Page 30 of 37 FirstFirst ... 202829303132 ... LastLast
Results 581 to 600 of 727

Thread: BtVS rewatch: SEASON 6

  1. #581
    Well Spiked Stoney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Blighty
    Posts
    7,628
    Thanks
    10,098
    Thanked 12,110 Times in 4,948 Posts

    Default

    Great to see the New Year start with such interesting discussion. My appreciation of Normal Again has been expanded on greatly through our discussions here as always.

    I'm hoping to post on Entropy before Seeing Red this weekend, and as it has been a while and active discussion is currently on Normal Again I thought I'd pop links to the Entropy review for anyone else that is still catching up - Entropy (pt1 and pt2). Links to all the posted reviews can still be found on the first post of the thread, under the spoiler.

    Also, a quick flag that only a handful of S7 episodes are still looking for reviewers. We'll open up for those that have already chosen one to pick a second later this week. So if you haven't been on and grabbed one for yourself yet, go and have a look at what's left (here). Don't forget to scroll down in case any more have been taken since this link was made.

    Back to Normal Again, with more responses to Entropy to follow soon too.
    Last edited by Stoney; 07-01-19 at 10:51 AM.

  2. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to Stoney For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (07-01-19),debbicles (14-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (07-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (07-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (07-01-19),Tiny Tabby (07-01-19)

  3. #582
    Scooby Gang American Aurora's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    561
    Thanks
    3,614
    Thanked 2,822 Times in 564 Posts

    Default

    Hey, StateofSiege!

    Here’s more of my response to Normal Again!

    Reading Act III: Joyce, the Voices of Normativity, & the Path Home— I have let the entire act run because it feels compact, of a piece, rendering extended comment a distraction to its unfolding, making any muchness of words best saved to the end: Buffy’s face, throughout, is shadowed by the plea with which the act opens, the yearning that subtends it: “Please, help me. I want to go home with you and dad.” Over and across this shadow, however, plays a struggle, in shifts between a cast of affectlessness, Buffy’s turn from the slightest recognition of those pleading with her, those whom she loves, and throes of grasping at resolve, at the determination to follow the instructions she has been given, instructions uttered by the Doctor and Joyce, instructions that articulate the regulative norms of biopower:
    Your mention of the politics of biopower – as I understand it – includes the regulative norms imposed on the body through social management and supervisory power. It seems to fit any large governing body who desires to control both the individual and the population through myth and cultural practice with scientific knowledge creating an even stronger apparatus of control. Within this dynamic, anything can be justified in order to define and govern the body, whether individual or body politic.

    And this seems to be especially pointed in a series like Buffy because of the inherent nature of her “chosen” status – her body imbued with supernatural power through the machinations of a council that uses the female body as a weapon with which to defeat their enemies. Buffy’s lack of control over the sudden enlargement of her physical powers and the swift dispatch of a Watcher to direct and control his Slayer using a regulatory book of rules is a fanciful version of this essential dynamic between governing bodies and their subjects – pushing a certain idea of “naturalness” that is anything but.

    Which brings into focus the meaning of the Glarghk Guhl Kashmas'nik that the Trio send to plague Buffy – it’s clear from Warren’s boasting that he has an idea of what the demon’s poison is capable of creating within the mind of its victim:

    WARREN: Andrew's demon pet has done some number on the slayer. Got her tripping like a Ken Russell film festival.
    We never hear anything more about the Glarghk Guhl Kashmas'nik from any of the Trio – since Warren seems to completely finger Andrew as the master magician who conjures up the demon, one assumes that he knows very little about it outside of what Andrew has told him. As mentioned before, there’s some link with aboriginal culture because of the didgeridoo (or Yiḏaki in the original tongue) used to summon him – which connects him vaguely to the beeswax used to cover the mouthpiece (hence the “waxy” appearance of the demon) and the ceremonial meaning of the “dreaming” within aboriginal culture.

    The Dreamtime is the "time before time," that predates the final form of all things and the beginning of the world. In this non-linear, non-progressive space, the Gods existed without form and it was only the playing of the didgeridoo that created the elements of the world and brought Time forth to create life. One supposes that the Glarghk Guhl Kashmas'nik is a remnant of this creation of Time and Form and Structure – a metaphor for the development of control over human culture. It’s fairly obvious that the poison already uses the imbedded belief systems within the individual to create form out of chaos – Buffy herself is apparently structuring her own preferred apparatus of control to contain herself and inflict bodily punishment when necessary.

    The ways in which the demon works upon Buffy’s mind to create a sense of “naturalness” and “wrongness” are profound and powerful – Buffy’s mind manufactures its own sense of what she should be and creates its own form of social enforcement – as you say, the pre-series Buffy who is still reeling from various traumatic experiences – through eliminating the possibilities of alternate realities.

    Her guilt over her perceived failures to conform, her desire to subjugate herself to Spike, her hatred of herself and her duties, her catastrophic death and resurrection lead her to spin schizophrenic delusions of Sunnydale as a manufactured prison of her own mind. She harkens back to former pre-Chosen memories of social control through her parents, the medical profession and ideals of normativity – as you say, the Joyce of Normal Again isn’t the Joyce who accepted Buffy in later seasons, but the Joyce who was unaware of Buffy’s Chosen state:

    Joyce: I know, Buffy—but first, you’ve got to get better.
    Doctor: Yes. I’m talking about the things you want there. What keeps you going back—
    Buffy [slowly]: My friends—
    Doctor: That’s right. Last summer, when you had a momentary awakening, it was them that pulled you back in.
    Joyce: They’re not really your friends, Buffy. They’re just tricks, keeping you from getting healthy.
    Doctor: You have to do whatever it takes to convince yourself of that—whatever it takes.

    Crucial, first, to note: the Joyce who speaks here, the Joyce whom we have seen thus far in this episode, whom we will see up through the opening of the next act, is not the Joyce we have come to know and love over the course of Ss3-5, the Joyce who unconditionally loved, who accepted and trusted and deeply admired her Slayer-daughter… No, this is the Joyce of Ss1-2 and before, the Joyce who, save for brief flashes (PG, SH, and Passions come most immediately to mind), expected her daughter to get into trouble again; who saw her as incurably irresponsible, her head full of nothing but boys and a wrongness of some sort that she could not grasp; who, when Buffy finally attempted to explain, told her to not “even think of coming back” when she “walk[ed] out that door” to save the world (Becoming II). The Joyce who wanted, as she says in Gingerbread, a “normal daughter.” The Joyce whom Buffy, given the past we now know, feared disappointing—and simply feared. This is the Joyce whom Buffy conjures in her hallucinations, again manifesting the true nature of this world: far from a palpable rendering of her ideal, it gives a reiteration of her trauma. A trauma that circles around the normative, its implacable force.
    Fantastic point, StateofSiege!

    This Joyce is a manifestation of Buffy’s terror that has been omnipresent in her psyche from Day One of her powers – voicing every fear that besets Buffy in the asylum.

    What’s really fantastic about all of this is how Buffy’s internal narrative mirrors a kind of fanciful fanfic woven from her own life – a desire to retcon the past six seasons and the film to return to a pre-narrative innocence. I’ve actually seen similar fanfics in which a disturbed Buffy invents her Slayer life as an escape from an intolerable present – something very similar in works as disparate as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, American Psycho and Pale Fire.

    Buffy shapes her own life as a kind of Mary Sue fantasy world with herself as an unreliable narrator – but as in Life of Pi, we are given two plausible alternative worlds that could both be true. One is fantastic and one is based in scientific realism – but both mirror each other in terms of psychological trauma – as the book points out, “If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for?"

    In this context, we may also wish to recall the words of Lauren Berlant: speaking, first, of the concept of slow death, “It takes as its point of departure David Harvey’s polemical observation, in Spaces of Hope, that under capitalism sickness is defined as the inability to work”; then speaking about biopower, “Health itself can then be seen as a side effect of successful normativity, and people’s desires and fantasies are solicited to line up with that pleasant condition.” For being a proper daughter within a normative, capitalist, upper-middle class, nuclear family proves to be hard work, and when Buffy proves unable to perform her appointed job, she is deemed sick, termed unhealthy due to her lack of successful normativity; then, in the original clinic—as in the hallucinated asylum—her “desires and fantasies are solicited to line up with that pleasant condition” of correct daughterhood.
    That’s an excellent parallel, StateofSiege, and I’d also add that under an aggressively warlike regime, the idea of “health” is identified with the ability to defend and invade under the direction of a governing body. A “healthy” army of Slayer and Watchers is the ideal under the auspices of the Watcher’s Council. Buffy’s deep guilt and shame over her rejection of Quentin Travers surfaces here – her fantastical delusions strip her of her powers and replace their absence with “sickness” instead.

    That Buffy hallucinates the story that the her time in heaven was actually a time of asylum-bound lucidity—presumably spent with her parents, under observation—, was a segment of progressive time, not timelessness, shows her deep interiorization of the disciplinary norms that Joyce and Hank sought to impose upon her, despite how far she has, since L.A., gone beyond them in her life as a Slayer (and how far, as well, has Joyce herself)—shows how much of her early trauma she has not been able to work through. (We might also think, here, of Nightmares as further evidence of her persistent haunting).
    Great point that her timeless heaven moment was transmuted into a very specific time of lucidity within the frame of the asylum and that’s a fantastic callback to Nightmares and the origins of her trauma.

    Hence, as I will elaborate fully below, Buffy’s chosenness, her being as the Slayer, has always been tinged with wrongness. Hence, too, as I will again below bring to clarity, her work of what the Doctor and her family deem healing must take the form of murder—murder of those whom she loves, those whose very being wove themselves into her own to render possible both their and her becoming But before attempting to unravel that complex webbing of relations, which requires the last act, I want to focus on what makes Buffy’s final determination to murder possible: We know she desires “health” as biopolitically defined by the Doctor and her mother; we know that she submits to their directions, allows them to guide her actions.
    Yes, StateofSiege, and considering that they are figments of her imagination, it’s intriguing to see how Buffy views herself and her friends from a certain vantage point. We’ve already been privy to Buffy losing her sense of reality before with regards to Dawn – her realization that Dawn was a new addition to the family was followed by a murderous rage because Buffy felt that this intruder was making her mother “sick”:

    DAWN: Buffy? Buffy. Who said you could come in my room?
    BUFFY: You're not my sister.
    DAWN: Yeah! Like I even want to be related to your nasty self- Ow! What are you doing?
    BUFFY: What are you?
    DAWN: Get off me!
    BUFFY: You want to hurt me?
    DAWN: Let go of me, you freak!
    BUFFY: Then you deal with me.
    DAWN: I'm telling mom!
    BUFFY: You stay away from my mother!
    Buffy shoves Dawn against the wall with tremendous force. Dawn stares at Buffy, shocked, and Buffy stares back, her gaze unwavering. (No Place Like Home)
    And committing acts of violence – even murder – when confronted with sickness is also present in other episodes – of course, the whole idea of vampires as humans who need to be “cured” through dusting because they’ve been “infected” by vampirism underlies the moral purpose of Buffy’s calling – but she’s not averse to physically resorting to force when one of her friends is under a spell that causes atypical behavior like Buffy taking out Xander when he’s a victim of the Hyena spell:

    Buffy: Hurry up. We gotta get him locked up somehow before he comes to.
    Willow: Oh, my God, Xander! What happened?
    Buffy: I hit him.
    Willow: With what?
    Buffy: A desk. (The Pack)
    When Angel falls ill from Faith’s machinations, Buffy has no qualms about killing Faith in order to “heal” Angel:

    FAITH: Is he dead yet?
    BUFFY: He's not gonna die. It was a good try, though. Your plan?
    FAITH: Uh-huh. The Mayor got me the poison. Said it was wicked painful.
    BUFFY: There's a cure.
    FAITH: Damn. What is it?
    BUFFY: Your blood. As justice goes, it's not un-poetic, don't you think?
    FAITH: Come to get me? You gonna feed me to Angel? You know you're not going to take me alive.
    BUFFY: Not a problem. (Graduation Day)
    And when Faith is unavailable, Buffy offers herself as the sacrificial victim to enable health – just as she jumps off the tower in The Gift:

    ANGEL: Faith's out of the picture. Buffy put her into a coma.
    XANDER: And?
    ANGEL: Buffy cured me. Made me –
    GILES: You fed off her.
    ANGEL: Yes.
    GILES: How much?
    ANGEL: She's gonna be fine.
    WILLOW: She won't be a vampire?
    ANGEL: No. She didn't feed off me.
    XANDER: Well, it’s just good to know that when the chips are down and things look grim you'll feed off the girl who loves you to save your own ass! (Graduation Day)
    The fear that Buffy has become contaminated – made sick – through allowing Angel to drink her blood shows how the idea of sickness and health is an overarching theme in BtVS.

    But we also see her struggle to remain present and resolute, to hold herself to the task of doing “whatever [she has] to do… whatever it takes.” We see her struggle until— Until the climax of her explanation to Dawn: there, the language ill-Buffy has been given, its regulative norms of health, bleeds again into Buffy’s own, melds with the words that she has been applying to herself, with her desire and its lack over the course of S6, melds with, above all, her desire—and her unutterable feelings—for Spike, deemed the most thickly intractable and incomprehensible manifestation of her returned wrongness, the thing that drew her yet further into a cycle of self-punishment, emotional abuse, submission as a means of self-flight—all of which run utterly against the “pleasant condition” of a proper daughter’s health:
    Buffy [harshly, although more to herself than to Dawn, to convince herself, each word a struggle]: Sure it is. ‘Cause what’s more real? A sick girl in an institution? Or…
    Buffy [continuing]: some kind of super-girl, chosen to fight demons and save the world….?
    [Buffy pauses, turns her head to the side, considers… ]
    Buffy [continuing]: That’s ridiculous.
    Buffy: A girl who sleeps with a vampire she hates? Yeah, that makes sense—

    That statement sends Buffy rolling over the bed to capture Dawn, fully embodying the power of the Slayer, attacking relentlessly even as Dawn pleads, offering to meet the normative demands she feels that Buffy herself has been imposing upon her: “I’ll be good—I promise.”
    The fear of non-human contamination by demon elements is an enormous part of Season Four and the Initiative storyline with its creation of Adam. And that extends through the invention of Dawn in Season Five to Buffy’s resurrection and fears of coming back wrong in Season Six – her dalliance with Spike has connotations of sexual infection and illness as the two seemingly incompatible creatures mate despite Buffy’s clear disgust with herself and her partner. And as you say, Buffy feels that she has to do “whatever it takes” to make that reality an unreality – to “cure” herself of her wrongness/sickness.

    Here Buffy, dissolving into ill-Buffy, uses the fundamental elements of her delusion—Slayer power—to kill her delusion. And in doing so, she reverses, betrays, the fundamental essence of Buffy’s own, of ill-Buffy’s hallucinated, Slayer calling: rather then protecting humans from demons, she frees a demon to attack and kill them. Rather than saving the world, she deploys her power to destroy it, destroy the world in which she has, or at least had, once, been able to move with a certain freedom and grace, a dense and open giving. Rather than living in such dense openness, such giving, she seeks what we can only read as slow death in the given, in the hard work of proper daughterhood, in the foreclosures of normativity: “I want to be healthy…. I want to go home, with you and dad.”
    Oh, StateofSiege, that’s such a terrific point! Never thought of it as a reversal per say – but you are absolutely spot on in noting that Buffy deliberately betrays her calling by allowing the demon to attack and kill humans. Her destructive tendencies are a direct renunciation of everything she’s stood for in Sunnydale as the heroine who saves others – an embrace of death in relinquishing that role in favor of a restrictive, conformist ideal.

    ACT IV Events: The Turn of Joyce, the Call of Willow, and Good-bye—
    We begin with Buffy breathing heavily, trying to maintain not just her presence but her presence as the Buffy her mother wants her to be, the one who can do, in the doctor’s words, “whatever it takes,” the one who knows, in Joyce’s words, that “They’re not really [her] friends…. They’re just tricks, keeping [her] from getting better”—even though seeing them as “tricks,” doing “whatever it takes” means committing murder. She does so, albeit, indirectly, through the demon, but she is the one who loosed him, who is using him as her instrument to fulfill her fantasies of home, making her no different from Warren, from the Trio, in casting a spell upon Katrina, in then calling this very demon down upon her, so as to further their escape from responsibility for the murder of Katrina, in their plotting of future villainies—in their fulfillment, that is, of quite normative fantasies of masculine-nerd power.
    The depersonalization of her friends is necessary for her “cure” – very Warren like, I agree, in the mental gymnastics required to turn the human Katrina into little more than a bot who exists to act out his fantasies – like many killers who manage to create a fantastical series of reasons to justify their murders, both Buffy and Warren believe that the deaths are necessary or unavoidable in order to achieve and maintain maximum “health” or normativity.

    The idea that everything can somehow reverse itself after the murders and things can become “normal again” is commonplace – from the Gothic Horror novel Wieland in which the husband murders his family under a religious belief that they must be sacrificed out of spiritual righteousness to Crime and Punishment’s Raskolnikov murdering a woman out of a belief that her money will enable him to go on and do great deeds. The ends justify the means.

    Buffy breathes heavily—and begins a retreat from the immediate proximity of the coming carnage— Meanwhile, upstairs, Tara enters, seeking Willow, seeking to complete Willow’s attempted nearing, to repair her possible misinterpretation of Tara’s touch of another woman… Finding no one present, she calls out— Below, the fight, one-sided, all power resting in the demon, gains force, while Buffy shrinks away, her face contorted with ambivalence, into the shadows beneath the stairs— And then, unable to continue, shrinks back, back into the bright lights of the asylum, where ill-Buffy shrinks in turn, shrinks away from Joyce’s attempt at strengthening reassurance, twists off the bed, into the wall, the contortions of pain melting into a something between a blank and a desperate denial, her head wrenching back and forth, her body seized into tensed holding— Joyce rushes to her, attempting to steady, urging concentration, insisting on the unreality – And as ill-Buffy sinks down to the floor, she also melts back to Sunnydale, where her body follows the movements of her asylum-bound self, follows in sinking, in clutching her gown/top—both hospital white—to her chest, as if to clutch her body to herself, maintain embodiment even in her slippage, in turning her head away from any glimmer of relation to those before her, be it her friends or Joyce— Being in Sunnydale utterly enmeshed in being in the asylum—
    It’s fascinating to see how Buffy becomes more and more ill the farther she moves towards enabling the murder of her friends. The attempt at a cure has the opposite effect than intended – the more that Buffy tries to move away from her illness, the sicker she becomes, the greater and more extreme her symptoms.

    The question becomes as to what would have happened to Buffy had she been successful – would she have lapsed into the catatonia that ends the show? Would Spike have found her in a similar state as in The Weight of the World and called Giles for help? Of course, it’s impossible to speculate exactly what the consequences would have been – but it seems likely that it would have destroyed Buffy permanently – which is what Warren was counting on.

    And unbearable as the former may be, given the violence the enmeshment has unleashed, breaking the link feels also unbearable, for that would break with Joyce— Yet at this moment, all being seems, if but briefly, beyond bearing—hence her turn into the wall, away from all relation… Yet hearing the violence, feeling the pull of her own acts, unstoppable then, the barely presenced turn back to what can barely be called a battle, so asymmetrical it remains— Until Xander calls for help, and Buffy suddenly comes to forward, into thereness— But before we can know what that could portend, Tara’s voice intervenes, calling out Willow’s name— It seems that in finding no answer to her call, that in then listening, Tara has heard the commotion below, has followed it to the basement, where she calls and sees, then magically releases the bound friends, enabling them to defend themselves, and begins to combat the demon—until Buffy, distressed—whether by the threat Tara poses or the effect of own actions—reaches up to trip her…For while Buffy’s face may evince conflict over what she sees, what she is making happen, the violence she has set in motion, and her blockage of Tara’s resistance—the part of her that desires to “go home” remains dominant… Until the inner conflict becomes insupportable, sends her spinning back to the asylum…
    It’s a truly awful moment when Buffy pulls Tara down the stairs – especially considering that Tara is the only person there who truly bears Buffy’s secret life within her life in Sunnydale. It’s interesting that it doesn’t immediately snap Buffy out of her delusion considering that Tara represents something slightly different from the rest – she’s another authority figure in a sense who is pulling Buffy in a very different direction that the other Scoobies because of her reassurance that Buffy is “normal” and hasn’t come back wrong.

    Pulling Tara down the stairs to feed her to the monster is a final attempt not only at keeping hidden the relationship between Buffy and Spike, but demolishing any semblance of normality in Sunnydale – and it’s possible that adding Tara to the mix is what awakens Buffy somewhat outside of the pain of her friends. Tara is a figure that is an aspect of Season 3-5 Joyce – a more accepting authority figure who both embraces Buffy’s difference while also conveying a sense of health. As long as Tara is there, Buffy can draw from her confidence and belief that she is “right” and well despite her feelings of guilt and trauma.

    So I think the sudden appearance of Tara at the top of the stairs is important. Buffy and her friends are deep in the basement with the monster – and Tara figuratively stands above them for a moment like Glinda the good witch bringing Buffy hope in her desire to go home again.

    There, still enmeshed, ill-Buffy struggles for breath, for presence, for sense, amidst the pain her actions cause her— Joyce begins to speak: I believe in you—you’re a survivor: you can do this….
    This seems, at least momentarily, to be enough: Buffy shifts back to Sunnydale, where she remains enmeshed with ill-Buffy— And here the camera shifts back and forth between the friends fighting for their lives and Buffy, crouched in a corner under the stairs, fighting, it seems, not so much to remain present any more but to remain ill-Buffy, the Buffy committed to murder and going home and being the proper, so-desired daughter—this is Buffy, ill-Buffy, fighting against herself, against Slayer-Buffy, the Buffy committed to life as she understands it, life precisely as a resistance to biopolitical norms, the Buffy who would save her friends, who calls out the name of each as she sees each one in danger, meeting the demon…
    Yet much as that Buffy may call, ill-Buffy, thus far, retains control— Until— ill-/Buffy: “Willow, Willow—“
    Buffy, beginning in Sunnydale and shifting to the asylum, calling out the name of—
    Buffy: Hi—! Willow, right?
    Willow: Why—? I me-mean, hi. Di-did you want me to move?
    Buffy: Why don’t we start with “Hi, I’m Buffy”—and then let’s segue directly into me asking you for a favor. It doesn’t involve moving, but it does involve hanging out with me for a while….
    (WttH)
    Willow, her first friend in Sunnydale, the first person for whom Buffy was moved to again take up her calling, through whom she was able to begin to embody another way of being the Slayer—
    Yes, that’s a great, great catch that Willow was the catalyst for Buffy embracing her Slayerhood after giving it up – and now she’s in danger once again – which brings back that very important moment of choice.

    This death, among all the deaths—And the affective force of its threat opens ill-/Buffy’s face, an opening that returns to voice and the face of Joyce—Joyce—but not Joyce….Or, not the Joyce we have thus far been given, the one some part of Buffy had given herself to find, to find comfort and direction in, in the asylum— No, this is another Joyce, the Joyce who died— The Joyce whom Buffy feels only as lost—
    Joyce [touching Buffy, holding her for the first time]: Buffy—Buffy, fight it. You’re too good to give in: you can beat this thing. Be strong, Baby, okay? I know you’re afraid. I know that the world can feel like a hard place sometimes. But you have people who love you—your Dad and I, we have all the faith in the world in you. We’ll always be with you. You have a world of strength in your heart—I know you do. You just have to find it again. Believe in yourself.
    Buffy [whose face, in listening to Joyce, has calmed down from the frenzy that had seized it, seems to come to a realization and a resolution; she turns to Joyce]: You’re right. [smiling that singular, love-etched Buffy smile; then, slowly resuming] Thank-you. [Joyce smiles with relief and something edging on joy in response, while Buffy’s face melts to sadness, a sadness that does not lessen a certain resolve—one differing from its previous surfacings] Good-bye.
    This moment always chills with its finality – Buffy’s farewell to her dream of normality is yet another sacrifice that resembles her leap off the tower. There’s a terrible sense of loss here – a feeling that Buffy will never know happiness or be relieved of the severe trauma of the past that haunts her. Her willingness to give up all she desires for the benefit of her friends once again shows that Buffy isn’t a hero because she’s the Slayer – this particular Slayer is a hero because she’s Buffy.

    This is not to say that Buffy hasn’t committed cruel acts – the attempted murder of Faith, the shutting out of Riley, the mockery of Spike’s feelings for her – but they are counter-balanced by extreme acts of self-sacrifice that demonstrate her essential strength and quality of mercy despite failings.

    {Distress spreads across the face of Joyce: she knows what this means before it happens, before, perhaps, consciously knowing… }
    Joyce [distressed, questioning]: Buffy—?
    [Buffy closes down her smile, looks down, her face determined yet strangely soft, suffused by love]
    Back in Sunnydale, Buffy rises from the corner, her face verging on blankness but set—and its edges, just barely its edges, here, too, love-etched…
    Then determination sets it, and action becomes her body: she finishes off the demon in seconds—then, as she removes her fist from it, as the camera edges away from her, the purposive fierceness on her face, in the raising of her chin, fills the frame with a power shot…
    That, however, is the easy part…More difficult, her turn to her friends: they pick themselves up off the floor, cluster together, nearing her, warily, faces questioning, uncertain…
    Buffy [at a loss, softly]: I’m so sorry.
    Willow [questioningly, advancing]: Buffy—?
    Xander [reassuring, unconditionality limning his words]: It’s okay—we’re all okay.
    [Buffy sways, and concern speaks, a desire for her to rest, to sit, but Buffy shows an insistence, a determination so absent through the season—]
    Buffy [quietly, calmly, but insistently]: No, I can’t. Not until I have the antidote.
    Willow [quickly assuring] Okay—we’ll make more. We’ll take care of it. Everything’s going to be okay, Buffy.
    And that would seem to be the end of it—
    But then comes that final, that, from what I understand, ever-so-controversial shot:
    The Doctor shining a light into the blankness of ill-Buffy’s eyes, then turning to Joyce and Hank, giving his diagnosis, his final biopolitical pronouncement:
    Doctor: I’m sorry: there’s no reaction at all. I’m afraid we lost her.
    The camera pans outward, giving us the backs of Joyce and Hank, first—as we hear Joyce’s sobs, we see Hank reach out, after an ever-so-slight hesitation, to embrace her—then, crossing the barrier of the small window to ill-Buffy’s cell, it widens its focus to encompass most of the door.
    Black-out to credits.
    The question is – who is imagining this ending? Is it the final vision of Buffy before the antidote takes hold? Does she actually perceive her sacrifice as a regression to the catatonic Buffy that existed before The Gift and if so, is there a reason for this? Is this a psychological circumvention of the entire end of Season Five? It’s an interesting question – and never really answered.

    Much of what follows will not, at least not directly, discuss our episode—but all is related, all I offer below emerges, as I promised above, from the ways in which this episode refracts upon and through all that has come before and will follow it, all it gives us to think differently, more fully. Such thinking is, in part, what I seek here to adumbrate, even as I seek, in turn, at the end, to gather these adumbrations into final reflections upon crucial moments that flash though the episode’s end, creating a constellation of what I hope passes to you an affective thinking, a becoming-sense of its own.
    In the last part of this response to come, I want to get to the real heart of your review, StateofSiege, which I feel wholly inadequate to address – but I will do my best. My apologies for taking so long to write about your beautiful review – I hope you know how eye-opening it was for me and how much it made me think about so much. Not only in terms of Buffy, but my own work and elsewhere. Thank you for introducing me to so many spectacular concepts and I hope to really delve into them for the final part ahead!

  4. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to American Aurora For This Useful Post:

    debbicles (14-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (08-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (14-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (07-01-19),Stoney (07-01-19),Tiny Tabby (07-01-19)

  5. #583
    Scooby Gang American Aurora's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    561
    Thanks
    3,614
    Thanked 2,822 Times in 564 Posts

    Default

    Hey, StateofSiege, here’s my final response to your magnificent review of Normal Again!

    Back to Before: Murderous Health & the Biopolitics of Daughterhood & Slayerness—
    Act II ended with Buffy’s statement, “I don’t want to go back there. I want to be healthy. What do I have to do? Then Act III begins with her continuation, her plea, “Please, help me. I want to go home, with you and dad.” As I stated above, a statement whose explication I deferred, Buffy’s response to the help offered is murder—murder of those she loves and of, indirectly, crucial aspects of herself. On one level, this turn to murder may appear as a simple regression to her sense of self and slayerness in tWotW and her lowest moment in The Gift, her sense that to be a Slayer is to be but a killer, an indiscriminant murderer of humans as well as demons. This would suggest a fairly simple ambivalence or outright fear of her power, largely grounded in her sex. But something more complex is, I would suggest, at play, something that refracts back on these scenes, complicates in turn their meaning (which is not to dismiss the matter of sex, just to position it differently): Within that complexity, on the medical—and biopolitical—level, murder makes sense: it performs a cleansing of the self, the mind, a ridding it of the “tricks” that block any movement toward health… But that does not mean that it is not still murder—a violent destruction of some part of Buffy’s mind.
    Yes, StateofSiege, that’s a terrific reading of Buffy’s emotional and mental turmoil – the “murders” she is committing aren’t really limited to her friends – they’re aspects of herself that she perceives as “wrong.” Elements of her personality or belief system that are preventing her from attaining a certain ideal of mental and emotional fitness. She must kill the demon within that prevents her from obtaining a kind of societally acceptable normality – at least what she perceives as normal. That differs, of course, from person to person depending upon their background, their social station, their race, their gender and orientation, and a huge number of variables.

    There’s a twisted corollary concerning the ideal of “health” of a vampire society – from Spike and Darla’s perspective, they’ve graduated from weak human beings to superior creatures who are no longer bound to moral or emotional scruples as they butcher their victims. Despite radical physical differences, there’s still an urge to state over and over HOW much they’ve evolved from their former selves – how the Victorian poet and the Puritan whore have been murdered in favor of a soulless demon who thrills to fight with fist and fang. With each violent and cruel murder, they ironically play on the idea of a “cleansing of the self” through a grotesque parody of human society as reflected in the “normal” behavior of a demon.

    It does not give a movement toward self-knowledge, the process that psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy—which is constitutively anti-normative, which has been proven to create permanent new neural pathways (psychoactive drugs open but temporary ones)—would, for example, give, a process that would loosen the hold of that which binds or kills the self without the application of murderous force. The Doctor’s methods rather engage in a violent destruction of troublesome dimensions of the self, so as to assure its conformity to regulative norms. This manifests with frightening clarity the violence of biopolitical force, the damage it does in the name of “health.” This begs, in response, the question: How healthy is it to be a Slayer? How normative? From one level, looking at the tradition of slayerhood, of the Slayers who preceded Buffy, at Kendra, at the Council, one must say, in answer to the second question—and thus the first—absolutely: the first Slayer, we will learn in GiD, was created through an act of subjection and subjectification akin to rape by men whose heirs would become the Council, men who would continue to subject each new Slayer to a disciplined and disciplined life as a docile body formed to serve as an “instrument”—to use Quentin’s word—of their power. She would have no relationships—no family, no friends—would live an essentially affectless life, devoid of agency, subjected to having her vast vital powers extracted by the Council for its own use.
    Fantastic question! And that would seem to be partly predicated on the ways in which a Slayer has been chastened and directed to act when called. The movement towards “health” not only implies the destruction of “tricks” and elements that thwart improvement, but a taming of wild uncontrollable power by Watchers who channel the destructive elements of their charge into appropriate ways of being. There are circles within circles as Buffy feels an outsider in both the normative world of her mother and the non-normative normative world of her Watcher. Added to that is the lure of giving in entirely to her daemon and moving into the dark with Spike as a mirror Faith who embraces the normativity of the world of her demon opponents. Buffy is unable to live in any of those worlds fully – so she is both living in and standing outside of all three – but her delusion in the asylum allows her to finally reconcile all of them in one final murder that dispels the latter two Buffys in favor of the first.

    In this, she would be not unlike the workers biopolitical power prepared for capitalism and colonialism in the late 18th through the 19th century—and for global capital in the 20th, the workers from whom it, too, extracted and continues to extract their vital forces for its profit (and for those deemed lacking in valuable vital forces… just think of the way in which global capital has essentially written most of Africa off the map—it simply does not exist, save for China, which has found a different mode of extraction…). Further, while the Slayer herself lives in a liminal space between the living and the dead, the human and the nonhuman, she does so to police the boundary that separates them, to assure its stability, to assure the health and life of the human species. That the Shadow Men chose a girl rather than a boy to be the Slayer also set up a dynamic of sexual difference and domination that better enabled them to extract, instrumentalize the young women they empowered, resulting in an infusion of Slayer power with a certain ambivalence, if not guilt, about both the exercise of that power and the subjection through which she gained it.
    Very interesting, StateofSiege, – I really love your idea that a girl was chosen to highlight the ambivalence of power of the Slayer – the reasoning within the series for choosing a female changes with the evolution of the Slayer mythology, but it’s clear that unlike an Athena who rises warrior-like and full-blown from her father’s body, the Slayer was subjugated at an early stage to be a kind of beast of burden to a group of sorcerers who would fight their battles for them. We see even in modern times with the advent of feminism that the Slayer is treated like chattel – something to be used when necessary and viewed as barely human.

    Thus while her calling separated each Slayer from society to a great extent, extracting her from all its comforts and supports, its grounding in sexual difference served to further sodder her to that society’s patriarchal norms, turning the obligation to the other that shapes the ethics of Buffy’s slaying into an obligation to the Council, a requirement that she submit to their rule, pass her power over to them, given the impropriety of wielding it, as a woman, on her own. This shows the Shadow Men and the Council to be early precursors of biopower, its first manifestation, since they, before traditional sovereign power, recognized the existence of Life and sought to regulate at least one aspect of its growth and maintenance. This assumption of biopower by the Council works to control, as well, to reduce to normative form the tremendous, potentially disruptive power of the Slayer—something that Faith sees through, although she errs in taking that power as her own possession. In this, I will only note now, before continuing, that Willow, at the end of S6, will make the same error when she tells Buffy that she finally gets the “Slayer thing”—that “it’s not about the violence… it’s about the power”—a power that she, too, takes as her own belonging. And this is why Buffy tells her that she has no understanding of what to be a Slayer is, as I will dilate on fully below—
    Yes, I think that the question of “power” in Buffy has been reduced too easily to a simplistic dialectic of irresponsible power vs. responsible power when I think that something much deeper is going on here. I’m really drawn to your description of the first Watchers as a group existing before traditional sovereign power.

    The choice of an African setting for the First Slayer brings a whole shipload of baggage with it, but there is something to be said for the stirrings of tribal (and later sovereign) power legitimized by an act of brutality against a singular body – Sineya’s unwilling “sacrifice” of her body to fight off the demons of the earth a symbol of the body politic made strong – and desirable. Why choose a woman on the cusp of her childbearing years other than to maximize the patriarchal hold over her? Since she’s given supernatural strength, would it have matter whether or not she attained her power in her early 20s (when she would have attained emotional and intellectual maturity?) or was there a particular motive in choosing Slayers so young? Just as young boys are often chosen for sacrificial tasks in other societies because of their pliability, so the elders choose girls (female out of necessity) at an age when they are least likely to have the strength of character to reject Watcher rule.

    The battle of Sineya – a woman expelled from her village and forced to live without family, friends or community – against the men who controlled her seems to have culminated in her eventual connection with the mysterious Guardians and her Scythe seems to have allowed her to secretly wrest some control back.

    Before, however, Buffy can realize for herself what non-normative Slayerness could be, she must suffer the trauma of her calling, the subjection and subjectification of chosenness: it inflicts upon her an inhabitation—sinew to nerve to bone, conscious awareness to unconsciousness-born dreams—by a palpable, a pressing otherness, an otherness of legacy, of body, of power. An otherness that alters, second to second, her experience of time—from being, as she assures Merrick, her first Watcher, “destiny-free,” her future open to choice, to being chosen, bound forever to obligation beyond herself; from being part of the world of the living to being consigned to a realm in which the ever-threatening presence of the living dead confuses the boundaries of life and death; where she must kill but not murder, conserve her power to do good even as she endlessly expends it; where the norms of space and time and morality and being have suddenly been washed away—even as a certain morality, a certain set of demands, norms of being, new ones, cruel in their affectless turn, seek to hold her. Yet wrenching from the norms of her given life as her calling be, yet much as she seems before Merrick to adhere to those norms, given the ease with which, in Becoming I, we see her walk down the front stairs of Hemmry High, talking of the dance and dresses and boys, calling upon her friends repeatedly to “call me,” asking with an assurance that they will…. Yet “destiny-free” as she assures Merrick her life to be—her calling, its subjectification and trauma, carries something all-too familiar to Buffy— We see it cross her face later that night, as she stares into the mirror, facing herself, perhaps seeking to efface herself, after her first slaying experience: in the background Buffy can hear her parents fighting, fighting over her, her misbehavior, over the question of who is the one to blame, who is to be the one to discipline her, bring her back to proper, normative shape…
    This is a truly beautiful summation of Buffy’s internal struggle, StateofSiege. Wow. What a terrific description of how Buffy must grapple with her own sense of bondage to the division of life and death, slaying and murder, duty and cruelty, mortality and immortal timelessness.

    As you say, Buffy’s stare in the mirror shows that her feelings of “wrongness” pre-date and continue beyond even the meaning of her calling. Her self-blame and guilt over the “wrongness” of her parent’s marriage is shown in Nightmares when her imaginary father of her nightmares makes it clear who’s to blame for their divorce:

    HANK: I came early because there's something I've needed to tell you. About your mother and me. Why we split up.
    BUFFY: Well, you always told me it was because –
    HANK: Uh, I know we always said it was because we'd just grown too far apart.
    BUFFY: Yeah, isn't that true?
    HANK: Well, c'mon, honey, let's, let's sit down. You're old enough now to know the truth.
    BUFFY: Is there someone else?
    HANK: No. No, it was nothing like that.
    BUFFY: Then what was it?
    HANK: It was you.
    BUFFY: Me?
    HANK: Having you. Raising you. Seeing you every day. I mean, do you have any idea what that's like?
    BUFFY: What?
    HANK: Gosh, you don't even see what's right in front of your face, do you? Well, big surprise there, all you ever think about is yourself. You get in trouble. You embarrass us with all the crazy stunts you pull, and do I have to go on?
    BUFFY: No. Please don't.
    HANK: You're sullen and rude and – you're not nearly as bright as I thought you were going to be. Hey, Buffy, let's be honest. Could you stand to live in the same house with a daughter like that?
    BUFFY: Why are you saying all these things?
    HANK: Because they're true. I think that's the least we owe one another. You know, I don't think it's very mature, getting blubbery when I'm just trying to be honest. Speaking of which, I don't really get anything out of these weekends with you. So, what do you say we just don't do them anymore? I sure thought you'd turn out differently. (Nightmares)
    In some ways, the moment she was Chosen acted as a starting point for Buffy – from that moment, Time was the becoming that caused her to swing between two extremes as she veered between the life of Buffy-the-normal-girl-who-might-have-been and Buffy-who-is-the-Slayer.

