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View Full Version : How did Spike's attempted rape of Buffy ("Seeing Red" B 6.19) affect the Buffyverse?



MikeB
24-04-18, 05:11 PM
There was somehow a lot of discussion of the AR in this thread: http://www.buffyforums.net/forums/showthread.php?19939-Did-Joss-Whedon-think-we%92d-essentially-forgive-Angel-after-BtVS-S8/

Spike's attempting to rape Buffy had Buffy further considering Spike only was interested in her for what her body could provide him.

The AR resulted in Spike's getting his soul back, but it was Buffy's telling him "Ask me again why I could never love you. Because I stopped you. Something I should have done a long time ago." and stuff Buffy had said to him in the past that resulted in Spike's getting his soul back. Buffy convinced Spike that she didn't love him--it's near canon Buffy was in love with Spike in BtVS S6--and that's why Spike got his soul back.

But ensouled Spike was ultimately a negative for the world. Buffy would have been with Spike in BtVS S7 if he were still soulless. He still would have either been de-chipped or ensouled in BtVS S7. The First Evil was a threat in BtVS S7 because of Spike's ensoulment. Spike would have never gone to Los Angeles. Angel probably would have died wearing the amulet or Spike would still be ensouled in BtVS S7, wear the amulet, and likely not decide to die in "Chosen" (B 7.22).

Dawn in BtVS S5 didn't see much difference between chipped Spike and Cursed Angel. Spike's being ensouled didn't result in Dawn's forgiving Spike.

The biggest consequence of the AR is Dawn seems to not like Spike until after Spike helps save her in BtVS S9.

Outside of that, Spike's helping Buffy in "Becoming Part II" (B 2.22) affected the Buffyverse more than the AR did. Spike's telling Willow in "The Initiative" (B 4.07) that he's sexually attracted to her affected the Buffyverse more than the AR did.

Buffy before the AR was already distressed that Spike had already had sex with someone else. Buffy before the AR was still being sadomasochistic by denying to Spike that she loves him. But Buffy until "Chosen" (B 7.22) doesn't tell Spike she loves him.

The AR didn't much affect Xander's and Giles's feelings about Buffy/Spike--they were both opposed before it happened.

Stoney
24-04-18, 06:04 PM
I think the attempted rape was very important not just to Spike's arc, but in how it mattered in his arc it was importnat to the verse as well. Seeing Red showed Spike was limited by his nature as an unsouled demon and this brought his arc back in line with the verse distinction of being souled, which his actions over S4-6 had been raising repeatedly. The attempted rape mattered because it broke what Spike has assured himself/Buffy he would never do, hurt her. It showed them/the audience that ultimately Spike was unable to walk the line and be what Buffy needed unsouled by his free will alone, despite all the potential that we may have seen in him and the choices he was able to make and where he managed to do good unsouled. Soulless he was inherently limited in his emotional/moral capacities. Whatever level of feeling Buffy had for him when he was unsouled I don't agree at all that she would have restarted a relationship with him whilst he was unsouled still in S7. Certainly not ever one that could become positive and mutually strengthen the characters as they had in S7 when he was souled. Becoming souled was a progressive, positive step for Spike's character which enabled him to become heroic and sacrifice himself for the greater good. In terms of affecting the verse, it was the reiteration of the importance of the soul, that vampires were inherently unreliable without a soul whether with a genuine want/desire to meet expectations or not.

The actual attempted rape itself did affect Dawn's feelings towards Spike as you say, but other characters possibly did just see it as being in line and within the scope of unsouled behaviour. Dawn was personally hurt by it as a betrayal in a way I don't think the others will have felt. Becoming souled enabled Spike to eventually forge new relationships with the various characters though and, as you say, he and Dawn did work past the disconnection it created with time too.

Priceless
24-04-18, 07:04 PM
Spike's attempting to rape Buffy had Buffy further considering Spike only was interested in her for what her body could provide him.

I think it's deeper than this. Buffy knew it wasn't only about her body/sex, she knew that possibly from Crush, if not before. She understood that Spike loved her, but she believed he was bad for her, that he was trying to drag her down, when she was trying to get over so much trauma that had happened. She loved him back, but everything she'd been taught made her believe he couldn't really love and she shouldn't love back. I agree with you, that it's canon that Buffy loved Spike in S6 - she confirms it in Season 7.


But ensouled Spike was ultimately a negative for the world.

