Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Vampire "brothel" in Into the Woods

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Vampire "brothel" in Into the Woods

    Hi,

    I've just rewatched Into the Woods and it got me thinking about the morality of the vampire brothel and whether Buffy was right to burn it down.

    Pros: As stated by Giles, the vampires were feeding off "willing victims" as opposed to killing innocents which in turn stopped them from being hunted. Vampires who "played by the rules" would let the payee live so they weren't killing anyone either. A positive of the brothel was that it took several would-be-killer vampires off the streets which arguably in turn made Sunnydale safer for ordinary citizens.

    Cons: There's a danger that vampires participate who "only pretend to play by the rules" and kill their customers anyway. This wasn't stated to be happening in Sunnydale but was a hypothetical raised by Giles and could well happen in Sunnydale too. Another con is that the vampire brothel was encouraging seedy, self-destructive and dangerous behaviour for humans seeking a rush or high. And the last con would be, well, vampires.

    I can see both sides of it. The fact that the vampires try and ambush and kill Buffy in retaliation demonstrates that they're as evil as any other and an argument can be made that even 1 less vampire in the world is a job well done by Buffy. However, on the flip side they weren't actively killing anyone and were deliberately engaging in behaviour that would avoid them from killing (even if it's self-serving and about preservation) so it could be deemed hypocritical to target them whilst simultaneously letting Spike and Harmony live (on the account of the chip or Harmony playing by Angel's new rules at W&H).

    Was Buffy morally justified to hunt the vampires? Should she have allowed them to continue their practices in Sunnydale? Or was she correct to burn the establishment down?

    Side note: If we could avoid derailing the thread about Buffy/Riley and Riley in particular that would be great. I understand that it may come up a little as it's part of Buffy's motivation for going after the vamps but I'd appreciate it if we don't focus on whether Riley was cheating etc.

    Mogs

    ~ Banner by Nina ~

  • #2
    My instant reaction is that she acted greatly out of emotional distress because of the link with Riley, but if that had been taken out of the equation she was still behaving morally as a slayer does. If Buffy can kill vamps as they emerge from the grave and have not killed anyone, because their nature makes it infeasible that they won't, then taking out the vamp brothel just because it is run by vampires is justified. Yes they are getting blood and cash from willing victims, which no doubt does reduce the amount of unwilling ones. But it probably doesn't eradicate them. Is there any reason to believe that the same vamp that just got paid to bite might not kill a random person as they wander the streets an hour later? The fact that they instantly turned to trying to ambush Buffy because they didn't want to be shut down just emphasises the likelihood they weren't trying to run the bite house to avoid killing, or for anything other than it being to their benefit in getting easy blood/money. It isn't like they try at all to reason with her or justify what they were doing in a way that might stay her hand.

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree with Stoney. I feel like the writing *wants* me to think she's acting irrationally there, but I just don't see how it's any different than staking vampires when they emerge or pre-emptively hunting vamps in general. It's safe to assume not all those vamps live there or stay there all the time. How is it any different? Same situation with the lone vamp survivor in the alley in a later scene. We are meant to see Buffy as being 'dark' there, but again, it's no different than staking Ford before he even rises, IMO.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think she was right and she was wrong - that same guilty thrill I feel when Angel locks the door of the wine cellar. The action is actually satisfying to me - I've bought into Buffy's feelings. But even if I hadn't, I still wouldn't mind her staking the vamps. Where she was wrong was in setting the building on fire. This is one of few times that Buffy does something putting people in danger, and doesn't seem to care. Obviously things happened off screen, but Buffy didn't take part.
        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.

        Comment


        • #5
          Although there was an emotional side to her decision, Buffy was right in destroying the brothel. It was dangerous, and it's her job to stop vampires biting people. Accidents happen and one vamp who can't stop themselves may kill someone or create a new vampire.