    Two implications color the discussion: first, this is not the first time it has happened, that it forms an argument habitual; second, that it is not about Buffy at all, that she has but become the battleground for the their true, long-displaced subject, the unspeakable conflicts between them, the actual reasons that will lead to their divorce. But Buffy, as their endless subject—and object—cannot but feel herself the true source of divisiveness, and as the cause of their marital conflict, she stands condemned and convicted, not a proper daughter but one who endlessly fails to fit the normative expectations of an upper-middle class, white nuclear family. Wrong. And when she faces herself, improper daughter, newly chosen Slayer, girl displaced from the self she knew, rendered strange to herself, her chosenness serves as nothing save a confirmation of the densely felt wrongness she has already interiorized from her parents.
    Yes, StateofSiege, that’s a fantastic point that Buffy would have naturally conflated the two senses of “wrongness” – both as a daughter and as a vampire slayer. When Buffy tried to keep her Slayer calling from her parents, there was even more of a division – which is punched hard in Normal Again when the two timeframes collide in the past – Buffy’s memory that her parents sent her to an asylum to enforce the correct order of things either happened or Buffy is determined to believe it happened under the spell of the Glarghk Guhl Kashmas'nik. Which is very telling.

    Willow’s response to Buffy’s story is also very telling in light of her own problems:

    BUFFY: Back when I saw my first vampires, I got so scared. I told my parents and they completely freaked out. They thought there was something seriously wrong with me. So they sent me to a clinic.
    WILLOW: You never said anything.
    BUFFY: I was only there a couple of weeks. I stopped talking about it, and they let me go. Eventually my parents just – forgot.
    WILLOW: God. That's horrible.
    BUFFY: What if I'm still there? What if I never left that clinic?
    WILLOW: Buffy, Buffy, you're not. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. But it's the past.
    Willow’s advice to Buffy is to forget the past – like her parents. Just suppress the trauma and move on. It’s a form of the numbness that Buffy has felt for some time now and makes perfect sense in light of Willow’s guilt over her perceived multiple failures from Buffy’s resurrection to her magic use to actions that go back into her earliest memories. And it has very real meaning in light of what will happen at the end of Seeing Red.

    This means that despite all her chosenness will give Buffy later in her life, it has been imbued, at its inception, with wrongness—a wrongness she may not be able to admit or recall, yet a wrongness that ever haunts. A wrongness that she finds redoubled when she risks a seeking from her parents, despite their judgmental arguments, their condemnations, risks a seeking of comfort, reassurance, unconditional love in the wake of her first vampire experience, in the wake of the shattering fear it instills. For their response takes the form of betrayal, gives only redoubled condemnation, intensified judgment—harsher determinations of wrongness, this time as illness, insanity, commitment to a clinic for the mentally impaired, to a separation from what she has known as home, to exile. An exile she was able to repair only through an outward suppression of what had become an inextricable dimension of herself, flesh of her flesh, through a reformation of that enfleshed self into the outward form of the proper daughter they desired. And while Buffy did continue to fulfill, secretly, her Slayer obligations, refused complete adherence to her parents’ disciplinary norms, those norms and her failure to meet them—in both her original calling and in her being, before and after it, the source of conflict between them—melded together with the norms of Slayerness, clouding into a doubt that infibered both her sense of her fundamental self and her grasp of that slayerness—fundamental as that had become—with an originary wrongness.
    Spectacular analysis of Buffy, StateofSiege!

    The idea that her original sense of “wrongness” has melded with her new life and sense of “normal” as the Slayer to influence her sense of self as a heroine and as a woman is brilliant. Buffy’s sense of personal identity in many ways is as shattered and complex as that of any vampire because of her three tiered sense of self. From the limited amount of knowledge I know about psychology, I believe that the idea is the primal sense of unity that an infant enjoys is splintered into a sense of self separate from any authority figure (like a parent) when outside influences (plus one’s own inner self-image) creates an illusion of integration and wholeness – of “rightness” – that symbolizes oneself through language. This loss of the primal whole creates a sense of distance and loss. I know this is a ridiculous distillation of a very complex theory, but Buffy’s sense of rightness seems to stem from this feeling of loss – of how we have to necessarily divorce ourselves from a sense of self to achieve subjectivity.

    And here, too, gender comes into play, both that born of the Council’s patriarchal norms and those of her parents, whose expectations and judgments of her were specifically shaped around her being as their daughter—not their son. This wrongness subtends Buffy’s sense of self over the first five seasons, despite her increasingly dense embodiment of all the dimensions of her being, from her relationship to her mother to her slaying, subtends athwart her self knowledge, the way she comes to live, in grace and giving, in the world. Thus the affective implacability when the trauma of resurrection leaves Buffy locked into a sense of having come back wrong: that return to life, which comes out of her singularity as the Slayer, not only carries its own trauma—it also repeats the trauma of her original calling, that of her commitment to the clinic in its wake, and, even more, her originary trauma, that which preceded her calling, her sense of having been always already wrong as a daughter. Buffy had arrived in Sunnydale haunted, in ways that she could not admit to herself or even, perhaps, recognize, by a sense of wrongness to her being as the Slayer—and by a sense of wrongness to her very being, wrongnesses that would continue to shape her until they implode in S6….
    This is really a fantastic layering of Buffy’s multiple sources of trauma and angst – the resurrection calling back to her life as Slayer calling back to her inadequacy as a daughter. And I think there’s also an element of repetition here. Unlike a car accident or a singular vampire attack, the ongoing emotional volatility that occurs during a protracted unhappy relationship ensures that traumatic acts are continually repeated – like abuse or gang violence, children who bear the brunt of an unhappy marriage create an even more punishing series of reactions to trauma and feelings of non-normativity. Often children become docile like Willow – or lessen the impact with humor like Xander. In extreme situations, like Buffy facing vampires at the same time, people tend to become numb and inured to stress – they go through the motions without thinking much at all. Do your chores, dust the vampire, go to school, train with Watcher, do homework, fight demons, die, wake up, rinse, repeat.

    Throughout the first two episodes of the series, there these hauntings surface, at that point obscured from full recognizability—surface first, lightly, in the emotions that that flit across her face in her interview with Mr. Flutie, then later, and more violently, in both her resolution to remain upon the path of normative behavior and her inability to there remain, in her compulsion to but stray. Note that that path is laid out clearly before her: Joyce pleads with her to not get kicked out; Mr. Flutie happily accepts her promise that her career with him will be less “dismal”; Cordelia welcomes her, offers her a place “with me and mine” that will assure Buffy’s social status—; but Buffy, deeply affected by Willow’s taunting, cannot help herself, cannot but seek out the “loser” girl, the one with whom she cannot “legally” hang out if she wishes to do so with Cordelia and her sanctioned, popular crowd.
    So if I’m understanding you correctly, Buffy is deliberately seeking out people like Willow or Xander because of her initial sense of wrongness – that haunting surfacing in terms of choices and decisions to seek out illegal or forbidden relationships.

    Similarly, we find Buffy, despite slight tremors of ambivalence, determined to reject her calling due to the devastating losses it brought in L.A., its irrecoverable costs, as she details to Giles upon their second meeting: “getting kicked out of school, …losing all my friends, ....having to spend all my time fighting for my life and never getting to tell anyone because it might endanger them?” (WttH). Determined, that is, until, again, she is affected by Willow’s then unspoken, unknowing call of endangerment, her “seizing the day” with a vampire intent upon her draining. Willow thus, in WttH, calls forth again the Slayer in Buffy, beginning her movement into the singular form it would take in her; Willow thus, in Normal Again—in a moment that gives the title a shift in sense—must be the one who helps call forth, again, that Slayer-self to save her. She does not do it alone of course—the words of Joyce play a decisive role, as I will below discuss—but Willow’s precarity functions as the catalyst, as it did at the beginning, to bring forth the opening-to—through the moving sinews of Buffy’s power—into its becoming.
    This is wonderful stuff, StateofSiege! So the Willow scene with Buffy is a repetition of the earlier scene – making more sense of the title of the episode – as Buffy once again reasserts her Slayer self when it’s a matter of life and death. What makes it more interesting is that Buffy herself is the instigator both times of the inherent danger – which would only compound her sense of wrongness because she has to clean up the mess that she herself has made despite the fact that the true bad guy is the demon she kills.

    Resistance, Submission, and the Ethics of Slayerness
    In this becoming, the difference between Buffy’s resistance to the disciplinary norms of the Council and that of Faith fully manifests itself: where the Council demands that the Slayer surrender to it her power, giving up all agency and affect; where Faith seeks to grab possession of the otherness that has taken up residence within her (and must suppress all affect to do so… but that would take another post…)—as Willow, too, works, at the end of S6, to claim the powers of magic as her own, as an inherent aspect of her being, her possession to wield as she will; Buffy, rather, surrenders to her power, gives herself over to it, becomes passive in facing the obligation to the other that it carries. In this, she experiences a certain dissolution of her boundaries, of her body, of her identity, becomes fully herself only in her opening out to those whom she loves and those whom she seeks to save. Her very life, in its becoming, turns to be shaped neither in its self-subjection to the norms of the Council, in its instrumentalization, in the patriarchal Council’s imposition of isolation and affectlessness; nor in her wresting of an autonomous agency, with its bounded identity and mastery of unlimited power; but precisely through her openness to affect—to affecting and being affected by the movements of the world and the others whose lives are ever at stake within it, though her fleeting connectedness to them and the indeterminacy it visits upon her, the absolute futurity it brings—the Possibility – !. Here resides the core of the ethics of Slaying—and the broader ethics it teaches—an ethics moved by an impersonal love, by Buffy’s surrender to its demand.
    Wow, StateofSiege, this is truly a startling insight!

    I LOVE the idea that Buffy experiences a dissolution of boundaries (body, identity, sense of self) through the idea of affect – her openness to the world. I’ve talked a bit in the past about Buffy and her heroism that is based upon the ideal of help rather than harm that is radically different from that of Faith.

    Before her fateful meeting with Buffy, Faith had accepted her almost monastic lot with relish – violence, okay – sex, okay – intimacy, not okay – attachments, not okay. But when she arrives in Sunnydale in Season Three, she comes to the same instant conclusion that Spike did in School Hard – “A Slayer with family and friends. That sure as hell wasn’t in the brochure.” She’s taken aback by the way Buffy lives her life – because it’s wrong. Heroic Slayer by night, loving daughter and devoted friend by day. It’s anathema to all the Watcher’s Council bulls**t – it can’t be real. Buffy can’t be the exception to the rule that proves the rule wrong. Faith wants to believe that Buffy is NOT different – because Faith wants to pretend that the isolation – the loneliness – the inability to love - are all part of the package of being the Slayer. Slayers can’t truly love or be loved. If this isn’t true, then there’s something wrong with Faith – as Buffy herself worries in Intervention when she tells Giles that she’s finding it harder and harder to say, “I love you.”

    And most maddening of all is Buffy’s sense of moral righteousness – a personal sense of justice that can’t be written down or codified in any book because it’s unique to Buffy herself. This may be one of the reasons that Faith turned to an almost familial relationship with the kindly (at least to her) Mayor. Faith’s envy that Buffy hit the Slayer jackpot – that she’s found a way out of the dilemma of Slayer isolation – makes her want to find alternative routes to the same salvation. If Faith strays from the path of the Slayer and embraces evil, there’s a possibility that she might forge the same kind of close relationships as Buffy – even if they are with psychopathic evil demons. And they won’t even morally question Faith in the way that Buffy constantly does – placing Faith beneath her on the moral food chain of Slayerdom – the Mayor encourages Faith to give into her worst impulses, to lash out at her deepest fears of abandonment with murderous fury. And Angel becomes the perfect target with which to hurt Buffy over and over again – because he represents the one beloved thing in Buffy’s life that she can never truly have.

    And when Buffy tries to kill Faith to save Angel’s life – Faith partially succeeds. She’s forced Buffy to violate one of her most important moral codes – never to kill a human – and even though she slips into a coma, she’s vindicated that there is a way to get through to Buffy. To use her great love for people against her – and when she manages to switch bodies with Buffy, she gleefully uses Buffy’s body to live out a dream of being Buffy. And when Faith slowly – very slowly – changes as she starts to live Buffy’s life and experiences the love of Buffy’s family and friends and lovers, she starts to act like Buffy in response – even giving up a chance for freedom to save those who need her help.

    Because Faith at the end of Who Are You? has learned the true meaning of Buffy’s success – it’s not about the Slaying or the hot boyfriends or even the adoration of family and friends – it’s not even about being the kind of heroic figure that doesn’t sit around and brood over intricacies of law or the morality of this but acts on instinct – it’s about a person who chooses not to ignore those in pain – even at great personal risk to themselves. It’s about a person who can empathize and truly feel another person’s pain – even to the point of literally stepping into someone else’s shoes. And even more, it’s about transference of those qualities to everything around them.

    And I can see how this works within the dynamic of Affect Theory – how it reveals the possibilities of opening up uncertainty, scripting new ways to experience the affect towards the world around us. Our senses, our memory and the congruent circles of affect around us create the emotional connection between ourselves and the world that creates a sense of self that informs the scripts that we create. Buffy’s willingness to embrace indeterminacy rather than try to shape the world to suit herself.

    This is why Spike, who lacks all capacity for ethical grasp, for becoming as change into futurity—the vampiric body being constitutively incapable of accepting the new, for the grasping by obligation—cannot understand why Katrina’s death “is killing [Buffy],” why every death crosses the boundary of the individual body and self to which it occurs, crosses to flow between, athwart Buffy’s own. Yet this is also why, following her resurrection, in the throes of her depressive temporal displacement, which immures her in a space far distant to all movement; in her increasing disembodiment, which severs her from affect, its learning; in her enfleshed wrongness, which strips her of the opening to obligation, Buffy first begins again to touch the affective movement of her becoming through her relationship with Spike: as sex with him ends with the passivity, the submissiveness that gives the momentary self-shattering, the self-loss of climax without binding it back to meaning or end, so does slaying require of Buffy a submission to her power, a passivity and self-loss in which her identity and her agency dissolve into that power, neither fully losing their shape, melting into one with it, so much as entering into an open-ended, affected-affecting interplay of world-making, of change.
    If I understand, you’re saying that Buffy is displacing her natural propensity for Affect on a momentary sexual encounter of pure sensation with Spike – her lyric “I just want to feel” is emblematic of her desire to once again connect as she used to before her death and resurrection – although one could say that her catatonic state in The Weight of the World is a predecessor of her eventual collapse into numbness/sensation.

    The transition Buffy makes from life to death and back again is also representative of two states characterized by two radically different kinds of time. The immortals like Angel and Spike live in a very different world from her family and friends who live life in a progressive movement forward – the only common link the tangible end point of both. Since we humans create Time by sensing the intervals between the events of our social lives - imitating the patters we feel and perceive in nature - we characterize all living things in a different category from those who seem to be eternally “unnatural.” Which makes her dalliances with Angel and Spike even more linked to a violation of norms, both human and Slayer.

    In this, Buffy becomes between, in betweenness: there comes the flow of her power, its drive to save, and there comes the cry, sometimes mute, of the other, opened to affect by the thickened shadows of threshing loss, its incising inevitability. And then the vampire, whose destiny alone is—in most cases—determined, written as blood or dust, from whom the future is foreclosed, but who can still open to others shifts in temporal dimensions, affect their becoming by the threat of death he embodies. With each the speed of movement between each. And moving most affectively: not the vampire’s strength, its instinctive drive to kill, but Buffy’s submission to the power, for that submission gives life unexpected to the victim, turns certain doom into unknown futurity, becoming. And it is this gift, not the seeming linear drive to the death of the vampire, that shapes the temporality of the battle, shapes it even when there be no specific victim, when Buffy fights alone in the graveyard, fights but for the world, for the living whomever they may be. And that temporality becomes what Jasbir K. Puar, drawing upon Manuel DeLanda, termed “non-metric time,” a non-linear temporality of speeds and slowness, rhythm and duration—words that best catch the movements of Buffy in a fight, the sheer flow of forces through and across her, body and words, in the creative improvisation, the uncanny foresight that forms her ever-differencing responses to the moment’s call.
    This is really complex theory, StateofSiege, and to be honest, I’m afraid that I’m still a little shaky in terms of how Affect – well – affects vampires in comparison with humans because of the odd reassembling of the memory and how that mnemonic reshaping . I do understand that Spike’s destiny in particular is shaped by his response to Buffy and the regaining of his soul – which I’m starting to feel has a special resonance in terms of the Affect Theory. But it’s still all jumbled in my head and I’m afraid that I’m still too thick to get it!

    I think what you’re saying has something to do with the question as to whether demons can change – an enormous question that literally begins Spike’s journey from School Hard all the way through his fateful decision in Seeing Red. If not, then the transitive process of identity is apparently halted – identities become “fixed” in a permanent state of death and “Becoming” becomes impossible. But as we see from Angel, this isn’t actually so – the finale Becoming directly deals with this conundrum that starts with the initial meeting of souled Angel and soulless Spike in School Hardand continues all the way through the forging of their new relationship that ends in the literalism of the tremendous indeterminacy of the ending in Not Fade Away.

    Love the idea of “non-metric time” – surely a Jazz-like term in which melody, harmony and rhythm merge as a group of musicians spontaneously react to one another.

    Herein lies, too, the difference between Buffy’s Slayer power and biopolitical power: where biopower, in Lauren Berlant’s gloss of Foucault, “is the power to make something live or let it die, the power to regularize life, the authority to force living not just to happen but to endure in particular ways,” Buffy’s slaying is a gifting of life in the face of its certain extinction—a gift that carries no determinations of what that life should be, that radically lacks all givenness, all sense. Like Buffy’s surrender to sensation and Spike’s body at the moment of climax, a surrender that suffers no binding back into a relationship, an ending in meaning and a name, so her surrender to her power in slaying produces the gift of life that suffers no binding back into a relationship with the victim, actual or virtual, whose name she rarely knows, into any attempt to regularize that life, cause it to endure in particular ways. As a gift that absolutely lacks given future form or sense, the life Buffy gives, in all its radicality, bears merely the future itself in its newness. And in this giving, her nightly slaying opens an affective becoming that changes, perhaps infinitesimally, the world—and changes Buffy—for every life crosses over into her body, leaving its trace in her sinews, etching her bones, becoming into her becoming, enabling Buffy to maintain her affective openness, to actively, lovingly live its rhythms, through the seemingly endless reiterations of nightly patrols and slayings—to live as centuries of Council-bound Slayers could not.
    This is a lovely summation of why Buffy is a particularly special hero – her openness to the world and her rejection of power as defined by those who would force endurance rather than the gift of living. As Frederick Douglas wrote to Harriet Tubman:

    Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way. I have wrought in the day—you in the night. The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witnesses of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism.
    As you say, the affective openness transcends even the power of those who are able to regulate – and end life.

    What further enables Buffy’s openness, her learning to be affected in her affecting, her submission, are, as I have indicated above, her friendships: unlike her obligation to the nameless others whom she saves, unlike her unbound sexual relation to Spike, her friendships do extend beyond single affective encounters—but unlike romantic relationships, at least as Buffy conceives them and the show displays them, friendships are not bound to progressive time, do not drive to an end, lack meaning in this sense. They are shaped, rather, by the non-metric temporalities of duration, rhythm, and speed and slowness. This is why friendship plays—until S7, when things get wonky, but that is another matter—so central a role in the series, why Buffy’s friendships enable her to survive far longer than any previous Slayer (or would have Faith, until her bonding with Angel): Willow and Xander, first through Buffy’s initial response to their calls, their calls not simply as endangered victims but as outsided others, then through their immediate responsiveness to her in tH, weave themselves into each other’s selves, setting off affective ricochets, opening Buffy’s becoming further— And it is the becoming further that shapes friendship in BtVS—for friendship drives to no determined end, such as marriage, children, growing old together, death… It shifts, changes, fails and regains, moves according to no given script of linear progression; it becomes, and in its becoming, it opens lines of flight for the selves whom it has woven through each other. Thus in her loving submission to her friends, to the obligation in which they dwell in her, intermixing, shaping her self, her giving, Buffy is given a power that subtends that of her Slayer heritage, her interior other, a power that weaves her into the world, its affective learning, as no other Slayer has been allowed to be, opening her to an elsewise than certain—early—death. As the Slayer, given ever to life between the realms of the living and the dead, Buffy will always move outside human norms, but those norms do not define life, and friendship weaves Buffy more strongly into the Possibility that life, in a line of flight from biopolitical normalization, gives— (This does not mean that all romantic relationships are excluded from becoming, simply that Buffy, even at the end of S7, cannot yet envision their possibility, nor does the show give it form—or more than glimpses of its possibility, perhaps… )
    This is one of the best descriptions of why friendship is so vital to Buffy and her calling that I’ve ever read, StateofSiege!

    I would like to speak up for one romantic relationship, though – despite the fact that they eventually break up, there is a similar dynamic between Buffy and Angel in the sense that Angel’s outsided otherness puts a roadblock in the way of creating a determined end. And the same goes for Buffy’s relationship with Spike in Season Seven through Nine. The ways in which she and her two vampires relate seem to leap away from a linear path towards something very non-normative in terms of their souls enabling them to live both in and outside the living realm and its norms. Of course, one could posit that their expectations create a sense of closure for them because one day Buffy will die – but not necessarily for her.

    Or am I totally not getting it at all?

    Me— Yet to speak of self-dissolution and submission, of passivity rather than mastery, may seem to run against Buffy’s self-presentation, even her sense of self, over much of the first five seasons. On the most surfacey level, slaying, being the Slayer, would thus seem to be a matter of mastery, of identity, of presence—the exact opposite of surrender, passivity, and self-dissolution. And the centrality of mastery and identity to slaying would be but more fully manifest in one of the most iconic moments of the series, the moment when Buffy’s power would seem to voice itself into absolute identity and presence, blooming into the mastery over her power and her opponent: Me— But that “Me” can be read as speaking identity, speaking utter presence and identity, giving voice and body to mastery, only if we isolate its sense to but the microsecond of its utterance, view it as an event that slides into the past and stays there, turning into the cause of later effects, one in a succession of events that has been unfolding, that will continue to unfold, shaped by its determining force, along the straight line of progressive time, a line that will extend, unrelenting in its teleological force, from that “Me”—cause producing effect, effect becoming cause of the next effect, &c.—from Buffy’s rise and her sword fight, through her killing of Angel, unto her departure from Sunnydale.. And in her departure, wrenching as it be, as suffused with her loss—her murder—of not only of Angel but of home, the latter through her wrongness, grown out of a revelation of her essential self, she will, in that departure, nevertheless, stare while passing through the “Come Back Soon!” sign, absorb the blow of its irony in the fullness of her selfhood and her power, ambivalently as that self may rest within her. Pulling thicknesses of guilt, yes. Densely wrenching pain, yes. Abyssal lack of words, yes. Violently clamorous desire to flee the very self whose presence so insists, yes. Buffy rides out of Sunnydale destined to a time of struggle—but the force of that “Me” has already determined the outcome, determined that she will return, return stronger.
    Terrific reading of the end of Becoming, StateofSiege! The present tense of Buffy’s assertion of “Me!” is only accentuated by the former knowledge that the Buffy of Becoming is not the Buffy of Prophesy Girl before she is drowned by the Master. And yet the same presence manifests itself throughout from one point to another without necessarily settling into an absolutism of identity – always reaching and searching and struggling instead for something more that will allow for a multitude of connectivity with the world around her.

    “Me”—Re-visioned This reading—this is the reading, I think, that a great many of us give to the end of S2, to Buffy’s essential being-in-the-world, her relation to her power, her identity… For many years, that reading was my own…And then— It was not that I have not always, have not since early girlhood, known depression— Not that I was not, in fact, suffering though long-clinging depression across the original airing of S6…But then—There is chronic depression, and it is a very serious thing, stretching its force, sometimes, into life-threatening badness…And even when it does not…But I had learned to exist with that, learned, well before my teens, to move with it through an approximation of life, to function, to pass myself off as a normative girl, to find, even, half-glancing flashes of pleasure…And there had been one bout of major depression, in my 20s—I had to count my steps to get myself down the street, concentrate absolutely on one foot, then the next, the next—a good therapist, the discovery of Thomas Bernhard, masses of Joy Division and Pollini’s Schubert, being out of academia, learning to tend bar, and baking pies got me through that, eventually—What came many years later—I do not have a name for it, and I am still not quite sure how I am alive— I could not work for almost two years: luckily I taught at a university with a decent, up to a point—they failed at another crucial one—policy on mental illness and leave, as well as extraordinary health insurance… And so I survived… My sister, an extraordinary therapist (whom I still see), Dickinson and Melville, of course, as well as Paul Celan ever, and Jack Spicer; Arvo Paart, Bartok string quartets, Steves Reich and Lacy, hours and hours of Nick Cave—and Buffy…
    StateofSiege, I’m really sorry that you’ve had to go through something so terrible. Like most people, I’ve suffered from minor depressions due to illness, loss and disappointment. My grandmother and father both suffer now and then from depression – and it seems to be slightly hereditary as it has passed down to me in the form of endless procrastination and self-doubt. However, I can’t claim to have suffered the nightmarish trauma that several of my friends have – two of which were afflicted with major depression to the point of hospitalization.

    One friend in particular that I’ve known since childhood always kept depression at bay until he suffered a double whammy of finding that his partner had cheated on him and a series of horrendous headaches that were utterly debilitating for over a year. After numerous tests, he was finally given over to the University of San Francisco for advanced testing and they found a tear in his spine that had been leaking fluid for some time, causing his brain to sag in his head. The tear was fixed, the doctors proclaimed him well – but the severe depression that followed was so incapacitating that he had to quit a job that he loved and finally move out of San Francisco to an isolated rural area to heal.

    I call him regularly and we talk a lot – but even a decade later, he is perpetually haunted by what has happened to him. Meditation, writing and a lot of American popular song from stage and screen lifts his spirits temporarily, but the depression always inevitably returns. I think all the time of anything I can do for him – and his trip to visit me in New York was packed with things he loved like theater and treks through the countryside and music – but it only served as a diversion from the never-ending misery that seems to never leave him. So I do understand to an extent – perhaps not from a personal level, but I’ve been struggling for some time in trying to help my friend heal.

    I cannot begin to figure the number of times…I only know that over the course of my leave, near its beginning, I began to experience Buffy differently—it began to affect me differently—And this affecting began to shape itself into a different understanding— No part of it more than S6 And that difference intensified as, in my daily sessions, I learned to hear, in flashes, the unconscious, bear its strange utterances; intensified yet more as, through that ability to hear, other strangenesses began to turn towards legibility; as long occluded but insistent memories—and I have always had a perversely remarkable memory, reaching back to very, very early years—began to glance into clarity, began to give shape to what I had known even as exactly what I knew escaped me, known with absolute—and absolutely blinded, mute, graspless—known as pressing obscurity for as long as I had known anything, known as blank, absurd certainty since my first touch of Cathy Caruth’s Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, History, a densely difficult theoretical text that I had read in one sitting, that had left me shaking, unable to breathe, to stand
    Wow, that sounds like an astonishing book – and you picked it up at a time when you were entirely open to its meaning and how it related to your own personal experience and professional understanding. I believe this is a common occurrence in the arts – disparate things and meanings that refuse to settle suddenly flash into meaning that can knock you off your feet.

    What’s really strange is that I just went to look at it on Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature – and I had the weird déjà vu sense that I had encountered it before. I did read a tremendous amount of books on memory about ten years ago for a project I was working on and I wonder if I’d actually read it – or at least read a book that heavily referenced it. But any book that starts with a quote by Tasso is an immediate “must get” for me – so I bought the Kindle version. Once again, I have to thank you for alerting me to so many fantastic books.

    Buffy, depression, a slim dense book on trauma, the reverberations of affect—all the entities, but still something lacking for their full effectuation, my articulation by their differences: “An inarticulate subject is someone who, whatever the other says or acts, always feels, acts and says the same thing. In contrast, an articulate subject is someone who learns to be affected by others—not by itself. There is nothing especially interesting, deep, profound, worthwhile in a subject ‘by itself,’ this is the limit of the common definition—a subject only becomes interesting, deep, profound, worthwhile when it resonates with others, is affected, moved, put into motion by new entities whose differences are registered in new and unexpected ways. Articulation does not mean the ability to talk with authority but being affected by differences”. Latour is playing here upon the etymology of “articulation,” which goes back to the Latin for joining, as in the articulation, or joining, of limbs—only that he does not mean articulation as a systematic formation akin to the body’s limbs; he means articulation as a mode of becoming: “Articulation does not mean ability to talk with authority… but being affected by differences.” And it is through such affecting, such opening to differences, to others—human and inhuman, dead and living, inorganic and organic—that the subject opens, as well, to futurity, the unknown, to indeterminacy—“a subject only becomes interesting, deep, profound, worthwhile when it resonates with others, is affected, moved, put into motion by new entities whose differences are registered in new and unexpected ways.” And at this point, I could speak with authority about many things, including the complex theorization of trauma, but with regard to what most pressed, I was always feeling, acting, and saying the same thing…
    That’s really fascinating. Difficult in ways to understand, but a jumping off point for me to investigate further. The idea of opening to difference in the world is remarkable – the ways in which entities are enlarged through affect.

    I had not, at that time read Latour, but I did know what had always given to come my own creativity: I began to read a around, scratching and grasping, following references, sketching connections, seeking— Much poetry, in part, and much theory, as they are what gives me ways into the sense of the world—to the extent that there be sense. Poetry has been there since childhood, my father’s reading to me, theory since I first opened, as a freshman in college, Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology, and there was grasped—affected—past, at that young age, my full capacities of comprehension, grasped and, in response, able over the first pages only to grasp that I had finally found someone whose mind worked closely towards my own (if much more brilliantly), who experienced language as I did…This time, there occurred, in various texts, bits, hints, but for a long time, not… Then, only after well more than a year, after I had returned to teaching, something led to something to something else that led eventually back to something I had read years upon years before, something I had grasped conceptually, intellectually—but had not allowed to grasp me, grasp and move amidst me affectively: Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus— This time, with Buffy and trauma haunting, was different: Reading, rereading, rewatching, scribbling, interplay, affecting— And betweenness, and becoming, and its temporalities—speed and slowness, rhythm and duration—and futurity, the new—moving athwart linear time, its determinations… All of which I relate because… On the one hand, Latour’s lines resonate: “There is nothing especially interesting, deep, profound, worthwhile in a subject ‘by itself,’ this is the limit of the common definition—“ By which he means the autonomous, sovereign self, brimming with agency—
    StateofSiege, that’s such an absorbing story and I can utterly relate to it in the sense that creation demands total openness to the world around you – when writing something, things come unbidden that feel almost autonomic, unfocused and familiar in a strange way. Anyone who’s composed music understands that the wellspring of composition bubbles from unknown sources – the mind on one level registers the mathematical necessity of musical composition while the untamed unconscious causes the hand to fly over the page, dotting down notes.

    One time, while walking, a complete lyric that was incredibly long and complex (not AABA form, but almost a prose poem level of complexity) popped into my mind, rhymes and rhythms and all – and as I raced to write it down, it kept going and going and going – and I had no idea where it would even end up until the remarkable twist ending – THAT I HAD NOT FORESEEN until it was actually written. Where in the f**k that came from, I have no idea whatsoever – but Truffaut famously said that the works we slave over with meticulous intellect land inert whereas the work we toss off with one hand are astonishingly alive. Allowing the mind to shake off the conscious, critical part of ourselves results in truly remarkable work – the craft comes later with rewrites and pressure of final form. And I imagine philosophy/psychology works in the same manner. Who can say?

    The story I have told is not about that self, my self: not “interesting, deep, profound, worthwhile,” my story— Yet on the other hand, I had been utterly blocked, unable to finally close this piece, write the final paragraphs, had been instead writing and revising in circles—until I began this section: in the flow of its words, I knew I would, through its interweaving, at last be able to end, to give this, as promised, to you… Not as my story, but as that of Buffy—and of those with whom I have watched it, of what I have learned in that watching, in talking with them; of D&G, of the movement of their text across Buffy’s screens, her words and scenes; of this board, the countless surprises that have shifted my vision; how all have affected me, how I have learned to be affected through all of them and you, affected in ways I could never have foreseen—and, too, of, too, my failures to learn, to allow differences affecting and response in dense giving, of the damages I made… Not as my story, as Buffy’s story is not her story, rather becomes in its weaving through Willow and Xander and Giles and Spike and Dawn and Joyce and the countless nameless ones she saves and fails to save and the world she saves—a lot. And thus my story sits here as one movement amidst the many that Buffy’s affect, her learning to be affected, her affecting, has glanced between, opening to differences, affecting, giving…
    Yes, I can see that. Even in my simplistic reading, the difference in the varying perspectives of those who relate the feats of others is a form of affect. Heroism akin to Buffy and her calling is essentially a social interaction in which meaning is determined by who tells the story and what is affected by them. One person’s ideal of a hero can distort the image so far that the new entity barely resembles the original – as we see in Andrew’s fantastical version of Buffy and Spike in Storyteller.

    And these days, my own becoming emerges and dissolves, still, leaving me, for periods longer or shorter, closed off from affect’s learning, once more trapped in temporalities, alternately, or in combination, of trauma, depression, slow death, and progressiveness… Trauma is born implacable in its returning, as NA so graphically shows, and learning to live with it elsewise, amidst non-metric time, able to take the experimental step, to move—to sustain such moving—with grace and intensity through the world… This itself takes time, time and learning submission to one’s own power, its gifts, learning acceptance of and submission to the absolute obligation to the other power weaves within the self, the others whom it weaves there as well, turning the autonomous self into a world— Others whose movements between then themselves open a line of flight: “A line of becoming has only a middle. The middle is not an average; it is fast motion, it is the absolute speed of movement. A becoming is neither one nor two, nor the relation of the two; it is the in-between, the border or line of flight”
    Forgive me for cheesy analogies – but I still think of the experience of jazz when you talk about sustaining movement and moving to non-metric time in relation to the world. Each musician unsure as to what the other will do yet moving in and out of time to follow each other very closely from second to second, changing with the tempo and instrumentation and rhythm. The moment as the musician chooses, for better or for worse, to add to the cacophony is a moment of becoming, I think. The in-between of past and present that allows for an almost unlimited future of movement and change.

    And if we, given this and circling back with it, follow the line of flight that Buffy’s “Me” traces— We see, yes, Buffy springing up, springing forward with new power—But it is a power gained as that Me moves not on its own but in its betweenness, enmeshed in the forces of the world—a world that draws Buffy forth with an impersonal force of love. For after this statement, after Buffy has fought Angel to the point of his loss, she finds herself given back the one thing she could not have foreseen: a souled Angel, the one thing she herself most desired—and she kills him, the very person she loved “more than [she] will love anything in this world”. She puts a stake through his heart, refusing the call of her personal desire to answer the impersonal call of the world, sacrificing that for which she most longs, sacrificing in a sense herself as she knows that self, wrenchingly but lovingly, to effectuate that world’s salvation. In this becoming—a becoming that had earlier begun, that had swept her, the night before, through the door of her home, exiling her from her mother, whom she also loved; that would take her through that door again, later in the morning, to pack and write her farewell; that would then draw her to linger, wistfully, near those she loved at school and lead her away, to the bus—in taking the experimental step of this becoming, Buffy was certain, “knew [she] was right”, but she was not certain into where or how she would find her self having taken that step, into who that line of flight, escaping disciplinary norms, all given sense, would bring her. To “Me,” yes, but not the shape of that Me’s uncertain newness, her shirringly painful becoming— Normal, Again
    Really amazingly strong reading of the end of Becoming, StateofSiege, that really punches the sacrifice of Buffy’s final moments and the uncertainty of where she was going after that. I hadn’t really connected it to her sacrifice and depression in Seasons Five-Six, but the line is obvious to me now.

    Even as Buffy found a means to her becoming through, first and foremost, her opening to Willow and, soon after, Xander and Giles, so did they find the same, find a means of becoming beyond their stuck being within the margins of their social groups and families, ways to move with power, with value, with a sense of worth shaped by their threadings through and with others. Their movements towards becoming would be, of course, far from stable or complete—the determining forces wrought by years of abuse and neglect are not so easily loosened, and we see their affects surface in specific episodes throughout the series—see them surface more violently and tragically in S6, which makes such surfacing part of its arc. Hence Giles’ abandonment and Xander’s inability to marry Anya out of fear of himself, of his inability to become, of his being doomed to repetition of his father’s abusive violence. Hence, too, Willow’s fear of her inability to become without magic, of an immurement in nerdy being in its lack: “let me tell you something about Willow: she’s a loser—she always has been, People picked on Willow in junior high school, high school, up until college, with her stupid mousey ways… And now—Willow’s a junkie” (TtG). We see this, too, in their reversions to a certain kind of normativity from the commencement of S6, in their expectations that Buffy be the one they knew, the one on whom they could rely to secure their being after her death threw them into such uncertainty, in Xander’s violent Spike-obsession and inability to see the affair unfolding right before him, in Willow’s forgetting spell, which seeks, not unlike the asylum doctor’s method, to create a healthy, happy Buffy and Tara by erasing a fundamental part of their selves, killing parts of their minds.
    Yes, StateofSiege! I completely agree! The Scoobies are so invested in Buffy returning as the Buffy who they knew before her leap that they deliberately remain invested in stagnation and rigid definition of self. Excellent points about Giles and Xander running away from becoming while Willow eludes it through addiction and attempts to wipe the memory of the recent past.

