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?It?s called a plot twist? ? Spike, the chip and the soul

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  • ?It?s called a plot twist? ? Spike, the chip and the soul

    This thread was pretty popular over on BW so I decided to repost it here and hopefully we can get an interesting discussion going again.

    The question whether Spike went to get his soul back at the end of season 6 or whether he went to get the chip out has been debated many times.

    Fortunately for us, Joss himself cleared up this question which confused fans around the world in the 2002 Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Panel Discussion, which is a special feature on the BTVS season 6 DVDs. I've transcribed the relevant part of that panel discussion:

    Panel Interviewer: "At the very end was that Spike trying to get the chip out of his head?"

    Joss Whedon: " Nooooooooooooooo." (the audience laughs) "But you were meant to believe that he was."

    Panel Interviewer: "Alright."

    Joss Whedon: "This is a thing I have personally devised called "a plot twist". (audience laughs)



    So Joss himself made it clear that Spike went to Africa to get his soul back. Why then do the misunderstandings and misconceptions about this topic among the members of this forum (and others I'm sure) abound? Why do some people find it so hard to accept that Spike did something truly great, something truly extraordinary and that he did it out of love for Buffy? Why do some people not trust Joss, who is the creator of the show after all?

    Are the people who believe that Spike went to get out the chip just people who dislike Spike and who are in denial and cannot admit to themselves what a good deed Spike did? Or are they just big Angel fans who fear that Spike's extraordinary deed will take something away from their hero, that Spike getting his soul back will somehow diminish Angel's path to redemption? Because IMO that fear is justified. Even some of the writers seem to think so, just listen to the commentary by David Fury and Steven S. DeKnight on the Ats season 5 episode "Destiny" where they comment on the different way that Angel and Spike got their respective souls.

    What is your opinion on all this? If you believe that Spike went to get out the chip, why do you believe so?

    We all heard the reports that James Marsters did not know that Spike was going to get the soul back until right before he had to shoot that scene. Joss did not tell James because he wanted him to play Spike's motives in an ambiguous manner. Is this where the whole confusion is stemming from? Did James play it too ambiguously?

    So anyway this is the thread to discuss this particular topic. Please do not start any new threads on this but post your opinion on Spike and the chip or soul deal in there. Thanks!

    So discuss away!

  • #2
    Originally Posted by Cori
    The question whether Spike went to get his soul back at the end of season 6 or whether he went to get the chip out has been debated many times.
    I must admit I have never really seen why there is so much confusion either, I thought it was quite obviously a plot twist after Spike got his soul. I never really questioned wether or not Spike intended to get his soul or not, I just accepted it at face value. Perhaps I'm simple that way?

    Why do some people not trust Joss, who is the creator of the show after all?
    I think you'll find this with many things, as for example how some aren't willing to accept that the season eight comics are canon even though the creator himself has said so. (that wasn't directed at you by the way )

    Are the people who believe that Spike went to get out the chip just people who dislike Spike and who are in denial and cannot admit to themselves what a good deed Spike did? Or are they just big Angel fans who fear that Spike's extraordinary deed will take something away from their hero, that Spike getting his soul back will somehow diminish Angel's path to redemption?
    I'm not a fan of Spike ever since s6, I think Spuffy ruined his character, made my favourite character severely depressed and then I can't stand his attitude when he goes onto Angel. I much prefer Angel's character and journey in comparison to Spike and see him as by the far the real champion out of the pair. However, since when it first aired I've never really thought that Spike went to get his chip out. As I said above, I might be a little simple but I kind of took the scene at face value. I could completely believe that Spike got his soul for Buffy, everything he did was trying to win Buffy over, made complete sense to me

    Because IMO that fear is justified. Even some of the writers seem to think so, just listen to the commentary by David Fury and Steven S. DeKnight on the Ats season 5 episode "Destiny" where they comment on the different way that Angel and Spike got their respective souls.
    I don't believe such fear would be justified at all From the very moment Spike got his soul he claimed it was for Buffy, he states it numerously in season seven of Btvs, as in such episodes as 'Beneath You' and 'Sleeper' just to name a few. Then suddenly when Spike tries to take something away from Angel (something he openly admits too) he claims that he did it to be a good person and it was because it was his destiny. Pfft.. give me a break Spike never had claimed such a thing in the past and Angel obviously hits a nerve when he rightfully rebuts in saying "Really I heard it was just to get into a girl's pants" because this is something Spike claimed from the very beginning, albeit a bit more poetically.