          Comment


          • #6
            vampmogs:
            However, on the flip side they weren't actively killing anyone and were deliberately engaging in behaviour that would avoid them from killing (even if it's self-serving and about preservation) so it could be deemed hypocritical to target them whilst simultaneously letting Spike and Harmony live
            But we don't know that at all. We don't know why the vamps "work" in a brothel in the first place and what they do in their leisure time. it is possible the brothel is simply a means to lure victims into their lair and kill them sooner or later. There is a risk of accidentally taking too much blood and thus killing the clients inadvertently. There is a risk the vampires turn them and let them loose as new vampires on the streets of Sunnydale. There is a risk the vampires walk the streets of Sunnydale after their "shift" in the brothel and kill humans because they don't get enough blood from feeding off willing people.

            We don't even know how much blood a vampire needs to sustain himself and if it is possible for him to live on a few sips in order to blood to not endanger the willing victim's life. We don't know how many people were clients and how often they paid a visit to that brothel.

            If the vampires in the brothel made a conscious decision to not kill, they could openly acknowledge to do so and live on bagged blood whether it be human blood from a blood bank or animal blood from the butcher. But they don't do that. They run a more or less shady business and try to stay under the radar.

            Yes, Buffy was right to stake the brothel vampires - including the one who had been serving Riley. There is absolutely no difference compared to staking any other vampire she encounters while patrolling. She does not bother to ask those vampire "Are you evil? Do you sometimes bag it? Or are you off human blood altogether? Are you willing to try?"

            As for Spike and Harmony, there is no doubt that within the canon of the show she should have staked them both. Don't get me wrong. I love them both and I am happy she didn't. I also don't think it is "bad writing" that she didn't stake them. They wanted to keep them and I am fine with that but there clearly is no justification within the show's canon.

            However Buffy had no right to burn down the building. I am sure arson is a crime in the U.S. like it is in most countries. The vampires probably weren't even the owner of the building and even if so there was a risk of the fire spreading and of people inside the building or outside getting hurt.

            flow


            Banner by Brendan

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by flow View Post
              As for Spike and Harmony, there is no doubt that within the canon of the show she should have staked them both. Don't get me wrong. I love them both and I am happy she didn't. I also don't think it is "bad writing" that she didn't stake them. They wanted to keep them and I am fine with that but there clearly is no justification within the show's canon.
              Although the show's canon of the danger and inherent evil of vampires makes leaving Spike and Harmony undusted definitely questionable, I think they do on occasions show that not all vamps are as easy for them to dust. That Buffy and the others may, understandably, find it difficult to face vampires who they knew before they were sired. Or who they have an emotional connection with (such as Buffy's struggle when trying to take down Angel when he was unsouled). So I think not wanting to stake Harmony, choosing to avoid it and just laughing off the risk she poses, has to be seen to link to having known her through high school. As for Spike, at first he offered information about the soldiers they were trying to track and wasn't seen as a direct threat anymore. It becomes harder to justify when he tries to use them to make a deal with Adam to get the chip out, proving himself to still be dangerous. And still responsible for so much violent crimes and murders of course. But Willow did pull him somewhat in line with the response to Harmony too when she didn't want him to stake himself in Doomed, because they know him ("It’s ooky. We know him, we can’t just let him poof himself!"). They are definitely questionable decisions, but they are human responses to the vampires they know on varying different levels. Almost a flip side to the additional anger that Buffy had towards the bite house vampires. I hasten to say I don't think they are strong reasons, and it really bothers me that they laugh at Harmony having minions when we know that she sired at least one of them, but I think the hesitation on occasions is seen more than once.

              However Buffy had no right to burn down the building. I am sure arson is a crime in the U.S. like it is in most countries. The vampires probably weren't even the owner of the building and even if so there was a risk of the fire spreading and of people inside the building or outside getting hurt.
              This is a fair point as burning down the building wasn't an arguably needed act (like burning down the high school gym!) but one totally born from her hurt and frustration.

              Comment


              • #8
                Not staking Harmony was a problem. But once Spike was no longer able to bite he moved into the same space as Anya. No, he wasn't a romantic partner but he was more helpful as time went on. Practically speaking, he was sort of an ex-vampire where it mattered most. Staking him got closer to a gray area.

                While it doesn't bother me that Buffy killed the vamps, I'm actually with Giles on this. Monitored, and in once place, this is a better arrangement for the thrill seekers. The question is a version of - do we supply clean needles for addicts, and a safe place to shoot up?