    Nor are Willow and Xander alone in these regressions from becoming: Buffy, too, throughout high school, in her obsession with a lost “normal life,” likewise exhibits the insistent stirring of that originary part of herself that suffered the trauma of failed normativity, failed health, as a daughter—and to which she anneals, then, her destiny as a Slayer, which the failed daughter in her can only experience as a source of further blame, especially as it endows her with a power that proper girls should never have nor wield. That she misplaces her desire to be Normal Again even in high school tells us how intractably that originary trauma clenches, how much slaying has been forced to cover over it, even as it has become, as a consequence, imbued with its wrongness. And in this context, we can read her demon-induced hallucinations of the asylum as both a repeated punishment for her failures—now as a friend and sister—and as a more intense and detailed version of her high school longings for a return to a normativity she never actually lived: in order to efface its lack, she puts the blame upon herself, upon her failed health—health which, as Berlant tells us, is a measure of successful normativity—rather than upon her parents, whom she hallucinates as still together, as not engaged in bitter nightly arguments that name Buffy as their object, thus displacing all that they cannot bring themselves to speak, a naming Buffy took to speak the truth….
    Totally agree here that Buffy’s hallucinations are manifestations of her guilt over her failures – and a longing for a Buffy who never lived. Great point that her parents are happily married here because Buffy herself was never there to pull them apart (at least in her mind.)

    This is such a wonderfully detailed analysis of Buffy’s journey, StateofSiege! So entertaining and informative!

    Then, if not before, then certainly in the wake of Joyce’s illness and death, something hardens in Buffy—she first takes it to be training, slaying, making her less human, unable to love. But the loss of fluidity, of flow, stems more from the eruption of slow death, its precarious temporalities, into Buffy’s life, first with the illness of Joyce, which she cannot slay, then with her death, and further, piling, with the call of Dawn and the official call about her. And Buffy’s response is two-fold: increasing rigidity when she does make decisions and increasing lack of determination, of belief, of an ability to be in the world with the intensity that allows experimental steps, affective openings. The result: her harsh response to Dawn in TL, among other decisions, and her fall into a coma, which combines both, given that her certainty about Dawn’s death, about its absolute determination, is as much at work as Buffy’s loss of faith in her self, her sense of her failure as sister and Slayer. And even after Willow—it had to be Willow, again—brings her back, she finds herself unable to again make the choice that she did with Angel: “I don’t have that certainty anymore.” Not when the world asks that she sacrifice Dawn, who inhabits the very center of her love, lives, she believes, with the affective force that enables her becoming, what she sees as her humanity: “She’s part of me—the only part that…” This is what Buffy is referring to when she talks about how “everything just gets stripped away”—denuded, then, the fundamental openness that renders possible her becomings as the Slayer, her movement through the world as its salvation. And if Dawn inhabits, as Buffy then, rightly or wrongly, feels, that opening flow, then to kill her would be to kill the openness, the possibility of affect, that gives into her slaying, reducing her, at best, to a mere instrument once again, acting without love or ethics—to, as she says, a killer. Of course Buffy evades this in her Gift, in the leap into Death that saves at once Dawn and the world—but that stripping away has not been fully reversed by her dive; its lingering gap echoes through her upon her resurrection, forming yet another reason that she experiences her self as wrong….
    What a fantastic callback to Becoming! I hadn’t really thought about the massive parallels between Season Two and Season Five in terms of Buffy’s decisions, but you’re absolutely spot on here.

    What’s interesting, StateofSiege, is if you look at Buffy’s opponent and her aims, you can see that Glory represents a shattering and dissolution of all things. The collapse that she represents (and ironically mirrored in Joyce’s death) only causes Buffy to become more rigid in response to Glory’s chaotic danger. I agree with you that Dawn becomes a focal point for this rigidity, this narrowing of possibilities – the fact of her survival the one tiny window of indeterminate future that Buffy can see by the time of The Gift when she accepts her fateful dive.

    Thus in S6, as I have implied above, Buffy’s fear that she “came back wrong” refers not simply to her resurrection: it rather calls us to unravel the complex resonances through which “wrongness” itself gathers past woundings into present sense. Part of what makes Buffy’s wrongness so deadly, her depression so resistant, lies not simply in the way that the trauma of resurrection reiterates previous traumas, but also in the way, as I began to explicate far above, that those very entities that had been sources of her freedom from norms, means of their resistance and subversion—the affective mode of her being, the subtending force of her love, the family she made through them—after her resurrection become themselves normative forces binding her to expectations of what she must be for them, expectations to which she feels she must adhere, coming as they do from those she loves, to those to whom she breathes as obligation. Dawn and Willow and Xander and Giles—all looking to her, waiting… Even worse, perhaps, Buffy turns their normalizing expectations upon herself: drawing from her memory of the self she had just recently been; she then applies her recollection of that freer, giving self as a disciplinary norm to her present self, stilling her potential becomings in the wake of her resurrection, strangling the discovery of what she may have become in returning, locking instead herself in the relentlessly pressing present-past of her de-pression, her self-absence. At the same time, what intensifies her trauma and the depression emerging from it lies in the past that, contrary to Willow’s assurance, is never past. Thus Buffy’s post-resurrection reversion to disciplinary norms is not only shadowed by the power of past freedoms transmuted into norms and her failure to regain their forms, combined with the traumas those failures induced, but indeed her reversion to normativity in this time of trauma may in itself be determined by her prior traumatic shaping through the biopolitical forces of middle class, white, nuclear familial disciplinary normativity.
    Yes, I see what you mean – the very forces that had once been the springboard for her unique quality as Slayer who subverted norms and defied the Watchers’ Council have now become a Scoobie form of the same kind of entrapment with expectations of normality that directly mirror the expectations of who she might have been in normal society. And Buffy’s engagement with both – her determination to continue to slay vamps without complaint and work in fast food without complaint – seem to crush her from both sides. The third possibility of Buffy going all the way to join Spike in the darkness is yet another kind of expectation that Buffy dutifully allows Spike to fantasize even as she evinces little interest in his world outside of reveling in sensation as an escape from the strictures of everything else.

    And it becomes a kind of vicious circle in which the normativity of expectations locks her into an ever present past as you say – which explains her mind’s reversion to the Ur-Buffy of her original shaping trauma.

    This is why her delusion gives her a vision of her parents united, as they were not not only “before Sunnydale” but before their personal conflicts, conflicts Buffy was never given to grasp, began the family’s scission—and before the radicality of Buffy’s life as a Slayer, which she still sees as the true source of that scission, despite having been told differently, despite consciously knowing differently. For just as it was her chosenness that confirmed, in L.A., her essential nature as an improper daughter, unable to adhere to her parents’ so-valued norms, so it was, in Sunnydale, that she found her singular way to live as a Slayer, a way that subverted all the norms the dominant modes of power sought to impose as disciplinary forms, physical and affective, upon her power: the Council, her mother, and the social hierarchy at school. Yet for ill-Buffy—to that part of Buffy herself who dreams of a return to the comforting embrace of the nuclear family, its circling, normative care—her becoming as a Slayer is conceivable only as a stain of wrongness upon her proper being, a stain that covers both her originary fault as the source of her parents’ scission and the yet more originary fault lurking beneath it: the possibility, if not the fact, that the scission was born of something between Joyce and Hank alone, that the fault lay in them, beloved and loving as they were, and not her. A possibility that Buffy finds, on one level, utterly insupportable—better to claim the fault as her own than to place it upon those who bore her in love, to whom she bears the greatest love. And better, then, to give them life, preserve them as perhaps they never were, save in a fantasy of “that pleasant condition” of health, even if it means the murder of those through whom she came into her singular becoming.
    Yes, StateofSiege, Buffy’s psychological imagination takes her back to a time before the original sin – her parents are together and working towards their daughter regaining her “health.” And if that requires the murder of everything that has made her who she is, then so be it in order to rewind time back to a fictitious Golden Age.

    And yet she does not— And Yet: Willow’s Unspoken Call, Joyce’s Words— Willow’s endangerment, the unspoken call it carries, sets off, as it did in the beginning of the series, a complex play of affect, opens in Buffy the Possibility of affecting and being affected: This disturbs the way that Buffy has, as I have noted above, for much of S6, been ghosted by a sheen of affectlessness—even when shades of feeling appear to cross her face, the underlying mask of affective lack haunts their resonance and reach. Here, however, affect surfaces, surfaces slowly, slowly rippling through any mask of its lack, slowly opening into becoming: Seeing Willow in danger sends a wave of affect into passage, fleeting, athwart her more obvious expression of distress—
    This is a marvelous reading of Buffy’s struggle in the final scene as the rebirth of a never-was Buffy battles with the death of the never-should-have-been Buffy in her mind.

    As the distress ricochets Buffy back to the asylum, a resonance of the Willow-given affect lingers ill-Buffy’s the sounding of her name, in the power of their felt inter-weaving—This brings about two things: it sends ill-Buffy spinning off the bed, into the corner, away from Joyce—
    Great catch there, StateofSiege! I didn’t get that at all until you mentioned it.

    still, it seems, the false Joyce—as if the sight of this affectless, disciplinary mother has become not a comforting but a fearful sight; in response, Buffy’s affectively mobile face, combined with her recoil, calls forth the true Joyce, draws her forth as and through an unspoken call and an affective becoming-with— Draws the true Joyce forth from Buffy, within whom she has been, unknown, abiding—Joyce with her very particular smile, a smile crossing a face under-etched with sadness, framed by the ache of care— The true Joyce who will speak in ways that only she would, as the false Joyce never did— Which draws us to her words, to what, exactly, she did, did not say: Joyce: Buffy—Buffy, fight it. You’re too good to give in: you can beat this thing. Be strong, Baby, okay? I know you’re afraid. I know that the world can feel like a hard place sometimes. But you have people who love you—your Dad and I, we have all the faith in the world in you. We’ll always be with you. You have a world of strength in your heart—I know you do. You just have to find it again. Believe in yourself. Aside from her last sentence, this Joyce does not tell Buffy what to do. Including the last sentence, she imposes no norms upon her. While Joyce begins with a certain logic of health, telling Buffy that she “can beat this thing,” her words soon shift, such that the one thing that she most stresses is that Buffy must believe in herself—not change as a progressive movement toward some normative form of health, but to trust herself, the self in her as she now is, in her being and becoming and the opening to chance it holds—that bifurcation point.
    Ah – that’s brilliant. Buffy’s mind starts to replace the “false” Joyce with the Joyce she needs to hear in order to reach her real potential. I love this! This is amazing, StateofSiege!

    As you were saying before, the ways in which the mind merges things in new ways is exemplary and that seems to be a version of what’s happening here. Buffy is saving herself through a vision of Joyce that she needs to hear. Perhaps they are words that Buffy actually needs to hear from her mother – literally – that are finally expressed here in order to impel Buffy to act.

    In speaking of belief, Joyce speaks not the language of progressive time but that of futurity, of Possibility—of what Massumi terms “hope”—
    • I know you’re afraid. I know that the world can feel like a hard place sometimes. In acknowledging Buffy’s fear, in admitting to the harshness of the world, Joyce seems to be speaking more to Sunnydale- than to ill-Buffy, to be addressing the daughter the true Joyce loved and so unwillingly left, whose struggles in S6 she would have been able to grasp and soothe… And in her next words, she speaks the language of Buffy’s fundamental way of living through that harshness, her becoming as opening to others, to the other, the ever shifting affectings and affectednesses of her obligation: But you have people who love you—your Dad and I, we have all the faith in the world in you—And in her assurance of the love that imbues Buffy’s openness, in making clear that her own love is there threaded, in underlining her belief—joined with Hank’s—in Buffy, whatever and however she may turn in becomings, Joyce dissolves the stain of wrongness that has clung to both Buffy’s self as the Slayer and, darkly wedged beneath it, her self as a daughter. We’ll always be with you Finally, through these words, Joyce turns Faulkner’s line from threat to promise, a giving that opens out into hope: in leaving the asylum, in returning to her Sunnydale self, Buffy will not lose the parents she seems, within the bounds of its walls, through her hallucination, to have regained. This dissolution of the firm lines between life and death does not only abolish certainty—it also gives, gives back the presence of those feared lost, returns Joyce’s affecting embrace, stabilizing Buffy into a further opening to affect itself, to affecting and being affected, to becoming, stills the fear that there inheres, the fear that inheres in the hard place that the world can be, the lure of resting with the given and known that her hallucinations offer in exchange for submission to regulative norms. Buffy can live in her parents’ love without wedging herself into the regulative shape of what they once sought to impose upon her, the shape of a normative daughter—to depart the asylum will not be a departure into abandonment, into the exile her commitment had been. You have a world of strength in your heart—I know you do. Believe in yourself. A world—not a specific, predefined, normative identity, that of the seemingly free, autonomous self. A world—herein reside the multiplicities of Buffy’s strength: within her inhabitation by an uncircumscribable realm teeming with uncountable differences, with others. All homed in Buffy’s heart and flowing outward, all thus rooted in love.
    Wow – that’s a truly dazzling reading! In this final scene, Buffy comes to terms with her trauma through her vision of Joyce’s reassurance, alleviating the original feeling of wrongness that Buffy has carried with her throughout the series. What a marvelous reading of the episode – you are truly brilliant!

    And to set it once again in motion, to live with and through such otherness, to move in a felt embodying of her embodiment by this world, its strength, its love, Buffy must believe in it, in her multiplicity and openness, in her singularity born of her ever-differencing way in the world, a living into and because of the endlessly giving obligation to the other that seeps through her skin, crosses the boundaries of selfhood, thus bringing that selfhood forth into the plentitude of its power, of its becoming-with. • Hence, in response, that particular Buffy-smile, accompanied by an expressive fullness that cannot be confined to a single emotion, that can only be understood as an utter emanation of affect. It is, in the end, indeed, tinged with sadness, a sadness that follows her “Thank-you,” that flows into her “Good-bye”—but that sadness does not still the affective flow, only marks the eventness of her farewell, a farewell that she knows to be not absolute—We’ll always be with you… part of the inhabiting world of strength held in her heart’s embrace. And the sadness but tinges the full flow of affect, of Buffy’s being affected, of her opening out to affecting: she rests here at the bifurcation point, for much as she knows what she must return to do, she knows not what its result will be, can but step experimentally—and more intensely than she has done all season—through hope unto the possibilities the next moment will give. And there— First comes attention to the demon, whom Buffy attacks and swiftly defeats, moving with a determination and presence that has but rarely flowed through her limbs since her resurrection—save, perhaps, strangely, in that first fight, before her complete consciousness had come. And then her turn to her friends and Dawn, to whom—what can Buffy offer but apology, resonant with inner pleading? And while they meet her with a certain askance, a smallest hesitation, the unconditional does surface in their response, the embrace of gazes caring, forgiving, if not fully understanding, the nearing towards. But to their concern for her immediate state, Buffy can only turn to necessity, the antidote. Her insistence, her resolute call for it—this may seem like a return to the language of the asylum, the language of progressive time, of a movement toward health, a return to what she knows as her own norms of selfhood—but I would read it differently. For the last of her hallucinations, her final moments with her mother, have changed Buffy, given her a hope that shapes her way in the world into an opening, a becoming. Buffy knows not what will come in the aftermath of the antidote—save, of course, freedom from the hallucinations—knows only that Joyce will be there, with her, within the world in her heart, knows only that there be a futurity, a dimensions whose possibility had been at once effaced by the past-present-absence of depression and the doomed repetitions of trauma. In drinking it, she will move not towards a certain cure for all that she has felt as wrongness, will take only what Brian Massumi calls an “experimental step”—but will take it by stepping as she has for so long not been able to do, stepping in and through a “being right where you are—more intensely” that opens into the risks of life, of Possibility—


    This is so superb a reading that I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever read in this Forum.

    Buffy’s enigmatic smile certainly encompasses all that you say – her farewell not really a goodbye to a consummation devoutly to be wished but a wistful acceptance akin to Hamlet – if it be now, ‘tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.

    Never would I have thought to compare Normal Again to Hamlet, but you’ve made the parallels very clear in my mind! And it’s a beautiful reading of the ending.

    Almost Last Thoughts— More remains, more in terms of temporality, in terms of opening, more that will not come to a full interweaving until the final episode. But we have here the birth of a new temporality, one into which Buffy will fully move, with Dawn, in Grave. Before giving to that temporality the words for which it calls, I should note that much of S7 does not sustain it, returns rather to the episodic time of the heroic. This makes sense on a pragmatic level—BtVS is a weekly network TV series about a superhero, a genre that demands a structure of heroic temporality. Nevertheless, there are crucial moments—I will not enumerate, elaborate here, will point only to two: first, most obviously, Buffy’s final decision and Willow’s spell, which loose a speed of becomings that, as Willow will say, “change[s] the world.” It is, of course, a bit more complicated than that, involving, too, the subjection of countless young girls to an othering power—a subjection and subjectification that the AtS episode Damage explores, but we can leave that discussion for next season. Second, Buffy’s night with Spike in the stranger’s house, after her exile—that, too, partakes of a radically other temporal dimension, one that escapes linearity, that floats below the register of the event, that moves in terms of rhythms, durations…. The night where nothing and thus everything happens between Spike and Buffy, where, in the intensity of duration, Spike holds her and she nestles into a thereness with him, a becoming-with enwrapping and enduring— But enough of that, of the far to-come—
    It will be very interesting to look at Season Seven in terms of Buffy’s freedom – I think you may be selling the end of the season a little short – but then my memory may be playing tricks on me! But your misgivings about the end spell are well taken (and hey, I’m doing the episode aptly titled Chosen – so we’ll see what I can tease from it!) and I think that it touches upon some very controversial ethical dilemmas. I’m really looking forward to your reading of Touched after hearing your brief description here.

    The Last Shot: Time & Becoming, from Asylum to Grave— The final shot, from what I have heard, angered many viewers, for they read in it the implication that Buffy was still in the asylum, had, indeed, always been in the asylum, that Joss was telling us that the entire series—that the characters in whom we had become so deeply invested—was but a hallucination. This has always struck me as a far too simplistic, literal-minded interpretation. I remember that the ever-insightful Sophist, on his blog, argued that the shot emerged from the consciousness of ill-Buffy, who did, indeed, still exist at the episode’s end, as Sunnydale-Buffy had not yet taken the antidote—and that this shot emphasized the choice both Buffys made. On a pragmatic level, I find this explanation quite persuasive, although too focused upon the autonomous, agential self. I thus would argue for something more complex, argue for something imbricated with one of the aphorisms with which I began, Faulkner’s admittedly abused and oft-misquoted “The past is never dead. It’s not even past”—something that calls up, as well, Nick Cave’s “The past is the past—and it’s here to stay”: If Normal Again has given us anything to think, it must, in part, be this persistence, this non-linear duration and rhythm of the past. And following Faulkner’s logic, Buffy is, within the temporality of trauma, still in the asylum, will always be there, as she is still in the clinic to which her parents committed her—and on the front steps of Hemmry high, being called; still in her bathroom, facing and effacing herself, listening to her parents subject and objectify her; still facing the resouled Angel, then killing him; still about to make the leap that joined the temporalities and obligations of her life to save Dawn and the world—; and still awakening in her coffin, terrified, clawing her way out… Trauma never heals, not if we take healing, as its etymology implies we should, as a return to a past form, a normalization: its wounds remain, ever refuse erasure. There can be no return—no return as Buffy’s delusions promised—to a time and a self thought to be before. No “Normal Life” as her high-school-self dreamed. And to desire it is to fall, directly or indirectly, into the regulative norms that serve the interests of biopower, into the disciplinary and regulatory controls it exercises upon the self and the greater population, the self and population to which it then preaches freedom and responsibility, all the better to induce the interiorization of norms and the production of various modes of guilt, shame, and self-punishment—and the determination of the future by the past, the absolute rule of Newtonian cause and effect, the always already givenness of the future, the foreclosure of the new.
    Once again, that’s an amazing reading of this complicated scene. Love the idea that Buffy is still in the asylum in terms of non-linear time because she’s here, there and everywhere. We have always lived in the castle and the Past is always the Other. Calvino said that memory must be strong enough to enable us to act without forgetting and weak enough to allow us to keep moving to the future.

    Trauma is implacable, and it never heals— And yes, the last shot tells us that Buffy remains in the asylum, will always be there, as she is still in the clinic to which her parents committed her—and on the front steps of Hemmry high, being called; still in her bathroom, facing and effacing herself, listening to her parents subject and objectify her; still facing the resouled Angel, then killing him; still about to make the leap that joined the temporalities and obligations of her life to save Dawn and the world—; and still awakening in her coffin, terrified, clawing her way out… Still there, yet there elsewise, elsetime— For what Buffy finds in the asylum, what her hallucinations give her in the true vision of Joyce, her true voice, is a return to the affect from which her resurrection—and perhaps, even before, Joyce’s death—had displaced her. The capacity to affect and be affected that abides in the heart of her living, her becoming into the world. And in S6, Buffy has just barely sustained herself as she has sought to move in that world, entrammeled as she has been within a multiplicity of cutting, blinding, binding temporalities. Then in her good-bye to Joyce, in her turn away, she makes, as well, a turn towards, takes an experimental step into being more intensely there, where she is, in Sunnydale, at that moment, in all its indeterminacy— This does not mean that steps do not remain: they come in saying no to Spike; in seeing Willow’s mistaken assumption of power, which gives her once more a vision of her own—although it also stops her from bringing that power fully to bear upon Willow, whom Buffy cannot kill; come, most of all, with Dawn, there in the grave to which Willow has condemned them in her ending of the pain of the world, there where Buffy, with Dawn, will find neither ending nor beginning but the opening of another temporality—
    In a wonderful book that I read years ago, it posited the idea of the dream hypothesis as a personal event horizon. If our senses were giving us a false view of the world around us, then we would create our own specific limitations that would be focused on a solipsistic, ego-driven version of our greatest fear. We would place our own being at the center of said world with the idea of our death becoming the paramount event. The collapse of our conscious self would then represent the collapse of that particular world/universe – and Buffy’s vision of the apocalyptic end of never-was-Buffy would make sense not as a permeation of ill-Buffy, but as a final fade out constructed by well-Buffy as she moves from a limited point of view to an unlimited point of view. So the supposed hallucination of a still ill-Buffy is a personal horizon event in which the focus of her world within the dream has shifted.

    Since her resurrection, if not since the death of Joyce, Buffy has sought, even in her absolute care for her sister’s life, her battle against its ending, a certain distancing from Dawn, has resisted the full weaving of Dawn within the lines of her self, as part of daily living-into. Passing the responsibility for Dawn off to Giles was her first strategy; then, upon his leaving, she turned to avoidance, peppered, briefly, with words of normative care, which Dawn immediately detected and rejected; then, in NA, more normative language, gleaned from the Doctor, and finally murder; and, last, nice sisterly activities—all of them, as Dawn pointed out, segregated from the center of Buffy’s life, her slaying— Buffy claims that she is but trying to keep Dawn safe, but as Dawn points out, given who Buffy is, danger tends to find her… This is a valid point, but it does not reach the center of Buffy’s resistance:

    A certain originary wrongness, one that brought differencing, brought questioning of the given, of norms, one that led her continue slaying even after the clinic, one that led her to Willow and, through Willow, back to slaying—slaying in the singular, ever-questioning, ever-shifting form that she would then live and die through it, enter its uncertain becomings—It is this—this wrongness and the power it bears—from which Buffy seeks to shield Dawn… But in doing so, she ends up not only shielding Dawn from herself but also shielding herself from her true obligation to Dawn, the obligation that cannot be contained by authoritative norms, by rules and cliché statements of care and responsibility, the obligation that can only be lived in the affective weaving of Dawn into the sinews of her daily living—and perhaps again dying—into the world, the risks of her becoming and the risks of Dawn’s own, risks that Buffy cannot foresee, cannot protect her from, must lovingly allow her to live into, live through her own becoming— A thing Buffy forestalls at every step in S6, up till the end, forestalls in not telling her about the AR, in insisting on lodging her with Clem, in…. Until the grave—In her visionary shift then and there, in its thenness and thereness, in the very fact that she, this time, is not the one who saves the world, whose movements are determined by the arc of heroic temporality, what comes—What comes is not only an opening to Dawn, crucial as that is—
    Yes, totally agree that Buffy doesn’t really come to terms with her own becoming until the final scene in Grave when she leads Dawn into the sunlight. Although I might suggest that Buffy DOES save the world in terms of what she has given Xander and Willow – the affect between them that leads to the final scene between the childhood friends in which Buffy is both there and not there, her meaning present despite her absence. And I think that the realization of this – of knowing that Buffy is not only living in herself, but the cause of living in others – is vitally important to her new relationship with Dawn.

    “The past is the past, and it’s here to stay” (Nick Cave).
    “though there is no Course, there is Boundlessness – “ (Emily Dickinson).

    What comes is the experimental step enabled, most of all, by Joyce: a step out of the time of trauma, out of its determinations, a step into a living elsewise: the past is here to stay, but it need not stay as a past bound in a line to the present and then the future, as cause of a determined effect in the future, foreclosing possibility. Trauma can be lived as hereness, as affective betweenness, amongst the self’s multiplicities, interacting with each other and the entities that fill the world, that weave through the self in the speeds and slownesses, the rhythms and durations of non-metric time that carry the self into becoming— A becoming that renders ethics not a set of rules, of lines not to be crossed, but a movement of living into the world in its complexities, its constitutive obligations and offerings. That gives us neither the Normal nor the Again, for it undoes the terms through which both Buffy and Dawn seek to exercise the regulative norms lurking within them—for, indeed, becoming is precisely the undoing of such words, the force with which they seek to work over and through us, from without and within, is, rather, the giving of a grace born of both submission to the power within abiding and a living through the empowerment thus born of such submission’s giving, the obligations to others it weaves in and as the self, the freeing affectivity it sets coursing through this singular yet multiple self, sinew to synapse, its Boundlessness—
    Your final thoughts are profound - and the journey of Buffy and Dawn at the end reminds me of Ovid who ends his Metamorphosis with a plea that all things be treated with kindness and compassion because they are at the mercy of constant change. The positive connotations of becoming seem to merge (at least for me) with Ovid’s plaintive ending.

    Two Very Truly Last Thoughts— First, countless apologies for the long delay: the migraine was viciously affectionate, intent upon lingering until early this afternoon…. Second, it has been brought to my attention that I lapsed seriously in my explication of biopower and biopolitics, particularly in terms of norms, normativity, and normalization. To repair this lapse, I have embedded a fuller explanation in the first post, set off by thick dark lines, between the end of biopower section and the beginning of the definitions of Affect and Becoming. It bears the title Norms, Normativity, & Normalization— Deep thanks to the person who alerted me to the need for this, along with apologies to all for not seeing before the need— And now, truly... the last words….
    I wouldn’t have noticed its absence, trust me. I was too wowed by everything else!

    This was a masterful review, StateofSiege and it has really opened my eyes to a lot of theory that was unknown to me – plus I will never look at Normal Again or Season Six in the same way.

    As soon as I’m done with Seeing Red, I’m going to go back and respond to your lovely post on As You Were! Looking forward to Touched!

  6. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to American Aurora For This Useful Post:

    debbicles (14-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (09-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (09-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (09-01-19),Stoney (09-01-19),Tiny Tabby (09-01-19)

  7. #584
    Library Researcher PuckRobin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Posts
    212
    Thanks
    870
    Thanked 788 Times in 189 Posts

    Default

    Hi, SoS. I’m sorry I didn’t get to respond when you originally post, but seeing American Aurora cover this again reminded me how brilliant this point was.

    Quote Originally Posted by StateOfSiege97 View Post
    This brings about two things: it sends ill-Buffy spinning off the bed, into the corner, away from Joyce—still, it seems, the false Joyce—as if the sight of this affectless, disciplinary mother has become not a comforting but a fearful sight; in response, Buffy’s affectively mobile face, combined with her recoil, calls forth the true Joyce, draws her forth as and through an unspoken call and an affective becoming-with—

    Draws the true Joyce forth from Buffy, within whom she has been, unknown, abiding—Joyce with her very particular smile, a smile crossing a face under-etched with sadness, framed by the ache of care—

    The true Joyce who will speak in ways that only she would, as the false Joyce never did—
    I love the reading that at this point it’s the true Joyce that appears. This vision of the true Joyce also acts as a figure of grace—lifting Buffy up at her weakest. But as you say, this vision comes from Buffy herself – yet another act of agency from Buffy.

    But then it was Buffy herself who inspired Joyce to be better – just as Buffy inspired Willow, Xander, Giles, Angel, Cordelia, Cordelia, Spike, Dawn and even Riley to be so much more than they once were. Not so much different people – just the very best version of who they always were deep down.

    Quote Originally Posted by StateOfSiege97 View Post
    • I know you’re afraid. I know that the world can feel like a hard place sometimes. In acknowledging Buffy’s fear, in admitting to the harshness of the world, Joyce seems to be speaking more to Sunnydale- than to ill-Buffy, to be addressing the daughter the true Joyce loved and so unwillingly left, whose struggles in S6 she would have been able to grasp and soothe… And in her next words, she speaks the language of Buffy’s fundamental way of living through that harshness, her becoming as opening to others, to the other, the ever shifting affectings and affectednesses of her obligation: But you have people who love you—your Dad and I, we have all the faith in the world in you—And in her assurance of the love that imbues Buffy’s openness, in making clear that her own love is there threaded, in underlining her belief—joined with Hank’s—in Buffy, whatever and however she may turn in becomings, Joyce dissolves the stain of wrongness that has clung to both Buffy’s self as the Slayer and, darkly wedged beneath it, her self as a daughter. We’ll always be with you—Finally, through these words, Joyce turns Faulkner’s line from threat to promise, a giving that opens out into hope: in leaving the asylum, in returning to her Sunnydale self, Buffy will not lose the parents she seems, within the bounds of its walls, through her hallucination, to have regained. This dissolution of the firm lines between life and death does not only abolish certainty—it also gives, gives back the presence of those feared lost, returns Joyce’s affecting embrace, stabilizing Buffy into a further opening to affect itself, to affecting and being affected, to becoming, stills the fear that there inheres, the fear that inheres in the hard place that the world can be, the lure of resting with the given and known that her hallucinations offer in exchange for submission to regulative norms. Buffy can live in her parents’ love without wedging herself into the regulative shape of what they once sought to impose upon her, the shape of a normative daughter—to depart the asylum will not be a departure into abandonment, into the exile her commitment had been.
    To negate Buffy’s time in Sunnydale was to negate positive Joyce of the later seasons. It is great to see that sense of tolerance and support here. And I love your idea about the dissolution of firm lines – not only between life and death. But also between what is and what should be. There ceases to be normal or abnormal – there only Buffy.

    And who is she? Not merely a Slayer, a killer.

    Buffy is someone who will always sacrifice herself to save others. She chooses preserve life over whatever illusion of happiness.

    And that’s why it doesn’t matter which reality is real or not. If the asylum is real and Buffy gives that up, the only one to be truly lost is her. But if Sunnydale is real and she continues on her destructive course then Willow, Xander, Dawn and Tara will die. For Buffy to be true to her nature – as someone who saves human lives – there really isn’t a choice.

    She isn’t choosing between real and unreal, between normal and abnormal. She’s choosing between help and harm.

  8. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to PuckRobin For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (10-01-19),debbicles (10-01-19),flow (18-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (14-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (12-01-19),Stoney (10-01-19),Tiny Tabby (10-01-19)

  9. #585
    Scooby Gang American Aurora's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    561
    Thanks
    3,614
    Thanked 2,822 Times in 564 Posts

    Default

    Hey, DanSlayer!

    My apologies for taking so long to get to your terrific review of Entropy! The holidays were insane this year and I just couldn’t find much time to answer StateofSiege and yourself. But now I’ve got much more time and I wanted to respond to your thought-provoking review of Entropy – especially concerning the Trio – before I get to Seeing Red.

    6x18 Entropy
    A lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.
    Ah, yes, that lovely second law of thermodynamics. Like when you try and wrap that cake you’ve made as a gift and the plastic wrap doesn’t fit and the ribbon gets tangled and the paper sides tear and the damn cake doesn’t fit in the container anyway so the more you press on it the more lopsided it gets until it finally bursts its container and oozes out of the wrapper. Leave it lying around for a while and it’ll eventually turn rancid with green spots to boot because your refrigerator wasn’t working properly.

    And that’s kind of how life after Buffy’s return goes – the more the characters try and wrap up their lopsided cake with a nice bow, the more it all falls apart. The intention was good, but –

    I guess that’s why Entropy is one of those strange episodes for me that I find somewhat compelling. Maybe it’s the ennui, maybe it’s the weird sense of a car revving its motor over and over without going anywhere – yet. But I find almost every scene in this episode to be fascinating because there are some really dodgy moral choices by almost everyone.

    It’s as if everyone is so shell-shocked from everything that’s happened so far in the season that they’re allowing themselves to be caught off-guard – which makes sense considering the point of the episode seems to be the idea of hidden surveillance and exposure – not just the Trio watching Buffy, but the Scoobies watching each other. We start with Spike lurking on the top of the gate to Anya hiding in the bushes to Willow waiting in the corridor for Tara to appear.

    This obsessive stalking by all the characters results in rushed confessionals in which characters try to account for why they’ve acted the way they have – parodied in the montage where Anya tries to convince everyone to confess to wanting Xander dead – and this constant series of reveals continue throughout the episode until the end, where all the secrets are finally revealed and laid out in the open at last.

    Ah, the calm before the Dark Willow storm.
    And that seems to sum up this episode, doesn’t it?

    Things go to hell in quite a hurry in the next episode. And yet – there’s an interesting lull in the action of Entropy as nothing much happens – at least concerning any monster-of-the-week plot. Just a claustrophobic feeling of impending doom where everyone knows that something really bad is about to happen and no one knows what to do to stop it and everyone just sits there in a stupor as the train moves inevitably closer and closer to the edge of the cliff. Sorta like Brexit.

    But it doesn’t start that way – we see two vampires running – and one assumes that it’s Buffy and her friends chasing them. Maybe even Spike trying to work out some tension. But to the viewer’s surprise, it’s the Trio who are chasing down two vampires running away from them with an all-important disc clutched in one vamp hand. Why these two vamps have this disc – what it contains – and why the Trio wants it so badly – is unexplained. But our attention isn’t on them anyway – it’s focused on the bizarre sight of Warren, Jonathan and Andrew riding ATVs in pursuit. One assumes that they bought their new toys with the loot from the original bank robbery – but aren’t they supposed to be in hiding after Katrina’s death? We hear from Buffy that it’s been a week since the attack of the Glarghk Guhl Kashmas'nik and Buffy’s failed attempt to kill her friends. Surely, they must know that she’s out and about and kicking vamp ass. So why are they riding around like they haven’t a care in the world?

    I was trying to think of an action movie in which the characters race around on ATVs and the only one that immediately comes to mind is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with Indy fleeing Nazis on bikes while ferrying Sean Connery as Papa Jones in a side car. DanSlayer, maybe you can think of another one?

    But the Trio isn’t quite as dexterous as Indy despite Warren attaching two stakes to the front of his bike and they crash and burn long before they can catch up to the vampires. As they pick themselves up off the ground, the vamps race into a nearby graveyard with a rather imposing gate:

    ANDREW: We're gonna lose them.
    JONATHAN: We need that disk.
    WARREN: Wait.
    And here’s where we get another bizarre moment – Buffy’s waiting on the other side and tackles the vamps. At first, I thought she was working with the Trio because she’s so conveniently placed right inside the entrance – but that doesn’t sound right, does it?

    The Trio seem to have hit the jackpot. Buffy’s just happened to patrol right inside the giant gate to this particular cemetery and not only fails to see them but hear them even though they smashed through gravestones and made all kinds of racket. What makes it even more surprising is that she’s not alone – there’s another person watching her from afar who doesn’t seem to notice the Trio because he’s so absorbed in his stalking of Buffy that nothing else matters. It’s only when Spike lifts one of the vamps up by the neck that the viewer is aware he’s been perched on the top of the gate – luckily, looking the opposite way from where the Trio crashed out. Warren is even able to sneak up and take the disc lying on the ground in the gateway without Spike seeing, hearing or smelling him despite his superior vamp senses.

    Seems improbable, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t Spike at least glance in their direction and notice who they were? And if so, wouldn’t Spike want to rip Warren’s head off his neck and stuff it up Andrew and Jonathan for what they put Buffy through last week? Wouldn’t he at least alert Buffy? Apparently, Warren and his comrades sneak away with neither Buffy nor Spike the wiser.

    Although this is not Normal Again I believe it offers an interesting take on perception vs reality.
    Yes, I totally agree, DanSlayer! I think the point of the episode is that everyone is sneaking and spying and stalking around – and they’re so intently focused on their own obsession that they don’t see who’s spying on them – or even see what’s in front of them – until it’s too late. Buffy and Spike carrying on a typical conversation of two embittered ex’s as Buffy fights the first vamp and Spike dangles the second while the Trio sneak around them to retrieve the disc punches this absurdity home:

    SPIKE: How you doin'?
    BUFFY: Fine. You know... Same old same old.
    SPIKE: Here, I could take care of this guy if you want.
    BUFFY: Whatever. Your call.
    SPIKE: I mean, sure he don't look like much...
    SECOND VAMP: Hey hey!
    SPIKE: But I'd wager he could give you a bit o'nasty. I'll save you the staking. All you gotta do is –
    And this is where the conversation turns from cute to creepy – Spike’s threat of blackmail is fairly toothless at this point, but it’s still disturbing.

    Buffy is fairly firm with her answer:

    BUFFY: I'm not telling my friends about us.
    Why does Spike want Buffy to tell her friends about them? It surely wouldn’t bring Buffy back into his arms and they might even be tempted to banish him from Sunnydale or turn him into a toad. What could it possibly get him? The idea of keeping their affair secret goes back to Buffy’s initial warning the morning after the night they brought down the house:

    BUFFY: I swear to god, if you tell *anyone* about last night, I will kill you.
    SPIKE: Right. (Wrecked)
    And throughout their relationship – or the “thing” they have – Spike both complains about keeping her friends in the dark about them and brags that they’re doing this right under her friend’s noses.

    SPIKE: Look at your friends and tell me you don't love getting away with this right under their noses. (Dead Things)
    But in Normal Again, Spike ironically starts demanding that Buffy tell her friends about them while spinning a grand narrative that suits his fancy as to why Buffy acts as she does:

    SPIKE: I hope you don't think this antidote's gonna rid you of that nasty martyrdom. See, I figured it out, luv. You can't help yourself. You're not drawn to the dark like I thought. You're addicted to the misery. It's why you won't tell your pals about us. Might actually have to be happy if you did. They'd either understand and help you, god forbid, or drive you out where you can finally be at peace, in the dark. With me. Either way, you'd be better off for it, but you're too twisted for that. Let yourself live, already. And stop with the bloody hero trip for a sec. We'd all be the better for it. You either tell your friends about us ... or I will. (Normal Again)
    Why does Spike start demanding this now?

