spike and buffy got screwed–now with proof! (part 1)

There is a great “This American Life” episode called “The Real Story”  that includes a hilarious section from a writer, a huge fan of Star Wars (IV, V, and VI), who was distraught over how wrong they had gotten Episode I.  At night, lying awake in bed, he would rewrite it, making it the perfect shining thing it should have been.

Is this a writer thing?  A geek thing?  I’ve done the same thing repeatedly with various stories, once before on this blog for the Matrix sequels.

Now I’m going to do it with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Like bazillions of others, I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was live on the networks and loved it.  And while there were story lines and characters that had me totally hooked, there were others that bugged the crap out of me.  And apparently still do, ten years later, because here I am writing about something they got totally right, and something they got–for me–wrong enough to piss me off for a decade.

So, I submit Part 1: how Willow and Buffy were on parallel journey’s, mirroring each other in often lockstep style (focusing on season six and seven) and Part 2: where and how the writers broke that linkage, and why I think things should have gone differently (with evidence! Lots of evidence!).

And let me add this: props to everyone involved on Buffy for creating a terrific story I still care about ten years later!  No disrespect meant with my little deconstruction to come.

One more note: I’m going to be talking about all the information we get up to the final episode—the full text as it were—a perspective we didn’t have back when we were watching live.  It’s a different experience to know the end as you watch the beginning and the middle.  It alters the meanings of things as they progress.  For example, the whole magic-as-drug addiction thing looked like a weak metaphor for an after-school-special when it was airing.  But knowing the whole picture of Willow’s arc deepens that perspective.  I’ll say more about that in a minute.

People who could care less about Buffy and the Scoobies should bow out now.  So, let’s get to it!

Okay.  This show is about is power.  Who has it, who wants it, how they get it, and how they deal with it when they’ve got it.  For Willow, power is clearly mapped out as Magic, first as a hobby, then as an addiction, then as something inside of her she has to deal with (paraphrase from Giles in the season 7 opener).  For Buffy, power is  being the Slayer, which we learn late in season 7 comes from a magical ritual done thousands of years ago where a girl was essentially raped by a demon to gain the demon’s power to kill other demons—a power that would pass on to a new Slayer each generation.  I think Spike (and Buffy’s attraction for him), in many ways embodied that demonic/slayer power for Buffy in the later seasons.  So we have Willow’s relationship to witchy power and Buffy’s relationship to Spike/Slayer power, two girls, two versions of power, but over the years, the way these two young women come to understand and use their power is mirrored repeatedly, each girl’s path informing the other.  In this section, I’m going to take a quick tour of this mirroring.  Here we go…

In the early seasons, good and bad are clearly demarcated: humans are good (or at least have that potential) because they have a soul, and demons are bad, because they don’t.  Angel was the exemplar of this line: when he had his soul he was a good guy, when he didn’t, he was evil.  No character ever felt guilt or remorse for killing a demon, but killing a human was murder: bad.  Black and white, good and bad.  Easy.

As the show progressed, however, these lines got blurred.  Great example: Spike.  A vampire (demon) with no soul, and so Bad, at least in the early seasons.  But Spike is an odd duck, from his beginnings (turning his mother into a vampire out of love for her), or his centuries-long love affair with Drusilla…a demon feeling love?…and then falling in love with Buffy, pre-behavior-modification-chip, even!  Spike chose to work for the white hats when he was still a demon (something Angel never did) and had no soul.  A grey area indeed.

So, Willow starts out wanting to learn “good” magic, not messing with the “dark stuff” and Buffy kills all demons easily–the lines between Slayer and Vampire, white magic and dark magic are all nicely marked out.  And it turned out the magic liked Willow–she quickly acquired power and skill in the Wicca world.  And, surprise, Spike liked Buffy (much to his initial dismay), and Buffy comes to depend on Spike, trusting him, for example, to protect her mother and sister from Glory in season five.  From this position of affinity, we begin season six.

At the opening of season six, Willow does her first dark spell, bringing Buffy back from the dead…

who didn’t gasp the first time you saw Willow kill that deer?