                I would imagine the regular clients are still addicted. At least some of them are bound to go looking for the thrill that the bite gave them, and they are far more likely to end up dead or turned. IMO, destroying the brothel doesn't solve the problem of the addiction. While accidents can occur, they would be known to the addicts. So those who were paying money to be bitten are at a much higher risk now that their safe source is gone.
                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.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Killing the pimps doesn't bother me, especially since they actually come to her and try to kill her.
                  Burning the house is reckless and emotional, but they make it clear there was no one inside and the street doesn't seem to have many people living in it.
                  I'll admit, her killing the vamp woman as she's running away, very visibly scared and pathetic ? It gets to me. It was definitely akin to killing your boyfriend's mistress, and there was a definite vengeance/taking it out on someone weaker component to it. That said, she was probably right to do it, since I don't doubt the vamp would have taken up killing people (if she wasn't already). Her intentions, however, were not righteous at all in this moment.
                  What a challenge, honesty
                  What a struggle to learn to speak
                  Who would've thought that pretending was easier

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think you can argue that there could be an aspect of thinking the vamp looks pathetic and not wanting to, or seem to, be acting in petty vengeance which stayed her hand in the first place. And as she watched thoughtfully as the vamp ran away it was actually a realisation that letting her go wasn't wise that had her throw the staff after her. Although I'm sure that would have come with some satisfaction too. There's a lot going on really in that scene for Buffy I think.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ah, I came off a little too absolute in my argument. I like your reading of the scene, and it's very complex and complicated. Which just really confirms to me that ITW is a pretty great episode, if you alter the Xander/Buffy scene and the helicopter chase of doom.
                      What a challenge, honesty
                      What a struggle to learn to speak
                      Who would've thought that pretending was easier

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree with Stoney. Buffy hesitates and I think in that moment she is questioning herself and her own motivations. We can't be sure what she's thinking, but personally I think she's knows she's killing this vamp because it's her job and not because of a need for vengeance. She knows this vampire was simply doing what vampire's do (in Buffy's estimation) and she can't fight her hunger for blood and nor can a slayer not slay, she has to do her duty.

                        As for Xander's pep talk and the run to the helicopter - hate both those things and they spoil a really good episode for me.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          bespangled
                          But once Spike was no longer able to bite he moved into the same space as Anya. No, he wasn't a romantic partner but he was more helpful as time went on. Practically speaking, he was sort of an ex-vampire where it mattered most. Staking him got closer to a gray area.
                          When Buffy enters Spike's crypt with a stake in her hand in Out of my Mind we are not at all surprised and don't suspect this is just a dream. It is what should naturally have happened. Spike and Harmony held a doctor hostage, probably would have killed him had they gotten the chance, Harmony shot Riley, Spike attacked Buffy and tried to kill her. Spike already has Buffy on her back and his teeth at her neck (which kinda makes you wonder how he did it because it has been established time and again that she is stronger than him and also throwing her to the ground should have made his chip go off). There is nothing gray about staking him in this episode. Yet Buffy doesn't and the only reason we forget how inconsistent this is is because of the kiss that follows and leaves us flummoxed (some of us in awe) and by the time Spike wakes up with a jolt we have gotten completely distracted.

                          flow

                          Banner by Brendan

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bespangled View Post
                            While it doesn't bother me that Buffy killed the vamps, I'm actually with Giles on this. Monitored, and in once place, this is a better arrangement for the thrill seekers. The question is a version of - do we supply clean needles for addicts, and a safe place to shoot up?

                            I would imagine the regular clients are still addicted. At least some of them are bound to go looking for the thrill that the bite gave them, and they are far more likely to end up dead or turned. IMO, destroying the brothel doesn't solve the problem of the addiction. While accidents can occur, they would be known to the addicts. So those who were paying money to be bitten are at a much higher risk now that their safe source is gone.
                            Yes this is something I had pondered too. I recently listened to Buffering the Vampire Slayer and they argued that this episode kind of mixes it's analogies when it comes to the Vamp House. In some scenes it's more like a brothel and then in others a crack house. The two don't necessarily have to be mutually exclusive but it does change things for me. For the sake of the discussion, let's call it the "Bite House."

                            Riley presumably discovers the Bite House through someone at Willy's Bar. Shadow is the first time he lets a vampire bite him (Sandy) and she does so seemingly behind the bar or in a deserted room (it's hard to tell). He secretly has his stake at the ready and he dusts an unexpected Sandy as she's feasting on his neck perhaps a) for his own safety, b) to hide what he's doing, or c) a bit of both. But there's little indication that Sandy has agreed to play by any "rules" and this may just be the way she gets off or, even, she may have planed on siring him and turning him into her mate. It's clear from this scene that those seeking out the thrill/high of a vampire bite will continue to do so only know they may frequent vamp or demon bars instead of a Bite House where, in theory, vampires are playing by a set of rules and are agreeing not to kill these people. The vampires at Willy's Bar are playing by no such rules and given how unpredictable vampires can be, may simply kill their victim.

                            By Buffy burning down the Bite House she is shutting down their operation but she's not putting an end to the high that their willing customer's seek. All this means is that they'll go elsewhere and it's potentially even more dangerous for them. If viewed this way, Buffy's solution is just momentary and doesn't fix the issue overall and may have made it even worse. This is all hypothetical of course but it does raise some interesting questions.

                            I also agree with Stoney's reading of the scene where Buffy kills the female vampire. I've never interpreted that as an act of vengeance on Buffy's part. In fact, the only reason Buffy didn't kill the vampire straight away is because she recognised her as the vampire who'd been biting Riley. This causes her to lower her stake and allow the vampire to run precisely because I think Buffy felt uncomfortable about killing her for this reason. It's not until the vampire is fleeing and Buffy thinks about it more that she realises the vampire needs to be staked for other's safety and then hurls the stake into her. I never saw this as Buffy toying with the vampire or being cruel. I always interpreted this as Buffy snapping out of it and realising what needs to be done and she doesn't appear to gain any personal satisfaction out of it.




                            ~ Banner by Nina ~

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I don't think she was being cruel, but I think she was definitely lashing out. Maybe it's the fact that she's staking her when her back is turned and she is fleeing that makes me uncomfortable. I can't quite put my finger on it, but either way I don't think less of Buffy for it; I just think the ambiguity is interesting.
                              What a challenge, honesty
                              What a struggle to learn to speak
                              Who would've thought that pretending was easier

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I do get what you're saying. I mean, in regards to her staking the vampire when she was fleeing/had her back turned, that in itself isn't unusual as we've seen this before. In Buffy VS Dracula the vampire is running from Buffy when she hunts him down, in Showtime The Bringer is fleeing from her when she hurls a knife into his back, and in Anne even Oz tries to stake a fleeing vampire but has decidedly less luck lol ("that never really works"). But the difference in Into the Woods, IMO, is the fact that Buffy gives the vampire the impression she is going to let her live and of course the personal element as well. They also play up the whole "vampire trembling in fear" which probably isn't all that different to what the vampire in Buffy VS Dracula or The Bringer in Showtime was feeling but they just didn't emphasise it in those episodes.

                                I personally don't interpret it as Buffy lashing out, though. In my opinion, SMG plays it as very "matter of fact" rather than an act of passion or anger. After the vampire is dusted she has a rather blank expression on her face (as opposed to an angry one) and is staring off into the distance. To me it always comes across as Buffy not getting any satisfaction from it at all and feeling even a little uncomfortable about it herself. She seems to be having to take a moment to compose herself before Xander appears.

                                I do think there's an element of uneasiness and darkness about the fact that Buffy gets to kill her boyfriend's "mistress" which may be a dark desire many people have but, unlike Buffy, they don't have permission to do so. In the past I've argued similarly about Xander in Angel and how how his insistence that Buffy kill Angel, his romantic rival, comes across as quite dark to me because it's something most high school boys could only fantasise about whereas Xander gets to vocalise this desires out loud and mean them ("Let's look at this calmly and objectively. Angel's a vampire. You're a Slayer. It's obvious what you have to do")

                                ~ Banner by Nina ~

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Yes, this is an interesting detail. The fact that a vamp is fleeing shouldn't keep Buffy from chasing after them. It basically is what she does every night on patrol. Chasing after vampires. And we even have to make excuses for her for not chasing after Drusilla in Crush because it is rather unusual behavior. It's not that we say "Oh, Drusilla was running away and therefore Buffy was not allowed to go after her." Still, a stake in the back of a vampire who is running away, maybe even hoping to have been spared is somewhat sneaky. It's not Buffy fighting vamps face-to-face the way we are used to seeing her fight.