    Some of it is manipulation – Spike’s trying to threaten Buffy to win her back. Some is pure spite – he’s reminding her of exactly what she did with him. And some of it is frustration and hurt at being treated as if he’s nothing more to her than an evil “thing” despite the fact that they were lovers at one point:

    BUFFY: Hey, guys. I, uh, I found Spike and was, uh, trying to figure out what kind of dangerous contraband he had.
    SPIKE: Tell you what, Slayer. Let me get out of your way. I'll stop bothering you. (Normal Again)
    Spike still seems convinced that the reason Buffy’s rejected him is based purely on societal concerns – her friends wouldn’t like it, she can’t accept her attraction for him, deep down she loves him – and he’s seemingly persuaded himself that if he can only get Buffy to tell her friends, that she’d eventually take him back. He can’t seem to accept or understand that Buffy is actually thinking of him as much as herself – she’d been using him and his feelings of love to engage in pure sensation and it was killing her. And Buffy seems to have come to the conclusion that the best way to deal with Spike’s constant pleas is to ignore him as in the past – which hurts Spike’s pride even more.

    And it’s very telling that Spike has positioned himself above Buffy for once – instead of meeting her on her own level or below in his crypt, he’s now sitting above her with a vamp dangling from his hand in a weird subversion of their usual dynamic. This unconscious attempt to place himself above the hanging vamp he holds is a desperate attempt to rise to Buffy’s level and be a kind of man.

    SPIKE: Right. Well, I'll just be dropping him down to you then?
    Buffy knows Spike’s threat is toothless – if he’d wanted to reveal their relationship, he’d have done it already and if he’d wanted to drop the vamp, he’d have done it by now. So she shrugs even as she wrestles with the first vamp and even lies beneath him as Spike sits above. And she’s right – Spike doesn’t drop him throughout Buffy’s long confessional:

    BUFFY: You tell them if you want. Go ahead. Rock the boat. Rock and roll it the hell over. My friends and I'll still be groovin' with the movin'. Know why? I tried to kill my friends, my sister, last week and guess how much they hate me now? Zero. Zero much. So I'm thinking, sleeping with you? They'll deal.
    This takes Spike aback – he hasn’t seen this Buffy before – one who still maintains her independence – in fact, embraces it despite the fact that she’s literally beneath him as he taunts her. And he obviously finds it hurtful that Buffy is comparing the revelation of their affair to an attempt to mass murder her friends. Spike tries to cover his hurt by pointing out the flaw in Buffy’s reasoning as he drops the second vamp the moment Buffy dusts the first one. It’s a honest confession, blurted out in pain:

    SPIKE: In that case, why won't you sleep with me again?
    The vamp chases after Buffy for a second – but the unexpectedness of the question makes him turn in shock – the Slayer did what? Buffy rolls her eyes and takes the opportunity to dust him before turning her back on Spike and responding while walking away, refusing to look at him as she answers him:

    BUFFY: Because I don't love you.
    This answer feels a bit off – Buffy doesn’t necessarily need to love a guy to sleep with him. But the viewer (and Spike) understands what she means – because Spike is in love with her, she can’t allow herself to sleep with him because she can’t love him back and it would be unfair to both of them. And that’s not even accounting for the destructive, violent chaos of their relationship that was barely contained at the best of times and left Spike a barely conscious body in an alleyway at its worst.

    But Spike can’t understand Buffy’s reasoning – he’s still under the delusion that Buffy is simply fighting her love for Spike because it would be WRONG. And the words he mutters under his breath don’t bode well for accepting no for an answer:

    SPIKE: Like Hell.
    This is classic stalker psychology – the certainty that the loved one just needs a “push” in order to confess they love their pursuer back – or at least take notice of them. And until then, they must be carefully watched for that moment in which they finally admit the truth. We see this dynamic in action as an unkempt Xander lies in his apartment, listening to more “music of pain” as he grieves over the loss of Anya. Xander tries to drown his sorrows in beer and emo music – but nothing seems to assuage the pain. He turns off the music, puts down the beer, gets up, grabs his jacket and exits the apartment in a daze – much like his retreat from the wedding party. And like Spike, Anya is silently waiting for Xander to leave – hiding in the bushes as he walks away.

    This theme of surveillance continues right into the next scene where we see stalker Willow once again waiting outside of Tara’s class, trying to look suave even as she “accidentally” tries to approach Tara. In Normal Again, this led to an unexpected discovery that was crushing enough to cause Willow to run away – Tara apparently having found someone else – but Willow gamely tries again by hovering in the hallway. We also saw Tara notice Willow running away – so when she exits the classroom, she’s not surprised to see her old lover waiting there and sardonically (but affectionately) teases Willow:

    TARA: Hey!
    WILLOW: Look at you. All coming-out-of-class and everything.
    TARA: I do that sometimes. Usually at the end part of the class.
    WILLOW: Right.
    TARA: How's your – you know, after the basement deal?
    WILLOW: It's between a hitch and a kink. With a side of twinge. It's okay.
    TARA: And Buffy's okay too? Enjoying the refreshing sanity and so forth?
    WILLOW: Ha! Yah! Refreshing san-- that's funny!
    Willow tries WAY TOO HARD here to be casual and yet admiring of Tara at the same time – and Tara smiles at Willow’s insecurity. But suddenly Willow calms down – her face turns more somber – and she tells Tara how she honestly feels. It’s notable that unlike most of the characters in this episode, Tara is one of the few who really pays attention and she listens intently as Willow confesses her fears. It's obvious that she's still deeply in love with Willow - but afraid to trust again.

    WILLOW: She's okay. A little freaked. I'm glad she didn't hurt you.
    This honesty seems to brighten Tara’s expression – and she teases her once again about the slightly stalkerish behavior:

    TARA: You too. So, this is becoming kind of a regular thing. You and me after class.
    WILLOW: Uh, I didn't –
    TARA: Only this time you stuck around.
    Willow is caught now – but instead of denying it, she tries to make a joke of it:

    WILLOW: Oh, um – various sounds of hesitation –
    TARA: She was just a friend.
    And Bingo! Tara lands an arrow right in Willow’s heart by getting to the point. Willow shuffles and stammers at Tara’s accurate aim of what’s in her heart at the moment – and there’s a sense of relief both that Tara hasn’t found a new love interest and the fact that she’s confiding it to Willow. Which could mean –
    WILLOW: Friends are nice!
    TARA: You rushed off before I could, you know, explain.
    WILLOW: Well, officially, of course, I have to say that I have no idea what you're talking about.
    TARA: Unofficially?
    And Willow smiles – both have fallen into the same comfortable rhythms of old as they walk down the hallway. Tara is smiling and flirtatious and almost open to an invitation – so Willow finally swallows and musters up the courage to ask her out – platonically, of course.

    WILLOW: We should have some coffee some time. Maybe some day this week after class.
    TARA: I'm free tomorrow.
    WILLOW: You could, you could bring your friend.
    TARA: I wasn't gonna -- I mean, if you have a friend --
    WILLOW: No! I'm, oh, I'm friendless.
    TARA: Yeah, yeah. No friends -- I mean, I have friends –
    WILLOW: Many dear friends, yeah. But --
    TARA: Coffee.
    WILLOW: With us. Who are – just friends.
    And they go off on their "just friends" date.

    Tara knows in reality she and Willow have a lot of work to do if they want to be a couple again but gives into Willow to make herself feel better; much like Anya and Spike. (Not to mention the obvious question of how it would work if they want Willow to be “sober” from magic while Tara still embraces that part of her life)
    Yes, DanSlayer! I totally agree that Tara gives in just a bit too easy because she’s looking for connection – which is also one of the points of the episode. The scene is touching and honest – but it does bring up some serious questions that I’ll address a little later this week in Seeing Red as to whether Tara is making the right choice or not to get back together with Willow. Tara has obviously made the decision that Willow is repentant for her crimes and deserves forgiveness – this is a sign of healing and the scene that follows with Buffy and Dawn retracing her kleptomaniac spree in downtown Santa Monica (as a California girl, I recognize the area) is a parallel to Tara’s “I forgive you” walk with Willow. Except that Buffy herself has a lot of apologizing to do after the way in which she almost killed her sister:

    BUFFY: I guess this was a kinda lame idea for a sisters-day-out. I make up for trying to kill you by taking you places you can't go in.
    DAWN: No, it's my bad. I'm the one that got busted for taking stuff.
    Yes, poor Dawn was busted for stealing a leather jacket and various trinkets from the Magic Box – while our stalwart bunch of anti-heroes is still living it large. Both Buffy and Dawn awkwardly confess their crimes to each other as the script suddenly switches to the Trio lair where a guilty Jonathan is experiencing Better Living Through Chemistry as seemingly unrepentant criminals Warren and Andrew plot behind his back to ditch him as soon as they’ve gotten what they need from him. All the references to Star Wars (Padawan) and Indiana Jones (Short Round) are not only indicators of Warren's fan-based knowledge, but they're all references to young and/or inexperienced characters in the hierarchy of fan culture as Warren tries to shame Jonathan again and again.

    JONATHAN: Get back. You don't want to make me rush this.
    WARREN: Not impressed, Padawan. When do we hit paydirt?
    JONATHAN: I do this wrong, it's gonna surge and we'll be deader than an ex-girlfriend.
    WARREN: What did you say?
    JONATHAN: Just let me work.
    WARREN: All right, do what you need to do. You get us to the goods, then watch out. It's gonna be like the whole world just spread open and gave it up for you, man.
    JONATHAN: And then we're done, right? We each take our share and we call it a day?
    WARREN: You that ready to get rid of us, huh? Don't worry. we pull this off, you can buy any tropical island you want. Cheer up, Short Round. You're about to get us everything we ever wanted.
    And then Warren cheerfully stabs Jonathan in the back, plotting with Andrew to ditch him the first moment they can. When Andrew evinces a twinge of guilt, Warren assures him that any measure of empathy is a weakness that needs to be eradicated.

    WARREN: He's almost done.
    ANDREW: I sorta feel kinda sorry for him.
    WARREN: That's a weakness.
    ANDREW: Um... okay.
    WARREN: Look at him!
    ANDREW: He's got that same look on his face, the one he had that time I highlighted in his Babylon 5 novels. Right before he told his mother on me! Warren! I don't think we can trust him.
    The Babylon 5 novels Andrew refers to were a series of novels that followed the TV series - like the Buffy comics, they were regarded as strictly canonical. There's no doubt that Andrew highlighted passages that he thought were essential to the world-building of the Babylon 5 universe.

    The most interesting thing about this comment is the suggestion that Andrew and Jonathan had been friends before college - if Jonathan's mother was involved with the destruction of her son's books, it had to have been before high school graduation. So Andrew and Jonathan have known each other for a long time.

    WARREN: We don't need to. Not for much longer.
    ANDREW: It's gonna be that soon?
    WARREN: The milk in the fridge? How long 'til it expires?
    ANDREW: Well, we got it on Friday. I remember noticing that there wasn't a full two weeks on it, but we did get it into the fridge pretty quick, unless I'm thinking of the two-percent...
    WARREN: Forget it. It was a thing. It's gonna be soon.
    ANDREW: Oh. Wow.
    Kinda typical how Warren compares their supposed triumph - and the end of Jonathan - to milk that will soon expire.

    Everyone perceived The Trio as harmless, not even remembering all three of their names; but in reality they’d already killed a woman.
    Yes, DanSlayer, what’s so interesting about the episode is that everyone is accusing everyone else of having done something as they stalk and sneak around while the Trio seemingly gets away with murder.

    I found your thoughts on the Trio particularly fascinating – especially your follow up:

    This is just follow up thought up randomly since the last post but written here and now. The reboot show and comic have been on my mind, and during a Got Talent YouTube binge I saw things that reminded me of Jonathan and Andrew so I knew I wanted them in; just wasn't sure how to build up to it; here's my shot. Thinking it over, Warren delights in being an enemy to the Slayer but doesn't even have the foresight to protect himself from vampires; thinking he can just strut his way into a demon bar after he shot Buffy, thinking reputation would be enough. It's one thing to want to take down the Slayer, but you should be able to defend yourself from vamps if you were to actually succeed.
    Yes, that is an excellent point, DanSlayer!

    Warren acts as if he’s a badass for taking out Buffy, but he doesn’t seem to realize that others would be ready to take HIM down. It’s like the theme of so many Western movies that feature outlaws – everyone wants to be the guy who takes down the guy who took down Jesse James. But I think that connects more to what it is that Warren’s trying to achieve – which you very smartly pinpoint as reputation. This isn’t really about taking over Sunnydale or being King of the World – if it were, Warren would have used all his robot techno-gizmos and magic companions to become President (like Lex Luthor). The reasons for his desire to defeat Buffy are more personal and are tied to what happened to him in school.

    I love your brilliant insight that reputation is of vital importance to Warren – so important that he believes it’s enough to protect him from all the beasties in the bar – and that's also at the heart of Season Six and the Trio and I’m going to steal the idea for my own rewatch!

    Honestly, DanSlayer, you’re making me think a bit differently about my thoughts on the Trio in Seeing Red and I might go back and revise a touch of it in the next few days to incorporate more thoughts about what the idea of reputation might mean to a bullied, insecure group of young men. Not only what it meant in the early 2000s, but how technology has changed the reach of what they might be able to do to accomplish their dreams. Yes, Buffy, was in some ways technologically in the dark ages compared to today, but as you point out the impulse would be the same. In fact, Warren might even be more of a hero than a loser now.

    Warren's immature entitled attitude would make him popular in certain places online today. His jealousy that a woman gets to be the actual superhero drove him to be the villain in his mind; causing him to overlook he's a tech genius and could become rich from either a computer or perhaps military company if he still wanted to make weapons for a living.
    Yes, but as you say, that doesn’t really seem to be his goal – there are more personal demons driving him just as others with brilliant minds throw it all away in order to get revenge on their classmates or people at their workplace. All you have to do is look at his obsession with Katrina when he could have found numerous other women to date him based on his youth and wealth and smarts – and it’s clear that he’s too psychologically screwed up to take advantage of his own genius.

    For all the times Buffy is knocked down and the less then glamorous fast-food job she had recently; she does have her little Scooby clique, was awarded as the Class Protector (ironically given to her by Jonathan) and she does have the benefit of superpowers and literal magic in her life. With Giles gone and having proved herself to be capable; if she wanted to stop Slaying I think she could very well do so; her since of duty and wanting to help is too strong. There's also privilege which has been think-pieced well enough already as she is a straight, white woman from middle class California. The possible reboot show will be for a different time and from a different perspective with a black woman lead. We all know what Warren would say to that. Minority rights and this genre have always gone hand-in-hand; superheros inspire and protect; particularly with the X-Men. It'll be a thorny issue in mainstream entertainment when Disney gets the mutants back; why are the Avengers loved when mutants are hated and feared? The Avengers often end up looking like jackasses and you really shouldn't piss off a telepath.https://imgur.com/a/ArZRi
    Fantastic point – I think that you’re right in saying that Warren would feel even more aggrieved with the reboot – and he’d find a lot of people on line who would agree with him. The irony of corporates piggybacking on money cash cows like The Avengers that directly deals with the disenfranchised is interesting – the success of Black Panther and Wonder Woman complicate the idea of upholding certain social values when society is currently divided about them.

    With regards to Buffy and “privilege,” it’s interesting to see all the critical analysis of old television shows on the net that follows after the academic flurry of criticism of the “Western Canon” and the values of pre-20th century literature. I think that what complicates things is the difficultly of cross-generational analysis – younger generations always think that things were the same in the past whereas the pressure of social conformity and group-think at the time was unimaginably intense at the time regarding certain beliefs – and what people think today will no doubt seem shocking and horrible to people of the future when they look back at what’s happening today.

    There are reasons to criticize the Scoobies; it happens enough in think-pieces after all. Even the reboot comic seems to have Willow as gay from the start; "Gay now!" in Triangle was one of those criticism sticking points. But hell,if a Flintstones comic can make connections and metaphors to complex topics like marriage equality and solider PTSD; maybe a new comic or show can do the similarly while honoring what came before. No, I'm not kidding.

    http://www.dorkly.com/post/82072/wiiiiiillllmaaaaaa
    That Flintstone comic is amazing!

    Change is good and change is inevitable and the awful ideas and presumptions of the past should be examined thoroughly so people can move forward – the problem comes with the attitude that anything from the past that doesn’t fit a narrow definition of today’s acceptable should be jettisoned or condemned like Xander’s behavior towards women, which is now seen in a wholly negative light rather than as the acceptable coping mechanism it was for a boy growing up in the 90s.

    On the contrary, I think understanding past art is vital to understanding how we perceive art today – there’s a strain that is fairly puritanical in our society today that resembles the “Burn the Witch!” mentalities of the past when a work doesn’t pass a certain sniff test. I appreciate your way of analyzing problematic elements of art better – appreciate it for what it is and acknowledge the issues at the same time. I think experiencing art of the past also helps us to realize that mentalities are not stable and unchanging – that we ourselves believe in things right now that aren’t necessarily going to be acceptable in the future – and this helps to expand our minds and examine our own prejudice and further our personal growth.

    And speaking of lack of growth, look at the scene between Xander and Anya when they first meet again in his apartment. Anya’s stalking has stopped – now she’s standing in his apartment when he returns and is ready to confront him. The scene is sad and tragic at first – Anya’s despair matched by Xander’s horror at how he’s hurt her:

    XANDER: Oh my God. How are you?
    ANYA: Um, ducky. You?
    XANDER: Ahn. Please. Let me -- explain. I know that there's nothing I can do or say to make up for what I did. I can't -- sometimes I wake up in the morning, and I'm like, oh God, is this my life? Was that me?
    The misery on Xander’s face – the shame and guilt over how everything turned out – is palpable and even Anya is moved enough to agree with Xander that the whole wretched day feels like some weird dream and it couldn’t possibly have happened.

    ANYA: Me too.
    XANDER: But you have to believe me, please, that I want to make up for it, I want to take away the hurt, I love you. So much.
    Xander’s confession feels very genuine here – he’s accepting all the blame for what happened and asking Anya if there’s any way that he can make it up to her. It’s the opposite attitude from how Spike acts with Buffy after their breakup – seemingly placing all the blame on Buffy. It’s very much like Willow’s attitude towards Tara – Xander’s apologetic and groveling and hoping against hope that somehow he can make up for what he’s done and they can go back to before.

    And like Willow, it feels awkward even as it’s heartfelt – sounding like a confession that Xander’s been going over and over again in his head trying to find the right words that will bring her back to him – and no wonder – he nervously jokes that he’s been practicing it in anticipation that Anya might return:

    XANDER: I may have practiced that in the mirror. A couple times.
    Anya is genuinely touched here – she starts to doubt her decision – does Xander want a redo?

    ANYA: I just don't understand what happened.
    XANDER: I do. I'm an idiot. All I had to do was say something earlier.
    And suddenly Anya’s face darkens – Xander isn’t talking about marrying her again – he’s talking about how the wedding shouldn’t have happened at all.

    XANDER: I could have spared you that – that nightmare.
    ANYA: Say something about what?
    XANDER: No, no, I mean, you know, if I had been more, like, self-aware. 'Cause, with the being an idiot thing.
    And hope that blossomed for a moment at Xander’s words is replaced by fury:

    ANYA: If you had been more self-aware, you would have, what? been able to stop the wedding? XANDER: I don't mean it like that, it's more like... Okay, I didn't practice this part.
    ANYA: Do you still want to get married?
    Xander hasn’t practiced the answer to that question either.

    ANYA: Oh.
    And Xander realizes that he has to say something – anything – as Anya breaks down again into tears.

    XANDER: Ahn, it's a very complicated question.
    ANYA: Actually, it's really not. Kind of an either-or deal. Do you want to get married?
    XANDER: Someday, yes, very much. When we're ready. I don't want you to take that as a bad thing, it's good, I love you, I love you so much, I'm just trying to be honest with you –
    Xander seems to be unaware that telling Anya that he wants all the benefits of being with her – the comfort, the love, the companionship, the sex, the rent-sharing – without the responsibilities of being a husband and father aren’t compatible with what Anya wanted. And after leaving her at the altar only a few weeks ago, it seems a touch insensitive to tell her this when she’s obviously still heart-broken and humiliated. There’s a certain level of dishonesty here – on one level, Xander wants to make amends to Anya for what he’s done – but on another level, he wants her to simply forgive him and come back to what they had before.

    The parallels with Willow and Spike are striking here – all three are hoping against hope that they can put back together the tattered remnants of a relationship that they themselves destroyed by softening the heart of their lover and begging for forgiveness. All three claim in their own way that they’ve changed now – that they can have a do-over and make things right. But it's not always that easy.

    Have they demonstrated enough real change to justify that forgiveness? Willow has abjured magic, but her snap into Dark Willow shows that the change was somewhat superficial – would Willow have done the same if Buffy or Xander had been murdered by a bad guy? Spike tells Buffy that he doesn’t hurt her – a fairly specious argument that comes right before the infamous AR and after his alley adventure with the girl after learning about his chip. And Xander seems to be walking down the same road here by downplaying Anya’s feelings as negotiable and easily forgotten – he can easily put off her concerns about marriage for years just as he had done the year before. Anya made it fairly clear that’s what she wanted and quickly – it was Xander who dismissed her feelings for a long time.

    But then again, there’s a level of duplicity and judgment on all sides (with perhaps the exception of Tara.) Buffy pretends to her friends that Spike is still a “frenemy” while he’s literally standing there; Anya hasn’t told Xander that she’s gone back to being a Vengeance Demon – she’s being just as emotionally dishonest as him. Although one could say that Xander knew who Anya was – her total lack of empathy for those she harmed throughout her years as a Vengeance Demon despite having a human soul – and yet, he came to her all the same just as Buffy came to Spike.

    So it’s kinda hard to hear Anya complain about Xander being honest when she’s keeping such an enormous secret from him:

    ANYA: Yes, honesty now. Congratulations, Xander, for being honest now, I wonder what the medal will say.
    XANDER: Okay, clearly I'm not handling this well.
    ANYA: Well, duh.
    XANDER: All I want is for us to be together. I love you. I just wish we could go back to the way things were before.
    ANYA: (demon voice) And I wish you were never born!
    There’s an episode break here – we’re meant to think that Xander will be a puddle after the commercial – and he’s still standing there, unaffected, when the break is over:

    XANDER: I know this is all coming out wrong.
    ANYA: I -- I wish you felt the pain of a thousand searing pokers boiling your heart in its own juices! Or, your pancreas!
    XANDER: I know, honey. I totally deserve that.
    ANYA: I wish you lived in a state of constant panic! I wish you had tentacles where your beady eyes should be! I wish your intestines were twisted into knots and ripped apart inside your lousy gut!
    XANDER: They are.
    ANYA: Really? Right now?
    Anya's suddenly unsure of what she's done, concern creeping into her voice despite her anger.
    ANYA: Does it hurt?
    XANDER: God, yes. It hurts so bad it's killing me. Anya, I love you. I want to make this work.
    ANYA: Those are metaphor intestines! You're not in real pain! What's wrong with me?
    XANDER: It's not you, honey. It's me. I'm the one that --
    ANYA: Gaggghh!!
    XANDER: Ahn, wait. Please...Ahn?
    But Anya stalks off into the night, determined to find out why Xander’s intestines aren’t twisted into knots and ripped apart.

    The whole Anya storyline in Entropy is kinda bonkers if compared with how serious we’re supposed to take the Trio’s previous murder of Katrina and Spike’s long history of violence. Basically, we’re meant to be horrified by Warren (and Andrew) because they’ve seemingly accepted Katrina’s death as a necessity whereas Jonathan is plagued by doubts. And we’re meant to see Buffy’s rejection of Spike as necessary because of his soulless state only mitigated by the chip – a state that Buffy herself has said makes him little more than a serial killer held back by prison bars. But apparently, we’re supposed to find Anya’s attempts to kill Xander a hoot.

    Anya sadly learns that all of the others still love Xander feeling they chose him over her, turning to Halfrek her former vengeance BFF for comfort. Whilst the others have a deeper loyalty to Xander they aren’t trying to cast Anya out. Anya, having lived a long time must have met some “lesbians who hate men” and thinks that’s the tact to turn Willow and Tara against Xander.
    Yes, it’s kinda sad to see Anya’s numerous attempts to kill Xander in horrible ways – not to mention the fact that she must be harming people already since she’s gone back to being a vengeance demon. We get a glimpse of this in Hallie’s monologue where she glories in torturing some deadbeat dad:

    HALFREK: No child support in, like, eleven years, not a single check, so now, every time he picks up a piece of paper that isn't a check for the child? Paper cut. I mean, you know how I hate to toot my own horn, but...He's just covered in all these tiny little bandages. Like a quilt. Made of bandages.
    ANYA: Hmmmm?
    HALFREK: Okay, did they not have listening skills in Human World?
    ANYA: I'm sorry. I know. I'm just distracted.
    HALFREK: What, this thing with Xander? Don't worry, you'll figure out a way --
    ANYA: No, that's just it, I tried everything, every curse I knew, nothing’s worked.
    HALFREK: Wait. You tried to curse him yourself?
    ANYA: Well, yeah. I'm the wronged party here, of course I -
    HALFREK: You can't exact justice against someone on behalf of yourself, silly! How long have you been away?
    ANYA: I haven't been scorned by a man in, like, a thousand years. I never had to make a wish for myself. Isn't there some way around that?
    HALFREK: Well... You could try getting someone to make the wish for you. I suppose.
    It’s hard to believe that Anya doesn’t know she can’t curse herself – but this naturally leads to a cute montage of Anya trying to get Xander’s friends to kill him.

    But first, we get a short scene with Buffy once again serving BREAKFAST - that symbol of domesticity and normality that Buffy constantly relies upon in Season Six. After watching Buffy make a pile of pancakes a mile high, Dawn voices the idea that her relationship with her sister can’t really be forged through faked mom activity, but through sharing Buffy’s life as it is, not as she would like it to be:

    DAWN: Instead of you hanging out with me, maybe I could hang out with you. Why don't I come patrol with you tonight?
    But despite the fact that Dawn was originally a Key who was almost destroyed by Glory and caused the death of Buffy and was being raised by a chipped vampire and two witches, Buffy feels that Dawn should now aspire to a life slightly less exciting than an episode of The Brady Bunch.

    BUFFY: Uh huh. And then maybe we'll invite over some strangers and ask them to feed you candy.
    DAWN: You guys all went out patrolling every night when you were my age.
    BUFFY: Yes, well, technically, you're one- and-a-half. See, I thought a little levity might, okay, but also no.
    DAWN: I just... I just think I could help.
    BUFFY: I'm sure you could. But it's more dangerous than I had in mind.
    DAWN: But --
    BUFFY: Dawn. I'm trying so hard to keep you away from that stuff. I don't want you to be around dangerous things that can kill you.
    DAWN: Which would be a perfectly reasonable argument if my sister was chosen to protect the world from tax audits. But my sister is, see, you, and dangerous things that can kill me seem to find me.
    BUFFY: But you don’t need to go looking for them. Eat up. You'll be late for school.
    I’ve mentioned before the problematic aspects of the Scoobies keeping Dawn a child – and how this might be a part of the original Monk Spell in order to keep her safe. But Dawn is the age at which Buffy was called – and it seems strange that Buffy refuses to allow Dawn to participate at all in her patrolling – even from a distance. Again, it’s possible that Buffy sees Dawn as the unspoiled Buffy-who-never-was that she wants to keep safe – but it seems a little late for that. It’s only at the end of Season Six that Buffy is willing to involve Dawn in her life. StateofSiege made a beautiful post about Buffy and Dawn at the end of Grave in her Normal Again review and I encourage everyone to read it!

    But after the Buffy/Dawn scene, we finally join Tara’s coffee date with Willow updating her on the highlights of Season Six – the penis monster in DoubleMeat Palace, invisible Buffy in Gone and Doctor Spike in As You Were:

    TARA: Okay, wait, it was under her wig?
    WILLOW: It was this thing, and it came out from inside her head.
    TARA: That's disgusting. What did it look like?
    WILLOW: Well... let's put it this way. If I wasn't gay before –
    TARA: Gah. And this was after the invisible ray?
    WILLOW: Yes.
    TARA: Okay, I’m gone for a couple of months...
    WILLOW: Oh, did I tell you about the demon eggs?
    TARA: See, now I know you're just trying to make me jealous.
    Of course, one of the biggest storylines has happened right under Willow’s nose – the affair between Buffy and Spike – and Tara doesn’t say a word about it.

    WILLOW: So, what, no rollicking adventures in the dorms?
    TARA: It's not the same. It's not like living with a house full of family or sharing a room with someone you –
    WILLOW: Are friends with?
    Willow nervously jumps in with a joke before Tara can finish that sentence – it’s just too emotionally charged. But before she can go further, Anya shows up, literally dressed to kill:

    ANYA: Hey.
    WILLOW: Oh my god. You're back.
    TARA: We've been so worried.
    ANYA: Sorry. I just needed to... I couldn't stay here. Not after that.
    TARA: No! No, we totally understand.
    WILLOW: But you're back now. Right?
    ANYA: It's... complicated. There's a lot to deal with.
    WILLOW: If there's anything we can do, just let us --
    ANYA: Actually, there is an eensy something I could use a little help with. You're lesbians, so the hating of men will come in handy. Let's talk about Xander.
    As Anya stalks Xander’s friends, pressing them for confessions that will allow her to destroy him, they’re both sympathetic and defensive at the same time.

    The Scoobies perceive Anya as needing some emotional support when in reality she wants a reason to magically crush Xander.
    Yes, DanSlayer – the irony is that everyone she speaks to has forgiven Xander already – so there’s no way to force confessions out of them that don’t exist. But there’s something “off” about these scenes – Anya’s eagerness to harm Xander, the lesbian crack about hating men, the manipulation of Dawn even after what Hallie did to her, the slut-shaming of Buffy – it’s all a bit crude and overdone.

    BUFFY: Anya, Xander's my friend. I know what he did was wrong and if it had happened to me I'd --
    ANYA: -- wish his penis would explode?
    ---
    TARA: It's not really so much about hating the men.
    WILLOW: We're more centered around the girl on girl action.
    ANYA: And men really like to watch that kind of stuff, don't they? Men like Xander.
    TARA: Well, I –
    ---
    ANYA: Don't you wish his eyes would explode?
    DAWN: I never use that word anymore.
    ANYA: Coagulate?
    DAWN: W-i-s-h.
    ANYA: Oh, wish? As in I wish Xander --
    DAWN: Right! That word. There's vengeance demons out there that are still active, remember. Any 'I wish' could totally end in horrible grossness.
    ANYA: Gimme a fer-instance.
    Buffy, in particular, is more concerned with no one finding out that she’s been with Spike:

    ANYA: Guys have been running roughshod over you for years. Torturing that perky little ticker. Aren't you sick of it? Don't you wish guys like that --
    BUFFY: Whoa, what guys? There have only been four -- three! Only three guys! That's barely plural.
    Yuk, Yuk. Buffy’s not a SLUT, she’s only been with four – wait –three – guys! Not like that tramp Faith! And there’s even more hilarity to come!

    WILLOW: Well, Xander is a man, so it's kinda not the surprise that he likes to watch... Girls... Why are we talking about this?
    ANYA: We're comforting me.
    TARA: Well, I guess it's natural for guys to be interested in --
    ANYA: God! What kind of lesbian are you?! If you love men so much, go love men!
    Yes, I know this is all supposed to be funny and individual lines are humorous, but never forget the bottom line is that Anya is trying to TORTURE and MURDER Xander in horrible ways. And in that pursuit, Anya manages to say all kinds of weird vaguely homophobic jokes about men-hating lesbians.

    In the end, Buffy manages to say what they’re all thinking – they know that Xander did her wrong, but he doesn’t deserve to suffer:

    BUFFY: Anya, I know you're hurting, but --
    ANYA: What? Xander doesn't deserve to suffer for what he did because he's your friend? And I'm not. Right. I get it.
    BUFFY: No, that's not what I'm saying at all. What he did was wrong. He knows that.
    ANYA: It just -- it hurts. He hurt me so much.
    BUFFY: He really did. Look, I wish that –
    But before Buffy can finish that sentence, Xander appears in the flesh – thankfully intact because of his friends’ refusal to say anything bad about him. And that connects back to what you said, DanSlayer, about Warren and his belief that reputation alone would save him. In this odd instance, reputation actually DID save Xander from a Vengeance Demon curse because his friends have nothing bad to say about him – at least nothing so terrible that they’d wish harm on him.

    And this infuriates Anya – who, like Warren, wanted revenge for her humiliation.

    XANDER: Anya?
    ANYA: Congratulations. They all still love you. Even after what you did to me.
    As Anya races away in humiliation and anger, Buffy stops Xander from going after her.

    XANDER: Anya, wait –
    BUFFY: Okay. Not crazy about that idea.
    XANDER: What are you doing? I have to go after her.
    BUFFY: Or, in the Land of the Sane, you could give her some space and let her cool down.
    XANDER: That's not Proactive Guy. That's Sit-Around-And-Watch-The-Rest-of-His-Life-To-Turn-To-Crap Guy.
    BUFFY: True, but Crap Guy gets to keep all of his appendages.
    Does Buffy suspect that Anya is a Vengeance Demon again? Or does she simply believe that Anya has Hallie lurking around the corner, waiting for Buffy and the others to say something stupid so she can curse Xander?

    Whatever she thinks, Buffy's aware that Xander could be in real danger – but doesn’t even want to suggest that Anya is trying to hurt him. That would devastate Xander even more if he thought he had driven Anya to that point. But Xander is frustrated – like Spike, he wants to do something – anything – to numb the pain and make things okay again.

    XANDER: So I'm just supposed to what? Walk away? That shouldn't be too hard. It's what I'm good at, right?
    And Xander goes on a little destructive kick of his own as he aims a foot at the garden gnome sitting beneath the tree in Buffy’s front yard and rips off the little ceramic head in a parody of Buffy’s demon slaying. As Buffy lectures Xander, she inspects the broken gnome and muses on Willow’s terrible taste:

    BUFFY: Okay, see, this is why a heart to heart isn't your best course of action right now. You're both upset and angry and what the hell is that creepy little thing doing in my yard? Did Willow put that there when I was dead? 'Cause if I had known, I would have crawled out of the grave sooner to kick her –
    And Buffy stops as both she and Xander see the tiny camera imbedded in the head at the same time. As they kneel down to grab it, Xander moves the lens up and down.

    XANDER: Buffy.
    BUFFY: Oh my God.
    XANDER: Looks like someone's been keeping an eye on all your ins and outs.
    BUFFY: What the – who?
    And Xander shakes his head – it’s obvious who it is.

    XANDER: Well, now, let's see. Who's obsessed with Buffy? Who likes to hang out her in the yard and keep an eye on her? Who's in love with you and not getting any?
    Yes, Xander – that’s right. The technologically deficient vampire who lives in a crypt lit by candles and can’t even freeze demon eggs must have done it – not Warren the technological wizard who builds robots and keeps close-circuit cameras in his basement lair and killed his girlfriend and made Buffy invisible with a technologically advanced ray gun and sent a demon to smash her house and another to poison her and who has vowed with the help of his henchmen Andrew and Jonathan to be her supreme arch-nemeseses!

    No, it’s obviously Spike.

    Great review, DanSlayer! More tomorrow!
    Last edited by American Aurora; 11-01-19 at 12:08 AM.

  10. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to American Aurora For This Useful Post:

    DanSlayer (10-01-19),debbicles (10-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (11-01-19),Sosa lola (11-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (10-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (12-01-19),Stoney (10-01-19),Tiny Tabby (10-01-19)

  11. #586
    Well Spiked Stoney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Blighty
    Posts
    7,628
    Thanks
    10,098
    Thanked 12,110 Times in 4,948 Posts

    Default

    With a day free of other tasks tomorrow and the ep on my laptop ready to flick back to for checking visuals as and when needed (how lazy is that with the DVD player sat looking at me!?), hopefully I'll join soon. In the meantime I can at least provide a buffer.

  12. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to Stoney For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (11-01-19),debbicles (11-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (11-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (11-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (12-01-19),Tiny Tabby (11-01-19)

  13. #587
    Scooby Gang DanSlayer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    724
    Thanks
    404
    Thanked 934 Times in 366 Posts

    Default

    Hey Aurora! The second semester just started. I'll try and pop in on the weekend. Also for the initial responses from my post at the time.

  14. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to DanSlayer For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (12-01-19),debbicles (14-01-19),PuckRobin (12-01-19),Stoney (12-01-19),Tiny Tabby (12-01-19)

  15. #588
    Moderator Sosa lola's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    The basement
    Posts
    3,129
    Thanks
    1,908
    Thanked 2,722 Times in 1,071 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by American Aurora View Post
    And suddenly Anya’s face darkens – Xander isn’t talking about marrying her again – he’s talking about how the wedding shouldn’t have happened at all.
    I completely agree. I think that if Xander told her he wanted to try marrying her again, that his fears were silly and stupid, the outcome of that conversation would have been extremely different.

    Quote Originally Posted by American Aurora View Post
    Xander seems to be unaware that telling Anya that he wants all the benefits of being with her – the comfort, the love, the companionship, the sex, the rent-sharing – without the responsibilities of being a husband and father aren’t compatible with what Anya wanted. And after leaving her at the altar only a few weeks ago, it seems a touch insensitive to tell her this when she’s obviously still heart-broken and humiliated. There’s a certain level of dishonesty here – on one level, Xander wants to make amends to Anya for what he’s done – but on another level, he wants her to simply forgive him and come back to what they had before.
    Xander clearly wanted a fast and easy fix, and that's just not acceptable after what he put Anya through. It's astonishing that he even considered that Anya would agree to getting back together after his royal mess up. I can't blame Anya for getting extremely angry with him.

    Quote Originally Posted by American Aurora View Post
    The parallels with Willow and Spike are striking here – all three are hoping against hope that they can put back together the tattered remnants of a relationship that they themselves destroyed by softening the heart of their lover and begging for forgiveness. All three claim in their own way that they’ve changed now – that they can have a do-over and make things right. But it's not always that easy.
    Love the parallels between Xander, Willow and Spike. Spot on.

