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  • #46
    Apologies for taking so long to come to this discussion…

    And many thanks for the very thoughtful, insightful comments—

    Forgive me if, in doing so, I return to the original question and ignore the various, interesting ways in which this thread has gone….

    In that return, I want to approach the question somewhat aslant all that has come before—


    That is, I would not in the least argue that there are not faults in the writing; nor would I argue that Willow does not, as vampmogs finely shows, deeply love and care for Buffy, as Buffy does for Willow, throughout S7, that Willow is not willing to do all she can to help Buffy, does not worry about her; nor would I even argue that some part of me has not desired, watching Touched, for some sign of something—some affective response, any affective response by Willow and Xander to what they had done to their dearest friend. Yet at the same time, I would not feel that that desire has ever been fulfilled by the events of The End of Days, as Priceless suggests, for all that happens there comes too late, and to say that Willow and Xander (and Giles and Dawn) are following Buffy’s lead fails to fill the felt absences that echo, untouching, through the preceding episode; nor would I think that Willow and Xander’s actions are determined by Buffy’s actions at the hospital, for neither are that petty; nor, finally, would I agree that the problem lies, as Stoney suggests, with the drifting that can come with growing older: they remain close in the far-too-few scenes between them we are given, close despite one distancing factor, which I will detail below….

    I would also add that in some ways, what I offer below coincides with TriBel’s argument about the “paucity and excess of language” throughout S7, although, again, I read this working here in a more specifically shaped manner—

    At stake, I think, is a problem more complex than any of the issues mentioned above, one that runs through the entire season, a discomfort, one that grows into distrust, one that involves what Willow, Xander, Dawn—and, for different reasons, eventually Robin and Giles—see as Buffy’s excessive self-isolation, as her excessive self-reliance, as the silence they engender….

    This surfaces as early as Beneath Me, when Dawn, learning that Buffy saw Spike in the basement on the first day of school, turns accusingly upon her sister:

    Buffy: I saved your life. We can discuss this later.

    Dawn: Sure…

    Xander: Whenever you want…

    Dawn: Right. Because that seems to be the only time you let us in, Buffy, whenever you want—


    It comes again in Selfless, when Xander, upon Buffy’s pronouncement that she must kill Anya, even more accusingly turns upon her (I’ll cut some of the exchange as extraneous to my main point):

    Xander: You think we haven’t all seen this before? The part where you just cut us all out? Where you step away from everything human and act like you’re the law? If you knew what I—

    Buffy: I killed Angel! (More quietly) Do you even remember that? I would have given up everything that I had to be with him. I loved him more than I will ever love anything in this life—and I put a sword through his heart because I had to….
    […..]

    Xander: This is different.

    Buffy: It is always different! It’s always complicated. And at some point, someone has to draw the line. And that someone is always going to have to be me. You get down on me for cutting myself off, but in the end, the Slayer is always cut off: there’s no mystical guidebook, no all-knowing Council. Human rules don’t apply. There’s only me: I am the Law.

    Xander (after a short silence, a staring around): There has to be another way—

    Buffy: Then please find it.

    (Xander looks hard at Buffy, grabs his coat, and walks out. Buffy looks after him, lowers her head, walks to the weapons chest, opens it and grabs a sword, walks toward the door, and turns back to Willow, whose face bears a pained look):

    Willow: I can’t. I’m sorry.

    (Buffy turns, grabs her jacket, and leaves. Willow immediately goes upstairs, rummages through her desk drawer, looking for the D’Hoffryn’s talisman.)


    What I find significant here: Buffy has asked for another way, an alternative to killing Anya. Willow, who, unlike the others, is privy to Anya’s feelings about vengeance, her no longer being at home in it, has thought of another way. Yet rather than share it with Buffy, rather than stop her from going to kill Anya, she lets Buffy think that she “can’t” support her, lets Buffy go alone—and then runs upstairs to explore the alternative alone.

    Why?

    Why does she think that Buffy, when informed of all Willow knows about Anya, would not give her a chance, reserve killing as a last alternative? After all, D’Hoffryn might arrive too late, almost does. I can only think that on some deep, perhaps not fully conscious level, Willow does not fully trust that Buffy will listen to her, consider her alternative, much as she has asked for it—that her declaration “I am the Law” does indeed mean, as Xander accuses, that she has “step[ped] away from everything human” and will not hear Willow’s compassionately human otherwise. This is something that I could not imagine Willow doing in previous seasons.

    Nor, like so much between the Core Four in S7, is anything that happens in this episode ever resolved….



    Then, in CWDP, we receive Buffy’s conflicted confirmation of at least some of her friends’ fears:


    Buffy: I have all this power… I didn’t ask for it. I don’t deserve it. It’s like—I wanted to be punished… I wanted to hurt—like I thought I deserved…. I sorta think—you know, this is, uhm, complicated… If you’d rather just fight…

    Holden: Tell me—

    Buffy: I have all this power… I didn’t ask for it. I don’t deserve it. It’s like—I wanted to be punished… I wanted to hurt—like I thought I deserved…. I sorta think—you know, this is, uhm, complicated… If you’d rather just fight…

    Holden: Tell me—

    Buffy: I feel like I’m worse than anyone. Honestly—I’m beneath them. My friends, my boyfriend… I feel that I’m not worthy of their love… Because even though they love me, it doesn’t mean anything—because their opinions… don’t matter. They don’t know. They haven’t been through what I’ve been through. They’re not the Slayer. I am. Sometimes I feel—this is awful—I feel like I'm better than them. Superior.

    Holden: And so you can’t win. And I thought I was diabolical—or at least I plan to be… You do have a superiority complex—and you’ve got an inferiority complex about it. Kudos.


    Buffy speaks more about herself here than she will the entire season—until her conversation with Spike in Touched, after the expulsion (and considerable prodding from Spike)—

    One of Webbs’ last lines also resonates here, tellingly:

    “There are some things you can only tell a stranger.”

    He is speaking as a psych student here, referring to therapy—and he does play Buffy’s undead therapist for a night (at this point, could she have any other kind?)—but his words imply less that Buffy needs therapy (to whom could she go? the notion of a Council Shrink terrifies me… ) than that she can no longer speak to those closest to her, not as she once could: dimensions of Chosenness—dimensions that go beyond her death and resurrection—have stranded her far beyond the words that would express them to those she loves. And her friends know this, feel the distance, and feel lost before it, sometimes angry, sometimes helpless, sometimes driven to silence and distrust—

    We see this in Xander in Get It Done: during Buffy’s angry speech after Chloe’s suicide, this exchange ensues, after Kennedy attacks, claiming that Buffy (as opposed to Willow) is not the most powerful person there:

    Buffy: You’re new here. And you’re wrong—because I use the power I have. The rest of you are just waiting for me.

    Xander: Well, yeah, but only because you kinda told us to: you’re our leader, Buffy, as in, follow me—

    Buffy: Well now, I’m your leader as in, Do what I say—

    Xander: Jawohl—! But let’s not try to forget: we’re also your friends.


    Xander’s German phrase short for a phrase that the board won’t let me print, meaning, “Yes, my leader,” with a resonance of “Yes, my leader (Hitler).” It is supposedly now a kind of insult, a way to both assent to and piss someone off, although I never heard it used that way in my years of living in Berlin during the early ‘90s (perhaps I just did not run with the proper crowd… ). But it indicates that he is questioning, if not insulting, her tone and approach her, trying to draw her back to intimacy, personal connection, to reach what he seems to see as a different part of her, the part of her who is his friend—not just a difficult thing to achieve in a room full of Potentials but an impossible thing to do at all, as if Buffy could be split in half and he could have, could reach through Slayer-Buffy to touch Buffy-Buffy.

    Willow, instead, is the one person who tries to address this in a gentle, best-friend-like way, first early in their realization of the identity of The First, when she asks Buffy how she is doing, how she knows Buffy will not ask for help, but how Buffy should, gently nudging her….

    Yet by First Date, Willow seems to have come to the conclusion that Buffy will not depend on her, not for emotional support, will not share the burdens of her solitary position. Willow thus pushes the possible relationship with Robin Wood, reasoning it might help Buffy “move on from this imposed self-reliance—let somebody get close.”

    That comes to naught for complex reasons—comes to more than naught in a way that drives Robin, too, to turn against Buffy in Empty Places, provokes that later turn upon Buffy’s utterance of one simple line:

    It comes not simply here:

    Buffy: Spike is the strongest warrior we have. We’re going to need him if we’re going to come out of this thing alive. If you try anything again, he’ll kill you—more importantly, I’ll let him. I have a mission: to win this war; to save the world—I don’t have time for vendettas.