Not at all. Unsouled he fought alongside Buffy because he wanted to please her, he loved her. Once souled, the fight became his too. He saw the worth in it, so much so that he sacrificed himself on the Hellmouth for it, and that was positive for the world too. I consider it similar to Willow in Season 3 when she gets into lots of prestigious colleges, but decides to stay in Sunnydale, not simply to be close to Buffy, but to commit herself to the fight against evil.


Dawn in BtVS S5 didn't see much difference between chipped Spike and Cursed Angel. Spike's being ensouled didn't result in Dawn's forgiving Spike.


This is possibly because Dawn hadn't been brain washed by the Watchers Council into believing their propaganda about all demons being evil. She was close to Buffy and Angel's relationship, but she wasn't in it, she didn't see Angelus and what he did, as being a child she would have been very much protected from it. After living through that, I imagine it would be difficult for Buffy to consider a chipped Spike to be as 'safe' as a souled Angel.


The biggest consequence of the AR is Dawn seems to not like Spike until after Spike helps save her in BtVS S9

The biggest consequence of the AR was surely Spike deciding to get a soul, and for Buffy to forgive him, much the same way she forgave Angel after he lost his soul (and after the Twilight debacle)

Rebcake
25-04-18, 01:32 AM
Seeing Red showed Spike was limited by his nature as an unsouled demon and this brought his arc back in line with the verse distinction of being souled, which his actions over S4-6 had been raising repeatedly.

I don't quite agree with this, because we've seen Spike demonstrate a whole bunch of actions in S2-S6 that were as good or better than souled characters — but more importantly, the crime of attempted rape itself is shown to be outside the metaphor of the demon. Warren and his pals, Willow, Faith, and a whole host of supporting characters have engaged in the same behavior, and never shown much, if any, remorse. It's not a crime that can be blamed on the lack of a soul, IMHO.

Buffy might try to blame it on the lack of a soul, and Spike may blame it on the lack of a soul, but we have seen more than they have.

I'm not saying the soul makes no difference — it obviously does — and so the AR does have fallout within the 'verse. I'd say the biggest consequence it has is leading Spike to get a soul, which then makes him eligible to wear the amulet to save the world.

DeepBlueJoy
25-04-18, 04:48 AM
Lack of a soul did not cause the assault, though it was contributory. The assault did cause the fight for the soul.

It made Spike recognize the limits of his moral judgment. Anyone can rape - AEB by Xander (attempted), Willow(magic roofie), Warren (rape and murder) and others. Spike knew that with a soul, the entire situation wiuld have gone differently. His entire emotional journey would have been different.

So... Since the assault made Spike seek his soul, it led indirectly to Spike saving the world. That is one heck of a trajectory.

Stoney
25-04-18, 05:27 AM
I don't quite agree with this, because we've seen Spike demonstrate a whole bunch of actions in S3-S6 that were as good or better than souled characters — but more importantly, the crime of attempted rape itself is shown to be outside the metaphor of the demon. Warren and his pals, Willow, Faith, and a whole host of supporting characters have engaged in the same behavior, and never shown much, if any, remorse. It's not a crime that can be blamed on the lack of a soul, IMHO.

Buffy might try to blame it on the lack of a soul, and Spike may blame it on the lack of a soul, but we have seen more than they have.

I'm not saying the soul makes no difference — it obviously does — and so the AR does have fallout within the 'verse. I'd say the biggest consequence it has is leading Spike to get a soul, which then makes him eligible to wear the amulet to save the world.

Oh no it wasn't that the crime was attempted rape, and I think both Spike and Buffy completely understand that that isn't a 'soulless crime', it was that Spike was adamant that he could be what Buffy needed and that he could promise that he wouldn't hurt her. That was the significance. He felt that he could walk the line and the attempted rape showed that he could misjudge it entirely in a way that was bound I believe to his moral and emotional limitations. It wasn't that the attempted rape itself was soulless, it was that whilst soulless his lack of capacity had him entirely misread and misjudge the situation. In his crypt afterwards he is torn and confused about why he did what he did but also why he didn't do it. He's struggling to understand what he did and why it even bothers him and it is what makes him realise that he can't walk the line and he concludes he needs to make a choice to change. So it brought him back in line to the verse perspective that soullessness is inherently limited, he couldn't choose to walk the line by free will alone. As DeepBlueJoy put it, it makes him face the limits of his moral judgement perhaps.

So although he doesn't know truly what becoming souled will do he is seeing it as a potential solution because of all the times he has been told it is what he 'lacks'. Souled he wouldn't have been in the same situation, as you say it makes a difference, but that is one of awareness and capacity in the choices made. The same acts can be chosen/committed by someone souled, but they have the complete moral/emotional capacity to make those choices within. So it isn't that soullessness made him commit the specific act or that the specific act was the issue and bound to being soulless, if I made it sound like that was what I was implying it wasn't my intention or my belief.

vampmogs
25-04-18, 06:00 AM
Dawn equating having a soul with having a chip is just immature naivety at best, stupidity at worst. They're not the remotely the same thing unless you believe that the only function of a chip/soul is to prevent the vampire from killing people. The chip prevented Spike from hurting people but what it couldn't do is turn him good. The soul altered Spike on a fundamental level and changed both his morality and his perception of the world. Spike went from a guy who found famine pictures funny (Pangs) to a guy who criticised the world for ignoring the thousands of people starving in it (Underneath). The chip couldn't do that. I think a big reason why Dawn's perception of Spike changed so drastically after the AR, perhaps more so than anybody else's, is because it completely shattered her naive view of him. Up until Grave Dawn's opinion of Spike had essentially been that he's cool, and funny, and nice to her, and can't hurt people, therefore he's "good." The AR was a painful reality check.

I don't think the AR showed that Spike was limited by his nature. Or, well, I do, but I think we'd seen plenty of other evidence throughout S6 that proved that. Dead Things demonstrated that no matter how much Spike had changed or had appeared to have changed, at the end of the day Katrina was "just another body" to him. He could not understand why killing someone would rock Buffy to the core the way that it did because Spike did not value human life that way. What's interesting is that the writers have conceded that a part of their motivation for the AR was to drive home the point that Spike was meant to be the Bad Boyfriend in S6 as they felt that parts of the audience weren't getting it. For better or worse the AR was literally done to hit the audience over the head with the fact that Spike was bad for Buffy. So in that sense I guess you could say that the AR was significant in demonstrating that a soulless vampire was limited by their nature, as that was part of the intent behind the scene, but it's not something that hadn't been emphasised repeatedly throughout S6 already.

I personally would say that the AR's significance to the story is of course that it propels Spike into getting his soul and then saving the world in Chosen. So obviously in that sense it was greatly significant. Although, as I've previously stated before, I will never not find it gross that they victimised Buffy and made her an attempted rape victim for the character development of her boyfriend's story. It'll never not be a huge betrayal of the show's mission statement and a complete contradiction of what was meant to be different about Buffy.

Stoney
25-04-18, 10:10 AM
I don't think the AR showed that Spike was limited by his nature. Or, well, I do, but I think we'd seen plenty of other evidence throughout S6 that proved that. Dead Things demonstrated that no matter how much Spike had changed or had appeared to have changed, at the end of the day Katrina was "just another body" to him. He could not understand why killing someone would rock Buffy to the core the way that it did because Spike did not value human life that way. What's interesting is that the writers have conceded that a part of their motivation for the AR was to drive home the point that Spike was meant to be the Bad Boyfriend in S6 as they felt that parts of the audience weren't getting it. For better or worse the AR was literally done to hit the audience over the head with the fact that Spike was bad for Buffy. So in that sense I guess you could say that the AR was significant in demonstrating that a soulless vampire was limited by their nature, as that was part of the intent behind the scene, but it's not something that hadn't been emphasised repeatedly throughout S6 already.

I agree. The thing that I was trying to say it brought Spike back in line with the verse stance on the soul I'm obviously not explaining well, but is based on that intention that the writers had. It isn't that Spike didn't show other signs of his disconnection, and as we've been going through the positives/negatives I've specifically brought up ways that I think they are showing that pointedly alongside the 'good' things he is doing in S6. Still finding the destruction the demons are making to Sunnydale appealing, not considering Giles fear when he is being attacked because he thinks he's done enough to save him etc. I think perhaps what had that portion of the audience (and Spike himself) convinced that he could be good was the idea that he was able to decide where to draw some lines by his free will alone. So they could think that he might not understand human social standards but perhaps he could learn or be helped, but he wouldn't hurt Buffy and that was a certainty he was living by in his belief he could be what she needed. I think what the AR does is show that this isn't plausible because of how he is inherently limited, beyond his own wishes. He is motivated by love and was placing Buffy above everything, felt that he could turn with utter certainty and tell her 'I don't hurt you'. But he couldn't meet his own expectations of himself reliably and this is where an additional line is drawn by his attack on Buffy. It shows his limitations aren't something he can overcome by will alone, there is a fundamental 'lack', even with a genuine desire and motivation to be reliable driving him.