    Quote Originally Posted by American Aurora View Post
    Have they demonstrated enough real change to justify that forgiveness? Willow has abjured magic, but her snap into Dark Willow shows that the change was somewhat superficial – would Willow have done the same if Buffy or Xander had been murdered by a bad guy?
    I don't think she will. Willow was shown to seek vengeance and go all dark Willow when it's Tara who gets hurt like her going after Glory in S5 and then going dark after Tara's death. When it comes to Buffy, Willow simply brings her back (huge spell + getting the bullet out of Buffy), but her quest to kill Warren is all about Tara.

    Quote Originally Posted by American Aurora View Post
    Spike tells Buffy that he doesn’t hurt her – a fairly specious argument that comes right before the infamous AR and after his alley adventure with the girl after learning about his chip. And Xander seems to be walking down the same road here by downplaying Anya’s feelings as negotiable and easily forgotten – he can easily put off her concerns about marriage for years just as he had done the year before. Anya made it fairly clear that’s what she wanted and quickly – it was Xander who dismissed her feelings for a long time.
    Now I just wanna write a fic about Xander, Willow and Spike in a Bad Partner Club dishing out their issues and then pointing out each other's flaws and mistakes and then whole thing results into a huge fight that Buffy has to stop.

    Quote Originally Posted by American Aurora View Post
    So it’s kinda hard to hear Anya complain about Xander being honest when she’s keeping such an enormous secret from him:
    True.



    Quote Originally Posted by American Aurora View Post
    There’s an episode break here – we’re meant to think that Xander will be a puddle after the commercial – and he’s still standing there, unaffected, when the break is over:
    It'd be very interesting if Anya's wish came through. I really wish it did. We come back after the break and Xander's apartment looks different with different people living there. The people in the apartment go to hysterics when they see Anya and immediately ask for forgiveness. Anya, looking confused and uninterested, leaves. She's more interested in exploring a world in which Xander was never born.

    She finds people walking on eggshells everywhere she goes, there's fear and hesitation in everyone she meets. People with deformities, some with long noses, some looking like part animals all walking past her. She finds Spike in a bar and is glad to see a familiar face. He grunts when he sees her and tells her if the Invisible Witch had sent her to make sure he's behaving.

    Turns out D'Hoffryn and the vengeance demons are ruling the world. So men have to be extra careful about the women they date, parents have to be extra careful about their kids and kids have to be extra careful and show unlimited respect towards their parents. The world is a complete chaos because there's a vengeance demon for every type of sinner.

    D'Hoffryn's second in command is the Invisible Witch. And she is Willow, who without Xander, had lived her entire childhood and early teen years friendless and ended up invisible like Marcie Ross. She discovered her magical talens early on and grew resentful of everybody who ignored her and caused her to lose her visibility. Her dark work on the Sunnydale High students reached the dark world.

    The stars told Drusilla about it and she and Spike headed to Sunnydale to meet the vicious invisible witch. Drusilla would still be strong since both didn't go to Prague. Spike would also go underground to take a few shots at the Master from time to time.

    I have written about this here.

    Anyway, by the end of the episode, Anya would find a way to undo her curse, but this time, unlike The Wish, everyone remembers what happened, which would be interesting because I doubt Buffy would let Anya off her sight after what she pulled.



    Quote Originally Posted by American Aurora View Post
    The whole Anya storyline in Entropy is kinda bonkers if compared with how serious we’re supposed to take the Trio’s previous murder of Katrina and Spike’s long history of violence. Basically, we’re meant to be horrified by Warren (and Andrew) because they’ve seemingly accepted Katrina’s death as a necessity whereas Jonathan is plagued by doubts. And we’re meant to see Buffy’s rejection of Spike as necessary because of his soulless state only mitigated by the chip – a state that Buffy herself has said makes him little more than a serial killer held back by prison bars. But apparently, we’re supposed to find Anya’s attempts to kill Xander a hoot.
    That's my problem with the episode in a nutshell. Anya's several attempts to murder Xander were written for comedy, and it resulted to plenty fans who believe that she had every right to kill him. It's just weird considering how everybody is coming hard on 17 year old Xander who sought vengeance on Cordelia because she dumped him on Valentine's Day. That episode was also played for comedy but the text and the characters and Xander himself knew that what he did was wrong. In Entropy, no one but Anya knows about her murder attempts and she believed she had every right to them. Even her shutting up Spike when he was about to wish harm on Xander was more because she was still in love with Xander and had nothing to do with the morality of the situation. She still went ahead and cursed more men in future episodes.
    Made by Trickyboxes
    Halfrek gives Spike the curse that will change his entire life. Teenage Dirtbag

  16. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to Sosa lola For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (12-01-19),DanSlayer (12-01-19),debbicles (14-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (12-01-19),Stoney (12-01-19),Tiny Tabby (12-01-19)

  17. #589
    Well Spiked Stoney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Blighty
    Posts
    7,628
    Thanks
    10,098
    Thanked 12,110 Times in 4,948 Posts

    Default

    Hi DanSlayer. Apologies for taking such a huge amount of time to get to your review of Entropy. Although fun, Christmas was just chaotic this year.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanSlayer View Post
    Ah, the calm before the Dark Willow storm. Everything comes to a head once the Scoobies discover The Trio’s little spy-cam network.
    Yes the discovery of The Trio's cameras brings a rapid snowballing sequence of events as the long standing secret of Buffy's relationship with Spike is finally revealed. Not for everyone through her response to what is seen on camera, but to others in the fallout at the magic box. The reveal spoken by Spike is in a scene that very much follows up with how Anya and Xander have also come to this point too, with frustrations and resentments being aired. How fraught emotions have become is exposed in the raw unguarded responses.

    Across BtVS and AtS we've been seeing intense themes emphasising the emotional ties in relationships. In the last couple of episodes a great deal of attention has been directed at parent/child dynamics, as well as other relationships. There has been focus given to betrayals, guilt, self-recrimination, wrongness and rejection alongside themes of forgiveness, responses to absence, security and care. The heavy presence time is given in the episodes leading to where we are now, really underlines how we're always considering how the past informs the present and so in turn how it feeds forwards and can inform/impede/affect the future. StateOfSiege's review of NA very specifically considered how we interact with the world around us and whether there is openness to being affected by it, to becoming, and the possibilities which can be.

    Over in AtS's Double or Nothing there is a real spotlight on the future, what happens now. Following significant events can be a time to take stock. As Fred visits Wes and emphasises that the prophecy was false and has led to futile pain, Xander tries to face Anya and repair what was done. There is a sense of the cost of the past heavily drawn through Gunn's (stupid) 'sold his soul' plot too. And of course you could see this tie to Spike's past, his soullessness as the perceived barrier to where he would like to envisage his future. As Gunn is told he has no soul to give to a relationship having signed it away, Spike again references his own soulless state, clearly showing that he is processing this as a point of demarcation in how Buffy views him. He just doesn't see why it matters at this point, still believing in his own ability to choose to walk the line. Both shows emphasising the soul as a big thing, something that ties to having a future and so again to the sense of ongoing time, of possibilities. And as Angel gazes at an empty crib, looking to accept the loss of his son, the hollow feeling when looking forward to a future which seemingly contains the continued absence of the one person most wanted, it echoes to both Anya and Spike's shared sense of emptiness and loss that turns them to each other.

    So as the sense of loss and/or the worry about the possibility of finding any future happiness settles over the characters, the attempt to accept or try to change things is there. There's a real sense of cause and effect that threads through the episode with this I think as so much is tied to what has come before as people try to make moves/decisions about how they will continue forwards now. What to do when the truth that life goes on becomes unavoidable. Yet the difficulty in facing the extent to which events can change things is emphasised in the total isolation when the doctor asks Wes if there is someone who he can call, friend or family. And this reflects how Anya feels and responds to those around her.

    While the disturbing Peeping Tom implication holds up today (though the cameras’ use in for voyeurism was inadvertent), I don’t believe it’s existence in the first place would be quite as impressive or sinister if this aired now rather than 2002. With the talk of a show reboot an obvious flaw nowadays would be the willful blindness people have towards the supernatural when everyone has a camera on them at all times in the modern era. If this were airing now, The Trio would’ve hacked their phones and social media. Still a violation, but people are much more apathetic towards this kind of thing. Facebook reports a “major hack” almost every year now.
    Sure the voyeurism on a sexual act was unintentional and the cameras were primarily in public places, but with potentially monitoring around the clock, at multiple venues including Buffy's home, as you say the peeping tom intent is disturbing and still feels very much an invasion of privacy. Whilst there is an increasing prevalence of cameras in modern society for sure, I think there is still some discomfort, possibly more accepted resentment perhaps, at the idea of big brother watching us. On one hand people don't want to be monitored and have their privacy invaded against their will. Yet devices such as Alexa are brought into people's homes despite the risks and problematic intent/nature of the technology attached to them. So I think the wilful blindness just has a different subject to ignore, but essentially remains. One of the ways that I find sense in the extreme ignorance that Sunnydale inhabitants exhibit is to see it as representative of the common desire to turn a blind eye to things that worry us with the purpose of self-protection, not having to face fears, or blindness that means not having to face questioning the logic/sense or even morality of decisions already made. It's a akin maybe to the blind optimism that people employ every time they get behind the wheel of a car and don't worry incessantly about the statistics of car accidents and the causes. So people can dislike the idea of being spied on but also shrug at the risks of exactly the same if doing so serves another purpose that suits them to benefit from. Or even if it is someone else being watched! As you say, there is apathy towards some things which are violations, as if it is almost seen to be a cost of getting access to other benefits. Just as ignoring monsters is a cost for gaining from the low house prices in Sunnydale.

    Although this is not Normal Again I believe it offers an interesting take on perception vs reality. Everyone perceived The Trio as harmless, not even remembering all three of their names; but in reality they’d already killed a woman.
    This is a very interesting angle to look at the episode with. I completely agree that it has been seen within many episodes that The Trio haven't been the priority and focus that they should be for the group. As you say, they are responsible for killing a woman and the group can now link them to Katrina as well as the other 'comic book' activities (freeze ray, invisibility). Sure they seem geeky and daft, but each time they are putting lives at risk. And there is no doubt a foolishness to constantly dismissing the accomplishments and danger of people being able to perform such acts, before you even weigh in their willingness to wield such weapons. It certainly shouldn't be viewed as just immature geek behaviour.

    So considering your point, I can see how misconceptions do play a part repeatedly in the episode. Importantly I think we have to also acknowledge how they overlap and clash with each other too. There's often a hefty dose of self-focus at play within misconceptions as well. Failed attempts to communicate cause greater pain and heighten emotional responses. There's a little visual repeat of circles in the episode that makes me think of concentric ripples from events, working their way outwards but touching, overlapping. These misconceptions and moments of miscommunication just add further blips that ripple outwards and the surface fails to smooth and settle but stays with that increasing sense of disorder.

    The circles on the disk The Trio are trying to obtain is somewhat rhymed visually and thematically (if seen as ripples) by the water fountain in the background in the graveyard. As the disk is dropped by the vamps it can also be seen to emphasise this sense of events and impacts too. With all the set up scientific paraphernalia later emphasising process and connections Jonathan even gives a warning to the risk of creating a surge, before the result ends up heating particles that do in fact create a fire. Through all these ripples, crashes and connections, heat and energy link, and it draws the title Entropy to the fore.

    Actually on the disk the visual is of a spiral, but this again works with the sense of things not in control. Collapsing inward, or, as Aurora described in her review of Spiral, it can also be seen as pulling to breaking point moving away. So it still works for me with the notion of expanding ripples in terms of cause and effect. We also see the concentric waves on the 'radar' style screen on Willow's computer as she hunts down the cameras when hacking The Trio's system. A search which leads to the exposure of Spike and Anya, together in an act of passion and despair. Whilst uncertainty, or at least a good attempt at denial, reigns over what they are seeing, understanding is also drawn for Dawn from viewing the responses to it. As all further blips and ripples merge, overlap and expand, it creates the heat of anger and hurt too. The red on red of Anya's clothing is joined by the warning red alarm in the lair to mix with the image of Jonathan cradling the red fire extinguisher, flagging the increased intensity and danger.

    In fact, from the very start of the episode when we see The Trio chasing down the vamps on their ATVs, there is this sense of action creating collisions. Again a sequence of cause and effect. In the chase we have a crash with a created obstacle (the branch thrown), which resulting swerve then results with impact into an existing obstacle as Jonathan hits the gravestone, which then continues to draw more into the unfolding disaster as he and Warren end up head-on and both fall from their vehicles. All the while, the escaping chased vampires manage to run head-on into a confrontation with the Slayer, observed by her lovesick, stalking ex-lover. Anya remarks in frustration that her social circle is limited, but what we are seeing repeatedly is how far reaching the effects can be of what they do.

    The Scoobies perceive Anya as needing some emotional support when in reality she wants a reason to magically crush Xander.
    This is the really heart-breaking aspect of what happens as we watch the events unfold and things fall further apart, because Anya did need some emotional support and wanted to feel understood. Sadly the initial response she made to her pain at the time back at the end of Hell's Bells was to listen to D'Hoffryn's suggestion of returning to vengeance. Her responses now are somewhat focused and limited, or perhaps simply shaped by that initial course of events and choice. Anya's dismissal of what the others are trying to offer her, her misconception of them is another factor of how communication is failing in multiple ways. And so their attempts to comfort her fall on stoney ground and it fails to halt the course of events turning for the worst. What would have changed if Willow had found her when she first tried after the wedding instead? Could Anya have seen and accepted the genuine understanding of her hurt and the care being shown towards her then? The understanding and compassion that they are in fact also trying to show her now.

    So yes, the scoobies are trying to comfort and calm her because they see both sides of events, even if they are closer to Xander they still feel for Anya. Of course even though they find fault with him, they aren't wanting Xander to pay in the horror-filled vengeance Anya is trying to achieve. They are missing that she is trying to steer them towards making a wish against him. But this is actually the same situation that she has with Spike. Spike and Anya are both arguably steering their exchange with a focus on self still, but their perceptions of the other as another outsider and the lack of emotional weight between them along with the underlying desire to be understood by someone in a similar situation and get to express their upset, allows them to drop some defences too. They have past form on coming together to discuss their woes of course (Where the Wild Things Are). The comfort that they fall to take together succeeds on one level by not feeling alone and through those defences dropping, both moving past the notion of it having been just about using their exes and exposing their sense of loss. Although we can see by their shared looks after that in truth it was hollow and just a momentary act of escapism.

    Spike really believes he and Buffy are love story, but she perceives it as “real for you.”
    I'm not sure that Spike thinks of them as a love story, well not in the way I tend to think goes with that phrase which to me talks of cheesy romance. He feels they have something deep, a fundamental connection that burns between them. But yes, he certainly believes there is love there and Buffy sees a limitation he doesn't. But the misconceptions work both ways here too as this is the episode where we see Buffy's belief in his harmlessness towards her, her acceptance of his ability to state that he doesn't hurt her. A belief of course that is proven to be built on unstable foundations because of the very same limitations that Buffy also realises come between them.

    Spike's focus on himself and what he wants leads him to continue to press Buffy, trying to make her admit her hidden feelings. In taking brief comfort with Anya he inadvertently is part of a new event to introduce further layers of cause and effect across these relationships. Buffy's shock, hurt and then open waspish comment to him about how quickly he'd moved on, for doing exactly what she'd calmly earlier told him he should do, exposes her calm/closed front is in part controlling herself and covering what she does feel within. We understand that it is limited of course, why she is shutting it down, but with the confirmation of the hurt this all caused it ends up being enough for Spike to try yet again to force the connection he believed made her feel for him. The physical intimacy he felt so sure was going to lead to her craving him then to admitting she loves him. The coming attack which exposes both of their misconceptions that he can draw a line when it comes to Buffy.

    Dawn learns the reality of Buffy’s funk is really more than leaving Heaven and when she tried to kill everyone.
    The scenes between Dawn and Buffy are nice in the gradual steps towards the changes they'll look to at the season end. The genuine support and connection of their shopping trip has a nice note brought into it I think with the suggested visit to the pet store. It reminds me that all this time we're seeing real memories being forged over fake ones for them. A trip now, even with Dawn's objections to how the pets are treated and sold, would still be a 'real' one taken together. Both sisters are showing an interest in expanding on their time together and it strikes me as tentative and positive in the way that we also see Tara and Willow spending some time strengthening their relationship too, looking to bridge the absence from each other in the sharing of memories of what has passed. In both cases there is a tie in the scenes to eating/drinking and the social aspect of those activities. Buffy's stated role as being maternal within this too emphasises the act of giving nutrition and care. Making meals together, for each other, and sharing of food a constant social reference we've raised many times.

    We saw in Normal Again that both Dawn and Spike, who have both sought Buffy's attention and confirmation to the importance of their relationship with her from the start of the season, reeled in hurt at being dismissed as not 'real', not parts of Buffy's life in NA. For Spike this hits back through to William in just wanting to be seen and wanted. Buffy's dismissal of him as a thing, her use of him and disregard of his feelings as just real 'to him' all trigger the pain of being misunderstood and rejected he's suffered from human to vampire. It's a fundamental insecurity in them both and we've seen Dawn struggle with the idea of her solidity, seeing herself as real, since learning of her own origin. Since Buffy's return she has fought to be seen and allowed to participate. No longer focused on as 'the key' with Glory's absence, she is looking for new ways to define who she is and what she does, her desire to be allowed to participate openly expressed to Buffy. But Buffy's/the group's constant desire to protect Dawn appears in this episode again, as it has at other points in the season. And yet now, with the brief glimpse Dawn gets of the screen we see alongside it Dawn acting with maturity and insight. She easily deduces the situation when seeing Buffy's response to the magic box feed and her perception of how Buffy may feel, the understanding towards the difficulty of having to hide/deny something about herself seems to surprise Buffy, gives her thought. It's yet another moment which builds into where Buffy is heading in looking to share the world with Dawn more instead of shutting her out.

    Drunken Anya and Spike perceive the other as something to make them feel better but the reality of their mistake quickly shows up with an axe.
    As I said before, I think the realisation that in truth the moment of passionate escape gained them very little and really changed nothing is there in the briefest of exchanged looks before Spike leaves. They both understand each other still. They both know that the other still feels heartbroken and lonely. In fact perhaps what gave a moment to forget serves to just emphasise the loss afterwards of what you truly long for.

    Despite years of being around Spike, Xander’s never seen him more as an undead thing lower than humans.
    I think Xander has drawn boundaries around Spike that limits how he is willing to see him for sure. Of course how he expresses himself outside the magic box is greatly about his feelings about Anya pouring accelerant onto his pain and it comes out in the venomous way he refers to Spike. The resurrection and Buffy's return did seem to pull away a shaky bridge of acceptance that had formed between them. Not friends, but a dynamic that was more at ease with a common goal of slaying/protecting Dawn, without the contention of Buffy there too. Xander's discomfort about Spike's feelings for Buffy and the risk of his interest in her is made clear again in After Life, as soon as she returns and that stays. It was just raised again in Normal Again as they fetched the demon to provide the antidote. Whilst understandable, his quick dismissal of what Spike lets slip during their search joins his inability to see, to be willing to see what is there. Emphasised multiple times during Gone in particular of course. His instant jump to accusing Spike of hiding the camera isn't out of left field against how he has been reacting around him. And even if it wasn't well considered this time when there is of course a clearly more likely trio to blame, Spike's does have a history of stalking Buffy and even chaining her up (in fact taping her in the past too, albeit when enemies). The vehemence in Spike's denial isn't surprising either, but the hurt at the very suggestion doesn't sit exceptionally well against his past. This of course really leans into the misconception that has built about the reliability his feelings for Buffy offer.

    Tara knows in reality she and Willow have a lot of work to do if they want to be a couple again but gives into Willow to make herself feel better; much like Anya and Spike. (Not to mention the obvious question of how it would work if they want Willow to be “sober” from magic while Tara still embraces that part of her life)
    Yes it is an interesting contrast in the episode as so much is unravelling or coming to a head that Tara and Willow take a step to move off of the progressive path they had been walking to step forward together to where they want to be. Comparing it as a choice driven by the need to feel comfort, like Spike and Anya, is an intriguing way to consider it. The difference of course being that the future both Tara and Willow long for involves each other, and so it isn't escapism together due to the loss of love but reaching forward to grasp now what they both believe will be. Tara has steadily gained confidence in Willow's control and in her changed attitude to magic use I think, simply enough to not want to keep having the pain of separation.

    The song which plays over the scenes as Buffy/Spike and Anya/Xander part, before leading to Willow and Tara coming back together is interesting. Yes, for once I noticed the music! (Although only because of the transcript ).

    That Kind of Love by Alison Krauss (full lyrics under spoiler below) again emphasises the soul, tying across the events of both shows. The first four lines which are played as the magic box scene ends are,
    Who would sell their soul for love?
    Or waste one tear on compromise
    Should be easy enough
    To know a heartache in disguise
    Which I think just really emphasises the empty feeling and uncertainty of things falling apart even though love may still be there. Feeling hurt is repeatedly stated in the script of the episode, emotions described often as angry and upset, and it is the results of this caused by all these events, and yet still tied to the love felt underneath that brings the intense sense of sorrow to the scene.

    The lines Tara then starts to speak from off screen go with this and the sense of disorder, talking of things falling apart. And, as we've been acknowledging since Buffy clawed her way out of the coffin and the group struggled to find their places with each other again, she talks of how things can't ever go back to the way they were. Experiences fundamentally change them from what was. But as Tara speaks of trying to gradually work on gaining back trust and seeing if you can still be together, the desire to move forwards and 'be' that something new wins over, is stronger. The final lyrics heard are from a little further in the song and seem perhaps to be acknowledging that whilst troubled times can part you some loves hold and remain.
    There was not faith enough
    Still my heart held on
    When it found that kind of love
    It works well alongside their wish where love remains strong to want to take the chance to be together again. As the song seems to go on to say, to take that chance even with the risk of pain comes when love is strong enough. Any alternate thoughts on the applied meaning from the song would be interesting.
    Spoiler:
    Who would sell their soul for love?
    Or waste one tear on compromise
    Should be easy enough
    To know a heartache in disguise

    But the heart rules the mind
    And the going gets rough
    Pride takes the fall
    When you find that kind of love

    I can't help feeling like a fool
    Since I lost that place inside
    Where my heart knew its way
    And my soul was ever wise
    Once innocence was lost
    There was not faith enough
    Still my heart held on
    When it found that kind of love


    Though beauty is rare enough
    Still we trust
    Somehow we'll find it there
    With no guarantee
    It seems to me
    At least it should be fair

    But if it's only tears and pain
    Isn't it still worth the cost
    Like some sweet saving grace
    Or a river we must cross
    If we don't understand
    What this life is made of
    We learn the truth
    When we find that kind of love
    Cause when innocence is lost
    There is not faith enough
    We learn the truth
    When we find that kind of love

    The heart breaking thing for Anya and Xander I think is that the pain was futile. Like with Wes' false prophecy the visions tore everything apart for nothing. Anya wasn't protected from the pain of what could happen between them, it was just a different version of hurt. In the end the sequence of events ended up with a more decisive and painful break than was necessary. The damage and ongoing hurt caused mars 'what was'. To the point where, at this moment, they can't see beyond it.

    Things are somewhat different for Buffy and Spike as there was/is a meaningful barrier there. Despite the impression of the truth of some ongoing feelings being revealed within the episode, that Spike's 'like hell' wasn't without any smidgeon of accuracy, the limitation of Spike's soullessness is real. As has been raised through the season, his lack of morality has been seen in varying ways through the season, but it just hasn't fully been felt yet. Yet the question of whether someone would sell their soul for love still resonates over the season end, with the reverse action being true as the soul is sought.

    Warren thinks he’s an intimidating badass for taking on the Slayer. Word does travel in the underworld little boy, but Rack’s apathy will show you the reality- you’re not even a player in the Hellmouth game. Dark Willow will show you a bullet isn’t like in the comic books. Although she will kill you with magic so that is something in comics after all.
    Warren's glee in the initial chase, his clear plotting with Andrew and his generally threatening behaviour and sexually aggressive language all make it really clear that he is feeling very powerful and almost unstoppable at this point.

    The use of technology brings several truths to light here. But as we know in our current socio-climate it can also be used to distort perceptions; the post-truth era as it were. The Ebola crisis a few years back terrified the West so much it became a Top 10 Google search that year. It was feared like a new global plague. Though a few Westerners did sadly pass away, the perception of the disease created a much more widespread hysteria in reality. Hysteria breeds entropy.
    That's a great point DanSlayer as it is the heightened responses and the emotional intensity following sight of the video feed which builds into the continued break down and move towards disorder.

    Another way of causing discord, controlling people is to give them a tiny slice of the truth. One that confirms all their prejudices. Spike is a soulless undead murderer that uses women to Xander, all of it confirmed to him on that screen. He feared himself lunging at Anya with a knife but allows himself to give into the rage with an axe towards Spike.
    A great call back to his fear of his own responses in Hell's Bells, that's an excellent observation. The very lack of control of his response that he had internally feared so acutely it could be used so effectively against him then, is seen here. It's just directed at another.

    You're probably right that a belief that Spike is using Anya is likely mixed in to his attack. He is of course right on one level and I've even wondered at points how deliberately, revengefully Spike takes the choice to make a move. Although Anya's self-focus has allowed her to miss obvious hints that Spike is talking about someone within the group too, their positions aren't entirely even on this as only Spike knows for sure the wider friendship dynamics being potentially strained. But his comment about Xander mucking things up makes it seem less likely that discovery for hurt was what he was aiming for. As I said before, they are both showing self-focus though as Anya's intent to try to get him to wish vengeance on Xander would clearly affect his relationship with the group and she showed no regard for that. Regardless of all this, the choice to have sex wasn't done with any false promises on either side as to what it meant between them, quite the contrary in fact.

    Anya sadly learns that all of the others still love Xander feeling they chose him over her, turning to Halfrek her former vengeance BFF for comfort. Whilst the others have a deeper loyalty to Xander they aren’t trying to cast Anya out. Anya, having lived a long time must have met some “lesbians who hate men” and thinks that’s the tact to turn Willow and Tara against Xander.
    I very much agree that Anya is misjudging the responses she is receiving from the others who really aren't trying to turn from her. Of course Buffy and Willow know that Xander is hoping to make everything right and still wants to be with her. Sadly the conversation Anya had with Xander at the apartment just emphasised her pain to her, the rejection of not wanting to be married winning her utter focus. I have to question if Buffy was right to stop Xander following Anya later outside Buffy's house. It seems a reverse of his encouragement to chase Riley and is surprising after her implied regret in failing to get there in AYW. But whether Anya would have been able to open herself up to break past her anger seems unlikely, so perhaps there isn't anything Xander could have said or done.

    It occurred to me when watching this time that Halfrek didn't say that she couldn't grant Anya's wishes for her and Anya asking her to do so seems an obvious idea ignored. Obviously they wouldn't have wanted to go that way as the episode would have been very short and painful for Xander(!), but it would probably have been better if it was said vengeance demons weren't able to have wishes granted, rather than just not be able to grant their own. Perhaps Halfrek wanted to see the additional pain inflicted on those around Xander too? There's no doubt Anya is treated very badly by both D'Hoffryn and Halfrek, with both steering her to separation and vengeance. Not surprising of course, but her lack of belief in the others caring for her and how easily she turns back to handling her hurt in a really destructive/negative way gives such a bleak impression of how she has felt over the last three years. Of course we will come to understand her history better next season. The question of Anya's morality when she opted to be a vengeance demon and never really regretted her past is never fully explored, but her path seems more akin to Faith's and a matter of choice rather than a true lack of capacity. So we'll also see that the years of experiencing life within the group haven't in fact left her unaffected when she learns she isn't able to be who she once was anymore and chooses to turn her back on being a vengeance demon.

    But despite knowing this growth and self-realisation is coming, I still find it hard to watch Anya in this episode willingly trying to get everyone to curse Xander. Her hurt is understandable and her anger too, but her actions on this aren't. It's not just knowing the pain/violence she is trying to enact on him, but the additional pain of trying to get someone who loves him to do it with no regard to how they could live with themselves after having accidentally done that to him, it's truly despicable.

    Buffy our rule-breaker Slayer lost the stability of her father figure. She falls in with Spike: whom she sees as a disgusting lesser version of her first love at this point. Xander’s parents’ controlling and traumatizing effects leave him unable to embrace Anya’s love; and he lashes out like them when provoked. One scorned Anya finds stability in her old vengeance role. Willow (briefly) lets go of magic and seems to win back Tara, the only two of the adults with no major secret anymore because Willow was already exposed. Each of the others hides something to maintain a semblance of normalcy, order. Old habits provide a brief reprieve from their problems, though the entropy of this powder keg will go off in the final episodes of the season.
    You're right that finding coping mechanisms can give a false sense of order and control. Perhaps this is how Andrew ends up 'believing' in The First's manipulations despite knowing really that it isn't Warren guiding him again. The desire to feel secure and not face what is in front can make the known of the past all the more appealing. I think Buffy's escapism with Spike was greatly because she didn't feel that she could be who she was though. The sense that there wasn't the comfort of the past because she would never be that person again pressed her into feeling so disconnected. In truth there is a lot of what was still there in the continued love and support of her family and friends, however difficult they find it to adjust and reconnect at first. Giles leaving when he did probably stopped her feeling that at a point which could have helped guide her through the adjustment of living again without trying to hide how she was feeling still, post the OMWF revelation.

    Xander's fear that his future will reflect his own childhood and mirror his parents is so sad to see actually still cause what he wanted to break apart. The foreshadowing from Restless of Anya seeking the security of vengeance again is also realised, but, as you say, it's a secret still unrevealed.

    I still have your second post to go through, debbicles' and Aurora's responses to read and I'll rifle through my own notes that I made when watching to see if anything that occurred to me then hasn't come out here so far. I'm pretty sure your musings on misconceptions and the responses we see between the different characters triggered most things. Oh, one quick thought, I just have to give credit to the writing of the sibling dynamic and the deliveries in the breakfast pancake scene. I love how Buffy tries to inject levity and Dawn's expression when she tells her that technically she's only one and a half, it's terrific.

    I'll look to finish up with anything more before the end of the weekend and the start of Seeing Red.

    Thank you as always for your contributions.
    Last edited by Stoney; 12-01-19 at 10:46 AM.

  18. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to Stoney For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (12-01-19),DanSlayer (12-01-19),debbicles (14-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (12-01-19),Sosa lola (12-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (12-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (12-01-19),Tiny Tabby (12-01-19)

  19. #590
    Scooby Gang American Aurora's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    561
    Thanks
    3,614
    Thanked 2,822 Times in 564 Posts

    Default

    Hey, DanSlayer!

    Here’s my second response to your terrific review of Entropy!

    Everything comes to a head once the Scoobies discover The Trio’s little spy-cam network.
    In thinking about the whole spy system, it amazes me a bit that Buffy and her team never use technology themselves for finding vamps (who are obviously captured by the camera) or keep an eye on their enemies. I’m not talking about Maggie Walsh levels of creep (watching Buffy and Riley have sex in his dorm room), but just a few cameras set around Sunnydale to watch for trouble. And then there’s the idea of taping the bad guys to get an idea of what they can do rather than racing in each time with stakes raised. Even Spike watches tapes of Buffy slaying vampires in Season Two to study her technique. Or at least that’s what he claimed.

    Of course, then that brings up the whole cell phone problem – why doesn’t Buffy and her friends have a cell phone until Season Seven? Regardless of whether they were rare or not in the day, in a job as geographically spread out as slaying, one would think they’d find a better way of communication. Radio Shack started selling cheap phones in 1997 and California in particular was inundated with them. My friend who was a stage manager on Broadway in the 90s said that everyone was assigned them in high profile jobs and I knew several government workers growing up who were given cell phones in the mid-90s.

    But by the late 90s, they were everywhere in films and TV of the time. The characters in Saved By the Bell and all the girls in Clueless (1995) whip out their phones in unison. Jerry Maguire (1996) is yelling on his cell phone all the time and the women on Sex and the City (1998-2004) are also using flip phones pretty early on in the series.

    So there’s no reason why the Watcher’s Council and Giles couldn’t have shelled out a few bucks to keep tabs on their slayers – especially by Season Five. And I don’t get why the vamps and demons wouldn’t have coughed up a few bucks (from victims) for a Blackberry while we’re at it. Can’t you see Angelus sending off bitchy messages? Easy enough to kill the inhabitants of a house and set up an evil cell phone plan.

    The obvious reason is that the show wouldn’t have been half as exciting if Buffy could just pick up her cell phone and call for help – a lot of suspense tropes have been wiped out by cell phones. Now we have to have “remote areas” and “towers down” and “no internet” in order to get the same kind of isolation as before.

    So the Trio is presented alongside Maggie Walsh under the old trope of “technology is out of control!!!!” with their vast spying apparatus and their dangerous toys. Weirdly, the Trio invents invisible ray guns and time turners but doesn’t seem to carry cell phones themselves. Instead, they rely on vans filled with James Bond-like spy equipment – although perhaps the old-school ways of doing it is the point to three young men who live in a fantastical world.

    While the disturbing Peeping Tom implication holds up today (though the cameras’ use in for voyeurism was inadvertent), I don’t believe it’s existence in the first place would be quite as impressive or sinister if this aired now rather than 2002.
    I imagine that if the episode were done today, the tech would be wildly advanced with drones following the Scoobies with aerial cameras, facial recognition technology, DNA sampling, and a much more advanced purpose for Spike’s “chip” than the show allowed.

    The Trio are the typical angry nerds. But Jonathan has some regret in there and takes the risk of telling Buffy to smash Warren’s orbs. Andrew was blinded by a semi-secret love for Warren and ultimately joins the Gang…after killing Jonathan who was trying to help people who hated or ignored him. Beliefs provide a sense of clarity, ethics etc. But they can blind you to the possibilities of a new reality. Order inverts into entropy. Warren thinks he’s an intimidating badass for taking on the Slayer. Word does travel in the underworld little boy, but Rack’s apathy will show you the reality- you’re not even a player in the Hellmouth game. Dark Willow will show you a bullet isn’t like in the comic books. Although she will kill you with magic so that is something in comics after all.
    Excellent summation of entropy with regards to the Trio, DanSlayer! Their belief systems are so vested in dreams that are unrealistic that they can’t handle reality when it happens. Warren thinks he’s so smart, but in reality, he’s an impotent joke. Which is why he resorts to desperate measures.

    Andrew's attempt at super-villainy is something the Scoobies don't even remember; along with his name. Jonathan's little time loop was more like a prank early chipped-Spike or Anya might pull then an actual danger to Buffy. Andrew eventually joins the Scooby clique and Jonathan died trying to protect people who would mostly never know what he did; much like the Scoobies do. Had they never met Warren I envision them as entertainers of a sort:

    Jonathan with "magic" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zh4TJv53rCo

    Andrew would get an office job or something but also have a secret talent to be memorable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2oO3G3u4I0 This guy's going to be on The Flash
    LOL! Yes, I imagine their updated versions would be wildly different if Warren hadn’t pulled them into a lifestyle of evil.

    With the talk of a show reboot an obvious flaw nowadays would be the willful blindness people have towards the supernatural when everyone has a camera on them at all times in the modern era. If this were airing now, The Trio would’ve hacked their phones and social media. Still a violation, but people are much more apathetic towards this kind of thing. Facebook reports a “major hack” almost every year now. Had The Trio waited about a decade they probably would have been “as gods” to advertisers and probably gotten wealthy through something like Cambridge Analytica and could set up Twitter bots to attack people and Star Wars plots they don’t like.
    Yes, DanSlayer, I agree that their use of “fake news” would be much more of a focus – like it was in Season Eight with the media demonization of the Slayers. Of course, that technology would probably be woefully out-of-date twenty years from now!

    Speaking of out-of-date, the scene in which Buffy visits Spike’s crypt reveals our friendly neighborhood vamp has expanded his wardrobe from black T-shirt to black button-down paisley shirt that seems to have wandered off from the set of That 70s Show.

    Obviously, when Riley blew up Spike’s crypt, most of Spike’s clothing went Kaboom! as well because that is the ugliest shirt I’ve ever seen Spike wear. I like to think that Spike’s entire bizarre wardrobe this season was due to Giles leaving him his entire 1970s Carnaby Street vintage collection of groovy shirts that must have impressed Ethan Rayne so much back in the day, complete with rings and gold chains.

    From Spike’s expression, it’s obvious that Buffy has angrily burst through his door just as he was trying on another Giles hand-me-down and thrust the suspicious camera into his hand without a word. He looks at it as if expecting the camera to explode on her word.

    SPIKE: What's this?
    BUFFY: It's a camera.
    SPIKE: Yeah, I got that part. Why am I holding it?
    BUFFY: Someone was using it to spy on me. On the house.
    Total sidebar here, but the transition from the close-up of Xander’s “carpenter” hands which has clean but ragged fingernails to Spike’s perfectly polished and trimmed manicure is striking. No doubt the actor had to keep his nails clean and polished if and when the makeup artist decided to paint them black – or he had an important audition in which he couldn’t wear black nail polish. Anyhoo, it’s an interesting character trait of Spike to keep his hands so nicely groomed – one imagines it’s partly for the sake of the woman he loves.

    And it’s obvious at first that Spike thinks Buffy wants him to solve a mystery – when she tells him someone was using the camera to spy on her, Spike looks contemplative. But her next line sets him off:

    BUFFY: Xander thinks it might've been you.
    And Spike sarcastically mocks Xander’s guess – assuming that Buffy thinks it’s as silly as it sounds:

    SPIKE: Oh, the great Xander thinks so! Shudder gasp! It must be true!
    BUFFY: Spike –
    But Spike is on a roll – he’s tired of Xander constantly accusing him of nefarious motives when in his mind, it’s Buffy who kissed Spike, Buffy who tore off Spike’s clothes, Buffy who kept their relationship hidden while coming back over and over again as if Spike were her sodding sex slave.

    And a lot of his frustration is wrapped up in Buffy refusing to tell her friends about them – allowing Xander to believe the very worst when the reality is very different from what her friends believe. And there’s also a touch of anger that Buffy would ask Xander’s opinion at all – Spike hasn’t managed to divorce Buffy from her friends at all – if anything, Buffy’s ties to them are even stronger than before and Spike’s relationship with Buffy is now dwindling down to nothing.