    It comes here:

    Nikki/Buffy: The Mission is what matters. (Either turns and walks him towards a final parting—Nikki—or utters the line having turned, while walking away—Buffy.)

    I recently watched LMPTM again, and I noticed a change in Robin’s expression in the wake of Buffy’s words, a fallen, crushed look: Buffy brings his Mother back to him, returns her in her incipient parting from him, and thus proves Spike’s words. And while Robin should take some comfort from them—Spike was, in a way, seeking to tell him, indirectly and unkindly, that the problem lay not in Robin himself, as a son, nor in Nikki herself, as a mother, but in her Slayerness (Robin: You didn’t know her! Spike: But I know Slayers—no matter how many people they have about them, they fight alone!)—he does not. Instead, he experiences, in Buffy’s repetition of Nikki, his abandonment once again. Hence, I would argue, even Robin’s turn against Buffy in Empty Places is motivated by what he will later call, speaking to Faith, “isolationist Slayer crap”—what he feels cost him his mother, what he still cannot understand, still angrily resents….


    From another angle, to the extent that Buffy’s turn from card games and comfort sessions with Xander and Willow in the hospital matters in Empty Places, it matters not as a sign of her lack of care in itself—it matters as another sign of her not “let[ting] someone get close,” of putting the Mission first and becoming the Law, of her “step[ping] away from everything human.”

    All of which finds intensification in Xander’s blinding, his corporeal violation: of course he and Willow had been in danger—great danger—before, but this is different, for never before had either of them felt this touch of mortality, the touch that comes from such severe bodily wounding. This wounding, this violation of Xander’s bodily integrity brings mortality to bear upon them as it never has before, leading them to forget Buffy’s own mortality and sacrifice—the very things about which Xander had lectured the Potentials the night before—as if their sense of her ethical beyondness to them, to “everything human” has become a corporeal one. Even more, this blinds them to what they could already barely grasp of the complexity of her leadership, its burdens, and how it has changed with the coming of the Potentials: before, in their Missions (a term we have not heard before S7) to Save the World, Buffy primarily put herself at risk, herself and those who actively chose to fight with her—but always herself first. Hence her death. Twice. Now she faces a far greater enemy, faces it with an army of young women who have not actively chosen their role—like her, they have been chosen, have been passive in being placed in their role. This means that in her seemingly impossible obligation to save the world—and them, them and the Slayer Line, the world’s future—, in her Mission, Buffy must risk not only herself, must not only sacrifice herself, but them. And this is an obligation that she cannot fully share with almost any other person in the world. Hence her own increased self-distancing from those she loves, from the Potentials, which may be her one fault that season (that and listening too much to Giles)—a fault that does not justify her expulsion, for even lessoning that distance, “learning their names,” in Faith’s words, would not have crossed the distance that her Slayerness opened. Nor could Buffy have said anything to narrow the abyss that Xander and Willow feel has opened between them, for the same reason.

    That distance would ever be ineradicable. What changes after the cellar—for Xander, Willow, and the Potentials—is, in Kennedy’s words, that “People are dying.” Buffy knows death in a way that they do not, knows it is part of the Mission, accepts it, even as she regrets each one, feels the responsibility for each one, is torn by each one. Personal mortality is new to Willow, Xander, and the Potentials—yes, Willow and Xander suffered Buffy’s death, but remember, as well, that they could not endure it, had to reverse it—and they cannot bear it, accept it. Logically, Willow and Xander could, perhaps, be brought to admit its necessity, but emotionally, especially when the it comes so close to Xander as to violate him, blind him, they cannot. In the fight in Empty Places, Buffy will say, “I’ve gotten us this far, “ and Xander will reply, “But not without a cost”—referring to himself, his eye, to the deaths, implying that the cost was too great, that any cost, any loss would be too much. Now that the cost of the Mission has come home, they cannot trust Buffy. On some level, they know that the Mission is what Matters—but they betray Buffy because they know that it matters to her absolutely. They betray her under the delusive hope that it can matter without a cost.

    I doubt that they would admit this—say that they want victory without a cost, without death. But that is the implication of all that is said and unsaid in Empty Places. There are more complexities, but I won’t go into them here, as that is not the purpose of this post… Rather, I’ll move on to the central point…

    This matter of cost and mortality, the stakes involved, ground my understanding for the lack of any reflective response—guilt, regret, concern, anything—by Willow and Xander in Touched (we do see it from Dawn, both at the end of EP and the beginning of Touched, though it is quickly stilled by Giles). Much as I take seriously vampmogs’ point about Willow staying silent during Anya’s extreme personal attack upon Buffy in EP, having watched again Willow’s face during the conversation, I think she is too deep in conflicted thought to actually attend to what Anya is saying: fraught with ambivalence, an ambivalence that has nothing to do with Kennedy (whose criticisms of Buffy she has corrected in the past), has everything to do with the issues I have outlined above, her efforts to figure out what position she will take. She is ambivalently caught between a loyalty to Buffy, her long trust in her, her love, and her growing distrust, born of her sense of Buffy’s inhuman bond to the Mission—a distrust that causes her to forget why Buffy deserves her trust, to suspect Buffy’s judgment, as she did in the case of Anya.

    Xander, meanwhile, robbed of the fullness of his corporeal vision, traumatized by the rending of his body, by his intimate, immediate, physical encounter with his own mortality, seems robbed, as well, of the vision, the ability to see intellectually and affectively. This ricochets him back to the position I outlined above, filling him, too, with ambivalence, where his deep love for and trust in Buffy are crossed with his fear and anger at Buffy placing herself beyond “everything human,” leading him to unconsciously react as if her doing so means the death of others not for the sake of the world, as if the Mission serves the establishment of her authority, as if she were a Hitler demanding a Jawohl


    Then, in the aftermath, in Touched, the ambivalence remains, refuses to be stifled, in refusing stifles Willow and Xander, leaves them no voices that might even mummer the slightest affective reflection upon what had passed, what they had done. (And I write this as one who would have welcomed almost any other scene than that of the extended bedroom babble about kites… ) They are caught between their sense that they acted out of necessity, the concomitant sense that they must now commit to that act, its consequences—and any regrets or concerns that they may harbor within but dare not voice even to themselves. Willow covers this silence by being as useful as possible—and with her awkward, halting speech to Spike, where her awkwardness itself, the gaps between her words bespeak the insufficiency of her words, as do, as well as her halting, stumbling retreat before Spike’s increasingly precise questions (Willow: We’re her friends. Spike: You’re her friends and you betray her this way?), to which she finally has no response. For what could she say without letting spill a host of unutterable feelings, not just guilt, regret or shame, but also fear and distrust—the fear and distrust that prompted their actions, fear and distrust that Spike’s words may now have provoked them to fear and distrust?

    That Willow then gives herself completely to making love to Kennedy does not mean that she is more concerned, through this entire sequence of events, with Kennedy than Buffy. It only means that Kennedy, as her beloved, concerns her as much, that she has been waiting for this, that even as she has fears of letting go of herself, Kennedy’s promise to be her anchor gives her a security that she no longer feels with Buffy.

    Xander, meanwhile, cracks jokes, and not very good ones at that. He speaks nonsense to cover his lack of inner sense, his lack of words to make sense of his actions. And then he has sex on the floor with Anya—has sex, rather than making love—as a way to escape all doubts, all fears, all loss: the bodily loss, his dismemberment, for having sex gives him a momentary sense, until orgasm, of bodily wholeness, gives him a flight from thought and fear and regret.*

    Here, now, in the times and places of Touched, the last thing Willow and Xander could do would be to talk to each other about what they had done: it would lift a dam, loose a flood of feelings they remain incapable of thinking, finding words for. Here, now, their silence, awkwardness, joking, turns to sex and love-making speak more eloquently than any conversation could have—no short scene would have done justice to the ambivalence bottled within them.


    Here, too, I find it fitting that Faith is the only one who expresses a word for Buffy: she is the one who speaks in the meeting against a vote that would put her in Buffy’s place; she is the one who follows Buffy outside to express regret; she is the one who wishes Buffy were there on the eve of leading the Potentials into battle; she is the one who sends Willow, Xander, and Dawn to search for Buffy, to make sure that unharmed. This makes sense, for Faith, being not only a Slayer, but having become The Slayer, the one placed in the position of leadership, the one now burdened with the Mission to Save the World, is the only one who can truly understand what Buffy has been going through. In End of Days, we get this exchange:

    Faith: Then there I am; everybody’s looking to me, trusting me to lead them—and I’ve never felt so alone in my entire life—

    Buffy: Yeah—

    Faith: And that’s you. Every day. Isn’t it?

