itsnotmymind: (spike)
One of the neat things about Warren Mears as a villain is how he is paralleled with just about every major character on the show. There are Warren-Buffy parallels, staring as early as “I Was Made to Love You”, Warren-Willow parallels (Here’s a little one: In “Seeing Red”, Warren calls Buffy “super-bitch” while fighting her. Willow does the same thing in “Two To Go”.), and Warren-Spike parallels. And there are even Warren-Faith parallels, despite the fact that Faith doesn’t even appear in seasons five and six of BtVS.

The parallels between Willow and Warren are particularly noticeable in the scene in "Villains" where Willow creates an image of Katrina to taunt Warren. What “Katrina” says to Warren, and what Willow says to Warren about Katrina. Change “Warren” to “Willow” and “killed her” to “erased her memories”, and everything "Katrina" says, word-for-word, that is said could be applied to Willow and Tara. Presumably, this is Willow's subconscious guilt speaking. This fascinating vid illustrates the parallels between Willow and Warren.

The Warren-Spike parallels start as early as “I Was Made to Love You”, with the Buffy-bot. As someone online once pointed out, Warren and Spike both give up their robots, but they don’t give up their warped ideas about romance. They are on opposite trajectories: Warren going down, and Spike going up. And they both get there through attempted rape.

In the scene where Willow taunts Warren with a vision of Katrina, you could change “Warren” to “Spike” and “killed her” to “tried to rape her” and then everything "Katrina" says, word-for-word, could be applied to Spike and Buffy.

There is one difference between Spike and Warren, which probably helps to explain why the former gets love from fandom, and the latter doesn’t (well, okay, this and James Marsters' good looks). When Katrina asks, "How could you say you loved me, and do that to me?” Warren replies, so suddenly that it startles: “Because you deserved it, bitch!” It’s an instinctive reply. It’s very revealing.

But Spike has a very different instinctive reply about what Buffy deserves in a Joss-written scene in “Hell’s Bells”. When he sees that coming seeing him with a date genuinely upsets her, he offers to leave.

"No,” Buffy says. “No, I ... you have every right to be here. I pretty much deserve—”

Spike cuts her off. “That's not true, you...” He looks at the ceiling, a frustrated by his own reluctance to hurt her (foreshadowing his frustration with his guilt in the crypt scene in "Seeing Red"). “God, this is hard.”

There is also Spike’s last words of the season: “So you'll give me what I want. Make me what I was. So Buffy can get what she deserves.” I had been spoiled for the fact that Spike gets a soul, but I also knew there was controversy in fandom about whether or not Spike chose to get the soul, or was tricked into it. It was this line that made me realize it was his choice. I could believe that Spike would have the chip taken out so that he could kill Buffy and her loved ones, but I could not believe that he would think she deserved it.

Also, despite the parallels between Spike and Warren, Spike’s initial reaction to his realization that what he had tried to do was rape is more like Jonathan and Andrew’s that Warren's--shock and denial.

Despite Faith's absence in the seasons were Warren is present and alive, there are also Warren and Faith parallels. It’s obvious that Steven DeKnight re-watched “Consequences” before writing “Dead Things”. Many others have pointed out the parallels between the argument between Buffy and Spike in the alley, and Buffy and Faith’s arguments in “Consequences”, but I don’t know that I’ve seen anyone discuss the ways in Warren's reaction to killing Katrina mirrors Faith's.

Both Faith and Warren start their downhill spiral by killing someone accidentally. How they get there is very different--Faith, despite a lot of reckless behavior, was doing her job as a slayer, ridding the world of vampires. Warren was trying to become a master criminal and force his ex-girlfriend to take him back. But their reactions to the unintentional killings are similar: Their first instincts are to take no responsibility and dump the body. They deny feeling guilty about the person they killed (a denial that is more convincing in Warren's case than in Faith's). They are quick to emphasize to the people who were by their side (and who arguably share responsibility for the death) that the guilt must be shared. Faith tells Buffy, “You were right there beside me when this whole thing went down. Anything I have to answer for, you do, too. You're a part of this, B. All the way.”

When Jonathan asks in shock what Warren has done, Warren tells him, “We did this. Me, and Andrew, and you. It's on all of us.”

Both Warren and Faith try to frame the same person, Buffy, for the crime, refusing to consider the possibility of taking responsibility themselves. “I'm not going to jail,” Warren tells Jonathan and Andrew when they suggest going to the police. When Buffy suggests that it will be worse for Faith if she doesn't come clean to Giles and Wesley about what she has done, Faith denies that anything could be worse than jail for the rest of her young life. Perhaps there is a difference here--Faith assumes she will get the harshest consequence possible; Warren doesn't want to accept any consequences at all. But for both of them, the refusal to accept consequences leads to the same result: Now there is nothing to stand between either Warren/Faith and further acts of murder and mayhem.

In some ways, Faith has more in common with Andrew, who thinks getting away with murder is "kinda cool", but hadn't seriously considered doing it before. Angel warns Faith that “to kill without remorse is to feel like a god." Killing opened up for Faith possibilities that she hadn't considered before. For a girl who had been abused, neglected, and powerless for much of her life, the ability to take a human life offered a kind of power that she could only imagine before.

For both Warren and Faith, their first genuinely evil act is attempted rape--although in Faith's case her assault of Xander happens after her accidental killing of Finch, rather than being prelude to the accidental murder as Warren's mind control of Katrina was.

Both Faith and Warren end up not-so different: A core Scoobie goes after them, looking for blood after Faith and Warren attack her lover. Willow and Buffy have different motivations--Willow is out for revenge for Tara's death, Buffy is trying to save Angel's life. Both have different results:Willow succeeds in killing Warren, who cannot match her power. Buffy and Faith are equally matched, and despite losing their battle, Faith is able to foil Buffy's plans and escape with her life, even if she's stuck in a coma. Her death is only metaphorical.

Neither Scoobie is that repentant about their actions. Buffy and Willow may have some remorse about their act of murder/attempted murder, but neither has a lot of regrets about who that act was directed towards.

“A murderous, misogynist man. I mean, do you understand what he did?” Willow asks Kennedy, in “The Killer In Me”. She says, "I killed him for a reason.”

“You had it coming,” Buffy tells Faith in “This Year’s Girl”.

But while Warren's death ends any chance he might have had at redemption, and he reappears only to tempt Andrew to the dark side and represent Willow's inner darkness, Faith gets a second chance, and is inspired by her experience being Buffy and Angel's example and support to come back from the dark side.
itsnotmymind: (buffy/spike ayw)
*Trigger Warning* for the first two links

An analysis of sexual assault on Buffy the Vampire Slayer which is also in large part a defense of how Buffy/Spike was written in S7. I find this meta particularly interesting since [livejournal.com profile] butterfly isn't a Buffy/Spike shipper, and while she's not anti-Spike, she doesn't count him among her favorite characters.

Speaking of people who aren't Spike fans, I hope I don't have to hand in my Spuffy credentials if I say that my favorite post about Seeing Red is this one, by [livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink, who is not only not a Buffy/Angel shipper, but, by her own acknowledgement, hates Spike.

Also, I found DeadLetters, a website of short BtVS and AtS fics that take the form of letters written by characters who have just died. I haven't had a chance to read all of them, but my favorite so far is you, me and shania twain, from Faith to Buffy.
itsnotmymind: (buffy & faith)
I have thoughts an opinion I've seen a few times in my explorations in BtVS fandom. Specifically, the idea that Faith and Spike are held more accountable for their bad behavior towards Buffy than Buffy is in her bad behavior towards them. I have some thoughts on what it is about the way the show is structured that might encourage some fans to react that way.

The first obvious fact: Faith and Spike are both murderers, who have done a lot of evil to people within Buffy's social circle, but even more evil to people outside of Buffy and her social circle. Faith didn’t kill anyone we, the viewers, actually know. Neither did Spike. That's fairly typical for BtVS. Anya didn't kill anyone we know, either. Andrew is an exception, since Jonathon was a sympathetic character whom the viewers now, although he was Andrew's own friend and not a member of the Scoobies. Willow kills someone we know, but Warren is total sleaze who killed her girlfriend. Angel killed someone we know, Jenny Calendar, but the narrative encourages us to see souled and soulless Angel as two different people. I think the show makes more sense if you view Angel and Angelus as the same person (both more sense in terms of Angel's psychology and more sense in terms of the mythology of the show), but both BtVS and AtS are both inconsistent in that regard, and the narrative encourages a certain amount of distance between the two that doesn't exist with any of the other murderers on the show, including other vampires like Spike or Darla. By AtS, Angel even starts using different names depending on whether he has his soul or not.

And just in case I haven't disclaimed enough (and unending fannish feuds seem to make such disclaimers necessary), I want to emphasize that I am not saying that I think, on a Watsonian level, that Spike is better at taking responsibility as a souled being for his actions while soulless--that seems to depend largely on what storyline you are looking at, and sometimes Angel is better at it than Spike--but that there is a narrative distance between Angel and Angelus that does not exist between Spike and, uh, Spike.

Or between Darla and Darla. I don't think it's a coincidence that in Angel S3, when there’s a storyline about Angel and Darla murdering an innocent women and her children, and we see, in flashbacks, the full of horror of it, Darla does not survive the storyline. Darla, who does not have the same divide between her souled and soulless self that Angel does, commits suicide after expressing remorse for what she did to that family. Darla dies, and for once, stays dead.

Faith and Spike do not kill characters we know. They do not kill characters that are beloved by the Scoobies or Angel’s gang (even Andrew didn’t kill anyone beloved by the Scoobies). It would be harder for the audience to sympathize with them, and harder for the Scoobies and Angel’s gang to forgive them, if they did. But when it comes time for these characters be the center of a redemption story, a human face is needed to represent the victims. One way of dealing with is problem is to have a character like Holtz or Wood introduced who lost loved ones to them. That’s one of handling it. Another way of handling it is to could use major characters who have been hurt by the characters in need of redemption in non-fatal way to represent the victims. You know, like Buffy Summers.

In “Sanctuary”, and in early S7 (from “Beneath You” through “Never Leave Me”), Buffy (along with Wesley, for Faith) represents the victims of Faith and Spike respectively. In the church scene in “Beneath You”, Spike conflates earning forgiveness from Buffy with earning forgiveness from all the other people he wronged (“And she shall look on him with forgiveness and everybody will forgive and love… and he will be loved.”). This sets the tone for the next several episodes. In “Help”, “Seeing Red” is treated as soulless Spike's worst moment (Spike even says, "I hurt the girl", as if Buffy were the only girl he hurt). In “Never Leave Me”, Spike's other victims are discussed and he explicitly says the Buffy got off easy compared to his other victims, but she is still used to represent all his victims.

But the things Faith and Spike did to Buffy are not as bad as the things they did to people outside Buffy's show. The things they did to Buffy, are horrid, but when the show treats them as the worst things they ever did, or as representative of all their crimes, it makes them both look much better than they actually are.

On the other hand, Buffy has to represent the innocent victim. Which means that she is portrayed as forgiving and taking back Spike and Faith, while her own crimes towards them are downplayed, just as their crimes towards people outside her circle (or, in some cases, inside her circle--i.e. Faith's assault of Xander which more or less got dropped by the narrative) are downplayed.

So that's my interpretation. I think the narrative choice of sometimes using Buffy to representing all the people wronged by Faith and Spike makes Buffy look better than she actually is--and makes Faith and Spike look better than they actually are.
itsnotmymind: (Default)
There seem to be a few requirements for BtVS and AtS characters to achieve redemption, and one of the things that all characters that achieve redemption must do is express the genuine willingness to die for their sins. Angel does it in "Amends", Faith in "Five by Five", Spike in "Sleeper" and "Never Leave Me", Anya in "Selfless", and Andrew in "Storyteller". AtS has a couple of characters with failed redemption stories (Lindsay and Harmony) who never reach that point.

The other requirement of these redemption stories is that, for whatever reason, these characters do not die for their sins, and instead must live with them, and go on to the next stage of their redemption. Darla is an odd exception--in her sort-of redemption storyline, she twice (in "The Trial", and again in "Lullaby") reaches the stage where she is prepared to die. The first time, she reverts to evil against her will. The second time, she actually succeeds in killing herself.

(And then there's Connor, but since he doesn't complete a redemption story in the course of the series, I'll leave him out of it.)

Faith and Spike both emphasize how their badness while begging for death from Angel and Buffy respectively. Faith repeatedly tells Angel that she’s “bad” while begging him to kill her. Spike tries to convince Buffy to stake him on the grounds that he is an inherently bad person, and any good he may have done is merely “window dressing”. He also describes himself as a "bad man".

Angel, Anya, Andrew, and Darla, when expressing acceptance of redemptive deaths, may have made passing references to when “when I was evil”, or similar comments, none of them went on about how “bad” they were.  Angel, when attempting suicide, was more concerned about the fact that he was weak than the fact that he was bad (“Look, I'm weak. I've never been anything else. It's not the demon in me that needs killing, Buffy. It's the man.”). Anya was more concerned that she had no idea who she was (“Xander, you can't help me. I'm not even sure there's a me to help.”). Andrew merely, finally, admits what he did, and makes the connection to Jonathan's feelings while dying and his own ("And I killed Jonathan. And now you're gonna kill me. And I'm scared, and I'm going to die. And this—this is what Jonathan felt.”). Darla for her first near-death mentions nothing about being "bad", and simply concludes that her second chance is to die, "the way I was supposed to die in the first place". Her final death in Lullaby is more hopeful: She dies telling Angel that their infant son is the only good thing they ever did together. She expresses horror about their past actions, but does not seem to consider herself inherently evil.

I assume Spike and Faith's insistence on their own inherent badness has something to do with their roles as Buffy's shadow-selves. They are the evil versions of Buffy, and she is the good version of them. In some of her darkest moments, Buffy projects her capacity for evil onto them. In their lowest moments, they project any capacity for good they might have onto her, and can't see the potential of themselves.
itsnotmymind: (Default)
Meanderings on Buffy:

Hostility between Scooby friends and shadow-selves definitely seems to be affected by gender. There are a lot of parallels between Spike and Xander (they both have unrequited crushes on Buffy that they are initially entitled about, and both attempt to rape her while under some supernatural influence), and they can’t stand each other. Willow hates Faith, and the two are almost direct opposites in S3: The very unsexual goody-goody and the hyper-sexual “bad girl” (And may I just note how not thrilled I am by the correlation between sexuality, especially female sexuality, and "badness"?). Buffy’s relationships with her Scooby friends have a pleasant surface that hides a lot of suppressed resentment and anger. Her relationships with her shadow-shelves are combative and violent, but underneath the hostility is a deep, instinctive bond.

Buffy is an outsider with her Scooby friends. She’s the “hero”, the “Slayer”, the weird one. For better or for worse, the special one. In “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”, she feels left out when Willow and Xander reminisce about their elementary school days. In “When She Was Bad”, she dreams of Giles strangling her while her friends watch on, unfazed. In “Becoming, Part 2”, she feels so estranged from her friends that she leaves town without even telling them.

She connects with her shadow-selves, but she doesn’t belong with them, either. She has responsibilities that they couldn’t understand. She never entirely gives up on her other relationships, leaving Spike and Faith, who have no one else, feeling left out. They belong entirely to her, but she will never give herself entirely to them. “I am not alone,” Buffy tells the First Slayer in “Restless”. Faith and Spike are, and they ache to be Buffy. To have friends, to have a family. “There's trees in the desert since you moved out,” Buffy tells the First Slayer. “And I don't sleep on a bed of bones. Now give me back my friends.”

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