Drusilla.

                            Buffy turns around in shock. She’s heard this kind of suicidal talk before, too. Not only from Spike last night in the basement where he sired people, but from another tormented vampire with a soul.



                            BUFFY: What?


                            We don’t know it yet, dear viewer, but another piece of the puzzle of Morphy falls into place as the memory of another souled vampire begging for death comes to mind. Buffy remembers, no doubt, as does the viewer – and that is the key to solving the mystery.

                            But Buffy is too upset at the moment to ponder the secret of who might be manipulating Spike. Despite all the trials and tribulations that Buffy and Spike have gone through, she’s never heard this kind of hopelessness from Spike before until the last few days. Of course, when Spike was chipped and living in Xander’s basement, it was Willow and Xander who found him trying to put a stake through his heart.



                            Close on Xander’s coffee table where we see that a STAKE has been secured to the edge with a C-Clamp. Widen to include Spike, at his nadir. Perched on the edge of the couch above the coffee table, arms outstretched, ready to impale himself on the stake. He takes a moment to firm his resolve. Closes his eyes.
                            SPIKE: Goodbye Dru. See you in hell.
                            He's just stepping off the couch when Willow and Xander enter from the stairs, distracting him. As a result he misses the stake completely and crashes down on the coffee table, destroying it.
                            SPIKE: Bloody rot! Can't a person knock?
                            WILLOW: What were you doing!?
                            XANDER: You were trying to stake yourself!
                            Spike, humiliated and defeated, replies with pure belligerence, of course.
                            SPIKE: Fag off. It's no concern of yours.
                            XANDER: Is too. For one thing - that's my shirt you're about to dust. And for another - we've shared a lot here. You should have trusted me enough to do it for you.
                            WILLOW: Xander-
                            XANDER: What? He wants to die. I want to help.
                            Willow snatches the stake from him.
                            WILLOW: It's ooky. We know him. We can't just let him poof! himself. – Doomed


                            It could have been a show for Willow and Xander to elicit more sympathy. Spike’s vampire senses could have told him they were just about to open the door and it was all for show. But the original shooting script seems to make it clear that Spike’s attempt was real. It also makes it clear that Buffy could care less when she hears about it.

                            BUFFY: Why is he even here? It’s not like he can fight!
                            WILLOW: If we leave him alone, he’ll stake himself.
                            BUFFY: And that’s bad because...? - Doomed
                            The difference is that soulless Spike wanted to die because he couldn’t harm anyone. Now souled Spike wants to die because he will harm someone – and already has. Of course, Spike is also seriously dead and the term ‘kill’ is an anthropomorphic word for Willow’s far more accurate scientific word for vampire death – ‘poof.’

                            But unlike her reaction to Spike’s stakeage in “Doomed,” Buffy almost recoils from him here. She looks at Spike, hoping he’s joking. But he’s deadly serious. There were times in the past when Spike taunted Buffy, almost asking her to dust him.

                            BUFFY: One more word out of you, and I swear –
                            SPIKE: Swear, what? You're not gonna do anything to me. You don’t have the stones.
                            BUFFY: Oh, I got the stones. I got a whole bunch of…stones.
                            SPIKE: Yeah? You're all talk.
                            BUFFY: Giles! I accidentally killed Spike! That's okay, right? – Something Blue


                            A lot of this is Spike’s propensity to live on the edge, but some of it stems from his obsession with challenging slayers – the ultimate suicidal act for a vampire – and his romantic interest in Buffy. Spike’s dream in which his own unconscious reveals to him that he’s in love with the Slayer is also a dream of going ‘poof’ as he bares his chest for Buffy to mete out justice.




                            Buffy strides towards him purposeful, deadly. She pulls out a stake.
                            BUFFY: Spike, you're a killer. And I should’ve done this years ago.
                            SPIKE: You know what? Do it. Bloody just do it.
                            BUFFY: What?
                            SPIKE: End my torment. Seeing you, every day, everywhere I go, every time I turn around. Take me out of a world that has you in it! Just kill me!
                            Ripping open his shirt, Spike bares his chest to her. Buffy raises her stake to strike, then hesitates. They lock eyes. Then suddenly, Spike and Buffy embrace in a passionate kiss. – Out of My Mind


                            The mixture of sexual excitement and the potential of annihilation sets Spike’s mind ablaze as he ‘dances’ with his favored executioner/lover.