    Buffy: I love my friends. I’m very grateful for them. But that’s the price—of being a Slayer [….] I guess everyone’s alone. But being a Slayer… There’s a burden we can’t share….

    Faith: And no one else can feel it—


    Some have expressed the desire for Willow to be the one to initiate the locator spell to check up on Buffy, but logically, only Faith could do it, because only Faith could feel what Buffy was feeling, what she has lived daily, could know to feel regret for what happened, could wish for her presence, could know to search for her. Only she knows the other side of what her friends, who still love her, have also come to distrust and fear.


    What the passage above shows is something about which I have written at length elsewhere, so I will not repeat here the details: how generosity lies at the core of Buffy’s power, her slaying. She knows that there is a price to her power, to her Mission, to her Chosenness, that she cannot share her burden, has no words to speak it to others, that it might distance them. But she can and will love them across the distance it opens—thus she requires no words upon her return.



    *I wrote this paragraph before reading TriBel’s marvelous post, which says this much more fully and finely than I do….



    Last edited by StateOfSiege97; 02-03-20, 11:17 AM.

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    • flow
      flow commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you for sharing this. Such a new and different perspective. It will certainly make me look at EP differently from now on.
      Last edited by flow; 05-03-20, 03:20 PM.

  • #47
    The general shifts in friendships as you transition to adulthood I didn't mean to be an explanation for the perceived lack of response in Willow to Buffy's expulsion. Just part of the context that could have played into them gaining comfort elsewhere in my first post and then later I'd poorly quoted when raising the dynamics as shifting as it was meant in response to a comment suggesting S6 had seriously damaged their bond. I was thinking of this as the general situation rather than the more specific influences you go on to consider. And I don't think general changes happening to some degree excludes or contradicts continuing to be close and care and do think we see they remain close, despite varying events. Which is testimony in truth to the strength of care remaining.

    Whilst the increasing responsibilities of jobs and the altering pressures of that could certainly be tied up to some of the general changes that happen in transition to adulthood, Buffy has always had these pressures. It is just emphasised more bluntly in S7 perhaps and this is where your point that the specific isolation of being the Slayer and the ripples that has are a very different thing really and adds more to what is happening. I had felt that the mission being put first was what caused the distancing in the hospital scene and Buffy's isolation is raised repeatedly in the season, but I had never really thought about the impact this could have on Xander and Willow as something that has built up too. An increasing awareness of this commitment to the mission that could generate a sense of distrust. Tying this with Faith's awareness and emerging understanding from the Slayer side of things too is great. Interesting thoughts as always.

    Comment


    • StateOfSiege97
      StateOfSiege97 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the clarification: I understand your point far better now, agree with it much more—

  • #48
    Originally posted by vampmogs View Post

    Buffy explicitly tells Giles at the beginning of LMPTM that "the trigger is not active anymore." She has absolutely no justifiable reason to assume this at all and is course proven wrong in the very next scene. To me, that's a pretty clear indication that she's not researching the trigger because why research something you've randomly decided isn't even a problem anymore?

    Canonically, Giles is the only person who makes any efforts to research the trigger and who finds a way of disarming it.



    I'm not questioning Buffy's belief in Spike. The trigger is not Spike's fault and nor is he responsible for his actions whilst triggered. But that's the problem with the story, isn't it? What's the good of a story about Buffy's belief in Spike and his "ability to be a good man" when the trigger robs him of his freewill and makes his goodness irrelevant? Spike could be freakin' Mother Theresa and it would mean jack sh*t because when The First triggers Spike he loses control of himself.

    I'd have much preferred a story more akin to Amends where The First tries to torment, manipulate and control Spike into becoming dangerous and Spike has to resist that. Not only would it be consistent with The First's modus operandi as established in S3 but it would make his soul and Buffy's belief in him actually relevant to the plot. Mindless killing machines are not only boring but stripping character's of their freewill means that they're not responsible for their actions anyway so Spike could be a saint or Spike could be the devil and it still wouldn't matter either way.

    Had they instead went with a story where The First tries to seize upon Spike's vulnerability after having only just received his soul and tries to prey upon his darker, vampiric urges to turn him evil then whether or not Spike can actually be "a good man" would mean something. Buffy's faith in him would also actually mean something and if Giles and Buffy were at odds with their belief that Spike can change and be a legitimate hero then that would mean something too. That's not the story we got, though. The story we got is where Spike, through no fault or control of his own, is brainwashed into being a killer again and The First can "activate" him at whim. Buffy ignores that threat, then with no evidence whatsoever determines the the threat doesn't even exist, and then gets pissy at Giles for saying that there is still a threat and for actually being the one person who tries to do something about it (I'm talking about the stone of course, not the assassination later).

    I know people want this to be a story about Giles "The Patriarchy" who undermines Buffy "The Feminist Icon" and her leadership but are they sure that's the story the writers were actually trying to tell? 'Cause if you rewatch the DVD extras for S7 the writers are actually really critical of Buffy's leadership and even go insofar as to state that CWDP and Buffy's "superiority complex" was meant to foreshadow her failures as a leader and they link this directly to Empty Places. Now, don't get me wrong, you don't have to agree with the writers, but even I give them a little more credit that they were trying to tell a more complex story where there were faults on both sides.

    They do a pretty good job of undermining Buffy at several points in LMPTM.

    Buffy says the trigger isn't active anymore - in the very next scene the trigger is proven to be still active (Buffy: 0)
    Buffy says that Giles' stone "didn't work" and chooses to unchain Spike - The stone is shown to continue working exactly as Giles said it would throughout the remainder of the episode (Buffy: 0)
    Buffy says Spike wouldn't hurt anybody "because he has a soul now" - In the very next scene Spike throttles Buffy and launches a bed into Dawn's head (Buffy: 0)

    And I've kept this strictly to the facts of the episode.

    This doesn't mean that I think the writers are trying to tell us that Giles was right to go behind Buffy's back and assassinate Spike. Giles is clearly depicted badly there and with good reason. And frankly, as much as it pains me to think about it as I absolutely love Giles I do think he's portrayed throughout most of S7 as really quite unlikable I'm sad to say. But Buffy's judgement, or lack thereof, is shown repeatedly throughout this episode to be faulty at best and Giles is written as reacting to that with understandable frustration and exasperation. If the story was trying to tell us a black and white tale of Giles "The Patriarchy" who unjustly undermines Buffy "The Feminist Icon" then it did so very badly. Which doesn't mean I think there aren't shades of that throughout the season but I also think it's undeniable that they have Buffy's decision making be very questionable at times and that Giles has good reason to be concerned. I don't think it's as simple as that or that it was ever intended to be and listening to the actual writers discuss this season, IMO, it's pretty clear that they don't think so either.

    My issues are that I think both Buffy and Giles' characterisations are... strained... to make this plot work, but I digress.
    And yet... she's right in the end. Rather undeniably, I would think.

    The only real commentary on that leadership is Goddard and the 'she makes some mistakes' which no one would really disagree with. The question is what those mistakes were. Those mistakes, mentioned in DG, are capitulations in his episode where she listens to Wood instead of herself. It's *his* idea to tackle the Vineyard with a mass of troops, not hers. Buffy totally makes mistakes in S7, spurred on by the things that stated in the Holden convo. She doesn't think she's worthy of the position she has. It's in DG's episode where every act opener shows specific male fantasies about women to continue that theme. The issue only pops up when people agree with Giles, much as they love to shout the vaunted 'superiority complex' line...while casually removing the context of that scene and the follow ups to that line. They wanted the season to be about getting over the 'superiority complex' when it was actually about getting over the 'inferiority complex about it'. As stated from Joss himself, the year was about taking their power back and not being ashamed of it.

    The trigger only activates when Giles and Wood create the circumstances in which it does. Not The First. The characterizations aren't strained at all. The situation puts them in a space where differences established long before in apocalyptic scenarios were allowed to fester. Instead of finding out all the info and everything being wrapped up in 1 ep like The Gift where she and Giles go at it over killing Dawn, it spans 12 episodes.

