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Was the WC right in 'Helpless' when they removed Giles?

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  • Was the WC right in 'Helpless' when they removed Giles?

    I don't neccecarily agree with the statement in the title of this thread. But I think that it could be an interesting topic to debate.


    The Counsil of Watchers replaced Giles because he was too involved with Buffy which meant in their eyes that he wouldn't be good in his job anymore. Do you think that they had a valid point?


    Like the whole Angelus situation, I don't know how long he was around but my guess is some months. A type as Angelus is not somebody who kills only one person a week. Was it Giles who should've done something? Called Kendra, did something himself (not his actions in Passion) or even force Buffy to do something about it. We saw how easy Wesley captured Angelus because he wasn't buzy with Faith's feelings and didn't care if she died. It saved many innocent people.


  • #2
    It's a hard question to answer, because it brings up two sides of a perennial debate: should you focus on results or on people? Utilitarian or Humanistic? Is it better to approach a situation with a mind to achieving your goal in the most efficient way possible, with little to no thought as to the human aspect of your plan? Or should you approach a situation with the human aspect of your plan being the most important part?

    Personally, I lean to a more humanistic view. But, in the eyes of the Watcher's Council, who are Utilitarian to the extreme, firing Giles was completely necessary for all the reasons you listed above. I think, ultimately, Joss slighted the show a bit in always portraying the Watcher's Council as either ice cold bureaucrats or bumbling fools, and never allowing the fact that both sides of the argument do have valid points. Angel was much better in this regards, with a murkier view of morality and life.

    Comment


    • #3
      After what Xavier said, I really have hardly anything to add.

      From the Council's point of view (after all, those who forced Giles to put Buffy through such a cruel test) Giles is not only too involved, but also rebels against their orders, so it's no surprise they pick a substitute, and one where they are fairly sure he'll do everything "by the book".

      From Buffy's point of view, it is of course a loss to have a Watcher she has come to trust and love like a father taken away from her. Not a wise move, separating a team that works well together, and moreover take the trusted mentor away and replace him, because Buffy will have trouble coping, but the Council doesn't give people's feelings much thought, clearly.
      Sin is what I feast upon
      I'm forging my crematorium
      Your tomb is waiting here for you
      Welcome to my ritual

      -Judas Priest, Death

      Comment


      • #4
        Yep, I don't really have much to add. Treating people as ends in themselves rather than tools, or means to an end isn't necessarily contradictory to the big picture.

        It's actually not too dissimilar to Angel and Faith or Buffy Vs Xander in Selfless. While both sides can be deemed valid, the Utilitarian argument sometimes assumes that sentiment isn't useful in regards of saving the lives of many. While this can sometimes be true as Bloodsucker said, it doesn't work in every case. Giles' style of 'Watching' worked well with Buffy, until he started to adopt their traits all too readily and Angel's compassion for Faith turned her into a useful warrior to the cause.

        Like the whole Angelus situation, I don't know how long he was around but my guess is some months. A type as Angelus is not somebody who kills only one person a week. Was it Giles who should've done something? Called Kendra, did something himself (not his actions in Passion) or even force Buffy to do something about it. We saw how easy Wesley captured Angelus because he wasn't buzy with Faith's feelings and didn't care if she died. It saved many innocent people.
        Interesting one. Calling Kendra may have been an idea but I suppose in the thick of it he didn't think about that. The issue is that Giles style of being a watcher had pros and cons. If Buffy started to eschew her feelings and become hardened, would she be a better Slayer overall? She tried in Season 7, didn't work out too well for her.

        As for Wes and Faith, despite what Lorne and Connor assumed, I don't rememeber anything on screen that actually states it was Wes' plan. Wes wanted Faith to use her dark edge to take it all the way but she insists there has to be another and she finds it. Maybe I'm biased but I feel thematically it was her plan rather than Wes'. If not, when did he change his mind? He was saying that she should risk Angel's life in order to defeat Angelus but Faith's willingless to sacrifice herself is more akin to her redemption, rather than Wes' ruthlessness. He even says to Lorne, the choice was Faith's. If he was responsible, I don't see him as the type to avoid that responsibility. So this kind of ties in with the theme of this thread but not in the way you perhaps expected. Faith returns Angel's favour and care giver credo actually works more or less for the greater good. In any respect, if Faith had gone Wes' way and taken it as far as it may go, sure Angelus may have been stopped but Angel may have been killed in the process.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm on the fence, I agree with Xavier that BtVS wasn't handeling the grey aspects the right way. They were too easy with dismissing the CoW as a counsil of old and cold idiots while not adressing the bad sides of Buffy's way of fighting. Like the Angelus situation, that went way too far. All those innocents who did die only because Buffy wasn't ready and her watcher gave her so much slack. I can see the viewpoint of the CoW and I wished that they got some credit for their work. (I would love to see that some of the new slayers want a real watcher (not being part of team Andrew or Rhona), just to show the other side.)