    Furthermore, Spike is quick to excuse his actions pre-soul when they aren't his proudest moments, as for example in 'Damage' when he says "Well I didn't have a soul then!" when Angel calls him on killing two slayers. Spike has a whole flippant attitude to anything bad he did in s5 of Ats, basically shrugging it off as something that isn't his fault because he didn't have a soul. Yet, when soulless Spike has done something good soulful Spike is quick to take full credit for his actions, as in 'Destiny' when he rants about how good he is because he earned his soul. Spike has to choose which stand he wants to take, he can't brag about all the good things soulless Spike did but deny responsibility for any of the evil things he took part in without a soul. Logically that makes no sense, then again logic has never been Spike's strength

    What is your opinion on all this? If you believe that Spike went to get out the chip, why do you believe so?
    My opinion is that he went to get his soul removed, as viewers we were led to believe he was going to remove the chip as a plot twist but that's all it was and there is nothing more to it than that. I will never see season six Spike as a good guy, never have and never will. Thus, this makes perfect sense to me. He is doing this for Buffy, he isn't doing it because he's good or wants to be good, he does it for her, something he openly admits numerous times the following season. There is nothing about this that is unrealistic or hard to accept for me.

    Good thread

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    • #3
      Part of engineering a plot twist entails withholding info from an actor. Mark Hamill wasn't told who his daddums was till just before the scene in "Empire" was shot; if the actor is surprised, the audience will be too, being the thinking, I s'pose.

      Spike's contrariness is essential to his appeal; he avoids secrecy; seeks out the Slayer rather than avoids her; cultivates uncultivatedness; is happy to knock about demons when knocking humans becomes impossible; and ultimately decides on the riskier, more painful course rather than the path which would take him back to a sort of simplicity of violence. He needs to be the spoiler, and ultimately transforms himself by thwarting himself.
      Entrer dans la lumi?re comme un insecte fou respirer la poussi?re vous venir ? genoux - Patricia Kaas

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      • #4
        SPIKE: So you'll give me what I want. Make me what I was. So Buffy can get what she deserves.
        (my italics)

        "Make me what I was" ? now, he was never a vampire with a soul before, and he'd hardly want to go back to being William Pratt, the bloody awful wimpy poet. You could argue that Spike isn't bothering with the nitty gritty of it, and means something more along the lines of "give me what I had before"?but the way it's written seems more cheap trick than plot twist, as it takes a lot of casuistry and digging around in the words for it to yield the "right" interpretation, according to Joss.

        Some of the writing works, though. I'm happy with the "bitch is gonna see a change" in Villains, because that kind of aggressive bravado is exactly the way that Spike would face off against a demon while trying to do something essentially heroic, but not wanting to look soft by doing something "good". I also like when Spike asserts, "I'm still a warrior", after the demon ribs him for being a big girl's blouse, a "pathetic excuse for a demon". There's a double meaning there?he's no longer a famous dark warrior, but he's still a warrior?who's been fighting to help out someone he loves, rather than just for the hell of it. Ok, maybe a little for the hell of it too

        But, again, when he talks about being returned to his "former self", that goes too far down the mislead path.

        So, on balance, I'd say that parts of the plot twist work, but parts of it create too much mental static, so that the reveal isn't elegant, it's muddied by frustration with the parts of the script (more than the acting actually) that clash with the soul-restoration.

        In terms of Spike's character, I would also expect him to ask more directly for his soul. Though, on the other hand, I could just about believe that he'd be too embarrassed to talk about it?so that's ok. It's just a few bits and bobs that work against the end result and make it a little annoying and de-suspend my disbelief.


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        • #5
          So many in the audience wanted unchained Spike, badass Spike back; that he'd actually gone to get a soul, and not to be crazy snarky vicious Spike again probably disappointed them badly, and they didn't want to accept a further development.

          Is there an element of cutting off his nose to spite his face in Spike's decision? almost as if Spike were going to horrify her by mutiliating himself? When he leans on the cross at the end of "Beneath You" there's a suggestion of this. She's admitted feelings for him, and can't elicit them by persuasion or by assault; but getting his soul, Spike horrifies himself -- it's TOO terrifying, he can't even let Buffy know. Think how he recoils when Anya sees that he's got his soul back -- it's almost an embarrassment, a sort of grotesquerie.
          Entrer dans la lumi?re comme un insecte fou respirer la poussi?re vous venir ? genoux - Patricia Kaas

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          • #6
            On watching the scene, it always seems to me that Spike could equally be asking for the removal of his chip or the restoration of his soul. When I first saw it, I was sure he was asking for the removal of his chip and <i>getting</i> his soul. I don't think Spike wanting his soul is going entirely out of character, it's just that this particular scene does seem ambiguous. You'd think Spike would be able to say "I want my soul". He's brave like that.