    Comment


    • #49
      Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
      I'm not questioning Buffy's belief in Spike. The trigger is not Spike's fault and nor is he responsible for his actions whilst triggered. But that's the problem with the story, isn't it? What's the good of a story about Buffy's belief in Spike and his "ability to be a good man" when the trigger robs him of his freewill and makes his goodness irrelevant? Spike could be freakin' Mother Theresa and it would mean jack sh*t because when The First triggers Spike he loses control of himself.

      I'd have much preferred a story more akin to Amends where The First tries to torment, manipulate and control Spike into becoming dangerous and Spike has to resist that. Not only would it be consistent with The First's modus operandi as established in S3 but it would make his soul and Buffy's belief in him actually relevant to the plot. Mindless killing machines are not only boring but stripping character's of their freewill means that they're not responsible for their actions anyway so Spike could be a saint or Spike could be the devil and it still wouldn't matter either way.

      Had they instead went with a story where The First tries to seize upon Spike's vulnerability after having only just received his soul and tries to prey upon his darker, vampiric urges to turn him evil then whether or not Spike can actually be "a good man" would mean something. Buffy's faith in him would also actually mean something and if Giles and Buffy were at odds with their belief that Spike can change and be a legitimate hero then that would mean something too.
      But the first did capture Spike and torture him physically and mentally to make him go dark and do its will. This was an arc that lasted for several episodes and resulted in Buffy rescuing him. I think the fact that he never gave in is what gives her good reason to believe that the first can no longer trigger Spike - nor does the first ever do so. The line about it not being time for Spike can be dismissed. In fact, I would assume the first wants Spike dead if that was it's message. The only power the first has is to lie and manipulate others into doing its will. Using that, it manipulate Robin into being a traitor, and Giles into doing the will of the first.

      Buffy says the trigger isn't active anymore - in the very next scene the trigger is proven to be still active (Buffy: 0)
      The first can no longer trigger Spike - or else it never tries again after Andrew. It couldn't even trigger Spike while he was held captive. It needed Robin to do that for him.

      Buffy says that Giles' stone "didn't work" and chooses to unchain Spike - The stone is shown to continue working exactly as Giles said it would throughout the remainder of the episode (Buffy: 0)
      Yes, it is bringing back memories - but Spike isn't willing to speak about those memories in a hostile environment where he is being yelled at. Whether that means it's working is really up for discussion. I actually don't see why - on the basis of any real therapy - a patient is being chained down and forced to speak. If we know it, then Giles knows it.

      Buffy says Spike wouldn't hurt anybody "because he has a soul now" - In the very next scene Spike throttles Buffy and launches a bed into Dawn's head (Buffy: 0)
      Clearly she should also have added he wouldn't hurt anyone unless some big stone is forcing itself out of his brain through his eye socket.

      And I've kept this strictly to the facts of the episode.
      And the fact can be interpreted very differently.

      This doesn't mean that I think the writers are trying to tell us that Giles was right to go behind Buffy's back and assassinate Spike. Giles is clearly depicted badly there and with good reason. And frankly, as much as it pains me to think about it as I absolutely love Giles I do think he's portrayed throughout most of S7 as really quite unlikable I'm sad to say. But Buffy's judgement, or lack thereof, is shown repeatedly throughout this episode to be faulty at best and Giles is written as reacting to that with understandable frustration and exasperation. If the story was trying to tell us a black and white tale of Giles "The Patriarchy" who unjustly undermines Buffy "The Feminist Icon" then it did so very badly. Which doesn't mean I think there aren't shades of that throughout the season but I also think it's undeniable that they have Buffy's decision making be very questionable at times and that Giles has good reason to be concerned. I don't think it's as simple as that or that it was ever intended to be and listening to the actual writers discuss this season, IMO, it's pretty clear that they don't think so either.
      I take into account that Giles is suffering from severe trauma. It's only natural that given the destruction of the council that he takes on the responsibilities of the watcher. He is the only one left to be able to do this at the time of a huge apocalypse. He has a lifetime of training. The Council fights evil - the slayer is its tool. I see a fair amount of Quentin in Giles - not in his expression but in his choices regarding Buffy. You can hear it in his lecture while he betrays her.

      I believe in death of the author. I am sure that Shakespeare would argue with many critics. As time passes, there are different ways of seeing and expressing fundamental truths . Were Buffy a male protege that Giles had left alone to grow up and find his power then we would see it as a power struggle without the feminist twist. It would be the old lion challenging the new leader. Here I see the male watcher - descendant of the shadow men - and the slayer he wants to control. Like I have said many times, Spike si the playing field. If Buffy gives in on Spike Giles will know she accepts his control over her decisions.

      My issues are that I think both Buffy and Giles' characterisations are... strained... to make this plot work, but I digress.
      Buffy and Giles are reunited after a ton of crap has gone under the bridge. He abandoned her because she was too needy. She went through hell and learned a lot. Giles expects her to be just like the Buffy he left - the one that died. She is no longer that person, and he doesn't want to adjust to who she has become. If they did fit together perfectly after season 6 and the first 10 episodes of season 7 that would be weird to me.

      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.

      Comment


      • #50
        Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post

        And yet... she's right in the end. Rather undeniably, I would think.
        Well no, 'cause she's emphatically not right about the trigger. I've quoted her word to word to attest to that fact ("the trigger is not active anymore" - LMPTM).

        It's all well and good to cite Chosen but if left up to Buffy the likelihood is that there'd have been a very different ending. After all, it seems highly improbable that The First would stand idly by and not trigger Spike down in the Hellmouth or even earlier ("It does seem doubtful the First simply forgot it had such a powerful weapon"). The awkward fact of the matter is that Giles and to a lesser extent Wood are the ones responsible for disarming the trigger and making Spike's heroic feats possible. Spike even says so himself - "Thanks, doc. Looks like you've cured me after all. I'm not under The First or anybody else's control now"

        I know that's an inconvenient bump in the road and people really don't like to acknowledge it but unfortunately that's how it was written.

        The question is what those mistakes were. Those mistakes, mentioned in DG, are capitulations in his episode where she listens to Wood instead of herself. It's *his* idea to tackle the Vineyard with a mass of troops, not hers.
        It's not Wood's idea to attack the vineyard at all. The Buffy/Wood conversation takes place before Buffy speaks to Shannon and decides to attack the vineyard. At no point in Dirty Girls is Wood present throughout any of the vineyard planning or attack and Buffy doesn't mention anything about it to him at the high school. Wood earlier suggests that Buffy "test the girls in battle" but he wasn't referring to the vineyard because he didn't even know about the vineyard. Furthermore, nowhere does Wood suggest that Buffy should "disregard the council and advice of her allies and test the girls in battle by leading them into a painfully obvious trap that even Buffy's own instincts were telling her is a bad idea." When on patrol with Faith it's Buffy that points out that The Bringers are very obviously leading her to the location of the vineyard;

        FAITH
        So these guys are free to just roam around town?
        BUFFY
        Well normally they show up to either stab or get stabbed and then run off. These guys look like they wanna be found...
        FAITH
        Lends credence to the "it's a trap" theory...


        And yet... Buffy "goes in anyway."

        Of course you can never 100% ensure the safety of the girls in any battle but Wood wasn't referring to the vineyard because Wood didn't even know about the vineyard. He never suggests anything about bringing the girls to an obvious death trap where they're at an extreme disadvantage and Buffy's own instincts are telling her that she's playing right into the enemy's hands. That's all on Buffy.

        The trigger only activates when Giles and Wood create the circumstances in which it does. Not The First.
        The trigger activates whenever the song "Early One Morning" is played. If the mere memory of Anne singing and Wood's computer can trigger Spike into a violent rage then so can The First (see Sleeper and Never Leave Me). The purpose of the stone was to "reveal the root of the trigger's power" and it does that. Thus proving that the trigger was still active and could still be exploited by anyone who knew how, like The First.

        The characterizations aren't strained at all. The situation puts them in a space where differences established long before in apocalyptic scenarios were allowed to fester. Instead of finding out all the info and everything being wrapped up in 1 ep like The Gift where she and Giles go at it over killing Dawn, it spans 12 episodes.
        I don't think they're strained because Buffy and Giles are at conflict. I think they're strained because I think there's countless past examples throughout the series of Buffy being pro-research and pro-solving the problem which are the counter-opposite to how she's written here in regards to the trigger. I think they're strained because Giles was once a three-dimensional character who certainly had his faults but could also still be warm, sympathetic, funny and kind and who instead this season is flattened into a two-dimensional jerk in almost every scene he's in. I think there's more believable ways you could have written this conflict and certainly ways in which you could have written this conflict that are offer a far more generous portrayal of both characters (The Gift is a perfect example of this now that you bring it up. IMO, their scene together in The Magic Box training room is singlehandedly better than any Buffy/Giles scene in the entirety of S7 and despite Giles threatening to kill Dawn and Buffy pretty much threatening to kill Giles they still come across better).