…a huge act of magical power.  We also see arrogance creeping into our formerly meek Willow in her fight with Giles, “These forces are very powerful.  I’m very powerful.  And maybe it’s not such a good idea to piss me off,” (“Flooded).  At the same time Buffy, unable to honestly face her friends, has her only moments of connection with Spike (for example, both having wounded hands, hers for climbing out of her coffin, him recognizing those at once and then injuring his own hand punching a wall, “same as you.”).  When she can’t tell her friends the truth about where she’s been, she is able to tell him.  The affinity deepens.

Real life sets the stage of problems for our characters, and neither young woman wants to face it.  Willow uses magic to solve everything and Buffy runs off to hang out drinking with Spike (“Life Serial”).  Willow runs into trouble with her girlfriend, Tara, for using magic to avoid problems and Buffy runs into similar trouble with Giles for avoiding her problems.  Finally Willow casts a spell on Tara’s memory and Buffy kisses Spike—parallel moments of diving deeper into that which makes them feel better.  On one level it might look like a thinly disguised story about the bad choices young people can make, but with the whole picture before us, I suggest something else: both are diving into the source of their power. AND, and I think this is the real arc of the season, both are trying to use power to fill themselves, that is, fill the empty places inside where they do not like themselves.  I believe it is this self-hate that is the real problem they face, not the black magic, nor the demon sex.

Look: in “Restless” (finale of season 4) Willow’s big fear isn’t that she is revealed to be naked, or that she’s revealed to be gay, it’s that she’s revealed to be her old geeky, high-school-reject self.  In season 6, Amy the ex-rat plays on this fear of Willow’s when she goads Willow into going out on the town. “Maybe you’d like to sit at home alone, like in high school?” Willow admits to this fear herself when she says, “If you could be plain old Willow or Super Willow, which would you be?”  Clearly, Willow doesn’t think much of “plain old Willow.”  Season six Willow is using magic to cover over “plain old Willow,” geeky Willow, stay at home by herself Willow.

No Plain Willow here…

In other words, Willow is trying to TAKE from magic to fill up the places inside herself she thinks are empty.

Buffy’s fear at the beginning of Season Six is that her friends will find out that she  isn’t the girl they think she is.  She isn’t glad they “saved” her, in fact, she isn’t happy at all, something they really want her to be, as Dawn says in “Afterlife,” “It’ll be better now.  Now that they can see you being happy.  That’s all they want.”  Not only is Buffy not happy, when Spike finds out he can hit her–that his don’t-hit-humans chip isn’t triggered by her–she is certain that she “came back wrong,” something else she feels she has to hide.  But still Buffy pursues him and they have sex (taking down a house, and metaphorically, her Self, as she does) (jesus, wasn’t that scene amazing?), because he’s “the only person I can stand to be around” (“Life Serial”) and “the only time I feel anything is when…[they have sex].” (“Dead Things”).  Season Six Buffy is using sex with Spike to feel, to connect to something, because she is rejecting what she is (unhappy with being resurrected).

“Holy shit, did she just do what I think she just did?”

In other words, Buffy is trying to TAKE from Spike to make herself feel better.

Hang onto that…

In “Smashed”, Xander says (speaking of Willow, but Buffy takes it to be about herself as well), “She’s getting a taste of something powerful, way bigger than her.  It’s got to be seductive, just jumping into it, going totally wild.”  Willow herself says, “I just think there’s got to some place…bigger than this.”  Which is exactly what both young women go after.  Buffy gets it on with Spike, and Willow goes to Rack, a dealer in dark magic who blisses her out while making her feel dirty (remember miserable Willow in the shower, trying to wash the dirty away in “Wrecked”?)  Willow hates what she’s doing to get the magic-bliss she craves, and Buffy hates what she’s doing to get the feeling she craves (“Last night was the most perverse, degrading experience of my life,” Buffy in “Wrecked”)(I love Spike’s answer, a sly, happy, “Yeah, me, too.”).  Parallel paths.  But stay with me because I really don’t think this season was a “good girls making bad choices” story.  It’s a heck of a lot more complicated than that.

