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View Full Version : Willow - her character arc



Ahm Shere
07-11-12, 09:36 PM
I was going to post this in the Willow & Co. Resurrection thread...however I realised my post isn't quite all about Willow's arc during Buffy's ressurection, but more of her arc as a whole.

So,

I have been re-watching Buffy lately and I just finished watching After Life. I've never had a problem with Willow before, I've always sort of liked her. It was always Xander who I've had the problem with. I haven't re-watched Buffy in full for a couple of years now, I've only picked and chose episodes to watch at random...and on this re-watch I am picking up things I haven't picked up before.

It was mainly around the end of Season 5 is where I started to realise that I was beginning to really dislike her. I then felt that Willow was acting so selfish when she was complaining about Buffy not saying "thank you" straight away...I just wanted to give her a slap. It seemed to me whilst watching that she was more happier about the fact that she managed to work such a powerful spell rather than be happy that her (best) friend is back from the dead. As much as I hate to say it, Xander was the one who was more of a friend to Buffy when she first came back. The way she just assumes that Buffy SHOULD be happy straight away is pretty ridiculous. Anya sarcastically says "yes because six or seven days will be enough to get over years of torture and torment." (Or something to that effect.) To think that Buffy should immediately be happy is something that really no-one should expect.

Looking back however, it's hard to pinpoint exactly where Willow started to go downhill for me, personally. Season 5 and 6 Willow is not the same Willow from the beginning of the show. Her character changed for the worse I think. Her decisions have become more selfish and her dabbling in magic...well...we all know where that eventually leads. As the season progresses, Xander is quickly becoming a character I like more and more...(although I'll never like him during the Angel saga...) and Willow is swiftly becoming a character that I just don't like. I much prefer the Willow in High School.

Which is such a shame!

Am I the only one who thinks this? I've got a table ready to hide under here because I'm expecting a big backlash here. :lol:

Nor does it probably make sense because I can't quite describe how I feel about Willow at the minute.

I'll probably add in later about the argument that Willow and Tara had in Tough Love because Willow angered me then, too. However I kind of can't put it into words at the minute. :s

HisMRS
07-11-12, 09:58 PM
I completely agree with you, and I have to say it is refreshing to find someone who feels the same way I do about Willow.
It's odd to me because in the beginning I really loved Willow and always rooted for her. But by the time Season 5 rolls around she starts being way too selfish and controlling for me and I find myself rolling my eyes at a lot of her scenes.

Stoney
07-11-12, 10:41 PM
I like Willow's progress personally. I don't know, her arc works for me because she was young and nerdy and didn't fit in that well then she gained the confidence that her intelligence could always have engendered once she felt comfortable and that then developed into desiring a greater control of her environment, to feel more so, and so the draw to control and command her environment increases and progresses. With that comes a disconnection from how things effect others and we see that in S6. Both her and Buffy are disconnected for different reasons but it is why we see scenes where they are talking and not listening, Buffy in particular often responding in a way that is more directed at her self and what her issues are. It all just works for me and it matures her character out of the school years.

The only time I had a problem with Willow was Willow/Kennedy. I had a real issue with that relationship as there was nothing at all likeable about Kennedy and I struggled to see why Willow would have ended up with her. The whole hair going white Chosen spell 'goddess' thing was also one of the naffest things I ever saw on BtVS but that isn't about her character arc!! But the Kennedy relationship does progress into her Aluwyn S8 relationship well and how much further she has become engulfed in a side of her life that draws her that is physically and emotionally separated from the 'real' world. This aspect will be interesting to see where her mini goes (the most interesting thing about the mini for me) not just the return of magic angle, which actually I'm personally not too bothered about.

I actually think my 'take' on Willow is probably my weakest character connection. I struggle with her because of the extent to which she pulled away from those that used to mean so much to her to engulf herself in her connection to magic. And I don't mean S6, I mean S8 onwards really. She seems to have hardened too much to me, she missed something significant to explain the extent to which we see it but I accept that I probably am missing something there. But generally speaking, S1-midS7 works for me.

vampmogs
08-11-12, 11:02 AM
I then felt that Willow was acting so selfish when she was complaining about Buffy not saying "thank you" straight away...I just wanted to give her a slap. It seemed to me whilst watching that she was more happier about the fact that she managed to work such a powerful spell rather than be happy that her (best) friend is back from the dead. As much as I hate to say it, Xander was the one who was more of a friend to Buffy when she first came back. The way she just assumes that Buffy SHOULD be happy straight away is pretty ridiculous. Anya sarcastically says "yes because six or seven days will be enough to get over years of torture and torment." (Or something to that effect.) To think that Buffy should immediately be happy is something that really no-one should expect.