          On the other side, slayers aren't weapons but human girls. And they deserve to be treated like humans. And like people said already, Buffy was only listening to Giles because he was treating her the way he did.

          Comment


          • #6
            The Watchers Council acted logically in sacking Giles, but no, I do not consider that they had a morally legitimate point of view. IMO the WC was a self serving organization; their claim to be fighting evil was at best a half truth. The Slayers were exploited girls who were expected to know their place.

            After Helpless Buffy grew into the command role,making some mistakes along the way. She had to learn to trust and depend on a group of friends--but not on one person.

            "If all men count with you,but none too much."

            I think that is the first pillar of wisdom.
            Last edited by Michael; 15-12-08, 02:57 PM.

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            • #7
              Watchers don't just claim to fight evil, they fight evil. Not only do they help slayers in any way possible (training/information), there are teams with only watchers and they protect innocents and/or fight vampires. Wesley's father fought together with his team against Spike in 1960.

              Only some of them train potentials and one of them the slayer. But clearly all the other watchers fight evil as well. It's why the First blows them up in the first place, also without slayer they are still a danger of evil.

              Comment


              • #8
                They exploit young girls to a degree that comes well within any definitions of abuse and exploitation. The girls are paid nothing,they are emotionally manipulated to a shocking extent, and usually die very young in lonely and painful ways.The WC shows no real interest in their long term welfare, education, or their families.

                For me the high point of BtVS is when Buffy forces Travers to drink from the bitter cup of humiliation and work with her on her terms rather than laying down the law in his usual pompous fashion. It was one of those divine revolutionary moments when the world changes.

                When we last see Travers in Season 7 he is planning to come to Sunnydale, with his traveling circus of goons and freaks, without telling the Slayer. That shows how serious he is about fighting evil.His poisonous conceit is even stronger than his sense of self preservation.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The WC sends the watchers to the girls. Those women and men do everything for their slayers, they die for them if they have to. They teach them and make the hard calls. The WC never stood in the way of Buffy's education, familylife, friendships ... they even let her date any vampire she wants.

                  Yes, the slayers are young girls and I agree that they should pay the girls (although it looked like they took care of Kendra). But the WC can't change the spell, slayers are young girls so they have to deal with it.

                  Also almost all the slayers love and/or trust their watchers, you don't love/trust somebody when you feel like you are treated badly. Yes, their life sucks but at least there is a watcher to make it bearable.

                  Travers was a difficult and proud man who was not very likable. Neither is Roger Wyndam-Price, but that doesn't make them evil. They do their job, and that's protecting innocents and kill evil. And if you work on the big scale it's less personal, you see the same in season 8 where Buffy has many young girls under her guard and many times they die nameless somewhere on a battlefield. Slayers are soldiers, that was the situation when the WC had the power and that's the new situation.

                  The WC wasn't flawless and neither were their people. But also the scoobies and their new organisation aren't flawless. Both have pros and cons.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think the main issues of discussion is do the ends justify the means or can you fight evil with evil.

                    A similar issue was raised in WWF. Lawson claimed you don't win a war by doing whatever it takes, to win it by doing what's right. In the context of the episode or even in the verse it does seem to be something of a naive position, however can we dismiss it so readily. Balancing out the ends and the means to me is a good thing and simply leading with one's heart has got Buffy into numerous problems, however it was her feelings and ties to her friends that have allowed her to last as long as she has so yes there are pros and cons but I was also arguing that looking at the big picture isn't anti-thetical as taking an approach that involves compassion and being careful that lines are not crossed too easily, otherwise there is danger of becoming the monsters they are fighting.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It is true that young slayers may die under Buffy's command but she is in a very different moral position to Travers. She has fought, and died, and fought again. She has borne the heat and burden of the day, whereas Travers bears the heat and burden of dinner, followed--I am assuming--by brandy and cigars.

                      Most Slayers were kept in ignorance and social isolation for the duration of their short, poor, and painful lives. In the face of this brutal fact the kindliness of some watchers is a trivial, sentimental matter.