        Originally posted by bespangled View Post
        But the first did capture Spike and torture him physically and mentally to make him go dark and do its will. This was an arc that lasted for several episodes and resulted in Buffy rescuing him.
        It was only 2 episodes and the rest of the season was about the trigger.

        I think the fact that he never gave in is what gives her good reason to believe that the first can no longer trigger Spike - nor does the first ever do so.
        Spike is triggered by the song "Early One Morning." In Sleeper The First poses as a busker and performs the song with a harmonica moments before Spike then kills a girl. Later in the episode The First appears to Spike down in the basement and sings the song which triggers Spike and causes him to attack Buffy. In Never Leave Me Buffy overhears The First singing the song to Spike in her bedroom and then Spike triggers and attacks Buffy and Andrew. In LMPTM the stone resurfaces a memory of Anne singing William the same song and when she does this triggers Spike and he attacks Buffy and Dawn. Later in the episode Wood begins playing the song over his computer and Spike is once again triggered. Buffy herself states earlier in the episode "it was that song, Giles. I am telling you it was that song that Spike was singing." So why would The First be unable to trigger Spike again by playing the song but Wood can simply by clicking on Itunes? There's zero indication that if The First started singing the song again or had one of it's minions simply press play on a computer that it wouldn't have the exact same effect on Spike.

        The line about it not being time for Spike can be dismissed. In fact, I would assume the first wants Spike dead if that was it's message. The only power the first has is to lie and manipulate others into doing its will. Using that, it manipulate Robin into being a traitor, and Giles into doing the will of the first.
        To be honest, The First is repeatedly shown to be really incompetent and self-sabotaging so it's entirely possible that it could have been a genuine slip up. But for arguments sake and if I am being generous let's say I agree with you that The First "dropped that hint" to create further uneasiness and tension within the ranks by holding the threat of Spike's trigger over them all. This doesn't mean it still can't trigger Spike (as I've said above all that takes is still playing the song and there's no logical reason why The First is unable to do this) but it would've gained long term benefit by hanging the trigger over their heads to cause dissent, suspicion and in-fighting within the gang. By doing this The First has more to gain then to simply trigger Spike which would force someone's hand to kill him and at best take out some Potentials or Scoobies. But The First's manipulations only work if you give power to them and the easiest way to undercut this power is for Buffy to a) research the trigger, b) prove it's no longer a threat, c) or confirm that it is and disarm it. Had Buffy done that then The First can't hang the trigger over their heads and there's no in-fighting. Not only would Buffy have been a more proactive leader but it would have appeased Giles, settled the Potentials, and of course benefited Spike too.

        The first can no longer trigger Spike - or else it never tries again after Andrew. It couldn't even trigger Spike while he was held captive. It needed Robin to do that for him.
        See above. All Robin literally does is use his finger to click a button on his mouse and play the song. That's it. There's no logical reason why only Robin could do that and zero reason to believe that if The First sang as it as it had done in Sleeper and Never Leave Me, that it wouldn't have triggered Spike in the exact same way it had done all season. This is consistent throughout the season regardless of who sings Spike the song.

        There's also no reason why The First would want to trigger Spike whilst he's captive in Bring on the Night and Showtime. What purpose would it serve to trigger Spike into being a violent when he's chained up in the underground cave? The First used the trigger so it could have Spike kill innocent people or it's enemies. There's nobody else in the caves except for The Bringers and the Ubervamp.

        Yes, it is bringing back memories - but Spike isn't willing to speak about those memories in a hostile environment where he is being yelled at. Whether that means it's working is really up for discussion. I actually don't see why - on the basis of any real therapy - a patient is being chained down and forced to speak. If we know it, then Giles knows it.
        1. Giles says that "the Prokaryote stone will move within your mind to reveal the root of the trigger's power" - this is proven to be true.
        2. Buffy wrongly states "this is pointless, Giles. He doesn't know anything. Your prophylactic stone didn't work" - this is proven wrong on both accounts. Not only does the stone continue to work but Spike does know something and continues to learn more as more memories resurface
        3. Giles says "the process takes time" - this is again proven to be true as the stone works throughout the remainder of the episode.

        Let's not sidestep the point I was making by criticising Giles about something else. My point was that Giles was factually right about the stone and Buffy was factually wrong. I've directly quoted the characters above so I don't really see how this particular point is debatable.

        As for why "chaining Spike down" was necessary, the stone had just activated the trigger through the memory of Anne singing. This caused Spike to choke Buffy and attack everyone. Giles knows that the way the stone works is that it will continue to cycle through Spike's other memories until the trigger has been disarmed (he says this). There is absolutely no guarantee that the stone won't therefore activate the trigger again if it happens upon another memory that sets Spike off. Therefore it makes complete sense to keep Spike chained up until the process is complete in order to ensure everyone's safety.

        Also, I'm just sayin', LMPTM somewhat undermines the idea that Spike can't work through those memories whilst "in a hostile environment and being yelled at." The stone's effects continue to work on him whilst he's being screamed at by Wood and beaten half to death. He literally overcomes the trigger when he's moments away from being staked. That's about as hostile as it gets.

        Clearly she should also have added he wouldn't hurt anyone unless some big stone is forcing itself out of his brain through his eye socket.
        I genuinely don't intend this to be snarky but you've stated this before in a previous discussion and I pointed out to you back then that it's not the stone travelling out of Spike's brain that causes him into a violent rage but rather the memory of Anne singing "Early One Morning". You later responded at the time that you had since rewatched the episode and conceded that you'd remembered this detail wrong.

        And, yep, what Buffy clearly should have added is "he wouldn't hurt anyone unless he's triggered again" which is my whole point after all. It's actually Giles point too as he explicitly responds to Buffy by saying "unless The First chooses to activate him again." Giles is not arguing that Spike will hurt someone of his own free will. He's arguing that Spike will hurt someone when triggered. Which Spike does, in the very next scene.
        "The earth is doomed!" - Banner by Nina

        Comment


        • #51
          vampmogs Sorry my reply is coming a little late, and a lot of points were made already but basically my opinion is : her handling of the Spike situation is a mix of 1) having too much on her hands and needing him to fight by her side 2) being emotionally reluctant to treat him like a rabid dog 3) having very little alternative.

          To elaborate a bit:
          Re 1) iirc, they actually do a fair bit of research from Sleeper onwards and are very focused on finding out how to deactivate it, but understandably (it doesn't seem a very demony way of controlling people) come up with nothing (as they have neither Giles' knowledge nor ressources), and then from BOTN to Potentials she almost dies, kills the ubervamp and rescues a badly beaten (and thus weakened) Spike, then in Potentials she is constantly with him whenever he's roaming free. Then in TKIM she mentions having a few days off from the potentials to figure out what's going with his trigger. Then comes the chip problem. Then First Date she is focused on figuring Wood out, Get it Done, Chloe kills herself and she has to go throught the portal to get more info on how to actually have a chance to win. Storyteller she's either with him or he's in the basement alone AND she has to deal with the seal going wonky.
          The gist of it all : Buffy has way too much stuff to deal with, stuff that is more urgent (as Spike is never activated by the First after NLM) and that she needs Spike for (training the potentials, hunting the Bringers,etc..)

          2) There's no denying that part of her behavior is dictated by her feelings for him and the history between them. I think, in her mind, she's trying not to inadvertently fall back into her dehumanization of him the previous year. Rationally, it's the safest thing to do, but as with the chip, you can't beat evil by doing evil/chaining it until it goes away or everyone's already dead.
          As others have pointed out, there's a similar issue with Willow, who could do far more damage than triggered!Spike; yet no one would dream of suggesting Buffy just lock her up somewhere just in case. And Buffy, unlike with Spike, cannot actually stop Willow if she goes bad.
          I also agree with bespangled that there's a little bit of power struggle going on with Giles at this point, with Spike as the battle field.