Anya actually says that to Xander;


XANDER
I'm sure she's fine. Give it a week and she'll be out little Buffster again.
ANYA
Ah yes, because a week is all you need to get over an eternal hell experience

And I personally find Xander's comment way more aggravating than Willow's confession to Tara. I have major issues with how the Scoobies deal with the resurrection and I think they were all guilty of a certain degree of ignorance when it came to the trauma Buffy would have went through, but Xander says that so cavalierly and it always makes me cringe. Anya’s sarcastic reply is just so on point. When Willow confesses to Tara that a part of is disapointed that Buffy didn't say thanks, she does so in the privacy of their bedroom which moments earlier Tara reaffirmed as their ~safe space~ ("This is the room where you don't have to be brave. If your worried you can be worried. I'll still love you") and it just feels unfair to attack her for it. It'd be different if Willow was guilt-tripping Buffy or grousing in public about it but she didn't. And I really wouldn't call it "complaining" either as she doesn't even bring it up until Tara gets it out of her.

Willow's saving grace is that she says "Would it make me a terrible person if I said yes?" She's not some egotistical bitch who is so arrogant and self-involved that all she can do is moan that Buffy didn't express gratitude to her. She's fully aware that it could come across as "terrible" for her to admit these feelings out loud and she feels guilty for even thinking it. And I'm actually pretty sympathetic to Willow here as I admit that I've been guilty of imagining somebody thanking me and being gracious when I have done something nice for them. It's not something I'm proud of and their gratitude certainly isn't the main reason I'm helping them out, but I've been guilty of that too.

It's also more complex than Willow just wanting Buffy to say thank you for her own benefit. A part of Willow is concerned that Buffy doesn't seem happy to be back which is troubling her. She needs Buffy to say thanks because if she does then Willow knows Buffy is happy to be back and she can be reassured that she made the right decision.

S6 is certainly a difficult season for Willow and she makes some pretty huge mistakes. However, I never stopped enjoying her character and I could never really call her selfish. She has some selfish moments, sure, but I don't feel she has them more than any other character and it'd never be one of the first words that spring to mind when I'm thinking about her character. I've always really liked her and even though Buffy's arc speaks to me more I'd actually say Willow probably has the most well-constructed arc out of all Buffyverse characters. For the most part, her journey is just so well-written and I find it fascinating. She's certainly a character who benefited well from Whedon having mapped out where she would be heading fairly early on into the series.

But yours is not an uncommon opinion. I've seen quite a few people cite late S5/S6 as the moment where they begin to find her character unlikeable. Tough Love seems to be a turning point for a lot of people (I've personally never understood why?) and I know my sibling felt the same. Personally, I loved her evolution from a meek high school nerd into a confident and assertive woman. Early!Willow was cute and fun but it would have gotten seriously stale if she kept that persona throughout the entire show. My opinion changes all the time (it usually depends on what season I'm rewatching) but my favourite season for Willow at the moment is actually S8. Of course I miss Alyson's acting but I love Willow's personality that season and Goddess and Monsters is absolutely one of my favourite character-centric pieces of the whole 'verse (episodes or comics).

Dipstick
08-11-12, 01:43 PM
Her decisions have become more selfish and her dabbling in magic...well...we all know where that eventually leads.

To many episodes and issues where Willow saves everyone's butts with magic and her magic becomes so indispensable to how the Scoobies investigate, fight, protect themselves, and save lives that Willow is ordered to do magic even if Willow doesn't want to on multiple occasions by Buffy, Xander, Anya and Giles?

There are definitely episodes, especially in S6, where Willow makes horrendous decisions with magic. However, I wouldn't blame the S1-5 dabbling on that.