    SPIKE: That ponce has always had it for me. Every chance he gets, he sticks it to –
    And Spike stops at Buffy’s look – he suddenly realizes that she believes Xander. And as most liars and manipulators do when accused of something they DIDN’T do, Spike sputters with righteous indignation.

    SPIKE: You believe him, don't you? You think I’m spying on you. You think I could do that.
    Well, Spike, Xander does have a point there. You have stalked Buffy, waited outside her house, manipulated her into going on a date with you, created a robot facsimile to have sex with, threatened her friends, exposed Riley at the vamp whorehouse, helped her sister to break into the Magic Box, tied Buffy up in your crypt, taunted and fought her into a sexual frenzy, tried to bring her mother back from the dead without asking, lied about the demon eggs, insisted she leave her friends and done many, many more insensitive and tactless things?

    And haven’t you already filmed Buffy before in Season Two when you were studying her fighting technique – remember? And haven’t you stolen pictures of her and pieces of clothing and mementos and even pictures drawn by Angel to build your creepy shrine?

    And Buffy refers to all these actions in her indignant response:

    BUFFY: Because you don't lie or cheat or steal or manipulate –
    And Spike cuts her off:

    SPIKE: I don't hurt you.
    Except, of course, when Spike brings a “date” to the wedding to hurt Buffy just a few episodes ago.

    But Buffy takes Spike’s words “I don’t hurt you” in a different sense – there’s obviously some line that Buffy believes Spike hasn’t crossed in his soulless state as bizarre as that sounds.

    Regardless of everything Spike has done – even participanting in their violent, twisted sexual relationship – Buffy believes that deep down Spike loves her in his own twisted way and only inadvertently hurts her because of his uncontrollable demon that lacks a soul. In that sense, Buffy will always feel that Spike is “beneath” her because she sees him as bereft of free will – like a kind of impulsive child – a creature who struggles with being a monster, but can never truly be a man.

    As Buffy tells Spike at the end of [I]As You Were:[I]

    BUFFY: And I'm not here to bust your chops about your stupid scheme, either. That's just you. I should have remembered. (As You Were)
    Buffy understands that Spike truly does love her to the best of his ability – but as a soulless demon, that falls far short of what she needs. Spike does as well – maybe miraculously more – that almost any soulless vamp can to not hurt the Slayer – but she can never trust him – or love him:

    BUFFY: I'm using you. I can't love you. I'm just being weak, and selfish – and it's killing me. (As You Were)
    But she does see the pain in Spike’s face and hear the catch in his voice and her natural sympathies for how he’s obviously hurting moves her enough to acknowledge that he does care about her – and perhaps he wouldn’t spy on her after all.

    BUFFY: I know.
    But Spike doesn’t believe Buffy – and he responds much like he does in the Hellmouth in Chosen:

    SPIKE: No, you don't.
    From the little we see of his past, William Pratt always felt misunderstood even as a human - and we see in his earliest days as Drusilla’s playmate that this sense of isolation and lack of validation followed into his vampire life – Spike felt Drusilla and Angelus never really got him either as he complains to Angel in their fight over the Shanshu:

    SPIKE: You never knew the real me. (Destiny)
    And this same sense of frustration seems to underlie his anger at Buffy:

    SPIKE: I've tried to make it clear to you, but you won't see it.
    And out comes a tortured confession of his internal struggle with his feelings for Buffy. Spike doesn’t yet have the inner clarity to really examine his own feelings or honestly assess their relationship. Spike honestly believes that he has control over his demon – that he never would REALLY hurt Buffy – despite the fact that he already has by attempting to manipulate a woman mired in a deep depression. But Spike doesn’t believe he’s done anything truly bad to Buffy. Even after the events of Crush, he dismisses chaining her up and threatening her with being eaten by Drusilla as nothing more than a lover’s spat. And in Season Six, he believes that he’s done nothing more than set the real Buffy free and allowed her to admit to long-suppressed feelings. And she doesn’t appreciate any of it!

    As Spike tries to describe his feelings of despair and longing for Buffy, he uncharacteristically stumbles over his own words:

    SPIKE: Something happened to me. The way I feel – about you. It's different. No matter how hard you try to convince yourself it isn't. It's real.
    For once, Spike is trying hard here to be honest with Buffy – no tricks, no manipulation – just telling her how he genuinely feels and how that torments him. He wants desperately for her to believe that he loves her – that his feelings are real – and wants her to at least validate them on some level.

    And she recognizes this – her face softens with empathy at Spike’s obvious agony – the war within himself.

    BUFFY: I think it is.
    And Spike tilts his head and smiles – Buffy’s validation of his feelings of love for her was the confirmation he was hoping for. Until she finishes her thought:

    BUFFY: For you.
    One can practically hear Spike’s dead heart disintegrate into dust as she turns to leave. The script directions even go there:

    Spike stares at her, her implication a stake in his chest.
    Although Buffy believes that honesty is key here, telling Spike his feelings aren’t real to her is an unbearably cruel thing to say.

    Spike really believes he and Buffy are a love story, but she perceives it as “real for you.”
    Yes, DanSlayer, and if he was human and their breakup was simply a failed relationship, it’d be one thing. But attacking Spike’s feelings as “unreal” here is tantamount to attacking his identity – since she places him in a very different category than a living human being. As a chipped vampire, Spike feels the pain of not being able to be a monster – and yet, he knows he is incapable of being the kind of man that Buffy would ever want – and Buffy’s just digging in and twisting the knife.

    It’s also suggesting that Spike’s emotional pain doesn’t count for s**t – confirming for Spike that from Buffy’s point of view, Spike really is beneath her – just another evil, soulless THING. And when she pauses and then turns to lecture Spike on how he has to “get over” her, it’s just another jab:

    BUFFY: I know that's not what you want to hear. And I'm sorry. I really am. You just have to move on. You have to –
    But Buffy doesn’t understand this – like Spike, she’s too blinded by her need to break off their unhealthy relationship to see how this is fundamentally striking at the core of Spike’s identity crisis.

    Spike just looks at her, seething, desperate.
    And as she rambles on, Spike’s eyes narrow as he almost whispers in his fury:

    SPIKE: Get out.
    Buffy looks like she’s about to say more – and then realizes that she’s upset Spike to the point where there’s no point in going on. And so she turns and leaves as Spike swallows uncontrollably, containing his anger.

    And we move on to equally angry Anya at the Magic Box, who is still looking for a way to curse Xander:

    ANYA: No, they're all, oh, poor Xander, it took so much out of him, all that running away he did. I just don't understand what's wrong with these people.
    HALFREK: Did you really think they were the ones to help you?
    And once again, Halfrek makes it clear that humans aren’t to be trusted. The Vengeance Demons seem to be the mirror image of the Scoobies – instead of believing that vamps and demons are beneath them, it’s human beings who are awful, rotten creatures who deserve to be punished for their crimes and they can’t be trusted – no, not a one of them.

    HALFREK: Do you want retribution, Anyanka?
    ANYA: I want Xander good and cursed.
    HALFREK: Then you know what you have to do.
    ANYA: Get a wish from someone who doesn't freaking love him.
    HALFREK: Exactly.
    ANYA: Yeah, but my social circle is a little limited here, what am I supposed to do, just stumble upon someone who doesn't give a fig's ass if Xander gets hurt?
    And in comes our not-very-friendly neighborhood vampire who not only feels like a “thing” but is also looking for a “thing” to fix that:

    SPIKE: Hey. I need a thing.
    And Anya takes a long look at Spike – humans aren’t dependable allies – but Spike’s not human, is he?

    ANYA: So – what's your pleasure?
    SPIKE: Fresh of out of pleasure. That's why I'm here. I need something. Numbing spell, maybe?
    When Drusilla left him, he tried to get Willow to make a love potion that would win her back. But the thought never occurs to Spike – only obtaining a spell that would numb his own pain. And one assumes that this is the kind of sacrifice Spike is willing to make because he’s convinced himself that he’d never hurt Buffy – that he’d never magically force Buffy to love him. Besides, magic has consequences.

    ANYA: Uh huh. Hang on. Oh my God, he hates Xander. Maybe I could get him to wish -- Dammit, if only he were a woman. Okay, got it! If I can somehow get someone to wish that Spike were a woman, then I go to him, well, he'd be a her by then, go to her and get her to --
    HALFREK: Anyanka. There's an easier way. I know you've got this whole Female Power, Take Back the Night thing, and I think that's cute, but I've been telling you for decades men need a little vengeance now and then, too.
    ANYA: Oh.
    HALFREK: Maybe this is your chance to try it out. So, you know. Good luck. With that whole... thing.
    And Halfrek gives Spike a strange look – which suggest to the viewer that Spike may be mildly confused about who Halfrek is, but “Cecily” may not be confused about “William” and his need for vengeance as a once scorned man who became a monster as a consequence.

    Pity that they never followed up on that relationship more here. Halfrek returns in Season Seven, so it would have been easy to bring back Cecily/The First. Ah, well.

    SPIKE: Sorry to bust up the little girls' night out.
    ANYA: No problem. I'm ready to do business.
    SPIKE: Right then. Got something that'll dull the ache a bit?
    ANYA: Actually, yes. Giles left a couple of supplies here and I think this might help. Eases the hurt, makes the sun shine a little brighter, even makes boring people seem more interesting.
    As Anya rummages beneath the counter, Spike looks down glumly.

    ANYA: Ah. here.
    And Anya pulls out her magic potion to persuade Spike to curse Xander – a bottle of Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey. Spike suddenly breaks out into a slight grin.

    Evan Williams is the second most popular bourbon in the world – aged 7 years and 86 proof – distilled in Louisville, Kentucky since 1783. A bit stronger than your average bourbon (80 proof), it’s also smoother and sweeter with notes of caramel, cherry, vanilla and spice. A pretty sexy beverage that gets one drunk fairly quickly – even a vamp. It runs about 25 dollars a bottle – so it’s not even that expensive – which is just about Anya’s speed. But I imagine if she had Giles’ single malt Scotch, she’d still cough up the hundred dollars just to see Xander cursed.

    We switch to Willow – no slacker when it comes to technological knowhow – who is getting “tapped into the fiber-optic network” through her laptop and a gazillion wires on the table. How this is accomplished without magic is anyone’s guess – but one assumes that she’s somehow tapping through one of the cameras somehow placed in or around the Summers Home – but conveniently not near the side of the tree where Buffy and Spike had sex.

    One assumes that the Trio must have had a digital recording box near the camera (less than 750 feet) that was picking up the transmission and somehow connected to a fiber-optic network already extant that was sending the video images to a main terminal. Or maybe the Trio are the ones using magic to transmit their images and Willow is merely tapping into their magical system – but not using it herself, which makes it okay.

    Whatever the process, Willow would then splice into the network by inserting a separate glass cable and then decoding the signal. As she does this delicate process, the Scoobies figure out that the Trio must have been behind the cameras – and Buffy’s hallucinations in Normal Again.

    XANDER: If it's not Spike, and I'm not saying I believe him, but if it's not Spike, I think we already know who's behind this.
    BUFFY: Yeah. But it's not the who I want. It's the where.
    WILLOW: Can't help thinking maybe you were closer than you thought that day you went out with the addresses.
    BUFFY: And they sent the Psycho Demon to interrupt me.
    WILLOW: Makes sense.
    BUFFY: I want. To find. These guys.
    As Buffy says this, Jonathan has finished his chemistry experiment - lighting a candle and holding the mysterious vamp disc on a stick as Warren and Andrew stand far away, anticipating a reveal. As he sprinkles some kind of dust on the disc, it suddenly lights up at the heat of the candle and sends a flame shooting towards a map of Sunnydale to pinpoint a specific place:

    JONATHAN: Uncover. There. That's it. That's where we have to go.
    WARREN: Well, now that we've –
    JONATHAN: Yah!
    As the map catches on fire, the Trio rush to put it out even as Anya and Spike start to heat up as each confesses their romantic woes to one another.

    SPIKE: ...and then this girl says "real for you-"
    We see that Spike is still keeping Buffy’s secret despite his pain and anger – to Anya, she’s just some hypothetical human “girl” that Spike’s had a flight with and finds hard to let go. What’s amazing is that no one ever guesses the relationship between Buffy and Spike even though all the signs are there – they see only what they want to see. Does Spike even sense that Anya is no longer human? Or is he too caught up in his own misery? Spike doesn’t seem to see that Anya’s now a Vengeance Demon trying to get him to curse Xander – and right now, Anya only wants to see Xander cursed:

    ANYA: Right, but getting back to Xander-
    SPIKE: Xander. Let's not waste any more breath on that wanker –
    ANYA: It's just, he made a fool of me, and nobody seems to care enough to do anything.
    SPIKE: I care.
    But does Spike care? Or does he understand Anya’s need for validation of her pain and how it matches his own? His words certainly comfort Anya – he’s extending to her the sympathy he longs for himself.

    SPIKE: What he did to you, I've never stooped that low, and I'm an "evil, souless thing" according to some people –
    Of course, this isn’t true – Spike has “stooped” to just about everything evil you can think of – but he’s talking specifically about Buffy and deliberately romanticizing their relationship to place himself in the best light so he can feel aggrieved. His misquote of Buffy’s line from Smashed is telling:

    BUFFY: You're a thing. An evil, disgusting, thing.
    The replacement of “disgusting” with “soulless” is interesting – and shows where Spike’s mind is already unconsciously turning. But more on that in Seeing Red.

    Anya tries again to goad Spike on – and Spike brags that he’d take Xander out if it weren’t for his “little handicap – the chip – which weighs on his mind as heavily as his lack of soul:

    ANYA: But shouldn't he pay? Don't you wish he had to pay in some horrible way?
    SPIKE: Absolutely. Take him on myself if it wasn't for my little handicap.
    ANYA: Right. So - hypothetically - what do you wish you could do to him?
    SPIKE: You name it, pet. You're the wronged party. Something gruesome, how 'bout?
    As we see the Trio and the Scoobies on either side of the fiber optic divide, we also see Anya and Spike on either side of an increasingly drained bottle as she drinks the shots Spike keeps pouring to keep him talking. In the next scene, Anya is the one pouring the drinks as she confesses to Spike how confused she is by humans:

    ANYA: Thing about it is, none of this was my idea. I didn't ask to be human –
    SPIKE: Right! An' I didn't ask for this bloody chip in my head –
    Both Anya and Spike are commiserating, former monster to monster – they didn’t ask to be in a relationship with a human. It just happened somehow – and they both see themselves through a haze of booze as the innocent party despite their years of murder and torture.

    There’s also a link between them in terms of how they are treated by the Scoobie gang – as morally inferior and beneath their human worth. Anya slowly moves the Overton Window towards the demon side as she adopts Hallie’s attitude of demonic superiority towards pathetic humans – they’re only good for one thing – and Spike agrees:

    ANYA: To tell the truth, all I wanted was to use him and lose him. I hadn't had a good tumble in a thousand years –
    SPIKE: Me too. The using part. I just wanted to know what I was missing, move on.
    But it’s obvious that both are still deeply in love with their human lovers – and Spike follows Anya’s lead in admitting that they’d both never known anything quite like it:

    ANYA: Then he was all bumpy in the right places and nice to me...
    SPIKE: She was so raw. Never felt anything like it...
    ANYA: Next thing I know, I'm changing to please him. I care if he cares.
    SPIKE: Right.
    ANYA: I'm off my guard. Happy. I'm singing in the shower and doing my sexy dance –
    SPIKE: Exact –
    That’s a step too far for Spike – he pauses.

    SPIKE: I have no dance.
    This line is hilarious – especially in the understated, befuddled manner that JM delivers it.

    It’s not clear whether Spike really has a “sexy dance” or not – but he’s either too embarrassed to admit it or too confused about what it is to acknowledge it. The look he gives Anya here – you believe me, right? – says that it’s the former.

    Meanwhile, Buffy is still encouraging Willow to break through the Trio’s defenses:

    WILLOW: Technology's pretty sophisticated, lots of booby traps and firewall stuff.
    BUFFY: But can you get us a location?
    WILLOW: Well, hey, I'm still ME.
    I love Willow’s total confidence here – even without magic, she has an absolute belief in her own ability to hack the crap out of anything and anywhere! And that matches the confidence in our by-now-totally-drunk former merry murderers:

    ANYA: Screw em!
    SPIKE: To the rafters!
    Anya is now sitting on the table in her right red outfit, her legs sexily swinging in Spike’s face:

    ANYA: I did everything for that man. Was it ever enough?
    SPIKE: Never! I was always going above and beyond. I saved the Scoobies how many times? And I can't stand the lot of you.
    ANYA: Me either! I hate us! Everybody's so "nice." Nobody says what’s on their mind.
    As Anya and Spike bond in their shared sense of superiority over humans, Spike shifts from putting down the Scoobies to buttering up Anya.

    SPIKE: You do. That's why you're the only one of them I wouldn't bite if I had the chance.
    ANYA: Really?
    SPIKE: Absolutely. I have nothing but respect for a woman who is forthright. Drusilla was always straightforward. Didn't have a single buggering clue about what was going on right in front of her, but she was straight about it. That was a virtue.
    Anya laughs at Spike’s joke in a flirty manner. And this drunken shift from Buffy to interest in Anya is reminiscent of Spike’s shift in Lover’s Walk with Willow when talking about Drusilla:

    SPIKE: She only did it to hurt me. So I said, 'I'm not putting up with this anymore.' And she said, 'Fine!' And I said, 'Yeah, I've got an unlife, you know!' And then she said – she said we could still be friends. God, I'm so unhappy!
    WILLOW: There, there.
    SPIKE: I mean, friends! How could she be so cruel? Mmm. That smell – your neck – I haven't had a woman in weeks. (Lovers Walk)
    Spike’s actions here mirror his behavior in other situations – sex as an escape from a miserable situation. As Anya continues to berate Xander, Spike starts to compare her forthright quality to Buffy’s secretive attitude:

    ANYA: Xander didn't think so. He thought I was rude.
    SPIKE: That's because he's one of them. Uptight. Repressed.
    ANYA: You think?
    SPIKE: Please. It's no wonder they couldn't deal with the likes of you and me, Luv. We should have been dead hundreds of years ago - and we're the only ones that are really alive.
    Spike is convinced that the reluctance to give into passion is a weakness – a puritanical form of self-denial – life should be all fists and fangs and heat and desire. And he’s equally convinced that if Buffy would only accept this, she’d want to be in the dark - with him.

    But Anya sees Spike’s compliments as the validation that the Scoobies have denied her in their desire to protect their friend – praises that boost her much bruised ego. Anya can’t see that they care about her – but they have more pressing issues as the discover that the Trio have bugged just about everything and everywhere.

    WILLOW: Oh my God. The Double Meat Palace. The Bronze. My classrooms on campus, Xander's site –
    BUFFY: What?
    WILLOW: I can tell there are more feeds. I'm just having a harder time pinpointing 'em.
    The sense of impending doom increases as Spike pours the last of the bourbon into a glass and hands it to Anya. He’s now sitting close to her as she starts to move from the hyper, giddy stage of alcoholic buzz into the more morose, depressive stage:

    SPIKE: Here. Ladies last.
    ANYA: Thank you.
    SPIKE: Take it quick or my chivalry'll run out.
    And Anya stops him – she’s not talking about the drink.

    ANYA: No. Thank you.
    Spike looks at her as she places her hand on his hand:

    ANYA: This is the first time since – it feels good to be with someone who understands.
    And Spike gets it – because he’s longed for the same understanding. Outside of Clem, he’s never been able to talk about his feelings for Buffy. And here’s Anya suffering from the same angst, the same self-doubts, the same feeling deep down of unworthiness because he can’t be a monster and he can’t be a man. He’s unaware of Anya’s change of status – he thinks she’s in the same boat as him – and says so as he shakes his head in agreement and bites his lip:

    SPIKE: Intimately.
    And this makes Anya tear up – Spike looks as if he’s going to cry as well as Anya admits that she’s really afraid that there’s something wrong with her:

    ANYA: This whole time, I've been coming on all hell bent and mad. Wanting his head – you know?
    SPIKE: Yeah.
    ANYA: When really – I can't sleep at night thinking it has to be my fault – somehow –
    This is a very sad and poignant moment for both of them – for an instant, the viewer can see how much the constant criticism and pointed remarks and jokes have damaged their self-esteem. Despite the fact that both have VERY dubious pasts, there’s a feeling that neither feels they have been given the appreciation due for all they’ve done for the Scoobies. And even worse, what if THEY’RE the ones who have been used sexually by Xander and Buffy? The emotional weight of this overwhelms Anya – who almost loses it as Spike shakes his head and tries to comfort her by making a “shush” noise to lighten the moment.

    SPIKE: Shhhhh –
    But it goes even farther. The acting from EC and JM here is wonderful – moving from comedy to pathos in a moment. Anya breaks down at the thought that Xander never loved her at all.

    ANYA: I mean, what if he was just pretending? What if he never really wanted me the way I wanted him. God – I'm sorry.
    And this makes Spike pause and think about Buffy – but the thought is too painful – and he turns back to their previous “safe” argument that Xander and Buffy aren’t worthy of them:

    SPIKE: Now, now. He'd have to be more than just the git he is, Anya. He'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to want a woman like you.
    ANYA: Then why?
    Spike looks up as if he’s going to lose his composure – and then turns back to tell Anya what they both want to hear – humans are too weak to appreciate their passion, that’s all. And while he tells her, he also strokes her hair and then her face as she leans into his touch.

    SPIKE: The two of them, they're weak is all. Tell you one thing. They're going to miss the water now that the well's gone dry.
    ANYA: Too hot to handle.
    SPIKE: Too hot.
    And this is it – they both know what’s about to happen. Anya sets it in motion:

    ANYA: I have one more question –
    SPIKE: Hmm.
    ANYA: Can I see your sexy dance?
    Spike grins at this callback – and playfully acknowledges that he has one after all.

    SPIKE: I'll show you mine.
    Yes, Anya, if you show me yours. ‘Cause dancing is all we’ve ever done. And Spike’s big metaphor makes a comeback here as he tries to kiss Anya. She stops him in a panic:

    ANYA: Wait. Wait. What are we doing?
    SPIKE: Moving on.
    And they start making out in earnest as Buffy’s words echo in Spike’s mind. Except for the fact that neither bothers to strip very much. In fact, Spike keeps his coat on throughout the whole act.

    They kiss, hungry, desperate. It's not lovely in any way, it's physical, it's need.
    Neither wants to strip down to the essentials – in fact, they don’t even really see much of each other. Like Buffy, they’re really not into each other but into the idea of getting lost in the act itself. It’s pure validation of their being rather than lust driving them – the idea that someone somewhere desires them despite being rejected by the ones they love.

    And – just in time – Willow finds the feed of the Magic Box:

    WILLOW: Here, I think there are a couple more transmitters on the network, I've almost got us tapped into picture on 'em.
    As the viewer anticipates the upcoming tragedy, the characters let us know one more time that it’s not really what it looks like:

    ANYA: You know I'm only doing this 'cause I'm lonely and drunk and you smell really good.
    SPIKE: See? Forthright.
    It’s interesting how important the idea of consent is here considering the events of Seeing Red – but perhaps that’s the point. Spike feels like he’s in total control of his emotions – rational, even – and this will contrast heavily with his loss of control later.

    As the alarms go off in the heads of viewers, the alarms go off at Trio Central as they become aware someone has hacked into their system. At the same time, Willow finally gets an image of the Magic Box.

    WILLOW: I think I got the Magic Box -- Whoa!
    And this is seconded by the Trio as they see the image while shutting it down:

    WARREN: Guys, we have to -- holy crap. What is that, porn?
    For some reason, the way Warren says this line always makes me laugh. It’s as if he can’t believe what he’s seeing even though one would think he’d be very aware this kind of thing can happen. But Jonathan recognizes Spike and knows exactly what he’s looking at:

    JONATHAN: Oh my God.
    WARREN: Is that the cam in the Magic Box?
    JONATHAN: Oh my God.
    ANDREW: What are they – oh.
    WARREN: Is that –
    JONATHAN: Spike.
    And Andrew’s admiration of Spike only grows:

    ANDREW: He is so cool –
    Andrew looks around quickly when he realizes that he’s admired Spike out loud – and quickly covers up his attraction:

    ANDREW: And, I mean, the girl is hot. Too.
    Warren smiles knowingly.

    WARREN: Dude.
    One of the things that bothers me a bit about Buffy is the homophobic tinge surrounding the character of Andrew – it’s always played for a cheap laugh. If the show were done today, the focus would be more on Warren’s homophobic response than anything else. But the Trio seem so fixated on the vamp/vengeance demon porn that they forget about turning off their camera.

    It’s interesting to see how varied their reactions are – Jonathan is shocked whereas Warren thinks it’s funny and Andrew finds it mind-blowing. Which mirrors their later reactions in the series.

    As Willow watches in shock, Buffy and Xander walk up to see the action:

    BUFFY: What?
    WILLOW: Wait, Xander, no.
    XANDER: Oh, God.
    What I find odd about this scene is how little everyone can actually see of the act itself. Spike is wearing his coat and Anya keeps her bra on – it’s strangely impersonal. And yet everyone acts like Spike and Anya are totally nude and you can see everything. If I were watching it, I wouldn’t even be certain that they were having intercourse rather than heavy petting – it’s all covered up by Nikki Wood’s coat.

    And thankfully, because Dawn blithely wanders in to see what’s going on.

    DAWN: Hey' guys, what's up?
    As Dawn gasps watching the screen, Willow covers her eyes and pushes her away. REALLY? At Fifteen?

    XANDER: I -- what is she –
    Willow looks up at Xander as he watches in shock, unable to process what he's watching - but she also notices Buffy’s look of intense distress – and so does Dawn.

    WILLOW: Buffy?
    BUFFY: That's enough.
    As Buffy runs through the kitchen and out the back door, Dawn quickly follows after a look from Willow. Xander quickly hurries the other way towards the front door.

    WILLOW: Here, lemme – you know, we don't even really know what we were just seeing, maybe there was something -- there, got it –
    The sound of two doors closing panics Willow, who gets up from her chair.

    WILLOW: Xander?
    Willow goes to the front door to see that Xander has raided Buffy’s weapons chest – and the viewer sees him heading towards the Magic Box with axe in hand.

    Dawn learns the reality of Buffy’s funk is really more than leaving Heaven and when she tried to kill everyone.
    Yes, it’s interesting how quickly she figures it out just by watching Buffy’s expressions. As Buffy sits alone in the backyard, Dawn walks up with arms folded as we see Buffy’s shame and embarrassment at Dawn knowing about Spike – and her hurt at what she just saw on Willow’s laptop.

    DAWN: So this is it. This is the stuff you've been protecting me from? You and Spike?
    BUFFY: And a lot of monsters.
    DAWN: Uh huh.
    Buffy’s conflation of Spike with the monsters that might hurt Dawn is humorous and interesting psychologically – as is her adamant belief that it’s now in the past.

    BUFFY: But it's over. Spike.
    In Buffy’s mind, she can put it behind her in the same way that she can forget about trying to kill her friends or even being in Heaven. But Dawn isn’t having it – it’s not about doing the dirty deed with Spike. It’s that Buffy felt she had to hide it from her own sister.

    DAWN: I wish you'd told me.
    BUFFY: I kinda didn't wanna admit it to myself.
    And Dawn understands the shame that Buffy feels because she’s felt similar feelings in her kleptomaniac days:

    DAWN: I get that. I know it must hurt. To feel like you have to hide – to keep secrets from everybody –
    Buffy looks like she’s going to cry – but Willow suddenly bursts through the door with bad news:

    WILLOW: Buffy. Xander's gone. And he took your axe.
    We now see the depressing aftermath of Anya and Spike’s encounter – as they adjust their clothes and Anya starts to clean up, they both look as guilt-ridden and ashamed as Buffy. Spike looks at Anya as he adjusts his belt – Anya looks up at him as if to speak. But neither knows what to say. The solace they found in each other was temporary and only lifted the pain for a moment. The crushing depression is now compounded by a feeling of awkwardness – and so all Spike can do is nod to Anya – almost thanking her – before turning to exit the Magic Box.

    Drunken Anya and Spike perceive the other as something to make them feel better but the reality of their mistake quickly shows up with an axe.
    Yes, DanSlayer, I think they both know it was a mistake – but neither have any idea how they’ve fulfilled Spike’s line in Dead Things:

    SPIKE: You always hurt the one you love, pet. (Dead Things)
    And as Spike exits the Magic Box, the swing of an axe greets him.

    He feared himself lunging at Anya with a knife but allows himself to give into the rage with an axe towards Spike.
    What’s really frightening is to contemplate how Xander could be so sure that Spike was the one exiting – was he looking in the window or could he tell by Spike’s shadow who it was? What if Spike had let Anya go first? Could he have accidentally hurt her in his fury? Spike himself looks shocked at first and then scared as Xander fails to pull out the axe. Yet there’s a certain amount of acquiescence as Xander throws him around. Is he trying to avoid the chip going off? Or is there more going on?

    As we see Buffy running like crazy towards the Magic Box, Xander tries to pull his axe out of the doorframe where it luckily (for Spike) becomes embedded in the wood. Frustrated, Xander throws Spike to the ground and pummels him against various columns and statues outside the Magic Box as Spike puts up not a speck of resistance – he doesn’t even try to run.

    The fight between them was a long time coming – but it seems a bit unfair considering Spike is chipped. Strangely, though, Spike doesn’t say anything to taunt Xander or try to blunt his attacks. And this frustrates Xander even more as he punches Spike in the midriff.

    XANDER: Get up. Get up!
    Spike looks up at Xander with cold hatred and then looks down again, holding his stomach.

    XANDER: You're just gonna sit there? Do nothing? That the kinda man you are?
    Spike looks down at the floor until Xander forces his head up with his jibe against Spike’s manhood. But Spike just lolls his head and looks at Xander resentfully.

    SPIKE: Not gonna fight you. Chip.
    Xander knees Spike in the crouch as the vamp cries out and bends over.

    XANDER: Too bad.
    As Xander takes out a stake and lifts it, Spike looks up and barely moves to avoid it. It’s almost as if depression has gripped him so far that he’s decided to try Murder by Xander to relieve his pain – when Xander lifts his stake, Spike unconsciously bears his chest as if to aid Xander in bringing it home. Does Spike do this unconsciously? Does he not care anymore? Or is he hoping that Buffy will save him as in Tabula Rasa?

    Also – would Xander actually have dusted Spike? He hesitates when Anya comes out of the door – and it’s unclear whether Xander would have actually gone through with it or not – but Anya cries out when she sees the raised stake:

    ANYA: Xander, no! Stop it! Stop it!
    As Anya frantically tries to run between Xander and Spike, Buffy suddenly appears and pushes Xander away from Spike.

    ANYA: Xander. I –
    XANDER: Don't even try to deny it. 'Cause we saw it all. The whole, beautiful show.
    And Anya is shocked:

    ANYA: How?
    When no answer is forthcoming, Anya hems and haws:

    ANYA: Listen, it was just – it was just a thing. I felt bad, he was just there.
    Heads turns to Spike, who continues to look away as Buffy glares at him.

    BUFFY: Didn't take long, did it?
    Spike looks up at Buffy with a peculiar expression – a combination of resentment and guilt. They keep their eyes locked as Xander continues to berate Anya:

    XANDER: O-oh! Okay! Then you had to do it. Because he was there. Like Mt. Everest. Like I used to be.
    And this suddenly lights a fire under Anya – all the pain and suffering and rage bubbles up:

    ANYA: And then you weren't. You left me, Xander. At the altar. I don't owe you anything.
    This is surely Xander’s lowest moment in the entire series – in his anger and jealousy, he not only attacks Spike for an act between two consenting adults, but also acts as if Anya is still somehow his girlfriend/fiancé and answerable to him. His judgment, his slut-shaming, his ungenerous attitude towards Anya is understandable in the moment because he's so unbearably wounded – but it’s still shocking and sad.

    Think for a moment what has just happened. Xander left Anya at the altar and has made it clear that he does not want to get back together with Anya unless she agrees to settle for living together. He then violently attacks the man that she’s just slept with because she’s lonely - and then attempts to murder him – to be followed by a series of attacks on her character because she’s lowered herself to sleep with someone that he finds disgusting. And unlike Anya and Spike, Xander doesn’t even have the excuse of liquor to explain his bizarre interpretation of the situation.

    And the same could be said for Buffy – she figuratively kicked the emotional s**t out of Spike that afternoon, telling him his feelings didn’t count and how he should move on – and now she’s angry that he’s turned to sex with a friend for some solace?

    Even though it was Anya and Spike who had sex, it’s really Xander and Buffy who are f**king up the situation right now by not thinking clearly and treating their former lovers badly. It doesn't feel fair somehow and Xander in particular seems to be so angry that he has little compassion for how Anya feels and angrily lashes out instead:

    XANDER: So you bang the first body you can find? Dead or alive?
    But Anya doesn’t just roll over and play dead at this attack – she fights back righteously with the truth:

    ANYA: Where do you get off judging me?
    Yes, where does Xander get off judging Anya here? How is it his business what she does once he's publically dumped and humiliated her? He wants to have it both ways - be forgiven and yet not lose Anya in the process. If he could just step back for a minute, he might be able to understand - but he can't forgive because of who she's slept with.

    I do understand that Xander is overwrought here – but he’s still in the wrong. Shockingly so. He’s almost more angry about the fact that Spike is involved rather than whether she slept around and lobs an amazingly nonsensical insult at her, accusing her of doing something she couldn’t possibly have done:

    XANDER: When this is your solution to our problems. I hurt you so you get me back? Very mature.
    This doesn’t make any sense and it's obvious that Xander isn't thinking clearly. Anya and Spike obviously had no idea they were being watched – so how could it be a plot to hurt Xander? Or Buffy? How is it a solution to any problem at all? How is Xander even involved in Anya’s choice to sleep with Spike? She’s not wedded to him – or even with him anymore. The anger is understandable – but the accusation is ridiculous. And Anya finally lets him have it.

    ANYA: No, the mature solution is to spend your whole life telling stupid, pointless jokes so no one will notice you're just a scared, insecure little boy!
    A low blow - and Xander finally steps back and thinks about what he’s said to her. He shakes his head – he doesn’t want to accept that what she’s said might be true. And so he grasps onto the only ready attack at hand – Spike.

    Despite years of being around Spike, Xander’s never seen him more as an undead thing lower than humans.
    Yes, DanSlayer – and I also think that Xander is exaggerating his feelings about Spike to hurt Anya. The irony is that Xander calls Spike an “evil, soulless thing” – the very words that Spike mentioned when complaining about how misunderstood he was:

    XANDER: I'm not joking now. You let that evil, soulless thing touch you.
    I don't think she thought Xander was joking before - but he can't allow her comment to go without a jab back.

    And Spike reacts to this by lifting his head a bit. It hurts. And there’s more disgust from Anya at Xander’s attempt to belittle her by demonizing (literally!) her choice of sex partner – as if it rubbed off on her. As she stands there, speechless, Xander once again accuses her of deliberately sleeping with Spike to hurt him.

    XANDER: You wanted me to feel something, congratulations. It worked.
    And Xander hits the low point of a very low point scene when he literally says that Anya makes him sick because she had sex with Spike:

    XANDER: I look at you - I feel sick - 'cause you had sex with that.
    It's truly sad as Xander points at Spike as if he were some kind of contagion – a beastly thing. Anya tears up again at Xander’s shaming.

    Spike is a soulless undead murderer that uses women to Xander, all of it confirmed to him on that screen.
    Yes, Xander has certainly conflated the two – even though technically Anya has killed even more people than Spike and has willingly turned back to becoming a Vengeance Demon again. And Anya looks devastated – it’s exactly what she and Spike (and Hallie) had been talking about. The humans shaming the demons – Xander shaming Anya – and Spike can take all the shaming no more when he sees Buffy also look mortified at the thought that she slept with such an evil, soulless thing like him.

    Spike lifts his head to look straight into Buffy’s eyes.

    SPIKE: Good enough for Buffy.
    And Xander turns without thinking to attack Spike:

    XANDER: Shut up. Leave her out of –
    As Xander sees the guilt on Buffy’s face, the meaning of Spike’s worlds become clear. He is shocked to his core that his hero – the woman he looked up to – slept with Spike as well.

    XANDER: - this.
    Buffy looks up to see Spike glaring at her, his lips pursed as the enormity of the consequences of his reveal dawns on her. Spike has finally told her friends about them – and she looks both ashamed and relieved at the same time as Anya softly addresses Buffy.

    ANYA: Buffy.
    Buffy turns to look at Xander – who shakes his head in disbelief.

    BUFFY: Xander—
    This is all too much for Xander – if it made him sick to look at Anya, then what does that mean for his friendship with Buffy? He's both horrified and ashamed of what he's said because now it applies to both Anya AND Buffy.

    Of course, one could say the same thing about Buffy – how is it any of Xander’s business who Buffy sleeps with? He doesn’t know that the chip doesn’t work on Buffy – so it’s not really endangering herself or her friends as far as he knows. There’s a whiff of sexist double-standards here that’s unpleasant – it’s hard to believe that Xander would have the same reaction if Oz had slept with Drusilla. Then again, Xander was never in love with Oz.

    XANDER: I don't want to know this, I don't want to know any of this.
    Xander drops the stake like a mic drop and races away as Buffy looks at his retreating figure. She glares as Spike, who suddenly realizes how much he’s betrayed Buffy. He tries to cover up his discomfort by attacking Xander after Buffy leaves – just as Xander attacked him.

    And Spike gets the final joke of the episode as he finally starts to make the wish Anya longed for:

    SPIKE: Bloody Xander, mucking up everything. You know, I wish –
    ANYA: Don't.
    Anya looks guiltily at Spike, who looks back solemnly. The two walk in opposite directions as she reenters the Magic Box to clean up the mess. We see Buffy walking alone as lyrics play over her and Anya.

    WHO WOULD SELL THEIR SOUL FOR LOVE?
    OR WASTE ONE TEAR ON COMPROMISE
    SHOULD BE EASY ENOUGH
    TO KNOW A HEARTACHE IN DISGUISE
    And we get a voiceover of Tara at the Summers House giving us the literally definition of entropy:

    TARA: Things fall apart, they fall so hard.
    It’s unclear as to exactly how Tara ended up standing in Willow’s bedroom in the middle of the night, but the presumption is that Tara couldn’t stay away any longer. Willow seems surprised to see her as she leaps up from the bed.

    WILLOW: Tara?
    Tara looks nervous and upset. It’s obvious that she’s been mulling over a major decision as whether or not she should take Willow back. And she seems to have come to a conclusion.