                                  I wonder if we would feel as uncomfortable about this scene if the vamp who run away had been male.

                                  flow

                                  Banner by Brendan

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by flow View Post

                                    I wonder if we would feel as uncomfortable about this scene if the vamp who run away had been male.
                                    Great point.

                                    Honestly, I don't think we would. I do think that the sight of a trembling female vampire illicits a different reaction from the audience than a male vampire would. There shouldn't be any objective reason for that but I know for me it feels different.

                                    I don't think people would think much of this scene if Buffy had been in mid battle and dusting multiple vampires at once and then she skirmished this vampire without pause. It's more the fact that she recongises the vampire as being the one who Riley was with, the vampire is depicted as trembling, Buffy gives the impression she's going to spare her, and then kills her from behind. But I personally do believe that Buffy genuinely changed her mind here and wasn't "playing" with the vampire or anything.



                                    ~ Banner by Nina ~

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by bespangled View Post
                                      While it doesn't bother me that Buffy killed the vamps, I'm actually with Giles on this. Monitored, and in once place, this is a better arrangement for the thrill seekers. The question is a version of - do we supply clean needles for addicts, and a safe place to shoot up?

                                      I would imagine the regular clients are still addicted. At least some of them are bound to go looking for the thrill that the bite gave them, and they are far more likely to end up dead or turned. IMO, destroying the brothel doesn't solve the problem of the addiction. While accidents can occur, they would be known to the addicts. So those who were paying money to be bitten are at a much higher risk now that their safe source is gone.
                                      As the bite houses are feeding an addiction where there is another party in the mix too, the vampire not being a dealer who is distanced in the transaction but part of it (the bite house owner is the dealer), I'm not sure how it compares against managed drug addiction. Or even how much safer a place it is. It could be that the bite houses facilitate an addiction that they make the participation in possible, if you see what I mean. If we take Riley as the example of how someone might be intrigued about being bitten, taking the risk the first time would often be the last time someone tried. He was an experienced demon hunter prepared to take out the vampire that he allowed to bite him. So how many average people first get to try and so enter this addiction because the bite house exists?

                                      I also wonder if there could be an increased risk of being turned rather than killed, as regulars might build up a relationship with specific vamps too. The knock on impact then on their families, who vampires are said to regularly kill when first turned exceeds the suffering of addict's families (who I do appreciate often experience a lot of distressing fall out from their relative's addiction too).

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I think addiction always starts with some idiot telling another that they won't believe how great the high is. The source of the high changes until there's just one that will do. If there's already word that the bite is a great high then there are already vamps willing to cash in. There doesn't need to be a bite house involved as we saw with Riley before he found the house. Riley is so addicted that he leaves Buffy's bed after sex and goes to the bite house The other humans there were in worse shape. It's clear that their addiction has cost them a lot - but it's a price they are willing to pay.

                                        Let's say the bite is the heroin. The vampire can be whether or not the heroin will get you high or kill you, and/or give you a communicable disease - the risk factor in other words. Is the fact that drug dens exist the reason heroin addicts exist?

                                        There's safety in a drug den. If you die someone will call it in - as they leave. Authorities will be notified, and they can find out which dealer is responsible. I'd say that if someone dies in a bite house other vamps will be happy to finger which vamp killed him. The police won't be involved but as you said the bite house is a business. The owner and the workers have good reason to make sure that people don't get killed or turned. It's bad for business. They want the repeat customers, those that bring in new custom. I'd figure if a customer can't walk out then a vamp gets staked. Clearly it's not safe, but it is safer than going up to a strange vamp and asking if they will bite you but not kill you for cash.

                                        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.

                                        Comment

                                        Working...
                                        X