I will also note that "thankful" wasn't Willow's word. It was Tara's. See:


WILLOW: If things did go right ... wouldn't you think she'd be ... happier? Like, wouldn't you think she would be so happy that we brought her out?
TARA: Sure she is.
Willow isn't convinced.
TARA: You thought she'd say thanks. Be more grateful.
WILLOW: Would I be a terrible person if I said yes?

IMO, Willow was having trouble expressing herself because what she was feeling was so complicated. "Thankful" was probably a small part of Willow's feeling but from what Willow actually said, she seemed more concerned that maybe things didn't go right and Buffy didn't seem like someone brought out of hell.

I think Tara took that as an opportunity to put the least flattering words in Willow's mouth that didn't address the complexity of what Willow was feeling and Willow just shouldered those words because it was a component of her guilt-complex.

In that sense if I wanted to bash Willow for her attitude in the resurrection, I'd use the words from Willow: In Her Own Words of Flooded rather than Willow: Through Tara's Words in Afterlife.

Gemini9857
09-11-12, 01:34 AM
I think Willow was pretty selfish in regards to magic before Season 5 or 6. In Season 3 she was going to use magic to do a de-lusting spell for her and Xander (Lovers Walk), Xander talked her out of it but she was planning on doing the spell without even telling him. In Season 4 she continued to use magic as an easy fix. Look at Something Blue - she did a spell that she hoped would make her get over Oz instantly.

I think it was a bit of a gradual thing. Willow started to use magic more and more and also started using magic to make things go her way.

Willow also had no problem with letting Dawn try to bring back Joyce, she even pointed out the book that Dawn should use. It was Tara who was against messing with the natural order of things, but Tara did seem to change her mind in regards to Buffy.

Given the comics
I'm still not sure Willow understands that's it's not okay to bring back the dead. She should have said something to Angel about trying to resurrect Giles - because she should know now that it's not a good idea.

Dipstick
09-11-12, 02:00 AM
I think Willow was pretty selfish in regards to magic before Season 5 or 6. In Season 3 she was going to use magic to do a de-lusting spell for her and Xander (Lovers Walk), Xander talked her out of it but she was planning on doing the spell without even telling him. In Season 4 she continued to use magic as an easy fix. Look at Something Blue - she did a spell that she hoped would make her get over Oz instantly.

I think it was a bit of a gradual thing. Willow started to use magic more and more and also started using magic to make things go her way.

You know, I don't even think "gradual" correctly describes increasing misuse of magic through as a build-up to S6 but I often see it bandied about.

By far, the worst pre-S6 spell that Willow behaved as if she *would* perform is the delusting spell for her and Xander and that was in early S3.

If we define "selfish" as Wikepedia does (and I think we should):

selfish- placing concern with oneself or one's own interests above the well-being or interests of others

I submit that Willow never appeared that she'd finish performing and never performed a mainly selfish (in the sense of putting her interests above that of others') spell from Lover's Walk to All the Way.

For instance, Willow's Will Be Done wasn't "selfish". It was for Willow but she wasn't intentionally putting her interests ahead of others'.

Willow trying to discourage Dawn with information about how spells backfire instead of toeing Tara's line of only saying, "You can't resurrect because....you can't. Stop asking me questions!" certainly wasn't selfish. That was merely Willow thinking that she can speak freely about her own reasons for having reservations about resurrecting Joyce....and Tara thinking that Willow has no right to say anything that Tara doesn't approve of.

Willow giving Dawn a book to make Dawn feel informed about resurrections may have been ill-advised, given how Dawn took the references in that book to resourcefully sneak up to Giles's dark magic books and get the real info on how to resurrect. However, it wasn't Willow putting her interests ahead of others.

buffyholic
31-12-12, 01:39 PM
Yeah, that moment also upsets me. I mean, she wants Buffy to thank her for getting her out of heaven? They still think it was a hell dimension but that isn´t an excuse. The same thing happened with Giles, she was looking for approval on his part. The magic really starts affecting her very negatively.