But, quickly, a handful of parallel moments… 1-Both young women lose a white-hat gate-keeper just as they begin pursuing their paths through darker territory: Tara leaves Willow and Giles leaves Buffy.  2-Willow’s I-feel-dirty shower is mirrors Buffy trying to get the stain out of her coat (acquired in an outdoor romp with Spike).  3-Willow sweating it out in magic-detox is mirrored in the same episode with Buffy covering her windows in garlic, but also, in a later episode when she is walking through the cemetery chanting, “Don’t think about the evil, blood-sucking fiend,” trying so hard to stay away from the thing she wants.  4-Amy taunts Willow again saying, “You’re not denying you had fun, [when Amy dosed her with magic]” and “you’re saying you’re never going to let yourself feel like that again?”  At the same time, Buffy faces her Doublemeat Palace manager who points to her “5 years!” button and says, “I want you to be aiming for this from now on!” (“Doublemeat Palace”).  Yikes.  5-Tara says to Willow, “You’re helping yourself now [with magic] fixing thing to your liking,” (“Tabula Rasa”) and Spike says to Buffy, “…all you’ve ever done is play me.  You make up the rules as you like,” (“As You Were”).  There are many other mirror-moments, but these give a taste of how each girl is on the same path.

Moving on.  Both young women are drawn to what helps them deal with their painful feelings, while at the same time both blame the thing they are drawn to for their problems.   Willow is using “dark magics” so it’s the magic’s fault for the problems…therefore she thinks she has to give it up.  Buffy is having a secret relationship with a demon…and demon’s are “everything I hate, everything I’m supposed to be against,” (Buffy in “Dead Things”)…therefore she thinks she has to give it up.  Willow bottoms out when she causes Dawn to get hurt (“I can’t stop.  I need help.” “Wrecked”) and gives up magic, while Buffy calls it quits with Spike a few episodes later when Reilly returns.  That is, both young women believe they must give up the “bad thing” in order to be a good person.

(If we keep in mind that the Slayer’s original power comes from the rape of a girl by a demon-spirit to give her its power, Buffy’s pursuit of sex with a demon (Spike) to feel alive starts to look like an instinctual connecting with the power of her Slayer-ness to deal with her pain of being brought back from the dead.  It’s not a bad instinct.  Except that she hates herself for it.  I’d say there are two parts to that hate.  On the one hand, vampires and demons have been clearly marked Bad.  So if Buffy likes a demon, that must make her bad, too.  But the thing that finally makes her stop being with Spike at this time is that she realizes she is using him and can’t stand herself for treating him this way.  “I’m using you. I’m being weak and selfish and it’s killing me.” (Buffy in “As You Were).  Either he’s a thing, to be used, or a person, not to be used.  She goes with the latter. )

But it isn’t that simple.  Neither one can give up the source of their power.  Instead, they need to learn not to try to take from it.  That is, they must connect to their power not from the places they feel empty inside.  I say: using their power to try to fill themselves up is where they were going wrong, not the power itself.

“Normal Again” gives us our first clue to the future healing the two young women will need.  In this episode, Buffy gets “poked by a waxy, dead demon” that wears a long black coat, poked by a spike, actually, and did I mention that it makes her go crazy?  Just like Spike.  NotSpike makes Buffy think she’s really a normal girl who is crazy.  In order to cure herself, Buffy has to give up the fantasy that she is a normal girl and embrace that she is the Slayer, crazy or no.  To top it off, the antidote to the poison is also within the NotSpike demon.  Playing that back, getting poked by Spike at first makes her crazy, but if she can face being the Slayer, he also contains the cure.

Oh, and she tears out NotSpike’s heart with her bare hands.  Which is pretty much what she does to Spike, too.

Willow, on her 12-step recovery path, appears to be doing better, reconnecting with Tara her white-wicca lover, and things are looking rosy for her.  Buffy is doing better, trying to get on with her life by staying away from Spike.

But the power both have hasn’t gone anywhere.  When Buffy pushes Spike away, hurting him for the last time, he goes crazy and tries to force her to admit that they are connected, that she feels something for him, in a rape attempt.  “I’m going to make you feel it,” (“Seeing Red”).  And When Tara is killed, Willow grabs at the biggest power she can in order to deal with her rage and grief, and fills herself with dark magic that has gone crazy.  She turns murderous, mean and hurtful even to those she loves.  Power deferred, festering and turning black…?

But in these parallel nadir points, healing is found.  Giles returns bringing a connection (via a coven in England) to “the true source of magic” (“Grave”) and Spike, after many painful demon trials, gets his soul back.  Both sources of power are returned to balance, not Good, not Bad, as in the more youthful and simplistic early season, but BOTH.

Two girls, learning about power, trying to use it to spackle over the bits of themselves they have judged Not Good Enough, and learning how badly that can go.

Season seven is about Buffy and Willow integrating and learning how to be in relationship with this new, morally complicated ower.  But something important runs right off the rails, if you ask me.  The best parts are yet to come…

And hey, if you’re a Buffy fan, please comment, tell me where you think I’m full of it, or where you think I’m onto something.  I’m sure smarter people than I have already written about this stuff…and probably intelligently refuted my every point.  I’d love to hear about it…

UPDATE: part 2 is now live.  Enjoy!

23 thoughts on “spike and buffy got screwed–now with proof! (part 1)

  1. Canadian Doomer

    This was a great read. It’s been years since I’ve watched Buffy, and I loved it back then, so I’ve started watching them online, working my way through from the beginning. I’ve just reached the point where Angel has returned from the demon dimension.

    So I have no insight, except that I’ll keep this in mind as I continue watching through the episodes. 🙂

    1. maya Post author

      Hi Canadian Doomer, thanks so much for the comment. I’ve been enjoying re-watching these, too. Only for me, it turned into this epic post, haha.

  2. Xane

    Whoa! This was amazing. Really insightful and unique perspective. After 10 years in fandom, I didn’t think that was possible.

  3. Nancy

    Wow–you’ve really given me something to think about, and it resonates with me. Intuitively, your take on the mirroring and self-hatred feels right. I’ve always felt the two women’s self hatred was made pretty clear, but I never really got the Normal Again episode. Your analysis of Buffy’s treatment of Spike/NotSpike makes perfect sense and makes it fit into the season logically now for me. It also puts Seeing Red into perspective for me. Thanks for writing this. Looking forward to part 2! Can’t wait to read your take on the whole getting in touch with power and then sharing it for Season 7, not to mention how Spike empowers her. At the end, the relationship felt like it had achieved a balance (and even her relationship with Angel felt that way, too). It made the last season of Angel kind of weird and out of sync as a result. What’s your take on how that fits in?

  4. sister cuervo

    What an insightful read. I really enjoyed your essay and I think you made so many strong points and connections, many of which I had forgotten. I’m glad to see there are still people who care about the characters and story. I agree, there were several storylines I really disliked or thought were silly/boring, but the overall arc of Power makes sense. The “grey-ing” of demons from Just Bad to kinda naughty is interesting, too, i.e. Clem, Lorne.

  5. slaymesoftly

    Not really a big fan of meta (there’s been so very much of it since the comics came out), but this was very insightful. I really must rewatch one of these days with an eye to noticing over-arching themes and connecting early episodes with later ones. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I enjoyed it. 🙂

  6. Maud

    According to Joss, the Buffy/Spike relationship in S6 is inherently misogynist, so I’d say that clashes with your theory.

    Buffy is with Spike as a way to punish herself for power she doesn’t want and doesn’t think she deserves. It’s all explained in S7’s 7th episode. Spike can hurt her and he takes the power away, putting her in handcuffs, etc, he takes her over. Buffy uses Spike in that way as an instrument of punishment. Just like magic wasn’t the real issue with Willow, sex wasn’t the real issue with Buffy. That’s a superficial look at it, there is genuine feeling from Buffy towards Spike. She admits it herself as does her actions toward him and that’s where it gets messy, especially when Spike starts to manipulate her.

    Seeing Red, Buffy takes the power back, both in the bathroom (“Something I should have done a long time ago”) by stopping Spike for the first time and by smashing Warren’s balls. The difference between Spike and Warren is the latter goes crazy and Spike goes off to make himself better. But the Spike/Warren parallels were there all season.

    Great season. I loved the complexity of that relationship.

  7. Rebcake

    I definitely think you are on to something. Of course, everybody has an opinion, but many people who are thinking deeply about these characters seem to come to some version of this. It’s petty clear that Willow’s problem isn’t magic — it’s her need for control (power) which she feels she utterly lacked in her youth. Clearly, Buffy’s problem wasn’t Spike. Most obviously, it was her depression over being yanked out of heaven, for which Spike became a coping mechanism. However, I like your theory that a more fundamental problem is her unwillingness to accept the source of her power and her attraction to it — an unwillingness that is tied up with her earlier education which was so simplified as to be unworkable for an adult. The Watchers Council line reads like childhood indoctrination, given what we discover about demons later in the show (mostly on Angel, unsurprisingly).

    However, Spike works as a stand-in, a metaphor for the source of Buffy’s power, while magic (within the show) is very literally Willow’s power source. When Buffy does (sort of) accept Spike, she ends up with a powerful ally/weapon, but not greater personal power. It’s an interesting split.

    1. maya Post author

      Hi y’all, and WOW how many terrific comments with great points! Thank you so much! Let me finish up part 2 and get it out before I start diving into your comments, or I may spend all my time here and never finish! I’m so thrilled y’all have stopped by and engaged with what I’ve written…
      *typing faster*

  8. rebcake

    @Maud. It’s funny how differently people see things. I thought that the parallel was between Buffy and Warren rather than Warren and Spike, especially during “Dead Things”. But then, I don’t see how Spike particularly manipulated Buffy during S6, either. He’s pretty straightforward about his intentions. Now, in S4 he was a manipulative bastard, for sure.

  9. William B

    Hi, I was just linked here. This is actually very close to what I have been thinking about lately, and I even wrote something similar in a (locked, unfortunately) post, which if you are interested I can send you a copy of (not that you would be interested — I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant!). This is very well written and I agree pretty much down the line. The fact that season six emphasizes the (apparent) evils of what Buffy and Willow are doing does not at all suggest that what they are doing actually is pure evil. And the two basically engage with their own power, try to pull away from it, etc., etc.

    I’ll add that while Buffy and Willow are on parallel lines, the season is also structured so that they cross paths back and forth continually. From Bargaining to Seeing Red, almost to the episode, Buffy & Spike is a couple *when Willow & Tara aren’t*; Willow gives up magic for nearly the whole length of time Buffy is actively engaged with Spike in some form or another. I haven’t managed to figure out entirely why their story is staggered the way it is, but so it goes; Smashed/Wrecked is where Buffy and Willow both decide to ‘quit’, but Buffy fails to do so and continues engaging with Spike, whereas Willow does indeed turn away from her power and all it represents, and then this is part of what makes her go as apocalyptic as she does at the end of the season — because while Buffy has (with reluctance) actually tried, if unsuccessfully in many ways, to work through her issues, Willow hasn’t. Tara and Willow start bonding again in pretty much the teaser to Hell’s Bells, whereas Buffy and Spike broke up in As You Were.

    I agree totally about the way the spike of the demon makes her crazy, but it’s also the spike that cures her. Some people have interpreted this as being about Angel damaging Buffy and so Spike, as another vampire, managing to help ‘cure’ her, but I think it’s correct that it’s more fundamentally that Buffy has always had (well, at least since she was called) demon issues that she *needed* to work through, and the fialed attempt to work through them with Angel (and indirectly Riley, the guy who was ordinary BUT had artificially enhanced superpower strength and so was just a tiny bit demon-y) led to her putting off her issues until Spike came along.