    TARA: You can't ever put them back the way they were.
    The disappointment on Willow’s face wars with her concern for Tara:

    WILLOW: Are you okay?
    Tara walks into the bedroom, hands in her coat, as she confesses to Willow what she’s been thinking and feeling that evening in the final confession of the episode:

    TARA: I'm sorry, it's just – you know it takes time. You can't just have coffee and expect –
    Willow waits patiently – she knows that Tara has decided this won’t work out – as Spike once said, they can never be friends.

    WILLOW: I know.
    Willow tries to be understanding as Tara continues:

    TARA: There's so much to work through. Trust has to build again, on both sides. You have to learn if you're even the same people you were, if you can fit in each other's lives, it's a long and important process and can we just skip it? Can you just be kissing me now?
    For a split second, Willow can’t believe what she’s heard – and then a huge smile spreads across her face as she leaps up to hold Tara and kiss her passionately.

    As the two of them continue to kiss, the lyrics underscore Tara’s decision to take Willow back.

    There was not faith enough
    Still my heart held on
    When we find that kind of love
    Willow (briefly) lets go of magic and seems to win back Tara, the only two of the adults with no major secret anymore because Willow was already exposed. Each of the others hides something to maintain a semblance of normalcy, order.
    Wait, wait – isn’t Tara hiding her knowledge of Spuffy from Willow and the others?

    But it’s true that Willow has already divulged her secrets – unless you believe that she’s not really as far into rehab as she believes.

    Back in Season 5, Tara of all people has sympathy for the idea of Warren needing to build his own form of companionship, and we all know what will happen between them-whilst funnily enough in reality the two actors were a couple for several years.
    Great callback, DanSlayer – Tara does show a lot of sympathy for Warren in I Was Made to Love You – and it is amusing to note that the two actors were together for quite a long time despite his character killing hers in the show.

    The use of technology brings several truths to light here. But as we know in our current socio-climate it can also be used to distort perceptions; the post-truth era as it were. The Ebola crisis a few years back terrified the West so much it became a Top 10 Google search that year. It was feared like a new global plague. Though a few Westerners did sadly pass away, the perception of the disease created a much more widespread hysteria in reality. Hysteria breeds entropy. Another way of causing discord, controlling people is to give them a tiny slice of the truth. One that confirms all their prejudices. Buffy our rule-breaker Slayer lost the stability of her father figure. She falls in with Spike: whom she sees as a disgusting lesser version of her first love at this point. Xander’s parents’ controlling and traumatizing effects leave him unable to embrace Anya’s love; and he lashes out like them when provoked. Once scorned Anya finds stability in her old vengeance role.
    Yes, DanSlayer, I agree that technology can distort our view of the world just as much as it can enlighten it. And I agree that this episode shows how all the different reactions to watching Spike and Anya on camera leads to bizarre and often wrong-headed impressions of what’s just happened.

    Hysteria breeds entropy is a fantastic insight and that’s a great point that just a bit of truth is all that’s needed to people to run off half-cocked and explode as poor Xander does.

    Old habits provide a brief reprieve from their problems, though the entropy of this powder keg will go off in the final episodes of the season. Jonathan is betrayed and dies but ultimately Andrew tries to better himself and protect people in his awkward, annoying Storyteller way. He doesn't even run from the final battle. Warren thinks he wants chaos, entropy and even accidentally kills Tara but quickly gets to know he's a non-entity to the supernatural. He wanted to change the world by being the supernatural kingpin; Willow the one with real power turned him into supernatural road-kill. Buffy ends the series by breaking the "one girl in all the world" tradition and it ends on a hopeful note despite all the variables that would create.
    Agreed that the real climax is yet to come for all of the characters - love your description of Warren as supernatural road-kill!

    Progress and entropy sometimes you cannot tell one from the other but it's how we grow.
    Yes, DanSlayer, it is. And Buffy Season Six is all about growth. Excellent point that sometime we can’t tell the difference between entropy and progress, but it gets us there all the same.

    Thanks for a wonderful review of Entropy! It’s a great episode that takes its time to build, but is worth it by the end. Looking forward to the Season Seven rewatch and your review of Conversations with Dead People!
    Last edited by American Aurora; 12-01-19 at 08:01 AM.

  20. The Following 8 Users Say Thank You to American Aurora For This Useful Post:

    DanSlayer (12-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (12-01-19),Sosa lola (12-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (12-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (12-01-19),Stoney (12-01-19),Tiny Tabby (12-01-19)

  21. #591
    Sunnydale High Student StateOfSiege97's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Oakland
    Posts
    64
    Thanks
    809
    Thanked 436 Times in 114 Posts

    Default

    first—

    Dear American Aurora

    Thanks stumble over thanks for your
    so, as ever, gracious, brilliantly insightful
    response to my review of Normal Again

    I utterly lack, at the moment, time to give you
    the full response you so deserve: a Monday
    deadline, combined with my still-unfinished
    (but approaching...) response to Stoney,
    my obligations to DanSlayer and debbicles,
    and yet more deadlines approaching, will
    continue to devour all my time and words...

    I would only note now:

    • Grand appreciation for the reading you have
    taken on: if you have specific questions, feel free
    to ask me here or privately—I'll be more than
    happy to respond, explicate, unravel...

    • Extreme jealousy for your lunch with John
    Cage... Of late I've been, when able, obsessively
    reading and listening to his work with Thoreau...

    • Love for the finely revealing connections you make...

    • Greater love for that passage when you narrate to
    fall of inspiration upon you, when the verses came,
    kept running through you: there be nothing more
    gorgeous than such moments, and you describe
    their eruption perfectly...

    • A small wonder: was it my extended reference to
    Cathy Caruth's book in our early discussions of this
    season that turned you toward it...?

    • A small reference: the Emily Dickinson quote is not
    from a poem but from what are called her "Uncollected
    Fragments"; you can find them in the 3 volume edition
    of her letters—which I highly recommend, as they
    read like poems (and often include poems)... There are
    the Master Letters, which are among the most stunning
    love letters ever written (Master—If you saw a bullet hit
    a Bird - and he told you he was'nt shot - you might weep
    at his courtesy, but you would certainly doubt his word - One
    more drop from the gash that stains your Daisy's bosom -
    then would you believe?) and her most irreverent
    respond to Thomas Wentworth Higginson when he commented
    upon her poetry (You think my gait "spasmodic" - I am
    in danger, Sir-/You think me "uncontrolled" - I have no
    Tribunal)....

    I do promise more than effusive praise, random references,
    and ED quotes some night not too, too distant...


    second—

    Dear PuckRobin

    There be no need to apologize—

    I am simply ever so grateful for your thoughts—

    Especially how you draw out the way that
    all the characters' change, their becoming, stems
    from Buffy's own—

    I would only question your point that the true Joyce
    comes forth from Buffy's agency in the asylum, as
    I do not think—and this is leaving my deep problems
    with the very concept of agency aside—that Buffy is,
    at that point, capable of conscious agency. Joyce emerges,
    more, I would say, from Buffy's Unconscious—

    But that, I think, is a minor point, and otherwise, I find
    deep resonance in all you write—

    Most of all, I loved this line:

    PuckRobin
    She isn’t choosing between real and unreal, between normal and abnormal. She’s choosing between help and harm.
    It perfectly encapsulates all that I was reaching to
    express in a single, graceful sentence—


    last—

    Continued apologies to Stoney, debbicles,
    and DanSlayer

    You have each, in all you have written, given
    so much to think, set flowing such thick affective force—

    And I am, in bits and pieces, scribbling toward coherent
    responses: barring utter word-paralysis, the first should
    surface here soon...


    With dense appreciation to you all, with yet ever more
    dense anticipation, American Aurora, of
    your Seeing Red to come—

    All upon all—



  22. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to StateOfSiege97 For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (12-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (12-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (12-01-19),Stoney (12-01-19),Tiny Tabby (12-01-19)

  23. #592
    Scooby Gang American Aurora's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    561
    Thanks
    3,614
    Thanked 2,822 Times in 564 Posts

    Default

    Hey, StateofSiege!

    I’m glad that you enjoyed my response to your brilliant review! Looking forward to your thoughts whenever you’re able to find the time!

    The quotes just flowed naturally as they are wont to do - but thanks for the wonderful book by Caruth. It is now in my Kindle nestled alongside Empire. The letters by Dickinson sound wonderful!

    DanSlayer -

    I just posted the second half of my response to your wonderful review of Entropy and it’s kinda long because of all the Spike/Anya/Xander drama - too delicious to ignore!

    So take your time. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I’ll be delayed a few days on posting Seeing Red anyway - I have a long drive on Monday night, so I’ll probably start posting Tuesday!

    Looking forward to your comments!

  24. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to American Aurora For This Useful Post:

    DanSlayer (12-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (12-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (12-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (12-01-19),Stoney (12-01-19),Tiny Tabby (12-01-19)

  25. #593
    Slayer
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Posts
    1,398
    Thanks
    3,614
    Thanked 1,986 Times in 920 Posts

    Default

    I imagine that if the episode were done today, the tech would be wildly advanced with drones following the Scoobies with aerial cameras, facial recognition technology, DNA sampling, and a much more advanced purpose for Spike’s “chip” than the show allowed.
    This would all make for great material for a re-boot of the show, but with tech advancing so fast I'm sure the plots would end up being seriously horrific If they weren't careful.

  26. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to Silver1 For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (12-01-19),debbicles (14-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (20-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (16-01-19),Tiny Tabby (15-01-19)

  27. #594
    Well Spiked Stoney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Blighty
    Posts
    7,628
    Thanks
    10,098
    Thanked 12,110 Times in 4,948 Posts

    Default

    Time for just some last thoughts prompted by the review and other posts on Entropy.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanSlayer View Post
    His jealousy that a woman gets to be the actual superhero drove him to be the villain in his mind; causing him to overlook he's a tech genius and could become rich from either a computer or perhaps military company if he still wanted to make weapons for a living.
    Yes Warren's shown to have such impressive tech abilities that profiting from those skills and becoming rich and famous through merit are certainly options open to him. It would arguably be more difficult for Jonathan and Andrew to apply their more supernatural related skills. Although, organisations like W&H would likely be viable options for nurturing talent of many types that come with people that have low moral scruples of course. Whilst the pasts of The Trio aren't all explored deeply we've seen Warren's misogyny and with the connection to Jonathan, whose issues from his high school years are ones we have specifically seen something of, it allows us to draw conclusions about their underlying insecurities. The desire to best people that represent their past, to dominate in the community where they used to feel inferior combines perhaps with a distancing from reality through their comic obsession that means such obvious opportunities are ignored and not what is sought.

    The foolish bragging in the demon bar considering how wary the three of them were when Spike showed up in Smashed really does underline just how over-confident Warren has gotten.

    For all the times Buffy is knocked down and the less then glamorous fast-food job she had recently; she does have her little Scooby clique, was awarded as the Class Protector (ironically given to her by Johnathan) and she does have the benefit of superpowers and literal magic in her life. With Giles gone and having proved herself to be capable; if she wanted to stop Slaying I think she could very well do so; her since of duty and wanting to help is too strong. There's also privilege which has been think-pieced well enough already as she is a straight, white woman from middle class California. The possible reboot show will be for a different time and from a different perspective with a black woman lead. We all know what Warren would say to that. Minority rights and this genre have always gone hand-in-hand; superheros inspire and protect; particularly with the X-Men. It'll be a thorny issue in mainstream entertainment when Disney gets the mutants back; why are the Avengers loved when mutants are hated and feared.The Avengers often end up looking like jackasses and you really shouldn't piss off a telepath. https://imgur.com/a/ArZRi

    There are reasons to criticize the Scoobies; it happens enough in think-pieces after all. Even the reboot comic seems to have Willow as gay from the start; "Gay now!" in Triangle was one of those criticism sticking points. But hell,if a Flintstones comic can make connections and metaphors to complex topics like marriage equality and solider PTSD; maybe a new comic or show can do the similarly while honoring what came before. No, I'm not kidding.
    There will always be ways that social awareness changes and develops and I'm sure that the newly viewed Buffy will adjust some aspects that will increase social reflection. They've practically made the intent to do their marketed raison d'être. With the view that the show, this episode takes to considering the path ahead of you in light of what has come before, how the show itself could and perhaps will/should adjust in a modern light is a very relevant point. But this is also what keeps it relevant 'as is', even despite having some aspects within it that are screamingly outdated I think. We're led to question these things, to consider the past against the world we're currently in and see how openness to possibilities going forward and change is a natural part of life. There were points in the past for the members of The Trio when they could examine where they have come from and consider where to go on. As Warren's comment reminds Jonathan of this, we're reminded also that their goals have always been callously self-driven. Although we see Jonathan's increasing discomfort and separation in the group, the reality of such an attitude goes alongside what they are reaping from it and what will come to pass.

    Andrew's attempt at super-villainy is something the Scoobies don't even remember; along with his name. Johnathan's little time loop was more like a prank early chipped-Spike or Anya might pull then an actual danger to Buffy. Andrew eventually joins the Scooby clique and Johnathan died trying to protect people who would mostly never know what he did; much like the Scoobies do. Had they never met Warren I envision them as entertainers of a sort:
    I'm not sure that meeting Warren was such a swinging point as Andrew was clearly inspired by his brother's demon summoning way of processing fears of inadequacy and resentment and the Superstar spell for Jonathan was a massive violation of others' rights committed purely for his own good. But there is no doubt that there are other paths they could have walked and the suggestions you gave aren't without plausibility. (that second one was sooooo creepy btw! )

    Johnathan is betrayed and dies but ultimatly Andrew tries to better himself and protect people in his awkward, annoying Storyteller way. He doesn't even run from the final battle. Warren think he wants chaos, entropy and even accidentally kills Tara but quickly gets to know he's a non-entity to the supernatural. He wanted to change the world by being the supernatural kingpin; Willow the one with real power turned him into supernatural road-kill. Buffy ends the series by breaking the "one girl in all the world" tradition and it ends on a hopeful note despite all the variables that would create.

    Progress and entropy sometimes you cannot tell one from the other but it's how we grow.
    And this returns my mind back to StateOfSiege's suggestions about becoming and openness to possibilities. The progress that people take, the paths they end up walking are one of so many options and it really emphasises that things aren't tightly controlled. So disorder and reduced predictability probably services responding to the world around us rather than being constricted and better ordered would.

    Thanks for reading again.
    Really interesting additional thoughts to end on. As you said before, there is plenty that is going to fall further apart to come. I hope you'll find time to join us through to the end of the season with more thoughts and contributions as it's a long way before you'll be back again to join us for CWDP.

    Quote Originally Posted by TriBel View Post
    Dan: She falls in with Spike: whom she sees as a disgusting lesser version of her first love at this point.
    That's a tantalising statement that I can't do justice to in the time (and space) I have available. I'm presuming you're referring to Angel? However, from a psychoanalytic point of view, the child's first love is the mother and the mother is "given up" in exchange for a place in the (paternal) symbolic. For all sorts of reasons, I think her feelings for Spike (love/hate/self and other disgust) are intrinsically linked to her feelings for Joyce.
    I think Spike's biggest draw for Buffy is about how she views herself and her disquiet at the darker side of herself but the freedom of finally also exploring it and, eventually, accepting it. And I agree there is love and hate to it mixed up with self (I don't know about the all-importance of the relationship to the mother, but I'm sure I'll read more on this from you. ). As others, perhaps you in fact(!), have identified, his humanity is also a key part of who he is and especially in the way that he relates to Buffy. In S6 she can lose herself in exploring a side of herself she has tried to contain, can keep her emotional struggles cut off from her friends/family, the self doubt she has from her unnatural return to the living, but also perhaps not bury herself entirely in darkness.

    I do think the episode is key leading to Seeing Red for establishing the belief in the reliability of Spike's feelings for Buffy, that it protects from his soullessness as the chip protects everyone else from him (as the girl in Smashed represented). That Buffy can walk in the darkness with him and also feel that sense of security/control was likely part of the complexity of appeals. The discovery that the soullessness is a limitation on that reliability despite how strong his feelings are for him is the increase in unpredictability yet to come here. But here Buffy's acceptance of his feelings for her, even if she misjudges the reliability of them, is seen. Also the truth that whilst Spike's 'like hell' is not totally true, there is something there that means Buffy is noticeably upset and affected on seeing him with Anya. They don't just connect based on the darkness they understand in each other but the humanity too. The similarities between the characters in their outlooks and attitudes in loyalty, love, adaptability and determination mean that it is actually more than just the darkness and losing herself. This is why I find the ongoing development of their relationship in S7 believable. They are drawn to each other for multiple reasons and there was always more that could be built on between them if only the restriction on both of their capabilities to love the other in a healthy way was possible, which it becomes.

    Quote Originally Posted by debbicles View Post
    I did hope that by the end of season 7 Buffy had reconciled her Slayer persona with her other personas. But it still isn't clear to me whether or not that has ever happened.
    I think it has, but possibly not more comprehensively until the later comic seasons to be honest. But I think a great deal of what we see in S7 is the continuation of the beginning of it after her more negative approach to exploring this aspect in S6. I'm sure it's something that will come up in the S7 rewatch, well it probably will in my review anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by debbicles View Post
    So, to use this post to illustrate entropy, the letters making it up have low entropy: there’s only one way to sequence them to produce what I’ve written. But if you scramble the letters, that results in higher entropy, as there are lots of ways to rearrange them after they’ve been jumbled up. The second law of thermodynamics reflects that it’s easier to go from an ordered page to scrambled letters than vice versa. It’s easier to break an egg than unbreak it.
    I love this description. I had to have a brief look on google to get my head into the space of what we were talking about with 'entropy' and I find the idea of things becoming more disordered a little illogical, which probably just says a lot about me! But the 'words on the page' example is great for illustrating not just disorder but the lack of predictability too. We can often guess what words come next in a sentence but lose that if the words and sentences are broken up. So yes, whilst there is more potential of what there may be, there is an inherent 'falling part' aspect that the episode is playing and emphasising with that too.

    Trouble is this episode doesn’t show us, I don’t think, growth within the group, either collectively or individually.
    I think the removal of some secrets is a positive as they were barriers between the group in understanding each other. This is probably best illustrated by how readily Dawn understands some of what Buffy has been going through and how Buffy seems thoughtful in response to her. They are shown to be looking to positively engage with each other anew like Tara and Willow as well. Although things are falling apart and so arguably opens more potential for what can be next, the histories of these characters still remain and play a role in what comes to pass. But the potential of something new is always there and I think it is easier to move on when you aren't concentrating on concealing a part of yourself and what affects you, which goes back to Dawn's observation to Buffy.

    But why is she hanging around still?
    I think we're just to assume that Hallie is visiting Anya again so soon because she is a demon again and so she's possibly more interested in interacting with her and drawing her fully back into the vengeance game. I also think there is something suspiciously destructive about her encouragement to Anya as it involves damaging/breaking away from the group that she had integrated with which I think suits Halfrek and D'Hoffryn's agendas with Anya.

    Anya wears red, reflecting her state of mind and acting as a warning beacon, both for what she’s going through now and what is yet to come. The whole intercut scenes of Anya trying to get the girls to curse Xander are very funny and well-done.
    Yes! I commented on the red outfit too it is so blaringly loud. I have to disagree on the scenes being funny though, or at least that I feel the need to underline that it's very restricted for me. They do play it as comedy and I do see it and can somewhat smile as the character goes from one to the next but I'm so put off by what she is actually trying to do and what callous disregard it shows for the person she is trying to get to curse Xander as well, it really affects how funny I find it.

    Sadly we see Anya has indeed returned to the vengeance gig. Frankly I hardly blame her, but in the end we see all she wanted was comfort. I loved seeing how Willow hugs her, those two have come a long way. But what I don’t understand is how none of them clued into how she was manipulating the conversations. Perhaps it’s because they’re all so absorbed in themselves they have nothing to spare?
    I can understand why Anya was vulnerable enough to be manipulated and we know this negative processing is how she came to be a demon originally, but I think it is greatly her isolation that plays into that choice and if she had truly felt part of the group or not been so certain the others would just back Xander over her (which actually they aren't trying to do and are showing real concern for her), she might not have done it again. If Anya had been listening to people and not so hellbent on trying to coerce people to fatally curse or violently punish their friend she might have heard that people were sympathetic and worried about her.

    As for Xander, ugh, this is a really low point for him, I think. First off, even when it’s demonstrated beyond an iota of doubt that it can’t possibly be Spike who has planted the cameras, he persists in holding on to his idea. Then I just want to pelt something at him when he gets all self-righteous with Anya – none of your damn business what she does now, you twerp! Generally speaking, what else is anyone, male or female, supposed to think when they’ve been dumped at the altar and suffered public humiliation? I want to cheer Anya, until she distances herself from Spike – he was just there, she says dismissively – which is the thing she does that makes me cross.
    Spike and Anya both knew very well why they were using that momentary escapism and I don't think it is any different really to her telling him before they went there that she was only doing it because she felt lonely and he smelled good. Neither of them truly feel better at the end of the day I don't think, or perhaps really expected to. I find it really morose, but it does just reflect that they are both broken hearted in truth.

    Xander is thoughtless in how he talks about not wanting to get married when he first speaks to Anya I think but he is also expressing the desire to still be together. I can understand Anya feeling like he has broken up with her though because he walks away and leaves her to deal with everything in Hell's Bells and then is stood telling her he still doesn't want to take the relationship to marriage. That he is saying at this moment in time isn't a distinction she is hearing or cares about I don't think. But I don't think Xander saw them as broken up, certainly didn't want to be. So because he was trying to talk to her about their relationship, sleeping with Spike just seemed a cruel way of telling him she wasn't interested in talking it out. Which it would have been if it had been a deliberate act for him to find out about in order to convey that to him, which it wasn't. I can understand why both of them feel very hurt by the actions of the other and sadly they both have made really bad choices. His to walk away when he knew he didn't want to get married and hers to turn back to vengeance as a way of dealing with her pain. Things may have gone very differently if one of either of those hadn't happened.

    As for Buffy, I found her attempts at being perky quippy Buffy painful and brittle. I appreciate that many watching her little chat with Spike will probably be applauding her. Well done. You’re distancing yourself from him, showing emotional maturity, etc, etc. Unfortunately to me she just comes across as the classic snobby girl who thinks she’s too good for the man she’s been using for comfort. She’s above all that. He can’t have feelings, according to her personal canon, so she treats him as if he doesn’t. I think she should have been more careful, to hark back to Xander’s words from Crush – and I paraphrase here – yes, because I should always be careful not to hurt the feelings of a murderer. I don’t find that her dog-in-the-manger attitude towards Spike does her any credit, and in his shoes I would certainly have drawn completely the wrong conclusion as well.
    I think this is greatly about her wanting to distance herself too. I do think that she sees his soullessness as limiting and she is right. But she also believes in his feelings for her in a way that contradicts what she says to him, her belief he can be reliable in saying he wouldn't hurt her in fact demonstrates it. Buffy is trying to be strong and draw a line on the relationship whilst also missing him to some extent despite the fact that she genuinely believes that the relationship needed to end. Her use of him both because of his feelings for her but also her belief in him as a lesser 'thing' and her dismissal of how 'real' his feelings meaningfully are whilst also believing and relying on them is a contradictory mess. But some of it is fair, as is the genuine draw to each other they share. This is all builds into what they are able to develop in contrast in S7.

    Her scene with Dawn makes me cross – again, she’s trying to put distance between herself and her actions, a relationship she is shown as instigating, or encouraging at the very least. If the writers and producers actively wanted me to dislike her, they couldn’t have done a more effective job.
    Which scene with Dawn? I thought her interactions with Dawn in the episode were pretty positive and were showing the adjustment of attitude that was building in her relationship with her sister.

    I choose to put a generous interpretation on his giving up the secret at last – well, I would, wouldn’t I – he was sorely provoked, and clearly was prepared to be staked. Spike is disposable to Anya and Buffy, to be used then thrown aside. Sorry, but again, what did Buffy expect? Marsters as always portrays Spike with such depth and subtlety that I feel his pain every time I watch this.
    I agree that Spike was provoked and he had been told by Buffy that telling her friends didn't matter so on top of being made to feel like his feelings didn't matter and then getting spite for doing something that he's been told to do I think his lack of incentive to keep quiet any longer was understandable. I don't think there was anything non-mutual in the treatment from Anya but he is fed up of being dismissed by Buffy and her getting to just entirely ignore/deny what she does feel which is made far easier by pretending it never happened. Of course his determination that she should face her feelings takes a turn for the worst soon. Even if she does feel something he doesn't get to decide for her that she has to face it and more importantly, that he can make her through force.

    Anya in the end pulls back from cursing Xander. Thank goodness, because she couldn’t come back from that. EC is amazing in this whole Magic Box scene. She blames herself for Xander breaking up with her, secretly is afraid she is inferior and unworthy. As an aside, she still doesn’t show any awareness for her own indirect part in the whole fiasco of Hells Bells.
    Everyone is great in that scene outside the magic box and I agree EC is excellent. Would she have pulled back from cursing him if any of her earlier attempts had been successful and someone had made a wish though? I'm not sure she would have as she did try to literally wish away his very existence and then wish him painful death in tortuous ways herself directly when she first sees him. I think the fact she did try to literally do it at first, is what stops the other attempts seeming funny to me. Her choice to stop Spike wishing in the end is good but (although I don't think this is really fair) it can easily be argued to in part be because she has hurt Xander and gotten revenge, as unintentional and unsatisfactory as it was.

    Willow and Tara are shown as reconciling. And here sadly is the scene that actually makes me see red. Tara just wants to skip to the kissing. For pity’s sake, woman! Willow mind raped you and still hasn’t shown a jot of self awareness about that, never mind remorse. I am constantly boggled at what message I am supposed to draw from this. For me this is the storyline that actually does depict that someone gets back with their abusive ex who remains defiantly unreconstructed.
    Ha, well we're at least seeing different ways of viewing the episode. I think Tara sees Willow as having changed her lifestyle and approach and that this is illustrative of her taking seriously what she had been doing and how it had been hurting others. We have been seeing Willow controlling her desire to use magic and actively using the longer methods/solutions to problems time and again since Tara left. Her refusal to use magic at the party, even though it exposed that she had kept supplies around, probably helped a great deal too. But time and again Tara has seen and been assured that Willow has taken her problem seriously I think. I'm not sure I agree with her jump back into it all so deeply so quickly, but her desire to make it clear she wants the relationship back I can understand.

    I don’t mean to ruffle any feathers in saying this. I think it’s great that I can feel so strongly about this episode still, after all these years, and that it can still make me ponder on these difficult and sensitive subjects.

    I would say, roll on the next episode, but that’s even more agonising. Even after all these years.
    Isn't it. But Seeing Red is one of my favourites of the season because it brings everything together and finds something that would realistically be a catalyst for such a huge change. But we'll see what Aurora has to say on it and then discuss all this soon enough.

    It has been interesting to read how someone else sees it and I honestly do think it always helps to question your own point of view against another's. So I appreciate you sharing your perspective and hope you haven't minded hearing how/where I disagreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by American Aurora View Post
    But I find almost every scene in this episode to be fascinating because there are some really dodgy moral choices by almost everyone.

    It’s as if everyone is so shell-shocked from everything that’s happened so far in the season that they’re allowing themselves to be caught off-guard – which makes sense considering the point of the episode seems to be the idea of hidden surveillance and exposure – not just the Trio watching Buffy, but the Scoobies watching each other. We start with Spike lurking on the top of the gate to Anya hiding in the bushes to Willow waiting in the corridor for Tara to appear.
    What an interesting observation, I hadn't thought of the fact that many characters are found to be watching others. It makes sense of course that with the consideration of the past and where they are now in the fallouts of what has happened in the relationships that there would be a sense of wariness, that they would be wondering what to do to best achieve what is on their agenda. Anya's being the most openly destructive in intent.

    Yes, I totally agree, DanSlayer! I think the point of the episode is that everyone is sneaking and spying and stalking around – and they’re so intently focused on their own obsession that they don’t see who’s spying on them – or even see what’s in front of them – until it’s too late...

    Why does Spike start demanding this now?

    Some of it is manipulation – Spike’s trying to threaten Buffy to win her back. Some is pure spite – he’s reminding her of exactly what she did with him. And some of it is frustration and hurt at being treated as if he’s nothing more to her than an evil “thing” despite the fact that they were lovers at one point:
    I think the misconceptions and misunderstandings are an important part of things. If everything is in disorder and falling apart then people can be misreading what is there more easily, things become less predictable and so the unpredictable keeps happening. So Spike's renewed insistence about telling the others about them is him misunderstanding that whether Buffy feels something for him that she is denying or not isn't the issue. She will always be limited in what she can feel for him when his own morality is so hampered. It inherently affects both what she does feel and what she will allow herself to feel for him. So it doesn't matter if he makes her accept that their relationship existed, if he makes himself more 'real' and less confined to the dark and no longer kept as her secret, that isn't going to suddenly change anything and make her want to give it a chance if her friends don't vilify her for it (as she in fact keeps assuring him that they won't). So as you say, he sees it as a barrier that can be brought down and that would move them closer to being together again.

    And yes, I think some spite and general frustration and hurt are wrapped into it. Her dismissal and wish to draw the line, so perfectly illustrated by the lie about why she was sat talking with him in Normal Again that you quoted, makes him feel impotent and he doesn't want to be ignored and forgotten when he felt so sure that she would in time start to crave him and give in to what they had more completely than just sex. She wasn't supposed to want to end it and then do that. So he is refusing to accept her decision in the same way that he intended to return to Dru and remind her why she loved him. When Joss in the anniversary interviews talked of Spike showing a deep misogyny I felt somewhat confused because to me that means a hatred of women and I don't think that describes the character at all. But if you consider the deep disrespect that he shows towards women knowing their own minds and getting to decide they don't want to return his affection, then perhaps I can see what might have been meant. It is persistence and a blind refusal to be rejected by the focus of his love which will of course play into his actions in the next episode.

    He can’t seem to accept or understand that Buffy is actually thinking of him as much as herself – she’d been using him and his feelings of love to engage in pure sensation and it was killing her. And Buffy seems to have come to the conclusion that the best way to deal with Spike’s constant pleas is to ignore him as in the past – which hurts Spike’s pride even more.
    Interesting points. I agree Buffy is thinking of him somewhat too, shown in calling him by his human name when she broke up with him. But his response that he 'wasn't complaining' at the time was where their moral understandings of what was wrong in the relationship were too far apart for him to understand this. He'll just take what he is given always hopeful that it will eventually become what he wishes it to be. Whereas Buffy sees the abuse they were both engaging in as something unacceptable to continue and damaging her sense of self and morality. So as cruel and dismissive as it seems after having used him Buffy is right to be dismissive because he doesn't understand what the problem is and can't/won't. Engaging with him over it will just almost validate his persistence by giving him attention about their relationship. Far cleaner to try to just draw a firm line. The only problem being that she isn't unaffected by him or totally disinterested and as much as he is off the mark on what the potential for them could be as things are, he isn't wrong that she feels something.

    This answer feels a bit off – Buffy doesn’t necessarily need to love a guy to sleep with him. But the viewer (and Spike) understands what she means – because Spike is in love with her, she can’t allow herself to sleep with him because she can’t love him back and it would be unfair to both of them. And that’s not even accounting for the destructive, violent chaos of their relationship that was barely contained at the best of times and left Spike a barely conscious body in an alleyway at its worst.

    But Spike can’t understand Buffy’s reasoning – he’s still under the delusion that Buffy is simply fighting her love for Spike because it would be WRONG. And the words he mutters under his breath don’t bode well for accepting no for an answer:
    I completely agree that there is a good dose of misconception of what she is feeling in here, but her total dismissal of him is also about her knowing what she does feel, whatever something is messy and mixed up within it, can't grow into anything more/healthy as things stand. But the truth of it is something I think Spike knows, he just can't see/accept why it is inherently limited by what he is. He won't accept her decision as her own to make for them both and so will continue to try to push regardless.

    Kinda typical how Warren compares their supposed triumph - and the end of Jonathan - to milk that will soon expire.
    It is an interesting contrast to the food/drink sharing where people are trying to positively re-establish relationship dynamics, for another relationship to be compared to souring milk.

    All you have to do is look at his obsession with Katrina when he could have found numerous other women to date him based on his youth and wealth and smarts – and it’s clear that he’s too psychologically screwed up to take advantage of his own genius.
    Yes, agreed, the history with Katrina and even back to the creation of April, really show how damaged Warren already was.

    With regards to Buffy and “privilege,” it’s interesting to see all the critical analysis of old television shows on the net that follows after the academic flurry of criticism of the “Western Canon” and the values of pre-20th century literature. I think that what complicates things is the difficultly of cross-generational analysis – younger generations always think that things were the same in the past whereas the pressure of social conformity and group-think at the time was unimaginably intense at the time regarding certain beliefs – and what people think today will no doubt seem shocking and horrible to people of the future when they look back at what’s happening today.
    Yes! Perspectives greatly shift how social stances are viewed and appreciation for the times when things were produced is helpful. Not that it shouldn't be criticised, just understood as a product of its time and often interesting on a specific level for that too. What is so great about BtVS I think is how relevant the themes that were chosen stay through the generations, even as other aspects shift/develop around them.

    Change is good and change is inevitable and the awful ideas and presumptions of the past should be examined thoroughly so people can move forward – the problem comes with the attitude that anything from the past that doesn’t fit a narrow definition of today’s acceptable should be jettisoned or condemned like Xander’s behavior towards women, which is now seen in a wholly negative light rather than as the acceptable coping mechanism it was for a boy growing up in the 90s.

    On the contrary, I think understanding past art is vital to understanding how we perceive art today – there’s a strain that is fairly puritanical in our society today that resembles the “Burn the Witch!” mentalities of the past when a work doesn’t pass a certain sniff test. I appreciate your way of analyzing problematic elements of art better – appreciate it for what it is and acknowledge the issues at the same time. I think experiencing art of the past also helps us to realize that mentalities are not stable and unchanging – that we ourselves believe in things right now that aren’t necessarily going to be acceptable in the future – and this helps to expand our minds and examine our own prejudice and further our personal growth.
    Totally agree, all great points well said.

    XANDER: I could have spared you that – that nightmare.
    ANYA: Say something about what?
    XANDER: No, no, I mean, you know, if I had been more, like, self-aware. 'Cause, with the being an idiot thing.
    And hope that blossomed for a moment at Xander’s words is replaced by fury:
    I'm astounded that Xander didn't say anything about having not faced it with her at least, instead of making her feel like he had left her and didn't want to be together at all. Perhaps it is just me, but the damage became catastrophic when he walked away and left her alone to deal with the situation of his creation and the humiliation in front of everyone.

    Xander seems to be unaware that telling Anya that he wants all the benefits of being with her – the comfort, the love, the companionship, the sex, the rent-sharing – without the responsibilities of being a husband and father aren’t compatible with what Anya wanted. And after leaving her at the altar only a few weeks ago, it seems a touch insensitive to tell her this when she’s obviously still heart-broken and humiliated. There’s a certain level of dishonesty here – on one level, Xander wants to make amends to Anya for what he’s done – but on another level, he wants her to simply forgive him and come back to what they had before.

    The parallels with Willow and Spike are striking here – all three are hoping against hope that they can put back together the tattered remnants of a relationship that they themselves destroyed by softening the heart of their lover and begging for forgiveness. All three claim in their own way that they’ve changed now – that they can have a do-over and make things right. But it's not always that easy.
    I think you're right that Xander is hoping to put the relationship back to a previous point as if certain events after hadn't happened, as are Spike and Willow. But I don't think in Spike's case it is a relationship that he destroyed as I think the demon eggs incident that occurred when Buffy broke up with him was largely separate to the break up and the reason for it.

    Buffy's realisation that the negative aspects of the relationship were untenable does greatly reside in his soullessness, but that wasn't something that changed rather it was always a problem that she was trying to ignore. The abusive aspects of the relationship were mutual, but Spike's limitation is what ultimately makes it impossible as it is. So even though it is something with him that separates them at this stage (and why it does is going to be definitively demonstrated soon of course) I don't think his statement about changing relates to since they have split but is referencing the post-chip change that he has felt and talked of having happened to him since S5. There's no doubt that he is trying to argue that he can be what she needs though, but I think he really does believe what he says, despite all the signs we've already seen in the season that he misses the moral mark so often. The break up was just more about her change of heart and realisation that it couldn't/shouldn't continue than having realised anything about him that he is claiming to have amended since. I do agree though that there is a sense of disconnection between the three ex couples. Some is outright duplicity and hidden truths, but a good deal is just misjudgement and being blinkered by their self-focus.

    Anya hasn’t told Xander that she’s gone back to being a Vengeance Demon – she’s being just as emotionally dishonest as him. Although one could say that Xander knew who Anya was – her total lack of empathy for those she harmed throughout her years as a Vengeance Demon despite having a human soul – and yet, he came to her all the same just as Buffy came to Spike.
    I've never been that keen on Anya's character because of the inconsistency of how they shrug off her lack of any remorse about her past and her callous attitude and initial attempts to regain her power. She is used for humour but without the soul distinction it is hard to see how the group looks on her with such leniency. I raised in my responses to DanSlayer that even though we see more of her past in S7 and see her change her attitude and show that she isn't who she used to be any more, watching her attempts to curse Xander is really awful. The fact that her lack of change/remorse was never raised before other than in Willow's worries about how Anya might hurt Xander is problematic for me. I equate her story to a matter of gaining a change of perspective and accepting the weight of her own choices as Faith does. Anya walked into being a vengeance demon as a human with her eyes open and isn't shown to have a 'lack' that being human gives her back in a physiological sense, so her journey is about a psychological development.

    The whole Anya storyline in Entropy is kinda bonkers if compared with how serious we’re supposed to take the Trio’s previous murder of Katrina and Spike’s long history of violence. Basically, we’re meant to be horrified by Warren (and Andrew) because they’ve seemingly accepted Katrina’s death as a necessity whereas Jonathan is plagued by doubts. And we’re meant to see Buffy’s rejection of Spike as necessary because of his soulless state only mitigated by the chip – a state that Buffy herself has said makes him little more than a serial killer held back by prison bars. But apparently, we’re supposed to find Anya’s attempts to kill Xander a hoot.
    Yes it is problematic how Anya's past and attitude is written. The group should have been treating her as they did Faith, with some wary distrust, as she shows no remorse about the killings she has committed, even when she's not a demon any longer.