Gemini9857
31-12-12, 11:52 PM
Willow giving Dawn a book to make Dawn feel informed about resurrections may have been ill-advised, given how Dawn took the references in that book to resourcefully sneak up to Giles's dark magic books and get the real info on how to resurrect. However, it wasn't Willow putting her interests ahead of others.
I always felt like Willow may have been giving Dawn the book because she was okay with Dawn trying to resurrect Joyce. If Willow really didn't want Dawn to try to bring back Joyce I don't think she should have pointed out the book that would do that. Willow's not really being selfish but it does indicate to me that Willow is okay with resurrection and doesn't really see anything wrong with bringing back the dead.

Dipstick
01-01-13, 12:46 AM
I always felt like Willow may have been giving Dawn the book because she was okay with Dawn trying to resurrect Joyce. If Willow really didn't want Dawn to try to bring back Joyce I don't think she should have pointed out the book that would do that. Willow's not really being selfish but it does indicate to me that Willow is okay with resurrection and doesn't really see anything wrong with bringing back the dead.

I think Willow didn't want Dawn raising Joyce. Willow only gave Dawn the book so Dawn could feel like she was making a choice to not resurrect Joyce because it was too daunting, too warned against, etc. instead of just obeying Tara because Tara said so. I feel this for a number of reasons:

1) Willow sincerely believed that resurrections are problematic because they backfire. Willow doesn't have a moral objection to resurrections but she does think that they are dangerous.


TARA: But we don't mess with life and death. (Shot of Willow looking upset) Dawn, I know how bad you hurt.
DAWN: You don't. (upset) They put her in the ground.
TARA: They did, and it's awful and unfair, but this isn't the way.
WILLOW: I'm not even sure it's possible, Dawn. I mean, I've ... seen things on resurrection, but ... there's books and stuff ... but I guess ... the spells ... backfire?

2) After Tara discovered that the book was missing and suspected Dawn of stealing it and using to raise Joyce, Willow gives away:


TARA: This is bad, this is really bad.
WILLOW: (anxiously) But, i-it's just a history book. I-it might answer some of her questions. I-I don't think she could do any ... harm with that stuff, could she?
TARA: Well, it's not a how-to guide, but it refers to specific resurrection spells and potions.

3) We don't need to take Willow's word for it because after Dawn gets the book, Dawn concocts a whole ruse to pretend to work at the Magic Box in order to research resurrections in the Magic Box's Forbidden Section.


DAWN: Is there anything I should know, like, um, off-limits stuff? Willow told me that some of the books and things are ... kind of dangerous?
GILES: Quite right. Um, but they're all labeled, and, and, and, uh, kept off the floor. Most of our, uh, more potent texts and potions are all up there.

He points upward. Shot of the loft, a fairly narrow section full of bookcases.

GILES: If anyone asks you about anything in that area, just come and get me. (turns away)

Dawn waits until Giles and Anya are occupied and then climbs up the ladder to steal books from the Forbidden Section.

Based on all of the facts, the ep implies that Willow's book was a broad history with references to some specific resurrections but no guides on to do them. In order to actually get the guide on how to perform resurrections, Dawn had to very cagily pretend to work at the Magic Box and then steal the relevant books upstairs. I don't believe that Willow was counting on Dawn to do that.

MikeB
28-03-18, 12:33 AM
* Willow’s selfishness and ego was a progression and started the moment Buffy wanted to be friends with Willow. It increased upon learning what Buffy is. It increased upon being a “Slayerette”. It increased upon Oz’s interest in her. It greatly increased upon successfully doing the re-cursing spell. It increased upon learning Spike’s attracted to her. It greatly increased upon realizing she may be more powerful than Buffy (BtVS S5).


* Willow’s a great character and even at her worst (wanting to keep the Seed), she’s not worse than Buffy (risking the entire world to try to save Dawn; possibly risking the entire world to keep Spike around), Angel (obvious), and Spike (getting the Judge together as a birthday present to Drusilla; doing the demon eggs thing largely to see Buffy’s reaction to seeing Riley again).

In BtVS S6, Willow relatively immediately cedes leadership of the Scooby Gang to Buffy. In BtVS S8, Buffy is in charge even though Willow is many times more powerful. BtVS S9 has Willow literally giving up being a god to try to save Dawn.



Ahm Shere


* Willow was not happier that she successfully did the Buffy resurrection spell than Willow was that Buffy was alive again.