                            SPIKE: You're the Slayer. Do something about it. Hit me. Come on. One good swing. You know you want to.
                            BUFFY: I mean it.
                            SPIKE: So do I. Give it me good, Buffy. Do it! – Fool for Love
                            If anyone was to dust Spike, it’s obvious that Spike would prefer it was Buffy. And perhaps Buffy would prefer it as well. In fact, it’s obvious that Morphy has been setting souled Spike up to believe this for some time. We never get to see all of the “Buffy” dialogues that Spike is obviously having in his Sunnydale High safe space, but it’s obviously driven Spike into enough of a state that he automatically believes Morphy when he tells Spike that Buffy’s going to dust him like every other useless vampire.



                            SPIKE/MORPHY: Now she's gonna kill you. You lose, mate. – Sleeper


                            Seeing how Morphy almost succeeded in trying to convince Willow to kill herself, it’s probable that he’s performed the same kind of head trips on Spike. Perhaps Buffy at this point represents some kind of ultimate justice for all of Spike’s crimes. Or maybe she’s seen by Spike as a merciful angel who will release Spike from his torment. We see just a little, but it’s enough to show that Spike has been getting a very distorted view of the world – and the Slayer.

                            SPIKE: Do it fast, OK? He said you'd do it.
                            BUFFY: Who said?
                            SPIKE: Me. It was me. I saw it. I was here the whole time, talking and singing. There was a song.
                            BUFFY: What are you talking about?
                            SPIKE: I don't know. Please, I don't remember. Don't make me remember.
                            Spike turns his head to yell at an empty space.
                            SPIKE: Make it so I forget again! I did what you wanted!
                            BUFFY: There's something here.
                            Buffy throws away her improvised stake as Spike gasps.
                            SPIKE: Oh, God, no, please! I need that! I can't cry the soul out of me! It won't come! I killed – and I can feel them. I can feel every one of them. – Sleeper


                            But now, lucid and without the voices, Spike is once again asking Buffy to pick up her stake once again.



                            SPIKE: Buffy, you have to kill me.


                            Unlike the weeping, confused Spike who begged her for help the night before, the script says that there’s no emotion in Spike’s voice here. Just cold, hard logic when Spike tells Buffy what she has to do. What Buffy was born to do – save others from monsters like him.

                            Is it really cold, hard logic though? Does Spike believe that he’s doing the same kind of self-sacrifice like Buffy on the tower – that there’s no other way to protect others from his monstrousness? But is this really even self-sacrifice for the greater good or is Spike acting out of a sense of panic that Buffy can’t control him? Of course, Buffy disagrees. If Buffy couldn’t kill soulless Spike when he was impotent because of the chip, she’s not going to kill souled Spike when he’s obviously being used like a puppet by someone else.



                            BUFFY: You don't understand. When I left the room earlier, I heard you talking to someone—


                            Spike brutally interrupts her excuses for his behavior. He’s not interested in his present culpability, but with what’s he’s done in the past. Which his soul won’t let him forget – but Buffy seems to have forgotten.



                            SPIKE: Do you have any idea what I'm capable of?


                            It’s an odd question to pose to a Slayer who has spent most of a decade fighting vampires, demons and bad guys. Especially one who suffered through excruciating moments of pain and betrayal in her bathroom last year. The thought seems to go through Buffy’s mind – she shudders and then she brushes it aside. What’s important is what Spike is implying. He’s unstoppable in his evil – even with his soul and even with Buffy around. It’s reminiscent of what Angel said once years ago about William the Bloody.
                            GILES: Well, he can't be any worse than any other creature you've faced.
                            ANGEL: He's worse. Once he starts something, he doesn't stop until everything in his path is dead. – School Hard


                            Buffy also slightly bristles, taking his challenge as an insult. It’s slightly embarrassing that Spike was able to temporarily overpower her both in the basement in “Sleeper” and upstairs when he bit down on Andrew. It’s kind of insulting at this late point to imply that Buffy can’t stop Spike in his feral state.