            As character development goes, I can believe that Spike would go looking for a soul. I'm thinking of that scene in I think it's Smashed, where Spike on discovering he can hurt Buffy says "Nothing wrong with <i>me</i>, something wrong with <i>her</i>." This suggests to me that he thinks the chip is a positive development, or, at least, part of him. He doesn't see it as being something wrong with him; the lack of it bothers him. In that same episode, he struggles when he tries to bite someone. Those are just a few things which make him looking for a soul not seem unreasonable or out of character.

            So I can well believe that he would look for a soul, but that last scene is too ambiguous, <i>the way it plays</i> it seems to me just as likely that Spike went for chip-removal and ended up with a soul.
            "When people call people nerds, mostly what they are saying is, 'You like stuff', which is just not a good insult at all, like 'You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness'."
            -John Green

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            • #7
              On watching the scene, it always seems to me that Spike could equally be asking for the removal of his chip or the restoration of his soul.
              How do you account for the "make me what I was" though? Perhaps I'm making too much of it, but it gets on my nerves, dammit. Sneaky writing, and not in a "manipulate the audience so they're exactly where you want them", more a "I'm going to hide my cards for the sake of a surprise reveal, even at the expense of coherent writing".

              I don't think Spike wanting his soul is going entirely out of character, it's just that this particular scene does seem ambiguous.
              Yup, you're not wrong. Ambiguity can be interesting, in some contexts ? when you're exploring conflicting sides of a character, when the character themselves doesn't necessarily know what they're feeling or thinking ? but when the ambiguity is mishandled (as, here, imo), it just seems?I'm not sure..messy, I suppose. Like Lost!


              -- Robofrakkinawesome BANNER BY FRANCY --

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Wolfie Gilmore View Post
                How do you account for the "make me what I was" though? Perhaps I'm making too much of it, but it gets on my nerves, dammit. Sneaky writing, and not in a "manipulate the audience so they're exactly where you want them", more a "I'm going to hide my cards for the sake of a surprise reveal, even at the expense of coherent writing".
                Yep, the "make me what I was" sucks. It isn't coherent writing. If we don't listen to Joss, it does sound much more like he's asking to be evil again. I think it's the strongest ground the "Spike wanted to be re-chipped" argument has.

                Yup, you're not wrong. Ambiguity can be interesting, in some contexts ? when you're exploring conflicting sides of a character, when the character themselves doesn't necessarily know what they're feeling or thinking ? but when the ambiguity is mishandled (as, here, imo), it just seems?I'm not sure..messy, I suppose. Like Lost!
                Hahaha it <i>is</i> a Lost moment: "We don't know what's going on so we're just going to do a whole bunch of stuff that makes no sense and then we're going to talk about it like it's really meaningful and philosophical."

                In this case I think it's really lazy writing (like Lost again). That scene only needs a bit of tweaking and we could have something quite coherent.
                "When people call people nerds, mostly what they are saying is, 'You like stuff', which is just not a good insult at all, like 'You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness'."
                -John Green

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                • #9
                  How do you account for the "make me what I was" though? Perhaps I'm making too much of it, but it gets on my nerves, dammit. Sneaky writing, and not in a "manipulate the audience so they're exactly where you want them", more a "I'm going to hide my cards for the sake of a surprise reveal, even at the expense of coherent writing".
                  Yeah, Spike also says somewhere in there that he wants something to happen so Buffy will "get what's coming to her." That's normally what you say when you go out for revenge on somone, and that really got me. Either it was just terrible writing and Joss was deliberately misleading us or Spike went for the chip and Joss was lying at that discussion (which I seriously doubt).
                  Buffy: It sounds like it's difficult for you. Maybe your sister makes it hard for you to establish your own identity. You said she's controlling, she doesn't let you make your own decisions -
                  Dawn: Yeah, and she borrows my clothes without asking.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Rosamunde View Post
                    Yep, the "make me what I was" sucks. It isn't coherent writing. If we don't listen to Joss, it does sound much more like he's asking to be evil again. I think it's the strongest ground the "Spike wanted to be re-chipped" argument has.
                    I think I'm mostly happy to write it off as a bit of silly writing (write off writing...need more words). Though I do sometimes think of it in terms of ignoring what Joss says, and going with what's on the screen...and that Spike wanted to get the chip out, but the demon screwed him over. Which is certainly in character for demons


                    Hahaha it <i>is</i> a Lost moment: "We don't know what's going on so we're just going to do a whole bunch of stuff that makes no sense and then we're going to talk about it like it's really meaningful and philosophical."
                    Now I'm thinking of Doctor Who's Blink...sad is happy for deep people. And incoherent is deep for careless people perhaps

                    In this case I think it's really lazy writing (like Lost again). That scene only needs a bit of tweaking and we could have something quite coherent.
                    Yeah, see, this is why he should've hired us. Fool.