          3) It's a rehash of my previous points, but I really fail to see what Buffy can actually do about it. She's done some research (see 1) and got jack squat. Having him chained 24/7 is all well and good except that it's not helpful to anyone and that without him around fighting she might lose potentials to another threat just as well, what with being the only super powered being.
          And again, she doesn't have the ressources to deal with it. Even Giles, who apparently does, takes 7 episodes to figure out the stone thing.
          Maybe it's my lack of imagination, but were I in her place I wouldn't know what to do about it either. What do you think she should have done ?
          What a challenge, honesty
          What a struggle to learn to speak
          Who would've thought that pretending was easier

          Comment


          • #52
            Hi Cheese Slices no worries for the late reply.

            Originally posted by Cheese Slices View Post
            To elaborate a bit:
            Re 1) iirc, they actually do a fair bit of research from Sleeper onwards and are very focused on finding out how to deactivate it, but understandably (it doesn't seem a very demony way of controlling people) come up with nothing (as they have neither Giles' knowledge nor ressources),
            Is there any citation for this? I can't really find any scene or line that tells us that the Scoobies do any research let alone a "fair bit" of research or any scene or line that tells us their searches came up with nothing?

            Towards the very end of Never Leave Me Buffy says to the gang that she wants to research the trigger but then minutes later they're attacked by The Bringers and Spike is kidnapped. From there, the only research they are shown doing in Bring on the Night and Showtime is research on The First after Buffy recognises a Bringer. After she eventually rescues Spike there's no scene shown of anybody researching the trigger for the remainder of the season and no mention of them researching it or that their research came up empty. In comparison, we are shown them researching The First in Bring on the Night, as well as extensively researching Caleb in Empty Places and Touched, and the scythe in End of Days.

            Why would we be expected to assume that Buffy or the Scoobies are researching the trigger offscreen when there's no mention of it but we are shown whenever they research something else? And especially when a big source of tension between Buffy and Giles is that Giles thinks Buffy is being negligent and non-proactive about the trigger which fits the fact that we never see her addressing it after Never Leave Me?

            y
            and then from BOTN to Potentials she almost dies, kills the ubervamp and rescues a badly beaten (and thus weakened) Spike, then in Potentials she is constantly with him whenever he's roaming free. Then in TKIM she mentions having a few days off from the potentials to figure out what's going with his trigger. Then comes the chip problem. Then First Date she is focused on figuring Wood out, Get it Done, Chloe kills herself and she has to go throught the portal to get more info on how to actually have a chance to win. Storyteller she's either with him or he's in the basement alone AND she has to deal with the seal going wonky.
            The gist of it all : Buffy has way too much stuff to deal with, stuff that is more urgent (as Spike is never activated by the First after NLM) and that she needs Spike for (training the potentials, hunting the Bringers,etc..)
            It's not only up to Buffy to research the trigger. In fact, whilst she of course sometimes does study and research herself Buffy almost always delegates the bulk of research to the Scoobies. A good leader relies on their team and utilises them to their best advantage. Buffy could have delegated the research to Willow and Giles or even Anya and Dawn in their spare time (Dawn gets quite good at it in S7 and even refers herself as "Watcher Junior" in Chosen). We see even in Empty Places and End of Days how proactive the gang can be in undertaking the research and how successful they can be at finding out information when they are put to the task. But Buffy doesn't do this and furthermore in LMPTM Buffy makes the baseless (and later proven wrong) claim that "the trigger isn't active anymore" so it's clearly not her intention to put effort and delegation into something she has strangely deemed no longer exists.

            2) There's no denying that part of her behavior is dictated by her feelings for him and the history between them. I think, in her mind, she's trying not to inadvertently fall back into her dehumanization of him the previous year. Rationally, it's the safest thing to do, but as with the chip, you can't beat evil by doing evil/chaining it until it goes away or everyone's already dead.
            In Never Leave Me Buffy makes the very rational decision to tie Spike up to the chair (Spike even tells her to make the ropes tighter or "somebody is going to die") and later chains him up in the basement. I don't think I've seen anyone criticise her in this episode of "doing evil" by keeping him chained for everyone's safety and Spike was more than willing. It's the sensible thing to do until they can resolve the trigger and it needn't be for ever if, again, Buffy had made proactive steps to fix the problem. In LMPTM this is particularly egregious because Spike has just attacked everyone and Giles tells Buffy that there's a real danger of him being triggered again whilst the stone works through it's process. And yet Buffy still unchains him at great risk to everyone in the house.

            The difference between Buffy in Never Leave Me and Buffy in LMPTM is pretty outstanding. I just rewatched that episode as part of Van's reaction channel and it always strikes me how more recognisable she is in that episode to me than the person she's written as in the back-half of S7 but most notedly in LMPTM. In that episode she most certainly acknowledges the trigger, she plans on researching it, she chains Spike up for the safety of others, and she seeks counsel from her friends. She is also compassionate and caring towards Spike (washing his mouth with the cloth and later telling him that she "believes in him") but not at the expense of her rationality and common sense. Basically, she's the Buffy I know. The Buffy in LMPTM is the polar opposite to practically all of these things. It's one of my observations of S7 as a whole (and granted it's not exactly an original one in fandom) that the first half of S7 is far stronger written then the back-half so it's likely just that, but it's really noticable on rewatch.

            As others have pointed out, there's a similar issue with Willow, who could do far more damage than triggered!Spike; yet no one would dream of suggesting Buffy just lock her up somewhere just in case. And Buffy, unlike with Spike, cannot actually stop Willow if she goes bad.
            The difference between Willow and Spike is that for the most part it's entirely up to Willow to do the right thing. It's everything the story should have been with Spike but instead they went with the "trigger brainwashing" plot instead which renders his own agency inconsequential.

            3) It's a rehash of my previous points, but I really fail to see what Buffy can actually do about it. She's done some research (see 1) and got jack squat. Having him chained 24/7 is all well and good except that it's not helpful to anyone and that without him around fighting she might lose potentials to another threat just as well, what with being the only super powered being.
            And again, she doesn't have the ressources to deal with it. Even Giles, who apparently does, takes 7 episodes to figure out the stone thing.
            Maybe it's my lack of imagination, but were I in her place I wouldn't know what to do about it either. What do you think she should have done ?
            Giles is one of Buffy's resources. It shouldn't have been up to Giles to independently research the trigger and find a solution. Buffy should have been enlisting him to do that way earlier in the season. That's literally what she has done throughout pretty much the entire series ("he's like book man") so there's no good reason why she should do things differently now.

            What I think she should have done is;

            1) Have the Scoobies investigate the trigger diligently throughout the season. I disagree that she/they were doing this unless some citation (quotes/scenes) can be provided that proves this. I don't think there is any and I'm very confident in my memory of the season but I am happy to be proven wrong.
            2) Agree with Giles in First Date that the trigger is a legitimate threat and that they need to ascertain as to whether it's still active or not.
            3) Ask Giles to research the trigger and utilise his resources to find a way to either a) prove it's no longer active or, b) confirm that it is active and successfully disarm it
            4) Do not try and convince Spike in The Killer In Me to unchain himself under some baseless hope that the trigger has randomly fixed itself. Spike is doing the responsible thing by keeping others safe and Buffy should be at the very least respectful and understanding of that, if not encouraging of it herself.
            5) Do not unchain Spike in LMPTM after the stone has just triggered him into a violent rage and she has just been warned that the stone will still be effecting him and thus could trigger yet another violent episode. Instead, keep him restrained until the stone hasn't finished it's job for the safety of everyone in that house (Spike included)
            6) But most importantly acknowledge the problem and be willing to talk about it and do not bury your head in the sand and pretend the problem magically fixed itself because you don't want to deal.

            It's important to note that you asked me what I think Buffy should have done so I am sticking strictly to her. I certainly don't think Giles acted perfectly in S7 by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm only addressing Buffy here.

            I don't think anything I expect of her is unreasonable. I'm only expecting of her what any rational person would do in the situation and, most importantly, what Buffy herself has shown repeatedly to have done in regards to similar threats throughout the entire series.
            "The earth is doomed!" - Banner by Nina

            Comment


            • #53
              [QUOTE=vampmogs;n690158]Hi [USER="34834"]

              Why would we be expected to assume that Buffy or the Scoobies are researching the trigger offscreen when there's no mention of it but we are shown whenever they research something else? And especially when a big source of tension between Buffy and Giles is that Giles thinks Buffy is being negligent and non-proactive about the trigger which fits the fact that we never see her addressing it after Never Leave Me?