                            BUFFY: I was in the cellar with you. I saw what you did.


                            Spike looks frustrated that Buffy keeps coming back to his actions in “Sleeper” as if to excuse away a century of horror that haunts his soul. He’s both horrified and ashamed as he tries to force Buffy to see the monster before her. We see that Spike isn’t talking about his recent spree at all. He’s talking about the moral culpability shared between soulless Spike and souled Spike. He may look like he has a soul and talks like he has a soul – but underneath it all, he’s still an evil vampire.



                            SPIKE: I'm not talking about the cellar. The people in the cellar got off easy. I'm talking about me. Buffy, you’ve never met the real me.


                            The ‘real me’ – what does that mean when talking about a once human man turned soulless vampire with his soul then restored to him? Is Spike talking about William Pratt? William the Bloody? Souled Spike? There’s such a mishmash of identities here that have been upturned and spun around by Morphy in Spike’s convalescent state after the soul that even Spike himself is confused. But like most people with a guilty conscience, the past actions that stand out the most are the ones that torment his soul the most. And those would be the actions of a William the Bloody that Buffy never knew.

                            To make things even more confusing, in the original script, Spike mentions ‘hamstrung-Angel-Spike’ and ‘conditioned-chip-Spike’ as two variations on a theme of Spike-not-at-his-worst:

                            SPIKE: See, you don't know me. You only met hamstrung-Angel-Spike. You only met conditioned-chip-Spike. You never met the real me. – Original Shooting Script, Never Leave Me


                            But is that true? Even within the limits of Spike’s supposedly much eviler days, Buffy did meet the Angel-Free Spike of “School Hard” and the Chip-Free Spike of “The Harsh Light of Day.” Weren’t those times the “real me” that Spike is talking about? Was that Spike that much more restrained than William the Bloody who rampaged through the world with Drusilla from 1880 to 1996?


                            Well, yes, but that’s primarily because we never get to see Spike or Angel’s centuries of mayhem and murder in a network series intended for young adults. Maybe an HBO show would’ve given us a graphic depiction of how Angelus tore apart a wedding – so merrily recounted by a newly-sired William the Bloody:



                            WILLIAM: And then, when you leapt up right in the middle of the ceremony, grabbed the priest's head, and squeezed it until it popped like...
                            ANGELUS: Rotted melon.
                            Angelus pulls the woman sitting beside him closer. It's a bride, bleeding from fang marks on her neck, barely alive, but still frightened.
                            WILLIAM: Yes! Eyeballs dangling from the sockets, and you shouting, "Frankly, father, thine eyes offend me!" Bloody priceless! And beating the groom to death with his own arm! I mean, honestly, you're a bloody killing marvel! – Destiny
                            We never really saw many scenes like this in BtVS or AtS. They’re all kept safely off-screen. Outside of the deaths of two Slayers, we don’t see much of Spike’s doings during that hundred-year period. Like the scene in “Destiny,” it’s all implied through graphic details and necessary exposition as is Spike’s love of torture:



                            GILES: Our new friend Spike. He's known as 'William the Bloody'. Earned his nickname by torturing his victims with railroad spikes. Very pleasant. – School Hard


                            Spike mentions torture several times in the show – often in an ironic context to show the moral difference between a human and a soulless vampire. Even as it disgusts Buffy and her friends, Spike sees torture as a liberating experience that allows him to act as evil as possible. Which to other vampires might be construed as a romantic gesture.

                            SPIKE: I've been all wrongheaded about this. Weeping, crawling, blaming everybody else. I
                            want Dru back, I've just gotta be the man I was, the man she loved. I'm gonna do what I shoulda done in the first place: I'll find her, wherever she is, tie her up, torture her until she likes me again. – Lovers Walk


                            But when it comes down to it, we never do see Spike actually physically torture anyone. He doesn’t take part in the torture of Giles – except to end it. We see him hire a torturer to get the Ring of Amara out of Angel – but if Spike was so evil and so willing to torture, why not do it himself? Too impatient? Too fearful that Angelus would never break under his hand? Or just too bored? Spike does manages to chain up both Buffy and Drusilla and threaten all kinds of terrible things, but never follows through on a single one of them.


                            SPIKE: You know, what I should just do is get rid of both of you. Burn you. Cut you into little pieces so there won't be any more bints to **** up things for Spike. – Crush




                            We hear about Spike torturing his victims, but we never really see much of it. After Spike is souled, of course, any form of torture is strictly business-like for information, no longer for the sheer pleasure of it.

                            SPIKE: I'm not going anywhere. Not until those bastards undo whatever they did to me. Put me back the way I was.
                            XANDER: Sure, just explain to the nice scientist guys that you really miss killing and torturing innocent people.
                            SPIKE: Do you think that would work? – The “I” in Team


                            Spike’s violent propensities, on the other hand, are ever-present and visible on screen. From his brutalization of his minions to his staking of Harmony to his constant punch-and-kick battles with slayers, Spike thrills to the ego-gratification and thrill of bloody fist and fangs. Buffy never saw it, but one of the genuinely most terrifying moments we see on screen from Spike is when he kidnaps Willow in “Lovers Walk” and threatens to lobotomize her with a broken bottle.



                            He smashes the bottle on a bedpost, holds the jagged end inches from Willow's face.
                            SPIKE: You lie to me, and I'll shove this through your face! You want that?
                            WILLOW: No!
                            SPIKE: Right through to your brain!
                            She is practically crying with terror, weakly mewling
                            WILLOW: No, please, no...
                            He stops, drops the bottle, his own eyes welling up. The anger deflating as abruptly as it came.
                            – Lovers Walk
                            What makes the scene so alarming is that the horror is not dependent upon magic or even vampire skills, but just predicated on the sheer brutality of the behavior, like Spike shoving railroad spikes into the skulls of his victims. Despite being both vampire and witch, the aggressive threat is depressingly commonplace for a bully and his victim. As is Spike’s threat against Buffy’s friends in his first appearance at Sunnydale High.

                            SPIKE: Slayer! Here, kitty, kitty! I find one of your friends first, I'm gonna suck 'em dry and use their bones to bash your head in. Are you getting a word picture here? – School Hard



                            So, yes, Buffy didn’t see the century-long trail of death and destruction that Spike left behind – but she’s seen enough and experienced enough to feel confident that she’s met the real Spike. Especially after what happened during their violent relationship in Season Six and how it ended.



                            BUFFY: Believe me, I'm well aware of what you're capable of.


                            And Spike surprises Buffy by disagreeing with her.



                            SPIKE: No, you got off easy too.


                            Spike pulls hard on his chains, using them as ballast to stand up and face Buffy. The begging, pleading Spike is gone, replaced by an angry vampire who seems hellbent on angering the Slayer in front of him. Buffy flinches at Spike’s noisy yanking of chains, both his real ones and her metaphorical ones. Spike tried to rape Buffy and she got off easy?



                            But there are even worse things that an evil vampire can do and apparently Spike intends to tell her every single one of them in an attempt to make Buffy disgusted enough to ‘poof’ Spike right then and there.

                            SPIKE: Do you know how much blood you can drink from a girl before she'll die?




                            How much blood can you drink from a girl before she’ll die? Well, that seems to depend on how old she is – the younger the person, the less blood can be drawn before they pass out from shock or go into a coma which defeats the entire purpose of Spike’s argument. A young man like Andrew could sustain much more blood loss because the volume is greater. But more than 15 percent and major damage begins within the human body.

                            15 percent – severe side effects begin, including palpations, low blood pressure, heavy breathing.
                            15 – 30 percent – the body turns pale and becomes cold
                            30 – 40 percent – heart rate and respiration increase and loss of oxygen means a danger of passing out
                            40 – 50 percent – body moves into a coma and death.

                            The answer is that a vampire would have to keep a person between 15 – 30 percent blood loss to avoid the loss of consciousness. Since there are about 10 pints in the female body, then Spike would have to limit his dining pleasure to three pints – approximately one can of motor oil or slightly more than half of a 2 liter bottle of soda – or risk losing his victim long before he could start playing with her.


                            SPIKE: I do. You see, the trick is to drink just enough…to know how to damage them just enough so that they'll still cry when you…’cause it's not worth it if they don't cry.




                            Like Spike’s inability to voice the word ‘rape’ in “Beneath You,” he glides over the word here as well, choking on it.

                            SPIKE: Buffy, shame on you. Why does a man do what he mustn't? For her. To be hers. To be the kind of man who would nev—
                            Spike can’t finish the phrase.
                            SPIKE: To be a kind of man. – Beneath You


                            What’s odd is that Spike doesn’t bring up the endless murder or torture of thousands as the worst things he’s ever done. No, he brings up the exact kind of crime that is designed to press Buffy’s buttons. The sexual rape and torture of women – no, not even women. Girls.

                            In the original shooting script, Spike goes even farther:

                            SPIKE: You can make yourself a plaything. I used to set up shop in their houses. I used to be so good at it – Original Shooting Script


                            Is Spike telling the truth or is he just trying to bait Buffy?

                            One assumes that rape is definitely an arrow in the quiver of any average soulless vampire – not so much for the sexual pleasure, but for the thrill of terrorizing their victim. From the start, Spike’s behavior was aggressive and sexually suggestive. He stalks Buffy as she dances in the Bronze. He trades on his good looks to pick up young women to bring back to Drusilla. He makes jokes about liking them young.



                            SPIKE: I'm a veal kind of guy. You're too old to eat.
                            Spike grabs his head and snaps his neck.
                            SPIKE: But not to kill. I feel better. – School Hard
                            Spike certainly likes to unbalance his opponent by sexualizing them – or emasculating them – depending upon the gender involved. His first real battle with Buffy uses sex to keep her off balance, constantly throwing quips and innuendo at her.



                            SPIKE: Fe, fi, fo fum. I smell the blood of a nice ripe –
                            Holding a pipe, Spike turns to face Buffy.
                            SPIKE: Girl.
                            Buffy lifts her ax.
                            BUFFY: Do we really need weapons for this?
                            SPIKE: I just like them. They make me feel all manly. – School Hard


                            We see in Spike’s battles with slayers that he sexualizes just about everything to enrage his opponent. But there’s also an erotic component to Spike’s obsession with slayers that probably harkens back to the original romantic yearnings of William Pratt the Bloody Awful Poet. Romantic yearnings that were twisted by the demonic William the Bloody.



                            SPIKE: Got the moves, don't you? I'm gonna ride you hard before I put you away, luv.
                            NIKKI: You sure about that? You actually look a little wet and limp to me. – Lies My Parents Told Me


                            Like Buffy, Nikki Wood can give back as good as she gets, but in both “Lovers Walk” and “The Initiative,” Spike’s attacks on Willow are tinged with rape metaphors that are even more frightening because Willow is utterly defenseless unlike her slayer friend.

                            SPIKE: Mmm. That smell...your neck...
                            He lifts his face – and it's gone vampy.
                            SPIKE: I haven't had a woman in weeks.
                            WILLOW: Whoa! No! Hold it!
                            SPIKE: Well, unless you count that shopkeeper. – Lovers Walk


                            Spike’s scenes with Willow were written and acted as comedic moments – a very 90s attitude which makes them very uncomfortable viewing today considering future events in “Seeing Red.” Although Spike in both episodes is talking about biting a woman, it’s not too hard to figure out what the implied subtext is saying as he jumps on top of Willow and pins her to her bed.

