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Thread: Buffy's Ultimatums

  1. #21
    Scooby Gang bespangled's Avatar
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    My problem is not the ultimatum. It's the fact that he should have either sat down and talked about the issues, or else broken up with her. Instead he let his insecurities rule and spun out of control. He was so interested in trying to change how Buffy expressed her love that he became self destructive, rather than talk to her about the issue. I cringe every time Riley questions her love because his complaint is that he doesn't feel it. That's putting it all on her, and blaming her for how he feels, repeatedly.

    No, Riley never had the part of Buffy that Spike and Angel did, mostly because he fell apart. He was going to be the person who fought by her side, an equal. But after he left the initiative, he risked his life repeatedly so he wouldn't have to lose a facet of his hyper masculinity. The message there is "I don't trust your love for me." Buffy reassured him, babied him, pushed him to save himself. When you feel that insecure in a relationship then you've reached a pathological level.

    That dynamic makes it impossible to trust him with her own inner life. He blames her for not opening up, but he never opened up to her without causing a huge crisis. He's erratic, troubled, and slowly spinning out of control.

    Angel and Buffy have a melodramatic teen romance, but underneath that they have love and pure trust. At least until Angel loses his soul. In season three he left because they couldn't have what they wanted. I think Buffy and Angel share a bond that no one else will ever share with either of them.

    Riley wasn't there for that part of her life. Maybe if he had met her when she was an impressionable teen she would have been his ideal. Then she was more trusting, and less of a threat to his masculinity.

    Spike saw the ugliest parts of Buffy that she would never show anyone else. He displayed his own ugliness, and Buffy came to him anyway, He hurt her and crawled over glass to reach a point where Buffy would say she wasn't ready for him to leave. I think Buffy and Spike share a bond that no one else will ever share with either of them.

    Buffy wasn't traumatized enough to act out like that, and Riley would have run off if she had.

    Angel left because they couldn't give each other what they needed - and he was willing to discuss it. Spike stayed and burned because that's what he was needed to do - and he was willing to change for her.

    Yes, Riley prefers structure and order. Yes he went through a tough time - much of it of his own making because of his insecurities. Yes he had just found out about the chance to be all he could be. But he'd been having problems since she "let" Dracula bite him and he never told her how he felt. Riley became passive aggressive and self destructive for months. He didn't didn't open up to Buffy and try to talk until he had to give her an ultimatum - if she couldn't change immediately into his fantasy love he would leave her. Even when he says it's his own fault, he still blames her for not being able to give him what he wants. But he didn't offer to change in any way, because she had made him crazy.

    Can you imagine how destructive that is to hear? She did her best, and it wasn't good enough. This was all her fault. He did things because her love was so toxic he was forced to. She wasn't even able to make him feel as good as a dried up vamp sucking him. She wasn't enough to keep this man, who says he loves her, happy. All her fears coming true.

    BUFFY: (incredulously) Oh, I'm sorry. You know, um, I'm sorry that I couldn't take care of you when I thought that my mother was dying.
    RILEY: It's about me taking care of you! It's about letting me in. So you don't have to be on top of everything all the time.
    BUFFY: But I do. That's part of what being a slayer is.
    (shakes her head) And that's what this is really about, isn't it? You can't handle the fact that I'm stronger than you.
    RILEY: It's hard sometimes, yeah. But that's not it.
    BUFFY: Then what? What else do you want from me, Riley? I've given you everything that I have, I've given you my heart, my body and soul!
    RILEY: You say that, but I don't feel it. I just don't feel it.
    BUFFY: Well, whose fault its that? Because I'm telling you, this is it, this is me. This is the package. And if it's so deficient that you need to get your kicks elsewhere ... then we really have a problem.

    This is who she is right then. The slayer - a powerful women with huge responsibilities, We love people in different ways and during different times. This is what she can give. The fact is that Riley is incapable of loving a slayer. What happened truly is that they weren't right for each other, but he really put her through hell, IMO.

    I'm sorry, I just can't see this as Buffy's expression of love being faulty. I see it as Riley having a need and acting out to try and make her fill that need. That's co-dependence, not love.

    Can we agree that the writers made everyone do and say everything with a thought to getting good ratings and being renewed. This includes everything we love as well as everything we hate.

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  3. #22
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    All said regarding writers, producers, actors, directors, viewers, readers, etc. are what I remember, my opinions, etc.

    * My only problem with Riley's ultimatum in "Into the Woods" (B 4.10) is that what Riley seemed to ultimately want from Buffy is for her to kill Angel and Spike to prove to Riley that she preferred Riley. And remember that Riley at this time didn't know that Buffy didn't actually kill Dracula.

    * My problem with Riley regarding Buffy/Riley in BtVS S5 is I consider Riley was on some level raping Buffy. He considered that she didn't even want him. Yet he seemed to try to kiss, touch, and have sex with her as much as possible. And he seemed to want her to focus more on him than on her dying mother.

    * Buffy 'broke up' with Angel several times even though she considered them still together. Her worst action toward Angel was continuing to date Scott Hope. And Buffy would have eventually had sex with Scott had Scott not broken up with her.

    * Buffy's actions against Spike are perhaps more understandable. She continued her relationship with Riley even after "Something Blue" (B 4.09). But notice that Spike is the first to look disgusted after the My Will Be Done spell is broken. And Spike said he waned the Buffy taste out of his mouth.

    The badness of Buffy's treatment of Spike began after Spike's song to her in "Once More With Feeling" (B 6.07). But she also gave him the sexual intimacy she considered he wanted.

    BtVS S7 has her go on one date with Robin Wood and has her in a quasi quasi quasi relationship with Robin. But post-"Get it Done" (B 7.15) is the first time in BtVS S7 in which Buffy/Spike may have been physically intimate. Spike before that had seemed clear he didn't want a sexual relationship with Buffy anymore.

    * Anyway, if you don't consider that Riley wanted Buffy to dust Angel and Spike simply to prove to Riley that she loved Riley more and/or if you don't consider Riley was somewhat raping Buffy, then I don't see how Riley's ultimatum was particularly bad.

    Oz cheated on Willow and that literally wolfs out in anger after realizing that Willow's with Tara. Yet Oz is still beloved and we are happy for him in Season 8.

  4. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bespangled View Post
    Buffy had no responsibility to change her basic nature in order to better suit Riley. That's what he was unwilling to face. Buffy doesn't damsel, and she doesn't confide. Part of loving someone is accepting who they are, and loving them. His way of trying to make her change was to let her know that her love was inferior in quality, and she wasn't able to make him feel loved. That was also Riley's problem that he wanted Buffy to fix.
    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless
    As for Buffy not opening up to him about Joyce, when has she ever been an open person? Her nature is to deal with things herself as much as possible. I would also say that when Riley was having heart problems, he didn't go to Buffy to discuss them with her. When faced with them, he ran away, afraid to deal with his own emotional issues.
    I disagree with you guys on this part, but I'm glad I saw it because it forced me to really think hard about my view of Buffy’s character. See, I don’t think Riley was wrong for wanting Buffy to be more open with him. It’s not “changing her basic nature” for her to communicate to him and confide in him. That’s just the compromising that one is supposed to do when they’re in a relationship. Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who never confides in them or lets their guard down? My problem with Riley isn’t that he wants Buffy to confide in him (I actually think that’s fair), it’s that he doesn’t even give her a chance to. He has all of these issues with her and he never makes an attempt to talk to her so that she could have a chance to fix them. He just bottles it all up, gets suckjobs from vamps, gets caught, drops an ultimatum on her, and then leaves.

    I think Buffy’s behavior during the illness arc *was* unhealthy. I think she did shut Riley out, but she shut nearly everyone out. Now I’m aware that people process their emotions very differently. Some people need to confide in others in order to process their emotions and some people genuinely do better dealing with their emotions all on their own. I just don’t think Buffy is one of those people. And her behavior in episodes like “Shadow” – refusing to cry or talk to anyone – is so troubling to me because it’s not like her.

    Pre – “The Body”, I actually think of Buffy as a very emotionally open person, at least to those that she cares about. The only time I think Buffy is closed off to people is when she’s going through some really, really traumatic shit (her depression/PTSD over Angel in early-S3; her mother’s illness and protecting Dawn throughout a lot of S5). Other than that, I read Buffy as being very open and in touch with her feelings. I know she has this reputation (both in and out of universe) of being closed off but there are numerous, numerous scenes and episodes where Buffy vents/cries to people about her problems (both voluntarily and in-voluntarily).

    Just off the top of my head…

    She cries about her prophecised death to Giles in “Prophecy Girl”, she cries in front of everyone while breaking The Master’s bones in WSWB, she cries to Giles and vents to him, Willow and Xander about Angel in S2, she cries in front of everyone in “Dead Man’s Party”, she vents and then later cries to Giles about her lost powers in “Helpless”, she cries to Willow about the Faith situation in “Consequences”.

    Now Buffy doesn’t cry to anyone in S4, but I think that’s less about emotional distance on her part and more about that just being a relatively ‘light’ year for Buffy. There wasn’t much for her to cry about in that season, but we still got many scenes where Buffy was open about her feelings to people (*including* Riley). She vents to Xander about not fitting in at college during “The Freshman”, she vents about Parker, and then later Riley to her friends. When it comes to Riley, I’ll admit that Buffy is very reluctant to put her feelings out there at first (as we see in “Doomed”), but she does overcome this and starts being honest with him. She explains her history with Faith to him in “This Year’s Girl” and her history with Angel to him in “New Moon Rising” / “The Yoko Factor”, despite great difficulty. I’d even say that Buffy was closer to Riley during S4 than she was with anyone else. Now, I think that was mostly due to their relationship still being in the honeymoon stage, but still.

    But in all of the examples I just mentioned, Buffy found catharsis in venting/crying and seemed to feel better after the event, which is why I think she’s a person who needs to vent/confide in order to deal properly. I think she fully starts to guard herself from everyone in late-S5 up until the end of the series. And notice she’s a lot more miserable because of it.

    I’m of two minds about Buffy’s more guarded persona during the illness storyline (and during the later seasons). I think part of it was the writers trying to contrive drama between her and Riley (and the other characters, once we get to S6-S7), but I also think part of it was a natural reaction to all of the traumatic stuff she was going through during that time. Buffy’s mom had just been diagnosed with a tumor and she found out that her little sister wasn’t real, so of course, she’s a little mentally-spun and acting OOC in the episodes afterwards.

    However, I do think Buffy starts to come back to open and honest self, right after Riley leaves (haha, ironic, huh?). She cries to her friends in “Triangle” (the older I get, the less OOC Buffy’s over-the-top crying is to me in that ep; especially when you think about how much emotional strain she had been under in the episodes before), lets them in on Dawn being The Key in “Blood Ties”, and confides to Xander about her relationship insecurities in “I Was Made to Love You”. Then, “The Body” happens and that’s where I think the definitive change in her character happens. Buffy is never the same after that, but understandably so.
    Last edited by Andrew S.; 18-07-19 at 03:53 AM.

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  6. #24
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    Yeah, I don't think it's a coincidence that most of the fans who vilify Riley for wanting Buffy to let her guard with him because he's her boyfriend also simultaneously a) don't like Riley already, b) don't want Buffy to be in a relationship with him (and want her to be involved with somebody else, like Angel or Spike), and c) display either no problem whatsoever when she does lower her guard around other love interests like Angel or Spike OR display great anger and frustration when she doesn't let those other love interests in.

  7. #25
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    I think the difference for me is that the potential death of her mother is a very different emotional experience than anything else Buffy has been through. She feels she has to stay strong for her mum and Dawn, to be the rock they can lean on. As she says herself, if she did let her guard down even for one moment, she might never recover that strength that she needs to be of support to them.

    I'm not saying that the way Buffy dealt with her mums illness was healthy. But I don't think Riley was thinking of Buffy's emotional health in anyway, he was simply feeling left out and making the situation about him. I don't think he even mentions that sharing her feelings could have helped her in anyway does he? Happy to be corrected here as i can't remember all their conversations.

    The only time I think Buffy is closed off to people is when she’s going through some really, really traumatic shit (her depression/PTSD over Angel in early-S3; her mother’s illness and protecting Dawn throughout a lot of S5).
    I agree, and this is why she is the way she is, because the potential death of Joyce is the most traumatic thing she's ever been through. There is no roadmap for this, no way for Buffy to know that talking or leaning on others will help her. That's why it can't be compared to any other situation she's been in. So even if I accept that Buffy is an emotionally open person, it doesn't really have a bearing on this particular situation.

    She cries about her prophecised death to Giles in “Prophecy Girl”, she cries in front of everyone while breaking The Master’s bones in WSWB, she cries to Giles and vents to him, Willow and Xander about Angel in S2, she cries in front of everyone in “Dead Man’s Party”, she vents and then later cries to Giles about her lost powers in “Helpless”, she cries to Willow about the Faith situation in “Consequences”.
    Buffy did cry in all these situations, then she stops crying and deals with it. She did cry about her mum, but she did that by herself in the kitchen while listening to terrible salsa music, then she stopped crying and got on and dealt with the motw.

    I would also say that facing your own death is very different to facing the death of the person you love most in the world. When Angel was dying in S3 she didn't cry, she went out and she dealt with the situation. Yes Buffy has had moments, especially when she was younger, when she broke down and cried in front of people, but as she aged she stopped doing that. By Season 7 she was cutting down a potential who'd killed herself, and buried her in the park, without breaking down in tears. So maybe it's a thing Buffy's learnt with age, as you mention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless View Post

    Buffy did cry in all these situations, then she stops crying and deals with it. She did cry about her mum, but she did that by herself in the kitchen while listening to terrible salsa music, then she stopped crying and got on and dealt with the motw.
    That's a recurring theme on the show. Buffy is never really allowed to process her baggage. She always has to suppress it in some way to fight the big bad. That goes back to Prophecy Girl and is carried on in eps like When She Was Bad, Seeing Red all the way through the end. It is, perhaps inadvertently, brought to the forefront in S7 with The First. When Buffy expresses doubts about their situation to Xander, the First quickly uses that to convince a girl to commit suicide.

    I think bespangled nailed all my thoughts on the Buffy/Riley relationship. I don't think Riley is a bad guy. He wanted different things out of a relationship. Buffy isn't someone who runs to another to protect her. That's not who she is. I disagree that she emotionally shut him out. She just wasn't dependent on him. When he's there and there is time for comfort, she takes it. It could easily have been Riley instead of Angel in Forever. We see a similar scene in the hospital with Joyce, with Riley holding her.

    The relationship ended in a dramatic way which I guess was the point.

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