              It's not only up to Buffy to research the trigger. In fact, whilst she of course sometimes does study and research herself Buffy almost always delegates the bulk of research to the Scoobies. A good leader relies on their team and utilises them to their best advantage. Buffy could have delegated the research to Willow and Giles or even Anya and Dawn in their spare time (Dawn gets quite good at it in S7 and even refers herself as "Watcher Junior" in Chosen).
              Wait - you're saying that none of her friends and family are capable of thinking of researching the trigger unless Buffy specifically asks them to? Why is it Buffy's responsibility to micro manage everyone?

              How many times has that happened in the entire series - that no one thinks of research unless specifically directed by Buffy? This is not their first apocalypse - this is not the first time that research has been needed. In probably half the episodes of the series (other than season 6) someone has done research without being directed to by Buffy. Did they not show her asking for it in those episodes? Or did the person (usually Willow or Giles) simply decide they needed the information, and didn't need to be asked for it?

              And yet Buffy still unchains him at great risk to everyone in the house.
              Spike goes upstairs with Buffy. You already agreed that Spike chained or with Buffy was fine. What proof do you have that she left him alone even for a second until Giles decided to betray her by using the trust she has built over 5 years against her = and keep her from discovering that Wood is killing Spike until it's too late for her to respond.

              If that is not a power move against a leader then what is?

              Giles has been trying to take over control ever since he realized Buffy wasn't doing what he told her to do. Try paying attention to their dynamic throughout the season. Spike is right - Buffy has surpassed Giles in the year since he abandoned her. She's an independent woman who now owns being a slayer. She's not the needy traumatized girl who begged him to stay. There is no way their relationship could go back to what it was before she died.

              Giles goes from making comments about how she alone has to save the world, to expressing concerns about her choices, to yelling about her choices. to making demands of her, to betraying her and helping the scared potentials to vote her out of her own house. He flat out lies to them to achieve this. There's far more to his agenda than just Spike. If we examine your few scenes, hand wave any Giles stuff away with a yeah eh was bad but... and just ignore his agenda, and ignore that the scoobs should know better - of course you can blame every single thing on Buffy. You also need to cherry pick about 4 scenes and then refuse to consider anything else going on in the season. This is a conflict between Giles and Buffy and it has little to do with Spike. The fact that Spike found the trigger during the murder attempt in no way makes Giles and Wood right for what they did. Nor was it the only way of working this out. Buffy had every right to completely distrust Giles after that very personal betrayal. Dismissing the role Giles played in all of this is dismissing everything.


              The difference between Willow and Spike is that for the most part it's entirely up to Willow to do the right thing. It's everything the story should have been with Spike but instead they went with the "trigger brainwashing" plot instead which renders his own agency inconsequential.
              Willow had no control when the first took her over early in the season. She turned invisible accidentally. She turned into Warren accidentally. She almost lost control in Storyteller. Luckily Buffy ended the spell in time or Willow would have probably killed at least two people. I wouldn't say she is in control of her magic - and neither did she when she apologized to Kennedy.

              And BTW - what the hell is Willow even doing here? She apparently is not researching unless specifically directed to by Buffy. Other than Kennedy she doesn't interact at all with the potentials. Willow took over in season 6 when Buffy was dead. She's more than capable of motivating herself to help. Why isn't she doing this research without being asked? Why isn't she helping in any real way? If we have to go only by what is shown then she's having existential crises, and anxiety attacks - plus good sex, and no responsibilities.

              That's where I am with Buffy in the speech she makes in Storyteller. Buffy is being left to do everything. Xander tells her they were told to wait - but I don't think that wait means sit on your hands and do nothing to help out. Kennedy trains the girls. Andrew and Anya teach them. Andrew doe the shopping, and comes up with the ideas. Giles terrifies those who can't speak the language. Is this the best the scoobies can do if not given direct and specific instruction?

              Be scared - but be useful while you are scared - hell, yes!

              Giles is one of Buffy's resources. It shouldn't have been up to Giles to independently research the trigger and find a solution. Buffy should have been enlisting him to do that way earlier in the season. That's literally what she has done throughout pretty much the entire series ("he's like book man") so there's no good reason why she should do things differently now.
              And through the entire series Giles has never needed Buffy's permission or request to research a damn thing. I prefer to assume that Giles was doing whatever research he could, and that Giles was more than capable of enlisting Willow and Dawn. It's this idea that Buffy screwed up because she couldn't do everything all by herself that bothers me. The notion that no one knew what research was needed, and no one thought to do anything because Buffy never told them to is the problem.

              You're insisting that Buffy has to direct everything. Why? Is this apocalypse just her personal problem? Why does no one else need to take responsibility? And please - this is not just about Spike though I can see why she needs him as a source of solace eventually. Her friends begin to abandon her long before EP - back when they decided to wait around for directions and then blamed her for their own lack of initiative and responsibility.





              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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              • #54
                Originally posted by bespangled View Post
                Wait - you're saying that none of her friends and family are capable of thinking of researching the trigger unless Buffy specifically asks them to? Why is it Buffy's responsibility to micro manage everyone?
                I currently lead a team of approximately 25 people on a daily basis and whilst I absolutely encourage and expect a certain level of personal autonomy and self-reliance it's ultimately my job to ensure that all 25 officers are performing as they should be. This means overseeing the performance of my team, delegating responsibility to individual team members, utilising their individual strengths to achieve overall results, and ensuring that every individual team member is on task. I of course encourage personal responsibility and independence from my staff and there is an expectation that they will not need to be micromanaged throughout their career, but there's also an understanding that in a leadership position the buck ultimately stops with me. If my team is not performing that's on me. If an individual staff member is not performing that's on me. When I attend Senior Leadership meetings each month and discuss my team's performance with my Assistant Director I will be expected to provide a verbal report on each and every member of my team. If a team member is not performing, I will be asked why. If a team member isn't doing something they should be doing, I will be asked why. And I can assure you that "I don't know why they're not doing that" or "it's not up to me to tell them they should be doing that" would not fly.

                I would assume that most people in a leadership role have a similar grasp of responsibility and similar expectations set up on them when managing a team. Similarly, I would imagine Generals are held accountable much the same way. Buffy is the leader in S7 and Buffy has very clearly established that she is in charge and that the others must fall in line ("From now on I am the leader as in 'Do what I say!""). Buffy has been the leader since S1-S6 but her role as "General" is much more defined in S7 and she embraces that fully ("I'm still in charge here!"). The buck stops with Buffy. Ideally, the Scoobies would demonstrate initiative and research the trigger but they didn't. Therefore, as their leader, Buffy has a responsibility to ensure that they do. This is hardly unheard of as I can point to several examples of Buffy delegating tasks to the Scoobies without barely catching a breath. This scene in Prom is a perfect example;

                Buffy: Okay, Wes, why don't you go to Tucker's house. He's probably not there, but it's worth a shot.
                Wesley: Alright. Perhaps strength in numbers would be ...
                Buffy: You can take Cordy.
                Wesley: If that's your plan, alright, alright. What about the others?
                Buffy: Oz, you said you know this David kid that Tucker e-mailed? Why don't you and Will track him down? See what he knows, if he's involved?
                Willow: We're on it.
                Buffy: (to Wesley) And you know what? Could you two check the magic shop?
                Wesley: Magic shop?
                Buffy: Yeah. It's right next to the dress store on Main.
                Xander: I can swing that one. What's the mission?
                Buffy: See if anyone's been in, buying supplies to raise a hellhound.
                Xander: Gotcha. Or check and see who's been stocking up on hellhound snausages. I hear those pups will do anything for a tasty treat.
                Buffy: Giles, you said this thing eats brains. Any brains?
                Giles: Um, I suppose.
                Buffy: Then Tucker must be feeding it, right?


                Without missing a beat Buffy has formulated a plan and delegated tasks and responsibilities to every Scooby whilst simultaneously juggling their personal interrelationships (Wes and Cordy) and her own personal problems at "home" (Angel leaving her). Basically, she's an incredibly effective leader here and there's numerous other examples of her leading and delegating with similar prowess.

                There's really no excuse for why Buffy at no point in S7 could ensure that the trigger is being researched by her team. If they're lacking and failing in this area then it's up to Buffy as their leader to ensure that they don't. You're free to criticise individual team members for their lack of autonomy and common sense but any good leader knows that the buck ultimately stops with them. So the question then becomes why Buffy didn't ask the Scoobies to research the trigger and that becomes self-evident by her statement in LMPTM - "The trigger isn't active anymore." Buffy has arbitrarily decided that the trigger has conveniently disarmed itself and thus it becomes evident why she isn't taking proactive steps to research the problem.

                Spike goes upstairs with Buffy. You already agreed that Spike chained or with Buffy was fine. What proof do you have that she left him alone even for a second
                The risk of Spike triggering again in LMTPM was heightened greatly by the fact that the stone was still effecting him. This is explicitly stated to be true and we're shown it to be true as well (the stone continues to work right up until Wood attacks him). Basically, the risk of a repeated trigger episode is at it's greatest risk since Never Leave Me and in that episode Buffy had Spike tied up and/or chained for the entire episode. If we look back on that episode it becomes very evident why Buffy's mere presence besides Spike does not guarantee anyone's safety;

                Spike: I'm fine, Buffy. Really. I'm just...feeling a bit peckish, I suppose. (looks at bags of pigs blood on night table by the bed) Do you mind?

                Buffy goes toward the blood, keeping her eye on Spike the whole time. When she turns to look at the table when picking up the bag, Spike vamps out. He roars, breaks the chair arms, and stands. Buffy tries to fight him, but he punches her down and goes purposefully in the opposite direction.

                Cut to: 37 INT. DAWN'S ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - DAY Andrew is talking to Anya, his back still to the wall.

                Andrew: We needed more blood to activate the seal of Danthaz—

                Suddenly, a hand breaks through the wall behind Andrew, grabbing his chest. Another breaks through and grabs his head. Andrew screams. It's Spike, pulling Andrew through the wall, into the next room. Spike bends Andrew's head over, exposing his neck, and bites him.


                Despite being in the same room with him, triggered Spike was able to knock Buffy down, burst through the wall of another room, attack someone, and bite them. Luckily for Andrew Buffy was able to get to him in time to pull Spike off and knock him out but not before he took a decent chunk out of Andrew's neck. Who's to say the next victim would be so lucky? In LMPTM when Spike is triggered in the basement he is able to throttle Buffy by the neck and launch her across the basement into the washing machine/dryer. By the time Buffy has recovered from the attack and is able to get to her feet Spike has already hurled the bed into Dawn's head and this is even when chained. Again, it's just sheer luck that the bed didn't hit Dawn in the right spot and kill her instantly. Buffy didn't see it coming and it was the chains that prevented Spike from causing further carnage, not Buffy.

                What if they were in the kitchen surrounded by Potentials and Spike had another memory featuring "Early One Morning" which caused him to trigger? What if Buffy had her head in the fridge looking for a snack, or had her back turned to Spike as she heated something up in the microwave, or was using the bathroom? How quickly would she be able to get to Spike before he snapped a girl's neck, tore her throat out, delivered a killing blow to her head (he's strong enough to punch through bodies as shown in Dead Things). If Buffy able to guarantee their safety even in her presence? I don't think she is.

                I won't respond to everything else individually becomes it more or less revolves around the same thing; criticisms of the Scoobies is not an adequate defence of Buffy. At best, all you could hope to prove is that the Scoobies were just as flawed or just as incompetent but that doesn't make Buffy any less so either. And as I said, that's without taking into the account that Buffy is their leader.

                Honestly, I don't see much merit in continuing to go around in endless circles about this. These posts take up a substantial amount of time to write and I've devoted a fair bit of time to responding to everyone. I've done my best to lay out my arguments and POV as best as I can and I have tried to ensure that I am remaining as factual to the episodes as possible and backing up my arguments with specific quotes and scenes from the text. However, it does seem that everyone is firmly entrenched in their opinions and that the goal posts keep shifting whenever a point is made which means that this is kind of endless and is beginning to feel a little reductive for me. You are of course free to reply and I don't mean this to try and have the last word on the subject but I don't see much point in me continuing to participate in the discussion. I'd prefer to direct my energies to other topics and the game threads which I haven't done since engrossing myself in this.
                "The earth is doomed!" - Banner by Nina

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                • #55
                  You aren't Buffy. You aren't used to dealing with 3 other people who know exactly what to do, and can be counted on - who have done this for the past seven years ever since you met them. I don't really think your work experience is the same as what Buffy is living.

                  And I can find all sorts of scenes that show Willow or Giles giving over research that wasn't asked for. Scads of scenes that illustrate what I am saying - but why bother having a scene war?

                  The real reason we go in circles is that you refuse to address anything I bring up. You hand wave away any context that might not support you - it simply isn't important enough for you to address.. You just go to the same few scenes and repeat the same things about them. I have no idea why. It's frustrating because I'd love to actually converse with you about it. Not to make a point - to win or to lose - just to pick your brains. I enjoy the way you think - I've mentioned that more than once.

                  But yeah - no reason to continue the way we are.
                  Last edited by bespangeled; 05-03-20, 08:29 AM.
                  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.

                  Comment


                  • #56
                    Originally posted by bespangled View Post
                    The real reason we go in circles is that you refuse to address anything I bring up.
                    This is a bit unfair. I spent a significant amount of time replying to your post above thread (post #99) and literally responded to every comment you made point by point (post #100) and you did not even respond back to me at all. Your last response to me (post #103) was piggybacking off my response to Cheese Slices. Despite this, I still took the time to respond to your post (post #103) even though you had not addressed my last response to you (post #100). It's not fair to say I "refuse to address anything you bring up" as I have given you the courtesy of responding to every post you have made towards me in this thread when you have not given me the same courtesy in return. And that's on top of me responding to other posters at the same time as well.

                    I don't want to argue with you and I think we have both learnt by now that LMPTM is not something worth discussing. We are talking at cross purposes and it is clear by now that it's not something we are ever going to reach a middle ground on. Let's leave it there and move on.
                    "The earth is doomed!" - Banner by Nina

                    Comment


                    • bespangeled
                      bespangeled commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Vamp - sorry that I didn't express myself well enough. My problem is that we can't discuss the relationship between Giles and Buffy for the season, and how that affects Empty Places. My problem is that we can't talk about why Buffy is the one who is expected to do everything, and why that is the perception of everyone. My problem is Willow and Xander, and panicked potentials. I don't want to trash anyone. I want to look at context - you seem to want to trash Buffy for LMPTM. We are working at cross purposes on this thread.

                  • #57
                    vampmogs
                    I think we have both learnt by now that
                    LMPTM is not something worth discussing
                    I hope this is not what you actually take home with you from this discussion. To me his thread - as well as the last one, by the way - showed that LMPTM is very much worth discussing and provides plenty of material to do so. You and bespangled might not have convinced the respective other but that's not really the point of discussing, is it? Valid points have been made from several sides and I am happy to read through all of them, pick the one I find plausible or convincing, dismiss the ones I don't and come to my own conclusion in the end.

                    I might also add that if I have not replied myself to any of the posts it is because I am just slower in thinking than you guys are in writing :-)

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

                    Comment


                    • Emmie
                      Emmie commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Echoing flow here - I've enjoyed the analysis on LMPTM. I actually went and reread the script earlier today because of it.

                  • #58
                    vampmogs I am a bit late in the game and am not going to respond since I feel it might upset you. However, I'm willing to continue discussing the issue any time you feel like it, as I agree with Emmie and flow that it is a particularly interesting one.

                    As for the original topic, I do think that Willow's lack of reaction (besides shame) is a problem. Imo, the writers would've been better off leaving the Kennedy romance aside, or at least have it focus more on what the crux of Willow's emotional issues is: a desire to have overwhelming power over others stemming from a deeply rooted lack of self esteem. I actually think it would've been interesting to explore that with Kennedy, who is a much more dominating partner than Tara ever was ; see Willow struggle with it a little bit. We do get that a little, but not enough.
                    I actually feel it's her fear of becoming too "power hungry" that might partly explain her passiveness throughout the coup, but it's not very clear.
                    What a challenge, honesty
                    What a struggle to learn to speak
                    Who would've thought that pretending was easier

                    Comment


                    • #59
                      Cheese Slices
                      I actually feel it's her [Willow's] fear of becoming too "power hungry" that might partly explain her passiveness throughout the coup, but it's not very clear.
                      And yet...for some reason...she's attracted to a women who bears the name of one of the most powerful dynasties in the US. D'you think they're trying to tell us something (genuine question ​​​​​​​)?
                      Last edited by TriBel; 09-03-20, 08:37 PM.
                      sigpic

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                      • #60


                        Even the name was "shocking"--see Dead Kennedys. Waiting for the "third shoe to drop" and it did....John John

                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Kennedys
                        Hugs!
                        sybil

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