                            SPIKE: I'll give you a choice. Now I'm gonna kill you. No choice in that. But...
                            Spike keeps coming, slowly, all the time in the world.
                            SPIKE: I can let you stay dead or...bring you back, to be like me.
                            WILLOW: I'll scream.
                            SPIKE: Bonus. – The Initiative


                            But outside of the AR, we never see Spike rape anyone else – even under Morphy’s influence. Physically abuse women? Yes. Literally rape them? Not as far as we can tell. Even his murders of the Slayers are almost ritual slayings. Spike doesn’t molest them afterwards, instead preferring sex with a very willing Drusilla. But most of the sex Spike has seems to be with willing women – at least willing from the point of view of a soulless vampire. Spike may use chains on Harmony and torture Drusilla, but they’ll like it. And perhaps this is because they’re vampires too.

                            And Buffy is a slayer – which also puts her in a separate category. For all the crazy sex that Buffy and Spike have, we don’t see Spike raping or sexually abusing her without her consent until “Seeing Red.” The balcony scene is emotionally coercive, but Buffy could have physically stopped him at any time. We don’t even see Spike engaging in much physical abuse of Buffy during their sexual trysts – it’s as if his love for her has tempered his vampire yearnings in favor of a more human sexual relationship. Despite Buffy’s disgust at letting Spike do things to her, they don’t seem to be that much more physically dangerous than any average couple.

                            This isn’t to say that Spike hasn’t done the terrible things he says he’s done. The rape of girls Dawn’s age most likely happened. His dialogue throughout his soulless life implies it. But Buffy is adamant that she’s not dusting Spike. Buffy’s not punishing anyone for something that they weren’t responsible for. Spike seems to believe that he should pay for his horrible crimes against humanity and Buffy should take advantage of the situation to enact justice. But in Buffy’s mind, that was then and this is now.



                            BUFFY: It's not your fault. You're not the one doing this.


                            Besides, is it actually the “real” Spike who raped and tortured young girls who faces Buffy right now? Souled Spike who can barely say the word ‘rape’ without flinching and breaking down in tears? Spike doesn’t seem to see any difference between his soulless and souled states except that he’s now disgusted with himself.



                            SPIKE: I already did it. It's already done.


                            Spike’s logic is a bit faulty here. Spike is telling Buffy that he’s capable of doing terrible things, monstrous things that are almost past her imaginings and so she has to put him down. And yet, if the creature controlling him is making him into a mindless animal doing mindless things that Spike can’t even remember, then wouldn’t anything Spike did under his own volition as a soulless vampire be redundant? It’s not exactly preying upon his worst instincts, but his subconscious instincts which seem to be little more than feed, kill and sire.

                            Morphy could just as easily have triggered Willow to cast magic spells, almost killing people in her frenzy. Or triggered Xander to kill the Scoobys with an axe. Or triggered Dawn to shoot her family and friends in the head. Or even triggered Buffy herself to kill her friends as the Trio did with the venom of their pet demon. That’s no reason to kill someone.

                            Spike is frustrated that Buffy is so righteous and so stubborn in the face of what Spike considers to be a dangerous situation. So Spike brings forth his biggest, most powerful salvo last. Spike lunges forward again, smirking like the soulless Spike of old.



                            SPIKE: You wanna know what I've done to girls Dawn's age?




                            Buffy physically flinches when she hears Dawn’s name. Dawn – who spent so many days in Spike’s crypt. Dawn – whose life she entrusted to Spike till the end of the world. Dawn – who she brought to Spike’s crypt after he tried to rape her. Spike sees that he’s finally drawn blood and goes in for the self-kill.



                            SPIKE: This is me Buffy. You've got to kill me before I get out.




                            The prosecution rests. Or maybe the non-defense. Spike seems pretty satisfied with himself that he’s made a good show of it and convinced Buffy what a disgusting monster he is. Staking, here we come.

                            End of Part 6

                            Sorry for the delays, exploding computers, eye problems, picture hosting issues. Next part will be up very shortly.

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                            • in case you need a divider....

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                              • I'm really looking forward to seeing your illustrations and comments for the case for the defence or non procesucution. It's one of my favourite parts of this season and the entire Buffyverse.

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                                • debbicles
                                  debbicles commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  This scene is one of my favourites, too. Surprise surprise!
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