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Thread: What if ... the Soul Glutton had devoured Spike`s soul?

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    Default What if ... the Soul Glutton had devoured Spike`s soul?

    In season ten, we see Buffy and Spike return to Sunnydale and face the Soul Glutton. Before the fight Spike tells Buffy:

    Spike: "Slayer, that thing eats souls. If it gets hold of me... I ain`t afraid of dying. But if it just sucks out my soul ... I`d be like I was before. That happens, you dust me on the spot."

    Of course our heroes save the day, no soul gets sucked out and Spike remains undusted.

    But what if? What if the Soul Glutton had actually sucked out Spike`s soul. Do you think, Buffy should have dusted him? Do you think, she could have dusted him?

    The question has been raised in this very short ficlet by BarbC called But My Sorrow has No Friend:
    https://dark-solace.org/elysian/viewstory.php?sid=5202

    and that`s how I got the idea for this thread. The story has it`s own answer, of course. But I`d like to know, what you think!

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    No idea, but it would be the ultimate test for whether it is impossible to learn goodness in the Buffyverse.

    When Spike was chipped and fell in love with Buffy, he not only lacked a soul, but he had not been thinking about issues of morality for over 100 hundred years, meaning that he had the moral insights of a cloistered young man from Victorian high society. If Spike lost his soul in S10, he would have a much better grasp on what being a good person means. Whether he would be able to be such a person is a different question, though. He doesn't have a chip any more, so he would have free reign.

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    I haven't read the fic, but I doubt Buffy would dust Spike, at least not immediately. He'd have no chip, so would be totally free to commit any carnage he so wished, but I'd hope his love for Buffy, and the life they'd created, would stop him from killing anyone. Without a soul he'd probably not ask to be staked, because without a soul, would he care?

    I'm not sure Buffy would be able to be with Spike if he didn't have a soul, as she placed so much emphasis on it. I think she'd allow him to live but she wouldn't be able to be in a relationship with him.

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    It would’ve a very interesting moral dilemma. I don’t think she could dust him on the spot, not after everything they’ve been through post-soul. She couldn’t be in a relationship with him any more if the soul was permanently gone. He’d be at best the guy from Seeing Red -he’d be fundamentally lacking something that is required to be a truly good person.

    It would be a complete ass-pull and would go against the mythology completely if Spike was able to just go on being good without a soul.

    He’d still love Buffy, but it would be the unhealthy pre-soul love. He’d refrain from killing for a time because that’s what Buffy wants (not because he feels that it is wrong), and he’d still want to have *some* kind of working relationship with her.

    But eventually, he’ll grow frustrated that his relationship with her isn’t what it used to be, and he’d start to wonder why he shouldn’t start killing again. He’d justify it to himself that he’s still helping the scoobies kill demons, so what’s the harm in draining a human here or there if he can get away with it without anyone knowing? I think Giles and Xander would be the first to seriously consider the fact that soulless Spike may need to be staked just because they will see the inevitablity that soulless Spike will eventually kill someone.

    He’d certainly try to kill Wood, Riley or Angel if they ever crossed his path in this state.

    If he crossed paths with Drusilla, he’d probably be tempted to run away with her and try to resume his old life. Deep down he’d never be satisfied being evil again, because he’d still remember what it was like to have a soul and be accepted by the scoobies. He’d lie awake longing for that again, but he’d know it was impossible to ever be that man again if the Soul Glutton had consumed his soul permanently.

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    It's a really interesting question.

    I don't think losing the soul would be the equivalent of an amnesiac who loses his memories, so he wouldn't forget all his personal growth and the evolution of his relationship with Buffy and would still love her and probably want to continue in the same way as before.

    However, he would completely lose the ability to perceive right from wrong, he wouldn't care about that any longer (except in so far as it pleases his own interests.) He'd lose the deeper emotional understanding of morality and fail to care about hurting others, and his love would again be fuelled by a more selfish agenda. So the relationship would not be able to work in the long run, given that he'd basically be morally untethered and any attempt to "do good" would be fuelled by his desire to stay together with Buffy. And it would only be a matter of time before he slipped up and committed some heinous act or the other.

    Like in S5's Triangle when he says: "I'm not sampling, I'll have you know. Just look at all these lovely blood covered people. But not a taste for Spike, not a lick. Knew you wouldn't like it."

    That's how I'd imagine he'd probably be. Buffy wouldn't be able to stake him, though. It would be too hard for her imo.
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    I agree with those that have said that he would return to being fundamentally morally limited and it would eventually fall apart. The show explored this very thing in S6, whether he could draw the lines himself and choose to be good and he can't with a lack of boundaries and sense of morals. So whether he had more recent memories of what it meant to be good or not I don't think that would bridge the gap that is there without the soul and his understanding and care for the changes it makes would be reduced by the loss of it. Other than the impact that it would have on him and Buffy of course. He chose to go to get his soul when he was soulless for the difference between them that he thought it would make. Having experienced the difference that it did make, I think he'd be more determined to look for a solution.

    But I do think that Buffy would not be able to just stake him instantly. They were stating in S10 that a soul being consumed wasn't something that was recoverable, but I would expect that this would be exactly the sort of thing that they would start to explore, any possibilities to recover or replace his soul. Spike made it quite clear to Buffy that with his soul in place he looked at the scenario and saw something that he would not want to return to. I think that she would respect and appreciate that but would look to find an alternate solution somehow.

    Whether he would be tempted to leave and look to return to Dru if this happened with him unchipped I doubt to be honest. He rejected having a life with Dru in favour of just a crumb of a chance of one with Buffy in S5 and I think the scenario they were in at the point that this happened, where they were in the relationship, would have him more determined to stick around and try to fix the situation to regain what he had had. Spike went for his soul without fully understanding what it would mean and in reasonably large part because he felt it would get him what he wanted. But he understood that it could make a difference and so set his mind to getting it. He can be very blinkered in his determination, to the point of being self destructive, so I don't think he would accept the negative repercussions without trying to find a way to solve it.
    Last edited by Stoney; 24-04-19 at 12:58 AM.

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    Oh man! That story is a heart breaker. I don't think Buffy would dust him but like Priceless I believe that the lack of a soul would end the romantic relationship. Clearly they've got both a friendship and deeper feelings, I think the friendship would endure.
    “

    I like who I am when I’m with him. I like who we are together.”

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    I often wished he'd lose his soul just to see what the outcome was. In fact, I was half-hoping S12 would end with the revelation he had lost it to the SG and no-one had noticed. As far as I can tell, once turned, the id has free rein, there's nothing to curtail its drive towards pleasure. The soul seems to function as a sort of super-ego (or law) and the ego adapts itself to the reality principle. It's a learned process. The learning process for Spike began with the chip - a simple binary yes/no. We see him testing and trying to establish boundaries throughout S4,5,6. The soul simply adds another layer of nuance to that. It's the difference between plucking a word from a dictionary where a word has a multiplicity of meaning and knowing how to use it in a sentence. There's no inherent meaning in the word, the word takes its meaning from its place within sentence, from the words around it. It's no coincidence that the first meeting in S7 involves a misunderstanding of a single word - Duck. The point I'm making is, he's spent 10? years learning to integrate and adapting to being in a community. Why should he forget that?

    SpuffyGlitz:

    Like in S5's Triangle when he says: "I'm not sampling, I'll have you know. Just look at all these lovely blood covered people. But not a taste for Spike, not a lick. Knew you wouldn't like it."
    Sorry SG but that kinda proves my point. Where's the difference between Spike not doing something he'd like to do and not doing it because of Buffy, and people not doing something because they think God, their parents, their teacher, their boss, their friends wouldn't like it? Why do we get up for work in the morning? Is it because we're intrinsically good people who believe that if we didn't society would implode or is it because there's a cash reward at the end of it?