    I’ve mentioned before the problematic aspects of the Scoobies keeping Dawn a child – and how this might be a part of the original Monk Spell in order to keep her safe.
    I think there is also a sense of duty and instruction passed on from Joyce which could believably weigh on Buffy's mind too. When going in for surgery in Listening to Fear Joyce says to Buffy, "I have to know that you'll take care of her, that you'll keep her safe. That you'll love her like I love you." As Joyce always feared for Buffy when slaying and didn't want that for her, as well as specifically asking her to keep Dawn safe, I can see why these might result in Buffy feeling an additional weight to try and keep Dawn away from the life her mum wished she didn't have to live. But I agree it being a main drive within the monk's spell is very logical.

    Yes, I know this is all supposed to be funny and individual lines are humorous, but never forget the bottom line is that Anya is trying to TORTURE and MURDER Xander in horrible ways. And in that pursuit, Anya manages to say all kinds of weird vaguely homophobic jokes about men-hating lesbians.
    Yes it's awful and the cruelty to the person she is trying to get to make the wish astounds me. Even with Spike. I know he hides from her that them sleeping together might cause friction within the group, but even though she doesn't know his relationship was with Buffy she does know how he feels about Buffy. But she takes his disregard for Xander as an excuse to try and get him to do something that at best would probably result in Buffy and Dawn hating him and at worst could get him staked.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sosa lola View Post
    I completely agree. I think that if Xander told her he wanted to try marrying her again, that his fears were silly and stupid, the outcome of that conversation would have been extremely different.

    Xander clearly wanted a fast and easy fix, and that's just not acceptable after what he put Anya through. It's astonishing that he even considered that Anya would agree to getting back together after his royal mess up. I can't blame Anya for getting extremely angry with him.
    I'm not even sure that Xander really sees them as having split up. He tells Buffy and Willow at the start of Normal Again that it wasn't about breaking up. As Anya didn't break up with him, was ready to get married, I think he's just hoping she'll be glad that he is back and openly contrite. I'm not underplaying how bad he feels because I'm sure he feels terrible, but as you say he's wanting an easy fix and isn't realistically seeing the damage this has done. I think he just hopes Anya will be happy that he does want to still be together and can admit that he made a horrible mistake and it is hard to think beyond that. It's hard to face that what he's done can already have ended it.

    Quote Originally Posted by American Aurora View Post
    The obvious reason is that the show wouldn’t have been half as exciting if Buffy could just pick up her cell phone and call for help – a lot of suspense tropes have been wiped out by cell phones. Now we have to have “remote areas” and “towers down” and “no internet” in order to get the same kind of isolation as before.
    Yes, to still get that iconic race back to the library in S2 after Angel had drawn her away she'd have to have got a flat battery, poor reception or the phone could have gotten smashed in the fight I suppose. It would get pretty tedious if they kept doing that though so you'd be limited in the times you could nullify the ease of it.

    So the Trio is presented alongside Maggie Walsh under the old trope of “technology is out of control!!!!” with their vast spying apparatus and their dangerous toys. Weirdly, the Trio invents invisible ray guns and time turners but doesn’t seem to carry cell phones themselves. Instead, they rely on vans filled with James Bond-like spy equipment – although perhaps the old-school ways of doing it is the point to three young men who live in a fantastical world.
    Most of the time they're hiding away together of course, but you're right that they do like the spy gadgets and using such things when they can find any reason. Cell phones would probably just seem too boring to use and I can see Andrew maybe feeling paranoid about being listened in to as well.

    Except, of course, when Spike brings a “date” to the wedding to hurt Buffy just a few episodes ago.
    Yes Spike's indignation really does stand out doesn't it and I hadn't even thought of the deliberate intent to make Buffy jealous recently too. But the issue of his unreliability really is in the ways he doesn't even realise that he is doing it. Over the course of their time together (before and during their sexual relationship), Spike has on many occasions devalued Buffy's friendships to her and made some tough choices Buffy feels she has to make and deal with harder by not being able to understand where she is coming from. There isn't malicious intent to harm her but his inability to see how his choices can be hurting her is the issue where his limitation let's him down from what he wants to be able to say and stick by.

    Buffy understands that Spike truly does love her to the best of his ability – but as a soulless demon, that falls far short of what she needs. Spike does as well – maybe miraculously more – that almost any soulless vamp can to not hurt the Slayer – but she can never trust him – or love him:

    But she does see the pain in Spike’s face and hear the catch in his voice and her natural sympathies for how he’s obviously hurting moves her enough to acknowledge that he does care about her – and perhaps he wouldn’t spy on her after all.
    I'm never completely sure how much Buffy believes in Spike's ability to walk the line for her when his soullessness is what brings most of the limitation to what their relationship can be too. But she does seem to accept the validity of what he is saying to some degree and I think the attack does come as somewhat of a wake up call to her that his will and wish to be able to state things firmly really can't just be taken as enough, no matter how much either of them believe he wants it to be true. But she would have taken Dawn to him after the attack, so the line that the chip creates is still enough for her to feel she can still lean on him outside of their dynamic, at least when weighed up against other threats.

    From the little we see of his past, William Pratt always felt misunderstood even as a human - and we see in his earliest days as Drusilla’s playmate that this sense of isolation and lack of validation followed into his vampire life – Spike felt Drusilla and Angelus never really got him either
    I very much agree and it was the seductive manipulation that Dru used when looking to sire him, the pretence of offering him all that he wanted, to finally be seen and understood. It is also why after the night holding Buffy it means so much to him when she says she was there with him, and then why he withdraws again when it seems that her uncertainty in truth still remains at this point.

    And out comes a tortured confession of his internal struggle with his feelings for Buffy. Spike doesn’t yet have the inner clarity to really examine his own feelings or honestly assess their relationship. Spike honestly believes that he has control over his demon – that he never would REALLY hurt Buffy – despite the fact that he already has by attempting to manipulate a woman mired in a deep depression. But Spike doesn’t believe he’s done anything truly bad to Buffy. Even after the events of Crush, he dismisses chaining her up and threatening her with being eaten by Drusilla as nothing more than a lover’s spat. And in Season Six, he believes that he’s done nothing more than set the real Buffy free and allowed her to admit to long-suppressed feelings. And she doesn’t appreciate any of it!
    Yes exactly, he genuinely believes he can walk this line and just can't see how he already has been showing his inability to.

    Although Buffy believes that honesty is key here, telling Spike his feelings aren’t real to her is an unbearably cruel thing to say.
    It is tough isn't it because she needs to draw these firm lines, but she can see how his version of love isn't healthy. He can't understand it and even if she tried to explain it it wouldn't seem accurate to him. To downplay something that feels so intense to him and has caused him to reshape his outlook and purpose, to describe it as a weak version of an emotion would just seem outright wrong to him and incredibly belittling of the impact it has had on him. But this is essentially the unavoidable difference and why the different moral capacities matter between them. Dru would take being tortured and forced to 'remember' why she loved him in her stride, just as she would carelessly be involved in educating him about the family dynamics by having him return to find her having sex with Angel, even finding it amusing that he's upset. Healthy human relationships don't work the same.

    Yes, DanSlayer, and if he was human and their breakup was simply a failed relationship, it’d be one thing. But attacking Spike’s feelings as “unreal” here is tantamount to attacking his identity – since she places him in a very different category than a living human being. As a chipped vampire, Spike feels the pain of not being able to be a monster – and yet, he knows he is incapable of being the kind of man that Buffy would ever want – and Buffy’s just digging in and twisting the knife.

    It’s also suggesting that Spike’s emotional pain doesn’t count for s**t – confirming for Spike that from Buffy’s point of view, Spike really is beneath her – just another evil, soulless THING. And when she pauses and then turns to lecture Spike on how he has to “get over” her, it’s just another jab:

    But Buffy doesn’t understand this – like Spike, she’s too blinded by her need to break off their unhealthy relationship to see how this is fundamentally striking at the core of Spike’s identity crisis.
    Yes this is the heart of how hurt Spike is at this point because he focuses so much of who he is on love and wanting to be loved in return. Image and love are his two main motivations so a great deal pivots on his relationship with Buffy and what he has been hoping they were building. This is why I think her choice to ask him to say he loves her in AYW weighs into how hard he finds this too, feeling so briefly that perhaps that indicated change and she had started to feel something more to have it torn away again. But to know that it doesn't matter what he does in truth because what he offers, what he has is always going to be considered fundamentally less by her is a deep aching wound. And, importantly, the fact that he doesn't understand what the barrier truly is and why he can't just choose to be what she needs makes the rejection of what he is offering and what he has been striving for burn. He's convinced himself that he can walk the line and be what she needs if only she'd allow herself to let him. Being told to simply move on as if it would be that easy brings anger at how totally misunderstood and unappreciated he/his love are being treated.

    And once again, Halfrek makes it clear that humans aren’t to be trusted. The Vengeance Demons seem to be the mirror image of the Scoobies – instead of believing that vamps and demons are beneath them, it’s human beings who are awful, rotten creatures who deserve to be punished for their crimes and they can’t be trusted – no, not a one of them.
    It is interesting that the attitude seems to be very careless towards humans. There's no compunction against deeply hurting others when on a quest for so called justice. So the fact that the vengeances often provide extreme interpretations of the wishes, potentially punishing the wisher and wider population too, seems tied in truth to the disregard shown for the human race generally.

    And Halfrek gives Spike a strange look – which suggest to the viewer that Spike may be mildly confused about who Halfrek is, but “Cecily” may not be confused about “William” and his need for vengeance as a once scorned man who became a monster as a consequence.

    Pity that they never followed up on that relationship more here. Halfrek returns in Season Seven, so it would have been easy to bring back Cecily/The First. Ah, well.
    Oh that would have been clever. They probably wanted to avoid any need to try to smooth out/explain the Halfrek/Cecily timeframe maybe (assuming the actress could have done it). But Cecily goading him when arguably Cecily and Buffy are the only women he's offered his souled love/heart to, both having delivered the same devastating analysis of his worth to him in response as well, it could have been very interesting.

    But does Spike care? Or does he understand Anya’s need for validation of her pain and how it matches his own? His words certainly comfort Anya – he’s extending to her the sympathy he longs for himself.
    There is certainly comfort gained from the lack of emotional threat the other is to them I think and the obvious reflections as outsiders to the Scoobies. I agree Spike is offering what he is looking for in showing understanding but there is a good deal of not listening mixed in too for sure. They are both sustaining their own hurt and indignations before the walls start to break a little and their heartaches are exposed a little more. And yes, Spike's claim to have moral superiority to Xander as he'd never 'stoop that low' is a real 'Eh?! ' moment. Yet again Spike's idea of where the lines can be drawn and his separation of Buffy to everything else, his lack of concern towards a whole heap of his choices and past actions that very much disprove his statement, really just serves to illustrate the problem of his limitation that he clearly just doesn't understand.

    The replacement of “disgusting” with “soulless” is interesting – and shows where Spike’s mind is already unconsciously turning. But more on that in Seeing Red.
    Ha, yes, it piles on to several instances where the distinction is underlined directly to him this season and back into S5 too. No doubt to be discussed very soon.

    This line is hilarious – especially in the understated, befuddled manner that JM delivers it.
    Agree, the delivery here is spot on.

    ANYA: I did everything for that man. Was it ever enough?
    SPIKE: Never! I was always going above and beyond. I saved the Scoobies how many times? And I can't stand the lot of you.
    As Anya and Spike bond in their shared sense of superiority over humans, Spike shifts from putting down the Scoobies to buttering up Anya.
    One of the times logic says that Spike must be talking about another member of the group but Anya is drunk and not listening that closely to what he is saying really.

    I agree that Spike seems to take a shift and starts to seek escapism with Anya of a different sort. I think a lot of the understanding he continues to show from here is affected by this new agenda and is limited in the openness from here to be honest. He doesn't seem to be possibly tearing to me, just trying to encourage her past it. I'm inclined to think that it wasn't an aim he had steered towards from earlier on and he does think it would be a good escape for both of them. But there is still that lack of honesty between them (that Anya had been trying to get Xander cursed and that Spike's relationship was with Buffy) that makes the compassion offered pretty thin in truth when where they are leading the other could further hurt the other's relationships.

    But Anya sees Spike’s compliments as the validation that the Scoobies have denied her in their desire to protect their friend – praises that boost her much bruised ego. Anya can’t see that they care about her – but they have more pressing issues as the discover that the Trio have bugged just about everything and everywhere.
    Anya only wanted a specific response from the group that vilified Xander and the lack of that totally blocked her noticing the real care/regard/understanding she was being offered by them.

    This is a very sad and poignant moment for both of them – for an instant, the viewer can see how much the constant criticism and pointed remarks and jokes have damaged their self-esteem. Despite the fact that both have VERY dubious pasts, there’s a feeling that neither feels they have been given the appreciation due for all they’ve done for the Scoobies. And even worse, what if THEY’RE the ones who have been used sexually by Xander and Buffy? The emotional weight of this overwhelms Anya – who almost loses it as Spike shakes his head and tries to comfort her by making a “shush” noise to lighten the moment.

    But it goes even farther. The acting from EC and JM here is wonderful – moving from comedy to pathos in a moment. Anya breaks down at the thought that Xander never loved her at all.
    Yes this is really where the two do meet in their heartache, the worry that the other person never did feel what they were feeling, something that Spike had thought Buffy would develop but her disregard for his emotional capacity tore cruelly earlier. Xander's reveal he never really wanted to get married the same for Anya. How they both fear having lost not just the person they love but what they thought they had/could have with them too connects them in one of their most underlying worries. Far safer emotionally to just avoid thinking about it more and taking that escapism that is presenting itself. At least for the brief reprieve it can offer.

    Spike looks up as if he’s going to lose his composure – and then turns back to tell Anya what they both want to hear – humans are too weak to appreciate their passion, that’s all. And while he tells her, he also strokes her hair and then her face as she leans into his touch.

    And this is it – they both know what’s about to happen. Anya sets it in motion:

    Spike grins at this callback – and playfully acknowledges that he has one after all.
    The reduction Spike brings back into the conversation of their exes missing them 'now that the well's gone dry' just seems avoidance again to me. He's trying to move out of the heavier emotional zone they have gotten into whilst keeping the mood with Anya so as not to disrupt where it is heading. I'm unconvinced there is a sexy dance (sadly ), it just suits the change to a more light mood he's looking for. Although I think a lot of what Anya is saying hits home for him and plays into his interest in that escape, he stopped opening up himself a while back. It's very much driven by the wish to be wanted and accept/find a transitory escape now. We're back to looking for a way to numb feelings again.

    It’s interesting how important the idea of consent is here considering the events of Seeing Red – but perhaps that’s the point. Spike feels like he’s in total control of his emotions – rational, even – and this will contrast heavily with his loss of control later.
    Interesting observation.

    At the same time, Willow finally gets an image of the Magic Box.

    WILLOW: I think I got the Magic Box -- Whoa!
    And in another visual representation of those ripples of effects I mentioned in my responses to DanSlayer previously, the concentric circles of the radar on the computer screen searching for the feeds extends out and has a direct impact onto the viewer as Willow stands up and backs away from the image on the screen, almost repelled back in her surprise and disbelief, causing the others to gather to see what caused her reaction.

    What I find odd about this scene is how little everyone can actually see of the act itself. Spike is wearing his coat and Anya keeps her bra on – it’s strangely impersonal. And yet everyone acts like Spike and Anya are totally nude and you can see everything. If I were watching it, I wouldn’t even be certain that they were having intercourse rather than heavy petting – it’s all covered up by Nikki Wood’s coat.
    I agree it is very impersonal. Perhaps the lack of context from their points of view as to why this is suddenly happening, adds confusion into exactly what is happening, that along with the dispassionate aspect of it makes it seem all the more random and weird and so partly explains why they're somewhat frozen by it.

    Buffy looks like she’s going to cry – but Willow suddenly bursts through the door with bad news:
    Which actually breaks a really interesting point where Buffy is perhaps facing the difficulty within herself that there is still a draw to Spike, a way in which it isn't actually 'over' even if the relationship has definitely ended that rises from Dawn's understanding of having to hide. This touches a little towards what drew her in the first place, why it isn't easy for her to pull away and why we'll see her react in what she says to him that shows that it hurts her, whether they are current or not.

    The crushing depression is now compounded by a feeling of awkwardness – and so all Spike can do is nod to Anya – almost thanking her – before turning to exit the Magic Box.
    Yes there is no resentment between them, it was as you said totally consensual. But it was hollow and now it is finished is possibly even viewed as a mistake that just served to underline why it happened and how bereft they truly feel. A polite exit seems wanted all round.

    Spike himself looks shocked at first and then scared as Xander fails to pull out the axe. Yet there’s a certain amount of acquiescence as Xander throws him around. Is he trying to avoid the chip going off? Or is there more going on?
    I think like burying himself in a bottle a beating by Xander just becomes another way to numb himself in his pain. Or perhaps rather than escaping it, which didn't work, this is wallowing in it. I'm not sure that he would have stood there as Xander staked him though, but as you say, he isn't looking to avoid the beating.

    Heads turns to Spike, who continues to look away as Buffy glares at him.
    BUFFY: Didn't take long, did it?
    Spike looks up at Buffy with a peculiar expression – a combination of resentment and guilt.
    The exchanges, mostly in looks between Buffy and Spike really show how deeply affected they both still are by the other. Buffy's hurt bitter words to Spike confirmation she isn't unaffected, just as her admittance to jealousy in Hell's Bells was. It's something of a crumb I'm afraid as he does seem to respond somewhat with guilt as well as resentment at the jibe. But the head on stare they share after he reveals their relationship feels like a drawing of a line to what he was going to continue to tolerate and he seems pretty unapologetic to me. The disregard of his emotional depth earlier followed by this resentment of what he chose to do, with venomous descriptions that hit so close to home is just too much for him to stay willingly silent some more whilst being kicked around, picked and dropped as if he's nothing.

    This is surely Xander’s lowest moment in the entire series – in his anger and jealousy, he not only attacks Spike for an act between two consenting adults, but also acts as if Anya is still somehow his girlfriend/fiancé and answerable to him. His judgment, his slut-shaming, his ungenerous attitude towards Anya is understandable in the moment because he's so unbearably wounded – but it’s still shocking and sad.
    I think Xander's lack of understanding that things were possibly already over is exposed here. He was looking to fix it, to reconcile and he expected there to be more discussion, more attempts to resolve the situation. What Anya has just done was the action of an uncommitted single person and Xander really hadn't seen them as definitely parted. And of course emotions are complicated as Buffy is herself displaying. Again the instigator of the break that had occurred, but still bitterly resenting being witness to her ex with another. As you say, it is a mess that both Xander and Buffy are making worse by how they are treating their exes, especially with how Xander is verbally berating Anya. His hurt at witnessing her and Spike leading his accusation that this was deliberate when there is no indication that either Spike or Anya knew about the camera or would have had any intention to expose what had happened between them. Spike's total lack of goading towards Xander or smug, delight towards Buffy a confirmation it wasn't something that he'd expected to be revealed as much as Anya's surprise in hearing they'd witnessed the 'whole, beautiful show' was of hers.

    Xander left Anya at the altar and has made it clear that he does not want to get back together with Anya unless she agrees to settle for living together.
    I do understand why Xander feels betrayed though, not that I'm defending what he does or says in his hurt or that I think he is being reasonable. I agree that he is wrong in the choices that he makes here, but I can see why he feels hurt that this felt like a response to him having hurt her. I know that marriage was his suggestion originally and I do think that he should have talked to Anya before the wedding or have stayed to deal with the aftermath of calling it off, but I also don't think Anya's either/or attitude about being together having to go hand-in-hand with being willing to get married is necessarily fair either. So I can understand Xander's hurt and surprise at this being how things have gone because they were both clearly hurting and sad with how everything was currently when they met at the start of the episode. If he's hoping to get the chance to talk some more and see if there is still something there to piece together, if they can find a compromise, this is an act which seems to really defy even the idea of fixing things. Sure she doesn't owe him anything, but after their mutual upset was clear this morning I can see why he might have expected a little more before the death knells of the relationship were being rung loud and clear. It could well be that conversations would have hit an impasse if Anya wouldn't be willing to continue in the relationship without the commitment of marriage and he wouldn't commit to when he'd be ready for it, but they might have actually found some mutual understanding of what the barriers were and what the fears behind them were that could have concluded with them making another go of it somehow.

    I do understand that Xander is overwrought here – but he’s still in the wrong. Shockingly so. He’s almost more angry about the fact that Spike is involved rather than whether she slept around
    Yes I agree. It does seem to expose that Xander sees it as an even greater insult because of it being Spike. But in fact doesn't this reflect part of how sleeping with Spike was a punishment of herself for Buffy? Even if the motivations of 'why him' have always seemed somewhat layered, that was a part of it.

    The viciousness of the exchange between Xander and Anya is hard to watch and I can see the argument that Xander is exaggerating or over emphasising his feelings about Spike to get to hit back in his hurt. But the words do hit too close to home for Spike to just keep taking this callous dismissal of him and his worth.

    Perhaps somewhat buoyed by the alcohol and his conversation with Anya he decides that they don't need to take the belittlement, either of them, and sees there is one way to stop Xander's dual attack. After Buffy's earlier assertion her friends would get over it perhaps Spike doesn't feel unjustified in finally revealing their relationship as Buffy had told him to if he wants to so much. But he does look to then deflect the effects of all that has happened back onto Xander once Xander and Buffy have left, expecting Anya to readily join him in passing over all blame. But when she doesn't want to continue tearing them apart in retaliation for their feelings of heartbreak he's surprised. We leave the situation with each of them hurting and alone. To then be contrasted by seeing Willow and Tara look to bridge their problems and return to each other.

    Looking forward to reading your thoughts on where this all goes next Aurora!!

  28. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to Stoney For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (15-01-19),DanSlayer (17-01-19),debbicles (15-01-19),Dipstick (15-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (20-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (15-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (15-01-19),Tiny Tabby (15-01-19)

  29. #595
    Scooby Gang DanSlayer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    724
    Thanks
    404
    Thanked 934 Times in 366 Posts

    Default

    Hey, I am still here and alive but an internship program through the school (on top of classes and homework plus life) is really eating my time. I'll try to have some response up around Fri or Sat, but if the thread needs to move on, I get it.

  30. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to DanSlayer For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (17-01-19),flow (18-01-19),PuckRobin (20-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (17-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (17-01-19),Stoney (17-01-19)

  31. #596
    Library Researcher debbicles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    283
    Thanks
    1,727
    Thanked 1,132 Times in 290 Posts

    Default

    Stoney, regarding my remarks on Entropy and that I could find amusement in the scenes of Anya trying to get Xander cursed, well I have a very black sense of humour. That's not to say I didn't wince at some of it, but I did find it funny in a twisted way.

    If you have already worked this out or mentioned it, I apologise, but to clarify, the scene between Buffy and Dawn that I had in mind was after the cameras show what's going on in the Magic Box, and Dawn follows Buffy out into the garden. Buffy tells Dawn she didn't want to admit to herself what she was getting up to.
    You know what I am. You've always known. You come to me all the same.

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

  32. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to debbicles For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (18-01-19),flow (19-01-19),PuckRobin (20-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (19-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (18-01-19),Stoney (18-01-19)

  33. #597
    Well Spiked Stoney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Blighty
    Posts
    7,628
    Thanks
    10,098
    Thanked 12,110 Times in 4,948 Posts

    Default

    Hey debbicles I'm sure you're not alone and I can't be hypocritical as I know I find plenty of dark things funny and of course it's fictional, which helps a great deal. So I do appreciate the writing presents Anya's curse attempts as comedy and it does make me smile at points. It's just the fact she's trying to get people that care about Xander to hurt him puts an extra layer of discomfort to her antics for me I think.

    Quote Originally Posted by debbicles View Post
    If you have already worked this out or mentioned it, I apologise, but to clarify, the scene between Buffy and Dawn that I had in mind was after the cameras show what's going on in the Magic Box, and Dawn follows Buffy out into the garden. Buffy tells Dawn she didn't want to admit to herself what she was getting up to.
    Thanks for this, I hadn't figured it out. I personally don't have issues with what Buffy is saying about the relationship with Spike here because there was always a self-punishing aspect to it for her, that she inherently felt it was wrong and she shouldn't give in to the attraction and draws he held for her. So I think her not wanting to admit it was in great part because of how she viewed it as a bad choice, but within that it was also because she did want it and part of her does feel drawn to him and didn't want to examine that too. So the mix of push/pull that has always been there resulting in her wish to not really face it, not own up to it and so have to examine her motivations I think makes sense. As I see in part the complexity of it as what she is trying to avoid about it, I can feel some sympathy for how troubled she has been and how hard it clearly still is that doesn't make me feel negatively towards her for part of her wanting to wish it away, if that makes sense.

  34. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to Stoney For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (19-01-19),flow (19-01-19),PuckRobin (20-01-19),Sosa lola (19-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (19-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (18-01-19),Tiny Tabby (19-01-19)

  35. #598
    Library Researcher debbicles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    283
    Thanks
    1,727
    Thanked 1,132 Times in 290 Posts

    Default

    As a dyed-in-the-wool redemptionista of many years’ standing, I suspect my take on the relationship between Spike and Buffy is going to prove to be out of step with what seems to be the prevailing opinion in this thread. Here’s the edited version of my take on the dynamic between them in Entropy and (if I may jump the gun a little) in Seeing Red. I say none of this in the spirit of provocation but because I would like to put forward a different perspective, a more romantic (if you like) spin on Spike’s behaviour and motives.

    Suffice to say that, contrary to what has been posted on this thread by various posters all of whom I respect and admire – as indeed I enjoy reading all opinions on this board regardless of whether or not I agree with them - I still struggle, after all this time, to read any sign in Buffy’s treatment of Spike in either episode that she is considering his feelings at all, or showing him any kindness.

    In fact, in Entropy she outright rejects the notion that Spike could possibly feel anything meaningful or worthy. It’s real only for him. To her it matters not one jot. Her expression when Spike tells her to get out of his crypt is, to me, one of somewhat priggish indignation and self-righteousness. Not kindness or sympathy. Without a soul, he can’t love, he’s unworthy. She’s really internalised both the hard lessons learned during Angel’s reign of terror and also Watcher doctrine there.

    I tried really hard when the show was on air to put a more generous interpretation on everything she said and did from Dead Things onwards. I truly did. When she sobbed on Tara’s knees, I wanted to believe that she felt remorse both about treating Spike like a thing to jumpstart her emotions and also about beating him bloody then leaving him in the alley. Something that when he mentions it in the following episode, she reacts to its mention petulantly. Then it subsequently is never referenced again. Certainly not in S6 and only in the most oblique of terms in a couple of episodes in S7.

    Given that Buffy carries on treating Spike like an object from DT onwards, the only thing I could infer from her behaviour in DT was that she was ashamed of lowering herself to be with him. She doesn’t even try to explain herself to him when he invites her to, but answers with her fists. Maybe one day I’ll come across a fan fiction in which she tries to explain her ethical reasoning to him. Until then I find it fun to speculate.

    Anyway, to keep in topic, shame and mortification are the primary emotions I sense from her in AYW, as well. To my mind, her breaking up with him had little or nothing to do with what effect her weakness/selfishness were having on him and everything to do with the effect being involved with him, lowering herself to be with him, was having on her. And I don’t find that her calling him ”William” mitigates this.

    Whilst all her actions derive from her depression, and she takes out despair at being torn from Heaven and her anger at her friends out on Spike, I do firmly believe that until Entropy/Seeing Red the text does depict her as behaving aggressively in this relationship from the very start. I suspect I’m meant to excuse/understand/justify her behaviour because of her ripped-from-Heaven issues. I’m afraid I couldn’t then and I can’t now. I can understand but not justify or excuse.

    In Smashed Buffy scoffs at Spike for making “moon-eyes” at her and following her around. To me there’s never any instance where she is ever shown as feeling threatened or intimidated by him, not even when he was at his creepiest at various junctures over all the seasons he’s on the show. Mostly what he did in S5 onwards reminded me of the lyrics from the Four Tops’ “I’ll Be There” – **just look over your shoulder**. Following her around like her devoted slave/puppy dog. You could read the lyrics as creepy or devoted, but I’ve never listened to them without thinking what a lovely sentiment it is. That’s the root of how I regard his “like Hell” remark in Entropy. He’s hanging on by a thread to the slim hope that being physical with him – the only terms on which she’ll deal with him – means she loves him. Is it stalkerish? Objectively speaking, probably. But the genuine sadness conveyed here, combined with the fact that he stays away from her until his disastrous attempt at an apology in SR, to me takes it out of true stalker realm. Sadly it is also a considerable distance from the knightly ideal that I think Spike pursued late S5 and early S6.

    Spike does indeed make the mistake of trying to draw Buffy away from her friends, to persuade her to come into the shadows with him. Whilst he’s attracted to the spiritual light she represents, this light is temporarily dimmed in S6. But this is an entire topic in its own right.

    So I suppose what I’m trying to say is that there’s more than enough blame to spread around and that to lay the responsibility for the terrible event in Seeing Red solely at Spike’s door doesn’t take into account Buffy’s desire to distance herself from any responsibility for what has happened between them and which I firmly believe is a significant contributory factor of the mindset that leads to his belief that if he can only connect with her physically, fire her up again as he has managed to before, she will admit her true feeling is love. I’m certainly not saying Buffy was to blame for Spike assaulting her, or that she was “asking for it” (God how my blood boils when I hear that). I’m really not. Trying to force your affection on someone else is not a good action. I can understand, but not excuse or justify.

    What I’m trying to express – and probably doing a damn poor job of it – is that I believe that that terrible moment between them is the culmination of what has been carefully built up since DT – “why do I let Spike do these things to me!” - and carefully layered subsequently in Entropy. To be precise, the notion that Buffy sees herself as being systematically victimised and corrupted by Spike from the very start. Immediately after kicking him off in SR, she tells him he didn’t get any further, because she stopped him – something she should have done a long time ago. So, why didn’t she? What, exactly, is she supposed to have stopped him from doing?

    I’m afraid I find it inconsistent, contradictory and frankly downright nonsensical that suddenly I’m expected to buy into the idea that Buffy has only had sexual relations with Spike because he’s forced her into them time and again. Yes, she did have the power to stop him. She is clearly stronger than him. To my mind, the text clearly shows that she instigates it all. She holds the balance of power in that relationship and I’m not talking solely about the physical aspect, I mean the moral, as well. What she says, goes. The infamous balcony scene in DT notwithstanding- and for the record, whilst I find it uncomfortable viewing, I don’t regard whatever is going on there as lack of consent – if she wants sex, they have it. If she doesn’t – Older and Far Away – they don’t. But if Spike doesn’t want sex – Gone – it happens anyway.

    I appreciate that in saying this, I’m expressing a diametrically different view about those words to Spike in Seeing Red from one that I posted a while back on this very thread. (I said then that I saw her as taking responsibility for choosing to become involved with him, in an existential manner). I have vacillated over the years about what she means about her lack of agency/power, but I feel most strongly that I think I’m likely to stick with my view that Buffy’s entrenched opinion of Spike as an evil, soulless thing – her bit of rough, if you like – allowed her considerable latitude to treat him pretty much as, well, as a thing.

    There are tantalising hints every now and then that she does indeed have softer feelings for him – in NA, she seems to agree with Xander when he says he’s cut a big hole out of himself, then when Spike asks her if she cried I genuinely think he does mean just the wedding, it is Buffy who shows us she cried about something else. In SR she finally admits that she has feelings for Spike, and briefly she seems to empathise with him when he says he wants to rip his pain out. But the only method of communication Buffy allows him is physical, and because she clearly regards him as worthless without a soul, then that is the message he receives, loud and clear.

    And of course, the issue of how important or not the whole soul-having is, is critical too. Again, I’m not going into that right now but I’m sure I’ll get the chance to join in a debate on it.

    I find the whole scene in SR sad, pathetic and desperate. It’s the only time I’ve watched such a fictional scene play out and ever ended up in tears for both parties, not just the person being attacked.. To me it doesn’t resonate in the same way as sexual assault other such dramas (which I have to walk out of, along with torture scenes) because I don’t see it as an expression of malicious intent, or assertion of power on Spike’s part.

    As an aside, why does Xander assume Spike can hurt Buffy? As far as he knows, the chip still works on her. Buffy never ever admits that it doesn’t. I don’t remember her ever talking about it to anyone except Tara, even in S7.

    In S7, after an admittedly shaky uncertain start (in my view), Buffy and Spike address their past behaviour and forgiveness is offered to Spike for his violent act towards Buffy. It doesn’t completely cover all the things that happened between them but it’s a beautiful thing for me to watch. But by the end of S6 and not knowing what was going to happen later, I was horrified by the painful transformation from the lovely friendship at the start of that season, to Spike’s position as outcast by the end of it.

    Anyway, that’s my abbreviated take. It’s not a comprehensive opinion, as I have no doubt there will be a lively discussion following the SR review from American Aurora, which I’m very much looking forward to.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    Hey debbicles I'm sure you're not alone and I can't be hypocritical as I know I find plenty of dark things funny and of course it's fictional, which helps a great deal. So I do appreciate the writing presents Anya's curse attempts as comedy and it does make me smile at points. It's just the fact she's trying to get people that care about Xander to hurt him puts an extra layer of discomfort to her antics for me I think.



    Thanks for this, I hadn't figured it out. I personally don't have issues with what Buffy is saying about the relationship with Spike here because there was always a self-punishing aspect to it for her, that she inherently felt it was wrong and she shouldn't give in to the attraction and draws he held for her. So I think her not wanting to admit it was in great part because of how she viewed it as a bad choice, but within that it was also because she did want it and part of her does feel drawn to him and didn't want to examine that too. So the mix of push/pull that has always been there resulting in her wish to not really face it, not own up to it and so have to examine her motivations I think makes sense. As I see in part the complexity of it as what she is trying to avoid about it, I can feel some sympathy for how troubled she has been and how hard it clearly still is that doesn't make me feel negatively towards her for part of her wanting to wish it away, if that makes sense.
    I understand that too, but for me her tone is more one of shame that it was Spike she was involved with than any kind of self-reflection. I tried really hard to avoid negativity about her in the latter part of S6 but I couldn't. For reasons set out above.
    Hugs to all. Hope everyone on the board has a great weekend.
    You know what I am. You've always known. You come to me all the same.

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

  36. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to debbicles For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (19-01-19),bespangled (19-01-19),flow (19-01-19),PuckRobin (20-01-19),SpuffyGlitz (19-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (19-01-19),TriBel (19-01-19)

  37. #599
    Slayer Supporter vampmogs's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    12,447
    Thanks
    1,840
    Thanked 8,389 Times in 2,527 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by debbicles View Post
    I’m afraid I find it inconsistent, contradictory and frankly downright nonsensical that suddenly I’m expected to buy into the idea that Buffy has only had sexual relations with Spike because he’s forced her into them time and again. Yes, she did have the power to stop him. She is clearly stronger than him. To my mind, the text clearly shows that she instigates it all. She holds the balance of power in that relationship and I’m not talking solely about the physical aspect, I mean the moral, as well. What she says, goes. The infamous balcony scene in DT notwithstanding- and for the record, whilst I find it uncomfortable viewing, I don’t regard whatever is going on there as lack of consent – if she wants sex, they have it. If she doesn’t – Older and Far Away – they don’t. But if Spike doesn’t want sex – Gone – it happens anyway.
    But why would the balcony scene be "notwithstanding?" It happened. If we have to exclude it in order to claim that Buffy instigated "all" the sex then that can't be an entirely accurate statement? And IMO it's not just the balcony scene. For instance, how does Buffy instigate this moment from "Gone"?

    ***

    BUFFY
    Stop trying to see me. And stop calling me that.

    Spike moves in on her. She backs away as he gets closer.

    SPIKE
    So what should I call you then?
    "Pet?" "Sweetheart?"

    He corners her, his face up to hers. He touches her hair.

    SPIKE (cont'd)
    "My little Goldilocks?"

    He runs his fingers through her locks, twirling the ends.

    SPIKE (cont'd)
    Y'know, I love this hair. The way it
    bounces around when you --

    Buffy's hand finds the spatula and she takes a swing at him. He grabs her wrist.

    SPIKE (cont'd)
    Uh-uh. This flapjack's not ready
    to be flipped.

    Buffy squints at him. His other hand reaches below frame.

    BUFFY
    Um, what the hell's that me-- ohh.

    Against her will, she lets out a slight, soft moan.

    SPIKE'S HAND rubs her thigh, moves up toward her hips.

    BUFFY (cont'd)
    (hushed)
    Stop it.

    ON SPIKE as he reacts to something and glances down. Then, looks back to Buffy with a somewhat bemused expression.


    ***

    That's a direct cut and paste from the shooting script so the descriptions used ("moves in on her" "corners her" etc) are the writer's descriptions, not mine. I think it's more than fair to say that Spike was the instigator in that scene.

    We also have Spike yank Buffy down to the floor and into his embrace in "Wrecked" when she clearly intends to leave ("Let me go!" "Make me") and Spike leading Buffy, literally by the hand, to behind the tree in "As You Were" after persuading Buffy to have sex instead of go inside to Dawn.

    I'm not suggesting that any of this was rape or assault but Spike was clearly the instigator of the sex. And I'm not sure how Spike ignoring Buffy when she tells him to "stop" in "Gone" is any different than Buffy trying to continue having sex with Spike later in the same episode when he tells her to leave? How did Buffy "want" Spike touching her genitalia in her kitchen when she tells him to stop and takes a swing at him, which he blocks, and then touches her anyway? What makes this different to what takes place later in the episode?
    - "The earth is doomed" -


  38. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to vampmogs For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (19-01-19),PuckRobin (20-01-19),StateOfSiege97 (19-01-19),Stoney (19-01-19)

  39. #600
    Library Researcher debbicles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    283
    Thanks
    1,727
    Thanked 1,132 Times in 290 Posts

    Default

    Hey vampmogs, in Gone I wasn't referring to the scene in the kitchen. I meant the scene in the crypt. When Spike tells her to get out and she does something we don't see but can guess at from his reaction. He clearly tells her to get out because he doesn't want just part of her, whereas I believe the text shows us that is all she's prepared to give him.
    All the other examples you cite, I don't really think I agree with you about what they indicate.
    You know what I am. You've always known. You come to me all the same.

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

  40. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to debbicles For This Useful Post:

    American Aurora (19-01-19),flow (19-01-19),PuckRobin (20-01-19)

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •