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Thread: Becoming - Buffy's emotional journey seasons 1-8 (so far)

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    Sad Castiel Wolfie Gilmore's Avatar
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    Default Becoming - Buffy's emotional journey seasons 1-8 (so far)

    I thought this fitted best in the comics forum, although it spans every season, since it will (hopefully) feature a lot of season 8 discussion. Also, I wanted people to be able to refer to the comics without worrying about spoilers (for the released issues that is).

    So, fairly simple question really - how do you see Buffy's emotional journey through the seasons?

    Do you think she grows up consistently - always moving forward like a shark but on land - or in "one step forward, two steps back" style? Or just backwards full stop? Does she become a mature adult ever, or is she still on her way to that? Do we expect more from her at a young age because she's got superpowers and stuff? How does she change, if at all? Not just in terms of growing up/maturing, but also in more general terms - does her character shift, or do you think she's still pretty much the same Buffy we met in Welcome to the Hellmouth, just older and wiser and or stupider (you can be both sometimes ).


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    and her haircut. Nina's Avatar
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    I think that it's a complicated mess, in the first years she was a real teenager by times. Wanting to go out, ignoring Giles and Joyce or mocking the 'grown ups'. This stopped after some seasons, in that way she grew up.

    But I can't say that he current state of being emotionally stunned (and that for years) is a pregression at all. She has no problem using people (even those who love her) nor is she able to understand the need to think outside her own little box anymore. In her head it's strangely black and white while being more grey than ever.

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    Buffy is a soldier who is going through a long war. To expect her to grow and mature is a rounded way is unreal. Nobody is like that entirely, and people whose lives are overshadowed by continuous violent conflict are less like that than most.

    In the beginning she was an amateur, now she is a professional and has suffered the inevitable loss of innocence. She cannot chuck it in however. You can walk away from your job, but you cannot escape your destiny, which is intimately bound up with your character--as we saw in Anne.

    The tragic Slayer we saw in The Wish should remain a serious possibility for the future.

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    Hellmouth Tourist Chamber005's Avatar
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    Unlike a lot of other shows' characters, I think Buffy's world does a pretty solid job of reflecting real life (sans that whole magic and monster bits -- 'er, at least I think so!).

    Life as Buffy has known it has definately been wrought with dangers and battles, but the emotional stuff certainly has been the stuff of "normal" life. Two steps forward, one back and all that. Her decisions just have larger consequences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nina View Post
    I think that it's a complicated mess, in the first years she was a real teenager by times. Wanting to go out, ignoring Giles and Joyce or mocking the 'grown ups'. This stopped after some seasons, in that way she grew up.
    Yes, although she's a teenager still at college, she's past the grumpy adolescent phase by season 4 really.

    But I can't say that he current state of being emotionally stunned (and that for years) is a pregression at all. She has no problem using people (even those who love her) nor is she able to understand the need to think outside her own little box anymore. In her head it's strangely black and white while being more grey than ever.
    I think is able to think outside her own "box" (oh god that sounds so wrong in my head. And now, perhaps, in yours). But she's yet to develop the ability to do that consistently. Sometimes she can see the big picture, but other times, she gets caught up in what's in front of her, or the thing she thinks is most important. Given quite how big her "big picture" is now, I think it's rather amazing she can ever see the wood for the trees.

    But, being in the position she's in, she needs to be better than everyone else just to be doing ok - being responsible for so many people (plus, you know, the safety of the world), she can't just be ok, she has to be exemplary perhaps?

    So, her ability to take the right factors into account is probably relatively good for a normal person, but for someone with the power and responsibility she has, she comes up short.

    Eg, take the bank robbing thing - we all (most?) break the rules, but she has the opportunity (slayer army at her command!) to break the rules, and an easy set of justifications to do so (saving the world stuff) that most people don't have. That doesn't mean she's justified to do so, but I think her mistakes are normal mistakes writ large. She has a bigger canvas to fck up and a bigger brush. She could Jackson Pollock the whole world quite easily.

    Compared to a "normal" person, Buffy's emotional journey is a strange one. The things she has to concern herself with are weird from the get go. When in high school she complains that most girls think about dating etc, while she thinks about ambush tactics.

    This strangeness of focus only grows as she gets older, and less and less of her life is about the "normal" stuff - after leaving college, and especially after quitting her various jobs to become a full time slayer commander in season 8 (I assume she's not moonlighting anywhere else!).

    I suppose the question is, how do we judge Buffy's development, when her life is so strange - what's normal for a person in such an abnormal situation?

    Does she need to be occasionally blinkered, to block things out, to survive emotionally? Like a doctor, perhaps, or those people who do things with corpses and I can't remember the name... oh yes, pathologists?

    I think in season 8, she's in a strange place. Not necessarily an emotionally stunted place, but she's making some very dubious moral decisions. In another thread (the issue 20 one, no spoilers in what I'm quoting though), Emmie described her as being morally stunted rather than emotionally stunted.

    I definitely agree that it's Buffy's moral character rather than her emotional nature that's suffering at the moment. I think she IS connecting with people (and disagree that Satsu was a using relationship, I think both parties were open eyed and knew what was going on, though I do think there's a problem when it comes to Buffy's role as leader and Satsu's as a soldier perhaps, and the possible tensions it might cause...though it's just a potential problem not an actual one perhaps) but that her ethical framework hasn't really caught up with her new situation of power. As in... she doesn't really HAVE a framework.

    Making things up as you go along and going with your gut is fine when you're one girl in all the world (most of the time) but when you're running a group of people (in whatever capacity, military or business or whathaveyou), I think you need to do more sitting back and thinking about the meta level of things - why you're running things the way you are, where things are heading.

    Basically, Buffy's in serious need of a 360 degree peer review

    EDIT: Just noticed more posts

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Buffy is a soldier who is going through a long war. To expect her to grow and mature is a rounded way is unreal. Nobody is like that entirely, and people whose lives are overshadowed by continuous violent conflict are less like that than most.
    This is true - Buffy's life as a slayer has moved further from the metphorical territory of demons-as-adolescent-problems into the life of a warrior for whom these demons are just facts of life. There's no high school, no normal job, not even a normal house - she lives in a castle like a fairytale queen. Or possibly just a very posh scottish person, but I think the fairytale element is more appropriate for Buffy.

    In high school, in college, and even in seasons 6 and 7, there was some element of parallelism between "normal" and "monstrous" - the monster strand of her life and the "normal" strand were both running along, tangling together sometimes, but you could point at certain parts of her life and think, "everyone does that".

    But now her life's much bigger and stranger most of the time. Where is Buffy, herself, in all of this? Not Buffy the soldier or Buffy the leader? It's definitely hard for her to find a space to breathe and just be.

    In the beginning she was an amateur, now she is a professional and has suffered the inevitable loss of innocence. [...]
    The tragic Slayer we saw in The Wish should remain a serious possibility for the future.
    I think the tragic slayer is a possibility, but one that Buffy will ultimately evade - it's a warning to herself that she should mind, but also, she's not in real and present danger of it. She's lost her innocence - a long time ago - and she's buckled up and "gone pro" to a degree. Well, in a slightly shonky improv way.

    She's still changing and capable of growth, very much so, though. She's old enough to have developed bad habits, but still in a state of flux and exploration of what her life means, imo.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chamber005 View Post
    Life as Buffy has known it has definately been wrought with dangers and battles, but the emotional stuff certainly has been the stuff of "normal" life. Two steps forward, one back and all that. Her decisions just have larger consequences.
    Yes, very much so - she's living large, if not entirely five by five. Despite all the weirdness of her life, the processes by which she makes decisions (ie...not so much with the process) is probably something everyone who lives by the seat of their pants can relate to.
    Last edited by Wolfie Gilmore; 15-12-08 at 03:42 PM.


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    I could reply in depth, or alternatively I could link you all to the meta I wrote back in September. It got linked on Whedonesque and everything.

    "Risk the pain. It is your nature." - Buffy's character development over the series


    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie Gilmore View Post
    I think is able to think outside her own "box" (oh god that sounds so wrong in my head. And now, perhaps, in yours).
    Nope. American slang terms for body parts don't really register with me.

    Does she need to be occasionally blinkered, to block things out, to survive emotionally? Like a doctor, perhaps, or those people who do things with corpses and I can't remember the name... oh yes, pathologists?
    The Scoobies' black humour is very reminiscent of people who work in such jobs - all those jokes about killing Anya or eating decorators.

    I think she IS connecting with people (and disagree that Satsu was a using relationship, I think both parties were open eyed and knew what was going on
    Agreed - and if anything, I think Satsu is concerned that she exploited Buffy. (See her defensiveness when talking to Willow afterwards.) Buffy is alone and vulnerable, and Satsu wanted to sleep with her, and she managed to catch Buffy at a moment of weakness and lure her into bed.

    Rather than manager-subordinate, perhaps the best equivalent would be pop star-groupie?

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    I feel so bad for Buffy having to train and take care of all these slayers in S8. Talk about stress and lack of free time. S8 captured Buffy's state of mind and sense of duty very well, she's so protective of her slayers yet she loses a lot of her morality in achieving that goal. Plus, TOO much stress and responsibility.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sosa lola View Post
    I feel so bad for Buffy having to train and take care of all these slayers in S8. Talk about stress and lack of free time. S8 captured Buffy's state of mind and sense of duty very well, she's so protective of her slayers yet she loses a lot of her morality in achieving that goal. Plus, TOO much stress and responsibility.
    Couldn't agree more. After 'After These Messages...' we have Buffy once again complaining about the slayers calling her "ma'am." She really isn't fond of it whatsoever. I think looking back on her opening line now, "the thing about changing the world, once you do the world's all different" it comes with a tone of irritancy and regret. In many respects it's almost as if Buffy resents the very thing that she's also trying desperately to protect right now. I think that's why Twilight's moral dilemma he presented her with in 'A Beautiful Sunset' worked so effectively to play on her, because as he states he's able to crush her moral certainty.

    And after just doing a re-read of everything so far in season eight, I've never really considered what Buffy may be feeling in regards to her circle of friends. There's an element of mistrust between them that must be playing on her mind a little. She thinks Giles betrayed her by working with Faith and that effectively shattered Buffy's illusion of where she thought Giles and Faith stood in their relationship, she's presented with an image of herself, lying weeping and battered on the ground and is told it's a betrayal of "the closest, the most unexpected" and in 'Time of Your Life' she's faced with a future Willow, who's pitted against her and attempts to manipulate others to as well. Not to mention the fact that she’s used to saving humans and now is told she’s at war with the human race. It’s all got to play on her mind a little, I think it must be rather tough for her. Everything she thought she knew, she now isn't sure about.
    Last edited by vampmogs; 07-01-09 at 06:50 AM.
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