    However, he would completely lose the ability to perceive right from wrong, he wouldn't care about that any longer (except in so far as it pleases his own interests.) He'd lose the deeper emotional understanding of morality and fail to care about hurting others, and his love would again be fuelled by a more selfish agenda. So the relationship would not be able to work in the long run, given that he'd basically be morally untethered and any attempt to "do good" would be fuelled by his desire to stay together with Buffy. And it would only be a matter of time before he slipped up and committed some heinous act or the other.
    Where's your evidence (genuine question. I'm not being passive aggressive )? "Morality" isn't timeless - it's culturally/historically specific. Was he wrong to kill Rudi in S11? Was he being merciful or was it murder? Buffy couldn't do it - even though Rudi pleaded for it because it transgressed her boundaries. Who was being selfish here? Was Spike giving in to his baser instincts or was he considering Rudi's needs before his own? Couldn't Buffy not killing Rudi be seen as pleasing her interests and not his? Killing him would have caused her psychic pain - was she right to leave Rudi suffering similar pain?

    any attempt to "do good" would be fuelled by his desire to stay together with Buffy
    . But why do any of us "do good"? Where does social coherence come from? Benedict Anderson talks about nation being "an imagined community". I'm hard-pressed to think of any community that's organic.

    My youngest is "morally untethered" - he has autism. It has to be explained to him that "shagging his bird" is not to be used as an explanation for why he didn't answer his phone and that his mother doesn't really need to hear about his masturbatory predicaments. He can't understand WHY he's not supposed to share this information with me. "Because I'm your mum" or "Because it's wrong" always seems like a lame reason. Seems to me, in this aspect, he's no different than Anya - and sometimes Spike.

    I honestly don't know what would happen in the scenario flow's referring to - which is why I'd have liked to have seen it. I don't think we're talking about something intrinsic. I think we're talking about value systems and our ability/failure to internalize them. I also think Buffy/Angel/Giles ideas about the soul are sometimes in conflict with the text's ideas.

    I read BarbC's story...I don't think it would have panned out like that - though who's to know? The only reason I think Buffy should stake him is it was his last wish. However, this is a decision based on how he feels before the event. How does he know how he'll feel after? Surely we've all been in situations (I know I have) when we've said "Kill me if I end up like that". Can we know how we'll feel if "that" actually happens?

    If I had to hazard a guess I'd say - no, she wouldn't stake him. As for their relationship, she might end it and the Scoobies might withdraw their support (Xander might ask him to leave) BUT his isolation could be the catalyst for him becoming evil again, rather than the lose of the soul.
    Last edited by TriBel; 24-04-19 at 09:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TriBel View Post
    The point I'm making is, he's spent 10? years learning to integrate and adapting to being in a community. Why should he forget that?
    He wouldn't forget it but there is an inherent capacity to connect to it and understand it on a different level that is lost. Hence him not 'getting' why wanting praise for not feeding off disaster victims is gross. He learns that Buffy thinks it is, but he isn't going to feel it is himself. The soul in BtVS has a specific function and a vampire's emotional/moral complexities are reduced without it. If Spike had returned to being soulless in S12 and it hadn't noticeably made a difference it would have trashed the character imo. All the Spike haters I've conversed with over the years that totally failed to see the remorse he felt and the shifts in his personality it caused, the difference it made that led to his sacrifice for the greater good in Chosen, who believed it made no real difference to him in S7 at all would have felt vindicated. I can't imagine an ending that would have made me feel more miserable tbh.

    There is a huge difference between doing something because you have learned it and still lacking a connection to really understanding why it is/was an issue, and/or not caring even if it is explained and you come to understand others feel it is. It only takes not being in the mood to conform for him to decide to do something he knows wouldn't be liked if they won't find out (like trying to kill the girl in Smashed). He can never be trusted to self govern if he lacks the capability to actually make the choices and understand these things for himself. Even when he had attacked Buffy and attempted to rape her, had seen her reaction, he still didn't get it and was torn/confused about why he didn't do it. He went to get his soul because he realised he failed to be able to walk the line by just willing himself to be able to and he couldn't feel/see the boundaries clearly even when they were drawn for him. There's a fundamental lack of capacity that means he would come to fail in some way eventually because of his soullessness.

    The evidence of how Spike lacks a sense of morality is scattered throughout S5 & 6. Yes we gain cultural/social understanding of what is perceived to be right/wrong, but Spike had that too when he was human and yet he started murdering people for pleasure/food as soon as he was turned. The show depicts there being an immediate disconnection to morality when people are turned into vampires. If not then the line between the person Spike is when soulless who literally enjoys torturing, murdering and raping and who he is souled isn't meaningful. He could always have chosen not to because he knew from the moment he was turned that by human standards it was wrong, but he didn't care and not only that but he enjoyed it. That he was literally incapable of truly understanding those actions/choices, that he didn't have the choice in the way that humans do, allows the character (and Angel's) to move beyond some truly horrific choices and ones well beyond the normal 'bad' decisions people make.

    I can see the point that goodness is to a degree learned, but it is also something felt and understood and that disconnection exists in the vamps from the moment that they are turned. Inverse it is shown as something that is lost, that they lack and that it has a huge impact on them. Spike fails to draw the lines himself, he can't be reliable through sheer willpower. The vamps in society storyline was terrible, but it showed that vamps can choose to not kill if they want, but they always throughout were still not trusted as it was understood that if they wanted to change their minds for whatever reason they preferred to, they would. This is why Spike recoils at the idea of soulless Vicki having equal rights to him when the camps are being introduced and Willow suggests him being acknowledged alongside humans could be a benefit. And this lack of trust they are presented time and again to be right to apply to soulless vamps, is the function Harmony has repeatedly in the narrative. She even came up with the rules to rub along with humans, but she betrays the group whenever it suits her. It isn't always that vamps can't foresee that humans would have issue with some choices, or learn which ones they would or wouldn't care about. Sometimes it is shown to be that way, but it is also sometimes simply to be about whether or not they are bothered by it personally or not in that specific moment. Their unreliability is constantly supported.

    I think the ways the soul is discussed has some uncertainty to it and there are some assertions characters make over the seasons that are questioned for sure. But these all fall into the topic being generally explored within the stories and understanding developing I think. But importantly I feel, both Spike and Angel are shown to believe there is a distinction when they are souled that has them look back on their soulless selves as 'less' than themselves souled and that they couldn't understand what it means without having it. They are the only characters that have been in both states and both see it as distinct and impactful, even though they feel a sense of continuity of self across both states too. In the story the distinction and meaning of the soul is consistently supported I believe, and, for me, there is a point where discussion that looks to draw tight comparisons to real life and transpose the distinctions and limitations the verse gives alongside social structures, othering, conformity etc falls apart. Aurora has written some really interesting posts about the possible physical changes, cognitive/emotional disconnections that happen through siring which equates to the difference in capacities as they are presented in verse and suggests possible explanations. I think it is interesting to try to consider what could happen that would explain what we're given but still, this is a supernatural show after all and some separation from reality is part of that, so I'm also comfortable that there may not be any direct, straight real-life equivalents. Although what she presents does work exceptionally well in drawing literal physical effects together with a mystical/supernatural change.

    I haven't read the fanfic mentioned, so I don't know how it has it the scenario pan out. I agree that if a solution couldn't be found, that no matter what ways Buffy or Spike tried to find to fix the situation, he couldn't in any way be returned to being souled/human, then Buffy staking him would be respecting his last wish. Of course Spike unsouled wouldn't feel the same about it, because he would have lost the increased emotional/moral connections and is meaningfully distinct from the person he is when souled. This is the difference that meant he went from feeling Dru was his saviour to feeling that he was her victim after all. Whether Buffy could do it without him doing something specific to give her reason again, without him failing somehow again in trying to walk the line by will alone, I don't know. I don't think they could/would stay together romantically, but I think she would definitely struggle to kill the potential of the person he had been ever returning. I think she could come to accept that was the case if no solution was possible though. Whether unsouled Spike could stay away to remove the need for her to even have to consider it I doubt very much. But I think the text has already explored whether he could walk the line successfully and he would eventually fail again in some way that wouldn't have even been a risk of him doing if he had been souled. I think this is what the scene between them in the hellmouth reconcludes in S10 too as Spike asserts that no matter what potential was in him, it isn't enough unsouled to be reliable.
    Last edited by Stoney; 24-04-19 at 12:09 PM.

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    Hey TriBel! I'll read through this properly to do it justice before replying...I'll just say, I don't remember who Rudi is (I guess I didn't read S11 that closely...) Be back in a bit
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    Just like SpuffyGlitzt I`ll have to come back later after I have read and thought all this through properly. But one thing kinda hit me instantly:

    TriBel:
    Buffy couldn't do it - even though Rudi pleaded for it because it transgressed her boundaries. Who was being selfish here?
    The interesting question is, what Buffy would have done if Spike hadn`t been around to do the deeds? Spike did not only kill Rudi out of mercy for Rudi. He also killed him out of mercy for Buffy. His death does not weigh on her conscience now and neither does his pain.

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    I don't think she would've poof-ed him and I don't think she should've poof-ed him.

    The entire premise behind slaying is that soulless vampires are evil killers and that's why the slayer must unceremoniously hunt them down. Except that's not true - I mean, Harmony exists. And while you could certainly describe Harmony as evil, she's not exactly a killer. She's not dangerous. There's no reason to slay her. It's an idea that Buffy herself voices as early as in season 3 (Oh, let him go. I don't think he falls into the deadly threat to humanity category) So as long as the newly soulless Spike doesn't hurt anybody I don't see why Buffy should slay him. It doesn't make sense. But would Spike go back to his murderous ways?

    No, of course not. Despite what Spike tends to say about himself, he's actually not an idiot. This is season 10 we're talking about. Forget about Buffy, there are thousands of slayers out there, battle-ready witch covens, wood-packing law enforcement and on top of that everybody knows about vampires, Spike's even kind of a minor celebrity. In a world like that you can't just go full Angelus and expect to survive. It's not an option. Not that there's a reason to, a lot of people would pay good money to be fed on by Spike but that's a topic for another discussion.

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    He wouldn't forget it but there is an inherent capacity to connect to it
    See - that's the fundamental difference. I have real problems with the idea of inherent anything. Go back to Life Serial and the discussion of Social Constructionism. I'm firmly on the side of the (con)structuralists.

    I'd argue that all connections are ideological/cultural. The only connections that aren't are, by necessity, outside of language. That's why the most important part of Touched is silent - that's why they can't say what the night means. What I will say is this: - Pneuma...is an ancient Greek word for "breath", and in a religious context for "spirit" or "soul". ... In classical philosophy, it is distinguishable from psyche...which originally meant "breath of life", but is regularly translated as "spirit" or most often "soul" (I've just realised the significance of evicting the man from the house).

    from the Shooting Script (Touched): "They look at each other. No more words...Buffy and Spike lie in each others' arms. Looking deep into each others' eyes. So close. Breathing each others' breath. Just holding each other". What you're getting is a collapsing of the meaning of soul. This is the embodied consciousness/mind/soul (fairly sure Espenson is aware of this 'cos she worked with Lakoff on it). I don't think there's a common understanding of Soul in the verse (the characters might have it. I'm not sure the text supports it). Angel understands his differently. It's why Buffy embodies Spike (in her heart) at the end. It's quite feasible he gets "something" from Lloyd. It's equally feasible he doesn't. In Beneath You, he talks about the "spark". IIRC, it's how the Ancients thought of the soul. It's possible to argue that it's dormant - that it needs something to ignite it. IDK.

    Hence him not 'getting' why wanting praise for not feeding off disaster victims is gross.
    My argument would be that a kid doesn't inherently know that messing in the toilet bowl is gross. I wouldn't tell a kid it was evil for messing in the toilet. I'd praise him/her for not doing so. Spike's showing restraint - why shouldn't he be praised? Spike's most formative relationship is with Anne. What he's seeking from Buffy here is the mother's approval. Psychologically, speaking the mother's smile predates the father's approval. Whedon KNOWS about the return of the repressed. Robin Wood posits it at the heart of horror and Whedon's expressed his awe for Robin Woods' essay on the return of the repressed. Does it consciously know it's doing this? IDK but there's a reason we get LMPTM.

    Plus - who decides what's gross and what isn't? Who draws the lines. Consuming blood/body of a "victim" isn't considered gross by some Churches - hence the debate over transubstantiation. Dealing with the abject is often the function of ritual. Are menstruating women inherently gross? They're still considered so in some parts of the world - and they were here at one time. It's only fairly recently it's been discussed openly. What we're talking about here is the abject and thoughts on the abject vary depending on which philosophical road you go down.

    All the Spike haters I've conversed with over the years that totally failed to see the remorse he felt and the shifts in his personality it caused, the difference it made that led to his sacrifice for the greater good in Chosen, who believed it made no real difference to him in S7 at all would have felt vindicated.
    . See that's where we differ. I think for Spike to labour to learn, to learn to be good of his own volition, to invest his trust and his belief in himself and Buffy (rather than some nebulous sky pixie) is a positive thing . This doesn't preclude growth, the emergence of feelings of remorse etc. And Spike haters are always gonna hate.

    See - this is why I didn't want to do the bloody Grave review. I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm saying it would be interesting to find out. And I'm not saying it goes against canon because I think there flexibility in what canon says.

    flow:

    The interesting question is, what Buffy would have done if Spike hadn`t been around to do the deeds? Spike did not only kill Rudi out of mercy for Rudi. He also killed him out of mercy for Buffy. His death does not weigh on her conscience now and neither does his pain.
    IDK. Like SG, I'd have to go back to S11. IIRC, the impression I got was that she wouldn't but Faith would...but I could be talking complete and utter BS!
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    Whether one culture and their rules should reside over another I think is definitely debatable, but I do think the verse has consistency about what a soul means for a vampire and that it is consistent on there being a limitation without it from the human perspective. Spike can try to meet expectations he doesn't feel/understand without one, but his boundaries are different, fundamentally so. I think having a 'nature' and inherent limitations that influence you are part of the verse. But we know that we just see this differently. I don't think that Spike shouldn't be praised for showing restraint, but the point is that he doesn't actually connect in a 'real' way to the reasons for making the choice he is and so could swing entirely another way in the same scenario on another occasion if his motivations shifted. It's the instability and unreliability in his choices and how he responds to his own motivations that is the problem. It's why there is no reliable basis for his learning what to do, what not to do, and that having a lasting result/impression. It's why he stated with certainty that he didn't hurt Buffy and then proceeded to do exactly that. I think the text specifically explores whether there is an inherent limit and it deliberately answers it with Spike's arc so that it can see him move beyond it.

    Spike tried to do what you suggest in S6, they considered it and decided that he can't learn because he fundamentally lacks, the character is proven to be limited without his soul and that's the story we got imo. I understand that some don't feel the same or wish that it looked at if differently, but personally I think that weakens the verse overall and the issue then with connecting them to the person who enjoyed all the immense violence that they did before would be hard to push aside. Having Spike fail to draw the lines pulled him inline with the verse and strengthened the distinctions and consistency on souls in relation to vamps. Yes you could instead have remorse emerge, but these are immense acts of violence that brought him great pleasure and so how/why he could do it before and what it says about him that he did becomes a very real part of the story. It would make the character as problematic as Anya is to be honest, and worse without coherence to the human he'd been created with a retcon that I think it would be terrible after 11 seasons to decide to work in. But without that it pulls down the sense of continuity across the character human/vamp/souledvamp too. As it is Spike learned that he had a limit that came with becoming a vampire, is part of that change, and he came to see that he couldn't be what he wanted as he was and so choose to become something else. To do something that he felt could give him the chance to become a better version of himself. It was something he was able to choose and then action, and it wasn't easy to do. I think it is a positive point of self awareness, even if he didn't fully understand what it would mean exactly and how it would work and even if it is saying that he needs something beyond what he currently is to be something 'else', he still had to see/accept that and then put himself on the line to fight for it. S7 then shows that he has to continue to fight aspects of who/what he was, to face them with a new level of understanding just as Angel does. The road isn't smoothly paved and just fixed by becoming souled, it just enables him to develop beyond his own previous limitations.

    I think we've seen what you're saying would have been interesting to see about him soulless and have had an answer. If the new Boom comics choose to explore the need for the soul differently from the start then I'd be interested to see how they structure and support what they do. But yes, for me, seeing the alternate answer playing out afterwards in canon would have just diminished/pulled down what came before that they addressed once. So I'm just very glad they didn't choose to do that. And hey, we already knew that we don't see this the same, I'm sure both our stances here are of no surprise, and I'm happy to just continuing to disagree on it.

    All of which is separate to the Grave review. I was intending to check with you when the SR review completed if you were still wanting to withdraw from doing Grave. I'd just like to reiterate that everyone has the right to review as they like, say what they think, because we wouldn't have to agree then just as we aren't agreeing now.

    Re: Rudy - Spike isn't subject to human laws as Faith and Buffy could possibly be for having killed Rudy, but he is judged by his actions by the slayers. Both Buffy and Faith were complicit to him doing as Rudy had requested, I can't remember them trying to stop him, so they were morally involved in it being an acceptable choice imo, even if they didn't feel able to do it themselves. Not being able to take someone's life even if they want you to is understandable. As is Spike finding it easier or feeling very clearly different to someone requesting their life be ended when he has so many memories of taking life by force. With it being possible for vamp bites to be pleasurable, stated unambiguously by Angel to Willow in S9 and supported by some examples through the seasons, it was arguably even more of a mercy for Spike to do what Rudy wanted. I think Buffy leaving Ben alive was more questionable on a moral level.

    Arrrgh, I've not done anything I'm supposed to be doing today so I'm going to berate myself and get on with what I should be!!
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    Stoney:

    Arrrgh, I've not done anything I'm supposed to be doing today so I'm going to berate myself and get on with what I should be!!
    Ha-ha - I have - I've finished my marking. I'm feeling really, really smug about it! As a reward, I'm gonna watch Antman and Wasp which has just come through the letter-box! I'll PM you!

    flow: how are you reading that BarbC fic? Seems to me the situation is very similar to the Rudi one.

    a) he carries on fighting; b) he takes the decision out of her hands. I'm reading it as paradoxical.

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    TriBel:
    flow: how are you reading that BarbC fic? Seems to me the situation is very similar to the Rudi one.

    a) he carries on fighting; b) he takes the decision out of her hands. I'm reading it as paradoxical
    We should ask BarbC/Rahirah, what she thinks Yes I agree. It`s a Rudi solution on Spike`s part. It`s not what he (soulless Spike) wants. He only does it for Buffy. To spare her from having to kill him, because he knows how that would haunt her for the rest of her life.

    flow
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    They were stating in S10 that a soul being consumed wasn't something that was recoverable, but I would expect that this would be exactly the sort of thing that they would start to explore, any possibilities to recover or replace his soul. Spike made it quite clear to Buffy that with his soul in place he looked at the scenario and saw something that he would not want to return to. I think that she would respect and appreciate that but would look to find an alternate solution somehow.
    I think we can all take it as a given that if it were possible to replace or recover Spike's soul, they'd go with that instead of a staking. And since this is season 10, I can think of five different ways such a thing *might* be possible, although each of them comes with possible drawbacks and none of them is a sure thing.

    Of course they'd put Spike's soul back if the option was there. That's no dilemma at all. The interesting part of this dilemma is what would happen to Spike if restoring his soul *wasn't* possible.

    Although that said, if soulless Spike was presented with an evil way to restore his soul, I'm pretty sure he'd go for it. Like if there was hypothetically a ritual where you had to murder a dozen babies and that was the only way his soul could be recovered from the Glutton's belly, I'm pretty sure soulless Spike would go for it. If the method was to steal Angel's soul and claim it as his own, he'd be down for that even harder.

    Whether he would be tempted to leave and look to return to Dru if this happened with him unchipped I doubt to be honest. He rejected having a life with Dru in favour of just a crumb of a chance of one with Buffy in S5 and I think the scenario they were in at the point that this happened, where they were in the relationship, would have him more determined to stick around and try to fix the situation to regain what he had had.
    Back in season 5, his situation with both Buffy and Dru was completely different to the hypothetical season 10 where Spike is unchipped and his soul is forever lost. In a season 5 relationship with Dru, Spike would be constantly reliant on Dru to kill for him and protect him from humans. He was aware of his own physical limitations, and I'm sure this coloured his thoughts on what a possible future with Drusilla would entail. This would not be an issue in season 10. Also in season 5, he was of the opinion that he was already "good enough" for Buffy even without a soul, -and it was just a matter of making her come around to the idea. In an alternate season 10 world, he's already experienced why that's not the case. He'd remember why the soul made their relationship even possible, and he'd remember all kinds of emotions that he is no longer able to feel. He'd want to continue his relationship with Buffy, but he'd know why that's not possible. His understanding of the situation would be a lot more realistic than it was in season 5. And that would frustrate him.

    I'm not saying he'd jump back into Drusilla's arms immediately, or even necessarily go back to her at all. The idea would certainly cross his mind, and after enough time has passed, he'd certainly have to consider the possibility of going full-time evil again and leaving the scoobies behind. Imagine how he'd feel after months had passed, and he's come to understand that his soul is gone forever. Imagine how he'd feel knowing that Buffy would never have a relationship with him again. Imagine how he'd feel when she started dating someone else. Imagine how he'd feel when all the scoobies start treating him differently even when he's done nothing wrong and Xander tells him he has to move out. Imagine how it would feel to know that your friends are having conversations behind your back about how they may have to kill you someday. All of this would take place well before soulless Spike has actually done anything wrong mind you. He'd feel very lonely and isolated from the scoobies, even if they were all trying their hardest to give him a chance and be supportive. Eventually he'd have to wonder if he wouldn't be happier as part of the vampire community again. I think just being around the scoobies and being constantly reminded of what he's lost would be torment for him. He'd never be completely happy in a relationship with Drusilla or another vampire, but he might figure that it's the best he can do.

    I'm also pretty certain that he'd kill Wood or Riley out of spite the moment the opportunity presented itself, especially if he could do it without Buffy finding out.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoSpuffy
    I think the friendship would endure.
    Honestly, I think the situation would be too painful for both of them, even if Spike didn't return to murder. If Spike permanently lost his soul, I think ultimately the healthiest thing for them to do would be to go their separate ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by TriBel
    I often wished he'd lose his soul just to see what the outcome was. In fact, I was half-hoping S12 would end with the revelation he had lost it to the SG and no-one had noticed.
    That would have been awful, and completely contradicted the mythology from the show. Spike with a soul from season 7 onwards was guy who was trying to better himself. Mentally, he was a regular guy who had issues. Pre-soul Spike, if tested would probably show be classified as a sociopath. Completely incapable of feeling remorse, severely limited capacity to feel empathy (almost none), and even though he is capable of good acts, his inner moral compass points him towards evil. He finds starving kids in Africa funny. Sees no harm in Buffy killing an innocent girl he doesn't know because in his eyes, good and evil is a numbers game and one kill doesn't "tip the scales." Transports dangerous demon eggs for cash. The idea that Spike could lose his soul for more than two full seasons and nobody even notices completely goes against the mythology and characterisation. We saw Buffy acting nastier when her soul was being drained by her demon roommate, and she didn't even have a demon spirit inside her. Even if nobody immediately noticed the Soul Glutton eat his soul, they'd cerainly notice a change in his behaviour and attitude. The idea that by season 12 Spike just doesn't need a soul anymore really diminishes why he needed to get one in the first place.

    The soul seems to function as a sort of super-ego (or law) and the ego adapts itself to the reality principle. It's a learned process. The learning process for Spike began with the chip - a simple binary yes/no. We see him testing and trying to establish boundaries throughout S4,5,6. The soul simply adds another layer of nuance to that. It's the difference between plucking a word from a dictionary where a word has a multiplicity of meaning and knowing how to use it in a sentence. There's no inherent meaning in the word, the word takes its meaning from its place within sentence, from the words around it.
    That... is not how the soul works in the Buffyverse at all. The specifics can be a little fuzzy depending on the episode, but it's always been pretty consistent that the soul is what allows someone to feel guilt/remorse and empathy. The soul is what allows someone to understand why one shouldn't go around murdering people. Without a soul, Spike would be missing a large chunk of what allows him to process human emotions. Even if he *wants* to be good, the soul is a big missing piece. It's not something you can just learn.

    The point I'm making is, he's spent 10? years learning to integrate and adapting to being in a community. Why should he forget that?
    He won't "forget" what it was like to be part of a community. But the way his brain processes thoughts and emotions has been fundamentally changed. People in the Buffyverse spend their whole human lives as part of a community, -but the moment they become a vampire they turn evil, because the way they process thoughts and emotions has changed. It happens this way 100% of the time. And as we've seen with Angel, Spike, human/pregnant Darla, IDW Drusilla and Gunn, -as soon as a soul is thrown into the mix, certain powerful emotions that were previously absent become available again. Someone without a soul literally perceives the world around them -and other people, differently than someone with a soul does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vampire in Rug View Post
    I think we can all take it as a given that if it were possible to replace or recover Spike's soul, they'd go with that instead of a staking. And since this is season 10, I can think of five different ways such a thing *might* be possible, although each of them comes with possible drawbacks and none of them is a sure thing.

    Of course they'd put Spike's soul back if the option was there. That's no dilemma at all. The interesting part of this dilemma is what would happen to Spike if restoring his soul *wasn't* possible.

    Although that said, if soulless Spike was presented with an evil way to restore his soul, I'm pretty sure he'd go for it. Like if there was hypothetically a ritual where you had to murder a dozen babies and that was the only way his soul could be recovered from the Glutton's belly, I'm pretty sure soulless Spike would go for it. If the method was to steal Angel's soul and claim it as his own, he'd be down for that even harder.
    Well obviously if they found a way to restore it they would clearly end up doing so. The original question was what if the soul glutton had sucked out Spike's soul. I just thought it was worth acknowledging that in the scenario of the soul being sucked out a lot of follow up would have gone to whether or not it could be righted and would probably have included the possibility of being human again (although the soul consumption could thwart that too). Obviously yes, if it was fixable clearly that would be the way they would choose to go. I was really acknowledging it having been something Spike had stated was nonrecoverable is something in the first instance the validity of would be questioned extensively. Buffy was determined at the time of the conversation that they'd find a way and that is definitely the perspective that would be there to begin with. Most certainly above instantly staking him as he'd requested. If it were actually being written as a storyline it could end up being revealed there were a handful of ways they could try to thwart it. Spells that could pull it back or ones to create one. There could perhaps even be ways to gain a sold/abandoned one perhaps. Or to try to use time jumps like Illyria can do to prevent it being lost in the first place. In the scenario of the soul being sucked there would be a lot that would happen before it got to the conclusion there was nothing to be done.

    When/if they conclude nothing is possible it does of course change things greatly and I could see there being further negative means to regain a soul, if not his own, that the scoobies wouldn't consider but that soulless Spike would. I'm not sure that he'd jump at doing them as readily as you suggest as he would be aware of the risk of fallout if it were discovered that he had done it through some awful ritual. Stealing Angel's soul for example would be a pretty obvious thing as Angel suddenly went evil again and his soul was lost. It could possibly also be identified through a spell that a soul wasn't that of the person it resided in. I don't think he'd risk that option although I think he would consider a ritual that killed random people to do it that he thought would never be traceable. Whether he would do one that slaughtered 10 random babies if that ritual had been identified by the scoobies so they could realise it is what he'd done I'd also question though. Perhaps if he thought it couldn't be attributed or they'd never hear about it on the news, if he had a good enough lie of where he'd been and how he'd done it. That would of course fall to sh*t once he got his soul back again and had his souled reaction to what he'd then done.

    Back in season 5, his situation with both Buffy and Dru was completely different to the hypothetical season 10 where Spike is unchipped and his soul is forever lost. In a season 5 relationship with Dru, Spike would be constantly reliant on Dru to kill for him and protect him from humans. He was aware of his own physical limitations, and I'm sure this coloured his thoughts on what a possible future with Drusilla would entail. This would not be an issue in season 10. Also in season 5, he was of the opinion that he was already "good enough" for Buffy even without a soul, -and it was just a matter of making her come around to the idea. In an alternate season 10 world, he's already experienced why that's not the case. He'd remember why the soul made their relationship even possible, and he'd remember all kinds of emotions that he is no longer able to feel. He'd want to continue his relationship with Buffy, but he'd know why that's not possible. His understanding of the situation would be a lot more realistic than it was in season 5. And that would frustrate him.
    Ah yes, you're right the situations are different and I'd not thought how the handicap of the chip being removed from the scenario changes the dynamic between him/Dru from when he originally made a choice to reject what Dru offered. And you're right too of course that he would have already experienced why being soulless wasn't good enough for Buffy, had come to the conclusion it would make a difference to go and get his soul back (even if he didn't realise what difference in himself it would bring back then). Having then eventually had a relationship with her and remembering his own opinions when souled of why it mattered and how it made a difference (even though he would then have lost those emotional connections about it), his awareness of the meaning and effect are different. So I agree his understanding of the situation would be a lot more realistic, I'm just not sure it would make him leave and not try to be accepted as he is anyway. Particularly with Buffy's response at the time of the conversation in the hellmouth in S10 being to talk positively of what he did achieve when soulless. I think that was her emotional response to the idea of losing him to be honest, but I think that he'd see the potential for trying to sway her to give him a chance to show how having had a soul has changed him. I don't think that it works like that either and the lack of capacity emotionally and morally would end up being obvious and Buffy would have to accept that it isn't bridgeable too. Basically it getting to a point where they are accepting that it isn't a scenario that is recoverable or workable in any way would take some time to get to.

    I'm not saying he'd jump back into Drusilla's arms immediately, or even necessarily go back to her at all. The idea would certainly cross his mind, and after enough time has passed, he'd certainly have to consider the possibility of going full-time evil again and leaving the scoobies behind. Imagine how he'd feel after months had passed, and he's come to understand that his soul is gone forever. Imagine how he'd feel knowing that Buffy would never have a relationship with him again. Imagine how he'd feel when she started dating someone else. Imagine how he'd feel when all the scoobies start treating him differently even when he's done nothing wrong and Xander tells him he has to move out. Imagine how it would feel to know that your friends are having conversations behind your back about how they may have to kill you someday. All of this would take place well before soulless Spike has actually done anything wrong mind you. He'd feel very lonely and isolated from the scoobies, even if they were all trying their hardest to give him a chance and be supportive. Eventually he'd have to wonder if he wouldn't be happier as part of the vampire community again. I think just being around the scoobies and being constantly reminded of what he's lost would be torment for him. He'd never be completely happy in a relationship with Drusilla or another vampire, but he might figure that it's the best he can do.
    I'm not sure what it would take for Spike to accept that Buffy would never have a relationship with him again. I agree being out of the circle again would be very difficult and it would bother him to be getting rejected and blocked by them particularly after he had returned and truly integrated in the group as he had from S10. I think he would opt to stay on the edges and try to prove himself, refraining from killing. As I said, I don't think he'd be able to 'be good' soulless without there eventually being something that came up where he made the wrong call, but I think he would try to make it work.

    What would it take for him to think giving in and considering leaving and living a life elsewhere was a better option, even if he was always frustrated/unhappy on one level? I'm not sure. I agree that it would be very painful for both of them and it is possible that if Buffy would ask him to leave that he might, eventually. If there had been a lot of time of living on the outskirts and struggling to be included, seeing Buffy dating etc as you say. But I think his selfish wish to be accepted would rule for a long time and Buffy's wish to not lose him entirely would complicate things no end. I'm not sure what it would take for him to choose to walk. I agree the healthiest thing having had the relationship and having lost it would be to go their separate ways, I just can't see soulless Spike accepting that and am not sure what it would take in the shifts in dynamics and how long it would have to be a shadow of what he wanted for him to conclude the same.

    I'm also pretty certain that he'd kill Wood or Riley out of spite the moment the opportunity presented itself, especially if he could do it without Buffy finding out.
    I'm not sure on this either. I really don't think he'd do it with Buffy knowing about it. That scenario would have him deliberately breaking away and burning bridges. Whether he'd risk it if he wasn't doing so just if he thought she wouldn't come to know, and even though he'd be a prime suspect soulless, is hard to say. If he thought they were threats to him yes, but out of spite? It would very much depend on what the scenario was with Buffy and if he truly felt he'd not be linked. I'd certainly not rule out him doing it.
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    Hey TriBel! So I ended up not having time to go through S11, but I see that Stoney's made some excellent points. This is an interesting topic and I've always loved your thoughts on Touched (and S7!) I don't see the text effacing the soul's relevance - so what follows is my take on some of the questions you've raised - it got quite long. Thanks for the stimulating questions and discussion!


    Why do we get up for work in the morning?
    But why do any of us "do good"? Where does social coherence come from? Benedict Anderson talks about nation being "an imagined community". I'm hard-pressed to think of any community that's organic.
    Is it because we're intrinsically good people who believe that if we didn't society would implode or is it because there's a cash reward at the end of it?
    Where's your evidence (genuine question. I'm not being passive aggressive )?
    Which question do you want me to answer first? Re: evidence - the question was hypothetical, so I assumed my answer would be taken as hypothetical. As to these questions, I'll link this up with your other points below:

    I'd argue that all connections are ideological/cultural. The only connections that aren't are, by necessity, outside of language. That's why the most important part of Touched is silent - that's why they can't say what the night means.[...] from the Shooting Script (Touched): "They look at each other. No more words...Buffy and Spike lie in each others' arms. Looking deep into each others' eyes. So close. Breathing each others' breath. Just holding each other". What you're getting is a collapsing of the meaning of soul.
    But, the definition of language itself is relative. Who decides what "counts" as language? There are many kinds of languages. The language of gesture, the language of fashion, the language of film. Do you mean specifically that the only connections that aren't ideological/ cultural are outside the realm of speech/parole and the written word? Again, not necessarily, because I'd strongly argue that gesture is culturally encoded and gesture itself is a kind of "langue". It has its roots in theatre. Indian dramaturgy for instance is based on principles that are greatly contrasted to Western theatrical traditions. The Mirror of Gesture (the English translation of Nandikesvara's text) breaks down the entire "gesture language of the East" into a sort of acting guide book with over a thousand different facial cues, expressions and poses to represent each emotion. The Rasa theory ("rasa" literally translates to mean juice or essence) exults in savouring emotion distilled into its deepest and subtlest essences. Silent cinema has its own language - Lillian Gish's expressive face is a prime example. The "close up" is an integral component of the filmic lexicon. We're constantly speaking in multiple "languages" all the time. Philip Lutgendorf's essay in part draws on the Rasa theory to account for the unique cultural aesthetics of gesture and its linguistic relevance for an entire nation. Touch itself isn't necessarily antithetical to a kind of language, it is in itself a form of communication (and a culturally encoded one at that.) There's something to be said for the duality of gesture and speech - to quote R.D. Laing: "the statement is pointless, the finger is speechless"

    I like your emphasis on how the Shooting Script for the "Touched" scene describes their breath intermingling (and the ties to Faith's "save your lack of breath" and Spike's "Thank god I don't breathe"). Fascinating catch. Since it's from the shooting script, the reference to "breath" is intended to direct the actors on how they should play that scene, but if we include it as deliberate I don't see it as the collapse of the meaning of the soul at all. The scene exults in souls merging. By "collapse", do you mean a paring down to its constituent elements (which is possible and kind of cool)? Or do you mean a negation of the soul's relevance (which I disagree with)?

    We've had prior Spuffy scenes where the connection has been broken because of the other's lack of soul. Spike lies enraptured with the Buffybot, then pulls back chagrined when the Bot breaks his fantasy: "Shall I start this program over?" Her simpering robot "voice" (another disembodied voice) breaks the spell. In "Wrecked", soulless Spike breaks their connection by saying " I knew the only thing better than killing a slayer would be f-" and Buffy moves away recoiling.

    I agree with you that the inadequacy of speech/words is foregrounded in S7 and as you've pointed out elsewhere (in an amazing breakdown of the scene!) the tape recorder underscores this. I'd go further - in Shaw's Pygmalion, there's a similar point about the inadequacy of the voice. It's almost jarring, given how closely Higgins conflates speech with the soul. It's an exchange that always makes me think of "Touched", because it relates so closely to themes in the Spuffy relationship (the programmed voice of the BuffyBot, and the significance of Spike's soul-having.)

    I'm going to quote it because it underscores the "inherent" nature of personhood, the intrinsic value of the soul - everything that can't be replicated by mimicry/ play-acting (you might hate the word intrinsic but the text IMO doesn't) This is the exchange:

    HIGGINS. I have grown accustomed to your voice and appearance. I like them, rather.
    LIZA. Well, you have both of them on your gramophone and in your book of photographs. When you feel lonely without me, you can turn the machine on. It's got no feelings to hurt.
    HIGGINS. I can't turn your soul on. Leave me those feelings; and you can take away the voice and the face. They are not you. (5.209-11)
    This leads me to:

    Quote Originally Posted by TriBel View Post
    We see him testing and trying to establish boundaries throughout S4,5,6. The soul simply adds another layer of nuance to that.
    But I don't think the soul just adds "nuance" to an ongoing learning process. He didn't go all the way to Africa and undergo murderous, excruciating trials merely to add "nuance" or seasoning to his moral platter. There's a reason the soul is referred to (by him) as the "missing piece".

    S7, apart from its other themes, is partly about assemblage, fragments and wholeness. (There's a structuralist interest in deconstruction, composition, building, assemblage.) No surprise Spike refers to "little bitty puzzle pieces." In Doug Petrie's original version for the church scene in BY, he describes the soul for Spike as "a rusty switchboard sparked to life." The condition of being a vampire implies the robbing of choice (we can assume the vast majority of vampires were turned against their will, even if exceptions like Billy Fordham exist.) Vampires lack "personhood". Drusilla in "Lie to Me" says as much ("I'm not supposed to talk to people." Drusilla: "But I'm not a person you see.") It's not insignificant that this shift to personhood is emphasised in the original script:

    SPIKE (cont'd)
    ... So I could be the kind of ...
    (laughs)
    ... Person ... you could care for,
    the man you would come to ... the man
    you could love.
    I've many thoughts on "the spark" but I won't get started on them as I'm saving them for my review later. I'll pick up on 'personhood' below.

    It's the difference between plucking a word from a dictionary where a word has a multiplicity of meaning and knowing how to use it in a sentence. There's no inherent meaning in the word, the word takes its meaning from its place within sentence, from the words around it. It's no coincidence that the first meeting in S7 involves a misunderstanding of a single word - Duck.
    To read or interpret the morality of a character's actions as analogous to floating signifiers doesn't sit comfortably, in my view, with the tightly framed allegorical premise of BtVS. The entire thrust of the series rests heavily on its allegory. It sounds like you're suggesting (I could be totally wrong, apologies) that vampires function like empty signifiers - their actions have to be read taking into account a host of other factors that expunge them from moral critique because of the shifting variables of a larger system.

    I agree that S7 does fascinating things with words, I agree that it's committed to the re-definition of meaning - it's a season preoccupied with many "firsts". It constantly foregrounds the fact that words (in themselves) are floating signifiers. (There are so many instances in S7 that do this.) But not to the purpose of undercutting its own allegorical framework, its own canon view of concepts like the soul. Nor to undercut the textual treatment of Buffy as the titular hero. Those elements are what hold the show together. The narrative of BtVS must cling to some thread of allegorical consistency or it risks becoming unintelligible.

    "Morality" isn't timeless - it's culturally/historically specific.
    I think BtVS acknowledges and explores moral relativism, particularly seasons 6 and 4, but the issue of the soul isn't analogous to assimilation into a community or about contrasting communities. I don't think it even comes close to the sociological terrain of "culture". It's tempting to read it that way but the allegory seems to sharply undercut it. I've always thought Anderson's "Imagined Communities" applies better to the introduction to S7's Potentials (I was actually thinking of a particular passage from a novel that speaks to this (The Shadow Lines - but that's a topic for another day.)

    If you're alluding to the "Life Serial" discussion (the "social construction of reality") as a textual nudge to interpret character dynamics as a set of syntagmatic relationships (in a chain where "right" and "wrong" have no intrinsic value), I'd both agree and disagree to an extent. I don't think we're being nudged to embrace moral ambiguity or the dilution of meaning. Similar to prior episodes such as "The Zeppo", we're being encouraged to see the value of perspective shifts and what they can reveal...but in a show as morally pointed as BtVS, I don't think we're invited to embrace a continuous ambiguity in how we interpret the events of the rest of the season. I'll just clarify my use of "morally untethered" before, since you mentioned it -- I'm sure I have morally untethered relatives but to the best of my knowledge they haven't murdered anybody (yet!) so I still wouldn't compare them to soulless vampires (even if I'm tempted to sometimes! ) When I used the term I meant actively taking pleasure in killing people and knowingly seeking out victims to murder for fun.

    The point I'm making is, he's spent 10? years learning to integrate and adapting to being in a community. Why should he forget that?
    I didn't say he'd forget it. I wrote the opposite in fact: "I don't think losing the soul would be the equivalent of an amnesiac who loses his memories, so he wouldn't forget all his personal growth".

    Agree that he was testing/ pushing boundaries with the chip in place in S4, 5, 6. But it's not a question of "learning" imo - It's not a situation analogous to a foreigner attempting to assimilate into a new culture. If we're arguing Spike is learning human ethical "literacy", I don't think Spike was ever "illiterate" in that regard (I've expanded on this further down.)

    Where's the difference between Spike not doing something he'd like to do and not doing it because of Buffy, and people not doing something because they think God, their parents, their teacher, their boss, their friends wouldn't like it?
    I don't understand the equivalences drawn in the question. Are you saying souled Spike is still "not doing something he'd like to do"? Not sure I can agree with that - I think the crux of the soul is the regaining of personhood. I don't think souled Spike wants to do the same things soulless Spike did. Chipped Spike was admittedly "not doing" things he'd have liked and was holding back because of his love for Buffy and because of the chip's "leash" on him - there was a conflict between what he wanted, what he thought he wanted, and where he felt placed as a "non-person". Souled Spike no longer wants the same things soulless Spike did. If you're drawing a parallel between the human condition and soulless vampires - don't agree there either. If we're reading all human actions as born out of compulsion, that's highly bleak. It's a nihilistic viewpoint and I don't think BtVS promotes that worldview at all. BtVS is a hopeful text - it's never too stuck-up to allow itself to be genuinely idealistic and by extension, hopeful.

    There's this in CWDP:

    HOLDEN
    Oh, so I'm a vampire. (laughs) How weird is that?

    BUFFY
    Sorry.

    HOLDEN
    No, no. Feels great. Strong. Like I'm connected to a powerful all-consuming evil that's gonna suck the world into a firey oblivion. How 'bout you?
    That's one instance of the way vampires are coded as intrinsically evil. There's no reason for Holden to feel connected to an "all consuming evil" other than the experience of being turned into a vampire. I watched "Living Conditions" recently and as Vampire in a Rug points out, Kathy eats parts of Buffy's soul and Buffy is shown to noticeably change in a very negative way (this is despite the fact that she isn't a vampire - just having parts of her soul eaten away has that instant effect.) It's not presented as something she can "learn" to change.

    Spike isn't infantile in his understanding of how the human world works. Spike and Anya are different in certain respects. While Anya is genuinely unschooled in human relations (and often makes social gaffes because of it), Spike doesn't have that problem. Unlike Anya, Spike's "human" lexicon and his understanding of the rules governing human morality are pretty stellar. It's why he's such an ace manipulator when soulless. He's emotionally perceptive. It's why he's able to read and manipulate Sheila instantly in "School Hard". It's how he's able to play the Scoobies against each other in "The Yoko Factor". It's how he can manipulate Willow and Xander into doubting themselves in "Doomed". Even in the episode "Triangle" that I referenced, as he practices his speech in front of the Buffy mannequin in his crypt and puts forth his POV, he anticipates Buffy's snarky rejoinders. He's not unaware that to her, his actions are repellent. As far back as "Becoming 2", he rejoices at Kendra's death then quickly amends this by saying "Though not from your perspective, I suppose."

    It's not "learning to acclimatise" that's the problem - it's the will to want to do good. It isn't that he doesn't "understand" morality. He's just "paralysed with not caring very much" (his own words in "Triangle".) That paralysis comes with the lack of a soul. It's written into the way he loves when soulless.

    Case in point, "Checkpoint": Spike swooped in to help Buffy as she was engaged in a fight with a vampire. When she turned down his help (which he offered primarily to impress her/ play the knight in shining armour), he lashed out nastily and took a multitude of swipes intended to make her doubt herself. He wasn't doing this for her well being, he was doing it to further his interest in being with her. He's cruel to her to be kind to himself. It's intended to make Buffy eventually turn to him for support. And he does it regardless of whether it leaves Buffy feeling like shit.

    What's significant is that he's not unknowing of what he's doing -Spike isn't acting innocently here. It's knowing and deliberate. We still love him as a character because we've seen countless examples where we've witnessed his love for Buffy. To his credit, his love for Buffy is expansive and unconditional even pre-soul. We've seen him perform acts borne out of genuine good intention. We've seen his prior discussion with Riley in which he expresses how much he longs for her. We know his POV and we can see why he's suffering. But to Buffy - she doesn't know any of that, and his words hurt her. And he knows they do. He wants them to, strategically. He doesn't care that it leaves her feeling like shit. Contrast this to their exchange in "First Date" and there's a huge difference in the way he loves when souled.

    I don't think we're talking about something intrinsic. I think we're talking about value systems and our ability/failure to internalize them. I also think Buffy/Angel/Giles ideas about the soul are sometimes in conflict with the text's ideas.
    You don't say where or how. Do you mean Buffy/Angel/Giles have "internalised" entrenched ideologies about the soul that the text is inviting us to discredit, or alternately that Spike/ others have been unable to internalise certain "ideologies" that are deemed acceptable by human social standards? It's an interesting idea but the problem with viewing the soul as misguided is that we're undercutting the heroism of the titular protagonist, which in my eyes corrupts the radical feminism of the show.

    People aren't intrinsically good or evil and I think the text agrees. S6 agrees. Most of the Buffyverse agrees. But states of being, on the other hand, can be intrinsic - I don't think the text hates that word. It's why Spike's action to regain his soul is a positive one - it's a move to regain personhood. Vampires are coded as intrinsically "something" (evil + other, occasionally revelatory) but there's no getting round the word "intrinsic" or we'd be watching another show entirely. We'd be watching Buffy the Misguided Vampire Slayer. We'd be following the story of her reformation across seven seasons. Spike wouldn't need a redemptive arc. The text may playfully mock it, it may have its dark fun with it, but I don't think it ever truly aims to destabilise the canon view of the soul and what it means for vampires.
    Last edited by SpuffyGlitz; 26-04-19 at 10:20 AM.
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    It took me a while but now I have a bit of spare time and want to get back to your comments, thoughts and answers:

    To answer my own second question first. No, I don`t think Buffy would or could have dusted Spike. At least not as long as he wasn`t actively killing people. And even then it would probably have been very difficult for her. This is the guy she has slept with. The guy she has feelings for. And she had those feelings even for soulless Spike, as we know. She tells him she has feelings - just not love - long before he gets a soul. She fought Willow, when Willow turned evil but even then I am not sure if she would have gone through and actually would have killed Willow if she had had the means to do so. She isn`t ready to kill Angelus and itīs ironic that she only does kill him finally after he is ensouled again.

    Buffy tells Spike in the very comic issue where they face the Soul Glutton together that she thinks he wasn`t too bad soulless. It`s Spike who thinks he did not love her selflessly while soulless.

    The only reason for Buffy to at least try and kill Spike - as she did in the fic - would have been that Spike asked her to do that. She would want to respect his wish.

    But - that`s the next interesting question - do soulless Spike`s wishes not count at all? Even if souled Spike said "Kill me" just five minutes earlier, is this still a valid decision that soulless Spike has to accept? Souled Spike is gone. Shouldn`t soulless Spike be the only one who has something to say in that matter now?

    TriBel:
    Surely we've all been in situations (I know I have) when we've said "Kill me if I end up like that". Can we know how we'll feel if "that" actually happens?
    There is the issue of cutting off the life support systems if one has reached a certain state of illness. People here in Germany sign affidavits in which they give detailed instructions as to when to pull the plug and when not and I am always asking myself - but you don`t know now what you would want then. There might still be happiness or a desire to live even if you are on a life support system and can`t walk, can`t talk and can`t even breathe for yourself.

    The same is valid for Spike here. I can understand he wouldn`t want to exist soulless from his souled point of view but from a soulless POV he would probably make a different decision.

    I don`t think Buffy would be with him any longer though. Maybe she would not immediately break up with him. They would probably try this spell or that ritual to get him a soul back. But as he said, his very own soul would have been gone and he could only get someone else`s soul. Also a moral dilemma. How can you justify forcing someone else`s soul to be with Spike?

    Buffy would definitely try for a while because she wouldn`t want to admit defeat. But slowly she would realize it won`t work for her. It won`t work for both of them,

    I don`t think Spike would go back to Drusilla. There is nothing she can offer him that would tempt him anymore. He now knows what a fulfilling and loving relationship is like and that she could never fully and unconditionally love him. He wouldn`t put up with so little any more. Even soulless he did not want that anymore when she came to Sunnydale in Crush.

    TriBel:
    In fact, I was half-hoping S12 would end with the revelation he had lost it to the SG and no-one had noticed.
    First I thought, woah that`s a fantastic idea for a less boring season 12 plot line. On second thought though I do agree with Stoney,although maybe for different reasons (I am not sure,but Stoney hopefully will confirm or clarify that). To me it`s not having the soul that makes such a difference but getting the soul.

    We all know that demons have souls (although we do not really know how they work) and we certainley know that evil humans have souls. It does not always give them the neccessary sense of morals, especially since morals is something we humans make up as we go along. There have been times in history of makind when it was not considered to be an immoral thing to eat your neighbour or have sex with children. Morals are more connected to how society progresses and moves forwards (and sometimes backwards) as to the having or not having of a soul. But Spike`s choice is still important because it is a deliberate choice to change. He is not saying "I won`t eat my neighbour anymore because society or Buffy tells me not to do so" but instead he says "I won`t eat my neighbour anymore because I choose to be a person that doesn`t eat neighbours". That`s what is imho so verse-shattering and verse-building about Spike`s soul-quest. And that would have been belittled if the Soul Glutton had devoured his soul and no-one would have noticed. It would have meant to take that choice away from him.

    TriBel:
    The point I'm making is, he's spent 10? years learning to integrate and adapting to being in a community. Why should he forget that?
    I can see your point ... but .... why did he forget the 20-something years in which he learnt to integrate and adapt into being in a community when he was first sired by Drusilla?

    TriBel:
    Why do we get up for work in the morning? Is it because we're intrinsically good people who believe that if we didn't society would implode or is it because there's a cash reward at the end of it?
    Another good point and I`d like to hear your own answer to it. I have actually been thinking about not getting up for work in the morning anymore. I wouldn`t get the paychek but I am in the very fortunate situation that my husband would and could provide for me financially. I have really been thinking about this a lot. And it`s not that I am super happy with my job. But I have come to the conclusion that my job is more than my paycheck. Itīs not only what I do for money. Itīs also a part of what I am. I don`t think society would implode if I don`t go to work anymore. But I think, I would implode.


    a Thing of evil
    But would Spike go back to his murderous ways?
    WillowFromBuffy
    No idea, but it would be the ultimate test for whether it is impossible to learn goodness in the Buffyverse.
    When Spike was chipped and fell in love with Buffy, he not only lacked a soul, but he had not been thinking about issues of morality for over 100 hundred years, meaning that he had the moral insights of a cloistered young man from Victorian high society. If Spike lost his soul in S10, he would have a much better grasp on what being a good person means. Whether he would be able to be such a person is a different question, though. He doesn't have a chip any more, so he would have free reign.
    Those two questions are connected to each other. Would Spike become a killer once more or would he (finally) have learned goodness. I don`t know, but there is one aspect that could be decisive and we don`t really know much about it. It`s the issue of instinct vs. learned behaviour and the question is how strong and powerful the need or desire to prey, to hunt and to feed off a living human really is for a vampire.

    flow
    Last edited by flow; 04-05-19 at 09:44 PM.
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