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  • The Guardians

    Discuss.

    flow
    ................................ Banner by buffylover

  • #2
    An interesting addition, but their purpose in the story was edited out. She was originally meant to explain the corruption of the slayer powers and prompt Buffy to think a different way than thinking of it as a weapon.

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    • #3
      Lazy, and bad world building.
      How long has the guardian been in Sunnydale for? Has she been in Sunnydale since Buffy first moved there way back in 1997? In the seven years that Buffy lived in Sunnydale how many times has she walked by the guardians tomb?
      Just so many questions.
      Last edited by Lostsoul666; 27-02-20, 06:48 PM.
      My deviantart: http://vampfox.deviantart.com/

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      • #4
        HardlyThere :
        She was originally meant to explain the corruption of the slayer powers and prompt Buffy to think a different way than thinking of it as a weapon.
        Why would the slayer's powers be corrupted? And what other way would there be to think of the slayer's powers than as a weapon?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by flow View Post
          HardlyThere :

          Why would the slayer's powers be corrupted?
          Because of the way it happened, I suppose.

          SHE
          Then your original powers, mighty
          as they are, were corrupt from the
          source.

          And what other way would there be to think of the slayer's powers than as a weapon?

          flow
          The way the eventually end up using it.

          BUFFY
          Does this mean I can win?
          SHE
          That's really up to you. You are a
          solitary leader, used to wielding
          a weapon as a weapon.
          BUFFY
          Yes.
          SHE
          Think that way, and you will fail.
          BUFFY
          Oh.
          SHE
          Find another way and save the
          world. One way or the other, it can only
          mean the end is truly near.


          In the original drafts, the scythe has a lot more power and Buffy only finds the tomb because it acts as a divining rod.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Lostsoul666 View Post
            Lazy, and bad world building.
            How long has the guardian been in Sunnydale for? Has she been in Sunnydale since Buffy first moved there way back in 1997? In the seven years that Buffy lived in Sunnydale how many times has she walked by the guardians tomb?
            Just so many questions.
            Yep. I'll copy and paste what I've said elsewhere;

            ​​​​​​As I've said previously, my issue is with the nonsensical world-building surrounding The Guardians and, frankly, the offensiveness of them as well. The Shadowmen (who metaphorically raped Senya) are black but the Guardian women are white? I can defend the Shadowmen on the account of the fact it would be historically accurate but The Guardians are meant to be as old as them and yet they're conveniently white women (black = bad whereas white = good). Then there's also the absurdity of them supposedly having waited in Sunnydale all this time which is awfully convenient and of course the unlikelihood that Buffy, "Miss She who hangs out a lot in cemeteries", and who in other episodes can literally memorise what crypts look like due to her familiarity with them all (Doomed), has never noticed this bizarre and ancient looking tomb in Sunnydale all this time? That's very unlikely.

            The fact they pull this random ass pull in the penultimate episode is certainly one of my problems but even if you want to pave over that crack with the notion that The Guardians as women were "written out of history" (which is not actually what they say anyway - The Guardian claims they deliberately hid and omitted themselves from history) the rest of the world-building still doesn't hold up to any serious scrutiny whatsoever.

            Throwing them in so randomly with this giant exposition dump in the penultimate episode and then forgetting about them just as quickly again, was incredibly amateur. The pacing is all off. They had all season to hint at their role in the story and to develop the idea properly.
            "The earth is doomed!" - Banner by Nina

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            • #7
              HardlyThere Thanks for that!

              In the original drafts, the scythe has a lot more power and Buffy only finds the tomb because it acts as a divining rod.
              Interesting. So, would it be fair to say the material weapon (the scythe) isn't the real weapon - or it isn't the only weapon. That the scythe leads to an alternative "weapon", which is knowledge (or wisdom)? And that knowledge is knowledge of its own origins? I'm only asking this because The Shadow Men say "We cannot give you knowledge. Only power".

              That's really up to you. You are a solitary leader, used to wielding a weapon as a weapon...Think that way, and you will fail.
              So...the real (the other) weapon is the collective?

              I'm interested in this line (from the transcript) . GUARDIAN: "And then there were men here, and then there were monks. And then there was a town, and now there was you." It's the wrong tense. I've checked the episode and that's what the subtitle says and I'm sure it's what The Guardian says - it doesn't seem to be an error. Is it in the original script?
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              • #8
                Originally posted by TriBel View Post
                HardlyThere Thanks for that!
                Interesting. So, would it be fair to say the material weapon (the scythe) isn't the real weapon - or it isn't the only weapon. That the scythe leads to an alternative "weapon", which is knowledge (or wisdom)? And that knowledge is knowledge of its own origins? I'm only asking this because The Shadow Men say "We cannot give you knowledge. Only power".
                I would liken it more to an awakening, but yeah. There's a bit in there that's similar to Odin's speech to Thor about the hammer in Ragnarok. Which goes back to Lessons, of course. The weapon (stake or scythe) is not the power.

                So...the real (the other) weapon is the collective?
                I would say that is the theme of the episode. She basically says if Buffy tries to use the scythe as a simple melee weapon, she will lose. It's not a majorly important bit but it does bridge the gap from that scene to Buffy figuring out she can use the scythe to awaken the potentials.

                I'm interested in this line (from the transcript) . GUARDIAN: "And then there were men here, and then there were monks. And then there was a town, and now there was you." It's the wrong tense. I've checked the episode and that's what the subtitle says and I'm sure it's what The Guardian says - it doesn't seem to be an error. Is it in the original script?
                No, it's present tense in the shooting draft and first draft. Might be something Joss decided to spruce up in his last polish. Or the actress flubbed it, which I doubt because it doesn't really roll of the tongue. It reminds of the shirty line. "What is even shirty". Weird even for Buffyspeak. But it's not on the writer's drafts, either. In fact that scene is totally different. It takes place at a table with Buffy eating a PB sandwich and it's more intimate than what aired.

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                • TriBel
                  TriBel commented
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                  You're a star! Thanks very much!

              • #9
                No, it's present tense in the shooting draft and first draft. Might be something Joss decided to spruce up in his last polish. Or the actress flubbed it, which I doubt because it doesn't really roll of the tongue. It reminds of the shirty line. "What is even shirty". Weird even for Buffyspeak. But it's not on the writer's drafts, either. In fact that scene is totally different. It takes place at a table with Buffy eating a PB sandwich and it's more intimate than what aired.
                Buffy doesn't say 'what is even shirty', or at least not to my ears. She says 'I'm not shirty. And what is shirty, that's not even a word'. I don't have subtitles so maybe I'm wrong.

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                • #10
                  Originally posted by Priceless View Post

                  Buffy doesn't say 'what is even shirty', or at least not to my ears. She says 'I'm not shirty. And what is shirty, that's not even a word'. I don't have subtitles so maybe I'm wrong.
                  She doesn't. But that's how it's written.

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                  • #11
                    According to the transcript I have she says, "I'm not shirty. And what is shirty? That's not even a word." which is how I remember it. But perhaps that was the transcriber hearing it how they expected to be? I'll listen closely now when I next watch that scene.

                    I actually quite like the switch they went with to, 'now there was you' in what the Guardian says.
                    It feels in line with emphasising the impact of what was on what is. So much of season seven is about learning from your past but also passing on your experiences and on ways space is shared. I think this works both with literal physical space but also narrative that works forwards/backwards in time. That the guardians were always there but unseen, another thing that lays beneath, unknown, but actually always within the same path, the same narrative. I've just looked back at the wider context and she's talking with hindsight to the path of the scythe, from it being forged elsewhere, centuries ago, then used there. She then gives an impression of the passage of time after, periods of history/rule/growth and then Buffy arrived 'and the scythe remained hidden'. So Buffy is part of the 'now', the current period of time, but her arrival and 'rule' there started before she found the guardian and the scythe, started when she arrived in Sunnydale. So she is both part of the history and the present. The story which is still unfolding.

                    I often think I'm naive in not noticing racial issues and I have come to see through the comments others have made how poorly the show represented ethnic minorities in varying ways through the seasons. I hadn't ever really thought about the Shadowmen as being a negative use of black men, or how it looks especially when coupled with the white Guardians. I think perhaps that is because, as the Guardian says, the Shadowmen became the watchers. And with the exceptionally stuffy British white image that comes with that organisation, the origin of those who were portrayed with Sineya when we get the details of how the slayer line began, perhaps just stood out to me even less. If the guardian that Buffy had met had been black herself, perhaps that would have been better, but her being white doesn't strike me as particularly problematic possibly because of the Shadowmen's ties to becoming the watchers council.

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                    • #12
                      Stasia Pop Culture Role Call) had an interesting take on the Guardians, and the scythe. They were the final weapon, to be used when all else failed. I never thought in those terms. As I see this in a more coherent whole, I can relate earlier episodes to the theme of power and the struggle for female power. Unfortunately it has to be watched backwards to appreciate it. This was an ambitious season that wasted too much time on Caleb and the potentials. There were better stories to be told, and the Guardian story is one of them.

                      I do wish the Guardian had been an African woman because thematically it would have added some nice nuance. I'd like to see that the Guardians were there from the beginning, just as the Shadow Men were. It would illustrate the fact that the original women had kept their power despite the colonial patriarchy of the Watchers - that they had not been absorbed by Europeans. It would also undercut the white savior trope - with a black woman showing up and saving the white natives. And it would clarify what the season is saying in regard to power - the scythe is the tool to empower all women that we have taken back from those who thought they could control us.
                      Can we agree that the writers made everyone do and say everything with a thought to getting good ratings and being renewed. This includes everything we love as well as everything we hate.

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                      • #13
                        Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post

                        She doesn't. But that's how it's written.
                        There's a lot to be said in studying the scripts, what writers say in documentaries and in later years etc. etc. etc. but for me it's all about what's said and done on the show that was aired to the public. I think if the writers/producers wanted something else they would have filmed and shown something else. It's personal choice what you take as canon and what's not, I understand that.

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                        • #14
                          When I think about our glimpse of the last Guardian, I think also of Willow when she channels the power within the scythe. Her hair turns white, briefly, as she turns into the temporary guardian of that power by acting as its conduit. I do tend to think of this in very simplistic terms: Wicca/witch = wise woman = keeper of secrets/traditions = guardian.

                          The Guardian is Crone. Buffy is no longer the Maiden but she is Mother, symbolic mother to the new Slayers. The Guardian is both timeless and ancient, but also frail mortal.

                          To me this represents the dichotomy that is eternally present in the struggle for the balance of power, good versus evil. Buffy has gradually come to learn both on an intellectual level and within her heart that the world is a messy and complicated place. Sometimes the truth is clear, other times it’s murky.

                          Both patriarchy and matriarchy are colour-blind, or should that be colour-neutral? Even though the Shadowmen are depicted as originating in Africa (what we have long been taught to understand as being the cradle of mankind), their teachings spread and take root across the face of the globe, transcending race and creed. Buffy’s erstwhile Watchers were both white, upper middle-class well-educated men. This indicates what we would now term the appropriation of an important role previously carried out by men of colour (I do so hope I’m using the proper current term, as I certainly do not mean any offence) and now deemed too important for anyone to take on but an aristocracy – and a white aristocracy at that - within the warrior caste. The officer class, if you like.

                          Whilst in principle I’d agree with bespangled that to depict the Guardian as a woman of colour (see above) would lend a certain nuance, I suspect that’s more fitting with current world views - Zeitgeist (thank you TriBel!).

                          So Buffy discovers the secret of her Slayer power and the relationship between Watcher/Slayer/vampire. She is given the gift of knowledge to allow her to reinterpret the official history, contained in the Watchers’ Diaries (a metaphor/symbol of all official history/propaganda everywhere?), so that she can understand how changing this dynamic can (even if only temporarily) put the genie back in the bottle?

                          As Spike says in SR: “Slayer, vampire. Vampire kills Slayer, sucks her dry, picks his teeth with her bones. It’s always been that way.” Everyone’s caught up in the cycle.


                          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

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                          • #15
                            debbicles

                            Initially, I thought they’d missed an opportunity not having a black Guardian but I can think of several reasons why they wouldn’t. The subtext of this exchange (indeed of the whole season) is power, knowledge and history. In the west, power is white and the history that consolidates knowledge and truth is white (and “masculine”/patriarchal).

                            I agree about the shifting loci of "civilization" and power. It's kind of alluded to by Istanbul in the very first scene in Lessons. First, it’s Byzantium, then Constantinople, then Istanbul. Byzantium, built by Byzas opposite the City of the Blind (ocularcentrism), a centre for the Greeks and then the Roman Empire. Even its flag, the crescent moon and the star has resonance for Beneath You. It also figures a shift from myth (the lunar Goddess Diana) to religion (Stella Maris, Mary Star of the Sea). This worship of the feminine fits both Wicca and S6, both Willow and Buffy.

                            In Istanbul, what was once civilized has become overtly barbaric. I think the writers are familiar with Walter Benjamin. Benjamin writes: “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” IMO, this describes the Istanbul/Africa scene perfectly. The slayer, designed to be a force for civilization, is the result of an act of barbarism. To be fair, I think the scene set in Westbury demonstrates the same sentiment (albeit a different sort of barbarism).

                            The Guardian is Crone. Buffy is no longer the Maiden but she is Mother, symbolic mother to the new Slayers. The Guardian is both timeless and ancient, but also frail mortal.


                            The other (blindingly obvious but I've only just thought of it) reason for her being white is Joyce, the real mother. Joyce crops up several times in S7 trying to offer advice and I'm never sure whether she's the First or whether Buffy's dreaming. The First qua Buffy gloats when Buffy is hurt in the Chosen battle and mentions her mother. As a result, Buffy rallies (she falls and her mum picks her up...I kinda like that).

                            Having the Guardian/s as somehow akin to Joyce establishes a maternal and matriarchal connection (just as Giles has both a paternal and patriarchal relationship with Buffy. And damn...it's also just occurred to me that Giles is his surname...and I presume his dad's surname and his dad's dad's surname ad infinitum. So every time Giles name is spoken a patrilineal descent or history is evoked. We never know Joyce's surname (her Maiden name) before she became the mother. Just as the Guardians hide from the Watchers, so mothers are hidden by the name of the father (this phrase has massive implications for a psychoanalytic perspective). It also evokes the other meaning of Guardian - as a stand-in parent. Thinking about it as a genealogy makes sense because if you trace the distaff back the number of unidentified mothers multiplies (all those lost stories) Is it coincidence that Dawn mentions her Granny in conjunction with both a closet and the Slayer bag in Get it Done? There’s a lot of womb symbolism here.

                            That aside, here's the text:
                            Spoiler:
                            INT. PYRAMIDAL TOMB - NIGHT Buffy walks down into the tomb. It's lit inside, although dimly, by torches, giving it an orange hue. Buffy looks around cautiously. A woman's voice comes from behind a drape.
                            Spoiler:

                            WOMAN (O.S.) "I'd forgotten. I'd forgotten how young you would be".
                            The woman opens the drape, and Buffy sees a very old woman with long white hair standing before her.
                            WOMAN Comes from the waiting. Mind plays tricks. I see you've found our weapon.
                            BUFFY Who are you?
                            WOMAN One of many. Well...time was. Now I'm alone in the world.
                            BUFFY So what are you? Some kind of ghost?
                            WOMAN (chuckles softly, shakes her head) Nope. I'm as real as you are. Just...well... let me put it this way— I look good for my age. I've been waiting. (holds out her hands; Buffy hands over the scythe) You pulled it out of the rock. I was one of those who put it in there.
                            BUFFY What is it?
                            WOMAN (admires the scythe) A weapon. A scythe. Forged in secrecy for one like you who— I'm sorry. What's your name?
                            BUFFY Buffy.
                            WOMAN No, really. (Buffy shrugs) We forged it in secrecy and kept it hidden from the Shadow Men, who—
                            BUFFY Yeah. Met those guys. Didn't really care too much for 'em.
                            WOMAN Ahh, yes. Then you know. And they became the watchers. And the watchers watched the slayers. But we were watching them.
                            BUFFY Oh! So you're like... what are you?
                            WOMAN Guardians. Women who want to help and protect you. We forged this centuries ago, halfway around the world.
                            BUFFY Hence, the Luxor Casino theme.
                            WOMAN Forged there, it was put to use right here...to kill the last pure demon that walked upon the Earth. The rest were already driven under. And then there were men here, and then there were monks. And then there was a town, and now there was you. And the scythe remained hidden.
                            BUFFY I don't understand. How is it possible that we didn't know any of this?
                            WOMAN We hid, too. We had to until now. We're the last surprise.
                            BUFFY Does this mean I can win?
                            WOMAN That is really up to you. This is a powerful weapon. (hands the scythe back to Buffy)
                            BUFFY Yeah.
                            WOMAN But you already have weapons.
                            BUFFY Oh.
                            WOMAN Use it wisely and perhaps you can beat back the rising dark. One way or another, it can only mean an end is truly near. The woman's head cocks slightly to the side, and a cracking noise can be heard. The woman falls to the ground. Buffy looks up and sees Caleb standing there.
                            CALEB I'm sorry. I didn't catch that last part on account of her neck snapping and all. Did she say the end is near... or here? Fade to black.


                            I like Buffy’s “Luxor Casino theme” remark. It’s very post-modern and figures her understanding of history as firmly in the present. I've read and re-read the dialogue and I can't see anything to confirm the Guardian was ever in Africa. In her discourse, there’s significant (and telling) slippage between “we” and “I”. There’s a parallel between The Guardians and The Watchers. Does Giles (would Giles) use “we” to talk about himself and the WC? She uses "We" to talk about the making of the scythe. The collective personal pronoun doesn't have to include her personally - it can be used to indicate a commonality – the collective. Buffy could use “we” to talk about past and present slayers. It wouldn't make her their contemporary. Here’s what’s said:

                            WOMAN (chuckles softly, shakes her head) Nope. I'm as real as you are. Just...well... let me put it this way— I look good for my age. I've been waiting (holds out her hands; Buffy hands over the scythe). You pulled it out of the rock. I was one of those who put it in there.

                            Then there's mention of North Africa (Egypt) by Buffy. The Guardian replies:

                            "Forged there, it was put to use right here...to kill the last pure demon that walked upon the Earth. The rest were already driven under. And then there were men here, and then there were monks. And then there was a town, and now there was you. And the scythe remained hidden."
                            The Guardian doesn’t say she was present when the scythe was created, only that she was there when it was “enstoned”. The rock is in Sunnydale. All we can know for sure is that she and an unspecified number of Guardians were in Sunnydale before the men arrived. I thought this was a reference to prehistory but perhaps not. Perhaps it's a reference to colonization? Another time of both civilization and barbarism (isn’t this the argument in Pangs?).

                            (Perhaps...and here's a radical idea (pure fanon - write it up!) - she's a Pilgrim Mother (as opposed to a Pilgrim Father). It's a nice idea that women are on the opposite shore from the men (plays into a similar conceit as Same Time, Same Place) and the history of Istanbul (and 1630 Revello). Better still, First Date - the coffee shop - there's a number of maps of America and a clock on the wall (Same Time, Different Place)? This quite overt reference to time and space has always puzzled me - particularly because the title refers us to time).

                            “Slayer, vampire. Vampire kills Slayer, sucks her dry, picks his teeth with her bones. It’s always been that way.” Everyone’s caught up in the cycle.
                            ​​​​​​​Can I just play with this cycle metaphor? Yes - it's cyclical but it's a series of cycles: Vampire kills Slayer...new slayer...Vampire kills Slayer...new Slayer...etc. It's a series of small cycles on a timeline. A timeline usually indicates progression but this is just repetition - it's a continuum of homogeneous empty time. "Homogeneous empty time is the kind of time measured by clocks and calendars. In homogeneous empty time, every moment of time is equivalent and empty. It is homogeneous because one “day” or “minute” or “hour” is treated as equivalent to any other." Empty, I think because we know what's going to fill it (in this case Vampire who kills a slayer...another slayer). Giles knows what's going to fill it because it's written in the Watcher's Diaries. Those diaries are not only records of the past, they're projections for the future. Until Buffy...Buffy breaks the continuum. But isn't this what the First Evil wants...to break the slayer continuum? To break the continuum and send the world back to a past state (a pre-slayer state). Okay…I can see now why there’s a good Buffy and a bad Buffy. There’s some really good stuff here when you unpack it.
                            Last edited by TriBel; 08-03-20, 11:24 AM.
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