                      Why in any case was there only one Slayer in those days? What could one Slayer do apart from holding the vampires at bay? I think Joyce makes a similar point in one episode. It seems to me that the question answers itself. The WC was not "fighting evil" but maintaining a balance of power.

                      Probably it is a mistake to think of vampires and demons as "evil." They are--mostly--predators, and like natural predators they no doubt have their place and function in the supernatural ecology. Their influence needs to be limited, but they are not to be exterminated. If the vampire population fell below a certain level I expect that the supernatural authorities would impose a preservation order. It would be easy to write a story with some conventions which would treat vampire slaying as a blood sport.

                      On the more general point raised by Kana, I would say that evil frequently is used to fight evil. It is the smart strategy for "good" people to get villains to do the dirty work. Nazi Germany was brought down, in the main, by Stalin's Soviet Russia. A choice of evils has always been the usual deal.
                      Last edited by Michael; 15-12-08, 07:05 PM. Reason: Addional point

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                      • #12
                        So, Vampires aren't evil, but the Watchers are evil?

                        Originally posted by Michael View Post
                        It is true that young slayers may die under Buffy's command but she is in a very different moral position to Travers. She has fought, and died, and fought again. She has borne the heat and burden of the day, whereas Travers bears the heat and burden of dinner, followed--I am assuming--by brandy and cigars.
                        We have never been given any evidence of Travers' early life. By the time we meet him he is in late middle age, already the head of the Council (thus in a similar position to that which Buffy is in during Season 8). We don't know whether he's fought in wars, or against vampires, or if he had his own Slayer or what. If Roger Wyndam-Price's experiences are in any way representative, then Travers might have been in a team of Watchers that sometimes went up against Vampires. Just because he is approaching retirement age when we see him, and thus should not be out directly fight evil, does not mean he has never done so.

                        Most Slayers were kept in ignorance and social isolation for the duration of their short, poor, and painful lives.
                        As are the soldiers of any state military. While I could argue that both examples are evil, at least in the case of the Watchers they had legitimate, sometimes world-ending foes.

                        In the face of this brutal fact the kindliness of some watchers is a trivial, sentimental matter.
                        You can't overblow one human aspect of a vast organization (Travers) and trivialize another human aspect of a vast organization (Giles/field Watchers). The Watchers Council has been around for tens of thousands of years, and it is made up of an untold number of people. They have unimaginable power, probably akin to Wolfram and Hart, the only other organization that we know has been around near that long, and they could use it to their gain. If the Watchers were really as self-serving as you suggest, they would no doubt resemble Wolfram and Hart a lot more than they did. Instead they remained dedicated to their purpose, which was training and taking care of the Slayer (who would be called with or without them). Yes, their methods could be unsound. Yes, their theories could be unsound. Yes, their people could be unsound. No, that does not make them evil.


                        Why in any case was there only one Slayer in those days? What could one Slayer do apart from holding the vampires at bay? I think Joyce makes a similar point in one episode. It seems to me that the question answers itself. The WC was not "fighting evil" but maintaining a balance of power.
                        There was only one Slayer because that was what the effect of the spell. Willow was only able to activate all the potentials because of the Scythe, which was only found a few days prior.

                        Probably it is a mistake to think of vampires and demons as "evil." They are--mostly--predators, and like natural predators they no doubt have their place and function in the supernatural ecology. Their influence needs to be limited, but they are not to be exterminated. If the vampire population fell below a certain level I expect that the supernatural authorities would impose a preservation order. It would be easy to write a story with some conventions which would treat vampire slaying as a blood sport.
                        I have two issues with this statement: 1. the comparison of vampires and demons with natural predators, and 2. if that is accepted, the idea that natural predators need to be limited.

                        Either a. demons and vampires are natural, and thus should be allowed to live and feed as nature impels, thus making the Slayer and the Council misguided and subject to the usual human arrogance at best. or b. their influence needs to be controlled, because they are unnatural, thus justifying the existence of the Slayer, and by association the Council.

                        In my eyes you shouldn't limit the influence of natural predators. Nature polices itself, and mankind's efforts in this area are always spurred on by arrogant and selfish reasoning.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Xavier,
                          Interesting as always, but:-

                          1) What you say about the regular military services is hopelessly, totally inaccurate and defamatory so far as the Western powers are concerned. They are paid, they have community and tradition, they are respected in society, and they offer first class educational opportunities. I regret to suggest that you are allowing your anti-military prejudices do your thinking for you.

                          I have just been watching Newsnight on the BBC in which Jeremy Paxman interviewed some young British veterans just back from Afghanistan, one of them badly wounded. They were impressively calm, articulate, thoughtful, and not bitter.

                          In my work as a journalist, soldiers have been some of the most intelligent, educated, humane, and skeptical people I have ever spoken with. When soldiers return to their home towns from duty in Afghanistan or Iraq people cheer them as they march along the streets, not because they support these rotten, stupid wars any more than I do, but because it is a decent and human thing to want to show respect and affection for the young men and women who put themselves in harms way. Not to speak up for the dignity and value of our fighting services would be a kind of treason in my eyes.

                          2) I admit I was guessing about Travers from my assessment of his character and personality. He has all the pomposity of the second rate bureaucrat. If he was the top man in the WC it is clear that the Council was an institution in decline. I imagine that once it could command the services of first class scoundrels like Bismark or Machiavelli. In the end it was led by Travers, who looks and sounds like a manager who has just been made redundant by Woolworth's.

                          3) Victims of predators have the right to kill them, rather than be killed, if they have the power. Surely that is obvious, unless you want to argue that we have a duty to die if some other species wants to feed on us? The natural balance of nature keeps most predators in check.Vampires are predators who need a little more discouragement. I just think it is more useful and less emotional to see them as predators rather than as "evil." Most of them were victims in their way.

                          4) Yes I know that "the spell" provided for one Slayer, but why only one? Since the spell was changed in Season 7 it could have been changed centuries ago. No, it makes sense to see the WC running a balance of power strategy so far as the demonic underworld was concerned. I do not disagree with such a strategy on principle, but I find their methods contemptible, and in the end ineffectual. The balance of power would have collapsed if it had not been for Buffy and her rebel band of outcasts and eccentrics.
                          Last edited by Michael; 16-12-08, 01:27 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            1. No, you're right. I wrote that quickly and without thinking. I have several family members in service, and I generally respect soldiers. I let my dislike of organized warfare and those who perpetuate it for profit get away from me.

                            2. I must admit that I never understood the hatred of Travers. He is not the most likable character, that's for sure, but I never saw him as inept or evil. We saw him only three times (I think), in Helpless, in Checkpoint, and in Season 7. In Helpless he came off very bad, of course. In Checkpoint he was insufferable, but he gave in very gracefully in the face of reason and logic. In Season 7 he seemed very capable of comforting and rallying his subordinates. I found him mostly intriguing. I would love to see more about his life.

                            3. On this point we seem to have a Buffyverse question and a real world question diverging. One the one hand, should vampires be considered natural predators rather than "evil"? No, in my opinion, because they are able and willing to go above and beyond hunting for food: Drusilla and the Judge, Angelus and Acathla, The Master trying to open the Hellmouth, etc. On the other hand, natural predators in the real world: Yes, a predator's prey, if they can, has the right to kill the predator that is attacking them. But there is a difference between self-defense and immolation of the threat. No prey in nature other than human beings have the ability to influence, control, or eradicate their predators. No other prey in nature would adopt the idea that any predator able or willing to kill them should be considered 'evil' and stamped out. Just because human beings can do this to their predators (lions, tigers, bears, alligators, etc) does not mean that they should. Which is why I take issue with the idea of limiting the influence of predators, even though I do not believe vampires should be considered merely predators.

                            4. The focus of Willow's spell, the only thing that made it possible, was the Scythe. Such a spell could never be performed before because the Scythe was not known to exist until just a few days before the spell was carried out.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I agree with Xavier there, we don't know enough about Travers to entirely condemn him. He does not appear to be a very likeable man, but clearly he got to the position he was holding until S7 by playing an important role in the fight against demons and forces of darkness.

                              As for the vampires and predators question - I wouldn't count vampires as predators. That's what the Initiative does, more or less, but they ignore two issues there, in my opinion:
                              1) They are sentient beings, on the same intelligence level as humans and capable of communicating in the very same language.
                              2) Unlike animals, they are a perverted form of humans, possessed by a demon infection, so to say, which unleashes the evil in them. They hunt to survive, but they also kill for the pleasure of killing.
                              Sin is what I feast upon
                              I'm forging my crematorium
                              Your tomb is waiting here for you
                              Welcome to my ritual

                              -Judas Priest, Death

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I think he was right about Giles to a certain point. From the rules they set in the Watcher's Counsil, Giles wasn't acting like Buffy's watcher, he was acting as her father and/or family member.. he wasn't thinking with his brain, he was loving with his heart. And that can help or hurt a situation, however you look at it.


                                I think Travers takes a very narrow, old way, clinical view on slayers, their watchers, demons .. the entire thing.
                                And what is interesting is that if he thinks there is danger in a watcher loving his slayer, then he should see that there is just as much danger in not opening your mind and changing with the times. And Travers showed he never really did that.. what was, was always going to be. The old rituals and tests would remain. The old expectations would remain no matter what anyone said and I think it's safe to say that that kind of thinking is just as dangerous if not more so then a watcher caring deeply and thinking with his heart for the slayer he's treating.


                                I think part of Buffy's strength came from the personal connections she made. Thats probably why she lasted longer then most, as opposed to those others who trained in that narrow minded way that Travers wanted and are long dead.

                                I think in Slayer Lore, Buffy is unique. I think she's lastest longer then most and she's hit some patches probably most haven't. A part where the very thing that helped her stay connected to the world (friends and family) kind of hinder her on her mission as the slayer.. that is why I think she became disconnected a lot. So hey maybe Travers did have a point. But did he really get the idea.. that just because a person is chosen that that means they stop being human beings who need happiness, love, affection..? No. And I think that was the watcher counsil's downfall.

                                I mean didn't we see that in The Wish, straight up no feelings no holds bard Buffy.. did she live? No. She died at the hands of the master, where as loved Buffy, the ones with friends and connections.. she defeated the master.

                                I think the best thing that ever happened to Giles was to leave that place. He found his own way. And later when the watcher counsil ended, the Scoobies all apparently joined up and decided to train the potencials in a new way. I think in the future new slayers will have a better chance at survival. Out with the old, in with the new. And they are learning, not from someone who merely studied vampires and slayers, but from two slayers and the people who have spent so much time fighting vampires and demons.
                                Joss Whedon: What I basically said was 'Play the romance. Be proud of him. Love him when you say you love him.. - Spike and Buffy in Chosen
                                ****
                                TV Guide: Spike and Buffy #1 Hottest Scene- March 2008

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  On the predator question I did not--I think--suggest that we should exterminate lions, or sharks, or even bankers--though I had to think about bankers.

                                  I proposed, half in jest (which is always dangerous) that if the vampires got close to extinction because of too many slayers, it might be necessary to start a Vampire Protection Society because they are needed for some obscure purpose within the supernatural ecology.

                                  I don't think that vampires any longer have free will as between good and evil--as a rule anyway. They are driven by an inner necessity that ends only when they are destroyed or, very rarely indeed, when they get their souls back.

                                  I agree on the whole with Dazzling about Travers and Buffy. I cannot get rid of the idea that Travers wished that Buffy were dead so he could have a more amenable Slayer.

                                  Travers concern for his own power and prerogatives has gone so far as to corrupt him and the Council. However I too would like a story-perhaps a novel?--about Travers and the secret role of the Council in the history of the world. It is a fascinating subject.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    And learning more about the Council's work altogether would be interesting.

                                    Quite possible that Travers wouldn't mourn Buffy's death at all and hope for a less "complicated" replacement, maybe even appreciate if she got killed. If he would actually arrange for it if he felt it were necessary is a question we probably can't answer, since we don't learn enough about him to know, but yes, he'd rather have Kendra, no doubt.
                                    (Not sure if Buffy would get a replacement, though - hasn't the spell gone over to Kendra's line, so to say, so that Faith would need to die in order for a new Slayer to be called/activated? We never learn if someone comes for Buffy after S5, so we don't really know.)

                                    Haha, vampires as a protected species. Well, with all the many Slayers around now, it might just happen.
                                    Sin is what I feast upon
                                    I'm forging my crematorium
                                    Your tomb is waiting here for you
                                    Welcome to my ritual

                                    -Judas Priest, Death

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      In terms of the general idea of the Watcher's Council, Travers included as a general rule they seem to view Slayers as tools. So Giles feelings about Buffy aren't merely emotional, it's a moral concept as well. We can see this from the way the treated Faith.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        We should not overlook the fact that Travers dislikes the qualities in Buffy that make her such a super slayer--her smartness, intellectual independence, and her ability to make and sustain friendships and alliances. She is a better slayer than poor Kendra, but I am sure Travers preferred the Kendra type. When one died, another one was activated. Travers did not give a toss.

                                        This moral contradiction lies at the center of Travers character and was probably written into the ethos of the Council right from the beginning. Does the Council want to contain the demonic underworld chiefly in order to maintain its own power? I think so, yes. That is why I said in answer to Nina's question that I don't think the Council was "justified" in sacking Giles, but the decision was a logical one.

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