  10. rranne

    I am so glad that I stumbled over this, I can’t wait for part 2.
    You are not the only one out there who has had various elements of the show ‘bugging’ them for the past ten years, there are actually quite a few of us. Buffy may have started out with a clear cut line between good and evil, but it began to grey rather quickly, to me that is a good thing since there is no absolute good or evil in the world.

  11. Scarlett

    Interesting observations. I particularly like your insight about normal again and the Spike/not Spike, and him being both the problem and the cure. The black coat and and the actual “spike” – clever. I would not have thought of that in a million years.

    Have to disagree about the reason for her breaking up with him though. I don’t think she did it because she couldn’t stand herself for using him. At least not because it was hurting him and he didn’t deserve it. I think she broke up with him because she was disgusted with herself for being weak and selfish, but not out of compassion for his feelings, (or because he was a Person not a thing), but because he was:

    1. a crutch
    2. a demon/vampire (and therefore BAD)
    3. her (sexual) drug of choice to escape her pain

    I personally don’t think she allowed herself to even see him as a person until the church scene in Beneath You, (at least not after they started actually having sex), partially because she couldn’t deal with anyone’s feelings other than her own pain, and also she couldn’t admit he was a “real” person to herself because then she would have to deal with her actual feelings for him and she was not in any shape to handle that.
    Just my opinion tho, of course 🙂

    I am looking forward to part two of your post!

    1. maya Post author

      Hi Scarlett, thanks so much for reading and commenting (and on the Part 2 post, as well). I think you’re right about those three reasons for her breaking up with him, but I do think she saw him as a person—for moments—before that. When she beats him up in “Dead Things,” when he asks her if she even likes him (under the carpets) and she says, “Sometimes,” their tenderness in “Hells Bells,” most especially when she calls him William in “As You Were”. She just seemed to be good at double-think, able to turn from a brief moment of connection like that to “I hate Spike!” on a dime. Especially if there was an audience. Character cruelty? Or writing that couldn’t quite make up it’s mind? I don’t know. But she sure did a lot of flip flopping.

  12. cil_domney

    Outstanding essay – look forward to reading part two.
    I agree with you that Buffy and Willow both having to learn how to deal with their intrinsic powers and their earlier issues of self-identity. For Buffy what she is thought by Giles is also a very important part of her journey.
    You bring up some of the episodes and themes with Buffy and Spike that I find most compelling. I love your premise of Buffy, trying to fill up her loss with the force and power of Spike. From their first episode post her descending the stairway toward him and their taking hold of each other hands, Buffy clearly tells Spike that she sees him as her doctor and cure; that he was supposed to “fix her life.” In “Normal Again,” which you show the connection of Spike/Demon Stake; Spike clearly tells Buffy to let herself live. Spike also threatens to tell her guilty secret, which by the way; she threatened to kill him for in their first “morning after.” In “As You Were,” she literally destroy her doctor and his home.
    Death, powers, secrets, denial of what lives inside herself and that she wants to reject are placed on Spike. And when does she use him the most and in the most heart wrenching way? It’s when her fantasy Mr. Joe Normal appears with his perfect wife. Like you stated earlier, she has played him over and over to fill all that she sees herself as having lost. It’s a perfect choice of music when she and Spike are reaching out, again with their hands, through the barrier of his crypt wall.
    Another very interesting comment, and I hope that you will write about the visuals at some point, is how she breaks down and tells Tara about letting Spike do all those things to her, yet when we are shown the hand cuffs, it is not Buffy who is cuffed, but Spike.
    Again, great essay so glad that it was recommended on our site. Any idea when you might have part 2 posted?

    1. maya Post author

      cil_domney said: “In “As You Were,” she literally destroy her doctor and his home.”

      Oooo, nice one! I missed that.

  13. Kathleen Pfeiffer

    Brilliant essay! I have to say your insights regarding Normal Again really opened my eyes. I had never considered it that way and now relish re-watching.

    Like you I take these characters out in my mind (and online) even after all these years. They are all so multi-layered that there is more to discover each time.

    Again, excellent essay.


    1. maya Post author

      Kathleen: “I take these characters out in my mind (and online) even after all these years. They are all so multi-layered that there is more to discover each time.”
      I know, right? Maybe writing this I’ll be able to let them go a little bit and move on. 🙂

  14. Ivana

    Maud and rebcake: I always thought that parallels in Dead Things were BOTH between Spike and Warren and between Buffy and Warren. Just like the Warren/April relationship in I Was Made to Love You was used to parallel Buffy/Riley in both directions. (Buffy felt that she did her best but it wasn’t enough to keep her boyfriend. But Buffy also, like Warren, went for the person that seemed like the “perfect” partner but ultimately she didn’t feel real passion for him, because he didn’t challenge her: “[s]he was everything I wanted, and I didn’t want her[him]”.)

    Warren parallels more than one major character in season 6. Even Xander has his moment of meeting what he could have become, in the shape of Warren in the bar in Seeing Red, and decides what he is not going to become. But the character that Warren most strongly parallels throughout season 6, and especially in Villains, is Willow.

  15. Ivana

    @Cil Domney: We see Spike in handcuffs in her dream because she’s seeing them with their roles reversed in the dream. Earlier on, off screen, she was in the handcuffs. But her dream is telling her that she feels that she is the “animal” who is using him for sex, she is the monster. She puts herself in Spike’s role again when she sees herself handcuffing Katrina and telling her “Do you trust me?” like Spike asked her – but she abuses the trust in the dream, killing her. In her calling as a Slayer, Buffy is the one with the power and the responsibility to protect humans, and she feels she has failed and abused her power and caused someone’s death. And it’s her bad, violent side, the same one that enjoys having sex with a soulless vampire. She also sees herself as Katrina when Katrina is moaning under her after being staked/stabbed, while she’s moaning under Spike during sex.

    The part when she sees herself bringing the stake to his chest while he sleeps, and ends up staking Katrina, could be a sign of Buffy being afraid of being the abuser; afraid that she’ll have to stake Spike at some point (not at all an unreasonable fear); or that, as a Slayer, she should be slaying Spike, but instead, she’s sleeping with him and neglecting/betraying her duty (he’s everything she’s supposed to be against) and getting someone killed as a result. (Earlier on she smiled at his joke about having killed a decorator; Buffy in S5 would normally flinch at that. A sign that he is taking over her life and she’s in danger of becoming more like him? “It’ll be our little secret”. That she’s guilty of homicide – their little secret, just like their relationship? And one more way she’ll let him have power over her.)

    “Why do I let him do these things to me” is echoed in Conversations with Dead People, where Buffy describes her relationship with Spike in S6 as: “I behaved as a monster, I treated him like… but at the same time I let him completely take me over, do things to me that,,,”

    1. maya Post author

      Ivana, nice to meet you, thanks for commenting! I really like your read on that dream sequence here. Thought provoking!

  16. David

    Seems I’m going to end up posting a lot on this blog! Apparently we have the same taste in entertainment!

    I have to say, on a whole season 6 of Buffy was actually my least favourite overall. And for that fact it’s actually been the one I’ve re-watched the least over the years. I felt this was manly due to the lack of a big bad and the plot escalation I’d liked in other seasons. It’s well known that Whedon was off making Firefly and had largely left Marti Noxon to run Buffy. While I liked Noxon’s writing over the years I definitely felt the absence of Whedon on the show that year. To me it just seemed to lack the over all big picture structure that Whedon brings to things. He really is like a master strategist with his plots and long term developments. However having read your analysis of season 6, you’ve given me a new perspective. I think at the time I was perhaps too knocked off my perch by the change in feel of the show to really enjoy it. A lot of what you said makes a lot of sense and in hindsight the Buffy/Willow parallels do seem to be there. Going to have to do a re-watch I think. Slightly annoying that 6 is the one season I don’t have on DVD!


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