                    -- Robofrakkinawesome BANNER BY FRANCY --

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                    • #11
                      I think we have to chalk the strange phrasing up to both a desire by the writers/Joss to be vague (thus preserving the surprise) and a general Spike is mad-scared and needs to tough talk to pump himself up. By getting himself all worked up, maybe he gets some adrenaline going and it helps with the torture and such to follow.
                      "All I ask is that... that you try to see me."

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                      • #12
                        This entire debate is extremely silly..

                        Joss stated it was a plot twist..
                        Therefore any credibility going towards Spike trying to remove his chip is invalid.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nostalgia View Post
                          This entire debate is extremely silly..

                          Joss stated it was a plot twist..
                          Therefore any credibility going towards Spike trying to remove his chip is invalid.
                          What we're saying is that since Spike really did go to get his soul, his last few scenes of s6 were really badly written, especially with the dialogue. Some of those phrases are normally only used by people who want revenge, and as Wolfie Gilmore said, "make me what I was" doesn't hold much water because Spike was never a souled vampire. So Joss was messing with characters, making them say things out of character, to deliberately draw us into his little "plot twist." That's low quality writing.
                          Buffy: It sounds like it's difficult for you. Maybe your sister makes it hard for you to establish your own identity. You said she's controlling, she doesn't let you make your own decisions -
                          Dawn: Yeah, and she borrows my clothes without asking.

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                          • #14
                            Originally Posted by redrevo
                            What we're saying is that since Spike really did go to get his soul, his last few scenes of s6 were really badly written, especially with the dialogue. Some of those phrases are normally only used by people who want revenge, and as Wolfie Gilmore said, "make me what I was" doesn't hold much water because Spike was never a souled vampire. So Joss was messing with characters, making them say things out of character, to deliberately draw us into his little "plot twist." That's low quality writing.
                            I really don't understand.. you do know the purpose of a plot twist.. don't you? To fool the audience? Your response only further improves the fact that Joss did a great job.
                            Last edited by Nostalgia; 19-06-07, 11:43 PM.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Nostalgia View Post
                              I really don't understand.. you don't know the purpose of a plot twist.. don't you? To fool the audience? Your response only further improves the fact that Joss did a great job.
                              Yes, but you're not supposed to go out of character or have the characters blatantly lie to the audience, especially when the other character involved knows that character 1 is lying.
                              Buffy: It sounds like it's difficult for you. Maybe your sister makes it hard for you to establish your own identity. You said she's controlling, she doesn't let you make your own decisions -
                              Dawn: Yeah, and she borrows my clothes without asking.

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                              • #16
                                No one ever blatently lied....

                                That's your speculation.. everything Spike said worked either way.. whether he wanted his chip back or he wanted his soul back.
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                                • #17
                                  "Joss said so" usually doesn't get people to let up on Xander in "Becoming", but, canon is what he says it is. They could have done a better job being ambiguous without leading you to him wanting the chip out, though. Spike's dialogue just doesn't track for that.

                                  As I've said, Spike himself never gives us any indication that he saw any real value in his soul other than a shot at Buffy until he shows interest in the Shanshu.
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                                  • #18
                                    "Joss said so" usually doesn't get people to let up on Xander in "Becoming", but, canon is what he says it is. They could have done a better job being ambiguous without leading you to him wanting the chip out, though. Spike's dialogue just doesn't track for that.
                                    What is the Xander issue?
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                                    • #19
                                      As I've said, Spike himself never gives us any indication that he saw any real value in his soul other than a shot at Buffy
                                      In the commentary on LMPTM, David Fury mentions that they looked for an actress who could be Buffy as an old woman.

                                      "Just a shot at Buffy" reduces the whole progress of Spike's character -- the origin of the obsession with Slayers, and how the obsession leads to a form of vampirical suicide, far more radical, say, than brain surgery; closer -- what is probably worse for a male -- vampirical castration. For over a century, Spike has re-created himself as the antithesis of the ineffectual romantic poet; he's tired to win Buffy by promising to kill Drusilla, to act contrary to his desires; and finally takes a step which is far more demeaning than anything else that he's done. He doesn't value having a soul in & of itself; it is an act of humiliation, mutiliation of his vampiric life; yet he does it anyway.
                                      Entrer dans la lumi?re comme un insecte fou respirer la poussi?re vous venir ? genoux - Patricia Kaas

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Nostalgia View Post
                                        I really don't understand.. you do know the purpose of a plot twist.. don't you? To fool the audience? Your response only further improves the fact that Joss did a great job.
                                        The point of a twist is to fool the audience initially, but when the truth is revealed, their response should be, "oooh, that's clever" or "ahhh, NOW everything falls into place", not "now that's just cheating" or "that's silly". I didn't feel fooled so much as short-changed.


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